When Darsi Ferrer, a Cuban dissident emerged from nearly a year’s confinement for buying black market construction materials, a reporter asked him who should get the credit for his release. He credited the Cuban Catholic Church. And then he said, “What should be the solution in Cuba? Dialogue. The dialogue of the Church and civil society; between the people and the government; between the Diaspora and Cuba; the dialogue between the European Union and the government.” Among those who could help the Cuban people, he never mentioned the United States. This is the sorry place that our fifty year old policy of isolating Cuba has left our country and our credibility as a champion of democracy. We’ve become what Senator Richard Lugar reported one year ago, “a powerless bystander, watching events unfold at a distance.” It’s not just that the policy is wrong; it’s made us irrelevant. That suits hard-line supporters of the U.S. embargo just fine. They oppose any loosening of trade or travel restrictions against Cuba without human rights concessions from the Castros. They celebrate reports of food shortages in Cuba and urge us to tighten the screws just a little longer believing the regime will collapse or hunger will incite rebellion among Cubans. Putting aside the depravity of starving innocent people as a tactic of U.S. foreign policy, history has taught us this approach won’t work. When Cuba experienced a wrenching contraction at the end of the Cold War as the Soviet Union withdrew its support, Cubans suffered but nothing else happened. Stability prevailed, and the system emerged intact, later to affect the transfer of Cuba’s presidency from Fidel to RaÃºl Castro and to celebrate the golden anniversary of their revolution. Rather than continuing the fiction that isolation will bring down the Castro government, the House Agriculture Committee proposes an entirely different approach. In hours it will consider bi-partisan legislation [The Peterson-Moran bill] to end the ban on legal travel to Cuba for all Americans and remove key impediments that hold down sales of U.S. food to the Cuban market. The bill offers no credits to Cuba’s government and keeps the embargo firmly in place. But by filling their streets with American tourists to engage the Cuban people and filling their tables with American food to meet their nutritional requirements, the legislation seeks to engage Cubans by connecting our nation’s greatest assets to Cuba’s most abiding needs. Defenders of human rights in our country - from the Catholic Church and the AFL-CIO, to Human Rights Watch and Freedom House - all think engagement with Cuba would better reflect our interests in democracy and human rights. So do exponents of mainstream foreign policy thought. The Council on Foreign Relations has called for formal diplomatic recognition of Cuba. The Brookings Project on U.S. Policy Toward a Cuba in Transition - calling U.S. policy a failure, costing U.S. influence on Cuba and isolating our country in the Western Hemisphere– recommended initiatives starting with expanded trade and travel and ending with normalization. The Cuba Study Group, representing business and community leaders of Cuban descent, offered this stinging rebuke of U.S. policy: “Apart from the dubious ethical/humanitarian underpinnings of intentionally targeting the Cuban people to strike at the Castro regime, current travel and remittance restrictions do little to weaken the Cuban government’s repressive machinery, let alone bring about regime change,” and then urged the end of all travel restrictions to Cuba for all Americans. Their position reflecting majority support among Cuban Americans for the freedom to travel more broadly, confirmed in poll after poll. Most strikingly, however, are what the most prominent civil society activists on the island have said -including Yoani Sanchez, the blogger, Oscar Espinosa Chepe, imprisoned in 2003 and later released, Guillermo Farinas, the hunger striker, and more than 70 others -who recently took the extraordinary step of signing an appeal to Congress asking for passage of Peterson-Moran. To critics who say, what possible difference could American tourists in Cuba make? The dissidents’ letter answers: “The supportive presence of American citizens, their direct help, and the many opportunities for exchange, used effectively and in the desired direction, would not be an abandonment of Cuban society, but rather a force strengthen it.” To those who argue against U.S. food exports to Cuba, they say: “Similarly, to further facilitate the sale of agriculture products would help alleviate the food shortages we now suffer.” Change is hard. The Agriculture Committee is already enduring searing criticism from hard-liners for consider this new approach. But Ms. Sanchez calls current U.S. policy toward Cuba “a blunder,” and she is right. Passage of the Peterson-Moran bill will create thousands of American jobs and, more importantly, give our country a new chance to stand with Cuba’s people. It should pass. More on Cuba
Archive for June, 2010.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The administrators of a new legal defense fund set up for Sarah Palin have sent out an e-mail that downplays the outcome of ethics complaints against the former Alaska governor and accuses her political enemies of waging a “vicious campaign” to ruin her. The unsigned e-mail by the Sarah Palin Legal Defense Fund also blasts the Alaska Democratic Party, saying it has sponsored more than two dozen ethics complaints against Palin – charges the party called outright lies. “They put out all this misinformation, half-truths, assumptions and innuendoes, and at the end they make a conclusion based on a house of cards. It’s ridiculous,” party chairwoman Patti Higgins said Monday. The fund was set up last week when an ethics investigator found an earlier fund was illegal. Under a settlement agreement Palin made with the state Personnel Board, the nearly $390,000 collected before her July 27, 2009, resignation as governor will be returned within 90 days. In releasing his findings Thursday, however, personnel board investigator Timothy Petumenos said the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee acted in good faith and relied on a team of attorneys. The new fund sent out an e-mail that calls last week’s action a victory for Palin’s enemies “in their vicious campaign to smear, bankrupt, and force this dedicated public servant and conservative leader out of politics!” The e-mail also contends Palin has had to personally foot millions of dollars in legal bills to defend herself from a “massive witch hunt” by left-wing activists. Palin, who has reportedly made at least $12 million from her best-selling book and other media deals in the past year, has repeatedly said she has racked up more than $500,000 in legal bills. Fund trustee Tim Crawford said Monday the response from donors has been very good, but he declined to say how much has been raised since the e-mail went out Thursday to tens of thousands of people. Many are saying they want donations to the old fund transferred to the new one, according to Crawford, the treasurer of Palin’s political action committee. He said the fund is independent of SarahPAC and only needs to file reports with the Internal Revenue Service because it involves a private citizen. Crawford also declined to identify the e-mail’s author. “Who wrote it? It doesn’t matter,” he said. The e-mail states the Alaska Democratic Party is behind the multiple ethics complaints filed against Palin. It adds that 26 of 27 complaints have been dismissed. In reality, not all the complaints were dismissed outright. One complaint – also investigated by Petumenos – focused on state-paid trips Palin took with her children as governor. That case, which found vague regulations but no wrongdoing, concluded with a settlement agreement by Palin to reimburse the state about $8,000 for costs associated with nine trips taken by her children. Another complaint that alleged Palin and some staff members used their influence to get a supporter a job in state government was dismissed with a recommendation of ethics training for a Palin staffer who made questionable comments in e-mails. An investigation by state lawmakers over Palin’s firing of her public safety commissioner in the so-called Troopergate scandal concluded that she violated a state ethics law prohibiting public officials from using their office for personal gain. The firing itself was deemed lawful since the commissioner was an at-will employee. In a separate investigation prompted by Palin, Petumenos said she violated no ethics laws. The e-mail also contends the Democratic National Committee – referring to it as the National Democratic Committee – used its Alaska chapter to create a website whose goal is to keep Palin out of public office. “To this day, the Democrats are using this web site to publicly seek donations for funding bogus” legal challenges involving Palin, it states. Alaska party leaders posted a response on their Palin website, sarahwatch.org, denouncing the e-mail’s allegation as a fabrication. The DNC had nothing to do with the site, according to the post, which also denies sponsoring any ethics complaints. “For the sake of the nation, this charade needs to stop,” the post states. (This version CORRECTS CHANGES to `downplays’ in ld; corrects name of Democratic National Committee in 16th graf) More on Sarah Palin
As the passing of Senator Byrd and the Kagan hearings dominate the political conversation, news on the polling front is quite silent as we kick off this first full week of Summer. However, the week does open up with several campaign headlines, including a continuation of some of that seriously fun intrasquad brawling in the state of Iowa. In polling news: even the House of Ras says that coronating Nikki Haley in South Carolina might be at least a tiny bit premature. All that, and quite a bit more, can be found here on the Monday edition of the Wrap… THE U.S. SENATE CO-Sen: CoC endorsement sign of continued GOP rift? In the weekend edition of the Wrap this past Saturday, it was noted that the Chamber of Commerce in South Carolina had decided to go with the Democrat in the race, a fairly clear snub of Nikki Haley, a darling of the social conservative crowd in the Palmetto State. Well, the divide between economic conservatives and social activists has flared up anew, this time in Colorado , where the CoC has cast its lot with former Lt. Governor Jane Norton over conservative firebrand Ken Buck. Bear in mind, of course, that the Chamber has been rebuffed in a couple of high-profile primaries, as two of their favored GOP candidates (Trey Grayson in Kentucky and Tim Bridgewater in Utah) were defeated. KS-Sen: New primary polls put Moran and Johnston out in front In spite of Sarah Palin’s Facebook endorsement, Congressman Todd Tiahrt heads into the final stretch before his big Senate primary as a distinct underdog to House colleague Jerry Moran. New numbers out today from SurveyUSA show that Moran enjoys a 53-33 lead over Tiahrt in the Republican primary to replace GOP Senator Sam Brownback (who is, of course, running for Governor). The Democratic field is considerably more wide-open, which is the expected by-product of a field of virtual unknowns. College professor Lisa Johnston leads the field with 24% of the vote, with former journalist Charles Schollenberger trailing at 16%. Several other Democrats fall several points afield of the two front-runners. SC-Sen: Greene’s legal/political perils not quite over yet For those who thought that Alvin Greene’s ballot line for November was secure once the challenge to his nomination was denied, new developments have cast fresh doubt on the candidacy of this virtual unknown. Word emerged Monday that Greene is now under investigation by law enforcement, and that said investigation might have the authority to uncover one of the great mysteries of Campaign 2010: how did Alvin Greene cough up five figures to run for the Senate? At issue is the fact that when Greene was brought up on the now famous indecency charges pending against him, he was appointed a defender because he claimed to be without resources to provide his own counsel. The fact that he found ten grand less than six months later has raised the eyebrows of law enforcement, who will (thanks to a new law) be able to access his financial records in order to ascertain the answer to that question. Stay tuned. WV-Sen: No election till 2012, Byrd successors mulled As expected by virtually everyone, West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant announced late this afternoon that there would be no special election this Fall to fill the seat of longtime Senator Robert Byrd, who passed away this morning at age 92. Instead, an appointment will be made by Governor Joe Manchin until November of 2012, which would have been the end of Byrd’s term in any event. Manchin clarified earlier today that he would not name himself to the post. Speculation now swirls around the likelihood that someone will be named to serve as a caretaker until 2012, with several names already in the mix. THE U.S. HOUSE MA-10: Perry claims lead in GOP primary, according to internal poll State legislator Jeff Perry is out with new numbers today, conducted for his campaign by Public Opinion Strategies, showing him with a sizeable edge over former state treasurer Joe Malone. The poll claims a 41-25 lead for Perry over Malone in the GOP primary in what well could be a very competitive open-seat general election in this, among the most GOP-friendly districts in the Bay State. A pair of eyebrow raisers: the poll claims a favorability split for Perry of 44/1 (!), and claims that Scott Brown (who has endorsed Perry in this race), has a 90% favorable rating among district Republicans. TN-08: Another day, another unforced error from Volunteer State GOPer Somewhere, likely Democratic nominee Roy Herron is laughing his ass off. One week after well-heeled potential GOP challenger Stephen Fincher was caught voting in the Democratic primary earlier this year, fellow Republican George Flinn got himself into even sillier political trauma. He gave an honest, but somewhat absurd, rationale for his decision to run for office away from his actual home: he said he couldn’t win in the district where he lives. While that is undeniably true (Flinn lives in the heavily-Democratic 9th district, based in Memphis), it is an unusual admission of political expediency coming from a candidate for office. THE GUBERNATORIAL RACES CA-Gov: Active open to the week in Whitman-Brown matchup From the Golden State comes a mini-cornucopia of news stories surrounding the very competitive open seat race for Governor between Democratic Attorney General Jerry Brown and Republican gazillionaire Meg Whitman. While Brown continues to conserve resources, the independent expenditure group Working Families for Jerry Brown is back on the air , nailing Whitman in a new ad as an aloof corporate type looking to protect her own. Whitman is also taking flak from within her own party, albeit by name . Governor Schwarzenegger ripped the idea of eliminating 40,000 state employees as “bogus talk”, but did not mention explicitly that it was Whitman who had suggested the cuts. Finally, in a fairly overt attempt to poke at Whitman, who has been dinged (legitimately) for being loath to deal with unscripted situations (see here for an illustration), the Brown campaign has accepted invitations to nearly one dozen different debates and public forums. To date, team Whitman has agreed to appear at just one of those ten events. FL-Gov: Chiles brushes off enmity of Democrats in Indie Gov Bid This should come as absolutely no surprise, but Florida Democrats are taking the candidacy of Democrat-turned-Independent Lawton “Bud” Chiles III seriously, and they are not taking it particularly well. Chiles, however, is shaking off such entreaties, saying that this outsider-friendly cycle will play into his hands, and work to the detriment of major-party candidates. Democrats, with some justification, fear that the Chiles brand name (established by the current candidate’s run as Senator and Governor of Florida) will split the Democratic vote in a tight race with the eventual GOP nominee. GA-Gov: Potential conservative spoiler backs off of Indie bid While the Indie bid of former Democrat Bud Chiles continues unabated in Florida, Republicans have been spared a similar circumstance in the Peach State. Georgia conservative Ray Boyd, who went from a brief sojourn in the GOP primary to a planned well-financed Independent bid for Governor, has now decided to stand down altogether. Polls have shown the open-seat gubernatorial election in Georgia to be close, and likely Democratic nominee Roy Barnes could have benefitted from some split conservative votes in the state. Boyd had dropped seven figures into a campaign account, and made all the signs of an imminent bid. But the state’s fairly tough signature threshold for Independent candidacies (50,000 signatures from registered voters) proved too difficult to overcome. IA-Gov: Branstad sees fire, quenches with gasoline After the rather antagonistic vibe at the state convention in the Hawkeye State this weekend, you might have expected GOP gubernatorial nominee Terry Branstad to be a bit chastened. After all, his handpicked LG nominee barely survived the convention, ekeing out a victory with just 56% of the vote over vanquished gubernatorial nominee Bob Vander Plaats. Today, however, Branstad took a far less conciliatory tone than the “we’re all on the same team, guys” rhetoric from the weekend: “Remember that the person who opposed [Reynolds] for the nomination has been running here for 10 years, has probably spoken to everyone in that room 10 times,” Branstad said. “We took the risk of going to the most conservative base of our party, and we won it fair and square, just like I won the primary fair and square.” Branstad’s aggressiveness is striking, in particular because Vander Plaats, who captured the hearts of the state’s rightward base during the 2010 GOP primary season, has neither endorsed Branstad nor ruled out running against him in a third-party bid. MA-Gov: New Boston Globe poll gives Patrick double-digit lead This poll can, depending on interpretation, be seen as good news or bad news for Massachusetts’ Democratic Governor, Deval Patrick. New numbers out over the weekend from the Boston Globe give Deval Patrick a seven-point lead in his re-election bid. Patrick scores 38% of the vote, with GOP nominee Charlie Baker back at 31% and Independent Tim Cahill well back at 9%. The bad news for Patrick: the likelihood of a split anti-incumbent vote has greatly diminished, as the GOP’s attempts to eliminate Cahill seem to have borne fruit. However, it is also worth noting that Patrick comes closer to the combined Cahill/Baker vote than he has in virtually any polls to date, which is a sign that Cahill’s descent has not necessarily led to an open door to victory for the GOP challenger. TX-Gov: Texas Greens appeal court ruling on 2010 candidacies This was probably to be expected, but it is also now official–the Green Party of Texas has appealed last week’s lower court ruling knocking them off the 2010 ballot. You’ll recall that the Greens were dropped from the ballot because it was concluded that the signature funding drive put together by prominent GOP backers (whose identities remain largely unknown) was viewed as tantamount to a half-million dollar in-kind contribution to the Green Party. The Greens have to get a quick thumbs-up from the State Supreme Court, however–the deadline to turn in petitions is this Friday. THE RAS-A-POLL-OOZA Rasmussen kicks off the week very quietly, but with a poll that should draw a lot of attention (indeed, it already has). They have nouveau Republican Party national darling Nikki Haley leading Democrat Vincent Sheheen by only a dozen points in the South Carolina governor’s race. That nearly halves the twenty-plus point lead Haley enjoyed just a couple of weeks ago. Ras also hits the Beehive State, where they see no worries on the horizon for the state’s Republican Governor. SC-Gov: Nikki Haley (R) 52%, Vincent Sheheen (D) 40% UT-Gov: Gov. Gary Herbert (R) 58%, Peter Corroon (D) 31%
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Polling and Political Wrap, 6/28/10
Oh, the irony. It burns : Sarah Palin fired up an enthusiastic Texas crowd late Saturday by criticizing President Barack Obama’s handling of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, saying he’s falling short on leadership. The former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate told about 5,000 people at the Oil Palace in Tyler that the president should have been more aggressive in going after BP executives after the spill. The British company was leasing a rig that exploded April 20, causing the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. “You asked for the job, Mr. President, so buck up,” Palin said to voracious applause. Maybe she means he should quit his job mid-term like she did. After all, ” only dead fish go with the flow .” Or maybe he just needs to do more chanting. “I chant, ‘drill baby drill,’ because it will help make the country energy independent,” she said. Yeah, we’ll just chant, baby, chant our way to energy independence. And while we’re at it, maybe we could chant our way to economic prosperity. And then we could chant our way to world peace. And when chanting fails, there’s always winking.
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Former half-term governor Palin lectures President Obama on leadership
So yesterday was declared an official day of prayer to plug BP’s leaking well by state governors along the Gulf Coast ( plus Alaskan half-termer Sarah Palin). Meanwhile, also yesterday: Oil spill makes first landfall on Mississippi mainland, hits Alabama beaches Countless patches of light oil sheen moved into waters north of the barrier islands of Alabama and Mississippi on Sunday, as brown and orange blobs washed ashore from Orange Beach to as far west as Ocean Springs. Boats worked to corral iridescent sheen just north of Dauphin Island’s Katrina cut Sunday morning. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast for Sunday showed the main body of light oil completely surrounding Dauphin Island for the first time since oil started pouring into the Gulf of Mexico in late April. I’ve got a prayer: God save us from these idiots.
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NORFOLK, Va. — Sarah Palin on Sunday painted President Barack Obama’s administration as a cowering giant intent on surrendering the nation’s mantle as a superpower and willing to sell out its allies. The former John McCain running mate addressed a paying audience of several hundred people in Norfolk and accused Obama of selling out ally Israel in over its naval blockade of Gaza and treating Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shabbily. On May 31, Israeli naval commandos killed nine pro-Palestinian activists in clashes aboard a Turkish ship headed for Gaza, setting off a world outcry and forcing Israel to ease its three-year-old blockade. She also said Obama lacked the resolve to stand up to Russia and China. “Do they think, really, that we’re getting anything in return for all this bowing and kowtowing and apologizing? No, we don’t get anything positive in return for this,” Palin said at the event spearheaded by a Norfolk talk radio station. “So while President Obama is getting pushed around by the likes of Russia and China, our allies are left to wonder about the value of an alliance with our country any more. They’re asking what is it worth,” she said. Palin, former Virginia Sen. George Allen and Iran-Contra figure Oliver North, who ran for a Virginia Senate seat and lost, each took turns decrying what they said was the deterioration of U.S. military might and will under Obama’s watch. Palin said that Obama and an allied Democratic Congress had cut military spending while showing no such restraint on other expenditures, running up trillions in new deficits. North and particularly Allen had already whipped the crowd into a lather. North, who lost his 1994 bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Chuck Robb, also ripped into the “potentates of pork along the Potomac and their headlong rush toward socialism.” But Allen, most clearly returned to the pugnacious, locker-room rhetoric that often distinguished the namesake son of the Hall of Fame football coach as governor in the early 1990s as he embarks on his own political comeback. Allen has published a book for what Republicans say is a bid to win back his Senate seat from Democrat Jim Webb in 2012. Allen was a prohibitive favorite in 2006 to easily defeat Webb, but lost his re-election bid and a promising spot in the GOP presidential nomination race. He referred to the Democrats who now control Congress as “sanctimonious, pompous social engineers” and accused them of “spending on someone else’s credit card like a drunken, bloated nanny.” Obama’s administration, he said, had become too fond of apologizing for U.S. military might. “We don’t need to apologize as Americans. Americans throughout history have liberated more people than any other country on earth, including the liberation of my mother from the Nazis,” Allen said. His mother, Etty, is Jewish and grew up in Tunisia. Her father had been detained by the Nazis while they occupied Tunisia. But during his campaign four years ago, Allen bristled when asked at a debate about his mother’s Jewish heritage rather than acknowledging or embracing it. That helped doom Allen’s re-election bid already hobbled in August when he pointed to a Virginia-born Webb campaign volunteer of Indian descent during a campaign speech and called him “Macaca,” which is a slur in some cultures. More on Foreign Policy
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Palin: Obama Selling Out Israel
In media and politics, last week was a time for big mouths, indescrete chatter and abrupt firings. Down went General Stanley McCrystal in Afghanistan and reporter/blogger David Weigel at The Washington Post . But following the lead of America’s two most important newspapers, the post-firing debate lighting up the Twittoblogosphere was not so much about the general’s and the journalist’s loose lips as it was about whether their privacy was violated. But it’s clear to me that privacy in this context is just a red herring to distract us from the real issues, which are (roughly in order of importance): 1. Reporters have a duty to spread the news and not get so cozy with their sources that they cover it up; 2. The military has a fundamental duty to foster respect for civilian command; and 3. It’s not acceptable, even in the Internet Age, to have a public opinion and a different private one because saying one thing publicly and another privately is still hypocrisy, whether you’re a media pundit, a four-star general or a politician. Yes, of course, it’s valid to debate what the Internet has done to privacy and where or whether to redraw the lines between public and private in a Facebook world and on and on, blah, blah, blah. But it’s wrong to pretend that privacy is the core issue in the (otherwise unrelated) dismissal of McCrystal or Weigel. It’s especially wrong to use the privacy distraction simply to defend a friend or advance a political agenda. Starting with McCrystal, The New York Times conservative columnist David Brooks blames the media and their “relentless emphasis on destroying privacy and exposing impurities….” But Brooks is trying to make privacy the central issue solely to push his agenda, which is to dismiss the general’s outrageous insubordination as “run-of-the-mill complaining.” Essentially, Brooks says everyone in DC pisses and moans about everyone else all the time and reporters should let them blow off steam and do their “kvetching” in peace. This is what Brooks does, according to Brooks. The problem with Brooks’ position is there’s nothing run-of-the-mill about the picture of McCrystal and his staff painted by Michael Hastings for Rolling Stone . Hastings’ portrait shows McChrystal deriding the vice president in front of his men (”…Vice President Biden? Who’s that?”) and encouraging his subordinate officers to systemically bad mouth practically all civilian authority. McChrystal and his men sound like a group of frat boys complaining about the dean and the provost, except this is a war and the stakes are high. To me, the real question raised by Hastings’ piece is where are the beat reporters covering McCrystal’s HQ? If this is how McChrystal and his merry men conducted themselves, it could not have been a secret from the journalists who cover the war on a regular basis. So why didn’t they report it? Did they consider McChrystal’s feckless contempt for civilians to be a private matter, as Brooks does? If they do, then the reporters misconstrue their duty as badly as McChrystal misunderstands his. (For another view on this point, take a look at Mayhill Fowler’s piece on the unwritten rules of the traveling press corps.) Looking at the week’s other high-profile firing, the Washington Post ’s ex-blogger Weigel was praised and defended by his colleague Ezra Klein, who blogs about economic policy for the Post . It was Klein who started the famed (inside the Beltway) left-of-center email listserv Journolist where Weigel made the comments about right-wingers that got him canned. Weigel, whose “Right Now” blog covered conservatives, published a variety of emails to Journolist that reflected judgments about many right-wingers that were far harsher than the comments in Weigel’s posts for the Post . (Examples from various emails: He suggested that Matt Drudge should “set himself on fire”; labeled Sarah Palin, among others, a “ratfucker;” and used the old epithet “Paultards” to describe some Tea Party members.) When Weigel’s comments were re-published with great fanfare in right-wing blogs last week, Weigel and the Post parted ways. In his lengthy defense of Weigel , fellow Post blogger Klein argues that the emails sent to Journolist participants were “private.” He cites no less an authority on privacy than David Brooks, quoting from Brooks’ column about McChrystal. In the same post, Klein also announces the end of Journolist , which he has shut down following what he see as an invasion of its private space. Even though Weigel’s blog carried the tagline “inside the conservative movement,” Klein states with no trace of irony that conservatives were banned from Journolist and only center and left-of-center writers and policy makers were allowed to join. This was supposedly to keep the debate free from attempts to “embarrass” people. Klein asserts, “A private e-mail list is not public…” and, speaking to Weigel’s case, he says, “Private e-mails were twisted into a public story.” I reject Klein’s privacy claim simply on numerical grounds: the Journolist listserv included several hundred participants before Klein closed it last week. Imagine for a moment, Dave Weigel renting a small theater, inviting several hundred liberal commentators and then taking the stage to call Sarah Palin a ratfucker and suggest self-immolation for Matt Drudge. Does anyone really think, as a practical matter, that comments like that would be accorded privacy in such a setting? I don’t think so. New York University journalism professor and prominent new media expert Jay Rosen was promoting the privacy debate in recent tweets and tweeted to me that the privacy debate is “nuanced”–perhaps more nuanced than I can appreciate. I admit I’m not exactly sure where the line between private and public should be drawn, but private is well south of several hundred DC writers, commentators and policy wonks. I define private much the same way Justice Potter Stewart handled defining hardcore porn. “I know it when I see it.” Liz Mair , a well known right-of-center libertarian blogger, says Weigel is her friend and points out that many (maybe all) of the substantive things Weigel said about right-wingers in the Journolist emails are inarguably true. Setting aside the term “ratfucker,” I think she’s right. But that’s just one more reason Weigel should have published these opinions and observations in Right Now instead of segregating them for the restricted audience of Journolist. Bloggers with an opinion should post that opinion. Isn’t that what being a blogger is all about? My take is simple: The Internet may have changed some things, but it hasn’t changed our fundamental duties to one another. Reporters need to report what they find out, not sit on it; they need to find ethical ways to publish the utterances of the powerful, private or public, especially when private statements reveal true beliefs that are contrary to public statements. Generals need to support civilian authority. We all need to be consistent and espouse the same things publicly and privately. More on Wash Post
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Kirk Cheyfitz: Axing the General and the Journalist: Was Their Privacy Violated?
Hitler comparisons in our nation’s political discourse are dicey gambits. Certainly most people steer clear of comparing any movement to Nazism and any deranged leader to Hitler himself. It’s accepted consensus, left and right, that both this movement and its uniquely evil leader are both in a category by themselves and therefore largely beyond facile comparisons to current events. So what was Sarah Palin thinking when she recently recommended to her followers on Twitter that they read an article by conservative author Thomas Sowell that likens President Barack Obama to Hitler for engineering the BP oil spill $20 billion dollar restitution fund? According to Sowell, Obama’s deal with BP is like Hitler’s power grab because: “…during the worldwide Great Depression, the German Reichstag passed a law “for the relief of the German people.” That law gave Hitler dictatorial powers that were used for things going far beyond the relief of the German people– indeed, powers that ultimately brought a rain of destruction down on the German people and on others. If the agreement with BP was an isolated event, perhaps we might hope that it would not be a precedent. But there is nothing isolated about it. Sowell’s bizarre analogy aside, why did Palin recommend this crack-pot article to her followers? Does she actually not know the history of Nazism and the real significance of Hitler’s dictatorship? Can she truly be that ignorant or is she simply a cynic willing to say anything to incite her band of angry followers? The stories of Palin’s deep ignorance about the world are legend. And they come not from the expected chorus of Democratic opponents and pundits, but rather from staffers from the failed 2008 McCain-Pailn presidential bid . According to Steve Schmidt, the McCain campaign’s chief strategist , Palin showed a remarkable lack of basic knowledge - about American history, geography, current events, etc. Schmidt went so far as to call her a “whack job” . While her failed interview with Katy Couric, where Palin could not mention a single newspaper, magazine or web site that she read to get informed, perhaps showed a person not ready for the national political scene, her endorsement of a Hitler-Obama comparison crosses a different line. With her tweet Palin simultaneously made a highly inappropriate comparison between history’s greatest mass murdered and the President of the United States, while also showing her ignorance of the colossal tragedy that the BP oil spill represents for our country. “Drill, baby, drill” has turned into a disaster — obviously for the eleven people that died when the BP oil platform blew up, and for millions of Americans who make their living from the myriad industries along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. The environmental impact of this accident will be felt for years as ecosystems are destroyed, oceans and wet lands polluted and human lives upended. While it’s tempting to say that Palin, with her highly suspect education record and skimpy accomplishments as a politician from Alaska, is confirming the worst assumptions raised about her qualifications during the campaign, there may be something more sinister at play. Palin has all but declared her candidacy for President. Her visits to strategic electoral map states, endorsement of Tea Party radicals and raising of serious bucks to support potentially helpful politicians across the country show an easily discernible pattern: a pre-Presidential run in the works. Palin wants to be in the White House and she is willing to say anything, anything including highly inappropriate comparisons between the President and Hitler, to connect with the far-right in this country who are her natural base. She is willing to call on the worst instincts of people, to tap anger and hatred — so that she can succeed in her quest. In that regard, she is the text-book example of a demagogue seeking political power. This a time-tested strategy employed by cynical politicians through the ages. I won’t break my own rule here and make inappropriate comparisons. But Palin’s actions do matter. And her growing association with radical ideas and radical people should be part of the story as we learn even more about this “pitbull with lipstick” that has sights on our nation’s highest political office. More on Barack Obama
While Mauricio Funes, the president of El Salvador, is busy making history in his own country, critics at home and here in the United States have gotten busy rewriting history. The core complaint - issued here , by Alex Renderos in the L.A. Times and by others - is that Funes hasn’t finished remaking El Salvador or fixing problems that accumulated for generations after just one year in office. It’s far too early to write him off - too unfair to El Salvador, too damaging to U.S. interests to throw up our hands or to walk away as Funes continues to fight for his country’s future. The Center for Democracy in the Americas has been following President Funes, from his historic election in 2009, through the first year of his administration. We’ve published a report on what he’s accomplished , and now our consultant, Linda Garrett, who wrote the report, pushes back against the critics by reminding us of how important it is for President Funes to succeed. What’s really happening in El Salvador? by Linda Garrett Like his North American counterpart, Mauricio Funes was elected amidst expectations of change but during his first year has confronted the political reality of governance - juggling demands from an impatient left and a still-ferocious right while attempting to manage the economic and social crises he inherited after 20 years of conservative rule. Funes and his leftist party the FMLN assumed the mantle of power of a polarized country nearly bankrupt, wrought with poverty, violence, corruption and fragile democratic institutions. While some on the left believe the president has moved too far right, the powerful business sector withholds investments that could stimulate the economy and create jobs because of their persistent distrust of the left. Meanwhile, the president is committed to improving the lives of the 60% of Salvadorans who live on the minimum wage of $207.08 per month. He has implemented several very popular programs, including free uniforms, shoes, supplies and a nutrition program for public school students. And he has eliminated the “voluntary fees” for public clinics and hospitals as well as instituted various poverty alleviation programs in the most impoverished communities. The president and his team effectively secured international support to guarantee financial stability for their five-year term, no minor achievement by a progressive government. And he has established a strategic partnership with the Obama administration, focusing on immigration, security and economic development, while at the same time re- establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba. While a post-war amnesty has prevented prosecution of war crimes and impunity has flourished under an ineffective judicial system, the president has made public apologies in the name of the state for the most egregious crimes of the past, including the murder of the Jesuit priests in 1989 and of Archbishop Romero in 1980. The most urgent and difficult challenge facing President Funes is violence, a complex mix of street gangs - with roots in the U.S. - and organized crime with regional links. The population is most directly affected by the gang violence - homicides and extortion - but analysts believe gang activity is just a smokescreen for organized crime, a much greater threat to national and regional stability. The president has in place a competent, trustworthy security team committed to purging the police and prisons of corrupt personnel. It’s a dangerous assignment in the midst of extreme violence such as the bus-burning that occurred on June 20 when 14 passengers were burned alive by gang members, apparently in a territorial dispute between gangs. “For us the greatest achievement this first year has been to contain the situation,” police chief Carlos Ascencio said, “we hope by the end of the year to turn things around.” Corruption, gang violence, drug trafficking and organized crime plagued El Salvador for at least a decade before the new president took office and there are no short-term solutions. There must be an emphasis on serious prevention programs for youth including education and jobs but also a strong, coordinated regional response with consequential U.S. assistance both financial and technical. This is a war against organized crime that threatens regional stability with repercussions for the U.S. After a long civil war and decades of dire poverty, Salvadorans are impatient for the promised “change.” It’s an uphill battle, but El Salvador’s young government and its courageous security officials are committed and need our full support. We share a common border with this region and a common set of economic and security interests. It’s important to know the truth about El Salvador, but even more important that President Funes be allowed to succeed.
The rest is here:
Sarah Stephens: What’s really happening in El Salvador?
Republicans have some nerve. In 2008, they patted themselves on the back for the “historic” choice to put a woman on the presidential ticket. Never mind that Democrats had already made history doing exactly that in 1984. It was historic for Republicans, more than two decades later, because they were finally willing to acknowledge what Democrats had already accepted –- that women have a right and ability to participate in the public and political sphere. Never mind that they belong to the very party that has long dismissed, mocked, and opposed such a notion. This is, after all, the party that bows down to Rush Limbaugh, the man whose great linguistic contribution to culture is the word “Feminazi.” And now they’re at it again, patting themselves on the back for the “historic” candidacies of Republican women running for governorships, the House, and the Senate. Never mind that in 1992, Democrats sent a record number of women to Congress. Never mind that Carly Fiorina’s bid for senate is nothing new in California, in which both Senate seats have been filled by women for nearly twenty years. And the traditional media is, as always, all too happy to perpetuate the idiotic meme that these women are pioneering a new wave of feminism, even as reporters can’t resist the temptation to patronize their victories with incessant references to “ladies night” and repeated assertions that these conservative “feminists” are contradicting the feminist stereotype of hairy-legged, man-hating, bra-burning baby killers. Like this headline from the San Francisco Chronicle: “ Carly Fiorina bucks feminist stereotype .” The article doesn’t explain how, exactly, she’s bucking the feminist stereotype, other than to describe her as part of “a new breed of “pro-woman, pro-life” feminists. Apparently, the old breed of feminists are all anti-woman and anti-life. In U.S. News & World Report, Mary Kate Cary, former speechwriter for George H.W. Bush, did her part to perpetuate the stereotype-bucking meme. These women are no more likely to burn their bras than burn the flag, but they aren’t so much social conservatives as limited-government fiscal conservatives, worried about the scope and reach of the federal government into the daily lives of their families. Who cares if feminists burning their bras is a complete myth ? According to Cary, it’s refreshing that unlike the number of Democratic women already in the House and Senate, these conservative “feminists” won’t be setting their undergarments on fire. Cary also implies that these women are inspired by Sarah Palin’s never-before-seen example of a mother-of-five running for political office. Apparently, neither Cary nor these newly inspired women have ever heard of the mother-of-five Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi . Cary also repeats the absurd comment from Nikki Haley, the Republican nominee for governor in South Carolina: We are long past the day of electing someone because they look good in a picture or they hold a baby well. Yeah, those days of sexy photos and baby-as-prop are so 2008. But Cary was only one of many commentators to jump on the “gee, look at the new brand of feminism” bandwagon. Ross Douthat, who is always happy to bash feminists, or at least the ones he wants to blame for the destruction of civilization, gleefully declared that Republican women’s primary victories earlier this month prove…something. What Tuesday’s results demonstrated, convincingly, is that America is now a country where social conservatives are as comfortable as liberals with the idea of women in high office. More strikingly, they’re comfortable voting for working mothers — for women publicly juggling careers and family obligations in ways that would have been unthinkable for the generations of female leaders, from Elizabeth I’s Virgin Queen down to Margaret Thatcher’s Iron Lady, who were expected to unsex themselves before being entrusted with the responsibilities of state. Wow! Look how far we’ve come, that the decidedly anti-woman party has joined the 20th century and is willing to vote for broads. Never mind that just two years ago, when a woman ran for president, the media and conservatives were all too eager to argue that the country isn’t ready to see a woman in the highest office in the land, that no one wants to watch an older woman on TV, and that men should guard their genitalia in fear. That’s all water under the bridge now, because conservatives have discovered feminism. Douthat concludes that all women should be happy about these victories because voters who embrace women espousing anti-woman views is somehow a good thing for women. So however much heartburn Palin’s “mama grizzlies” give to those who associate feminism with the policies and prejudices of American liberalism, circa 1973, they should recognize their emergence for what it is: not a setback for the women’s movement, but a happy consequence of its victories. See? All the old bra-burning harpies should get over their personal agendas and be pleased as punch that all of their hard work to improve the lives of women has culminated in the primary victories of women who are dedicated to fighting against improving the lives of women. Hooray for feminism! Or not. As Amanda Marcotte explains : The slightly higher-than-usual numbers of female candidates this election season’s crop of increasingly right-wing challenger candidates has created possibly the most irritating meme of 2010—that we’re looking at new kind of feminism, a “conservative feminism”. Never mind that this crop of politicians doesn’t actually have any feminist positions outside of the narrow belief that they personally should have power despite being female. In other words, a vagina is not a de facto feminist credential. So what, exactly, are their feminist credentials? According to Kathleen Parker , who authored a book arguing that feminists have turned men into an endangered species: That other women, such as Palin, want to reframe the abortion debate in new feminist terms, arguing that abortion hurts women and is, therefore, anti-woman, doesn’t bother me a bit. Ah, reframing the abortion debate to argue that denying women the freedom to make decisions about their own bodies is actually a feminist position. Because nothing says “pro-woman” like denying rights to women. Parker’s argument, like all the others, is that these women don’t have to be pro-choice to be feminists. But as Jessica Valenti explains , their feminist credentials are questionable for a whole host of other reasons beyond choice. These “feminists” would cut funding to the Violence Against Women Act and fight same-sex marriage rights. They shallowly laud working moms while supporting business’ right to discriminate on the basis of gender, opposing increased funding for SCHIP and supporting cuts to the Family and Medical Leave Act. They believe that the pay gap doesn’t exist. Hell, they believe sexism doesn’t exist! The godmother of this new “feminist” movement, for example, wanted women to pay for their own rape exam kits , slashed funding for a program to help teen mothers, and opposed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help enforce pay equity laws because it was merely a “a boon for trial lawyers.” And all of these new “feminists” are opposed to health care reform that would expand coverage for, among others, women. And families. Apparently, that’s mama grizzly speak for “pro-woman.” But these new “feminists” aren’t just anti-woman. They’re also “business women.” Like Carly Fiorina, whom conservatives praise for her success as CEO of Hewlett-Packard. And yes, she was personally successful — walking away from the smoldering ashes of the company with a cool $42 million in her pocket, after engineering a catastrophic merger that led to the plummet of the company’s stock price and the layoff of tens of thousands of employees. Which is why despite her “business expertise,” California technology businesses are actually supporting her rival , Barbara Boxer. But Fiorina dismisses such criticism of her stunning failure at HP and subsequent ouster as mere “politics.” “Voters should view my departure from Hewlett-Packard as evidence politics exists in the boardroom as well,” she said. Politics in the boardroom is nothing compared with Meg Whitman’s full-body contact in the boardroom, where, thanks to her “verbal dispute” with an employee, the company had to shell out $200,00 in hush money because, according to Meg, verbally and physically assaulting a subordinate is “one of those things that just happens” in the business world. And Whitman’s “pro-woman” credentials are hardly boosted by her virulent opposition to welfare programs and health care reform , which actually help women. That’s some kind of powerful sisterhood. But it turns out that these new “feminists” will need more than a Sarah Palin endorsement and a vagina to actually win their respective elections. Because while 8 percent of voters are enthusiastic about a Palin endorsement, 37 percent are “very uncomfortable.” In other words, sure, Palin’s endorsement helps bring out the crazies to oust the moderates (moderates, in this case, meaning not-quite-as-crazy), but when it comes time to actually electing crazies? Not so much . And as for their groundbreaking status as women, that won’t help them much either, at least, not in California . However, a look back at California elections involving women candidates suggests that gender won’t be a major factor in whether Fiorina or Whitman win or lose. Analysis of past voting data shows that: – Party matters far more than gender in a general election. – Gender matters most among independent women voters – Neither Democratic nor independent women voters are likely to favor a candidate who is not pro-choice. But why let facts interrupt the narrative that voters are all-too-ready to embrace this new brand of anti-woman feminism? They can call themselves feminists. They can cry “sexism” whenever anyone questions their questionable intelligence and knowledge. They can co-opt the language and feminist icons, from Susan B. Anthony to Hillary Clinton. But that doesn’t mean they are on the side of women. That does not mean they are working to improve the lives of women. That does not mean they are advocates or allies. Short skirts, starburst-inspiring winking, and empty platitudes about family and freedom are no substitute for actually working for policies that benefit women. You don’t get to just talk the talk and expect to be applauded for advancing the lives of women. You actually have to walk the walk. Even if you’re wearing heels.
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Republicans discover the "F" word
Arianna appeared as a guest on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” on Sunday, along with Eliot Spitzer, Ross Douthat And Katrina Vanden Heuval. In the second part of the roundtable, the group discussed Sarah Palin and what the Tea Party movement represents. “Is the right’s answer to Obama going to be, you know, what traditionally happens with parties in opposition — they go to their base, and they find somebody who’s true to the base, but probably can’t win the general election?” Zakaria asked. “Well, Sarah Palin is responding to something beyond the base,” Arianna responded. “She is responding to the anger at the bailout. And she’s responding to a sense of unfairness among the American people which goes to independents and which goes to a lot of middle class Americans who are feeling that the game is rigged, tat the fix is in, and that therefore, they’re in real trouble. And she’s appealing to that. “If you really interview a lot of the people in the Tea Party movement, no matter what their fast explanation is, their second explanation for their anger is the bailout. And I think Republicans and Democrats have to come to terms with that. Especially now that we’re seeing this anemic Wall Street reform going through, which we all know is not going to prevent the next meltdown.” It’s a very right-wing kind of anger, Vanden Heuval countered. “I mean, I think both Arianna and Eliot are right that the president should have put demands on Wall Street, talk about personal responsibility. And in defaulting there, he has left a vacuum open for the right to seize this ‘I’m on your side,’ mantel. I think what he did with B.P. — there were two Obamas there. The speech wasn’t very strong. But the next day standing tough on the side of people against BP was strong. “But I do think the core question of our time in my view — people may disagree — is the role of government. Really. And I think that debate is happening proxy-wise with that deficit-versus-investment debate right now. And unless we win that, we are going to see long-term unemployment in this country — joblessness, that I think will scar this country even worse than the Great Depression.” “Ross, do you, when you look at Sarah Palin, the Tea Party — does this just seem to you generic populism. Or is there a shift to the right?” Zakaria asked. “There’s absolutely a shift to the right,” Douthat respnded. “You can see it in basically every opinion poll you look at. And you can tell it’s real, because it isn’t just on issues related to taxes and spending that are in the news — if you look, people have actually shifted to the right on gun control for instance, since the last election, on abortion since the last election. So it’s real.” “I think what you see with the Tea Party is sort of there’s an inner core, and then an outer group of sympathizers. And the inner core is as you say, pretty right wing, pretty partisan, pretty sort of doctrinaire Republicans, I would say. And in some cases they aren’t people who are involved in politics before. But they are people who would have always voted Republican.” “But then you have a second ring of people who tend to sympathize with the Tea Party movement. And you see this in opinion polls. People who say, ‘I’m not a Tea Partier, but I like what they’re up to.’ … I don’t think it’s just the financial bailout in Wall Street and so on. I think it’s everything from the G.M. bailout, and the Cash for Clunkers, to sort of the spending on, you know, people who may have lost homes. … It’s a sense of rewarding people — using public funds to reward people who made bad bets.” “This goes to what Arianna was saying, the sense of unfairness,” Spitzer concluded. “There is no accountability in the asymmetry as we all have said over and over. We — we socialize risk — privatize pay. But I think Katrina put her finger on it. The real debate under this is what is government all about? What should it be doing? And we give all this money to Wall Street, but then ask nothing back. And we’re not investing adequately in school, in high speed rails, in R&D, in the sorts of things that will permit us to compete either with China, or Vietnam, or Brazil. And I think that sense of underinvestment, however you do it — through a government program or the private sector, is what is gnawing at people.” More on Tax Day Tea Parties
The only surprise when Sarah Palin tweeted out her message to followers likening President Obama to Hitler was that it took so long for her to make the comparison. Her tea party pals, and a rogues list of GOP and rightwing hacks, bigots, loudmouths, and spin artists took giddy delight in making the Obama to Hitler comparison even before he put a foot in the Oval Office. Fox News’s Tom Sullivan was the first in the door with the Obama as Hitler lunacy in February 2008 when he played a side by side recording of Hitler and Obama’s speeches. Clear Channel’s Bill Cunningham, foul mouth gab queen Ann Coulter, her male counterpart, Mike Savage, Limbaugh, Cal Thomas, and, of course, Glenn Beck quickly took up the Obama as Hitler chant. With that, the Obama as Hitler line was firmly set. The only thing missing was a mob setting to do an imitation torch light parade complete with banner, signs and posters with Obama depicted as Hitler. The mob parades were tea party rallies where Obama as Hitler agitprop paraphernalia was on full display. Now there’s Palin. In a bit of crude craft, she slyly compared Obama to Hitler by exhorting her twitter followers to read a recent column by right wing pseudo egg head writer Thomas Sowell. He pilloried Obama for arm twisting BP to set up the $20 billion escrow fund. The fund is to help repair and compensate the victims of its Gulf ruin. To Sowell Obama took another giant step toward seizing dictatorial power. There’s absolutely nothing new about this crackpot charge. It’s been an absolute smash favorite of fringe GOP congresspersons, tea party acolytes, Fox News and the menagerie of rightside talk show gabbers for two years. The Obama as Hitler idiocy is more than just the ancient and stock GOP tactic of smearing, slandering, name calling, character assassinating, and baiting liberal, and moderate Democrats. The tactic is used to prick primitive passions, and it allows the GOP to duck and dodge making a coherent case for its untenable and more often than not foolish positions on issues. No, the Hitler smear is coldly calculated, and strategically trotted out when Obama introduces a major piece of legislation, new policy initiative, or in his pre White House days, when his groundbreaking autobiography rocket launched him as a serious contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. The Hitler card is played even more furiously when it appears that Obama is near victory on legislation or an initiative. The health care, and financial reform bills, and the BP escrow fund are textbook examples of that. Each of these initiatives had wide popular support, and GOP opposition to them appeared even more shrill, isolated, and vapid. The Obama to Hitler card is also played opposite the Obama as Bolshevik analogy. This imprints the image of a power made Obama out to turn government into an instrument of state control of industry and by extension to squash personal freedoms and liberties. The Hitler comparison imprints the image of a diabolical Obama out to snatch full dictatorial control of government. Palin grabbed at Sowell’s hit piece to jump on the Hitler bandwagon. She didn’t have to explain how or why Obama’s urge of BP to set up the Gulf damage fund was Hitler like. But she didn’t have to explain the absurd. She knows that legions already have mindlessly swallowed the Hitler image of Obama. Expect more Obama as Hitler digs the next time the White House stands poised to score another victory. Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press). Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson More on Sarah Palin
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee weighed in on the gamut of likely 2012 Republican presidential candidates during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.” And while the Arkansas Republican offered diplomatic praise for his colleagues — while candidly admitting that he too was thinking of mounting a bid — his remarks stood out for their coldness to one: Mitt Romney. “The Massachusetts healthcare bill essentially is the blueprint for Obamacare,” said Huckabee. “That is going to be an issue he has to confront. There is no doubt in my mind he is running, and I think he is a formidable candidate. … He has the organization. He has got the money, and he’s got sort of the inside track with a lot of the Republican establishment.” None of the above is particularly untrue. Nor is Huckabee unique for insisting that Romney will have to account for the health care legislation he passed as governor. But considering the context — a national television appearance, a year-and-a-half before a GOP primary vote — the comment was notable for its directness (saying someone has the establishment backing is not a compliment in this climate). Huckabee showered platitudes and compliments on the other potential presidential aspirants, including those he has criticized in the past. Just not Mitt. On former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, he said the following: “She has got the fire, the energy and I think there are a lot of Republicans who love her, would support her, and she would be a very strong presence in a presidential primary.” On Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels: “I’m a big fan of Mitch Daniels. I don’t want any one to interpret that statement that I made as I somehow think he is lacking in presidential temper. … I just don’t want him to back away from issues that will energize and have energized 40-50 percent of the Republican base.” On former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush: “I love Jeb Bush. He is one of the smartest and most articulate. If Jeb decided to run I think it would be hard for any one to overwhelm him. … He is, in many ways, one of the best, most talented people we have in the Republican Party.” As for his own candidacy: “I haven’t closed the door. I think that would be foolish on my part, especially when poll after poll shows there is a strong sentiment out there. I end up leading a lot of the polls. I’m the Republican that clearly at this point does better against Obama than any other Republican. I’m not totally unaware of that. But that is a long way from making a decision to run for president.” The rivalry between Huckabee and Romney extends, of course, back to the Iowa caucus in 2008. The two certainly present disparate images for the future of the party. But the underlying issue here is that many in the GOP simply don’t like or trust Romney — something that the former Massachusetts Governor has tried to counteract by investing heavily in various congressional and gubernatorial races during the past year. More on Sarah Palin
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Mike Huckabee Showers Praise On Sarah Palin, 2012 Republican Field, Except Mitt Romney
Ruy Teixeira is a demographics expert who is the co-author with John Judis of The Emerging Democratic Majority (2002.) He’s currently a Senior Fellow at both The Century Foundation and Center for American Progress and has recently published a working paper entitled Demographic Change and the Future of the Parties (.pdf, 45 pages), reviewed here by Tom Schaller for FiveThirtyEight.com and Ed Kilgore at the Democratic Strategist. Ruy’s work was featured yesterday in a NY Times column by Charles Blow . From his CAP page: Teixeira’s recent writings include “Demographic Change and the Future of the Parties,” “The European Paradox” (with Matt Browne and John Halpin), “New Progressive America,” “New Progressive America: The Millennial Generation” (with David Madland), and “The Decline of the White Working Class and the Rise of a Mass Upper Middle Class” (with Alan Abramowitz). Ruy has kindly agreed to answer a few question for us pertaining to the working paper and some selected contemporary political issues. Daily Kos: You’ve been following demographic trends for years. In your working paper, you note that the working class white vote, which is often conservative-oriented, is declining and by remarkable percentages (25% in PA over twenty years, 24% in NV), suggesting major repercussions for conservative politics. Are those trends everywhere? Are places like the demographic changes since 1988 South, Ohio, or West Virginia or other places seen as “Hillary” strongholds in 2008 subject to the same trends? Ruy Teixeira : Absolutely—these trends are very definitely affecting states like these. There’s a table in the paper where I show the decline in the share of white working class voters by state since 1988 in all states where exit poll data are available. Since 1988, the share of white working-class voters in Florida has declined 17 points, while the white college graduate share has risen 4 points and the minority share is up by 12 points. In Texas, the white working class share is down 17 points, with minorities up 9 points and white college graduates up 7 points. In Ohio the share of white working-class voters fell by 15 points between 1988 and 2008 while white college graduates rose by 8 points and minorities by 6 points. Even a state like Mississippi has seen a huge drop in the white working class vote since 1988 (down 21 points). These trends will continue to affect red states in the future. About 90 percent of future population growth in Texas will be from minorities particularly Hispanics. And the highest growth rates in the Hispanic population are currently seen in five southern states: Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and North Carolina. Daily Kos: The millennial voters by our polling and by others including Pew are one of the most progressive and Democratic party-leaning demographics. What’s their make-up and in your opinion are they likely to stay progressive and leaning Democratic? Ruy Teixeira : By 2020, Millennials will be just under 40 percent of eligible voters and will be even more heavily minority (44 percent) than they are today. This generation is not only growing rapidly and voting consistently Democratic but also leans heavily Democratic on party identification. The recent difficult political environment for the Democrats has seen their overall party identification lead slip considerably, but they have retained a double digit lead (14 points) among Millennials in the latest Pew analysis. And Millennials hold a raft of progressive positions in various issue areas that should continue to propel them toward the Democrats. On social issues, Millennials support gay marriage, take race and gender equality as givens, are tolerant of religious and family diversity, have an open and positive attitude toward immigration, and generally display little interest in fighting over the divisive social issues of the past. They are also notably progressive on foreign policy issues, and favor a multilateral and cooperative foreign policy more than their elders. Millennials, more so than other generations, want a stronger government to make the economy work better, help those in need, and provide more services. These views extend to a range of domestic policy issues including education, clean energy, and, especially, health care. But will Millennials remain as progressive as they are today? Some argue that Millennials will surely become more conservative as they age—a lifecycle effect will moderate their youthful progressivism and send them toward the GOP. While it is possible that the Millennial generation may become more conservative as they age, evidence suggests that they are likely to remain largely progressive. Dismissing Millennial progressivism as just the product of youth would be misguided. To being with, while the degree to which people maintain the attitudes and opinions that they currently have throughout their life is a point of much debate, the general thrust of academic literature is that political ideas and attachments that are developed in early adulthood tend to last. Research suggests that a socialization process occurs that leads young adults to hold onto the party identification and opinions that they developed in their formative years. This is especially true with partisan identification. Party identification is the single strongest predictor of how people vote and tends to stick with individuals once they form an attachment early in their political lives. Duane F. Alwin and Jon A. Krosnick analyzed NES panel data over several decades and argue in a study in the American Journal of Sociology that “party loyalties either increase or persist with age.” There is less research about whether people maintain their support for specific issues rather than general partisanship. Yet many of these academic studies raise considerable doubt about claims that people naturally become less progressive as they age. Alwin and Krosnick argue that attitude stability “appears to occur immediately following early adulthood…and appears to remain at a constant and high-level throughout the remainder of the life cycle.” This is particularly true on social issues but there is good evidence of relative stability on economic issues as well (for much more on this, see my CAP report with David Madland, New Progressive America: The Millennial Generation). It therefore seems unlikely that aging will make this generation any more amenable to strict economic and social conservatism. Here as elsewhere the GOP will have to move to the center to compete for these voters and mitigate their currently large disadvantage. And Democrats are likely to remain in a strong position though policy failure could certainly compress their advantage. Daily Kos: Karen Tumulty wrote a fascinating article this past week As political gambles go, it’s a big and risky one: $50 million to test the proposition that the Democratic Party’s outreach to new voters that helped make Barack Obama president can work in an election where his name is not on the ballot… suggesting that the Obama administration was targeting new voters at the expense of the traditional base voter. Is this a misread of who the base is, or a continuation of inevitable demographic shift? Ruy Teixeira : This strikes me as a good idea. Critics of this approach are certainly right to note that these new voters, many of whom are from low turnout demographics like Hispanics and particularly young people, will not turn out at the levels of so-called base voters who have been in the electorate for a longer time. But it still should be possible to increase the turnout rates of these new voters and reduce this differential—research suggests that outreach efforts, particularly those with a high dose of personal contact, can make a real difference in turnout levels. That would obviously benefit the Democrats. Of course, there are opportunity costs to these outreach efforts. But my sense is that it will still be money well-spent, particularly when we keep in mind that the new Millennial and minority voters of today are the base voters of tomorrow. Time and money spent contacting and motivating these voters is likely to pay off not just in this election but in future ones as well. Daily Kos: Some polls suggest that the AZ immigration approach under Jan Brewer is very popular, other polls suggest comprehensive reform is also popular. Can these observations be reconciled? What effect is this likely to have on voters looking ahead beyond 2010? Ruy Teixeira : Yes it is true that the AZ’s draconian immigration law and comprehensive immigration reform are both popular. Consider these results from a bipartisan poll by Lake Research Partners and Public Opinion Strategies, conducted for America’s Voice. In that poll—conducted after passage of the Arizona law—voters were asked if they supported “comprehensive immigration reform,” defined as: “Under this proposal, the federal government would strengthen border security and crack down on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants currently living in the United States would be required to register with the federal government, undergo criminal background checks, pay taxes, learn English, and go to the back of the line for U.S. citizenship.” This proposal received overwhelming support, 78 percent in favor against 16 percent against, despite all the publicity about the Arizona law. How is that possible given the documented public support for the Arizona law? The reason is very simple: supporters of the Arizona law are also overwhelmingly supportive (84 percent) of comprehensive immigration reform. This suggests that much of the support for the Arizona law reflects an urgent desire for action on the immigration issue rather than a single-minded commitment to the Arizona approach. Looking ahead, this suggests that comprehensive immigration reform could pay considerable dividends in the long term, both solidifying Hispanic support for the Democrats and responding to the public imperative for action in this area. And the chief effect of the AZ law may be ensuring that most Hispanics don’t bother to give the GOP a second look. Daily Kos: Sarah Palin is an appealing figure to female evangelicals. Is this a rising demo, or is the “mamma grizzly” appeal a media creation? Ruy Teixeira : Mama grizzlies seem likely to be just the latest in a long line of media-fueled electoral chimeras for the Republicans. The reality is that female evangelicals are not much of a growth constituency. And white evangelical protestants overall are roughly stable as a proportion of the population. They are no larger at this point than unmarried women—who are a growth constituency—as a proportion of eligible voters. The growth action on the religious front is among unaffiliated or secular voters, who are the fastest-growing “religious” group in the United States. From 1944 to 2004 the percentage of adults reporting no religious affiliation almost tripled, rising from 5 percent to 14 percent. Projections indicate that by 2024 somewhere between 20-25 percent of adults will be unaffiliated. This trend, combined with growth among non-Christian faiths and race-ethnic trends, will ensure that in very short order we will no longer be a white Christian nation. Even today, only about 55 percent of adults are white Christians. By 2024 that figure will be down to 45 percent. That means that by the 2016 election (or 2020 at the outside) the United States will cease to be a white Christian nation. Looking even farther down the road, by 2040 white Christians will be only around 35 percent of the population and conservative white Christians (a critical part of the GOP base) only about a third of that—a minority within a minority. These developments will put increased pressure on the GOP to moderate its socially conservative stance. That stance may appeal strongly to a key segment of their base, but that segment will shrink substantially over time as religious diversity increases. A more moderate approach would have some chance of appealing to this diversity rather than leaving the field wide open for the Democrats. But of course Sarah Palin and her mama grizzlies takes the GOP in precisely the opposite direction. Daily Kos: What do the demographic trends suggest to you in terms to the continuing (or declining) appeal of the tea party ? Ruy Teixeira : The tea party concentrates in one place the most extreme and reactionary views of the GOP which is already too conservative for most voters in rising demographic groups: Hispanics and other minorities, Millennials, unmarried women, professionals, white college graduates, seculars and so on. Therefore, while tea party activists may help drive up Republican turnout in the 2010 election, an election where the economic situation and historical patterns already ensure the GOP will make significant gains, the longer term political effects for the party will almost certainly be negative. The demographic imperative for the Republicans is to move toward the center to compete for rising, relatively progressive constituencies. But the tea party activists will have none of this and they will have more power, not less, over the GOP after the 2010 elections produce gains—gains the tea party forces will aggressively claim credit for. This is the GOP dilemma—they feel the need the tea party in the short term but are trading off political flexibility in the longer term. This loss of flexibility will, in the end, be very bad for the GOP but at this point I believe they are locked into their current path. Daily Kos: Thank you, Ruy Teixeira.
