News Roundup for 10/29/10

Man argues in front of a panel
They're back!

-Headline of the Day-
"Angle-Backers' Flyer To Retirees: 'Your Lifespan' Depends On Voting Against Reid."

Because of the DEATH PANELS!!. Except, Sharron doesn't call them that, she calls the "Benefit Panels," which really has none of the scary while retaining all of the stupid.

"These panels will decide if you get needed medical treatment, in part based on age, even if your doctor says it is medically necessary in order to save your life," her mailer warns. "If the panel decides no... that means your life will not be saved, just like in Canada, England, France, Denmark, etc."

Actually, it's more like America, where insurers routinely deny coverage for crazy reasons. People in Canada, England, France, and Denmark like their healthcare systems, which means they must not be all that worried about death panels stalking their every step. But hey, it's an election season, she's a Republican, so that means reality is out the door. If Sharron's scaremongering is a better representation of a status quo she supports, then we're just supposed to ignore that. (Talking Points Memo)

-That's not actually democracy-
OK, this gets a bit complicated, so stick with me here. Up in Alaska, incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski got primaried out and this lumberjack-looking guy got nominated by the GOP instead. But Lisa has decided not to go gently into that dark electoral night and has mounted a write-in campaign that's currently kicking this Miller guy's ass. But, to make sure that voters know she's running, she asked that a list of write-in candidates be available at the polls. If she's not on the ballot, at least some last-minute, low-information types will know she's running.

The Alaska Supreme Court decided to stay an injuction against the list, which is pretty much the same thing as saying, "Knock yourself out, list away." It's not a formal go ahead, but if they don't decide soon, it really might as well be.

Enter the tea party and Andrew Breitbart's Big Government site. See, they have one of the dummbest voter suppression schemes ever devised -- get like a bazillion people to sign up as write-in candidates and bury Murkowski's name under an avalanche of other names. So now Alaska has more than 100 write-in senate candidates and Murkowski's still on the list.

Why is this dumb? Math. Anyone interested enough in looking at a list of write-in candidates stands a good chance for voting for one of them, since they obviously still haven't made up their minds yet or can't remember how to spell "Murkowski." Breitbart and the teabaggers want Miller to win, but it's not very likely that this will make a damned bit of difference -- not for Miller, anyway. It may hurt Murkowski, but if it helps anyone, it's the Democrat Scott McAdams, who's leading right now as it is. See, if a vote goes from Murkowski, it'll most likely go to one of those other people on the list, not to Miller.

It may be that the Alaska Democratic Party will be sending Andrew Breitbart flowers. (Politico)

-Bonus HotD-
"Tancredo: It's 'Elitist' For 'People Who Get Elected' To Think Their 'One Purpose' Is 'To Make Laws.'"

Tom Tancredo has a weird definition of "lawmaker." (Think Progress, with video)

The White Party

Way back in August of 2008, with presidential campaign in full swing, then DNC chair Howard Dean accidentally told an interviewer at NPR what he really thought. "If you look at folks of color, even women, they're more successful in the Democratic Party than they are in the white, uh, excuse me, in the Republican Party," he said, "because we just give more opportunity to folks who are hard-working people who are immigrants and come from members of minority groups." Of course, calling Republicans the "white party" was the worst thing ever.

"Howard Dean's comments on race and gender today are disappointing and wrong," responded Dean's GOP counterpart, Mike Duncan. "His efforts to divide Americans are an insult to all our nation's citizens and have absolutely no place in the national dialogue."

Yeah, about those "efforts to divide Americans":

Someone on the right is trying to divide America into white people who vote and non-white people who don't. And this is really nothing new. In 2004, a flier was distributed -- purporting to be from the "Milwaukee Black Voters League" -- in Milwaukee's African-American neighborhoods. It stated that it was illegal to vote if they'd voted in another election that year (like the primary), that they'd be arrested if they tried to vote while having an outstanding parking ticket, that it'd be illegal to vote if anyone in your family had ever been found guilty of anything, and that it was too late to register to vote (Wisconsin has same-day registration -- i.e., you can register at the polls on election day).

Somewhere, deep in the bowels of the Republican Party, a decision has clearly been made -- that they don't need the votes of anyone other than white Christians. I say this is clear because it's so obvious; Republicans have spent the summer driving anyone who isn't a white Christian away from their party. If you're Muslim, they don't want you. If you're Latino, they don't want you. If you're black, they don't want you. And heaven help you if you're gay.

What's strange about this is that Latinos and Muslims are both fairly conservative demographics. The vast majority of Muslims voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and Bush also made gains with Latinos in 2004. Now, a Latino or a Muslim voting GOP seems a lot like the mice rooting for the cat. They've pretty much purged the party of these undesirables with a campaign of what can only be described as hysterical hatred. For example:

[The Upshot:]

Judson Phillips, founder of the Tea Party Nation, suggested this weekend that Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) be voted out of Congress for being too liberal and too radical--and because, Phillips said, he's a Muslim who supports terrorists.

And Phillips says he's not about to apologize for that last incendiary charge.

Phillips says that Muslims have the legal right to run for office, but that they deserve special attention: "The Constitution specifies that no religious test can be used to exclude someone from public office. But when someone adheres to an ideology that says kill people who disagree with you, that is something voters should seriously consider when they vote... I am not going to apologize because I'm bothered by a religion that says kill the infidel, especially when I am the infidel... I learned everything I needed to know about tolerance on September 11th."

Apparently, a national disaster brought about by intolerant religious fanatics serves as a lesson in the wisdom of intolerance. Talk about learning the wrong lesson. I can't describe Phillips attitude here without using the word "cowardice." That would just be inaccurate. Yet his attitude is common on the right. It's hysteria, pure and simple.

And, as the tea party takes over the Republican Party, this hysteria over minorities is only going to get worse. A Bloomberg poll finds that tea party members are "more likely than other voters to be white, married, 55 and older, and call themselves born-again Christians" and that "More than six in 10 say [the tea party] advocates government based on Christian principles."

"Those who identify with the Tea Party also take a harder line on illegal immigration," Bloomberg reports, "54 percent of Tea Party backers say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports a proposal to change the 14th Amendment of the Constitution to prevent the children of non-citizens born in the U.S. from automatically becoming citizens, compared with 48 percent of all likely voters."

If you're not a white Christian, the GOP is no place for you. The White Party is making that clear.


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News Roundup for 10/28/10

Yakov Smirnov
Alaska US Senate candidate Joe Miller

-Headline of the Day-
"New Hays poll puts Miller in third."

Teabaggin' Joe Miller is finding his race for the senate to be a little more bumpy than he'd originally thought. A surprisingly strong write-in campaign by incumbent Lisa Murkowski has set him back a little bit, as has recently becoming scandal plagued. So a new Hays Research poll shows Democrat Scott McAdams in the lead, followed by Murkowski, with Miller coming in last.

Still, Jim Geraghty -- who some of you may know as that pundit guy on CNN who looks like a baby eagle -- isn't too worried. Writing at the National Review, he says that Hays has been wrong before, that they're ugly, and that their mom dresses them funny.

He's not taking any chances though. He makes sure to spell Murkowski's name "Lisxzqq Murkwrwfcvplski" and writes, "For all Alaskan readers, this is the legal spelling of the incumbent senator's name and should be used for all write-in ballots."

