Friday, October 24, 2014
Actually, it's pretty clear who is to blame for gun violence
Dan Carter is a state representative from Newtown Ct:
NAA is Newtown Action Alliance, an anti-gun group, and GAGV is Connecticut against Gun Violence. Of course they are equally to blame with the NRA for all these gun deaths. After all, if they would just agree to the reasonable solution to have more people carrying guns the shooting today would have ended differently. Sure, there probably would have been more deaths what with all the kids opening fire at the same time but it would have been different. And it's because of gun-grabbers that this didn't happen.
digby 10/24/2014 06:00:00 PM
Jebbie's out of touch
It's a little early for a Mistah Toldyah moment so I'm guessing Jeb's either tired, dumb or has no intention of running for president:
No stranger to taking on his party's most conservative voters, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) is now calling out the bastion of conservative media.
CNN's Peter Hamby reported that during a speech Thursday night at a South Carolina fundraiser, Bush "singled out Fox News" while expressing "annoyance with the polarizing fights and constant negativity of the political news media."
Bush reportedly said that he only watches Fox "for a few minutes a day before switching over to SportsCenter."
You cannot win the GOP nomination by dissing Fox News. In South Carolina. You just can't.
digby 10/24/2014 04:30:00 PM
The elephant in the room is very confused
Hmmm. What are the odds that all these killers are also "Islamic"?
Why, if I didn't know better I'd think that people are getting killed every day for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with religion at all.
And yes, this is a terrible day ...
digby 10/24/2014 02:30:00 PM
A short history of the Grand Bargain and why it's still biting us in the ass #2014 #ads
In the early delirious days of 2009, when liberals everywhere were streaming tears of joy at the end of the Bush reign and the beginning of a new era under President Obama, there were a few skunks at the garden party who noticed some bad news buried in all that hope and change. Before the inauguration the president-elect invited a number of Village luminaries to chat about his vision for his presidency. They were all awestruck by the wonderfulness of it all, particularly the idea of resolution to the thorniest budget disagreements and the health care crisis. It was big, it was sweeping and it transcended all that pesky partisanship that was ruining everything.
Here's how it came up in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on January 10th, 10 days before the inauguration:
I asked the president-elect, "At the end of the day, are you really talking about over the course of your campaign some kind of grand bargain? That you have tax reform, healthcare reform, entitlement reform including Social Security and Medicare, where everybody in the country is going to have to sacrifice something, accept change for the greater good?"
"Yes," Obama said.
"And when will that get done?" I asked.
"Well, right now, I’m focused on a pretty heavy lift, which is making sure we get that reinvestment and recovery package in place. But what you described is exactly what we’re going to have to do. What we have to do is to take a look at our structural deficit, how are we paying for government? What are we getting for it? And how do we make the system more efficient?"
"And eventually sacrifice from everyone?" I asked.
"Everybody’s going to have give. Everybody’s going to have to have some skin the game," Obama said.
E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post picked up the term Grand Bargain and elaborated on those plans on January 15th, 5 days before the inauguration:
Obama regularly offers three telltale notions that will define his presidency -- if events allow him to define it himself: "sacrifice," "grand bargain" and "sustainability."
To listen to Obama and his budget director Peter Orszag is to hear a tale of long-term fiscal woe. The government may have to spend and cut taxes in a big way now, but in the long run, the federal budget is unsustainable.
That's where sacrifice kicks in. There will be signs of it in Obama's first budget, in his efforts to contain health-care costs and, down the road, in his call for entitlement reform and limits on carbon emissions. His camp is selling the idea that if he wants authority for new initiatives and new spending, Obama will have to prove his willingness to cut some programs and reform others.
The "grand bargain" they are talking about is a mix and match of boldness and prudence. It involves expansive government where necessary, balanced by tough management, unpopular cuts -- and, yes, eventually some tax increases. Everyone, they say, will have to give up something.
Only such a balance, they argue, will win broad support for what Obama wants to do, and thus make his reforms "sustainable," the other magic word -- meaning that even Republicans, when they eventually get back to power, will choose not to reverse them.
Since the world was reeling in the wake of the financial crisis this seemed like a very odd discussion to be having at that moment. Unemployment was growing by the millions and they were talking about cutting spending and "sacrifice?" It was very disorienting, to say the least. Within days of taking office it was declared that the White House would host a so-called Fiscal Responsibility Summit:
Obama said that he has made clear to his advisers that some of the difficult choices--particularly in regards to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare - should be made on his watch. "We've kicked this can down the road and now we are at the end of the road," he said.
This plan to "make the difficult choices" on Social Security and Medicare was on the table from the very beginning as part of an overarching plan to "fix" the deficit and end all this needless bickering over the budget and taxes and "entitlements" once and for all. And once they got all that old business of the table the president would be able to do whatever he wanted. O rsomething like that.
We know what happened. The White House passed one element of its Grand Bargain which was health care reform. And that so inflamed the Republicans that it spelled the end of any hopes for his plans to "reform" entitlements and the tax code despite the fact that these were supposed to be the enticements offered to the right in the Grand Bargain. The president did everything he could to make good on his offer, putting Social Security cuts on the menu over and over again in budget negotiations and being rebuffed time and again by the Tea Partiers who came into office on the anti-Obamacare wave. They simply would not take yes for an answer.
There were some ominous signs of how all this was going to play politically as far back as 2010 when Republican PACs blanketed the nation with scary ads about the administration slashing Medicare. This one is a good example:
The truth was that there were some cuts to Medicare providers in the health care reforms. But after all the Palinesque demagoguery about death panels that fine point wasn't particularly salient.
And yes, the irony was thick. The party that had opposed Medicare from the moment it was conceived and which had long wanted to privatize the whole system was wringing its hands about cuts? Well, consistency isn't their strong suit. And they won a huge landslide at least partially due to a big turnout among elderly voters who'd been scared to death by this barrage of ads.
This did not stop the administration and many Democrats from continuing their Grand Bargain crusade. The President had convened the Simpson-Bowles commission to tie it all together for one big budget agreement and it twisted everyone in the capitol up in knots. The liberals and the conservatives on the commission couldn't bring themselves to sign on so the two Chairmen decided to release the report anyway and everyone pretended that it was some sort of official document. It included cuts to defense (which the president rejected) and cuts to the "entitlements" and all sorts of tax "reforms" (which, since this plan was supposed to reduce the deficit, inexplicably were "revenue neutral.")
This remained a baseline for budget negotiations going forward culminating in austerity budgets in 2011 and 2012 (you all remember "the sequester", right?) which crippled needed domestic programs. But even as the Democratic leadership and the White House nearly begged them to accept the cuts to Social Security and veterans benefits that their nifty accounting trick known as the Chained-CPI would bring, those Tea Partiers refused.
Dumb as foxes they were. Who could have ever predicted this?
Cutting federal health and retirement spending has long been at the top of the GOP agenda. But with Republicans in striking distance of winning the Senate, they are suddenly blasting the idea of trimming Social Security benefits.
Here's one of them:
The latest attack came in Georgia, where the National Republican Campaign Committee posted an ad last week accusing Rep. John Barrow (D) of “leaving Georgia seniors behind” by supporting “a plan that would raise the retirement age to 69 while cutting Social Security benefits.”
Crossroads GPS, the conservative nonprofit group founded by GOP strategist Karl Rove, has run similar ads against North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan (D), Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor (D) and Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.). Crossroads accused Hagan of supporting a “controversial plan” that “raises the retirement age.”
Pryor’s opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton, meanwhile, is one of at least three Republican candidates in competitive Senate races who have released cheery ads promising to protect Social Security. In Colorado, Rep. Cory Gardner (R) appears in a new ad with his “Grandma Betty” and vows to “honor every penny we promised today’s seniors” — a pledge that seems to conflict with demands by Republican congressional leaders for a less-generous inflation formula to calculate seniors’ cost-of-living increases.
Older voters typically dominate the electorate in non-presidential years, so the resort to Social Security as an issue in the Nov. 4 midterms is hardly surprising. But what has drawn attention – and charges of hypocrisy – is the decision by Republican groups to attack Democrats for supporting conservative ideas in a proposed “grand bargain” on the budget drafted by Democrat Erskine Bowles and former Republican senator Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming.
This was, of course, predicted by every single critic of the Grand Bargain over the years. And needless to say, it was predicted by the last mid-term which offered up similar accusations about Medicare.
