Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sarah Palin's Stalker Sounds Like Sarah Palin

From a Becky Bohrer article on The Huffington Post:
Sarah Palin has been granted a restraining order against a Pennsylvania man accused of stalking and threatening her.

Alaska Magistrate Judge Colleen Ray issued a 20-day protective order on Monday against 18-year-old Shawn R. Christy, after she found probable cause to believe he had stalked the former governor and vice presidential candidate.

Palin and her attorney claimed Christy made implied threats through phone and written messages, allegedly telling Palin to "watch her back," saying he was buying a one-way ticket to Alaska and sending a receipt for a gun purchase.

Palin testified by telephone that she feared for her life, and for her family's safety: "Bottom line is, he is crazy and could kill me," Palin said, according to the court transcript. "He wants me dead."

Palin also testified that he also believes he has some kind of relationship with her daughter, Willow, and has brought up the girl's name.

Christy was ordered to have no contact with Palin's family and to stay a mile away from her home and from a Wasilla area high school. A protective order also was issued for Palin's friend, Kristan Cole, who, according to the document, testified that Christy has been contacting her since 2009.

He had sent her a letter with the proof of a gun purchase, claimed to have had an affair with Palin and wrote, in letters of up to 10 pages long, that "he is trying to follow God but has evil in him, and that he is going to sell everything and come to Alaska with his shotgun," according to the court order.
What I found interesting is that this stalker's comments sound surprisingly like Sarah Palin's comments regarding Democrats.  Remember her map of America with the crosshairs and her "reload" tweets?

Sounds as if Palin's stalker is taking a cue from the former half-term governor of Alaska - maybe Christy is just clinging to his god and his guns.

And notice how Palin brings up her daughter by claiming she had some sort of relationship with the stalker, whatever that means - Palin has used her children before to target her enemies.  Remember when she implied author Joe McGinniss was some sort of pervert by moving next door and having a view to her daughter's bedroom?  Palingates had an excellent post detailing Palin's use of her daughters to strike those she hates.

Don't get me wrong - Palin did the right thing in alerting authorities and getting a restraining order.  I just wanted to point out the similarities between Palin's rhetoric and her stalkers, because imagine what kind of influence Palin could have on someone who is mentally unstable...

House Approves Tariff Bill Targeting China

David E. Sanger and Sewell Chan wrote an article for The New York Times on Wednesday regarding the passage of a bill in the house that will give the Commerce Department the authority to impose tariffs on Chinese goods.
The House of Representatives sent a unusually confrontational signal to the Chinese leadership on Wednesday, voting overwhelmingly to give President Obama the authority to impose tariffs on all Chinese imports — more than $300 billion this year — in retaliation for Beijing’s refusal to revalue its currency.

The vote was 348 to 79.

The bill is unlikely to become law because the prospects for Senate approval are dim.

Nonetheless, the action was intended to hand President Obama additional leverage in what has become a major flashpoint between the world’s two largest economies. While tariffs have been slapped on specific products, from steel to tires, because of evidence of unfair export subsidies, the threat to put sizable tariffs on a country’s entire line exports to the United States is highly unusual — and, some argue, of dubious legality under international trade law. It reflects both election-year politics over jobs and huge frustration over unfulfilled promises by China to allow its currency to rise in value, which would make Chinese goods less competitive in the United States.
I find this legislation very interesting because it is a mix of politics and economics - a dangerous mix.  There is no real winner when a tariff is placed on a good.  I understand that this bill is designed to send a message to the Chinese government but it will be at the expense of the American middle class - those who depend on the inexpensive products of China will suffer by paying more for those goods.

"The gains from a tariff are clearly visible but the costs are hidden," writes Mike Moffatt, a political science and economics scholar.  "it will often appear that tariffs do not have a cost. By understanding this we can understand why so many government policies are enacted which harm the economy."

Moffatt writes the following describing the negative effects of a tariff:
Except in all but the rarest of instances, tariffs hurt the country that imposes them, as their costs outweigh their benefits. Tariffs are a boon to domestic producers who now face reduced competition in their home market. The reduced competition causes prices to rise. The sales of domestic producers should also rise, all else being equal. The increased production and price causes domestic producers to hire more workers which causes consumer spending to rise. The tariffs also increase government revenues that can be used to the benefit of the economy.

There are costs to tariffs, however. Now the price of the good with the tariff has increased, the consumer is forced to either buy less of this good or less of some other good. The price increase can be thought of as a reduction in consumer income. Since consumers are purchasing less, domestic producers in other industries are selling less, causing a decline in the economy.

Generally the benefit caused by the increased domestic production in the tariff protected industry plus the increased government revenues does not offset the losses the increased prices cause consumers and the costs of imposing and collecting the tariff. We haven't even considered the possibility that other countries might put tariffs on our goods in retaliation, which we know would be costly to us. Even if they do not, the tariff is still costly to the economy. In my article The Effect of Taxes on Economic Growth we saw that increased taxes cause consumers to alter their behavior which in turn causes the economy to be less efficient. Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations showed how international trade increases the wealth of an economy. Any mechanism designed to slow international trade will have the effect of reducing economic growth. For these reasons economic theory teaches us that tariffs will be harmful to the country imposing them.
What interests me even more is that this bill, which is designed to manipulate world markets, was approved by 99 Republicans (more than half) - the political party that is supposedly for the free market.  If that was the case, they should have voted against the bill, but because it is an election year, they needed to do what would be perceived as the popular thing to do and let their hypocrisy show by voting for the tariff - some politicians did make some sense, though.
During the House debate, supporters cited studies that they said show the legislation would boost American exports and create more manufacturing jobs in this country.

"Some credible estimates are that we could return a million American jobs to this country," said Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., in urging support for the legislation. "We can either take bold steps or we can take baby steps."

Opponents said the legislation would boost the cost of clothing, toys and other goods that American consumers buy and also ran the risk of sparking retaliation by China against American exports.

"The available evidence is that the price of many of these Chinese goods will go up 10 percent, a pair of shoes that a mother needs for her child to go to school ... toys at Christmas, all become more expensive," said Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas.

Supporters rejected that argument, saying it is critical in hard economic times to protect U.S. jobs.
Basically, this bill looks good on paper - it will supposedly boost jobs and exports (although I hardly see how it will boost American exports), and with jobs being a top concern with the American voter, how could any politician pass up the opportunity to look like a hero by adding a million jobs to the economy?  The only problem is what good will those jobs do if many more people see their weekly bills increase possibly 10 percent?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

James O'Keefe Plot To Seduce CNN Journalist Foiled

Abbie Boudreau, an experienced investigative journalist for CNN, was recently involved in one of pretend-journalist James O'Keefe's silly little plans.  If you recall, O'Keefe was involved in creating highly edited videos to take down ACORN and was arrested for entering a federal building under false pretenses, but this newest incident involving O'Keefe is even stranger then the last - O'Keefe had decided to "punk" a CNN reporter by trying to lure her on a boat alone and secretly tape her while the two are surrounded by condoms, dildos, lube, pornography, and prescription drugs.

Boudreau wrote the following:
Recently, I was the target of a failed punk. James O'Keefe, the so-called "pimp" in the ACORN expose videos, was participating in a detailed plan to "faux" seduce me on his boat. For months, I had been working on a documentary about the young conservative movement. James had called me about concerns he had regarding an upcoming shoot. He asked me to meet him to talk about the shoot. I agreed to fly to Maryland and then drive to his "office" for a face-to-face conversation with him.

When I showed up, there was no office, as promised. Instead, he wanted to get me on a boat, which we later learned, was staged as a "pleasure palace." One of his colleagues, Izzy Santa, who was in Maryland that day, told me about the plan and stopped the punk before it happened.

Izzy told me he had "strawberries and champagne" waiting for me on the boat, and that he planned to "hit on me" the entire time. She said it would all be captured on hidden cameras that had been set up on the boat and in the back yard. She said the sole purpose of the "punk" was to embarrass me, and to make CNN look bad.

I would soon learn the details of the plan, in a 13-page document titled, "CNN Caper."
Do these sound like the actions of a "citizen journalist" or an immature amateur prankster trying to make a name for himself by humiliating and destroying others?

