Tuesday, May 31, 2011

In Wisconsin, Six Republicans and Zero Democrats Face Recall Elections

Greg Sargent wrote the following in the Washington Post blog The Plum Line:
Conservatives and some political observers are making a big deal out of the fact that the Dem candidate in the closely watched state Supreme Court race in Wisconsin finally conceded defeat today, as had long been expected.

But surely it’s also a big deal that we now know for certain that six Wisconsin Republican state senators will officially face recall elections, while a grand total of zero Democrats may face the same?

Today the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board announced that they have now approved the signatures required for recall elections against the following six GOP senators: Rob Cowles, Alberta Darling, Sheila Harsdorf, Randy Hopper, Dan Kapanke, and Luther Olsen. That means these six elections are definitely moving forward.

Meanwhile, the board has also announced that they are not prepared to approve the signatures gathered by Republicans for the recall of their three Democratic targets. Dems have alleged that the signature gathering by Republicans is fraudulent, and now the board has explicitly claimed that their reason for not approving the recall elections against Dems is that the signatures “have raised numerous factual and legal issues which need to be investigated and analyzed.”
What does that mean?  While the signatures have been verified for the recall of six Republicans, the signatures gathered by the Republicans appear to be questionable, which is ironic considering conservatives constantly cry voter fraud when they don't win. 

Sargent also is keen to point out that the Government Accountability Board had requested from the state legislature funds to help evaluate the collected signatures and facilitate the recall elections, but the legislature has not responded to those requests, with one possibility for their silence being the Joint Committee On Finance - the committee that would be responsible for releasing those funds - contains four of the six targeted Republicans.

While news regarding the politics of Wisconsin seems to have faded from the national spotlight, and conservatives claiming victory, insisting apathy among liberals is partially to blame for the lack of headlines, this news seems to prove otherwise - opposition to the Republican-controlled government is alive and well, and even if the Republicans are to get their signatures certified, they will face an uphill battle.

Andrew Breitbart, Big Government Attempt Sex Smear On New York Democrat Anthony Weiner

I thought this was interesting - over the past couple days, Andrew Breitbart and Big Government have been spending a lot of their time on the hacking of New York Democrat Anthony Weiner's Twitter and Facebook account.  Breitbart claims his websites are conducting some fair reporting.
Ever since we first broke this story on Big Government and Big Journalism, we’ve been cautious in our reporting, making every effort to present the facts of the story in a fair and accurate way. For example, in connection with our original report, we noted that Congressman Weiner claimed his Facebook account was hacked, and we withheld the name and identity of the woman who allegedly received the offending photo from Congressman Weiner’s account.

What we know is that a link to a lewd photo was published from a sitting Congressman’s Twitter account, directed at a female recipient, whom he was “following,” but visible to everyone. Two broad possibilities exist: (1) the Congressman’s Twitter account (and perhaps other accounts) were hacked, or (2) the Congressman or someone with authorized access to his Twitter account sent the photo.

From here, we think the story most immediately goes two places: forensic analysis to determine the veracity of Congressman Weiner’s hacking allegation, which certainly bears criminal implications; and investigation into the veracity of developing reports of young women among the relatively few people Congressman Weiner “followed” on Twitter and who now claim they had direct communications with him.

Certainly, getting to the bottom of the story has been made more difficult by the relative silence of Congressman Weiner, as there remain many open questions he has not addressed and on which the mainstream media has failed to press him.

Breitbart's comments seem to be contrary to what has been published on his websites - the Big Government editorial board has spent a lot of time speculating about this situation.  I am not sure if Breitbart is aware of this but speculation is not "the facts of the story in a fair and accurate way."

"Hacked or hung?" wrote Big Goverment on May 28th.  "Is this the Tweet in question? Was Weiner hacked?"

Later, on Monday, when Rep. Weiner's spokesman used the word "prank" instead of "hack," Big Government again thought this was an opportunity to speculate.
The latest statement from Rep. Anthony Weiner’s spokesman on the Weinergate saga makes a subtle but perhaps important rhetorical shift.

Apparently, Weiner’s office no longer uses the word “hack”; it now refers to the incident, in which a link to a lewd photograph was published on Weiner’s Twitter feed, as a “prank.”

Could that change reflect an attempt to walk back earlier “hacking” accusations?

In a possibly related development, the intended recipient of Weiner’s message (who first spoke on the record to the New York Daily News) has indicated in tweets earlier today: “Expressed my dissatisfaction to NYDN over their implication that I backed the hacking theory,” and “I do not back, nor do I doubt, any hacking theory.”

These statements, plus the fact that there is no indication yet that Weiner has reported the alleged hack to authorities, suggest a new possibility: the offensive tweet may not have been a “hack,” but perhaps an inside job by someone with access to Weiner’s social networking accounts.

It is fairly standard practice in congressional offices and on congressional campaigns for multiple staffers to have access to the politician’s social networking accounts.
Big Government is now trying to cast doubt on the possibility of a hacking and make people believe it was an inside job, or worse, Weiner himself.

Why is Big Government devoting so much time to this incident? 

Could it be because Rep. Weiner has been very outspoken against the right-wing propagandists like Breitbart? 

Breitbart, desperate to maintain public interest in his smear campaign, had been taunting Rep. Weiner, claiming he had "much more," but needed "confirmation or denial."  It is interesting since Breitbart basically admitted he knows nothing of what is going on, despite claiming to be reporting facts of the matter.

