News Roundup for 11/30/11

At least Herman still has a way with the ladies

-Headline of the Day-
"Cain: 'Stupid people are ruining America.'"

And, as America's leading stupid person, Herman Cain ought to know.

"Here’s what I need you to do," Cain told a crowd in Dayton today. "Stay informed, know the facts because stupid people are ruining America."

"They are," he went on. "We just have to out-vote them."

And so far, it seems to be working. The more people know about Herman, the less they seem willing to vote for him.

"The former Godfather's Pizza CEO has referred to Uzbekistan as 'Ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan,' didn’t seem to know that China has nuclear weapons, asked Cuban-Americans how to speak 'Cuban,' struggled to remember the U.S. role in ousting Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, worried that the Taliban was forming a new government in Libya, and decided that CNN host Wolf Blitzer’s name was simply 'Blitz,'" the report reminds us.

Herman Cain will be happy to know that Herman Cain is one stupid person who doesn't stand a chance of ruining America. (Raw Story)

-Minor blessings-
Voters react to Herman Cain.

Click to embiggen

Thank goodness for small miracles. (Truthdig)

-Bonus HotD-
"Herman Cain's campaign a study in ineptitude."

Won't get any argument from me. (Politico)

Rightwing Election Fraud in Wisconsin Recall

The Wisconsin recalls of Gov. Walker and Lt. Gov. Kleefisch are now underway and in full swing. But, if the recall effort is moving forward, so are Republican dirty tricks.

[Caledonia Patch:]

Residents who signed legitimate recall petitions may never have them counted by the Government Accountability Board.

A Caledonia resident, who asked not to have his name used, told Caledonia Patch that he and at least two other people in Racine are collecting signatures to recall Scott Walker, but have no intention of turning them into the GAB. Instead, they want people to think they've signed the petition, but not actually have their signatures count.

They are doing this to sabotage the recall effort, the resident said.

"The man claimed he had already collected 150 signatures at Walmart and Pick'n Save on 27th Street in Franklin yesterday," according to the report. "However, when asked to produce the documents, he said, he would need to think about showing them to Patch. He said he won't be turning them into the GAB, but hasn't destroyed them."

That has since changed. The group, who call themselves Operation Burn Notice, claim they're operating within the law. "The Democrats put this out there and they made some mistakes," the man originally told CP. "If you go to their Facebook page, you can download the petition from right there. I’m sure they are counting how many are being downloaded, but just because they are printed, don’t mean they’ll be used... It’s not illegal to collect them and not turn them in."

Turns out that yeah, that's as illegal as you'd expect. The man now says he'll turn the petitions over to the Government Accountability Board (GAB). The GAB says that "destroying or defacing an official recall petition would violate state law... Such a violation... would be a class I felony in Wisconsin, which carries a maximum fine of $10,000 and up to three-and-a-half years in jail."

Still Operation Burn Notice claims to have collected 100,000 signatures, which they plan to destroy in a "public burn" on January 14. I'm guessing that, given the severity of the proposed crime, that's never going to happen.

Whether they're actually going to destroy them or not, anecdotal evidence suggests they're out there collecting signatures. In the comment section to a post at the local Dane101 blog, Erica R. writes:

My boyfriend almost caught two of the people from that facebook page.

Two men were in his neighborhood collecting petition signatures and we walked up to them and discussed the recall efforts and Scott Walker. They acted strange and laughed awkwardly while looking at each other.

We knew something was up so I quickly ran to my car where I had stupidly left my iPhone. By the time I got it, the two men were running down the block in the opposite direction with my boyfriend behind him.

One made a threat about having a gun, so he stopped running. They shouted "Operation Burn Notice!" from far away. We tried to chase them down in my car, but they were gone and I have no idea how they managed to get away so quickly

If I saw a picture of the men, I could identify them.

"There is no gray area here," said Graeme Zielinski, spokesman for the Wisconsin Democratic Party. "What they are doing is highly illegal." He guesses that the aim isn't actually to destroy the petitions, but to create doubt when people see legit canvassers.

"They want legitimate circulators to be turned away," he explained. "But we think this involves a very small number of people... Our message to the public is: don't let this intimidate you. You can sign a petition more than once if you think you have signed a petition that someone may have destroyed, and you aren't violating the law." Zielinski called on the Department of Justice to investigate.

"If these folks have ties to the Republican or TEA party, they need to look at themselves at the top," he said.

In another instance of petition fraud, a group claiming to be "Occupy-Madison" announced on their website that all the signatures needed had been collected and instructed readers to stop collecting them and destroy any petitions they had. That site has since been shut down.

"There have been several false blog posts and web updates claiming that the recall effort has a certain amount of signatures, or in one case that we have collected all that we need," advises the Wisconsin Democratic Party. "All are false. Please don't believe any numbers unless they are officially released by United WI. Any numbers UW puts out will be corroborated by Wisdems. Please pass along."

As things are now, these efforts to stop the recall seem hopeless. 540,208 signatures must be collected within 60 days of the recall campaign's launch and, at only twelve days in, United Wisconsin reported 300,000 collected. The goal is 600,000-700,000, to create a buffer to allow for mistakes and mischief.

But if the petition fraud campaign is doomed, it also demonstrates a pretty obvious fact -- pro-Walker people are running scared.



News Roundup for 11/29/11

Pres. Obama and VP Biden react to Gingrich's call for them to repudiate numbers

-Headline of the Day-
"Newt Gingrich: 'I Call On The President To Repudiate The Concept Of The 99 And The 1.'"

The Republican War on Math reached a fever pitch today, when presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich called upon President Obama to disavow the very concept of numbers.

"I repudiate, and I call on the President to repudiate, the concept of the 99 and the 1," Newton said. "It is un-American, it is divisive, it is historically false... You are not going to get job creation when you engage in class warfare because you have to attack the very people you hope will create jobs."

You ever notice that Newton does not use any contractions? Perhaps he can not.

Whatever linguistic challenges Gingrich may face, his grasp of mathematics is as poor as the rest of the GOP field. The concept of 99% and 1% is not only "historically accurate" -- whatever that's supposed to mean -- but provable with a common household calculator. And it's not the 99-percenters who've been attacking "the very people you hope will create jobs," it's Newton. Because, in typical GOP fashion, he has job creation all wrong. Consumers create jobs, not suppliers. If 99% of the people are broke, those 1% who aren't aren't going to hire people -- mostly because no one will be able to afford what they've been hired to do. It's like hiring someone to paint your boat because you can afford to pay them -- but you don't actually have a boat.

People aren't going to do stuff like that.

But don't try to tell Newt that. Those are facts. And the War on Math is just a front in the broader War on Facts. In that war, Newt's a four-star general. (ThinkProgress, with video)

-And the main tactic is the War on Facts is...-
...being an asshole about it.

Click to embiggen

It's what they're good at. (Cartoon Politics)

-Bonus HotD-
"Rick Perry Hoping He Can At Least Win Imaginary Nov. 12 Election."

Rick tells an audience, "Those of you that will be 21 by November the 12th, I ask for your support and your vote. Those of you who won't be, work hard."

The election is November 6th and you only have to be 18 to vote.

