Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Who's More Christlike?

Lawrence O'Donnell's "rewrite" comparing Ricky Gervais and Pat Robertson. Well worth the time to watch.


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The Fake Benghazi Scandal

I'm getting a little tired of the antics of Grumpy Old John McCain and Little Lindsay Graham, the two largely irrelevant Regressive republicans who are desperately trying to regain credibility by spending weeks and weeks attempting to demonize US Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, in this phony Benghazi scandal.

What Rice said, about 5 days after the attack that left four people dead, during her Sunday morning talk show appearances, was exactly what all of the US intelligence sources had released and summarized for her.  No investigation of an attack of this nature is ever definitively wrapped up in just 5 days, and never does the CIA spill all that they know regarding terrorism around the world to the media.

And the Regressives know this.

So Susan Rice not only accurately spoke for the US intelligence agencies in the days just after the attack, but she and the head of the CIA also generously complied with the wishes of John and Lindsay by spending over an hour yesterday answering their questions.

They didn't have to. This was not an official inquiry, an official hearing, or an official anything.

They were being magnanimous in obliging these two resentful senators.  And, as you'd expect, McCain and Graham emerged from the meeting whining that they were disturbed and had even more questions.

I can agree with that first part.  I think they are disturbed.

No matter how accurate Rice was in the days after the attack, and no matter how much she humors people like McCain and Graham, the Regressive republican party is going to continue to discredit her and pretend there's some big conspiracy being hidden. They will demonize her and try to pressure President Obama into nominating Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, instead of Rice, for the next Secretary of State. Why Kerry? So that his senate seat will open up and republican Scott Brown can be re-elected. (Brown just lost to Democrat Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts.)

Here's a handy chart from Mother Jones showing  Attacks on US Diplomatic Targets. Notice how many attacks have taken place during Regressive republican administrations, in red:



From All Voices:

The attack of our embassy in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11,which resulted in four Americans being murdered, is now used as an opportunity to gain political points. 

Now there is loud clamor for transparency and investigations, accusations of a cover-up and incompetence, with those doing the talking all the while professing to only want the truth as concerned Americans and conscientious politicians. Give me a break. The only conscientious concern here is self-serving partisan BS.

Where was all that concern for our men and women serving in embassies and consulates across the globe when all the other attacks and killings occurred?

Like in 2002 when the US Consulate in the Karachi, Pakistan, was attacked and 10 were killed?

Or in 2004 when the US embassy in Uzbekistan was attacked and two were killed and another nine injured?

How about in 2004, when the US Consulate in Saudi Arabia was stormed and 8 lost their lives? 

There is more: In 2006, armed men attacked the US Embassy in Syria and one was murdered.

Then in 2007 a grenade was thrown at the US Embassy in Athens.

In 2008, the US Embassy in Serbia was set on fire.

In 2008, bombings in the US Embassy in Yemen killed 10.
 
Notice the dates -- all before the Obama administration.

Not yet convinced that all the noise over Benghazi has nothing to do with love of countryman? 

How about the biggest, most catastrophic attack and murder of Americans? As a New Yorker, Sept. 11, 2001, is indelibly imprinted on my psyche and I’m sure on the rest of the country. 3,000 perished in the most brutal act of terror in our recent history—all under a Republican administration. George W. Bush and his team had nine warnings that al-Qaida would attack within the United States, but they did absolutely nothing. 

Not one head in that administration rolled for that stunning incompetence.

But Republicans now want President Obama’s head for Benghazi.

From Pensito Review:

The Fox News-generated hysteria among Republicans over the government’s handling of the Benghazi attacks relies heavily on the assumption that Fox viewers have incredibly short memories. Watching Fox present this issue, you might quickly assume that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya was unique — that nothing like it had ever happened before. You might also assume that, if there had been other similar attacks in the past, American patriots and their representatives in Washington would be entirely justified in politicizing the attacks and using the failures that led to them, whether real or imagined, for partisan gain. 

In reality, of course, there have been many attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates — more than 40 in the past half century.


