Saturday, November 09, 2013

A.M. Headlines

(Fox News): "Philippines typhoon leaves at least 100 dead"

(Reuters): "Gay marriage clears another statehouse hurdle in Hawaii"

(Sam Stein): "Obama considers administrative fix to health care law"

(Vanity Fair): "The Lonely Guy: He’s a community organizer who works alone. What was once his greatest strength—he kept his cool and didn’t need feedback—is now a liability"

(Politico): "Inside the '60 Minutes' Benghazi breakdown"


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Friday, November 08, 2013

P.M. Headlines

(Pew Research): "Obama’s second-term slide continues"

(New York Times): "CBS correspondent apologizes for report on Benghazi attack"

(TPM): "House GOP Leader: No vote on immigration reform this year"

(Roll Call): "GOP playbook looks to capitalize on Obamacare woes"

(BuzzFeed Politics): "One week in, Cory Booker hasn’t figured out how to save Washington yet"


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Obama and Buono and Christie

I just thought of something while reading Patricia Murphy's excellent article, Why National Democrats Rolled Over for Chris Christie. As I've complained about before, President Obama did not endorse Barbara Buono in the New Jersey's governor's race. I've heard it said that Obama did that as a kind of payback for Christie's behavior during Hurricane Sandy right before the 2012 presidential election. I don't know if that's true, but I wouldn't doubt it.

But here's the thing. Christie quite pointedly said at that time that Romney has his man and that he still thought that Romney was the better man for the job than Obama. So why is it that Obama didn't endorse Buono? Not doing so says that he doesn't have a preference. Or not much of one. And that may be! Christie's economic conservatism and social moderation may be exactly what Obama thinks.

I know: the standard line is that Obama is a real liberal but the Republicans just won't allow him to govern that way. He's against taking money away from the old and food away from the poor. It is just all those nefarious advances and pools that stop him from doing what he thinks is right! But I really question that narrative. In fact, I know it's not true. It isn't that Obama is secretly conservative. I don't really know. But he definitely leans conservative on economic issues and is too spineless to lead on liberal social issues. This is a man who would have felt right at home in Reagan's cabinet. And, I mean, that man was forced into supporting same sex marriage by that liberal firebrand Joe Biden!
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On the Hustings

(Wall Street Journal): "The GOP is in better shape than you think"

(New York Times): "Hollywood’s ready to cast Clinton in top role"

(First Read): "Obama: 'No way' I would have dumped Biden from 2012 ticket"

(MSNBC): "Finger pointing, not unity, follows Cuccinelli loss"

(Roll Call): "Democrat to announce campaign for Runyan’s seat"


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The take-away from Christie's Democratic support in New Jersey

 By Richard K. Barry

31 percent of self-identified "liberals" voted for Chris Christie for governor of New Jersey. We all understand that he's the man who stood tall in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. He worked with President Obama to get results for his state. In other words, he worked across the aisle, which is, apparently,  some sort of freakin' miracle these days. He made New Jersey proud and for that a lot of people who shouldn't have voted for him based up his record, voted for him anyway.

The problem is that a lot of folks are going to busy themselves making way to much of this.

Charles P. Peirce at Esquire is one of them (though his characterization of Christie is bang on):
There is no reason on god's earth why a self-identified liberal would vote for Chris Christie. He's a tool of the ascendant oligarchy, awful on women's rights, terrible on infrastructure, very high on union-busting, and a short-tempered, thin-skinned bully into the bargain. If you're a New Jersey Democratic legislator who needs a little somethin'-somethin', I can see why you would support him. But 31 percent of liberals? Please. Because of that number, and because he also got 32 percent of the overall Democratic vote, the Christie '16 narrative is now set in stone. He's the Obamist candidate who can bring folks together. He can end the "divisiveness" in our politics, which will be a way for us to anesthetize ourselves to the reality that one of our two major political parties determined that the nation would not be governed by a black man. We will all move on to glory together because of Chris Christie's healing hand.

I might see it a little differently. A lot of voters all over the country are tired of the extremist Tea Party nonsense. The Democrat establishment intentionally put up no fight in New Jersey, correctly reasoning that it was unwinnable. So, sure, a lot of Democrats in the state voted for an old school Republican against a no-name Democrat to send Tea Party radicals a message that under some circumstances they will consider voting for the GOP.