Why is Breitbart holding onto information now when he had repeatedly published unvetted information in the past?  It makes you wonder if Breitbart is a little too involved in this "prank" or "hack." 

There are also some reports that the image Breitbart was using as proof - a screen grab - was doctored, according to this website offering an error level analysis of the image. 

Basically, Breitbart is trying everything to discredit one of the Republican's biggest targets, but nobody is biting because Breitbart has proven to be a journalistic hack.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rick Scott Signs Voter Suppression Law

Steve Bosquet wrote the following for The Miami Herald:
Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday signed a controversial overhaul of the election laws that Republicans say is needed to prevent voter fraud and Democrats call a cynical act of partisanship to improve GOP chances in Florida next year.

Critics assailed him for endorsing “voter suppression” tactics aimed at making it tougher for President Barack Obama to capture Florida’s prized 29 electoral votes in 2012.

“I want people to vote, but I also want to make sure there’s no fraud involved in elections,” Scott said. “All of us as individuals that vote want to make sure that our elections are fair and honest.”

But some supervisors who run elections in Florida say the state’s voter registration database is highly reliable. A statement from their statewide association warns Scott that the changes could cause chaos and confusion at the polls next year.

The League of Women Voters says it will suspend voter-registration activity because the bill requires such groups’ volunteers to register with the state and face fines of up to $1,000 for not submitting voting forms within 48 hours.

The bill also cuts early voting days from 15 to eight and requires some voters who have moved to cast provisional ballots, a change most likely to affect college students.

The bill wipes out policy in place for four decades in Florida that allowed voters to update their legal addresses when they voted.

Republicans call that an invitation to fraud, so the new law allows only voters who have moved within the same county to update their addresses at the polls.

None of the bill’s most controversial provisions was pushed by Scott’s chief elections expert, Secretary of State Kurt Browning. He broke weeks of silence Thursday about an hour after his boss, Scott, signed the legislation.

“I know bad election law when I see it,” Browning said. “I don’t think this bill is bad for Florida. … It doesn’t negatively impact Florida voters.”

The law takes effect immediately, which means its first test will be in Miami-Dade, the state’s largest county, which is electing a new county mayor and other officials Tuesday. Supervisor of Elections Lester Sola will end early voting Saturday — three days before Election Day, as the new law requires — a decision candidate Marcelo Llorente is fighting in court.

But in five counties it won’t go into effect until the federal government approves. Any change in state election laws that affects those counties — Hillsborough, Collier, Monroe, Hendry and Hardee — requires approval by the Justice Department in a process known as “pre-clearance.”

The legislation generated far more public opposition than any other bill of the 2011 session. Some was engineered by the League of Women Voters, which has thousands of members in Florida.

Scott’s office reported 14,000 calls and e-mails in opposition; nearly 1,300 in favor. A notation by Scott’s staff said:

“Majority oppose. Urging Governor to veto these bills because they change our voting laws, making it more difficult for some voters to cast their vote.”
1,300 out of 15,300 total emails equals less than 8.5 percent, meaning more than 90 percent of the emails - an overwhelming majority - oppose this bill.  Those figures are based only on emails, but when you consider everything Scott has done since taking office has been opposed by the majority, I find these numbers to be spot on.  

Republican FCC Commissioner Joins Comcast After Voting In Favor Of Merger

Brent Lang & Tim Kenneally wrote the following for The Wrap:
A mere four months after voting in favor of Comcast's controversial $13.75 billion purchase of NBC-Universal, Meredith Attwell Baker, the Republican commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, has decided to step down to take a top government affairs job at Comcast.

Good government watchdogs and bloggers can commence finger wagging, because Baker was one of four commissioners who endorsed the deal.

Moreover, not only did Baker give her approval, but as Ars Technica reports, she vigorously opposed any efforts to impose restrictions on the deal, noting the marriage would "bring exciting benefits to consumers that outweigh potential harms."

For months leading up to the FCC's approval, consumer advocacy groups, lawmakers and rivals had argued that the merger would give Comcast disproportionate control of the media landscape.

Also of interest, is the fact that Baker did not wait until her term expired in June to announce her exit. Many commissioners leave the FCC to resume or take on work as Washington rainmakers or corporate executives, but they usually wait until their term has expired to make their plans known.

Prior to Wednesday's announcement, Baker was expected to be re-nominated to the post. Instead, her resignation will take effect on June 3.
I understand this is somewhat old news but after browsing some old headlines I thought this story needed just a little bit more attention.  Can you imagine if this was a Democrat?  Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Fox News, and the rest of them would be claiming some big government corruption going on.  Now that this story has been out for a while I have noticed something - conservative media had spent very little time covering this story and when they had they seemed to leave out the Republican part. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Big Government Claims Illinois School Board Candidates Allegedly Bought Votes With Gift Cards

Big Government's Kyle Olson thinks they found another instance of liberal corruption, revealed by "tea party activists," but how trustworthy is such a damning claim that uses the word "alleged," or any of it's variants, several times?  Olson skimps on the details, even though the activists gathered emails through Freedom of Information Act requests and only offers a couple quotes, most likely taken out of context or fabricated - why else wouldn't he publish the entire messages, especially when Olson states these activists have a "commitment to government transparency and accountability."  They aren't being too transparent themselves.

Olson wrote the following:
In the Grayslake, Illinois School District 46, three tea party members decided to take action by running for three available seats on the school board this spring. I wish more would do the same thing.