It was always bizarre that a Democratic president would believe that an epic economic downturn was a good time to worry about deficits and try to strike a bargain to cut the Party's signature
domestic economic achievement --- an achievement which had lifted massive numbers of people out of poverty. It was conceived as a "go to China" moment in which only a Democrat could cut Social Security without being demagogued by Democrats. Apparently it didn't occur to these visionaries that the Republicans were increasingly dependent on the elderly for votes and would be happy to demagogue the Democrats instead. Certainly no one should have depended on their honesty and integrity.
There have been few more misguided initiatives than the relentless pursuit of a Grand Bargain during the president's first term. And the Party continues to pay a price for that mistake. Fortunately for the Democrats no bargain was actually struck and a light is now shining on the inequities in the funding stream for the programs and a new approach is slowly being accepted as the new agenda: raise the cap on social security taxes and raise benefits.
If the Party puts that in its platform and really gets behind it, it might even win back the support of the elderly. And then the GOP will have a real problem on its hands.
digby 10/24/2014 12:00:00 PM
Is Mitt Romney a criminal "ballot harvester"?
I wrote about this Arizona idiocy the other day in Salon. Wonkette catches the Republicans doing exactly the same thing ("ballot harvesting") as the Democrats:
The real difference is that the people who will be voting and collecting the ballots at the Romney event are Real Americans and thus above reproach. That fellow in the white t-shirt looks an awful lot like an "illegal" to me. And when you look like and "illegal" you can't be handling ballots. Obviously.
digby 10/24/2014 10:30:00 AM
When the 2nd Amendment nullifies the 1st
I've been writing for quite a while about how the gun proliferation movement was essentially nullifying everyone elses freedoms. You might recall the final graph of this piece of mine at Salon which got a whole lot of comments:
All of this is allegedly being done to protect our freedoms. But it’s only the “freedom” of the person wearing a firearm that matters. Those parents who want their kids to feel safe in a public park aren’t free to tell a man waving a gun around to leave them alone, are they? Patrons and employees of Starbucks aren’t free to express their opinion of open carry laws when one of these demonstrations are taking place in the store. Those Jack in the Box employees aren’t free to refuse service to armed customers. Sure, they are all theoretically free to do those things. It’s their constitutional right just like it’s the constitutional right of these people to carry a gun. But in the real world, sane people do not confront armed men and women. They don’t argue with them over politics. They certainly do not put their kids in harm’s way in order to make a point. So when it comes right down to it, when you are in the presence of one of these armed citizens, you don’t really have any rights at all.
You can see why they think that’s freedom. It is. For them. The rest of us just have to be very polite, keep our voices down and back away very slowly, saying, “Yes sir, whatever you say, sir,” and let them have their way.
Check out this piece by Harold Meyerson at the American Prospect in which he talks about the video game critic Anita Sarkeesian having to cancel a speech because of gun laws:
The day before her speech, university administrators received an e-mail warning that a shooting massacre would take place should Sarkeesian go ahead with her speech. “This will be the deadliest shooting in American history,” the message read, “and I’m giving you a chance to stop it.” The e-mail’s author signed with the name Marc Lepine, who, the Times explained, was “a person who killed 14 women in a mass shooting in Montreal in 1989 before taking his own life.”
When administrators told Sarkeesian that Utah law explicitly forbade them from having the campus police stop people with guns from attending her talk, Sarkeesian had little choice but to cancel.
But my interest here isn’t in gamer culture, but rather in the almost incomprehensibly idiotic Utah gun law that keeps police from barring gun-toters from attending events where a gun massacre has been threatened.
I don't think there even has to be a direct threat for speech to be chilled by this. Those Moms against Guns rallies where people show up and lurk around with their AR-15s were plenty intimidating without having to say a word. Telling someone who is armed to leave your place of business is an inherently more dicey proposition than one who is unarmed. In fact, dealing with people who are carrying guns is entirely different than dealing with one who is not. That's great for the person with a gun. Not so good for everyone else. But that's the point.
As Meyerson says:
The problem with the kind of Second Amendment absolutism stoked by the NRA and made into law by legislators and judges is that gun rights taken to extremes inherently imperil other rights. The raisons d’être of guns not used for hunting are self-defense and intimidation. A society where guns are unregulated and the threat of gun violence cannot be legally checked is a society where intimidation becomes the norm and freedom of speech can be easily abridged.
The Constitution is not frictionless machine in which all the parts move harmoniously together. Some of the rights it guarantees collide with other rights it guarantees. The elevation of the Second Amendment into a super-right has now diminished others—including those that the founders quite deliberately put first.
That's the idea.
digby 10/24/2014 09:00:00 AM
What’s a plutocrat to do?
by Tom Sullivan
"We're not a democracy, we're a republic," friends on the right will cheerfully correct when a Democrat refers to this country as a democracy. It's true -- a true fact, if you hew to the right -- but that's not why they're so adamant about it. For some reason, Republicans just like the sound of republic better.
But they also don't really like the idea of democracy itself. It's a plutocrat thing, Paul Krugman writes, quoting Leung Chun-ying, the leader of Hong Kong, on why full democracy there would be a bad idea: “You would be talking to half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month. Then you would end up with that kind of politics and policies.” Plutocrats worldwide (and their sycophants) really hate the idea of having to share power with people they consider inferiors. Recall Mitt Romney's 47% and the makers-takers narrative? Krugman does too:
For the political right has always been uncomfortable with democracy. No matter how well conservatives do in elections, no matter how thoroughly free-market ideology dominates discourse, there is always an undercurrent of fear that the great unwashed will vote in left-wingers who will tax the rich, hand out largess to the poor, and destroy the economy.
In fact, the very success of the conservative agenda only intensifies this fear. Many on the right — and I’m not just talking about people listening to Rush Limbaugh; I’m talking about members of the political elite — live, at least part of the time, in an alternative universe in which America has spent the past few decades marching rapidly down the road to serfdom. Never mind the new Gilded Age that tax cuts and financial deregulation have created; they’re reading books with titles like “A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic,” asserting that the big problem we have is runaway redistribution.
"So what’s a plutocrat to do?" Krugman asks. Since they can't come straight out and say only the wealthy should have the franchise, they resort to propaganda about voter fraud, etc.
As I wrote at my home blog, they find the whole notion of government of, by, and for the people very, very inefficient.
At the end of the Revolutionary War, there were an estimated half million Tories in this country. Royalists by temperament, loyal to the King and England, predisposed to government by hereditary royalty and landed nobility, men dedicated to the proposition that all men are not created equal.
After the Treaty of Paris, you know where they went? Nowhere. A few moved back to England, or to Florida or to Canada. But most stayed right here.
Take a look around. Their progeny are still with us among the one percent and their vassals. Spouting adolescent tripe from Ayn Rand, kissing up, kicking down, chasing their masters’ carriages or haughtily looking down their noses at people they consider inferiors.
Undercover Blue 10/24/2014 07:30:00 AM
Thursday, October 23, 2014
A beating for turnstile jumping
Because we just can't have that. This one got a little messy:
A video surfaced Thursday showing an undercover New York City police officer kicking a fellow officer in the head, apparently mistaking him for a suspect.
The news website DNAinfo New York published the video of a January confrontation that started with two transit cops and a man who allegedly tried to skip a fare at a subway station in Coney Island.
The suspect appeared in to physically struggle as they tackled him to the ground and attempted to cuff his hands.
Almost immediately, several uniformed officers streamed from the subway entrance, with what DNAinfo described as an undercover cop tagging along.
The plainclothes officer appeared to mistake one of his fellow officers on the floor for the suspect and kicked him in the head. A loud thump is heard on the tape.
"He kicked the cop," a nearby bystander could be heard saying on the video.
The officer appeared to have realized his mistake soon after. He rubbed the head of his colleague and then grabbed hold of the suspect and punched him.
Well that's good. It would have been a dereliction of duty not to get that extra punch in.
You can see the video at the link. I especially love that fact that the plainclothes cop has a handgun just casually tucked into the back of his pants while he's rolling around in a pile of people without knowing who is the perp and who are the cops. Looks like excellent professional policing there.
digby 10/23/2014 04:30:00 PM
He knows good propaganda when he sees it
There was a name for this back in the good old days: Useful Idiot
An ad from Republican Arkansas Senate candidate Tom Cotton about his military experience and national security issues uses footage from an ISIS propaganda video as B-roll.
