Monthly Archives: November 2011

Perry Dumb-Dumb

Rick Perry at St. Anselm's College in New Hampshire today:

“Those who are going to be over 21 on November 12th, I ask for your support”

Two things:

(1)  The general election is on November 6, 2012, not November 12.

(2)  Eighteen year olds can vote.

… although maybe Perry already knew that second one, and just doesn't want the vote of people under 21.

OWS vs Tea Party

Fun infographic (click to enlarge).  I think it oversimplifies both movements, and adds to the notion that they are competing movements (in my view, the two movements overlap in many important respects), but it's still interesting:


Michigan Passes Anti-Bullying Law

Referred to earlier in this post, the state of Michigan has passed its anti-bullying law… without the provision that carves an exception for people who bully on moral and religious grounds.

That's good news.  The legislation, now on its way to Gov. Rick Snyder, is a little weak: it requires districts to enact a policy but does not proscribe specific behavior. It also does not enumerate protected categories (gays, transgender, etc.).  But at least the religious exception is removed.

On “Christmas Shoes”


First off, have you really listened to it? It's not really about a little kid who wants his mama to look pretty when she dies. It's about some pompous jerk who sees this kid, all filthy and broke, and gives him money. Then apparently he goes home and writes a song about it so everyone knows just how darn generous he is.

I don't know about you, but if I see a little kid covered in dirt, saying his daddy sent him to the store all by himself because his mama is going to die and she needs new shoes, I'm gonna be on the phone to the authorities before you can say "Praise Jesus, are those Blahniks on her feet?" I mean, seriously, how's that for bad parenting? "Your mama's dying, son. Get on down to the Kmart and find her some shoes, and hurry or she'll be dead before you get back."

Yeah, this kid won't end up with an Oedipus complex…

And does Jesus really care what poor old Mama is wearing when she gets to the receiving line, or whatever it is you go through to meet the big guy? I mean, it's not like you're meeting the queen. I've looked at lots of pictures of Jesus and as far as I can tell, he didn't even wear shoes.

What is it everyone likes to quote from that big book? "Judge not…"? Is Jesus really going to keep someone out because they don't have the right shoes? "Sorry, lady, you're gonna have to head downstairs… I hear Satan has a foot fetish."


So. It's a song about an arrogant, self-serving procrastinator; a mean, judgemental, closet-gay Jesus; and a neglectful and emotionally abusive father. Somewhere in there is a kid whose shabbiness is reminiscent of the little match girl, only not quite so tragic… rather than dying on the street, he just has to go home, shove his mother's germ-infested feet into these shoes, and wait for her to die on Christmas Eve.

Warms my heart just to think about it, it does…


Tuvan Throat Singing Rocks!

Tuvan throat singing is a style of singing (well, chanting really) where your voice creates flute-like overtones.  That's what you need to listen to in this video — not the voice, but the melody of the overtones:


Cain’s Newest Accuser

Responding to a fifth accuser, who claims that she and Herman Cain have had an on-and-off sexual relationship for 13 years, Cain said that he knew the woman and was trying to help her out financially, adding this on CNN yesterday:

 I have no idea what it is that she's going to have to show proof. 

Hmmm, let's see:

She showed us some of her cell phone bills that included 61 phone calls or text messages to or from a number starting with 678. She says it is Herman Cain's private cell phone. The calls were made during four different months– calls or texts made as early as 4:26 in the early morning, and as late as 7:52 at night. The latest were in September of this year.

“We've never worked together,” said White. “And I can't imagine someone phoning or texting me for the last two and a half years, just because.”

Oh, Herman.  Give it up. 


UPDATE:  Reports are out today that Cain is talking with his staff about dropping out.  Which can only mean one thing — he's dropping out.  Probably will take a few more days to mull it over (so it won't look like this accusation was the death blow), but he's going to be gone by the end of the week.

A Judge Uses Common Sense

The New York Times is reporting that federal judge Jed Rakoff has thrown out a proposed settlement between Citigroup and the SEC. The SEC had agreed to $285 million in exchange for no admission of wrongdoing in a complaint about Citigroup defrauding investors in a 2007 residential mortgage backed security. Citigroup had told the investors a third party was picking what assets were securitized, when in fact the firm did it themselves. To make matters worse, Citigroup put bad mortgages into the security and then bet against them without telling their investors of their position. According to the Times, "Investors lost $700 million in the fund, according to the S.E.C., while Citigroup gained about $160 million in profits." 

Judge Rakoff thought $285 million and no admission of wrongdoing or the facts of the case was not good enough for the SEC and wants them to go back and try again, this time with justice in mind – as opposed to what's good for Citigroup. 

The judge, Jed S. Rakoff of United States District Court in Manhattan, ruled that the S.E.C.’s $285 million settlement, announced last month, is “neither fair, nor reasonable, nor adequate, nor in the public interest” because it does not provide the court with evidence on which to judge the settlement.

The ruling could throw the S.E.C.’s enforcement efforts into chaos, because a majority of the fraud cases and other actions that the agency brings against Wall Street firms are settled out of court, most often with a condition that the defendant does not admit that it violated the law while also promising not to deny it.

This truly is justice.  While Citigroup tries to minimize its damage, and the SEC (in the pockets of the banks to begin with) is shirking its duties of being a regulatory agency, someone has the balls to actually think about the investors who were defrauded, and to think about exacting punishment on the fraudulent behavior of Citigroup.