The elitist tyranny of facts win again. (Wonkette)

GOP Economic Incoherence

One of the great triumphs of Republican spin has been their ability to convince their base that they don't work for the government. To illustrate this, let's look at the common Republican argument that government doesn't create jobs. They stand there in their suits bought with a government paycheck, in a government-supplied office, with government-supplied staff, telling us -- in all seriousness, mind you -- that the government has never created a single job. Meanwhile, Republican candidates -- at least, those who happen to be governors and former governors -- compete over which created the most jobs in their states. Cognitive dissonance rules the day, as Republicans try to live in what would, to any rational person, be a confusing whirl of conflicting messages and beliefs.

The oddest thing about this is that GOP austerity is actually shedding jobs in the public sector and adding to unemployment.

[Washington Post:]

[An upcoming report from the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers] says that although state general fund revenue increased in 2011 and is expected to increase 2012, it remains $21 billion below 2008 levels. In addition, states are bracing for further reductions in federal aid that are likely to come from Washington’s efforts to slow the growth of the deficit.

The fiscal pressure on states has become a drag on the job market; local and state governments are shedding jobs, even though the private-sector job market has shown signs of improvement.

State and local governments have cut 455,000 jobs since the beginning of 2010, and public-sector jobs account for the smallest share of the nation's employment since the 2008 financial crisis, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If it's impossible for government to create jobs, where did all these that are being lost come from in the first place? It's a gaping hole in their argument that they don't even try to paper over. You're just supposed to ignore it.

As Republicans at the federal level block aid to the states, those at the state level are reducing their workforces. Then both blame President Obama and Democrats for unemployment. Their fingerprints are all over the knife, but they insist the culprit is someone else.

And it's not just government layoffs that are costing jobs. It's reduced spending. When the government spends money, it usually goes someplace -- as much as the GOP would like you to believe it just gets shoveled into a furnace. It pays contractors and consumers, doctors and administrators. Spending is demand -- regardless of where it comes from. And when you reduce demand, the economy takes the hit. Absolutely, positively, 100% guaranteed. Government dials back when times are relatively good and there's some wiggle room, so it can afford to spend more when times are bad.

Or, at least, it should. But the big government furnace was running full blast under Bush. Iraq was a shovelful. The completely unpaid-for Medicare Part D was another shovelful. The insanely huge and completely ineffective Bush tax cuts were another shovelful. The creation of a massive and expensive surveillance bureaucracy was yet another. Bush -- and many of the same Republicans so newly concerned about deficits now -- spent money like it was going out of style, leaving the US with record deficits when they should've been creating a rainy day fund.

And here they are now, still treating the abrasion with sandpaper, still practicing completely bass-ackward economics. No wonder most think Republicans are actively trying to sabotage the economy -- the only other explanation is gross incompetence. Their attitude toward spending is completely independent of the economy. The GOP's plan is clearly to spend like crazy when a Republican is in the White House and freak out about spending when a Democrat's in there.

And we pay the price. As GOP austerity is costing jobs at the state level and creating a drag on the economy, we're supposed to believe that government didn't create those jobs. That way, Republicans can't be blamed for losing them.



News Roundup for 11/28/11

Armed militants
The only kind of Muslims anti-Muslim nuts like

-Headline of the Day-
"Religious Right Groups Launch Fight Against TLC Reality Show."

You know what the Florida Family Association thinks is terrible? Muslims! They hate them like the dickens. So when The Learning Channel announced they'd be airing a reality TV show called All-American Muslim, FFA freaked out.

See, it turned out that people on the show didn't reflect FFA's stereotypes at all. No one attacks old ladies while yelling "Oodle-oodle-oodle!" There's no Death to America stuff, no one tries to force sharia law on anyone. They don't stone their daughters in the backyard. It's just terrible. It's like they're trying to show that all the things anti-Muslim people believe is crazy horseshit -- which means it's secret terr'ist propaganda!

"The Learning Channel's new show All-American Muslim is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law," says FFA. "The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish."

Maybe that's because the family in the show doesn't know any people like that -- which would make sense, right? I mean, just because I'm a white guy doesn't mean I have white power types coming over to my house. Seems to me this is the same sort of deal.

Anyway, FFA aren't the only crazies up in arms about the show. Anti-Muslim activist Robert Spencer -- who's just awful, BTW -- suggested what he considers a more accurate idea for a reality show. TLC should go find some guy who starts off OK and then ends up "participating in jihad activity" -- because it's totally cool to let some guy plan and carry out terrorism for a TV show, as long as that makes Muslims look bad.

So, for the record, the anti-Muslim nutjobs have now gone completely around the bend -- Muslims who are terrorists are good, while Muslims who aren't terrorists are bad.

There really is no word to adequately describe the clownishness. (Right Wing Watch)

-Thanksgiving leftovers with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, one of the cool things about taking a week off of blogging is that you get an extra cartoon from Mark Fiore the week you come back. Yay!

Today, Uncle Mark (who's a famous Howitzer Prize-winning cartoonist) will shows us all how to draw turkeys!

How to draw turkeys
Click for animation

Wow, and I thought I was sick of turkey before... (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Union Leader Declined To Endorse Romney Because He ‘Represents The One Percent.’"

So instead, the New Hampshire paper endorsed Newt Gingrich.

Seems like kind of a lateral move to me. (ThinkProgress)

Gov. #HeBlowsALot Gets a Civics Lesson

Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot

I think Emma Sullivan, an 18 year-old high school student in Fairway, Kansas, is correct. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback blows a lot. As a Senator, Brownback ran in 2008 as one of the rightest of the rightwing presidential candidates. Obviously, he was unsuccessful. So he went back to Kansas to become one of the rightest of the rightwing governors in America.

For some reason, Brownback's office was surprised to learn that extremists are often criticized by voters. Sullivan's twitter problem began at a Youth in Government program last week in Topeka. Brownback greeted the group and she tweeted the line from the event. Needless to say, this was the worst thing ever.

[Wichita Eagle:]

On Tuesday, Sullivan was called to her principal's office and told that the tweet had been flagged by someone on Brownback's staff and reported to organizers of the Youth in Government program.

The principal "laid into me about how this was unacceptable and an embarrassment," Sullivan said. "He said I had created this huge controversy and everyone was up in arms about it... and now he had to do damage control."

"I'm mainly shocked that they would even see that tweet and be concerned about me," she said. "I just honestly feel they're making a lot bigger deal out of it than it actually was."

Sullivan didn't actually say anything to Brownback, but said she her friends had been "joking about what they’d really like to say (to Brownback), so I just took out my phone."

So, of course something had to be done. Sullivan was ordered by her principal to write a letter of apology and had "even suggested talking points" to hit in the letter.

It's at this point that you're probably thinking, "This is all very stupid." And you'd be correct. Probably the most stupid -- and disturbing -- part being that Brownback's office has people searching social media, looking for criticism to stamp out (this incident has given those people a lot of work to do, by the way).

But this is more than the story of a thin-skinned governor whose political paranoia has reached an obviously Nixonian level. It's an example of how empty the words "liberty" and "freedom" are when they come out of Republicans' mouths -- even as they act as if they're the sole protectors of them. The conservative bent is not libertarian as they'd like us to believe, but authoritarian. Or, more accurately, libertarianism mixed with socialism for people who can write the big checks, authoritarianism for everyone else.

Think of something like the PATRIOT Act or applause for Rick Perry's record of executions. Think of the passionate defense of things like warrantless wiretapping and torture. Think of "personhood" laws which would make every miscarriage a crime scene in which the woman had to be cleared of "fetal homicide."