I want to point out a couple things from the 13-page plan O'Keefe devised.  One thing is that the itemization of the "equipment" included Viagra.  Where would O'Keefe obtain the prescription drug?

The second thing is that Maryland is an all party consent state, meaning that in order to videotape someone, all parties involved in the recording must give prior consent.  O'Keefe's little plan would have violated state law, but is that any surprise?

Also, would O'Keefe luring a reporter onto his boat and bombarding her with pornography and sex toys constitute a sexual crime?

One does have to question the foiling of the plan - while Santa was the person to reveal the plan, she is still on O'Keefe's payroll and O'Keefe is denying everything, claiming the prank was "not [his] work product."  Is O'Keefe pretending to have planned a sex prank only to humiliate CNN and those who report on the failed prank?

I only hope that Boudreau has not let her guard down in dealing with this little punk...

Six Degrees of Jim Hoft - How The President Is Connected To Colombian Guerillas FARC and Islamic Extremism...

I recently saw a Jim Hoft article for Big Government that discussed FBI raids in Chicago and Minneapolis that I thought was interesting - not because of what he was talking about but because of the connections he tries to make.

"Last Friday FBI agents raided the homes of far left activists in Chicago and Minneapolis who are linked to the FARC and Islamic radicals as part of a terrorism investigation," writes Hoft, referencing his own Gateway Pundit as proof that what he writes about is real.

While Hoft goes on about leftist terrorism and radical Islam, he tries to make some associations linking the Obama administration to the Colombian revolutionary guerrilla group.
Hatem Abudayyeh is the executive director of the Arab American Action Network (AAAN). Hatem Abudayyeh has been with the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) since 1999, and was appointed Executive Director in 2003. The Arab American Action Network was founded by former PLO operative and close Obama family friend Rashid Khalidi. Obama was a director of the Woods Fund from 1994 through 2001, when the board approved a $40,000 grant to the Arab American Action Network.

In 2003 Barack Obama was an honored guest at a dinner sponsored by the AAAN for former PLO-operative Rashid Khalidi. During the dinner a video was taken that shows Barack Obama celebrating with members of this Palestinian group who are openly hostile towards Israel. Barack Obama even gave a toast to a Rashid Khalidi at this going away party. The LA Times will not release the video from this Jew-bashing dinner.
Based on all this Hoft comes to the conclusion that Hatem Abudayyeh "is Barack Obama’s friend."

Did you follow that?  Because Obama served as a director for the Woods Fund from 1994 through 2001, which granted money to the AAAN, and Obama was an honored guest of the AAAN in 2003, and Abudayyeh served as an executive director for AAAN since 1999, Obama and Abudayyeh must be friends.

Isn't it interesting that Hoft doesn't really mention the FARC portion of the investigation?  He more or less ignores FARC (except for a little paragraph at the end of his article) but focuses on the AAAN connections because he knows there is nothing to link the president to these people but he can definitely blow out of proportion some weak associations from some short-lived stint on some non-profit's board - it was harder for Hoft to make the FARC case especially when just a couple days ago Obama praised the killing of one of FARC's top guys, Jorce Briceño (a.k.a. Mono Jojoy).

"Yesterday was a big day for the people of Colombia and those who are seeking peace in the region," President Obama said, "because of outstanding work by Colombian security forces they were able to embark on a mission that resulted in a death of the leader of FARC."

What was Hoft's mention of FARC anyway?

"It should be noted… FARC terror leader Mono Jojoy was killed in an attack on September 22," wrote Hoft. "Several computers were seized by authorities after the Colombian jungle attack. The FBI raided the homes of the FARC terror sympathizers two days after Mojoy was killed."

Notice how there is zero facts and a lot of insinuation in that last part by Hoft?

Because the FBI raid in Chicago and Minneapolis occurred a couple days after the death of Briceño, the two events must be related.

Hoft is the biggest slap in the face to journalism - his Big Government post amounts to nothing more then loose associations and numerous insinuations. He is one of the rights worst propagandists, and sadly the folks at Big Government eat this crap up.

Looking through the comment section, you can see the mindless sheep buying into Hoft's delusions.

"These raids happened just two days the Colombian attack?" Johnk144 questioned. "If that's why these raids happened, the evidence on those computers must have been extremely threatening, otherwise the FBI would have settled for surveillance."

AT&T Goes To Court For Privacy Protections

Conservatives like to attack the president for being anti-everything, but I would like to see their spin on this particular story:
The Supreme Court is getting involved in an unusual freedom of information dispute over whether corporations may assert personal privacy interests to prevent the government from releasing documents about them.

The court on Tuesday agreed to a request from the Obama administration to take up a case involving claims made by telecommunications giant AT&T to keep secret the information gathered by the Federal Communications Commission during an investigation.

The administration wants the high court to rule that corporations may not claim a personal privacy exception contained in the federal Freedom of Information Act.

The exception may be used only by individuals, the administration said in a brief signed by Elena Kagan, the newest justice who served in the Justice Department until last month.
Will the administration's insistance that companies are not people equate to being an "anti-business" stance?

I do not believe corporations should be included in the exemptions because corporations are not people - this is a topic that TomCat at Politics Plus writes about frequently and I suggest hopping over to his site to read some of those articles.

Giving corporations such protections are damaging to our nation and would probably do more to destroy our nation then anything else, because then corporations will be able to get away with practically anything...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sarah Palin Booed On 'Dancing With The Stars'

The headline says it all.  Here is the video:

The reason for the booing is because while Jennifer Grey and her dance partner were being interviewed backstage, the crew on stage began to prepare an interview between Tom Bergeron and Sarah Palin.  You can see Palin and her daughter looking off to the side when the camera switches to them and the interview begins.

The following link was posted on Palingates by aview999, which references a comment from Entertainment Weekly:
Sorry but the booing WAS for Palin, they inserted an applause track AFTER the fact. I know one of the techs who works for the studio and he said it was ORDERED. He said they were prepared for this ahead for just this sort of issue. All you Palin supporters do not the real Palin, nor will you ever if she has anything to say or do about it. She is dangerous and IF by some weird fluke of fate, gets elected to the presidency, you better have back up plans to move to either Mexico or Canada, perhaps living in the Dark Ages appeals to you?
There was also this from the blog Sarah Palin is a Phony, created in response to the individual's attendance to the DWTS taping:
Having been an audience member on DWTS when Sarah Palin was there, people have been asking me if the audience was actually booing at Sarah. The answer is absolutely yes. It pretty much stopped though when the production assistants were encouraging the audience to cheer. But there's no doubt we were booing at her once it became clear that she was about to be interviewed by Tom Bergeron. While you can hear it before they pan the camera to Sarah Palin, they didn't capture her on television during the booing. Suffice to say, she was looking back at everyone in the audience rather incredulously (just up to the point where the camera focus goes to her and you see her shaking her head in disgust).

First of all, keep in mind, this is a Hollywood television production. I've never been to such an event before. It's not quite like what's seen on TV at all. Actually, much of the time you can't even hear what the hosts are even saying, since the mic is often tapped purely into the television feed and not the room speakers. It's most certainly a made-for-television show. The audience is actually a lot smaller than it seems on TV too, and a good 80% of them were booing, loud and clear.

I don't usually keep a blog, but I want to get the truth out there. There are some articles out there where a producer from ABC is reporting to have said that the booing was because the audience was disappointed about Jennifer Grey's score. Total TV production BS. Going to this kind of event was quite an experience, but in a way, it's actually increased my cynicism about Hollywood.
This is what happens when Palin is presented to a crowd other then the tea party or Fox News, but this is to be expected from someone with an approval rating that is below 30 percent.  This is why Palin chooses to avoid the cameras and hand-pick her audience, the coverage, and the questions asked...

Fox Pays The Politicians to Run Their De Facto Campaigns

This Politico article by Johnathan Martin and Keach Hagey was brought to my attention from one of the readers on this website and I thought it was very interesting.  The article discusses how Fox News has potential GOP candidates on the payroll - more then any other channel.
As Fox’s popularity grows among conservatives, the presence of four potentially serious Republican candidates as paid contributors is beginning to frustrate competitors of the network, figures within its own news division and rivals of what some GOP insiders have begun calling “the Fox candidates.”

With the exception of Mitt Romney, Fox now has deals with every major potential Republican presidential candidate not currently in elected office.

