Wednesday, April 23, 2014
On the Hustings
(TPM): 'Entire North Carolina GOP senate field: Climate change is not fact"
(Washington Post): "Missouri legislature will begin impeachment proceedings against governor"
(CNN Politics): "Another N.J. bridge controversy brewing, and a familiar name surfaces"
(Tampa Bay Times): "Tea party candidate Curt Clawson wins Republican primary to replace former Rep. Trey Radel"
(Politico): "How Lindsey Graham outmaneuvered the tea party"
Labels: On the Hustings
Vast majority of conservatives are still against gay marriage (and the Pope is still Catholic)
According to a survey conducted by a Republican polling group, conservatives are still overwhelmingly opposed to same-sex marriage.
The poll, by Wilson Research Strategies, found a whopping 82% of the GOP’s base (which included right-leaning independent voters) defined marriage as between a man and a woman, while 75% disagreed that politicians should be seeking to “redefine marriage.” In both cases the majority of respondents felt strongly or even “definitely” about the issue.
But, while the voting conservative public may have a clear view, many in the conservative leadership know that this is a problem for the future of the GOP.
As reported in the Washington Post:
Fred Sainz, a spokesman for Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, agreed that “a tectonic shift is taking place in the Republican Party on marriage equality.” He cited several polls showing shifting support and the growing number of lawmakers in favor of dropping opposition even as top leaders remain opposed. “For the Republican hierarchy it's a very straightforward question,” Sainz said. “How can they attract the next generation of voters and not support an issue young people have made their minds up on?”
Behind the Ad: American Idol's Clay Aiken takes a run at politics
Who: The Clay Aiken campaign
Where: North Carolina 2nd Congressional District
What's going on: Former "American Idol" star Clay Aiken (D) is running for a seat in the House of Representatives in North Carolina. But before you dismiss this as some kind of a stunt, as I was inclined to do, consider the analysis by the well-respected Cook Political Report. They write this about an interview they conducted with the candidate (which is behind a paywall, so I won't bother linking to it):
Aiken was not only polished and poised, but relaxed, free-wheeling, persuasive, and politically realistic. He spoke passionately and fluently on a range of issues, from trade promotion authority to No Child Left Behind to continuous coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate. In fact, he was better-versed and more in-depth than plenty of state legislators we have met. And, he was just as comfortable discussing the voting intricacies of the 2nd CD's counties as he was recalling his route to Idol success.
Aiken is running against a Republican incumbent, Rep. Renee Ellmers, who will be very hard to beat, especially in a midterm. But, and I wouldn't be the first to point this out, running a credible congressional campaign, even a losing one, could well help launch a long political career.
The Aiken ad focuses on his difficult upbringing as well as his more recent philanthropic work.
I should note that Aiken must first secure the Democratic nomination, which is at this point a competitive three-way race with the first round in a couple of weeks. If no candidate gets 40 percent,
there will be a run-off in June.
Grade: It is an interesting thing when a "celebrity" runs for office, whether from the left or right. For some reason they have to go a bit farther than others to explain why they would do such a thing. It is as if to say, I'm not simply trying to keep the cameras rolling by other means. That's what this ad is. And on that, it does what it's supposed to do. C
(TPM): "Sotomayor attacks John Roberts' views on race as 'out of touch with reality'"
(New York Times): "The American middle class is no longer the world’s richest"
(ABC News): "Rick Perry wants New York jobs — and debate with Andrew Cuomo"
(Charlie Cook): "Party paranoia could destroy hopes of immigration reform"
(New York Times): "Looking at costs and risks, many skip health insurance"
Labels: A.M. Headlines
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Stop annoying Senator Warren
Today is Sen. Elizabeth Warren Day at The Reaction. I bought her book, we put her picture up in our "On the Hustings" segment, and now we post a clip of Sen. Warren saying for the umpteenth time that she is not running for president in 2016 (among other things in this ABC News interview). Put another way, Michael is under the weather, so I can do whatever I want today.