More stories like this please.

The Reason For The Season

The Scottsdale (AZ) Gun Club is inviting people to enjoy Santa and Machine Guns.The family event allows people to take a holiday card picture with St. Nick — and a high-powered fire arm.Santa poses against a backdrop of an $80,000 Garwood minigun.Families can choose to pose with other firearms, ranging from pistols to modified AR15s. They also get a chance to test out the machine guns.

Family Pictures Taken With Santa, Machine Guns:

Maybe Gabrielle Giffords will show up.

Yes, I Believe It’s From Nigeria

Pat Robertson asks if macaroni and cheese is a "black thing".  His (black) co-host, who knows where her bread is buttered, jokes with him about it, but the awkwardness stinks up the studio nonetheless.


Funniest aspect to this: Robertson wasn't confused about the notion of African Americans eating mac and cheese at Thanksgiving; but rather, he just doesn't know what mac and cheese is, and seems to think the dish itself is "a black thing."

More Lies At Patterico

Aaron Worthing again, making things up as he goes along, writes:

And the founders clearly always contemplated corporations and similar business organizations having an outsized say in the political process.

Whaaaa?!?  This is demonstrably untrue.

First, let’s state the obvious. In the Constitution, it says “We the people…”, not “We the corporations…”. The founding fathers never addressed corporations in the Constitution. And why not? Because it never occurred to them that corporations would be perceived as people. And why would they have? Corporations don’t eat, they don’t breathe, they don’t vote, they don’t fight battles in wars. If the founders wanted corporations to have an outsized say in the political process, then why didn’t they just come out and SAY so?

In fact, the founders were wary of any institution (government or corporations) having unchecked power over individual rights. Like many in the Occupy Wall Street movement of today, the founders were concerned about collusion between government and business.

The most notable example? The Boston Tea Party. That historical protest emanated from the laws passed by the Parliament designed to aid and prop up one specific corporation, the East India Tea Company. (Basically, it cut taxes on tea in England, so that people would drink it more, and made up for the lost revenue by taxing the American colonists).

The very idea that the founders were corporatists is just laughable.

Even after the Revolution, our founders sought to limit the influence and power of corporations. Corporations were only permitted to exist 20 or 30 years. They could only deal in one commodity. They could not hold stock in other companies. Their property holdings were limited to what they needed to accomplish their business goals.

And most importantly, corporations could not make any political or charitable contributions nor spend money to influence law-making. In fact, it was a criminal offense in most states.

This went on for over 100 years. Corporation didn’t get “personhood” status until 1886, with Supreme Court case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, and even then, the “personhood” status came about as a clerical error. (The court did not make a ruling on the question of “corporate personhood,” but thanks to misleading notes of a clerk, the decision subsequently was used as precedent to hold that a corporation was a “natural person.”)

Need more proof? Here’s what some founding fathers said of the major corporations of the time, i.e., the banks:

“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them (around the banks), will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.” – Thomas Jefferson, 1802

“I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.” – Thomas Jefferson, 1816

“Banks have done more injury to the religion, morality, tranquility, prosperity, and even wealth of the nation than they can have done or ever will do good.” – John Adams

Mistrust of corporations continued right up the Industrial Revolution. Even Lincoln famously said:

“The banking powers are more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. They denounce as public enemies all who question their methods or throw light upon their crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe.”

You can’t change facts.

UPDATE:  Aaron the Ankle-biter responds in the comments with a couple of non-responses.  Both here and on in his original Patterico post, he doesn't refute the many objections to his bald, unsupported assertion that "the founders clearly always contemplated corporations and similar business organizations having an outsized say in the political process", save one — he doesn't trust "biased" sources which assert, contra his point, that the founders were actually wary of corporations and sought to limit their power and influence in the social and political arena.  (He also engages in some rather non-sensical line of thought that when the founders protected "freedom of the press", they really were thinking about the speech rights of non-media corporations).

It's easier, I imagine, for the history-challenged Worthing to make things up, and that's his perogative.  But I'll leave it to the reader to find the anser for his or herself, and in doing so, I give this advice to both the reader and Worthing (not his real name): Google is your friend.  Did the founders always contemplate that corporations and similar business organizations having an outsized say in the political process?  The answer is easily discoverable.  Start here.  And Aaron, stop digging.

Sunday In The Park With Pepper Spray

Making the Internet rounds…


Of course, the actual pepper spraying was atrocious….


And today, we learn something even more horrific: a pregnant protester named Jennifer Fox has miscarried after being pepper sprayed and hit in the stomach by Seattle police officers during a peaceful protest last week.  Here she is:


Seattle's The Stranger newspaper is currently waiting for Jennifer's medical records to confirm that she did indeed loose her baby.

Baum Law Firm Closes

Never heard of the law firm of Steven J. Baum?

Well, that law firm, located near Buffalo, represents banks and mortgage servicers when they attempt to foreclose on homeowners and evict them from their homes.  It is the biggest law firm of its type in the State of New York.