Cotton’s ad, “Decisions,” which came out on Oct. 13, highlights the “tough decisions” Cotton would have to make as a senator about ISIS, the militant group that controls parts of Syria and Iraq, and cites Cotton’s work as an Army Ranger.
The ad about ISIS uses footage directly from the group — a 55-minute long ISIS video, “Flames of War,” which was professionally made and features graphic content that includes a mass execution of a group of men who fall into a ditch.
“In the Middle East, radical terrorists are on the march, destabilizing our allies, beheading Americans, and crucifying Christians,” says Cotton in the ad. “President Obama admits he underestimated them. We need a senator who will hold the president accountable and make America safer. I made tough decisions as an Army Ranger in Iraq. I’ll make them again as your senator.”
Well that's certainly helpful to the cause. The question is, which one? It's hard to see how it hurts the cause of ISIS, that's for sure. They must be pleased as punch to have their handiwork on American television. After all, they went to a lot of trouble to produce it with slick production values. The least we can do is give it some airtime.
digby 10/23/2014 03:00:00 PM
This is why people have no respect for rich people
They don't even try to hide their selfishness:
I live in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country, but on one of the more “modest” streets—mostly doctors and lawyers and family business owners. (A few blocks away are billionaires, families with famous last names, media moguls, etc.) I have noticed that on Halloween, what seems like 75 percent of the trick-or-treaters are clearly not from this neighborhood. Kids arrive in overflowing cars from less fortunate areas. I feel this is inappropriate. Halloween isn’t a social service or a charity in which I have to buy candy for less fortunate children. Obviously this makes me feel like a terrible person, because what’s the big deal about making less fortunate kids happy on a holiday? But it just bugs me, because we already pay more than enough taxes toward actual social services. Should Halloween be a neighborhood activity, or is it legitimately a free-for-all in which people hunt down the best candy grounds for their kids?
—Halloween for the 99 Percent
You ARE a terrible person and if there is such a thing as karma you will get yours.
Prudence basically said the same thing but she was nicer about it.
digby 10/23/2014 01:30:00 PM
Have you heard of "ballot harvesting"? You will.
My piece at Salon this morning is about another hysterical "vote fraud" pseudo-scandal, this time from Arizona. I recount some of Arizona's Greatest Vote Suppression hits first and then:
Operation Eagle Eye may have faded but the vote suppression activities continue in Arizona just as they continue all over the nation. And like everywhere else, the modern approach is to hysterically accuse Democrats of committing “voter fraud” and creating an illusion that perfectly legal election practices constitute corruption of our electoral system. As everyone undoubtedly knows by now, this specious misdirection has led to onerous Voter ID laws throughout the nation which are making it very difficult for some people to vote.
But now that they’ve achieved this victory, it’s time to move on to the next step. And if the hysterical reaction from the conservative press is any example, a ridiculous story out of Arizona this week may clue us in to one of the next steps.
Back in 2013, the Republican-dominated Arizona Legislature passed a draconian vote suppression law which, among other things, would have made it illegal for anyone to collect an early voting ballot from another person and deliver it to the registrar’s office. This had been considered a crucial method of getting out the vote in the recall of resident kook Russell Pearce and was understood to be a threat to Republicans in the state. As it happened there was enough of an outcry that the Legislature repealed the measure this past February.
Nevertheless, in the muddled minds of Republicans this is now understood to be a method of “ballot box stuffing,” which is how they characterized an incident that was reported from Maricopa County.
Read on for the details. You won't believe it.
Make a note of the term "ballot harvesting." I have a feeling this isn't the last time we'll hear of it.
digby 10/23/2014 12:30:00 PM
In fact, they are the Real America, the rest of us are foreigners
I cannot count the ways in which this (from 2013) is idiotic:
Plans by a heritage group, the Virginia Flaggers, to erect a large Confederate flag on a major road outside Richmond has drawn considerable fire from critics who say it's a symbol of hate.
Here's an All-American idea for you: you lost.
That's not true, says Barry Isenhour, a member of the group, who says it's really about honouring the Confederate soldiers who gave their lives. For him, the war was not primarily about slavery but standing up to being over-taxed, and he says many southerners abhorred slavery.
"They fought for the family and fought for the state. We are tired of people saying they did something wrong. They were freedom-loving Americans who stood up to the tyranny of the North. They seceded from the US government not from the American idea."
Somebody should ask him about this:
"The flag wasn't a major symbol until the Civil Rights movement began to take shape in the 1950s," says Bill Ferris, founding director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, "it was a battle flag relegated to history but the Ku Klux Klan and others who resisted desegregation turned to the flag as a symbol."
digby 10/23/2014 11:00:00 AM
Hope and change Rand Paul style
So Rand Paul is going to give a big foreign policy speech tonight which is being characterized as being "to the left" of the liberals in the Democratic Party, which is very interesting. One can only wonder who his constituency for such a thing might be. It certainly makes you wonder which Republicans he plans to convince to vote for him.
He will, of course, attack Obama for many things, some of which will undoubtedly be right. (The foreign policy consensus in both parties is certainly ripe for criticism.) He is going to quote Malala and sound very attractively dovish. But here's what it comes own to:
“Here’s how I see the most important principles that should drive America’s foreign policy,” Paul will tell the crowd. “First, the use of force is and always has been an indispensable part of defending our country… A second principle is that Congress… must authorize the decision to intervene… A third principle is the belief that peace and security require a commitment to diplomacy and leadership,” and last, “we are only as strong as our economy.”
Paul then attempts to outline when, exactly, he believes force is justified: “War is necessary when America is attacked or threatened, when vital American interests are attacked and threatened, and when we have exhausted all other measures short of war.”
Granted, that's probably more dovish than you're going to hear from Rick Perry who sounds like he'd ready to round up Muslims all over the world and put them in FEMA camps. But revolutionary? Not exactly. That's got so much daylight in it that the National Security State apparatus can drive a B-52 through it.
Seriously, what about this statement in any way represents a change from Bush, Clinton, Reagan, Obama or any other post WWII president?
War is necessary when America is attacked or threatened, when vital American interests are attacked and threatened, and when we have exhausted all other measures short of war
I'm sure there will be a few lefties who'll be taken with this. But I'm much more interested in what the Republicans will say. Should be a fascinating primary.
digby 10/23/2014 09:00:00 AM
Koch allies court NC stoners
by Tom Sullivan
Last night a colleague forwarded an email she received from an NC friend:
I was watching the Good Wife on Hulu Plus last night, and this ad with a couple of attractive young people talking about how cool it is that Sean Haugh wants to legalize marijuana. When it came up a few minutes later, I realized it couldn't be for real, and I searched it on the internet, and yes, it's the Kochs trying to pull votes away from Kay Hagan.
It is one of a series of 10 commercials that "came as a complete surprise" to Haugh. Whatever you are hearing from pollsters about the senate race in North Carolina, yes, Thom Tillis' backers are just that desperate. Matt Phillippi at PoliticsNC:
Like many Americans I got rid of cable several years ago and now get a lot of my TV from streaming internet services. I was watching Hulu last night, and saw not one, but two different ad spots supporting Libertarian candidate Sean Haugh. This is odd in itself, because political campaigns rarely advertise there (with the exception of the President in 2012). The ads looked very homespun, and only really got my attention because the message of the first one was “Get Haugh, Get High” with young people holding up pictures of marijuana while wearing tie-dyes and Bob Marley T-Shirts, which seemed a little outlandish even for a Libertarian candidate. The second ad positioned Haugh as the anti-war candidate, and labeled Hagan as a “War Monger” literally labeled, right over her picture. That was when I read the ‘paid for’ tags on the bottom of the ad.
The ads were paid for by the American Futures Fund, a 501(c)4 organization started in 2008 by several members of Mitt Romney’s first presidential primary campaign staff. The organization claims to promote “Conservative, free-market ideals.” In reality the organization spends the majority of its money attacking Democratic candidates. According to Opensecrets.org, during the 2013-2014 cycle, AFF has spent 84% of its money attacking Democratic candidates and 16% supporting Republicans (scroll down on that link for a nice graph illustrating this).