These people aren't big fans of freedom. And they certainly aren't enemies of intrusive government -- in fact, when government intrudes, they're largely responsible for it. These people are authoritarian to their core.

It's not the people who talk about freedom and liberty the most who love it best, it's the people who stand up for it. For her part, Emma Sullivan is refusing to write Brownback a letter of apology -- proving that she understands the concepts of liberty and freedom much, much better than her governor. It's Brownback who owes Sullivan -- and the rest of the citizens in his state -- an apology, not the other way around.



News Roundup for 11/22/11

Not so awfully honest

-Headline of the Day-
"In Defending Dishonest Ad, Romney Campaign Stunningly Claims Obama Won’t Talk About The Economy."

You might've heard that the Romney campaign has put out their first campaign ad. And you might've heard the ad is a damned lie. If this is the case, you heard right.

Team Mittens got a soundbite of President Obama saying, "If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose." Except President Obama never said that, candidate Obama did. And candidate Obama wasn't talking about himself, he was quoting Sen. John McCain's campaign, who were running screaming at the time from dumb things their candidate had said about the economy. When Obama used the quote, he was saying he totally wanted to talk about the economy.

So anyway, pretty much everyone figured out that Mittens' ad was bullshit right off the bat. As a result, the campaign's first ad is being seen as something of a disaster. So, caught in a lie, the Team Mittens decided the time was right to go to another lie.

"Three years ago, candidate Barack Obama mocked his opponent's campaign for saying 'if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose,'" says Romney's communications director Gail Gitcho. "Now, President Obama's campaign is desperate not to talk about the economy. Their strategy is to wage a personal campaign -- or 'kill Romney.' It is a campaign of distraction."

They had to lie about Obama, the reasoning goes, because Obama won't talk about the economy. Yeah, that makes absolutely no sense at all, but what are you going to do? That's Republicans for ya.

And it makes even less sense when you realize the President is talking about the economy all the damned time. Remember that whole Jobs Bill thing? What do you think that's all about? In fact, ThinkProgress did the legwork and gathered a buttload of recent presidential statements about the economy -- it's like he won't shut up about it.

Someone get an Romneyite to take a gander at that. It ought to clear up all their confusion over there. (ThinkProgress)

-The pepperspray cop meme evolves-

Click to embiggen

The internets win again. (Mindless Ramblings)

-Bonus HotD-
"#OccupyLA Wins: LA City Council Offers Downtown Office, Homeless Housing, Farmland!"

Turns out you can deal with the Occupy movement without batons and rubber bullets and pepperspray.

Weird, huh? (Wonkette)


News Roundup for 11/21/11

Schoen and Caddell

-Headline of the day-
"The 'Dump Obama' movement has begun; Guess who'd replace him?"

Conservative columnist Andrew Malcolm is just super-excited to learn that there's a movement out there to run Hillary Clinton for president, so she can kick out Obama. Here's a list of the names in that movement; pollsters Douglas Schoen and Patrick Caddell.

OK, so that's not really a "list" (it's not officially a list until you have to use a comma), but that's OK, because it's not really a movement either. Basically, it's two "Democratic" pollsters and an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. And, of course, these pollsters are "Democratic" in much the same way that Joe Lieberman is. They tried this crap before and no one bit then. But this time for sure, because it's a "movement!"

Hillary says no way, but who cares? Andrew Malcolm is totally sure this "movement" is on the march. (Investor's Business Daily)

-The art of crowd control-
Lt. John Pike, the UC Davis cop who gratuitously pepper-sprayed peaceful protesters, has made his mark on internet culture. According to the report, Pike "is popping up in some of the world’s most famous paintings as part of an Internet meme intended to shame him for his actions."

Click to embiggen

And not just art, it's moving on to movie stills, historical photos, etc. Pike is now famous for being a prick.

Good for the internet. (Washington Post)

-Bonus HotD-
"The Top 0.1% Of The Nation Earn Half Of All Capital Gains."

And that's why Republicans love capital gains tax cuts. (Forbes)

Facing Recall, Gov. Scott Walker Isn't Finding Much Support

Last week, Wisconsin officially kicked off our effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker. Saying that effort is off to a good start would be a bit of an understatement.

[Talking Points Memo:]

Wisconsin Democrats, after last week’s official launch of the campaign to recall Gov. Scott Walker, made a major show of strength over the weekend.

United Wisconsin, the group managing the recall, announced on Saturday that during the first four days of the effort — from Tuesday through Friday -- they had brought in 105,000 signatures, nearly a fifth of the threshold they must legally meet: 540,208 signatures in a 60-day window.

"There are, of course, two important caveats," warns TPM's Eric Kleefeld, "First, after months of build-up to the recall campaign, it is natural that there would be an initial rush to sign in the first few days. Second, the Dems will have to gather even more than 540,208 signatures in real terms -- for a buffer that campaigns routinely collect in order to protect against signatures being disqualified over one imperfection or another."

Personally, I'd say the odds of the petition failing are extremely low. In his short time as governor, Walker has managed to make himself unpopular. A recent St. Norbert's College/Wisconsin Public Radio poll found that 58% of Wisconsinites support the recall, with only 38% opposed. That poll is a departure from other polling. But even if it's an outlier, things don't look good for Walker -- other polls show the public split, which means that there are more than enough supporters.

And those supporters are active.

[Wisconsin State Journal:]

Tens of thousands gathered Saturday at the state Capitol in support of the ongoing effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker, the largest such rally since the historic month-long protests over collective bargaining ended in March.

State Department of Administration officials estimate 25,000 to 30,000 people filled the square, marching through the cold drizzle, holding signs and chanting seemingly every possible derivation of "Recall Walker."


A group of about 50 Walker supporters made a brief appearance. They weaved through a collection of teachers, students and organized labor officials unified in their desire to remove Walker from office.

By the time I got there, the pro-Walker people were gone. There was absolutely no sign of them anywhere. It was just one big block of anti-Walker protesters and the gathering had the feel of a celebration or a street fair. I know this is a liberal city, but the fact that Walker could only scare up 50 not-so-die-hard supporters to show up does not bode well for his future. Walker's approval ratings are low and he doesn't have a lot of passionate defenders.

Which means that, even if they don't support the recall, they aren't all that interested in it. Walker's going to have to do what Republicans nationwide have had to resort to -- hiring people to do the legwork, because they can't find volunteers. He may have a headstart on fundraising, but he's going to wind up blowing a lot of it. Already, he's making unwise campaign choices, like buying airtime for "don't sign the petition" ads in Madison -- a complete waste of money. This is not the action of a confident man, this is the action of a man who knows he's going to need every vote he can get.

"[T]he people of Wisconsin are on to him," writes John Nichols. "Democrats want him out. Independents want him out. In fact, more than 20 percent of Republicans now say they want to see Walker recalled."

Worse, he seems to be having a hard time finding people who are passionate about keeping him in.



News Roundup for 11/18/11

Paul Ryan
"Stop me, before I spend again!"

-Headline of the Day-
"Rep. Paul Ryan Votes Against Balanced Budget Amendment Because It Doesn't Ruin The Constitution Enough."

What America needs is a Balanced Budget Amendment, becuase congress just spends too much money! Of course, another option might be for congress to just stop throwing money down holes like those in Iraq, but where's the fun in that?

