Prosecute the torture.

October 31, 2010

Jack Kelly Sunday

This week's Jack Kelly column is on TARP, a recent report on it by it's overseer Neil Barofsky, and what that report says about TARP-fraud.

Recently whenever a conservative mentions "TARP", it's done with derision as with this blurb from Pat Toomey's campaign website:
In a press release on Saturday, Rep. Joe Sestak accused U.S. Senate candidate Pat Toomey of supporting President Bush’s fiscally irresponsible policies, but it was Joe Sestak (RC #681) and Arlen Specter (RC #213) who supported President Bush’s largest spending package—the $700 billion TARP boondoggle—not Pat Toomey. [emphasis added.]
How odd, in light of that, to see Jack Kelly, conservative columnist at the P-G write:
TARP consists of 13 programs, for which $474.8 billion has been obligated. TARP recipients have paid back much of it, and $178.4 billion in TARP funds remain outstanding.

On Oct. 26, the second anniversary of TARP, Mr. Barofsky issued a report on the program to Congress. It concludes that, while TARP prevented financial and economic collapse, it has made possible the payment of record bonuses to Wall Street bankers, failed to increase lending to small businesses and fallen short in reducing unemployment or preserving home ownership. [emphasis added.]
I wish I could have read something like this a month or so ago. Then we could asked Pat Toomey about the "boondoggle" that "prevented financial and economic collapse."

Now look closer at the report's criticism. It's about the Wall Street bonuses and banks' failures to increase small business lending. Note that Jack doesn't refudiate any of those charges.

Nor are the charges of TARP fraud new. Witness this from April of 2009:
The man charged with monitoring the $700 billion financial rescue has launched more than a dozen investigations into possible misuse of the money, according to a report sent to Congress today.

In findings that are not likely to soothe agitated taxpayers who are wondering what return they are getting from the bailouts, Neil Barofsky -- Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, known as TARP -- said billions of taxpayer dollars are vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse.

Barofsky -- who detailed the bailout fund perils in a 250-page tome [pdf] -- said that the criminal probes are looking into possible public corruption, stock, tax, and corporate fraud, insider trading and mortgage fraud. There would be no details on the targets, according to the report, "until public action is taken."

Inadequate oversight and insufficient information about what companies are doing with the money leaves the program open to fraud, including "conflicts of interest facing fund managers, collusion between participants and vulnerabilities to money laundering," Barofsky told lawmakers.
Difficult to pin that one on the Obama administration as April of 2009 was only about a month or so after the Inauguration.

But Jack's ending is the real funny:
Telling us what's happening and why is the job journalists are supposed to do. If journalists were doing their jobs, we should know at least as much about TARP as we do about Delaware GOP Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell's teenage dabbling in witchcraft. That we don't is contemporary journalism's enduring shame.
He's complaining about bad journalism? This is the Jack Kelly who's column on Van Jones was yanked because it was so riddled with factual errors. This isthe Jack Kelly who claimed, with no evidence mind you, that ex-Weather Underground radical William Ayers wrote Barack Obama's book "Dreams of My Father."

Watching Jack Kelly complain about bad journalism is a hoot.

Some Notes On Today's Tribune-Review

It's fun, sometimes, to notice how skewed the reporting (or at least the choice of what to report - which is different and puts the bias-onus on the editors and not the reporters) can be over at Richard Mellon Scaife's Tribune-Review.

Most of the time it's subtle and within bounds.

Today, however, it is not.

An estimated 200,000 people showed up for Jon Stewart's "Restore Sanity and/or Fear" rally at the National Mall yesterday. The estimate comes from the same firm that estimated 87,000 attended Glenn Beck rally in late August. Whether the Beck numbers are too low is beside the point here. The point being that with the same company using the same methodology for the two different events, the Stewart rally racked up more than twice the people attending.

Having written that, I gotta ask what did the Trib go with this morning as the most prominent cover story online?

Of course - a local Tea Party event:
Brian Durbin of Hempfield got up Saturday morning and transformed himself into Benjamin Franklin.

He pulled on brown knickers, a tan vest and ruffled neckpiece, and then covered his hair with a white wig. After pushing wire-rimmed glasses onto his nose, he grabbed a cane, ready to party.

Durbin set off to a Tea Party event in Unity, where physician Bill Hennessey invited several hundred people to a pre-Election Day rally.
Several hundred. Impressive. And no mention (as far as I can tell) of the tens of thousands attending the Stewart/Colbert Rally.

See? Not to subtle today.

Then there's this from the editorial page:
Notes a New York Times headline: "Fraudulent voting re-emerges as a partisan issue." Since when is voter fraud a "partisan" issue? Since it's Republicans complaining about Democrat-orchestrated fraud, you can bet.
But if you were to actually read the Times piece, you'd see what the story is really about:
In 2006, conservative activists repeatedly claimed that the problem of people casting fraudulent votes was so widespread that it was corrupting the political process and possibly costing their candidates victories.

The accusations turned out to be largely false, but they led to a heated debate, with voting rights groups claiming that the accusations were crippling voter registration drives and reducing turnout.

That debate is flaring anew.

Tea Party members have started challenging voter registration applications and have announced plans to question individual voters at the polls whom they suspect of being ineligible.

In response, liberal groups and voting rights advocates are sounding an alarm, claiming that such strategies are scare tactics intended to suppress minority and poor voters. [emphasis added.]
"Democrat-orchestrated fraud"?
While many states have voter registration records riddled with names of dead people, out-of-date addresses and other erroneous information, there is little evidence that such errors lead to fraudulent votes, many experts note.

A report by the public-integrity section of the Justice Department found that from October 2002 to September 2005, the department charged 95 people with “election fraud”; 55 were convicted.

Among those, fewer than 20 people were convicted of casting fraudulent ballots, and only 5 were convicted of registration fraud. Most of the rest were charged with other voting violations, including a scheme meant to help Republicans by blocking the phone lines used by two voting groups that were arranging rides to get voters to the polls.
It's a "partisan issue" when the Republicans are using trumped up charges (myths, really) of "Democrat-orchestrated voter fraud" to suppress the voter registration of members of demographic groups they think will vote against them.

If they truly believed in democracy, they'd be bending over backwards to make sure everyone voted.

Which leads me to one shining moment at the Trib. Joe Mistik's column - stunning defense of the Separation of Church and State:
In truth, God is not mentioned even once in the Constitution. While the Founders all adhered to some form of Christianity or deism, their diverse religious beliefs instilled in them a fear that a theocracy could be established here. And contrary to the religious tests that some political movements impose on candidates, the Constitution says, "No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

Some extreme candidates even wrap themselves in the flag and argue that the principle requiring the separation of church and state does not appear in the Constitution. But James Madison, "The Father of the Constitution," said, "The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries."

Striking the proper balance, the Constitution does say, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
How long before Joe is branded un-American is anyone's guess.

October 30, 2010

Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) Appearance At Sanity Rally Puts Right Winger on Anger Train



Link to Talking Points Memo story.

What Wikipedia says about the controversy.

You can bet your ass that my twelve-year old peacenik self wore out the grooves on this one.
.

Sestak Endorsements



Transcript: Confused by all the political ads? Nearly every newspaper in Pennsylvania endorses Joe Sestak. Admiral Sestak has the ‘courage needed to be independent’ [Harrisburg Patriot-News]. The [Philadelphia] Inquirer writes that Sestak has ‘moderate, reasonable ideas’ while Pat Toomey is ‘allied with the Wall Streeters’ [York Daily Record]. Toomey ‘represents the most extreme views’ [Erie Times-News]. Joe Sestak will fight for the middle class. This Tuesday, vote for change. Joe Sestak.

Sounds good to me.

More On Murphy's "Patriotism" Stunt

This time from Connecticut:
The latest low in dirty politics is painting the League of Women Voters as unpatriotic.
How pathetic is that?