Labels: 2016 Presidential election
On the Hustings
(Roll Call): "Republicans spend millions on TV in primary for Trey Radel seat"
(Washington Post): "How big could the GOP House majority get?"
(FiveThirtyEight): "Democrats shouldn't count on an Electoral College edge in 2016"
(Fox Atlanta): "New poll: Perdue, Kingston lead crowded Senate race"
Labels: On the Hustings
Behind the Ad: Sen. Mitch McConnell takes no chances
Who: The Sen. Mitch McConnell Campaign (R-Ky)
What's going on: Mitch McConnell should have no difficulty dispatching Tea Party Challenger Matt Bevin (R) for the GOP Senate nomination in Kentucy, but he wants to make sure. As with other Republican incumbents who are being primaried from their right, McConnell has been forced to scream from the rooftops that he is in fact a conservative.
"Mitch McConnell: He's not a show horse, Mitch is a genuine Kentucky workhorse," the ad's narrator says. "Last year, he saved 99 percent of Kentuckians from an income tax increase. Mitch stopped bureaucrats from shutting down fishing below Barkley Dam, saving Kentucky jobs. Mitch fights for Kentucky miners against Obama's war on coal and he's leading the fight against ObamaCare. Mitch McConnell fights for our values, our future and our jobs."
The primary, which McConnell will win, is on May 20th. Then the real work begins as he goes head to head with Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) in the general election.
Grade: To explain the grading scale: Anything less than a C, in my estimation, starts to do the candidate damage. I consider a C anything that does what it has to do but probably doesn't move much vote. A B may move vote in a positive way. And an A is a game changer, a "Morning in America" moment, if you will. With that in mind: C
(Capital New York): "Patterson's pick, for the ages"
(New York Times): "50 years into the War on Poverty, hardship hits back"
(Washington Post): "As ‘Meet the Press’ struggles in the ratings, plenty of questions for host David Gregory"
(Time): "Boy Scouts of America shuts down Seattle troop over gay scoutmaster"
(CBS News): "A relationship with Putin now seems out of reach for Obama"
Labels: A.M. Headlines
Monday, April 21, 2014
Journalist John Dickerson says Jeb Bush has a shot in 2016 (Face the Nation). Discuss.
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Obama decides America should keep Justin Bieber, Canadians breathe huge sigh of relief
Looks like the U.S. will still have Justin Bieber to terrorize its popular culture, not to mention anywhere he happens to be at any given time, for a whole lot longer:
The White House has declined to comment on a "Deport Justin Bieber and revoke his green card" petition, saying the "We the People" Whitehouse.gov petition system allows the Executive Office to dodge comments "to avoid the appearance of improper influence."
More than 273,000 people signed the petition, which calls for Canadian pop star to be deported because of his representation in the world of pop culture."We would like to see the dangerous, reckless, destructive, and drug abusing Justin Bieber removed from society and his green card revoked," the petition says. "He is not only threatening the safety of our people but he is also a terrible influence on our nation's youth."The original petition, filed January 23 through the "We the People" petition system, merited a response from the White House after receiving more than 100,000 signatures within 30 days, per the system's terms of participation.
Clearly the petition was silly and full of hyperbole, perhaps ironically so, but this really lowers my opinion of the president. Here he had a chance to rid the country of a nuisance, a pest, a spoiled brat, a blight on the cultural landscape, and he refused? Come on. Do Americans really want Bieber in their midst? I mean, they probably prefer Celine Dion, on the whole.
But... wait! Bieber is Canadian. I'm Canadian. Worse, he's from Ontario. I live in Ontario. If he were to be deported, there's a good chance he'd spend more of his time here. And, honestly, we already have Rob Ford. Isn't that enough?
So, yes, well done, Mr. President. You gone done the right thing. And Americans, keep enjoying all that Bieber brings to your glorious country. You can keep him.