SAO PAULO — A United Airlines pilot was briefly detained at the international airport in Rio de Janeiro after lowering his pants during a security screening, police said Saturday. Pilot Michael D. Slynn, 49, was asked to remove his belt and shoes as part of a routine security screening Friday afternoon. In response, Slynn laughed at security guards and lowered his pants to his ankles, said a police spokesman who was prohibited by departmental rules from giving his name. Slynn was detained but released shortly afterward and allowed to fly back to Washington, D.C., after signing a document promising to appear before a judge the next time he is in Brazil, the spokesman said. Calls to United Airlines in Brazil were not immediately returned. When asked for comment, Sarah Massier, a spokeswoman for the Chicago-based company, wrote in an e-mail, “We are investigating the matter.” Two telephone numbers listed for a Michael Slynn, in California and Florida, respectively, were disconnected or could not take messages Saturday. Federal Police Chief Rafael Andreatta was quoted by the Internet site of the Brazilian newspaper O Globo as saying the pilot “did not respect security rules and made fun of officers.” It was not the first time an American pilot has gotten into trouble for allegedly responding inappropriately to Brazil’s airport security measures. In 2004, American Airlines pilot Dale Robin Hersh was fined $13,000 for allegedly giving the finger as he was being photographed at Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport. The photograph was among entry requirements for U.S. citizens implemented by Brazil at the time in response to similar rules in the United States. Police accused Hersh of showing contempt for authorities and took him to a federal courthouse. Hersh agreed to a prosecutor’s offer to pay a fine in exchange for no charges being filed against him. ___ Associated Press Writer Sophia Tareen in Chicago contributed to this report. More on Brazil
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United Pilot Detained For DROPPING HIS PANTS At Security
Hurricane Katrina created a sense of both self-sufficiency and skepticism in Mobile, Alabama that still exists today. Down on this coast, locals hesitate to believe that any support from either the government or BP is on its way. Tammy Herrington of Mobile Baykeeper cherishes the waterways along this coast. We met her in the Gulf, where she expressed her fear of the unknown chemical make-up of the dispersants and looming reality that hurricane season was approaching. Today, Tammy shudders at the thought of the more than 1.3 million gallons of toxic dispersants that have already been dropped in the Gulf amidst the realization that hurricane season has arrived. In our latest Letters from the Field posting, Tammy writes of the dread facing her community. We along the Gulf Coast are experts at waiting for a hurricane. However, unlike a hurricane, this gulf disaster has been a slow excruciating onslaught which feels more like an invasion than a storm. There is no end so far to this invasion, nor do we yet comprehend the extent of the damage it will cause to this area we love. She shares her heartache about the possibility that her daughters have enjoyed the beauty of the Gulf for the last time. My daughters are nine and eleven, and we spent our Spring Break this year traveling the coast of Florida and Alabama all the way from Wakulla Springs back to Dauphin Island. At the end of a beautiful week of family time, scenic vistas and a great bounty from our local waterways, we vowed to spend more time on the water this year. Little did we know what was about to unfold. On the day that oil washed into Dauphin Island, my daughter’s best friend stood in the Gulf with tears streaming down her face. Explaining to my children and others how this has happened and answering questions on how long it will take to restore our home has been one of the most challenging things I have had to face. Sadly, Tammy faces challenges beyond her local estuaries and speaks of the bureaucratic hurdles they are being forced to jump through. Her anger builds as she witnesses the ocean’s delicate ecosystem being destroyed against the backdrop of BP’s insufficient reaction to the damage on the shores and in the water. Each week brings a new challenge for our area. Recently we began receiving reports that local property owners were being told by contractors that they were responsible for cleanup of their own property — that BP was only cleaning up public lands. We fought for these property owners by going to Unified Command to ask for help in how to address this problem and also by going before Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke when he visited Mobile…Our goal to prevent the oil from reaching the shore altogether is challenged by use of dispersants which drop the oil throughout the entire water column, making the boom useless as a last line of resort to protect our shores. We are now watching large deep water fish and sharks coming into the shallow waters closer to shore in an attempt to flee the oil deep within the Gulf of Mexico… When we met Tammy last month, she was steely and determined to protect the coastline’s most vulnerable areas. Today, despite the parade of bad news from BP and the threat of water contamination in Mobile Bay at any time, the Baykeepers have not lost their steady resolve. In proud defiance of the impending reality of contaminated waterways, and with determination to continue to provide the best aid possible, they held their annual triathlon fundraiser — a fundraiser, more important now, than ever. The Friday before the event, one of our Field observers called with a report that she thought she had found oil in Mobile Bay, close to the area where the swim would occur. There was also the strong odor of oil in the air, and we called in the EPA to test the air quality to ensure the safety of the racers. We called officials from every state agency charged with protecting our health, to get water quality testing results and to ask for advice on how to proceed. When all of the tests came back fine we sent out the Mobile Baykeeper boat to check out the water south of us to make sure we were safe to proceed. The morning of the race, when the gun went off and swimmers began to pour into Mobile Bay, it felt like a victory. We know it may be our last race for quite some time where it is safe to swim in the bay we know and love, but this year we celebrated as we beat the oil on race day. We all hope we can beat it in the end. Tammy writes, “Mobile Baykeeper’s message for years has been that you can’t have a healthy economy without a healthy environment; that the two go hand in hand.” The evidence is mounting now in the Gulf that a fossil-fuel based economy is unhealthful for us, the environment and our future. Stories like Tammy’s are vivid reminders that now is the time to shift to an economy reliant on clean, renewable energy, an economy that provides safe and sustainable jobs, respects our environment and all the life dependent upon it, and frees our kids from ever worrying about splashing around in ocean waves. The 11th Hour Project supports this transition to a restorative economy. This series highlights the individual stories of struggle inherent in this journey. More on Green Energy
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Sarah Bell: ‘We Beat the Oil on Race Day’: Resilience in Mobile, Alabama
Move over death panels. Now Sarah Palin is tweeting comparisons between President Obama and Adolf Hitler: …This is about the rule of law vs. an unconstitutional power grab. Read Thomas Sowell’s article: http://u.nu/… Sowell’s article , noted yesterday by Barbara Morrill, likens the Obama administration to Hitler’s Nazi regime and argues that the $20 billion compensation fund from BP is the latest example. He begins: When Adolf Hitler was building up the Nazi movement in the 1920s, leading up to his taking power in the 1930s, he deliberately sought to activate people who did not normally pay much attention to politics. Such people were a valuable addition to his political base, since they were particularly susceptible to Hitler’s rhetoric and had far less basis for questioning his assumptions or his conclusions. “Useful idiots” was the term supposedly coined by V.I. Lenin to describe similarly unthinking supporters of his dictatorship in the Soviet Union. Put differently, a democracy needs informed citizens if it is to thrive, or ultimately even survive. In our times, American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current administration in Washington, and few people seem to be concerned about it. I get it! Obama is Hitler, and his “useful idiots” are the people who voted for him, many of whom had never voted before. Brilliant observation! So what in the world does this have to do with BP? Well, Obama, like Hitler, is a power-thirsty tyrant. Just where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that a president has the authority to extract vast sums of money from a private enterprise and distribute it as he sees fit to whomever he deems worthy of compensation? Nowhere. And yet that is precisely what is happening with a $20 billion fund to be provided by BP to compensate people harmed by their oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. You see, Hitler murdered millions of innocent victims, and Obama made BP compensate billions to its innocent victims, so clearly, Obama = Hitler and America owes BP an apology. Oh, and what’s more, FDR is like Hitler too. When Franklin D. Roosevelt arbitrarily took the United States off the gold standard, he cited a law passed during the First World War to prevent trading with the country’s wartime enemies. But there was no war when FDR ended the gold standard’s restrictions on the printing of money. At about the same time, during the worldwide Great Depression, the German Reichstag passed a law “for the relief of the German people.” That law gave Hitler dictatorial powers that were used for things going far beyond the relief of the German people — indeed, powers that ultimately brought a rain of destruction down on the German people and on others. If the agreement with BP was an isolated event, perhaps we might hope that it would not be a precedent. But there is nothing isolated about it. By the end of the article you can see why Sarah Palin loved it so much. It’s stupid and offensive enough that she could have written it herself. On Twitter (apparently the only way to reach Palin unless you work for Fox), Jake Tapper has asked whether she is comfortable with the Obama = Hitler comparison. I doubt she’ll respond, but if she does, she’s got some serious explaining to do.
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Palin embraces Obama = Hitler analogy
On Thursday, when the time came for independent counsel Timothy Petumenos to give former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin her comeuppance for putting private fund-raising above the public trust, he picked as the venue the “Adventure Room” of the Hotel Captain in Cook in downtown Anchorage. The symbolism was almost as thick as the media that crowded the smallish space in the basement of one of the city’s long time cornerstones. The hotel was built by Wally Hickel after the Good Friday earthquake in 1964 destroyed much of Alaska. A visionary and a booster for development of the 49th state, Hickel later served two separate terms as governor before helping to propel Palin into that office. He rejected her not long after as her short stint in the executive mansion turned into adventure after adventure. First there was Troopergate , which began when she tried to get her ex-brother-in-law fired from the state police force. Then came the ethics complaints, mostly unsuccessful, filed by her opponents by the bucket loads, and then the run for Vice President on the Republican ticket that saw her parading across the country warning that Democrat Barack Obama had a history of “palling around with terrorists.” In between were the pregnancy kept secret almost until the day Alaska’s middle-aged governor delivered a baby with Downs Syndrome , and the revelation the Republican candidate of squeaky clean “family values” had an unmarried teenage daughter also about to have a baby. Finally there was Turkeygate — the video-taped beheading of some poor Thanksgiving turkeys behind Palin as she prattled on to an Alaska reporter about the ugliness of national politics. That was followed by the abrupt mid-term resignation as governor. But the adventure didn’t end there. Palin went on to write a best-selling book, “Going Rogue,” that made millions, sign a gig with Fox News worth millions more, and become the self-proclaimed “pit bull in lip stick” as she contended, wrongly, that there were “death panels” hidden in Obama’s proposal for national health care. The pitbull was nowhere to be found Thursday when Petumenos unveiled a settlement between Palin and the state agreeing that she’d illegally created something called “The Alaska Fund Trust ” to raise more than $360,000 to defend herself against those state ethics complaints and more. Petumenos highlighted the more, noting the trust’s “‘Crummy Provision’ that permits a beneficiary under the Trust to demand withdrawals from the Trust for any reason whatsoever.” The settlement agreement, which was worked out largely between Petumenos and Thomas Van Flein, Palin’s personal attorney, went on to say that the provision was merely included to “prevent the donors from being required to file gift tax returns (with the IRS) in connection with their donations.” But Petumenous pointed out that the way the trust was written there was nothing to stop Palin from using the money for anything she wanted. The more than $360,000 in donations collected while she was governor, the settlement said, could have been used for reduction of “private debts, payment of private income taxes and, theoretically at least, are subject to demand for any purpose. Thus the Trust itself contemplates personal gain and financial benefit” to the governor in violation of the Alaska Ethics Act. For that reason, Petumenos said, Palin has been ordered to — and agreed to — refund the money of everyone who contributed to the Alaska Fund Trust when she was governor. He added that Palin had put the fund in limbo after ethics complaints were first filed more than a year ago and appeared to be cooperating fully with the subsequent investigation into the fund. Thousands of citizens around the nation are expected to get refunds now. Most donations were less than $150, said Petumenos. The Alaska Department of Law will be in charge of seeing that the refunds are made. If donors refuse to accept them, there is a provision for forwarding the money into a fund for a non-profit organization. Van Flein listened to Petumenos’s presentation, and later held his own informal discussion with the press. He said he had warned the then-governor that the proposed trust might not meet the letter of the Alaska law and should be run past the state Ethics Board before proceeding. Palin overruled that advice, he said. She had seven lawyers advising her — six of them big-time litigators from the Lower 48 — and she chose to accept their advice instead, Van Flein said. “What I said (to her) was the prudent thing to do was to submit it to the review board,” Van Flien said. “The other lawyers said it was not necessary.” They were of the view Palin’s position was “air tight,” Van Flein added, and probably would argue with Petumenos’s ruling. But the ex-governor, he said, had made a decision to settle the case and move on instead of fighting. Petumenos said the responsible thing for any public official in Palin’s position to do would have been to send the proposed trust to the Department of Law for review before it got to the point of legal action. “That was my position,” Van Flein said. “I give advice. (But) this was a very, very prominent attorney” offering a different opinion. Van Flein refused to name the attorney. He also defended Palin against accusations she might have been “lawyer shopping,” the practice of looking for the attorney who tells you what you want to hear. All of the attorneys advising Palin were specialists in arcane areas of the law, Van Flein said, and the governor chose to take her trust advice from the one most familiar with trust law, although not with Alaska ethics law. Read more More on Sarah Palin
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AlaskaDispatch.com: Palin’s continuing drama
On this Thursday, the 24th day in June, The Wrap wishes a happy 34th birthday to Brock Olivo . If the name doesn’t ring a bell, allow for a brief refresher course: running as a Republican for the open seat left vacant by Kenny Hulshof in Missouri, Olivo (a former college and NFL football player) suffered through one of the all-time great catastrophic rollouts in the pantheon of political campaigns. When all was said and done, Olivo ran a distant fourth in the GOP primary, barely cracking into double digits. But he was one of the most memorable characters of the 2008 cycle, so…good on him for that. With those salutations out of the way, on with the Wrap! THE U.S. SENATE AZ-Sen: Great news! For John McCain! in post-infomercial poll Newly prolific GOP pollsters Magellan Research have waded into the Grand Canyon State, and they have found that in the wake of the revelation that teabagger wannabe JD Hayworth spent some of his post-Congressional days hawking obtaining government grants in infomercials, his numbers have taken a beating (PDF file) . Hayworth is dealing with a potentially fatal 38/50 favorability spread in the poll, which incidentally showed Sarah Palin running a distant second behind Mitt Romney in a potential 2012 showdown. CO-Sen: Norton’s ad draws fire, while she claims lead in internal Amid public polling showing her campaign in a tailspin against right-wing insurgent candidate Ken Buck, you might recall that establishment Republican candidate Jane Norton unveiled a brutally desperate 9/11 themed ad to shore up her anti-Obama bonafides. It has not seemed to work. The ad has been roundly condemned, including most recently in a petition signed by almost three dozen veterans, entreating her to take down the ad. Meanwhile, Norton is in alternate reality mode, releasing a poll earlier this week showing her out front of Buck by six points (a SUSA poll last week had her down sixteen). CT-Sen: McMahon explicitly accuses Simmons of “stealth campaign” Clearly, what had been a subterranean squabble in the Nutmeg State is now very much out in the open . There had been whispers of complaint from McMahon supporters that the suspended campaign of former Congressman Rob Simmons was acting like a stealth campaign. Now, the candidate herself has given voice to those concerns: “For a while [Simmons] said that he was leaving his name on the ballot for financial reasons relative to fundraising and that sort of thing. But I think we’re passed that now,” she said. “So his name is still there and he is still campaigning for other Republican candidates, local candidates primarily, within the state, under the guise of helping them raise funds, et cetera. But he’s still giving his speech.” McMahon, it would seem, has reason to be concerned. An early June Quinnipiac poll showed McMahon leading Simmons by just a 45-29 margin, with Paul-ite Peter Schiff trailing badly at 13%. KS-Sen: Another day, another Sarah Palin Facebook endorsement Time will tell if this is a difference maker in deep-red Kansas, but Sarah Palin has once again stepped to the podium on her Facebook page and offered an endorsement in the contested Republican primary between Congressmen Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt. Palin, for those scoring at home, gave her nod to Tiahrt, who might want to read the latest data on the utility of a Palin endorsement. OR-Sen: New public poll splits diff between Ras and Wyden Internal Regular readers of the Wrap will recall that it was dueling pollsters this week in Oregon, where a Rasmussen poll showed incumbent Democratic Ron Wyden up just 10 points over Republican Jim Huffman, while Wyden’s own internal polling had him up 30. A new poll by Davis Hibbitts and Midghall acts as a midpoint , showing Wyden doing considerably better than the House of Ras (but not as well as the Wyden internal poll). Wyden leads the Republican by a 50-32 margin, according to the poll. WI-Sen: GOP frontrunner gets heat for ties to controversial author A columnist for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is ripping Republican Senate frontrunner Ron Johnson for his controversial ties to “Bell Curve” author Charles Murray. Apparently, Johnson was instrumental in bringing Murray to Wisconsin to speak in front of a private educational partnership group earlier this year. It was an act that J-S columnist Eugene Kane compared to Rev. Louis Farrakhan being invited by Russ Feingold to speak in Wisconsin, in terms of the polarizing nature of both gentlemen. THE U.S. HOUSE LA-02: Dem frontrunner calls out GOP for Indie plants in tight race If there is fire to this smoke, it could prove to be an explosive allegation. Democratic state legislator Cedric Richmond, who only last week made his bid for Congress against vulnerable Republican Rep. Joseph Cao official, is strongly suggesting that the GOP is seeking out African-Americans to run as Independent candidates in the 2nd district. Cao will need all the help he can get against Richmond (or whoever emerges as the Democratic nominee), in this district that leans so precipitously to the Democratic party. MA-10: Speaking of Indie candidates in competitive races… While not fatal to their chances, Democrats cannot be the slightest bit happy about the news emanating out of the Massachusetts’ 10th district (arguably among the most GOP-friendly districts in this blue state). James Sheets, a seventy-something former Democrat and longtime mayor of the city of Quincy, has announced that he will seek the seat as an Independent. The seat was vacated by Quincy Democrat Bill Delahunt, who retired this year after seven terms in the House. The 10th was the closest district in the 2008 presidential elections, giving Barack Obama just a 55-43 advantage over John McCain. MN-03: BP makes freshman Republican a target in swing district It was only a matter of time before BP became a campaign issue in races all around the country, and one Democratic candidate in Minnesota has found a way to catch freshman Republican Erik Paulsen. Jim Meffert, the Democrat challenging Paulsen in November, is ripping Paulsen for attending a fundraiser for a Colorado candidate co-hosted by BP lobbyist Dan Meyer. PA-15: BP also on Callahan’s mind, but in a very different way Contrast Paulsen’s rubbing elbows with BP lobbyists with the reaction to the disaster from one of the leading Democratic challengers for Congress this year. John Callahan, the mayor of Bethlehem and Democratic challenger to Republican incumbent Charlie Dent, is donating the proceeds from a forthcoming fundraiser on July 1st to relief organizations for the victims of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. TN-08: Republican frontrunner makes major-league unforced error This is one of those little bizarre stories that adds color to the election cycle. Stephen Fincher, one of the NRCC recruits running in the very vulnerable GOP-leaning 8th district, exercised his civic duty last month by voting in local elections. The catch? He apparently elected to vote in the Democratic Primary . That probably won’t go over too well in what promises to be an expensive and competitive Republican primary in the district long held by conservative Democrat John Tanner. (Hat Tip: diarist wtndem at Swing State Project ) THE GUBERNATORIAL RACES AL-Gov: Battle lines clearly being drawn in runoff The schism between “country club” conservatism and movement conservatism is being quite clearly delineated in the state of Alabama. Social conservatives have generally coalesced around primary runner up Robert Bentley, a state legislator. But the business community seems to be casting its lot with primary leader Bradley Byrne. Both the Alabama Trucking Association and the Business Council of Alabama offered their endorsements of Byrne, who faces Bentley in a runoff election scheduled for July 13th. IL-Gov: Cohen still not a lock for the ballot? Interesting analysis today out of the Land of Lincoln: former Democratic LG nominee and nouveau Independent candidate for Governor Scott Lee Cohen might not be out of the woods yet, despite putting together a monster petition effort that will likely pass muster. Local journo Benjamin Yount suspects that Cohen might face a courtroom challenge to his candidacy. Apparently, it is an open question as to whether or not someone can run in a partisan primary and then also file for an Independent candidacy in the same election cycle. Remember that Cohen does not fall into the common position of “sore loser” status. He actually won the nomination, only to abdicate it when issues of his past were raised after his surprise primary win. IA-Gov: Branstad goes right, but not to Vander Plaats, for LG nod This will no doubt merit a “stay tuned”, especially as jilted primary runner-up Bob Vander Plaats is supposed to break his post-primary silence before this week is through. Today, Republican nominee Terry Branstad went with state Senator Kim Reynolds as his choice for Lt. Governor. Reynolds is generally thought of a conservative, but it remains to be seen if the movement conservatives who eschewed Branstad’s candidacy (including those advocating for a Indie bid from Vander Plaats) will be mollified by her selection. NM-Gov: Toss-up race confirmed by Republican pollster Making their second appearance on the Thursday Wrap (who do they think they are, Rasmussen?!?) is the newly prolific crew at Magellan Strategies. I missed this one yesterday, but they have released new numbers out of the Land of Enchantment, where they show a true dead heat between Republican Susana Martinez and Democrat Diane Denish. According to the survey, Martinez leads Denish by a single point (44-43). Amazingly (and, perhaps, a little bit hard to believe), Magellan claims that both candidates have near-total (98%!) name recognition. That leaves me to wonder if, as often has been claimed about the House of Ras, Magellan is overemphasizing highly motivated (and often highly knowledgeable) voters, thus under-sampling the more recreational voters who nonetheless will turn out to vote. THE RAS-A-POLL-OOZA The House of Rasmussen hits a couple of high-profile Senate races, and find substantive improvements for Democrats in both races. Meanwhile, they also hit perhaps the lowest profile Senate race, in the state of Vermont. No surprise–the Democrat is doing pretty darned well there, as well. NV-Sen: Sharron Angle (R) 48%, Sen. Harry Reid (D) 41% NC-Sen: Sen. Richard Burr (R) 44%, Elaine Marshall (D) 43% VT-Sen: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) 64%, Len Britton (R) 29%
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Polling and Political Wrap, 6/24/10
This story comes courtesy of California Watch By Sarah Terry-Cobo A Sierra Club mailroom worker combing through the arriving mail at the group’s San Francisco headquarters in April opened a package addressed to someone who had never worked for the environmental advocacy group. In it, the worker found $11,000 in cash, and the Sierra Club called the San Francisco police immediately. A large, anonymous donation? Apparently not. Something about the package prompted authorities to launch an investigation, believing the money was part of a drug transaction gone awry. The sender of the package remains a mystery. There was no return address. The matter came to light earlier this month when a legal notice was posted in the June 10 edition of the Wall Street Journal. It noted that postal inspectors had seized $11,000 from the Sierra Club on April 7 under a federal forfeiture statute of the Controlled Substances Act. The Sierra Club has been fully cooperating, according to spokeswoman Kristina Johnson. After the mailroom attendant discovered the cash, the group contacted the San Francisco Police Department. The published legal notice is a requirement of asset forfeiture, so that anyone with a legitimate claim to the money may come forward to claim it, said postal inspector Hilary Rickher. It is not uncommon for people to use the postal service to send proceeds from criminal activity, she said in a telephone interview. Rickher could not provide further details of the case, citing the open investigation, but she said, “I believe the investigation into prohibited mailings indicates part of a larger criminal conspiracy,” related to the Controlled Substances Act. It’s unclear why the Sierra Club mailroom attendant opened a parcel that wasn’t addressed to the Sierra Club or one of its employees. It also remains a mystery exactly why the postal inspection service has determined the cash to be drug money. Those details are part of the ongoing case, Rickher said.
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Sierra Club Receives $11k In Mail, Botched Drug Deal Suspected
A day after a poll from Gallup says No Sign That Obama’s Overall Job Approval Rating Has Been Significantly Affected “, the NBC/WSJ poll (MoE +/- 3.1) says This is a president who has been bruised and bloodied by the events of the past few months, although not yet knocked down, say the Democratic and Republican pollsters who conducted the survey. “There is just no way that an American president is not going to see his job rating affected” after these events, observed GOP pollster Bill McInturff. “The little faint signs [of improvement] we were seeing in April and May have been squished by two months of this story in the Gulf.” Full results of the new poll are here , and are driving conversation on NBC and MSNBC. One of my frequent criticisms of media polls is the tendency to just look at your own. Still this is a very respected poll with a great track record of sharing data. The story for the media is dropping Obama approval, now at 45/48. Also noted is a dropping right/wrong track (29/62, worst of the Obama administration) and a generic ballot that for the first time in years favors the GOP (at 45 GOP/43 Dem.) And the title quote comes from Peter Hart . You know people are frustrated when they suggest voting for Republicans. People don’t like Republicans (their positive/negative score is -12). But what’s happened is negative perception of Democrats (now at -9) is growing. Still, there’s some interesting data in the numbers. Look at these other positive/negative scores, hardly an endorsement of Republicans: Look at those BP numbers. Anyone wondering if Joe “I apologize” Barton will stay a topic for Democrats to discuss? The economy, of course, tops all. Here, Obama gets a 46/50 approve/disapprove (was 48/46 in May.) It’s not health care that’s driving the numbers. Asked about the Obama health care bill being a good idea or bad idea, the good bad numbers are 40/44, the best it’s been in months. But what really irks people is the perception that the deficit has gotten too big, with spending out of control. Some very interesting things emerge from the table of candidate characteristics, which are given a fav/unfav score depending on how the public feels about a candidate with these characteristics (see How would you feel if a candidate was endorsed by Sarah Palin? for details and an example.) For example, a candidate who supports cutting federal spending gets a +46, but a candidate who is endorsed by Obama gets a -7 (same as being a tea party supporter). And if you were wondering, an endorsement by Sarah Palin is worth a -27, and supporting the economic policies of George W. Bush is a -39. Sharron Angle’s position? “Supports abolishing some federal agencies, including the Department of Education” and “Supports phasing out Social Security and instead supports allowing workers to invest their Social Security contributions in the stock market” both get a -42. Still, the hit on the Obama numbers is the main story. From the WSJ write-up: Support for Mr. Obama and his party is declining among centrist, independent voters. But, more ominous for the president, some in his base also are souring, with 17% of Democrats disapproving of Mr. Obama’s job performance, the highest level of his presidency. Whether its the ongoing spill, the jobs numbers or the McChrystal firing, we’ll need to see if these numbers are sustained or yet another blip. But one thing’s certain: trying to make this into a “choice, and we are better than them” rather than a “referendum on us” election is going to be central to Democratic strategy from now until November. The question remains: given how much people don’t like Republicans, what’s that mean when it comes to November? This is as good a summary as any: Much of the erosion in Obama’s numbers has come from the middle. His approval among independents is upside down at 37; his approval in the suburbs is 44; his approval among suburban women is at 44; and his approval in the Midwest — which was an important source of strength for him in 2008, in both the primaries and general election — is at 44. What continues to sustain Obama, even during these tough times, is his base. African Americans approve of his job by a whopping 91; Hispanics back him 60; those 18 to 34 approve of his job by a 53 (though that’s down); and Democrats back him 76 (though that’s also down a few ticks). Our pollsters wouldn’t say if Obama’s overall approval rating has reached its floor, but they say that the way he gets his numbers up is for the right track/wrong track numbers to improve. And that means more people feeling better about the state of the economy and the situation in the Gulf. Little support for Republican/teabagger policy, no rehab for Bush, great unhappiness with the status quo. The Gulf situation may well be better by November, but the economy and jobs? We’ll see.
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NBC/WSJ poll: “These numbers aren’t good. But they are far from awful.”
Greg Sargent at The Plum Line flags an overlooked tidbit from a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll : The poll asked people how they’d respond if a Congressional candidate had various hypothetical attributes. Asked how they’d feel if a candidate were “endorsed by Sarah Palin,” the response was…. Says Sargent: Obviously those pointing to Palin’s influence are only concerned with her impact among GOP primary voters. But the above finding is another mark of just how toxic Palin has become to the rest of the world — and how out of sync with public opinion the media obsession with Palin’s alleged influence really is. And that’s the tiny detail the media somehow manages to overlook while playing stenographer for Palin or waxing poetic about the tea party as a whole … their toxicity to the majority of the voters. Just a few months ago Harry Reid was “dead man walking,” Charlie Crist was the next Republican Senator from Florida, the Republican nominee in Kentucky was a shoo-in, Rob Simmons had a good shot at getting Chris Dodd’s seat, NY-23 was going to be back in Republican hands …
I don’t need to tell you that the world has seen its share of change lately. We used to embrace change and make it happen (which entails pretty much everything before Sept. 11, 2001). Then we watched it from the sidelines (the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the various financial crises), craved it (the 2008 U.S. presidential election) and circled back to watching–helplessly, it seems (losing patience with President Obama, the BP oil leak). But now we’re creating change again. A New Consumerism is taking hold. People around the world are realizing their responsibility in current events and trying to take control of what they can. They’re making changes to simplify their finances, their consumption, their lives. Unfortunately, Sarah Ferguson doesn’t seem to be one of those people. Fergie is an emblem of what was. After helping bring blood back to the cheeks of Britain’s royal family, she became a comeback brand (like Madonna) I used to admire: motivational speaker; Weight Watchers spokeswoman; head of her own charitable foundation dedicated to helping children; a voice in a Disney animated movie; special correspondent for “Today”; producer of last year’s Young Victoria , starring Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend; and author of two dozen books for children and adults. With many people in financial situations more or less similar to hers, Fergie had a story that was widely admired, in fact: Down on her luck after a divorce, getting only a reported $21,700 in alimony every year and with the bills mounting (okay, her debt, last year reported at about $900,000 , is a bit different than the average person’s), she found respectable ways to keep reinventing herself and keep her head above water. Or so we thought before she was caught on tape offering entrÃ©e to Prince Andrew for about $724,000. It was beneath the Duchess of York and sad to watch when it played out so publicly. New Consumerism may have finally flushed out her ability to change. Many people, Ferguson probably included, have been increasingly suffering from what could be called hyperconsumptivitus extremus . But millions around the globe are taking the cure right now. Even in the United States, where the right to shop till you drop has been considered the implicit 28th Amendment, people are cutting up their credit cards and fighting their reflexive urge to splurge at the slightest provocation. And they’re doing it not necessarily because they have to but because it makes them feel good. New research in seven markets (Brazil, China, France, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States) by my company, Euro RSCG, found that significant portions of the populations are trading hyperconsumerism for a form of consumption that’s a bit more subdued and considered–and, well, sane. (There’s more information about the study and thoughts about New Consumerism at TheNewConsumer.com . And the book Consumed: Rethinking Business in the Era of Mindful Spending , based on the study and written by my colleagues Andrew Benett and Ann O’Reilly, will be published in July.) Of the 1,500 people in the U.S. sample, for instance, 87 percent said saving money makes them feel good about themselves. About three-quarters (78 percent) said most people would be better off if they lived more simply, and 73 percent said it makes them feel good to reduce the amount of waste they create through their consumption. A majority is actually deriving satisfaction from cutting back on their purchases during the economic downturn, and six in 10 say they’re never going back to using their credit cards the way they used to. (We’ll have to see, of course, if this is yet another way of life that will change once the economy gets back on track. I think the simple life will be with us for quite some time.) “Cutting back” doesn’t have to be a negative. The New Consumers identified in the study have managed to turn a more mindful approach to consumption into a positive. Here are four paradigms underlying the fundamental consumer shift: Rightsizing. For the past couple of decades, consumers have been confronted with an explosion of product choices in virtually every category. Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice, just one example, comes in 16 varieties. People are overwhelmed. They also feel more anxious about financial concerns. In response to these pressures–and to their growing concern over the environmental and social impact of their consumption choices–more consumers are hopping off the consumption treadmill, spending less time on accumulating things and more time enjoying simple pleasures. Two-thirds (67 percent) of people surveyed globally believed most people would be better off if they lived more simply, and 46 percent believed they would be happier if they owned less stuff. Growing up. The Euro RSCG survey found that 48 percent of the global sample agreed that even though they’re adults, they don’t always feel like “grown-ups.” But they’re starting to accept personal responsibility and gain control through financial choices. Seventy percent said saving money makes them feel good about themselves (though only 31 percent have been able to put more into savings than they used to), and 38 percent (including 49 percent of Americans and 52 percent of respondents in Brazil) felt satisfied from reducing their purchases during the downturn. In addition, 39 percent have started thinking about growing a garden–a sign of wanting to not only reconnect with nature but also become self-sufficient and competent. Seeking purposeful pleasure. The genius of modern marketing is that psychology makes us want to buy things we don’t really need because of a desire to feel good. But what makes us feel good emotionally is now changing. The New Consumers are savvier, more empowered and more demanding. Today, they’re concerned with everything from economic impacts and safety to design and provenance. They’re also more aware of their capacity to influence the world–good or bad–by what they buy. In the Euro RSCG survey, 51 percent are more interested today in how and where products are made, and 57 percent say it makes them feel good to support local producers, artisans and manufacturers. Embracing substance. As political theorist Benjamin Barber once said , consumerism now “strives to be everything, to occupy all our time and space and push other things out. In this sense, it is both homogenizing and totalizing.” Across the markets Euro RSCG surveyed, people were tired of a culture built around trips to the mall and hours spent staring at screens. They want more substance and the fulfillment that comes with it. And they want to feel connected to something more “real.” In the survey, 51 percent worldwide were concerned that digital communication is weakening human bonds, and 59 percent worried that society has grown too disconnected from the natural world. Sarah Ferguson became disconnected. She–and the rest of us–can probably find a few lessons in how the New Consumers are changing relationships (with people and money) and changing the way they live, and use it for our own next reinvention. More on Iraq
Jasmine Hirst In her book, Bad Reputation , performance artist, playwright, and one-time citizen of the world of Andy Warhol and his Factory (even appearing in Warhol’s and Paul Morissey’s film, Women in Revolt ), Penny Arcade (born Susana Ventura) has collected three of her foundational performance pieces for the first time. In the ” disenfranchised world of queers, junkies, whores, stars, stalkers and geniuses,” that forms Arcade’s interior life, we find her commentary on sexuality and censorship ( Bitch!Dyke!Faghag!Whore! ), her take on growing up in a working class Italian-American family ( La Miseria ), and her portrayal of teen life on the streets ( Bad Reputation ). All three of these works are informed by her passage through the schools of Italian-American identity, avant-garde theater and hard knocks. At 17, Arcade became involved with the Playhouse of the Ridiculous , absorbing its queer, camp, and surrealist tendencies that she would carry on in her own work. Book-ended by thoughtful essays and interviews, Bad Reputation ’s accompanying material is quite sharp. Commenting on Arcade with wit and precision are playwright Ken Bernard; writer and filmmaker Chris Kraus; novelist and playwright Sarah Schulman; self-professed “independent video producer/freelance architect/New York City cab driver,” Steve Zehentner; and professor of drama and theater studies, Stephen Bottoms. Jasmine Hirst Although her audience may be more struck by the role of the body in Arcade’s pieces (onstage she swears by the presence of slinky neo-burlesque dancers and her own nakedness), at the core of Penny’s performances is the issue, not of body, but of voice–how she uses it and how she has paid for it. Interestingly, Arcade is both a monologist and a dialogist, at once self-focused and an activist for her society. She often follows up extended monologues by addressing her audience directly; she confides in Bad Reputation , “I started doing it because I was so ignored by the press and the art scene!” When I spoke with her, she stressed that “curiosity about my place in society and the world is at the heart of my work. The need to communicate is what has sustained my work for over 25 years. My work is about breaking down isolation and assuaging sorrow, sharing the absurdities of life.” The book has received less coverage than one would expect, and even the coverage it has received is at times puzzling, as in the case of Hilton Als’ oddly dismissive New Yorker review . Perhaps Als was hesitant to discuss the book in too much depth because it contains an analysis of his own strange reaction to it. Stephen Bottoms notes, “How does one account for this blind spot around Arcade’s work? It’s easy enough to see that her voice is too explicitly confrontational to have been welcomed by the American media mainstream.” Bottoms also adds that perhaps the public can handle figures such as pornographic performer Annie Sprinkle more readily than Arcade because “we can read into Sprinkle, but don’t ask her to speak for herself.” In a sense, Penny presents her public with that most frightening thing–a sexualized but not objectified woman with a voice, who can talk back to her viewers. Jasmine Hirst
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Caroline Hagood: Penny Arcade’s Bad Reputation
Truth be told, I’m a progressive. Or am I a liberal? Or am I a socialist? I know I’m not a neocon or a conservative, but, on some issues I’m more conservative than others, so am I a progressive neocon or a social democrat or a democratic socialist with conservative leanings or what? Clearly, I’m not a neoliberal nor a libertarian, but I am liberal. So what am I? These labels get me so confused. Is there a slot for people like me? If I wear an American flag lapel pin, what does that make me? Reagan didn’t wear one. Neither did Ike. Roosevelt didn’t wear one either, but George W did. It’s so confusing. Sometimes I wish I lived in Scandinavia which would make things politically a lot easier. I rarely watch Fox (though their coverage of the Haitian earthquake was fairly well done), but read what they say. I’ve written too much already on Beck and Limbaugh and Palin and get tired of repeating myself. On the other hand, I watch CSNBC all the time. Matthews and Olberman and Maddow, but sometimes they piss me off. Of course, Matthews doesn’t let anyone finish a sentence. It’s a bit like not allowing the batter to swing at the hardball after the ball’s been caught. You know, the batter is constantly check-swinging as Matthews answers his own question while waiting for the guest to answer the question he’s already answered. What’s the point? Just walk the batter and move on. It took me a long time before I could appreciate Olbermann as a political analyst and not a sports broadcaster. When that was finally accomplished, what tends to annoy me now is that he constantly brings the same people on his show. The Friends of Countdown. If I hear him pitch Richard Wolffe’s book, Renegade: The Making of a President , one more time, I’ll puke. Okay, I got it the 35th time and if I want to buy the book, I will. After all, it’s been over a year since it came out. Then there’s Chris Cillizzi who every time he’s introduced gives a rather sheepish smile as if to say, “Look, mom, I’m on TV.” Lawrence O’Donnell is more than an adequate replacement for Olbermann, especially when he gets indignant and you can see his jaw tighten as if he has a TMJ problem. I’m a big fan of Eugene Robinson, but I wish they’d quit introducing him as the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for the Washington Post. It’s almost as if they’re pronouncing the fact that, “Look African-Americans can win Pulitzer Prizes too.” Maddow is terrific except when she morphs into that schoolgirl giggle and declares she doesn’t have an agenda (wink, wink, nod, nod) since everyone has an agenda even if they don’t have one. But what I find most disconcerting, puzzling actually, is the fact that if one listens closely to any of these shows one hears the same buzzwords and many of them are used synonymously. Words like: Radicals, Leftists, Progressives, Liberals, Centrists, Rightists, Libertarians, Conservatives, Neocons, Teabaggers, Reactionaries. In order to alleviate any misunderstandings about where people stand politically, I suggest the government should look into the possibility of issuing armbands to all US citizens in an attempt to clarify their respective political positions. These arm bands could be color-coded so everyone will know what everyone else’s political position is. Failing that, I’m sure private corporations could advocate producing them on their own suggesting that government is too big already. And how does one “shrink government” with a population that’s over 300 million? So, where does all of this end? I get to the point that I have no notion of what I am politically. The “right” always clamors for “limited government” which is a shibboleth for minimal government intervention in personal liberties (there’s that “L” word again) which is linked to free market libertarianism (there’s that “L” word again) which is linked to classical liberalism (there’s that “L” word again) which is associated with neoliberalism (there’s that “L” word again) none of which, apparently, have anything to do with being a liberal (there’s that “L” word again). According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “right libertarians hold that resources may be appropriated by the first person who discovers them, mixes labor with them, or merely claims them — without the consent of others, and with little or no payment to them…” Left-libertarians hold “that unappropriated natural resources belong to everyone in some egalitarian manner.” So, in addition to having “leftists” and “rightists” we can also have “left libertarians” and “right libertarians” just as we can have “liberals” and “Neoliberals.” Damn confusing if you ask me. Clearly, the Teabaggers are against any kind of liberalism (which becomes mind boggling when one thinks about it) and are dead set against Socialism, decrying that that’s where Obama is taking us. But since Socialists agree that capitalism unfairly concentrates power and wealth among the few, one wonders what they’re angry about. In an article written by G. William Domhoff, Wealth, Income, and Power , updated February, 2010, “In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.7%.” Isn’t that capitalism running amok? Are these people really angry at the government or is the government the easiest scapegoat? I mean, I don’t see them picketing Citi Bank and they’ve been mute about British Petroleum. In the end, I think I’ll have to make up a political term for myself. Maybe, “libidoterian” since everything is about sex anyway. Just ask Governor Sanford or just about any other male politician. More on Chris Matthews
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Mark Axelrod: Political Nomenclature; Or, Who Am I, Anyway?
