Posted by Brad @ 8:16 pm on April 30th 2010

Ron Fournier: Still America’s Worst Political Journalist

David Weigel—and can I just add that his WaPo blog is turning into an excellent daily read—flags an excellent example of the intellectually vapid “both sides have extremists” equivalency journalism that is always so en vouge whenever the Republican party is coming off as extreme. The article is by Ron Fournier, the politics editor for the Associated Press who has made his career, and destroy the AP’s, by trying to bring a decidedly Fox News definition of “Fair and Balanced” – meaning balance facts by right-wing talking points – to the previously reliable wire service. Fournier’s article here is lead by a quote from Pat Buchanan, who assures us that both parties are held hostage by their extremists.

Bonus points:

f there’s a better example of how lazy these articles about the evils of “polarization” are, I’d like to see it. And how Fournier can do a “on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand” comparison while leaving out the fact that Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) and Sen. John McCain (R-Utah) — the latter of whom was his party’s presidential nominee two short years ago — both face primaries that could end their political careers … well, that’s really beyond me.

Posted by Brad @ 3:57 pm on April 30th 2010

Music Video of the Friday

Busta Rhymes – Make it Clap

Have I mentioned before how much I love Busta Rhymes?

Posted by Brad @ 2:26 pm on April 30th 2010

Drill, Baby, Drill

Does the fact that 5,000 barrels of crude a day will be washing up on Louisiana’s coastline fundamentally change the lazy easiness of “drill, baby, drill” as the go-to Republican talking point for energy independence?

I think it does. The New York Times hosts a forum on the subject that is worth a read.

Posted by Brad @ 3:34 pm on April 29th 2010

Bill Clinton the Gold Bug

Lew Rockwell rejoices as Bill Clinton ascribes the systemic problems in our economy to the U.S. leaving the gold standard.

Posted by Liz @ 10:03 am on April 29th 2010

Oklahoma’s War on Choice

It is now law in Oklahoma that, with no exception for rape and incest victims, that an invasive ultrasound must be performed prior to receiving an abortion. In other words a woman who wants to undergo the procedure must now submit to  being penetrated by an ultrasound probe, whether she wants to or not and a doctor, or technician, must set up the monitor so that she sees it and then describe the heart, limbs and organs of the fetus to her. 

It is also now law in Oklahoma that a doctor may withhold information about the presence of birth defects. They don’t have to tell women if their baby is going to have a condition when it is born. 

The governor vetoed both measures, but they were overturned by the legislature.

Also working its way through the Oklahoma legislature, which we can probably assume will pass, are a measure that forces women to fill out a questionnaire about why she wants an abortion and another that restricts insurance coverage on abortions.

So, for the record, for a woman to undergo a legal medical procedure, she must, along with dealing with her own personal issues about the subject, have government required vaginal probes and guilt trips.  And an expectant mother in Oklahoma cannot depend upon her own doctor to tell her if her baby is going to be healthy because the government makes it legal for a doctor to lie to his/her patient.

Posted by Brad @ 9:37 am on April 29th 2010

Rigging For Puerto Rico Statehood

You can tell I’ve been tacking to the right lately when The Corner is back in my daily read (and not my daily “click over there to get outraged” read list).

Anyway, there has been some debate over there about the Puerto Rico statehood bill making its way through Congress right now (which I posted a bit about here). It’s not exactly sucking up the oxygen of Washington, although if it starts really looking like it’ll go through, that may well change (presumably, adding a 51st state is a bigger deal than financial regulation).

Anyway, three posts worth reading. “Stealth Statehood” by Naomi Lopez Bauman, “America for All Americans” by Alex Castellanos, and “Rigging an Election in Puerto Rico” by Indiana Jones villain Hans A. von Spakovsky.

I tend to reflexively come down on the side of both self determination as well as a throwing open of the doors of America. My first instinct on this one is to poo-poo the people howling about the prospect of the State of Puerto Rico—it being hispanic probably gets my defensive heckles up even more. But it does indeed sound like the current bill at the very least sticks a thumb on the scale in favor of statehood, in terms of its referendum process.

However, at least by my understanding, referendum isn’t really a requirement for statehood. Rather, it’s an extra hoop that we’re beginning to settle on as an additional requirement for statehood above and beyond those requirements as outlined by the constitution and the Enabling Act. Of course, it’s pretty easy to win the argument that a state shouldn’t be able to enter the union unless a vast majority of its citizens want it to, which is why Congress is including it in its enabling act.