Hagan laughed when I told her on Saturday that Thom Tillis was her best campaigner. Tillis' backers apparently think so too if they are down to this Hail Mary play in an attempt to draw votes away from Hagan.
Early voting gets under way in North Carolina this morning.
Undercover Blue 10/23/2014 07:30:00 AM
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
That Film About Money
A friend of mine, James Schamus, spent his summer vacation making two hilarious, brilliant, and deeply unsettling films about the bizarre subject of modern money. They are not to be missed:
That Film About Money, Episode 6 of We The Economy
The Second Part of That Film About Money, Episode 7 of We The Economy
Much about our very weird country is revealed in the process. Enjoy (if that's the word)!
tristero 10/22/2014 07:30:00 PM
Emperor Keith and his very odd trades
This certainly stinks to high heaven
At the same time that he was running the United States' biggest intelligence-gathering organization, former National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander owned and sold shares in commodities linked to China and Russia, two countries that the NSA was spying on heavily.
At the time, Alexander was a three-star general whose financial portfolio otherwise consisted almost entirely of run-of-the-mill mutual funds and a handful of technology stocks. Why he was engaged in commodities trades, including trades in one market that experts describe as being run by an opaque "cartel" that can befuddle even experienced professionals, remains unclear. When contacted, Alexander had no comment about his financial transactions, which are documented in recently released financial disclosure forms that he was required to file while in government. The NSA also had no comment.
I don't know what went on, but this certainly looks odd:
On Jan. 7, 2008, Alexander sold previously purchased shares in the Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, a Canadian firm that mines potash, a mineral typically used in fertilizer. The potash market is largely controlled by companies in Canada, as well as in Belarus and Russia. And China was, and is, one of the biggest consumers of the substance, using it to expand the country's agricultural sector and produce higher crop yields.
"It's a market that's really odd, involving collusion, where companies essentially coordinate on prices and output," said Craig Pirrong, a finance professor and commodities expert at the University of Houston's Bauer College of Business.
"Strange things happen in the potash market. It's a closed market. Whenever you have Russians and Chinese being big players, a lot of stuff goes on in the shadows."
"Strange things happen in the potash market. It's a closed market. Whenever you have Russians and Chinese being big players, a lot of stuff goes on in the shadows."
On the same day he sold the potash company shares, Alexander also sold shares in the Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd., a state-owned company headquartered in Beijing and currently the world's second-largest producer of aluminum. U.S. government investigators have indicated that the company, known as Chinalco, has received insider information about its American competitors from computer hackers working for the Chinese military. That hacker group has been under NSA surveillance for years, and the Justice Department in May indicted five of its members.
The government raised no red flags and he doesn't appear to have made a bunch of money. But read the whole article to see just how bizarre these trades were.
U.S. officials have long insisted that the information that intelligence agencies steal from foreign corporations and governments is only used to make political and strategic decisions and isn't shared with U.S. companies. But whether that spying could benefit individual U.S. officials who are privy to the secrets being collected, and what mechanisms are in place to ensure officials don't personally benefit from insider knowledge, haven't been widely discussed...
Alexander has a history of conflict of interest problems. He wants to patent an "invention" based upon knowledge gleaned from his time at the NSA. The taxpayers apparently aren't entitled to anything except the knowledge that people like Keith Alexander have had access to all their personal information. And then there's this one from just this week:
In an employment deal that prompted an internal investigation at the NSA and inquiries from Capitol Hill, Alexander arranged for the agency's chief technology officer, Patrick Dowd, to work part time for a new cybersecurity consulting firm that Alexander started this year after leaving the NSA and retiring from the Army with a fourth star. Experts said the public-private setup was highly unusual and possibly unprecedented.
Reuters revealed the arrangement last week, and on Tuesday, Oct. 21, with pressure building from lawmakers to investigate, Alexander said that he was severing the relationship with Dowd. "While we understand we did everything right, I think there's still enough issues out there that create problems for Dr. Dowd, for NSA, for my company," Alexander told Reuters when explaining why he scuttled the deal. Alexander's company, IronNet Cybersecurity, is based in Washington, and he has said he might charge clients as much as $1 million per month for his expertise and insights into cybersecurity.
A little reminder about Alexander:
“We jokingly referred to him as Emperor Alexander—with good cause, because whatever Keith wants, Keith gets,” says one former senior CIA official who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity. “We would sit back literally in awe of what he was able to get from Congress, from the White House, and at the expense of everybody else.”
Now why do you suppose that was?
Remember, this was the guy who was running around accusing journalists of "selling secrets" because they were paid by the newspapers that printed the stories they wrote. Yes, he really said that.
digby 10/22/2014 06:00:00 PM
US vs Canada:
How embarrassing ....
digby 10/22/2014 04:30:00 PM
QOTD: Larry Klayman
This one really takes the cake:
Does anyone doubt that former Alabama Gov. George Wallace was a racist, after he banned blacks from attending the state’s university in the 1960s? So too can anyone refute that Obama’s not even temporarily banning West Africans from entering the United States is also as least de facto racism, as this high risk caper puts whites and others at risk at the expense of not even temporarily “inconveniencing” his fellow Africans. Wallace and Obama are both despicable and both to be condemned to the trash heap of history for their actions.
Just ... wow. I like how the alleged caper puts white and others at risk. What others do you suppose he's talking about? I guess that dumb old Obama didn't think about that did he?
digby 10/22/2014 03:00:00 PM
Can you have a democracy when the government spies on the press?
Steve Coll of the New Yorker (and dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of journalism) writes about the threat to the freedom of the press posed by government incursion on our privacy through technology. He's moved to do it by his viewing of Laura Poitras' "Citizen Four" about the Edward Snowden story, in which it's revealed just how thoroughly the government has infiltrated all of our communications systems:
In fashioning balanced practices for reporters, it is critical to ask how often and in what ways governments—ours and others—systematically target journalists’ communications in intelligence collection. For all his varied revelations about surveillance, this is an area where Snowden’s files have been less than definitive. It seems safe to assume the worst, but, as for the American government’s practices, there are large gaps in our understanding. White House executive orders, the Patriot Act, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act might all be grounds for targeting journalists for certain kinds of collection. Yet the government has never disclosed its policies, or the history of its actual practices following the September 11th attacks. (For a chilling sense of how vulnerable a journalist’s data would be if targeted by sophisticated surveillance, read “Dragnet Nation,” by Julia Angwin, an investigative reporter, formerly at the Wall Street Journal and now at ProPublica.)
In September, the Reporters Committee on Freedom of the Press and more than two dozen media organizations asked the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent federal body, to look into these questions and report their findings publicly. “National security surveillance programs must not be used to circumvent important substantive and procedural protections belonging to journalists and their source,” their letter said. “Sufficient details about these programs must be disclosed to the public so that journalists and sources are better informed about the collection and use of their communications.”
From a working journalist’s perspective, the Edward Snowdens of this world come around about as often as Halley’s Comet. It is not possible to report effectively and routinely while operating as though every communication must be segregated in a compartment within a compartment. The question of what constitutes best practices is a work in progress, as is the protection of personal privacy more broadly.
Maybe you don't think that it's important that journalists get these stories in which case you probably think it's just fine that the government is not only spying on them it is intimidating them with threats of legal action. (Indeed, this administration has taken these threats to unprecedented levels --- even as the Attorney General continues to say that they are not ...) But if you are a journalist and you defend this behavior it's very hard to see why you chose that career. This really doesn't strike me as that complicated of a question.
Coll sounds eminently reasonable to me. Why are so many other reporters so complacent about this? Or worse, why are they actively hostile to people who are trying to tell these difficult stories simply because they are offended by their "tone" or their personalities? How can we possibly believe what they tell us?
digby 10/22/2014 01:30:00 PM
A platform for cranks
Yes, I'm talking about George Will and Fox News:
As of this writing, the number of patients diagnosed with Ebola in the United States can be counted on one hand, and the number who have died on one finger. The dozens of people who were in close contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who was the index case in this country, have had their quarantine lifted, not having contracted the illness despite breathing the same air as he had. There is no evidence that airborne Ebola exists anywhere outside of fear-mongering headlines. Yet despite this, Will was happy to insinuate otherwise on a network that gets upward of 2 millions viewers every day.
