Monday, August 02, 2010

Fox News gets front row seat in White House Briefing Room

Sometimes, I just have to shake my head, and wonder if the Obama administration has a clue on how to play politics. From The Huffington Post:

NEW YORK — Fox News Channel has been granted a much-coveted front-row seat in the White House briefing room.

The White House Correspondents Association said Sunday that The Associated Press' reporter has been moved to the front-row center seat previously occupied by Helen Thomas. Fox's correspondent will take the AP's former front-row seat, and National Public Radio's correspondent will move up one row to Fox's old second-row seat.

The center seat was long held by Thomas, a United Press International and Hearst News Service writer. The 89-year-old columnist resigned abruptly in June amid controversy over videotaped remarks she made calling on Israelis to get "out of Palestine." Fox, Bloomberg News (also seated in the second row) and NPR had lobbied for Thomas' seat.

Fox's upgrade is an acknowledgment of its "length of service and commitment," the association's board said in a statement.

Length of service and commitment??? Fox News is not a news organization. Fox News is a propaganda arm of the Republican Party, masquerading as a news organization. They get their marching orders from Rupert Murdoch on how to slant stories, or to regurgitate lies and propaganda as when conservative blogger Andrew Brietbart gave Fox a cherry-picked video of USDA official Shirley Sherrod supposedly making reverse discrimination remarks against a white farmer's family, resulting in her resignation. The entire Sherrod scandal was a complete lie and falsification, created by Brietbart, and trumpeted by Fox. So now Fox News gets a front-row seat in the White House Briefing Room due to their "length of service and commitment" in spewing their lies and propaganda.


Florida church plans book burning of Quran

I found this story through Americablog, and I'm just amazed. From CNN.Com:

(CNN) -- In protest of what it calls a religion "of the devil," a nondenominational church in Gainesville, Florida, plans to host an "International Burn a Quran Day" on the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

The Dove World Outreach Center says it is hosting the event to remember 9/11 victims and take a stand against Islam. With promotions on its website and Facebook page, it invites Christians to burn the Muslim holy book at the church from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

"We believe that Islam is of the devil, that it's causing billions of people to go to hell, it is a deceptive religion, it is a violent religion and that is proven many, many times," Pastor Terry Jones told CNN's Rick Sanchez earlier this week.

Jones wrote a book titled "Islam is of the Devil," and the church sells coffee mugs and shirts featuring the phrase.

Muslims and many other Christians -- including some evangelicals -- are fighting the initiative.

The church launched a YouTube channel to disseminate its messages.

"I mean ask yourself, have you ever really seen a really happy Muslim? As they're on the way to Mecca? As they gather together in the mosque on the floor? Does it look like a real religion of joy?" Jones asks in one of his YouTube posts.

"No, to me it looks like a religion of the devil."

I'll be honest, when I think of book burnings, these guys were the real pros:

Does this idiot Pastor Terry Jones really want to walk down this destructive path?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Is the middle class being systematically wiped out?

I don't know what else to say here, except that these statistics are scary. Reaganomics has triumphed into destroying the Middle Class. This is from the Business Insider, via Yahoo News:

The 22 statistics detailed here prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America.

The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer at a staggering rate. Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now that is changing at a blinding pace.

So why are we witnessing such fundamental changes? Well, the globalism and "free trade" that our politicians and business leaders insisted would be so good for us have had some rather nasty side effects. It turns out that they didn't tell us that the "global economy" would mean that middle class American workers would eventually have to directly compete for jobs with people on the other side of the world where there is no minimum wage and very few regulations. The big global corporations have greatly benefited by exploiting third world labor pools over the last several decades, but middle class American workers have increasingly found things to be very tough.

Here are the statistics to prove it:

• 83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.
• 61 percent of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.
• 66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.
• 36 percent of Americans say that they don't contribute anything to retirement savings.
• A staggering 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.
• 24 percent of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.
• Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.
• Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.
• For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.
• In 1950, the ratio of the average executive's paycheck to the average worker's paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.
• As of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.
• The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.
• Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.
• In the United States, the average federal worker now earns 60% MORE than the average worker in the private sector.
• The top 1 percent of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America's corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.
• In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.
• More than 40 percent of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.
• or the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.
• This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.
• Approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 - the highest rate in 20 years.
• Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.
• The top 10 percent of Americans now earn around 50 percent of our national income.

All I can think of is that if the destruction of the middle class continues, with the increased discrepancy between the ubber-rich and poor, could we see a class revolution take place in the future--especially since there are around 270 million guns in this country?
I found this CQ Politics story through Americablog:

Republicans are growing increasingly frustrated with Sharron Angle and her lackluster campaign to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), fearing she is jeopardizing what they had long viewed as a sure pickup and costing them a chance to reclaim the majority.

Senate Republicans quietly acknowledge that Angle’s controversial views on some issues remain a political liability. But the former Nevada Assemblywoman’s larger problems are a progression of unforced errors stemming from a lack of campaign experience and an amateurish staff incapable of offering her the necessary guidance. However, Angle has proved to be adept at fundraising, corralling $2.6 million in the second quarter.

What is especially interesting is that an unnamed Nevada Republican has called Sharron Angle's campaign "dysfunctional," saying "She can still win, but the operation seems odd at best." Also, the Republican National Committee dispatched an operative to Nevada to help the Angle campaign. However, Angle's deputy campaign manager Jordan Gehrke responded to Republican worries, saying that Angle campaign is 'putting together a professional team of experienced political operatives.'

I'm sorry, but most of this story is complete bull. As Americablog stated, Sharron Angle is a bit nutty. What else is there to say? When you make so many crazed, right-wingnut statements, reporters are going to want you to clarify your positions regarding these crazed statements. And running away from reporters asking hard questions to you will not improve your political image as a qualified candidate for the U.S. Senate. Unfortunately, that is what Sharron Angle has been doing. And now, the Republican Party is worried that Democrat Harry Reid will stomp Angle in November.

Of course, I could also say this is what you get when the GOP decides to shift itself further into right-wing crazyland. You elect crazy candidates making crazy statements that could scare the Hell out of moderates and independents. Do you really expect the moderates and independents to vote for these wacked-out, crazed Republican candidates? Or has the GOP decided to forgo any voter, except their own, crazed, right-wing constituents? I don't know yet, but I do fear for this country if the voters are either that stupid, or ignorant, to elect the likes of Sharron Angle into office.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

So which Angle is it on Social Security?

I found this interesting blog post on the Washington Monthly, and I just had to laugh. Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle addressed a conservative convention in Las Vegas, where she backtracked, saying she did not want eliminate Social Security, but save Social Security by paying back the $2.5 trillion the government spent in the fun. Here is the original story on Angle's speech at Talking Points Memo:

Las Vegas -- Senate candidate Sharron Angle (R-NV) revved up a conservative crowd today, even as she denied her pre-primary win statements on phasing out Social Security.

Addressing the conservative convention RightOnline at the Venetian casino this afternoon, Angle was hailed for pledging to "permanently repeal the death tax" and for saying she stands with Arizona's new immigration law. She has become a conservative darling in her bid to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

Angle repeated her desire to shut down the Department of Education, saying that it and other federal functions should be left to the states. She also said if elected her vision is, "One nation under God, not one nation under the government."

Angle's remarks on Social Security were the most likely to be new political fodder in an increasingly competitive race. The TPM Poll Average is Reid 44.0% to Angle 43.1%.

During Angle's less-than-10-minute speech, she outlined her philosophy to cut the deficit and talked of her "simple" campaign plan she calls "Pay back, cut back and take back." To start with she said the government should pay back the $2.5 trillion that's been "raided and pillaged out of the Social Security fund."