But just because Christie looks moderate when compared to the Tea Party, which is really who he was running against, doesn't mean he'll look moderate when running against a real Democrat. 

We'll see how that goes, if he ever gets the nomination, which I suspect is unlikely.

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A.M. Headlines

(NBC News): "Exclusive: Obama personally apologizes for Americans losing health coverage"

(Ari Fleischer): "Why the House must pass ENDA"

(The Hill): "McConnell forms secret group to come up with budget alternative"

(CNN International): "Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of strongest storms ever, plows across Philippines"

(New York Times): "Sharp words from Israel on potential deal with Iran"


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Thursday, November 07, 2013

P.M. Headlines

(ESPN NFL): "Dolphins mixed on Jonathan Martin"

(NBC Politics): "Obama administration report details cost of last month's shutdown"

(San Francisco Chronicle): "Senate OKs ban on LGBT job bias; House fight looms"

(USA Today): "Can Sen. Rand Paul handle the heat? Some wonder"

(TPM): "Post-plagiarism restructuring, Rand Paul's opinion column moves to Breitbart"


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Oh Drat

By Mustang Bobby

David Barton isn’t going to primary Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).

Controversial Evangelical author David Barton just announced that he won’t challenge Senator John Cornyn in the 2014 Texas Senate primary. On Glenn Beck’s radio show this morning, he told Beck’s listeners that, though the primary is “winnable,” the timing isn’t right for him.

“What can I do to talk you into this?” asked Beck, disappointed.

Louie Gohmert doesn’t want to run, either. (And he could probably win.) So the clown car will have to move on to some other place.

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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On the Hustings

(New York Times): "G.O.P. weighs limiting clout of right wing"

(Public Policy Polling): "TX Republicans want to replace Cornyn"

(Los Angeles Times): "Tea party favorite Tim Donnelly to run for governor"

(The Hill): "Field cleared for Sink"

(Roll Call): "Coble to announce ‘future political plans’ on Thursday"


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Marco Rubio says something smart about Chris Christie and the 2013 elections

By Michael J.W. Stickings

 Specifically, about Tuesday's elections and what they all mean:

In an interview with CNN, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio downplayed Wednesday any national takeaways from GOP Gov. Chris Christie's crushing victory in the blue state of New Jersey and Republican Ken Cuccinelli's loss in Virginia, saying what happened in Tuesday's elections carry little implications for the future of the GOP.

"I think we need to understand that some of these races don't apply to future races. Every race is different -- it has a different set of factors -- but I congratulate (Christie) on his win," he told CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash.

The first-term Senator from Florida stressed that each race is unique to the state where it's taking place.

"Clearly (Christie) was able to speak to the hopes and aspirations of people within New Jersey. That's important. We want to win everywhere and Governor Christie has certainly shown he has a way of winning in New Jersey, in states like New Jersey... so I congratulate him on that," he said. 

Actually, he's overstating his case a bit. Each election ought to be understood on its own terms, but it's not like they take place in complete isolation from one another. And even with off-year elections like the ones on Tuesday, certain themes and trends can be found, even if there isn't necessarily the sort of easy, simplistic, overarching narrative (who won, who lost, what it all means) the news media so desperately want to find and push (as Jon Stewart amusingly pointed out tonight). And one thing we saw is that, Christie's win over a relative unknown notwithstanding, Democrats and progressive causes did quite well, on the whole.

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Behind the Ad: AFL-CIO weighs in on immigration reform

By Richard K. Barry


Where: Atlanta; Bakersfield; Denver: Orlando (in Spanish) and Metropolitan Washington, D.C. (in English)

What's going on: The AFL-CIO is launching a bilingual ad campaign to encourage Republicans to pass immigration reform and to draw attention to hostile statements some Republicans have made about Latino immigrants.

From the AFL-CIO Now website:
The Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill in June, and last month a House bill patterned on the bipartisan Senate measure was introduced. But House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other Republican leaders have indicated they will not allow a vote on a comprehensive immigration reform bill with a road map to citizenship.