The chart above from Mother Jones, for example, shows the frequency of attacks on U.S. diplomatic sites over the past 40 years. What Fox would like to erase from its viewers’ memories is that, as the chart shows, there were many attacks on U.S. missions overseas during the administration of the most recent Republican president, George W. Bush. It is crucial to Fox’s politicizing of Benghazi to make those attacks disappear down the memory hole, because there is an inconvenient fact associated with them: In the wake of the seven or more attacks on American overseas interests on Bush’s watch, Democrats did not politicize them the way Republicans are politicizing Benghazi today.

In particular, no Democrat ever suggested forming a Watergate-style select committee to investigate the attacks during the Bush era, like the one Republicans are demanding now.
There was one full-scale investigation — the one that looked into the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, which were the most egregious national security failure in U.S. history — but that investigation was outsourced to a bipartisan commission controlled by Republicans.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Florida Republican Chair Admits to Voter Suppression

From Huffington Post:

Jim Greer, the former head of the Florida Republican Party, recently claimed that a law shortening the early voting period in the state was deliberately designed to suppress voting among groups that tend to support Democratic candidates, the Palm Beach Post reports.

“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told the Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only...‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us.’"

The HB 1355 law, which was passed by Florida's Republican legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott (R) in Nov. 2011, cut the number of early voting days from 14 to eight. It was
publicly sold as an effort to reduce voter fraud and to save money, but Greer says that this was simply a "marketing ploy."

Greer served as Florida's GOP chairman from 2006 until 2010 when he was forced to resign after allegedly stealing money from the party. He was arrested and his case is pending.
Scott's predecessor, Republican-turned-Independent Charlie Crist, resisted efforts from Republicans to shorten the state's early voting period, citing reasons that mesh with Greer's claims.

In an interview with The Huffington Post earlier this month, Crist said the new law is clearly aimed at curbing turnout among Democrats. 

"The only thing that makes any sense as to why this is happening and being done is voter suppression," he said.

Crist added, "People have fought and died for our right to vote, and unfortunately our legislature and this governor have decided they want to make early voting less available to Floridians rather than more available ... It's hard for me as an American to comprehend why you don't make democracy as easy as possible to exercise for the people of our state. It's frankly unconscionable."

Greer also acknowledged that the effort to restrict early voting would directly affect turnout among Florida's African Americans, a demographic that consistently supports Democrats.
“The sad thing about that is yes, there is prejudice and racism in the party but the real prevailing thought is that they don’t think minorities will ever vote Republican,” he told the Post.

Greer went on to suggest that there was "absolutely nothing" state Republicans wouldn't do in following their "absolute obsession with retaining power."

Parts of HB 1355 were overturned by a panel of federal judges in August, partially due to its anticipated impact on minority turnout. The three judge panel ruled that a "dramatic reduction in the form of voting that is disproportionately used by African-Americans would make it materially more difficult for some minority voters to cast a ballot than under the benchmark law.” 

The court's ruling, however, only affected five of Florida's 67 counties -- those covered by the section of the Voting Rights Act cited by the court in its ruling. The vast majority of Florida voters were subject to the shortened voting period.

Despite lines as long as nine hours on Election Day in Florida, Scott said he stands by the new law. "Well I'm very comfortable that the right thing happened," he told WKMG Orlando after the election. He later promised to order a review of electoral issues.

From Politics 365:

In a series of stunning public confirmations regarding the Florida Republican Party, minorities and new voter ID laws, former GOP party Chairman Jim Greer confirmed that party strategists met on voter registration strategies with the intent to suppress Blacks and Latinos from voting in Florida.

The former Florida GOP Chairman said, “There’s no doubt that what the Republican led legislature in Florida and Governor Scott are trying to do is make sure the Republican party has an advantage in this upcoming election by reducing early voting and putting roadblocks up for potential voters, Latinos, African Americans to register and then to exercise their right to vote.  There’s no doubt. I was in the room. It’s part of the strategy.”