Their opponents were two incumbents with strong teachers’ union ties. One of the incumbents, Mary Garcia, also serves as the teachers’ union president in neighboring District 30. The other, Susan Fecklam, reportedly ran a coordinated campaign with Garcia.

The incumbents were obviously concerned about the presence of the tea party candidates on the ballot, and what they might do to the union agenda if they were elected.

So what did the incumbents do? They allegedly broke the law, or violated school policies, by using school email accounts to promote their campaigns, and by bribing 18-year-old students to register to vote, on the presumption the kids would vote for them.

These alleged misdeeds were discovered by Lennie Jarratt, founder of the Lake County Tea Party, through a freedom of information request. He sought and received more than 300 pages of school emails that he believes proves the two candidates, as well as the District 46 superintendent, crossed the line during the recent campaign.
So basically a founder of a tea party organization believes he sees wrongdoing.
Jarratt said he learned about the alleged misdeeds when he was told that Garcia emailed a state official from her District 30 account, asking for a campaign contribution. That led him to file the freedom of information request, which led him many other Garcia emails.
Jarratt was "told" there was an email asking for a campaign contribution, but what does Olson post on Big Government?

In an email to School District 46 Superintendent Ellen Correll, Assistant Superintendent Lynn Barkley and several union leaders, who for some reason remain nameless, Garcia wrote, “I think that all members of both unions should be appraised of this information. There will be no collective bargaining with these three (tea party candidates) on the board. I am very afraid that Sue and I will not have the funds necessary to fight a ‘party.’”

Do you see a request for money anywhere in the above quote?

How about this one:
“Anything you spend counts toward the $1,999.99 that you and Mary would be allowed to spend,” campaign manager Alex Finke allegedly wrote. “The only way around it would be to lie and pay me cash. Then I could claim that I am volunteering for you.”
If the email was from Alex Finke, as mentioned in a FOIA request, then why is Olson saying "allegedly?"  Also, this campaign manager contacted the individual, not the other way around, and clearly stated the legal thing to do - they would have to be an idiot to outline illegal activities in a public email.
The fourth, and perhaps most disturbing email was allegedly written by Fecklam to Garcia at her school district address. Fecklam bragged to Garcia about her efforts to bribe 18-year-old high school students who live in the district to register to vote before the school board election.

It is a felony to offer bribes to anyone for voting or registering to vote, according to Jarratt.

“Don’t let them turn us in; gifts to register to vote is probably illegal! I did offer Erika (Garcia’s daughter) more gift cards if she can gather up even more friends!” 
In the first sentence Olson claims the email was "allegedly written," but in the second sentence he states Fecklam "bragged" about bribing an 18-year-old.  Which is it?  Is the email allegedly written or is written?

Also, why is Olson taking a tea party activist's word for what a felony is?  Why wouldn't Olson, who presumably thinks of themselves as a journalist, actually research what constitutes a felony in Illinois?

Check out these laws in the Guide to Illinois Statutes Affecting Schools.  Do you see any felonies?

Basically, all the information Olson has on this matter comes from the Lake County Tea Party's website, and they offer no additional information - just the same vague alleged quotes.

Olson also references a Chicago Daily Herald article as stating "a large group of parents and concerned citizens showed up at the school board meeting to complain about the alleged campaign abuse," but there is no such article on the Chicago Daily Herald - the link supplied by Olson leads to a nonexistent page and any search of the event yielded zero results (except for other websites that copied Olson's post).
“You dishonor this community,” parent Joan Siefert reportedly told the pro-union candidates at the meeting.
Doing further research, it appears this concerned citizen Joan Siefert is associated with the North Illinois Patriots.  Someone by the name of Janet Johnson claimed to have been working with the Illinois tea party group stated on a 912 site they were working with Joan Siefert last year.

Here is video from the North Illinois Patriots identifying Siefert as a tea party volunteer:

It appears Joan Siefert frequently attends school board meetings, as evidenced by North Illinois Patriot video footage, where she makes accusations across the board, from cronyism to lack of transparency.

Do you think she was biased?

Oddly, there is video of Siefert at numerous other board meetings and events but not for this most recent one where, especially where there was such a contentious and serious issue at hand and there was reportedly a large turnout of "parents and concerned citizens," but doing further research, I had came across another tea party video associated with the Lake County Tea Party, pretending to be a newscast, that stated nineteen people were in attendence.


Hardly a huge turnout - probably took all the tea party volunteers on hand to fill that room.

None of this seems to matter though - the tea party was victorious in wining two of the three seats up for election, including Mary Garcia's spot, but that doesn't mean the tea party can continue to make countless allegations of wrongdoing to secure their positions - that is the kind of stuff (fear and anger) that drives their supporters to the polls.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rick Scott Supporters Have Hard Time Finding Praise For Governor

I just read this supportive piece for Rick Scott by Dusty Ricketts for the Northwest Florida Daily News that I thought was interesting - in it Ricketts insists Scott's administration is more business-friendly then the last and that Scott's promise to increase jobs by 700,000 in 7 years is well on its way, but I beg to differ.

Here is what Ricketts had to say:
Gov. Rick Scott pledged to make Florida more business-friendly when he took office in January.

According to local economic development officials, he is doing just that.

“Since January I have responded to and seen more inquiries about Northwest Florida than I’ve seen in a few years, and it’s from major corporations,” said Shannon Ogletree, associate director of TEAM Santa Rosa, Santa Rosa County’s economic development council. “Before, large companies were not looking our way. They thought the regulatory process and just getting incentives, they didn’t think we had a pro business state, and now that has really changed with Gov. Scott at the helm.”