Some conservative commentators, including radio and cable news pundit Glenn Beck, are trying to cast the nonpartisan LWV, a group that dedicates itself to promoting participatory democracy, as anti-American.
The editorial mentions the first incident in Illinois and then:
Last week in Pennsylvania, U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, the Republican seeking re-election in the 18th District there, asked the moderator if the pledge would be recited at the start of a debate.

"It's not a usual way" the League begins forums, the moderator explained. Not because the LWV is unpatriotic, but because it includes the pledge only when it is agreed to in advance by participants and put on an agenda. The LWV is a stickler for precisely adhering to rules and agendas.
But because it's not sufficiently "patriotic" in the way Beck wants it to be patriotic:
"I'll add (the LWV) to my list of people I don't trust anymore," Mr. Beck said.
Using the Pledge (or the Flag for that matter) as a prop to separate the good patriots from the un-Americans should not a high point, should not be a moment of honor, in one's political career.

Found YouTube Object


Don't let whatever disappointments you may have with the Obama administration (and I've had a few) keep you from voting on November 2 (I won't).

Reminder: Sestak Rally 6:30 on Saturday.

October 29, 2010

Final Sestak Rally in Pittsburgh


This will be Joe Sestak's last campaign stop in Pittsburgh and he can't win the election without winning Allegheny County.

WHAT: Admiral Sestak's Steel City Get Out The Vote Rally
WHEN: Saturday, October 30, 2010 at 6:30pm
WHERE: Sestak for Senate Campaign Office, 4326 Butler St., Pittsburgh, PA 15201 (Map)

If you have any questions, call the Pittsburgh headquarters at 412-533-1200.

An Update On Wingnuttia Pledge

Remember this?

It was a P-G story on The Pledge of Allegiance, Congressman Murphy, and a League of Women Voters meeting.

I contacted Congressman Murphy's office for a comment. Specifically, I asked:
I was wondering if the Congressman had discussed the absence of the Pledge with either Mr Rich or Mr Woeber (or anyone else) before the meeting. Was his decision to ask about The Pledge made on the stage or before hand? Does he know Rich and Woeber? Or anyone on the Peters GOP committee?

And if the agenda pre-approved by both campaigns, then why was it a problem that the Pledge wasn't on it?
His congressional office told me that as it was a political issue, they were passing it on to his campaign.

I haven't received a response, yet.

Know who else hasn't received a response?

Eric Heyl of the Trib.

It's a very odd experience for me to say this, but I find that I am in agreement with much of Heyl's column (yea, I know, I know!). He's of the opinion that it was a stunt of Murphy's, though that position is cloaked by apophasis. That's where you bring up a point by saying you won't mention it. Here's Heyl at the end of his column:
Did Murphy engage in an act of stunt patriotism? While I would never suggest that, I will note his campaign has posted three pledge-related videos on YouTube since the debate.
Murphy's Media Page tells us who Murphy did talk to: our good friends Quinn and Rose. Heyl asks the same rhetorical question (questions he knows how you're gonna answer) twice more:
Nice to know that both candidates in the 18th Congressional District are pro-Pledge of Allegiance.

Glad that's cleared up. But a pivotal question remains unanswered after Tuesday's debate at Peters Middle School between Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, and Democratic challenger Dan Connolly.

Did Murphy make patriotism as much a prop at the event as a mask would be in a traveling production of "The Phantom of the Opera"?
And then after telling us that Glenn Beck praised the crowd in Illinois for its spontaneous interjection of the pledge:
"What good reason is there not to say it in that setting?" [Beck] said.

A good question, certainly. An even better one, at least for the purposes of this column, is this: Did Murphy decide to dine at a table that Beck set for him the previous night?
Every rational telling of this story (ie not Quinn and Rose) points out the obvious. Heyl as well:
The league has no specific prohibition against reciting the pledge, but strictly adheres to debate formats candidates agree to long before they take the stage.

Murphy, who did not immediately respond to an interview request made through his campaign manager Thursday, should know that.
Given all this, I think the answer to all of Heyl's rhetorical questions would have to be yes. It was a political stunt.

A dangerous stunt, given the backlash facing the LWV moderator in Illinois (thanks to the Super-patriots there). Mediamatters:
The moderator and the organizer of an Illinois congressional debate who were criticized for not allowing the Pledge of Allegiance to be recited said they have received death threats and plan to go to law enforcement authorities to file complaints.

Each also blamed Fox News host Glenn Beck for stirring up opposition to their work by criticizing the incident and attacking them by name on his Fox News program, which they say has sparked an increase in hateful e-mails and phone calls since then.

"Our webmaster has stopped forwarding the e-mails to me because they have become so ugly," said Jan Czarnik, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Illinois, which sponsored the Oct. 20 forum in Evanston. "I am getting death threats and I am taking it to our local FBI. There are postings on Fox News' Facebook page that include threats on my life."
E Plebnista.

October 28, 2010

And speaking of pushing...


If the Dems can't squeak out some victories in PA, it won't be for lack of trying by the GOTV efforts of the AFL-CIO which has been conducting an unprecedented seven-week direct mail program to union households in this state. Via Marty Marks, National AFL-CIO Field Communications:
-In PA we now have 400 full-time paid union election workers organizing and working with 5000+ union volunteers

-Along with the national mail, most of our members will receive at least one letter from their local unions pushing our endorsed candidates

-Our twenty+ phone banks throughout PA will make many thousands of live member-to-member GOTV phone calls to union households and additional robo calls from local union leaders and national union leaders will be going out through Election Day

- We will hit hundreds of work places with GOTV material this week and through election day

-Starting Thursday through the closing of polling places, we will knock on the door of every union household located in a walkable precinct turning out our voters

We believe our program will deliver results mirroring what we have seen in recent years. We anticipate union households, which comprise about 12% of PA voting age population, will turnout at a rate that is double non-union households. That means that union house holds will comprise about 28% to 32% of the electorate, more than double our share of the voting age population.
And please note that unlike, say, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, labor unions must disclose where their funding comes from.

Volunteer Opportunities for Democrats

Time for the final push:

  • The Coordinated Campaign for Dan Onorato and Joe Sestak (& the entire ticket)
    Nancy & Dick Mills' Roselea Farm, 1474 Coraopolis Heights Road, Moon Township

    Please RSVP to Chairman Richard Mills: 412-264-6595.

    Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (election day) - volunteer to participate on any or all days: 12:00-3:00-and 6:00. The campaign coordinators will have telephones and street lists. Some will be calling, others will be canvassing.

  • OFA (Organizing for America, former Obama campaign)
    They are doing daily phone banking at all locations:

    Lawrenceville: 5170 Butler St

    Downtown: 213 Smithfield

    E. Liberty: 5929 Broad St.

    To volunteer for canvassing from the 30th through election day, you can call Josh at 412-879-0395 or e-mail him at . For phone banking between now and the 30th, you can just show up at any of the HQs (especially if you're bringing your own cell phone). Banking runs from ~10 AM to 8 or 8:30 PM Monday-Saturday, and noon-8 Sunday.

  • Joe Sestak (for US Senate)
    Phonebanks:

    Sq. Hill 2200 Murray Ave, Office of James Lange & Assoc, Corner of Phillips and Murray entrance is on Phillips St. Phonebanks on Mon, Tues, Thurs, from 6-8pm

    Lawrenceville, 4326 Butler St. Pittsburgh, PA 15201 Phonebanks everyday starting at 9am

    Door to Door Literature Drops: Lit drops take place every day. Sestak Campaign office address: 4326 Butler Street. To schedule a time contact Brian Cordova from the Sestak campaign at 412-533-1200

    GOTV Weekend and Election Day - Many volunteers needed the last weekend of the campaign. To schedule a shift contact Brian Cordova at 412-533-1200

  • Dan Onorato (for Governor)
    Sign up to volunteer here and a member of their field staff will contact you to sign you up for a shift.