Greer made the revealing confirmations last night on live television during an interview with Rev. Al Sharpton on his MSNBC show Politics Nation. His revelations were first revealed in a deposition in late July but yesterday was the first time he spoke on the matter on national television.

“It’s very sad what’s going on in the Republican party.  It’s very sad the Republican Party doesn’t want to win votes by talking about what it stands for.  It wants to ensure that some people can’t get to the polls, can’t register to vote.  Political strategists for the GOP can’t control what voters do in the voting booth but it can certainly try and control them ever getting to the voting booth and that’s what happened in Florida,” said former Republican Party Chair Greer in a stunning and revealing interview regarding Florida’s new voter ID laws.

When Sharpton asked Greer if he was in the room for strategic discussions regarding how Republicans could avoid a repeat of President Obama’s 2008 victory, Greer responded, “Absolutely.”

“In three and a half years as Chairman in Florida, I never had one meeting where voter fraud was discussed as a real issue effecting elections.  Never one time,” Greer told Sharpton.

Friday, November 16, 2012

One Republican Actually Gets It!

Louisiana Gov Bobby Jindal
“It is no secret we had a number of Republicans damage our brand this year with offensive, bizarre comments — enough of that,” Bobby Jindal said. “It’s not going to be the last time anyone says something stupid within our party, but it can’t be tolerated within our party. We’ve also had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism. We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters.

“We’ve got to make sure that we are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, big anything,” Jindal said. “We cannot be, we must not be, the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys.”
 Read more from the original article on Politico.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"That Happened!" by Rachel Maddow

That happened! That really happened. We are not going to have a Supreme Court that will overturn Roe versus Wade. There will be no more Antonin Scalias and Samuel Alitos added to this court.

We`re not going to repeal health reform. Nobody is going to kill Medicare and make old people in this generation or any other generation fight it out on the open market to try to get themselves health insurance.
We are not going to do that.

We are not going to give a 20 percent tax cut to millionaires and billionaires and expect programs like food stamps and kid`s insurance to cover the cost of that tax cut.
We`re not make you clear it with your boss if you want to get birth control under the insurance plan that you`re on.

We are not going to redefine rape.

We are not going to amend the United States Constitution to stop gay
people from getting married.

We are not going to double Guantanamo.

We are not eliminating the Department of Energy or the Department of
Education or housing at the federal level.

We are not going to spend $2 trillion on the military that the
military does not want. We are not scaling back on student loans, because
the country`s new plan is that you should borrow money from your parents.
We are not vetoing the DREAM Act. We are not self-deporting. We are
not letting Detroit go bankrupt.

We are not starting a trade war with China on Inauguration Day in January.
 We are not going to have, as a president, a man who once led a mob of friends to run down a scared, gay kid, to hold him down and forcibly cut his hair off with a pair of scissors while that kid cried and screamed for help and there was no apology, not ever.

We are not going to have a Secretary of State John Bolton.
We are not bringing Dick Cheney back.
We are not going to have a foreign policy shop stocked with architects of the Iraq war. We are not going to do it.
We had the chance to do that if we wanted to do that, as a country.
And we said no, last night, loudly.

Now, to be fair:  If you are a conservative or if you are rooting for
the Republicans, a few things did go your way.
Republicans did not lose that Senate seat that they might have lost in
Arizona. Jon Kyl`s old Senate seat goes to another Republican, to Jeff Flake.
Also, Republicans did not lose that other Senate seat they might have
lost in Nevada, the old John Ensign seat that was given to Dean Heller.
It stays with him. It stays Republican just barely.

And while President Obama carried 28 states last time, he carried 25
or 26 states this time, depending on how Florida goes. That means
Republicans did lose everything else, but they got back Indiana and also
North Carolina.

So it was not a totally hopeless night for Republicans.

Big picture in the House, thanks mostly to redistricting the
Republicans were not in danger of losing the House, and they didn`t, even though the Republican majority appears to have shrunk there.


Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts lost by a lot to the nation`s foremost authority on the economic rights of the middle class.