The firm has been denounced by consumers and consumer advocates for participating in "robo-signing" and allegedly improper foreclosures, with critics saying it helped speed up foreclosures to benefit its lender clients by allegedly authorizing the "assignment" or transfer of mortgages from one lender to another when critics say it lacked authority to do so.  It's been vilified by advocates, other attorneys, politicians and even judges for submitting sloppy and allegedly fraudulent paperwork that is riddled with legal errors, including faulty affidavits and notarizations.

You would think that a law firm facing such allegations (and a $2 million fine to boot) would clean up its act.  But no.  About a month ago, the law firm had an office Halloween party.  And the employees of the the law firm dressed up as — wait for it — people being foreclosed on.  Here are a couple of pictures:

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As you can see, the law firm employees showed an appalling lack of compassion toward the homeowners — invariably poor and down on their luck — that the Baum firm had brought foreclosure proceedings against.

In response to this obvious callousness, the two major lenders for home ownership, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (themselves not exactly enjoying a wave of public support) decided to “evict” the law firm of Steven J. Baum from its referral list.  That's right, Baum people — no more business for you!

And the results are so so sad.  From the Buffalo News:

This month, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage- finance companies operating under U.S. conservatorship, dropped Steven J. Baum PC from their lists of law firms eligible to handle foreclosures. Servicers including Bank of America Corp. and Ally Financial Inc. also stopped using the firm, which last month agreed to pay the U.S. $2 million and change its practices to resolve a probe of faulty foreclosure filings.

“Disrupting the livelihoods of so many dedicated and hardworking people is extremely painful, but the loss of so much business left us no choice but to file these notices,” Steven J. Baum, who owns the firm, said in the statement.

Payback is a bitch, huh?

To the 67 people employed by the Baum firm… don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.

And Kudos to New York Times columnist Joe Nocera for his work on putting a spotlight on these guys.

Occupy Wall Street “Bat Signal”

Last night, tens of thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters marched throughout New York City, many making their way on to the Brooklyn Bridge, carrying LED candles and chanting.

As Occupiers took the bridge in a seemingly endless sea of people, words in light appeared projected on the iconic Verizon Building nearby:


Pretty cool and innovative.  Here's what it looked like


GOP Candidate Clown Show Act Of The Day

Michelle-bachman1Man, watching the GOP race for President is like watching trains crash in your backyard every day.  It's just bizarre how laughingly unqualified these candidates are.  

I mean, Newt and Mitt are certainly serious candidates.  They have their problems (flip-flopping, being Washingtons insiders who take lobbyist money, etc), but nobody can question that they are "ready for prime time".  The rest of the bunch — they're like SNL charactors.

The latest comes from the woman in the comedy troupe, our favorite, Michelle Bachmann.

Michele Bachmann prides herself for pressing Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but during an appearance at Webster City, Iowa Wednesday night, the Minnesota congresswoman proved that she’s also leading the charge in developing outrageous new attacks against the legislation.

At the town hall, Bachmann complained that undocumented immigrants are exempt from paying for the law, claimed that a seven-foot doctor told her the IRS had to approve medical procedures, and reiterated her long-standing view that doctors and hospitals would provide free care to the uninsured if they were shielded from malpractice claims.

This is like when Bachmann got on national TV and told America that the HPV virus was harmful because she met a woman at a rally who told her so.

Is this what the GOP wants in a President?  Someone who gets their information and crafts policy based on what random people (including 7 foot doctors) tell her?

The seven-foot doctor’s claims are dubious, since the IRS does not begin enforcing the individual requirement to purchase health insurance until 2014 — and even then, the penalty is processed through personal income tax returns and would not require a medical provider to call the agency.  So naturally, Bachmann's claims are dubious.

I wonder if the seven-foot doctor had ears, hopped around, and was named "Harvey".

UPDATE:  Oh this is funny.  Aside from falsely saying that the HPV virus causes mental retardation, and that the Battle of Lexington and Concord took place in New Hampshire, and a dozen other things, Bachmann has the balls to say she's never made a gaffe:


That in itself is a gaffe.

CA Supreme Court: Prop 8 Supporters Have Standing

It's been a while since Prop 8 has been in the news, but here it is:

The California Supreme Court on Thursday handed supporters of Proposition 8 the legal right to defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage, sending the case back to a federal appeals court to resolve the broader questions at the heart of the constitutional showdown.

In a unanimous ruling, the justices sided with Proposition 8 sponsors, who've argued they should be able to appeal a federal judge's decision last year striking down the same-sex marriage ban because the governor and attorney general have refused to defend the voter-approved law. The state Supreme Court overwhelmingly agreed that Proposition 8 backers can go it alone in trying to preserve the gay marriage ban.

The Supreme Court was emphatic that it would "undermine" the California ballot initiative process if the governor and attorney general can trump the voters by declining to defend such laws in the courts.

That's propbably right.

What does it mean?  That the 9th Circuit can go ahead and rule on the appeal from the California federal court striking down the ban on same-sex marriage.  Most, including myself, expect the 9th Circuit to affirm.  And after that?  It's up to the Supremes (if they decide to take it, that is)

When Right Wing Media Spin Meets Reality

The conservative Daily Caller, yesterday, continuing its ongoing demonization of Occupy Wall Street protesters:

It took a huge media push to convince people the Tea Party was dangerous, but the huge media push to convince them OWS isn’t dangerous has failed. Occupiers are really nice until you get to know them.