Sarah Michelle Gellar holds on tight to her 9-month-old daughter, Charlotte, as they go out for lunch on Tuesday (June 22) in Los Angeles. The 33-year-old actress brought along her mom, Rosellen, for the afternoon. [CLICK THROUGH FOR PHOTOS OF THE MOTHER/DAUGHTER DUO] More on Celebrity Kids
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Sarah Michelle Gellar Steps Out With Baby Charlotte
Sarah Palin’s Twitter account has been rich fodder this week for those of us who enjoy that lazy summer pasttime of rolling our eyes at ex-half-governors who believe they have something to add to the national discourse via social media. Her latest is a petulant, 9th grade, hand-on-hip screed directed at Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel. You can picture Sarah Palin and her inner circle of mean girl friends hanging out in front of her Twitter locker, and Sarah saying (just within earshot of Rahm Emmanuel whose locker is close by): Uh oh… here comes Rahm Emmanuel, hands in his pockets, wearing an iPod and a baseball cap. He strides past Sarah and her henchgirls who crinkle their noses at him. In my imaginary world he tweets back: And then how about her Father’s Day tweet? Talking about all the fathers in her life, whom she goes out of her way to name specifically, complete with an exclamation point for each dad. Well… almost all of them. And what about the father of her only grandchild? The one she kidnapped from sheep hunting and stuck in a suit so he could stand with her at the RNC? The one who has recently brought to a close Bristol’s abstinence tour and is now back together with her so they can raise little Tripp together? (crickets) Maybe he’ll tweet back at Mother’s Day. And finally, Sarah (as the ex-governor of an oil and gas state) had some words of suggestion regarding the oil spill and what it will take to stop the hemorrhaging of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. We don’t need to simply imagine what my response to this might have been like we did with Rahm and Levi. This one I actually sent. More on Gulf Oil Spill
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Nikki Haley’s victory in South Carolina’s bruising GOP primary for governor moves the state lawmaker closer to becoming her state’s first woman chief executive and America’s first Sikh-born governor, while assuring her a place on the national political scene. Like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who immediately touched off presidential talk when he won his state’s governorship, Haley’s primary victory sets off talk of a possible vice presidential campaign in 2012. As an Indian-American woman from an early primary state, she would bring a combination of diversity and conservatism that many in the GOP have been seeking. Little known even in her own state just months ago, Haley got a crucial boost with early support from former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and the tea party movement. Along the way, she weathered rumors of infidelity and questions about her religious and ethnic background. During the past month, state Sen. Jake Knotts, a self-described “redneck,” called Haley a “raghead” and questioned whether she was a Christian. Earlier, a lobbyist and a blogger both claimed to have had affairs with her. Haley, a married mother of two, categorically denied the unsubstantiated claims and made it clear she was baptized in the Methodist church. A backlash against the state’s notorious rough-and-tumble political gamesmanship propelled Haley to within 4,800 votes of winning the June 8 primary outright. Haley grew up in a state where black and white define history and divide politics – even beauty contests. At 5, Haley’s parents entered her and her sister, Simran, in the Little Miss Bamberg Pageant and they were the only children of Indian immigrants in town. “They had a Little Miss White Bamberg and they had a Little Miss African-American Bamberg, and, you know they disqualified us because they didn’t know what category to put us in,” Haley said. Her father, who wears the traditional Sikh turban, was a biology professor at a historically black college and her mother taught middle school social studies. By the time Haley was in high school, she was keeping the books at the family’s upscale clothing business. “What was frustrating to me is I felt like government should strengthen businesses,” Haley said. “You know, we were paying too much in taxes. The worker’s comp rates were unbelievable.” She spoke with some female lawmakers and decided to run for the state House. In a GOP runoff race against a 30-year incumbent, Haley confronted fliers that played up her family name, Randhawa. She won that 2004 election and easily won re-election in 2006 and 2008. Haley aligned herself with Gov. Mark Sanford, whose bickering with the Legislature left him with few fans in the Statehouse. She riled the GOP House leadership in 2008 by bucking their resistance to restrictions on payday lending companies and by pushing for more recorded votes. She toured the state with Sanford to highlight that issue. It made her a thorn in leadership’s side and secured her reputation as a boat-rocker. More on 2010 Elections
After two years of teaching in a southeast DC charter school, I finally visited Anacostia Senior High School , my public school neighbor and a place often referred to as an exemplar of a dysfunctional public school. Anacostia got some positive attention though, when two weeks ago Michelle Obama delivered a
Illinois’ Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate Mark Kirk ran from the press on Monday rather than answering questions on all of the “misremembering” he’s done about his military carreer and his alleged teaching job … and today he can only wish that he could run from the coverage of his ignominy. Here’s just a few of the headlines: Mark Kirk Runs From Reporters. Literally. Mark Kirk makes like bunny, flees from press Senate candidate Kirk ducks questions on military This excerpt from the first article says it all: Kirk ran through the kitchen and into the back loading area, where he jumped into an SUV which was idling with its engine on. Despite the calls of reporters, the SUV then sped away. The only thing missing is Kirk’s height, race, and a description of what he was wearing. And what about the T.V. coverage? This is from Chicago’s ABC affiliate: It’s beyond pitiful when the Kirk campaign’s official response to the story was: He had other events on his schedule and walked out the door when the event was over. Yes, good answer. Now about that resume padding …
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IL-Sen: Mark Kirk is running … away
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — When he takes to the campaign trail, Jerry Brown is fond of reminding voters that he shunned the governor’s mansion in Sacramento in favor of a rented apartment during his first tour in the executive office and lived in a downtown loft in Oakland while he was mayor of the crime-ridden city. The stories are part of a campaign narrative of frugality. The Democratic nominee wants voters to remember that when they consider whether to send him back to the governor’s office as California faces a $19 billion budget deficit, an unemployment rate above 12 percent and a continuing foreclosure crisis. What California voters do not hear is Brown boasting about his latest home. He and his wife, former Gap executive Anne Gust, own a custom-designed, $1.8 million house in one of the San Francisco Bay area’s most prestigious neighborhoods – a Zen-inspired, five-level architectural gem perched high in the wooded Oakland Hills. The three bedroom home comes with bamboo floors, a spiral staircase, breathtaking views of the bay and roll-up family room windows that let the sea breeze wash in. The office on the top floor has a private entrance. A spa level features a sauna and wetbar, while a dumbwaiter services every floor, making it easy to send a bottle from the wine cellar to the dining room. When fog isn’t hovering over the bay, the home provides a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, according to a brochure of the home when it was on the market in 2007. That a former governor and nationally known political figure owns a great house in a great neighborhood isn’t surprising. But Brown has made his past austerity a central theme to his general election campaign, using it to draw a contrast to his Republican opponent, billionaire Meg Whitman. The former eBay chief executive lives in a $3 million home in a gated community in the Silicon Valley community of Atherton. Larry Gerston, a political science professor at San Jose State University, said Brown should be mindful about how he defines himself because he’s not the same person he was three decades ago. “He needs to be careful not to be misleading because if there’s anything that gets people angry, particularly when it comes to politicians, it’s folks who say one thing and do another,” Gerston said. He said Brown’s reputation is one of his strongest advantages on the campaign trail against Whitman, who has said she is prepared to spend $150 million from her personal fortune. “That capital, if you will, can get deflated pretty quickly if he’s giving an impression that’s incorrect,” Gerston said. Brown and Gust bought the home in 2007, the year he became California attorney general. At the time, it was listed for $2.68 million, according to a story published at the time in the San Francisco Chronicle. Records at the Alameda County Assessor’s Office show the house is now valued at $1.8 million. Brown spokesman Sterling Clifford said the attorney general openly talks about his new house in interviews with journalists, but it typically doesn’t come up in campaign speeches because it’s not relevant. “It gets left out a lot because it’s not central to the point,” Clifford said. Clifford added Brown lives a frugal lifestyle, taking advantage of the senior citizens discount, buying suits in three-for-one sales and flying Southwest Airlines. Jack Citrin, director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, said voters would be naive to think Brown, California’s 34th governor, didn’t live in a nice home. “Jerry Brown is in many ways very unusual because he has been many, many things,” Citrin said. “He was the governor’s son, so he didn’t grow up in poverty. He went to Yale University.” Those are parts of his past that Brown typically doesn’t highlight when he compares himself to Whitman. Rather, he tries to connect with voters by touting his spendthrift ways. He entered the governor’s office in 1975 as a bachelor and one of the state’s youngest governors, got an apartment and drove around in a 1974 Plymouth Satellite. Brown, 72, served until 1983. “I know how to live within limits,” Brown said the night he won the Democratic Party primary earlier this month. “I got rid of the governor’s limousine, his private jet, and instead of the new mansion, I rented an apartment across from the state Capitol and paid for it myself.” “The truth is that I don’t like to spend money. Not my own and not the taxpayers,” he told the crowd. Ronald Reagan was the last governor to live in the state’s official governor’s mansion, but moved to a prestigious Sacramento neighborhood three months into his first term in 1967. The mansion was converted to a state historic park, and has not been replaced. Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger commutes to the statehouse from his gated community of Brentwood and picks up the tab for his own private plane. A foundation pays for his lodging at a Sacramento hotel whenever he spends the night, his spokesman said. Clifford said Brown has not decided where he will live if elected governor. Whitman’s wealth has been a constant backstory to her campaign because it has allowed her to go on a record-setting spending spree and blanket the airwaves with commercials. For her part, Whitman has criticized Brown for increasing state spending and leaving California with a budget deficit when he left office. Brown and the Legislature used much of a budget surplus to help cash-strapped schools and local governments after voters in 1978 approved Proposition 13, which rolled back property tax assessments and capped future increases. “Even more important than his mansion in the Oakland Hills is the fact that Governor Brown has been a Sacramento politician who has not been frugal with taxpayers’ money,” Whitman spokeswoman Sarah Pompei said in a statement to The Associated Press. Clifford said Brown is the only governor who built up a multibillion rainy day fund, vetoed excessive raises for public employees and signed $5 billion in personal income tax cuts into law. More on Meg Whitman
GULF BREEZE, Fla. — Debbie Gunnoe wanted to work as a volunteer cleaning tar balls and oil from the sugar white beaches of Florida Panhandle that she loves so much, but she’s been rebuffed. BP PLC has turned away Gunnoe and other would-be volunteers because the oil giant is using only paid and trained workers to clean up the mess caused by its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Instead, the retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and nearly 70 other like-minded citizens are helping in a less direct way as visitor information volunteers at the Gulf Islands National Seashore. They are being stationed at various National Seashore areas to answer visitors’ questions, report sightings of tar balls, oil or oil-soaked wildlife and offer safety tips - the oil is classified as a hazardous material. “I’m quite concerned about our way of life and I’m frustrated with what’s going on,” said Gunnoe, 55, of nearby Navarre. “It’s the first opportunity I’ve heard where the people who live in the area can actually get out and do something and make a difference.” Gunnoe is among 48 people who signed up after a pair of training sessions Sunday at the National Seashore’s headquarters in this Pensacola suburb. They will join 20 others previously trained, including Tony Mitkevicious, 62, a retired civil service worker from Pensacola. “It’s beautiful out here,” Mitkevicious said Monday at the National Seashore’s Opal Beach area. “I see dolphins every day out in the gulf, sting rays, a lot of fish. I meet a lot of people from all over and they’re really nice.” As Mitkevicious spoke a BP cleanup crew began looking for oil and tar balls, but he doubted they’d find any. He said he already had walked the beach and didn’t see anything. Each volunteer is committed to spending at least one three-hour shift each week for three months at beaches on a pair of barrier islands or the Seashore’s campground. “One of the biggest things for us is that the gulf has seen its share of disasters - natural - but this is something they haven’t seen and there’s a lot of questions and a lot of confusion,” said park ranger Kirby Shedlowski, who is on loan from Fort McHenry in Baltimore. “By having volunteers out on the beaches talking to the public it’s allowing that stream of information to get out.” The volunteers also can serve as a sounding board for visitors who are frustrated or angry about the spill and keep them from distracting BP cleanup crews, Shedlowski said. She told them, though, that they must keep their opinions to themselves. Finally, the program is a response to the pent up frustration that Gunnoe and others have experienced about being shut out of the recovery effort. “This is giving them an outlet, for them to feel like they are doing something, talking to the public, which is very important,” said Sarah Codde, another ranger on temporary duty from Point Reyes National Seashore, Calif. Pat Schlueter, 64, a mechanical engineer who retired to Navarre from Indianapolis, tried to volunteer with a local wildlife refuge, offering to help clean up birds and other creatures, but said he ran into a Catch 22. “You’ve got to be licensed,” Schlueter said. “You have to be experienced to be licensed, but you have to have a license to get experience.” He also took hazmat training for people seeking BP cleanup jobs in hopes that he could, instead, volunteer for that work. Again he was rebuffed, but he doesn’t want to take a paid job he doesn’t need. “The pay is good and there are a lot of people out of work who can really use it,” he said. The volunteers include a Perdido Key couple who have had more free time lately due to the spill. Michael Bounds, 62, is a sound engineer for bands that are having difficulty finding gigs because attendance at night clubs is down. His wife, Sue, 54, is a bookkeeper for an antique shop and other businesses. “If they close, I close,” she said. It’s more than just having more time, though, Michael Bounds said. “I believe in public service; in this case it’s almost a personal service because we live in Perdido Key,” he said. “My wife has been so upset lately that we talked to one another and figured out something we could do to help, and this is what we could do.” Gunnoe said she’s still frustrated she can’t do more to protect what she considers her home. “What are they going to do if I show up with a scooper and plastic bags or a bucket to put this in?” she asked. “They need to deal with people like me and not turn us away.” More on Gulf Oil Spill
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BP Turning Away Potential Volunteers
KABUL, Afghanistan — Drug addicts as young as a month old. Mothers who calm their children by blowing opium smoke in their faces. Whole communities hooked on heroin with few opportunities for treatment. Use of opiates such as heroin and opium has doubled in Afghanistan in the last five years, the U.N. said Monday, as hundreds of thousands of Afghans turn to drugs to escape the misery of poverty and war. Nearly 3 percent of Afghans aged 15 to 64 are addicted to opiates, according to a study by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. The U.N. defines addicts as regular users. That puts Afghanistan, along with Russia and Iran, as the top three countries for opiate drug use worldwide, according to Sarah Waller, an official of the U.N.’s drug office in Kabul. She said a 2005 survey found about 1.4 percent of Afghan adults were opiate addicts. The data suggest that even as the U.S. and its allies pour billions of dollars into programs to try to wean the Afghan economy off of drug money, opium and heroin have become more entrenched in the lives of ordinary Afghans. That creates yet another barrier to international efforts to combat the drug trade, which helps pay for the Taliban insurgency. “The human face of Afghanistan’s drug problem is not only seen on the streets of Moscow, London or Paris. It is in the eyes of its own citizens, dependent on a daily dose of opium and heroin above all – but also cannabis, painkillers and tranquilizers,” said Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. Afghanistan supplies 90 percent of the world’s opium, the main ingredient in heroin, and is the global leader in hashish production. Drug crops have helped finance insurgents and encourage corruption, particularly in the south where the Taliban control cultivation of opium poppies and smuggling routes. The Afghan government and its international backers have made a massive effort in recent years to discourage farmers from growing opium poppy, and its cultivation dropped 22 percent last year. Some of the drop is likely due to lower market prices, but the government has said it also shows that the Afghan war on drugs is having some success. Twenty of the country’s 34 provinces were declared poppy-free in 2009. Yet almost 1 million Afghans – 8 percent of the 15 to 64 age group – are regular drug users – addicted to opiates, as well as cannabis and tranquilizers, according to the report, which was based on surveys of about 2,500 drug users, community leaders, teachers and doctors. By comparison, 0.7 percent of the population in neighboring Pakistan and 0.58 percent of Americans aged 15-64 were regular opiate users, according to the most recent U.N. data. Treatment facilities in Afghanistan are rare. Only 10 percent of drug users surveyed had received any treatment, though 90 percent said they wanted it, according to the survey. At one facility, the Sanja Amaj Women’s Treatment Center in Kabul, a few dozen women and children are treated every day. The women wait on cots to see doctors while children spend the day coloring, playing and being tutored in a nursery. Nearly all of the children are addicts, said Abdul Bair Ibrahimi, the coordinator for child care at Sanja Amaj. There are a number of 5- and 4-year-old addicts. The youngest they have ever seen was 1 month old. The Associated Press toured the center in February and talked to a middle-aged woman who said she started using opium during Taliban rule, which ended with the U.S.-led invasion of 2001. “I lost my brothers during the fighting and life was miserable. My brother-in-law used opium. He saw me crying and suggested I try it,” said Shirin Gul. Then, two years ago, a nephew came to live at her house who was a heroin addict and she switched to the harder drug. She was at the treatment facility for the second time, having relapsed. Her 15-year-old daughter, Gul Paris, was also being treated for heroin addiction. She said she started on the drug by stealing small amounts from her mother or brother. “I didn’t know if it was bad for me or not,” the girl said, sitting barefoot on a bed, wearing a blue gown and a lavender headscarf. She had relapsed two months earlier, she said, after her brother started using it again. According to the U.N. report, the number of regular opium users jumped 53 percent to 230,000 in 2009 from 150,000 in 2005, while regular heroin users more than doubled to 120,000 from 50,000. Much of the rise in heroin use was in the south where most of the opium poppies are grown. Between 12 percent and 41 percent of Afghan police recruits test positive for drugs at regional training centers, according to a U.S. government report issued in March. U.S. troops complain their Afghan counterparts are sometimes high during military operations. “It is a national tragedy,” said Ibrahim Azhaar, Afghanistan’s deputy minister of counternarcotics. The increasing drug use has already had destabilizing effects on communities, according to community leaders interviewed for the study. They said drug use had increased violence, insecurity and theft in their areas. “It has a devastating effect on social development in the country. It has a devastating personal effect on individuals who are affected by this addiction. And it has a larger, multiplied effect on the rest of Afghanistan,” said Robert Watkins, the deputy U.N. envoy in Afghanistan. It’s unclear if the lower international price of opium in recent years has made dealers more likely to push their product inside Afghanistan, said U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, who toured the Sanja Amaj center in February. “Clearly, this is an expanding addictive population here in this country. It really doesn’t matter to a drug dealer that the people becoming addicted are poor,” Kerlikowske said. “If they become addicted, they’ll find ways to pay for that drug.” More on Afghanistan
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Whole Communities Hooked On Heroin In Afghanistan
Taking a page out of the Sarah Palin school of media relations (recent graduates include Sharron Angle and Rand Paul), the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, Mark Kirk, “literally ran” from a hotel to avoid answering questions from the media on recently revealed revelations about his remarkable inability to tell the truth: The Democratic and Republican nominees for the U.S. Senate, Alexi Giannoulias and Mark Kirk, gave their views on planning and environmental issues at a Metropolitan Planning Council lunch on Monday. But the news was what happened afterward: Mr. Kirk literally ran out the hotel door rather than answer questions about a host of recent reports that he repeatedly has exaggerated his experience and credentials. He spoke for about 20 minutes, than walked down from the dais to have his picture taken with MPC President MarySue Barrett. As soon as that was done — with a swarm of TV cameras and reporters moving toward the front of the ballroom — Mr. Kirk bolted for a back door. With media in hot pursuit, he raced through a Hyatt kitchen and into the back seat of a black SUV — I believe it was a Cadillac Escalade — which instantly peeled out. For those keeping score, subjects Mr. Kirk wants to avoid like the plague are: the naval intelligence officer of the year award that he didn’t receive, the Pentagon war room that he didn’t command, the fire he didn’t come under while Iraq, Kosovo or Kandahar, Desert Storm that he didn’t serve in, Operation Iraqi Freedom that he didn’t serve in, the nursery school where he didn’t teach and where he didn’t have students bringing guns to class … And if news reports of a senate candidate “literally running” away from the press isn’t bad enough, Kirk also managed to officially earn the title of “embattled.”
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IL-Sen: Mark Kirk goes full-Palin
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Palin has a solution for Gulf disaster
It’s not often that we get to agree wholeheartedly with Republicans, so let’s celebrate this moment of unity. Apparently, California Republicans are openly embracing comparisons of their newly minted Senate nominee to Sarah Palin. Yes. Sarah Palin and Carly Fiorina. If you love one, you’ll love the other! The San Francisco Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci does the honors: Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, broke ground in American corporate leadership and is now being heralded as a pioneer again - the vanguard of a new breed of “pro-woman, pro-life” feminists in the mold of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Of course, Fiorina mostly broke ground at H-P by nearly breaking H-P . And she’s certainly in the vanguard of Republican ignorance about climate change . “This race is going to be a test of all the dogmas of feminism and women in political life, because we’ll have perfect contrast between these two women,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life political action committee based in Virginia that said it is donating $3 million to key 2010 Senate races, including California’s. By all means, let’s make this a vote about reproductive choice. Californians long have been strongly pro-choice , and in 2008 defeated a measure on parental notification . As Marinucci notes, a March 2010 Public Policy Institute of California poll found that more than two-thirds of California voters oppose stricter abortion laws, with a whopping 75 percent of independents opposing them. Fiorina wants Roe v. Wade overturned . Let her run on that! Dannenfelser provides the perfect summation: She called the California Senate race “a bellwether for women running in the future,” and a “banner election” for female candidates who she defines as feminists in the conservative model of “Palin-Fiorina-Bachmann,” a reference to Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann, a favorite of Tea Party activists. Once again, how nice it is to be able to agree with a Republican! Palin-Fiorina-Bachmann. Let the voters decide!
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CA-Sen: In the mold of Sarah Palin
— And, I still remember, from just two nights ago, he is one of that great historic trio, who consistently votes against every measure designed for the relief of the American people, ‘Martin, Barton & Fish’! –FDR, 1940 When Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX), a former oil executive whose company was purchased by BP, read his prepared text apologizing to BP for President Obama’s securing a $20B relief fund to pay the first part of damages from the Gulf Oil spill, he was following Republican Party orthodoxy, consistent with Republican National Committee banner ads. But those same words on public television triggered an immediate backlash. (The medium is indeed “the massage”.) Rand Paul, whose true persona was also exposed on television, referred to it as “piling on”, and that he “felt Barton’s pain”. Of course he did. Barton had committed the cardinal sin–he had exposed, for all to see, the “DNA” of the Republican Party–not just that they have a cozy relationship with big oil (and big business in general), but that they were really one and the same. Do their bidding in Congress and get re-elected. Lose an election and work for them in a lobbying firm or, if you need a more prestigious title, a belief tank that they fund to publish pseudo-scholarly pieces designed to provide excuses for whatever policy they consider best for them. Elected officials are the troops. Big business interests are their paymasters. It is one big, happy, loving family. Usually, expressions of love and devotion occur behind closed doors. But, now, their Ranking Member put it out in the open. He had given them no place to hide. It was like mobster Joseph Valachi breaking the Mafia’s sacred code of silence (omerta) by squealing before a Senate Committee in 1963. Everyone had known there was a mafia (or Cosa Nostra). But, no one had ever admitted it before in the open. That last repository of doubt, that little 0.1% chance that everything that had been described might not be quite true or grossly exaggerated, was eliminated. Similarly, with Rand Paul. He does not like the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965. We know that. He told us. Whether he accepts the Supreme Court’s ruling on its Constitutionality or not, he does not like it. Neither do most Republicans, especially in the South. That’s how they win in the South. Not by doing anything for the people who live there, and certainly not its Afro-American citizens, but by giving ‘winks-and-nods’ to such sentiments, so the good ole boys know who their good ole boys really are, but not directly. That would alienate too many independents and even Republicans in the north and west who liked their low taxes/laissez-faire economics, but would not wish to associate themselves with the good ole boys. The one thing I admire about the Republicans, though, is that they are more dedicated to their programs and power than they are to particular individuals. Remember former Majority Leader Trent Lott’s fate when he associated himself with “how much better we would all be” if Strom Thurmond’s (Dixiecrat) Party had won the Presidency–and turned back the clock on all civil rights in the United States. A good swift boot, and he was off to become a lobbyist. Similarly, with Joe Barton. Minority Leader John Boehner–still burned from having to pay 10% tax for his tanning booth sessions to help pay for healthcare reform–told Barton he was going to strip him of his position as Ranking Member of the House Energy Committee if he did not apologize for the apology. Immediately(!). Now, I must admit that I expected Barton to rely on Republican “crisis management” techniques: blame alcoholism, check into a rehab center, surround himself with concerned looking family members, pray to the Lord for guidance and strength, and then announce that God had told him to apologize to anyone who “might” have been offended by his remarks. My expectations were dashed. Instead, Barton apologized that his remarks were “misconstrued”. That is, others had misconstrued what he meant, or something like that. That technique is usually employed when a Republican has said something off the cuff, or only an excerpt has been replayed of a longer comment. Then, the “misconstruing” spin may work. But, Barton was reading from prepared text, and it was seen and heard in its entirety in real-time. For this one, I would advised the alcoholism-rehab center-family members-God technique. Perhaps God has been too busy trying to figure out how his divine creations–the corporation and a laissez-faire economy–could have so miserably messed up his other divine creation, the Gulf of Mexico. [We do know that God is busy preparing for his February meeting with Newt Gingrich and his 3rd wife, Calista, when he is to tell Newtie whether to run for President.] What does a deity say when two Divine creations collide? [Hint from a mere mortal: Newtie is not His solution.] Although the Lord might not know what to do, John Boehner did. If only the Democratic leadership were similarly inclined. Think, for example, of what healthcare reform might have looked like if Majority Leader Harry Reid had told Joe Lieberman the requirements for keeping his committee chairmanship included voting for cloture when asked. Or, told Ben Nelsen that he cannot block unemployment insurance extension and maintain his seniority. Do the Democrats have the gumption to use the Barton comment over-and-over-and-over-and-over again, to expose Republicans’ “DNA”? Past history would suggest they will “make their point” about the Gulf spill, Republicans will say “it is time to move on”, and the media and Democrats will abide by it. I hope I am wrong. While they are at it, they might run YouTube ads in every Congressional district–for months–pointing out to people that their Republican Congressman voted for their own health care, but against their district’s; for their own salaries, but against teachers, police, firefighters and private sector jobs in their own communities. I doubt they will, but I hope I am wrong. After this was written, but before publishing, Republicans metastasized over the media, distancing themselves from Barton’s blunder, hoping to plug the gusher. But, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney–i.e., the Republican Presidential hopefuls–have come out against the $20B. I suspect the Democrats will let them get away with it as the media will, again, fall for their “we apologized, let’s move on” nonsense. I hope I am wrong.
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Paul Abrams: One Thing to Like About the Republican Party
It was a tense moment in the Christ Lutheran School gymnasium, with less than 10 seconds left on the clock and our rival school, Santa Sophia, was leading the game 8-7. As I prepared to inbound the ball to my best friend, Sarah, who would go on to scale the court and produce the winning layup in a story I would later tell at her wedding, I looked up at my coach pacing the sideline of our 7th grade season-ender with an intensity worthy of John Wooden. Not only did I want my father, the legendary Monte Vista High School football coach, to look Santa Sophia Coach Zack Peck, the legendary Monte Vista High School basketball coach whose daughter Vanessa was our opponent’s starting center, in the face the next day in the P.E. teacher’s lounge with the triumph of victory. I wanted him to know that all the games of H-O-R-S-E we’d played in the driveway had summarily made me, well, a baller. I said a quick prayer, threw the ball, and Sarah made it happen. At the girls basketball awards banquet the next week, the performance earned her the team’s Most Inspirational Award, an honor she has eschewed to this day, arguing that I only won Most Valuable Player because I was the coach’s daughter. Of course, she is now a surgeon and I am a lowly political blogger, but we both learned the important lesson that nepotism sucks. The scene amuses us all now, considering that in our moment of glory we didn’t even break double digits. My mother in the stands, speckled about with 15 other dedicated fans, committed to being there while my father and I inflicted an emotional roller coaster on ourselves, yelling at the referees when they treated us unfairly, reveling in sports metaphor on the drive home. Of all the important things that would ebb and flow and change for the three of us after that moment: friends, ambitions, accolades, jobs, politics, bank accounts, pet cats, six seasons of “Lost,” and their only child ultimately living across the country in Chicago, New York and now Washington, D.C. (not to mention the dozens of times they moved all her furniture, including some 10 heavy boxes of books he can’t understand why I refuse to donate to a library); we remain a family of competitors. On Monday, a tweet from @ESPN_ProdGirl popped up in my feed suggesting that women share on the WNBA Facebook page the stories of how they bonded with their fathers through sports as part of their Dads & Daughters program. I knew instantly that I wanted to share my story because I wouldn’t be who I am if both of my parents hadn’t valued sports. What was more interesting when I reflected on it, though, was that even though my father is a football coach and I was primarily a volleyball player, it was basketball that really brought us closer together. I’ve stood on the sideline on the football field next to my father in almost every game he’s ever coached, with exceptions in recent years when I lived far away from San Diego. He’s a mastermind, playing an elaborate game of chess in a battle of wit, designed not merely to win but to inspire the young men to always live with that energy and confidence they feel when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter. It’s not that they have shoulder pads to protect them from injury or fear, because that won’t always be the case in real life, when they’ll put their cleats in a closet and reflect on the values learned in their adolescence. Winning a football game is a lesson in recalculating in adverse conditions, merging instinct with emotion, exuding poise in situations that provoke anxiety, overcoming inequity in athleticism, skill and experience to be the one to make a game-changing play, and sharing the journey, including practice!, with your friends and mentors. I carried all these lessons from my dad’s teams with me on the volleyball court, where surely my friends and coaches never quite knew what to do with my foaming-at-the-mouth, athletic zeal. They just made me team captain and clapped obligingly at my passionate time-out speeches, looking forward to celebrating our assured victory with a post-game Slurpee, since when a Carberry decides something is going to happen, nothing short of Brian Urlacher knocking us on our backs could stop us from doing it. Even then, we’d get back up and try again. Still, for all the joy our family derived from great moments like when Monte Vista beat Reggie Bush’s then-Helix High School on the football field, or watching me realize my dream of suiting up in UCLA gear at the Wooden Center for practice with an elite Div. 1 team, I think the basketball memories are my favorite. My dad has inspired thousands of students over his 20+ year coaching history, but I liked it best when he was my coach. I loved the glorious afternoons when we would shoot around in the front yard after school, and it was a particular point of pride that he made sure I didn’t “shoot like a girl.” Flex your wrist, point at the rim, follow through. Flick . I didn’t even notice that I was 5′2″ and had no business running in circles around the taller girls on the court. There was a solution for that, he said. “Keep the ball up here,” he’d say, holding it high up by his head. “If you put it down low a kindergartener could steal it.” That was good advice in life, if turns out. That delightfully delusional quality propelled me to believe that I could compete with giants. I’ve always tried to stay above the less-than-heroic components of working in politics and media, an industry I entered having no connections or family experience beyond a dad who was a U.S. History teacher and liked to stay up late with me talking about how to change the world. We hold the ball up high because the nature of the game means that there are winners and losers, those who cheat and those who play by the rules, those who want it more than others, those who get so caught up in winning they forget to respect the process, and those who suffer real consequences based on the outcomes. The other day I was giving a pep talk to my intern who just graduated from college, attempting to soothe his anxiety about how he’ll achieve the big things he wants to accomplish. I told him, “Look, at some point I realized that I could be whatever I wanted if I worked at it. If I wanted to switch gears now and be an astrophysicist, I’d dedicate myself to it entirely, overcome any obstacle and strive to be the best. You just have to begin somewhere, anywhere. In fact, I’ve learned over the course of my life that only thing I can’t do is dunk a basketball, and I live comfortably with that.” Come to think of it, though, I could probably do it if I stood on my father’s shoulders.
Before we kick off the weekend edition of the ole Wrap, I’m going to indulge in a quick personal moment to wish my father a Happy Father’s Day, as well as a hearty congratulations to all the gentlemen out there who answer to that most important of titles–”Dad.” Personal moment officially over. Let’s go look at the polls and all the other goings-on in the electoral funhouse. THE U.S. SENATE CO-Sen: Jane Norton goes the full Rudy in outragerous new ad You might recall that in a desperate last-ditch attempt to salvage his flagging 2008 presidential bid, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani ran an explicitly 9/11 themed ad as a hail-mary pass. It failed. Fast forward to 2010 : Colorado Republican Jane Norton, in a desperate last-ditch attempt to salvage her flagging 2010 Senate bid, releases an explicitly 9/11 themed ad (right down to a ticking clock followed by jet engine sounds). This is her hail mary pass. I suppose we’ll know on August 10th if it failed. UT-Sen: Public poll contradicts Lee internal; Bridgewater leads Given the high number of undecideds, the only proper way to describe the GOP Senate primary in the Beehive State to be a toss-up. That said, the first public poll of the Senate primary gives a very different result than the internal poll (for candidate Mike Lee) reported in Monday’s Wrap . The new poll, out this weekend from local pollster Dan Jones, gives Tim Bridgewater a nine-point lead over Lee (42-33). Lee’s own internal polling showed him up by nine points (39-30). In both cases, given the fact that a quarter of the electorate or more is still undecided with under a week to go, it is hard to dub either candidate the “favorite”. The winner will be favored in this uber-red state against Democratic businessman Sam Granato. THE U.S. HOUSE AR-02: Griffin snares Democratic endorsement in first-tier battle Given the ideology of the Democrat in question, this probably won’t be much of a shock. Nonetheless, this qualifies as less than stellar news for Democratic nominee Joyce Elliott: Democrat D.C. Morrison, who finished a surprisingly strong third in the recent U.S. Senate primary, elected to endorse Republican Tim Griffin, saying that Griffin’s views were more in line with his own, especially on fiscal matters. FL-02: Episode #2 of candidate-on-cameraman violence Less than a week after North Carolina Democratic Rep. Bob Etheridge became a national name when he got together…physically…with camera-wiedling adversaries, a similar incident has apparently occurred in northern Florida. The campaign of longtime incumbent Allen Boyd is alleging that rival Democrat Al Lawson physically accosted a tracker for the Boyd campaign, ripping a camera away from the staffer. Lawson countered that the staffer was in a meeting for Lawson staffers before a public event, and was asked to leave before the confrontation took place. Boyd and Lawson face off in the Democratic Primary in the Sunshine State, scheduled for August 24th. NC-08: Johnson and D’Annunzio–Two peas in a pod? CQ catches a slightly dusty, but potentially useful, unforced error by Republican frontrunner Harold Johnson in North Carolina’s 8th district. In a late May interview, he tried to allay conservative fears by saying that he would vote much the same way as right wing firebrand Tim D’Annunzio, but that he was less edgy and more “electable”. D’Annunzio is one of the real fringe characters in the 2010 election cycle, and in a general election, Johnson’s reassurances will probably not prove to be too terribly…well…reassuring. UT-02: Pre-Primary poll shows Matheson ahead (but not by a ton) It is looking increasingly likely that longtime Democratic incumbent Jim Matheson will survive his Tuesday primary challenge against Democratic activist Claudia Wright. It is also looking increasingly likely that his performance in that primary will be a tad underwhelming . The Dan Jones poll has Matheson leading Wright by a 52-33 margin. Matheson was unable to avoid the primary by getting under 60% in the Democratic state convention several weeks ago. VA-05: Hurt tries to marginalize conservative Indie candidate Despite his mellow protestations to the contrary, it is becoming increasingly obvious that Republican nominee Rob Hurt is quite concerned about conservative Independent candidate Jeff Clark. The latest sign was a total reversal on an earlier pledge to include Clark in debates. His excuse rationale? That Clark is not a serious candidate. THE GUBERNATORIAL RACES AL-Gov: Runoff field now set as recount failed to change outcome Tim James’ excellent adventure has come to an end. Trailing by 167 votes after the June 1st primary, James dropped six figures on a statewide recount, which only padded the lead for second-place finisher Robert Bentley. This means that the state legislator is officially the opponent for Bradley Byrne in the July 13th runoff election to determine the opponent for Democratic state Ag Commissioner Ron Sparks. MN-Gov: SUSA has guv race close–third party a potential player? SurveyUSA heads into the state of Minnesota to close out the week, and they find a true tossup in the battle to replace outgoing Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty. The poll shows that Democrat Mark Dayton leads Republican Tom Emmer in a possible matchup (38-35), with 12% for Independence Party candidate Tom Horner. Emmer leads the other two potential Democratic nominees narrowly: he edged Margaret Anderson Kelliher by two points (35-33-12), and Matt Etenza by four points (37-33-12). SUSA also polled the forthcoming Democratic primary, and finds it to be fairly tight. Dayton, the former US Senator and best known candidate in the field, leads with 39% of the vote. Both Anderson Kelliher (26%) and Etenza (22%) follow not far behind. The primary will be one of the later ones in the cycle, scheduled to be held on August 10th. SC-Gov: Eyes on 2012 as Romney doubles down on Haley A couple of weeks ago, Sarah Palin endorsed the “less conservative” option in Iowa, Terry Branstad, with a very clear eye on 2012. It is hard not to view this story through the same lens: Mitt Romney has opened his checkbook and maxed out to GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Nikki Haley in advance of this week’s runoff election for the Republican nomination. Indeed, taking advantage of a loophole in the state’s campaign financing laws, he used all six of the PACs under his aegis to dump a total of $42,000 into Haley’s coffers. THE RAS-A-POLL-OOZA Ras closed the week off with a light work schedule, at least on the horse race front. They headed to the Empire State, where they have appointed freshman Senator Kirsten Gillibrand lead waning, and veteran Senator Chuck Schumer in only the mid-50s. What party do those two belong to, again?!? AR-Gov: Gov. Mike Beebe (D) 57%, Jim Keet (R) 33% NY-Sen (A): Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) 54%, Gary Berntsen (R) 35% NY-Sen (A): Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) 54%, Jay Townsend (R) 33% NY-Sen (B): Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) 49%, Joe DioGuardi (R) 38% NY-Sen (B): Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) 50%, Bruce Blakeman (R) 38% NY-Sen (B): Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) 49%, David Malpass (R) 34% TX-Gov: Gov. Rick Perry (R) 48%, Bill White (D) 40%
Polling and political wrap, 6/19/10
From casual coffeehouse conversations to contentious congressional hearings and vengeful presidential addresses, the reputation of London-based oil giant BP is taking a royal beating. Since the oil started hitting the water in the Gulf of Mexico, BP has morphed into public enemy number one. It’s no surprise that distrust of the company responsible for what President Barack Obama has called “the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced” is on an exponential growth spurt. Nor is it shocking that policymakers at all levels are calling for financial blood to atone for the oil smear that’s fouled coastlines, livelihoods and tempers alike. Yet taken too far, that national outcry is likely to hurt Alaska and further strain its unusual love-hate relationship with its well-to-do foreign bedfellow. Like it or not, Alaskans need the nation’s archenemy. BP’s success is our success. Its failures cause us pain. The state lost revenue when the trans-Alaska oil pipeline shut down in 2006 following a large spill for which BP was responsible. Still, BP is a valuable resource in its own right, one that Alaskans have come to rely on for a steady flow of money to fund roads, schools, cops and more. Oil and gas account for nearly 90 percent of the state’s revenue. In 2008, state and federal governments extracted nearly $4 billion from BP’s Alaska operations in taxes and royalty payments, $2.3 billion of which went to Alaska by way of the state’s production tax known as ACES (Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share), according to BP spokesperson Steve Rinehart. Perhaps that’s why Alaska’s policymakers and industry regulators are loath to answer directly whether BP is trustworthy. The seated politicans we spoke with answered without a simple “yes” or “no.” Instead, they tended to point to regulatory frameworks and other checks and balances that are designed to catch problems and keep all operators — not just BP — on track. “We expect every operator to act responsibly and in accordance with the law,” Gov. Sean Parnell said Thursday afer a bill signing event in Palmer. “If they are not following the law then they should be punished in accordance with the law.” Because of lessons learned during the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Alaska’s spill response and prevention effort is “unsurpassed in this country,” according to Parnell. Still, he said the state is re-evaluating whether the current regulatory framework, in light of the Gulf spill, is sufficient to safeguard Alaska’s people, environment and jobs. BP sauntered into the state decades ago as a stately foreigner — a curiously distinct presence with a calculating eye on our rich petroleum resources and a knack for wooing the citizenry. To BP, Alaska’s North Slope was the Iran of the Americas, full of promise and wealth. Having left Iran after that country moved to nationalize its oil fields, for BP, entering Alaska was about survival, and the company’s appearance here was a breath of fresh air to a newly minted state that felt the federal government wasn’t doing enough to invest in the Last Frontier. Decades later, BP contributes to the injection of cash Alaskans rely on to run the state, and although it leaves industry regulators and some citizens nervous about a corporate culture that has generated a laundry list of environmental lapses, it is a company with which Alaska intends to keep doing business. BP and the state appear locked in a relationship born of necessity, and one in which troublesome traits can and will be overlooked. “BP is generally trusted still in Alaska, though that trust is very, very grudging,” observed Stephen Haycox, a history professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage who has studied the industry for years. BP’s reputation in Alaska started to tarnish long before the spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Haycox said. The 2006 spill on the North Slope “really damaged” the company’s credibility. Yet Alaskans, he pointed out, are between a rock and a hard place — “dependent on oil drilling and pumping and all the mess that inevitably entails, and wanting the Alaska environment and Alaska workers respected and protected.” For Alaska’s policymakers, it’s a sticky situation. They must appear forceful in defending Alaska’s interests, but must also be careful to avoid alienating a source of state wealth. “My target is not to worry about their image, but to ensure the work they are doing is the safest possible,” said U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, in a broad sentiment he expressed Wednesday about all oil and gas operators in Alaska. “Disappointed” over BP’s 2006 North Slope oil spill, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has since increased her scrutiny of the company’s operations, said Robert Dillon, communications director for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, on which Murkowski sits. “BP has taken steps to clean up its act in Alaska and Sen. Murkowski will remain vigilant in ensuring they keep that promise to protect Alaska,” he said. Read more at AlaskaDispatch.com. More on Sarah Palin
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AlaskaDispatch.com: Can Alaska survive without BP?
The Senate Democratic leadership said this week that there aren’t 60 votes to pass a climate & energy bill this year. “I don’t see 60 votes for it,” said California’s Dianne Feinstein. Last time I checked the Constitution, they only need 51 to pass something. So, you strong-willed and forward-looking Senate Democrats … Make the opponents, almost all of them Republicans, filibuster. Make them defend big oil day after day, night after night until they can’t speak any more ’cause their voices are raspy with exhaustion. Make them apologize to BP and the dirty energy industry, like the next House Energy Committee Chairman, Joe Barton from Texas, did this week when BP’s CEO testified before Congress. Make them stand up and tell their story that the American people aren’t buying anymore . But more than anything, make the Democrats in the Senate fight for something that will move this country forward economically and in regard to our national security . More on Climate Bill
Nearly two weeks into the general election, here are seven things we know now about the races for California governor and senator. Both races are fully engaged and trends are emerging. * Billionaire Meg Whitman, running against Jerry Brown to try to succeed Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, running to try to replace Senator Barbara Boxer are running mates. Whether, to coin a phrase, they like it or not. As the nominees for governor and U.S. senator, they head the Republican ticket. And they have a lot in common. Billionaire Meg Whitman’s TV ad recasting her corporate conservative agenda as one of concern for the unemployed gets mixed reviews from media professionals. Both are corporate conservatives, and backers of offshore oil drilling (though she falsely claimed recently to have always opposed offshore drilling, Whitman only changed her position a few months ago). Both are super-rich political novices with no record in public affairs prior to taking on leadership roles in the 2008 Republican presidential campaign. Whitman was national co-chair of the McCain/Palin campaign, while Fiorina served McCain and Palin as national chair of the Republican Victory Fund. Both are controversial former CEOs of big Silicon Valley companies, leaving as the stock prices of eBay and Hewlett Packard shot downward. Both are staunch opponents of President Barack Obama, who carried California in 2008 with 61% of the vote and continues to be quite popular here. Not only did both play major roles in the Republican presidential campaign in 2008, Whitman and 2012 Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney both acknowledge that Romney came up with the idea for Whitman to run for governor and then convinced her to do it. Not that Whitman is thrilled by having Fiorina as her ticket mate, despite what she said at the Republicans’ morning-after-the-primary unity rally. The two don’t especially like one another. And Whitman, as I reported months ago, preferred ex-Congressman Tom Campbell, which is why her camp helped persuade him to quit the governor’s race and take a third stab at the Senate. As former Governor Gray Davis — who was defeated by Schwarzenegger but has since become a friend — mentioned to me this week, “Whitman and Fiorina reinforce each other in negative ways.” The presence of two very rich corporate insiders with no experience with government other than lobbying for special favors running for two of the biggest political offices in America veers the Republican ticket way off the Scott Brown template for winning in a mostly blue state. * Fiorina is going to be an energetic and entertaining candidate, but will have a very tough time beating Senator Barbara Boxer. Like Whitman, her politics are too conservative and corporate for California. Unlike Whitman, she doesn’t have the vast amounts of money needed to try to obscure that reality. And she’s a little more conservative than Whitman. Last weekend, Boxer joined First Lady Michelle Obama at the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base, leading Fiorina’s campaign to charge that the Obama White House is still working to shore up the veteran Democratic senator. Guilty as charged, no doubt. Though Obama and her daughters proceeded to take a California vacation right after that. Fiorina is trying to make Boxer’s support for Obama’s economic recovery program a negative in the campaign. Boxer’s campaign pointed out, with a certain amount of glee, that Fiorina did two events this week bashing Boxer for the economic stimulus at firms that received recovery act funding. Which the Fiorina campaign says was by design, that the funds didn’t help the firms in their business. Which doesn’t exactly stand as a testament to those firms’ ability to do conduct their business. The fundamental problem for Fiorina on the issue, aside from Obama’s popularity, is that people are coming to like the idea of the economic stimulus. In fact a brand new Gallup/USA Today poll shows that more economic stimulus spending is actually very popular. http://www.gallup.com/poll/140786/Americans-Back-Stimulus-Spending-Create-Jobs.aspx Neither campaign is likely to be on the air soon. Fiorina is very wealthy, but simply doesn’t have the resources to advertise anywhere near as much as Whitman. If Boxer is outspent, it won’t be by much. * Just beneath the surface, there is a disturbing pattern of behavior around Meg Whitman. On the heels of the New York Times revelation early in the week that Whitman, a few months before she left eBay, had to settle a claim for reportedly shoving a smaller female employee who was attempting to prepare her for a wire service interview on the not terribly consequential topic of online avatars came another report in Gawker on another altercation. This one involves Whitman’s son, Griffith Rutherford Harsh V, who was arrested in Palo Alto four years ago after he shoved a girl who fell down and broke her ankle. Whitman’s son was charged with felony battery, and Whitman herself bailed him out the next morning with a $25,000 cashier’s check. Does California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman’s violent temper and bullying behavior run in the family? The billionaire ex-eBay CEO’s son was charged with felony battery for breaking a woman’s ankle after her friend said “Fuck you” and “Fuck your fraternity.” A 22-year-old woman named Valerie Sanchez was riding a bus to Palo Alto’s Blue Chalk Cafe on the night of May 26, 2006 when she crossed paths with Griffith Rutherford Harsh V, Meg’s eldest son and a notoriously delinquent sophomore at Princeton at the time. According to a police report filed later that night, Sanchez and her friends had mocked his fraternity and said “fuck you” and “fuck your fraternity” to him before Sanchez swiped Griff’s baseball cap off his head. The altercation escalated when both parties arrived at Blue Chalk Cafe. According to Valerie’s statement to the police, they were inside the bar when Griff “pushed” her “with two open hands on her chest and shoulder area.” She fell down and felt her right ankle “snap.” A nearby security guard witnessed the event and corroborated Valerie’s version of the events. The arrest report is there with the larger story. The “V” in Griffith Harsh V, incidentally, does not stand for Victory or Visitor. It stand for “the fifth.” Gawker reports that Whitman’s son graduated a year late from her alma mater Princeton after a year-long disciplinary probation, and that he was banned from living on campus. Which was ironic, in that Whitman gave $30 million to Princeton to create the Whitman College residential complex on campus. Charges against Whitman’s son were dismissed after several court dates, and the victim was not available for comment. According to the New York Times, the incident involving Whitman herself was a year later. Whitman and eBay pursued a mediated settlement with the employee, with the company paying a reported $200,000 to settle any claims or charges. Whitman left ebay a few months later. This was not the first time that Whitman exited a CEO post not long after a settlement was paid to deal with claims against her. During her other CEO stint, this at FTD, the national floral delivery company, a senior employee charged Whitman with age discrimination. A settlement was reached not long before Whitman exited the firm. As you will recall, as a board member of Goldman Sachs, Whitman indulged in inside trades available only to a few. In the Goldman Sachs case, as well, she paid a settlement and exited the firm. * New industries from green technology will be a major issue. On the day on which President Barack Obama laid out his response to BP’s Gulf oil disaster, the talk in California gubernatorial politics turned largely to greenery. Jerry Brown was in Mountain View, unveiling a big green jobs package before the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. Brown, speaking to business executives in the high tech mecca of Silicon Valley, spoke some about reforming Sacramento. He reminded that he supports the Proposition 14 open primary initiative, joked about the Legislature ignoring the state budget for months after the governor introduces it in January to focus on “cigarette butts on the beach,” and joked again that he has a “secret plan” to solve the state’s chronic budget crisis a la Nixon’s secret plan to end the Vietnam War. (Which naturally prompted the humorless Whitman campaign, which has an utterly nonsensical plan, to criticize him for the joke.) But Brown spoke mainly about his plan to further stimulate the clean tech economy in California, to create 500,000 green jobs and create 20,000 megawatts of power. Key to that is aggressively implementing the state’s renewable portfolio standard requiring utilities to dramatically increase the amount of electricity generated by renewable energy, speeding up clearances for new transmission capacity for renewable power, install solar power systems on public and commercial buildings, focus on new energy storage, provide incentives for consumers to solarize and make their homes more energy efficient, and implement the AB 32 climate change program, which plays a forcing function for renewable technology development and diffusion. Whitman opposes the climate change program. First she called for a one-year moratorium. More recently, she’s made statements that the program should be ended. Brown reminded the audience that, during his first governorship, California led the world in renewable power and provided the template for the efficient use of energy. “I believe California can be the leader again,” Brown said. Whitman’s new Spanish language advertising tries to recast her positioning after the harsh rhetoric of her Republican primary campaign. * Whitman’s record-shattering spending and attempts to redefine reality through advertising are continuing. Whitman spent nearly three times as much from her personal funds in simply winning the Republican primary as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has for every campaign of his political career, which includes two landslide elections as governor and a myriad of initiative campaigns. Then this week she added another $20 million from her personal fortune to her campaign coffers. That’s because her campaign, which spent a record-shattering $90 million in the Republican primary, was out of money. She also began an effort to dramatically reverse course from her primary campaign in an attempt to appeal to Latino voters. Whitman predictably launched a Spanish language TV ad depicting her as a friend to Latinos and opponent of the Arizona immigration law. And just as predictably, the California Democratic Party provided translations of Whitman’s harsh anti-illegal immigrant advertising from the Republican primary, featuring her campaign chairman, former Governor Pete Wilson, to all Spanish language media. During the primary, Whitman, who somehow managed not to hire Latino executives at California-based eBay, had hoped to appeal to Latino voters by touting her support for comprehensive immigration reform. But she was scared out of that position by rival Republican Steve Poizner. In the end, she resorted to harsh anti-illegal immigrant rhetoric, with her campaign chairman Pete Wilson — notorious in the Latino community for his passage of 1994’s draconian Proposition 187, thrown out by the courts — assuring in various commercials and mailings that Whitman is “tough as nails” on immigration. Whitman is also continuing to run an English language TV ad that seeks to recast her hard-edged corporate conservative agenda of big tax cuts for the wealthy and regulatory rollbacks as evidence of her deep concern for the unemployed. Professionals in both parties question whether or not Whitman comes off as sincere in the effort. * Jerry Brown needs to stay focused. A curious episode surrounding Brown’s purported likening of Whitman to Nazis, which emerged on a seldom updated blog blasted out by the Whitman campaign to the Drudge Report and the press, died down about as quickly as it flared up. But it provided a cautionary tale for Brown, who will win this race if he does not allow distractions. The story would have been even better if Brown had actually compared Whitman to a Nazi. In the actual encounter, rather curiously written by a radio reporter who ran into Brown jogging in the Oakland hills sometime before the primary on a day he won’t say, Brown is referring to a propaganda technique called “the Big Lie” developed by Joseph Goebbels. Not that this is made clear on the blog, naturally. And not that anyone saw the blog, which had been updated less than once a month prior to its use on this occasion, which happened to be well after the encounter and the night after the primary election, with the general election campaign now engaged. Until Meg Whitman’s campaign drew the press’s attention to it and placed it on the Drudge Report. All the better to attempt to distract from a debate Whitman was losing over her refusal to participate in town hall debates with Brown. Lesson for Brown: Don’t talk in a candid, unguarded manner with a reporter whose name you don’t know and who is so irritated by that fact that he mentions it twice in his blog posting, even if he isn’t taking notes or recording the conversation. * Independent expenditure committees are real. As I wrote last week, the California Working Families independent expenditure (IE) committee on Monday launched a TV ad attacking Whitman for her lifelong record of hardly ever bothering to vote. Then Working Californians, an independent expenditure committee of several years standing working in alliance with the new California Working Families IE, launched a statewide radio advertising campaign. Working Californians, a labor-backed group, played a significant role in helping elect California state John Chiang in 2006 when he ran against a better-financed Republican opponent. This is a 60-second positive radio ad on Brown’s policies and record which will run in markets around the state for the next four weeks. How effective will all this advertising be? Media professionals have a mixed view of the first TV ad, with some liking it and some decidedly not liking it. Of course, you have to factor professional competitiveness into these assessments as well. I’m on the lookout for research on how the advertising is playing with voters who see it on their TV sets. You can check things during the day on my site, New West Notes … www.newwestnotes.com. More on John McCain
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William Bradley: What We Know Now About The Big California Races
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — After months of requests from reporters, a California university on Friday agreed to allow members of the media to attend a fundraiser next week featuring Sarah Palin. Officials with California State University, Stanislaus issued an e-mail advisory announcing that the June 25 gala at its Turlock campus would be open to the press. The Associated Press has been requesting access to the event since mid-April. Palin’s appearance has generated widespread coverage and criticism since it was announced in March. University officials have refused to divulge the terms of the former Alaska governor’s contract or her speaking fee for the event, where the least expensive tickets cost $500. CSU Stanislaus says its foundation handled the negotiations and is legally exempt from public records requirements. Palin has commanded fees as high as $100,000. A spokesman for one of CSU’s most vocal critics in the matter, state Sen. Leland Yee, said Friday that the decision to allow media access should have been a “no-brainer.” “It’s somewhat mind-boggling this took so long,” said the spokesman, Adam Keigwin. Keigwin said Yee, a San Francisco Democrat, would encourage the university to extend the same invitation to its students. CSU Stanislaus officials said it was never their intention to keep reporters out of the June 25 event. “We always knew there would be great demand for Gov. Palin because she is such a compelling public figure,” said university spokeswoman Eve Hightower. Last month, CSU Stanislaus released dozens of documents in response to California Public Records Act requests from the AP and the open-government group Californians Aware. The paperwork included e-mails documenting the university’s efforts to limit public fallout over Palin’s visit. It did not include information about her contract. The state attorney general’s office is currently conducting an investigation into the CSU Stanislaus Foundation’s finances as well as allegations by several students that university officials threw away Palin-related documents in a campus trash bin in April. One of the documents recovered at the time appeared to be a portion of Palin’s contract, detailing perks such as first-class airfare for two, deluxe hotel accommodations and bottles of water complete with bendable straws. More on Sarah Palin
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Sarah Palin Stanislaus Speech: California University Will Allow Media at Palin event
Founded in 1946 by leading liberals such as J. K. Galbraith, Walter Reuther, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Eleanor Roosevelt, the Americans for Democratic Action (”ADA”) is America’s oldest liberal organization. Each year, the ADA performs the useful service of rating the “liberal” quotient of each member of Congress’s voting record based on “key” votes. Such surveys can be questioned as a measure of a politician’s commitment or effectiveness but are a reasonable indicator of his or her ideological stance on most issues which actually come before Congress. For example, for 2009, Barney Frank got a 100 percent score for his House votes while Eric Cantor received a zero score, about what one would expect. It will also surprise no one to learn that Representative John Boozman (R-AR), this year’s Arkansas Republican Senate nominee, also received a zero grade from the ADA for his 2009 House votes. But, in light of recent events, it is disconcerting to learn that Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) got a 95 percent score for her 2009 Senate voting record, one short of perfect. She voted for the stimulus bill, and with the Administration on every key health care vote and on every other vote viewed as important by the ADA, except for the Durbin mortgage “cramdown” amendment, which deprived her of 100 percent. However, given the facts that: (a) she represents a southern state carried by John McCain with 60 percent of the vote in 2008; and (b) she is up for reelection in 2010, one would have thought that her voting record would have been considered laudable by liberals across the country, and that they would have rallied to support her reelection campaign against a formidable challenge, in what is shaping up to be a very tough year for Democrats nationwide. It will be an especially difficult year in Arkansas, where two incumbent Democratic House members, Marion Berry and Vic Snyder, are retiring in the face of adverse polls. But if you thought that, you would be very wrong. In fact, Senator Lincoln was on the receiving end of a serious 2010 primary challenge from the left by Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter, who was backed by such key progressive players as the Service Employees International Union (”SEIU”), and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (”AFSCME”), and such luminaries of the left blogosphere as Markos Moulitsas (”Daily Kos”) and Jane Hamsher (”Firedog Lake”) as well as left libertarian columnist Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com. Halter’s effort fell short, 52-48 percent. But, speaking for that new coalition of labor activists and the netroots, known as “Accountability Now,” which had led the pro-Halter effort, Greenwald pronounced Lincoln’s Senate record to be “awful” and denounced her as a corrupt “corporatist.” In a June 10 column, he explained that his “purpose” had been to “remove her from the Senate, or failing that at least to impose a meaningful cost on her past behavior,” such as her failure to support a health care “public option” and union backed card check legislation. But why did Lincoln’s “behavior” warrant a challenge this year when neither she nor any other similarly situated southern Democrat would have been subject to one in the past? What may be happening is a break with a tacit understanding which has governed Democratic Party politics for the past forty years. This new departure is worthy of more discussion than it has received. That understanding, to be explained below, has its roots in the Democratic Party’s Great Trauma of the 1960’s. In 1964, Lyndon Johnson won 44 states (all except AL, LA, GA, MS, SC and AZ) and 61% of the popular vote. It was the high water mark of 20th Century liberalism. In 1965, the Democrats held 68 Senate seats and 295 House seats and proceeded to enact a plethora of laws, including the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid, federal aid to higher education, and immigration reform, which liberals regard as among the greatest modern achievements of the United States government. However, by 1966, things had begun to go sour for the Great Society, with Republicans gaining 47 House seats and 3 Senate seats in the election that fall. Despite the Democrats’ continuing majorities of 247-187 and 64-36 in the House and Senate, the Republican/Dixiecrat coalition was back in control by 1967 and the Johnson’s Administration’s domestic initiatives were essentially over. By 1968, a genuine political transition was underway. The presidential election of that year is usually remembered for its background of an escalating war in Vietnam, assassinations, cultural conflict on generational lines, and racial violence, as well as for the closeness of its outcome. But one striking aspect of it in retrospect is the clear shift in voter allegiances since 1964 which it reflected. The winner, Richard Nixon, received 43.4% of the vote, while the runner-up, Hubert Humphrey pulled 42.7%, which made the election seem very close at the time. However, George Wallace, running on an overtly racist third party ticket, won a staggering 13.5% of the vote, carrying five deep southern states, including Arkansas. Right wing candidates thus won 57% of the total vote. By 1972, the shift was complete. President Nixon managed to incorporate Wallace’s 1968 vote and add more besides, winning 60.7 percent of the total vote against George McGovern. Thus, in eight years, fully one-third of President Johnson’s 1964 majority had been sheared away, losses concentrated among socially conservative white voters in the upper south and in suburbs all over the country. This huge alteration in voting patterns created the context of modern American politics, making the once endangered Republican party the default preference in US presidential elections. Between 1968 and 2004, the Republicans won 7 out of 10 presidential elections, with their majorities always based on the same coalition which Nixon first assembled. The Democrats continued to do better in Congressional elections, in part owing to the ability of what Alan Ehrenhalt called Democratic “political entrepreneurs,” i.e. politicians skilled at survival in inhospitable electoral environments, such as Tom Daschle and Fritz Hollings. But here too the trend lines were clear, with the Republicans controlling the Senate from 1980 to 1986, 1994 to 2001, and from 2002 to 2006, and the House from 1994 to 2006. However, despite or perhaps because of these losses, Democrats came to understand, that there was a formula for occasional victories at the presidential level, which was essentially the same as the formula for Democrats winning southern Senate races. To win, the Democrats had to nominate a moderate centrist candidate, liberal enough to hold their liberal/labor/African American base (which exhibited great forbearance and political maturity), but not so left wing that he could plausibly be labeled a Liberal, i.e. someone associated with the least popular legacies of the sixties. Such centrist candidates would be able to capture enough moderate and independent votes to win elections. Aided by other factors, this is the formula which worked for Jimmy Carter (1976 version), and Bill Clinton. It would have worked for Al Gore in 2000 as well, but for the Palm Beach County ballot, Ralph Nader’s third party candidacy, and a partisan Supreme Court. But when the Democrats ran more forthright liberals from north of the Mason-Dixon Line, e.g. McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis and Kerry, they always went down to defeat. Of course, there was another election, in 2008, which appeared to shatter this political mold. Barack Obama, an unabashed liberal from Chicago by way of Hawaii and New York, and an African American besides, won an astonishing 52.7% of the vote, carrying such improbable states as Indiana and Virginia. It is this victory, in which young and minority voters played a newly prominent role, which has evidently created such high expectations in the world of left liberalism that a Blanche Lincoln has somehow become unacceptable. But did the election of 2008 actually mark a shift comparable to 1968? The 2009 Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial election results and the 2010 Massachusetts Senate election shocker would indicate that the answer is “no.” It is probable that the 2008 result had more to do with transient factors such as McCain’s age, Sarah Palin’s lack of qualifications, the financial crisis, and weariness with the Bush administration’s wars and perceived incompetence, than with any kind of permanent ideological shift, at least among the type of independent voters who swung for Obama, and then voted for Republicans Robert McDonnell, Chris Christie, and Scott Brown in 2009 and 2010. If that is the case, then the kind of primary challenge aimed at Lincoln or the third party candidacy now allegedly being contemplated to challenge Representative Larry Kissell (D-NC), are a formula for certain Democratic defeat in general elections. Unless people are motivated by a kind of nihilistic desire to punish, such primary or third party campaigns have to be based on a reasonable belief that southern states and the United States will, in normal electoral circumstances, elect people to the left of Blanche Lincoln or for the matter, Barack Obama, also now a frequent target of “progressive” criticism. As was shown in his fierce and effective campaigning for Senator Lincoln, no less an expert on southern (and American) politics than Bill Clinton obviously considers such a belief to be profoundly mistaken. I agree with Clinton, but the Democratic Party’s future may depend in part on what netroot and other liberal activists believe regarding this suddenly important question. Either the Blanche Lincolns and Larry Kissells of the world will face tough primary and/or third party challenges or they will not. To paraphrase another Lincoln, Abraham, in his First Inaugural, in the hands of those activists now rests the momentous question of party civil war. More on Blanche Lincoln
Peter Connolly: The Democrats Strange New Civil War
Add Meg Whitman to the list of Republican nominees who are trying to pivot away from the divisiveness or extremism that helped them get nominated. As reported by Salon’s Alex Pareene : According to this ad that will run in California during today’s World Cup Mexico-France game, gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman respects the Latino community. The ad is in Spanish, so white Republicans will never know that Whitman suddenly loves those scary immigrants. The ad says Whitman’s “the Republican who opposed the Arizona law and opposed Proposition 187.” Of course, during the primary Whitman ran ads touting her opposition to amnesty and drivers licenses for illegal immigrants, and suggested that she might even send the National Guard to the border. She didn’t take it to the racist extremes of Arizona Republicans, but she wasn’t above marginalizing immigrants in order to secure her own Republican base. Now, she’s turning around and trying to make nice. She also flat out lied when she denied using the border fence in an ad, even though she actually did . Fences pretty well define Republicanism. Demonize a minority to unify the paranoid. Divide and conquer. The Whitman pivot is part of a trend. Extremist Republican Senate nominees Sharron Angle and Rand Paul are attempting the same tactic. Despite entire careers built on the far right fringe, they are now attempting to recast themselves as reasonable moderates. Of course, Faux News has been there to help. As Sam Stein explained, on June 14: On Monday morning, Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharon Angle told “Fox and Friends” that, contrary to popular belief, she does not in fact want Social Security to be privatized. She now says she wants to “personalize” Social Security, rather than privatize it. Whatever that means. Take a cue from Bush and come up with cute pet names? Media Matters took Faux to task, quoting from Angle’s campaign website (emphasis MM): Free market alternatives, which offer retirement choices to employees and employers, must be developed and offered to those still in their wage earning years, as the Social Security system is transitioned out. Young workers must be encouraged to investigate personal retirement account options. But as Media Matters noted, this is how Faux’s Steve Doocy posed the question to Angle (emphases mine): Before you go, Sharron, just, you know, perhaps it’s misinformation or mischaracterization , but some have said that you are out to get rid of Social Security. That’s not true, right? Which is where Angle pivoted to her “personalize” nonsense. Of course, on previous Faux broadcasts, Faux’s own people had been clear about Angle’s views: On the June 12 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Saturday, host Alisyn Camerota asked Sarah Palin: “You supported Sharron Angle. I don’t have to tell you that she has some controversial positions. She wants to do away with the federal income tax and she wants to phase out Social Security. Do you support those positions?” Stein: Regardless of the set-up, the response remains noteworthy. Angle, as pointed out by Jon Ralston, the dean of the Nevada political press corps, has been fairly unapologetic in the past about her desire to see Social Security privatized. At one point, she said the program itself is “hard to justify.” That she’s now tempering that position illustrates the clear sense among the national Republican establishment that she needs to moderate her platform if she stands a chance of beating Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the fall. And moderate she will. For the next several months, anyway. And she won’t be alone. Stein: Prior to her was Rand Paul, the Tea Party candidate from Kentucky, who insisted during an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity last week that he certainly would have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, despite refusing to answer the question directly during previous interviews. Paul, similarly, has toned down earlier remarks saying that the government was being too rough on BP in the wake of the oil spill in the Gulf, telling a local Kentucky radio station that the federal regulations in place “apparently wasn’t enough.” As Angle and Paul, and their enablers at Faux, attempt to fool voters into electing candidates whose positions the voters clearly don’t like, it will be incumbent upon us to keep a close watch and to keep the discussions honest. Because whatever Angle and Paul now do isn’t what matters most. What matters most is what they will do if they get to Washington. And you can be certain that if they do get to Washington, they won’t be the nice, sensible people they are now trying to pretend to be. They will be themselves. As for Whitman, it’s hard to say what she will stand for. Or stand on. Or whom she will stand on. It doesn’t seem to matter, just so she’s the one standing on top.