After marriage rights for same-sex couples were voted down in state
after state after state for years, more than 30 times in a row, this year,
all change in Maine, they voted on marriage equality and they voted for it.
In Maryland, they voted on marriage equality and they voted for it.
In Minnesota, they were asked to vote against marriage equality, and
Minnesota refused to ban it.
In Washington state, the vote is not called yet. They are still counting the vote and we will be watching it closely, but if you are on the pro-gay right side in Washington state, it should be noted that it is looking pretty good.

Nevada elects its first African-American congressman this year.

America gets our first openly gay United States senator.

America gets our first-ever Asian American woman senator from Hawaii.

Her seat in the House, I should note, gets filled by this woman, a
Democratic Iraq war veteran. I`m going to tell you right now that her name
is Tulsi Gabbard, because she is on the fast track to being very famous
some day. Tulsi Gabbard.

Speaking of Iraq war veterans, Tammy Duckworth, veteran helicopter
pilot, she lost both her legs in Iraq. She is going to Congress and she is
sending home the opponent who mocked her for her war record, Joe Walsh.
California relaxed its "three strikes you`re out" law and rejected a
law to cripple the power of unions.

Decriminalization of marijuana was approved in Washington and in
Colorado.

The astonishing tide of dark money spent against Democratic Senators
Jon Tester in Montana and Sherrod Brown in Ohio turned out to be pointless.
Both those Democratic senators won, they held on to their seats.
Democrats won a Senate seat in North Dakota, of all places, a seat
that nobody thought they could win.

All of these states that had this hugely aggressive total Republican
takeover from the 2010 elections, Ohio and Wisconsin, and Michigan, and
Pennsylvania and Virginia and Florida, all of those states that went so red
in state government in these past couple of years and that then had these
big fights inside their states over how Republicans were governing there.
In Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and we will see about
Florida, last night not only did Republicans lose the presidential election
in every single one of those states, Republicans lost the Senate race in
every single one of those states too -- Sherrod Brown, Tammy Baldwin,
Debbie Stabenow, Bob Casey, Tim Kaine, Bill Nelson. Depending on Florida,
a Democratic sweep of the presidency, and definitely a Democratic sweep of
the Senate race -- in those states that the GOP was so excited to have
supposedly turned red in a way that was going to stick.

Last night, Democratic women swept every major office in New
Hampshire. Last night, California Democrats won Democratic super majority
in the state House and in the state Senate. Not just majorities in
California, but super majorities. Wherein, if the Republicans don`t turn
up, any of them, any day at work, nothing will be different in California.
They`re completely legislatively irrelevant.

Allen West lost a seat.

More women got elected to the U.S. Senate than at any time in U.S.
history.

The Republican presidential nominee and vice presidential nominee both
lost their home states.

Missouri and Montana and West Virginia chose Democratic governors.
West Virginia chose its first gay state legislature. So did North Dakota.
West Virginia and North Dakota? Yes, seriously.

Joe Lieberman`s old seat went to a real Democrat in Connecticut.

The proportion of young people voting compared to 2008, it went up,
same with African-Americans, up from 2008. Same with Latinos, up from
2008, not down, up.

If you are a liberal or if you are rooting for the Democrats, last
night was a very, very, very big night.

And, oh, yes, this happened. President Barack Obama, yes, will go
down in history as our nation`s first African-American president. But he
will also go down in history as the most successful Democratic presidential
candidate since FDR.

President Clinton got re-elected too, I know, but only Barack Obama
got re-elected with not just big Electoral College margins, but also with
majority wins in the popular vote, twice.

The guy who predicted this outcome, almost exactly, is Nate Silver, of
course, who writes the political statistics blog, "FiveThirtyEight" at "The
New York Times." For accurately predicting, it appears, the exact outcome
of the race, and I mean down to every single state. We`ll see about
Florida, Nate was, of course, pilloried, pilloried on the right and by
right-leaning beltway media types, including Politico., for having the
audacity to print what his poll averages told him was about to happen.
But Nate was right, the polls were right, even without Florida being
decided, we now know that President Obama won in pretty much exactly the
way the state-by-state polls said he was going to win. He won with more
than 300 electoral votes. It was not magic, it was just math. Math that
was completely invisible to the political right.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Friday, November 9, 2012

Election Results 2012

Now that a couple of days have gone by and the exhilaration has partially subsided, and I've had time to pore over the results, here are some of the highlights:

Oh, wait a second.