"I've never said I want to eliminate, I always said I want to save Social Security by paying back. But to do that we have to cut back," Angle told the crowd of more than 1,100 attendees to mild applause.

Of course, it takes just a few seconds to find video of Angle's now-famed quote on Nevada's "Face to Face" television show that, "We need to phase Medicare and Social Security out in favor of something privatized."

And here is the video of Sharron Angle saying that famous quote "to phase Medicare and Social Security" to privatization. From YouTube:

So which Angle is it on Social Security? Is Sharron Angle for completely privatizing Social Security, giving Wall Street trillions of government money to play in the stock market casino? Or is Sharron Angle again lying to Nevada voters, now saying that she wants the government to pay back the money it pulled out of the trust fund for spending? Which is it Sharron? Of course, if the Nevada press ever get a chance to ask Sharron Angle this question of her flip-flopping, I'm sure that Angle will respond in a truthful manner:

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday Morning Cartoos--Superfriends meet Bigfoot

The Superfriends meet Bigfoot. How cool is that? From YouTube:

Friday, July 23, 2010

GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle responds to reporters' questions by not answering questions

This is just too funny. From

The day after walking out of her own campaign event when reporters were offered an opportunity to ask questions, Nevada GOP Senate nominee Sharron Angle on Thursday responded to a question from a reporter — to tell them she wasn’t answering the question.

For the second day in a row, Angle’s campaign alerted the press that they were holding a campaign event where the Republican would offer critical remarks on the estate tax.

After giving a three-minute speech on the tax Wednesday, Angle bolted for the door when asked to make herself available to answer questions from the press.

Angle took a beating in local and national news reports of the event. So on Thursday, Angle’s campaign hoped to make the ground rules for the event crystal clear.

At the beginning of the press conference, Angle spokeswoman Ciara Matthews announced to reporters: “We’re really focused on the death tax today. So that’s what we’ll be taking questions on.”

Following Angle’s remarks on the tax, a reporter told Angle, “we have a bunch of questions on other issues.”

“Is there any reason you won’t talk about any other issues?” the reporter asked, as was shown in a story from Las Vegas NBC affiliate My News 3.

Angle responded by telling the reporter that “today we’re concentrating on one thing. What will get America and especially Nevada back on its economic wheels, if you will.”

Read more:

So if I'm reading this right, GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle will hold a press conference where reporters can only ask questions on issues that the Angle campaign wants to focus on--and nothing else? I take it that Sharron Angle will not comment on why she ran away from reporters at her own press conference, yesterday. Nope--Sharron Angle will only answer reporters' questions on what she wants to answer! Is Sharron Angle that crazy, that stupid, or both?

Looking at this story, I'm thinking that Sharron Angle has an extreme, crazed, right-wing view on issues, and doesn't really want to reveal those views to the media. Perhaps her GOP-handlers are trying to hide Angle's extremist views from moderates and independents, who would realize just how much of a nut-job Angle is and vote in Democrat Harry Reid. Of course, the more that Sharron Angle alienates the media, the more the media will think that she has something to hide. The media will go after Sharron Angle.

Getting interesting here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle ducks her own press conference

This is from Talking Points Memo:

Former Nevada state Rep. Sharron Angle, the Republican nominee for Senate against Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid, is still getting the hang of holding a "press conference" with the media. At an event Wednesday, Angle spoke for three minutes on cutting taxes -- and then quickly left when the assembled reporters tried to ask her questions.

The funniest thing, as shown in tracking video from the Nevada Democratic Party, is that Angle's host seemingly invited the reporters to ask questions -- then Angle suddenly walked away without saying anything.

As CNN points out, the event was in fact billed as a press conference in Angle's own campaign events schedule. It should also be noted that Angle has previously said she avoids interviews with mainstream media outlets that would ask her tough questions, opting for conservative media where she can raise money from viewers.

You can view the YouTube video here:

Angle won the Nevada GOP Senate primary as a Tea Party candidate to take on Democrat Harry Reid. However, Angle has some very wacked out political views, as Rachel Maddow points out here, here, and here.

Now in one sense, I can understand that Sharron Angle is a friggin' wacked-out, insanely crazed GOP senatorial candidate that Nevada Republicans chose, probably because they were drugged by the Fluoride-laced tap water, dumped by Nevada state government black helicopters! What I do find especially interesting is how the Angle campaign called a press conference to discuss cutting taxes (A Republican campaign mantra), only to have the Not Ready for Prime Time candidate duck out of the conference without answering a single question from reporters--I thought press conferences were events where politicians answered questions from the press reporters?

Then again, Sharron Angle is taking a page from another GOP candidate who also has a knack for avoiding the press:

[GOP candidate Meg] Whitman invited the press to cover a meeting she was to have with a railroad executive, but upon its completion she refused to take any questions. After a long pause and some nervous laughter, she had security block the cameras, and finally had them escorted out by her press aid.

I think it is rather disturbing that we have two Republican candidates consistently refusing to answer tough reporter questions on the issues, or their political views. And yet, both candidates are groomed by the GOP-spin machine as mainstream, with their supposed "messages" sanitized and pre-packaged for voters that the Republican Party probably thinks are either dumb, or ill-informed. Then again, perhaps the GOP wants dumb American voters who will simply accept whatever crap the GOP shoves down their throats. And we will never really see who Sharron Angle, or Meg Whitman really are, as they are both marketed as stale turkey sandwiches on canned bread.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cigar association for congressional staffers is a GOP lobbying front

There is not much more I can say about this story, except....WOW! From the Huffington Post:

Lobbyists for major banks, insurers, pharmaceutical firms, energy companies and at least one foreign government have been helping organize lavish gatherings of staffers and members of Congress since early 2009, funneling K Street money through an officially chartered staff organization called the Congressional Cigar Association.

The CCA, founded by Republican staffers and sponsored by Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.), is chartered by the House Administration Committee to encourage networking among congressional staff. Its most recent gathering was held Tuesday at a townhouse just steps from the Capitol, where staffers were feted by Miami Cigar & Company.

As evening fell, guests lounged in the garden out back, sipping cold drinks and puffing away on what smelled like high-end cigars. Gary Pesh, owner of Old Virginia Tobacco and a member of the Congressional Cigar Association, said the event is just an excuse to "get together and have fun." When asked about the conflict of interest inherent in allowing lobbyists to fund a congressional staff organization, dozens of attendees just continued wordlessly on up the red brick steps. "This is approved by the House, so we're good," one staffer said. (Another staffer told HuffPost that filming wasn't allowed, though she was standing under a sign warning passersby that the area was under video surveillance.)

At least half a dozen lobbyists have been closely involved in the operation of the ostensibly staff-driven organization, a review of emails, documents and lobbyist disclosure reports finds. By helping to fund and organize the group's activities, K Street lobby shops are given privileged access to senior-level staffers and members of Congress in intimate settings where they lobby on behalf of their clients. The association is overwhelmingly Republican, as is the cigar-smoking habit it is organized around.

The cigar group is run by a six-member board. In the wake of the Abramoff scandal, congressional ethics rules were implemented to require that "all officers must be employees of the House or Senate" and that the ethics committee approve all gifts of monetary value offered to the association. Meanwhile, federal law forbids staffers from soliciting gifts to it. Yet three of the board members running the cigar group are lobbyists, including the lead organizer of several exclusive events. Trade associations subsidize the group's events.

"On the face of it, while its not the great train robbery, it clearly implicates House rules that prohibit taking gifts from lobbyists," said Stan Brand, a congressional ethics attorney, when told of the group's activities. "The prohibition is a flat prohibition. The staff can get together and do whatever they want. But when it's underwritten by lobbyists it's gonna fly in the teeth of the rules."