Here’s why John Cornyn doesn’t want Sharron Angle getting anywhere near the real (aka, not Faux ) media. It’s Must. See. TV. Seriously. If Sharron Angle’s campaign staff doesn’t get a restraining order on the media, if they don’t keep her from ever talking to a reporter again, there’s no way she wins this election. p.s.: The issue here is Angle’s plan to “phase out Social Security and Medicare” under which future beneficiaries of Social Security and Medicare would be “transitioned out” of the system. I know it’s shocking, but Sharron Angle really does want to eliminate Social Security and Medicare. (And it’s all Harry Reid’s fault.) h/t: Ben Smith
NV-Sen: Angle should go back to Palin-mode
Amid one of the all-time great days of self-parody courtesy of Tony Hayward and Rep. Joe Barton, it’s time to end the evening by taking a gander at the political headlines of the day. Set aside those great mock Joe Barton tweets (my personal fave: sorry for getting our ocean in your oil!), and sidle up to the bar for the Thursday edition of the Wrap… THE U.S. SENATE AK-Sen: Palin-Tea Party nexus gunning for incumbent GOPer? Veddy, veddy interesting: it looks like the Tea Party Express is going to follow the lead of Sarah Palin. The Express is heading north to Alaska to endorse the opponent of freshman Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski. Joe Miller had been endorsed by Palin a couple of weeks ago, who wanted to make it very clear that this was not anything personal against Murkowski, but she just likes competitive primaries, gosh darn it. CT-Sen: Is Paulite GOP contender in deep Schiff over petitions? One of my favorite stories of the 2010 cycle revolved around the posse of Paulites who went absolutely ballistic on a pollster earlier in the cycle who tested Republicans Linda McMahon and Rob Simmons in Connecticut, but not their Nutmegger hero, Peter Schiff. Schiff, they sniffed in the comments section, was the only Republican capable of winning election. Apparently, even getting on the ballot (subscription only) is going to be a challenge. Schiff is apparently struggling to obtain the requisite number of signatures to earn a spot in the GOP primary. SC-Sen: Greene might not be the only Democrat in the field In a ten-day period of interesting twists and turns in the Palmetto State, here comes another one: it is possible that Alvin Greene might not be the only Democrat facing Senator Jim DeMint in November. Enter Linda Kentner , last seen refusing a second bid for the House seat she nearly won in an upset in 2008. Kentner is apparently being drafted to run for the Senate, in the wake of non-candidate Greene’s upset win over Victor Rawl in the Democratic primary last week. Kentner has not confirmed interest in the bid, but if she gets in, the wealthy businesswoman will be able to self-finance. Greene, for what it is worth, was affirmed as the Democratic nominee earlier today, as the state party refused to overturn the results of the primary. THE U.S. HOUSE NC-02: Republican pollster sees toss-up after the dust-up Democratic Rep. Bob Etheridge got a lot of press this week, and virtually all of it was bad, after a shoving match with some video-wielding interlopers made national news. The conservative-leaning Civitas Institute (using the nonpartisan crew at SurveyUSA to do the work) think that Etheridge is paying a price for his brusqueness. They have Etheridge in a dead heat with his little-known GOP challenger, Renee Ellmers. Ellmers holds a one-point edge (39-38), with a Libertarian candidate at 12%. For some analysis, check out home-stater Tom Jensen of PPP, who doesn’t question the poll’s legitimacy, but does question its predictive value. NC-08: Johnson looks to emerge from primary, but badly bloodied Aside from the unthinkable (a Tim D’Annunzio upset), the new polling numbers from PPP are probably the best news that Democratic incumbent Larry Kissell could hope for. Harold Johnson still leads D’Annunzio going into the final few days of the runoff, but only by ten points (49-39). What’s more, it looks like the primary has taken a pound of flesh from Johnson, as D’Annunzio supporters take a very dim view of Johnson. This suggests that the frontrunner might have some trouble getting the party to coalesce around him after Tuesday. WV-03: Local pollster claims shocking close race for longtime Dem Is longtime Democratic incumbent Nick Rahall (first elected way back in 1976) in trouble? A new poll by local pollster Mark Blankenship (WV Kossacks, chime in–any relation to Don Blankenship?) shows Rahall up on GOP nominee Spike Maynard by only a 42-36 margin. By the way, if you were hankering for one of the most painfully right-wing poll analyses in the history of the printed word (y’know, outside of Rasmussen Reports)– wait no more . THE GUBERNATORIAL RACES AL-Gov: Looking increasingly like Byrne and Bentley in runoff The recount in Alabama is nearly completed (55 of 67 counties are reporting tallies), and it is looking exceedingly likely that Tim James is not going to find the votes to overcome the narrow lead posted by state legislator Robert Bentley in the first round of voting. What was once a lead of 167 votes is now up to a lead of 177 votes, meaning that James is going to have to catch the good fortune of a major error taking place in one of the twelve remaining counties in order to make up the gap. ME-Gov: GOPers down East rally around LePage In a state like Maine, known for its embrace of moderate Republicans, this might be a bigger upset than anything that happened on primary night nine days ago. The vanquished candidates for Governor, including a few from (what remains of) the moderate wing of the GOP, lined up today and endorsed far-right nominee Paul LePage at a “unity rally.” LePage takes on Democrat Libby Mitchell and a host of Independents, including Eliot Cutler, who some Maine journos suggested could contend by siphoning off moderate voters from both sides. MD-Gov: Curious GOP internal poll gives O’Malley the lead The logic on this one is more than a little evasive. Brian Murphy, somewhat of a longshot GOP candidate for Governor (former Governor Bob Ehrlich is the frontrunner for the party nod), released an internal poll that was, to say the least, curious. The survey, conducted by GOP pollsters The Polling Company, had Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley leading Ehrlich by just a point (44-43), while it had O’Malley well ahead of Murphy (44-25). So…why release those numbers, again?!?! MI-Gov: Undecided the big leader in IMP polling For the second time this week, numbers emerge from the state of Michigan which underscore how close those August primaries are bound to be in the state. Undecided is still the big leader in both the Republican and Democratic primaries, according to a new poll by Inside Michigan Politics . On the GOP side, Congressman Peter Hoekstra is your leader, but with only 21% of the vote. As most other polls have shown, businessman Rick Snyder is your runner-up, not far off the lead with 15% of the vote. On the Democratic side, Andy Dillon “leads” Virg Bernero, but it is hard to call anything a lead when the frontrunner is cruising around with 14% of the vote (Bernero has 10%). It would be fair to speculate that leaners are not being pushed in IRP polls. OK-Gov: Sooner Poll shows Fallin with leads in primary, general If everything goes according to form, Republican Congresswoman Mary Fallin is well on her way to being elected the next Governor from what has become one of the reddest states in the Union. Fallin is well head in her primary bid , blasting state Senator Randy Brogdon by a 59-10 margin. In the general election, Fallin leads either of the Democrats vying for the office. She leads state Lt. Governor Jari Askins (49-36) and longtime Attorney General Drew Edmondson (50-35). The good news for Dems? If Brogdon manages to defy gravity and win the primary, both Edmondson and Askins hold leads. WI-Gov: Tom Barrett, the job killer creator!! Apparently, the ad folks at the Republican Governor’s Association must work in hermetically sealed containers or something, unable to communicate. The RGA released an ad slamming Milwaukee Mayor (and gubernatorial candidate) Tom Barrett for being a ” job killer “. That’s fine–typical GOP boilerplate crap. Shocking to no one, I am sure. But then…there’s this : an ad slamming Denver Mayor (and gubernatorial candidate) John Hickenlooper for being a job-killer, even pointing out a specific case where Denver lost jobs to…well…Milwaukee. Better still, the Hickenlooper attack ad was an epic fail, as the company itself (Frontier Airlines) blasted the ad, saying that that “taxes were not the compelling factor in our decision to relocate jobs to other cities and we want to set the record straight.” THE RAS-A-POLL-OOZA Same as it ever was. Sheesh, talk about self-parodies…. AR-Sen: John Boozman (R) 61%, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) 32% IA-Sen: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) 54%, Roxanne Conlin (D) 37% TN-Gov: Bill Haslam (R) 50%, Mike McWherter (D) 32% TN-Gov: Ron Ramsey (R) 44%, Mike McWherter (D) 33% TN-Gov: Zach Wamp (R) 44%, Mike McWherter (D) 33%
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Polling and political wrap, 6/17/10
WASHINGTON — The White House is quietly choreographing every aspect of Elena Kagan’s march toward a lifetime term on the Supreme Court. From working to dampen the impact of revelations about her stint in the Clinton White House to going out of their way to trumpet praise from conservative backers, members of President Barack Obama’s team are using every available tool to burnish Kagan’s image. Take the public release of tens of thousands of pages of files from Kagan’s time as an aide to former President Bill Clinton. The Clinton presidential library in Little Rock, working with White House lawyers, has for two weeks in a row made the records available on Friday afternoons, a time when few people are paying attention. That puts stories about the records in Saturday newspapers, when even fewer are reading. The last installment of those documents – about 11,000 e-mails Kagan wrote and about 70,000 more she received while working in Clinton’s White House – is scheduled to be released on Friday, a little more than a week before the Senate Judiciary Committee is to begin Kagan’s confirmation hearings. The White House is pressing hard to define Kagan for Americans before her opponents can. A new poll shows the public’s opinion is still highly shapeable. In the Associated Press-GfK Poll, conducted last week, 63 percent said they haven’t heard enough about Kagan to form a good or bad opinion of her. Still, 43 percent think she should be confirmed and 26 percent say she shouldn’t. At around this point last year, Justice Sonia Sotomayor had stronger public backing – 50 percent said they favored her confirmation. But Sotomayor’s nomination also sparked more controversy and drew more attention on and off Capitol Hill. The period since Kagan’s nomination has been dominated by the Gulf oil spill, midterm political news, and continuing economic troubles that have drowned out some of the debate on her fitness for the court. Obama’s White House has worked to accentuate the non-controversial aspects of Kagan’s background and those that rebut Republican charges that she’s a doctrinaire liberal who would be a rubber stamp for the Democratic president who named her. His aides let virtually no criticism of Kagan go unanswered, often contacting reporters to counter Republican charges minutes after they’ve been leveled. Students of the Supreme Court confirmation process say it’s a fact of life for any president these days – regardless of party or place on the ideological spectrum – that nominees must be meticulously stage-managed and their public images tightly controlled. “The environment is so toxic and so oriented around ‘gotcha’ moments that it would be something approaching malpractice for the White House to do anything else,” said Benjamin Wittes, a Brookings Institution senior fellow who studies Supreme Court confirmations. Before the Clinton documents were made public, aides quietly pointed out excerpts that reflected Kagan’s painstaking – although ultimately unsuccessful – work in the 1990s to bring Republicans and Democrats together for compromise legislation to regulate tobacco. They made no mention of what the documents revealed about the role Kagan played on more contentious issues like the drive to enact stricter gun control measures or to resist GOP efforts to place broad limits on abortion rights. On those matters, White House officials said later, Kagan was just doing her boss’ bidding – not revealing her own views. Obama’s team also highlighted Kagan’s stance as a White House lawyer in favor of protecting religious expression. They downplayed her involvement in the scandals of the Clinton White House and kept private many of her memos and notes regarding the president’s defense in the Paula Jones sexual harassment suit that touched off his impeachment. Only the 19 senators on the Judiciary panel and a small cadre of their senior aides got access to those and other sensitive files – more than 1,000 pages worth so far – dubbed “committee confidential” because the public won’t get to see them. Obama chose the 50-year-old Kagan last month to succeed retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. The former Harvard Law School dean stepped aside from her post as solicitor general to focus on winning confirmation. It’s all but certain that she will be confirmed by a Senate where Democrats have a comfortable majority and Republicans have shown little inclination to mount a filibuster to block her. Kagan has been spending her days making one-on-one visits to the senators who will vote on her confirmation – always with a small entourage of aides in tow, including Associate White House Counsel Susan Davies, Legislative Affairs aide Christopher Kang, and often one or two other minders from the ranks of Obama’s lawyers and Hill strategists. They’re there to take note of what’s said in preparation for Kagan’s marathon week of hearings later this month, as well as to track her every private utterance to a senator, in case anyone might try to mischaracterize a remark later. As endorsements of Kagan roll in, Obama’s team times their public release to ensure a steady drumbeat of support for her, and makes sure to highlight conservative backing for a nominee the GOP portrays as reflexively liberal. That was the case this week when 69 law school deans wrote to the Judiciary panel endorsing Kagan. No prominent conservative signed the letter. But when the White House arranged a conference call for reporters to discuss it, aides recruited Joseph D. Kearney, the conservative dean of Marquette University Law School (who doesn’t as a practice sign group endorsements) to chime in on Kagan’s behalf. They also invited a conservative Harvard Law School alumna to join other former students last month on a call praising Kagan’s work as dean. Asked repeatedly whether she would back Kagan if she had a vote, the woman, Sarah Isgur, demurred, and a White House aide quickly jumped in to inform her she didn’t need to answer the question. Isgur got back to reporters later with her response: Kagan is qualified, she e-mailed, and, “Were I a senator, I would vote to confirm her based on that belief.” More on Elena Kagan
What a day: Joe Barton was browbeaten into apologizing for apologizing, Alvin Greene, a guy who the House Majority Whip insists is perverting the electoral process, considers himself the Person of the Year. Utah is executing someone tonight by firing squad and the condemned’s last meal is a 7UP (paging Dr. Pepper Snapple Group’s media relations department…). And, as if the day wasn’t ridiculous enough, Alabama’s Dale Peterson is back, still giving a rip. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, June 17th, 2010 : BREAKING JUST IN: TIMES SQUARE BOMBER INDICTED - AP: “Times Square bomb suspect Faisal Shahzad (FY’-sul shah-ZAHD’) has been indicted in the May 1 botched car bombing in New York. An indictment filed in New York on Thursday charges Shahzad with 10 terrorism and weapons charges, adding five counts to the original case against him . The 30-year-old Shahzad is charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction among several terrorism and weapons charges.” http://bit.ly/apR3jn JOE BARTON SORRY FOR BP APOLOGY - Looks like someone got a talkin’ to by party leadership . “I apologize for using the term ’shakedown’ with regard to yesterday’s actions at the White House in my opening statement this morning, and I retract my apology to BP,” the statement reads. “As I told my colleagues yesterday and said again this morning, BP should bear the full financial responsibility for the accident on their lease in the Gulf of Mexico.” The statement was sent to reporters by a spokesman for Minority Leader John Boehner. GOP LEADERSHIP THREATENED BARTON WITH HIS CHAIRMANSHIP - House Republican leadership threatened to strip Rep. Joe Barton’s seniority on the Energy and Commerce Committee if the Texas Republican didn’t immediately retract an apology he had issued to BP earlier Thursday, a GOP leadership aide told HuffPost. His post, however, is still not secure . Barton is the highest-ranking Republican on the committee and stands to become its chairman if Republicans regain control of the House following the elections in November. He was called into a meeting with Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and slammed for issuing the apology. “Barton met with Boehner and Cantor this afternoon. He was told, ‘Apologize, immediately. Or you will lose your position, immediately. Now that he has apologized, we’ll see what happens going forward,” said the leadership aide. http://huff.to/b6fm6K The DCCC is already fundraising on the backs of the Barton comment . http://bit.ly/cACtPe WATCH: During today’s hearing Tony Hayward basically recited verbatim the script from BP’s “we’re so sorry” commercial . Jason Linkins and Ben Craw compare the videos: http://huff.to/b5sMC5 A BP engineer, who was fired for expressing safety concerns, spoke to HuffPost’s Lucia Graves : Ken Abbott, a contract engineer for BP’s Atlantis, the second largest deepwater rig in the Gulf of Mexico, was fired in 2009 after expressing safety concerns about the rig. “I got a lot of pressure from the lead engineers and from the managers saying, ‘Don’t do that; don’t push so much; we don’t want to mess with that,’” Abbott told Huffpost in an interview Wednesday. “I feel like the real reason I was fired was because I was trying to raise a safety issue, and you know BP has a long history of getting rid of people who try to raise safety issues. I was one of those victims.” Lucia Graves with the bang-up job. ACKERMAN NOT BACKING OFF WALL STREET DEFENSE - On Tuesday, Gary Ackerman told HuffPost Hill that members of New York’s congressional delegation “represent not only Main Street, but Wall Street as well, and understand very much that Main Street is affected by Wall Street.” Today, he told the New York Observer that he’s standing by his statement . “If our objective is to protect consumers and increase transparency, it is essential that we keep banks here so that we can regulate them,” he said. “Driving banks out of New York does not fix the problem. If they leave, we have no reach, no way to regulate them and no way to protect people on Main Street. This is about ensuring the best protections for consumers while keeping a multi-trillion dollar industry in New York. Not choosing Wall Street over Main Street.” http://bit.ly/dnPmFU BUT HOW MANY NEW YORKERS DOES HE HAVE? - Advocates of the Lincoln derivatives package say they’ve heard from New Yorkers who don’t plan to join Ackerman’s campaign, but don’t have any ready to go on the record. ACKERMAN NOT BACKING OFF WALL STREET DEFENSE - On Tuesday, Gary Ackerman told HuffPost Hill that members of New York’s congressional delegation “represent not only Main Street, but Wall Street as well, and understand very much that Main Street is affected by Wall Street.” Today, he told the New York Observer that he’s standing by his statement . “If our objective is to protect consumers and increase transparency, it is essential that we keep banks here so that we can regulate them,” he said. “Driving banks out of New York does not fix the problem. If they leave, we have no reach, no way to regulate them and no way to protect people on Main Street. This is about ensuring the best protections for consumers while keeping a multi-trillion dollar industry in New York. Not choosing Wall Street over Main Street.” http://bit.ly/dnPmFU BUT HOW MANY NEW YORKERS DOES HE HAVE? - Advocates of the Lincoln derivatives package say they’ve heard from New Yorkers who don’t plan to join Ackerman’s campaign, but don’t have any ready to go on the record. TOM COBURN’S CLAY PIGEON - The Senate’s Dr. No has an amendment to offset the cost of the extenders bill. “Senator Coburn is utilizing a parliamentary tactic known as the “clay pigeon” which divides his amendment into 20 separate amendments, thereby giving the Senate 20 options to help pay for the costs of the “debt extenders” bill, $55 billion of which is not offset. HILLARY SAYS GOVT WILL CHALLENGE ARIZ LAW, GOVT DOESN’T DENY - Sam Stein: “In what appeared to be an unscripted admission, Clinton told an Ecuadorian television on Thursday that DoJ, under the direction of the president, ‘will be bringing a lawsuit against’ the Arizona act , which has been sharply criticized in Latin America…The Department’s spokesman, Matt Miller, replied with the following: ‘The Department continues to review the law.’ The non-denials are not, of course, confirmations of Clinton’s statement. But it’s hard to imagine that the Secretary of State is operating off of a different script than the rest of the administration.” Sally Quinn: Hillary should be Obama’s VP in 2012. http://bit.ly/aHSiR5 NEW POLL: CNN has Obama’s approvals hovering at 50 percent. “Strong and decisive leader” drops to 53 percent from 60 percent in January. http://bit.ly/bTC9vs TOMORROW’S PAPERS TODAY - Roll Call : John Stanton, on Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who on Thursday blasted a House Democratic deal that would exempt the National Rifle Association from a new campaign finance measure, accusing his House counterparts of hypocrisy and warning he won’t back the bill if it comes to the Senate. The New Jersey Democrat’s opposition, combined with a unified opposition from Republicans, could doom the legislation’s chances in its current form. UTAH TO EXECUTE MAN BY FIRING SQUAD AT MIDNIGHT - AP: “Barring the success of any final appeals, Ronnie Lee Gardner will be strapped into a chair, have a target pinned over his heart and die in a hail of bullets from five anonymous marksmen armed with .30-caliber rifles and firing from behind a ported wall… Gardner will be the third man killed by firing squad in the U.S. since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling reinstated capital punishment in 1976. Although Utah altered its capital punishment law in 2004 to make lethal injection the default method, nine inmates convicted before that date, including Gardner, can still choose the firing squad over lethal injection .” http://huff.to/badnpb Gardner’s last meal is a can of 7UP . Best endorsement since the Heaven’s Gaters wore those Nikes. The folks at Sphere Consulting send word that they’ll be hosting an expert panel on systemic risk and regulation of the banking and insurance industry . NJs Ron Brownstein hosts. Panel starts at 1 on Monday (lunch at 12:15) at the W Hotel. RSVP: email@example.com. Invite and panel list here: http://bit.ly/bH1PYT Don’t be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to firstname.lastname@example.org TRENDING TONY HAYWARD TESTIFIES BEFORE CONGRESS - BP CEO and mid-level officer on the Death Star Tony Hayward appeared before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation. AP: “A grim-faced BP chief executive Tony Hayward insisted Thursday he was ‘devastated with this accident’ in the Gulf of Mexico and denied shunning probing questions from Congress on the nation’s worst oil spill. ‘I’m not stonewalling,’ Hayward told a House investigations subcommittee, responding to repeated suggestions that he was dodging questions. Hayward said he was ‘deeply sorry’ for the spill gushing now for more than eight weeks . ‘I understand the seriousness of the situation, the frustrations and fears that continue to be voiced,’ he said.” Some Reps. are more than a little pissed by the Deepwater well’s offshore registration . Dan Froomkin: “The Deepwater Horizon oil-drilling rig was registered in the Marshall Islands and its owners paid taxes in Switzerland, but when the rig blew up and sank to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, who came to the rescue? And who is suffering the economic and environmental damages caused by the ongoing spill? Those were among the combative question raised by members of a House committee on Thursday at a hearing about foreign-flagged vessels operating in the Gulf. Mississippi Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor was particularly irritated. ‘ I’m just curious, how long did it take the Marshall Islands Coast Guard to show up when that rig caught on fire ?’ he asked rhetorically. JOE BARTON THINKS WE ALL OWE BP AN APOLOGY - While we’re at it, remind us to send an Edible Arrangement to the guy who first added asbestos to construction materials. During the hearing, Joe Barton expressed his BEWILDERMENT with the $20 billion escrow account : “I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” he said. “I think it is a tragedy in the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown — in this case a $20 billion shakedown — with the attorney general of the United States, who is legitimately conducting a criminal investigation and has every right to do so to protect the American people, participating in what amounts to a $20 billion slush fund that’s unprecedented in our nation’s history.” Other GOP hugs directed at BP from Sam Stein: http://huff.to/9nglmb Robert Gibbs responds : “What is shameful is that Joe Barton seems to have more concern for big corporations that caused this disaster than the fishermen, small business owners and communities whose lives have been devastated by the destruction.” VP Joe Biden : “I find it incredibly insensitive [and] out of touch.” A CNN poll out today indicates the public is increasingly frustrated with President Obama’s handling of the spill. 59 percent of respondents disapprove of the president’s response to the Gulf disaster , up eight points from May. http://bit.ly/c5mJjT This weekend Environment America will hold “Gumbo for the Gulf” to raise awareness of the spill’s effects and support Gulf families . The initiative, being held at 150 different locations nationwide, brings together people concerned by the events in the Gulf for some Cajun cuisine. http://bit.ly/c6d9lE WHITE HOUSE WATERING DOWN WALL STREET REFORM - A measure that had been generally agreed to by both the House and Senate, which would have affirmed the SEC’s authority to allow investors to have proxy access to the corporate decision-making process, was stripped by the Senate in conference committee votes Wednesday and Thursday. Five sources with knowledge of the situation said the White House had pushed for the measure to be stripped at the behest of the Business Roundtable . The White House move pits the administration against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who told Barney Frank (D-Mass.) to stand strong against the effort. http://huff.to/clT04x A White House spokesperson responds: “It was not part of our original financial reform proposals, and we have not taken a position explicitly. We have heard from and understand the various concerns on this critical corporate governance issue from multiple stakeholders including business, investors, labor and others. We are confident that the House and Senate conferees will come to a resolution and deliver a consensus view.” Two admin officials have, in fact, taken a position . Two months ago, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Neal Wolin addressed the Council of Institutional Investors and explicitly supported the provision, echoed by Valerie Jarrett. The remarks are here: http://bit.ly/dfeBso Speaking of alienating progressives, the president today met with a handful of liberal media types at the White House . Guests included Gail Collins, Eugene Robinson, Rachel Maddow and Gerald Seib. Keith Olbermann will no longer blog for Kos . Olbermann was apparently peeved after the blog’s commenters criticized his negative coverage of Obama’s Oval Office address. http://politi.co/bxGgz2 HOUSE EXPANDS CAMPAIGN FINANCE LOOPHOLE - You could ride Dale Peterson’s horse through this thing. Sam Stein: “Lawmakers charged with shepherding new campaign finance legislation through the House have expanded a loophole originally created for the National Rifle Association to include smaller groups with similar national presence. A House aide confirms to the Huffington Post that the exemptions from the new stringent disclosure requirements offered under the DISCLOSE Act would now apply to groups with memberships over 500,000 . The previous floor had been set at one million members. But after input from and discussion among lawmakers, it was determined that such a standard would unfairly grant preferred status to the NRA and very few other groups.” http://huff.to/c1z5aD Pot smokers have a new friend: Sarah Palin . Appearing on Fox News last night, the former Alaska governor said that weed is “relatively speaking” a “minimal problem” but reiterated her opposition to decriminalizing wacky tobacky. http://bit.ly/amQceC DNC LAUNCHES VOTER TURNOUT INITIATIVE - Our they could just spend the money on plugging the oil leak — that’ll drive voters. DC’s Boo Radley in Politico: “The Democratic National Committee on Thursday is launching ‘Raise Your Vote,’ a massive voter registration drive aimed at recruiting new voters in an effort to replicate the ‘Obama effect’ of 2008 . Raise Your Vote will use online and offline tools to register new voters in what a DNC official calls ‘an unprecedented effort in a midterm year on the part of a national party, not just in terms of money, but in terms of technology and manpower.’” http://politi.co/cVae7C PROGRESSIVES TO WHITE HOUSE: NO YOU WASTED MONEY ON LINCOLN - Sam Stein: “On Thursday, a new Rasmussen poll shows Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark.) beating Lincoln by a margin of 61 percent to 32 percent . Rasmussen is notably viewed with skepticism by progressive organizations. But the group Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which poured heavy manpower and resources into electing Lt. Gov Bill Halter in the Democratic primary, jumped on the findings as evidence that Lincoln is as good as dead, electorally.” http://huff.to/dApKAq PALMETTO DEMS HOLD MEETING ON ALVIN GREENE - The South Carolina Democratic Party convened a hearing today to discuss what to do with Senate candidate Alvin Greene (D-Him? HIM? HIM ?) . AP: “The state party’s 92-member executive committee is meeting in Columbia to hear a protest by former state lawmaker Vic Rawl. Earlier this week, Rawl filed an official protest of the primary results, arguing that malfunctions in voting machines or software may have caused him to lose the June 8 Democratic primary to political unknown Alvin Greene.” http://bit.ly/9l1kep Time’s interview with Greene (seen here being born: http://bit.ly/dvSdV4) is priceless . “‘I am the best candidate for the United States Senate in South Carolina,’ he says, hitting his talking points, as he is apt to do. ‘And I am also the best person to be TIME magazine’s Man of the Year.’…When first asked if he would grant an interview with TIME, Greene responded by asking a question of his own: ‘ Does the candidate get paid? ‘” http://bit.ly/byA6eh Thank the maker! Dale Peterson is back ! The candidate for Alabama Agricultural Commissioner, who became an Internet sensation by professing how much he gives a RIPPPPP about his state has a new ad endorsing one of his former rivals. They give a rip, too. http://bit.ly/bSI8ql A Tea Party-backed House candidate (holy crap he’s black ???) in North Carolina floated the idea that the BP leak was planned. “Personally, and this is purely speculative on my part and not based on any fact, but personally I feel there is a possibility that there was some sort of collusion,” said Bill Randall in a press conference on Tuesday. “Not based on any fact” and “but I personally feel” should really be translated in to Latin and plastered on a Tea Party crest. Elyse Siegel: http://huff.to/aSzYIc HANK JOHNSON GUAM WATCH, DAY 84 - It’s been nearly three months since the Georgia congressman asked whether Guam might capsize and sink into the ocean. We are happy to report that ***GUAM IS SAFE***. Any Guam-drowning-in-the-Pacific-related updates should be sent to email@example.com. Coming soon to a light rock station near you, the Sarah Palin song . “[Zach] Stockdale has written a soft rock masterpiece supporting a Palin presidential bid despite previously supporting Obama. However, as you get deeper into the song, it appears that Stockdale’s earnest passion for Palin may not be as pure as his angelic voice.” http://bit.ly/cGIS7x GLOBAL OPINION OF US RISING, POLL FINDS - So finds a new Pew Global Attitudes survey. We’re still not doing so hot in Muslim countries, however. “President Barack Obama remains popular in most parts of the world, although his job approval rating in the U.S. has declined sharply since he first took office. In turn, opinions of the U.S., which improved markedly in 2009 in response to Obama’s new presidency, also have remained far more positive than they were for much of George W. Bush’s tenure .” http://bit.ly/c2U7SS The Hill released its list of Washington’s top lobbyists . We’re not sure if this is necessarily something you pin to your refrigerator. http://bit.ly/bu0yTH HEY, HOW’S JOHN EDWARDS DOING? - Diane Diamond tries to answer that very question in the Daily Beast: “According to multiple sources familiar with different parts of his life, it’s a lonely existence . With few real friends to turn to for counsel, he’s also jettisoned most of his trusted advisers, including pollster Harrison Hickman. Those who’ve known him best say Edwards seems almost lost as to what to do with his life now that politics is no longer an option.” http://bit.ly/bFxsk0 JEREMY THE INTERN’S WEATHER REPORT - Weather so good, it’s almost boring. Tonight : Seriously beautiful. We’re at 70s all night with clear skies. Go stargazing. Tomorrow : Another beautiful day: low humidity, high 80s, virtually cloudless. Like today, it’s good weather for a picnic, or to start skipping down the street while whistling. And for the first time in a while, you can expect the good weather to continue into the weekend. Low pollen counts also. Thanks, JB! COMFORT FOOD - Some terrible Father’s Day gifts. http://huff.to/d5qaXy - A collection of hilariously off-the-mark street caricature drawings. http://huff.to/bVfK5E - This dog really, REALLY doesn’t like getting flipped off. http://bit.ly/crhKMH - Southwest Airlines found a shipment of human heads on one of its flights. http://bit.ly/cgA68M - No, not the late-’90s computer graphic. Check out this ACTUAL dancing baby. http://huff.to/dh4suh - The eight most awesome movie car chases. http://bit.ly/aONkOh - How to turn down the sound of those damn vuvuzelas. http://bit.ly/aH4gJJ - GOAT CAM GOAT CAM GOAT CAM GOAT CAM. http://bit.ly/9K6atx - A deadly black widow spider was found in a bag of grapes from Whole Foods. Take that , yuppies. http://bit.ly/9TEXvO TWITTERAMA @evale72: EXCLUSIVE - Barton to announce he’s rooting for Slovenia against USA this friday http://bit.ly/9F8zIG @daveweigel: Obama apologizes to countries for torture. Barton apologizes to foreign companies for making them pay for their spills. Tough choice. http://bit.ly/aO3HJU @bazmaniandevil: Joe Barton (R-Vuvuzela); not a friend of the “small people.” http://bit.ly/blVY9b @lehmannchris: Anyone believing the GOP is monolithically opposed to gay sex hasn’t seen Joe Barton “question” Tony Hayward http://bit.ly/bC2rDL THE TUBE Bruce Braley and Tom Coburn spoke to Dylan Ratigan. Diana DeGette and Dennis Kucinich were on Hardball. Charlie Melancon and Byron Dorgan talk BP on Ed Schultz. On Bloomberg, Margaret Brennan hosts “BP’s Big Problem: Hayward vs. The Hill.” ON TAP 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm: State Rep. Dave Segal (D-R.I) is running for Congress and will be BROING DOWN LIKE NO ONE’S BUSINESS at Big Hunt. Any reader that bro ices Dan Segal and has a picture gets a paragraph in HuffPost Hill to say whatever they want [Big Hunt, 1345 Connecticut Avenue NW]. 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm: The Superbowl for newsletter writers: The 1st Annual Cheeseburger Grilling Competition is held in Northeast. $7 for a ballot to choose who is the best griller in D.C. Plus free Tequilla [Jimmy Valentine's, 1103 Bladensburg Road NE]. 8:30 pm: As part of the Underdog Film Festival, “Shrek” will be screened at the Capitol Riverfront [Canal Park, 200 M St SE]. 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) holds a reception near the Newseum. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) provides backup [Newseum Residences, 565 Pennsylvania Avenue NW]. 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm: Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) hosts a campaign event at the Capitol Hill Club [Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE]. 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: The Capitol Hill Club must have a great omelet station because Reps. can’t get enough of it! Tom Cole (R-Okla.) raises some dough at the GOP hangout [Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE]. Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ryan Grim (email@example.com) or Nico Pitney (firstname.lastname@example.org). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e
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HUFFPOST HILL - JUNE 17th, 2010
In a column this past Sunday entitled “No Mystique About Feminism,” New York Times conservative columnist Ross Douthat observes, “When historians set out to date the moment when the women’s movement of the 1970s officially consolidated its gains, they could do worse than settle on last Tuesday’s primaries.” Douthat notes that the female victors won largely running as conservative Republicans, and he offers ambivalent support for Sarah Palin’s claim in her now infamous “mama grizzlies” speech that these new candidates were forging an “emerging, conservative, feminist identity.” Douthat argues that “whether or not Palin or Fiorina or Haley can legitimately claim the label feminist, their rise is a testament to the overall triumph of the women’s movement.” In doing so, he could not resist taking a swipe at what he termed “the peculiar left-wing misogyny that greeted Palin’s candidacy.” One of those misogynists, one assumes, would be Amanda Marcotte, author of It’s a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments, who usually writes on the Pandagon blog. She finds Douthat decidedly off base. Responding to his (and Palin’s) claim that right-wing women who do not support a women’s right to choose or equality in the workplace have the right to call themselves “feminist,” Marcotte writes that “Real feminists find themselves unimpressed with the notion that there can be a feminism based around rich, powerful women passing policies that destroy the possibility of equality for all other women in the country. Nowhere in the centuries-old definition of feminism is there a phrase explaining that equality is only for rich, white, straight, married mothers with conservative politics.” To continue, please go here http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/06/ta061710.html
It is time for American Jews to demand that Obama instruct Israel to obey international law. Well-known actress and comedian, Roseanne Barr, has been a consistent and persistent voice for decades against some of the acts committed by the state of Israel. Specifically, she has vigorously, unflinchingly, unequivocally, uncompromisingly, and courageously called upon Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. With this latest incident of the flotilla raid by Israeli commandos, we sat down for a talk. Kathleen Wells: Roseanne, talk to me about being Jewish and what it means to you. Roseanne Barr: Coming out of the closet is hard, but I am going to do it in this [interview with you]. I am an observant Jew! Now my secret is out May Hashem guide these words from my lips to the ears of the world: END THE BLOCKADE ON GAZA NOW ‘B’ruch Hashem. I was taught at my Grandmother’s knee and on her lap that Jerusalem is the City of Holy Alchemy — spiritual, mental and physical. There, righteous souls soar straight to heaven. The city, she told me, is the heart of the vow that we take every year when we remember the story of how we who were slaves once walked out of slavery into freedom and began to write law that would bring into being a divine utopia. Kathleen Wells: You are a Kabbalist, which means you study a discipline and school of thought concerned with the mystical aspect of Rabbinic Judaism, correct? And being a Kabbalist means you study the Tora, (the “teachings” of God, in the Tanach and Rabbinic literature) and consider that study an inherent duty of observant Jews, correct? Roseanne Barr: Judaism is an interpretation of Kabballah. Kabballah is from the oral tradition, called the women’s tradition. It’s also a method of meditation to integrate the mind’s severed parts into one working and immovable force for good on earth. Kathleen Wells: Based upon that study, do you believe that Jews have a righteous claim/inheritance to Israel, i.e., a right to be in Jerusalem? Roseanne Barr: Jews have a connection to Jerusalem that has not been broken or altered for many centuries, despite ongoing attempts to force us to deny that fact, including torture, expulsion, being burned at the stake, ghettoized, gassed and incinerated. When we are still around after a while of that, then we are greatly rewarded and sometimes allowed to live in unparalleled luxury. This is a terribly bi-polar existence. It is as if we are the world’s moral hostages, its scapegoat. Kathleen Wells: However, critics will say that non-Jews are merely taking the word of Jews - the Torah — and that there is no grant deed signed by God which gives Jerusalem/Israel to the Jewish people. What do you say to those critics? Roseanne Barr: The deniers (who are both Jew and Gentile) are so very fascinated by their scapegoat’s mind, its might and strength, its hold and hope, that the worst of the world’s mad scientists studied the “Jewish mind,” specifically the “memory banks” of Jewish human guinea pigs in thousands of well documented experiments that took place under Mengele in Nazi hospitals disguised as “labor camps.” I have read Mengele’s notes and books about him that tell how he sought to map the brain’s synapses regarding memory, and to attempt to affect and alter what in the Jew was irreversibly programmed to connect with Jerusalem, despite Diaspora. I just want people to know all of this, before they say the Jews do not belong in Palestine/Israel or that we have no real history there. We do and have always lived there. Of that there can be no doubt, at least to us. Truth is truth. Does this mean that there should be a brutal and undemocratic theocracy in the Middle East which has the world’s fourth largest army? NO. Does that mean that all the Jews who live there now should be deported back to Poland and Germany and America? NO. At the end of the Passover story, we say, “Next Year in Jerusalem!” We say, “If I forget thee, Jerusalem, may my right arm wither, die, and fall off.” I asked my grandmother why it was that Jerusalem meant so much to those like us. She explained to me that Jerusalem’s promise was not just for the Jewish people, but for the world, because it was to become the first international city of peace and brother/sisterhood. I was taught that in the Messianic age, there will be no more religion, because divine justice will descend to earth, and there will be no more separatism or division. We say, “G-d is One.” One planet, one people, one G-d, or we used to, before the great rewriting of all of our prayer books, which happened when I was about ten years old, in the early sixties. As the books got more and more Zionist and less and less socialist, my entire generation, at least a large percentage of it, simply left Judaism. We became Buddhist and Hindu and atheist or agnostic, all of which (except Christian) were more in keeping with peaceful self-transformative ideas that did not bow down to militarism. Judaism is one of the last of the world’s matrilineal philosophies. Matriarchies are always the cultures that patriarchy attacks and decimates, because they don’t spend all their money on the military like patriarchy does. They are easy prey. Patriarchy is a bully notion, which if you will notice NEVER attacks a nation that can defend itself. Zionism is patriarchal and sets Judaism on its head. Every Shabbat, Jews pray for the peace of the Shekkinah, to descend on Jerusalem/the world. Our traditions tell us that the highest level of G-d is female, that She is the Sabbath bride, and She brings peace, beauty, and judgment tempered by mercy into our circle every seventh day. Right now, She is pretty upset with the way we have poisoned her foundation, Malchut, which is the Earth. She is belching and getting over-heated, and we had better look out. This is our last warning, I think. These holistic and holy ideas are what I was taught about Judaism. They have been culturally wiped away by some post-Holocaust hyper-masculine militaristic Halliburton-fueled war machine that teaches about blood and honor, with none of the spirituality that I learned just fifty years ago. Our prayer books then, back in the Sephardic synagogue of my childhood in Salt Lake City, Utah, (”The Congregation Montefiore”) were very different than prayer books are today. I remember when they “updated” them in the early sixties and they became all about the Holocaust and the state of Israel. The “children of Israel” was replaced/updated with the “the people of Israel” and our Uncle Ben was instructed to say ‘Shabbat’ and not ‘Shabbos’ anymore. The pigeon Yiddish that my parents spoke was updated into Hebrew. I remember being very distraught at the rewrites, because I had been told that we were never to allow even one letter to be changed in the Torah. I feared that there was going to be a price to pay, and maybe I was right. Maybe, not. Kathleen Wells: This is complex and compelling. What and where are the answers? How can peace descend upon the Middle East? Palestinians are Muslims and Christians, not Jewish — they don’t read the Torah. And they hold as tightly and deeply to their traditions and religion as you do yours. Roseanne Barr: I hold to nothing but envisioning international peace and utopia. We all have many more things in common than not. I’ve tried to get to the very bottom of the whole subject, and I say it’s the entire world’s fault, not just Israel’s and not just the Jews’, for allowing the terrible crimes against humanity, the ethnic cleansing that is happening in Gaza right now. No government in the Middle East is innocent. Wars make the stock market go up, so no one in America is innocent either, nor anyone anywhere where capitalism reigns. Occupation is wrong, collective punishment is wrong, and the use of white phosphorous on a captive population is wrong. Zionists are wrong, Hamas is wrong, Bibi is wrong, Obama is wrong, Saudi Arabia is wrong, Egypt is wrong, Jordan is wrong, Russia is wrong, Turkey is wrong, as are the Pope and the evangelicals, and all who do nothing about this terrible failure of humanity. To me, the only hope at all is the power of grandmothers crossing cultural and religious lines to make peace together. Kathleen Wells: Talk to me specifically about the Gaza blockade/occupation. Roseanne Barr: When I think about the blockade and the occupation and the illegal settlements and the breaking of international law and of maritime law that Israel is indeed guilty of, as well as the use of white phosphorous on a captive people who share our DNA and look just like us and act just like us and do what we would do were our positions reversed, I cannot bear it. I actually double over; I weep and sweat at night. I recoil from the arrogant and immoral denial of the suffering of people who are living under occupation. My stomach turns over and my soul withers when I remember that we said we , of all people, would never let this happen on earth again. I cannot even think politically about it, or religiously either anymore, because it seems divisive to do so, and that is not what is needed now. I think that I have to find a way to help, to stop this terrible spiritual Waterloo, this ethnic cleansing of ourselves! These are our cousins! Obama can make peace between Palestine and Israel. Kathleen Wells: What are you doing…? Roseanne Barr: Every Shabbat I meditate for an end to the neocons and their self-destructive agenda that is pushing the entire world to the brink of war. I write letters to Jewish people. I blog everyday about Jerusalem. I have traveled the world, including parts of Palestine to talk to women about peace. I show up and argue with Zionists, Christians and anti-Zionists, too, all over the world. I also pray with all of the above, and find that group prayer settles disputes well. People think I am crazy to think that we can actually have peace if we get a council of grandmothers together to write just laws and peace treaties that work for all. I have spoken in private homes and in synagogues and Kabballah centers for almost twelve years about how the Jewish people are being given the greatest opportunity to make peace in the world right now, and that if we don’t take this moment, it will seal our doom. I am sure of it. We are to beat our swords into plowshares and to make peace and brotherhood in Jerusalem, in order to bring Mashiach — the messianic age — A SOCIALIST PARADISE! I just want to say this, because it ’s never said, it seems. I fear that we have destroyed not just innocent people, but ourselves, in Gaza. I ache for all of the people of my DNA, the Palestinians — poor, abused and suffering, wondering how long the bombings will go on and whether there will be food or water tomorrow, of dead bodies rotting in the streets and no medicine for children. I ache for the Jews who live in fear, too, always. My G-d, what can I do? Can I go there? Can I walk food and supplies in myself? How can I live without attempting to alleviate unnecessary suffering, instead of being a part of its cause? How can I keep my soul and be a Jew now? It torments my mind. I am not ready to let go of the idea that utopia can indeed exist on this earth now, that separatism and duality will evolve into cooperation and understanding. I was not raised a Zionist, but a socialist, as were most Jews before the Holocaust. This is now, and we all need a reboot of our programs and a lot more empathy for all that is alive. Kathleen Wells: There are collective fears/concerns that many Jews have that the Palestinians and others in the Middle East would like to see Israel wiped off the map. Roseanne Barr: Being hated and hunted and blamed for your own suffering makes people kind of testy, nervous, and on edge, and often fundamentalist and extreme. Bombs get thrown only when people cannot honestly talk together. Women on both sides of the occupation have been betrayed by their male leaders, who have less interest in helping their own than in ripping them off, just like what is happening to the women in America right now. Kathleen Wells: What do you think of U.S.-Israel relations? What do you say to American Jews and to President Obama? Roseanne Barr: I was asked what message to give to the President by someone who attended a lunch with him where Jewish American opinion was invited. I told my friend to tell Obama that he must end the embargo on Gaza. Two weeks later, the flotillas sailed and were attacked in international waters. It is time for American Jews to demand that Obama instruct Israel to obey international law. Our people died for international law — laws that prohibit collective punishment and captivity, deportation, and acts of terror against an unarmed and captive population. The cost of the blood on our hands if we do not demand this now will be the loss of our souls, which, unlike the Holocaust, we cannot survive. When the world is shown the crimes against humanity that have been executed in our names, there in that ghetto called Gaza, I fear there will be no more Judaism left in Zionism at all. Eighty percent of young American Jews under the age of 30 are not Zionists, according to Zogby polls. G-d exists nowhere but in our own hearts. If our hearts are deadened to each other, then they are also deadened to G-d! We are ridiculed by our own if we say we care about the suffering of the other side. Are we not capable of loving those who are unlike us, nor those who are like us but disagree with us? This is not who we are. Kathleen Wells: Talk to me about the dynamic between Israel and Iran? Roseanne Barr: Is Israel going to attack Iran now? Israel cannot survive a war with Iran. This terrible programming is incorrect. It is lemming programming. Evangelicals are pushing for Armageddon, the final solution to the Jewish problem. Wake up America! Wake up Israel! Wake up world! A Jew is required to correct his thinking and transform the world for the better, but Zionism has changed every single corner of Judaism now. I think the only hope is to go back to a pre-Holocaust socialistic interpretation of Torah. What are the Zionists fighting for? Land? For what? Strip malls and movie theatres and tract housing? They always say that they feel like they want to “undo the Holocaust,” to make sure that it doesn’t happen to the Jews ever again. I guess this is what happens to people who have lived through “shock and awe.” The Palestinians will probably keep “defending” themselves forever, too, and doing things to make sure the fighting continues. But, maybe not. I know they have grandmothers who want peace there, too. Jews, this is NOW!! You are not slaves any longer! You are not being gassed and hunted now! You are living in great relative wealth compared to the rest of the world. Kathleen Wells: Supporters/defenders of the state of Israel say that Hamas sends rockets into Israel and that justifies/makes reasonable Israel’s actions/blockade of Gaza. Roseanne Barr: Sixteen Israelis were killed in one year by Palestinian rockets, so Israel killed 1600 Palestinians. Israel, by a factor of ten, has killed more civilians than its enemies. More people die in gang violence in LA in a month than are killed by Palestinian rockets in Israel in a year. If a gang killed one hundred members of the opposing gang for every one of them killed, the entire state of California would step in to put an end to both sides of the whole miserable operation, and that is what Obama must do. Jerusalem is prophesied to become the city of international brotherhood, and that idea is the central force in Torah. So why not help it happen now? May G-d forgive us all for our cruelty, in that we quibble while tiny little innocent children starve and die. We deserve to blow sky high every single one of us. Kathleen Wells: I can hear the critics now. They will say: You are religious, but this is a political issue. And that you can’t conflate religion and politics — religious beliefs cannot be used to solve political issues and political problems. Roseanne Barr: I have to say that I agree with you, but that is not what is happening here or there. Neocons in America made an unholy deal with the evangelicals and took over not only America’s government, but Israel’s government. Neocon Zionists and Christian Zionists must abandon the warmongering. They have demonized those of us who are observant Jews (socialists) and called us self-haters. This is the truth: Self -haters are those who want endless war and suffering, not those who want peace. Seriously, neoconservative evangelical Christian Zionists are not doing G-d’s work at all. All of the problems between Israel and Palestine can be solved in a day, if we take religion out of things. It is merely a labor issue, as everything really is. Nothing is really a religious issue at all; it just serves to keep people from blaming the oligarchs. Religion is the only thing that keeps the poor from killing the rich, and that is why it’s so huge in the USA right now. The workers get the Bible and the bosses get the money. Kathleen Wells: Are most of the neocons Jewish? Roseanne Barr: Many are. Well, Bill Kristol, who is the architect of the neocons, is. Ever read the magazine The New Republic ? Jon Stewart always has Kristol on his show and that’s why I am so upset with Jon. You say that religion and politics are not mixed, but, yes, they are, especially in Israel. The entire Zionist thing got co-opted by evangelicals. They finance about seventy percent of Israeli tourist trade. The thing that infuriates me and I have argued this with all of the neocons, is that many Christians believe that all Jews must die in Israel during their terrible Armageddon story in order for Christ to return. They vote pro-Israel, occupation and settlements, hoping that war will break out and my people will die there. They are close to being neo-Nazis. I told the mayor of Jerusalem this after he followed me around Jerusalem demanding that I make a tourist film with him thanking American evangelicals to use as a fund-raising tool. He told me that Israel can’t survive without them because Jews are no longer visiting or supporting the economy there. I said if Jew haters are our only hope, then that should be the end of it. There was fallout for me. I took the whole Book of Revelations to Jews and explained the Nazi-like philosophy behind their support of Israel, and they just laughed and said, “It doesn’t matter what they believe. The guy (Jesus) isn’t coming back. So what?” I said, “Their support includes agitating for war with Iran, which to them is Magog. Armageddon is the war of Gog and Magog.” It draws closer. Listen to Palin drop hints about all the Jews in America moving there. Their thinking is for real and their think tanks write about it all the time. I read it all from what the Pope writes about Israel and the Jews to what the Mormons say in their opinions on the same stuff and the Christian think tank, which is called The Family. Kathleen Wells: What do you say to the Zionists? Rosanne Barr: The Palestinians have agreed to renounce their previous beliefs that Israel should not exist. Neocon Zionists are SORE WINNERS! Come on now, I am an American Jew. I will never allow anyone to destroy Israel, and that includes the right wing idiots in Israel. I will make permanent Aliyah there and become President, or stand naked at the top of any mountain, if it will help. I want solutions and, in fact, I demand them, because I know that they are possible. Compromise and solve problems. I swear to G-d it is the time for that. The time for Tikkun Olam (repentance that transforms the world). Everything on this earth right now is about labor and slavery. War is the only American export left that anyone wants to buy from us. Nice work, neocons! Nice work, evangelicals! Nice work, Reagan, and Bush! Nice work, Zionists! Nice work, MEN! Sometimes I think we should be like Solomon and wire the whole place for doom. The biblical story celebrating Solomon’s wisdom says he ordered a baby, the object of dispute, sliced in half, knowing that the woman who backed out of the deal first was the baby’s real mother. She was awarded the baby. After we wire Jerusalem to blow sky high, we will settle the score once and for all between Islam and Judaism. The one who wants peace will win. It’s in the book of war, for chrissakes. The winners will love Jerusalem the most, and that means they will love peace and brotherhood and international law the most. Kathleen Wells: Where do we go from here? Roseanne Barr: Rachel Corrie, a Jewish American young woman, who stood in front of an Israeli bulldozer and bet her life that her fellow Jews would not kill her, lost the bet and was plowed under the wreckage of the Palestinian home she tried to defend. She knew no moral person could remain silent when the government who supposedly speaks for it inflicts suffering on innocent captive children. Yesterday, my friend told me that a group of Jews who live in Germany are bringing in a boat filled with Jews to break the blockade, to place Israel in the position of having to kill Jews who oppose the neocon Zionist version of who we are. It is quite perfect, understated and Jewish — the most profound of soundbites in this battle for hearts and minds. We are all Rachel Corrie now! We are coming from Germany to save ourselves in this part of Jewish history. Where do we go from here? We love each other! May the light of peace descend on the world. NOW! May the spirit of Rabin, of Camp David re awaken in all the world’s people, now. May what was so close ignite and burn down all fear and hatred, on every side of us. May we find a way to make peace, and restitution. Grandmothers on both sides could broker a peace that is above all men’s laws. The circle of grandmothers is widening on this earth. I will go anywhere to meet with other multicultural grandmothers to discuss an end to all this unnecessary suffering. We Jewish grandmothers have access to a lot of the world’s money. We are widows. Let’s write those checks, ladies. No men can do it, anywhere on earth, obviously. I would like to hear from other grandmothers of other tribes around the earth who still have access to capital and property. We know what we must to do to heal the world. Let’s get on with it! May the Peace of Hashem descend on the European-style patriarchy of Israel and transform it for the sake of the world. May peace prevail on earth! May peace prevail on earth! For the sake of all who have suffered and died, may peace prevail on earth! Baruch Hashem! Kathleen Wells: Thank you, Roseanne. Check out Roseanne’s website , where you can view a speech she delivered on Mother’s Day in front of the White House, announcing her joint candidacy for President of the United States and also for Prime Minister of Israel. As she states, it’s a two-fer. One of Roseanne’s campaign promises is to make peace in the Middle East within one year simply by encouraging people to pay higher wages to their workers and removing all “crazy religionist’” access to the “Big Button.” Crossposted from Race-Talk