PRESIDENT OBAMA WON! Whoo-hoo! He got his second term just as predicted, with well over 300 electoral votes!  And once Florida figures out how to count and its 29 electoral votes are added, the President will have a total of 332!  WOW! Another landslide! And that Regressive republican, lying, flip flopping, two faced, duplicitous, self-serving, robotic empty suit lost! WHOO-HOOOOOOOO!!!

Okay, now the exhilaration has subsided. For real. On with the results before another wave washes over me.

But before we get to the results, a word about Florida. Once again, the country shakes its collective head in disbelief at the idiots who run the only state that can't seem to accomplish an election on time like the rest of the country. We're like a third world nation. Soon we'll need UN observers to oversee our elections.

This is nothing more than counting, folks. It's what you learn in first grade. Do we need to bring back that bald geek with the giant bulging eyeballs who stared at the "hanging chads" back in 2000?

Once again, Florida was the state with the longest lines, the most chaos at the voting locations, and the only state that still hasn't figured out how to finish counting them. We need to get rid of the incompetents starting with the Regressive governor, who cut the number of early voting days in half and refused, when asked by the League of Women Voters and other groups, to add an extra day or two before election day.  And we need to rid ourselves of the Regressives in the House and Senate. They're getting paid for a job they can't do. Time for a pink slip.

Gone.
Now the good news: America said goodbye to many of the far rightwing fringe Teabaggers who were voted into power in 2010, like Angry Allen West.

Disgraced Col. Allen West of Florida has lost his congressional seat but is refusing to admit defeat and accept the fact that the voters booted him out. This is the guy who once said most of the Democrats in Congress were Communists. This is the guy who called Debbie Wasserman Schultz "vile". This is the guy whose irresponsible and violent actions in the military caused him to be relieved of his command, charged with three counts of aggravated assault  and fined $5,000. His military career was over, and he was allowed to retire the next year.

Goodbye Todd Akin, who made up the bizarre term, "legitimate rape."  He claimed a woman can't possibly get pregnant from rape because her body will magically "shut the whole thing down."

Goodbye Richard Mourdock, who said, "pregnancy resulting from rape is a gift from god; part of god's will."

Goodbye Deadbeat Dad Joe Walsh, who openly mocked double amputee, American hero and veteran, Tammy Duckworth.

HELLO Senator Tammy Baldwin, Democrat from Wisconsin, and first openly gay US Senator! She beat far rightwinger Tommy Thompson for a seat in the US Senate.

HELLO Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts!

and WELCOME BACK Alan Grayson, temporarily out of the US House as a Democratic Representative from Florida, replaced for 2 years by a far rightwing Teabagger, who was just voted back in by a 2-1 margin.

And my US Representative, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is also the Chair of the DNC, beat Karen Harrington (R) -- her perennial challenger who never seems to learn that we don't want her -- by a 2-1 margin.

Bottom line is President Barack Obama won re-election with about 100 more electoral votes than Willard Romney received -- and that number will rise further when Florida's 29 points are added to the score. And the Democrats picked up seats in the House as well as the Senate.

FOUR states voted in favor of marriage equality: Washington state, Maine, Minn, and Maryland.

Americans sent a loud message: We will not accept  the rightwing's race-baiting tactics, the despicable, constant lying, voter suppression and false narratives of a "lack of enthusiasm" on the part of Democrats and Obama supporters.  Make it more difficult and we show up in HUGE numbers.

The Regressive republicans' disaster from this past Tuesday has led to on-air meltdowns and temper tantrums from Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump, The Quitter from Wasilla, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Karl Rove, who, in Right Wing World, is somehow allowed run one of the biggest political PACS while simultaneously acting as a "Fox contributor and analyst", sitting on their set and offering "analysis."