  • Dan Connolly (PA-18)
    Please contact friends@voteconnolly.com or 412-480-1777 for scheduling or more information. Dan Connolly for Congress HQ will be open every day from 9:00am to 9:00pm for anyone to come in to make phone calls or pick up lists of doors to canvass.

  • Dan DeMarco (PA Senate 40th District)
    He's running against Jane Orie. To volunteer contact Christina christina@dan-demarco.com

  • Disability Voting Coalition of PA
    The Disability Voting Coalition of PA, in cooperation with the Election Protection Program, has taken on the challenge of providing volunteers at the 7 UPMC hospitals in Allegheny County. Every Election Day hundreds of our friends and neighbors who expected to be voting at the polls – have an unexpected illness, accident or other medical emergency.

    They’re looking for volunteers who can:

    · Volunteer for part or all of Election Day from 8:30am to 8:00pm;

    · Provide notary services (we’re certain we need a notary for Shadyside Hospital;

    · Serve as a driver for our volunteer going to and from the Elections Department downtown (departing from each hospital around 4:00pm and 6:00pm.

    If you can volunteer in some capacity, please contact by email pohanlon@drnpa.org or by phone 412-258-2132.

  • File Under: How do they find us?

    Not one but two press releases this AM by "Local Philly Band Swift Technique" letting us know that:
    1) They challenged President Bill Clinton to play sax with them at a Joe Sestak campaign rally in Philly today.

    2) He will play with them (7:00 PM outside at Temple University's Bell Tower).

    The Latest From Wingnuttia

    The Pledge of Allegiance is the new bully-tool, the new tool for the tea-party bullies

    Let me explain. First there was this in Illinois:
    Emotions ran high Wednesday evening at the first moderated forum featuring all three candidates for the 8th Congressional District.

    The League of Women Voters of Lake County moderator found herself having to moderate not only candidates Melissa Bean, Joe Walsh and Bill Scheurer, but also Walsh’s many supporters in the 350-member audience at Grayslake Central High School.

    The debate, hosted by the league and the school’s students, got off to a contentious start when the audience broke out into the Pledge of Allegiance after moderator Kathy Tate-Bradish said it was not on the schedule when asked from the crowd. Tate-Bradish throughout the debate had to ask people to be civil because comments made among them could be heard at the front stage.
    Now about that schedule. It was agreed to by all the parties before hand:
    Tate-Bradish stood by her handling of the request and said she's been surprised by personal attacks directed toward her on the Internet since the forum, particularly posts stating she “hates America.” She said she ran the debate in the format established by some Grayslake High students and agreed to by all three candidates, none of whom asked for the pledge in advance. [emphasis added.]
    Well teh crazie hit local. Here's McNulty of the P-G:

    blockquote>A nationwide conservative outcry about the Pledge of Allegiance at political debates touched down in Peters this week, when a crowd at an 18th District congressional forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters charged ahead with the pledge when it was not on the league's agenda.

    U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, and Democrat Dan Connolly were about to give their opening remarks at a debate at Peters Middle School Tuesday when Mr. Murphy asked the moderator if the pledge was being recited. When she hesitated, saying that was "not a usual way" the league started the forums, members of the crowd stood and recited the pledge anyway.This time, note that it wasn't an audience member who asked. It was Murphy. Who's campaign ok-ed the agenda beforehand:
    The League of Women Voters, founded in 1920, typically includes the pledge only when a forum's hosts request one, said the co-chair of the greater Pittsburgh chapter, Arlene Levy. She said the league adheres strictly to its agendas -- whether they include a pledge or not -- to stay on schedule and keep the rules (which are pre-approved by campaigns) the same for everyone.

    She helped host a 14th District debate, with no pledge, at Pittsburgh's Brashear High School Wednesday, with no complaints from the candidates or student-heavy crowd. [emphasis added.]
    This is the telling part:
    "There have been some groups who want to cause a ruckus, call attention to something, and using the pledge to the flag and making it seem like the League is unpatriotic," said the Highland Park resident. "We have no problems doing [the pledge]. It's patriotic to have candidates forums. We feel we're doing a public service by having nonpartisan candidates forums."

    At Tuesday's meeting, two members of the Peters GOP committee, Buzz Rich and Bob Woeber, were discussing the Illinois incident at a GOP event before Tuesday's debate and decided to ask a League representative if the pledge would be recited. They understood it would, Mr. Woeber said. But when Mr. Murphy raised the issue at the forum and was told the pledge was not on the agenda, Mr. Woeber stood up and shouted "That is unacceptable and un-American!"

    The pair began reciting it, whereupon the two candidates, the moderator and the crowd jumped in.
    Neutrality is the new Un-American. And a new reason to bully.

    E Plebnista.

    I apologize for having my head under your foot


    Romper Stomper Tim Profitt (former Rand Paul Campaign Bourbon County Coordinator) wants an apology from stompee Lauren Valle (par for the course).
    .

    October 27, 2010

    Constitutional Law - Tea Party Style

    When they're not stomping on the heads of protesters or looking to oust a sitting member of the House of Representatives because he's a muslim, the Tea-Party has done some "homework" on the Constitution and found some well established guv'ment programs to be, un, unconstitutional.

    The overall reason? These things are not described in the Constitution and according to the 10th Amendment, should be left to the states.

    From TPM:
    • Social Security
    • Medicare
    • Minimum Wage
    • United Nations
    • Unemployment Benefits
    • Civil Rights Act
    Here's the 10th Amendment:
    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
    You know what else isn't in the Constitution?
    • Centers for Disease Control
    • Security and Exchange Commission
    • Food And Drug Administration
    • OSHA
    Can someone please find these phrases in the Constitution? If they're not there, then why am I paying all my taxes to support something that should be relegated to the states? The guv'ment has no right to take my money to put limits on the free market (as what happens with the SEC) and it has no right to dictate to small business owners their guv'ment definition of "safety" (as what happens with OSHA) If a business is unsafe or fraudulent, it'll quickly go out of business.

    The free market (and low taxes) are the only solution to the trouble we face.

    And stomping on the heads of political protesters.

    October 26, 2010

    Toomey Fact-Checked (But Not By Me)

    Tony Rhodin of the Lehigh Valley Express-Times does the honors this time. From what he's correcting, I gotta wonder what the rest of the Express-Times thought of their meeting with Toomey (hint: we'll get to that later)

    On Iraq:
    To say the Iraq war succeeds because there is less of a chance of weapons of mass destruction being transported across the country is a remarkable justification and simply not true. When Iraq was a minority Sunni-led nation, there was little likelihood Iran would move WMD through Iraq to Lebanon or Palestine, because Iran is a Shiite theocracy. The countries, governmentally, were natural enemies.
    Rhodin goes on to say that the Iraq war made the region less safe and made the "stated goals of the Afghanistan war impossible to reach."

    On Health Care Reform:
    Killing the health care bill and starting over again? You've got to be kidding. Once again, it works in political slogans, but the GOP had complete political control earlier this decade and didn't even consider health care reform, because it's not in the interests of its deep-pocketed patrons. The health care bill, by Congressional Budget Office standards, still cuts the deficit over the next 10 years. And it keeps insurance companies from denying coverage to sick people, putting lifetime caps on coverage and allowing college graduates to go without because they'd been kicked out of their parents' program at 23. Over time it will insure many of the uninsured.