And again, the Daily Caller, earlier today:

Here’s a live feed of the filthy, ignorant, violent Occupy Wall Street crybabies in Zuccotti Park, as they do whatever it is they think they’re doing today. Obviously there’s no way to predict what’ll be said or done..

Story filed by Daily Caller reporters moments later:

While covering Occupy Wall Street’s “Day of Action” Thursday morning, Daily Caller reporter Michelle Fields and videographer Direna Cousins were struck by NYPD officers as police tried to clear Wall Street of protesters.

“The police officers were beating the protesters with batons, and were also beating the media,” Fields told TheDC. “They hit Direna and me with batons. They hit other members of the press in order to get them to move out of the street.”

Both were struck, but neither sustained injuries that required hospitalization.

Clear indications that Fields and Cousins were members of the press didn’t stop the NYPD beating.

“Direna had a camera in her hand and I had a microphone, and we were being hit,” she said. “When I fell to the ground I said at one point, ‘I’m just covering this! I’m covering this!’  And the officer just said, ‘Come on, get up, get up,’ before pulling me up by my jacket.’”

The protesters came up to me right away and asked if I needed any medical assistance. They were actually very kind and helpful. It was the police officers who were very aggressive,” Fields added.

The Supreme Court Healthcare Challenge… in Plain English

Kudos to Amy Howe at SCOTUSBLOG, for summarizing "in plain English" where we stand with the legal challenges to Obamacare.  Saved me a whole afternoon.  I reprint it here in full.

The health care grants: In Plain English

On Monday morning, at exactly ten o’clock, the Court released its list of orders resulting from the Justices’ private Conference at the end of last week.  That list contained, it is safe to say, one of the most highly anticipated set of orders in recent memory:  the Court’s announcement whether it would become involved in (and, if so, on what terms) the litigation over the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) – also known more colloquially as, simply, “health care reform.”

The list lived up to its billing.  The Court granted review in three of the petitions that were currently pending before it, setting aside a whopping five-and-a-half hours of oral argument time in March to consider a broad range of questions relating to the Act.  We will break down the cases and the issues in Plain English, but we will start with a little bit of background first.

On March 23, 2010, the President signed the ACA – which is commonly regarded as his signature legislative achievement – into law.  As Lyle Denniston explained in his post on Monday, the Act was intended to fundamentally change the health care industry and the way that Americans pay for their health care:  among other things, the ACA makes it easier for adult children to stay on their parents’ insurance policies and imposes a variety of new taxes (including one on indoor tanning, which has already taken effect) to finance all of the changes imposed by the Act.  For our purposes (as well as those of the Court), however, a few provisions of the Act are most relevant.


Cain’s Idiocy Of The Day

From CNN:

Asked by a reporter if he supported the "wet-foot, dry-foot policy," which allows Cuban immigrants to stay in the United States once they get in, Cain responded: "Wet-foot, dry-foot policy?"

The Miami Herald reports that Cain's handlers then intercepted the questioning and rushed Cain away from the press. When he came back later, Cain didn't answer another question about the topic, instead saying, "Gotta run, gentleman," the newspaper reported.

He had an answer for that later in the day.

Later at Versailles Restaurant, located in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, a reporter asked about President Barack Obama's decision to scale back some travel restrictions to Cuba, to which Cain reportedly said that was a "gotcha question."

Really?  How is that a "gotcha question", Herman?  Because you don't have an answer?

And then….

Surrounded by much fanfare, Cain enjoyed a pastry at the restaurant's bakery, asking at one point with his mouth full, "How do you say 'delicious' in Cuban?"

A supporter quickly answered back: "Delicioso." The word is in Spanish, as there is no "Cuban" language.

"Delicioso," Cain repeated, while still chewing. "Delicioso."

The exchange was caught on a Fox News camera.


And THEN, we get this twitter feed from the New Hampshire Union Leader last night:


Still waiting for the Cain train to arrive for our 10 a.m. interview. #fitn


If Cain is more than 30 minutes late for our interview, is our next one free? #fitn

And finally:

Cain campaign said we'd do a one-hour interview. Then said no video taping. Then said interview only 20 mins. Then canceled. #fitn #winning

No videotaping?  I can't imagine why.

Occupy Anniversary

Today marks the second month of the Occupy Wall Street campaign.  Of course, the protesters have been evicted from Zuccotti Park, but hundreds of demonstrators are marching on Wall Street in a "Day of Action", taking over the Financial District with mass protests.

There's a live video feed from the protesters, which I've put in the right hand column.  As I am writing this, the police look like they are moving in.

UPDATE:  Added a second livestream.

UPDATE:  Good sign being flashed at the cops today

Debt Passes $15 Trillion: Who’s To Blame?

Conservatives will tell you that Obama is to blame for the fact that the national debt is now passing $15 trillion dollars.  To be sure, Obama has added to the debt. 

But if you want to know how we got here, let's really look at the whole history of how we got here.

Steven Benen helps with the history:

1980: Ronald Reagan runs for president, promising a balanced budget

1981 – 1989: With support from congressional Republicans, Reagan runs enormous deficits, adds $2 trillion to the debt.

1993: Bill Clinton passes an economic plan that lowers deficit, gets zero votes from congressional Republicans.

1998: U.S. deficit disappears for the first time in three decades. The debt clock, which hadn’t been programmed to run backwards, is unplugged.

1999: The country begins paying down the national debt for the first time in more than three decades.