Scott has pledged to bring 700,000 new jobs to Florida in seven years. To help get there, several bills were approved in the recent legislative session to make it easier for businesses to relocate, expand or open in the state. Those include small business and property tax cuts, government restructuring to reduce the amount of time needed to approve or deny economic development initiatives and new incentives for high-wage research and development jobs.

Larry Sassano, president of the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council, said Scott’s plan is to make Florida the most business-friendly state in the country...

All three local economic development agencies are working on projects to bring new businesses to the area.

The Walton County Economic Development Alliance has responded to request for proposals from about 12 companies since the beginning of the year, and Phaneuf said it is in serious talks with about half of them now. One of those is a technology company that would create 30 jobs in three years in South Walton. The alliance also talking to prospective tenants for the Northwest Florida Commerce Park in Mossy Head and the Walton County Industrial Park in Freeport.

Okaloosa’s EDC has 37 active projects, with about 20 percent of them requiring weekly or even daily meetings. If that 20 percent all comes to the county, that would create nearly 1,900 new high-wage jobs over the next two to three years.

TEAM Santa Rosa is currently in serious talks with roughly 15 companies to move to or expand in Santa Rosa County.
I'm just curious if Ricketts read his own article.  He references Scott's goal of 700,000 in 7 years but can only reference three local development teams that are in "talks" with a few companies, and if those companies were to possibly come to Florida, they would generate just under 2,000 jobs in 3 years.  What about the other 698,000 jobs?

The article references three counties our of Florida's sixty-seven, so if we look at the numbers - 1,930 jobs in 3 years for 3 counties - that would mean the total number of possible jobs Florida may gain from Rick Scott's administrative efforts would be closer to 40,000 (41,173 to be exact) in three years, and less than 100,000 in seven. 

Basically, Scott supporters are grasping at straws to defend their vision of a privatized government but so far their conservative government has shown little interest in building Florida's economy.  Instead, Republican legislators have spent time on their pet issues, like involving the government in personal medical decisions or drug test public employees and welfare recipients then they have focusing on job creation.  In their defense, they have crafted legislation to give tax breaks to big corporations while Florida has one of the highest foreclosure and unemployment rates...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sarah Palin Is Wrong About White House Poetry Event Featuring Rapper Common. (Hint: It's Not National Police Week!)

It seems conservatives are constantly looking for something to complain about in regards to the Democrats, the president, and the administration, and it appears they have found their newest weekly - rapper Common appearing at a White House poetry reading.  Apparently, Common supports cop-killing, as mentioned by numerous right-wing pundits, but as usual, those idiots get it all wrong.

The Daily Show did a great service in highlighting the right's hypocrisy by pointing out Fox News' embrace of musicians with far more violent lyrics, such as Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues," which is about a man who "shot a man in Reno just to watch him die," or Cash's other song "Cocaine Blues," which tells the tale of Willy Lee, a man who is sentenced to prison for shooting his "bad bitch down" in a whiskey and cocaine fueled rage; Ted Nugent, who had once told President Obama "to suck on my machine gun;" and Ice T, who is well known for his 1992 song "Cop Killer."  Fox News had also praised Common's lyrics, in which a reporter had called the rapper "very positive."

What I found particularly funny was not the right's hypocrisy (which Media Matters did an excellent job pointing out), but Sarah Palin's stupidity that just added to the ridiculousness of this entire non-issue.  Palin took to the sponsors of her unofficial presidential campaign - Fox News - to criticize the pick of Common to do a poetry reading but she took it a bit further.

"The White House's judgment on inviting someone who would glorify cop killing during Police Memorial Week, of all times, you know, the judgment, it's just so lacking of class and decency," said Palin.

There is only one problem with that - National Police Week is officially from May 15th through the 21st.

The poetry event was on May 11th.

Maybe Palin should spend a little more time Googling her talking points before she open's her trap on her favorite "journalist's" program.

Kansas' Overreaching Abortion Law

Remember how Republicans want less intrusion into our lives by government?

It appears Republicans in Kansas have no problem with government intrusion when it comes to abortion law.

John Hanna wrote the following for Time:
Kansas legislators approved a ban Friday on insurance companies offering abortion coverage as part of their general health plans except when a woman's life is at risk, capping a string of for abortion rights opponents in the four months since sympathetic Gov. Sam Brownback took office.

Brownback, an anti-abortion Republican, is expected to sign the bill sent to him by the state House a mere 15 minutes before lawmakers adjourned their annual session. The House's early-morning vote was 86-30 in support of a larger bill that included the abortion coverage restrictions. The state Senate had approved it Thursday night, 28-10. Archive: The 1973 Roe v. Wade Case) 

If the bill becomes law as expected, starting in July, individuals and employers who want abortion coverage would have to buy supplemental policies that cover only abortion. Supporters of the bill argue that it will protect employers who oppose abortion rights from having to pay for policies that cover the procedures.
If supporters are using the argument that this bill would protect employers who oppose abortion rights from having to pay policies that cover the procedures, then why do they limit individual policies as well unless the intent of their bill is to try and prevent everyone from having access to the medical procedure?

I can somewhat get behind a change to employer policies, allowing for an option to either provide abortion coverage or not, but I do not see any reason for the government to intrude in not only the lives of the individuals, but the insurance companies as well, and I am certain that these providers will be making additional profits on the supplementary policies.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Who Was The Winner Of The 1st GOP Presidential Debate? Ron Paul.