    Why would we want to kill it? Fix it? Sure. It does little to cut individual plan costs. You want malpractice reform? Write the legislation and line up the votes. But if you want to set a limit of $250,000 when a doctor cuts off the wrong leg, it's not our job to protect bad doctors.
    On Social Security Privatization:
    Privatizing Social Security for younger people? OK, how do you replace the money you take out of the system to put into the younger people's accounts? What's the cost? A trillion? At the very time the baby boomers are retiring.
    And so on.

    Step by step Rhodin deconstructs the Toomey's political positions. I kinda like this guy.

    Now about the editorial board - I noticed something odd at the end at the end of their endorsement:
    The best example of Toomey’s tenaciousness came in 1998-99, when he got tired of arguing in the House about excessive spending and wrote his own budget.
    He then led a filibuster that forced Republican leaders to adopt some of his cuts.

    That’s the kind of restraint Congress needs to enshrine — and Toomey is the candidate who won’t brook any dissent in a war on wasteful spending.
    Um, guys? His time in the House of Representatives began in January of 1999. And his "filibuster" (which really wasn't as a "filibuster" is a Senate thing) took place in 2002.If you're gonna endorse a candidate for the United States Senate the least you can do is get the basic facts straight.

    You'll look less like idiots that way.

    Libertarian Paradise, Part III: Rand Paul Supporter Stomps on Woman's Head

    On Monday night, a Rand Paul supporter sporting a "DON'T TREAD ON ME" button pushed a woman to the ground and then another Rand Paul supporter stomped on head.

    The woman, Lauren Valle, is a MoveOn volunteer and a Pennsylvania resident. The violent incident took place outside a Kentucky Senatorial debate between Paul and Jack Conway.

    Here's the video:


    Via HuffPo:
    According to a local Fox station, Valle had attempted to approach Paul before the debate took place, dressed in a blonde wig and with a "RepublicanCorp" sign mocking him as a stooge of special interests.

    Attendees around Valle are heard screaming, "get the cops" as cameras captured her being dragged to the pavement by her red sweater. Once on the ground a man wearing white sneakers pushed the sole of his shoe down on her head.
    Valle spoke to reporters after the incident. She later filed charges with the police and went to the hospital with head pains.

    Also via HuffPo:
    A spokesman for the Lexington Police Department, Lt. Edward Hart, tells The Huffington Post that as off 12:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time they have not yet identified the man captured on video stomping the head of the MoveOn volunteer. Hart said that the department would be reviewing news footage of the incident and that they "are hoping someone can identify who the person is." Until then, he said, it is a "pending investigation."
    Here's the man who stomped on her head:


    Here's the man who held her down:


    (More photos at Blue Bluegrass)

    We're not sure if this is what Palin and Angle mean by manning up. Nor do we know if anyone demanded that she worship Aqua Buddha while on the curb.

    Seriously though, while there will be those who say that you cannot blame Rand Paul for the actions of his supporters, that would be much easier to defend if Paul hadn't appeared at a rally with men in camo waving guns and calling for violence earlier this year:


    I guess Valle should be grateful that she wasn't shot.

    Via Talking Points Memo:
    In a separate incident, according to the Kentucky Post, "a Conway supporter stepped on the foot of a female Rand supporter, who recently had foot surgery. The woman was wearing a surgical boot, but after the injury, her incision was cut open. Police say she refused medical treatment and also filed an assault report."
    .

    October 25, 2010

    Joe's Latest Ad


    Here's the text:
    I served the Navy for 31 years, but opposed the war in Iraq. I worked for President Clinton, but stood up to the establishment in my own party to take on Arlen Specter. I’m Joe Sestak, and I authorize this message because I’ll always be an independent voice. I’ll stand up to party bosses, to Wall Street, to Washington, because we need a change. I’ll never forget, it’s about serving the public

    Aw, Ruth Ann! You're Better Than This! I know You Are!

    In today's column, one that's critical of NPR's firing of Juan Williams, P-G columnist Ruth Ann Dailey writes:
    And perhaps Mr. Williams' true sin was that he voiced his opinion on Fox News. After all -- as conservative shows and websites have recounted with relish -- NPR reporter Nina Totenberg regularly goes far beyond subtle cultural bias, praising left-wing politicians and policies and sharing opinions about the very Supreme Court cases she covers. She even opined once that, if there is "retributive justice," Sen. Jesse Helms or one of his grandchildren "will get AIDS from a transfusion."
    Ruth Ann is hoping that you won't check her work and that you'll just assume that Totenberg said what Ruth Ann says she said.

    On it's face, it looks bad for Nina. What sort of person would even allow AIDS level suffering on another human being? And anyway when did this happen?

    Let's go to the video:


    And now we're getting somewhere. It was July of 1995. In trashing Totenberg for her, at the very least, inartful words, does Ruth Ann or anyone even wonder why they were talking about Jesse Helms like that in early July of 1995?

    Perhaps it was this article in the New York Times.
    Senator Jesse Helms, the North Carolina Republican who has vigorously fought homosexual rights, wants to reduce the amount of Federal money spent on AIDS sufferers, because, he says, it is their "deliberate, disgusting, revolting conduct" that is responsible for their disease.

    Moreover, he argues, AIDS is only the ninth-leading cause of death in America but accounts for more Federal financing than diseases that kill more people (an assertion not supported by Public Health Service figures).

    "We've got to have some common sense, " Mr. Helms maintained in an interview, "about a disease transmitted by people deliberately engaging in unnatural acts."
    The Congress was looking to reauthorize the Ryan White Care Act of 1990 and the gay-hating Helms was getting in the way:
    Despite broad bipartisan support for the measure in both houses of Congress, it appears stalled. In the Senate, the bill has cleared the committee level but has yet to reach the floor. This is in large measure due to Senator Helms, given the latitude any single member of the Senate has to tie up proceedings.
    Now look again at what he said. He was looking to reduce federal funding because AIDS sufferers are suffering because it is their "deliberate, disgusting, revolting conduct". Meaning anal-sex, of course.

    Nevermind that Ryan White contracted the disease through tainted blood products.

    According to the HRSA, the act:
    The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program is the largest Federal program focused exclusively on HIV/AIDS care. The program is for individuals living with HIV/AIDS who have no health insurance (public or private), have insufficient health care coverage, or lack financial resources to get the care they need for their HIV disease. As such, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program fills gaps in care not covered by other funding sources.
    That's what Senator Helms was holding up in July of 1995. AIDS sufferers who couldn't afford health care would have some options they might not otherwise have. Jesse Helms wanted some of them to suffer because he was disgusted by anal sex. Had he succeeded, Ruth Ann, how much more human suffering would there have been directly attributed to his disgust?

    It's not something I would've said, but perhaps that's why Nina Totenberg said that "if there's retributive justice he'll get AIDS through a transfusion." Helms' own hatred would have furthered human suffering.

    Jesse Helms was a mean bastard.

    There's Going to be a Showdown


    The City Council post agenda with the Mayor has just started. You can view it live on the city channel. UPDATE: Live streaming here as well.

    Some Background Reading:

    - Ravenstahl wants parking, pensions summit, P-G, 10/23/10

    - Ravenstahl grapples with parking defeat, P-G, 10/24/10

    - Mayor Invites Councilors To Meeting That Should Be Very Informational (Or Exceptionally Brief), Infinonymous, 10/22/10

    - Parking-pension posts @ 2pj

    - Bram live blogging at The Pittsburgh Comet.

    - Several posts on Councilman Bill Peduto's thoughts on this issue @ Reform Pittsburgh Now

    - Controller-Council plan available here.

    - Parking Assets Poll here.
    .

    Did this just start today?

    An hour long noon news broadcast on WTAE -- did this just start today?

    The Trib ReSmears

    Hey, remember this media hoax? We started writing about it in February of 2007.

    The "story" back then was about how Speaker Pelosi "demanded" the use of a bigger jet and "rejected" the jet her predecessor utilized. the P-G's own Ruth Ann Dailey had the "story" down cold.