No, it's much better to get into congress, pretend you're not in congress, and try to pass a consitutuional amendment to get you to stop spending so goddam much money. "I won't stop spending money!" they say. "So reelect me to congress and I'll make me stop spending so much money! Who do I think I am?"

Yes, it's all very stupid, but that's Washington for you.

Anyway, Rep. Paul Ryan is one of the people who keeps promising to keep people like Rep. Paul Ryan from spending so much money. He's a big fan of a BBA, which made it surprising that he voted against it when it came up for a vote.

"The backstory here is that, just a few months ago, Ryan and his fellow congressional Republicans were pushing a permanent austerity amendment that would effectively lock Tea Party fiscal policy in place permanently. Among other things, amendment would make it functionally impossible to ever raise taxes, while simultaneously requiring the federal government to balance its budget entirely through spending cuts.

"Were Paul Ryan’s fantasy scenario -- a balanced budget achieved entirely through cuts -- to actually play out, it would 'throw about 15 million more people out of work, double the unemployment rate from 9 percent to approximately 18 percent, and cause the economy to shrink by about 17 percent instead of growing by an expected 2 percent.'"

So Paulie voted against the BBA because it didn't suck nearly hard enough.

Now what's to stop Paul Ryan from spending so much money? Not Paul Ryan, that's for sure. (ThinkProgress)

-Newt's biggest advantage-

Click to embiggen

Also his biggest drawback. (McClatchy)

-Bonus HotD-
"Billionaires Use Tax Loophole To Lower Their Tax Rates To 1 Percent."

So the 1% pays a rate of 1%. And pundits wonder why the 99% are pissed off. (ThinkProgress)


Stories to Watch: 11/17/11

Rick Perry HQ

-Headline of the Day-
"No, President Obama Didn't 'Call Americans Lazy.'"

Over at Rick Perry fer Prezdint Campaign HQ, things don't seem to be going real well. Rick's polling somewhere behind a cold bowl of dog chow, he's solidified his reputation as an airhead, Newt Gingrich is rising in the polls... Hell, this whole thing is in a tailspin.

So they've apparently gotten a hold of a Wingnut Talking Points Edition of a magnetic poetry set. You just grab a random handful, wing it at the fridge, and presto -- your new winning message. I'm just guessing here, mind you. But it does seem to be the case.

See, Perry's got a new ad out that... Well, it's odd. First, Rick's standing in like a park or something watching TV. No, really -- he's also wearing a blue denim shirt like a prison farm laborer. Anyway, he sees President Obama say on TV that Americans are lazy. So he turns to the camera and says Obama is a pathetic socialist who thinks Americans are lazy, which is why we need a Balanced Budget Amendment. Yeah, none of those thoughts have anything to do with the other ones, which is why I'm hypothesizing the magnetic poetry set.

And of course, President Obama never said Americans are lazy. Rick must be thinking of Herman Cain. What Obama was basically saying was that bureaucrats have been lazy in selling what a great place America is to do business. So, pretty much the opposite of what Rick would have you believe.

Then again, maybe Rick was just too dumb to understand it. That's the choice you're faced with so often when looking at Republicans' statements; are they lying or stupid? (David Weigel, with video)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, it turns out that credit default swaps and stupid investments have Wall Street feeling a little under the weather. But don't worry, there's a cure for that!

Click for animation

And now they can do it all over again! (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Perry funds dry up after gaffes and dip in polls."

Whoops! Looks like it's time for another dip in the magnetic poetry set. New Perry ad, "Democrats want to build a NAFTA superhighway to abortion clinics, which is why we need to cut the capital gains tax!" (
Houston Chronicle)

The Purpose of Protest is Not to Win Friends

I wrote about this briefly yesterday and, given the events of today, it deserves a bit more fleshing out.

To bring you up to speed, Public Policy Polling released a survey yesterday finding that Occupy Wall Street was losing ground in public opinion. At the time, I wrote that this in itself wasn't anything to lose any sleep over, because Occupy Wall Street isn't up for election anywhere. Successful protest movements are seldom extremely popular -- both the anti-war and the anti-segregation movements in the '60s were unpopular at the time, regardless of how Hollywood portrays them now. What's important in a successful protest movement is that people agree with you. The point is to mold the national dialogue -- in other words, to change the subject -- and get people to debate the issue or issues that you believe are of primary importance. It doesn't matter if people approve of how you do it, because generally they won't. Public protest is disruptive and inconvenient, which is the entire point. People talk about inconvenience and, if somewhere in the conversation the sentence "They've got a point, though" pops up, then mission accomplished. It's not about you or getting people to like you, it's about getting people to talk about the issue.

Which was why the PPP's Tom Jensen's analysis bothered me (emphasis mine):

I don’t think the bad poll numbers for Occupy Wall Street reflect Americans being unconcerned with wealth inequality.  Polling we did in some key swing states earlier this year found overwhelming support for raising taxes on people who make over $150,000 a year. In late September we found that 73% of voters supported the ‘Buffett rule’ with only 16% opposed.  And in October we found that Senators resistant to raising taxes on those who make more than a million dollars a year could pay a price at the polls. I don’t think any of that has changed- what the downturn in Occupy Wall Street’s image suggests is that voters are seeing the movement as more about the ‘Occupy’ than the ‘Wall Street.’  The controversy over the protests is starting to drown out the actual message.

Until today, Occupy Wall Street was in danger of becoming about Occupy Wall Street. That's why the day of action -- focused not on the right to protest, but on Wall Street -- is so welcome. If the conversation is only about the protest, the protesters lose, because everyone misses the damned point.

And the point of the protests is a winner. Other polling backs up Jensen's take; people agree with OWS, even as they disapprove of them. Greg Sargent points to a news Public Religion Research Institute poll [pdf] that finds that the goals of OWS and the wishes of the American people largely coincide.

It finds that 67 percent of Americans agree that government should do more to reduce the gap between rich and poor, which a large majority says is growing. Sixty nine percent favor hiking taxes on millionaires. Fifty seven percent favor eliminating tax breaks for corporations. Sixty seven percent oppose cutting federal programs that help the poor (though a large majority also says the poor are too dependent on government). A plurality, 48 percent, thinks the American Dream — that if you work hard, you’ll get ahead — no longer holds true. These general findings are borne out in many other polls.

So who cares if they approve of the protests? If you're protesting in order to win a popularity contest, you may be using one of the worst tactics in the world. What matters is that you change the conversation. And Occupy Wall Street has. Not long ago, everything was about cutting spending and reducing deficits -- even as polling showed these weren't Americans' primary concerns. People are worried about jobs, they're worried about income inequality, they're worried about the rich getting a free ride on the backs of everyone else. Hell, they're even worried about one of the big OWS issues the right keeps trying to dismiss -- the PRRI poll shows that 66% believe "the government should do more to help students pay for college and pay off student loan debt."

If people are talking about that, you're winning. But if people are debating your right to protest -- and that's the discussion you're encouraging -- then things are starting to derail. You need to get back to the issues or the protest loses all meaning.