Here is my opinion: the winner of the 1st Republican presidential debate, hosted by Fox News, was Ron Paul - not Herman Cain.

I found Ron Paul's answers to be consistent with his past and I admit that I agreed with many of his responses, but not all.

Here is a compilation of his responses:

Osama Bin Laden Stories Shed Light On Obama, Commander-In-Chief

Turn on any right-wing media source and you will see countless criticisms of the president's handling of the assault on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan.  You will see claims ranging from he did too much (he violated the law in authorizing such an attack) to he did too little (he was playing golf when the military decided to act without him), but one thing is certain - as news trickles out regarding the events that transpired last week, we are catching a glimpse of what kind of leader President Obama is behind closed doors.

Here is an excerpt from a New York Times article by Eric Schmitt, Thom Shanker and David E. Sanger that demonstrates the kind of deliberation and calculation Obama took in authorizing the strike:
President Obama insisted that the assault force hunting down Osama bin Laden last week be large enough to fight its way out of Pakistan if confronted by hostile local police officers and troops, senior administration and military officials said Monday.

In revealing additional details about planning for the mission, senior officials also said that two teams of specialists were on standby: One to bury Bin Laden if he was killed, and a second composed of lawyers, interrogators and translators in case he was captured alive. That team was set to meet aboard a Navy ship, most likely the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson in the North Arabian Sea.

Mr. Obama’s decision to increase the size of the force sent into Pakistan shows that he was willing to risk a military confrontation with a close ally in order to capture or kill the leader of Al Qaeda...

The planning also illustrates how little the administration trusted the Pakistanis as they set up their operation. They also rejected a proposal to bring the Pakistanis in on the mission.

Under the original plan, two assault helicopters were going to stay on the Afghanistan side of the border waiting for a call if they were needed. But the aircraft would have been about 90 minutes away from the Bin Laden compound.

About 10 days before the raid, Mr. Obama reviewed the plans and pressed his commanders as to whether they were taking along enough forces to fight their way out if the Pakistanis arrived on the scene and tried to interfere with the operation.

That resulted in the decision to send two more helicopters carrying additional troops. These followed the two lead Black Hawk helicopters that carried the actual assault team. While there was no confrontation with the Pakistanis, one of those backup helicopters was ultimately brought in to the scene of the raid when a Black Hawk was damaged while making a hard landing.

“Some people may have assumed we could talk our way out of a jam, but given our difficult relationship with Pakistan right now, the president did not want to leave anything to chance,” said one senior administration official, who like others would not be quoted by name describing details of the secret mission. “He wanted extra forces if they were necessary.”
A big difference from the reporting that claims Obama shot an unarmed man or that he was inept and senior security and defense officials ignored the president.

Fox News Continues Osama Bin Laden "Victory Lap" Narrative For Other Issues

After the killing of Osama bin Laden, Fox News has been hard at work to try and prevent the president from gaining any kind of popularity in the polls by pushing a narrative that he was egotistical, taking a "victory lap."

In order to stick with that narrative, Fox News is trying real hard, as can be seen in this headline from Fox News:

The article by Chris Stirewalt insists that operating off of a post-Osama bump, the president is trying to "tout his administration’s efforts to deal with crime caused by illegal immigrants and to enhance border security," as well as campaign to help raise money for his campaign.
This visit is designed to provide cover in advance of a larger effort to push Republicans into a corner on illegal immigration. It will be hard to convince moderate Senate Democrats that advancing an immigration bill right before an election would be a good idea, but if Obama uses his bin Laden mojo to show he is tough on border security he might convince his party that the upside of hurting Republicans is worth the risk.

If Obama cannot just take 70 percent of the Hispanic vote next year but also drive high Hispanic turnout by having a hot immigration debate, he will help himself to Latino population centers like Nevada, Colorado, Florida, Virginia and North Carolina.

Given that the president’s post-kill bounce was limited and already seems to be leveling off, it looks unlikely that he will have the clout to do anything close to comprehensive immigration legislation, but he may have enough juice to use the issue to harm Republicans.
Are we going to see these "victory lap" stories up until the 2012 election?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Politicalgates: Interview with Geoffrey Dunn About His Upcoming Book

Patrick at PoliticalGates had conducted a very good interview with Geoffrey Dunn, author of the upcoming book "The Lies of Sarah Palin: The Untold Story Behind Her Relentless Quest for Power."
We were given the opportunity to interview Geoffrey Dunn about his upcoming book "The Lies of Sarah Palin - The Untold Story Behind Her Relentless Quest for Power." The book will be released on Tuesday, May 10.

Fortunately we were lucky enough to have received an advance copy from the publishers therefore we have already read significant portions of the book and I can assure you that you will not be disappointed if you have ordered a copy. Geoffrey Dunn had access to a huge number of excellent sources, many of whom went on the record, as well as access to a large amount of previously unpublished material. Geoffrey wrote what I consider the ultimate biography of Sarah Palin's political career - starting with her days at Wasilla High School. The book is fact-checked up to the smallest details, and clearly sets a benchmark for all the other books regarding Sarah Palin which are to follow this year. The book is incredibly well written, packed with facts and a great achievement by Geoffrey Dunn.