The matter is of no small consequence, since it’s uncertain how other news organizations can cover the early stages of the presidential race when some of the main GOP contenders are contractually forbidden to appear on any TV network besides Fox. 

C-SPAN Political Editor Steve Scully said that when C-SPAN tried to have Palin on for an interview, he was told he had to first get Fox’s permission — which the network, citing her contract, ultimately denied. Producers at NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and MSNBC all report similar experiences.

At issue are basic matters of political and journalistic fairness and propriety. With Fox effectively becoming the flagship network of the right and, more specifically, the tea party movement, the four Republicans it employs enjoy an unparalleled platform from which to speak directly to primary voters who will determine the party’s next nominee.

Their Fox jobs allow these politicians an opportunity to send conservative activists a mostly unfiltered message in what is almost always a friendly environment. Fox opinion hosts typically invite the Republicans simply to offer their views on issues of the day, rather than press them to defend their rhetoric or records as leaders of the party.

Fox, in an e-mail to POLITICO, indicated that once any of the candidates declares for the presidency he or she will have to sever the deal with the network.

But it’s such a lucrative and powerful pulpit that Palin, Gingrich, Santorum and Huckabee have every reason to delay formal announcements and stay on contract for as long as they can.
Although this is hardly news, it is welcome to see a major news source report on the conflict surrounding Fox News and their employing prominent GOP politicians who have their eyes on a higher office.  Because Palin gets limited scrutiny and softball questions on Fox, along with a pay check, and she gets to spread her message virtually unaltered, why would Palin leave the job unless she has to?  This is probably why Palin has played coy whenever questioned about the presidency.

Fox has tried to play off such criticism as just upset competitors who have lost the edge, but there is more to it then that - the fact that Fox News is paying candidates that they are supposed to cover.  This would be like asking a band manager their opinion of the bands they manage.

Fox's involvement is also upsetting non-Fox candidates, but they won't go on the record discussing their concerns for fear that Fox could shut them out in the campaign.

“I wish we could get that much airtime, but, oh yeah, we don’t get a paycheck” was what one aide told a Fox employee, according to a source familiar with the conversation.

“The longer they can remain ‘undecided’ about running, the longer they can stay at the network and get paid,” said another top aide to one potential GOP candidate.

I thought the following excerpt was of particular interest:
What worries some in the political and media community, though, is that behind Palin’s incessant attacks on what she calls “the lamestream media” is a strategy to de-legitimize traditional news outlets so as to avoid ever facing any accountability beyond Fox.

Part of Palin’s thinking could be seen in her advice to Delaware GOP Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell — offered, naturally, on Fox.

“Speak through Fox News,” Palin urged the much-maligned tea-party-backed candidate.

And, speaking earlier this month in Louisville, Ky., Palin said: “What would we do without Fox News, America? We love our Fox News, yes.”

While having candidates with Fox contracts may be an ideal media strategy for the primaries, the GOP may suffer in the general election if its candidates avoid speaking to the mass audiences of the Big Three networks.
What happens should any of these big candidates run for office - will they quickly do interviews on the "lamestream media?"

Would their attempt to discredit channels other then Fox leave them to avoid accountability?

What about the other candidates who do appear on other networks?

I predict that these individuals will continue as long as possible without stating their intentions, and then when they do, they will suspend their Fox News contract, but as soon as one loses, I'm sure they will pick that contract back up and use their position on television to sway their primary backers for any one candidate, and what better way to do it then on a station that reaches millions...

Coulter to Gays: Marriage 'is not a civil right -- you're not black,'

If you were not aware, Ann Coulter was set to speak at Homocon, a convention held by the gay conservative group GOProud.  During her speech, and comments made afterward, Coulter displayed more of that right-wing intolerance, and the sad thing is that the organizers of Homocon didn't seem to mind much, although those in attendence were a bit displeased with some of Coulter's more racial comments, like blaming the decline in marriage on African-Americans on welfare.

Megan Carpentier wrote the following for Talking Points Memo (emphasis added):
First, she ran down the stereotypical stand-up comedian's list of reasons, including that lacking the legal right to marriage allows the less-committed partner to weasel out of it. But in a more serious note, she parroted the losing arguments of the lawyers supporting California's Prop 8 and told the crowd that the reason she opposes (and they should oppose) same sex marriage is that it is strictly for procreation.

In one of a series of racially insensitive remarks that pervaded her speech, Coulter added, "Marriage is not a civil right. You're not black." It was part of a larger argument on which she later elaborated, telling the crowd that the 14th Amendment only applies to African-Americans and that it does not, in fact, apply to women, LGBT people or other minorities.

Despite the laugh lines, Coulter's arguments against same sex marriage were not well-received by much of the crowd: for instance, the question and answer session after the speech was dominated by Homocon attendees grilling her on her position on a range of issues, including whether opposition to same sex marriage was really in line with the conservative principles of limited government and whether she personally believes that homosexuality is a choice -- a question she declined to answer. In response to a question from GOProud chairman Chris Barron, she did imply that conservative opposition to same sex marriage from politicians who benefited from no-fault divorce was hypocritical and suggested that marriage-minded politicians ought to back a wholesale effort to repeal no-fault divorce laws in the states.
Whenever politicians and speakers cite the reason to ban gay marriage because marriage is strictly for procreation, I want to ask them how many sexual partners outside of marriage they have had, after all, the answer should always be "none," otherwise they would be a hypocrite.  What about married couples who choose not to have children?

I also think her comments about the 14th Ammendment were interesting, and not just because she told the gay conservatives in attendence that they couldn't get married because they were not black, but because she excluded women or other minorities from the protections granted by the 14th Amendment.

Here is the relevant passage from the 14th Ammendment:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
By Coulter's definintion, the only people who have any real rights in America are black and white men.

There was a reader on TPM, by the name of "George C," that posted the following comment:
It's probably best to focus on the fact that she's absolutely incorrect, as well as annoying. Here is a quote from the Supreme Court's decision in 1967 in Loving v Virginia:

These statutes also deprive the Lovings of liberty without due process of law in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.

Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival. Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 541 (1942). See also Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190 (1888).
While the court ruling may be inspired by the idea of marriage for procreation, they also indicate that marriage is a "basic civil right."

According to GOProud's executive director, Jimmy LaSalvia, the group aims to redefine gay issues, claiming the Log Cabin Republicans have adopted a position of the "Gay left" - as an organization, they only take issue with federal policy, so to maintain the conservative opinion that gay marriage is a state issue, GOProud simply doesn't care whether or not homosexuals should be allowed to wed.

I am surprised by their position.  As for Coulter, I pretty much expected this much from her, and hope to see her comments publicized further - it would be interesting to see what the Log Cabin Republicans have to say about both her comments and LaSalvia's...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Big Peace Believes Administration "Has No Military Background," Despite Having Republican Defense Secretary.

I saw this little post written on Big Peace by Secure Freedom Radio that I thought was interesting (emphasis added):
Today on Frank Gaffney’s Secure Freedom Radio, Frank talks with retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters (USA) on Bob Woodward’s now famous book tease that crystallized the President’s views on fighting terrorism.  In classic Ralph Peters style, he explains, as know one else can, why the president wants out of Afghanistan as soon as possible and is only remaining as a campaign promise; that the administration has no military background and is disdainful of the military which is no way to fight a war; and that the president is playing politics with the lives of our servicemen and women in order to promote his domestic agenda.

I didn't realize the administration "has no military background."  I guess Bush administration hold over, Republican Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has been in office since 2006, doesn't count as a qualifier, and neither does the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  No wonder why we are failing in Iraq and Afghanistan - Bush had the same people!

The post above is just more proof that the right wing have no clue what they are talking about and are willing to propagandize anything...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Alan Grayson's Negative Campaign on the Mark?

Updated September 27th and September 28th, 2010.

I recently saw the following advertisement on the television and thought it to be very interesting - at the time I did not realize that it was an Alan Grayson ad.

Mark Schleub wrote the following for The Orlando Sentinel:

Sprinkled throughout the TV spot is video of Webster delivering a speech in which he says women should "submit" to their husbands. "Wives, submit yourself to your own husband….She should submit to me. That's in the Bible."