2000: George W. Bush runs for president, promising to maintain a balanced budget.

2001: CBO shows the United States is on track to pay off the entirety of its national debt within a decade.

2001 – 2009: With support from congressional Republicans, Bush runs enormous deficits, adds nearly $5 trillion to the debt.

2001 – 2009: Congressional Republicans throw caution to the wind, approving tax cuts, two wars, Medicare expansion, and a massive Wall Street bailout. They add every penny of the costs to the national debt.

2002: Dick Cheney declares, “Deficits don’t matter.”

January 2009: Barack Obama inherits $1.3 trillion deficit from Bush; Republicans immediately condemn Obama’s fiscal irresponsibility.

December 2009: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) describes the previous eight years as an era in which Republicans believed “it was standard practice not to pay for things.”

2009 – 2010: Congressional Democrats unveil several domestic policy initiatives — health care reform, cap and trade, DREAM Act — which would lower the deficit. GOP opposes all of them.

September 2010: In Obama’s first fiscal year, the deficit shrinks by $122 billion. Republicans again condemn Obama’s fiscal irresponsibility.

October 2010: S&P endorses the nation’s AAA rating with a stable outlook, saying the United States looks to be in solid fiscal shape for the foreseeable future.

November 2010: Republicans win a U.S. House majority, citing the need for fiscal responsibility.

December 2010: Congressional Republicans demand extension of Bush tax cuts, refuse to consider paying for them, demand that the costs be added to the national debt.

March 2011: Congressional Republicans declare intention to hold full faith and credit of the United States hostage — a move without precedent in American history — until massive debt-reduction plan is approved.

July 2011: Obama offers Republicans a $4 trillion debt-reduction deal. GOP refuses.

August 2011: S&P downgrades U.S. debt, citing GOP refusal to consider new revenues. Republicans rejoice and blame Obama for fiscal irresponsibility.

October 2011: Working through the so-called super-committee, congressional Democrats offer Republicans several plans to reduce the debt by trillions of dollars. GOP officials not only refuse, but counter with alternatives that make the debt worse.

November 2011: The national debt tops $15 trillion. Republicans, hoping Americans ignore the previous 30 years, blame Democrats.

And as for the specific charge that Obama is to blame, let's just look at Bush v. Obama:

Numbers don't lie.

Quote Of The Day

“I know he says they paid him as a historian to give a historic lesson, but I’m unaware of any history professor being paid that much money to give someone a history lesson… This is exactly what I’m talking about: people who came to Washington, who had public service, and they cash in on it. They use their public service and access to make money, and unfortunately Newt Gingrich is one of those who’s done it… I don’t know if he’ll survive this, to be honest with you.  This is a very big thing. He is doing, he’s engaged in the exact kind of corruption that America disdains. The very things that anger the Tea Party movement and the Occupy Wall Street movement and everybody who is not in a movement and watches Washington and says why are these guys getting all this money, why do they go become so rich, why do they have these advantages? Unfortunately Newt seems to play right into it.”

– convicted felonious ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, on the issue of Newt Gingrich receiving $1.3 million to serve as a (wink, wink) "historian" for Freddie Mac


Tweet Of The Day

Salmon Rushdie, who knows from book burning and desecration, weighs in:


Indeed.  Whatever you might think about the rightness or wrongness of the eviction, destroying the "People's Library", which was comprised of 5,500 donated books, was an act of extreme dickish-ness.

Occupy Wall Street Popularity Fading Bigtime

These numbers from Public Policy Polling were taken before the big OWS eviction in New York (and other places):

The Occupy Wall Street movement is not wearing well with voters across the country. Only 33% now say that they are supportive of its goals, compared to 45% who say they oppose them. That represents an 11 point shift in the wrong direction for the movement's support compared to a month ago when 35% of voters said they supported it and 36% were opposed. Most notably independents have gone from supporting Occupy Wall Street's goals 39/34, to opposing them 34/42.

Voters don't care for the Tea Party either, with 42% saying they support its goals to 45% opposed.  But asked whether they have a higher opinion of the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street movement the Tea Party wins out 43-37, representing a flip from last month when Occupy Wall Street won out 40-37 on that question. Again the movement with independents is notable- from preferring Occupy Wall Street 43-34, to siding with the Tea Party 44-40.

It is woth noting that the same poll also showed that Americans are still very concerned with wealth inequality.  So it's the movement itself, rather than the message it already has succeeded in fostering, that is gaining disapproval.

And why?  It's not to hard to figure out.  Digby states the obvious:

All over the country people are hearing that the Occupiers are animals who are masturbating in public and shitting in the streets. The local news is luridly portraying the protests as hotbeds of crime infested with lunatics and drug addicts.

That stuff isn't disseminated just for kicks. It's done to poison the minds of the public before they have a chance to identify with the protesters.

I know that liberals don't want to see this in those culture war terms, but there are a whole lot of others who can't see these things any other way.

So true.  The demonization by the right-wing media is pretty salient.  The reality is that the media still decides what we think, and the far-right media works much, much harder at driving that consensus than the centrist press does. The centrist press keeps the coverage bland, and then the Murdoch/talk radio axis declares its fatwas, and those decide what we think.

The Occupy movement doesn't grasp that it needs to do everything it can to minimize the damage from right-wing-media demonization.  Or, if they do, they haven't found an effective counter.