A Super Committee of One

Grover Norquist
The way things are going, it looks like the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (i.e., the "super committee") will be able to accomplish one thing -- reinforce my belief that Blue Ribbon Panels are useless. When that panel is advisory -- think the 9/11 commission -- their recommendations are generally ignored. When that panel is legislative, the results are no different from what the full congress would achieve. In the latter case, it's like a poll; you take aside a smaller sample of the larger group and find that the opinions break down pretty much the same way and in the same proportion. So, if congress is deadlocked, creating a smaller version of congress from that same congress isn't going to make things any easier. All you've really done is take that deadlock and concentrate it. With seven days to go until a deadline, the super committee is spinning its wheels.

How depressingly predictable.

Steve Benen reports that Republicans are actually fighting amongst themselves over the method to trim $1.2 trillion from the deficit. The bad news is that neither camp is willing to accept a deal that doesn't include tax cuts. That's right, a committee that's designed to reduce the deficit is also supposed to produce tax cuts somehow. "The GOP divide is between right-wing members (those willing to trade $250 billion in new revenue for $3.7 trillion in tax cuts, mostly benefiting the wealthy) and very right-wing members (those who want to reduce the debt without accepting any revenue at all)," he writes. Math hates Republicans.

At the center of all this is a nasty, corrupt individual named Grover Norquist.

[Huffington Post:]

A new wave of pessimism colored super committee talks on Tuesday as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blasted anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist for meddling with the panel's progress and suggested that the American public "impeach" him.

During a stakeout with reporters, Reid read aloud part of an interview Norquist did with The Hill on Monday in which Norquist said Republican leaders in both chambers promised him they wouldn't accept a debt reduction deal that included tax hikes

"It won't pass the House or the Senate," Norquist, who is the president of the advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform, said in the interview. "I've talked to the House leadership and the Senate leadership. They're not going to be passing any tax increases."

Conservatives like to complain about "unelected" leaders who influence the legislative process. They even get worked up over "unelected judges," as if this was some sort of technicality and not the way the Constitution was written. But the truth is that Republicans love the unelected. In 2004, lobbyists wrote the "Clear Skies Act" and Republicans thought that was just the best thing ever. Letting lobbyists write GOP bills hasn't stopped since. And here they are again, allowing an unelected lobbyist to dictate US economic policy.

So add one more to the list of reasons why Blue Ribbon panels never work; the unelected people Republicans answer to never sit on those committees. You can't negotiate with a sock puppet.



News Roundup for 11/15/11

Armed and dangerous -- no, not the cops...

-Headline of the Day-
"City Claims Occupy Wall Street Protesters Were Stockpiling Weapons, Fights Court Order To Reopen Park."

Them Occupy Wall Street commies got big piles of guns and stuff!

Wait, no. According to the City of New York, currently fighting a legal battle to declare Zuccatti Park a free-speech-free zone, are getting a little creative in their defense. Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway "filed a motion on behalf of the city today opposing a court order requiring the NYPD to allow Occupy Wall Street demonstrators back into Zuccotti Park."

In that motion, Holloway wrote, "It was our understanding that the protesters may have had a significant number of items that could potentially be used as weapons." For the record, that could be pretty much anything. The biggest threat to public safety cited were "cardboard tubes with metal pipes inside," which I guess are more weapony than just metal pipes. Other evidence of a heavily armed protesters includes the aftermath of an October 1st march across the Brooklyn Bridge, where authorities reportedly found "knives, mace and hypodermic needles were observed discarded on the roadway."

OK, I'm going to go ahead and call bullshit on that one. One, who discards a knife? Those things cost money. And cops have been macing protesters, not the other way around. Finally, hypodermic needles? Yeah, that's my weapon of choice, right up there with thumbtacks -- it's New York, those are called "litter." I'm surprised they didn't include used condoms in that list of "weaponry."

There's a lesson to be learned here, of course. If you're going to stockpile weapons (or be accused of it) make sure they're guns.

When the cops come to take your guns away, the NRA will have a hissy. Guaranteed. (Gothamist)

-Racism is dead!-

Click to embiggen

Except when it's not. (McClatchy)

-Bonus HotD-
"Scalia and Thomas dine with healthcare law challengers as court takes case."

You know, it's one thing to have a conflict of interest and it's quite another to go out of your way to create it. The first is called "random stuff that happens in life," the second is called "being a dick about it." (LA Times)

Keeping the Focus on Wall Street

Cops clear Zuccotti
By now, you've probably heard that New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg ordered police to clear Zuccotti Park of Occupy Wall Street protesters in what can only be described as a raid in the middle of the night.

[New York Times:]

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Tuesday defended his decision to clear the park in Lower Manhattan that was the birthplace of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, saying “health and safety conditions became intolerable” in the park where the protesters had camped out for nearly two months.


The mayor’s comments at a City Hall news conference came about seven hours after hundreds of police officers moved in to clear the park after warning that the nearly two-month-old camp would be “cleared and restored” but that demonstrators who did not leave would face arrest. The protesters, about 200 of whom have been staying in the park overnight, initially resisted with chants of “Whose park? Our park!”

The police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, said that nearly 200 people had been arrested, 142 in the park at 50 to 60 in the streets nearby. Most were held on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, among them City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, a Democrat who represents northern Manhattan. He was with a group near the intersection of Broadway and Vesey Street that was attempting to link up with the protesters in the park. The group tried to push through a line of officers trying to prevent people from reaching the park.

Matt Yglesias makes a pretty convincing case that this is probably good for OWS in the end, because the only other foreseeable outcome would involve the protesters losing interest as winter blew in and wandering off. I'm not entirely convinced this is true, in part because there's more than Zuccotti to the Occupy movement.

But a larger problem with this possible ending comes from what has been a growing problem over the past few weeks -- mission creep. As police cracked down on protest after protest across the nation, the focus seems to have shifted somewhat from income inequality and the legalization of Wall Street crime to the protesters right to protest itself.

Already, OWS protesters have a temporary restraining order allowing them to return to Zuccotti with their tents. And Bloomberg, by all accounts as of this writing, is illegally ignoring that order. The story is already shifting from "Wall Street is robbing America blind" to "the First Amendment still exists." While the right to protest is a fundamental American right, what they're protesting is being lost in the shuffle here.

Not helping any is the manner in which Bloomberg and the NYPD have handled this mass-eviction. It involved a government-imposed media blackout worthy of any banana republic dictator. Journalists trying to cover the story report being chased off and roughed up by police, while the air space over Zuccotti was restricted to prevent news helicopters from covering the raid. This is completely inexcusable and Bloomberg should be impeached or recalled over this, if city law allows such a thing. Bloomberg's blackout was not only blatantly unconstitutional, but un-American.

And Mayor Bloomberg's sudden embrace of a life of crime is an issue that must be dealt with. But we're creatures with binary minds; we're capable of doing two things at once. Bloomberg and the NYPD should be called to account for the egregious violations of the nation's highest law, but not at the cost of allowing it to change the subject.

Occupy Wall Street is about Wall Street, not the Occupiers' right to protest. Let's try to keep it that way.



So BofA Dropped Their Debit Card Fee -- You're Still Being Screwed

Protesters burn BoA debit cardWhen Bank of America announced they were dropping plans to institute a $5 monthly debit card fee, that was a win for consumers. The fee was an end run around new banking regulations that limited the amount banks could charge merchants for processing debit card purchases. In other words, the banks took a "stop screwing people" law and applied it as a "screw different people" law. It didn't go over real well.