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Kathleen Wells, J.D.: Roseanne Barr Says Israel Must End Their Blockade and Occupation of Gaza
I’ve heard it said that complaining doesn’t solve anything, it merely restates the problem. That may be true, but sometimes it’s worth restating problems just to make sure that everyone knows what solutions they should be working on. Well, that, and sometimes it just feels good to bitch a little. It seems to me that the people who are against improving health care because they claim it will saddle their children and grandchildren with too much debt are the same people who want to keep drilling off our precious coastlines. My takeaway is that they’re more concerned with their heirs’ fiscal health than their physical health. I’m willing to bet that, in the not too distant future, the “drill baby drill” crowd is going to be dealing with the ill effects of this latest oil spill and start clamoring for better medical care. Has anyone else noticed that the words Sarah Palin posts on Facebook seem much more intelligent than the words that come out of her mouth? Makes me think that someone else might have access to her account while she’s busy playing Farmville. I’m not seeing the downside in repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” To me it’s an insane debate. Because I’m thinking that anyone opposed to its repeal would have no problem having a gay soldier save their or their loved ones lives. Personally, I don’t care who saves my life or protects my home. But when they do it, you know what I’ll say? Thank you. I don’t think that there’s anyone who could convince me that Glenn Beck isn’t a radical opportunist. He used to call himself a rodeo clown. That would be a person who helps others dodge the bull. But Glenn creates so much bull of his own that, at this point, he can’t really get out of the way. One day I stumbled across Beck’s television show and he was, not uncharacteristically, talking about fear. In his own inimitable style, he went to his magic chalkboard and drew arrows connecting many of his favorite buzzwords — Nazis, Hitler, Socialism, Marxism, Communism — ending up, of course, with Obama. It was sort of the visual equivalent of the statement “If you nail any two things in the universe together, some shmuck will buy it.” That’s what Glenn does — he uses a piece of chalk to connect things that don’t necessarily have any connection. Anyway, what I found.. .well, let’s be polite and call it “ironic.” It was Beck leaning into the camera and pleading with his audience to “be very afraid of people who tell you to be afraid.” We finally agree on something. I’m very afraid of Glenn Beck. Tiger Woods had to apologize but Bush, Cheney & Rumsfeld don’t? Limbaugh recently made this case: Hitler lied, Obama lies, so that means Obama is Hitler. Well, Limbaugh lies. Is he Hitler, too? I sure hope not. Because when it comes to his job, Rush takes pride in being the best. And while I’m on the subject of Limbaugh, isn’t it interesting that at the beginning of the latest oil spill, he demeaned those who were concerned and said they should relax, “the ocean will take care of itself.” And then when he realized that this disaster could also be a club with which to bash the President, Limbaugh changed his tune to “Why isn’t Obama taking care of it?” One question, Rush — is it possible for you not to be an opportunistic hypocrite? Mark Levin, someone who I find to be one of the more contentious Liberal haters out there, went on the radio and ranted about how the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress had no right to do the things they’re doing because they have — get this — just a “temporary majority.” You mean temporary like every single administration ever in the history of our country? As in they’ll one day be replaced with another temporary majority? I thought so. Then we can only hope that Mark Levin is a temporary talk show host. And what’s with the whole new vocabulary for Obama’s presidency? According to the right wing misinformation machine, there is no more “Left and Right.” They now refer to the two camps as “Left and Correct.” Obama doesn’t have an administration, he has a “regime.” And he doesn’t have friends or associates, he has “comrades.” He also doesn’t have advisors, he has “Czars.” Yes, Czars. Just like Ronald Reagan who appointed advisors and called them czars. As did President Bush. But, of course, the Right didn’t mind that because those czars were appointed by presidents they liked. And, lastly, there’s a hateful e-mail making the rounds about how horrible it is that two Muslim men were hired in the Department of Homeland Security. These hires happened in July of ‘09. Apparently the Right Wing’s list of people to hate is so long it took almost a year for these to men to make it to the top. Both are very qualified. One was even an Assistant U.S. Attorney during the Bush regime…(See how ugly that sounds?)…but the Right wing extremists who sent out that story forgot to include that little nugget. That might have made it a little less scary. And we can’t have that because the aim is to strike fear into people using the following logic: The people who attacked us on 9/11 were Muslims, these men are Muslims, ergo — no Muslim is to be trusted. None of them. Not one of the over five billion Muslims in the world. Apparently the purveyors of this e-mail see no benefit at all in having people who might have a better understanding of the Muslim world working in the department tasked with helping to protect us. But if we’re going to paint with a broad brush, then let’s really go for it. Let’s clean house! How about people whose beliefs are the same as Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh? He claimed to be an Agnostic. So I guess it’s time to make sure nobody’s on the Federal payroll who doubts either the existence or the nonexistence of God. There are bound to be at least a few of those. And how about Joseph Andrew Stack? He’s the guy who flew his plane into the I.R.S building in Austin. How do we make sure people who go to his church aren’t given government jobs? I’m sure that Google would supply me with even more examples if I asked it to. But the overly simplistic point I’m trying to make is this: When it comes to keeping us safe, you take your best shot. You use all the powers at your disposal to make good decisions. You try to judge people as individuals. Because no matter how hard you try and how right you think you are — you just can’t hate everyone. More on Health Care
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Dave Hackel: Bitch, Bitch, Bitch
As we reach the midpoint of this month, the Wrap is as jam-packed as I can ever remember it. How the heck did all this happen on a Tuesday, for crying out loud?!?! It is internal poll-fest here on the Wrap today, and the fact that they are virtually all Republican internal polls is telling in and of itself. A couple of surprise endorsements/non-endorsements also made the cut today, and the Meg Whitman tote board is spinning yet again (nine figures is just around the corner. All this, and a heckuva lot more, on the Tuesday edition of the Wrap. THE U.S. SENATE CA-Sen: RW pollster says Senate race is all knotted up New numbers out of the Golden State today, but with a big-ass caveat atttached to them: the new poll emanates from right-wing media outlet Pajamas Media, and their pollster-of-choice (Cross Target). They have incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer and GOP nominee Carly Fiorina all knotted up at 47% each. Remember, however, that this was the same pollster that had Scott Brown leading by double digits in both of their forays into Massachusetts this winter (Brown wound up winning by just under 5% of the vote). FL-Sen: Crist’s latest policy reversal–Cuba Charlie Crist’s declarations of independence continue unabated, with the local hot-button issue of Cuba the latest source for a policy shift from the state’s Republican-turned-Independent Governor. Crist, once an advocate for placing financial disincentives on companies offering travel to Cuba, has backed off of that stance, vocally supporting the Obama administration’s decision to lift travel restrictions to the island. It might assist his bottom line, as well, since several potentially lucrative donors support the easing of the travel ban. LA-Sen: Dueling Senate polls in the Pelican State post-BP Depending on which pollster you are buying stock in, there has either been a pretty substantial shift in the Louisiana Senate race, or no shift at all, in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon incident. A new poll from Republican-affiliated Magellan Strategies has incumbent Republican David Vitter leading Democratic challenger Charlie Melancon by twenty points (51-31). Meanwhile, a new poll from PPP (teased for tomorrow but given exclusively in advance to Roll Call) showed the race considerably closer, with Vitter only leading the Democrat by nine (46-37). The PPP poll also shows that recent events have apparently taken a huge chunk out of Vitter’s approval ratings, as he has dropped to a very middling 45-43 spread. NV-Sen: Angle evades press as ideological past continues to be unearthed Sharron Angle, the newly minted Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate continues to make jaws drop from coast-to-coast. Her affiliation with the far-right Independent American Party gets explored today by TPMDC, who notes that several members cite that she only left the fringe party out of political expediency, because the Republican Party line was a safer bet. Angle came to DC today, and promptly ducked the press. In a sign of supreme confidence, NRSC head John Cornyn actually said today that it will be “a few weeks” until the GOP nominee will be ready to face the press corps. NC-Sen: MoveOn involves itself in competitive Dem runoff election MoveOn is moving in to the Tar Heel State, offering its take on which candidate should emerge from next week’s runoffs as the Democratic nominee to challenge Republican Richard Burr. The progressive organization chose to endorse Secretary of State Elaine Marshall over former state legislator Cal Cunningham. This puts MoveOn at odds with the national Democrats, whose preference for Cunningham dates back to their recruitment of him after Marshall had already entered the race. SC-Sen: C.R.E.W. smells a rat in Greene races, as well as others The latest twist in the Alvin Greene primary victory saga came from Washington, rather than the Palmetto State. It was in DC that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) called for both a federal and state investigation into last week’s Democratic primary. The organization called for both a statewide investigation (to look at whether Greene and others were induced by outside forces to run for office) and an FEC investigation (into several instances of failure to report by these shadowy SC candidates). An executive committee of the South Carolina Democratic Party will meet later in the week to determine whether or not to vacate the election, as has been requested by Victor Rawl, the man who was defeated in last week’s primary. THE U.S. HOUSE KY-06: GOP internal says add this race to the target lists Remembering, of course, the usual caveats about internal polling, we present new numbers in an intriguing race: the battle in nominally conservative KY-06 between third-term Democratic incumbent Ben Chandler and well-funded GOP newcomer Andy Barr. According to an internal poll for Barr, it is a seven-point race (subscription only). This could, of course, be believable: this is, after all, a McCain-carried district, and Barr has raised a fair amount of cash. The poll is a little dusty, though: it was conducted last month, in the wake of Barr’s primary election victory. Therefore, the afterglow of the primary win might be skewing the numbers, as well. LA-02: Potentially strong Cao opponent makes it official His entrance into the race is no surprise, and yet it should make Republican incumbent Anh “Joseph” Cao at least a little nervous . State Representative Cedric Richmond, who narrowly missed making the runoff here in 2008, made a formal announcement on Monday that he will seek the seat again, ripping Cao in his announcement speech. State legislator Juan LaFonta is already in the field, as state Senator Karen Carter Peterson is also eyeing the race. MS-01: Childers trails in re-election bid, according to GOP internal Republican internal polling has identified another imperiled Democratic incumbent, although this one is not liable to be much of a surprise . A poll for GOP nominee Alan Nunnelee claims that the challenger now has an eight-point lead (50-42) over Democratic incumbent Travis Childers. The pollster claims that this is a major reversal from March, when Childers led by nine points. NC-08: Kissell leads either Republican, but margin varies widely It is the longest of longshots, but Democratic freshman Larry Kissell has to be rooting hard for tea party acolyte Tim D’Annunzio in next week’s runoff elections. The reason? A new poll out today from PPP, which shows a double-digit performance gap between former broadcaster Harold Johnson and D’Annunzio. The controversial D’Annunzio gets blasted by Kissell (48-26), while Johnson lies very much within striking range, trailing Kissell by six points (41-35). Interestingly, Kissell’s margin expands when progressive Independent candidate Wendell Fant is factored in (40-30-14), although Tom Jensen of PPP posits (correctly, I would speculate) that Fant stealing more GOP votes is a function of him being a relative unknown. Kissell, for what it’s worth, has seen his approval crater with Democrats in the wake of his hostility towards health care reform. Did it earn him any goodwill from Republicans? Nah…his approvals dropped double digits with them, as well. Another lesson for recalcitrant Dems, to be sure. OK-02: Boren posts huge lead in internal primary polling In a rather obvious exercise of innoculation, conservative Democrat Dan Boren is eager to rebut any notion that he is endangered by the primary challenge to his left coming from state Senator Jim Wilson. He released an internal poll from Myers Research showing him leading Wilson by a 68-24 margin. Boren’s HCR vote was an instrumental factor in earning a challenge from Wilson, who filed just before the deadline last week. The primary will be held on July 27th, affording Wilson precious little time to bridge the gap. OR-01: Another potential GOP target? Internal poll says “Yes” Personally, I have a harder time buying this one than the one in Kentucky. That said, a new internal poll for newly minted GOP nominee Rob Cornilles says that the challenger is only six points behind longtime Democratic incumbent David Wu in this suburban district (46-40). Cornilles survived a teabagging in last month’s primary, coming in well under 50% of the primary vote despite an extremely well-funded effort. VA-05: McKelvey to cause Hurt some pain–stays on sidelines Last week, the Wrap reported that Republican nominee Rob Hurt was circling the conservative wagons in an effort to stave off right-wing opposition in his bid to knock off Democratic freshman Tom Perriello. His efforts hit a snag , as both the local Tea Party group, as well as primary runner-up Jim McKelvey, refused to endorse the Republican nominee. THE GUBERNATORIAL RACES CA-Gov: Meg Whitman–paragon of fiscal discipline When Meg Whitman campaigns on cutting spending, someone might want to tell her that having spent about six bucks per registered voter…by the middle of freaking JUNE , ain’t exactly the model of fiscal discipline. Disclosure forms show that Whitman, the GOP nominee for Governor, cut herself another eight-figure check, and has now self-financed her bid for higher office to the tune of…wait for it…$91 million. In other CA-Gov news, for what it is worth, that right-wing CrossTarget/Pajamas Media poll alluded to earlier in the Wrap also looked at the gubernatorial race , and found Whitman trailing Democratic nominee Jerry Brown. The poll showed Brown leading Whitman 46-43. Given how optimistic CT/PM were in their assessment of the MA-Senate race in January (these were the guys that had Scott Brown up 15 points), Brown has to feel reasonably good about these numbers. FL-Gov: McCollum internal shows him…in a mediocre position How the mighty have fallen: one-time gubernatorial frontrunner Bill McCollum, the Republican Attorney General of Florida, now can only produce an internal poll showing him tied with newcomer Rick Scott. The poll shows McCollum deadlocked with the health care magnate, with each man drawing 40% of the vote. OR-Gov: Is history on Kitzhaber’s side? Yes, says UM study This item is not so much a breaking news item, but it is interesting nonetheless. The University of Minnesota went back a half-century, and looked at former Governors seeking a return to office, just as Democrat John Kitzhaber is attempting to do in Oregon this year. The verdict ? Not too bad, actually. Such candidates have been successful 63% of the time, according to the study. The drawback? Only one such case has occurred since 2000, when Tony Knowles’ Democratic comeback bid was derailed by Sarah Palin. THE RAS-A-POLL-OOZA Ras drops a bit on the volume today, but not on the ideological bent. All together now: Republicans good…across the board. CO-Gov: Scott McInnis (R) 46%, John Hickenlooper (D) 41% CO-Gov: John Hickenlooper (D) 41%, Dan Maes (R) 41% SC-Sen: Sen. Jim DeMint (R) 58%, Alvin Greene (D) 21% SD-Gov: Dennis Daugaard (R) 52%, Scott Heidepriem (D) 36%
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Polling and political wrap-up, 6/15/10
Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston are reportedly back together , according to Us Magazine . A source told Us , “Bristol and Levi are still very close,” and “Levi even stays overnight.” The source added, “Now that Mama Palin is out of the picture and Bristol is on her own in Anchorage, they spend more time together than most people think.” They are supposedly raising their son, Tripp together. He is nearly 18 months old. But parenthood hasn’t kept Bristol busy 24/7. She was recently spotted at NYC at hot spot 1Oak , although she is only 19 years old. She also posed for a Harper’s Bazaar spread with Tripp. More on Sarah Palin
Bristol Palin & Levi Johnston Back Together?
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman had an altercation with an eBay employee when she was CEO of the company, The New York Times reported Monday, prompting Whitman’s campaign to say such disputes are not uncommon in high-stress workplaces. The two later overcame their differences, and the employee continues to work at the online auction site. The Times posted a story to its website based on anonymous sources that said Whitman became angry and pushed the employee in an executive conference room at eBay’s Silicon Valley headquarters. The employee, Young Mi Kim, was helping Whitman prepare for a media interview for which Whitman felt unprepared, according to the newspaper’s account. The story said Kim threatened to sue after the incident three years ago, but later agreed to a mediated settlement that remains private. “Meg is a serious, results-focused boss. A verbal dispute in a high-pressure working environment isn’t out of the ordinary,” Whitman campaign spokeswoman Sarah Pompei said in a statement issued to The Associated Press. “Meg’s record of accomplishment in business, including her success at leading eBay from a 30-employee startup to a Fortune 500 company, speaks for itself.” The report cited multiple former eBay employees the newspaper said had knowledge of the incident, although it also said that no one else witnessed it. It said Kim was not injured, but left the company for about four months afterward. She eventually returned and is now a senior manager for corporate and executive communications. In an e-mailed statement to the Times, Kim said she and Whitman had overcome their differences. “Yes, we had an unfortunate incident, but we resolved it in a way that speaks well for her and for eBay,” Kim told the newspaper. “And ultimately, I came back to the company, which is not something I had to do.” Whitman’s experience leading eBay from a startup to a global power in online auctions is a central aspect of her campaign narrative. She has contrasted her decades in the corporate world against the political career of her opponent, Democrat Jerry Brown, and says such real-world business experience is what’s needed to turn around California’s declining fiscal fortunes. More on Meg Whitman
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Report: Meg Whitman SHOVED eBay Employee In Altercation
I have heard a number of false allegations leveled against President Barack Obama - socialist, communist, illegal immigrant, terrorist sympathizer, etc. Iowa Congressman Steve King (R-Limbaugh/Coulter/Palin) took things to a new level when he said on G. Gordon Liddy’s radio show that the president: “the President has demonstrated that he has a default mechanism in him that breaks down the side of race - on the side that favors the black person.” This charge, completely unsubstantiated by the factual record, would be laughable were it voiced by someone with no responsibility for national leadership. Coming from a member of Congress, however, it only contributes to the animus that some on the Right feel toward Obama. America’s racial issues require serious words from serious people. Steve King is not among them. Don’t get me wrong: Presidents can be racists too. Even Black ones. But to hurl that charge without legitimate evidence simply adds fuel to the fire that burns in some people who will believe anything about the President that confirms their own narrow view of him and the world. King just gave rhetorical nourishment to the Tea Party crowd and others who just can’t accept the fact that a Black man is President of the United States. Indeed, to the extent that national reporting touches on Obama’s personal security, we know that the life of this President is under threat moreso than any previous person to hold the office. Is it because he is left handed, a lawyer, or we are in a recession? No. We have had southpaw presidents, lawyer presidents, and recession presidents, so I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it’s probably BECAUSE HE IS BLACK. CNN and the London Telegraph reported in August of 2009 that threats against Obama were up 400 percent from his predecessor, George Bush, who received about 3,000 per year. Even with that reality, the president has bent over backwards to overlook race. I have been critical of him for his clear unwillingness to use his bully pulpit, one which no other person on the face of this earth has, to lead the country in a new direction on race. Silence on the prison-industrial complex which has destabilized Black and Brown communities around the country. Silence on the race-based exploitation of Africa. Silence of racism. Barely a peep on racial profiling. Indeed, he publicly scolded his Attorney General for having the temerity to say that America has been cowardly when it comes to race. Obama’s plan has been to largely ignore race, as if a lead-by-example philosophy will fade this historic stain on the American quilt. I believe this the wrong approach. No systemic societal problem in all of recorded human history has gone away because it was simply ignored. Meanwhile, King’s comments reflect the conservative narrative on race in America: charge liberals with being racists to change the subject and hope the country does not examine the Right’s record on race. There is no legitimate support for King’s claim. But he lodged it anyway because, in America, race is one of the few topics that will get a rise out of people. As we look move closer toward the November elections, look for King and people of his ilk to amp up the rhetoric to drive their supporters to the polls. Michael K. Fauntroy is an associate professor of public policy at George Mason University and author of the book Republicans and the Black Vote. He blogs at: MichaelFauntroy.com. More on Tax Day Tea Parties
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Michael Fauntroy: The Public Discourse Deserves Better Than Steve King
On this Flag Day, let us celebrate the symbol of our nation by enjoying a heaping helping of political news from all over this fair nation. Because, really, aside from the Stars and Stripes, is there any more awe-inspring symbol of America than the Wrap?!? (End of self-serving hyperbole. Beginning of actual Wrap) THE U.S. SENATE IL-Sen: Will Kirk endure his second teabagging of 2010? This could be a potential game-changer, should it come to pass. Chicago political blogger Greg Hinz is reporting that Mike Niecestro, a local mortgage broker and conservative, is working towards filing by the June 21st deadline as an Independent candidate for the U.S. Senate. Niecestro sounds serious as could be, claiming he already has the requisite number of signatures on his petitions (and claiming he’ll double that up in the next week). He also claims to have already raised six figures, with commitments that add up close to $1 million. Remember that the GOP nominee, Mark Kirk, has had trouble coalescing the right-wing base. This could, in theory, render it impossible. NY-Sen: Gillibrand and Schumer both look to be landslide winners November continues to look completely and totally uncompetitive for New York Republicans, according to the latest incarnation of the Siena Poll (PDF file) . The Democratic Senator perceived as being more vulnerable (rookie Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand) is clearly not vulnerable yet, as she has sizeable leads over her three potential Republican rivals. She leads former Congressman Joe DioGuardi by eighteen points (47-29), and even wider leads over both Bruce Blakeman (48-27) and David Malpass (49-24). Senior Senator Chuck Schumer fares even better, rolling over both Gary Berntsen (59-27) or Jay Townsend (60-26). Siena polls the GOP primaries, as well, but it is safe to say that undecided is the big winner in both cases. SC-Sen: Rawl seeks overturn of shocking primary defeat Hard to see the endgame for this one, but Democratic primary loser Victor Rawl is formally contesting his defeat at the hands of Alvin Greene in last week’s Senate primary in the Palmetto State. His plea will probably wind up being for naught, since it is hard to see on what grounds he will be seeking to have the results vacated. The party’s executive committee will meet Thursday to consider the challenge. UT-Sen: Lee internal polling claims lead in GOP primary With incumbent Senator Bob Bennett dispatched in the state convention several weeks ago, it created a wide-open Republican primary between Tim Bridgewater and Mike Lee for the party’s nod. With a little over a week until the primary, Mike Lee is releasing an internal poll (PDF file) showing that he has a nine-point edge over Bridgewater (39-30). Plenty of Utahns appear undecided, however, in the poll which was conducted last Thursday. THE U.S. HOUSE IN-03: It’s Hayhurst versus Stutzman in November The local GOP leadership in northeastern Indiana has made their choice, and they chose a politico who has already been on the ballot in the 2010 electoral cycle. As was somewhat expected, the local GOP turned to Marlin Stutzman , who ran a fairly impressive second place in the 2010 Senate primary, splitting eventual nominee (and former U.S. Senator) Dan Coats and former Congressman John Hostettler. Stutzman will take on Democrat Tom Hayhurst, who performed respectably in a 2006 Congressional bid. NC-08: GOP power players going all-in to defeat D’Annunzio In perhaps the clearest sign yet that national Republicans find teabagger candidate Tim D’Annunzio to be politically toxic, the two leading GOPers in the House (John Boehner and Eric Cantor) have offered their fundraising prowess to D’Annunzio’s rival, sportscaster Harold Johnson. They are hosting a fundraiser on his behalf. D’Annunzio has scratched a ton of checks on his own behalf (to the tune of seven figures), thus necessitating the need to hoover up some cash for Johnson. THE GUBERNATORIAL RACES AL-Gov: Recount in GOP primary to proceed tomorrow Tuesday will mark the beginning of a recount which will finally allow businessman Bradley Byrne to learn the identity of his opponent for the July 13th runoff for Governor. The recount is commencing at the behest of Tim James, who finished just 167 votes behind state legislator Robert Bentley in the June 1st primary. Bentley, thought to be the favorite in the runoff because of his ability to consolidate right-wing voters, is instead flailing , calling for an enormous turnover of his campaign staff in advance of the month-long runoff process. AK-Gov: Democratic field cut to two with Poe exit The Democratic primary to challenge Republican Gov. Sean Parnell was reduced by one this morning, with the news that former state commissioner Bob Poe was dropping out of the race. Poe was actually the first Democrat in the race (way back when Sarah Palin still held the office), but he found himself outgunned by better-funded Democrats like state legislator Hollis French and 2008 House nominee Ethan Berkowitz. FL-Gov: McCollum in semi-severe ethics flap? Florida state Attorney General Bill McCollum, whose bid for the GOP nomination for Governor was already reeling from the entrance and surprising strength of hospital magnate Rick Scott, has been rocked again , this time by allegations that he might have offered fundraising assistance to an unregistered political action committee in Florida, one that (coincidentally….?) has been airing ads attacking Rick Scott. The group is called the Florida First Initiative, and McCollum’s name is directly invoked in fundraising emails for the group. This would seem to violate Florida state law, which requires disclosure when a cabinet official directly or indirectly solicits on behalf of a so-called 527 organization. IA-Gov: Right wing interest group not lending muscle to GOP nominee The conventional wisdom (buttressed by most in-state polling) has long been that incumbent Democrat Chet Culver is the underdog for re-election this Fall, and that former Governor and current GOP nominee Terry Branstad is the favorite. One does have to wonder, however, if this status is threatened by the clear reluctance of the right-wing in Iowa to embrace the GOP nominee. The latest piece of evidence: the Iowa Family PAC, which backed Branstad’s primary opponent (Bob Vander Plaats), has announced that they will simply sit out the general election. NY-Gov: Siena shows Cuomo slipping…to only a 36-point lead The latest installment of the Siena poll has good news and bad news for Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Andrew Cuomo. The bad news: Cuomo’s favorability, now that he is finally a candidate, has taken a sizeable hit (the lowest it has been since 2008). The good news: he still leads by over thirty points against any of the potential Republican challengers in his path. He leads former Congressman Rick Lazio by thirty-six points (60-24), and leads businessman Carl Paladino by a similarly large margin (60-23). Siena also polls the forthcoming GOP primary, and finds Lazio leading Paladino by a better than 2-to-1 margin (45-18). OH-Gov: Strickland grabs endorsement normally reserved for GOP You can probably count on one hand the number of Democrats who can swing an endorsement from the National Rifle Association (NRA) in a competitive race against a legitimate GOP challenger. Yet that is precisely what has happened in Ohio, where Democratic Governor Ted Strickland earned the endorsement of the organization over Republican John Kasich. SC-Gov: Haley nomination to get boost tomorrow for McMaster Nikki Haley was so close to securing the GOP nomination outright during last week’s primary night, that the media could be forgiven for declaring her the presumptive nominee. That grew even more presumptive today, with the news that Henry McMaster , the state Attorney General who ran third in the primary, has elected to endorse Haley. The actual announcement is expected on Tuesday. THE RAS-A-POLL-OOZA Rasmussen has something of a mixed bag in their week-opening results, which is practically miraculous in and of itself, given their normal GOP-friendly data. That is not to say that Ras has suddenly moderated, or anything. After all, their one marginally positive data point for Democrats (some marked improvement in the fortunes of the Democrats running for Michigan Governor) is more than offset by every other result, including an almost laughable ten-point Republican lead in the generic ballot test (46-36). MI-Gov: Rick Snyder (R) 42%, Virg Bernero (D) 30% MI-Gov: Mike Cox (R) 40%, Virg Bernero (D) 34% MI-Gov: Peter Hoekstra (R) 39%, Virg Bernero (D) 36% MI-Gov: Rick Snyder (R) 41%, Andy Dillon (D) 33% MI-Gov: Mike Cox (R) 39%, Andy Dillon (D) 37% MI-Gov: Peter Hoekstra (R) 40%, Andy Dillon (D) 35% SC-Gov: Nikki Haley (R) 55%, Vincent Sheheen (D) 34% SC-Gov: Gresham Barrett (R) 46%, Vincent Sheheen (D) 38% SD-AL: Kristi Noem (R) 53%, Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D) 41%
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Polling and political wrap-up, 6/14/10
Journalism providing more light than heat is less common than we’d like and positive stories are downright rare. That’s why it’s worth taking a look at a Washington Post profile of my onetime boss Janice Mays that meets both of these criteria. I’ve long countered the seeming majority complaints about how Congress operates by suggesting that what’s really surprising is how well it runs, given the ego, inflexibility and limited attention spans of many of our elected officials. It takes excellent staff to keep the trains running. Janice is a key member of that crew and she deserves recognition because she’s doing a very important job very well. In her case, she’s smoothly managed a key committee for more than a decade even as two powerful chairmen were forced to relinquish the gavel. Things could have become mired or messy in both cases, but they didn’t. There’s a lesson there about the import of people behind the scenes and at least a hint that they have more impact on our lives than those we read about in the headlines. There’s no doubt that Janice Mays has had a bigger impact on the way Americans live by the way she’s influenced tax policy - albeit at the administrative margins perhaps — than Helen Thomas has, or perhaps even Sarah Palin. So she’s someone insiders find worth talking to or listening to and lobbyists frequently do both. She respects the role they play in the process, which isn’t surprising inasmuch as more than a few of our former colleagues now lobby. “I actually believe that the lobby community serves a good purpose. I believe people have a right to petition their government,” she told the Post’s Mary Ann Akers in a statement that may give some goo-goos * heartburn, but makes sense to me. That’s partly because it provides useful intelligence to both sides, leaving her in a position where she warn lobbyists against trying an idea that seems improbable awful, educate legislators about challenges that are in the wind and transmute popular bad ideas into workable ones. Those with an interest in understanding the legislative process, a small subset of those attempting to influence its product, should both appreciate Janice and her colleagues and get to know them a bit better. They’re inevitably smart, loyal to their principals and principles alike and supple to enough to adopt to changing leadership styles as their environment changes. Despite a lack of evidence, I suspect they tend not to be graduates of elite colleges. Janice is listed under the Soong sisters - among famous graduates to Wesleyan College, the Macon, Ga., school that was the first to award degrees to women and continues the tradition of single-sex education. We don’t have access to her papers there to allow us to compare her performance with that of recent Supreme Court nominees who attended Princeton, but she’s clearly proven already that she can play well in the big leagues. That’s something insiders have known for a long time. “Janice is one of the key players. She’s in on virtually all the important decisions,” a former colleague said - in the Almanac of the Unelected that appeared in 1992. She’s one of the few people profiled in that book still working on Capitol Hill. In the intervening years her power has deservedly grown while her public reputation, unfortunately for all concerned, has not. * that’s a dismissive characterization we devotees of the Chicago political organization use in referring to good government types who, to use the jargon of Congressional courtesy, we hold in minimal high regard.
Jim Jaffe: Who (Really) Runs Congress?
This is funny: earlier today, Jason R. Latham, Managing Editor of Fox 5 News in Las Vegas, blasted Fox News Channel for conducting a truly awful interview with Sharron Angle, the Nevada Republican Party’s nominee for U.S. Senate. Latham said the interview, which took place on FOX & Friends, was “rife with inaccuracies, softball questions and poor research on the part of the producers and hosts.” Among the errors: Gretchen Carlson said Angle hadn’t been in politics before. Actually, as Dave Weigel points out , Angle had more experience than any of her Republican contenders. Steve Doocy said Sarah Palin had endorsed Angle. Not true. Doocy also tried to give Angle a chance to deny she wants to eliminate Social Security, suggesting that assertions to the contrary were “misinformation” and “not true.” In fact, Angle does want to eliminate Social Security; on her own website (at least as of late Monday morning ) she calls for it to be “transitioned out.” Las Vegas political reporter Jon Ralston called the interview “astonishing,” noting Doocy didn’t follow up on Social Security, despite Angle’s claim that it was “nonsense” that she wanted to eliminate it. Reid has been taking an aggressive stance against Angle, including a new ad featuring Angle saying that “we need to phase Medicare and Social Security out.” ### Here’s the interview: NV-Sen: GOP nominee Sharron Angle in her national interview debut said she’s running a “national” campaign and falsely denied proposing to eliminate Social Security and Medicare.
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NV-Sen: Fox affiliate says FNC ‘mangled’ truth in Angle interview
By Eli Winkelman Two weeks ago, I went to the White House for its first
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Jumpstart: A White House Family Reunion
California voters face a clash between corporate cash vs. progressive populism. Nothing less than the biggest statehouse, the biggest Senate seat, and the future presidency of America is at stake here in the Golden State. Corporate cash vs. progressive populism Can corporate cash always beat progressive populism? Absolutely not - but it will be spent at historic levels over the next 5 months. Corporate cash funded the nominations of Meg Whitman (R-eBay) for governor and Carly Fiorina (R-Hewlett Packard) for senator. http://vote.sos.ca.gov/returns/gov/59.htm But, corporate cash lost to progressive populists who defeated Prop 16 (utility PG&E spent $45 million to LOSE a public power grab http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-california-prop16-20100610,0,6055763.story ) and Prop 17 (Mercury Insurance spent over $15 million to LOSE a rate hike measure http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-0610-prop17-20100610,0,6749863.story ) One element from NO on 16 and 17 - the money is the message - for good and for ill. When a candidate or a company brandishes wealth during a recession, big spenders risk voter backlash. Whitman vs. Brown for Governor Republican and Independent women are excited about Meg Whitman - she beat men to rise to the top of eBay corporation and she beat a well-known conservative in Steve Poizner to win the nomination. She spent over $80 million - 70 dollars per vote - and thus far has outspent Jerry Brown 200 to 1. Whitman did move to the far right on immigration which will hurt her with Latinos and moderates in the general. Jerry Brown is a party of one more like Arnold Schwarzenegger (who says he’s not endorsing) so don’t expect to pigeonhole him. He was a good mayor, a law and order leader with a military school in liberal Oakland - and has been an activist Attorney General. Whitman wants to make Brown out to have been a big spender but older voters - the stars of midterm elections - remember the blue Plymouth instead of the Reagan town car, the mattress on the floor instead of the governor’s mansion, and his reputation as a cheapskate. Brown flubbed with his Goebbels gaffe - but some of Whitman’s people responded in kind attacking him as the REAL minister of propaganda - hopefully they will all stop the Nazi references! Really, people, I can think of 6 million reasons why this Nazi analogy has to stop. Meg Whitman will be on air nonstop talking at voters but they can’t see her debate till October 11th - the earliest date she OKed - when absentee ballots are already out for early voting. I expect that to change, as voters demand more interactivity and accountability. Fiorina vs. Boxer for Senator Carly Fiorina has her HP golden Parachute to fund a race against Barbara Boxer. She won the Palin primary against tea party favorite Chuck DeVore, who pushed her to the far right on immigration. Fiorina is anti gay marriage in a gay rights state, pro life in a pro choice state, and won’t fund abortions under any circumstances including rape and incest. Fiorina began badly with her snarky Boxer hairstyle/Whitman on Hannity comments. She apologized to Whitman - not Boxer - and has now got to make up lost ground with voters who wonder why the head of a tech company can’t handle a hot mike, and with women voters who don’t want her mean girls cattiness to reflect upon us. But it’s not about the hair or the Hannity - it’s about the jobs. Boxer will defend the Recovery Act aid to California, explain how jobs investments have helped make progress in people’s lives, and campaign hard in the Central Valley where swing voters thrive. Fiorina will have to explain why she was outsourcing jobs as CEO of HP before she was fired by the board. Boxer has long championed our California coast. For a while, political reporters would tell me “so what? Environmental issues don’t win independent voters” but now that BP has spewed ecological, economic, and emotional disaster in the gulf coast, Boxer’s longtime stance against drilling off the California coast has the edge, especially along the Santa Barbara coastline where Tranquillion Ridge has been a target for drilling. We’ll see if Palin returns to California chanting “drill baby drill” with Fiorina anytime soon. GOP vs. Obama for President Long the ATM and brain trust of national politics, California is always host to national Democratic and Republican all-stars. This year, the stakes are enormous: we are looking at a battle for the direction of California and the 2012 Presidential race. President Obama has been out here twice for Barbara Boxer and could return if need be. On the Republican side, Mitt Romney helped Meg Whitman and Sarah Palin helped Carly Fiorina. If Whitman or Fiorina should happen to win - and I concede neither - Romney or Palin would have a feather in their cap and a potential rival or slatemate for 2012, since victory in America’s largest state would instantly catapult Whitman or Fiorina into the GOP VP sweepstakes. But we are a long way from there… Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer still lead in the polls. What does all this mean for the November elections? California is a blue state but we need a strong grass roots effort to win. Why? The June turnout was quite low according to our Field poll http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/jtf/JTF_June2010PrimaryJTF.pdf and will remain so unless voters have a compelling reason to come out. What Democrats need is to build on the No on Prop 16 and 17 victories and engage the voters. Democrats must make the election a choice between which candidates help us achieve the California dream and open doors of opportunity and prosperity to all, and which will insist on corporatist policies that merely trickle down to Main Street. We need an interactive debate on jobs, healthcare, education, immigration, water, land use, and civil rights. Our standard bearers must be clear in their policies and their politics so that voters can cut through the multi-million dollar ad clutter. I don’t think the answers will be on the air - I think they’ll be on the ground, when people go door to door and look eyeball to eyeball with voters to make the case for a better California. This will require a cultural change in Democratic politics - the admen (and yes they’re mostly men) will want their slick mailers and TV spots (and 15-18% consulting fees) to carry the day - so the progressive populists have to fight for every inch of ground intend to cover within the Democratic party and within the State of California. More on Carly Fiorina
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Christine Pelosi: What’s at Stake in the Golden State? Corporate cash vs. progressive populism
Speaking to Fox News’ Greta van Susteren on what she calls ‘Boob-gate,’ Sarah Palin firmly denied the speculation that she has had breast implants. No, I have not had implants. A report like that is about as real and truthful as reports that [my husband] Todd and I are divorcing or that I bought a place in the Hamptons or that [my son] Trigg is not my own child. More information on ‘Boob-gate’ can be found here . More on Sarah Palin
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Sarah Palin’s ‘Boob-gate’ Response: They’re Not Implants
Obama and his minions mocked the union men and women who supported Bill Halter in his campaign to retire Blanche Lincoln. Obama supported Lincoln. Bill Clinton campaigned hard for Lincoln. Lincoln paused in her victory lap to join 46 other Senate troglodytes to speak in favor of Lisa Murkowski’s bill denying global warming and attempting to gut the Clean Air act. I didn’t mean to vote for Blanche Lincoln. Majority Leader Harry Reid put together the votes to defeat the Murkowski bill by agreeing to allow a vote on a bill proposed by coal-state Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller that will, over time, achieve Murkowski’s goal. I didn’t mean to vote for Reid and Rockefeller. Sarah Palin was for “Drill, baby, drill.” Barack Obama decided he she was right about that just before the BP oil catastrophe proved that we were right to vote against her. I didn’t mean to vote for her. Chuck Schumer and Diane Feinstein, on the Senate Judiciary Committee, voted to send Michael Mukasey’s nomination (to replace the incompetent and disgraced Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales) to the Senate floor, where confirmation was assured. They could have killed that nomination in committee. What did they vote for? In his testimony, Mukasey had asserted that President George W. Bush had the right to ignore any law if he thought it interfered with his responsibility to protect the nation. Oliver Cromwell made the same sensible claim when he made himself Lord Protector of England, thereby effectively castrating Parliament. That’s exactly the power the German parliament, the Reichstag, effectively castrating itself, gave Hitler when he asked for it. The Reichstag’s shame was called the “Enabling Act.” The American Wonder Boy didn’t need an Enabling Act. He was enabled by fiat. Schumer and Feinstein enabled him. Mukasey proclaimed George W. Bush (of all people) the Unitary Executive and the Senate, where the Democrats held a majority, ratified that when they voted to confirm him. I didn’t mean to vote for Mukasey and Bush. I should never have voted for people like Schumer and Feinstein. How would you like to see a progressive Justice on the US Supreme Court? Not a chance, not ever, even when the Democrats have a “filibuster-proof” majority. (Who are these Democrats? I’m a Democrat, I’ve always been a Democrat, but they’re different from me.) Why not? Why can’t we have even one progressive Justice? We elect Democratic Presidents. Don’t Republican presidents put conservative - even reactionary - justices on the Supreme Court. Sure. There are four really horrible ones right now: Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, and Samuel Alito. Guess how many were confirmed, by the way, while Democrats were in the majority. All four. Don’t you think Mitch McConnell and Jim DeMint will let us have one progressive? Sure: on the day that Fox News is fair and balanced. Hey, what about Elena Kagan? She’s a Democrat! She’s smart! She hardly ever made her own opinion clear in her whole impressive career! Everybody likes her! Do we know anything about her deepest beliefs? Is there any hint about how she feels about the current disastrous elevation of the Executive Branch and the concomitant humiliating subordination of the Legislative Branch? Maybe she’s a secret progressive! Uh . . . look it up. (For the record: there aren’t any secret progressives. That’s an oxymoron.) I didn’t mean to vote for the party that made it impossible to have a progressive on the USSC. I didn’t mean to vote for the party that allowed the vilest reactionaries to creep onto that bench. Did I do that? Am I responsible for that? Come on! I’m a progressive Democrat. And a word about that “filibuster-proof” majority. Such clever and pragmatic Democrats as Barbara Boxer and Barack Obama accomplished that great achievement by going to Connecticut and campaigned against Ned Lamont, a progressive who had just won the Democratic primary. They knew better than the voters of what had been thought to be their Party, of course. (Even Progressive radio talk show host Ed Schultz told us we were stupid to be for Lamont because he couldn’t win in the general election.) Boxer and Obama and Schultz prevailed. They beat the Progressive, and they had an even bigger triumph then than they just had by sending Blanche Lincoln back to vote against progressive interests. They saved Joe Lieberman! How did that work out, Senator Boxer? Mr. Schultz? Mr. President? I didn’t mean to vote for Joe Lieberman. Oh . . . But I did actually vote for Lieberman once, didn’t I? Because I liked Al Gore, because I loathed George W. Bush. I’m a progressive Democrat, but I voted for Joe, because of Al. I’ll be ashamed of that vote as long as I live. I Al even a little ashamed? I heard him defend that choice, and his old dear friend, during the darkest days of the health care debacle (and after Joe campaigned for McCain). I should never have voted for Lieberman. I’d like to have that vote back.. Well, Obama picked better, didn’t he? Obama picked Joe Biden. Uh . . . why did such a decent, kind, likeable man as Joe Biden — such a lifelong liberal — vote for one of the cruelest assaults on the reeling, endangered middle class ever offered for a vote in all his time in the Senate — the vicious, pernicious bankruptcy reform bill? That really, really hurt people, Joe, people all over America, you’re kind of people, when the housing bubble burst. Why? Wait a minute: aren’t there a few credit card companies in Delaware? Say it ain’t so, Joe. I didn’t mean to vote for the credit-card bandits and their stooges. Why did the Big Pharma bandits make out like, well, bandits, in the feeble health reform sweepstakes? Right at the beginning, right as the Democratic President was taking the public option off the table, he made a secret deal with the Drug Lords: reform would include no competition, no cheaper drugs for US citizens from Canada. Why? Just for the record: how much money did Big Pharma contribute to the McCain campaign, and how much to the Obama campaign. Look it up. It wasn’t only all us hopeful, despised little bloggers in our pajamas who financed the audacity of hope. I didn’t mean to vote for Big Pharma. Did I do that? I didn’t mean to vote for the Patriot Act or the FISA “compromise” or the mindless, insulting continuation of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” I didn’t mean to vote for more war, including an incomprehensible escalation of the no-win, no-possible-ever-win, in the quagmire of Afghanistan. I didn’t mean to vote for no investigations of proudly-and-cheerfully-admitted war crimes. I didn’t mean to vote for no investigations of all the other high crimes and misdemeanors of the former corporatist Unitary Executive and his Vice-President and his infernal administration. I didn’t mean to vote for no accountability for Wall Street and the banks. I didn’t mean to vote for no-strings bailouts (bailouts, of course, but no strings!!). I didn’t mean to vote for a stimulus package with no accounting. I didn’t mean to vote for a continuation of no real regulation of the Wall Street, banking, or coal and oil bandits. I voted, of course, for Barack Obama. I liked him: he was smart, decent, eloquent (such a change). He had a lovely family. His election would announce to the world that we aren’t the same people who bought and sold and lynched and humiliated and abused our fellow men. But I knew I was voting for him, as I have almost always voted, because he was so much the lesser of two evils - he had, after all, already voted for that FISA “compromise.” I made a mistake. This country will never have a chance to be healed, to fight its way back up the slope to be a democracy again, to break the probably-unbreakable power of the ruling corporations (if you don’t understand this, innocent hopers, just wait and see what BP actually pays for) until we turn away from the money-corrupted corporate stooges who are “lesser evils” because they are “liberal” on a few social issues, until we give our votes always and only to progressive candidates. Does that mean Republicans will win? Sure. They win anyway, don’t they? Think again about the Judicial Branch. Our Supreme Court illegally interfered with an election and awarded the presidency to Bush. More recently, it subverted all future elections by ruling that corporations can nakedly buy them, and can even do so, if they choose, anonymously. The Democrats gave us that court. So in the brave new world I’m imagining, with Democratic voters divided between the old Centrist Democrats and new Progressives, Republicans will win some elections. Given the perilous state of the nation, not to mention the planet, you could argue that we don’t have any time for remedial elections. I’d say we don’t have any more time to waste before we change our ways. Because the possibility (however slim) exists that if we desert the Blue Dogs, the Centrists, the pragmatists, the Democrats with their hands out, the ones who really do not represent us and do not care, who ignore or even mock us because they are sure we have nowhere else to go and will have to come back to them– if we desert them and Republicans win, my guess is that those terrible, terrible people won’t win forever. Maybe, when enough of the American voters now whipped up to misdirected anger or plunged into self-destructive fear, when enough American voters now addicted to politics-as-usual, with its lying and hypocrisy and greed and meanness and the false security of an unchecked and unaccountable Unitary Executive (unaccountable except for an occasional mostly meaningless Tweedledum-Tweedledee election), a Unitary Executive who inexorably carries out the will of the Big Money Bosses — when enough of those voters end up, with the country, truly in the gutter, maybe then our recovery — one day at a time - can begin. I thought it had happened during W’s first term. Nope. And not really at the astonishingly catastrophic end of his second term. Not the real gutter than makes you change your ways. Now I realize there’s a chance that it may never happen (how much further down can we go? the Republican Party should have gone the way of the dodo, and probably would have if Obama and the Democrats hadn’t resurrected it). So then we won’t change, and we’ll go the way of Greece (”Athenian Exceptionalism,” check it out), and Rome. But maybe there is a real bottom (i. e., Sarah Palin in charge of two wars and a Depression — remember, only cranky, pitiful old John McCain’s fragile health might have stood between us and that nightmare), maybe there’s a real bottom like that, and we’ll hit it, and that’s when — maybe — this country will change, or it will die. It is dying now, anyway. The money bosses are killing it. Ask the good Republican voters of the Gulf Coast. There is not much hope, but there is no hope at all short of profound change, no hope at all with progressives continuing to vote for Business-as-usual, vaguely left-center Business-as-usual, and continuing to embrace evil (hopefully, of course) because it is so clearly not as evil as the alternative. It could be different. It will have to be. Imagine a national election with three candidates: a principled or idiotic libertarian/tea-bagger; a shameless Demolican or Republocrat corporate stooge; a TR-FDR progressive. That’s so far-fetched it doesn’t provide much hope, but over the long run (no guarantees any more about that long run, of course) it provides all the real hope there is. Would we be in worse shape if McCann-Palin had won? Without a doubt. Would we be closer to the gutter, and so — maybe — to the slim chance of beginning our recovery, one day at a time? I think so. Grim, I know. Horrible. But can we just talk happy talk and think good thoughts and keep hoping and voting the same way? Can you? I can’t. I hope Bill Halter, or somebody on the left (Weiner, Grayson, Markey, Whitehouse, Sanders, Rachel Maddow) runs against Obama in 2012. Unless Obama is born-again as a true Progressive — a fire-breathing, take-no-prisoners, TR (”Labor is the superior of capital and deserves much the higher consideration”), FDR (”I relish their hatred!”) Progressive — there’s as good a chance of my voting for him as there is of my voting for President Sarah Palin. None. If this helps elect Sarah Palin, so be it: we’ll either go out of business (in more ways than one) or we’ll hit bottom and begin to rise again. This country has had some good ideas over the last 200 years, some very good innings: perhaps we could aspire to those ideas again and get back in the game. Either way, it will be clear that we deserve what we’re getting, and in this time of no accountability anywhere along the line, there will be some grim satisfaction at least in that. Theodore Roosevelt said “The people of the United States have but one instrument which they can effectively use against the colossal combinations of business — and that instrument is the government of the United States.” That’s right. 2 + 2 = 4. Do enough of us see it yet, after Haliburton and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Bush and the wars and Brownie and Katrina and Tony Hayward and the Gulf? If not now, when? What more do we need, what more must happen to teach us? The people have only their government to protect them from the colossal combinations of business. People are beginning to figure this out — coal mining families, fishermen, homeowners — even while ignorant leaders shrill on about small government. We the people — especially the progressives — cannot keep voting for leaders who not only fail to understand that government must protect us from our enemies, but who are themselves also, even as they ostensibly serve us, no more than little cogs — very well compensated cogs — in those colossal combinations.