Friday, April 18, 2014
No reason allowed
Here Comes Easter again. Easter and the media puff pieces about how it's really all true enough in one sense or another and how it's wrong to say that it's a borrowed holiday, re-badged from pre-Christian European fertility cults, egg laying rabbits and all. The Easter holiday (is it OK to call this one a holiday?) carries a large basket of baggage without my needing to illustrate its long history and I'm quite as content to let people celebrate it as they will as I am to let anyone celebrate anything at any time including life itself. It's a wonderful life after all, and not just at Christmas.
In the true spirit of American small mindedness however, others are not so happy with your freedom when it comes to protecting their hermetically sealed belief bubble from questions or against having to be aware of other ways of seeing and appreciating life in our shared world. But I'm OK with that too if only for the humor. Seeing an image of an all year "Prayer Station" set up in the Warren Michigan city hall looking for all the world like something from the Peanuts comic strip, put a smile on my face in a way that only irony-blind religious fervor can. Reason isn't funny and I do like to laugh.
Not so funny though when Warren resident Douglas Marshall proposed a "Reason Station" for the same venue and the Mayor, Jim Fouts not only rejected it, but banned any such display for a year because after all, Marshall is an advocate for separation of Church and State. Using a government facility as a church and to promote Christianity ( assuming it isn't praying to Vishnu or the Chinese Kitchen God being solicited) is simply no problem in this Detroit suburb. Atheism is not a religion wrote Fouts to Marshal and his Freedom From Religion Foundation, unwittingly asserting that only a religion can have access to public space and non-Christian interests need not apply. Besides it might disturb the faithful, which is, in his words, a Constitutional violation!
What about equal protection, freedom of speech and all that Godless, Commy nonsense? Don't make me laugh. This is Michigan after all and in Michigan reason can fend for itself and you can take your Jeffersonian Humanism straight back to Moscow where it belongs.
(Cross-posted at Human Voices.)
Labels: freedom of religion
Behind the Ad: GOP civil war battle lines are drawn in the Idaho 2nd Congressional District
Who: U.S. Chamber of Commerce on behalf of Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho)
Where: The Idaho 2nd Congressional District
What's going on: The district is solidly Republican, so this is all about the primary, and what a primary it is turning out to be.
According to the Charlie Cook Report:
In 2014, Idaho's most fervent conservatives' long-simmering distrust of the consensus-building Simpson is set to boil over. And, because the May 2014 GOP primary has already turned into an all-out proxy war between the GOP's ideological purists like the Club for Growth and the Madison Project on one side and Speaker John Boehner and the Republican Main Street Partnership on the other, the results will have repercussions well beyond Idaho.
If you need more clarity on the distinction between the two, Smith was against Simpson's October 2013 vote with Democrats to end the 16-day partial government shutdown and to raise the debt ceiling without any spending cuts.
(New Republic): "ObamaCare signups hit 8 million"
(Huffington Post): "Americans think people are poor because of bad breaks, not because they're losers: Poll"
(The Hill): "Obama: Immigration will 'haunt' Congress"
(Wall Street Journal): "South Korea ferry sinking: Authorities arrest captain"
Labels: A.M. Headlines
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Edward Snowden got tired of the lack of attention and decided to shove his foot deeper in his throat:
NSA leaker Edward Snowden put a direct question to Vladimir Putin during a live televised question-and-answer session Thursday, asking Russia's president about Moscow's use of mass surveillance on its citizens.
Speaking via a video link, Snowden asked: "I've seen little public discussion of Russia's own involvement in the policies of mass surveillance, so I'd like to ask you: Does Russia intercept, store or analyze, in any way, the communications of millions of individuals?"
Needless to say, this entire episode appears to have been orchestrated by Vladdy:
"Our intelligence efforts are strictly regulated by our law so...you have to get a court permission to stalk that particular person.
"We don't have as much money as they have in the States and we don't have these technical devices that they have in the States. Our special services, thank God, are strictly controlled by society and the law and regulated by the law."