The move was a PR disaster and other banks that had been planning similar fees backed off as well. For now, the debit card fee is all but dead. But that doesn't mean that a "stop screwing people" law has to be taken as a "stop screwing people" law. Meet the stealth screw.

[New York Times:]

Even as Bank of America and other major lenders back away from charging customers to use their debit cards, many banks have been quietly imposing other new fees.

...Facing a reaction from an angry public and heightened scrutiny from regulators, banks are turning to all sorts of fees that fly under the radar. Everything, it seems, has a price.

"Banks tried the in-your-face fee with debit cards, and consumers said enough," said Alex Matjanec, a co-founder of MyBankTracker.com. "What most people don't realize is that they have been adding new charges or taking fees that have always existed and increased them, or are making them harder to avoid."

Lose your debit card? That'll be $5-$20. Fifteen bucks to have money wired to your account. Fifty cents for every deposit made from a mobile phone. "Banks can still earn a profit on most checking accounts," NYT reports. "But they are under intense pressure to make up an estimated $12 billion a year of income that vanished with the passage of rules curbing lucrative overdraft charges and lowering debit card swipe fees."

"They have got to make up the income some place," Vernon Hill II, the founder of Commerce Bank, told the Times. "I think we will see a lot more fees."

They've got to? Says who?

For example, the aforementioned $15 wire fee. That comes from TD Bank, a Canadian-based company. They simply have to make up for not being able to screw merchants, because... Well, that's not extremely clear.

In September of 2010, TD reported an increase of profit over the previous quarter of 29%. Of course, they were still recovering from the housing crash at the time. A year later, TD reported a profit increase of 23%, "allowing it to briefly supplant Royal Bank of Canada as Canada's largest company by market value."

Wow, times are tough, huh?

The idea that profits always have to be increasing is not just bad for consumers, it's also unsustainable. Banks are already starting to charge more and more for every little thing, nickel and diming customers at every turn, and they're still not making enough to satisfy themselves. When banks say they "have" to raise fees to make money, what they really mean is that they have to raise fees to make more money. They don't really "have" to -- not by a long shot.

Of course, all these new fees can't be "secret fees." Banks are required by law to disclose them beforehand. But banks use disclosure to make the fees as secret as possible, burying them under a pile of legalese. A Pew study found that checking account disclosures contain a median of 49 fees, hidden in a document "generally twice as long Romeo and Juliet." Overdraft fees, when you look at them like the short-term loans that they actually are, carry an annual interest of 5,000%.

And all to continue to see profits increase year after year. If you're still wondering why the 99% are angry at bankers and Wall Street, this is just one example. It's hard not to notice someone rooting around for spare change in your pocket. It's even harder to thank them for it.



Griper Blade: GOP Candidates: Lying or Just Stupid?

GOP debate

The media has it wrong. When it comes to reporting on the GOP presidential debates, the media treats them like a network promo plug for The Amazing Race. Right now, all the networks are breathless over Rick Perry's deer-in-the-headlights moment at last night's debate; as if everyone didn't know Perry's an empty suit who's probably unfit even for the relatively low-demand job he currently holds. A formal debate is, by definition, the presentation of logical arguments with the purpose of discovering truth. Currently, political debates are the media's self-generated content; stories created by the media for the media to report on. For candidates, they aren't opportunities to make valid points and logical arguments. They're a platform for talking points, spin, soundbites, and just plain lies.

And meanness. While everyone else is pretending to be amazed by what an idiot the known idiot Rick Perry was, Jonathan Bernstein points to the real low point of the evening:

No, that would be Herman Cain. Look, he wasn’t going to be the nominee at any point during the cycle, and he certainly wasn’t going to be the nominee after it turned out he was an alleged serial sexual harasser. But after dragging American political rhetoric to a new low, referring to the House Minority Leader and a former speaker as “Princess Nancy,” it’s about time that Cain was called to account for insulting the American people and the political process for the farce that he’s engaging in. Whether it’s not knowing that China has nuclear weapons, or repeatedly botching his own position on abortion, or any of a number of other gaffes, Cain has made Perry look like a well-briefed genius throughout the campaign. And Wednesday night, he was even worse.

Yes, he’s that bad.

It's an insult to people like Aristotle to call what happened last night a "debate." It was a contest to see who could get the best applause line while being the least inept. And if a debate is a method of determining truth, the game show contestants at last night's event didn't even try to make it a debate.

FactCheck.org ran a check on the "debate" and found it to be largely fact-free. "The latest debate among Republican candidates for president was a tame affair that produced few factual claims needing correction," they report. "Candidates stuck mostly to promises and expressions of their conservative faith in free markets, and their disdain for government" -- in other words, it was a campaign slogan contest.

When candidates did bother to cite facts and figures, they turned out to be spun or just plain inaccurate. FactCheck.org found Cain and Bachmann were wide of the truth on taxation and Romney got it wrong of the salaries of federal workers, while Gingrich's contribution was in getting the history of Social Security and the federal budget wrong, as well as repeating the zombie lie that Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and government regulations were responsible for the mortgage meltdown.

And Gingrich wasn't the only one to tell that last lie. "There is a basic problem with the argument, made by several candidates, that the government forced mortgage lenders to make bad loans: most subprime loans were made by companies that were not subject to any kind of federal regulation," writes factchecker Binyamin Appelbaum for the New York Times. "Furthermore, there was no need for force. Financial companies jumped into the market. The major investment banks lined up to purchase subprime lenders, the major retail banks created subprime-lending divisions and a generation of upstart subprime lenders like Ameriquest and Countrywide were briefly celebrated as rising stars of American business... No executive of a major mortgage company said at the time that the government was forcing him to make subprime loans. The executives said they did it because they thought they’d make money..."

So what are the only logical conclusions left to us here? The Republican candidates -- each and every one of them -- are either lying or completely ignorant on the subjects of banking, regulations, the economy, and housing. Those really are the only two possible choices. What caused the meltdown isn't a matter of opinion, you can't have an alternate take on it -- history is unchanging and facts are a bitch. People who say the government put a gun to lenders' heads, forcing them to make bad loans and securitize that bad debt into what would become toxic assets, are either lying or ignorant. There are no other explanations.

And those should be the big headlines today, not Perry's still-uninterrupted moronitude or the national practical joke that is Herman Cain. Americans should be waking up to headlines reading, "GOP Candidates: Lying or Just Stupid?" Pundits should be talking over each other about that, with one suit vehemently insisting they're all liars, while another passionately defends her belief that they're all just stupid. And pollsters should be hitting the phonebanks, trying to determine whether the public believes the GOP debate was all lies or all stupidity. The media should hold candidates to account for the things they say, not for the way they say (or in Perry's case, fail to say) them. A stumbling, fumbling, stuttered statement of truth should be considered a win -- an obvious win -- over a flawlessly articulated recitation of fiction.

But it's not. And that's the problem. At least my little contribution to the conversation has the right headline.



News Roundup for 11/8/11

Van with 'free candy' painted on side'
Rush Limbaugh's "Date Night" van

-Headline of the Day-
"Limbaugh On Cain Accusations: Political Correctness 'Has Now Spread To Behavior — Not Just Speech.'"

Rush Limbaugh has had it up to here with all this PC crap! Not only can't you say whatever you want without some liberal or minority or lady getting offended, now you can't even do whatever you want -- it's an outrage!