But, at this point, Puerto Ricans are already American citizens. They already pay American taxes, engage in the American political process, and are provided for by our national defense which is composed, in party, by Puerto Ricans serving in our military. They just can’t vote. Which strikes me as obnoxious in the same way that D.C.s 600,000 residents not being able to vote does. At this point, I think statehood for P.R. ought to be expedited, although the process arguments of how to do it, as those N.R. guys are making them, are fair.

Posted by Brad @ 3:07 pm on April 28th 2010

Crist to Go Independent?

He has to make a decision tomorrow, and given that he’s holding a big event in St. Petersburg tomorrow to announce his intentions, I don’t know anybody that would put money on him staying Republican.

But, in case you were wondering, the local press are all reporting that Crist has contacted his donor base to let them know ahead of time that he is opting out of the Republican primary and will run for Senate with no party affiliation.

How does that shake the race? I side with Nate Silver on this one, in that I think Rubio will present a damn strong challenge even in the general election, particularly given that he can virtually guarantee locking up Republican support (as he pretty much has already) if Crist bolts and Crist, if anything, is more likely to split the vote with the Dem candidate, whose name, by the way, is Meek.

Still, it’ll be interesting to see if this trend continues, ala Joe Lieberman and nearly Arlen Specter, wherein the Senate starts finding itself with a bloc of congressmen who were unable to find a path to either party nomination but remained strong in the general.

Posted by Brad @ 12:37 pm on April 28th 2010

Gillian Duffy and the Implosion of Labour

Funny story. Gordon Brown and Labour are running third in a two-party race. 8 day to go until the election. Brown goes on a walk and meets a tried and true Labour voter, one of his base. She goes off about various issues, including immigration. Gordon Brown asks about her grandchildren et al, is genial…it’s a nice op.

Gordon Brown then gets back in his car, with his mic still on, and proclaims what a bigot that lady was.

Press then go back to the woman to replay the remarks.

Like America, immigration is a hot button issue in the UK, and voters for whom it’s a big deal tend to be old style Labour. And Brown just slagged them off while insulting a little old lady at the same time. Iain Dale thinks that may change as these people move to the BNP. Sully thinks they may just stay home or switch to LibDem. Brown has tried to apologize in person to Ms. Duffy…to no apparent avail.

Not sure how much of an impact it’ll have, but a week to go and the press are in schadenfreude-overdrive because you just slammed a little old lady voter? Probably not good.

Posted by Brad @ 1:56 pm on April 27th 2010

Liberal Fascism Watch

With apologies to Jonah Goldberg for referencing his shitty book.

A few Illinois congressmen are requesting that the National Guard be called out to Chicago to combat gun violence.

They are being, blessedly, roundly mocked for the idea, but their paternalistic reasoning – if the National Guard can be called out for hurricanes and riots, why not a crime wave? – is one that is a dangerous undercurrent within both liberalism and conservatism. Scratch the surface with a lot of politicians, and they probably couldn’t tell you precisely what is wrong with this idea and why the thinking behind it is anathema to civil society.

Posted by Brad @ 1:50 pm on April 27th 2010

Great Moments in Senate Subcommittee Hearings

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) has former Goldman Sachs partner Daniel Sparks on the stand today, and demands he answer yes or no to the question “Should Goldman Sachs be trying to sell a shitty deal?”

Posted by Brad @ 1:11 pm on April 27th 2010

2068 Words on Stephen Baldwin

Is probably 2058 too many.

Posted by Brad @ 10:24 am on April 27th 2010

Music Video of the Day

I’ve got to hat tip Sully for hipping me to Brett Domino.

Brett Domino – Justin Timberlake Medley

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Posted by Rojas @ 3:45 pm on April 26th 2010

Gettin’ Whiggy Widdit

In an atmosphere of political factionalism and chaos, it was only a matter of time before somebody decided to bring back the Whigs.

Note that, unlike those of most third parties, the Modern Whig platform appears to be quite centrist and pragmatic. No sign, for instance, of any attempt to restore Zachary Taylor to the Presidency. More’s the pity; we need him now more than ever.

Posted by Brad @ 11:35 am on April 26th 2010

The Wedge Issue Between Tories and LibDems

Is shaping up to be civil liberties, where the two most closely overlap, and where the conservatives believe they can pick off voters suddenly inclined towards the Liberal Democrats.