Excuse me a sec. I feel a sneeze coming on…..AhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhBULLSHI!
There, that’s better.
Putin’s former employer, the KGB, practically invented the surveillance state and made it an art form. Who the hell does he think he’s kidding?
Watching Edward Snowden genuflect to a world leader is, however, a very tasty morsel of vengeance, to be sure. Any credibility he may have had in the debate over surveillance and domestic intelligence has likely been spent.
Look, there is no doubt that the Snowden story was the story of 2013. Even the Pulitzer Committee has admitted as much. It finally got people, both in and out of power, to focus on what we on the far left have been complaining about for ten years: that privacy isn’t a gift, that we have to maintain vigilance, and that the contract between government and the governed is a fragile thing when we abdicate our responsibility to pay attention.
That it took a vole-ish little wisp of a man to focus lights on the problem speaks poorly about our democracy. That he now defends Vladimir Putin speaks poorly of him.
(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)
Putin on the blitz
Well, of course the media still hasn't come to the end of all the discussion, speculation, mourning wailing and fantasizing possibilities regarding that missing airplane and they need to keep reminding us that nobody has ever suffered as much grief as the families of the missing nor ever will, but I can't help but noticing that events in the Ukraine might be causing a bit of speculation as well. Something we can do on our own during commercial breaks at least.
Russian troops are massed on the border, obviously fake stories of persecution are rampant in the Russian press, orchestrated riots, people running about with guns and armored vehicles and today we read that Ukrainian Jews have been ordered to register with the pro-Russian hooligans pretending to be a legitimate government.
Just in time for Easter.
USA Today tells us that in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk:
"Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city's Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee "or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated."
The leaflet states that all people of Jewish descent over 16 years old must report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and "register." Non-compliance will result in deportation and confiscation of property. Nothing for Americans to worry about of course and no celebrities are involved.
Now back to the Mystery plane story in which nothing new has emerged in weeks. Isn't that exiting?
(Cross-posted at Human Voices.)
On the Hustings
(Norm Ornstein): "Could America become a banana republic?
(Politics): "Warren memoir offers revealing inside tales"
(New York Times): "Sebelius said to weigh run for Kansas Senate seat"
(Philadelphia Inquirer): "Christie advocates end to limits on campaign donations"
Labels: On the Hustings
Behind the Ad: Who's zoomin' who in the North Carolina GOP Senate race?
Where: North Carolina
What's going on: Well, this one really climbs into the gutter. In this ad, the Democrats attack Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis by drawing attention to the fact that "two former staffers were engaged in inappropriate relationships with lobbyists," as The Washington Post reports. One of the staffers was Tillis' chief of staff, with whom Tillis shared on apartment.
Tillis has said he wasn't aware of his chief staff's affair, despite the two of them living together. The affairs were revealed in 2012, and Tillis was criticized for giving the staffers severance pay when they were forced to resign.
If you haven't been following the U.S. Senate race in North Carolina closely, it is shaping up to be a tough one for Democratic incumbent Sen. Kay Hagen, at this point a likely toss-up. Tom Tillis is considered the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, which is also being contested by physician Greg Brannon, Mark Harris, a Baptist minister, and nurse Heather Grant. The Tea Party is split between Brannon and Harris.
As for the details of the dirty dancing, this was reported by local North Carolina media:
The incident referenced in the commercial came to light just before the May 2012 legislative short session. Charles Thomas, who was Tillis' chief of staff and roommate, resigned after admitting to a romantic relationship with a lobbyist for the Home Builders Association. The affair was problematic both because Thomas was married and because of the perception that Thomas could have used his role to do favors for the lobbyist.
Days later, Tillis' policy adviser, Amy Hobbs, resigned after volunteering to Tillis that she, too, had had a romantic relationship with a lobbyist. The story surfaced again two weeks later when it was reported Tillis paid roughly $19,000 in severance to the two staffers in question.