The Sexiest Man Alive

Let me say something about People's Sexiest Man Alive thing.

It means nothing, and it is often wrong, and potentially dangerous to the recipients.

And to make my point, let's look at the first several "Sexiest Men Alive".  Starting with….

MelgibsonsmaYay, People magazine.  Right out of the box, starting in 1985, you picked a wife-abuser and anti-semitic racist: Mel Gibson.

Oooh, that's so sexy!

One wonders… if People magazine was around in 1938, would their "Sexiest Man Alive" be that adoreable moustachioed dictator in Germany? 

MarkharmonsmaTurning to 1986, we get… Mark Harmon!
Yes, the B-level actor whose talents just couldn't quite get him to the silver screen.  
Destined forever to play doctors, lawyers, and secret servicemen, Mark Harmon is always one role away from making a guest appearance on The Love Boat, if indeed The Love Boat was still being made.
By the way, noticed the trend?  Blue eyes.  You'll see more of that up to and including this year.
HamilinSMAWho's next?  1987.
Ah, Harry Hamlin.

Harry Hamlin.
Harry Who?

Harry Hamlin.  Harry Hamlin was People's "Sexiest Man Live" in 1987.
Who is Harry Hamlin?

You get my point.
And the list goes on….
Dead boy.
The exception to the point I am making.
Religious freak.
Another dead boy.
See Mel Gibson above.  Why didn't they use this picture, I wonder?
Anyway, my point is made.  
Being made SMA by People usually is a death notice, or it means you're weird.  Yes, I know the next couple decades include Johnny Depp (twice), George Clooney (twice), Brad Bitt (twice), Richard Gere (twice), and the occasional smattering of Matthew McConaugheys and Hugh Jackmans.  But maybe those people just haven't add time to show their inner Mel Gibson.
Or have they?

Penn State Update

Nothing to add except that Sandusky's interview with Bob Costas the other day was just plain oookey.  And I can't believe his lawyers saw any benefit to Sandusky for giving this interview, especially if he was going to say what he said.

I mean, "Sure I showered naked and frolicked with little boys.  I mean, I like that.  But I didn't bang 'em."*that doesn't help your case, Sandusky.

* Not an exact paraphrase, but pretty darn close.

Zuccotti Park Vacated; Occupy Wall Street Over (Temporarily)

Here's how it went down in the wee hours this morning in lower Manhattan:


When it became clear that the police intended to clear out the park, the protesters got on their phones and called friends.  But police had blocked off about 16 sq blocks or so, completely surrounding the park.  People responding to the calls were stopped by barricades on Broadway. So roughly 500-600 people who couldn't make it to Zucotti Park marched straight up the middle of B’Way to Foley Sq., throwing barricades into the street as they went. Eventually that group too was surrounded by police.

The park was raided.  5,000 books, "the people's library" as it was called, were unceremoniously thrown in a dumpster, as well as most tents.  70 people arrested (including journalists).  It wasn't pretty.

And as you look at the photos, remember that Bloomberg's office has repeatedly stated that the park was to be cleared out "amid growing concerns over health and public safety."

For public health and safety.  Mission accomplished, NYPD.  (Not!)

All was not lost though.  At 6:30 a.m. this morning, Justice Lucy Billings issued an order requiring the protesters to be readmitted to Zuccotti Park with their tents.  Order here.

During his 8 a.m. press conference, Mayor Bloomberg seemed to acknowledge he was familiar with the temporary restraining order, but claimed he had not been served and was keeping the park closed. As of this writing, Zuccotti Park remains closed to protesters in direct contradiction of Justice Billing’s order.

Live updates and developments here.  Live Ustream (which may be nothing when you view it) is below


UPDATE:  Though I support OWS, I tend to agree with Yglesius — this is a good outcome:

I think this was the best possible endgame for the group. After all, there are only a few possible ways for a protest to end. One is something like this — the cops come in and get rid of people. A second is something like the Powers That Be sit down to negotiate an end to the standoff in a way that involves giving in to some or all of the protestors demands. The third is for the protests to simply fizzle out as people lose interest. One of the distinctive things about Occupy Wall Street was that it organized itself in such a way as to make option two impossible.

So OWS was either going to end with the cops clearing the park, or else it was going to end with the protestors losing interest. It would be totally human and understandable for the protestors to end up fading away as the weather gets colder, but that would be demoralizing to everyone who’s come to look at the various Occupations as a key signal of popular discontent with rampant inequality. Instead, by ordering the protestors to be removed the Bloomberg administration has ensured continued relevance for the issue.


More Painful Than The Perry “Oops”

Herman Cain.  What a joke. 

Last week, questions swirled around sexual harassment allegations.  Cain kept on saying it was a conspiracy against him, and he wanted to talk about policy. 

Cain got lucky.  Perry's master boner in the last GOP debate distracted everybody, and when that started to fade, the "sexual harassment" story was soooo last week.  And then, Cain started getting substantive questions on policy. Cain was meeting with some Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editors, who asked a rather straightforward non-gotcha question: do you agree with President Obama on Libya? The response has to be seen to be believed.  Watch.  

Even if you're not following the 2012 race yet, watch:


It takes almost a minute and a half for him to get his head around the question.  Then he tries to bluff an answer, he stops, starts again, and says things like he did not support Ghadafy killing his own people.  (Wow, way to take a stand.  What's next?  Coming out against the Holocaust?)