Hahahaha! Voter suppression is funny... (Anchorage Daily News)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, litte Suzie Newsykins is back and she wants to tell us about her Halloween costume -- she's going to be a candidate of rage!

Click for animation

I've gotta say, I don't really approve of Suzie Newsykins... (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"I Had a One-Night Stand With Christine O'Donnell."

Long story short, drunk chicks can be fun. (Gawker)

Want to Lose in 2010? Then be a Moderate

I actually feel a little sorry for this guy. Meet the most hopeless candidate of the 2010 midterm election cycle, Republican Chad Lee, running for Wisconsin's second congressional district.

Statistical wizard Nate Silver gives Lee's opponent, incumbent Democrat Tammy Baldwin, a 100% chance of winning reelection. Not 98%, not 99%, but a sure bet -- as sure as the sunrise. She voted for TARP, the healthcare reform bill, and the stimulus package. She's the only openly lesbian member of congress. She opposed Bush's war and torture policies. She's pro-choice and pro-same sex marriage. There's video of her dancing with crossdressers at a Madison Gay Pride rally (which is awesome). If Barack Obama is a commie, then Tammy Baldwin is off the scale. She's the leftiest leftist in all of leftiedom, with the possible exception of Dennis Kucinich. And she's a leadpipe cinch for reelection. It's such a certainty that the race isn't even getting local coverage. Seriously, some people are going to be surprised to see her on the ballot and will wonder who this other guy is.

And Chad Lee? He's a perfectly average Republican candidate. A made-for-TV handsome young white fella, he's crazy enough to qualify as a teabagger, but not crazy enough to stand out in the current crop of lunatics his party is putting on the ballot nationwide. He's not losing because he's incompetent. In another district, against another candidate, it's not hard to imagine him as the frontrunner. Here, he's nobody. The GOP has completely given up on this seat -- and on Chad Lee.

In a year when Republicans are set to make big gains in the House of Representatives, the Baldwin-Lee race can be instructive. While Wisconsin's second is a liberal district, Baldwin took the seat only after Republican Scott Klug retired. Klug owned it. If history means anything at all, this should be a swing district. And this year, it should be swinging right. Yet this year, Tammy Baldwin owns it as much as Klug did.

If what the right would call a wild-eyed, radical leftist isn't losing this year, then who is? Blue Dogs, that's who.

[Wall Street Journal:]

More than half the members of the Blue Dog Coalition -- the organization of moderate to conservative Democrats in the House -- are in peril in next week's election, a stark indicator of how the balloting could produce a Congress even more polarized than the current one.


Of 54 Blue Dogs in the House, six already have retired or decided to seek other offices. Of those trying to stay, 39 are in competitive races, according to the Cook Political Report, and 22 of those are in pure toss-ups.

I could explain this, but it's already been explained for me -- by Harry Truman in 1952.

I've seen it happen time after time. When the Democratic candidate allows himself to be put on the defensive and starts apologizing for the New Deal and the fair Deal, and says he really doesn't believe in them, he is sure to lose. The people don't want a phony Democrat. If it's a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time; that is, they will take a Republican before they will a phony Democrat, and I don't want any phony Democratic candidates in this campaign.

It's the phony Democrats who are losing this year. The equivocators, the apologists, the so-called "moderates." Voters want people who believe in something and Blue Dogs seem to be nihilist. If there's a lesson to be learned in this election, it's that principle matters. Believe in something, stand up for something, or find yourself out on the street. As Jim Hightower is fond of saying, "There's nothing in the middle of the road except yellow stripes and dead armadillos." And defeated Blue Dogs.

Of course, this lesson will be lost on Democratic leadership. They'll do what they always do; look at the examples of defeat, while ignoring the examples of success. They won't look at successful candidates like Tammy Baldwin, they'll look at the people who are beating the Blue Dogs and conclude they need to be more like them. Being a Democratic strategist means always learning the wrong lesson. Forget Harry Truman, hello Sarah Palin. The answer to every problem is to move to the right. Let the apologizing for healthcare reform and the stimulus begin.

It's the people who are voting this cycle that the Democrats will worry about, not the people who are staying at home. I'm lucky, I get to vote for a real, live Democrat. Others have a choice between Republican and Republican-lite. No wonder they're staying home. Give people a clear choice and they'll get off their butts. Give them no real choice and they're going to be less than enthused.

This is the lesson of 2010. Don't expect anyone to learn it.


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News Roundup for 10/27/10

I'm sorry you're such a dick, Tim Profitt

-Headline of the Day-
"Kentucky Stomper Wants An Apology From Woman He Assaulted."

Say what you will about Kentucky headstomper Tim Profitt, but you've got to admit his got balls. After being identified as the guy who put the boot to MoveOn activist Lauren Valle, Profitt sat down with a local TV reporter to tell his side of the story.

"I don't think it's that big of a deal," Profitt says. "I would like for her to apologize to me to be honest with you." Unfortunately for both Profitt and Valle, it is a big deal, since she suffered a concussion and shoulder sprains from the attack. He's facing an assault charge because of it, so police seem to think it's a big deal as well. Still, everything is all Valle's fault, because she's a leftist agitator.

"She's a professional at what she does," Profitt added, "and I think when all the facts come out, I think people will see that she was the one that initiated the whole thing."

"Just so we're absolutely clear, the guy who stomped on a defenseless woman's head wants her to apologize to him," writes Steve Benen. "Maybe she smudged his shoe or something." (Talking Points Memo)

-This interview never happened-
Spooky Delaware witch Christine O'Donnell made an appearance on WDEL's The Rick Jensen Show and, according to the station, "answered a variety of questions from listeners as well as the host." Pretty much your normal old campaign stop, really. And then things got weird...

According to the report, "At the conclusion of the interview, a representative from the campaign who had been in the broadcast studio with O'Donnell asked that the video be turned over to the campaign and not released. He stated that the videotaping had not been approved by the O'Donnell campaign."

"O'Donnell also told show host Rick Jensen that she would sue the radio station if the video was released," WDEL reports. Here's the thing; O'Donnell wouldn't have a legal leg to stand on. See, videotape, audio, and photos are covered under two different licensing laws -- commercial use license and editorial use license. Commercial use would be like an acting or modeling gig and you've got to get a signed release from the people featured in the work, while editorial use is newsy-type stuff -- like, say, an interview with a major party candidate for the US senate -- and you don't need any release for that. It's all very complicated and legal and boring, which is probably why Christine didn't know about it. After all, she's running for a law-writing job, not a law-reading job.

Anyhoo, Christine's campaign manager said they'd "crush" the station if they posted video of the interview, which didn't go very well for her. The station, being both the creator and copyright holder of the work, responded with something along the lines of "blow me" and went ahead and put the video on their site.

"After seeing the video the attorney for the O'Donnell campaign contacted WDEL's counsel again to apologize for charges made by their campaign manager," the station reports. "The attorney agreed that there was no legal issue with the video and expressed regret for the incident."

You know, for someone who's all "the Constitution this" and "the Constitution that," Christine O'Donnell's grasp of the concept of press freedom seems a little tenuous. (WDEL, Talking Points Memo)

-Bonus HotD-
"Sarah Palin Takes Twitter Gibberish To Whole New Level."