    Too bad it just wasn't at all true.

    The request was put in by the House Sergeant-at-Arms and it was done, at least partially, for security reasons. The Bush Administration decided that the Speaker of the House (as well as all the other high ranking Congressional officials) fly on military planes. We live in a post-9/11 world and all that.

    Well now that we're a week away from an election, Richard Mellon Scaife's "news" paper, the Tribune-Review republished some re-findings from their source on the story, Judicial Watch.

    Heh-heh-heh. You know what comes next, right? When I wrote "their source", it had somewhat of a double meaning. You see, my friends, when you look at the funding for Judcial Watch, there's Scaife money as far as the eye can see.

    According to the mediamatters, two of the foundations controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife (Carthage and Sarah Scaife) have given a whopping $9 million to Judicial Watch over the last 13 or so years. More than all the other foundation donations combined.

    So when I wrote "their source" I really meant it.

    From Scaife's braintrust:
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., treats the Air Force as her personal taxi service, taking her here, there and everywhere — all at taxpayers' expense.

    Documents newly obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Judicial Watch show the speaker took 85 flights on Air Force aircraft from March 2009 through June 2010 — an average of more than one per week, with family members aboard two D.C.-to-California flights.
    And:
    Documents previously obtained by Judicial Watch show Mrs. Pelosi's peregrinations cost the Air Force — and taxpayers — more than $2.1 million over two years. Of that, more than $101,000 went for in-flight expenses including food and alcohol, such as liquor purchases for one Mideast junket that reads like a catalog of top-shelf brands.
    Iwas curious about that flight. When did it happen?

    Judicial Watch has it at May of 2008. The trip was for 5 days and went to Tel Aviv and Baghdad. And it was a CODEL (meaning a Congressional Delegation - ie NOT a personal trip). So why include it here? In an editorial complaining about Speaker Pelosi's use of military aircraft as a "personal taxi"?

    The answer is obvious, doncha think? It's a smear, pure and simple. Bought and paid for by Scaife money and pushed feces-like into the public discourse by Scaife's editorial page.

    October 24, 2010

    Endorsements (was: Jack Kelly Sunday)

    In this week's column, Jack Kelly (and I am NOT kidding about this) writes:
    In my opinion, the biggest of the many mistakes made by President George W. Bush was his failure to clean out CIA headquarters after 9/11, the most egregious intelligence failure in CIA history.
    And then he basically rewrites this column and this column.

    You'd think that for whatever amount of money the P-G is paying him, he'd actually deliver something new.

    But I digress.

    We have a horse race here in Pennsylvania - for Senator. The polls are tightening and the endorsements are rolling in.

    Here's a list of the papers in the state, sorted by circulation. Let's start at the top and see if there's an endorsement picture emerging.

    Philadelphia Inquirer (circ 356,189): Endorsement SESTAK. First they discuss how bipartisan each candidate would be:
    From health care to Social Security to bank bailouts, the candidates for Pennsylvania's open U.S. Senate seat are polar opposites.

    The campaigns of Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Sestak reflect the nationwide purge of moderates from both parties. But Toomey, who served in the House from 1999-2005, has played a more prominent role in this counterproductive trend.
    And:
    Toomey, having done his part for party purity, now asks independent voters to believe he can be bipartisan in Washington.

    The chances for that seem remote, at best.
    The endorsement compares records:
    Like most of his Democratic colleagues, Sestak would raise income taxes only on families earning more than $250,000 per year and extend tax cuts for all others. Toomey, an ardent tax-cutter during his six years in the House, would make tax cuts permanent even for the super-rich. That would add far more to deficits than the Democratic plan.

    Toomey, 48, was once a currency trader on Wall Street and later owned a restaurant in Allentown. He has a grasp of economic issues, and advocates less government across the board. But Toomey would unnecessarily repeal the health-care law in favor of solutions such as deducting the cost of health insurance premiums, something he acknowledges "won't have much of an impact" on people who can't afford health insurance.
    And concludes:
    Sestak has moderate, reasonable ideas for promoting clean energy and providing small businesses with incentives to create more jobs. In the Senate, Sestak's views would be much more in line with most Pennsylvanians.
    Oh, and they point out how that Pat Toomey was more conservative than Rick Santorum. More Conservative.

    Now let's see how the big paper on the our side of the state sees things.

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (circ. 192.279) Endorsement SESTAK:
    Mr. Toomey wants to reduce the role of government on virtually every front. Mr. Sestak believes government should play a role in improving the lives of Americans. Based on interviews with both candidates, the choice for the Post-Gazette is easy.

    In a nation with double-digit unemployment, businesses shipping jobs overseas, a health reform targeted for repeal by special interests, a Congress incapable of forging smart energy policy and a tax-cut extension that could shower billions of dollars on the rich when the deficit can ill afford it -- Joe Sestak is the voice of reason.
    The P-G continues it's "reasonable man" portrait:
    Joe Sestak supports a smart energy policy that will rely less on fossil fuels, create jobs by growing sustainable technologies and reduce oil imports, thereby enhancing security. While his opponent rails about the federal deficit, Mr. Sestak would help reduce the red ink by extending the Bush-era tax cuts only to households with up to $250,000 in income. Renewing tax cuts to the rich would add $700 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years.
    And pointing out Toomey's conservative cred:
    In 1998 he won a seat in the U.S. House and served for three terms. Then, as now, he supported privatizing parts of Social Security, a flat income tax of 17 percent and corporate taxes that are as low as possible. He believes the new health insurance law should be repealed and replaced by a modest program of tort reform, competition among insurance companies and health savings accounts in which families would set aside tax-deductible dollars to pay for their insurance.

    Mr. Toomey, 48, criticizes the federal banking bailout and economic stimulus as unnecessary spending, although economists widely backed both as necessary to save the nation from a depression. A former president of the Club for Growth, a far-right national political advocacy group, he believes in free trade and corporations unfettered by regulations. Mr. Toomey opposed cap and trade, the market-based concept initiated by Republicans that would give financial incentives to businesses for curbing harmful emissions. He says that while data supports the phenomenon of global warming, the extent to which it can be blamed on human activity is "very much disputed."
    The P-G, as the Philadelphia Inquirer, points out how Toomey would very easily replicate Rick Santorum's voting record.

    Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (circ. 170,538)Endorsement TOOMEY:
    Toomey, who went on to serve as president of the Club for Growth, is a conservative's conservative. Sestak, a retired Navy admiral, is a liberal's liberal. And while we have great personal respect for Sestak, a good and decent man, and stipulate that his military expertise would be an asset in the Senate, the nation no longer can abide his kind of failed liberal public policy prescriptions.

    Pat Toomey is another good and decent man. No, there's not much "flash" but Toomey is no shrinking violet. He understands fundamental economics and government's role in facilitating economic growth. His scholarship and demeanor will serve Pennsylvanians well in the U.S. Senate.
    So what can we take from these three endorsements?

    Sestak: Reasonable, moderate and far more bipartisan.
    Toomey: A Conservative's conservative who'd easily recreate Rick Santorum's voting record.

    Hmmm...decisions, decisions...

    October 23, 2010

    Pat Toomey On Torture

    During a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon where he was guest speaker, Toomey was asked about the torture techniques used by the Bush administration. According to Bill Peschel of the Patriot-News:
    Toomey twice refused to reveal his position on the interrogation method used on suspected terrorists which simulates drowning.

    "My understanding is that [waterboarding] revealed some very, very important information that saved a lot of American lives," Toomey said Monday during a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon, where he was the guest speaker.

    Toomey said prosecuting Americans who used waterboarding on terror suspects would be a "witch hunt." He said it would undermine U.S. security and have "a profoundly chilling effect on our ability to get the best possible advice from people serving in our government in the future."