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A.M. Headlines

(Wall Street Journal): "Twitter's IPO to make market debut"

(CBS News): "Obama takes Texas to task for not expanding Medicaid"

(ABC News): "Obama congratulates Christie on re-election"

(New York Times): "Sebelius rejects delays to get time to repair problems at health site"

(NBC News): "Colorful questions, but few easy answers, as court wrestles with prayer"


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Wednesday, November 06, 2013

P.M. Headlines

(Wall Street Journal): "The portents of election 2013"

(Stu Rothenberg): "Victory is in the eye of the beholder in New Jersey, Virginia and Alabama"

(CNN): "Rubio: Don't jump to conclusions about meaning of Christie win"

(Greg Sargent): ""Cuccinelli’s stance on Obamacare was a liability, McAuliffe pollster says"

(John Avlon): "Christie’s reelection triumph is a revenge of the RINOs"


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Reasonable Republican = Extremist

By Frank Moraes

Ed Kilgore provides a good rundown of one race we haven't heard much about: the Republican primary election in Alabama's first congressional district—the Mobile area, In Alabama GOP, It's Hard to Be Too Radical. It is an election between Tea Party nutcase Dean Young and the Republican establishment candidate Bradley Byrne. What's important here is that from a policy standpoint, there is pretty much no light between these two men. So the question is, how exactly is Byrne the "reasonable" Republican?

The answer is that he isn't. Over the weekend, I discussed this very issue as it applied to Virginia, Business Will Not Give Up on GOP. The business community is not for moderate or reasonable candidates. They want candidates who will do exactly as the big corporations want. The only concern they have about the supposed extremists is that they won't win. Otherwise, they are fine with them.

The same thing is true of the Republican establishment. In fact, we might as well say that corporate America and the Republican establishment are the same thing. They want the same policies and their only real concern is winning elections. If there is a difference, it would simply be that the Republican establishment are slightly more willing to compromise in the pursuit of their goals.

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On the Hustings

(The Week): "3 big wins for Democrats last night"

(Politico): "Ken Cuccinelli’s near miss sparks recriminations"

(National Journal): "Off-year races really don't matter, except when it's McAuliffe and Clinton"

(Boston Globe): "Martin Walsh wins Boston’s mayoral race"

(Roll Call): "Byrne and business prevail in Alabama special"

(Newark Star-Ledger):"Jon Runyan won't seek re-election to Congress in 2014"


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Weak tea

By Mustang Bobby

The election results in Virginia, New York, New Jersey, and Alabama indicate that the Tea Party had a bad day.

Terry McAuliffe, no one’s idea of a perfect candidate, beat Ken Cuccinelli for governor of Virginia. Mr. Cuccinelli was the personification of Tea Party ideology with the added touch of evangelical prudery, homophobia, and misogyny. That the election was close was probably more an indication of Mr. McAuliffe’s utter lack of charm than a late surge of voters in favor of transvaginal probing and banning sodomy. There’s only so much purity that the voters can take.

In New Jersey, the re-election of Chris Christie sets the stage for the 2016 primary starting today. Even though rational people know that Mr. Christie is not a moderate centrist Republican by any standard, he’s viewed with deep suspicion by the Tea Party because he once shook hands with Barack Obama and said nice things about him. That makes him a heretic in the eyes of the Inquisitors, and will doom any chances he has of winning in primaries in places like Texas or the Deep South.

Speaking of the Deep South, a run-off election in Alabama put an establishment Republican in the House over an avowed Tea Partier and birther. It’s hard to imagine that a bomb-thrower like that could lose in Alabama, but even there they seem to have their limit on the nutsery.

A lot of obituaries have been written about the Tea Party only to have the zombies rise from the grave once again, but it’s pretty hard to see yesterday’s election results as a sign of vigorous health for it. But rest assured that somewhere in the aftermath of these elections, there is some Republican strategist who is certain that they lost because their candidates weren’t conservative enough.

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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A.M. Headlines

(Politico): "Why Terry McAuliffe barely won"

(New York Times): "Chris Christie coasts to 2nd term as governor of New Jersey"

(Washington Times): "Washington Times ends Sen. Rand Paul column amid plagiarism allegations"

(Roll Call):"Democrats' anxiety grows over Obamacare problems"

(New York Times): "De Blasio is elected New York City mayor in landslide"


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Tuesday, November 05, 2013

U.S. Election Extravaganza 2013

By Michael J.W. Stickings 

So here we are. A huge, historic day for the greatest country that has ever graced the face of the earth.

Actually, that's not true. None of it.

But it is Election Day in America, and there are some important, interesting races around the country, and there are already results coming in, with votes in...

Virginia... and New Jersey... and New York City... and... and... Alabama?