Later in the same segment, Will went on to say “We’re getting used to people declaring scientific debates closed over and settled. They rarely are.” But there is no “debate” in this case. There is no indication that Ebola is spreading through the air, and no controversy within the infectious-disease community about it doing so. Will’s reckless implications to the contrary, in order for there to be a scientific debate there has to be some kind of disagreement about the evidence at hand, not merely the idle speculation of a pundit using up his airtime.
This kind of irresponsible running of the mouth is precisely how medical conspiracies start. Someone with the air of authority is given a platform with which they undermine the integrity of people who have dedicated their lives to public health, and their idiotic or downright dangerous ideas take hold and spread.
It's always possible that Ebola could mutate into something it currently is not. But there's no evidence of that happening and Will's reckless bow-tied fearmongering just interferes with the epidemiologists' ability to contain the virus that does exist. They absolutely must be able to trace contacts and that requires delivering calm and deliberate information to the public.
He used to be sensible on the subject of science. (You'll recall that he's also a famous climate change denier.) Why he once even declared that evolution is "a fact." It's hard to know what's happened to Will lately but perhaps it's something in the water at Fox News. He's become much more of a crackpot since he joined them. And that's saying something.
digby 10/22/2014 12:00:00 PM
Willie Horton will never die
My Salon piece today is about the re-emergence of the GOP "law and order" campaign in this election cycle:
Every election season brings at least a few think pieces about the notorious Willie Horton ad and what it meant to American politics. This is a good thing to the extent that it reminds people of just how racist the whole “law and order” campaign that animated U.S. politics from the time of the civil rights movement on really is. In fact, take a look at it again just to remind yourself of the bad old days:
Infamous GOP strategist Lee Atwater saw that ad and declared he was going to make Willie Horton Michael Dukakis’ running mate. This was a perfect example of his contention that Republicans would need to make their pitch a lot more abstract than just running around screaming the N-word. The law and order campaigns did that by pointing at the “killer, killer, killer” — with a black face.
If you haven't seen this year's version, here it is:
I discuss the history of various racist appeals over the years and how certain current politicians (Ted Cruz for instance) laud the leaders of the past who used them.
After I filed that piece I came across this, which may explain why the fear campaigns include these moldy old racist tropes. It's a survey of what people are afraid of. The list is fairly mundane, but this was interesting:
Turning to the crime section of the Chapman Survey on American Fears, the team discovered findings that not only surprised them, but also those who work in fields pertaining to crime.
This irrationality distorts our politics in a way that favors the conservatives who are more than happy to pimp the "law and order" trope and tickle the racist lizard brains of their followers. As you can see, they're doing it in this race already. Combined with the terrorism fear fest they're aiming at women which I discussed yesterday the GOP strategy is pretty clear: same as it ever was --- "they're comin' tah git yah!"
"What we found when we asked a series of questions pertaining to fears of various crimes is that a majority of Americans not only fear crimes such as, child abduction, gang violence, sexual assaults and others; but they also believe these crimes (and others) have increased over the past 20 years," said Dr. Edward Day who led this portion of the research and analysis. "When we looked at statistical data from police and FBI records, it showed crime has actually decreased in America in the past 20 years. Criminologists often get angry responses when we try to tell people the crime rate has gone down."
Despite evidence to the contrary, Americans do not feel like the United States is becoming a safer place. The Chapman Survey on American Fears asked how they think prevalence of several crimes today compare with 20 years ago. In all cases, the clear majority of respondents were pessimistic; and in all cases Americans believe crime has at least remained steady. Crimes specifically asked about were: child abduction, gang violence, human trafficking, mass riots, pedophilia, school shootings, serial killing and sexual assault.
digby 10/22/2014 10:30:00 AM
Taking a break to cash in their winnings
Bowl me over with a feather:
Sensing a GOP majority in the Senate is within reach, conservative groups have put down their bombs and are working together with establishment actors to make that happen — even backing formerly sworn enemies in some races.
Bless their hearts.
In New Hampshire, Tea Party Patriots (TPP) has launched a ground effort to help elect Republican Scott Brown, who has drawn the ire of conservatives for backing stricter gun control in some cases. In North Carolina, TPP and others are actively supporting Republican Thom Tillis, who was far from being the conservative pick in his primary. He faces Sen. Kay Hagan (D).
The Tea Party Express (TPE) is now actively backing Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) — little liked among Tea Partyers — and former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds (R), for Senate.
At the very least, Tea Partyers are showing a willingness to “hold their nose and vote,” as FreedomWorks Executive Vice President Adam Brandon put it, because of the understanding that a Republican-controlled Senate with some impurities is better than nothing at all.
“Our members have told us that right now, having a Republican-controlled Senate and firing [Majority Leader] Harry Reid (D-Nev.) are their top priority,” Jenny Beth Martin, TPP president, told The Hill.
It’s a stunning reversal from early on in the cycle, when establishment actors were gearing up for what was expected to be a fierce fight with Tea Partyers in a number of primaries nationwide. But despite promising a fierce battle, an establishment bloodbath never materialized, and Tea Party groups failed to knock off a single incumbent senator this cycle.
While some establishment Republicans have privately declared victory over the Tea Party, some right wing activists say the willingness to work with these groups and candidates doesn’t suggest Tea Partyers have been cowed by those defeats. As TPE founder Sal Russo put it, Tea Partyers are simply waking up to the fact that electoral politics requires a willingness to accept impurities within the Republican Party.
I cut the opening sentence in that piece because it was exactly backwards:
Tea Partyers have learned to play nice after a cycle of knockdown, drag-out fights with the Republican establishment that have gotten them nowhere.
So untrue. They have achieved more than they could have ever dreamed back in 2010 when they began their crusade. Now they want to consolidate power. Does the political establishment (as exemplified by The Hill) believe that this means the conservative movement has "learned its lesson" and now it will be willing to "work across the aisle" like Tipnronnie? I'm afraid they do. And that's just silly. If they take control of the Senate they are going to expect total obstruction. They haven't changed their goals.
I wish the Villagers could accept the fact that these people actually believe what say they believe. (As do liberals, by the way.) If they've temporarily tempered their tactics for strategic reasons it doesn't mean they are turning into moderates. They still want the same things. And they aren't going to be happy if they don't get it.Right now that's fairly easy to deliver: obstruction. But that's not going to be enough forever.
It's going to be interesting to see if this alleged pragmatism will continue to the presidential cycle. I'd be surprised if it does. More likely they will want a true believer like Ted Cruz but you never know. Maybe the long awaited Christie Comeback is in the cards after all ... Stay tuned.
Update: Oh, and by the way one has to wonder what their patrons the Koch Brothers are thinking about all this. I suspect they are good with it. Their goal was to take over the Republican Party to achieve their agenda. I think they're probably pretty happy with how that's going.
digby 10/22/2014 09:00:00 AM
by Tom Sullivan
“Super seals” are not the navy's newest secret weapon, but they are double super-secret:
For your “I can’t believe this stuff happens in America” files:
Calling their conduct “constitutionally abhorrent,” a federal judge recently chided government prosecutors for working in secret to keep millions of dollars in cash and assets seized from a Las Vegas gambler and his family in a decadelong bookmaking investigation.
In his 31-page opinion, U.S. Magistrate Judge Cam Ferenbach cast light on the little-known court process that allowed the government to file civil forfeiture actions against Glen Cobb, his 82-year-old parents and his stepdaughter under “super seal” with no notice to anyone — not even the family it targeted.
The documents remain sealed in the court's vault and not logged into any public database —
secret from both the public and affected parties:
“This is unacceptable,” Ferenbach wrote in court papers only recently made public. “Relying on various sealed and super-sealed filings, the government asks the court to rule against private citizens, allow the deprivation of their property and deny them a process to redress possible violations of their constitutional rights through a secret government action that provides no notice or opportunity to be heard.
“Saying that this would offend the Constitution is an understatement. It is constitutionally abhorrent.”
Civil-asset forfeiture laws sanction "official thievery," as Digby put it, "yet another symptom of a justice system that is corrupt and unaccountable." I first ran across the practice on 60 Minutes in the early 1990s, and can't believe it still continues. (Maybe it's the secrecy?) Victims face a "Kafkaesque world" of litigation, attorneys fees, bankruptcy, and blacklisting. The icing on the cake? Hiding the seizures from the public via a "super seal."
Welcome to the land of the free, y'all. Star chambers and stripes forever.