Short bio, courtesy of St. Martin's Press:

Geoffrey Dunn is an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker with more than three decades experience as an investigative reporter. A frequent contributor to The Huffington Post, where he has broken several national stories on Sarah Palin since the 2008 presidential campaign, Dunn has also served as a Senior Editor for Metro Newspapers in Northern California, where he has received awards for investigative journalism from the National Newspaper Association, the California Newspaper Publishers Association, and the Peninsula Press Club. His documentary films include the award-winning Calypso Dreams; Miss…or Myth?; and Dollar a Day, 10¢ a Dance. Dunn received a B.A. in politics (with honors), as well as an M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology, from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he has taught courses in documentary film, nonfiction writing and American political history and culture. He received an Excellence in Teaching Award there in 2000. Dunn was raised in an Italian-American fishing community and worked in the Pacific Coast fishery industry until the mid-1980s.
Read the excellent interview here.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Conservatives Attack Administration Over Ground Zero Visit

Conservatives have taken to the media to attack the moves by the administration following the killing of America's number one enemy - Osama bin Laden.


Only Republicans are allowed to be strong on defense and only Republicans are allowed to capitalize on the death of American civilians and servicemen.

The president visiting what these very same people referred to as "hallowed ground" to respect the dead and contribute to the closure of a ten-year-old wound is not "disgusting" and is not a "political victory lap." 

Was this a "political victory lap?"

Those who will defend President Bush over this photo will mention Bush's admission in his writing that he himself regrets the banner.  This is probably because the banner was a bit premature - at that time the president was in the middle of his own "political victory lap."

Hindsight is 20/20.

There is a big difference between the above picture and what happened this week (shown below).

And if that hypocrisy is not enough, Media Matters for America had detailed in a piece last year the criticisms President Obama from conservative media for not attending the September 11th memorial at Ground Zero.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Florida Republicans Aim To Limit Early Voting

Kathleen Haughney wrote the following for The Orlando Sentinel:
The Florida Senate is poised to vote Thursday on a comprehensive rewrite of elections law that would limit early voting, change registration practices and let a committee set the date for the 2012 Republican presidential primary.

GOP lawmakers in both the House and Senate, citing cases of voter fraud, proposed the legislation that they say will crack down on election violations and protect the integrity of the vote.

"The whole idea is to organize it, protect people from being taken advantage of and have some measure of accountability," said Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, the Senate sponsor.

But according to the Florida Department of State, there's been little election fraud in recent years — just 31 cases of alleged voter fraud referred to the Department of Law Enforcement for investigation between January 2008 and March 2011. Two cases resulted in arrests. In a third case, an arrest warrant was issued, but the suspect fled the country.

Democrats said the intent of the bill, HB 1355, would be to hold down turnout of their party's voters in a presidential election year.

"I know you would not be trying to suppress a citizen's right to vote," Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, sarcastically told Diaz de la Portilla, as the GOP majority beat down Democratic attempts to amend the bill.

The bill would cut the time for early voting from 14 days to eight. Local supervisors of elections could keep their early voting sites open anywhere from six hours to 12 hours per day. That would allow a maximum of 96 hours of early voting — the same number allowed today, but over fewer days.

In the 2008 general election, 32 percent of all voters cast their ballots early, according to a state report, including those who used absentee ballots. But 52 percent of early voters were Democrats — compared with 30 percent who were Republican.

The legislation also would eliminate a longstanding law that allows voters to change their addresses or names at the polls, something done frequently by college students. The bill would allow that only for people who move within the same county. Others would have to cast provisional ballots — and show up later at election supervisors' offices to show proof of identity.
Considering the cited reason for these legislative changes is fraud and considering the Department of State debunked that claim, it is pretty obvious what Florida Republicans are doing - attempting to disenfranchise Democratic voters to help maintain majorities in the state government.  Republicans are aware that with the president running for reelection in 2012, Democratic turnout will be higher than in the midterm elections, where Republicans regained control of one-third the federal government and many state chambers.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Big Government's Selective Editing Regarding Chinese High-Speed Rail

In an attempt to drive another nail in America's high-speed rail infrastructure improvements, Big Government author Christopher C. Horner points to a Washington Post article by Charles Lane as proof that high-speed rail is nothing but a government boondoggle.  The Lane article discusses the problems arising in China's railways, but Horner decided to selectively quote the article to give the appearance that all high-speed rail projects are destined for failure.

Horner quoted the following:
“is ruined, and his high-speed rail project is in trouble. … his ministry has run up $271 billion in debt — roughly five times the level that bankrupted General Motors. But ticket sales can’t cover debt service that will total $27.7 billion in 2011 alone. Safety concerns also are cropping up.

Faced with a financial and public relations disaster, China put the brakes on Liu’s program. On April 13, the government cut bullet-train speeds 30 mph to improve safety, energy efficiency and affordability. The Railway Ministry’s tangled finances are being audited. Construction plans, too, are being reviewed.

Liu’s legacy, in short, is a system that could drain China’s economic resources for years. So much for the grand project that Thomas Friedman of the New York Times likened to a “moon shot” and that President Obama held up as a model for the United States.”
Horner conveniently leaves out the portion of the article that discusses why the "high-speed rail project is in trouble."  The following sentence in bold was left out of Horner's piece:
Today, Liu Zhijun is ruined, and his high-speed rail project is in trouble. On Feb. 25, he was fired for “severe violations of discipline” — code for embezzling tens of millions of dollars. Seems his ministry has run up $271 billion in debt — roughly five times the level that bankrupted General Motors. But ticket sales can’t cover debt service that will total $27.7 billion in 2011 alone. Safety concerns also are cropping up.
Horner also ignored this little gem later on in the article, probably because it didn't fit his narrative:
Rather than demonstrating the advantages of centrally planned long-term investment, as its foreign admirers sometimes suggested, China’s bullet-train experience shows what can go wrong when an unelected elite, influenced by corrupt opportunists, gives orders that all must follow — without the robust public discussion we would have in the states...