Yes, the (great?) state of Alabama, where one-quarter of my family is from, including my wonderful, sadly now-deceased maternal grandfather, a WWII hero and, later, baseball broadcaster. There's a House race in that state's first district, with, predictably, two right-wing Republicans on the ballot. So whatever.

(There are also a lot of other local elections taking place, and I'm sure many of them are important and interesting, but we're going to stick to the national stories here.)

Does any of this matter, though? I mean, is there any larger narrative? Will the results tonight tell us anything about the political state of the country, about where the country may be going headed into 2014, with the midterms coming up a year from now, with President Obama's approval ratings low, though not nearly as low as Congress's, with the Affordable Care Act struggling to get going and of course under a constant barrage of dishonestly from Republicans?

I would say no, not really.

Gov. Chris Christie has won re-election in New Jersey. I believe that was called weeks ago, no? It might as well have been. He's a bully and a blowhard, but there's no denying his popularity, and he certainly qualifies as the GOP superstar du jour, with all signs pointing to a 2016 presidential run, with the media salivating over his prospects, even if in reality he stands zero chance of winning the Republican nomination because he's just so out of line with mainstream right-wing Republicanism these days (though he'd likely be a formidable national candidate, just as he might have been the best choice as Romney's running mate last year). Sure, it says a lot that he can win in a blue state, and he's certainly no ideological extremist, but Republicans have a long history of winning state-wide races in my former home state and it's not like Democrats put up a truly viable alternative. Sorry, but Barbara Buono is no Cory Booker.

So, again, whatever.

The more interesting race by far has been in Virginia, where centrist (and corrupt) Clintonite Dem Terry McAuliffe has been ahead of Tea Party social conservative extremist Ken Cuccinelli, he who hates blow jobs, in the polls and appears to be on track to win in that oh-so-purple state. Last night on The Daily Show, a somewhat funny bit suggested that it's a race between two equal evils, two equally unlikeable candidates. That's Jon Stewart's independent shtick, but it's anything but true in this case. I'm hardly a fan of McAuliffe, who has spent much of his political career wallowing in the deep underbelly of the Clinton machine, but he's an opportunistic, self-aggrandizing centrist. He's not nearly as progressive as I would like, but he's at least on the right side of the issue when it comes to, say, women's health, the environment (more or less), and poverty, while The Cooch is a far-right extremist and ideologue who represents the nefarious fusion of anti-government Tea Party radicalism and socially moralistic Christianist theocratism. There's the choice. And the choice is clear. That's what Virginia voters are saying.

As for The Big Apple, well... after years and years of Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, two right-leaning law-and-order types who were tough on crime, minorities, and Big Gulp drinkers, it's obviously time for someone who represents the city's more progressive aspirations for a better life, not just a "safer" life, and that someone is Democrat Bill de Blasio, whose toughest competition was in the Democratic primary and who will beat Republican (and former Giuliani lieutanant) Joe Lhota by, what, 40 points? More? Let's just agree it'll be a landslide. It remains to be seen how de Blasio performs as mayor, and perhaps there are questions about how effectively he'll manage the city and be something more than an aspirational figure, but there's no denying his broad support among the city's various demographic groups and the fact that he's generated a good deal of excitement during the campaign.

By the way, it's still too early to call in Virginia. Not surprising. The early votes from the more rural parts of the state tend to go Republican, while the Democratic votes from the denser northern parts of the state come later, and so The Cooch will continue to lead until, hopefully, those urban, suburban, and exurban votes turn the tide in McAuliffe's favor. But it'll take time. This is purely anecdotal, but Virginia vote-counting and reporting always seems to be a slow, slow process.

Alright, a short break... be back soon.



At 9:30 pm, it's a really tight race in Virginia, but McAuliffe has closed the gap significantly. It's now 878,515 to 875,160, or 47-46, for The Cooch, with 87% of precincts reporting.

Christie's up 59-39. Yes, yes, a big win. Let the media kick their stupid "Christie 2016" narrative into an even higher gear. Perspective, people, perspective.

In New York, the race has been called for de Blasio even though, as of right now, CNN has no votes reported. There you go.


By the way, make sure to read the comments. One of our co-bloggers, Frank Moraes, is weighing in as well.


McAuliffe has taken the lead. It's now 911,726 to 906,841, or 47-46, with 91% reporting. I was going to say it's hard to believe that many people actually voted for The Cooch, but, no, it's not surprising at all. It's Virginia, after all, with large parts of the state deeply rooted in the Confederacy, and of course this purple state, like the country generally, remains deeply divided along partisan lines regardless of candidate.