Saw this a lot in law school when the prof called on a student who hadn't done the reading.

And you just know what was going on inside Cain's head at the time, yes?


This is worse than Perry.  Perry forgot part of his talking points; Cain doesn't feel the need to understand foreign policy at even the most basic levels. The former is embarrassing; the latter is disqualifying.

And does it get worse?  Oh yes it does.

For all the guff that Perry took for his "oops" moment, his damage control was very good.  He did a full media blitz of self-deprication.  He laughed at himself.

Self-deprication doesn't seem to be in Cain's DNA, so he's left with making bad excuses.  Cain's spokesperson said Cain was "going on four hours sleep, so he was tired."

That's the reason?  Not convincing.  For one thing, we've all had occasions in which we've gone on four hours sleep, but managed not to become quite this ignorant. It's not as if Libya is an obscure issue.  And besides, sometimes the president gets fours of sleep.  And it's scary that President Cain could become so doddering.

Cain himself has made his car crash worse.  NBC News campaign embed reporter Andrew Rafferty (@AndrewNBCNews) asked Herman Cain about his Libya gaffe yesterday, and he got a surprising response:

Herman Cain NBC Twitter

Rafferty later tweeted that he was not making a joke… Cain really did say "999", as if that broken record could sweep the gaffe away.

Cain has dropped a little bit in the GOP polls as a result of the sexual harassment.  The plunge wasn't total, simply because those who support Cain could believe that the allegations were false.  But this is an implosion that cannot be denied, despite wishful thinking.  The man is not ready to be President.

He's toast.

Don’t Know Much About History

Bill O'Reilly decided to write a history book.  Specifically, a book about Lincoln's assassination called “Killing Lincoln,” which O’Reilly co-authored with Martin Dugard.  It's #2 on the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list, right behind the monstor biography of Steve Jobs.

How bad is this book?  Historians are panning it.  Why?  Because it has the one thing that history books should never have: bad facts.

For example, Edward Steers, author of five books about the Lincoln assassination, calls O'Reilly's book “somewhere between an authoritative account and strange fiction.”  Steer's review (which is not online) appears in the November issue of North & South, the official magazine of the Civil War Society, and lists about 10 errors of fact.

So inaccurate is the book that the National Park Service flunked it:

Rae Emerson, deputy superintendent at Ford’s Theatre, which is a national historic site under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, has penned a scathing appraisal of O’Reilly’s “Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever.” In Emerson’s official review, which I’ve pasted below, she spends four pages correcting passages from O’Reilly’s book before recommending that it not be offered for sale at Ford’s Theatre because it is not up to quality standards.

The National Park Services' full review is below the fold.  (It only examined the parts relating to Ford's Theater)

And perhaps Bill should stick to uninformed commentary about contemporary events.

Raw Deal for Paterno

I'm not a Penn State fan; I'm not even a follower of college football.

But as I understand it, after 46 seasons, Penn State college football coach legend (he's a "legend" apparently, although I wouldn't know) Joe Paterno has been removed from his position because he supposedly exercised bad judgment back in 2002.  What happened was, he was told by a graduate assistant coach that Jerry Sandusky (a former assistant coach to Paterno who stilled used the Penn State facilities) sexually assaulted a boy in a school shower.  The graduate assistant coach witnessed the assault.

Paterno reported the incident to Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and Penn State vice president Gary Schultz, who did nothing, and are now under criminal investigation for doing nothing and covering the matter up.

And now, in the wake of a scandal where Sandusky is accused of molesting/raping dozens of boys over several years, the Penn Board of Trustees have removed Paterno.

Why, exactly?  Paterno reported the incident to his higher-ups, whose job it was to take it further to the police.  They didn't.  How is that Paterno's fault?

Sure, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight and knowing NOW what a danger Sandusky was, I'm sure everyone, even Paterno, wishes that that Paterno had "done more".

But at the time, all Paterno was aware of was a single incident, relayed to him as a second-hand account.  He had no independent knowledge of the incident.  He didn't sit on it; he reported it to authorities.  They dropped the ball (negligently or intentionally); not Paterno.  And arguments (mainly from the left) that Paterno is a child-molester "enabler" simply overlook the what Paterno knew to be true as well as when he supposedly "knew" the facts.

Furthermore, it seems to me that the assistant coach who witnessed the rape has some culpability as well — tell me, why isn't that a 911 call?

UPDATE:  Bill in the comments thoughtfully disagrees:

Need to disagree with you on this one. Paterno had a severe moral lapse. What he should have done is reported what he knew to the police and then the university, immediately and in that order – what he should *not* have done is sat by for nine years while nothing happened.

But this is my point.  What Paterno KNEW at that time was nothing much.  Rumor isn't knowledge.  And in fact, the more outlandish the rumor, the less likely someone in Paterno's position is likely to accept it as "factual truth".  What's worse, he could have suffered consequences (including lawsuits) for making what could have been false accusations.  If he had done nothing, I would agree that he was being, at best, negligent.  But he didn't do nothing.