In 2004, the State Council signed off on Liu’s plan to build the world’s largest high-speed-rail network by 2020. The first leg, a 72-mile stretch between Beijing and Tianjin, would open in time for the 2008 Olympics.

Word went forth that state-owned banks and local governments were to give Liu all the money, land and labor he required. When Chinese journalists found that Liu’s ministry was using cheap, low-quality concrete, creating a safety hazard, the Communist Party’s propaganda department quashed the reports, according to a January piece in the South China Morning Post.

Maybe Horner should have picked a better article to cherry-pick information for his narrative

Right-Wing Media Pushes Ridiculous Anonymous Rumor Paint President As Inept Commander-In-Chief

RedState.com decided to propagate some poorly-written propaganda that they admit is questionable.
I don’t stand by what follows because I don’t know the author or the website. It also falls into the “too good to check” category.

But read and decide for yourself which has a greater ring of truth: the cool, analytical Obama of the developing White House hagiography (or to quote the notorious catchfart Howard Fineman, “President Barack Obama just proved himself — vividly, in almost Biblical terms — to be an effective commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the United States”)? or this story describing the indecisive, goofy wuss whom we’ve come to know over the previous painful 29 months?
The article RedState.com refers to is a super-anonymous blog post from SocyBerty, where author Ulsterman engages in a Q&A with a "Washington D.C. Insider."

Media Matters summed it up best:
We are supposed to believe this "insider" is privy to the intricate details -- right down to a play-by-play of conversations between the Director of the CIA, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense  -- of some of the most important and closely guarded national security meetings in recent history, and chose to share this unvarnished information with an anonymous blogger who writes for a user-submitted content farm?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sarah Palin Goes To After Party For Event She Ditched, Unable To Answer Simple Question

Remember when Sarah Palin was principled and refused to go to the glitzy White House Correspondents' Dinner to instead speak to a pro-life crowd hosted by Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin?

“The pro-life cause or White House Correspondents’ Dinner?" asked Palin.  "I choose life."

Why do I mention this?

Because it appears Palin the Principled is not so principled after all.  While she attempted to make herself appear to be a righteous woman, avoiding the spotlight for something close to her heart (and wallet), it appears Palin couldn't avoid the glamor of the Correspondents' Dinner for long - she attended an after party of the event she thought was so unimportant.


What made this particularly interesting is that while at the MSNBC after party, Palin was nailed with another "gotcha" question, although to be fair of MSNBC, the question were asked to many of the attendees.

"Who do you think is the most influential journalist today?" asked NBC's blog NBCU Direct.

Palin could not answer, much like she could not answer the similar question asked by Katie Couric a few years ago, asking what newspapers the former half-term governor of Alaska read.

"Oh my goodness, that's a great question," she said, before seeing if trusty Todd Palin knew how to answer that one, but even he was dumbfounded.

"Um, gosh, that's a great question, I have to think about it, OK? Because there are many," she finally responded.

Palin was content with that answer until she ran into fellow Fox employee Greta Van Susteren - Palin then yelled back to the NBC cameras that "Greta Van Susteren is the most influential journalist!"

Not to split hairs or anything, but doesn't Van Susteren's program play during Fox News' opinion hours?

According to Fox, there is a clear destinction between the news and the opinion.  Brian Stelter wrote the following for The New York Times:
In an interview, Mr. [senior vice president for news Michael] Clemente suggested that there was an element of "shoot the messenger" in the back and forth. "Sometimes it's actually helpful to have an organization or a person that you can go up against for whatever reason," he said.

Fox argues that its news hours -- 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. on weekdays -- are objective. The channel has taken pains recently to highlight its news programs, including the two hours led by Shepard Smith, its chief news anchor. And its daytime newscasts draw more viewers than CNN or MSNBC's prime-time programs.

"The average consumer certainly knows the difference between the A section of the newspaper and the editorial page," Mr. Clemente said.
Van Susteren's show falls under the "editorial page" of Fox News, and as Palin the journalism major may be familair with," journalism is the practice of investigation and reporting of events, issues and trends."

With that being said, it looks like Palin failed at yet another simple question and by attending a party celebrating an event she criticized, highlighted the hypocrisy that is her life.

Oh, and why was Palin attending a party hosted by the "lamestream" media, anyway?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Oklahoma GOP's Attack Against Planned Parenthood Illustrates Reason Not To Like The Ryan Budget

Here is an excerpt from a Laura Bassett article from The Huffington Post:
In order to stop Planned Parenthood from being able to distribute them, lawmakers in Oklahoma are mulling legislation that would make nutrition vouchers inaccessible to thousands of low-income mothers.

The federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program provides federal grants to states for food vouchers, regular check-ups and nutrition education for low-income pregnant women and mothers of young children. The state distributes the funds through nine independent contractors, including Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma, which is based in Tulsa, Okla.

But state Rep. Jason Murphey (R), disturbed by Planned Parenthood’s abortion referral services, moved to amend the nutrition bill so that no independent contractors could administer the program.