And CNN -- and probably others, but that's what I've got up on the screen at the moment -- has called it for McAuliffe.

It's still 47-46, and so a closer election than expected (and than the polls were suggesting was likely to be the case), though the final numbers will likely show a larger McAuliffe victory, with votes still coming in from populous Democratic areas.

Why is that, this closer-than-expected race? Republican vote suppression efforts, anyone?


At 11:19 pm, it's McAuliffe over Cooch 45-45.

Meanwhile, Christie won big and de Blasio is crushing it. And, for what it's worth, Bradley Byrne beat Dean Young in AL-1.

Oh, what an extravaganza it's been.

Good night, everyone.

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P.M. Headlines

(CBS News): "Va. governor's race leaning toward McAuliffe"

(New York Times): "Illinois sends bill allowing gay marriage to governor"

(First Read): "In shift, GOP vows to fight for more electable candidates in Senate primaries"

(CNN): "Christie: Romney 'embarrassed' about VP vetting leak"

(Reuters): "Toronto Mayor Ford admits he smoked crack; will not resign"


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The next great war

By Carl

You may or may not be aware, but World War III has already started. We just haven’t gotten caught up in it. Yet.
To appreciate how Congo descended into this madness, you need to step back more than a hundred years to when King Leopold II of Belgium snatched this huge space in the middle of Africa as his own personal colony. Leopold wanted rubber and ivory, and he started the voracious wholesale assault on Congo’s resources that has dragged on to this day. When the Belgians abruptly granted Congo independence in 1960, insurrections erupted immediately, paving the way for an ambitious young military man, Mobutu Sese Seko, to seize power—and never let go. Mobutu ruled for 32 years, stuffing himself with fresh Parisian cake airlifted into his jungle palaces while Congolese children curled up and starved.

But Mobutu would eventually go down, and when he did, Congo would go down with him. In 1994 Rwanda, next door, imploded in genocide, leaving up to a million dead. Many of the killers fled into eastern Congo, which became a base for destabilizing Rwanda. So Rwanda teamed up with neighboring Uganda and invaded Congo, ousting Mobutu in 1997 and installing their own proxy, Laurent Kabila. They soon grew annoyed with him and invaded again. That second phase of Congo’s war sucked in Chad, Namibia, Angola, Burundi, Sudan, and Zimbabwe—it’s often called Africa’s first world war.

In the ensuing free-for-all, foreign troops and rebel groups seized hundreds of mines. It was like giving an ATM card to a drugged-out kid with a gun. The rebels funded their brutality with diamonds, gold, tin, and tantalum, a hard, gray, corrosion-resistant element used to make electronics. Eastern Congo produces 20 to 50 percent of the world’s tantalum.

While the UN was able to pressure the external forces to withdraw, the mineral wealth of the Congo remains both elusive and plentiful, just ripe for some organized nation to exploit. Like perhaps the United States. Or China.

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Vimeo of the Day: "El Cielo de La Palma"

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Here's a beautiful timelapse video of the sky of La Palma, one of the Canary Islands:

"El Cielo de La Palma" es un vídeo en formato "Timelapse" donde se muestran las escenas mas impresionantes de "La Isla Bonita".

Realizado para Turismo de La Palma para la promoción del turismo astronómico. Muestra a lo largo de poco mas de 3 minutos de vídeo en formato timelapse nocturno y crepuscular el espectacular cielo de la isla de La Palma, sus increíbles lugares y paisajes.

For more, see here (in Spanish).

El Cielo de La Palma from Daniel López on Vimeo.

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As Maine goes...

By Mustang Bobby

Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME) is running for governor of Maine. And, as he told the world in a column in the Portland Press Herald, he’s gay.

When I entered the race for governor, I did so because I love the state of Maine and am tired of seeing it dragged in the wrong direction. There was never any question that it would be a tough race, but I know I have the vision, the experience and the commitment to lead Maine forward.

Once I jumped to an early lead in the polls, I knew it was only a matter of time before individuals and organizations intent on re-creating the uncertainty that led to our current governor’s election three years ago would start their attacks. Already my opponents have tried to blatantly distort my support for a woman’s right to choose and my tireless commitment to our nation’s veterans.