Spokespersons for the House and Senate ethics committees, as well as the House Administration Committee, said they were unable to speak on the record. A spokesman to Bilbray said that the congressman has had little interaction with the group since its 2009 founding and that it is the organization's responsibility to make sure it behaves within House and Senate rules.

Here is the YouTube story by HuffPost:

In another sense, I'm actually not surprised at this type of corruption within the Republican Party. We've seen some of this corruption with Tom DeLay, the Jack Abramoff scandal, the K Street Project, U.S. Attorney firings, and the dozens of scandals from the Bush administration. And let us not forget the strange, secret, religious organization known as The Family, which was linked to several sex scandals of prominent Republican congressmen. Why should I also not be surprised that Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) is financing a little cigar smoking get-together between GOP staffers and lobbyists? It is just another example of just how corrupt the Republican Party has become.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Will Meg spend $30 million to buy the California legislature?

I found this San Francisco Chronicle story last week, and it is just fascinating. Republican candidate Meg Whitman has already spent over $100 million in her bid to purchase the California governors mansion. Why not spend another $30 million to purchase the California legislature as well? From the San Francisco Chronicle:

California Republicans are buzzing about the possibility that billionaire gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman - who has spent nearly $100 million of her own money on her campaign - could be preparing another unprecedented personal investment in her political future: a $30 million-plus infusion into the state party.

The Chronicle has obtained a draft of a detailed 44-page state GOP "2010 Victory Plan" that outlines the party's $85.5 million financial blueprint for a campaign effort that includes $30 million directed to the gubernatorial race.

The former eBay CEO is "putting a significant amount of money in ... it could be $30 to $40 million," said a GOP insider familiar with the plan. The source said Whitman is also expected to tap her fundraising sources and contacts for the party's benefit.

Whitman's potential $30 million in contributions was confirmed by prominent state Republicans, who spoke on condition that they would not be named for publication.

But Whitman spokesman Tucker Bounds strongly denied the notion.

"No secret document or anonymous source you have is credible in this because Meg is not writing the $30 million check," he said. "It's simple. Meg is planning to help solicit outside contributions to the party and working tirelessly to defeat the status quo in Sacramento. That's the plan and it isn't a secret."

Moreover, Whitman campaign officials insisted the candidate is planning no sizeable contributions to the state GOP.

First thought is that I don't think "Governor" Whitman would have a clue as to how to work with the state legislature, which is controlled by the Democrats. Instead of finding common ground with the legislature that can provide compromises, I'd say that Whitman would rather shove whatever her agenda is down the legislature's throats. Of course, I've seen this behavior before with Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger. The result has been a constant bickering between the Governator and the legislature (And I'm sure the state legislature is just as responsible as the Governator regarding the nasty fights that have taken place in Sacramento). Ironically, both Schwarzenegger and the legislature's poll numbers are in the garbage can. According to this Field Poll, Governor Schwarzenegger's approval ratings are at an all-time low of 22 percent--plunging from an all-time high of 65 percent in 2004. What is more, Schwarzenegger's poll numbers are now at the same level of his predecessor, Gray Davis, when the Governator jumped in the recall election ring to replace Davis. The state legislature's approval poll numbers are even lower than the Governator's, at around 16 percent.

So what does this mean for Meg Whitman? I'm thinking that the Whitman campaign has studied the Schwarzenegger administration, and has decided that since they can't work with a Democratic legislature, they might as well buy a Republican legislature into office. As the CEO of eBay, I can see Whitman using the forcefulness of her personality to get things done her way--eBay was her company. I just can't see Whitman succeeding in forcing the Democratic legislature bending towards her agenda. Instead, we would see four more years of bickering and gridlock. When I look at Meg Whitman's campaign, I see a completely controlled, fully scripted, almost corporate marketing campaign that has spent $100 million to promote its product of Meg Whitman. That is it. Whitman has consistently refused to answer tough press questions on her policy agenda. Meg Whitman has become the Invisible Candidate. Will she also become the Invisible Governor, pushing whatever agenda she has that the California voters have no clue about, since the Corporate Whitman Marketing Campaign has pushed their view of who Governor Whitman is? I can't say.

Hence, we've got this speculation that Meg Whitman will be buying the California legislature to the GOP for a price of $30 million. If the Invisible Candidate becomes the Invisible Governor, and the California legislature switches to the Republicans as a result of Whitman's $130 million-plus investment, then I guess we'll have the best political system that money can buy in California. And the Invisible Governor would have the perfect platform to shove whatever her agenda is, down California's throat. That is scary.

The second thought I have about this story is the Whitman campaign's denial that the Invisible Candidate will actually spend $30 million to the state GOP coffers. Perhaps it is true, and Whitman will not be spending her own money to help state Republican candidates win office. But somehow, I don't believe it. There are a couple of reasons here. First, Whitman has spent over $100 million of her own money in this campaign--and we've got four months to go before the election. Can you say Whitman will spend another $100 million in the general election on negative advertising to defeat Jerry Brown? Because that is all I see on the television now, and I'm expecting it will get even worst as November rolls around. Meg Whitman is spending so much money to influence California politics towards her advantage--what is another $30 million to influence the legislature, if she gets elected? Second, Whitman campaign spokespeople are denying these claims. I want the Invisible Candidate to come out and speak on this issue to reporters. Of course, Meg Whitman will never speak to reporters on any issues. And third, I think there may be a backlash brewing on how much of her money Meg Whitman has spend on her campaign. The more of her money the Invisible Candidate spends of her political campaign, the greater the negative speculation is of Whitman attempting to purchase the governor's office. Perhaps the Whitman campaign doesn't care how much money Meg spends on herself. But if the story of Whitman spending $30 million to help Republican candidates win seats in the legislature has any truth to it, then is Whitman trying to purchase the California government for the Republican Party? I know that Democratic voters would cringe at that thought, but how would independent and non-partisan voters feel about Meg buying a state government for the GOP?

Talk about another scary thought. More to come.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Thoughts on California propositions during the primary

In addition to the primary races for various California political offices, there were a number of propositions on the ballot that were somewhat controversial. And I think I found some interesting trends for those propositions.

First, let me give you a rundown on the propositions:

Proposition 14, Open Primary:
Proposition 14 changes the way Californians elect local candidates for state and federal offices. Under Prop. 14, only the top two vote-getters in the primary election will advance to the general election. This is irregardless of political party. So in a particular district, you could see two Republicans advance to the general election of a political office because they received the most votes in a primary election, and there will be no Democrat on the ballot--or visa versa. And since third party candidates rarely beat out Democratic or Republican candidates for offices, you are never going to see such third party candidates running for offices on general election ballots. This open primary does not affect the presidential election. Currently, the primary election advances the top vote-getter from each political party to the general election. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger promoted Prop. 14, and have given $1.7 million to support the campaign. Prop. 14 passed with 54 percent of the vote over 45 percent. This is huge. It has turned California politics on its head. Before Prop. 14, elections were between candidates of the two main political parties--the Democrats and Republicans. If you didn't like either of the main party candidates, you could always toss a protest vote towards one of the third party candidates--Libertarian, Peace and Freedom, or the Green Party candidate. But now with Prop. 14, you could have a situation where the top two candidates for a congressional district would go to Democratic candidates in a district which was redrawn to increase the number of Democratic voters in that particular district. Republican voters in that particular district would have no Republican candidate to vote for in the general election for that congressional district. You can reverse the situation for Republican-leaning districts showing two Republican candidates running in the general election, and no Democratic candidates for Democratic voters in the Republican-leaning district. You have severely limited your choices. And third party candidates are completely screwed with this proposition.