Grade: I know that progressives are supposed to be okay going after Republicans on questions of morality because conservatives are usually so damned sanctimonious. I'm still a little uncomfortable with it, though it is true that these were not simply extramarital affairs, but involved lobbyist, so that's not good. Does the work? Yeah, probably, maybe, I don't know. C
(New York Times): "How the President got to ‘I do’ on same-sex marriage"
(NewJersey.com): "Law firm hired by Christie for internal probe donated $10K in 2014 to RGA"
(The Hill): "Yellen vows 'continuing commitment' to economic support from Fed"
(New York Times): "Hundreds missing after South Korean ferry sinks"
Labels: A.M. Headlines
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
In a shock to no one...
…Joe Biden got out in front of the White House and shamed them into a policy change:
Vice President Joe Biden really did get ahead of President Barack Obama on accepting gay marriage in 2012 — and the White House really wasn’t happy about it, despite their many attempts to claim otherwise.
That’s the story laid out in Jo Becker’s new book, “Forcing the Spring,” which documents the past few years of successful efforts to expand the legalization of gay marriage, according to an advance copy obtained by POLITICO.
Speculation that Biden’s comments on “Meet the Press” in May 2012 were meant as a trial balloon, Becker writes, came from people “not privy to the chaos that erupted inside the West Wing after an emailed transcript of the interview landed in the inbox of the White House press team.” A furious Valerie Jarrett, Becker adds, accused Biden of “downright disloyalty.”
It’s not hard to imagine a scenario where Barack Obama, already four tempestuous years into an administration boxed in by Republicans from committing to any legislative achievements, and his staff spent many long nights arguing back and forth about this particular issue, engaged in a deep political calculus of offending moderates while shoring up his liberal wing.
It’s also not hard to imagine Joe Biden becoming frustrated at the inaction and taking a “shit or get off the pot” position with the President.
It’s also not hard to imagine President Obama giving him the ok to go ahead and take the lead on the issue. Valerie Jarrett may simply have been kept in the dark in order to make the kabuki more believable.
We on the far left can argue endlessly about how this was an issue of “do the right thing” and shouldn’t even have been a question of if, but of when. But we on the far left also have to admit there are some things the nation is ready for (same sex marriage) and some things it is not (single payer healthcare) and that there’s a lot of work we have left to do to move the nation into a position more accepting of our sensible policies.
So…let’s get to it.
(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)
Matt Taibbi says George Bush was tougher on corporate America than President Obama. Discuss.
On the Hustings
(Public Policy Polling): "Republicans lead in Texas"
(Lexington Herald-Leader): "Mitch McConnell raises $2.4 million, Matt Bevin raises $1.1 million in first quarter of 2014"
Labels: On the Hustings
CNN: "U.S. right wing extremists more deadly than jihadists"
In case you missed it, CNN yesterday posted a must-read piece by Peter Bergen and David Sterman on how Islamic jihadism is considered to be so much worse than domestic right-wing extremism -- among the public, in the media -- even though the latter is much more deadly than the former. Here are some highlights, starting with a reference to the Kansas City KKK killer, though you would do well to read it in its entirety:
Now let's do the thought experiment in which instead of shouting "Heil Hitler" after he was arrested, the suspect had shouted "Allahu Akbar." Only two days before the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, this simple switch of words would surely have greatly increased the extent and type of coverage the incident received.
Yet the death toll in the shootings in Kansas is similar to that of last year's Boston Marathon bombings, where three people were killed and the suspects later killed a police officer as they tried to evade capture. (Many more, of course, were also wounded in the Boston attacks; 16 men, women and children lost limbs.)In fact, since 9/11 extremists affiliated with a variety of far-right wing ideologies, including white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists and anti-government militants, have killed more people in the United States than have extremists motivated by al Qaeda's ideology. According to a count by the New America Foundation, right wing extremists have killed 34 people in the United States for political reasons since 9/11. (The total includes the latest shootings in Kansas, which are being classified as a hate crime).
By contrast, terrorists motivated by al Qaeda's ideology have killed 21 people in the United States since 9/11.