"We need to ensure that we're not keeping clinics open on taxpayer dollars when one of their main emphases is abortion referrals," he told HuffPost.

By cutting WIC funding to Planned Parenthood, which administers the program for some 9,300 low-income women and children a year, and eight other independent contractors in Tulsa, the amendment would hinder many local women’s ability to afford nutritional food for their toddlers.
Now imagine if Paul Ryan's budget became law, and Medicare becomes a voucher program.  Look how Republicans are willing to manipulate something like a Women, Infants and Children program because they perceive it to be aiding abortion - something they are morally opposed.  Imagine what kind of future restrictions they will place on Medicare vouchers because of their politics...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Donald Trump Lies About Vietnam Draft

Like every other "conservative" candidate out there today, and yes I consider Trump a candidate, Trump has a problem with the truth.  Whether it is a reluctance to accept the truth or inability to determine fact from fiction, Trump has a problem with the overall concept of what separates real and fake.  This could not be any more evident then in a recent interview in which Trump claimed to have avoided being drafted during Vietnam because he "got lucky" and ""had a very high draft number."

According to The Smoking Gun, Trump's accounts are different from Selective Service records:
By the time his number (356) was drawn during the December 1, 1969 draft lottery, Trump had already received four student deferments and a medical deferment, according to military records on file with the National Archives and Records Administration. An extract of Trump’s Selective Classification record, seen here, was provided in response to a TSG records request.
Not only did Trump confuse student and medical deferments from a high draft number, Trump also seemed to fabricate the entire events surrounding how lucky he really was.

Trump claimed to have been in college when the draft pick occurred but again The Smoking Gun shot down that lie. 

“I was sitting at college, watching," Said Trump.  "I was going to the Wharton School of Finance. And I was watching as they did the draft numbers and I got a very, very high number and those numbers [they] never got up to.”

According to the truth, the draft lottery occurred eighteen months after Trump graduated from school.

Now I don't know about you but I think that sounds pretty strange.  Trump claimed it odd that nobody from the president's school days ever stepped forward to talk about the president but then here is a guy who can't seem to get his story straight regarding an important moment in his life - not having to go fight in a war.  I think that if I was facing freedom and being forced into military service, only to escape, I would probably remember that day perfectly. 

Palin Spouts Nonsense At Pro-Life Event

Unlike her Fox News coworkers, Sarah Palin decided to not atend the White House Correspondents' Dinner, instead opting for a pro-life fundraiser for anti-abortion advertising group Heroic Media.  Of course, the event was closed to the press, but Politico had purchased tickets to the event.  Jedd Rosche wrote the following:
Palin praised Heroic Media's advertising against abortion, on billboards, online and in social media. She also presented an award to Lila Rose, the videographer and activist who did a video sting operation against Planned Parenthood and worked with James O'Keefe on his sting against ACORN.

"Planned Parenthood doesn't empower women, or offer women who find themselves in less than ideal circumstances any kind of real choice," she said. "What they offer is not real choice or female health care."

Palin's daughter Bristol was also in the Washington area, but she attended Saturday's dinner with the president and the Beltway media instead. Palin said she advised her daughter to just grin and bear any Palin-related jokes.

"Go and grit your teeth if you hear Palin jokes out there on the podium," she said.
Palin couldn't be more wrong.  Planned Parenhood provides a great service for women, and no, I don't mean abortion.  It is possible to be pro-life and pro-Planned Parenthood when you realize the organization is more then just abortions - especially when you realize their actions do more to prevent abortion.

Here is something Palin could understand: a pie chart depicting Planned Parenthood's services.

By stating Planned Parenthood does nothing to empower women is a huge falsehood.  It helps prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, cancer, and unwanted pregnancies.  I guess Palin would love to see pregnant cancer-ridden women.  What does Palin believe would happen should Planned Parenthood dissappear?

There would be a rise in diseases, cancer diagnoses, unwanted pregnancies, as well as a handful of other issues that effect women, and where do you think the cost would fall then?

Instead of facing the truth, Palin decided to go to a closed speaking event to speak to those who idol her.  It's only a matter of time before Donald Trump announces Palin as his running mate.

Town Hall Anger Over GOP Budget Plan Reveals True Feelings For "Obamacare"

I thought this opinion article by Michael Wolraich, titled "Republican's Medicare Blunder" and featured on CNN's website, was worth mentioning.
In town hall meetings being held across the country during Congress' two-week recess, American citizens are filling the ears of Republican legislators with objections to the party's budget plan, particularly proposed changes to Medicare that would replace direct coverage with subsidies for private insurance.

Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pennsylvania, quoted in a New York Times article Tuesday, tried to play down the objections, but his explanation inadvertently exposed the flaw in his party's political strategy.

"I am not sensing the general public is angered over Medicare reform," he insisted. "When I explain that people over 55 are not affected there is almost a sigh of relief."

In other words, Barletta believes his constituents will only tolerate "reform" that does not personally affect them.

This offhand acknowledgement belies the obvious truth that Republicans are loath to admit: Americans actually like their supposedly bloated, inefficient, bureaucratic, government health insurance, and they do not trust for-profit insurance companies to do it better. They like their socialized medicine so much that they're willing to give hell to anyone who threatens to take it away.

The over-55 proviso only serves to validate citizens' objections. Even if the exception pacifies seniors, by emphasizing it Republicans implicitly acknowledge that the proposed subsidy plan is not equivalent to Medicare as we know it. They underscore the fact that Americans under 55 will get screwed.
Enough said...