A spokesman for the Grayson campaign said the video was made while Webster was speaking at a conference of the Institute for Basic Life Principles. That's a Christian nonprofit organization that seeks to solve youth and family problems through religious principles established by its founder, Bill Gothard. Among those principles is that a wife must serve and fulfill the needs of her husband.

The Grayson campaign would not supply the full video of Webster's speech.

The ad also includes several positions from Webster's 28 years in the state Legislature:

•One says "Dan Webster wants to MAKE DIVORCE ILLEGAL," a reference to a bill Webster sponsored in 1990 that would have given couples the option of entering a covenant marriage, which would have allowed divorce only in cases of adultery. The legislation failed.

•Another says "Dan Webster voted to deny abused women health care," referring to a vote against legislation that would have prevented insurance companies from listing domestic violence as a pre-existing condition.

•And a third says "Daniel Webster wants to force raped women to bear their attackers' child," citing a 1990s newspaper story in which the then-state representative said he opposed abortion even in cases of rape and incest.
With Daniel Webster having a political career that spans almost three decades, there is plenty of material for the Grayson campaign to use, but what I found very interesting about this "negative" ad is that it cites (for the most part) actual legislation Webster sponsored or voted for.  I also thought the name "Taliban Dan" to be quite fitting because many people (particularly those on the right) like to attack Muslim extremism while ignoring Christian extremism at home.

Candidates like Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell want to legislate morality, banning things like premarital sex, masturbation, or even divorce, believing their religious world view is the correct view.

I typically do not like negative but I don't necessarily classify this advertisement as being that negative - it is simply applying the same standards right-wing Christians use in their criticisms towards other faiths, like Islam, against Christianity.

Update - I had recently read this article by Ryan Grim on The Huffington Postthat discussed Grayson's ad - Grim talks about the primary selection of candidates much more conservative then the electorate and accompanying the article is a video (below) showing "Taliban Dan" refusing to answer a quesetion on his abortion stance.

Update 2 - had done some fact checking on Grayson's "Taliban Dan" advertisement and found that Grayson had taken the excerpt out of context.  Here is the full text of what Webster was saying:
So, write a journal. Second, find a verse. I have a verse for my wife, I have verses for my wife. Don’t pick the ones that say, ‘She should submit to me.’ That’s in the Bible, but pick the ones that you’re supposed to do. So instead, ‘love your wife, even as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for it’ as opposed to ‘wives submit to your own husbands.’ She can pray that, if she wants to, but don’t you pray it.
The Grayson camp defended the ad by stating Webster spoke at a group that has pushed conservative social issues in the past.

In my opinion, I still do not like negative advertisements and campaigns, but you can't simply sit back and let the other guy beat on you while you do nothing.  Republicans and their affiliated organizations have spent the past two years attacking Democrats with outright lies and have used the newly relaxed campaign finance laws to their advantage.

I don't agree with Grayson's editing of the video clip, similarly to the way Breitbart edited the Shirley Sherrod video, but I also see that the left has been attacked relentlessly from the right and the difference between their messages - the religious right is constantly pushing for increased government regulation in regards to issues they feel are holy in nature, particularly social issues, but the NAACP's mission is to "ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race."   Conservatives may claim NAACP racism, but any incidents are not indicative of the entire organization - can the same be said for religious conservatives?

Grayson is just playing by the conservative play book...

The Republican Approach Similar to Venezuelan Congressional Rules?

The following excerpt is from an article by Daniel Cancel and Charlie Devereux for Bloomberg news:
Opposition candidates in Venezuela are seeking to take advantage of voter discontent with rising crime and 30 percent inflation to limit President Hugo Chavez’s power in congressional elections today.

The parliamentary race, a gauge of popular support for Chavez ahead of 2012 presidential elections, has energized anti- government forces whose boycott of the 2005 race handed the socialist firebrand near-absolute control of the unicameral legislature. This time, opposition candidates nationwide are united under a single banner called the Democratic Unity Table.

The opposition wants to prevent Chavez from winning 110 of 165 legislative seats needed to be given decree powers, approve the national budget and pass new laws without negotiations. Attention will be focused on the outcome of the popular vote, which several pollsters say is too close to call.
Who does this sound like to you?

More on the GOP's Pledge...

Eliot Spitzer - yes, the disgraced former New York governor - wrote an interesting piece for Slate regarding the Republican's "Pledge to America."
But there may be good news on the horizon for the president. The Republican "Pledge to America" has been issued, so we now finally know what the party of "no" will do if it regains control of Congress. And for those who recall the history of the Great Depression, and the enormous success that President Herbert Hoover had pulling us through and restoring the vitality of the American economy, there is good news: We will revisit those glorious days.

The horrors of Keynesian economics will be abandoned, government spending will be slashed, federal investment in infrastructure will be abandoned in deference to the 10th Amendment, and we will finally force Congress to tell us what constitutional authority it has to pass laws.

Offensive bills such as the stimulus will be properly relegated to the dustbin, so that job creation can be exclusively the domain of the businesses who have been held back recently only by the outrageous marginal tax rates that they face. Indeed, just for good measure, those rates will be cut once again.
Of course Spitzer is being fictitious...
If anyone's recollection of U.S. history is a bit fuzzy and needs a more recent example than the Hoover presidency to gain comfort that these ideas will work, no worry. Any doubts that the "Pledge to America" will generate enormous growth and wealth can be relieved by thinking back to the great prosperity that President Bush bequeathed to President Obama. Don't you remember the glorious year of 2008?

To read this "pledge" is to fall into Wonderland, to enter a fantasy world where logic means nothing, straight lines do not exist, the imagination can run wild unencumbered by fact, and all is a mirage of desire and fancy.

Beyond the incantation of the mantra of lower taxes and curbing any government action other than defense spending, not a single meaningful proposal about economic revival can be found in the document. It is no more than a bromide against all that has been done in the past 21 months to reverse the Bush economic cataclysm.
As I had written before, the Pledge is nothing more then a reiteration of everything the GOP and the tea parties have been saying for the past two years - they want to cancel out every Deomcratic policy and return us to the failed Republican policies that led us to where we are today.  I am a Republican and I can acknowledge that some of the policies of the party I belong to did not work.

The Pledge, if followed, will only futher damage America.  It will widen the economic divide, leaving the lower and middle classes worse off.  It will destroy America's national infrastructure - just consider Sharron Angle's recent statements.  You can't simply correct everything with a strict laissez-faire approach - as we had witnessed, doing so helped get us to where we are today.

Erica Werner wrote a piece for Salon covering Obama's weekly radio and internet address regarding the Pledge, in which the President blasted Republicans for their vague promises to return us to days of old.

"The Republicans who want to take over Congress offered their own ideas the other day. Many were the very same policies that led to the economic crisis in the first place, which isn't surprising, since many of their leaders were among the architects of that failed policy," Obama said.

"It is grounded in same worn-out philosophy: cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires; cut the rules for Wall Street and the special interests; and cut the middle class loose to fend for itself. That's not a prescription for a better future."

What was the Republicans' response?

"The new agenda embodies Americans' rejection of the notion that we can simply tax, borrow and spend our way to prosperity," said one of its authors, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy. "It offers a new way forward that hasn't been tried in Washington -- an approach focused on cutting spending -- which is sadly a new idea for a Congress accustomed to always accelerating it."

Another thing of interest is the conflicting reports on who authored the document - Republicans can't seem to get it straight. While some refer to Rep. Kevin McCarthy as the author, given the task of writing the Pledge at the behest of the GOP leadership, a draft (which is almost identical to the final version) lists former Exxon, AIG, and Pfizer lobbyist, Brian Wild, as the real author.  I think the confusion surrounding the facts about just who wrote this document is interesting, considering they put their names on the documents.  It sounds like the actual Pledge was written by special interests and the GOP tried to put a friendly face on who authored it by claiming a newly elected (2007) Republican was responsible.