    But asked again if he believed waterboarding was torture, Toomey said he hasn't had a chance "to come to a conclusion other than what I have said."
    That last sentence, surely, is bullshit. The United States is a signatory of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (signed by Ronald Reagan in 1988 and ratified by the Senate in 1994) and Article I defines torture as:
    Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
    Anyone want to even try to say that waterboarding doesn't inflict "severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental"? We already know that it was used to obtain information.

    And then Article II, Section 2 states:
    No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
    So even if the waterboarding "revealed some very, very important information that saved a lot of American lives" (and that's debatable), that would still not make it legal.

    So why wouldn't Toomey join the rest of the civilized world and denounce what is obviously a war crime?

    Pat Toomey - he just can't bring himself to say that torture is illegal.

    Um, Wrong. TWICE

    From the Chicago Tribune:
    In a rare public appearance, former President George W. Bush reflected on his presidency and his life out of the spotlight, poked fun at himself, and plugged his upcoming book while speaking at a conference for a finance trade association in Chicago on Thursday.
    And then at the end:
    "In terms of accomplishments, my biggest accomplishment is that I kept the country safe amid a real danger," he said.

    The former president said his greatest failure in office was not passing Social Security reform.
    Just two sentences and he got 'em both wrong.

    Did he keep the country safe?

    No. Not on 9/11, he didn't. The greatest terror attack on the nation's soil occurred on his watch and he was warned that something was going to happen. His administration dropped the ball and three thousand people died in New York City, The Pentagon, and in Somerset County, PA.

    Was his greatest failure not passing Social Security reform?

    No. His greatest failure (if it wasn't this failure to protect the nation on 9/11) would probably have to be causing the deaths of 4500 American servicemen and women (by lying about Iraq, about the WMD, about al-Qaeda). And then there's the domestic surveillance (an impeachable offense), and the torture (a war crime).

    October 22, 2010

    Debate Watch Party and Sestak Rally


    WHAT: Debate Watch Party and Sestak Rally
    WHEN: Friday, October 22, 2010
    Debate Watch: 7:00pm
    Rally with the Congressman: 8:30pm - 9:00pm
    WHERE: Elks Lodge #339, 400 Cedar Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15212 (map)

    RSVP: Tim Cox at Sestak's Pittsburgh office at 412-533-1200.

    Spread the word and show up!
    .

    Pat Toomey On Abortion

    Not sure whether this constitutes a flip-flop but Congressman Toomey has certainly shaded his pro-life position recently.

    Shaded it from crazy extreme to merely extreme.

    Take a look.

    This is from August:


    Here's what this self-described "center right" politician said:
    I think that Roe v Wade was wrongly defined, wrongly decided and I think states should be free to restrict abortion and I would support legislation in Pennsylvania that would ban abortion and I would suggest that we have penalties for doctors who perform them if we were able to pass that law.
    And when Criss Mathews asked whether doctors who performed abortions should be put in jail, Toomey answered:
    At some point doctor's performing abortions, I think would be subject to that sort of penalty.
    That was August. No qualifiers, no exceptions are mentioned.

    And this is from the Sestak Toomey debate from earlier this week. Toomey was asked:
    Mr. Toomey, abortion. Is Roe v. Wade...or would you, if elected, work to further undermine it? Or knock it out completely? Two, in terms of-- affirming judicial appointments all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, would you vote to affirm anybody who was not in your camp on that issue?
    And he answered (with a lie, by the way):
    Abortion’s a tough issue. And it’s one-- there’s good people on both sides of this. My views are consistent with that of a majority of the congressional delegation and the other Senator from Pennsylvania. I’m pro-life. And I would accept a ban on abortions, with the exceptions of rape and incest and the life of the mother.

    I think Roe versus Wade was mistakenly-- determined. And I would support its repeal. But I’ve never advocated that we have a litmus test for judges. I think instead that what we ought to do is examine a judge’s qualifications. When Justice-- now Justice Sotomayor was first suggested, nominated by President Obama, many of my colleagues, many Republicans thought we should simply reject her candidacy.

    I deemed her to be quite capable and competent and I advocated endorsing her. Joe Sestak is the one who is extreme on this issue. He is in that fringe of-- of members, very liberal, who believe in taxpayer funded abortion on demand. And no restrictions at all.
    Did you see the wiggle?

    He's willing to allow exceptions for rape and incest and the life of the mother.

    And mediamatters has already debunked the myth that Sestak favors "taxpayer funded abortion on demand."

    Pat Toomey - All abortions should be banned and doctors performing them should be sent to jail, except maybe not. It depends on which segment of the audience he's pandering to.

    October 21, 2010

    More Evidence Of Conservative Anti-Intellectualism

    Glenn Beck on Evolution:


    To be in denial about a central pillar of modern science is simply astonishing to me. And to use, as Christine O'Donnell did, an "I don't see it happening so it can't be true" argument (Beck said, "I haven't seen a half-monkey, half-person yet.") is simply astonishing on top of astonishing.

    But this, my friends, is a great example of the know-nothing right's know-nothingness. It celebrates its own ignorance while deploring as "elitism" anyone in the classroom with the right answer.

    Next they'll be saying that the theory of relativity is a liberal plot because it disagrees with the Bible.

    No wait, they already have.

    Teh Crazie - Darwinian Style.

    Happy Birthday Diz!

    October 20, 2010

    Hey, Did You Know This??

    From Washington Monthly (quoting the Wall Street Journal):
    The federal government budget deficit shrank in fiscal 2010, but the big gap was only $122 billion lower than the record high set a year ago.

    The U.S. spent $1.294 trillion more than it collected in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, the Treasury Department said Friday.

    The deficit amounted to 8.9% of gross domestic product. That's down from fiscal 2009, when the deficit of $1.416 trillion was 10.0% of GDP.
    They put it another way:
    The $1.294 trillion shortfall is smaller than last year's total; it's slightly lower than the deficit President Obama inherited from his predecessor; and the final figure was smaller than projections made by the administration and the CBO earlier this year.
    Still way high, but Obama's first budget deficit was (now wait for it) lower than Bush's last.

    And now a thought experiment:
    Want to have some fun? Ask your favorite Tea Partier whether the deficit they claim to care so much about is higher or lower now than when Obama took office. They won't care for the answer, but it's true.
    Any takers?

    Despicable!

    It's one thing to run attack ads against a candidate or a party, it's entirely another thing to run ads which tell people not to vote at all.

    But, that's exactly what "Latinos for Reform" want to tell Latinos in Nevada to do:

    "Don't Vote" ("No Votes").

    The ad basically slams Democrats, but instead of telling people to vote Republican, it tells them to send a message by not voting at all.

    It should not surprise anyone that "Latinos for Reform" is a Republican 527 group.

    And, who does this group share a P.O. Box number with? It shares it with "the Admiral Roy F. Hoffmann Foundation, an organization founded by the chairman of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT), Roy F. Hoffmann."

    How completely craven and despicable to target Latinos -- who are likely not to vote for you in the first place -- and tell them that they should give up their vote entirely.

    How completely disgusting is it to think that they are ripe for being hoodwinked too?

    And, how completely Bizarro World is it for Republicans to do this when they are the party who are running Sharron Angle for Senate in Nevada -- a candidate who not only ran an ad depicting stereotypical scary-looking Latinos entering the country illegally and later claimed it was about the Canadian border, but who also told a group of Latino school children that they looked Asian.

    The ad was set to run on the Spanish-language Univision network. Fortunately, Univision changed their mind and will not be running them.

    Talk about the Party of NO!

    It certainly seems that Republicans are so entirely bankrupt of ideas that they can't even make an argument to vote for them so they have to target minority groups and tell them not to vote at all. (Of course they are actually working to supress minority voters in TX and IL.)

    DESPICABLE.