Actual twitter quote: "@ExaminerOpEdsgggg d}.}" No, really. She probably sat on her blackberry or something. It happens, no big deal.

But you know what's really sad? It's been retweeted by 47 teabaggers so far, because everything Sarah Palin does is automatically brilliant. (Wonkette)


News Roundup for 10/26/10

Bin Laden and al Zawahiri
American Action Network?

-Headline of the Day-
"CT station to shadowy right wing group: Sorry, we're not airing your falsehoods anymore."

An attack ad from the American Action Network claims that healthcare reform will mean "$500 billion in Medicare cuts," create "thousands of new IRS agents," and will mean "jail time for anyone without coverage." People in the horseshit-spotting business have looked into these claims and have declared them horseshit. Turns out the American Action Network is a bunch of people whose pants are on fire.

And who are the American Action Network, anyway? Who knows? It's all a big secret. It could very well be al Qaeda. It's probably not. It's probably insurance company lobbyists. But it could be. At any rate, as far as I know, they've never denied being al Qaeda. That'd be proof enough for Bill O'Reilly. So I think it's probably safest to assume they're al Qaeda.

And one Connecticut TV station isn't taking the chance that the ads give aid and comfort to America's enemies. The ads attack Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy, who's running a tight race against Republican Sam Caligiuri -- a man who has also never denied being a member of al Qaeda. According to the report, "FoxCT, the local Fox affiliate, informed the Murphy campaign that it would stop running the American Action Network ad after the Murphy camp sent the station a letter detailing the ad's falsehoods, the Murphy campaign confirms." Word is that another station in the state may pull the ads as well.

Take that, al Qaeda. (Plum Line)

-Is NPR jihadist?-
The Daily Show is back and the big story in Washington is NPR firing Juan Williams. Jon Stewart takes a look at the story, along with Fox News' insane overreaction to it.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
NPR Staffing Decision 2010
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

There's a lot of funny here, but I think Aasif Mandvi gets the best line: "If they re not going to make a distinction between Muslims and violent extremists, then why should I take the time to distinguish between decent fearful white people -- and racists?"

So. Much. Win. (Comedy Central)

-Bonus HotD-
"Tea Party Nation: Vote Out Rep. Keith Ellison Because He's Muslim And 'Supports' Terrorists."

This is what you call "making Aasif Mandvi's point." (Think Progress)

Debate in the Rightwing Blogosphere: Pro- or Anti-Head-Stomping?

What fun! Here's Wisconsin Republican senatorial candidate Ron Johnson receiving an award for his tireless work on behalf America's most downtrodden minority -- gazillionaires.

I'll admit to laughing when they finally realize they've been punked and drag the guy away. I don't like Ron Johnson -- at all -- but I'll give him and his staff credit for being good sports about the whole thing. They're all smiles as they realize they've been had.

This is more than can be said for Rand Paul supporters outside the Kentucky senatorial debate last night:

Those "don't tread on me" flags teabaggers are so fond of have just become ironic.

Not surprisingly, Jim Hoft at the truly awful Gateway Pundit blog approves of this assault, calling the MoveOn member -- Lauren Valle -- an "unhinged leftist" stalking Paul. See, those noble teabaggers stomping on her head are just reacting as she "lunges at a Republican leader." Of course, the news report of the incident says nothing of the sort, but that's your liberal media for you. "Look for the state-run media to make her into some kind of saint by the end of the day," he warns.

Reactions in the comment thread are surprisingly mixed, with one comment saying, "I apologize for how she was treated by this Rand Paul supporter" and another writing, "It is about time that people starting putting the hate-America first left to the ground where they belong." Yet another says the left is going to put people in gas chambers. Some of these people are completely insane.

Over at The Other McCain, Robert Stacy McCain plays the whole thing for laughs. In a post titled, "Do the Kentucky Head-Stomp!" McCain calls this "the dance sensation that's sweeping the nation" and wonders if the whole thing is for real.

I'm hesitant to jump to conclusions about what actually happened in this kind of made-for-TV publicity stunt. Who were these "Rand Paul supporters" who roughed up MoveOn.org activist Lauren Valle? Why did police question Valle, and not the guys who roughed her up? At any rate, I remember when Alex Jones sicced a mob on Michelle Malkin during a protest at the 2008 Democrat convention in Denver. Malkin did nothing at all to provoke that attack.

It's all very mysterious. But McCain boldly states, "I'm definitely anti-head-stomping." There's a controversial position for you.

What's striking here is that the rightwing blogosphere doesn't seem to know how to react to this. Do they cheer it, as Jim Hoft does, or do they create a conspiracy theory to explain it away, as McCain does? One thing we can count on is that they won't take responsibility for it. Painting the left as Nazis, communists, terrorists, and traitors has finally paid off.


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News Roundup for 10/25/10

Pretty sure he thinks he's Jon Stewart

-Headline of the Day-
"Just who does Jon Stewart think he is?"

Today's Most Unfair Headline Award goes to the Washington Post's Paul Farhi. It's a big day for Paul, as he also garners the Most Unfair Lead-In Paragraph Award for this:

These days, he can claim to be many things: political satirist, pseudo-anchorman, media critic, author, successful businessman, philanthropist, Emmy Award magnet. On Monday he arrives in Washington in a new, self-anointed role: as our national voice of reason, moderation and rationality -- a uniter, you might say, not a divider.

Trust me, I slogged through the whole thing and it doesn't get any better...

OK, I'm lying. It does. A lot better. It's actually a very nice and informative article. Thank you Mr. Farhi. But the idea that Stewart's role in the rally is "self-anointed" is BS. As anyone who's been watching the story closely can tell you, the whole thing was suggested by users of the occasionally mountain-moving social bookmarking site Reddit. Sure, it was originally suggested as a Colbert rally, but The Colbert Report is a Daily Show franchise, so there. It'd be like a Star Trek movie without the Enterprise -- and who wants to see that? Nobody, that's who. So shut up.

Anyhoo, the big to-do is this weekend. If you haven't scored a ride (like me) or a place to stay (like me), you can catch the whole goddam thing on a Comedy Central live feed. Sit in a comfortable chair, dress up like Paul Revere, get a sign that says something funny, maybe a big foam finger, and participate from the comfort of your own home. Easy-peasy. If your roommates/loved ones wonder what in the hell you're doing in a three-cornered hat and pantaloons, tell them you're being sane, OK?! Can't anyone be sane anymore?!

Then you can laugh at all those people standing out there on the national mall all day like chumps. They may be able to say they were there, but they won't be able to say they made microwave popcorn. And, in the end, isn't microwave popcorn what's really most important? (Washington Post)

-Then there's this-
Next Media Animation of Taiwan covers the Stewart/Colbert rally.

Surprisingly accurate. (Next Media Animation)

-Bonus HotD-
"European Polluters Funding Senate Candidates Who Oppose Action On Global Warming."

You ever wonder why global warming denial is largely an American conservative form of crazy?