Undercover Blue 10/22/2014 07:30:00 AM
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Just leak it already
I'm hearing lots of pathetic spinning about Laura Poitras' documentary an James Risens' new book as people try to dance on the head of a pin to exonerate the Obama administration's full capitulation to the security state. But this puts the lie to that spin if nothing else does:
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough is personally negotiating how much of the Senate's so-called torture report, a probe into the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program, will be redacted, according to sources involved in the negotiations.
McDonough's leading role in the redaction discussion has raised eyebrows in the Senate, given that his position comes with a broad array of urgent responsibilities and that the Obama White House has a team of qualified national security advisers.
Despite the White House’s public reluctance to get involved in the widely aired spat between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee over the report, McDonough’s role suggests that the Oval Office sees the feud as a high-stakes one.
The White House confirmed McDonough’s involvement in the negotiations, but would not discuss the extent of it.
“We’re not going to get into the details of our discussions, but White House officials, including Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, are in regular touch with [Intelligence Committee] leadership on a variety of matters, including to discuss the committee’s review of the Bush Administration’s rendition, detention and interrogation program, in an effort to help ensure the executive summary is completed and declassified consistent with national security interests,” said National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan.
Sources involved in the discussions also said McDonough's involvement has gone beyond negotiating redactions. During the last weeks of July, the intelligence community was bracing itself for the release of the Senate investigation's executive summary, which is expected to be damning in its findings against the CIA. The report was due to be returned to the Senate panel after undergoing an extensive declassification review, and its public release seemed imminent.
Over the span of just a few days, McDonough, who makes infrequent trips down Pennsylvania Avenue, was a regular fixture, according to people with knowledge of his visits. Sources said he pleaded with key Senate figures not to go after CIA Director John Brennan in the expected furor that would follow the release of the report’s 500-page executive summary.
The White House said the purpose of the trips was to negotiate the terms of the report's release, not specifically to defend the CIA head. "The Chief of Staff's agenda was about how we could work together to meet the President’s desire to ensure the executive summary is completed and declassified consistent with national security interests, so that we can shed light on this program and make sure it is never repeated. These were not discussions about Director Brennan," Meehan said.
McDonough's personal involvement in the decisions around which parts of the torture report to redact illustrates how in the national security realm, differences between the two parties often dissolve when one takes control of the executive branch. The report itself, meanwhile, sidesteps the role of Bush administration officials in ordering or approving torture, focusing instead only on the agency, McClatchy Newspapers has reported.
This is torture we're talking about. It's not "sources and methods" or a program that the administration even alleges we need to keep going to keep the boogeyman at bay. This is about something done in the past which the administration says is wrong and should never be done in the future. (That is, of course, not exactly the case, but for the sake of argument we'll just accept that they don't think torture is ok.) An yet they have the White House Chief of Staff negotiating with the Senate over what to be released in a Senate report.
Obviously someone will have to leak this report. At this point I guess it's the only way we'll ever really know what the Senate says happened. (And that's probably a long way from knowing everything...) Back in the day the House refused to release the Pike Committee report and someone leaked it to Daniel Schorr who leaked it to the Village Voice.
There's too much secrecy in this government. And all those who are wringing their hands over Big Mean Risen and that kooky Poitras are aiding and abetting this. Enough.
digby 10/21/2014 04:30:00 PM
Now here's a good answer from a politician #Merkley
It's not that hard to explain why you are a progressive guys. Senator Merkley shows how it's done:
digby 10/21/2014 03:00:00 PM
Can David Brooks see what's wrong with this picture?
How do you suppose the "conservative intellectuals" rationalize this to themselves?
Basically, this means that the liberal equivalent of Breitbart and Limbaugh is Slate and the New Yorker. And Fox News is the conservative equivalent of the New York Times.
Also note the sad fact that the numbers who read Daily Kos, Think Progress and Mother Jones are too small to measure . Not so with nutcases like the Glenn Beck show and Breitbart.
digby 10/21/2014 01:30:00 PM
Everyone calm down. If Nigeria can contain Ebola the US can too.
This observation from Vox seems to me to be important:
Amid the panic and fear about Ebola sweeping the US, let's be clear about one fact: as far as we know, two nurses who cared for Duncan got the virus — but no one else. Not the passengers who sat next to Duncan on his flights or touched the same surfaces as him in airports. Not the school kids and friends he met in Dallas. Not the Texas Presbyterian hospital staff who met him on his first visit, when he was misdiagnosed and sent home. Not the ambulance drivers who brought him to the hospital on his second visit, when he was vomiting with a high fever.
Most importantly, his fiance, Louise Troh, didn't catch the virus either. She shared a cramped apartment with him and several other family members while he was already contagious, and then stayed in the same contaminated space, cooped up for days in a quarantine, after Duncan was admitted to hospital.
So far, all these people have been declared virus free. And the dozens of suspected cases of Ebola across the US have turned out to be negative, except for three — Duncan and his two nurses, Amber Vinson and Nina Pham. The fact that they got sick while caring for Duncan should also remind us of the science of this virus: that fits what we know of the science of the virus, which is that people are most contagious late in the infection.
This is really important: part of what makes people so afraid of Ebola is that people infected with the disease can mistake it, in its early stages, for a normal flu, and, say, board a plane. But at that point, the disease just isn't very contagious yet.
Ok, all the data aren't in and maybe somewhere somebody was infected in that chain from Duncan. Time will tell.
But this should give everyone pause --- and comfort:
Ebola-free Nigeria hailed as 'success story' in battling outbreak
They had 19 cases. We've had 3. They believe they've managed to track down all the cases in this particular outbreak which is key. And I'd venture to say that our education on the virus has been equal to Nigeria's even if our media has been running around like a bunch of hysterics scaring the hell out of people. If they can do it it seems likely the US can too. Duh.
It was an epidemiologist’s worst nightmare: one of the world’s deadliest contagious diseases loose in one of the world’s most densely populated and sometimes chaotic megacities — Lagos, Nigeria.
With its teeming slums, bogus pastors selling miracle cures, six-hour traffic jams and street vendors hawking goods at car windows, some feared an apocalyptic urban outbreak and the spread of Ebola into Nigeria’s highly mobile population of 170 million, which could entrench the disease in West Africa for years.
But in an extraordinary success story, Nigeria contained the Ebola outbreak and was declared free of the virus by the World Health Organization on Monday, after 42 days without a new case (double the incubation period for Ebola). Nigeria confirmed 19 cases, according to the WHO, seven of them fatal. That survival rate of 63% is more than double the 30% average in other West African countries
The top-down effort took political determination, the redeployment of doctors and facilities from Nigeria’s polio-eradication campaign, a vast contact-tracing operation involving members of the State Security Service, tens of thousands of text messages sent out to educate people on prevention, and some hefty donations from wealthy Nigerians.
digby 10/21/2014 12:30:00 PM
The weight and counter-weights at the far end of both parties
I've always seen partisan politics in America as a tug of war where the weight of the truest believers, the activists, the hard core ideological members of the two main parties weight the ends of the political rope. When they are not equally engaged and pulling equally hard, one side has a built in advantage.
Anyway, Pew has another poll about polarization that I'll delve into in more detail over the next few days. But this is interesting for starters:
Overall, the study finds that consistent conservatives:
Are tightly clustered around a single news source, far more than any other group in the survey, with 47% citing Fox News as their main source for news about government and politics.
Express greater distrust than trust of 24 of the 36 news sources measured in the survey. At the same time, fully 88% of consistent conservatives trust Fox News.
Are, when on Facebook, more likely than those in other ideological groups to hear political opinions that are in line with their own views.
Are more likely to have friends who share their own political views. Two-thirds (66%) say most of their close friends share their views on government and politics.
By contrast, those with consistently liberal views:
Are less unified in their media loyalty; they rely on a greater range of news outlets, including some – like NPR and the New York Times– that others use far less.
Express more trust than distrust of 28 of the 36 news outlets in the survey. NPR, PBS and the BBC are the most trusted news sources for consistent liberals.
Are more likely than those in other ideological groups to block or “defriend” someone on a social network – as well as to end a personal friendship – because of politics.
Are more likely to follow issue-based groups, rather than political parties or candidates, in their Facebook feeds.
And yet the news media persists in presenting conservatism as "mainstream" and liberalism as "fringe." You can make a case that both are fringe but I don't think you can make a case that conservatism if mainstream when they rely on openly partisan, often crackpot media for their information and only talk to each other.