Moreover, since 9/11 none of the more than 200 individuals indicted or convicted in the United States of some act of jihadist terrorism have acquired or used chemical or biological weapons or their precursor materials, while 13 individuals motivated by right wing extremist ideology, one individual motivated by left-wing extremist ideology, and two with idiosyncratic beliefs, used or acquired such weapons or their precursors.
This is to take nothing away from 9/11, which was obviously a horrendous attack, nor to suggest that jihadism is no longer a serious threat. Certainly part of the reason for its decline is that the U.S. has expended vast resources combating it, both overseas and at home, including building up the national security state. And of course America isn't jihadism's only target. Whether al Qaeda or related to al Qaeda or not, it has struck elsewhere, including in Mumbai in 2008.
But Bergen and Sterman are right that jihadism is blown way out of proportion in the U.S. and that the media deserve much of the blame for that. I suppose racial/ethnic/religious/cultural bias is to explain for that. Even a known KKK leader and virulent anti-Semite can be your friendly next-door neighbor in the mostly white and Christian parts of the U.S. He may look like you and act like you, for the most part, and in any event he may not seem all that their weird despite his extremist views, some of which, deep down, you may even share.
But anyone with even slightly brown skin, with an accent, with odd dress, with weird-smelling food, with strange religious or cultural practises, well, even it hardly matters whether that person is Muslim or Buddhist or Sikh or Hindu or whatever -- he or she is somehow the Other, and that frightens you, because difference terrifies you and because, of course, you've been told by the media -- and it's only worse if your media outlets of choice are Fox News or right-wing talk radio -- that the real threats to America, to your way of life, to you personally, are of the non-white, non-Christian, "foreign" variety.
The point, of course, is that while jihadi terrorism is very much a real thing, the more urgent danger within America's borders is right-wing extremism, which while appearing in different forms is very much a significant threat to the country and its inhabitants. Look no further if you're concerned about your way of life, about yourself personally. These are people who blow up government buildings and plant bombs and drive around major cities randomly shooting people or even targeting certain kinds of people -- people just like you in many ways, no matter your race, creed, color, or hue.
It's much easier to vilify the foreign Other, I know, to lump those "different" from you into one big huge threat from which you can cower in fear with those you think are like you. But I would say it's far more advisable to deal with the world as it is and to understand the real threats for what they are.
Behind the Ad: The power of bleak comes to New Jersey's 12th
Who: Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula.
Where: New Jersey's 12th Congressional District.
What's going on: The New Jersey 12th is currently represented by Democratic Rep. Rush Holt. Holt first won election to the House in 1999 but has decided he's had enough, announcing in February that he would not seek re-election in 2014. Holt sought the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in the 2013 special primary election to fill the seat of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died in office in June of last year, but lost to Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
In 2012, Holt won re-election to his House seat with 69.2 percent of the vote. Some people describe the district as leaning Democratic. Charlie Cook calls it solidly Democratic. I suppose without an incumbent in a midterm year it could be closer this time.
So far, Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, State Sen. Linda Greenstein, Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, and South Brunswick resident Andrew Zwicker are seeking the Democratic nomination. The primary is on June 3.
It's a very stark ad featuring grim black-and-white urban scenes in which Chivukula, who was born in India, describes his native country as a bleak place with "no minimum wage, no equality for women, no Social Security, and no Medicare" -- and "no way up." Chivukula warns that "we cannot let it happen here."
Grade: Stark indeed. I don't know that Garden Staters will necessarily respond well to the idea that their fortunes could slide so badly. Perhaps they should, but I don't know that they will. I like the idea of the ad, and I know voters can be effectively frightened. But I'm on the fence as to whether or not New Jerseyans will relate to this approach. B-
(New York Times): "Census survey revisions mask health law effects"
(Blogger): "GOP Senate may run purple"
(The Guardian): "Ukraine on the brink as troops take on rebels"
Labels: A.M Headlines