It's because American conservatives have the best crazy foreign money can buy. (Think Progress)

Is Russ Feingold Actually Leading? It's All About the Cell Phones

Student with cell phoneMadison Teachers Inc. is in a small, blond brick office building. It's the kind of building you might expect to find in an industrial park and seems out of place in Madison's funky coop-shopping, granola-crunching, Williamson Street neighborhood, where Victorian is the dominant architectural style. It seems odd then that few people I've talked to knew where it was -- you'd think it'd stick out like a sore thumb and, therefore, be memorable. Still, it's easy to find from the handful of campaign yard signs out front and the hand-lettered "Welcome volunteers!" banner on the entrance door.

This is my second shift of volunteer work for the Wisconsin Democratic Party. My first shift was at the Feingold campaign headquarters, located in what used to be a bar just off the Capital Square. I sat in a storefront window and made calls with a well-used campaign cell phone. This time, I sit in a white conference room with campaign literature taped to the walls, in between framed posters celebrating the ethnic diversity of Wisconsin school children. But if the locations of the phone banks are very different, the experience is very much the same.

In both cases, a mostly older crew of volunteers (say, 40 and up, with retirees well-represented) are supervised by very young campaign staffers. There isn't one staffer I wouldn't ask for an ID before serving beer. But experience tells me that the young are better suited to campaign politics; they've still got that learning gene switched on, so they're quick on the uptake and still used to crunching numbers -- and, believe me, they're doing a lot of that. They're figuring contacts per hour, ratio of Republican to Democratic contacts, percentage of people who say they'll definitely vote compared to those who just say "probably," percentage of early voters by district, etc. Trust me, every number is compared to another one and broken down into a percentage or ratio. A big chunk of behind-the-scenes campaign work is analyzing data. These are the front lines and the battle is fought with phones and calculators.

I'm given a seat at a folding table, a list of names with phone numbers, and a cell phone. Then it's dial, dial, dial. There's cookies, soda, and a little chit-chat, but mostly we just dial. The work ethic of a volunteer is a wonder to behold.

As one staffer is training a new volunteer, I hear a snippet of info -- Feingold internal polling puts him ahead of his opponent, multi-millionaire plastics magnate Ron Johnson. There's good reason to believe this is on the money: first, inaccurate polling is useless to a campaign. You want real numbers, not pie-in-the-sky, happy-clappy, tell-you-what-you-want-to-hear numbers. If you're behind, you want to know it. You don't win elections by underestimating your opponent and overestimating yourself. Remember that the next time someone disses the source of a poll.

And second, a recent St. Norbert's College/Wisconsin Public Radio poll put Feingold and Johnson in a statistical dead heat -- 47% Feingold to 49% Johnson. But it turns out this poll has a flaw -- it was a landline-only survey. As Pew Research recently pointed out, skipping cell numbers can give inaccurate results.

[Pew Research Center:]

The latest estimates of telephone coverage by the National Center for Health Statistics found that a quarter of U.S. households have only a cell phone and cannot be reached by a landline telephone. Cell-only adults are demographically and politically different from those who live in landline households; as a result, election polls that rely only on landline samples may be biased. Although some survey organizations now include cell phones in their samples, many -- including virtually all of the automated polls -- do not include interviews with people on their cell phones. (For more on the impact of the growing cell-only population on survey research, see "Assessing the Cell Phone Challenge," May 20, 2010).


In three of four election polls conducted since the spring of this year, estimates from the landline samples alone produced slightly more support for Republican candidates and less support for Democratic candidates, resulting in differences of four to six points in the margin. One poll showed no difference between the landline and combined samples.

So the St. Norbert's/WPR poll is either four to six points off in Johnson's favor (a three in four chance, if we're just playing the odds) or as accurate as a poll including cell numbers (a one in four chance). Another factor throwing the accuracy of the poll into doubt is that two Democratic Wisconsin strongholds -- Milwaukee and Madison -- have large pockets of students and renters. These two groups are the most likely to rely on cell phones and, coincidentally, are the most likely to vote Democratic -- in this state, at least. I've called the University of Wisconsin "the party's not-so-secret weapon." If that vote is underrepresented in a poll, there's no way that poll is going to be accurate. And that poll -- consistent with Pew's findings -- is very likely to be biased Republican. It wouldn't be an extremely comfortable lead, but ahead is ahead and I'll take it.

I'm already signed up to phone bank again next week. It's a lot easier to spank those phones when you're pretty sure you're making progress. I'm pretty sure we're making progress.


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News Roundup for 10/22/10

Social Security card as scratch-off lottery ticket
Republican plan for Social Security

-Headline of the Day-
"Right After Calling For Social Security Privatization, GOP Senate Candidate Claims To Oppose Privatization."

Let's get one thing straight, OK? Republicans don't want to privatize Social Security. Republicans just want to create private accounts people can use to invest their private Social Security funds with private firms. There's a difference -- the Republican way of putting it has more words. See, this is important because -- as the recent market meltdown demonstrates -- having all your retirement money invested in the market would be insane beyond words.

No one has demonstrated the rhetorical gymnastics GOPers are forced to perform when talking about privatization better than Oregon senate candidate Jim Huffman. During a debate with incumbent Ron Wyden, Huffman said "he hasn't argued for privatizing Social Security, literally one sentence after calling for the creation of private accounts," according to the report.

"I have argued for allowing newcomers to the Social Security system to have the option of private accounts," he said. "I have not argued for privatizing the Social Security system. There s nothing in the record that would uphold that argument."

Now I'm not saying Jim Huffman thinks voters are stupid, I'm just saying that stupid is what Jim Huffman thinks voters are. (Think Progress, with video)

-Fixing history-
What if gays practiced the same sort of historical revisionism that the right has been practicing?

"They will ride into space like big gay cossacks gaying their way across the eastern steppes! We will bury you! Bury you in gayness!"

The Texas Board of Education would explode. (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

-Bonus HotD-
"Justice Clarence Thomas was 'obsessed' with porn, former girlfriend says."

Yeah, I don't think that apology from Anita Hill is going to happen. (Raw Story)

Don't Like Being Accused of Racism? Then Stop Being Racist

It's almost a joke, because it's almost funny. After the NAACP released a report on tea party ties to racism, the right is in fits. It's a "smear," they insist with all the indignation their little hearts can muster. It's the worst thing ever and it's just not true, they complain. But here's the punchline -- as they insist they aren't racist, they do nothing to hide their racism.

For example, on news that Democrats are doing well in early voting, a major force in the tea party movement -- FreedomWorks CEO Dick Armey -- went on Fox News to declare that it was a sign that blacks are stealing the election.

Get that? We've got to be on the lookout for voter fraud, which is "pinpointed to the major urban areas. The inner city."

"Republicans and others on the right, as we've reported extensively, often make high-pitched claims of Democrat-operated voter fraud, arguing that Dems focus on minority areas," writes Rachel Slajda for Talking Points Memo. "Such claims rarely bare out, but the fear of voter fraud can lead to voter suppression."

Part of tea party and Republican worries (can we stop pretending there's a real difference between the two?) is that polling shows that black voters are just as excited about 2010 as they were about 2008, when that demographic turned out in record numbers. "I really believe that that is what is going to be the secret weapon here," South Carolina Democrat and member of the Congressional Black Caucus Rep. James Clyburn said of African-American turnout. "That is the unknown to a lot of people."