I'm not sure how the political parties are going to respond to this proposition. Are the main political parties going back to backroom horse-trading for selecting their candidates for offices, just to make sure they one or both top vote-getters for a district, or office? How are the third parties going to respond to this proposition, since they are on the fringes of votes tallied in elections? Finally, there is this situation where eBay CEO Meg Whitman spent $80 million to win the GOP primary for the governor's office. What if you had two ubber-CEO's, each spending $80 million of their fortunes on negative campaigning, splitting a close vote in a party primary? Who would advance to the general election? Or maybe both ubber-CEOs would gain enough votes so that both would advance to the general election, locking out the candidate from the opposing party? This election has shown just how pervasive money can be in winning primaries with Meg Whitman spending gobs of cash for capturing the GOP nomination. How does Whitman's spending gobs of cash reflect in a primary process that has eviscerated the political parties? I'm not sure I fully understand the consequences in the passage of this proposition.

Proposition 16, Public Electricity Initiative: Proposition 16 was an initiative which required two-thirds voter approval before a local government agency could enter into a retail electricity business. Pacific Gas and Electric spent over $46 million promoting the passage of Prop. 16, calling it "the taxpayers right to vote act." Opponents to Prop. 16 spent around $91,000 against the proposition. Proposition 16 was defeated, 52 percent to 48 percent. Looking at this proposition, I had to ask myself, "Why does PG&E want to spend $46 million protect my right to vote?" Especially in voting for a proposition to protect my right to vote? This was obviously a means for PG&E to protect their monopoly position in the power business by forcing local governments from getting into the power business with an insurmountable two-thirds majority vote. Perhaps California voters realized this, and shot Prop. 14 down.

But there is also more to this ballot initiative. For the past six months, PG&E have been embroiled in a controversy of replacing customers current meters with Smart Meters. Apparently these PG&E Smart Meters have been overcharging customers, generating 1,000 customer complaints to regulators. The smart meter controversy has been a public relations nightmare for PG&E, where the utility company has been facing a consumer revolt against the smart meters, even to the point of lawsuits filed against the PG&E for overcharging customers. What is important to realize here is that PG&E is embroiled in a controversy of overcharging customers with their installation of a shoddy product--the smart meter. Now PG&E is bankrolling a proposition to maintain their monopoly on gas and electricity services with money that we pay into PG&E to purchase their gas and electricity. All to make sure that we will not be given the opportunity to select our local governments to provide gas and electrical service to us, rather than PG&E--I'm not proposing that local governments providing retail power services are better or worst than what PG&E can provide. I'm just showing the ridiculousness of PG&E's position on this initiative.

Still, the ballot initiative was very close to passing--being defeated by four percentage points. PG&E sunk a huge amount of money into Prop. 16, and nearly got away with passing the initiative. Had PG&E not been embroiled into the smart meter controversy, I seriously wonder if the company would have been able to pass the initiative? It is an interesting question to ponder.

Proposition 17, Auto Insurance Initiative:
Finally, I want to talk about Proposition 17, the Auto Insurance Initiative. This initiative would allow insurance companies to offer a discount to drivers who continuously maintained their auto insurance coverage, even if they changed their insurance companies. The initiative would also allow insurance companies to increase premiums to drivers who do not have continuous insurance coverage. Proposition 17 was funded by Mercury Insurance, which contributed $14.6 million to the "Yes on 17" campaign. Proposition 17 failed to pass, with 52 percent of voters saying no, and 48 percent saying yes. What is interesting about this proposition is really the number of consumer complaints in California against Mercury insurance. In June, 2008, Mercury Insurance paid a $250,000 settlement for claims violations against California drivers. The California Department of Insurance conducted a review of consumer complaints filed against Mercury Insurance. A total of 258 violations were discovered from 121 files reviewed over a period from January 2004 through December 2005, ranging from unreasonable delays in affirming or denying insurance coverage, and issuing claim payments to California drivers. In addition, a 275-page report, released in February, 2010, by the Department of Insurance, and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, revealed that Mercury Insurance may have violated numerous California state laws from the mid-1990s to 2004, which included:

-- Flagging some consumers for higher rates if they had been in an accident, even if it was not their fault.

-- Not immediately granting coverage to applicants including military personnel on active duty, "artists," those employed "in the entertainment industry as actors, dancers, etc.," and emergency vehicle drivers.

-- Raising insurance premiums after its sales agents quoted prices for discounts for which the consumer was not eligible. The department said this was the single largest category of complaints it received about the firm.

-- Collecting higher premiums than allowed by law by requiring its brokers to return part of their fees to the company.

-- Requesting information about customers' "national origin," a practice that the department said "could raise questions about the legality of Mercury's personal automobile policy cancellation and non-renewal decisions" under state law. Mercury agreed to block such data after the state investigators raised concerns.

With all the trouble Mercury Insurance has been in with the California Department of Insurance, it is no wonder that Mercury wanted this ballot initiative to pass. It is almost like Prop. 17 would have legalized Mercury's deceptive practices against California drivers, leaving them with no recourse. But this brings up a problem for Mercury Insurance--they spent over $14 million to pass Proposition 17. Mercury Insurance was tied to Proposition 17. And all the talk that the Yes on 17 campaign tried to present the proposition as a benefit to California consumers, the campaign was bankrolled by a private insurance company. When has a private insurance company ever presented a law or ballot issue that would actually benefit consumers over that insurance company's self-interest?

This brings up an interesting contradiction on the influence of money in political campaigns. For individual candidates, we've seen how plowing huge amounts of their own money into their political campaigns could allow them to win the primaries--see Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina. Even Steve Poizner plowed over $24 million into his campaign for the GOP nomination for California governor, only to be outspent by Meg Whitman's $71 million--and Meg Whitman won. Had Whitman not entered the race, Poizner may have gotten the GOP nomination with his $24 million bankroll. It is like, if individual candidates are willing to spend enough money, they could possibly win nominations to California public offices. Now look at the corporations funding ballot initiatives--specifically PG&E's $46 million funding for Prop. 16, and Mercury Insurance's $14 million for Prop. 17 initiative. Both propositions failed by four percentage points. Are California voters smart enough, or suspicious enough, to suspect ulterior motives that corporations may have in funding propositions, but ignore such ulterior motives that private individuals may have in spending huge amounts of their own personal fortunes for political offices, or their own political gain? It is a strange contradiction.

Post California primary election thoughts

It is midterm election year, and yesterday was the Election Day for the California primary race. While I have been rather busy taking Digital Media classes at West Valley Community College, I've been keeping my eyes on the races taking place here. And I've been thinking about the races as well.

For the past five months, the attention has been focused on two big California races here--both Republican races. The first race has been for the Republican nomination to the California governor's office, pitting former eBay CEO Meg Whitman against California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. Whitman announced her candidacy for the governor's office back in September, 2009, and has spent $81 million on the primary election--much of it on slick campaign ads attacking Poizner as being a liberal politician. What is even more interesting is that Whitman has completely avoided talking to reporters, even to the point of calling a press conference, before ejecting reporters out of the conference. Instead, what we get is Meg "The Invisible Candidate" Whitman, who is only interested in promising the sun, sky, and moon on campaign commercials, or appearing on "town hall" infomercials that are nothing more than extended campaign commercials for The Invisible Candidate. Oh, and let us not forget that The Invisible Candidate never voted in elections for decades, even as she was eBay's CEO. Most of this is old political news, but it is interesting that Whitman was able to survive these scandals, and still beat Poizner 65 percent to 26 percent. I should also say that while Whitman spent almost $71 million of her own money on her campaign, Poizner spent $24 million of his own money on his campaign. In other words, we had an over $100 million primary campaign by ubber-rich candidates. And the candidate who spent the most of their own money--Whitman--won the primary. In fact, this was not a GOP primary election--it was a GOP party auction as to who would be selected to purchase the California governor's mansion in November. And The Invisible Candidate Meg Whitman is on her way towards purchasing the California governorship.