Now it's true that liberals tend to "unfriend" people on Facebook, and are somewhat intolerant of conservative views. I think that's human on both sides. But the information flow really seems to be different between the two and I think that requires those who talk about trends and factions to be specific.
An, by the way, there are a lot of reasons why the hard core conservatives are more successful in party politics than the hard core liberals (even though, according to Pew's definition there are actually more of the latter) but one of the reasons has to be this:
They vote in primaries more often than we do. Liberals could bring a lot more weight to bear in this whole thing if they just bothered to do that.
digby 10/21/2014 11:00:00 AM
Testing the attacks for 2016
I'm fairly sure that in addition to the obvious current scare stories, a lot of the GOP strategists are keeping an eye on this for use in the next presidential campaign:
More than in any election in the past decade, Republicans are counting on terrorism fears to win votes -- especially in races against female Democrats.
At least 60 terrorism- or national security-related ads have aired in congressional contests in such states as Georgia, Kentucky and North Carolina. They’re running with the most intensity since President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, when the airwaves were full of ads depicting Democrat John Kerry as weak on national security, data provided by Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group show.
Of the top five Democratic targets, four are women.
“There is a phenomenon that I haven’t seen in my lifetime, and that is this fear factor, whether it’s Ebola or the wars,” said Ed Rollins, a Republican who directed Ronald Reagan’s 1984 presidential re-election campaign.
“If there wasn’t the overarching fear out there, you couldn’t run this without being painted as anti-woman,” Rollins said. “It’s a subtle or not-so-subtle way of saying: These candidates are not as strong as they should be.”
One ad attacking Democrat Michelle Nunn, who is running for an open U.S. Senate seat in Georgia, says she has admitted that a foundation she ran for six years gave money to groups linked to terrorists -- a claim deemed “pants on fire” false by Politifact Georgia.
Here's a question: How do we think that a Democratic woman presidential candidate will react to such a campaign?
digby 10/21/2014 09:20:00 AM
Warren on message
by Tom Sullivan
Not unlike ghosts in The Sixth Sense, The Village hears just what it wants to. Itself, mostly, and the jangle of coins. The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson hears in Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts something different, something many Democratic politicians lack: a clear message.
Stumping for Democrats across the country, Warren has a powerful message that ordinary persons can hear if the Village cannot. Like South Dakotan Rick Weiland's
prairie populism, Warren (born in Oklahoma) gets traction from a
There once was consensus on the need for government investment in areas such as education and infrastructure that produced long-term dividends, she said. “Here’s the amazing thing: It worked. It absolutely, positively worked.”
But starting in the 1980s, she said, Republicans took the country in a different direction, beginning with the decision to “fire the cops on Wall Street.”
“They called it deregulation,” Warren said, “but what it really meant was: Have at ’em, boys."
Americans who have been had by the boom-and-bust economy that resulted (and which Democrats abetted) are tired of being lectured about pulling themselves up by their bootstraps by a Wall Street elite wearing golden parachutes. Warren says plainly what the faltering middle class knows in its gut, “The game is rigged, and the Republicans rigged it.” Warren is ready to fight when it seems many Democrats -- including the incumbent president -- just want to go along to get along.
So far this year, Warren has published a memoir, “A Fighting Chance,” that tells of her working-class roots, her family’s economic struggles, her rise to become a Harvard Law School professor and a U.S. senator, and, yes, her distant Native American ancestry. She has emerged as her party’s go-to speaker for connecting with young voters. She has honed a stump speech with a clear and focused message, a host of applause lines and a stirring call to action.
A Democratic candidate with a stirring message derailed Hillary Clinton's presidential bid eight years ago, Robinson concludes. It might just happen again.
The Village parachute riggers are on notice.
Undercover Blue 10/21/2014 07:30:00 AM
Monday, October 20, 2014
Hey, remember that ban on embryonic stem cell research?
ACTION ALERT! Developing Ebola vaccines use aborted fetal cell lines - moral options exist
(Largo, FL) Children of God for Life announced today that several Ebola vaccines in development for use worldwide are made using aborted fetal cell lines despite the fact that moral alternatives are reported as equally effective.
Glaxo SmithKline (GSK) and NIAID are jointly developed their ChAd3 vector for delivering the Ebola virus gene using HEK-293 (human embryonic kidney) cells. Likewise, NewLink Genetics of Iowa used HEK-293 cells for their VSV-EBOV Ebola vaccine in Canada, while Johnson and Johnson/Crucell developed theirs using PER C6 cells, derived from retinal tissue of an 18 week gestation aborted baby.
"There is absolutely no reason to use aborted fetal cell lines," stated Debi Vinnedge, Director of Children of God for Life. "At least two other Ebola vaccines in development by the University of Texas and GeoVax are using either Vero cells or chicken eggs. Likewise, therapeutic products such as ZMapp(LeafBio) and TKM-Ebola (Tekmira) are using plant or Vero cells"
Vinnedge wrote to the Department of HHS, the NIH, the FDA and NIAID pointing out that even the US Department of Health listed other options such as yeast, insect, plant, bacteria, CHO, BHK, heLa and OS cells, in their own patent, stating, "The attenuated [ebola]virus can replicate well in a cell line that lacks interferon functions, such as Vero cells."
"It is completely irresponsible of this Administration to put these problem vaccines on fast-track for approval and ignore the fact that a massive number of people may very well refuse them. Why not fast track a product that everyone can use in good conscience?" asked Vinnedge.
Children of God for Life is urging the public to contact US government agencies and their members of Congress requesting that they expedite the morally acceptable alternatives.
You It's tempting to say that if people refuse an Ebola vaccine simply because it was developed from embryonic stem cells they are free to take their chances. Unfortunately, vaccines depend on the herd effect and everyone would need to do it.
I suspect there would be very few to refuse. But who knows? Then what?
digby 10/20/2014 06:00:00 PM
Republican doctors are dangerous
It must be Rand Paul day...
And yes, it's fine for Paul to eat as many donuts as he likes. But for a doctor to be a smart assed jerk about Michelle Obama's very mild healthy eating and exercise campaign to get kids to eat their vegetables and go outside to play is just idiotic.
But sure, let's make fun of anyone who is concerned about this public health crisis. (And be sure to stoke panic about Ebola while you're at it.)
digby 10/20/2014 04:30:00 PM
Is the US Government going to reaffirm the torturer's right to immunity?
I don't know how I missed this. Marcy Wheeler reports:
Yesterday, the New York Times reported (though the newspaper buried the story on page A21) that Obama Administration lawyers are debating whether the US has to comply with the Convention Against Torture’s prohibition on degrading treatment overseas.
It is considering reaffirming the Bush administration’s position that the treaty imposes no legal obligation on the United States to bar cruelty outside its borders, according to officials who discussed the deliberations on the condition of anonymity.
The administration must decide on its stance on the treaty by next month, when it sends a delegation to Geneva to appear before the Committee Against Torture, a United Nations panel that monitors compliance with the treaty. That presentation will be the first during Mr. Obama’s presidency.
State Department lawyers are said to be pushing to officially abandon the Bush-era interpretation. Doing so would require no policy changes, since Mr. Obama issued an executive order in 2009 that forbade cruel interrogations anywhere and made it harder for a future administration to return to torture.
But military and intelligence lawyers are said to oppose accepting that the treaty imposes legal obligations on the United States’ actions abroad. They say they need more time to study whether it would have operational impacts. They have also raised concerns that current or future wartime detainees abroad might invoke the treaty to sue American officials with claims of torture, although courts have repeatedly thrown out lawsuits brought by detainees held as terrorism suspects.
In other words, in the next month or so, the Obama Administration will decide how serious it really is about Obama’s 5-year old promise to end torture.
Marcy's analysis follows. It's not clear what's going to happen. Which is bad news because it should be.
digby 10/20/2014 03:00:00 PM
No white hood? No rebel flag? Then you aren't discriminating on the basis of race. Carry on.