So I wasn’t surprised to learn about the whisper campaigns, insinuations and push-polls some of the people opposed to my candidacy have been using to raise questions about my personal life. They want people to question whether I am gay.

Allow me to save them the trouble with a simple, honest answer: “Yes I am. But why should it matter?”

That may seem like a big announcement to some people. For me, it’s just a part of who I am, as much as being a third-generation mill worker or a lifelong Mainer. One thing I do know is that it has nothing to do with my ability to lead the state of Maine.

I’m old enough to remember when this kind of news would doom a campaign in utero. Hell, that would have probably doomed a campaign twenty years ago. Now it’s being treated as no big deal, which is as it should be.

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On the Hustings - Election Day

(Politico): "Final sprint in Election 2013"

(NBC Politics):  "It's Election Day: From N.J. to Va., what contests to watch"

(Business Insider): "Three big elections today will tell us about the future of the GOP"

(First Read): "First Thoughts: Minding the middle - and the base"

(Real Clear Politics): "The significance of Chris Christie's win"

(Daily Beast): "Virginia Election: 5 things to watch Tuesday"

(Reuters): ""As New York votes for mayor, de Blasio poised for landslide"

(Roll Call): ""Alabama special election is proxy battle for national GOP"

(The Recall Elections Blog): "15 officials facing recall votes on Tuesday"

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Many more planets, just like ours

By Michael J.W. Stickings

The Times reports on a remarkable discovery:

The known odds of something — or someone — living far, far away from Earth improved beyond astronomers' boldest dreams on Monday. 

Astronomers reported that there could be as many as 40 billion habitable Earth-size planets in the galaxy, based on a new analysis of data from NASA's Kepler spacecraft.

One out of every five sunlike stars in the galaxy has a planet the size of Earth circling it in the Goldilocks zone — not too hot, not too cold — where surface temperatures should be compatible with liquid water, according to a herculean three-year calculation based on data from the Kepler spacecraft by Erik Petigura, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. 

I wonder if the inhabitants of those planets are fucking up their worlds the way we are.

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Food stamps and the invisible poor

By Richard K. Barry 

Steve Benen at Maddowblog made a point yesterday that is so obviously true it made me shake my head:

In recent weeks, it's been remarkably easy to find so-called "victims" of the Affordable Care Act on various news shows, each telling their story about how they're going to lose their old, awful coverage plan. These horror stories generally don't stand up well to scrutiny – we're talking about folks who are getting a subsidized insurance upgrade – but they've nevertheless become an easy, popular story for those eager to blast "Obamacare."

I can't help but notice, though, that actual victims of food-stamp cuts aren't exactly blanketing the national airwaves. Arthur Delaney reported on Friday about food-bank directors worrying aloud about the consequences of shrinking benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). 

According to USA Today:

Food stamp benefits will be cut to more than 47 million Americans starting Friday as a temporary boost to the federal program comes to an end without a new budget from a deadlocked Congress to replace it.

Under the program, known formally as the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program, or SNAP, a family of four that gets $668 per month in benefits will find that amount cut by $36.

Those who need food stamps and are suffering from program cuts are largely, Benen ads, invisible to the Beltway media preoccupied with a temporarily dysfunctional website.

Some people count and others don't. That's just the way it is, as the media fabricates one crisis and ignores another.

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The end of ENDA: House Republicans more than happy to promote anti-gay discrimination

By Michael J.W. Stickings

It hardly matters that President Obama took to the pages of HuffPo to promote the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and that the numbers are lining up for passage of this historic legislation in the Senate, a handful of somewhat less right-wing extremist Republicans poised to join Democrats to make it happen. House Republicans, who are far more in line with the Republican zeitgeist than these renegades in the Senate, will kill it:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) affirmed on Monday morning that he would oppose a law that would prohibit discrimination against gay and lesbian employees in the workplace, citing the possibility that it would put a financial burden on businesses.

"The Speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement.

That's all nonsense. As Jon Chait wrote yesterday, "[a] GAO study found that states that have already enacted job protections for gay and lesbian employees have seen very few lawsuits as a result."

Republicans like John Boehner may or may not sincerely believe what their talking points tell them, but basically the vast majority of Republicans are fine either with sexual orientation discrimination (because they're bigots) or with doing nothing to stop it (because they're bigots or idiots or partisan extremists, or all three).