The UK election has become one of the most fascinating in many, many years, with the incumbent Labour party now running third, all the mojo settling (for now) on the third party Liberal Democrats, and David Cameron and the conservatives possibly getting squeezed out and screwed out of Number 10 Downing. All indications are that May 7th may be a pivotal moment in contemporary British politics.

Posted by Cameron @ 12:58 pm on April 25th 2010

April 25

I subscribe to the History Channel’s daily email subscription series, This Day in History (warning: auto playing video). It’s a rather easy little way to regularly learn random factoids. Todays struck a bit of a chord because of my complete ignorance of the topic. It seemed worthy of sharing for that same reason. Here it is:

April 25: General Interest
1983 : Andropov writes to U.S. student

On this day in 1983, the Soviet Union releases a letter that Russian leader Yuri Andropov wrote to Samantha Smith, an American fifth-grader from Manchester, Maine, inviting her to visit his country. Andropov’s letter came in response to a note Smith had sent him in December 1982, asking if the Soviets were planning to start a nuclear war. At the time, the United States and Soviet Union were Cold War enemies.

President Ronald Reagan, a passionate anti-communist, had dubbed the Soviet Union the “evil empire” and called for massive increases in U.S. defense spending to meet the perceived Soviet threat. In his public relations duel with Reagan, known as the “Great Communicator,” Andropov, who had succeeded longtime Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in 1982, assumed a folksy, almost grandfatherly approach that was incongruous with the negative image most Americans had of the Soviets.

Andropov’s letter said that Russian people wanted to “live in peace, to trade and cooperate with all our neighbors on the globe, no matter how close or far away they are, and, certainly, with such a great country as the United States of America.” In response to Smith’s question about whether the Soviet Union wished to prevent nuclear war, Andropov declared, “Yes, Samantha, we in the Soviet Union are endeavoring and doing everything so that there will be no war between our two countries, so that there will be no war at all on earth.” Andropov also complimented Smith, comparing her to the spunky character Becky Thatcher from “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain.

Smith, born June 29, 1972, accepted Andropov’s invitation and flew to the Soviet Union with her parents for a visit. Afterward, she became an international celebrity and peace ambassador, making speeches, writing a book and even landing a role on an American television series. In February 1984, Yuri Andropov died from kidney failure and was succeeded by Konstantin Chernenko. The following year, in August 1985, Samantha Smith died tragically in a plane crash at age 13.

The more you know…

Posted by Brad @ 9:24 am on April 22nd 2010

Good Show Sir

A blog devoted to horrible sci-fi / fantasy book covers.

Posted by Cameron @ 9:17 pm on April 21st 2010

9 out of 10 dollars

A rather succinct look at our financial future:

Posted by Brad @ 10:33 am on April 21st 2010

Great Moments in Senate Campaign Fundraising

The Q1 fund-raising totals came in a few weeks ago, telling which candidates and incumbents raised what. One great one:

Senator John Ensign (R-NV): $50.

Not a typo. A sitting United States Senator in a reelection cycle, between January and March, received only two campaign contributions of $25 dollars each.

From the same guy.

Posted by Rojas @ 6:47 pm on April 20th 2010

The politics of civil libertarianism

Brad has commented here on the intriguing battle within the left over the impending replacement of SCOTUS justice John Paul Stevens, and on Glen Greenwald’s take regarding the weird triangulation strategy of Obama’s nomination. I think that my comment in that thread makes clear my view on the matter being discussed; I think that there is no political calculation to be considered, as Obama has now to be considered a firmly anti-civil liberties President and a staunch advocate of the expansion of executive power. He’s not leaning towards nominating an advocate of executive authority to appease anybody; he’s doing so because that’s what he genuinely wants in a justice.

There is, however, an interesting subordinate question involved from a political perspective. President Obama clearly relies to some extent on enthusiasm from the libertarian left for electoral success, and even if their agenda is not his own, he cannot long endure hardcore attacks from such watchdogs as Glenn Greenwald.

To that end, Simon Owens posts this interesting (and I think persuasive) piece regarding the influence that Greenwald’s writing appears to have upon the administration’s defense strategy. This administration, as no other before it, appears to believe it necessary to engage in the give-and-take of the blogosphere, at least where the most important critics and constituencies are concerned.

Posted by Brad @ 4:23 pm on April 20th 2010

I Guess I Owe RCP an Apology

For blasting them on their CPAC and SLRC coverage as it pertained to Dr. Paul.

Writing for the site, Jeremy Lott admits we’re in the midst of “A Ron Paul Moment“.