    Here's the ad in English and in Spanish:





    I will mention that for five years in the nineties, I worked for Protele (a subsidiary of Televisa). Protele sold Televisa's programming on the international market including a big chunk to Univision.
    .

    Some Poll Numbers

    First I saw this, yesterday:
    On Tuesday the Democratic-leaning polling firm PPP released findings showing Sestak leading his Republican challenger, former Club for Growth President Pat Toomey, for the first time this cycle: 46 percent to 45 percent. Sestak's campaign did not pay for the poll, which was done with recorded voice interviews and with respondents sampled from actual voter lists. A day prior, the odds-makers at ABC News had moved the race from "lean Republican" to "toss up."
    Here's the report from PPP. They give three reasons for the numbers:
    • Democratic voters are getting more engaged as election day moves closer.
    • Sestak has wiped out what was an enormous deficit with independents.
    • The Democratic base is unifying more around Sestak.
    Interesting stuff - but still it's a "Democratic-leaning" poll.

    But then this morning, I saw this:
    A new poll in Pennsylvania's hotly contested race for U.S. Senate shows that Democrat Joe Sestak has apparently wiped out Republican Pat Toomey's lead.

    The Muhlenberg (MYOO'-len-berg) College/Allentown Morning Call poll released Wednesday shows Sestak supported by 44 percent of likely voters to Toomey's 41 percent. The numbers include people who are leaning toward voting for a candidate but haven't entirely made up their minds.
    Here's the poll itself from MYOO'-len-berg.

    I'm not an expert in these things, but it looks like Toomey's support is settling a skosh. For example, his favorable/unfavorable rating from the Sept 28-Oct 4 poll was 44/31 (44% of those surveyed had a favorable impression of Toomey vs 31% who had an unfavorable impression). THIS poll, however, shows a change - Favorable/Unfavorable rating of 34/36. A drop of 10 "favorable" points with a rise of 5 "unfavorable."

    Sestak, on the other hand, showed a consistent rating (37/37 in Sep-Oct and a 34/34 now).

    The poll has a similar flip in numbers for support of the candidates: Toomey over Sestak 46/39 is Sept 28-Oct 4 poll moved to a Sestak over Toomey 44/41 in the current poll.

    Remember, this is only a snapshot. Things could change quickly in any direction but it's my guess is that the more people learn about the Congressman Wall Street, the more they support Joe Sestak.

    October 19, 2010

    Scenes From Teh Crazie Tea Party

    First, from Delaware:
    Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell of Delaware on Tuesday questioned whether the U.S. Constitution calls for a separation of church and state, appearing to disagree or not know that the First Amendment bars the government from establishing religion.

    The exchange came in a debate before an audience of legal scholars and law students at Widener University Law School, as O'Donnell criticized Democratic nominee Chris Coons' position that teaching creationism in public school would violate the First Amendment by promoting religious doctrine.

    Coons said private and parochial schools are free to teach creationism but that "religious doctrine doesn't belong in our public schools."

    "Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?" O'Donnell asked him.

    When Coons responded that the First Amendment bars Congress from making laws respecting the establishment of religion, O'Donnell asked: "You're telling me that's in the First Amendment?" [emphasis added.]
    Take a look:


    The fun stuff is way at the end - O'Donnell doesn't seem to understand what's in the First Amendment - it's found at about 7:10. She sounds like rather incredulous.

    Oh, and at about 1:40 she lectures Coons about how much he doesn't know about the Constitution and about evolution - which she says is not a fact but "a theory."

    Her campaign's trying to minimize how Constitutionally ignorant she sounded:
    “In this morning’s WDEL debate, Christine O’Donnell was not questioning the concept of separation of church and state as subsequently established by the courts,” said campaign manager Matt Moran. “She simply made the point that the phrase appears nowhere in the Constitution.”
    Sure she was. It's obvious that if you listen to what she said and the way she said it, she was obviously making the silly point that the phrase "separation of church and state" does not occur in the First Amendment.

    Of course she was.

    If you believe that, you'll believe that Evolution has been disproved because monkeys aren't changing before our eyes into hu-mans.

    Kilmeade's "Apology" Is Crap

    Remember this? Fox and Friends host Brian Kilmeade, made the claim last week that "all Muslims are terrorists."

    When he was outed as a bigot and an idiot, a spokesperson for Fox "News" said he'd clarify his position. Well, here it is:


    And the text:
    Meanwhile, on the show on Friday, I was talking about Bill O'Reilly's appearance on The View, and I said this: "Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims." Well, I misspoke. I don't believe all terrorists are Muslims. I'm sorry about that, if I offended or -- offended or hurt anybody's feelings. But that's it. Now let's go over to Stuart.
    Too bad that according to Mediamatters, he said that "all terrorists were muslims" not once but twice that day. The other time was his radio show. Listen at about 1:00 in:


    He even adds the equally idiotic:
    You can't avoid that fact.
    He "clarified" on the radio saying what he said he should have said:

    What he said he should have said was that all the 9/11 terrorists were muslim.

    Which is, of course, true. But it's also a circular redundancy - that all Muslim terrorists are Muslim.

    Kilmeade's still an idiot. And he's still on Fox and Friends.

    October 17, 2010

    Jack Kelly Sunday

    While the headline for Jack's column this week may turn out to be true, little else is.

    Let's jump right in:
    The member of Congress most responsible for our current economic troubles may pay for his sins in November.

    Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass, is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. No one insisted more strongly on the lax lending standards at the heart of the subprime mortgage crisis. No one fought more vigorously against oversight of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), whose bankruptcies accelerated the economic collapse.

    "The issue that day in 2003 was whether mortgage backers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were fiscally strong," wrote Donovan Slack of the Boston Globe Thursday. "Frank declared with his trademark confidence that they were, accusing critics and regulators of exaggerating threats to Fannie's and Freddie's financial integrity ... Now, it's clear he was wrong."
    So much Jack-spin in such a small Jack-graf. This is such an old chestnut that Frank has already responded to it. In March of 2009:
    [T]he Republican history on this subject appears to end in 2003. I understand why they find later events unpleasant, since those events document the gathering series of policy mistakes that the Republicans made which ended in their being repudiated in 2006, and re-repudiated in 2008. In their view of the world, the last relevant thing that happened was a statement I made in 2003 in which I said that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were not in crisis. I did say that. And I would have said it as well – and may have – about Wachovia Bank, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, the Royal Bank of Scotland, and dozens of other financial institutions in America and elsewhere which were not in fact in crisis in 2003. [emphasis added]
    He went on:
    What happened subsequently, in the years the Republicans wish to ignore because they cannot defend what happened – is that the Bush administration pushed for even more subprime lending, Alan Greenspan refused to use congressional authority he’d been given in 1994 to regulate it, and the House Republicans blocked any efforts to legislate against it. In fact, as quoted in a story in the Bloomberg News, when the Bush administration ordered Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to increase significantly the number of loans they bought for people below median income, I objected saying that this would be good neither for the borrowers who could not repay the loans nor for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
    Incidentally, Donovan Slack of the Globe (who Jack quotes) while heaping lots of blame on Congressman Frank also wrote:
    But Frank said that putting blame entirely on him is unfair — and several independent analysts agree. They said Republicans also failed to take warning signs seriously enough to avert disaster, despite controlling the White House and both houses of Congress between 2003 and 2007, a crucial period leading up to the Fannie and Freddie failures.
    Something of Slack's that Jack didn't quote. Same with this:
    When the Democrats won control of the House in 2006 and Frank became chairman of the Financial Services Committee the following year, one of the first measures he helped pass imposed tougher regulations on Fannie and Freddie and prevented them from taking on too much risk.

    “It’s the Republican line. They say it happened on my watch, but my watch began in January 2007,’’ Frank said. “The mistake I made was a nonoperational one — I wasn’t in power. From the day I became chairman, I think we did everything we could.’’