As Greg Sargent wrote, putting it rather nicely, "[i]n the House, Republicans appear to be moving backwards.

Of course, it's not just in the House and it's not just ENDA. Wherever history and justice are united in the pursuit of a more fair society -- wherever, that is, there is progress -- you can be sure Republicans are running in the opposite direction with their heads up their asses.

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A.M. Headlines

(Huffington Post): " Rounding up the final 2013 election polls"

(Washington Post): "Book review: ‘Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House’"

(New York Times): "Bill advances to outlaw discrimination against gays"

(Yahoo! News): "Lawmakers push to keep Obama's health care pledge"

(Real Clear Politics): "Poll shows high anti-Washington sentiment"

(CNN): "New Jersey mall gunman found dead hours after shooting"


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Monday, November 04, 2013

Bushie minion pens willfully dishonest WaPo op-ed about President Obama and the Affordable Care Act, hilarity ensues

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Former Bush II speechwriter Marc Thiessen attacks President Obama in today's Washington Post for supposedly lying to Americans when he said they could keep their existing health plans:

This whole episode is a window into a fundamentally dishonest presidency.


Every president faces the challenge of explaining complex policies in simple terms. But the quest for simplicity is no excuse for dishonesty.

I'm prepared to admit that the president shouldn't have said what he said and that he oversimplified for the sake of making a point, for trying to minimize concerns about the new Affordable Care Act system. Hell, Thiessen even quotes the venerable Times as supporting his point: "Mr. Obama clearly misspoke."

But wait. Is that the end of it?

No. Read the Times editorial in full. (Maybe Thiessen did, but he quotes selectively and intentionally misrepresents its point.) Most people can keep their plans. The ones who can't are the ones with bad plans:

Mr. Obama clearly misspoke when he said that. By law, insurers cannot continue to sell policies that don't provide the minimum benefits and consumer protections required as of next year. So they've sent cancellation notices to hundreds of thousands of people who hold these substandard policies. (At issue here are not the 149 million people covered by employer plans, but the 10 million to 12 million people who buy policies directly on the individual market.)

But insurers are not allowed to abandon enrollees. They must offer consumers options that do comply with the law, and they are scrambling to retain as many of their customers as possible with new policies that are almost certain to be more comprehensive than their old ones.

Indeed, in all the furor, people forget how terrible many of the soon-to-be-abandoned policies were. Some had deductibles as high as $10,000 or $25,000 and required large co-pays after that, and some didn't cover hospital care.

This overblown controversy has also obscured the crux of what health care reform is trying to do, which is to guarantee that everyone can buy insurance without being turned away or charged exorbitant rates for pre-existing conditions and that everyone can receive benefits that really protect them against financial or medical disaster, not illusory benefits that prove inadequate when a crisis strikes. 

There will always be a small fraction of exceptions, examples of people who for whatever reason aren't getting what they want, whose plans have changed in ways they don't like, and conservatives like Thiessen will continue to highlight those exceptions as the rule even as they're anything but, so intent are they to destroy the Affordable Care Act and the effort to extend health insurance to tens of millions of Americans.

But the Times is right. The president simply "misspoke," while the facts about the Affordable Care Act remain the same. Almost all of those who can't keep their plans can't keep them because they're horrible plans and because they'll get better plans in the new system.

It's interesting, isn't it, that Thiessen accuses the president of lying while only quoting four words of an editorial that otherwise destroys his case?

Who's really being dishonest? Who's really the liar?

If you need time to answer that, I'd remind you again that Thiessen worked for George W. Bush. And if you recall, the truth wasn't exactly high on the list of priorities during that abominable presidency. Remember those Iraqi WMDs?

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P.M. Headlines

(ThinkProgress): "Supreme Court dismisses major attack on abortion rights"

(Greg Sargent): "House GOP regresses on gay rights"

(Politico): "Democratic poll: Gun issue helps Terry McAuliffe"

(Los Angeles Times): "Why can't Obama run the government as smoothly as his campaign?"

(Wall Street Journal): "Obama shifts focus in bid for momentum"


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Them's fightin' words

By Mustang Bobby

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), accused of plagiarism in his speeches, doesn’t take it lightly.

Asked about the accusations on Sunday, Mr. Paul, a man of normally courtly demeanor, appeared to grit his teeth. The senator is considered a top Republican presidential prospect for 2016, and such charges can do harm.