She just has to beat Democratic candidate Attorney General Jerry Brown.

The second big Republican primary race was with the U.S. Senate, where Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina defeated former congressman Tom Campbell for a shot at taking on Senator Barbara Boxer in November. This race kind of stayed in the shadows, considering the deluge of Whitman campaign negative ads against Poizner for the past six months. Fiorina has spent around $6.7 million of her own cash on the campaign. Interestingly, according to this ABC News story, Fiorina outspent both Campbell's $1.7 million, and Irvine Assemblyman Chuck DeVore's $2.1 million to come out ahead with more than 55 percent of the vote.

What does this all mean? We've heard that money can buy political access, but I've never seen the extent of money influencing elections as I have with this race. Meg Whitman spent $71 million of her own money to defeat Steve Poizner, who spent $24 million of his own money, for the GOP governor's primary. This is an extreme example of ubber-elites spending gobs of money the governor's mansion? Why is Meg Whitman spending $71 million for an office that pays only $212,000 a year? Somehow Meg's responses of "serving the people," or "cleaning up the corruption" in Sacramento seems like bull crap. Of course it is even more ironic that Whitman, who touts her business credentials as a positive for cleaning up Sacramento politics, is running for an office that is currently held by another GOP businessman who also touted his business credentials for cleaning up Sacramento politics--and look where his poll numbers are. Why is Meg spending so much of her own money to buy the California governorship?

While Carly Fiorina may not have spent the obscene amounts of money that both Whitman and Poizner spent for their races, she still outspent both Campbell and DeVore by 3x for the U.S. Senate primary race. And Fiorina was fired from Hewlett Packard with a $21 million severance package. Why is Carly spending so much of her own money to buy a U.S. Senate seat?

So very troubling.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

If King George will not listen....Does that mean Erick Erickson is advocating armed insurrection by right wing crazies?

I'm not even sure how I found this Red State blog post by Erick Erickson, but I'm just amazed at how wacked out it is. The post that Erick Erickson wrote is titled "If King George Will Not Listen...."

This is one of those posts that has to be written and has to be said, though I know going in to it I’m going to get beaten up from all sides, though especially from a left particularly out to get me right now.

Nonetheless, this must be said.

The threats, potential acts of violence, and violence against those who voted for the health care legislation must be condemned. They are neither helpful to those seeking repeal nor the acts of a civilized society. I comfortably say I speak for all the front page posters here condemning the violence and threats. The people who think this country has descended into the darkness do in fact send us down a dark path themselves with these actions.

Clear? Good.

Here comes the controversial part that still must be said: I have heard the audio of some of the threats. I get worse stuff routinely. Rush Limbaugh gets worse stuff on a daily basis. Republican members of Congress have gotten similar and worse stuff. Thank God this wasn’t a free trade vote or a variety of left wing groups would have half the country in flames right now. I do believe the 24 hours of threats, many of which were pretty weak, has gotten more national coverage than the leftist anarchists in Texas who molotov cocktailed the Texas Governor’s Mansion — for which arrests have never been made.

First I want to say that Erickson starts his post condemning threats and violence--The threats, potential acts of violence, and violence against those who voted for the health care legislation must be condemned. Erickson even claims that not only does he receive "worse stuff routinely," but that threats are sent to Rush Limbaugh and Republican congress members. And they are supposed to be worst than the threats that the Democrats have received. Of course, Erickson doesn't bother backing up his claims of threats by making public either the email threats, the phone voice mail threats, or both. I doubt that Erickson has bothered to send his threats to law enforcement for investigation. Of course, as Erickson is condemning these threats, he then criticizes Democrats for "running to the nearest microphone in an effort to play the victim and generate sympathy as they try to steer poll numbers back in their direction." Erickson even claims that the protesters "yelling racial epithets at Congressman Lewis" did not happen, since Erickson confirmed from reporters that the events didn't occur.

I wonder which reporters Erickson was talking to? Consider that these papers:

The Washington Post; 'Tea party' protesters accused of spitting on lawmaker, using slurs

The; CBC member: Health bill protesters called lawmakers the N-word

Huffington Post; Tea Party Protests: 'Ni**er,' 'Fa**ot' Shouted At Members Of Congress

McClatchy News; Tea party protesters scream 'nigger' at black congressman

CBS News; Rep.: Protesters Yelled Racial Slurs

And Fox News (Although Fox calls it an allegation); Black Lawmakers Allege Health Care Protesters Hollered Racial Epithets at Them

Finally, The Washington Times is the only news organization, that I could find, which disputes Congressman Lewis' claim of protesters hurling racial slurs at him. The Washington Times includes this YouTube video to support its dispute, but it is rather difficult to hear anything over the chants "Kill the bill," and boos. The comments in this YouTube video claim they hear the N-word between 41-45 seconds. I've listened to the video numerous times, especially between the 41-45 seconds, and I can't pick up the racial slur. However, there are several commentators in the Washington Times article that also claim to hear the N-word at around 41-43 seconds. The YouTube video ends at 48 seconds, so I really don't know if the slurs were said after the video ended.

So I'm starting to wonder if Erickson's "reporters" were from either Fox News, or the Washington Times--both are very conservative news organizations. Fox News is considered the propaganda arm of the Republican Party, and the Washington Times is Moonie newspaper.

But that is not the real kicker in Erickson's post. Erickson continues saying that "a great many Americans who truly believe the Democrats shredded the constitution on Sunday night," after the House passed the health care reform bill without a single Republican vote. Erickson claims that Democrats pushed the bill through the House "before congressmen could go home and face their angry constituents every poll showed were opposed to this legislation." Of course, Erickson has forgotten all the town hall meetings that congressmen faced, with conservative groups packing town halls of Democratic lawmakers with protesters against health care reform last year. While Erickson claims that the opinion polls show a majority of Americans were opposed to the health care legislation, he's probably cherry-picking the poll numbers to support his claim. I look at the poll numbers at on health care reform, and the basic question of "Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling health care," does show a majority of Americans disapproving by around 3-5 percentage points. Then again, a majority of American trust President Obama in handling the health care changes over the Republican congress. It is a matter of how the question are phrased in these polls to elicit specific responses on the health care issue. That makes it easy to cherry-pick whatever poll number you want to support or defend health care. I would say that Americans are very divided on the issue of health care, and will need time to digest this law, and determine whether they are for or against it.

But this part of the blog post is where Erickson enters the Crazyland:

I’ve said for weeks I was a bit fearful of what would happen as a result. I sincerely pray we are not on the cusp of some group of angry and now unhinged mob lashing out at congressmen for a vote in the Congress. But something seems to be brewing and I frankly don’t think the Democrats should at all be surprised. They were and they knew they were playing with fire to advance legislation many Americans see as the undoing of the American Experiment. Some of those Americans will now conclude that, like with the founders, if King George will not listen, King George must be fought. [Emphasis is mine.]

Acts of violence against congressmen for behaving as congressmen are wholly inexcusable. We should be vigilant to police our own side because as we’re already seeing through a series of breathless and inaccurate reports, the press and Democrats are going to be quick to run most any story and the retraction will never be as significant as the initial report.

But let’s not act surprised. The only people surprised by the rage are the ones who refused to venture outside Washington to understand first hand what the voters were actually thinking before congressmen voted.

Frankly, after all the leadership threats and bullying against swing Democrats to vote for leadership, I think it is a bit ironic Democratic leaders are now decrying threats and bullying of swing state Democrats by their constituents who very clearly did not want them to vote as they did. [Emphasis is mine.]