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Frank Dwyer: Colossal Combinations: An Urgent Call for Progressive Action
Proof that even joke teabagging makes you stupid: The Log Cabin Republicans of Los Angeles — the largest such gay GOP organization in the country — is holding a Tea Bag Toss at Christopher Street West, the Los Angeles Pride celebration this weekend. According to a press release we just got, “Participants will purchase a tea bag and win a prize if they can successfully throw it through the open mouth of one of three politicians on the game board.” We had to know if this was for real, so we got a hold of Scott Schmidt, president of of Log Cabin-Los Angeles. He said it was part of their effort to reach out the LGBT community, and, “We figured this year we ought to take it up a notch and do something that is engaging and somewhat amusing and shows that we can even laugh at ourselves.” And the three open-mouthed politicos? Those would be Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and former Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin. Schmidt said including Palin was an attempt to be nonpartisan and he noted that she raised the sales tax while mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. Yes. Palin raised the sales tax. Also, she thinks you’re a vile abomination against God and hopes that you will die and burn in Hell. So, you know, same-same. Way to stand up for yourselves, gay Republicans.
Fifty years ago, in the midst of a fierce political debate surrounding the United States’ immigration policies, a young senator named John F. Kennedy penned an essay called “A Nation of Immigrants.” It was a groundbreaking book, asserting urgently and poignantly that our nation’s greatness owes much to the immigrants among us. As current headlines make clear, Kennedy’s plea is as timely and necessary as ever. The United States is — and always has been — a nation of immigrants, though we continue to struggle to come to terms with the fact. Whether we’re debating the merits of building a 1,952-mile fence to keep “them” out or arguing the constitutionality of legally enforced racial profiling, the immigration debate shows no signs of abating. Though there is no lack of emotionally charged rhetoric on all sides of the debate, seldom do we stop to consider who these immigrants actually are, and why they have left their families and risked their lives in a desperate attempt to find menial jobs that pay paltry wages. During the making of my new documentary, Return to El Salvador , I met Salvadorans who fled their homeland in the 1980s during the country’s civil war. Eighteen months ago I couldn’t have pointed to El Salvador on a map, but the more I learned about their story, the more disturbed I became. I discovered that their story was in many ways my story. I learned of the horrific ways in which United States policy had contributed to atrocities in this tiny Central American nation, and that these very policies were forcing hard-working, law-abiding people to flee for their lives. It’s a bitter irony: U.S. actions in El Salvador and elsewhere force migration north, and once here, policies are in place to ensure that immigrants’ lives will continue to be exceedingly difficult. Most recently, Arizona passed immigration legislation that even Tom Tancredo, one of the nation’s most outspoken opponents of illegal immigration, has questioned. The bill, which requires Arizona police officers to question anyone they suspect of being undocumented, nonetheless maintains strong support in certain quarters. As irony would again have it, however, most of these supporters are themselves descendants of immigrants. Sarah Palin, for one, counts among her ancestors many who sailed on the Mayflower in search of a better life. While researching and filming Return to El Salvador , narrated by Martin Sheen and endorsed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu , I learned from Salvadorans themselves what I never managed to learn about the immigration debate elsewhere. I learned that some of the worst human rights offenders in El Salvador were taught the tricks of the trade by our own military at the School of the Americas, in Fort Benning, Georgia. I learned that while the civil war in El Salvador ended nearly twenty years ago, the murder rate is higher than ever, due in large part to North America’s ravenous consumption of illegal drugs. I learned about the way in which North American corporations operate in the region, often with impunity and consistently putting profits above people. And I learned about the corporations right here in the United States that rely on undocumented immigrants to work for minimum wage or less. This is a disturbing, tragic story that must be told, so this summer I will be taking Return to El Salvador on the road throughout the United States and Canada. This week, in fact, I am traveling to Ottawa at the invitation of MP John McKay to screen for Parliament a portion of the film that exposes the mysterious disappearance and murder of Salvadoran anti-mining activist Marcelo Rivera, who had vigorously and publicly spoken out against practices at a gold mine operated by a notorious Canadian mining corporation. MP McKay has presented a crucial piece of corporate accountability legislation called C-300 , which aims to limit the environmental and human rights abuses that Canadian mining companies commit overseas. Similar legislative initiative is needed in the United States in order to hold our corporations accountable for their actions both domestically and abroad. If the future of El Salvador and the Salvadoran diaspora is to be at all brighter than its recent past, courageous and compassionate action by the United States and its citizens is urgently needed. While we cannot change what has already happened, it’s not too late to examine the ways in which we have been complicit in the suffering of millions, and working together, to forge a better future for us all. To learn more about Return to El Salvador and when it is coming to a theater near you, visit returntoelsalvador.com .
Jamie Moffett: Still a Nation of Immigrants (VIDEO)
Against blatant racism there are weapons and white allies; against stealth racism, not so many. It is now politically incorrect to call anyone a racist, even if they are. But how can you tell anymore? Those who used to be identifiable as black racists now have white friends and white racists have black friends. I know a black guy in North Carolina who often drops in for a chat with his neighbor, who is a local Grand Dragon in the Klan. Seriously! So doesn’t that give the Grand Dragon plausible deniability of racism? I know a Chinese woman whose best friend is black; but she doesn’t particularly like black people. In fact she doesn’t particularly like Chinese people. Is she a racist? Race is a really touchy subject all over the world right now. I do a lot of international blogging and a man from Amsterdam, who I had come to know as quite racially liberal, was very offended because I referred to him as white. I had seen his photo. He is white. A woman from Copenhagen was similarly outraged when I told her that we are likely to understand some things differently because she is white and I black. She had no problem with my social reality being different because of gender, nationality or mode of thinking. “I don’t see you as black. You are simply a human being, and so am I,” she wrote with seeming pride in her liberalism. “No I am a black human being and you are a white human being. Our points of view will be different at times because of race,” I said. But the more I tried to explain the angrier she got. We exchanged three or four emails and eventually she wrote: “Because some bad white people did something awful to you in your childhood… I am not responsible for American racism and so I’m not going to feel sorry for you. Forget it! No!” Wow! I furrowed my brow. I had not once asked her to feel sorry for me. I have an advanced degree from an Ivy League university. I worked at the Washington Post and New York Times. How could I convince her that “good” white people had done more for me than “bad” white people had done against me? I had books published by Random House and Doubleday. I was a flying officer in the United States Air Force, but still there are things that I have to face that a white guy of my social circumstance does not have to face. There are many, many ways that I do not get treatment equal to that of a white guy similarly placed. “You’re playing the ‘race card,’” she said. “I’m not going to let you get away with it.” Wow! I furrowed my brow. I had not once asked her to feel sorry for me. I have an advanced degree from an Ivy League university. I worked at the Washington Post and New York Times. How could I convince her that “good” white people had done more for me than “bad” white people had done against me? I had books published by Random House and Doubleday. I was a flying officer in the United States Air Force, but still there are things that I have to face that a white guy of my social circumstance does not have to face. There are many, many ways that I do not get treatment equal to that of a white guy similarly placed. “You’re playing the ‘race card,’” she said. “I’m not going to let you get away with it.” Seldom can a black person talk about racism without being accused of playing that infamous “race card.” When Obama criticized Arizona’s anti-immigrant bill, Sarah Palin accused him of playing the “race card.” Obama is, in America’s definition, black but he’d better not say so. We can refer to him proudly as the first black president, but we cannot construct a working definition of what that might mean in the day to day conduct of his job. He cannot say he has a different point of view on certain social realities “because I’m black,” or “because now my entire family is black, except my half-sister who has an Asian father. We see America a little differently.” Immediately, pundits will accuse him of a lack of patriotism. The most patriotic person I know is a black ex-Special Forces guy. In business meetings he’ll blurt right out: “No one is ever going to get me to do anything that is not in the best interest of my country.” But his patriotism is different from that of, say, Glen Beck, Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, or John Boehner. He sees America as deeply flawed and unfinished. He loves America for its promise. Obama loves America too for its promise, and that’s a very valuable attitude, but he’d better be careful verbalizing it. Could Obama dare say certain people “attack me because I’m black”? Wow! That would be the ace of spades of ‘race cards.’ If the Tea Party, other elements of the right wing, or the Republican Party are rabid with racism there is no way to say so without, well. . . playing the “race card.” I got an email from a 30-something white guy who likes talking politics with a guy like me from the Civil Rights era. He is a polling and media consultants whose present specialty is working against right-wing, populist movements. He seems comfortable seeing the racial difference between us, and is not the least bit apologetic about that difference. He wrote: . . .this harkins back to a discussion you and I were having about “correctly framing the political discussion” I think it is this EXACT message battle that is going to play the largest role in the elections this Fall. Right now, the right-wingers are winning this battle hands-down. Sure they are. They can rally support using code words. The million-member Facebook group praying for Obama’s death does not say it is because he’s black. Rand Paul (who asserts that private business owners should not be prevented from discriminating against blacks and other minorities) says: “I have a message from the Tea Party. We come to take our country back.” From whom. . .that n-word in the White House? “Real Americans” is Sarah Palin code word. And her supporters know exactly who she regards as “unreal Americans.” Even if it can be argued that Paul and Palin are not racists, they certainly know how to appeal to racism. A Harris Poll released recently found among Republicans (There are about 50 million registered Republicans in America): 67 percent believe Obama is a socialist. 57 percent believe Obama is a Muslim 45 percent believe Obama was not born in the United States 38 percent equate many of Obama’s actions to those of Hitler 24 percent say Obama “may be the Antichrist.” How many of these 50 million are stealth racists who can be energized for political campaigns without mentioning race? Are some of the 50 million already in Congress? How many are in government jobs vital to the Administration’s success? How many are out there in America sliding some small or large indignity or inequality into black lives, sometime with permanent or even fatal ill-effect. And if the black person complains, how many liberals will dismiss the complaint as playing the “race card.” We know there are uncountable numbers (more than the million who signed up for the Facebook group) who hate Obama’s being President; why? because he’s . . .nope, you can’t say it. Therefore, you cannot openly defend him, or yourself, from stealth racism. And this makes Obama’s accomplishments as President, the new American mix that elected him, and some of the wonderful things black people are getting done seem even more incredibly to an old timer like me.
George Davis: Obama is Black but He’d Better Not Say So
Guess who thinks the EPA is “a non-governmental agency”? Scott Brown, that’s who . Explaining his vote to bar the EPA from regulating carbon emissions, Brown said: To give a non-governmental agency the ability to regulate the way that they have the potential to, they can regulate churches and restaurants and drop it all the way down from the big emitters to the very smallest emitters and it’s not appropriate. And, you know, we in Congress should continue to work on this issue and have the authority to do just that. And I would encourage, certainly, the majority party to start to work on a lot of these energy issues right away. I guess that means if the EPA were a governmental agency then Brown would be cool with regulating carbon emissions? Oh, wait, the EPA is a governmental agency. We’re in luck! Scott Brown can change his vote and we can get to work “on a lot of these energy issues right away.”
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Scott B. Palin
As citizens, we are cut out when it comes to our voices and opinions concerning the BP oil spill disaster — which is the worst oil spill in the history of the world! We are cut off from the people who are vying to find solutions, our President, the EPA, BP executives and now the Coast Guard. The oil and the subsequent slaughter of vasts quantities of marine life (altering their DNA and ours) is gushing out of control. The impact that this spill is having on the fisherman and their families in Louisiana is severe. They may never recover from the loss of life nor will they survive without the wages they have relied on for so many years. Generations to come will feel the loss. Furthermore, much of their traditions could be lost and so few remain already. You may think twice about that shrimp cocktail the next time you count tails — there may be far less on ice. In fact, shrimp may become endangered in the United State or worse, like imitation crab meat which fills your California sushi rolls, it may become inedible. And that’s not all. Fish and fowl estuaries in the Gulf rely on an interdependent connection to ecosystems. However, these are now being engulfed by the spill and as we learned from the Exxon Valdez spill, some species may never fully recuperate. It’s enough to make you want to scream and pull out your hair! However, there is a natural and safe oil spill clean-up alternative that is growing as fast as the oil gushes into the pockets of BP Stockholders. Tony Hayward , we have a word of advice for you and your Board of Directors — “You’re not cutting it fast enough!” Forget your Cap and Trade mischief. Get on with a plan, Man! We are going to stop the spill with HUMAN and ANIMAL HAIR. Our little Fur Babies are going to save billions of crustaceans. And we are going to save mammals and birds. What a concept! Here’s what you need to know about hair from Wikipedia : Hair is an outgrowth of filamentous cells, containing keratin, that grows from follicles found in the dermis…. Hair often refers to two distinct structures the part beneath the skin, called the hair follicle or when pulled from the head called the bulb. This organ is located in the dermis and maintains stem cells which not only re-grow the hair after it falls out but also are recruited to regrow skin after a wound; and the shaft, which is considered the part of the hair above the skin surface though it appears first in the epidermis. The hair shaft, in cross-section, can be divided roughly into three zones. Starting from the outside, the cuticle which consists of several layers of flat, thin cells laid out like roof shingles, the cortex which contain the keratin bundles in cell structures that remain roughly rod like and in some cases the medulla, a disorganized and open area at the fibers center. Tony, look at the picture. See the follicle and the root — looks a little like the pipe you are trying to plug. Take a good look. See the Sebaceous Gland? It produces oil, tons of it- naturally! And that oil is good oil because it enables things to stick to hair. Things like viscous petroleum. Strands of human hair — imagine Tony, how many zillions of human and animals strands we can use to help stop the spill. Read on and learn about how hair swells when a single molecular layer of lipid appears — the hair repels water, imagine what it will do with oil — it will stick. Each strand of hair is made up of the medulla, cortex, and cuticle. The medulla is the innermost region of the hair strand. Many hair fibers have little or no medula. The cortex, or middle layer of the hair, is the primary source of mechanical strength, water uptake and hair color. … The cuticle is the outer covering. Its complex structure slides as the hair swells and is covered with a single molecular layer of lipid that makes the hair repel water. And the best thing about hair is that grows back — oil, once released from the oceans surface will not return for millions and millions of years. What you have to know is that although this information is a Wiki — we the people are really fed-up with this mess you got us in! We don’t need Sarah Palin to tell us that it’s “the environmentalists fault,” or candidates running scared while fishing for lobbyists — there’s a glut of them hooking for lines and sinkers. Protesting in vain. As if we didn’t learn our lesson — that we are swiftly and all to stubbornly coming to the end of the Age of Petroleum. And President Obama is not to blame. He’s trying to get to the bottom of this mess and he’s doing a great job even though he’s really ticked off. In fact, I know for certain he will be one of the first to donate. What you ask? Hair. That’s right. Hair. What the world really needs now are sharp scissors, talented hairdressers, and communities all across this country and the WORLD to TAKE THE CUT TO STOP THE SPILL. Hair! How amazing is the grace of God? Let’s all sing together now! Reposted from www.LuxEcoLiving.com
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Nancy Chuda: It’s Hair Raising: We Want to Stop the Spill
Republican presidential contenders appear to have found a 2012 campaign theme: They’re spreading the word that President Barack Obama lacks enough real-world experience for the job, and that his response to the Gulf oil spill proves it. No Republican has formally started to campaign, but several are speaking up now to say Obama is out of his league. More on Sarah Palin
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GOP Tests 2012 Theme vs. Obama
” How long, Cataline, will you abuse our patience? ” -Cicero Sarah Palin, Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh have figured out what progressive media–including this publication–have not. If only heard and commented upon by their own audiences, like Fox and their radiostations and Facebook page, they would not amount to very much. In fact, their utterances are designed mostly to get a hearing by the progressive media. Ed Schultz does “psychotalk”. Keith Olbermann has “worst people in the world”. Liberal bloggers and Rachel Maddow take unending delight in pointing out the hypocrisy, stupidity, factlessness of their pronouncements. That is exactly what they want. They play the media and progressive bloggers like violins. What does Limbaugh say when Palin’s book is released? “This is clearly a woman who loves policy”. Predictably, and instantly, cable news and the blogosphere become apoplectic. [I am told there is little if anything in the book about policy]. Limbaugh was rewarded with dishonorable mentions, exactly the publicity he craves, while Schultz/Olbermann/Matthews/Maddow believed, erroneously, that they had “explained” to Limbaugh’s listeners what a crock of BS he is. They do not care. The mistake “we” make is to assume that these people are actually as embarrassed as you or I would be to make such absurd statements. They have no capacity for embarrassment–or, as an old saying goes, they cry all the way to the bank. Indeed, the more they are pilloried, the higher their stock among the faithful because it shows to their faithful that they are consequential people; and, if you are consequential, what you are saying must have merit, mustn’t it? It is not rightwing talk radio or Fox, but the progressive cable networks and the netroots that give them their cache. What about a different approach? One in which no one mentions either their names or their nonsense outside of their own little world? What would happen? First, they will become even more idiotic, tempting, tempting, tempting the media to report their pronouncements. Then, they will become angry for lack of coverage. Eventually, they will be greatly diminished. Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) basked in the limelight until he was censured by the Senate. With his gavel gone and the cameras off, he became distraught, bitter, and alcoholic. Today, McCarthy would have received a cushy position at the Heritage Foundation, where he would have the opportunity of interacting with like-minded people, and appear on Fox as an expert on Communism. With all the communists surrounding Obama (I think Valerie Jarret’s grandmother once knew one, so q.e.d), he would be back in his element. Such a perch might have saved him from alcoholism and premature death (age 48, just 30 months after censure). But it would never be the same for him. Ignore Sarah, Rush and Glen and they will become just what they are–inconsequential, spewing hatred and nonsense to their fellow travelers. If Heritage and other rightwing belief tanks want to purchase advance copies of their “books” to make it appear as if they are widely read and influential, let them. And, no, we do not have to “expose” them for fear, like the Hitler they refer to, their views will become widely adopted. There are many others on the right fringe that espouse similar views, and the ideas can be criticized, and hypocrisy revealed, without referring to the triumvirate. We do not need to give them air or electronic print recognition to provide them ego-satisfaction and encouragement by thinking that we care about what they say, or do. I urge this publication and like-minded ones not to write another article about what Palin said on her Facebook page, or what Beck hallucinated, or Limbaugh contrived. I also urge my fellow bloggers to resist the temptation to demonstrate their hypocrisy (and, yes, I have succumbed to this, once, myself, when Limbaugh was in hospital in Hawaii and declared it a great system), or idiocy. Hopefully, the cablenews networks will heed the call as well. Eventually, these people will achieve the anonymity they so richly deserve. More on Chris Matthews
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Paul Abrams: Stop Covering Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, Inflating Their Stature
First it was her beauty pageant figure . Then the glasses , designer duds and hair . And don’t forget about those shapely gams . As if we couldn’t collectively deconstruct Sarah Palin’s body and appearance any further, now it’s time to check out her breasts. Go ahead, take a look at the side-by-side photos. Never mind that the Newsweek cover was probably airbrushed in some way, that she’s wearing what looks like a chest-flattening, spandexy workout top and that the camera angles aren’t the same. Oh, and as Jezebel aptly points out , it’s entirely possible for bosoms to change shape from day to day thanks to newfangled contraptions called brassieres . Now that we’ve established that her breasts indeed appear different sizes in the photos, can we move on - and quickly? I couldn’t care less if Palin got a boob job. What’s worth questioning is why this woman’s body is once again a headline topic - not the screwy faux feminist rhetoric she’s been tossing out lately or her next move now that Super Tuesday has come and gone . And why are we yet again appraising a political figure’s character and intellect based on physical appearance, which is a pointless exercise in petty judgment? Moreover, this has nothing to do with politics. Palin’s arch nemesis on the left, Nancy Pelosi, has been given similar superficial treatment. A year ago, everyone around Washington was supposedly ” whispering about her dewy eyes and seamless features ” that simply had to be the product of plastic surgery and Botox. The Speaker of the House has flatly denied the rumor. Around the time when Pelosi was pushing through a little piece of legislation called the Healthcare Reform Bill, we learned that some of her snazzy clothes are picked out by, get this, her husband . It would be too easy to blame this all on sexism. After all, disgraced John Edwards will be best remembered for his philandering - and how much he paid for a haircut . But women are undoubtedly more frequent targets of attractiveness stereotyping (just ask Debrahlee Lorenzana ). Elena Kagan’s appearance initially received almost as much press attention as her legal record. And let’s not even get into the obsessive analysis of Hillary Clinton’s and Condoleezza Rice’s sartorial choices. Not surprisingly, a 2008 study from Northwestern University found that voters evaluate women politicians more on beauty and approachability, while they look for competence and dominance in male politicians. So if we’re aware of this tendency, let’s stop the senseless speculations. I understand that political figures inevitably invite criticism from all corners. But this cycle of emphasizing these people’s bodies over their brains is just a grownup example of the cheap, celebrity- and plastic surgery-obsessed pop culture so often derided for ignoring relevant issues like public policy and leadership. And given the current state of affairs with the BP oil spill, Gaza blockade, employment crisis and so forth, we have plenty more important cases to solve than the Mystery of the Palin Boob Job. More on Elena Kagan
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Cristen Conger: Stop Ogling Sarah Palin’s Breasts
What do we do after BP fixes the gusher in the Gulf of Mexico — days, weeks or months from now? We tell them what to do with the rest of their oil: Keep it in the ground. The Gulf spill is an environmental disaster that will happen again until we cut our addiction to oil. How do we wean ourselves? We toughen our fuel-economy and emissions standards so that automakers move beyond cars that depend on oil. Read the entire commentary at Bloomberg.com . More on Sarah Palin
Looks like the newest darling of the far-right nutsos doesn’t want to talk with the media: In her victory speech Tuesday night, Sharron Angle challenged Harry Reid to debate the issues with her. But she didn’t want to get into the issues with the press. Before the speech, Angle entered through a side entrance; after the speech, she exited out the back to avoid the waiting press. When reporters intercepted her in the hallways of the casino, an Angle aide - who refused to identify himself - wouldn’t allow her to answer questions. Asked to address GOP concerns that her conservative views may not play well with independents and moderates, the aide scoffed - extending his arm and saying sternly: “She said what she said - it was all in the speech.” Apparently, Angle has been avoiding the press for quite some time. In the primary, she refused to provide public notice of her schedule, making it harder for independent media to question her. But I do have to say, it’s hard to blame her. After all, when you’ve seriously said that you’re uncomfortable with the legalization of alcohol , you’re better off keeping your trap shut.
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NV-Sen: Angle pulls a Palin (and a Paul)
All the buzz about the primary results in California, and across the country, tonight are about how this may yet be the “year of the woman,” but one thing comes across loud and clear from California: this is certainly the year of the corporations. As of June 8, the Republican nominee for Senate is Carly Fiorina whose name is synonymous with Hewlett Packard. And, in the governor’s corner is Meg Whitman, Madame E-Bay. Consider the irony in a state that is home to the highest foreclosure rate in the country, that has taken twice the amount of government bailout money as Michigan and New York, two of the three states in the top rungs of economic sewage, yes, and in a year which has witnessed a populist revolt against big business, the Republican Party is delivering two candidates, one for governor and the other for the Senate, both of whom are synonymous with big business. Until 2008, Meg Whitman was the president and chief executive officer of E-Bay, and her Republican Party counterpart in the Senate, Carly Fiorina, was the CEO of Hewlett Packard. And, if the endorsement from Sarah Palin alone isn’t enough to make shivers run up and down your spine, think about this. Wasn’t it perfect timing for the Supreme Court to conveniently grant corporations the right to free speech just in time for a state governorship to go on the auction block? The world of TV punditry has roundly proclaimed former California governor, Jerry Brown, to be a fighter. Well, the Democrats better come out swinging in the state that has an official unemployment rate creeping up to almost 14%, that has the highest gasoline prices in the country. What amount of television advertising would make people crazy enough to place not one, but two multizillionaires at the helm? Whitman would make Schwarzenegger look like a socialist by the time she’s done, too. Wouldn’t you think California would have had enough of terminators? After watching all the Tea Party rallies over the past year, one would think people would be sick and tired of Enron, AIG, Chevron, Bank of America and, dare I say it, the E-Bay mentality? But, in keeping with the sado-masochistic dimension ever present in our foreign policy, maybe not. How much more out of touch with the man, and woman, on the street is a Whitman or a Fiorina? Does the man in the street’s opinion matter especially in a state where, increasingly, the man in the street is fast becoming the man on the street? And, in the end, how much will that vote cost? Picturing Whitman running a serious campaign as a populist is like watching an episode of “Survivor” filmed at the Waldorf Astoria. State Democrats need to show that voting for Meg Whitman only proves Wall Street is now bicoastal, and that if Gordon Gekko could, he would run for governor of California. It’s not just about corruption; it’s about corruptibility. Survivor TV is one thing; survivor politics another More on Meg Whitman
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Jayne Lyn Stahl: Gordon Gekko for Governor of California?
Mind-bending, Postmodern Hot: 1. Joseph Heller and Thomas Pynchon Best Known For: Heller — Catch 22 ; Pynchon — Gravity’s Rainbow What it Would Look Like: This bookish combo would breed such a wealth of mind-bending, absurdly funny, paranoid prose marvels that I wouldn’t be surprised if it has already happened in an alternate literary universe, if there is a fiction deity after all. Crowning Moment : The satire whistles and foghorns of beautifully controlled insanity go off as these two break all the rules of literary convention long into the night. Disaffected Youth Hot: 2. Marisha Pessl and J.D. Salinger Best Known For: Pessl — Special Topics in Calamity Physics ; Salinger — The Catcher in the Ry e What it Would Look Like: This couple would gorge themselves on a pessimistic feast of New York Times-lauded, whip smart first-person narration, and then lick the dripping grease of the policing of phony high school half-wits off their fingers. Crowning Moment : When their night of love spawns precocious, fast-talking social critic children, old beyond their years, disillusioned with the man and the social machine alike, who later win awards for having the most unusual names. Labyrinths of the Mind Hot: 3. Jorge Luis Borges and Mark Danielewski Best Known For : Borges — Ficciones ; Danielewski — House of Leaves What it Would Look Like : These two would wander their word-built labyrinths, half mad from living the surreal nightmare of life, until they become twisted together in their mutual mind coils. Crowning Moment : When they finally manage to extricate themselves, the two geniuses tap-dance down each other’s respective cerebral staircases after discovering that the whole world is, in fact, a book. Magic Realist Hot: 4. Gabriel GarcÃa MÃ¡rquez and Isabel Allende Best Known For: GarcÃa MÃ¡rquez — One Hundred Years of Solitude ; Allende — The House of the Spirits What it Would Look Like: An amorous, Spanish-language, yet universal, anti-dictatorship tour de force that is both muy inteligente and muy romantico Crowing Moment : When a wise, magical bird crying penitent tears comes to life in order to tell them the meaning of love. Maladjusted, Bed-Wetting Hot: 5. Woody Allen and Sarah Silverman Best Known For : Allen — Without Feathers ; Silverman — The Bedwetter What it Would Look Like: Nothing sexual because she’s too old for him; but, have no fear, a narcissistically self-deprecating, grappling with Jewish roots, depressive, laugh-a-minute, screwball time that offends everyone equally is had by all. Crowning Moment: When, out of sheer moxie, he starts whaling on his clarinet while she breaks out into the heartwarming ditty “I Love Chinks!” Which writers would you like to see get it on? More on Sarah Silverman
Chris Matthews, always good for regurgitated stupid, proclaimed with his usual high pitched squawking, some of the worst Washington groupthink I’ve ever heard: In California, women are the favorites in the Republican primary for both Governor and U.S. Senator. Meg Whitman made her name and money as head of eBay. Carly Fiorina is known for being CEO of Hewlett Packard. In Nevada, two women, Sharron Angle and Sue Lowden are in a battle with Danny Tarkanian for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. … All these women are newcomers at this level. It’s hard not to notice, that they’re running in the very first election after the 2008 election. One that included a precedent setting campaign by Hillary Clinton for President, and another precedent setter for Vice President by Sarah Palin. First, let’s get the facts back into this things. Sarah Palin didn’t set precedent. Democrat Geraldine Ferraro did that in 1984. Hillary Clinton’s campaign most certainly moved the ball forward on breaking another glass ceiling, but it isn’t broken yet and none of the women Matthews listed here is talking about breaking it, save Palin, who can’t. Second, Matthews seems to have missed the fact that Democrats have been running women for office for a long time now. He cites Fiorina as if her opponent is a man and she’s breaking through barriers in the male dominated California Congressional delegation. 20 of the 55 members of the California congressional delegation are women, including both senators and an actual precedent-setting Speaker of the House. All but one is a Democrat. Democrats have already been setting precedents for women. Johnathan Alter picks up on this theme as well listing all the wealthy, white, conservative Republican women running for office these days as some sort of breakthrough. At least he points out that California already has two Democratic Senators who happen to be women. Nikki Haley wouldn’t be the first woman or Indian-American governor from the South. There is a Democratic woman governing in the state just north of hers right now. Matthews also apparently forgot about Kay Bailey Hutchison, who lost. Dede Scozzafava, who lost. These were Republican women who didn’t fit the mold of ultra Conservative zealot and they both were tea partied right out. None of the women running for Republicans this year are fighting for pay equality for women. None of those women are working for more equitable healthcare, which is what real women care about. Sue Lowden says you should bring a chicken to your doctor, for crissake! This is no year of the woman. This is the year of conservative, right-wing woman. Billionaire Meg Whitman, so far, has spent $71 million of her own money running for Governor. Carly Fiorina has put $3.6 million of her golden parachute into her race. Sue Lowden is a wealthy casino owner. Nikki Haley stands to inherit a multimillion dollar retail apparel business. Sharron Angle comes from modest, middle class folk, but she is insane. There are more Republican women running for office this year, for sure. Most of them fit the mold of what you should come to expect from conservative, predominantly white, almost exclusively upper income people. Noting that many of them are women the way Matthews does is like saying Arizona set precedent for creating a Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday. Trailblazers for women? Puh-leeze.
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The year of the (conservative) woman
JUNEAU, Alaska — Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said President Barack Obama’s acknowledgment that he hasn’t directly spoken to BP’s chief executive shows it “bodes well to have some sort of executive experience before occupying the Oval Office.” Then, in a Facebook posting Tuesday, she outlined her experience. And she urged Obama to contact experts, including those in Alaska, who have held oil companies accountable. In parts of this state, the effects of the Exxon Valdez disaster are still being felt 21 years after that massive oil spill. “Give them a call,” she wrote. “Or, what the heck, give me a call.” Palin’s latest missive is extensive, chiding not only Obama but also the media for not calling him out in his handling of the massive oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico. Obama, in an interview with NBC’s “Today” show, broadcast Tuesday, said he hadn’t spoken directly to BP CEO Tony Hayward because his experience tells him someone like that would say “all the right things” and that he’s more interested in action than in words. However, Obama said “we are communicating to him every single day exactly what we expect of him, and what we expect of that administration.” An oil rig leased by BP PLC exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, killing 11 workers and unleashing a spill that remains uncontained. “The current administration may be unaware that it’s the President’s duty, meeting on a CEO-to-CEO level with Hayward, to verify what BP reports,” wrote Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee and a potential presidential challenger in 2012. She then extolled her own experience in Alaska, and what she called her administration’s efforts to ensure “Big Oil” operated ethically and responsibly. Among those: creation of a Petroleum Systems Integrity Office “when we saw proof of improper maintenance of oil infrastructure in our state. We had to verify. And that’s why we instituted new oversight and held BP and other oil companies financially accountable for poor maintenance practices. “We knew we could partner with them to develop resources without pussyfooting around with them. As a CEO, it was my job to look out for the interests of Alaskans with the same intensity and action as the oil company CEOs looked out for the interests of their shareholders,” she wrote. Palin resigned last summer in the midst of her first term as governor. Pamela Miller, arctic program director for the Northern Alaska Environmental Center, said she has yet to see “any tangible results in the oil fields” as a result of the office’s work. She called Palin’s claims on it “hollow.” “And she walked. So how is she holding that entity accountable?” Miller said. “What kind of executive experience is that?” The White House did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment. More on Barack Obama
Palin Chides Obama Over Gulf Oil Spill: ‘Give Me A Call’
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina legislator Nikki Haley has weathered unsubstantiated claims of physical relationships with two men to advance to a Republican primary runoff with U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett. Haley nearly won Tuesday’s primary outright, but fell just short of the majority needed to avoid the June 22 runoff. The winner will face Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen in November. The adultery claims against Haley seemed only to solidify support for the 38-year-old mother of two. She is trying to become the first woman to win a party’s nomination for governor in South Carolina. Haley was at the back of the pack until she picked up an endorsement by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin last month. The winner in the fall will replace term-limited Gov. Mark Sanford.
The biggest primary day of the 2010 election cycle is now upon us, as polls are now open from coast to coast. A total of roughly a dozen states head to the ballot boxes today, and, as you have come to expect, the crew here at Daily Kos will be all over it this afternoon and evening. What follows is a short clip-and-save guide of what to expect, and when to expect it, later today. If you want the unabridged version, you can check out exhaustive previews of the night’s festivities from both The Swing State Project and Sunday Kos . 7:00 PM ET/4:00 PM PT–Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia Does Nikki Haley hold on despite scandal in SC-Gov? Is GOP incumbent Bob Inglis (SC-04) the next to get teabagged? Who wins the competitive heads-up contest in VA-11? Do the NRCC “establishment” picks hang on in VA-02 and VA-05? Does anyone care which Republican wins the seat in GA-09? 8:00 PM ET/5:00 PM PT–Maine, New Jersey Who will win arguably the biggest tossups of the night–ME-Gov? How does GOP “rising star” Jon Runyan do in NJ-03? Is GOP freshman Leonard Lance (NJ-07) in any danger of getting teabagged? 8:30 PM ET/5:30 PM PT–Arkansas Does Bill Halter finish off Blanche Lincoln in the AR-Sen runoff? Who emerges from the pack in the three House runoffs in the Natural State? Is a Palin endorsement still voter repellent (watch Cecile Bledsoe in AR-03)? 9:00 PM ET/6:00 PM PT–North Dakota, South Dakota Does NRCC pick Rick Berg cruise to victory in ND-AL? Who does Scott Heidepriem draw as a GOP opponent in SD-Gov? Who emerges from the field to take on Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (SD-AL)? 10:00 PM ET/7:00 PM PT–Iowa, Montana, Nevada How close is the GOP primary to take on IA-Gov Chet Culver? Are conventions necessary to find a GOP nominee in IA-02 and IA-03 Does Denny Rehberg risk an underwhelming performance in MT-AL, and what Democrat emerges to be his November opponent? What kind of vote tally does Harry Reid get in NV-Sen? Who will be Reid’s opponent? Does the Chicken Lady still have some pluck (oooh…apologies for that one)? Or will Sharron Angle finish the job? Can Danny Tarkanian come from behind? Is the career of NV-Gov Jim Gibbons over? 11:00 PM ET/8:00 PM PT–California Do late polls confirm Meg Whitman’s GOP landslide (CA-Gov)? Likewise, does Carly Fiorina have the GOP CA-Sen nod locked down? How close can Winograd come to Harman (CA-36)? Is Gary Miller in any danger of a teabagging (CA-42)? Is this is the end of the line for Richard Pombo (CA-19)? What other primaries emerge as stories (just a handful to watch: CA-08, CA-11, CA-33, CA-47, CA-50)? Check with us later this afternoon, and we will have many of these answers by the close of the night.
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Primary Day: Poll closings and the "Races to Watch" checklist
What’s the Tea Party really mean for American politics? GOP losses, most likely. In a new ABC/WaPo poll , it’s notable that The poll also finds growing disapproval of the “tea party” movement, with half the population now expressing an unfavorable impression of the loosely aligned protest campaign that has shaken up politics this year. But there’s more to it than that. In a memo from the Democratic Governors Association, exec director Nathan Daschle argues (”convincingly”, says Politico ) that in key races, Republicans are being forced to run to the right, positioning themselves poorly for the general in November. From the DGA memo: What we’ve learned in this race for the base is that Meg Whitman [CA] really likes a border fence and insider stock deals at Goldman Sachs, that Terry Branstad [IA] needs Sarah Palin to burnish his conservative cred, and that Brian Sandoval [NV] is willing to alienate Latinos in his effort to appeal to conservatives and unglue himself from the largest tax increase in Nevada history. The truth is, the GOP candidates on the ballot today all should have had cakewalks to their nominations. Instead, the “Tea Party effect” has forced the leading GOP candidates to spend countless millions to fend off primary opponents, pushed them to embrace failed Republican policies and – maybe most importantly – has led them to lurch to the far right in states where moderation is key to winning independents. ME, SC and SD are included. Take Maine, for example, home of so-called moderate Republicans no more: As Mike Tipping at Maine Politics describes the platform Daschle notes: “The official platform for the Republican Party of Maine is now a mix of right-wing fringe policies, libertarian buzzwords and outright conspiracy theories.” Republicans’ platform praises the Tea Party movement, calls global warming a “myth,” and demands the elimination of the U.S. Department of Education. The DGA obviously feels good about some of these races, but the larger message should not be lost. There’s a civil war within the Republican Party, and establishment Republicans are losing. True believers thought that was good for the party in 1964, and even now many of them think the outcome then was just fine (since it led to a more conservative GOP despite the ‘64 election results.) But if you’re not a true believer (and most people aren’t, nor do they think Sarah Palin is qualified to be President, nor do they think the GOP as it stands today is offering solutions - 6 of 10 disapprove of congressional GOP policy), this is going to seriously harm Republican chances in the fall, and do significant damage moving forward. Don’t believe it? Ask Latinos what they think of AZ, and Californians what they think of Pete Wilson. Oh, wait - isn’t that Meg Whitman’s campaign co-chairman ? Wilson, who served as the state’s top executive from 1991 to 1999, was a champion of Proposition 187, a controversial immigration measure barring illegal immigrants from receiving any public services. The measure played a large role in Wilson’s victorious re-election effort — and, even though it was later ruled by a federal judge to be unconstitutional, has also caused deep and lasting damage to the Republican Party’s relationship with Latinos. (For a taste of the tenor of the 1994 campaign, check out Wilson’s “Border Crossing” ad , which shows grainy black-and-white footage of a border crossing while a narrator ominously intones, “They keep coming”). Remember, outside of the Tea Party, immigration reform is still hugely popular . And I don’t see a groundswell to eliminate the Department of Education or demand Obama show his birth certificate, either. And all of that is without even mentioning Rand Paul.