“I take it as an insult, and I will not lie down and say people can call me dishonest, misleading or misrepresenting,” he said, dismissing his critics as “hacks and haters.” Presumably in jest, Mr. Paul added: “If dueling were legal in Kentucky, if they keep it up, it’d be a duel challenge.”

The plagiarism story was first reported on “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC, and the website BuzzFeed followed up, describing a speech from June in which Mr. Paul appeared to have lifted words from a separate Wikipedia entry.

Mr. Paul insisted, in an appearance Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” that he normally gives credit where it is due. He said that he often credited primary sources but, favoring extemporaneous speaking, sometimes neglected to cite secondary ones.

He promised, going forward, to do more “footnoting.”

For one thing, reciting a Wikipedia article verbatim is not “extemporaneous.” Second, as one of my more colorful acquaintances from the good old days of SFDB likes to remind me, Wikipedia is considered to be a suspect source among the True Believers of the far right. No respectable nutjob would cite that hive of left-wing propaganda. Perhaps that’s why Mr. Paul left out the citation. Yeah, that’s it.

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)


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On the Hustings

(Public Policy Polling): "McAuliffe leads final poll by 7"

(Monmouth University): " NJ Gov: Christie holds 20 point lead"

(Bangor Daily News): "Mike Michaud: Yes, I am gay. ‘But why should it matter?"

(The Hill): "NRCC chairman: ObamaCare will doom Dems"

(Los Angeles Times): "California probe of campaign donations sheds light on 'dark money'"


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Business will not give up on the GOP

By Frank Moraes 

Martin Longman over at Political Animal has been writing about how the business community might try to take back the Republican Party. He also mentions how they are interested in a third party. You know, all that Third Way bullshit. Now, I think from a practical standpoint, there is absolutely nothing to it. The business community may have backed away from people like Ken Cuccinelli, but that's not because they are freaks and extremists; it's because they see that they are unlikely to win.

But on the broader point, I agree: a lot of business leaders are unhappy with the Republican Party. The problem is that they always have been. In general, they don't like the social conservatism on the right. They prefer the supposed libertarian leanings of the Republicans. So they want to pay less taxes and they want zero regulations. But they also want the crony capitalist side of the party. They want the government to grease the wheels of the market with safe transportation systems, a solid currency, and those lucrative government contracts. So they don't want the Defense of Marriage Act and anti-abortion laws? Big deal! They've been grumbling about this kind of stuff for decades but it's always been a small price to pay for all the goodies the Republican Party gives them.

I understand where Longman is coming from. Having a totally crazy, extremist Republican Party is bad for the Democratic Party. It is bad for America! And I would very much like to see the Republicans become more reasonable. But it just isn't the case that this is going to happen via the "adults" in the party. I get so tired of talking about this, but would someone please show me how it is that the supposedly reasonable Republicans are anything but extremists? The business leaders may want immigration reform, but that's about the only reasonable position they hold. And even there, they want reform that is almost entirely for the benefit of the business community. A decade and a half path to citizenship doesn't show any concern for the actual people. And if the business leaders could get reform without any path to citizenship, they would.

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Behind the Ad: Cuomo vs. Cuomo on casino gambling

(Another installment in our extensive "Behind the Ad" series.)  

Who: The Committee Against Proposition 1.

Where: New York State (downstate).

What's going on: Politics is always about a lot more than who gets elected. Sometimes it's about referenda that could have a significant impact on policy decisions. It's not as exciting as horse race stuff, but it can be very important.

There is a proposition on the ballot in New York State to expand casino gambling. Current Gov. Cuomo supports it, which could add up to seven new casinos in the state.  Twenty years ago, his father, then Gov. Mario Cuomo lobbied against casino gambling.

It's a clever tactic to tie the son to a prior position of the father, though Mario is having none of it. According to The Buffalo News:

Mario Cuomo released a statement tonight distancing himself from the claims in the new ad. "I made those statements in 1994. A great deal has changed in 20 years. The New York that I was dealing with was a different place. We didn't have casinos on every border. Gaming was only in Las Vegas and Atlantic City,'' he said in a written statement.

Mario Cuomo said his statement was made before New York legalized racetrack-based casinos and before casinos came to other states and provinces surrounding New York. "So if you want to vote with Cuomo, vote yes on Proposal One,'' he said.

Memo to the group that produced this ad: No one cares what Mario Cuomo said about anything twenty years ago.

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