And it's an unknown the GOP/tea party isn't very comfortable with. In Wisconsin, the tea party had a plan to practice voter caging in largely minority areas and among students, which violates the National Voter Rights Act of 1993. In Illinois, Mark Kirk was caught on tape discussing plans to send "voter integrity" squads to "vulnerable" -- i.e., mostly African-American -- districts in his race for Senate. And of course, there's the already infamous "Don't Vote" ad, urging hispanics -- who vote overwhelmingly Democrat -- to stay home to send a message on immigration reform.

But, so far, the worst has been in Texas, where incumbent wingnut Governor Rick Perry is in a surprisingly tight race with Democrat. Perry will still probably win, but why take chances?

Voter intimidation in Houston is so egregious that the Justice Department has stepped in.


Harris County [where the video report was recorded] is the same county where a suspicious arson over the summer knocked out most of the electronic voting machines. It contains Houston, the state's largest city, a majority African-American area, and home to Bill White, former mayor and current candidate against Rick Perry for Governor.

The group "True the Vote," made up of tea partiers, operates as a voter suppression brigade, recruiting poll watchers in Harris County over fears of "voter fraud," the same tactic used every year by the right to minimize votes from core Democratic constituencies. All of the reports being investigated by the DoJ took place in early voting sites in predominantly African-American and Hispanic areas. Some of the eyewitness reports can be found here.

In the Tea Party, Republican operatives have found a willing group of poll watchers who actually believe all the stories about ACORN stealing elections and the like. So this is a combustible mix...

You know what would be a great way to dispel accusations of racism? Stop shrieking about it being a smear and just quit being so goddam racist.

You never know, it just might work.


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News Roundup for 10/21/10

limbaugh looking pompous
Not a big fan of the facts

-Headlinee of the Day-
"The problem with calling a Soros donation 'foreign money'."

Rush Limbaugh strikes a blow for truth, justice, and the American Way as only Rush can -- by getting everything all balled up. Following news that a favorite boogeyman of the right, George Soros, had given $1 million to Media Matters for America, Rush decided to point out what he thought was the obvious -- that lefty complaints about foreign money in politics are hypocrisy.

Take that, you commie hippies! Get a job and stop bothering us with your complaining!

There is, of course, one little problem with Rush's argument. "I hesitate to point this out, since Rush Limbaugh is typically so careful with his facts," writes Media Matters' Simon Malloy, "but George Soros is a U.S. citizen. He can vote and everything."

The facts are to Rush limbaugh as crosses are to vampires. (Media Matters)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, Dogboy and Mr. Dan are back... And they're here to talk about "don't ask, don't tell!" Yay!

Click for animation

But wait, the Obama administration has requested a stay of a court's order to end enforcement of DADT, so Mr. Dan gets some good news! The court said yes! DADT is back in business! Of course, the administration only asked the court to stay the order so they could end it again... Not really clear on the reasoning there.

I guess it's because they're dumb. (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"O'Donnell Scrubs Park51-Hater Geller Endorsement From Website."

It's a little late to start going sane now, Christine. (Talking Points Memo)

Some of the Tea Party's Best Friends are...

Confederate flag at tea party rally
"I'm not a bigot, some of my best friends are _____." It's a fairly common argument in America. If you're accused of racism or bigotry, you point out your associations with minorities. When the tea party was originally chastised in July for harboring racism by the NAACP, tea partiers put together a "Uni-Tea" rally. The rally featured minority speakers and would demonstrate the diversity of their movement. What actually happened was that the speakers wound up doing all their speaking to a small, mostly white crowd. Organizers were expecting around 1,500 to attend -- a third of that showed. Let's be extrememly generous and say that the failure of Uni-Tea had less to do with the average teabagger's lack of interest in diversity and more to do with their lack of interest in an event that wasn't specifically about anger. On that count, the tea party organizers -- if not the partiers themselves -- demonstrated that some of their best friends were indeed minorities.

But if "Some of my best friends are ____" proves you aren't a bigot, then what does it say when some of your best friends are racists? And I'm not talking about casual, comment-under-the-breath racism -- I mean active racists. The kind who actually try to do something about their racism, who join racist groups and create racist publications and websites. Who organize behind racist causes. Real, honest-to-goodness hate group members. What does it say about you that these are some of your best friends?

It's a question that the tea party would do well to consider, since the NAACP now backs up its charge with documentation. A report on tea party ties to racists, titled Tea Party Nationalism, has been released by the organization which "compiles opinion polling data, documents significant examples of racist vitriol on the part of Tea Party leaders, shows incidents where well-known anti-Semites and white supremacists have been given a platform by Tea Partiers, and analyzes the attempt by white nationalist organizations to find new recruits in Tea Party ranks." In short, it's pretty rock-solid.

This is not to say that the tea party movement is a racist movement in itself, as Alexander Zaitchik notes at Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch blog. Only that the movement is way too comfortable with the racists in their midst and that the movement is exclusionary in nature.

The authors do not argue that all or most of Tea Party activists are explicit racists or sympathize with the ideas and goals of extremists. Rather, they argue that racist individuals and groups have been drawn to the movement from the beginning; in most cases, they are forced out of their respective groups only when their beliefs and associations result in bad press.

The authors further argue that the movement as a whole is based on "a form of American nationalism [that] does not include all Americans, and separates itself from those it regards as insufficiently 'real Americans.'" Furthermore, "a bright white line of racism threads through this nationalism [in which] race and religion are powerful determinants of national identity [and] mark the border between 'self' and 'other.'"

That last part is especially obvious; consider how anti-Muslim teabaggers often say that "Muslims attacked America" -- ignoring the fact that many Americans are Muslim. In fact, the report includes a section on hate-blogger Pam Geller and her campaign to convince the world that Islam is synonymous with terrorism. Geller has hosted Tea Party Patriot workshops. Consider also the rampant birtherism and the "birtherism-lite" of claiming that someone born in Hawaii can't appreciate the American experience. Criticism of President Obama often takes the form of "he's not as American as you."

Predictably, tea party leaders are calling the NAACP's report a "smear" and an "attack." But what I'm not seeing is any counter argument. I'm sorry, but playing the victim card is not an actual response and it doesn't dispell the facts laid out. Sure, some of your best friends are minorities and good for you -- but we're more worried about why some other of your best friends are bigots.


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News Roundup for 10/20/10

Whitman with microphone
Meg Whitman sings her favorite Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi song

-Headline of the Day-
"Twitter Typo Sends Meg Whitman Fans to Bassist in Tutu."

Man, is the internet an awesome thing or what? A staffer for Meg Whitman's California gubernatorial campaign left an R off a URL and wound up sending twitter followers to the wrong site. According to the report, they were supposed to see "endorsement from the San Diego Deputy Sheriff's association." What they got instead was YouTube video of a guy in a pink tutu and stockings, playing bass to a j-pop song:

All weirdness aside, the guy's got some skills. That slap-picking isn't easy, especially those quick rolls. I'm actually glad I saw that.

Still, this is not the image a Republican candidate would want to project. The staffer has no doubt been shot. (NBC Los Angeles)

-Not so grassroots-
The tea party is just a bunch of reg'lar ol' folks, fed up with Washington's free-spending ways, right? Wrong. In a piece about Joe Miller's primary win in Alaska, Politico reports that the Tea Party Express did almost all of their campaigning from a cruise ship. No, really.