"Political correctness, which is censorship, has now spread to behavior -- not just speech," Rush told his audience of bobblehead dolls today. "It's spread to behavior." He then went on to pine for the good old days, when you could refer to women as "broads" and everyone was cool with it.

"I tell you, you women, why don’t you just make it official, put on some burqas?" he said, wrapping it all up in a neat bow of crazy. "And I’ll guaran-damn-tee you nobody’ll touch you. You put on a burqa, and everybody’ll leave you alone, if that’s what you want."

Of course, Herman Cain's problem isn't that it's politically incorrect to fondle an unwilling woman and pull her head down to your crotch -- it's pretty much legally incorrect. Cain's lucky he didn't walk away in handcuffs that day -- and not in a fun way.

But still, wouldn't it be better to live in Rush's world, where you can sexually assault any random person and have "Oh, don't be so PC!" as a perfectly legitimate defense?

Why, nowadays you can't roam around, doing whatever the fuck you want to whomever the fuck you want. It's like there's no anarchy anymore!

And is that really what the founders intended? (Talking Points Memo, with video)

-Herman Cain explains-

Click for full comic

That ought to clear everything up. (GoComics)

-Bonus HotD-
"Gazillionaire Mitt Romney Whines Gov’t Employees Earn More Than He Does."

No, really. (Wonkette, with video)

Poll: 99-Percenters' Argument Gains Traction

Kids at OWS

The current economic structure of the country is out of balance and favors a very small proportion of the rich over the rest of the country. America needs to reduce the power of major banks and corporations and demand greater accountability and transparency. The government should not provide financial aid to corporations and should not provide tax breaks to the rich.

The block of text above was not lifted from an Occupy Wall Street protester's overly verbose sign, as much as it expresses common sentiment among the occupiers. No, that text was taken from an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released last night. Respondents were asked if they "strongly agree, mildly agree, feel neutral about, mildly disagree, or strongly disagree" with the statement and the majority agreed -- overwhelmingly. 76% said they agreed with the statement, with 60% agreeing strongly.

In the same poll, respondents were asked if they agreed with a more tea-flavored statement; "The national debt must be cut significantly by reducing spending and the size of government,including eliminating some federal agencies and programs. Regulations on business by the federal government should be reduced and instead, the private sector and individuals should have greater control. The government should not raise taxes on anyone."

53% agreed, with 33% agreeing strongly. Obviously, there's some overlap here of those who want to be able to have their cake and eat it too. After all, you can't "reduce the power of major banks and corporations and demand greater accountability and transparency," while saying that "regulations on business by the federal government should be reduced and instead, the private sector and individuals should have greater control." It really has to be one or the other.

But the big takeaway here is that the first statement is wildly more popular than the second. ThinkProgress makes that distinction by removing that overlap and looking only at the "strongly agrees" -- filtered that way, the OWS-flavored statement is nearly twice as popular as the tea-flavored statement.

So Republicans can stop talking about "what the American people want" any time now. The American people clearly want that which the GOP most strongly opposes.

The same poll shows that, when asked if they approve of President Obama's handling of the economy, 59% disapprove. Not extremely surprising, given the state of the economy. But when it comes to who's responsible for that economy, 36% blame Wall Street, 34% blame George W. Bush, and only 21% blame Obama. So the president's low economic approvals aren't the result of people blaming him for problems, but because of his inability to fix them quickly enough.

And, when it comes to who's better on the economy -- Republicans or Obama -- the president clearly comes out on top. When asked who's to blame for not finding solutions to "the problems facing America," 56% blame congressional Republicans, 57% blame Democrats, and 36% blame President Obama.

Which goes a long way toward explaining why Obama is still preferred by the voters -- albeit narrowly. 45% say they'll probably vote for Obama, while 42% say they'll vote for a generic GOP nominee. But when you get more specific, the GOP presidential field does worse; Obama leads the top named candidate -- Mitt Romney -- 49% to 43%. And Herman Cain gets trounced, 38% to 53%. The GOP field is echoing congressional Republicans, which won't serve them well in the general election.

But go back to that first, OWS-flavered statement. 76% agree with that. The national conversation has turned from deficit reduction (foolish in a weak economy in any case) to economic inequality. A year ago, that would've seemed unthinkable.  It's clear that, in this economic debate, Occupy Wall Street is winning.



News Roundup for 11/7/11

Zapp Brannigan tries to seduce Leela
Herman Cain conducts a job interview

-Headline of the Day-
"Fourth accuser: Cain 'reached for my genitals.'"

Herman Cain's sexual harassment scandal has, in the words of ThinkProgress' Ian Millhiser, been "upgraded to criminal sexual abuse." Of course, that's assuming the obviously Occupy-Wall-Street-supporting hippie commie America-hater is telling the truth.

And that accuser is Sharon Bialek, a registered Republican and tea party supporter. So there's that. No word on whether she wants to bring down the neo-feudal corporatist structure, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess no.

According to Bialek, she met Cain to discuss finding a job in 1997. "At that time, I had on a black pleated skirt, suit jacket and a blouse," she said. "Instead of going into the offices, he suddenly reached over and he put his hand on my leg, under my skirt and reached for my genitals. He also grabbed my head and brought it towards his crotch." I guess Herman was confused about what sort of "job" she was looking for.

"I said, 'What are you doing? You know I have a boyfriend. This isn’t what I came here for,'" she recalled. "Mr. Cain said, 'You want a job, right?'"

"She reached out to Mr. Cain for help in finding another job," Bialek's attorney Gloria Allred explained. "Mr. Cain, instead, decided to provide her with his idea of a stimulus package."

Oh for chrissake, Gloria. Don't. Just don't. (Raw Story, with video)

-It's not all bad news-
There is a big winner in all this, after all:

Click to embiggen

Look at it this way Republicans; you're not losing a frontrunner, you're gaining someone who will have to do for the time being. (McClatchy)

-Bonus HotD-
"Report: News Corp. hired investigators to spy on hacking victims’ lawyers."

Wait, Rupert hired people to spy on the lawyers of the people he was spying on?

Scandals should really have less recursion, is all I'm saying. (Raw Story)

Pro-Labor Occupiers About to Win Big

Wisconsin protesters occupying the state capitol
It's not difficult to show the evolution of the "town hall mobs" of rightwingers angry healthcare reform to the Tea Party. It was basically the same people who listen to the same radio shows and fell for largely the same BS. But where the town hall rowdies were focused on one issue, the Tea Party came about when complaints broadened to other issues. "Healthcare reform sucks!" became "healthcare reform sucks -- and I like guns and Obama's a Kenyan Muslim and when government spends money on anyone other than me, that's just like Nazi Germany!"

Sure, both the town hall mobs and the Tea Party were astroturf creations, but look at why people joined. What happened was that people with other concerns were drawn to the coverage the town-hallers were getting and wanted in on the action. The movement grew and the focus broadened.

There's a clumsy parallel on the left with the Occupy movement. It may just be that I'm from ground zero, but I see an evolution from the Wisconsin union protests and the ongoing recall effort to Occupy Wall Street. People saw the occupation of the State Capitol, thought about their own issues, and wondered if that would work for them as well. The left was electrified by the Wisconsin activists and the "hit the streets and take over" method of protest spread out to other states.