I want to point to a hypocrisy - the right's attack on the involvement of certain organizations involved in the creation of the stimulus bill.  If you pay attention to Glenn Beck, you may have heard his relentless attacks on Van Jones, the Apollo Alliance, or the Tides Foundation.  I want you to consider what kind of benefits Pfizer, Exxon, or AIG would have to benefit from the GOP's plan, and then I would like you to consider the following list, which are the stated goals of the Apollo Alliance:
  1. Promote advanced technology and hybrid electric cars.
  2. Invest in more efficient factories.
  3. Encourage high-performance building.
  4. Increase use of energy efficient appliances.
  5. Modernize electrical infrastructure (smart grid).
  6. Expand renewable energy development.
  7. Improve transportation options.
  8. Reinvest in smart urban growth.
  9. Plan for a hydrogen future.
  10. Preserve regulatory protections.
Can you see a difference?  While one seeks to improve growth, technology, and infrastructure, the others are perhaps responsible for some of our current economic woes - oil prices are sky high and environmental damage is high, AIG helped contribute to the economic collapse, Pfizer was found guilty of the largest health care fraud in U.S. history last year and has much to gain with the repeal of health care reform and the preservation of high prescription costs.

I think the Republicans should go back to the drawing board, ignore the tea party, and hammer out some actual details.  I think they should also look at policies enacted by the Democrats that are actually good and express a desire to keep such policies instead of consistently saying "no."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Log Cabin Republicans Should Look At Their Own Party

Ariane de Vogue and Devin Dwyer had written an article that appeared on ABC News that I found interesting.  The article was about a recent ruling by a federal judge that called the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy unconstitutional and required the reinstatement of lesbian Maj. Margaret Witt, who was fired six years ago when her superiors learned of her same-sex relationship.  What I found interesting about the article was that the lead plaintiffs in the case were the Log Cabin Republicans - a homosexual wing of the GOP.  I found their statements regarding the case and DADT to be of most interest.
Gay rights advocates, including the group Log Cabin Republicans, the lead plaintiff in the case, have criticized the administration for its handling of the case and for not doing more to bring Don't Ask, Don't Tell to an end.

"Many times on the campaign trail, President Obama said he would support the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell," said Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans. "Now that it's time to step up to the plate, he isn't even in the ballpark."

"What is most troubling is that the government's request for a stay [of the injunction] ignores the harm that Don't Ask, Don't Tell causes to current and potential members of our Armed Forces," said the plaintiffs' attorney, Dan Woods. "That is the saddest, most disappointing and, in light of the president's position, most hypocritical part of the objections."
I thought it was hypocritical of the Log Cabin Republicans to point fingers at the administration while ignoring the actions of their own party.

Christopher Neff wrote the following about the recent Senate vote that raised the issue of repeal of DADT, pointing out the tricks the GOP played to try and distract voters away from the controversial DADT policy and make Republicans look like the victim:
Some have blamed the failure of this vote on the DREAM Act. This is false. Clearly, Senator Reid did not make it any harder for Republicans to run interference with this potential amendment, but the DREAM Act did not cost votes. There would not have been one more 'yes' vote without this amendment.

There were many smokescreens around this vote, but the GOP had only one target - stopping the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell.' This was damage done by design. Defense funding will not be stopped this year with wars ongoing in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will get done in one form or another. But the odds that the Senate's final Defense Authorization bill will include the repeal of the gay ban during a lame duck session are vanishingly small.

Senator McConnell never wanted a deal with Senator Reid. That would have moved the Defense bill forward, and repeal along with it. Instead, he sold some snake oil on the Senate floor in which he demanded at least twenty amendments, a price so high that it could never be accepted. This was trick number two, to look like a deal was on the table when it was not. The rejection of this "offer" reinforced the need for party loyalty among Republicans and allowed activists to argue that it was Senator Reid who was being unreasonable.

This leads to trick number three. Boy, did the Republicans have some fun amendments to offer. Think of the joy that would have filled the Republicans if they could offer amendments on 'anything' and force the Democrats to make more impossibly tough votes forty days before an election. A number of potential wedge issues come to mind, such as forcing a vote on Washington D.C.'s same-sex marriages, immigration amendments, and I've heard something about a mosque. It would have been a free-for-all. Senator McConnell's last motion before that fateful vote confirms this strategy. The twenty amendment deal he offered was a ploy. It banned consideration of the DREAM Act until after all twenty amendments were finished and it would have extended debate indefinitely, much to the Republican's delight.
If the Log Cabin Republicans are so upset with the military's ban on gay soldiers, they should ask every Republican in the Senate why they voted against the National Defense Authorization Act.  They are upset with the Justice Department for doing their job - defending acts of Congress - and want Obama to run interference.

Just consider the right-wing's attack on actions taken by the Justice Department when it was against a position they took, like ACORN - the conservatives attacked president and the "Obama Justice Department," but when the government takes their position, they are silent.  The Fox News story about Major Witt was only six sentences long and made no mention of the Justice Department's defense of DADT.

The point is that if the Log Cabin Republicans, or any other advocate or group want to find the true culprit, they need to look at the Republican Party.  What the article fails to mention is that the lawsuit was filed during the Bush administration, in 2004.  How is it that the Log Cabin Republicans can place the blame on the Justice Department during the Obama administration when the previous administration spent twice the amount of time on the case, and did they expect a full reversal by the defense when Obama was elected in 2008?

Republicans keep trying to shift focus away from their intolerant beliefs.  They refused to vote for the National Defense Authorization Act and they employed every trick in the book to make it look like it was not about DADT.  The Republicans need to accept responsibility for their actions, and those sympathetic to the permittance of homosexuals in the military need to place blame on the correct party.

Sharron Angle Attacks Autism Screening Mandates And Much More...

Sharron Angle has done it again - she had made a controversial remark against autism that opponent Harry Reid had picked up on.

Huma Khan wrote the following for ABC News:
At a Tea Party rally in August, 2009, Angle derided a bipartisan bill in Nevada that would require some health insurance policies to provide coverage for screening and treatment of autism.

"Take off the mandates for coverage in the state of Nevada and all over the United States," Angle said. "You know what I'm talking about. You're paying for things that you don't even need."

"They just passed the latest one. Everything they want to throw at us is covered under 'autism' so that's a mandate that you have to pay for," she continued. "How about maternity leave? I'm not going to have any more babies but I sure get to pay for it on my insurance. Those are the kinds of things we want to get rid of."
I find Angle's comments interesting.  Angle is mad about government mandates making her pay for things that she doesn't feel she has to pay for.  Angle doesn't want mandates funding autism scanning and treatment because she doesn't have a child with autism and she doesn't plan on having any more children (I wonder what Angle's children think about the law in question).

Consider taxes - some people may not have children but they sure have to taxes to support public schools.  The same goes for libraries, fire protection, environmental services, roads, etc.  If Angle got her way, the entire nation would crumble.  I don't take certain roads in my city/county/state/nation, so by her reasoning, my tax dollars should not go towards the construction and maintenance of such roads.  Instead, they should only fund the roads I drive on.

Angle is an idiot who is only using such rhetoric to fear monger.  There was another thing I wanted to point out about Khan's article - Angle supporters attacked Reid supporters when they attempted to leave the debate during Angle's turn.
According to the Las Vegas Sun, a fight broke out among attendees when a group of Reid's supporters tried to leave the room while Angle was speaking.
Where are the Andrew Breitbarts and Glenn Becks attacking this tea party thuggery?

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Pledge To America

Republicans have finally released their midterm agenda, aptly titled "A Pledge To America," and to put it simply - it sucks.

David Corn of Mother Jones wrote the following in response to the Pledge:
The House Republicans on Thursday released a manifesto outlining what they intend to do should they triumph in the coming congressional elections. The glossy document, which is adorned with photographs of the Statue of Liberty, Mt. Rushmore, and cowboys, is high-mindedly titled "A Pledge to America: A New Governing Agenda Built on the Priorities of Our Nation, the Principles We Stand For & America's Founding Values." And it offers few surprises: tax cuts for all (including the super-rich), slashing federal spending (without specifying actual targets), downsizing government, more money for the military (especially missile defense), and repealing the health care bill. It decries deficits—though it advocates proposals that will add trillions of dollars to the deficit. It calls for reforming Congress—but in non-significant ways (such as forcing legislators to place a sentence in every bill attesting that the legislation is connected to a principle in the Constitution). It's full of Hallmark-style patriotism: "America is more than a country." It's infused with tea party anger: Washington has plotted "to thwart the will of the people and overturn their votes and their values." It is likely to have little impact on the elections.
I read the pledge and was dissappointed by the vagueness - considering how invigorated the GOP's base has been these past two years, and the fact that the GOP has been unwilling to offer any meaningful legislation, I was certain that now was their time to give some details, but I was wrong.