According to the report, "For seven weeks this summer, staff members of the political action committee coordinated their efforts on behalf of Miller from staterooms aboard Holland America s M.S. Amsterdam, a cruise ship that plied the waters from Seattle to various ports of call from Canada to Alaska. There, while other passengers were shopping or photographing glaciers, Tea Party Expressers held press conferences, rallies and meetings with Miller supporters. Between stops, they used their time at sea plotting strategy and cutting radio ads that they downloaded from a digital recorder and e-mailed to a studio for production." When all was said and done, Tea Party Express had paid "Holland America Line a total of $103,000 to send six of its staffers on four consecutive cruises on the Amsterdam."

Meanwhile, Dana Milbank writes that "the power behind the Tea Party movement" comes, in part, from the US Chamber of Commerce, where you can find "representatives from Pfizer, ConocoPhillips, Lockheed Martin, JPMorgan Chase, Dow Chemical, Ken Starr's old law and lobbying firm, and Rolls-Royce North America." Nothing says "down-home American values" quite like a freakin' Rolls-Royce.

But hey, it's all about the common sense of the conservative voter, right? We can't let the fancypants elitists in their Volvos and Priuses run the show. We need good old-fashioned elitists in cruise ships and Rolls-Royces -- just like the founders intended. (Politico, Washington Post)

-Bonus HotD-
"Clarence Thomas's Wife Asks Anita Hill for Apology."

Only possible response: "I'm sorry your husband is such a horny, porn-addicted, sexist asshole." (New York Times)

One Hispanic News Source Defends "Don't Vote" Ad -- Meet Fox News Latino

Yesterday, I wrote about the Republicans' never-ending search for people to hate. About a month and a half back, it was all about hating the Muslims. This started to get a little out of hand, so undocumented immigrants became the new group to hate -- a frequent target earlier this year. But this is starting to cost them voters, so now they seem to be in search of a new scapegoat. Without an internal US enemy, Republicans find it difficult to operate.

For now, the target is still illegal aliens. And, since this is costing them voters in the Latino community, they've come up with what might be the most painfully obvious voter suppression scheme ever devised -- beg Hispanic voters not to vote.

That's the English version of an ad that was scheduled to run on the Spanish-language cable network Univision, until the network refused it.

"Univision will not be running any spots from Latinos for Reform related to voting," a Univision spokesperson told Think Progress. "It is also important to clarify that while Mr. Robert de Posada has on occasion provided political commentary on Univision, representing one of various points of views, he is not in any way affiliated with Univision. Univision prides itself on promoting civic engagement and our extensive national campaigns encourage Hispanics to vote."

The ad campaign, sponsored by what is basically a GOP front group, is all but dead. But it's not dying without doing some damage on the way out. Latinos for Reform President Robert Deposada, a Univision pundit and a GOP op, says he's trying to "figure out what options we have."

One option is the brand-spanking new Fox News Latino, a website devoted to delivering Fox's brand of BS with a Latin twist. Launched just this month, FNL is designed with "engaging the fastest growing minority audience" in mind.

"We're aiming at Latinos whose first language is English, who inform themselves in English, who are deeply American, but share some of the cultural sensibilities of their parents or grandparents," the site's managing editor, Alberto Vourvoulias-Bush said at the time.

So, while the rest of the media is treating the ad as an incredibly transparent attempt to keep Latino voters -- only 22% of whom support Republicans -- from limiting the GOP's gains in November and while Latino groups attack it as the attempted disempowerment it obviously is, Fox News Latino asks whether refusing the ad was a "Political Ploy or Censorship?" It's like asking, "Does he really beat his wife or is he just such an out-of-control alcoholic that you just assume he does?" I believe this is a form of "Hobson's choice" -- in this case, you get to decide for yourself why it's bad. Kind of like when Fox Non-Latino host Sean Hannity asked attorney Stanley Cohen, "Is it you hate this president or that you hate America?"

It's no surprise which side Deposada chooses. "All we wanted was to not let people take us for granted. Over and over, we elect these people and they don t do anything for us," Deposada told FNL. "What Univision is doing is censorship." It pays to point out that the Latino vote used to be a conservative block, but things like the widespread GOP support for Arizona's "papers please" law drove them all away. If comprehensive immigration reform isn't happening, it's because it would be a doomed endeavor from the git-go -- Republicans have gone too insane on the issue to allow anything meaningful to pass. And having Latino voters stay home on election day wouldn't really be helping that cause any.

So how long will Fox News Latino last? If Glenn Beck is any indication, forever. Fox isn't in this to make money, they're in this to be the press office of the GOP. Beck's show is bleeding advertisers and, at this point, it'd be a joke to call it a money-making enterprise. FNL won't fail, because it won't be allowed to. It exists to take a demographic the GOP has lost and turn them back to the party, using Fox's time-tested brand of stilted coverage, unfair attacks, and outright lies.

In short, it doesn't serve the public interest any better than any other Fox News franchise.


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News Roundup for 10/19/10

Sign reads 'We serve whites only - no Spanish or Mexicans'
2010 GOP platform

-Headline of the Day-
"Univision Will Not Air GOP Group's Ad Telling Latinos Not To Vote."

Why is a GOP group urging Latinos not to vote? Well, according to the ad, it's because Democrats suck. But, as I reported earlier today, only 22% of Hispanic voters are backing the Republican party. Convincing them to vote GOP is just a hopeless endeavor... Maybe they can just tell them to stay home.

So, Latinos for Reform -- a GOP front group -- announced it had dropped $80,000 for an ad buy on the Spanish-language network Univision. Here's the English-language version:

That story lasted a little more than an hour. Think Progress reported on the ad buy at 2:04 Eastern and the deal was dead by 3:21.

"Univision will not be running any spots from Latinos for Reform related to voting," a Univision spokesperson told TP. "It is also important to clarify that while Mr. Robert de Posada has on occasion provided political commentary on Univision, representing one of various points of views, he is not in any way affiliated with Univision. Univision prides itself on promoting civic engagement and our extensive national campaigns encourage Hispanics to vote."

In my morning post, I wrote about how afraid Sharron Angle seemed of the Latino vote. Looks like everyone on the right has their undies in a twist over the demographic. When your party platform includes "FOR GOD'S SAKE, BE AFRAID OF THE BROWN PEOPLE!!" you really only have yourselves to blame. (Think Progress)

-Closing the deal-
A new St. Norbert College/Wisconsin Public Radio poll shows Russ Feingold and gazillionaire plastics magnate Ron Johnson in a statistical tie in the Wisconsin race for the US Senate. Ron Johnson, the tea party nutjob trying to buy the seat, leads 49% to Russ' 47% -- well within the margin of error. When pressed, undecided voters -- who make up only 4% of the respondents -- say they're leaning Feingold 15% to Johnson's 9%.

That last number is important, because the decided voters say their minds are set -- 81% say it's "very unlikely" they'll change their preference before election day. So Feingold's lead among undecided leaners could be the key to winning or losing this thing.

It's like I say, it only takes one punch to win the fight, as long as it's the last one. What else can I say, but RUSS!! (WisPolitics.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Palin Endorses Raese In Pennsylvania -- But He's From West Virginia."