One of those states would be Ohio, where Gov. John Kasich and state Republicans jammed through a union-busting bill similar to Wisconsin's. But Ohio is not Wisconsin -- the laws are quite different -- and state Democrats were able to put the question up to the voters. Where Wisconsin only has recall as an option, Ohioans are able to put repeal on a referendum. And that referendum is not going Kasich's way.

[Talking Points Memo:]

A new survey from Public Policy Polling (D) shows Ohio Democrats and public employee unions likely to win a big victory on Tuesday in the referendum on Republican Gov. John Kasich’s anti-public union bill, SB-5.

The poll shows only 36% of Ohioans will vote to support the law, while a decisive 59% oppose the bill and will vote to repeal it.

Kasich’s own approval mirrors those numbers, with only 33% approval and 57% disapproval. Kasich was elected in the 2010 Republican wave, defeating incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland by a 49%-47% margin. However, when asked if they could vote again, the respondents in this poll chose Strickland by a 55%-37% margin.

"Democrats are almost unanimous in their opposition to SB 5, supporting repeal by an 86-10 margin," PPP reports. "Meanwhile there’s division in the Republican ranks -- 30% are planning to vote down their Governor’s signature proposal while only 66% are supportive of it. Independents split against it by a 54/39 spread as well."

"It’s a stretch to call this part of the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon," writes David Dayden for Firedoglake. "But it springs from the same position of dissent against extreme tactics by corporate-backed politicians. In Wisconsin protesters camped out at the Capitol Building in Madison. In Ohio, thousands came to the Capitol in Columbus. And then, using the referendum process, they gathered ten times as many signatures as needed to get the citizen veto of SB 5 on the ballot, entirely through volunteer efforts. And now they’re going to defeat those same corporate forces at the ballot box and score a victory for worker’s rights, stopping the tide of anti-union actions. It’s a pretty big moment."

It may be a stretch to call tomorrow's expected win in Ohio part of the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon, but it's not a stretch to call Occupy Wall Street the offspring of the movement that set that win in motion. It's even less of a stretch to say that the repeal of Ohio's SB 5 will be a win for the 99%.

Here's hoping it's the first win of many.



News Roundup for 11/4/11

You're free to worship any god, so long as it's Jesus

-Headline of the Day-
"KY GOPer: I’m Not Criticizing Hindus -- I’m Inviting Them To 'Love And Know Jesus.'"

It looks like Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear is going to win reelection in a walk. Not surprisingly, this bothers his Republican opponent somewhat. So State Senate President David Williams looked around for something -- anything -- to drag Beshear down.

He thought he found it when "Beshear attended a groundbreaking ceremony in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, for a new factory run by FlexFilm, a company based in India that makes materials for packaging, printing, insulation and other purposes. The plant represents a $180 million investment, and is expected to create 250 jobs in Kentucky."

The groundbreaking including a Hindu ceremony called a bhoomi poojan and you can tell just from looking at the words that there ain't nothing Christian about it. It's got incense and people without shoes and god knows what-all, so Williams thought, "Gotcha!" and ran to the Lexington Herald-Leader. Beshear was caught in an act of "idolatry," offering "prayers to false gods."

"He’s there participating with Hindu priests, participating in a religious ceremony," Williams said. "They can say what they want to. He’s sitting down there with his legs crossed, participating in Hindu prayers with a dot on his forehead with incense burning around him. I don’t know what the man was thinking."

"If I’m a Christian, I don’t participate in Jewish prayers. I’m glad they do that," he dug deeper. "I don’t participate in Hindu prayers. I don’t participate in Muslim prayers. I don’t do that. To get down and get involved and participate in prayers to these polytheistic situations, where you have these Hindu gods that they are praying to, doesn’t appear to me to be in line with what a governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky ought to be doing... between his not being pro-life and his support for gambling and now getting down and doing Hindu prayers to these Hindu gods, I think his grandfathers wouldn’t be very pleased with Steve Beshear."

Turns out people thought this was a tad insensitive and what Williams thought was his big chance somehow turned into his latest fuckup. So he did the worst possible thing he could do in this situation; instead of just apologizing and letting it go, he decided to explain what he really meant.

Williams said he wasn't criticizing Hindus per se, he was just pointing out the obvious -- they practice the wrong religion. And so he invited them to "love and know Jesus."

With political chops like that, it's hard to understand how Williams is getting swamped. (Talking Points Memo)

-How's Herman doing so far?-

Click to embiggen

Not too well... (McClatchy)

-Bonus HotD-
"Deadbeat Rep. Joe Walsh, Who Owes $100k In Child Support, Receives ‘Pro-Family’ Award From Family Research Council."

Cut FRC some slack here. They didn't specify which family Walsh is supposed to be "pro-." It's probably someone else's family entirely. (ThinkProgress)

Griper Blade: Despite Scandal, Cain Rising Among GOP Voters

Someplace, Democratic strategists are planning a party. Herman Cain's sexual harassment scandal has not hurt him with GOP voters and he continues to rise in the polls. Those are the findings of Washington Post/ABC News poll out today.

Businessman Herman Cain and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney are running nearly even atop the field of 2012 GOP presidential hopefuls, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows, with most Republicans dismissing the harassment allegations that over the past week have roiled Cain’s campaign.

Seven in 10 Republicans say reports that Cain made unwanted advances toward two employees when he was head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s — allegations which have been stiffly rebutted by Cain’s campaign — do not matter when it comes to picking a candidate.

Beautiful. Of course, it's not all smooth sailing for Cain. "[T]he potential threat to his burgeoning campaign is evident as well, with Cain slipping to third place among those who see the charges as serious, and Republican women significantly more likely than men to say the scandal makes them less apt to support Cain," the report continues.

This is the first poll taken after the scandal broke -- "Oct. 31 through Nov. 3, starting the evening after Politico first reported the harassment allegations," the report tells us -- but the breaking scandal didn't seem to affect support. "Support for Cain was basically steady over the four nights of interviewing," it continues, "even as new charges against him surfaced."

GOP voters aren't even taking Cain's misconduct -- or possible crime -- seriously. 55% believe the whole thing is "not a serious matter" and 70% say it won't affect their vote.

"I think [the charges against Cain are] mostly garbage that they throw at people who want to be president," explained one respondent. "I don’t believe it," said another. "The further in the past they happened, the less accurate they are."

But will general election voters be so magnanimous -- and does it matter?

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This is Herman Cain vs. President Obama in a head-to-head match-up. I'm not a big fan of polling averages, where one bad apple does spoil the whole bunch, but this shows Herman Cain winning no poll against Obama. Polls are merely snapshots of a moment of time, but the trend shows Cain never beating Obama -- or even coming close:

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The threat is Mitt Romney:

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Sure, Romney's in a nosedive now, but he's dropped to a whopping 1.9 average behind Obama.

Romney doesn't meet the wingnut's profile of a hero, however. That would be someone like Sarah Palin. Palin was dumb as a stump, constantly blundering into gaffes, but she spun accurate reporting into personal attacks. The media was out to get her and she was standing tall against their unfair treatment of her. She was a hero simply because she said she was a hero. She turned out to be a fad and GOP voters finally caught on that her focus was on celebrity, not America -- but that fad lasted quite some time. Years, in fact. Herman Cain only has to be the action hero of the moment until the GOP nomination is decided. Not very long at all.

If you're a GOP voter and you're confused about why some liberals are celebrating Cain's continued rise in the polls, don't sweat it. Just continue your hero worship and we'll see you next November.