Posted by Brad @ 12:52 pm on April 20th 2010

On This 4/20…

I want you to read these three essays by Marie Myung-Ok Lee. She has a 9-year-old autistic son with some very bad symptoms (aggression, pica (eating things), self-injury), and after trying traditional treatments, finally made the plunge to medical marijuana. The essays are her experiences with that or, more accurately, her son’s experiences.

1, 2, 3.

Posted by Brad @ 11:42 am on April 20th 2010

An Open Letter of Reconciliation & Responsibility to the Iraqi People

From two of the specialists in the WikileaksCollateral Murder” video.

Worth a read.

Posted by Brad @ 11:02 am on April 20th 2010

Charlie Crist Indie Bid Watch

Is reaching critical mass.

Crist has until the 30th to decide, and Republicans looking for some easy cred have that long at most to get their kicks in.

Posted by Brad @ 10:51 am on April 20th 2010

SCOTUS Watch – Kagan vs. Wood

There has been some interesting thrown elbows in the Stevens-replacement debate, cast (not entirely fairly) as a debate between milquetoast (and meaningless or, worse, counterproductive) centrism and liberal idealism. The best examples are these back-to-back posts by Glenn Greenwald, one firing a shot across the bow of those talking up Elena Kagan, the other making the case for Diane Wood. The basic argument is that Kagan is a nominal frontrunner right now only because she has no clear substance, a pick defined solely for its inability to offend and not because of any clear advantage it would bring to the court, whereas Diane Wood is the only real viable liberal left which makes her seem like the most liberal short list candidate but only because all actual liberals are taken out of consideration for having a clear ideology. As Greenwald notes of Wood:

If one were to analogize the search for Justice Stevens’ replacement to the recently concluded health care debate, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Diane Wood would be the public option. Just as the truly left-wing health care approach (a single-payer system) was eliminated from consideration before the process even began, so, too, have the truly left-wing candidates to replace Justice Stevens (Pam Karlan, Harold Koh) been ruled out as “not viable.” As a result, the moderate-progressive compromises (i.e., the public option for health care and Diane Wood for Stevens’ replacement) are falsely depicted as some sort of liberal extremism, merely because they’re the least conservative options allowed to be considered.

SCOTUSBlog contends that the most important consideration ought to be “confirmability”, namely, preemptively running from any potential confirmation fight, even if that means a Democratic president with a Democratic Congress actually wind up moving the court to the right. Greenwald et al , meanwhile, as you might imagine are arguing that Obama ought to grow a pair.

Posted by Brad @ 10:27 am on April 20th 2010

Music Video of the Day

Guru died today at age 43. Too bad. He was hip hop at its best.

Guru – Lifesaver

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Posted by Brad @ 10:12 am on April 20th 2010

Quote of the Day – RomneyCare Edition

Poor Mitt Romney. He has to be considered the nominal frontrunner for the Republican nomination in 2012 (Who else? I’m not even convinced Palin runs). But if he can’t best Newsweek on the Romneycare = Obamacare issue, I don’t see how he can do anything but limp into the race and be put out of his misery unceremoniously and early.

Newsweek: Back in February 2007, you said you hoped the Massachusetts plan would “become a model for the nation.” Would you agree that it has?

Mitt: I don’t … You’re going to have to get that quote. That’s not exactly accurate, I don’t believe.

By the by, if you want to read the whole thing, which is a two pager JUST on this subject, the difference is that Romneycare was a state plan and Obamacare is a federal plan. So Romney’s objection rests entirely on the federalization, not on any of the specifics, and when he touted his plan as a “model for the nation”, he meant “model for other states, all the states collectively being a nation, but at no point aught that model to be federalized because only then does it become objectionable”.

Which sort of makes sense, I guess, but good luck threading that needle for 18 months in a heated primary.

Posted by Brad @ 9:59 am on April 20th 2010

Meanwhile, Across the Pond…

You’d think given how the UK elections have blown up these last few days that we’d be on it. You’d think wrong. Our resident limeys are all off…doing whatever limeys do when they’re not blogging. Cricket?

Anyway, screw Cameron and Brown—the next Obama is actually Nick Clegg, aka The Cleggerator.

Posted by Brad @ 12:13 pm on April 19th 2010

The Two Camps of the Tea Party: Paulites and Palinites

The Politico exit poll of the April 15th Tea Party protests in D.C. roughly match my own impressions of the movement, as I’ve been sketching out here the last few weeks.