Republican John Raese for Senate -- because stupid people need representation too. (Talking Points Memo)

Republicans in Search of New Scapegoat to Hate

"We hate Muslims! Grrrr!"

Protester with 'NO MORE MOSQUES' signRepublicans had hoped to ride a wave of fear and hatred into office, because that's what they do. So they glommed onto the cause of a lunatic backwater blogger, helping to whip up a frenzy of terror over a community center project in Manhattan. It all went pretty well for a while; gullible people really did start freaking out, terrified that the "Mosque at Ground Zero" (which isn't a mosque and isn't at ground zero) meant that terrorists were building a "victory mosque." This went on for a while, but the wave crested too soon and things started to get a little out of hand. "Hot issue" became "hot potato" and suddenly the Park51 project wasn't so important anymore. The Summer of Hate was over and the prospect of a long Autumn Without Hate loomed. It mustn't be allowed to happen.

Since the Cold War, Republicans have been nothing without enemies. They aren't a peacetime party. We're still at war, sure. Two of them, in fact. But the problem with long wars is that they become wallpaper -- if it's always there, you stop noticing it. Muslims were perfect enemies, because it reinforced the far right belief that Bush's War on Terror was really a war against Islam. The wars, although widely ignored now, could be reflected at home. And, like the Cold War communists, terrorists could be everywhere Republicans wanted them to be. So don't think they've dropped the "Muslim automatically equals terrorist" propaganda. It just got a little too hot there for a while, so they had to put it down for a bit. It'll be back.

But Republicans found themselves without enemies within. The "we hate gays!" wedge they'd previously used to divide the electorate had become dull; the GOP may hate them, but most people don't. Polling shows the public is split on the subject of same sex marriage, for example, with opinion moving rapidly against the "we hate gays" position. That territory is being lost, so it was time to retreat from it as well. Who would be the interim boogeyman, scaring the electorate until it was safe to demonize Muslims again?

How about illegal immigrants? They're always handy. And, in an economic downturn, it's easy to convince people that immigrants are taking their jobs. So we're all supposed to hate undocumented people again, because that's the new big hate-fad.

[Talking Points Memo:]

Alaska Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller was asked about illegal immigration at his town hall yesterday, and he said that the country's first priority should be to secure the border. "If East Germany could, we could," he said.


Anchorage blogger Steve Aufrecht reports that during the town hall, he cited his time serving at the Fulda Gap, one point on the former border between East and West Germany during the Cold War.

During that time, he said, "East Germany was very, very able to reduce the flow" from one side of the border to the other. "Now, obviously, other things there were involved. We have the capacity to, as a great nation, obviously to secure our border. If East Germany could, we could."

Of course, Miller's demonstrating a typical teabagger's grasp of history here. West Germans weren't clamoring to get into East Germany. The Berlin Wall wasn't designed to keep West Germans out, but to keep East Germans in. Still, getting all anti-Reagan and suggesting we build a wall isn't the worst example possible. For that, we have to look at Georgia, where state Rep. John Yates advocates shooting people at the border, because they're an invasion force, like Hitler's Nazis.

But this anti-immigrant hate may already be showing signs of becoming as much, if not more, of a problem than the anti-Muslim bigotry became. In Latino-heavy Nevada, Sharron Angle seems to have internal polling showing that her own campaign against the brown invaders is backfiring. Her campaign ads featuring scary looking Latinos aren't about illegal immigrants coming from Mexico, she now says, but rather the massive problem of illegal immigration from Canada. No, really.

As it is now, Hispanic voters lean heavily Democratic, but aren't extremely motivated to vote. A recent Pew poll shows that while only 22% of registered Latino voters support Republicans, only 51% plan to vote. If you want to motivate them to vote, a good way to go about it might be to feature them in attack ads. Which explains Angle's backpedaling on her anti-Hispanic campaigning. So this Autumn of Hate may be even more temporary than the Summer of Hate.

Maybe things have cooled off enough to go back to whipping up panic about Muslims again. Really, Republicans need to hate someone.


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News Roundup for 10/18/10

Rent-a-cops have blogger in cuffs
Because the Constitution says whatever the fuck Joe Miller wants it to say

-Headline of the Day-
"Joe Miller's Private Security Force 'Arrests' And Handcuffs Progressive Blogger."

Being a Republican candidate means having the guts to ask the tough questions. However, it does not mean having to answer them. Alaska Dispatch editor Tony Hopfinger found this out the hard way when he decided to pose a few tough questions to Alaska GOP senatorial candidate Joe Miller. Hopfinger posed his questions, Joe Miller decided questions were illegal and had his rent-a-cops "arrest" him. According to the report, he was "handcuffed by the guards and detained in a hallway at Central Middle School until Anchorage police came and told the guards to release Hopfinger." The charge was trespassing, although it was a public event at a public school.

"While Hopfinger was still in handcuffs, the guards attempted to prevent other reporters from talking to him and threatened them too with arrest for trespass," the report continues. "A Daily News reporter interviewed Hopfinger anyway. No other reporters were arrested, though a few shoving matches and chest bumps ensued as the guards attempted to cordon off Hopfinger and block photographs and videos from being taken of the bizarre school scene."

GOP write-in Lisa Murkowski released a statement saying Miller was guilty of "violating the constitutional rights of a United States citizen by illegally detaining him. I find it alarming that Joe feels he needs to hire security forces to protect him from Alaskan voters and members of the press."

Miller has a history of declaring things he doesn't like unconstitutional -- minimum wage, Social Security, Medicare, unemployment benefits, etc. -- but I guess hiring a non-cop goon squad to "arrest" people who ask questions you don't like is just fine. I'm sure it's in the Constitution somewhere, probably right after the part about how we're a Christian nation.

Here's a crazy idea: how about if Joe Miller bothers to read the thing before he starts spouting off BS about what's in it?

Although, I'm pretty sure that'd break some sort of teabagger rule. When it comes to teabagger expertise on matters constitutional, the consensus seems to be "ignorance is bliss." (Think Progress)

-Best healthcare system in the world-
Repeal healthcare reform! A new study [pdf] backs up the claim that everything's just peachy and doesn't need any fixing at all... OK, so it doesn't. In fact, it does pretty much the opposite.

"As of September 23, 2010, the United States ranked forty-ninth for both male and female life expectancy combined," the report, published in the peer-reviewed academic journal Health Affairs, tells us. A 1999 study by the World Health Organization ranked us 24th in the world -- so things are kinda moving in the wrong direction.

But hey, if everyone dies off sooner, we can totally repeal Medicare too. (Raw Story)

-Bonus HotD-
"Angle To Latino Students: 'Some Of You Look A Little More Asian To Me'."

Says, "I've been called the first Asian legislator in our Nevada State Assembly."

Says Las Vegas Sun writer Jon Ralston, "I have no idea what she is talking about."

Says I, "Neither does Sharron Angle." (Talking Points Memo)

Specifics? Who Needs Specifics When You Don't Plan to Do Anything Anyway?