The Pledge begins claiming the current administration has become "destructive" and then goes on to reference the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  I find it ridiculous that the Pledge then goes on to claim the Democrats are violating the will of the people - last time I checked, the will of the people was determined in 2008 when an overwhelming majority placed Democrats in the White House and in charge of both chambers of Congress.  The Pledge has the nerve to claim that the elected government has been actively trying to "overturn" the people's vote - isn't that what congressional Republicans have been doing?

The next part of the Pledge makes no sense - it claims that the government is made up of "self-appointed elites" who "enacts laws without accepting or requesting the input of the many."  In reality, those "self-appointed elites" are publicly elected officials who probably don't share the same right-wing ideology, and those laws that were enacted "without... the input of many" are actually laws that were supported by a majority of our elected officials - the "many" referenced is actually the Republican minority.

The Pledge then goes on to talk about "rising joblessness" and "crushing debt."  While unemployment numbers dipped slightly in August, the recent slip comes after dropping over the last five months, and considering where America was at the onset of the recession, it is safe to say that America is slowly improving.  As for the "crushing debt," just ask the GOP about their plans to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy - it will contribute plenty to the nation's deficits and debts.

Also, to make the tea party happy, the Pledge has a blurb about the 10th Amendment.

The following is an excerpt from the Pledge where I found one of the biggest hypocrisies:
We pledge to advance policies that promote greater liberty, wider opportunity, a robust defense, and national economic prosperity.

We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life, and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values.
While the GOP pledges to "promote greater liberty," they are also willing to infringe on our liberties, particular homosexuals, and by claiming only true American values are derived from religious organizations - a slap in the face to atheists and those not affiliated with a particular church.

Basically, the GOP's pledge falls flat.  It is nothing more then a collection of conservative talking points picked out over the past year.  If you think about it, the GOP basically want to do nothing - they want to continue cutting taxes for the wealthiest of Americans and repeal the health care reform passed earlier this year.  Their pledge does nothing to differentiate themselves from the GOP of the last ten years - it is essentially a page of empty promises.

Texas Sues Over Federal Money. Where is Rick Perry And His 10th Amendment Task Force Now?

An article by April Castro from The Huffington Post caught my eye this morning - it discussed Texas' anger over the loss of federal funding resulting in the rejection of the state's application for more than $830 million in aid for the state's education system.
A state-specific provision inserted into a federal law by a Democratic Texas congressman requires that Republican Gov. Rick Perry promise Texas will maintain certain education spending levels through 2013 in order to get the funds. Perry has called the requirement unconstitutional because the Texas Constitution prohibits him from committing future state spending.

Texas applied for the money anyway, but was rejected because its application included a caveat saying the state would not violate its own constitution. Federal officials urged the state to reapply without the caveat.
I think this is interesting - Texas is suing the federal government over the disbursement of federal money!

Wasn't Rick Perry very outspoken about the stimulus spending and the meddling of the federal government?

Wasn't Rick Perry very vocal about the 10th Amendment?

If that's the case, Perry and his crew in Texas should be happy that they didn't receive money from the federal government, so they can be free to do whatever they want to do...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Big Government Believes 15 Percent Equals Infinity

I saw an article by Dan Mitchell on Big Government that I thought was interesting.  In the article, Mitchell claims that even though the president wants a capital gains tax of 23.8 percent, that figure would actually be much higher because of inflation.
The mini-documentary uses a simple but powerful example of what happens to an investor who bought an asset 10 years ago for $5,000 and sold it this year for $6,000. The IRS will want 15 percent of the $1,000 gain (Obama wants the tax burden on capital gains to climb to 23.9 percent, but that’s a separate issue). Some people may think that a 15 percent tax is reasonable, but how many of those people understand that inflation during the past 10 years was more than 27 percent, and $6,000 today is actually worth only about $4,700 after adjusting for the falling value of the dollar?

I’m not a math genius, but if the government imposes a $150 tax (15 percent of $1,000) on an investor who lost nearly $300 ($5,000 became $4,700), that translates into an infinite tax rate. And if Obama pushed the tax rate to almost 24 percent, that infinite tax rate gets…um…even more infinite.
Using that logic, all taxes should be eliminated because when adjusted for inflation, they are higher then listed.  This argument is ridiculous and misleading - Mitchell oversimplifies the issue and states only a little bit of the complex tax. 

Here is a chart found on Wikipedia that details the tax from 2003 onward:

Why doesn't Mitchell discuss the tax for those in the 28 - 39.6 percent tax brackets, where the tax is slated to increase to match their ordinary income tax for short-term gains and 20 percent for long-tern gains?

Here is another chart from Wikipedia that depicts the taxable income for those brackets:

Considering Mitchell is only focusing on those who are in one of the lowest tax brackets - an economic group not typically known for investments - there is only one reason I can think of for why he would bring attention to this "infinite tax" - to imply that the president had gone back on his pledge not to raise taxes the middle class.

I actually agree with a reduction of the capital gains tax, but larger increases for the lower tax brackets to try and encourage more investments - people at those income levels are typically expected to spend their money to help fuel the economy while the wealthy have the resources to save...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Why Does Sarah Palin Have Her Legal Defense Fund If The RNC Is Still Paying Her Lawyers?

Here is something interesting - a report for Reid Wilson for Hotline On Call indicates that the Republican National Committee is still paying the legal fees surrounding ethics complaints from Sarah Palin's failed bid for vice president in 2008.
The RNC has sent more than $129K to an Anchorage law firm to cover legal bills incurred during former Gov. Sarah Palin's (R-AK) run for vice president, a senior party official tells Hotline On Call.

The party cut the check on Sept. 1 to Clapp, Peterson, Van Flein, Tiemessen & Thorsness LLC, an Anchorage law firm that defended Palin from myriad ethics charges following her campaign. Political opponents in Alaska filed complaints against Palin surrounding her travel during and after the campaign.
This brings up an interesting point - why does Sarah Palin have a legal defense fund set up when she can now afford her legal fees and others are already paying for her lawyers' time?

Let's do the math.

Palin had claimed that her legal bill was close to $500,000.

Minus the RNC's $129,000, that leaves Palin with a bill of $371,000.

According to reports, Palin earned $12 million last year.

I don't know about you but it seems that Palin has more then enough to pay for her own legal fees by now, so why does she continue to try to swindle her fans claiming.

Here is what her defense fund states about it's purpose:
The Sarah Palin Legal Defense Fund was formed to help Governor Palin defend herself and her family from the relentless, frivolous lawsuits filed against her by left-wing extremists. This trust is established to help defray the costs of the massive legal fees incurred through these continued political attacks.

As Sarah Palin continues to be a voice for commonsense conservative principles we anticipate that legal challenges will continue to mount against her.

There is a reason why these extremists want to stop Sarah Palin. They know she is making a difference in her work to return America to the Constitutional principles that made it the great and exceptional nation it remains.

But she cannot do this alone. She needs your help. Please contribute to her legal defense fund, so that she can continue her work.
Considering that the fund has only had 404 donations, and Palin still has a job flying around the nation giving the same speech, I would think it is safe to say Palin is not affected by those mounting legal challenges, which is another interesting claim - has Palin experienced any new legal challenges?

Sharron Angle On Health Care: "We're Number One And ObamaCare Sucks"

I found a recent comment made by Sharron Angle very interesting - here is part of an article by Sam Stein from The Huffington Post that explains the statement made:
During an appearance on the conservative Bill Manders show, a caller asked Angle whether she supported the position adopted by, among others, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who came out in opposition to the forcing insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions as part of the president's health care reform package. The caller, who opposed Obama's bill, nevertheless thought Hukcabee's position was a bit callous.

"Well," said Angle. "I'm so glad you mentioned that this is about insurance company cost and not about how good our health care is in this country because we do have the beast health care in the whole world. And our doctors really do deliver for us. So, thank you for mentioning that this is an insurance problem, not a health care problem. And ObamaCare really hasn't addressed the insurance problem.