The tape of Karl's shock and disbelief at President Obama's re-election is now legendary, having been played on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and run endlessly on all of msnbc's shows. I myself have gleefully rewound and watched it countless times!

This stems from all of Fox's mouthpieces refusing to accept the results of every political poll for the last couple of months. They live in their own world, separate from reality. All polls have shown that in almost every swing state, President Obama led Willard by several points. The rightwing mouthpieces have spent these last couple of months talking themselves into believing that every poll in the country was wrong and that Willard would not only win, but would win big -- taking almost every swing state by storm.

And then reality came along and hit them in the face like a snowball you didn't see coming.

The clip below shows Karl in denial so classic that it will be shown in psychology classes for decades to come. The rightwing echo chamber has so talked itself into its own set of "facts" that reality just couldn't possibly be true! And thus the meltdown, where Karl insisted that Obama hadn't won.  If we could just wait for more results to come in, why, Willard would be the winner and Karl would be vindicated! He even sent one of their blonde reporters down to the Room of Political Geeks to find out why they had pronounced "the wrong guy" as the winner. She dutifully walks off the set down to the Geek Room and is told that the stats show Obama won. And they say they're "99.95% sure of the results"! Further, most of the votes that had yet to be counted would come from highly Democratic precincts.

 It was hilarious. Watch Rove steadfastly refuse to believe what his own network  -- as well as every other network -- has projected.  And he does it while the Chyron graphic under his fat face exclaims,  "BARACK OBAMA RE-ELECTED PRESIDENT."

Priceless.


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Rove wouldn't accept reality because he spent about $400,000,000 of his rich donors' money and got nothing for it. Billionaire Sheldon Adelson also spent hundreds of millions in the Regressive republicans' primary and then spent more on Willard's campaign and got nothing in return.  Think these nice folks are furious right about now? LOL

This is a good thing. It shows that despite the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling -- allowing unlimited funds to a candidate's political PAC by any unnamed entity, foreign or domestic -- the voters cannot be bought.  And they weren't.

Now, the Regressive republican party has a big problem. Their base -- angry middle aged white men -- is a diminishing demographic.  Unless they reach out to women, gays, blacks and hispanics, they will continue on the road to extinction.  And that doesn't mean trotting out Condoleezza Rice at another convention, as if to say, "See?  We have 'one of them,' too!" It means coming up with legislation that will actually benefit those groups.

The problem is if they reach out to women, gays, blacks and hispanics, they will lose their base of angry old christian white men, because that base just happens to hate all those groups.

And now we Liberals can sit back and watch the Republican Civil War begin.  I can tell you right now, they don't get it. They never will. Their mouthpieces have already spent the last few days screaming about -- and blaming -- Hurricane Sandy, Chris Christie (for complimenting the President's quick, effective response to the hurricane), Candy Crowley, fact checkers, the media, and the polls. But they won't blame themselves, their attitudes, or their regressive legislation.

Alec Baldwin summed it up perfectly with a humorous tweet:  You know your party's in trouble when someone asks, "how'd the rape guy do?" And you answer, "which one?"

UPDATE:

President Obama has won the state of Florida, bringing his Electoral College tally up to 332.  Willard Romney ended up with 206.

President Obama addresses his staff.


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Friday, November 2, 2012

US Economy Continues Forward Momentum

October's job numbers are out and it's good news: the final jobs report before Tuesday's election beat expectations, with 171,000 new private sector jobs created; the unemployment rate remains below 8% -- at 7.9%, up one tenth of a point from the big drop last month. This is actually good news: it means more people are joining the work force or are back in the job search. The government only counts people as unemployed if they are actively searching.

  • Unemployment benefit claims are down
  • Auto sales are rising
  • Home builders are increasing construction
  • Manufacturing is expanding
  • Gains in retail sales continue
  • Consumer confidence is at the highest level since a year before President Obama took office