They were and they knew they were playing with fire to advance legislation many Americans see as the undoing of the American Experiment. Some of those Americans will now conclude that, like with the founders, if King George will not listen, King George must be fought. Erickson is trying to draw a parallel between the issues of the health care debate of today with the issues of the American Revolution, 200 years ago. It is even more surprising how Erickson equates President Obama as King George III, while the Tea Party activists(?) or right-wing extremists(?) take on the role of the American colonists. During the time leading up to the American Revolution, the American colonists believed that the British government were imposing incendiary legislation against them--mainly taxes, the Navigation Acts, the Stamp Act, the Tea Act, the Intolerable Acts, and such. The American colonists complained to the British government, saying that they lacked direct representation in the British Parliament, thus denying their rights as Englishmen. Therefore, the laws the British Parliament imposed on the American colonies were unconstitutional. This was especially so on the taxes that the British Parliament imposed on the colonies, thus giving us the phrase "no taxation without representation." When push came to shove, the American colonies declared their independence, fought the American Revolutionary War, and gained their independence to become the United States.

Erickson turns the entire American Revolution into an enormous, misleading lie to fit into the right-wing rhetoric.

First is this absurd idea of comparing President Obama as King George III, and by extension, the Democratic Congress as the British Parliament. The crux of Erickson's argument is that both President Obama and the Democratic Congress is imposing this health care legislation down Republican constituents throats, without providing listening to the conservatives complaints and anger against this health care legislation. This makes it convenient for conservatives to cry out "no taxation without representation," especially since the Republican leadership has been consistently telling lies on the health care reform. But what Erickson fails to realize is that all Americans are represented by their senators, representatives, and the president, and that all Americans had a chance to select their representatives to go to Washington and govern on their behalf. How did Americans select their representatives?

By voting!

In 2008, Americans were given their civic opportunity to vote for their presidential choice between Democratic candidate Barack Obama, or Republican candidate John McCain. Obama received a majority of the votes cast to be elected president (I'm not going into the entire Electoral College system for electing the president.). Americans also had the opportunity to vote for their congressmen, state and local candidates for office, and various state propositions. Some Americans chose to participate in voting--other Americans chose not to participate. President Obama and the Democrats campaigned on a platform of reforming this country's health care system. The American people chose to select more Democratic candidates for Congress than the Republican candidates. Americans who selected the losing candidate for office are still represented by their Senators or House Representative. They can still present their views on issues to their senators or House reps.

Since President Obama campaigned on health care reform, he was going to attempt to fulfill his campaign promise. Obama offered bipartisanship to the congressional Republicans for working on the health care reform bill. The Republicans said no, and proceeded on a campaign of obstructionism, becoming the Party of No. The Democratic leadership decided to go-it-alone in crafting the health care reform bill, since the Republicans refused to work with bipartisanship. The GOP threw every lie, threat, fear-mongering, and political spin in order to derail the health care reform bill, and failed. Not a single Republican voted for the health care reform bill. The Democrats passed health care reform, and President Obama signed it into law.

Erickson is claiming that conservatives are not represented in their government. Erickson is lying. Conservatives had their chance to vote for their candidates in the 2008 election. Not all of their candidates won--Democratic candidates also won in the election. Even in conservative-leaning districts of states. Conservative voters had a chance to voice their opinions to the Republican congressional leadership on reforming health care. Instead of working to provide a comprehensive, bipartisan, health care reform bill, Republicans used a short-term strategy of obstructionism, fear-mongering, hate, death panels, and Obamacare will be killing grandma, to whip up the right-wing extremist base, hoping that their extremist base could scare the Democrats from passing health care. Even more importantly, the Republican obstructionism was also a short-term strategy of driving this country into despair and economic recession so that Americans would elect the Republicans in Congress, and possibly the White House. The Republicans used hatred and fear to advance their political agenda. Even Erickson was responsible for presenting hate and fear-mongering through his blog. In the end, the Republicans failed.

Now in the wake of the Republican's failure to kill health care, and Erickson's own bloody hands in inciting such hatred and fear-mongering to the right-wing base, Erickson suddenly turns around to expresses fear that "some group of angry and now unhinged mob lashing out at congressmen for a vote in the Congress." Excuse me Erickson--you were responsible for inciting such violence with the hate and vitriol that you wrote in your blog. You are responsible even now--in this post--for planting the seed in these wing-nuts that they are American colonists taking up armed insurrection against a tyrannical Democratic Congress and King Barack Obama? If King George will not listen, King George must be fought? Sounds like you are advocating a violent revolution against the Democrats and President Obama. The scary thing about this post is that some crazy, right-wing, extremist will read your posting, and may take it upon himself to assassinate a Democratic Congressman, or Democratic Senator. The blood will be on your hands. But then again, why would you care? You'll continue to spout your hatred and filth with no compunction.


Cantor spokesman defends bullet claim as legit threat at press conference

The Cantor shooting scandal just keeps getting better. This is from Greg Sargent's blog:

A spokesperson for Eric Cantor is pushing back on criticism that he shouldn’t have referenced the bullet shot through a campaign office window at a presser yesterday about threats on his life, offering a detailed chronology of what happened.


Cantor spokesperson Brad Dayspring, in an interview with me this afternoon, offered a chronology of events. Short version: When Cantor gave his statement, all he knew was that a bullet had been fired into his window, there was an ongoing investigation into the incident, and that he had received other threats on his life.

If this was the correct version of events, then Representative Eric Cantor should have said that a bullet was fired into a window of a building where Cantor has a campaign office. The police are investigating, and more information will come out as a result of the investigation. Leave it at that. Of course, the media would speculate whether a gunman was trying to kill Cantor, but the key here for Cantor was to not jump the gun on outrageous claims, or trying to politicize this event. Unfortunately, Cantor jumped the gun. At the press conference, Cantor claimed, “Just recently, I have been directly threatened. A bullet was shot through the window of my campaign office in Richmond this week and I’ve received threatening emails.”

This was a complete lie, as Richmond Police now state that the bullet was randomly fired into the air. There was no threat against Cantor.

Enter the PR-spin:

But Dayspring says Cantor didn’t know at the time of the presser what the police subsequently revealed. He says that before the presser, Cantor aides called the police to learn what was known.

“We didn’t want to catch them by surprise, we wanted an update on the investigation, and we wanted to be 100 percent accurate,” Dayspring says, adding that the trajectory of the bullet was not discussed: “What was known at the time was that a bullet had been fired through the window and that the investigation was ongoing.”

Again, the problem here is that Cantor attempted to politicize the event. When Cantor started blaming the Democrats on "fanning the flames" of violence and death threats, he really lost any sense of credibility here. There were plenty of legitimate reports of Democratic lawmakers being threatened by right-wing extremists, possibly influenced by right-wing hate and fear-mongering. I guess Eric Cantor had to come out screaming, "Look at me--I'm being terrorized by liberal extremists influenced by left-wing hate and fear-mongering!"

What is especially ironic is that this story is certainly sensational. Someone took a shot at a building where the House Minority Whip has an office. Police are going to take that as a serious threat, running a vigorous investigation to determine if this was a targeted threat against Cantor, or a random act of violence. All Eric Cantor had to say at the press conference was "Here is what we know so far," and leave it. The media was going to sensationalize the story anyway, with Cantor receiving big press coverage. But when Cantor decided to politicize the event, before knowing all the events of this shooting. And now this random act of violence is showing Eric Cantor to be a complete fool, interested in hyping events for his own political gain.

Fox News hypes up the Cantor office shooting

Fox News is hyping up the Cantor shooting. From DKos TV:

Of course, Fox News doesn't even bother telling its viewers that the shooting may have been random, or that the bullet was fired skyward, or even that Cantor's office was unmarked. The Cantor shooting was a perfect PR-spin for the GOP to deflect criticism of the right-wing nuts threatening Democratic lawmakers. And since Fox News is the propaganda arm for the Republican Party....