"We know that the insurance cost problem can be addressed very well by the free market. And when you talk about what those solutions are. Part of them is get rid of the mandated coverages. Another: go across state lines. Another: tort reform. And another: broaden those pools. Allow small businesses to build a pool of their own that spreads out those risks. When you spread out the risk then you can cover pre-existing conditions because the cost comes down. That's really the answer. It's in the free market. And I'm so glad you mentioned that... because you're exactly right: it's a health insurance cost and we can deal with it in the free market."

Angle's answer is garbled enough to lack definitiveness. But the outlines of her response suggest pretty strongly that she believes if risk were spread broadly enough throughout the insurance market there would be no need to mandate companies to cover specific groups of individuals.
 I highlighted the portions above for two reasons.  The first being the fact that America does not have the "best health care in the whole world." 

A World Health Organization's ranking from 2000, which was last produced a decade ago, placed America at number 37 - and considering the rise in premiums and health costs, one can only assume that the ranking probably dropped a couple points.

The second point I wanted to look at was Angle's assertion that the free market would correct the issue surrounding the cost of insurance.  As Stein sums it up, Angle essentially believes that the free market can spread risk around to help drive down costs, which is what the mandate does more effectively - if the free market was capable of spreading risk more effectively, you would also have to get increased participation to fund the pools.

These ideas are still good, and maybe Angle should focus more on developing these options and integrating them into the current health reform, but they would be innefective if Americans depended on them alone - we need the mandate to get the system jump-started, otherwise the industry will just create these pools and still charge their exorbatant rates, making killer profits - literally! 

Bill O'Reilly Has Dirt On Christine O'Donnell, States Democrats Shouldn't Use Her Words Against Her

I thought this was interesting - on The Huffington Post, there was this piece about Bill O'Reilly discussing the Delaware GOP Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell:
Bill O'Reilly said that he has tape of some "crazy stuff" Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell has said on his show in the past, but that he's not going to play it — yet (via Mediaite).

O'Reilly made the comments during a segment on Monday's "O'Reilly Factor." Speaking with Fox News analysts Juan Williams and Mary Katharine Ham, he called O'Donnell's now-infamous comments about witchcraft "dopey," but said that Democrats shouldn't be using the comments against her. Yet O'Reilly also chided the Delaware Republican for backing out of her planned appearances on two Sunday talk shows last week.
I found this very funny because O'Reilly and his fellow coworkers at Fox News love to play clips of Obama and others out of context to use against them - just tune into any Glenn Beck episode.  O'Reilly knows her comments can be damaging should they float around in the media for much longer.

If it's not okay to talk about O'Donnell's self-admitted witchcraft, then is it okay to talk about how she misused campaign finances to pay her rent?

According to this report by Ben Nuckols for The Christian Science Monitor, O'Donnell had used more then $20,000 in campaign funds to pay her rent and other personal expenses, which has now led to a complaint filed by a non-partisan watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.  O'Donnell's response is typical - to try and attack the funding of the group to indicate that they are not a "neutral arbiter of ethics."  That argument is funny because the organization has also attacked the White House over alleged violations.
The complaint is based largely on a sworn statement by David Keegan, a former campaign finance consultant for O'Donnell. Keegan's nephew, Brent Vasher, purchased O'Donnell's Wilmington, Del., home for her in 2008 because she was facing foreclosure, according to Keegan's affidavit.

Vasher began charging O'Donnell $750 a month in rent in January 2009, and in March and April of that year, she paid the rent from her campaign treasury, according to the complaint. Documents filed with the FEC show two $750 payments to Vasher during the months in question. The payments are listed as reimbursement for expenses.

CREW also alleges that O'Donnell spent campaign money on gas for personal travel, meals and a bowling outing. This year, she continued to use the campaign treasury to pay rent at her new residence in Greenville, Del., which doubles as her campaign headquarters, as well as utility and wireless phone bills. The questionable 2010 expenses total more than $20,000.

O'Donnell has also been subject to an IRS tax lien and has been accused of leaving a trail of unpaid bills.
Doesn't that sound fishy?  A woman who is being investigated by the IRS for not paying bills sells her home to a relative of a former campaign finance consultant but still lives in the home, and on top of that, she then uses campaign funds to pay for half her rent?

In another article for the Christian Science Monitor, Peter Grier writes that in addition to being behind on her rent, O'Donnell is also behind in the polls:
No, her biggest current problem may be that if the election were today, she would lose. After all the hoopla over her stunning upset in Delaware’s GOP Senate primary, and all the free publicity she got, and all the money that’s pouring into her campaign, she remains 15 points behind Democratic opponent Chris Coons, according to a just-released Fox News poll.

That’s kind of a wake-up call for her campaign, isn’t it? And if you dig down into the results of the survey (which was conducted right after the primary, in case you’re wondering) the news for Ms. O’Donnell does not get better.

Fully 60 percent of respondents said they did not believe O’Donnell is qualified to be a US Senator, while 60 percent said that opponent Coons is qualified.

And here’s the real burn: Mike Castle, the guy O’Donnell sent packing in the primary, appears to be the person the Delaware electorate as a whole actually wants. He’s 15 points ahead of Coons in the Fox poll, at 48 percent to 33 percent.
This is the problem with closed primaries - there is no room left for those people in the center of the political spectrum.  Primaries are generally determined by the party base, meaning that the victor is less representative of the general electorate.  The situation in Delaware is a perfect example of a primary fail...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Will "Don't Ask Don't Tell" Be Repealed?

On Tuesday, September 21st, the Senate will vote on whether or not to take up the issue of repealing the military's anti-gay policy of "Don't Ask Don't Tell."  It is expected to be a close call, with Republicans holding a solid front - even GOP opponents of DADT, Maine Senators Olympia Snow and Susan Collins look like they won't stray from their party.

Kevin Kelley, Collins' spokesman, indicated that the Senator had no intentions of voting against the measure despite opposing it - the Republicans seem to be upset because Democratic leaders seem unwilling to allow GOP amendments.  "She [Collins] would like the Senate to proceed to a full and open debate on the Defense Authorization bill, with members able to offer amendments on all relevant issues," said Kelley.

Snowe and Collins are not up for reelection until 2012 and 2014, respectively, and I presume they are deciding to side with their party to help their party's performance at the polls this fall.  They don't have to worry about angering the base this close to the election but they do have to worry about being shunned by their party, and presuming the GOP picks up some seats this cycle, come 2012 and 2014, the GOP will not have to depend as heavily on the two senators and could take a gamble on some upstart politicians or teabaggers (assuming the tea parties are still around in a couple years).

It will be shameful should the two from Maine choose to side with the GOP...

Sarah Palin Changes Advice To Christine O'Donnell

Updated September 21st, 2010.

I thought this was interesting - shortly after teabagger Christine O'Donnell won the Delaware GOP primary, Palin offered some advice to the victorious candidate while appearing on fellow Fox News' talking head Bill O'Reilly.

"She's gonna have to learn very quickly to dismiss what some of her handlers want. Remember what happened to me in the VP. I used to have to sneak in my phone calls to you guys to say, 'Hey, I'm here,' Palin said. "She's gonna have to dismiss that, go with her gut, get out there, speak to the American people, speak through Fox News, and let the independents who are tuning into you, let them know what it is that she stands for, the principles behind her positions."

That was on September 15th.

Here was Palin's recent tweet to O'Donnell, made four days later:

What would make Palin quickly change her opinion?

Would it have anything to do with O'Donnell canceling her appearance on a couple Sunday shows, including one on friendly Fox News, because of a recently released video showing O'Donnell talking about her "dabbling" into satanic witchcraft as a teen?

I believe so, and it makes sense - Palin would never chide her little protogé for not doing what she suggested to do, so instead of being all about hitting up Fox News and speaking to "the American people," Palin decided to go with the flow and change her advice, which really was not advice at all because O'Donnell avoided the national media (including Fox) before Palin logged into her twitter account...

Update - ArmchairJane over at Palingates had a very interesting take on the situation that I would like to share to give a different perspective:
You know, I have a different take on this. Right away after winning the primary, O'Donnell was willing to go on all kinds of different shows in the National Media. And immediately the press and others started talking about how O'Donnell was younger, fresher looking, AND she was better able to express herself and not afraid to go on other National Media besides Fox News. She booked the weekend shows and Sarah emerged on Fox to advise O'Donnell not to listen to her handlers, and to get her message out on Fox.