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Democratic Governors Association: "Why today’s GOP winners are already losers"
BY SAMANTHA CRITCHELL, AP: NEW YORK — Marc Jacobs took home the big prize as the top talent in womenswear at the Council of Fashion Designers of America awards Monday night, but the big moment on stage at Lincoln Center was Sarah Jessica Parker’s tribute to the late Alexander McQueen. McQueen committed suicide earlier this year. Parker told a celebrity-studded crowd that included Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Biel and Rachel Weisz that it was with “honor and great regret” that she was there to mark the contribution and creativity the designer gave to his industry. “I would have loved to see what he would do next,” she said. Parker wore a purple-and-pink print gown from the pre-fall collection that she said was hand-selected for her by the house’s new designer – and former McQueen assistant – Sarah Burton. After her remarks, a parade of somber models presented McQueen’s final fashion collection for the upcoming fall season, which was rooted in several heavily embroidered, dramatic styles topped by feather-mohawk headpieces. The audience reserved its one standing ovation of the evening, however, for Michael Kors, who received a lifetime achievement award from Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. Wintour, a friend of Kors for almost three decades, recalled several funny stories about the “Project Runway” judge who is known in fashion circles for his sunny disposition. The best one: On a vacation to Jamaica that had been mostly mired in rain, Kors headed straight for the ocean for a quick dip when the skies cleared. He ended up bobbing for hours in the water, though, because he realized – after it was too late – that Ralph Lauren was directly on the beach in front of him and Kors didn’t want to be seen in his swimsuit. Wintour also shared the tidbit that Kors is an aspiring Broadway producer. Kors, who had brought Paltrow – who wore a one-shoulder, black beaded gown – as his date, said he was “blown away” when the CFDA called to tell him of his award: “I thought to myself, `I’m just a kid. How did this happen?’” The CFDA devotes a good chunk of its annual awards, considered the top honors in American fashion, to its young, emerging talent. Winners of the Swarovski awards were Jason Wu, who designed Michelle Obama’s inaugural gown, in the womenswear category, Richard Chai for menswear and Alexander Wang for accessories. Wu arrived on the red carpet with Weisz, who wore one of his designs – a purple dress with photo-style floral print. “Now that I’ve taken her here, maybe she’ll take me to the Oscars,” Wu said. Jacobs is known as the U.S. leader in fashion trends, but he had a four-year losing streak going into the night and hadn’t won the womenswear award since 1997. (He did win for accessory design in 1998, 2003 and 2005, for menswear in 2002, and the international award for his work at Louis Vuitton last year.) Model-turned-cosmetics mogul Iman received the fashion-icon award, presented to her by longtime friend Isabella Rossellini. Wearing a custom-made, black strapless Giambattista Valli, Iman joked that now she could tell her rock star husband David Bowie, “Move over, you’re not the only icon in the house.” Other winners: _David Neville & Marcus Wainwright of Rag & Bone for menswear _Jeweler Alexis Bittar for accessories _Christopher Bailey for Burberry for the international award _Tonne Goodman, Vogue fashion director for visuals _Kim Hastreiter, editor and publisher of Paper magazine for fashion journalism _Ralph Lauren for the popular vote award, chosen by the public in an online poll More on Fashion
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CFDA Awards 2010 Winners: Marc Jacobs, Rag & Bone & Red Carpet Fashion (PHOTOS, POLL)
As long as I live, I’ll never forget the night that Elena Kagan and I got drunk together. It was November 4, 1980, to be exact. OK, before I go much further with this, I should make clear: I’ve never actually met President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, and on the night that we got drunk, I was in Providence, R.I., and she was at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. It was Election Night, and while the booze may have been flowing on elite college campus and in liberal enclaves, the election of Ronald Reagan and fellow conservatives was, oddly, enough, a seeming moment of numb clarity for a big chunk of my generation. That would be the generation of people born between 1954 and 1965 — a generation so lost that for most of its existence it didn’t even have a name, until some sociologist guy came along to call us ” Generation Jones ,” for reasons that are typically vague. Anyway, on 11/4/80 I was on a battered sofa in front of my 9-inch black-and-white TV screen, the only one in my dorm. I was a future journalist, a poltical junkie majoring in poly-sci, and with the final weekend polls showing Reagan in a dead heat with Jimmy Carter, we dug in for what was sure to be a long election night. But at 7 p.m. NBC’s John Chancellor came on the air and said, ” Ronald Reagan will win a very substantial victory tonight, very substantial .” We tossed our empty first beers toward the tiny screen. The rest of the night is a little hazy — at the time, we blamed the boozing on boredom, but there was something else, numbing the fear that America was veering away from a righteous course that appeared to be set in the Watergate years. A couple of hundred miles to the south, Elena Kagan was at a political wake, drinking vodka tonics and mourning not only Reagan’s victory but also the defeat in New York’s Senate election of Elizabeth Holtzman, a liberal hero of the Watergate scandal, by a GOP machine hack named Alphonse D’Amato. “I got kind of drunk that night,” wrote Kagan, a top editor at the Daily Princetonian, six days later . “A lot of people did.” She concluded: I can say in these moments that one election year does not the death of liberalism make and that 1980 might even help the liberal camp by forcing it to come to grips with the need for organization and unity. But somehow, one week after the election, these comforting thoughts do not last long. Self-pity still sneaks up, and I wonder how all this could possibly have happened and where on earth I’ll be able to get a job next year. It was a weird time to be a college student — the late 1970s and early 1980s. Our Generation Jones — people like me and Kagan, the Class of ‘81 — arrived on campus half wanting to relive the 1960s and half embarassed by them, which is probably why Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello felt the need by 1979 to ask what was so funny ’bout peace, love and understanding . Besides — everything had flipped in less than a decade. The threat of getting drafted and dying for nothing halfway around the world did not loom anymore, and the easy battles over race — voting or riding in the front of a bus — were long over as well. And while in the booming 1960s things like long hair or a few drug busts didn’t seem like such a bad career move, in the stagflated 1970s and early 1980s we were all asking the same question as Elena Kagan…where on earth we’d be able to get a job next year. There is a lot going on in Kagan’s 1980 article — it is kind of a Rosetta Stone for what was happening and would happen with our generation, Jones. The Reaganites were rising, and the jobs seemed to be disappearing. This was not the time to make waves. This was a time to keep your head down, to bury any progressive ideas deep in your heart, to make damn sure you got a job and rose the ladder and got to the place where, magically, you would know it was time to take off your mask and finally change the world. Jump ahead 30 years and right on schedule, Generation Jones is taking over. Kagan (b. 1960) is nominated to the High Court, just like she’d planned, appointed by the first Generation Jones president, Barack Obama (b. 1961), advised by his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel (b. 1959). In Obama’s White House, they worry about their deadly Generation Jones adversaries on the other side of the planet, people like Osama bin Laden (b. 1957) and Mahmoud Amhadinejad (b. 1956), or the political opposition of the far-right backlashers, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck (both b. 1964). Generations Jones runs the business world, too, in person of Bill Gates (b. 1955) and Steve Jobs (also b. 1955). (And let’s not forget Michael Jordan and Prince, Madonna, and Michael Jackson — more on them in a minute.) The Next Greatest Generation? Hardly. The reality is that Generation Jones is showing up just in time, when the planet really does need saving — and we are blowing it, big time. The challenges faced not just by the United States but by the entire world — global warming, a deadly addiction to fossil fuels , governments addled by debt yet unable to stop spending billions on weapons — require bold, boat-rocking risk-takers, people who have looking into the abyss of humankind and are not afraid to make daring moves. This is simply not my Generation Jones — a generation in which (for Americans, anyway) there was no war from the time I was 14, when the last regular troops came home from Vietnam, until Operation Desert Storm, when I was 32, and when economic woes brought “malaise” but not the Great Depression and then disappeared for a key time for young professionals in the 1980s and 1990s. Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter described us as “the perennial swing voters, with residual ’60s idealism mixed with the pragmatism and materialism of the ’80s.” He’s right — except that the pragmatism won out years ago. We are careerists — clinging to our conviction that we can change the world not by forceful ideas but by the mere force of our own often-coddled personalities, even if the ideas and passions that once animated our humanity have been buried under pages of resumes and cover letters The roadmap for people who wanted change was no longer the 1960s mantra of “stickin’ it to the man” but now “working within the system,” and now that the system is collapsing underneath us in 2010 there is no Plan B — just more calls for compromise, more reason, more digging in to be — in the words of another 1979 hit, Supertramp’s “Logical Song”, the product of “a world where I could be so dependable, clinical, intellectual, cynical.” Exhibit A is the man at the top, Barack Obama. No doubt he was a young man filled with a passion for what he would later advertise as “change” — studying how to rid the world of nuclear weapons as an undergraduate at Columbia , where he graduated in 1983, and heading to Chicago as a community organizer poised to do battle against Reagan’s “trickle-down economics,” but the reactionism of the 1980s clearly changed him. When he returned to Harvard Law School at the end of the decade, those experiences made Obama less a promoter of ideas than a seeker of compromise…while promoting himself. “I come from a lot of worlds and I have had the unique opportunity to move through different circles,” Obama told the Los Angeles Times when he was elected the first ever black editor of the Harvard Law Review in 1990. “I have worked and lived in poor black communities and I can translate some of their concerns into words that the larger society can embrace.” But even back then, some saw him as too prone to compromise, like second-year law student Christine Lee, who said nearly 20 years ago of Obama: “His election was significant at the time, but now it’s meaningless because he’s becoming just like all the others (in the Establishment).” The same could be said of President Barack Obama today — from his ridiculously cautious picks to run the Pentagon and the Treasury to his stubborn search for compromise in areas like health care where no middle ground actually existed to his willingness to ” look forward ” and ignore the blatant and serious law-breaking of the previous administration. He is more than willing to accept the vast presidential powers in areas like state secrets that had been grabbed by the Bush administration, because a long time ago Barack Obama began believing less and less in the power of ideology to do the right thing, and more in the power of Barack Obama. Which is why Elena Kagan is his ideal Supreme Court nominee. Like the president, she has been sublimating the starkly liberal ideas that were nurtured in her 1960s and early 1970s childhood — first as an “objective” student journalist at the Daily Princetonian and then as a Supreme Court wannabe who learned quickly that to reach her ultimate goal that she would have to say little of controversy — or consequence — for 30 long years. The Canadian academic Gil Troy — who not coincidentally wrote an excellent cultural history of the Reagan years — penned an analysis of Kagan’s legal career that gets it exactly right : This woman, who posed in judicial robes for her Hunter College High School yearbook, may have been too calculating in climbing to the top. She has taken remarkably few public stands, entered into surprisingly few public controversies for a woman of her prominence and power. Even her academic writings focused on safe analyses of administrative law while other law professors debated issues passionately. In this way, Ms. Kagan reveals she is one of Bork’s Babies, a product of the searing battle that resulted in the Senate’s rejecting Ronald Reagan’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Robert H. Bork in 1987. At the time, ambitious law clerks like Ms. Kagan watched how critics vacuumed through Mr. Bork’s past, blasting decades-old articles he authored, even snooping into his video rentals seeking something embarrassing - turned out Mr. Bork liked Fred Astaire movies. From then on, many of my Washington-oriented friends openly worried about their “paper trails.” Their moral calculus was blunted, replaced by the ubiquitous question, “How will it look in my confirmation hearings?” In a way — and it pains me to say this, because it sounds so much like a popular right-wing conspiracy theory, and I don’t mean it in the same way — Obama and Kagan really were a kind of “Manchurian Candidate,” a type who thought they could only promote their progressive ideas in the 2010s after mostly hiding them in the 1990s and 2000s. But once you veer off that course it’s almost impossible to get back, as you realize what Jackson Browne did between Kagan’s freshman and sophomore years at Princeton that “I don’t know when that road turned onto the road I’m on .” Generation Jones also dominates the profession that I and thousands of other young people pledged allegiance to in the heady days following Watergate and “All the President’s Men,” which is journalism. We saw Woodward and Bernstein rid the nation of the scourge of Nixon not through sit-ins but through dogged professionalism — an idea that was like catnip to unflowery children of the ’70s. It didn’t work that way. The temple of supposed objective journalism — just like Kagan’s Way to the Supreme Court — became a kind of warped religion incapable of effecting change, that suffered complete paralysis when a rogue White House decided to invade a foreign country for no valid reason. Writing that true story could have been a bad career move, you see. Careerism. Not rocking the boat. It is a disease that came to affect different kinds of people from Generation Jones in different fashions. On the conservative side of my generation, the two most popular figures in 2010 — radio’s Glenn Beck and the cultural phenomenon of Sarah Palin (born, amazingly enough, on consecutive days in 1964) — have both have the power and the right-wing incarnation of charisma to move millions of people. But they prefer to use all that political capital to make only millions of dollars for themselves . With the arrival of Generation Jones, pop culture went from the drug-addled chaos of Woodstock to the stage-managed perfection of Madonna — who proudly sang that she was a ” Material Girl ” — and Michael Jackson, who not only shunned any political role but moved toward a metaphorically appropriate neutrality even on racial appearance and gender. In the end, perhaps no figure has epitomized Generation Jones than basketball superstar Michael Jordan, who turned down a chance to endorse a black candidate against race-baiting Sen. Jesse Helms with the ultimate careerist come-on: ” Republicans buy sneakers too .” Unfortunately, those Air Jordans might be mired today in the muck left by the BP oil spill — one more sign of a generation’s failure to tackle the problems confronting the world. Taking on the corporate powers that dominate this country is a risky business — more risky, apparently, than anything our current leaders are eager or willing to tackle. I don’t believe the so-called “Greatest Generation” of the 1930s and 1940s is really inherently greater than the ones that came before or after it, but rather they were people asked to take great chances at an age when they were too young not to refuse the challenge. Generation Jones never faced anything quite like that, and the world is watching the unintended consequences. That said, I’m not ready to give up on my generation, not yet. I know from my own experience and the people I’ve grown up and am now growing older with that the desire and the passion and the know-how to save the world is actually there, just buried under decades of accumulated junk. Who knows — many Elena Kagan and Barack Obama and some of the rest of us simply need to get drunk together again, the way it was back on Nov. 4, 1980, back when we still had a road map and we weren’t running on empty. More on Gulf Oil Spill
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Will Bunch: Along Came "Jones": Why My Generation Isn’t Saving the World
With the avalanche of ballot box fun headed your way tomorrow (which, of course, Daily Kos will be all over come Tuesday evening), it perhaps should be no surprise that the Monday evening edition of the Wrap is a monument to enormity. This is especially true given the dearth of a weekend edition. With that in mind, let’s jump right into the deep end to kick off a big week of political hijinks and tomfoolery… THE U.S. SENATE CA-Sen: Late poll shows Fiorina pulling away Magellan Research is one of a handful of pollsters who take one final look at California before the primary elections tomorrow. All of them have had Fiorina pulling away, but Magellan takes that premise to an entirely new level (PDF) . Magellan has Fiorina north of 50% (54%), with both Tom Campbell and Chuck DeVore in the teens. In other polling news, SurveyUSA looks at both the competitive Democratic primary for Lt. Governor (they have San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom out front), as well as final polling on all five ballot initiatives. IL-Sen: Veterans group demands Kirk apology Just when it seemed like the Kirk military embellishment story might die down a little bit, a new flare-up emerges. This time it comes from a group of a half-dozen veterans this afternoon who took their case to the press. They are calling on Kirk to make a formal apology for embellishing his military credentials on several occasions. WA-Sen: Rossi consolidates support in Senate bid; polls are close Less than two weeks into his bid for the U.S. Senate, two-time failed candidate for Governor and former state legislator Dino Rossi has found himself in a considerably happier place than he might have been on announcement day. One of the leading candidates already in the field, Don Benton, dropped out of the race late last week and offered his support. This was somewhat of a shock, because Benton had seemed the most steamed about Rossi’s protracted flirtation with the race. Sean Salazar, arguably a more minor player in the field, also left the race , pledging support to Rossi, as well. This leaves the Palin-endorsed Clint Didier as the primary obstacle to Rossi’s coronation. Rossi will have some ammo to go after the former NFL baller, however, as he announced at the end of last week that he had already raised more than $600K for his bid in approximately a week (although those were likely already-set pledges and other low-hanging fruit). There was a poll released on this race today as well… kinda . The University of Washington updated their weeks-old poll again, and among the very small universe of people in their updated sample, Rossi had a small edge. However, among the entire sample, Murray continued to lead. Among likely voters, the lead widened further. Of course, what did most of the media go with? “Rossi Leads!” THE U.S. HOUSE SC-04: PPP poll hints at fresh teabagging in Palmetto State Bob Inglis, at some point, must have said something nice to a Democrat or something, because a new poll from PPP has the incumbent Republican in deep trouble against Trey Gowdy (37-33). Inglis can’t even rely on a split field, because South Carolina employs a runoff (like most Southern states). Even if he survives tomorrow, the runoff later this month looks like tough sledding for the longtime incumbent. UT-02: BP becomes a campaign issue in sleeper Democratic primary It was only a matter of time before the Deepwater Horizon incident became fodder for the campaign trail. Interestingly, one of the first uses of it in a political context is happening hundreds of miles from the site. Democrat Claudia Wright, who managed to earn a primary election against longtime Dem incumbent Jim Matheson via convention several weeks ago, is arguing that Matheson is not doing enough from his post on the Energy and Commerce Committee because he is beholden to the oil industry. Matheson vehemently denied the charge, arguing that several committee hearings have focused on the event, and that he now supports a moratorium on deepwater drilling (a change in position for the Congressman). THE GUBERNATORIAL RACES CA-Gov: Whitman pulling away according to two pollsters New numbers from both SurveyUSA and Magellan (PDF) march in lockstep on the common theme that Steve Poizner is about to get pounded tomorrow. They only differ slightly on the details–Magellan has eBay honcho Meg Whitman leading 64-22, while SurveyUSA has it at the (slightly) more competitive margin of 59-30 MI-Gov: Schwarz reconsiders Indie bid, will not be a 2010 candidate Former moderate Congressman Joe Schwarz, who was teabagged before teabagging was cool (he was 86′ed in a primary by Tim Walberg four years ago), has decided to remain on the sidelines for the 2010 electoral cycle, forgoing a possible run for Governor. Schwarz had not seemed real likely to make the bid, he is already in his early 70s and was going to have a very limited window to fundraise. Indeed, most pollsters did not even factor him in when polling the gubernatorial race in Michigan. Schwarz cited financial difficulties in declining to make the bid. SC-Gov: From bizarre to…bizarre-er…in final days Well, this is a fitting end to one of the most absurd primaries in recent memory. Amid weekend polling that showed Nikki Haley still holding a twenty point post-scandal lead, one of her primary challengers decided to go with a whale of a denial for leaking the story. He released results of a polygraph which he claims exonerates him. TX-Gov: White goes after Perry for the deadly sin of sloth It will be awfully interesting to see if, in these more trying times, a charge of this nature will stick a little bit better. Democratic nominee Bill White is blasting the incumbent , Republican Rick Perry, for having no work-related business on fully one-third of the business days in this calendar year. White made this determination after making a records request for Perry’s official work calendar. THE RAS-A-POLL-OOZA Just Ras being Ras…and, exactly as Markos has noted/predicted, we get no primary polling or runoff polling for tomorrow. But we do now that Republicans are going to win just about everything in November. Thanks Ras! AL-Sen: Sen. Richard Shelby (R) 58%, William Barnes (D) 31% IN-Sen: Daniel Coats (R) 47%, Brad Ellsworth (D) 33% NM-Gov: Susana Martinez (R) 44%, Diane Denish (D) 42% OH-Gov: John Kasich (R) 47%, Gov. Ted Strickland (D) 42% OH-Sen: Rob Portman (R) 43%, Lee Fisher (D) 43% PA-Gov: Tom Corbett (R) 49%, Dan Onorato (D) 33% PA-Sen: Patrick Toomey (R) 45%, Joe Sestak (D) 38%
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Polling and Political Wrap-Up, 6/7/10
“It’s entirely possible that California Attorney General Jerry Brown is the only thing standing between Meg Whitman and the White House.” By Phil Trounstine and Jerry Roberts Calbuzz.com In the middle of a press scrum at the Republican state convention on March 12, Meg Whitman laughed out loud at a radio news reporter who asked her about her national political ambitions: Ms. Whitman, would you commit to serving a full four-year term if you’re elected governor? There’s been talk of you as a national political figure. Let’s just take it one step at a time. We haven’t even won the Republican primary yet. With that small matter about to be dispensed with Tuesday, it’s high time to re-open the speculation about the 2016 Whitman for President campaign (for the record, she said she would “sure, absolutely” finish one four-year term for governor) and break down the real from the surreal about that not-very-far-fetched scenario. Barring a Lazarus-sized political miracle, Whitman will finally put Steve Poizner’s miserable campaign out of its misery tomorrow, promptly putting herself at the center of the nation’s political media conversation, where her high horsepower spin machine has already proved adept at stroking and feeding acolytes among the pundit class: Meg Whitman is the most interesting person in American politics and, potentially, a formidable Republican leader at the national level…Like Ronald Reagan, she’s a well-known star from another field–the corporate world in Whitman’s case–who has entered California politics at the top and now intends to leapfrog an entire generation of ambitious political strivers… But let’s assume Whitman is elected. She’d be governor of the biggest state, a brainy, conservative, accomplished woman at the top of the Republican ladder with precisely the experience that Sarah Palin lacks…When Reagan was elected governor in 1966, the speculation about national office–president, vice president–erupted instantly. If Whitman is elected in 2010, it will erupt again. That conservative bloviator Fred Barnes wrote that over a year ago, at a time when eMeg had barely begun spending the $75-or-so million she’s since dug out of the sofa cushions to put her face in front of every Californian with a TV set four or five times a week, is a measure of how much thrill-up-the-leg excitement lies in store for us once she actually captures the damn nomination. eMeg is about to go national in a big way and if Barnes is a bit, um, over-smitten in comparing her to the Gipper, he is most correct that being elected governor of California gives you automatic entry to the presidential speculation sweepstakes. Think about it: the one question that’s never remotely been answered about her obsessive spending spree to buy the governorship is: Why the hell would she want the lousy job? (And don’t tell us it’s because she had an epiphany and — barf — realized she “won’t let California fail”) Put another way, why else has Meg Whitman “invested” — that’s the word she invariably uses when she’s asked about her obscene campaign spending — more than $71 million of her own fortune to capture the Republican nomination for governor? And why is she prepared to spend at least as much in the general election? Answer: Because she wants to be president of the United States . How does Calbuzz know this? Because it’s the first of our Three Rules of Politics*: They all want to be president of the United States . But only a few of them wind up in positions where it’s actually possible. And if eMeg can defeat Attorney General Jerry Brown in November, she would be perfectly poised, at age 60, to run for president in 2016. (Of course, there are a few wrinkles in the scenario. Mitt Romney, her 63-year old business and political mentor, has already moved into California as a base for his expected 2012 bid for president. Having eMeg ensconced in Sacramento clearly wouldn’t hurt Mutt’s chances, and the narrative of the dynamic duo fighting bravely to turn California from blue to red would be catnip for the Fred Barneses of the world. It makes no sense for Meg, however, to even think about playing second fiddle on a Romney ticket, when she could bide her time and go after the big prize herself.) Which means: It’s entirely possible that California Attorney General Jerry Brown is the only thing standing between Meg Whitman and the White House. This is not a comforting thought, especially since we have no experience on which to predict the standard quantum limit effect of $150 million in campaign spending by a candidate for governor. Normally, one would expect that Whitman would have a hard time winning back the moderates, independents, women and Latinos she has alienated by taking knuckle-dragging, uber-nasty arch-conservative positions in the primary in order to win the hearts and minds of the GOP. But we don’t know whether, by spending untold sums on campaign propaganda, Whitman will be able to obliterate the collective memory voters might otherwise have of her lurch to the right. Expect November Meg to look nothing like June Meg. She’ll be bright, sunny and inclusive, not the snarling, slashing attack machine she’s been in the primary. So what’s Jerry Brown’s challenge? To win the independents — 20% of the electorate, compared to 45% Democrat and 31% Republican. And how can he and his independent allies do that? By: 1) Reminding voters about Goldman Sachs and eMeg’s special, elite deals and her failure even to be a voter, much less a problem solver for California. 2) Reminding voters of her flip-floppy positions on choice and offshore oil drilling, her assault on environmental regulation (especially AB 32) and her anti-Mexican-immigrant stand on border security. 3) Explaining how differently he would address spending and taxes, fairness and justice, public employees and education. His curbside, man-on-the-street populism versus her protect-the-rich, attack-the-worker program. He won’t have $75 million so he’d better have some damn effective allies and he’d better generate some enthusiasm. And thank you for that. *The other two rules: The conventional wisdom is always wrong and; Nobody knows anything.
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Phil Trounstine: Thin Brown Line Between eMeg and the White House
If there is any night in the 2010 primary elections calendar that merits the designation of “Super Tuesday”, it has to be the night that awaits us in roughly 48 hours. Not only does June 8th take the cake when it comes to volume, as voters go the polls in a dozen states, but it is also a night that will clarify the electoral picture in several of the most high-profile races on the docket for November. So, let’s take it state-by-state, crisscrossing the nation to look at a night where the number of intriguing matchups numbers, on my scorecard, in the low forties … ARKANSAS: AR-Sen, AR-01, AR-02, AR-03 For a lot of people in the netroots, the post-primary runoff election in the Natural State is priority #1 for Tuesday evening. In the battle to determine the Democratic nominee for the Senate , it is hard not to designate incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln as a slight underdog going into the evening. As Markos has accurately noted on numerous occasions, Lincoln’s poll numbers have scarcely budged off of the 45% or so that she attained in the May 18th primary elections. A lot of third-place finisher D.C. Morrison’s voters are staying home, but those that aren’t are more likely to head to Halter than Lincoln. That has moved the challenger from a narrow deficit to a narrow lead. This one should be mighty interesting. Meanwhile, there are also a trio of House runoffs to be decided, as well. In AR-01 , the Democrats are squaring off, with the Chief of Staff for outgoing Congressman Marion Berry (Chad Causey) squaring off with ConservaDem Tim Wooldridge. Wooldridge led after round one, but Causey has chalked up the better runoff endorsements (including former President Clinton). Next door in AR-02 , it is a classic right vs. left showdown between state House Speaker Robbie Wills and progressive state senator Joyce Elliott. Elliott held a 40-28 lead after the first round, and earned the endorsement of third-place finisher (and outgoing Rep. Vic Snyder’s CoS) David Boling. Finally, there is quite a battle of conservatives in the GOP primary to replace Senate nominee John Boozman AR-03 . Look for a showdown between round one leader Steve Womack (the mayor of Rogers) and state senator Cecile Bledsoe, the latest Republican to feel the (reverse?) Midas Touch of a Sarah Palin endorsement. CALIFORNIA: CA-Gov, CA-Sen, CA-08, CA-11, CA-19, CA-36, CA-42 The Golden State will be the final act in Election Night (indeed, it will likely be after midnight before East Coasters see a critical mass of data emanating from California), but it should have some results worth staying up late for. The two major statewide races have turned a bit more dull in the final days, as what promised to be tight primaries on the GOP side have seen clear leaders emerge. In the battle for Governor , Meg Whitman has resumed her flood the zone media strategy, and it has paid off with a late resurgence and a reclamation of her substantial lead over state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. On the Democratic side, Jerry Brown’s nomination is all but a foregone conclusion. And while Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer does have a primary in her bid to remain in the Senate , virtually no one expects Mickey Kaus’ primary to bear fruit . The excitement was supposed to have been on the GOP side, but former HP executive Carly Fiorina has pulled away in the closing days, and now is looking at a potential double-digit win over both former Congressman Tom Campbell and teabagger favorite Chuck DeVore. There are nip-and-tuck contests to be had, however, down the ballot. One of those will take place in the Central Valley ( CA-19 ), where state senator Jeff Denham seems to have a bit of daylight between him and the pack, which includes former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson and former Congressman Richard Pombo, who jumped districts to take a shot at a comeback. Further north, where CA-11 goes from the East Bay to the Central Valley, several Republicans are lining up to take a shot at Democratic sophomore Rep. Jerry McNerney, including another district hopper in the person of 2009 (CA-10) special election candidate David Harmer. Southern California, meanwhile, has a pair of incumbents that are looking at potentially explosive primary challenges. Along the L.A. coast, Jane Harman ( CA-36 ) faces a second contest with peace activist Marcy Winograd. Meanwhile, in inland LA/Orange County ( CA-42 ), longtime Republican Rep. Gary Miller is getting a potential teabagging from self-financing CPA Phil Liberatore. Lastly, in a sign that fools and money are soon parted, over $2.3 million has been raised between a pair of Republican candidates vying to take on Speaker Nancy Pelosi in CA-08 , one of the most Democratic districts in America. Walsh spent over $637K in 2008 to earn the honor of 10% of the vote versus Pelosi (she actually came in third, behind Pelosi and Indie candidate Cindy Sheehan). This year, she did more than double down, raising nearly $1.7 million. Not to be outdone, her primary opponent, Paul-ite candidate John Dennis, has put together a mid-six figure warchest of his own. Democrats everywhere should presumably thank the small but vibrant community of anti-Pelosi activists for tossing away seven figures worth of cash that could have gone into tight races, but instead will be funnelled into a district where the Republican would shatter all existing records to get 35% of the vote. IOWA: IA-Gov, IA-Sen, IA-01, IA-02, IA-03 In Iowa, the race to watch is a coronation gone somewhat awry for former GOP Governor Terry Branstad. Every expectation was that Branstad, a former four-term Governor in the state, would cruise to a primary win and then defeat Democratic incumbent Chet Culver to reclaim his post as Governor in November. The problem is that his primary win is by no means assured. Branstad has been getting bludgeoned from the right by activist candidate Bob Vander Plaats. This has created an ideological fault line between activist social conservatives and the “country club” set focused almost solely on economic affairs. Polls in this race have been all over the map. After two polls last week showed Vander Plaats holding Branstad under 50% and within striking range, a Sunday poll taken for the Des Moines Register gave Branstad a huge lead (57-29), though half of the voters identified themselves as still persuadable, even at this late date. Culver has to be hoping for a Vander Plaats upset (Culver polls much better against the lesser known, more conservative underdog) or, failing that, permanent damage to be done to Branstad in a close primary. Democrats are concerning themselves, meanwhile, with a primary to challenge longtime incumbent Chuck Grassley for his seat in the Senate . Attorney Roxanne Conlin is the candidate of choice for national Democrats, and she is heavily favored over poorly funded rivals Tom Fiegen and Bob Krause. General election polling has been all over the map in this state, with some pollsters suggesting that Grassley, who has not been held 60% of the vote since his initial Senate win three decades ago, could be in for an actual battle against Conlin. Meanwhile, downballot, there are competitive GOP primaries in all three Democratic-held districts. Bruce Braley ( IA-01 ) is probably the safest of the three, with a 16-to-1 funding edge over his most well-financed GOP challenger (former Hill staffer Ben Lange). In IA-02 , it is a re-run of the 2008 Senate primary, as Harkin opponents Christopher Reed and Steve Rathje meet again (joined by 2008 House nominee Marianette Miller-Meeks and first-time candidate Rob Gettemy) in a bid to take on sophomore Democrat David Loebsack. The most competitive primary, however, might be in the Des Moines-based IA-03 , where the field is large enough, and closely bunched enough, that a little-practiced quirk in Iowa election law will take effect. If no candidate hits 35% of the vote on Tuesday night (a possibility also in the 2nd district), then a special convention will need to be held to determine the party’s nominee. MAINE: ME-Gov In Maine, the story is the race for Governor , and the almost absurdly wide-open battles on both sides of the partisan aisle. Even with a pretty good memory for polling, it is hard to recall a race where, roughly a week out, neither primary had a candidate commanding more than 17% of the vote. Yet such is the case down East, where Democrat Libby Mitchell and Republican Les Otten appear to be the narrow frontrunners. The general election could easily be just as muddled, with no less than eleven Independent candidates declaring an interest in the office. NEVADA: NV-Sen and NV-Gov Most of the attention in the Silver State is focused on the Senate , where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has struggled for most of the cycle with abysmal poll numbers. Reid does face a handful of challengers in a Democratic primary, but no expects him to lose. There might be some interest, however, in looking at his vote totals. If his percentage is markedly low, for example, that could be a sign for concern in the Fall. Reid’s path to victory has gotten easier in the past month or so, however, because Sue Lowden’s once frontrunning campaign has positively imploded. A weekend poll from Mason Dixon now had Lowden running third (23%), behind both former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle (32%) and Danny Tarkanian (24%). Clearly, the Reid campaign is guessing that the hard-right Angle will be the nominee , as they have started a research job on the past public statements and policy pronouncements of Angle. Meanwhile, Reid’s son is the runaway favorite in the Democratic Primary for Governor , while the GOP primary is also quickly becoming settled, as well. After a brief and blissful (for Democrats, anyway) moment where it looked like scandal-ridden Governor Jim Gibbons might hang onto his job, recent polling has put former federal judge Brian Sandoval back into the lead by a solid double-digit margin. SOUTH CAROLINA: SC-Gov, SC-Sen, SC-01, SC-03, SC-04 There are a lot of races on tap in the Palmetto State, but the race that everyone is watching is the primary to replace disgraced Governor Mark Sanford. Sex became the front-and-center issue in the closing days of the campaign, amid allegations that frontrunner Nikki Haley (another in the stable of Sarah Palin endorsees) had an extramarital affair with Republican staffer-turned-blogger Will Folks. Haley seems to have held her lead, and still is favored over state Attorney General Henry McMaster, state Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, and Congressman Gresham Barrett. She will probably need to wait two weeks, however, as she is unlikely to score enough votes to avoid a runoff. Meanwhile, an equally close contest might develop on the Democratic side, where state Education Superintendent Jim Rex is battling with the well-financed Vincent Sheheen, a state Senator. Fellow state senator Robert Ford rounds out the Dem field. Republican incumbent Jim DeMint actually faces a Senate primary from Susan Gaddy, who might have the most comprehensive website since the dawn of the Internet. Meanwhile, Vic Rawls is favored over on the Democratic side. Downballot, there are stacked primaries in SC-01 and SC-03 to replace outgoing Republican Congressmen Henry Brown and Gresham Barrett. In the 1st district, it is the battle of the famous progeny as the children of Strom Thurmond and Carroll Campbell (whose son has the wonderful nickname of “Tumpy”) are among the nine candidates in the GOP field. In the 3rd district, a half dozen Republicans are vying for the nomination, which is tantamount to election in the heavily Republican 3rd. Meanwhile, a number of Republicans are gunning for Bob Inglis in SC-04 , presumably for the crime of straying for the orthodoxy a time or two. VIRGINIA: VA-01, VA-02, VA-05, VA-11 With no statewide races, all the interest in the Virginia primaries is downballot, where four Republican primaries are definitely worth eyeballing. A personal favorite is in eastern Virginia ( VA-01 ) where incumbent Rob Wittman is getting teabagged by one of the original teabagger candidates, Catherine ” Ballots or Bullets ” Crabill. A half-dozen Republicans are up for the challenge against Democratic freshman Glenn Nye in VA-02 , which could get interesting since Virginia is one of the only Southern states NOT to have a runoff election. In VA-05 , another freshman Democrat (Tom Perriello) has drawn a crowd, with establishment candidate Rob Hurt getting hammered from all sides. Divided opposition might be his ticket to victory. Lastly, one of the more intriguing high-profile primaries of the cycle happens in NoVa ( VA-11 ), where Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity and 2008 nominee Keith Fimian go heads-up. OTHER CONTESTS There are five other states going to the ballot box on Tuesday, but the contests there are not drawing quite the same level of attention. In Georgia, a new Congressman will be elected as Republicans Tom Graves and Lee Hawkins try to out-flank one another on the right wing in their bid to replace Nathan Deal in GA-09 , one of the reddest districts in America. Meanwhile, in the Plains, the battle for SD-Gov , if Rasmussen is to be believed, could dictate whether the Democrats have a legit shot at victory in this red-leaning state. Unopposed Democrat Scott Heidepriem actually polls well against some of the GOP flock vying to be Governor. Heidepriem might need to wait a while, however, as South Dakota is practically the only state outside the South to utilize a runoff (which will take place on June 29th). A runoff might also be needed in SD-AL , where Secretary of State Chris Nelson leads a three-candidate GOP field challenging three-term Democrat Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin. Elections are also on tap in Montana, New Jersey, and North Dakota.
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Primary Night Preview: The Guide to the Tuesday Night Fights
Last week, the right-wing, corporate-backed Pacific Research Institute , well-known tobacco industry apologist , produced a dense yet nutty “statistical” analysis of state tort systems (bottom line: the fewer cases against corporate wrongdoers, the better). Now, we’ve seen these kinds of fabricated “rankings” before and they’re usually a real snooze-fest, although with occasionally irresistible nuggets. For example, this one praised Louisiana with an improved tort “ranking” in part because so many homes were “rendered uninhabitable” by Katrina that hardly anyone lived there. Imagine how thrilled they’re going to be now! But this one caught our attention for another reason. The forward was “written by” Sarah Palin. I guess if you’re part of the “tort reform” movement, which is still out there calling for liability limits on BP’s corporate recklessness, a scholarly endorsement from Sarah Palin is where you’d go. Thinking conservatives were not pleased, like blogger Andrew Sullivan who reprinted this reader comment : Sarah Palin is now writing the forewords for “think tank” studies? Bruce Bartlett could not be more right about how intellectual[sic] void these organizations have become. At the very least, it just shows how relevant she is in the current Republican party. Please keep up the good fight! Actually, unbeknownst to many, when it comes to preserving people’s rights to sue, Sarah Palin is a notorious flip flopper. This could be due to thought or non-thought, it’s hard to know. What do you think: Flip flopper? Hypocrite? Intentional? Unconscious? Other? The Exxon Valdez Supreme Court Decision: “I was against it before I was for it.” In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court slashed the Exxon Valdez oil spill jury verdict for the 30,000 fishermen, business and others who were hurt. The 1994 verdict had included $5 billion in punitive damages to punish Exxon for its atrocious misconduct, but Exxon fought this decision for 14 years. The Supreme Court finally said Exxon owed the victims about 1/10th of the original verdict. Then Governor Palin strongly denounced the decision. She called it a “huge disappointment,” that she didn’t think was “right” or “fair.” But the next year in her book “Going Rogue,” Palin bizarrely wrote that the “U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the people,” even calling it a “victory” for Alaskans. Not only that, she claims to have played a pivotal role in achieving that “victory,” provoking this response: “‘That is the most cockamamie bullsh@t,’” said Dave Oesting of Anchorage, lead plaintiff attorney in the private litigants’ civil case against Exxon and its successor, Exxon Mobil Corp. “‘She didn’t have a damn thing to do with it, and she didn’t know what it was about.’” Preserve your rights, except if you live in Alaska. There’s a Palin “tweet” that’s gotten some fun attention in the blogosphere lately . Here’s what she said: Gulf: learn from Alaska’s lesson w/foreign oil co’s: don’t naively trust- VERIFY. Livelihood affected by spill? Don’t sign away remedy rights Let’s forget for a moment the fact that Todd Palin worked for BP for 18 years. I’d like to focus on her phrase “Don’t sign away remedy rights.” Nice advice, except if you happen to live in Alaska. That’s because in Alaska, there are barely any “remedy rights” left. For years, state lawmakers have succumbed to corporate demands to strip Alaskans of their legal rights. It started in 1986 when Lloyds of London sent lawyers to Alaska to say that Lloyd’s would pull out of the state, threatening the state economy, unless Alaska enacted severe restrictions on Alaskans’ legal rights (i.e. “tort reform”). It worked. It did. But things didn’t stop there. In 1997, Alaska lawmakers did even more damage including severely limiting punitive damages - the kind the jury awarded against Exxon three years prior. Then in 2005, the state lowered even further the compensation “cap” for injured patients. It’s so bad there that the Anchorage Daily News came out practically begging lawmakers to stop doing this. To review, Palin went from denouncing a 2008 Supreme Court decision that slashed Exxon’s punitive damages, to praising that very same decision in 2009, to now applauding Alaska’s law that slashes punitive damages even further. Perhaps Andrew Sullivan’s “intellectual void” comment is a bit of an understatement. Stop frivolous lawsuits - except for my own. According to Palin, the filing of so-called “frivolous lawsuits” against her was a driving force behind her decision to resign on July 3. “It doesn’t cost the critics anything to file frivolous lawsuits,” said Palin, complaining about “this land of litigation.” (Watch her here .) But like every good hypocrite who complains about lawsuits, they’re usually the first ones to threaten a lawsuit. On July 4, 2009, Palin’s attorney issued a letter stating “This is to provide notice to [Alaska liberal blogger Shannyn] Moore, and those who republish the defamation, such as Huffington Post , MSNBC , The New York Times and The Washington Post , that the Palins will not allow them to propagate defamatory material without answering to this in a court of law.” Moore’s response? ” Bring it on “. Palin’s certainly not the first right-wing “tort reform” hypocrite. There’s George W. Bush, John Stossel, even an Alaska State Representative who advocated the 1997 tort reform law after twice suing families of teenage drivers who struck his wife’s car. (See their stories here .) I guess “practice what you preach” never made it into their Sunday school lessons. Although some in this “tort reform” cabal ostensibly took offense at Andrew Sullivan’s slam, I can’t imagine they’re too happy about Palin suddenly becoming the movement’s most well-known legal scholar. After all, in 2008 one of them was picked to vet Palin for the McCain campaign and gave this famously disparaging report at the time: “Even in campaigning for governor, she made a number of gaffes, and the Anchorage Daily News expressed concern that she often seemed ‘unprepared or over her head’ in a campaign run by a friend.” Like it or not, they’ve got her now. More on Sarah Palin
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Joanne Doroshow: The Tortured "Torts" of Sarah Palin and Oil
Conan O’Brien and his “Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television” tour rolled into New York City this week for two sold-out shows at Radio City Music Hall. As I wrote in my review of night two , Conan embraced his proximity to his former home at NBC and offered his fans a chance to relive classic Late Night bits. While the second night had many highlights ( Pee-wee Herman ’s balloon trick stands out in my memory), the clear winner moment came on the first night when Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert joined Conan onstage for a dance-off . It was great to see Conan having fun with his new competition before he attempts to destroy them in the fall. One of the funniest online videos of the week came from comedian Billy Eichner who took a unique approach to the man in the street interview with this piece about summer movies . “From Shrek Forever After to Prince of Persia, it’s going to be an amazing summer for art.” The trend of unlikely celebrities turning to Funny or Die as an alternative creative outlet (think James Franco , Marion Cotillard and Chris Klein ) took a new turn this week with David Mamet directing a sketch about vintage porn . He got help from two very funny people, Ed O’Neill and Kristen Bell. David Mamet’s “Lost Masterpieces of Pornography” w/ Kristen Bell, Ed O’Neill & Ricky Jay from David Mamet This week in unintentional humor from an intentionally funny comedian brought us this moment at game 1 of the NBA finals, when Chris Rock made the mistake of trying to joke around with a very serious Kobe Bryant during the game and got nothing back. I can’t imagine what Sony Pictures must have paid to have the stars of Grown Ups sitting court side at the game (though I didn’t spot Rob Schneider anywhere…). And, finally, the Aziz Ansari-hosted MTV Movie Awards arrive tonight and the show promises some very funny moments (I’m particularly looking forward to the Human Giant reunion ). Aziz’s promos have been solid along the way, from his initial hilarious introduction to the clips of him watching The Hurt Locker in 4D with Kristen Bell , Sarah Silverman and Justin Bieber . Just this past week they brought producer Les Grossman into the mix. The flashback clip that brought him to the set of Risky Business was very funny/creepy. But it’s this clip of Les giving some important advice to Robert Pattinson that’s really blowing up. Watch the 2010 MTV Movie Awards at MTV.com! More comedy videos at: http://www.gotchamediablog.com/ More on Basketball
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Matt Wilstein: Top 5 Comedy Videos of the Week (via Gotcha Media)
ACORN may well have been the most effective anti-poverty organization in the nation’s history. To paraphrase Sarah Palin, community organizers such as those who have worked for ACORN are kind of like Alaskan governors, but with commitment and staying power. John Atlas’ book, Seeds of Change (Vanderbilt University Press 2010) masterfully tells the story of the rise and current state of one of the most effective, most widely challenged, and now beleaguered advocacy organizations for the poor. Today the future of ACORN, and of community organizing itself, are contested. Any fair reading of the history of this particular organization would suggest, however, that community organizing should have a bright future. As Atlas recounts, ACORN has won significant victories and helped thousands of low-income families in their efforts to secure livable wages, exercise an effective right to vote, pay reasonable utility fees, secure home and small business loans on equitable terms, combat predatory lenders, extract benefits from redevelopment plans initially designed to profit developers and other urban gentry, and take other actions to escape poverty and join the American mainstream. With an annual budget of $100 million, more than 1,000 employees and 400,000 members in over 100 cities across 38 states at its peak ACORN grew from a small group of organizers in Arkansas in 1970 to a major force in local, state, and national politics less than 40 years later. According to one report produced by ACORN staff, its organizing efforts had generated more than $15 billion for low-income communities between 1995 and 2004. But this is hard work which has been carried out by people from all ends of the socio-economic spectrum. Ivy League graduates, paid less than half of what they could have made, often spent years, some decades. Most of the foot soldiers, however, were poor and working people, of various hues. It has been the empowerment of traditionally marginalized people that has long been a primary objective and accounts for much of ACORN’s success. Race and class divisions have appeared among ACORN volunteers, staff, and leadership. But those divisions have generally been overcome, with more than $15 billion to show for it. Some missteps by ACORN staff coupled with an all-out assault by right wing political and economic forces along with their friends in the media, and the unwitting capitulation of many in the mainstream media brought an end to the organization of ACORN as we knew it. Seeds of Change does not sidestep the embezzlement fiasco involving the brother of ACORN’s founder Wade Rathke, accusations of voter registration fraud, the prostitution and tax evasion charges and other challenges that have confronted ACORN over the years. ACORN is not blame-free, as Atlas observes. There were management problems. There were some bad apples. But the story is far more complex. And it is evident that none of these issues would have had a news life of much more than one 24 hour cycle if it were not for the fact that ACORN was successful in challenging some of the most powerful public and private interests in the nation. There are nits to pick with Seeds of Change . In two chapters on post-Katrina recovery efforts many compelling stories are told about various organizing and planning initiatives but it is difficult to follow all the connections and to see the proverbial forest for the trees. The many frustrations and failures surrounding the Road Home Program, arguably the major federal and state effort to assist homeowners, are not discussed. The many controversies over the role of insurance companies and the claims they did pay or should have paid are ignored. And there is no discussion of the important role that ACORN played in insurance redlining debates nationwide during the 1980s and 1990s. But these are nits. Seeds of Change is a vital reminder of the critical importance of community organizing in successfully combating the many problems associated with poverty at all levels - local, state, national and international. Ironically, Sarah Palin and her colleagues (Rudi Guiliani perhaps most notably) may have done more in recent years to enhance the credibility of community organizing than anything ACORN or its partners could have done. ACORN, in fact, is not disappearing. Seventeen former state chapters have reorganized as statewide entities independent of ACORN and a new national non-profit Community Action Support Center will be established to provide a range of services to these organizations. It may be awhile before there is another group on the national stage that has the cache of ACORN. But given its many victories, recounted in Seeds of Change , there is reason to be hopeful about the future of community organizing. Gregory D. Squires is a professor of sociology and public policy and public administration at George Washington University
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Gregory D. Squires: Seeds of Change: A Eulogy for ACORN? A Eulogy for Community Organizing?
We’re so lucky in California to have two wealthy women running for political office in our upcoming primary. Who says we haven’t come a long way, baby? But while I’m a big fan of eBay, the candidate I want to focus on is Carly Fiorina, who wants to be our next female senator and promises to bring jobs, jobs, jobs to our beleaguered state. As opposed to that liberal do-nothing Barbara Boxer. Let’s review her credentials. Fiorina is perhaps best known for running Hewlett-Packard into the ground when she was CEO, a feat she achieved by laying off thousands of employees, shipping jobs overseas, pushing an ill-advised merger with Compaq, trashing the stock price, and generally destroying H.P.’s famously mellow culture. For this she got sacked in 2005 in a unanimous and highly publicized vote by H.P.’s board. Understandably it’s still a touchy topic. After a Tea Party rally in Pleasanton, CA, in April, Fiorina snapped at some reporters when, instead of asking her about the wonderful response she got from the crowd, they asked her about the recent federal probe into H.P.’s murky business dealings with Russia when she led the company. And another about H.P.’s relations with Iran. Talk about a downer! All of which raises a question: with California’s economy in tatters, a $19-billion deficit, unemployment at a staggering 12.5 percent, do we really need a failed CEO with a chip on her shoulder representing us in Washington? Someone who was widely reviled for axing jobs rather than creating them? I hate to bring this up, but it’s not like Fiorina has been an avid citizen or particularly excited about government, either. (Unless you count that auspicious period in 2008, when she was one of John McCain’s economic advisers and got in trouble for saying he couldn’t run a company.) As Connie Bruck wrote in The New Yorker of Fiorina’s record,”she has failed to vote in two-thirds of local, state and national elections since 2000, including gubernatorial elections and Presidential primaries.” I know teenagers who have better voting records than that. Call me picky, but it also seems a stretch to call yourself a populist, as Fiorina has done every chance she gets, when you walked away from your last job with $21 million in severance, have a yacht, a mansion, a condo in Georgetown, and have been able to funnel at least $5.5 million of your personal fortune into a Senate race. But let’s not dwell on the obvious. Aside from the lack of interest problem, the conservative Republican also seems to think she’s running in Texas or South Carolina, and has been proudly touting her endorsements from everyone from anti-choice groups to the N.R.A. to Sarah Palin. (Who in her typical oblivious fashion got her facts about Fiorina’s “humble beginnings” wrong, saying her dad was a school teacher. He was a law professor and later a federal judge.) At least Fiorina, who has said she would overturn Roe v. Wade if given the chance, hasn’t dubbed herself a feminist, like her new BFF Palin did recently in one of her more comic moments. In her effort to win the Tea Party vote and disgruntled Independents, Fiorina has been particularly intent on slamming Tom Campbell, a former congressman and the lone moderate in the race. (Chuck DeVore, the other GOP candidate, is pretty much toast at this point.) It seems like ages ago, but remember the delightfully tacky demon sheep ad, where Fiorina painted Campbell as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”? At a debate in May, when the GOP candidates were asked if people on the “no-fly list” should be allowed to carry guns, Fiorina attacked Campbell when he very sensibly said no, sniffing, “That’s why he has a poor rating from the National Rifle Association, right there.” The attacks appear to have worked. This week Campbell pulled his ads off the air, after Fiorina leaped ahead in the polls. She’s nothing if not tenacious. Faster than you can say “demon sheep,” Fiorina was up with a new ad trashing Barbara Boxer. In the ad Boxer is shown saying that climate change is a national security issue. Is that ridiculous, or what? Then Fiorina comes on screen and gravely says, “Terrorism kills, and Barbara Boxer is worried about the weather.” Is that ridiculous, or what? As for the newly resurrected wedge issue of the moment, Fiorina is all for Arizona’s harsh immigration law. At a time when Californians are most worried about jobs and not who’s busing their tables or picking their strawberries, that might not be such a swell move. There’s also the no small matter that one in six voters in November is expected to be Hispanic. And that most young Californians have grown up in a strikingly diverse culture where race-baiting not only is unusual but extremely uncool. Maybe Fiorina should move to Texas? More on Sarah Palin
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Mona Gable: Why Carly Fiorina is Not Cool for California
Ever since Sarah Palin gave a speech to pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony List , a firestorm has erupted over whether Susan B. Anthony was pro-choice or pro-life . What we do know is that Anthony and other women suffragists battled for decades to gain the right to vote. The fruit of their labor would be the Fifteenth Amendment, granting African American men the right to vote in 1870. Of course, Anthony was buried by the time women’s suffrage finally arrived 50 years later. I, for one, would like to see a woman president (not 50 years from now) and gender equality in my lifetime. But the current rendition of “feminism” will never get us there. The construct is divisive, proactively exclusionary and opening hostile towards women of different ideologies. Achieving gender equality is impossible in a framework where some of women are viewed as less equal. Fortunately, there is another option. A new “pro-women” movement led, initially, by women on the right. The movement is inclusive, current, and refreshingly focused on supporting women. And why should we care whether it’s Republican or Democratic women (or both) who lead us to gender equality? After all, our historical women leadership is richly diverse in political beliefs and value systems. Sadly, some current day feminists view this ideological diversity as a death knell. When the f-word departed Sarah Palin’s lips, it was officially an act of war. So shaken was the feminist center of gravity, that historical women were exhumed to be used as weapons. And so began the battle for Susan B. Anthony. Never mind that as women historian Anna Belle Pfau points out : These were two very different worlds… Early feminists like Anthony would hardly recognize the debate that is being held today . Some feminists express righteous indignation that not only did a pro-life organization name itself after this historic woman, but that Sarah Palin had the nerve to refer to Anthony as “one of my heroes.” How utterly ridiculous! Susan B. Anthony belongs to us all, not just the 20% of women who consider themselves feminists! Also exhumed was Betty Friedan. This time a feminist blogger asserts (without evidence) that “women such as Palin” dismiss and disparage Friedan’s women’s movement. Actually, Friedan, who desperately tried to make women’s rights palatable to everyday women from Peoria, Illinois, would find much to like about women like Sarah Palin, Meg Whitman and Nikki Haley. These women embody the notion of having a choice: to work, to raise a family or both. And with the benefit of choice, came women’s work-life struggle: a crucial issue that has gone unaddressed. Thankfully, the pro-women movement is tackling it head on. We should applaud Republican women for embracing their strength, power and motherhood all at the same time. Even Democratic women find it appealing : ” What I like about Palin related to this whole feminist thing is that her marriage really does seem to be an equal partnership, with her husband giving her plenty of room to shine, and her not hesitating. ” We should also applaud that at a perilous time for our country, women are stepping forward to lend a hand. As Abagail Adams observed centuries ago: ” Great necessities call out great virtues. ” If the fraternity of leadership is failing, it’s time to give the Mama Grizzlies a chance to restore things for ourselves and our children. Even if we don’t agree with the ideology of Liz Cheney, Gov. Jan Brewer or Rep Michele Bachmann, it’s refreshing and imperative to finally hear women’s voices in our national discourse. But the most exciting aspect of the new pro-women movement is women support women. Sarah Palin is setting the pace by not only recruiting and endorsing , but also to standing by women political leaders. And conservative women in the media like Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham are continually defending their women leaders. Which is why it’s so confusing. The feminists who are now gripping onto the f-word so tightly that their knuckles turn white, do not support women. And not just women of different ideologies like Sarah Palin. Many of these same feminists did not support pro-choice, Democrat, Women’s Rights Are Human Rights Hillary Clinton in her effort to become our country’s first woman president. Hmmm. Let’s see: Sarah Palin, who supports women, is “fake” and “shameless”; while women who do not support women are “feminists”? As I consider “feminism” and “pro-women,” here’s my visceral reaction: Feminism feels like a trip back to junior high school full of mean girls — ganging up and cliques that exclude. I barely made it out alive the first time and I’m not eager to go back. Pro-women feels mature and positive. It makes me (a pro-choice, pro-gay rights, registered Democrat) feel not only welcome, but also supported, empowered and excited. I’m proud to stand alongside conservative men who explain that they “support and admire strong, powerful, independent women.” Turns out, so do I. And, yes, now I can see a path to gender equality in my lifetime. More on Sarah Palin
Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics Marc J. Hetherington, Jonathan D. Weiler Cambridge University Press Paperback, 234 pages, $23.16 Kindle edition 9.99 August, 2009 Money quote: Considering our story up to now, we believe we have adduced powerful evidence for the increasingly central role that authoritarianism has come to play in structuring party competition, mass preferences and the relevant issue agenda of the past forty years. Basic premise: Polarization in the electorate can be seen as a consequence of worldview, with more authoritarian voters favoring selected candidates perceived as being “tougher” or stricter, and with authoritarian and non-authoritarian voters having such different worldviews that passionate disagreement and polarization ensues even when political differences are small. It applies between parties (Bush v Kerry) and intraparty (H. Clinton v Obama.) Authors: Marc J. Hetherington and Jonathan D. Weiler are academics, Hetherington in the Department of Political Science at Vanderbilt and Weiler in International Studies at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Hetherington has previously authored Why Trust Matters: Declining Political Trust and the Demise of American Liberalism and co-authored Parties, Politics, and Public Policy In America . Weiler has authored Human Rights in Russia , and blogs at Weilerblog . Readability/quality: This is an absorbing read, though it is best tackled chapter by chapter to absorb the numerous charts, tables and references. The authors have tried to make this accessible to the general audience while keeping a scholarly tone, and mostly succeeded. The thesis is heavily supported by empirical data, which makes it especially impressive. Who should read it: political junkies; anyone interested in understanding why the 2008 Democratic primary aroused such passions (my favorite chapter in the book); anyone trying to predict how the oil spill crisis will play out politically; David Broder, Lanny Davis, and anyone else who really wants to understand what happened to bipartisanship. —- Interview with the author (Jonathan D. Weiler – jweiler – will be available on line here for questions between 9 and 10 am ET): Daily Kos: Your book is about authoritarianism, not so much in the persona of a particular candidate but rather in the worldview of the voting constituents. You also distinguish between authoritarianism and conservatism and note it can cut across parties in surprising ways, leading to significant polarization. Have you an easy definition of what you mean by authoritarianism?” Jonathan D. Weiler: Most succinctly, we mean by authoritarianism a tendency to see the world in simple, clear, black and white terms in support of a social order that prefers sameness and uniformity over diversity and difference. It also tends to prefer the concreteness of military conflict over the subtleties of diplomacy. A tendency to disdain complexity and nuance and to evince intolerance of outgroups are typical (though, of course not universal) features of authoritarian-minded individuals. The polarization we’ve argued is now under way is a product of the degree to which this particular worldview, once broadly distributed between the parties, has now increasingly found a home in one party, the Republican Party. And to emphasize, we also identify a non-authoritarian worldview, one characterized by a preference for thinking in shades of gray and privileging diversity and difference over sameness and uniformity. That worldview, likewise, was once more broadly distributed between the two parties and has increasingly gravitated toward one party, the Democrats. To be clear, we don’t argue that all authoritarians are Republicans and all non-authoritarians are Democrats. But the degree to which they’ve sorted themselves out between the parties, in response to historical events and the way the political parties have crafted their appeals to voters, makes this particular dimension - one’s level of authoritarianism - a powerful explanation of people’s political preferences. Daily Kos: One of the more fascinating examples of authoritarianism leading to polarization was the 2008 presidential primary (you devote a full chapter to it in the book), with similar ideologies between the candidates but passionate differences between the supporters? Where’s the passion gone in 2010? How has this particular dynamic evolved?” Weiler: I think the dissolution of passion in 2010 is a product of the dissolution of the dynamics that drove the intensity in 2008 - the desire to boot out the incumbent party from the White House after eight years, the presence of two very dynamic, impressive candidates, but also the fact that they displayed dramatically different styles, offering a contrast not in policy terms, (there was very little daylight between Obama’s and Hillary’s positions in 2008, save on health care and, of course, the recently-passed bill reflects Hillary’s position more than Obama’s) but in terms of how they framed issues, the words they used, the sensibilities they projected. My guess is that a fair number of those more authoritarian-minded Hillary voters would not have voted for Obama against McCain and that a larger number, who did, quickly came to have buyer’s remorse, as they were unhappy with the status quo but were never comfortable with Obama for a variety of reasons. Of course, Obama has also disappointed a lot of progressives - his too-cozy approach to the financial sector, his complete reversals on campaign pledges concerning national security/civil liberties issues (which he hasn’t even tried to defend) and, more broadly, his failure to articulate a clear vision for how America, under his guidance, can be a better place from a progressive perspective (more inclusive, more fair, more just) than it was before he took office. All of this has surely sapped a lot of pro-Obama passion. But anti-Obama passion, certainly on the right, is driven, I believe, by some of the authoritarian dynamics as we describe them - most clearly evinced in the Tea Party movement, which has largely reduced criticism of Obama to its most elemental, simple, broad and visceral terms - that Obama represents an alien ideology and agenda that is destroying the traditional social order in America. Daily Kos: Throughout the book, you use scholarly reference, but also frequently cite political reporting to illustrate examples of how worldview plays out. But reporters and journalists have their own narrative, which they use to contextualize their reporting. “Washington is broken,” or “Obama is like [fill in past President]“. Do you see the same dynamic in reporting as you see in the voting patterns of constituent groups?” Weiler: What I find most notable about reporting from the perspective of authoritarianism’s role in polarization is the degree to which he-said/she-said reporting really precludes American political journalism from providing any context for how extreme the base of one political party has become. Of course, I am going to sound like a rabid partisan myself when I say that, but so be it. If you think about the kinds of things Sarah Palin repeatedly said during the 2008 campaign - from drill, baby, drill, to “real Americans,” to repeated overheated warnings about Obama and socialism, and then on to her post-campaign rhetoric, including death panels, etc, it’s extraordinary really. This is not some fringe person, but a woman with a major political following who was the vice-presidential nominee of a major political party. And if you think about the heroes of the most vocal elements of the GOP today, the Tea Party (and yes, I regard them as a passionate faction of the GOP, not a meaningful alternative to either party), folks like Glenn Beck, who are trumpeting the most absurd, outlandish stuff imaginable, it’s quite extraordinary that political journalism still acts as if the center of gravity of our political discourse can simply be calibrated in the same way as always. The Democrats say this, the Republicans say that, and the truth must be somewhere in the middle. I heard Joe Scarborough, who passes for reasonable these days on the right, say the other day that he found Rand Paul too extreme in his views of the role of government in exactly the same way that he found Paul Krugman too extreme - one never wanting government involvement, the other always wanting it. This was, in a nutshell, what I’m talking about. Paul Krugman is, despite his emergence as a major liberal pundit, a completely conventional economist - not a Marxist or a socialist in any historically valid understanding of those terms - a believer in the way markets function that is in line with the (pro-capitalist) profession as a whole and a famous supporter of things like free trade. In a crisis, of the sort we’re now in, yes, he prefers a Keynesian approach. But the idea that his view of the relationship between the government and the economy is the polar opposite of Rand Paul’s is just absurd. Political journalism has failed miserably in contextualizing the changing center of gravity in political discourse, including (though not limited too) its failure to apprehend the increasing authoritarianism of the GOP.