The results, however, suggest a distinct fault line that runs through the tea party activist base, characterized by two wings led by the politicians who ranked highest when respondents were asked who “best exemplifies the goals of the tea party movement” — former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), a former GOP presidential candidate.

Palin, who topped the list with 15 percent, speaks for the 43 percent of those polled expressing the distinctly conservative view that government does too much, while also saying that it needs to promote traditional values.

Paul’s thinking is reflected by an almost identical 42 percent who said government does too much but should not try to promote any particular set of values — the hallmarks of libertarians. He came in second to Palin with 12 percent.

When asked to choose from a list of candidates for president in 2012, Palin and Paul also finished one-two — with Palin at 15 percent and Paul at 14 percent.

Interestingly, Tea Partiers track much less socially conservative than regular Republican voters. According to a different poll, 3/5s favor legal recognition of same-sex marriages, for instance (more great findings from that poll (NYT/CBS) can be found here). Also interesting: Ron Paul gets a 50% favorability rating from this crowd, beating Sarah Palin by 10. The only figure more popular than Ron Paul with the Tea Party crowd is Glenn Beck.

Posted by Brad @ 12:06 pm on April 16th 2010

Tea Party Self-Policing Watch

On the 15th, a coalition of the big names on the Tea Party front, as well as a number of astroturfing (not necessarily in a bad way) GOP orgs including Americans for Tax Reform, the National Taxpayers Union, Gingrich’s own American Solutions, the College Republicans, and the Republican Liberty Caucus, unveiled a document that’s been in the works for months. Their “Contract From America”, a list of 10 “bedrock principles” as decided on by half a million votes. The full list is here.

Interesting, of course, for what’s on it, and it pretty much jibes exactly with how Rojas and I have been characterizing it. The three umbrella principles? Individual Liberty, Limited Government, Economic Freedom. The rest, as voted on, is topped by “Protect the Constitution”, a requirement that no bill be passed without specifically identifying the section of the constitution that authorizes that authority. Nearly all the rest are peons to tax reform and balanced budgets.

The three that aren’t? Repeal government-run health care. And, two that generally fall under energy policy: reject cap and trade, and one that I’ll call “drill, baby, drill”. Disappointing that the Tea Partiers roughly do align with the anti-environmental brigades (although I suspect some of that comes from the astroturfing lobby orgs), but not all that surprising.

As interesting, of course, is what’s not in there. Not a word on “protecting families” or indeed anything having anything to do with “social conservatism”. Not even a whiff of a mention. Second, nothing racial, not even what I’m sure would have been easy enough to include, some mention of “protecting our borders” or “welfare abuse” or whatever. Not even a dog whistle to anything remotely racial. And, of course, nothing to do with muslims, Iraq, national security, torture, et al. What would have been interesting, of course, would have been to put two competing visions to a vote: the Ron Paul vision, and then the mainline GOP vision. But instead, the Tea Partiers chose to opt out of that conversation entirely, casting themselves as an entirely domestic economic freedom movement, which is fair enough.

Of course, despite the half a million votes, it still can’t precisely be called a manifesto, as I’m sure a great many people showing up to rallies won’t even be aware of it. But since the movement’s critics love to ascribe various agendas to them, this would have to be Exhibit A in that discussion: the only agenda they’ve yet circulated.

Posted by Brad @ 2:04 pm on April 15th 2010

Arizona’s Crappy New Immigration Law

I passed on posting about it this morning, despite the blog-bait potential headline: “Illegal immigration now illegal in Arizona”. But this Gawker post does a pretty good job of getting at the gist of it.

It’s officially illegal to be an illegal immigrant in Arizona. Now any cop in Arizona can ask anyone to prove their immigration status, and every cop in Arizona is compelled, under threat of lawsuit, to enforce federal immigration laws.

I really can’t imagine any negative consequences that will result from giving local police the authority to stop literally anyone on the “reasonable suspicion” that they just might be an illegal immigrant. This will give police an important new tool in their crime-fighting arsenal: the ability to detain and possibly deport people without bothering obtain warrants or “prove” that they’ve committed a crime.

It’s also now illegal in Arizona to pick someone up in your car if you “know or recklessly disregard the fact” that they are an illegal immigrant. Thankfully, the Arizona House added “a prosecution exemption for people who drive illegal immigrants to church”

Vigilance against illegal immigration, like attempting to de-incentivize abortion, is something that both A. has a kernel that is a perfectly reasonable moral judgment, and B. in practice, leads to such un-reasonable idiocy and overkill as to totally negate the moral value of said original kernel.

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