You get the picture.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Obama's "Yes We Can" or John Boehner's "Hell No, You Can't"? Whom you'll Listen?

This is just totally frickin' brilliant. From YouTube:

Something tells me we're going to see a lot of Senator John Boehner's "HELL NO, you can't!"

Update on shot fired at Rep. Cantor's office building

I found some more information on the gunshots fired at Republican Representative Eric Cantor's campaign office. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

3:40 p.m. The Richmond Police Department is investigating an act of vandalism agsinst the Reagan Building, 25 E. Main St., where Rep. Eric I. Cantor, R-7th, has a campagn office.

Police said a first floor window was struck by a bullet at around 1 a.m. on Tuesday. The building was not occupied, police said. A preliminary investigation determined that a bullet was fired into the air and struck the window at a downward direction, landing about a foot from the window. The bullet had enough force to break the windowpane but not penetrate the window blinds, according to a news release.

There are no suspects, Gene Lepley, a spokesman for the department, said.

(This has been a breaking news update. Earlier stories are posted below.)

So if I'm reading this correctly, someone, or a group of someones, fired a gun into the air. The bullet traveled in an arc, striking the first floor of Cantor's office at a downward direction. The bullet broke the windowpane, but did not penetrate the blinds. After the bullet struck the window, it probably bounced off and landed a foot from the window. What this information tells me is that someone randomly shot a gun into the air, and the bullet just happened to hit Rep. Cantor's office. This was not a situation where someone pointed a gun at Cantor's office, and fired. This was a random act of violence.

That just happened to play into GOP Rep. Eric Cantor's PR-spin. The bullet broke Cantor's office building window, therefore Cantor was a victim of threats and violence, fanned by Democratic leaders. Cantor even claims that he "received threatening emails," but will not release such emails "because I believe such actions will only encourage more to be sent." Is it me, or am I seeing Eric Cantor waving his arms screaming "Look! Look--I'm a victim of Democratic-encouraged threats and violence!"

I will not discount the possibility that Eric Cantor received threatening emails. I hope Cantor turned the threatening, emails over to the police for investigation. But Cantor's statement claiming he will not release the emails because he feels such actions encourage even more threatening emails? I'm sorry, but Rep. Eric Cantor's weird press conference is really starting to smell. I'm guessing Cantor is trying to spin this story, reducing the criticism of the GOP hate and fear-mongering inciting violence against Democratic leaders by right-wing extremists, hopefully blaming Democrats for inciting similar threats and violence against Republicans.

In the meantime:

An envelope filled with white powder was sent to the district office of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) today, the congressman said in a statement.

A haz-mat team was sent, and the office will be closed until the situation is resolved. Weiner was an outspoken proponent (often to the left of his party's leaders) of healthcare reform.

Here's Weiner's full statement:

"Earlier today an envelope containing white powder and a threatening letter was delivered to my community office in Kew Gardens. The NYPD was immediately alerted and have responded appropriately by sending a Haz-Mat team. Any questions related to their response should be directed to the NYPD. My first priority is the safety of my staff and neighbors, and the authorities are currently taking steps to investigate and resolve the situation."

Seems like extremist threats continue to be sent to Democratic lawmakers.

Update: I've been reading DKos, and Incondite posted some updates on the Cantor story. One thing I missed is that Fox News and the conservative pundits will be screaming about this act of "domestic terrorism" incited by Democratic leaders--Democrats are just as responsible for all the death threats and violence! Or Fox will pick up Cantor's story, and speculate that Democratic leaders are sending such threats to themselves to blame Republicans. DKos commentator NewlyMintedJerseyGirl comments that Cantor's office exists near a drug-infested neighborhood. "In fact, the office is one street over from one of the most notorious drug streets in downtown, Foushee. (not to mention all manner of hookers/johns to add a little spice to the story)," NewlyMintedJerseyGirl writes. I do not live in Richmond, so I can not confirm or deny whether Cantor's office is close to a drug neighborhood. If this is true, then what we may be looking at is possibly a random act of drug violence that Cantor wants to milk for political gain--Democrats are just as responsible for inciting extremist threats and violence! And Fox News will constantly play up Cantor's story to its rabid, Kool-Aid drinkers.

Update 2: Looks like the Associated Press is confirming that while Cantor's Richmond office is located in "one of the city’s safer downtown areas, some of the more dangerous neighborhoods lie one-half mile to a mile away." The AP story also reports that the pastel green structure of the building "resembles a town house, and from the outside it is difficult to distinguish whether it is a business or residence." There is a brass plate on the door, identifying the building as The Reagan Building, but there are no "outdoors links it to Cantor or to the GOP." Seems to me this shooting is looking more like a random act of violence, or possibly a drug shooting, and the bullet randomly struck the building's windowpane where Cantor's office was located. Eric Cantor probably wanted to jump the gun in decrying this violence as incited by the Democrats, knowing it will be endlessly played on Fox News for the real right-wing crazies.

Harris Poll--24 percent Republicans believe Obama is Anti-Christ

This is an interesting poll from The Daily Beast, which reveals Republican attitudes about President Barack Obama. From The Daily Beast:

On the heels of health care, a new Harris poll reveals Republican attitudes about Obama: Two-thirds think he's a socialist, 57 percent a Muslim—and 24 percent say "he may be the Antichrist."

To anyone who thinks the end of the health-care vote means a return to civility, wake up.

Obama Derangement Syndrome—pathological hatred of the president posing as patriotism—has infected the Republican Party. Here's new data to prove it:

* 67 percent of Republicans (and 40 percent of Americans overall) believe that Obama is a socialist.

* 57 percent of Republicans (32 percent overall) believe that Obama is a Muslim.

* 45 percent of Republicans (25 percent overall) agree with the Birthers in their belief that Obama was "not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president."

* 38 percent of Republicans (20 percent overall) say that Obama is "doing many of the things that Hitler did."

* Scariest of all, 24 percent of Republicans (14 percent overall) say that Obama "may be the Antichrist."

These numbers all come from a brand-new Harris poll, inspired in part by my new book Wingnuts. It demonstrates the cost of the campaign of fear and hate that has been pumped up in the service of hyper-partisanship over the past 15 months. We are playing with dynamite by demonizing our president and dividing the United States in the process. What might be good for ratings is bad for the country.

The poll, which surveyed 2,230 people right at the height of the health-care reform debate, also clearly shows that education is a barrier to extremism. Respondents without a college education are vastly more likely to believe such claims, while Americans with college degrees or better are less easily duped. It's a reminder of what the 19th-century educator Horace Mann once too-loftily said: "Ignorance breeds monsters to fill up the vacancies of the soul that are unoccupied by the verities of knowledge."

Full results of the Harris poll can be found here.

The interesting thing I found about this poll is actually the link between education and beliefs in such outrageous claims. Going into the Harris poll data, there is this interesting data:

These replies are also strongly correlated with education. The less education people have had the more likely they are to believe all of these statements. Consider these differences between those with no college education and those with post-graduate education:

* He is a socialist (45% and 20%)
* He wants to take away Americans' right to own guns (45% and 19%)
* He is a Muslim (43% and 9%)
* He was not born in the United States so is not eligible to be president (32% and 7%)
* He is a racist (28% and 9%)
* He is anti-American (27% and 9%)
* He is doing many of the things Hitler did (24% and 10%).