But I don't think this is because Sarah cares about how well O'Donnell does, but because momentum was already building that O'Donnell actually was better able express herself, and more importantly, brave enough to face the national media. It took a little while before O'Donnell canceled her weekend show appearances. I'll bet Sarah was sweating bullets wondering if O'Donnell would agree to huddle back into her campaign and not talk to the media other than Delaware campaign appearances. Palin even repeated her "advice" to O'Donnell,because I think it is pretty important to the old gal that she not be further shown up by Christine O'Donnell.

Fortunately for Palin, O'Donnell has now stopped with her National Media appearances. I wonder who convinced her to do so. She seemed fearless enough to keep on talking to the press, unlike the cowardly, supposed fierce "Mama Grizzly" Sarah Palin. If O'Donnell kept talking to the press, the fact that even such a dingbat as O'Donnell could still present herself far more coherently than Grandma Palin would have soon become abundantly clear to all but the thickest Palinbot.

Sarah's advice to O'Donnell was really self serving, to keep herself from being overshadowed by O'Donnell. But many people have already made the comparison. Sarah must know she's on borrowed time now.
This may be so.  One part in particular that made me think was the reference to "Mama Grizzlies."  If Palin and her pack were really "fierce" and strong, they would approach the national media and voice their positions - not cower back to Fox News where they will get softball questions...

Obama Needs More Of This Clarity...

Sam Stein wrote the following recently for The Huffington Post and I thought it was worth a look:
White House advisers on Monday pushed back hard against a New York Times report that the administration is ready to launch a full-frontal assault on the Tea Party movement as the November elections approach. No such plans are being made, insisted senior advisers. And, sure enough, the Times quickly modified its story into something a bit duller.

In a town hall meeting broadcast live by CNBC on Monday, however, President Obama seemed to be reading off the initial script. Pressed by an audience member to weigh in on what exactly drives the Tea Party, Obama, in no uncertain terms, accused the movement's members of refusing to talk in specifics.

If there is anger over the economic or political landscape, he added, it is being misdirected in his direction.

"The problem that I've seen in the debate that's been taking place and in some of these Tea Party events is, I think they're misidentifying sort of who the culprits are here," said Obama. "As I said before, we had to take some emergency steps last year. But the majority of economists will tell you that the emergency steps we take are not the problem long-term. The problems long-term are the problems that I talked about earlier. We had two tax cuts that weren't paid for, two wars that weren't paid for. We've got a population that's getting older. We're all demanding services, but our taxes have actually substantially gone down."

"So the challenge, I think, for the Tea Party movement is to identify, specifically, what would you do?" he added. "It's not enough just to say get control of spending. I think it's important for you to say, I'm willing to cut veterans' benefits or I'm willing to cut Medicare or Social Security benefits or I'm willing to see these taxes go up. What you can't do, which is what I've been hearing a lot from the other side, is we're going to control government spending, we're going to propose $4 trillion of additional tax cuts, and that magically somehow things are going to work. Now, some of these are very difficult choices."
These statements are very true - visit any tea party rally or website, or listen to any tea party candidate (or pundits like Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck), and you will hear very vague generalities, like "preserving the constitution" or "repeal Obamacare."  Just look at this years biggest tea party Republicans' websites and you will get the idea what Obama means - below are just a few examples:
  • Sharron Angle "supports putting that [education] money as close to the state and local level as possible."
  • Joe Miller supports " reform legislation that is market-based and incentivizes individual responsibility," which "must include allowing and promoting a system of robust employer and/or self-funded tax-free health savings accounts."
  • Rand Paul wants to eliminate government intervention in the energy sector - "the solution requires allowing businesses and ideas to compete."
  • Rand Paul also wants to "fight to balance the budget and dramatically reduce spending."
  • Christine O'Donnell wants to... fight... do... Christine O'Donnell as no "issues" on her website!
So far, the most informative candidate website out there that I have seen belonged to Marco Rubio - I found him to offer plenty of information regarding his positions, and some of them aren't half bad.  If it came to a vote between Rubio and someone like Angle or O'Donnell, Rubio would get my vote because he gave more details.  That was my problem with the McCain/Palin campaign - it lacked details.

As I had written previously, Obama needs to call the Republicans out some more - especially as election day nears.  Americans have poor memory and like to be spoon-fed information.  Conservatives are master feeders and tell Americans what they want to here.  The Democrats need to tell Americans the facts - the GOP have no real plans or solutions except winning back Congress.  If they can get their message across, they should be able to minimize damage this fall...

Which Is It: Crypto-Muslim Or Black Liberation Christian?

Here is a picture of the president and his family leaving church on Sunday, so my question to the right-wing teabag fanatics is what is Obama's faith - is the president a Muslim or a black liberation Christian?

The answer is neither.

There is nothing wrong with either of those two faiths mentioned above, but I find it very funny that the people who criticize Obama for being a Muslim are the same people who criticize him for attending Reverend Wright's church in Chicago.  I think that argument highlights the fringe's ignorance and intolerance quite well...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Joe Miller And the Unemployed

Alaskan teabagger Joe Miller came out against unemployment benefits and the unemployed today on Fox news Sunday claiming that such benefits are unconstitutional. 

Amanda Terkel wrote the following:
In an interview today with "Fox News Sunday," Alaska GOP Senate nominee Joe Miller had trouble explaining how he would help the 43.6 million Americans in poverty, even as host Chris Wallace repeatedly pressed him for more than conservative talking points.

Wallace asked Miller about his assertion in August on CBS's "Face the Nation" that unemployment benefits are unconstitutional, noting that without them, many more Americans would be in poverty. "What would you do for them?" asked Wallace.

Miller, however, struggled to come up with an answer, and instead shifted to talking points about reducing the size of the federal government. Wallace repeatedly pressed him on the issue, without ever receiving an actual response.
This is typical - these candidates only learn the talking points and have no real solution.  The only reason why thse individuals won is because the mindless drones that make up the GOP base were excited to have one of their own on the ballot.  Had Miller given a real response, he may have lost some of his support because in reality he is in over his head - like that time that soon-to-be-half-term-governor ran for vice president.

Another interesting point from the interview came when Miller was asked if supporter Sarah Palin was qualified to become president - he refused to answer, claiming that he was concentrating on running for the Senate.  He could have easily ended the conversation by saying "yes" or "no," but instead he deflected and moved on.  It is my guess that Miller knows Palin is not qualified and chose not to say anything...

Mike Huckabee: "Sick People Are Like Wrecked Cars And Burnt Houses!"

Simon Maloy wrote an interesting article on Media Matters for America that I thought was interesting - former presidential-hopeful-turned-right-wing-pundit Mike Huckabee had compared health insurance to auto and house insurance as a reason why companies should not be obligated to insure preexisting conditions. To Huckabee, a sick person is nothing more then a wrecked car or a burnt-down house.

Christine O'Donnell Quits Sunday Talk Programs. Could It Be Because She Once "Dabbled Into Witchcraft?"

News reports indicate that tea party and GOP candidate Christine O'Donnell has called off her appearence ona  couple programs today - CBS' "Face the Nation" and "Fox News Sunday" - claiming that she had to go to church and had a previous engagement at a picnic to attend.  More likely then not, O'Donnell is engaging in more of that right-wing non-engagement policy - avoid the press when things look like they may get hard and hope they go away.  O'Donnell is having a difficult time erasing her problems though - a clip recently surfaced with O'Donnell admitting that she once "dabbled into witchcraft?"

Not only does O'Donnell's own words sound silly, they also display her ignorance - witchcraft is not Satanism.  O'Donnell's past comments are also very condescending to non-Christians.  I'm sure she would view Hindus as an evil faith.

O'Donnell thought she fixed the problem surrounding the last statements she made by explaining she was just excited about her newfound faith claiming she has since matured, but if she has, how come she won't explain the positions she holds now?  Where are her explanations on masturbation or witchcraft now?

The reason why she won't talk and is avoiding the media is because she is no different then that girl we see in these videos a decade ago - she is an ignorant, intolerant right-wing "Christian" and had waited long enough for a major political party to begin to legitimize her fringe beliefs so that she may run for office and try and impose her beliefs on the rest of America.