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Book review: New thinking about voter polarization
“First the Obama Administration opened up the possibility of prosecuting CIA interrogators doing their jobs seeking information from terrorists. Then they tried to go after the Bush Administration lawyers who acted in good faith to protect us in the months after 9/11. Now some of the military brass are court-martialing three brave Navy SEALs for allegedly throwing a single punch at Iraqi terrorist leader Ahmed Hashim Abed. This is wrong… The charges should be dropped, and they should be returned to their unit - with our gratitude for their service.” - Sarah Palin, On the Moral and Patriotic Ways Torturers Get Information March 5, 2010 “It’s very creepy. Knowing that someone is going to be writing a hit piece, and he’s 15 feet away from you… This [summer] is what we live for. We like to be outside and do family activities, and Big Brother is watching.” - Todd Palin, On the Scary and Bad Ways Joe McGinniss Gets Information June 2, 2010 “Don’t look at me.” - Christina Aguilera, “Beautiful” I think we can all agree that when the state tortures people, that’s good, and when strangers see the Palins’ lawn, that’s Big Brother. Journalist Joe McGinniss walked right into that one when he moved to Wasilla without their permission. Here’s how little he respects their peace and quiet: From the house he rented he can see where they’re building their TV studio. There’s almost nothing Sarah Palin holds dearer than her privacy, and it you don’t believe me, just check out her Facebook posts. The only thing she likes more? CIA interrogators doing their jobs seeking information from terrorists. Or suspected terrorists. Same dif. So, for Joe McGinniss, and any other nosey Parker looking for information about someone, here’s a guide - from Bush Administration lawyers who acted in good faith to protect us — as to what’s acceptable and what isn’t. Sexually Humiliating Todd Palin From the Torture Memos: “Although some detainees might be humiliated by this technique, especially given possible cultural sensitivities and the possibility of being seen by female officers, it cannot constitute ’severe mental pain or suffering’ under the statute.” Starving Todd Palin From the Torture Memos: “Although we do not equate a person who voluntarily enters a weight-loss program with a detainee subjected to dietary manipulation as an interrogation technique, we believe that it is relevant that several commercial weight-loss programs available in the United States involve similar or even greater reductions in caloric intake.” Depriving Todd Palin of Sleep by Shackling Him to a Wall From the Torture Memos: “It is clear that depriving someone of sleep does not involve severe physical pain … Nor could sleep deprivation constitute a procedure calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses, so long as sleep deprivation (as you have informed us is your intent) is used for limited periods, before hallucinations or other profound disruptions of the senses would occur.” Waterboarding Todd Palin “Although the subject may experience the fear or panic associated with the feeling of drowning, the waterboard does not inflict physical pain. … In the absence of prolonged mental harm… the use of these procedures would not constitute torture within the meaning of the statute.” Punching Todd Palin in the Face “The facial slap and walling contain precautions to ensure that no pain even approaching this level results. … The facial slap does not produce pain that is difficult to endure.” Smacking Todd Palin’s Head Against a Wall “You have informed us that the sound of hitting the wall will actually be far worse than any possible injury to the individual. The use of the rolled towel around the neck also reduces any risk of injury. While it may hurt … any pain experienced is not of the intensity associated with serious physical injury.” Handcuffing Todd Palin’s Wrists to his Ankles “Any pain associated with muscle fatigue is not of the intensity sufficient to amount to ’severe physical pain or suffering’ under the statute, nor, despite its discomfort, can it be said to be difficult to endure.” Handcuffing Todd Palin’s Wrists to his Ankles and Locking Him in a Box “It may be argued that, focusing in part on the fact that the boxes will be without light, placement in these boxes would constitute a procedure designed to disrupt profoundly the senses. As we explained in our recent opinion, however, to ‘disrupt profoundly the senses’ a technique must produce an extreme effect in the subject.” Handcuffing Todd Palin’s Wrists to his Ankles and Locking Him in a Box and a Some Bees “If you do so, to ensure that you are outside the predicate act requirement, you must inform him that the insects will not have a sting that would produce death or severe pain.” Renting a House With a View of Todd Palin’s Backyard What is this, 1984 ? “Al Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America … he’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights?” - Sarah Palin on privacy, Republican National Convention, 2008
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Chris Kelly: Joe McGinniss Violates the Palins’ Human Rights
Risking her reputation as a true conservative who will only endorse candidates who share her core principles, Sarah Palin endorsed the moderate Terry Branstad yesterday for Iowa’s governor over the more conservative candidates who actually do share those core principles. Her Facebook fans are none too happy. “Bad endorsement,” they say. “Branstad and his ilk are about as opposite of Tea Party/conservative types as anyone,” and “What are you thinking?” The comments go on. Here’s what she’s thinking: Branstad is going to win. And Palin’s going to run, and she’s thinking that come 2012, she needs to win the Iowa Republican caucus; one of the first in the nation and the one that garners the most media attention. She knows she won’t be able to do so without significant support from a homegrown political heavyweight. Like a Republican governor, even though he might (and probably will) be one of those politicians who ends up on Palin’s crosshairs. I’m from Iowa, so I know a little about the state. And I know that Iowa is not Sarah Palin country. With the endorsement, Palin is signaling that she knows it also and that she’s going to need help there. Sure, Iowa has its Christian right factions, but those factions are different than say, the Christian right in Kansas, or Missouri. Iowa’s got long, strong roots, roots which the state clings proudly to. Even the evangelical community knows that Iowa is, and has long been, progressive country. Its public schools were desegregated nearly a century ahead of 1954’s Brown vs. the Board of Education. The state was the first to admit a woman to the bar, in 1869 — three years before the Supreme Court ruled that states could deny women the right to practice law. And, more recently, Iowa’s Supreme Court was the first in the nation to rule it unconstitutional to ban gays from marrying. More than 50 percent of the state supports the decision. She’s not going to be able to do much with her gun shtick in Iowa. Guns aren’t a big rallying point there. With little crime and with all the hunting land turned into farm and grazing land, there really isn’t much use for them. In Iowa, they eat therefore they build factory farms. Drill baby, drill? No oil there. And Iowans like their fuel mixed with a heavy dose of ethanol, much to the chagrin of the oil industry. Immigration? Pretty white in Iowa. But more than the specifics, there’s that general flashy, edgy snarky thingy she’s got. It doesn’t go down with those folks. Iowa’s Christian right doesn’t much like that edge. There’s a reason those big mega churches with those big pastors with their big white smiles and their flashing stage props never really took hold in Iowa. Mitt Romney had the similar problem there. His smile was too white and bright. His hair too perfect. His talking points too aimed at getting them angry. He spent a fortune in Iowa in 2008, and he lost to Mike Huckabee who only spent a fraction of what Romney did, crooked teeth and all. Huckabee charmed Iowa, not by throwing red meat to the crowd, but by being humble. I was visiting during campaign season, and I could see that they flocked to him because he was nice. His kind of Christianity worked in Iowa. Iowans, by and large, can spot the meek. And they relate. They still believe that they will inherit the earth. Palin will need lots of help getting them to forget that. Amanda Coyne writes for AlaskaDispatch.com. More on Sarah Palin
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AlaskaDispatch.com: Palin Looks To Iowa For 2012
We praise Thee, O God, For whatever perspicuity of language Thou hast taught us. . . . Abu Mohammed Kasim Ben Ali Hariri, (1054-1122 ) Makamat. Prayer The problem lies with the language and not the protagonist. It is virtually impossible for the politician to keep control of pen and tongue and not infrequently the politician is betrayed by one or the other. Newt Gingrich and Richard Blumenthal are their latest victims. Mr. Blumenthal’s betrayal is the more understandable and certainly less pernicious than the betrayal of Mr. Gingrich by his pen. Mr. Blumenthal is running for the United States Senate in Connecticut. In May the New York Times disclosed that his repeated description of his military service in Viet Nam, while inspirational and helping create a sense of camaraderie with those returning from combat, was fictitious. Mr. Blumenthal never served in Viet Nam. His military service was like George Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s. Between 1965 and 1970, he received 5 deferments (by coincidence the same number as Dick Cheney). The reasons ranged from being a student, to working at the Washington Post , to serving in the Nixon White House. Betrayed by memory and tongue, in countless speeches to veterans and others he referred to his service in Viet Nam. Addressing a group of veterans and old folk in 2008 he explained how we have learned a lot since the days he served in Viet Nam. As a result of his repeated representations the Connecticut press frequently referred to him as a Viet Nam veteran and Mr. Blumenthal made no effort to correct their descriptions since having said it enough and read it enough, he believed it. The fault in his description can be found in one word. Mr. Blumenthal may well have gone to Viet Nam long after the war was over, enjoyed a good meal, and in describing the experience to friends said he “was served in Viet Nam” referring, of course, to the meal. As time went on he dropped the “was” and pretty soon thought of himself as a veteran. Mr. Blumenthal is angry about the NYT report and acknowledged, “On a few occasions I have misspoken about my service, and I regret that and I take full responsibility.” Regretful perhaps, but indignant at the New York Times that first reported his faulty memory, he said he “will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.” Many a prevaricator would take comfort in knowing that by calling lies “misplaced words” the onus is lifted from their misplacement. While Mr. Blumenthal was explaining his misplaced words, Newt Gingrich was once again seeking to establish himself as a force in the Republican Party. He had drifted out of sight for a few years after resigning from Congress. Prior to resigning he had demonstrated his ability to multitask. While leading the congressional effort to impeach Bill Clinton for conduct arising out of his sexual misconduct, Mr. Gingrich conducted an extramarital affair with a woman who was to become his third wife as soon as he could shed his second wife (with whom he had an affair while waiting to shed his first wife who was recovering from cancer surgery.) But this has nothing to do with his sex life, interesting though it probably is to the women involved. This pertains to his new book called To Save America . The name seems a bit hyperbolic since it is not obvious that America needs saving (except perhaps from British Petroleum and Sarah Palin). In the book Mr. Gingrich says that the current administration’s “secular-socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did.” Whether the threat comes from the extension of health care benefits to millions of previously uninsured Americans, lowering the cost of drugs for seniors, beginning the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, or ending discrimination against homosexuals in the military, to name just a few, is not articulated. In coming up with a comparison to Nazi Germany (that he has subsequently sought to soften ) Mr. Gingrich may have been thinking of the new law in Arizona that permits the police when making a “lawful contact” with someone who gives them reasonable suspicion to believe the person is an alien, to determine, when practicable, the immigration status of the person. He may have thought that Arizona’s law bore a faint resemblance to Nazi Germany’s requirement that Jews wear yellow stars in public and may have forgotten that the Arizona law is a Republican creation that he should not criticize. The Arizona law is, of course, quite different from the Nazi law since the Arizona law places the burden of identifying the person on the police. And then again, perhaps none of the foregoing explains Mr. Gingrich’s writing. Perhaps Mr. Gingrich just hopes to grab the mantle of Republican leader from Sarah Palin and to do that he has to say some really stupid things. His description of the Obama administration certainly satisfies that requirement. Christopher Brauchli can be e-mailed at email@example.com. For political commentary see his web page at http://humanraceandothersports.com
Christopher Brauchli: Words and the Politician
COLUMBIA, S.C. — A South Carolina lawmaker on Thursday called a Republican gubernatorial candidate of Indian descent a “raghead,” saying we have one in the White House, we don’t need one in the governor’s mansion. Republican state Sen. Jake Knotts later apologized for the slur, saying the remarks about President Barack Obama and state Rep. Nikki Haley were meant as a joke. They came on Internet political talk show, Pub Politics. Co-host Phil Bailey said Knotts said, “We’ve already got a raghead in the White House, we don’t need another raghead in the governor’s mansion.” No audio was available because of a technical problem, Bailey said. “If it had been recorded, the public would be able to hear firsthand that my ‘raghead’ comments about Obama and Haley were intended in jest,” Knotts said in his statement. “Bear in mind that this is a freewheeling, anything-goes Internet radio show that is broadcast from a pub. It’s like local political version of Saturday Night Live, which is actually where the joke came from.” He did not repeat his original comment in his apology. Knotts of Lexington is a supporter of Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer’s gubernatorial campaign. Haley, who has been endorsed by Sarah Palin and is a favorite of the tea party, also represents Lexington in the Statehouse and has faced other landmines in her attempt to become the state’s first female governor. In the past two weeks, two men have come forward to say they had trysts with her, which she denies. Her campaign manager Tim Pearson called Knotts “an embarrassment to our state and to the Republican Party.” “Jake Knotts represents all that is wrong with South Carolina politics,” Pearson said in an e-mail. Bailey, who also is director of the state Senate Democratic Caucus, said Knotts is known for speaking his mind, but he went too far. “I was appalled by the comments,” Bailey said. Four Republicans and three Democrats are vying to replace term-limited Gov. Mark Sanford who rocked the state when he confessed last summer to an affair with an Argentine woman. It ruined his marriage and likely his political future, which included presidential aspirations. Bailey said he hopes to have the full discussion posted on the show’s website Friday. State Republican Party Chairwoman Karen Floyd called on Knotts to apologize “so that we can put this unfortunate incident behind us.” “The South Carolina Republican Party strongly condemns any use of racial or religious slurs,” Floyd said in an e-mail statement Thursday night. More on Barack Obama
My home state is brilliant. No one — not Texas secessionists , not Arizona xenophobes , not Alabama jingoists — can top South Carolina’s desire for attention. Just when you think that South Carolinians like former Republican U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond’s hidden African-American daughter, Republican Governor Mark Sanford’s Appalachian trail ride, and Republican U.S. Senator Jim DeMint’s health care Waterloo were enough … Republican State Senator Jake Knotts used the word ” raghead ” to describe Republican gubernatorial front runner Rep. Nikki Haley, from his own home county of Lexington, and President Barack Obama during an online political talk show on June 3rd. Haley is running against Lt. Governor Andre Bauer (he has an accent over “Andre” but HuffPo doesn’t give me the option of adding that). She is of Indian descent and Obama, as we all know, is biracial and, moreover, was not born in America. Just so we’re clear that this quote was not taken out of context by the big bad mainstream media, here’s Knotts’ full quote according to several people at the live broadcast of the program Pub Politics: “We already got one raghead in the White House, we don’t need a raghead in the governor’s mansion.” Now, Haley herself has already gotten in the news this week because a former press secretary for Gov. Sanford claimed he and she had sexual relations . So did a big-time state GOP lobbyist . Haley, not surprising to anyone who is watching recent Republican behavior, is a married social conservative endorsed by Sarah Palin. (Will these politicians ever read a newspaper? even in their own state? even about their own governor?) Now poor old Nikki is getting the hard high one from her own conservative pals. (The South Carolina Democrats are following the oldest rule of all: when you’re opponent is committing suicide, don’t step in and stop them.) What’s next, Palmetto State GOP? We can’t wait … More on Barack Obama
May 27th was the debut of our favorite movie, Sex and the City “2″ - ok maybe it’s not your all time favorite but you have to admit, you bought a ticket just to see what Carrie would wear next. Sarah Jessica Parker helped make Jimmy Choo a household name. Over the years, her outfits have been flirty, dreamy, and sometimes a little bit bizarre. Regardless, there was always something you’d covet by the end of each episode. Skip the gossip about the storyline and the great views of New York City - let’s talk designer clothing! Patricia Field, the styling genius behind the show, reached out to vintage couture expert, Julie Skinner for some of the wardrobe this time around. Fields had rented items from Skinner before to use on the set of Ugly Betty. That’s right, I said rented. Rented means just that, they are used for a short period of time by the actors/actress on a show, and then returned to the store to be rented again, or sold. Fortunately for us, they are available on her website, P.S. (Post Script): http://www.postscript.avl.1stdibs.com A few of the items seen in the film that are available for sale are a Zandra Rhodes sequin flapper dress listed at $2,800; a Jacques Casia couture gown for $6,500; a Gilli Originals lucite purse for $375 and a rhinestone belt, which can be purchased for $375. Image provided by P.S. - Post Script The pricing of these items might seem a little high; however collectors are always willing to pay a little extra to have something with a celebrity or film attachment. Image provided by P.S. Postscript If the pricing above is a little out of your budget, there are ways to get a similar look for less. By visiting one of the local vintage couture shops you can quickly put together an outfit that resembles your favorite scene from the movie without breaking the bank. There are probably vintage couture shops in your neighborhood, but in case you can’t find any you might want to do a little shopping online. For a great lucite bag - visit Bakeliteboutique.com Vintage sequined gowns: www.etsy.com Finally, if retro isn’t your scene but you still wanted to bring out your inner Carrie Diva - visit www.luxuryvintage.com They offer an ever changing inventory of Gucci, Versace, Prada, YSL and more! Reyne Haines is an appraiser, author and host of The Art of Collecting. Visit her website at www.reyne.com More on Sex and the City
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Reyne Haines: Reyne Gauge: Vintage Sex and the City
Can the Internet fix politics? The question, of course, presumes that politics is broken which, in my view, it isn’t. I think that politics - meaning a two party representative democracy built upon a separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government - actually works relatively well in this country. America just elected an unusually talented and charismatic young President who, in my opinion, has done an extremely credible job appointing and managing our best and brightest to confront deeply rooted economic, environmental, educational, foreign policy and healthcare problems. The American electoral system - give or take perhaps the odd Supreme Court decision on hanging chads - is uncorrupt. The military mercifully keeps well out of politics. The lobbying system, much as it offends purists who believe politics should be free of financial influence, works. The press is free and healthily irreverent, particularly on the Internet. Powerful corporations - like BP, Google or Goldman Sachs - are generally willing to abide by law, even when that law undermines not only their profitability but sometimes even their viability. And the American political system remains a relatively open meritocracy in which an entirely self-made man of African ancestory who grew up in Hawaii can - via Harvard Law School, the Illinois Senate and the US Congress - negotiate the rapids of the conventional political system to rise up to become President. But what is broken in America is our respect for politicians, political parties and political institutions. Each new poll on public trust in the Congress seems to reach a new nadir and America is caught in a vicious cycle of blaming incumbents for the economic and social consequences of the structural shift from an national-industrial to an global-information economy. And what is compounding this distrust of traditional representative democracy is the new orthodoxy of an angry libertarianism on both the left and right - from Sarah Palin to Glenn Beck to Lou Dobbs, Jon Stewart and (dare I say it) Arianna Huffington - which distrusts the very notion of legitimate political power. What is broken in America is a faith in the general goodness and credibility of elected officials. What is broken is a social contract predicated upon the rights and responsibilities of not only the rulers but also the ruled. This is where the Internet comes in. Rather than a solution to a broken political system, the Internet is part of the problem. The decentralized, flat architecture of the Internet - with its cult of questioning all forms of authority, its neo-anarchic orthodoxies of transparency and accountability, and its replacement of the responsibilities of citizenship with the rights of the consumer - is compounding the crisis of conventional political power. Sure, the Internet is a great medium for democratizing authoritarian regimes in Iran, China and Egypt. But in America, we already have a pretty decent democracy. Unfortunately, the unmediated Internet, with its tendency toward mob rule, is undermining the legitimacy of representative democracy and replacing it with the dangerous pipedream of a pure democracy. It’s the Anti Federalists 2.0. And in today’s vertiginous economic and cultural environment, I’m afraid, these new Anti-Feds might win. I dearly hope that politics won’t have to fix the Internet. But the online world is too precious to the 21st century to become purely a festering source of perpetual subversion for the discontented. If we can balance the demand for individual rights with the need for personal responsibility - in everything from intellectual property theft to the vitriol of anonymous online posting to an intuitive disrespect for other people’s opinions and beliefs - then the Internet can become a politically positive force in our nascent digital century. But this won’t happen if we turn the Internet into a religion and regard its technology as eschatology. Rather than being about peddling conspiracy theories or swapping stolen songs or posting videos of your skateboarding cat on YouTube, citizenship is about recognizing the moral consequences of one’s one actions. That’s how the Internet can fix politics. That’s how it can be a force for the public good.
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Andrew Keen: Can the Internet fix politics
Sarah Palin shrugs off her disastrous endorsement yesterday with a fresh one today. Michigan could be tough for Democrats, but there is a race where it really depends on the candidate. And, if Ras is to be believed, Jack Conway is on a motherfreaking tear in the Bluegrass State. All this (and more!) in the evening edition (two in one day!) of the ole Wrap… U.S. SENATE AK-Sen: Palin wades back into the endorsement pool Just a day after former half-term Governor and GOP VP nominee Sarah Palin batted .500 on her endorsements (NM-Gov candidate Susana Martinez won, but MS-01 candidate Angela McGlowan was trounced), she is giving a home state candidate some love. Not surprisingly, perhaps, it is the opponent to incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski: Republican Joe Miller. Palin argues in her Facebook post that “Contested primaries are so good for America’s political process! Competition makes everyone work harder, be more efficient, debate clearer, and produce more.” Someone might want to ask Palin to reconcile that philosophy with her support for Senator McCain in Arizona. Also, Tom Jensen of PPP wonders aloud if Palin’s endorsement is even worth much in her own backyard. CA-Sen: One candidate leaves the air, and one goes on the air In a sign of how topsy-turvy the political scene has been this year, within a day of former frontrunner Tom Campbell announcing that his campaign is pulling all television advertising (see this morning’s Wrap for details), Democratic challenger (and blogger) Mickey Kaus is debuting his ad. Kaus is the longest of longshots in his effort to deny the Democratic nomination to incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer. U.S. HOUSE CA-11: Pombo makes insider pitch in an outsider year This strikes me as piss-poor framing in a year where Congressional insiders seem to lack a certain popularity. Former Congressman Richard Pombo, who has moved down the road to run for the seat of retiring Republican George Radanovich, is arguing that his pre-existing seniority could make him a power player in the next Congress, giving him a leg up over any other candidates in the field. Somehow, it seems problematic to be reminding voters that he’s a Washingtonian. Can’t imagine it will help Pombo make up the double-digit polling gap he faced earlier in the year. NC-08: D’Annunzio implosion continues, cites CT for missing debate Typically, a refusal to participate in a debate is a tangible sign of strength. This would be…um…the exception to the rule. Controversial GOP candidate Tim D’Annunzio is forgoing a scheduled debate with opponent Harold Johnson. His rationale? One awesome little conspiracy theory. According to D’Annunzio, the media and the Johnson campaign are in cahoots, and the debate will essentially be an ambush against D’Annunzio. This, amazingly, not the first time a candidate has made such a bizarre claim. Just last month, Tennessee Democrat Willie Herenton ducked a debate with incumbent Congressman Steve Cohen on similar grounds. THE GUBERNATORIAL RACES FL-Gov: Is son of a Democratic Gov looking at an Indie run? Things were going so well for the Democrats in Florida. Seemingly certain GOP nominee Bill McCollum got waylaid by a free-spending primary challenger assaulting him from the right, while Democrat Alex Sink was pulling ever closer to McCollum in the polls. This, however, could definitely halt that momentum. Democrat Lawton “Bud” Chiles III, the son of the 90s-era Governor, is now apparently mulling switching from a primary challenge to Sink to an Independent run for Governor. This would almost certainly siphon off enough Dem votes to make it virtually impossible for Sink to win. ME-Gov: Undecided the big leader even on week of Maine primaries Maine’s voters head to the polls next week for their gubernatorial primaries, but apparently the voters are still weighing their options . According to a new poll from Pan Atlantic SMS Group, a total of 62% of Democrats are still undecided and 47% of Republicans are still undecided. Given the volatility that remains in the race, it is hard to call anybody a “leader” in the race. For what it is worth, Libby Mitchell (13%) leads Steven Rowe (12%) on the Democratic side, while the Republican primary is being led by Les Otten (17%) leads Paul LePage by seven points. MI-Gov: GOP leads in Michigan, but candidates matter a great deal If a new poll out this afternoon from PPP is correct, the Republicans start out with a modest lead, generically speaking, in the battle to replace Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm. The identity of the GOP nominee matters a great deal. If the nominee is either Mike Cox or Tom George, then both Democrats (Virg Bernero and Andy Dillon) are extremely competitive. If the nominee is either Peter Hoekstra or Mike Bouchard, then the Democrats trail by a margin just above the margin of error. The biggest concern for Democrats should be a Rick Snyder nomination. Snyder leads Bernero by sixteen (44-28) and Dillon by twenty (46-26). NY-Gov: …And then there were two in GOP gubernatorial battle In one day, the Republican field in New York was cut in half, as two candidates were eliminated from the field at the NY GOP Convention. The party denied party-switcher Steve Levy a slot on the ballot (a slot on the ballot required majority support of the convention, because of his status as a registered Democrat). Levy came close (43-57), but there will be no cigar (nor a ballot line) for the Suffolk County Executive, who actually came in second in the earlier straw vote of the race (28%). Later in the day, newcomer W. Myers Mermel also dropped out, literally days after RGA head Haley Barbour welcomed him into the race. Mermel walked after getting just 4% support at the convention. This puts former Congressman Rick Lazio right in the drivers seat, having earned 60% of the convention vote. Only businessman Carl Paladino (who got 8% of the convention vote) remains in his path. THE RAS-A-POLL-OOZA Only one campaign poll from the House of Ras today, but whoa boy…is it a beauty. Take your pick, Rasmussen. Either Jack Conway is a freaking juggernaut, who has picked up 17 net points of support in less than two weeks, or your first poll in Kentucky was completely full of it. You choose. KY-Sen: Rand Paul (R) 49%, Jack Conway (D) 41%
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Polling and political wrap, 6/2/10 (Evening edition)
COLUMBIA, S.C. — A South Carolina lobbyist resigned from a rival political campaign on Wednesday and then became the second man to claim he had a tryst with a Republican lawmaker trying to become the state’s first female governor. Lobbyist Larry Marchant admitted he had no proof to back up his allegation of a one-night stand with state Rep. Nikki Haley in 2008 and her campaign vehemently denied the allegation. The claim became the latest political drama for a state that was roiled when Gov. Mark Sanford made a tearful confession last summer to sneaking out of the country to rendezvous with an Argentine woman. Earlier in the day, Marchant resigned from the campaign of Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, who is competing with Haley for the GOP nomination in the June 8 primary. “It never happened. Absolutely not,” Haley said emphatically about Marchant’s claim during a debate with Bauer and the two other Republican candidates in Charleston. “This is just disgusting politics. Two or three months ago I was Nikki who? and nobody was saying anything and a couple weeks ago we started going double digits up in the polls and now we have had everything thrown at us.” Haley’s campaign manager had the same message. “As Nikki Haley rises in the polls, the good old boys in Columbia see their taxpayer-funded fraternity party coming crumbling down, and they will say or do anything to hold onto their power,” Tim Pearson said earlier. “This is South Carolina politics at its worst.” Marchant concedes he can’t prove his allegation. “We knew up front that I didn’t have any evidence because you can’t have any evidence on a one night affair – you don’t have that.” Marchant’s claim is the second leveled at Haley in as many weeks. Political blogger Will Folks said he and Haley had an “inappropriate physical relationship” in 2007. Despite dribbling out days of innuendo on his website, Folks has yet to prove his claims. He was not married at the time of the alleged relationship. Haley, a 38-year-old married mother of two who vows she has been faithful over 13 years of marriage, is a tea party favorite in the four-way race for the GOP nomination to succeed the term-limited Sanford. She has been endorsed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her rivals privately say their internal polls show her with a lead. Even in a state renowned for its dirty politics, Haley has faced more than her share this primary season. On Wednesday, she was preparing to strike back with a television ad set to air the following day. In it, Haley references the rougher side of campaigning. “I’ve seen the dark side of our state’s politics, and I know the bright side of our state’s people,” Haley says in the ad as images of her, husband Michael and their two children appear. “I have a vision of what South Carolina can be.” Before the debate, Haley’s husband said “the allegation is absolutely false.” The three Democrats running for governor were also debating Wednesday night, but in Spartanburg. Marchant is a well-known lobbyist who has led efforts to pass school choice legislation in South Carolina. He told The Associated Press that he and Haley had a one-time sexual encounter in her room in a Salt Lake City hotel where they attended a school choice conference in June 2008. He said he decided to go public after old rumors about a liaison were rekindled by Folks’ claims. “I did not have any intention of going public,” Marchant said. “I kept getting calls from different people. I just felt like I owed Andre to disclose it to him. I did not do it until two days after I disclosed it to my wife.” Marchant said part of the reason he came forward was Haley’s categorical denial last week of being unfaithful to her husband. “It just gnawed at me to the point I had to confide in my wife and then we both made a joint decision that I was not going to push the issue but that if I was confronted, I was not going to lie about it,” Marchant said. “It was not an affair. It was just one time,” Marchant said. “It was one of those things that happened. … We just had a one-night indiscretion.” Marchant said Bauer asked for his resignation after a newspaper reporter began asking questions about the alleged tryst this week. Bauer declined to comment about it, but his campaign did take the unusual step of announcing the resignation for “inappropriate conduct not in keeping with the goals of this campaign.” Pearson told The Associated Press that Marchant “has a vested and clear personal and financial interest in bringing Nikki Haley down.” During the debate, Haley suggested Bauer’s campaign had tried to shop the story to reporters on Tuesday. “You were all fishing the story last night and you didn’t fire him yesterday. It was only when no one would take him seriously because he was a paid consultant that you fired him today,” Haley told Bauer. Following the debate, Bauer denied trying to shop the story. “Somebody I paid to raise money for me came to me with something they had done that I didn’t think was appropriate to be associated with my campaign so I asked him to resign,” Bauer said. “I’m not shopping it. I’m not commenting on it.” Bauer had paid Marchant’s Black Label Strategies $21,361 since he formally opened his campaign account for governor in October. He also paid Black Label $29,099 in 2009, according to campaign finance reports. Marchant said most of that money went to two salaries in his political consultant business, not to him. “I’m not getting paid by anybody to do this. That is crazy,” Marchant said. Bauer has been running ads featuring former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who says the lieutenant governor “was tea party before there was a tea party.” Marchant, who was married at the time of the alleged tryst, said state Rep. Eric Bedingfield also attended the 2008 conference. Bedingfield confirmed he was there with Haley and Marchant but always in a group setting. “I saw nothing inappropriate,” said Bedingfield, R-Mauldin, who is not backing any candidate in the governor’s race. ___ Associated Press writers Seanna Adcox in Columbia and Bruce Smith in Charleston contributed to this report. More on 2010 Elections
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Nikki Haley Denies Accusations She Had A Second Affair With Lobbyist Larry Marchant
I’ve written about the very strange character of small town in Canada before. Recently, the cultural horizon of my tiny corner of it (Richmond, BC) has been enlarged by the Winter Olympics, by visits from Stephen Colbert and Jay Leno and by the impending comedic presence of Owen Wilson, Steve Martin and — that wacky child of rocket scientists — Jack Black. But elsewhere, British Columbia is sometimes stuck back in the era of flat earths, Monkey Trials and ‘fundies’ (short for ‘fundamentalists’, not for people who have too much fun). To raise money for a woman’s shelter, activists of the South Okanagan Women In Need Society staged a woman’s play in Summerland, BC. They chose The Vagina Monologues , a successful off-Broadway play that culminated in a 2001 Madison Square Gardens performance starring Melissa Etheridge and Whoopi Goldberg. Nonetheless, some Summerland residents are deeply offended by the public use of the V-word which appears on posters and brochures for the fundraiser. You can read all about that here . While Summerland’s stodgiest citizens tear down these offensive posters, let me review what the rest of the world is doing relative to their vaginas. 1. The slang synonym for vagina, the C-word, called the most offensive English swearword by the Oxford English Dictionary, has now been used openly on television in: Oz , Sex and the City , The Sopranos , Deadwood , The Wire , True Blood , Weeds , Californication and 30 Rock . I’m really interested in swearwords because they reveal so much about what a culture deems sacred, or prohibited. There’s a wonderful journal called Maladicta devoted to the cross cultural study of these words. In English the importance of a word-concept is identified by its number of synonyms and by all other associated words and phrases. Once you start to list them, you’ll find it’s very hard to run out of words connected to vagina. And as far as slang synonyms go, I think their taboo quality and power to offend are radically reduced with each exposure and use. Yes, as a liberal, I do think that’s a good thing. 2. Vajazzling: In my book Made To Break , I revealed that the phrase “to tie one on” refers to the lovely ribbons that once adorned the first generation of mass produced condoms which were made of inelastic vulcanized rubber. Many men of my great grandfather’s generation liked these ribbons and were sorry to see them go when the world switched over to latex. Well, apparently women are no different. They like to decorate what they’ve got and do so by adorning their … what-ya-call’ems … with jewels, crystals, what-have-you. Many beauty salons now cater to this trend. 3. My Lovely Pink Button: A new line of dyes, stains, glosses (lipsticks?) are available to beautify women’s blossoms, and it’s not such a strange idea. The traditional symbol of the vagina, the rose, has now been hybridized so that a rainbow of shades and hues are available. Apparently someone wondered why we shouldn’t enjoy as much variety in the real thing as we do with its symbolic, floral representation. Some feminists don’t like it, but this trend is becoming quite popular. I’m suspending judgment until I hear from a truly hot feminist like Germaine Greer, Jane Fonda or my old teacher, Professor Donna Landry of the University of Kent. Honestly, Donna, can color choice ever be a bad thing? 4. Cultivating Good Taste: The best thing about earning an undergrad degree in linguistics was the ability to describe oneself as a cunning linguist. (Yes. Sorry. The joke soon got very stale). The newly conceived vagina product “Linger,” however, prevents staleness freshening the vagina with a long-lasting tasty after-dinner style mint. Meanwhile, Lifestyle Nutrition has introduced a product called BOP for Her . It’s a dietary supplement — I kid you not — that “sweetens and purify a woman’s sex fluids for increased oral intimacy.” (There is also a corresponding supplement, BOP for Him, that performs a similar function for men). 5. And there are other things in the news. If you Google “vagina” you’ll find a variety of people expressing vaginal opinions including Jennifer Love Hewitt and Kathy Griffin. (I can’t wait to hear what Sarah Palin has to say on the subject of redneck vaginae.) There’s even an erotic vagina-smelling perfume now. Toronto-based science writer Zosia Bielski uses her characteristic humor to describe many of these trends here . Of course, none of this helps the homeless or battered women of Summerland, BC, or their young dependents. Let me thank them for their patience with me now and ask you to help them by visiting their site, South Okanagan Women In Need Society . Please consider donating the price of two theater tickets. Tell them I sent you More on The Inner Life
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Giles Slade: My Vagina Monologue
Primary night brought a boatload of surprises, and sets the stage for next week’s “Super Tuesday” electoral madness, with contests in close to a dozen states. Enjoy this breakfast edition of the Polling and Political Wrap… THE U.S. SENATE AL-Sen: Yes, there were Senate primaries in Alabama, too… Lost in all of the high-profile races was a pair of primaries to determine the party nominees for the U.S. Senate in November in the state of Alabama. Both went according to form. On the Republican side, longtime incumbent Richard Shelby and his eight-figure (yes… eight-figure ) warchest easily avoided a teabagging, beating Clint Moser 84-16. On the Democratic side, attorney William Barnes easily beat back the challenge of Simone de Moore (61-39). CA-Sen: Campbell goes dark in final week of campaign Time will tell if this strategy was the white flag of surrender, or a savvy use of resources. The air war in California for the U.S. Senate has been conceded , as Tom Campbell has gone off the air in the campaign’s final week. Campbell had already been headed that direction, having seriously curtailed his ad buys over a week ago. Campbell has fallen into a rather distant second place behind Carly Fiorina (who is a continuous presence on the air, like her businessperson-turned-politico pal, Meg Whitman). FL-Sen: Interesting donations from self-funding Senate “Democrat” Nice catch by DavidNYC over at SSP , it seems that wealthy Democratic newcomer Jeff Greene has been politically active as of late, just not in any way that would be lauded by Democrats. One of the recipients of his largesse just last year ? None other than California Republican Meg Whitman . That also shows a lack of fiscal responsiblity. I mean, for God’s sake, Greene…if you are throwing down campaign cash, what is your five grand going to add to the nearly $70 million she is gonna drop out of her own checkbook? PA-Sen: Dem poll gives Sestak sizeable lead to hold Keystone seat What once looked like a possible Republican flip in the U.S. Senate is at least a toss-up now, and quite possibly a Democratic hold. Yet another poll, this one from Dem pollsters Garin-Hart-Yang, confirms that Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak has moved into the lead over Republican Patrick Toomey in the battle to replace Senator Arlen Specter. Sestak leads, according to G-H-Y poll, by seven points (47-40). THE U.S. HOUSE AL-02: Roby cannot avoid runoff, must return in three weeks Democrat Bobby Bright will have to wait three more weeks to learn the identity of his GOP opponent for November. In all likelihood, it will be Montgomery city council member Martha Roby, but she failed to make it to 50%, and thus must return on June 22nd to battle tea party devotee Rick Barber. Roby led the first round of balloting with 49%, to 29% for Barber. AL-05: Parker Griffith’s career as a GOP Congressman cut short A number of political junkies (myself included) thought this could happen, but most probably did not think it would happen before a runoff. That said, the Congressional career of Parker Griffith is over. He received just 33% in the primary of his newly-selected party, losing to Mo Brooks, who cleared the runoff bar by snagging 51% of the vote. Brooks will take on well-funded Democrat Steve Raby, who has one of the more impressive performances of the night by easily avoiding a runoff by taking 62% of the vote. MS-01: Nunnelee earns November slot, avoids the runoff Aside from Susana Martinez’s easy win in New Mexico, this is liable to be the only result last night that national Republicans are smiling over. Their establishment pick, state senator Alan Nunnelee, managed to avoid a near-teabagging , barely clearing the bar to avoid a runoff with just 52% of the vote. Local mayor and tea party advocate Henry Ross ran second with 33% of the vote, while much hyped Fox News contributor (and the recipient of a somewhat bizarre and truly botched endorsement from none other than Sarah Palin) Angela McGlowan ran a distant third (15%). NY-03: Dems might be coalescing around a challenger to King It looks like Democrats have found a challenger to bombastic Republican Congressman Peter King on Long Island’s 3rd Congressional District. The candidate in question is educator Howard Kudler, who lost a 2008 bid for the state assembly by twenty-four points. THE GUBERNATORIAL RACES AL-Gov: Davis thumped, while GOP side might result in recount More than twelve hours after the polls closed, it is apparent that there will be a GOP runoff in Alabama’s hotly contested Governor’s race. However, the identity of the combatants remains to be seen. That is because, right along the Alabama-Georgia border, heavily Republican Cleburne County (only 18% for Obama in 2008!) has yet to report its 17 precincts. Even without them, it looks like a recount between state legislator Robert Bentley and “We Speak English” Tim James is inevitable. Bradley Byrne has made the runoff with 28% of the votes, while just 140 votes (out of over 490,000 cast) separate Bentley and James. Roy Moore finished a distant and disappointing fourth. On the Democratic side, it was a surprise landslide. Most polls showed Artur Davis leading, but it is hard to win a primary betting against your own party, and Davis learned that lesson decisively on Tuesday night. State Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks wins the Democratic primary with a shocking 62-38 margin. AZ-Gov: GOP field in Arizona shrinks with Munger exit The right-wing resurgence of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer claimed a casualty on Tuesday, as former state Chairman John Munger withdrew from the campaign. He placed the blame on the state’s public campaign finance system, which he said doomed his chances of being financially competitive (he was running without public finance support). Munger had a boomlet early in the campaign, but seemed to be one of the bigger casualties of Brewer’s resurgence. IA-Gov: PPP poll shows some degree of peril for Branstad next week This is one of those polling results that requires a double-take. The popular assumption out of the Hawkeye State is that former longtime Governor Terry Branstad would face little challenge in his own primary, and maybe not that much in the general, either. Not so fast . Branstad is under 50% in his primary bid against conservative insurgent candidate Bob Vander Platts (46-31). What’s worse for the establishment pick–he actually trails Vander Platts among those who know both candidates. It would seem that Branstad has one week to hold onto this nomination, but this poll ensures that next week’s primary just flew onto everyone’s radar screens, if it wasn’t there already. MI-Gov: Bernero, Snyder lead for gubernatorial nods New data out on Tuesday from PPP shows that there might be a pair of new faces atop the leaderboard in the state of Michigan’s open-seat battle for Governor. After months of polling showing state House speaker Andy Dillon leading on the Dem side (with tons of undecided voters), that result is reversed in the PPP poll. Now, it is Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero narrowly out in front, with the same throng of undeclared voters still present (26-23). Meanwhile, over on the GOP side, it is as tight as they come, with four candidates separated by just a total of five points. Businessman Rick Snyder leads the field at 20%, followed by right-wing Congressman Pete Hoekstra at 19%. State Attorney General Mike Cox (17%) and Oakland County Sheriff Mike Cox (15%) are just behind. General election numbers are due later today. NM-Gov: Martinez wins landslide in GOP primary–will face Denish One of the few sources of joy for national Republicans on this election night emanated from the Land of Enchantment, where they got their preferred candidate, and in landslide fashion. Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez easily won the Republican Primary for Governor, beating former state chair Allen Weh by over twenty points (51-28). While Martinez cleaned house in her own backyard (nearly hitting 70% in her home county, one of the most populous in the state), she also had a broad victory, winning all but two counties. She will face Democratic Lt. Governor Diane Denish, who was unopposed Tuesday evening. THE RAS-A-POLL-OOZA Tuesday was a surprisingly quiet day for Team Ras. Following with recent traditions, the House of Ras polls a general election (favorably for the GOP) that is five months away rather than the primary that is seven days away. They also check in on Rhode Island. RI-Gov: Lincoln Chafee (I) 35%, Frank Caprio (D) 32%, John Robataille (R) 25% RI-Gov: Lincoln Chafee (I) 37%, John Robataille (R) 29%, Patrick Lynch (D) 19% RI-Gov: Frank Caprio (D) 35%, Lincoln Chafee (I) 33%, Victor Moffitt (R) 22% RI-Gov: Lincoln Chafee (I) 35%, Victor Moffitt (R) 28%, Patrick Lynch (D) 24% SD-AL: Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D) 46%, Kristi Noem (R) 43% SD-AL: Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D) 47%, Chris Nelson (R) 43% SD-AL: Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D) 48%, Blake Curd (R) 41%
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Polling and political wrap: 6/2/10
[bumped - Barbara Morrill] While the precincts are still rolling in, let’s take this opportunity before the East Coast heads off to slumber to take a look at where things stand on what has proven to be a much more interesting than expected primary night in Alabama, Mississippi, and New Mexico: Contrary to many expectations on Election Eve, it looks like the headline tonight won’t be the gubernatorial primaries in Alabama. In the northern tier of the state ( AL-05 ), turncoat Democrat-turned-Republican Parker Griffith is finding that he is not receiving a warm welcome in his new party. As things stand at this moment (with 82% of precincts reporting), Mo Brooks will win the Republican primary, and narrowly avoid a runoff. Griffith might be able to squeak back into the runoff, but with just 33% of the vote to his name right now, his prospects for nomination are pretty damned close to nil. Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Steven Raby is leading by a wider-than-expected margin, and the AP just declared him the winner, without a runoff. Meanwhile, in the aforementioned race for AL-Gov , the Democratic primary has also yielded a surprise. While it is still somewhat early (just over half of the precincts have been tallied), Ron Sparks looks well on his way to a landslide win over Artur Davis (65-35). Working against Davis: he is underperforming badly in his own 7th Congressional District. Perhaps that HCR vote was his undoing–this might be a heavily black district, but it is also a liberal one. Voting with the GOP on health care might have been a fatal political error. On the GOP side, on the other hand, a runoff seems certain at this point. The only question is which two of the frontrunners will sneak into that runoff. We could be well into the night before that particular question is answered. As of last check, less than 2000 votes separated first from third place in the Republican primary. Surprisingly, perhaps, “10 Commandments Judge” Roy Moore is not among the trio. He trails well behind the leaders with just 20% of the vote. Also on the menu in Alabama: sad news for parody fans. Republican Ag Commissioner hopeful Dale Peterson is currently running 3rd (out of 3) in his bid for the job. Personally, it would only seem right to pin the blame for his pending defeat on thugs and criminals. In other battles to determine the Fall roster in the battle for control of the House of Representatives, we have a mild surprise in AL-02 , where NRCC recruit Martha Roby could be headed for a runoff. She leads teabagger opponent Rick Barber, but is under the magic 50% threshold (45-30). Democratic incumbent Bobby Bright is unopposed. In AL-06 , Spencer Bachus looks to have survived a teabagger threat in this, one of the most conservative districts in America. He leads with 69% of the vote at last check. Meanwhile, in the heavily Democratic 7th district, runoffs appear certain on both sides. On the Democratic side, Sheila Smoot and Terri Sewell look likely to make it into the runoff, with Earl Hilliard Jr. (son of the longtime former Congressman from the 7th) trailing well behind. As you’ll see when we get to New Mexico, it is not a good night for legacy candidates. Meanwhile, in Mississippi, there are only two races getting attention, and both have gone according to form. In MS-01 , with about 90% of the vote counted, NRCC fave and state senator Alan Nunnelee appears on the verge of just avoiding a runoff. He leads teabagger opponent Henry Ross by a 51-33 margin. The best news from the 1st: the golden touch of Sarah Palin continues unabated. Much hyped Fox News contributor Angela McGlowan (endorsed today, for those scoring at home, by Palin) was a non-factor, notching 16% of the vote. Down on the other side of the state in MS-04 , longtime Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor is seeing his first legit Republican challenge in well over a decade. State legislator Steven Palazzo took the primary, defeating Joe Tegerdine 58-42. They are also getting after it in the Land of Enchantment, and the story there is Dona Ana County D.A. Susana Martinez. Expected to be locked into a tight battle with self-financing former state party chairman Allen Weh, Martinez has pulled out to a pretty commanding 50-30 lead over Weh. The secondary “big story” is what a total non-factor Pete Domenici Jr. wound up becoming. He is currently a distant fourth place, with just 7% of the vote. In the one House primary worth exploring ( NM-03 ), standard issue GOPer Tom Mullins is hammering Paul-ite Adam Kokesh right now (75-25), but only about a quarter of the precincts are in. UPDATE #1 (8:09 PM PT): The AP has called the Democratic primary for Alabama Governor for Ron Sparks. UPDATE #2 (8:16 PM PT): And, minutes later, the AP has now called the Republican primary for New Mexico Governor for Susana Martinez. UPDATE #3 (8:26 PM PT): Parker Griffith is on his last legs. With over 90% of precincts reporting, he still cannot coax Brooks back under 50%. Brooks is still sitting at 51%. Worse yet for the newly minted Republican, almost all of the precincts remaining are in Madison County, where Griffith has absolutely gotten obliterated tonight (58-24) by Brooks.
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Primary Night: State of the Races
The Deepwater Horizon rig continues to uncontrollably spew 200,000 gallons per day of oil into the Gulf of Mexico with the possibility of this environmental catastrophe not ending until August. BP, formerly known as British Petroleum, launched a now-proven unsuccessful campaign a few years ago to re-brand itself as an environmentally-friendly company, with a new name (and the ironic slogan “Beyond Petroleum”) but the same behaviors. BP spent nearly $16 million lobbying Washington last year with key political players from both parties at its side. The company is now fending off accusations that it failed to abide by safety provisions , while it tries to outmaneuver paying massive liability charges. Whatever the company wants to call itself will do little to change the consequences of its actions. With no relief in sight, the oil rig disaster is a somber reminder in dramatic, real time that our environmental behaviors and policies, which helped to create this mess, are out of whack. It is the residents of the Gulf region who will lose the most and suffer for many years to come. This includes the families of the oil rig workers who tragically died and the fishermen and others who rely on the Gulf for their economic survival. I’m also referring to the fish, birds, marine mammals — many of whom are endangered species — that are critical to the health of the region, whose are now struggling to survive. The Gulf of Mexico is already downstream from the interior U.S.’ garbage, toxic run-off and other waste, creating a gigantic area commonly known as a ‘Dead Zone.’ Add in a robust and aggressive fishing industry, so it wasn’t the easiest place for endangered species to survive. And with the millions of gallons of crude oil now in the mix, you’ve turned the Gulf into a potential morgue. As the oil continues to creep towards Gulf coastlines, its full impact might not be known for a long time, but here are some profiles of the impacts on some endangered species. Get a complete list of the region’s endangered species . 1. Turtles : Five of the world’s seven endangered turtles are found in the Gulf of Mexico. The turtles currently at risk are Kemp’s ridley, Green, Loggerhead and Leatherback with nearly 200 already dead. Sadly, the Gulf’s entire population of Kemp’s ridley turtles is currently migrating along the Louisiana coast towards Texas and Mexico, straight through the heart of the spill. 2. Blue fin tuna: The oil spill happens to be on top of the breeding ground for the Blue fin tuna whose stocks have already been depleted by 90 percent since the 1970s. The spill doesn’t bode well for this fish that was already barely hanging on. 3. Marine Mammals : Sperm whales and manatees are coming into contact with the oil frequently as they must come to the surface to breathe. They can also experience ulcers, eye and skin lesions, congested lungs, burns, decreased body mass and poisoning from the oil and the chemicals applied to control the spill. 4. Brown pelicans : These birds are threatened with hypothermia when the oil destroys the insulation of their feathers. 5. Least Terns : The largest colony for these endangered birds is located in the Gulf and is severely threatened. Despite this depressing situation, you can make a big difference to help the situation. 1. Tell the Obama Administration you oppose off-shore oil drilling . 2. Volunteer or support rescue efforts . 3. Get involved with endangered species protection . 4. Protect sea turtles . 5. Learn more about the Humane Society of the U.S.’ efforts to protect marine mammals . 6. Cut your oil use . 7. View and share your pictures from the spill on Google maps. 8. Hold BP executives accountable . More on Gas & Oil
Sarah Ferguson takes blood money and the whole thing is captured on tape. Must be time to go on Oprah! What a spectacle these sit-downs with Oprah are, yet strangely formulaic. The Duchess of York relies on every cliche in the book and pulls them all out in the first five minutes to cover all the bases: “Little Sarah got lost.” She was drunk, though perhaps only on orange juice. She’s spent her whole life trying to be perfect (though clearly without much success.) She was tired, had been on the road for months. She even uses the third person, feeling sorry for “her.” So what to make of all this? Wouldn’t it be so darned refreshing to hear Sarah Ferguson say, “I have spent my millions and will do practically anything — including selling access to my ex — for money?” How about if Rielle Hunter admitted to being amoral while having sex with the married John Edwards? What if the Oprah Show became a place where people actually told the truth? Maybe even Oprah could do that! It would be a whole new genre in reality TV — unscripted, honest, just plain admitting that an act or choice was wrong. They could do it less for redemption and more for simply unburdening their souls. Though of course in America redemption seems to come easily to those who fail. Bill Clinton lied through his teeth and now is the darling of the global health world, commanding hundreds of thousands of dollars on the speakers’ circuit. Sarah Ferguson carts away a case loaded with $40,000 and is given an hour to ruminate on her fatigue with the Queen of TV. Who is next? The head of BP who “just wants to get my life back?” We’re a very forgiving society, aren’t we? Oprah seems to encourage that in us, with her compassionate nods at the fallen, her willingness to let even the slimiest among us explain our actions in the most insincere way. Yes, I know. I can stop watching Oprah. I can assume that the Duchess will receive the frosty wrath of her royal in-laws, that Bill Clinton will have to explain himself at the Pearly Gates, that Rielle Hunter will find mold in her lovely warm colored “mistress” house. And yes, I know, being judgmental is not constructive. It is so easy to judge others. Let s/he who is without sin cast the first stone…But, really, there are so many unhailed heroes in this nation whose lives would be bolstered by five minutes of sitting knee to knee with Oprah. They could tell her about how they serve food at homeless shelters or take in stray cats or volunteer at their children’s schools. They could regale her with how they feed a family of five for under $150 a month or manage to take vacations with nothing but a cooler and some sleeping bags. They wouldn’t talk in the third person or be forced to watch hidden camera footage of themselves involved in dastardly activities. There’s a whole swath of Americans who don’t lie or cheat or take advantage of others, who don’t try to excuse bad behavior by claiming to be drunk. Why can’t they be on Oprah? In fact, why doesn’t Oprah simply ban anyone who has publicly displayed bad behavior? She only has another year of the show anyway. Devote it to good neighbors, good teachers, first responders, children with straight A’s, old people who’ve never gotten a traffic ticket. I know I’d watch it. In fact, if Sarah Ferguson devotes the rest of her life to earning a living the way the rest of us do, manages to stop blaming food and alcohol and the royals — I’d even be willing to see her on the Oprah Reunion Special in 25 years. Maybe. More on Oprah
According to all of the polling conducted over the past week or so, Carly Fiorina has surged past Tom Campbell and become the undisputed leader in the Republican primary to determine the challenger to Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer. What makes Fiorina unique, according to Congressional Quarterly is that Fiorina seems to have no intention of running as a moderate in deep-blue California: A Boxer-Fiorina race would test whether a self-described economic and social-issue conservative Republican can prevail in a Democratic-leaning state where successful statewide Republican candidates, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger , more often than not have tacked to the political center. Though Boxer is a slight favorite to win re-election, the anti-incumbent atmosphere in California and the prospect of a low-turnout election provide an opening for a conservative candidate to win in the fall. The size of that opening is very much in doubt. After all, Carly Fiorina is carpet bombing the state with ads like this one , which shouts to the heavens that Carly Fiorina is the chosen Senate candidate of none other than…Sarah Palin. (Hey, Carly: I double dog dare you to run that ad again in October…) Our own Research 2000 from a few weeks ago (before Fiorina’s advantage in the air war pulled her into the lead in the Republican primary) showed no great discontent with Democrats in the state. President Obama had a 62/33 favorability spread (a spread only slightly wider than other pollsters have shown). Senator Boxer polled at a 49/42 favorability spread. While hardly a warm acclamation from California voters, it included net positive reviews from both Democrats and Independents (an 18/77 spread among Republicans drags down the overall average). It is also a better favorability spread than the one for Carly Fiorina, who is sitting on a 40/43 spread driven by net negative marks from both Democrats (of course) and a slightly negative appraisal from Independents. Boxer, from her initial ascendancy to the Senate against Bruce Herschensohn in 1992, always seems to poll worse than she performs. She looked like a goner against Matt Fong in 1998, and pulled out a ten-point win. Since New Years Day, she has led Fiorina in all fourteen general election polls conducted in the Golden State. And those margins have actually widened slightly since Boxer’s low point, which came in mid-March. Sure, if the climate gets worse for Democrats between now and November, then all bets are off. However, Fiorina’s unabashed conservatism gives Barbara Boxer an additional edge, as evidenced by the general election polling in the state which shows (more often than not) Tom Campbell as the more bankable general election alternative in the state. Once again, it looks like the GOP will be doing Democrats a favor in their primary elections.
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CA-Sen: Is Carlyfornia Dreaming?
CHICAGO — Sarah Ferguson says she had been drinking and was “not in my right place” when she was caught on video offering access to her former husband, Prince Andrew, for $724,000. The Duchess of York made the comments to talk show host Oprah Winfrey in an interview to air Tuesday. The interview was taped Friday in Los Angeles, and excerpts were released Monday by Winfrey’s Harpo Productions. Ferguson tells Winfrey that she’d seen snippets of the video in airports but had not “faced the devil in the face” by watching it in its entirety. But she says she could tell she’d been drinking and was “in the gutter at that moment.” Ferguson has apologized for her lapse of judgment and has said she had financial problems. More on Oprah
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Sarah Ferguson To Oprah: I Was Drunk