Those respondents with no college education appear to have believed the more outrageous statements than those respondents with a post-graduate education. I do wish the Harris poll would have broken down the education factor by whether the respondents had no college degree, some college degree, a bachelors, or post graduate education here. But the results are certainly striking--respondents who did not have a college education had a higher belief that President Obama was a Muslim, was not born in the U.S., was a racist, and did things that Adolf Hitler did. The less educated these Republicans are, the more they are easily swayed by GOP hate and fear-mongering. Going back to the 24 percent of Republicans that believe President Obama is the Anti-Christ, I wonder just how many of these Republicans feel they are justified to take a gun and assassinate President Obama? After all, it only takes one to believe he/she is killing the Anti-Christ.

Now that is scary.

Olbermann's Special Comment--GOP self-destruction imminent

Keith Olbermann gave a Special Comment on March 22nd, talking about how the Republican Party's self-destruction into obstructionism, hatred, and fear-mongering, is filtering down into their constituents. I think it is appropriate to show Olbermann's Special Comment, especially in the wake of the violence, hatred, and death that have been aimed at Democrats this week as a result of their voting for the health care bill. Here is the transcript of Olbermann's Special Comment.

Here is the video:

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George W. Bush wipes handshake off Bill Clinton's shirt

I found this through Shakesville, and I don't know what else to say about this, but OMFG! From YouTube:

The video was taken by a BBC film crew as both former presidents, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, were visiting Haiti for the earthquake relief. Bush shook hands with a Haitian, and then wipes his hand on Clinton's shirt sleeve. I can probably see that Bush shook the sweaty hands of a Haitian, then didn't know how to dry his hand. He could have wiped it on his shirt, or pants. Instead he wipes his hands on Clinton's shirt.


GOP Rep. Eric Cantor says shots fired in his campaign office

This is from the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

3:40 p.m. The Richmond Police Department is investigating an act of vandalism agsinst the Reagan Building, 25 E. Main St., where Rep. Eric I. Cantor, R-7th, has a campagn office.

Police said a first floor window was struck by a bullet at around 1 a.m. on Tuesday. The building was not occupied, police said.

There are no suspects, Gene Lepley, a spokesman for the department, said.

Rep. Eric Cantor says this afternoon that a gunshot was fired through a window of his downtown Richmond campaign office building either last night or two nights ago.

There were no injuries or other details immediately reported. Cantor, in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, said he doesn’t know whether the shot was random or aimed at the building.

He said he doesn’t know if anyone was in the building when the shot was fired. Richmond police are investigating, he said.

In Washington, Cantor said at a news conference that he has also received threatening e-mail, The Associated Press reported.

Cantor, in Washington, attributed the actions to his being in the House GOP leadership and being Jewish.

The office of Republican Jean Schmidt of Ohio also released a profanity-laced phone message in which the caller accused the GOP of being racist and, referring to an accident two years ago when Schmidt was hit by a car while jogging, said “you should have broke your back, b… .“

First, I'll admit that I don't like the idea of congressmen, or women, being threatened or attacked by anybody. Second, I'm not sure if this story is true or not. I don't know if some crazed liberal activist took potshots at Cantor's office, for Cantor being Jewish? Democratic anti-Sematism? That doesn't seem to make sense. Or is Cantor making this entire story up? I don't know, and I would be interested in hearing more from the Richmond PD. As for Republican representative Jean Schmidt's phone message threat, I could possibly find that more credible if the threat was directed at Schmidt's campaign office, which would have her office phone number open to the public. But I can find very little information on the threat.

Which brings me to the weird Eric Cantor press conference:

WASHINGTON -- And now, Thursday's lesson in how to give very strange press conferences, courtesy of Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., the number two House Republican leader.

First, condemn violence against members of Congress. Next, announce that you've been threatened frequently yourself -- including having a bullet shot through your campaign office this week -- because you're Jewish. Third, blame Democrats for the whole mess, saying their decision to talk about threats would lead to more violence. After speaking for no more than four minutes, wrap up and leave the podium, taking no questions and marching silently through the Capitol halls as a mob of reporters chases after you trying to follow up.


So Cantor's statement Thursday was apparently aimed at cooling the rhetoric down -- mostly by Democrats, in case voters start to think the GOP bears some responsibility for the threats. And then, secondarily, by the people making the threats.

"Let me be clear: I do not condone violence," Cantor said Thursday. "There are no leaders in this building, no rank-and-file members in this building, that condone violence, period. I've received threats since I assumed elected office -- not only because of my position, but also because I'm Jewish. I've never blamed anyone in this body for that."

One such incident, Cantor said, came just this week. "Just recently I have been directly threatened: A bullet was shot through the window of my campaign office in Richmond this week, and I've received threatening emails," he said. "But I will not release them, because I believe such actions will only encourage more to be sent." An aide says authorities are investigating the shooting incident. Richmond police didn't immediately return a call for comment. (Update: Cantor told the Richmond Times-Dispatch no one was injured in the incident, and it's not clear whether the bullet was aimed at the campaign office or just fired randomly.)

But disclosing it let Cantor segue smoothly into putting the blame for the violence where it belonged: on Democrats, who insist on talking about the threats they're receiving. "Legitimate threats should be treated as security issues, and they should be dealt with by the appropriate law enforcement officials," Cantor said. "It is reckless to use these incidents as media vehicles for political gain. That is why I have deep concerns that -- some [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] chairman Chris Van Hollen and [Democratic National Committee] chairman Tim Kaine, in particular -- are dangerously fanning the flames, by suggesting that these incidents be used as a political weapon."

So if I'm reading this correctly, Cantor is claiming that he has received threats and violence, and is blaming the Democrats for fanning the flames of violence. Democrats are fanning the flames of violence? On their own members? Consider the following:

After the Vote, Threats to Some Democrats

Bricks Shatter Windows At Rep. Louise Slaughter's Office, Democratic Party Offices

"Snipers" Threat Left On Rep. Louise Slaughter's Voicemail In Wake Of Health Care Vote

Smash Sensation: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Isn't The Only One With Broken Windows

Tea Party members post Perriello’s brother’s address

FBI investigates Virginia incident

Vandalism reported by Democrats who voted for health bill

Vandals hit at least five Dem offices nationwide, threaten to ‘assassinate’ children of pro-reform lawmakers.

The backlash: Reform turns personal

Stupak receives death threats after voting for health reform.

Health Care Debate Has Protesters Seeing Red, Racism Rears Its Ugly Head

Health Care Reform Leads to Threats

Markey, other health care reform backers report threats, vandalism

Weiner targeted for health care advocacy

Tea Party Protests: 'Ni**er,' 'Fa**ot' Shouted At Members Of Congress

And then there are these two interesting stories, where GOP leaders tread the line in making threats to Democrats:

Neugebauer, 'Baby Killer' Yeller, Apologizes For Appearing To Yell At Stupak (VIDEO)

Sarah Palin's PAC Puts Gun Sights On Democrats She's Targeting In 2010

I could probably list even more hate-mongering from the conservative media, but hopefully you're getting the picture here. It appears to me that much of this hate is coming from the right, with top GOP leaders remained silent on such threats, or the Republicans will parse it as Republican chairman Michael Steele told Fox News, "so let's start getting (House Speaker) Nancy (Pelosi) ready for the firing line this November!" And these threats and violence are being directed against Democratic lawmakers. With the ratcheting up of the health care protests, suddenly these threats and violence against the Democrats are gaining attention in the news media, with the source of the threats going back to possibly right-wing extremists, or possibly Tea Party activists--extremists that the Republican Party has been courting for years. This makes me seriously question Cantor's claim that Democrats are blamed for the violence taking place. Why would Democrats target their own party representatives in voting for health care reform? Or are the Democratic leaders making all these threats of violence up? Or is Eric Cantor talking some crazy stupid here?

It doesn't make sense.