My piece in Salon today is about an upcoming Supreme Court decision about the Fair Housing Act. I recount some of the history of how it came to be:
In his epic history of the 1960s, “Nixonland,” Rick Perlstein observed something that few people remember: The price was very, very high for politicians who backed these civil rights laws and that’s because there was a furious white backlash. It’s common knowledge that some of that backlash was formed by the urban riots of the period. But there was something else, which he explored in greater depth in this article:
[Whites were in] terror at the prospect of the 1966 civil rights bill passing, which, by imposing an ironclad federal ban on racial discrimination in the sale and rental of housing—known as”open housing”—would be the first legislation to impact the entire nation equally, not just the South.
He recounts the confrontations that took place in Chicago, then the most segregated city in America, in “Nixonland”:
You could draw a map of the boundary within which the city’s seven hundred thousand Negroes were allowed to live by marking an X wherever a white mob attacked a Negro. Move beyond it, and a family had to face down a mob of one thousand, five thousand, or even (in the Englewood riot of 1949, when the presence of blacks at a union meeting sparked a rumor the house was to be”sold to niggers”) ten thousand bloody-minded whites. In the late 1940s, when the postwar housing shortage was at its peak, you could find ten black families living in a basement, sharing a single stove but not a single flush toilet, in”apartments” subdivided by cardboard. One racial bombing or arson happened every three weeks…. In neighborhoods where they were allowed to”buy” houses, they couldn’t actually buy them at all: banks would not write them mortgages, so unscrupulous businessmen sold them contracts that gave them no equity or title to the property, from which they could be evicted the first time they were late with a payment.
He published some of the constituent letters he found hidden in the archives of a congressman who lost his seat in 1966 over civil rights, protesting those “Open Housing” provisions in the bill before the Congress. Here’s just one example:
I am white and am praying that you vote against open housing in the consideration of Equal Rights. Just because the negro refuses to live among his own race–that alone should give you the answer. I was forced to sell my home in Chicago (‘Lawndale’) at a big loss because of the negroes taking over Lawndale–their morals are the lowest (and supported financially by Mayor Daley as you well know)–and the White Race by law. Please don’t take away our bit of peace and freedom to choose our neighbors. What did Luther King mean when he faced the nation on TV New Year’s day–announcing he will not be satisfied until the wealth of America is more evenly divided? Sounds like Communism to Americans. ‘Freedom for all’–including the white race, Please!
Martin Luther King and his fellow marchers were met with vicious anger, hostility and violence from whites in Chicago that summer culminating in MLK making his famous quip, “I think the people of Mississippi ought to come to Chicago to learn how to hate.” It was very, very ugly.
The case coming before the Supremes has to do with the "disparate impact rule.” That rule holds that you don’t have to be a an outright racist to discriminate. Recent rulings indicate that the conservative majority is convinced that unless you're wearing a white hood and burning crosses you cannot be accused of discrimination. So, this is likely to go down the same drain in which they flushed the Voting Rights Act.
digby 10/20/2014 01:30:00 PM
Crackpots 'O the Day
And no, they aren't Louie Gohmert and Michelle Bachman. One is a highly respected conservative columnist and one is a serious presidential candidate:
In the weeks since news broke of the first Ebola case in the United States, government officials have stressed that the disease cannot spread through the air, by water, or in food. George Will, however, doesn’t think that’s true.
This is a man who doesn't believe in climate change so this makes some sense.
On Fox News Sunday, the conservative columnist came head to head with his fellow panelists — and even host Chris Wallace — in his attempt to spew misinformation about Ebola.
“The original problem was that you need to have direct contact, meaning with bodily fluids, because it’s not airborne,” Will said. “Now there are doctors saying we’re not so sure that it can’t in some instances be transmitted airborne.”
Will later added: “Well, when you get on an airport perhaps you should clean the armrest and the tray. There are some doctors saying in a sneeze or cough, some of the airborne particles can be infectious.” Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, appeared on the show alongside Will and immediately challenged his claims. “Where are you getting the doctors who are saying it’s not airborne?” she asked, pointing out that medical experts have repeatedly said that the virus can only be transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids.
Indeed, Will made his comments minutes after Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, assured Wallace that the likelihood of an Ebola epidemic in the United States remains slim, despite the infection of two health care workers who treated patient zero Thomas Eric Duncan.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees. According to the federal agency’s website, humans come into direct contact with Ebola through the blood and bodily fluids of the infected and medical equipment that has been used. Experts say that means that the virus essentially poses the highest risk to health care workers caring for Ebola patients and family members of the infected.
And then there's this crackpot who makes Will sound like Albert Einstein:
In 2010, before winning his Senate seat, [Rand] Paul sat for an interview with Luke Rudkowski, a libertarian YouTube personality who specializes in quizzing political leaders about the plot to establish a "one-world socialist government." Rudkowski asked what Paul knew of the Bilderberg Group, a collection of government and business leaders whose annual conference is a favorite target of conspiracy-mongers. Paul replied, "Only what I've learned from Alex Jones." That's right: Alex Jones, the radio host who claims that Bilderberg is a key part of a global plot to create a "scientific dictatorship" that will exterminate the "useless eaters," a.k.a. 80 percent of the human population.
And that's not all. There's more at the link.
Paul described the group to Rudkowski in unequivocally Jonesian terms, as "very wealthy people, who I think manipulate and use government to their own personal advantage. They want to make it out like world government will be good for humanity. But guess what? World government is good for their pocketbook." The previous year, Paul had appeared on Jones' radio show, noting that he had watched his host's videos and expressing support for the effort to "expose people who are promoting this globalist agenda." (In turn, Jones urged his listeners to send money to Paul's Senate campaign.)
Paul also has embraced one of the conspiracy theories promoted by his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul: that leaders from the United States, Canada, and Mexico are seeking to merge their countries into a socialist megastate that would issue the "Amero" currency to replace US and Canadian dollars and the Mexican peso. (Anti-feminist campaigner Phyllis Schlafly and Jerome Corsi, who led the 2004 Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign, are among the key proponents of this idea.)
At an appearance for his father's 2008 presidential campaign in Bozeman, Montana, Rand Paul was asked what steps his dad would take to thwart the scheme to impose a North American superstate. The first thing to do, he said, was "publicizing that it's going on" and pushing Congress to "stop it." He insisted the Amero push was "a real thing" but cautioned, "If you talk about it like it's a conspiracy, they'll paint you as a nut. It's not a conspiracy, they're out in the open about it. I guarantee it's one of their long-term goals—to have one sort of borderless mass continent." He did not specify who "they" were.
He's running away from all this looney stuff now, but this wasn't that long ago. It's not like his father's racist newsletters from the 1980s.
How about this:
Contrast the fate of Duncan’s family, which was locked in a small apartment saturated with Duncan’s bodily fluids, with what Senator Rand Paul told Bloomberg News while campaigning for Scott Brown in New Hampshire last week.
I think from the very beginning they haven’t been completely forthright with us. They’ve so wanted to downplay this that they really I don’t think have been very accurate in their description of the disease. For example, they say, “Don’t worry, it’s only mixture of bodily fluids through direct contact.” So what are you thinking? I’m thinking like AIDS, you don’t get AIDS at a cocktail party, so my level of alarm goes down. And if I am treating somebody or looking at them around, I’m thinking, oh no it’s like AIDS, I am not going to get it. But it really isn’t like AIDS. And then they’ll say in a little lower voice, “Oh, but direct contact can be three feet from somebody.” But if you ask any American on the street, “Do you think direct contact is standing three feet from somebody?” Because they so much wanted to downplay that “We were in charge, we know everything about this,” I think they made mistakes in not really being accurate about talking about the disease.
He said something similar to a group of college students, to whom he described Ebola as "incredibly contagious." This is a strange statement in many ways, because the AIDS comparison is a straw man, and Paul basically admits it’s a straw man. He never quite puts the words in the mouths of government officials, and instead sets up his own false interpretation of their statements in order to knock it down.
Time Magazine calls him the most interesting man in politics referring to him as “a visionary determined to reinvent the conservative Republican story line.”
Update: Oh, I forgot Bill Maher who rent his garments and practically ran screaming from the stage on Friday over Ebola. Between that and the 1.6 billion Muslims who want to kill us all in our beds, I'm afraid poor Maher is going to have a full blown nervous breakdown on national television. He was completely uninformed, of course, repeatedly screeching incomprehensibly about "shit piled to the ceiling", which was based upon an anonymous report from a Dallas nurse and refused to listen to the one person who had experience dealing with the disease (as usual) instead insisting that the sky is falling.
digby 10/20/2014 12:00:00 PM