    By the time Frank’s bill passed, it was too late.
    Indeed for not fighting vigorously against oversight of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, this is an odd charge considering that Frank sponsored the Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2007 which, according to the CRS summary:
    Amends the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992 (Act) to establish, in place of the present Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, a Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), headed by a Director (Director) possessing general supervisory and regulatory authority over the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), and the federal home loan banks ("the regulated entities").
    Jack, like some other conservative critics, conspicuously ends his history of the lending crisis at the punctuation ending Barney Frank's 2003 statement while his chairmanship of the Committee started 4 years later.

    In any event, the whole "Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac created the crisis" is more or less bunk.

    From Businessweek in 2008:
    There’s a dangerous — and misleading — argument making the rounds about the causes of our current credit crisis. It’s emanating from Washington where politicians are engaging in the usual blame game but this time the stakes are so high that we can’t afford to fall victim to political doublespeak. In this fact-free zone, government sponsored mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused the real estate bubble and subprime meltdown. It’s completely false. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were victims of the credit crisis, not culprits.

    Start with the most basic fact of all: virtually none of the $1.5 trillion of cratering subprime mortgages were backed by Fannie or Freddie. That’s right — most subprime mortgages did not meet Fannie or Freddie’s strict lending standards. All those no money down, no interest for a year, low teaser rate loans? All the loans made without checking a borrower’s income or employment history? All made in the private sector, without any support from Fannie and Freddie.

    Look at the numbers. While the credit bubble was peaking from 2003 to 2006, the amount of loans originated by Fannie and Freddie dropped from $2.7 trillion to $1 trillion. Meanwhile, in the private sector, the amount of subprime loans originated jumped to $600 billion from $335 billion and Alt-A loans hit $400 billion from $85 billion in 2003. Fannie and Freddie, which wouldn’t accept crazy floating rate loans, which required income verification and minimum down payments, were left out of the insanity.
    So Jack's arguments (that Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac is to blame and Barney Frank is responsible for that) are both old and incorrect.

    How much of a surprise is that?

    October 16, 2010

    Cleaning Up Toomey's Crap


    Crooks and Liars has the text:
    I'm Joe Sestak and this is Belle. My family loves Belle. But she can make a mess. And we have to clean it up.

    I think about Belle when I see Congressman Toomey's ads attacking me.

    It made me sick to bail out the banks. But I had to clean up the mess left behind by these guys. [Points to picture of George W. Bush and Pat Toomey.] They let Wall Street run wild. Now Pat Toomey is attacking me for cleaning up his mess.

    I authorize this message because we deserve leaders who solve problems instead of playing politics.
    Plus, it's nice to see SOMEONE having the guts to call the mess Bush and company left behind what it is: a mess of dog crap.

    Brian Kilmeade Is Still An Idiot

    From Huffingtonpost:
    Fox News host Brian Kilmeade claimed Monday morning that "all terrorists are Muslims."
    How does this guy tie his shoes every day?

    Here's Huffpost's context. Kilmeade and his fellow genii over at Fox and Friends were discussion Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar walking off the set after something Bill O'Reilly said:
    "That debate is almost like our debate on training wheels," Kilmeade said of the "View" discussion. "That was our debate seven weeks ago, and they can't handle the give-and-take of a debate. They were outraged that somebody was saying...there was a certain group of people that attacked us on 9/11. It wasn't just one person, it was one religion. Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims."
    A spokes person for Fox "News" said he'd "clarify" his remarks on Monday.

    Unless it starts with "I was completely wrong when I said that all muslims are terrorists..." it'll be complete crap.

    Anti-abortion terrorist Michael Griffin: Not a Muslim
    Anti-abortion terrorist Paul Hill: Not a Muslim
    Anti-abortion terrorist Eric Rudolph: Not a Muslim
    Anti-abortion terrorist James Kopp: Not a Muslim
    Anti-abortion terrorist Scott Roeder: Not a Muslim

    All Christians, by the way.

    Brian Kilmeade is still an idiot. And as of this writing, he's still employed by Fox.

    Toomey's Odd Blamegame

    (h/t to Thinkprogress)

    First the video:


    Thinkprogress has a transcript:
    But they’re doing some serious damage. If you think of what we’ve witnessed in just the last 18 months or so, serial bailouts of failing companies, nationalizing whole industries, spending money on a scale we’ve never seen before, deficits and debts that are completely unsustainable, you add in cap and trade, card check, government-run health care, is it any wonder we haven’t had an economic recovery? Is it any wonder we don’t have job growth? How hard is this to figure out? [emphasis in original]
    The difficulty, as thinkprogress points out, is that some of that legislation hasn't been passed yet.
    “Government-run health care” presumably refers to the health law passed this past spring by Congress, but the legislation that Toomey is referring to as “cap and trade” and “card check” haven’t even gotten close to getting the votes they need to be made into law. “Cap and trade” refers to the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which, while narrowly passing the House of Representatives in 2009, is widely considered to be dead in the U.S. Senate. “Card check” refers to a provision in the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) that would allow workers to form a union if they could get half the workers to sign a card stating their intention to organize.
    Pat Toomey - on top of things. Really.

    October 15, 2010

    More On Toomey's Anti-Science Agenda

    From the Huffingtonpost:
    Pennsylvania Senate candidate Pat Toomey raised eyebrows when he said in a local radio interview on Friday, that the degree to which human activity is to blame for global warming is being "very much disputed" and "debated."

    It's not the first time he's made the argument.

    "There is much debate in the scientific community as to the precise sources of global warming," Toomey claimed in June.

    Trolling Opensecrets.org, HuffPost found Toomey's top contributors include oil and coal giants Koch Industries ($15,000) and Murray Energy ($16,655).
    This is the part from the piece I loved:
    Though his claims are sharply at odds with scientific consensus, which holds that human activity is primarily responsible for global warming, Toomey's position on climate change will likely be the position held by a majority of GOPers in in the 112th Congress.
    See that first sentence? That's a too-diplomatic way of saying Toomey's wrong on global warming.

    Here's how the Huffington piece ended:
    "This is just the latest example of Congressman Toomey's refusal to hear perspectives that don't fit into his own narrow mindset, even if those perspectives are backed by a large volume of credible evidence," said Sestak campaign spokesman Jonathon Dworkin. "But try as he might, Toomey can't escape from the facts. Pennsylvania needs a public servant dedicated to finding practical solutions to the problems we face, not another closed-minded ideologue bent on insisting that the 'world is flat.'"
    Pat Toomey - scientifically ignorant darling of big business.

    October 14, 2010

    Dick Armey Credits Toomey With Sparking 'Conception' Of Tea Party


    Via The Philadelphia Inquirer's Commonwealth Confidential:
    Former Rep. Dick Armey (R.,Tex.), whose Freedom Works organization has helped the Tea Party grow, said Tuesday in Philadelphia that the movement was conceived the moment President George W. Bush endorsed Sen. Arlen Specter (then-R, now D) over Pat Toomey in the 2004 Republican primary.

    [snip]

    Naturally, Democrats would like to hang responsibility for some the more - er, unusual - Tea Party candidates around Toomey's neck. After all, he was head of the Club for Growth, a powerful advocacy group that has spent a decade pushing from the GOP candidates and officeholders deemed insufficiently pure in their conservatism.

    Sestak's campaign said in a statement that Toomey and O'Donnell would be a "perfect match" in the Senate...

    [snip]

    "Congressman Toomey may not be a witch, but his policies are just as scary," said Sestak spokeswoman April Mellody. "Eliminating all corporate taxes, privatizing Social Security and shipping jobs to China are so out of touch with Pennsylvanians that if you didn't have a private plane, you'd need a broomstick to reach them."