Earlier this month, Think Progress put together a video of Republicans weaseling out of answering what specific cuts they would make to reduce the deficit. They've decided that ending Bush's tax giveaway is off the table, despite the fact that it's a budget buster, so cuts to make up for it would have to be drastic and deep. With that in mind Senator/Congressperson/candidate, what would you cut?:

The popular explanation for why Republicans can't name any cuts they'd make is because they refuse to. That they want to make what would be unpopular cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to pay for their tax giveaway to the already wealthy. Robin-Hood-in-reverse -- robbing from the poor and middle class to give to the rich -- is not a popular position. So Republicans choose to hide their true position, waiting until they're safely installed in office to cut the social safety net they've all hated for decades. Maybe this is true and maybe not, but I think my explanation for this is probably a lot closer to the mark.

See, Republicans may be set to take over the House and, if we're generous, the Senate. But they're not going to have the two-thirds votes in both chambers it takes to override a presidential veto. So the GOP can't really do anything that the President disapproves of. As a result, what they want to cut and what they don't want to cut is kind of irrelevant -- they wouldn't have the votes to make the deep cuts in social safety net entitlements.

The best Republicans can do is what they're already doing -- obstructionism. With more votes and the control of House committees, they'll be able to block even more progress, but accomplishment of anything other than bipartisan ideas is out of the question. Republicans don't need to be specific, because -- other than saying no to everything -- they really don't have anything specific in mind. They'll be the same knee-jerk reactionaries they have been, they'll just be better at it.

Even in their "Pledge to America," Republicans promise cuts but don't bother with specifics. Because they don't have to. All they really need is a rationale to cover for their strategy of obstructionism. They don't plan to accomplish anything because they don't need to. Shutting down everything's been working well for them so far, so just put government on "pause" until 2012, when a GOP candidate can get in the White House and give everything that isn't welded down away to corporations. "The American people didn't vote for this!" will be the rallying cry, when the GOP has made sure that the American public didn't vote for anything in particular. Their "pledge" is unspecific -- pledging nothing, really -- because it's designed as camouflage, not as a serious policy document. They don't have a plan to lead, because they won't be in any position to. Why knock yourself out making specific promises when your actual plan is to cripple the president, so you can label him as weak and ineffectual when you run against him?

Republicans are light on specifics now because their real plan is to sit on their big elephant butts and do nothing. That doesn't sell well, so vague promises are the way to go. Hope you like a broken government, because it may be about to get even worse.


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News Roundup for 10/15/10

Grim Reaper
Death holds no lease in the world of political endorsements

-Headline of the Day-
"Murkowski to air endorsement by late Sen. Stevens."

Primaried-out incumbent Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski is about to get an endorsement from beyond the grave -- Ooooooo... Halloweeny!

According to the report, Lisa "is set to air a television ad this week featuring a video endorsement by the late Sen. Ted Stevens, who filmed the clip shortly before his death in a plane crash earlier this year." Ted's ghostly visage will appear on Alaskan TV screens to tell voters, "We need Lisa and the seniority she's earned, now more than ever." I've seen it, it's nightmarish. I may not sleep tonight.

Noted witch Christine O'Donnell has nothing on Lisa Murkowski. It's necromancy or something... (MSNBC, with video)

-Most unfair attack ad EVER-
I thought we had it bad...

Electoral politics in Winnipeg are brutal! (YouTube, via Political Wire)

-Bonus HotD-
"Brian Kilmeade sez: 'Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.' Oh really?"

And not all mental patients are co-hosts of Fox & Friends, but all co-hosts of Fox & Friends are mental patients.

You know what I love about this oft-heard rightwing argument Kilmeade offered? It's a bastardization of a John Stuart Mill quote; "Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative."

FOX News, proving Mill right since 1996. (Crooks and Liars, with video)

GOP Ties to Terrorism, FOX's Hypocrisy, and The Daily Show

It's tempting to use it as an example of just how blowful our media has become. I've said for some time that Comedy Central's The Daily Show offers some of the best media criticism out there. Sure, there's Media Matters for America and Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (where I'm sure TDS gets a lot of their ideas), but no one seems able to explain the problems quite so neatly and understandably.

But, in this case at least, it's not that most of the media is so bad, but that Stewart and his writers are so good. Comedy is the perfect outlet to deal with subjects like hypocrisy or corruption, since these subjects lead to outrage. The outrageous is the absurd is the funny. People can suffer from outrage fatigue, but no one ever gets tired of laughing at morons. As a result, the staff at The Daily Show can keep our attention when other media outlets have us reaching for the remote. At the same time, they can draw revealing parallels that are not only instructive, but are the payoff to the setup -- the lede becomes the punchline.

For example, earlier this week, TDS looked at FOX News' coverage of the US Chamber of Commerce's foreign funding scandal and compared it to their coverage of funding for the proposed Muslim community center in Manhattan.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
(C) Spot Run!
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

"Is Park51 being funded by questionable foreign money? We have to know! Are the Chamber's attack ads on behalf of Republicans being funded by questionable foreign money? Yeah, we don't have to know that." It's ridiculous to the point of comedy.

Worse, an overlooked news story is making the case that we have more to worry about from secret funding of conservative causes than we do of the not-so-secret funding of the mosque project.

[Washington Post:]

A group of Ohio ministers has asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the organization that sponsors the National Prayer Breakfast because it received money six years ago from an alleged Islamic terrorist organization trying to finance illicit lobbying.


The foundation, an Arlington-based religious enterprise associated with a house at 133 C St. SE where several members of the House and Senate have rented rooms, acknowledged Wednesday that it had received two $25,000 checks, in May and June 2004, from the Missouri-based Islamic American Relief Agency.

The charity was included on a Senate Finance Committee list of terrorist financiers in January of that year.

The group, Fellowship Foundation, is also known as "The Family" and has figured prominently in both Gov. Mark Sanford's and Sen. John Ensign's scandals. And now they're taking terrorist money to lobby congress. According to the report, IARA's chief executive Mubarak Hamed "acknowledged sending a $25,000 check" to the foundation and that the money was "to pay for lobbying by former congressman Mark D. Siljander (R-Mich.), a prominent social conservative who promised to help the agency get off the Senate terrorist financing list." Siljander pleaded guilty to "serving as an unregistered agent in Washington for a Missouri-based Islamic charity that the federal government said had ties to international terrorism" in July.

Given that Republicans (and, to be fair, some conservative Democrats) belong to an organization that accepts money from terrorist sources, wouldn't it make sense to worry about foreign money benefiting Republicans elsewhere? Not if you ask FOX News. Yet proven GOP ties to terrorism are much stronger than any alleged ties the builders of Park51 have.

It's not my intention to smear Republicans with the terrorist brush here, as tempting as dealing that poetic justice might be. If anything, recent history shows that members of The Family are just idiots wearing zealot's blinders, not terrorists. But conservative media have convicted liberals and Muslims on much, much weaker evidence. If the fact that Barack Obama met Bill Ayers once or twice makes him the next Stalin, then Tom Coburn's ties to The Family are slam dunk proof he's the next Osama Bin Laden. The "logic" cuts both ways.

So, should we know who's secretly funding Republican campaigns? 84% -- including even 80% of Republicans themselves -- think so. And, if they're at all interested in ethical and journalistic consistency, so will rightwing media. But we all know they aren't interested in consistency at all, which is why we can look forward to laughing at their hypocrisy with The Daily Show.


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