To my mind, the "moral lapse" moniker doesn't apply unless one expects Paterno to have possessed, at that time, 20/20 hindsight, or that he actually witnessed a 10-year-old boy being raped.  In retrospect, he says he wishes he had done more, and I'm sure we all agree.  But his failure not to do more is not, in my view, sanctionable.  This strikes me as a typical situation where peoples' (understandable) outrage over the heinous act is causing them to demonize people — Paterno, specifically — who not culpable of anything truly immoral.

Put another way: if, back in 2002, Curley and Schultz had done what they were supposed to do, namely:

(a) talk to the graduate student to confirm the allegation; and
(b) notify the police and/or district attorney

then this scandal would have erupted in 2002 and 2003.  Would anyone be criticizing Paterno for a "moral lapse" then?  Not likely.  In fact, he would be praised for setting the wheels in motion to bring a horrific molester to justice. 

So why is he being blamed now?

Rick Perry’s Campaign Crashes Live On National TV

This is what happened:


This is how Perry's "stock" was trading on Intrade immediately after Perry's "Bill Buckner" moment:

Here's the thing: the real gaffe in my mind wasn't that he couldn't remember that he wanted to totally dismantle the Department of Energy (as well as Commerce and Education); the real gaffe is that he ACTUALLY proposes doing those things. 

I mean, has anyone considered what that would actually mean?  

Shorter Aaron Worthing

The depraved idiot tries to make a deep point, but just spittles on his face:

The First Amendment doesn't prevent people from making sexual threats in the workplace, and it shouldn't.

UPDATE:  Worthing responds in the comments.  I stand by my "shorter" representation of what he was saying, and of course, I have provided the links so that readers can be the judge.  Worthing apparently doesn't think that making hostile and offensive sexual comments in the workplace serves as a implicit threat to many (particularly women) who hear them.

Cain: “Sharon WHO?”


Cain, a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination, maintained his innocence amid allegations that he had made an inappropriate advance toward [Sharon] Bialek in 1997, when he was head of the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and she had traveled to Washington, D.C. to seek his help in finding a job.

"I can categorically say I have never acted inappropriately with anyone, period. As far as these latest charges, I don't even remember — I reject all of those charges. How can I defend charges when I don't even remember this person by name," Cain said in an interview with ABC News and Yahoo, streamed online this afternoon.

Cain said he hadn't even recognized Bialek or remembered that she had worked at the restaurant group Cain had led.

To be fair to Cain, it's probably hard to keep straight all the women he sexually assaulted.


Old Chinese people performing "Bad Romance"… apparently on the "Next to Normal" set


That Word Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

Seems some right-wingers have an axe to grind with Elizabeth Warren, running to unseat Scott Brown as Massachusetts Senator.  Their complaint?  She's rich.

Elizabeth Warren may have embraced the Occupy Wall Street movement and the “99 percent” crowd, but public records reveal the liberal firebrand belongs to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.

Her financial well-being will likely hand conservatives a new line of attack against the consumer advocate and Democratic Senate hopeful in Massachusetts who has fired up the left and was labeled by one columnist as “the first candidate of the Occupy Wall Street movement.”

I don’t begrudge her own personal wealth. I begrudge her hypocrisy of trying to play the demagogue against those who have achieved and who have created wealth,” said Rick Manning of the conservative group Americans for Limited Government.

Added National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brian Walsh: “Her poll-tested campaign rhetoric simply doesn’t match reality as voters learn more about who Elizabeth Warren really is.”

Warren earned nearly $535,000 in 2009, including $310,000 for teaching law at Harvard University, according to financial disclosure reports she had to file as a political appointee of President Barack Obama.

She took home $507,000 in 2010. Neither of those figures included the salary of her husband, fellow Harvard law professor Bruce Mann, or the $192,722 Warren earned between 2009 and 2010 for chairing the congressional panel tasked with overseeing the bank bailouts. The totals also did not include the roughly $138,000 she earned between September 2010 and July 2011 while launching the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to separate salary records obtained by POLITICO.

The Cambridge couple reported at least $4.6 million in financial investments and property.

This is among the dumbest critiques of a political person that one can conjure.  And it's an old play from the GOP playbook.  Remember how Michael Moore was also a "hypocrite" because he was so concerned about the poor, yet he has made millions off of his movie?

A "hypocrite" is defined as a person who espouses one belief but acts in an inconsistent or opposite manner.  With that simple definition, it is not hypocrisy to be financially successful AND still care about things like income equality.  That's like a saying a healthy doctor is being a hypocrite because he cares about sick and injured people.

And the world is full of wealthy and successful people who champion the poor.  Sean Penn anyone?  Warren Buffet?  Bill Gates?  The late Steve Jobs?  The aforementioned Michael Moore?  And it's not unusual in politics either: FDR?  Any of the Kennedys?

I mean, who buys this hypocrisy argument?  Are there people out there who are really going to think, "Oh, Elizabeth Warren really is one of those richies, and she's only pretending to care about income inequality to get votes?"


“Doesn’t Exist” Is The Scariest Response

It's a bit disconcerting to see some of the responses from the Cain supporters this morning, following the sexual harrassment/assault allegations of Sharon Bialek directed at Cain.

It's one thing to disbelieve Bialek.  In a he said/she said situation, people are going to line up that way.

But what's happening in some quarters of the right is stomach-turning: some rightwing columnists and pundits are saying that her accusations are irrelevant.  And why?  Because sexual harassment doesn't exist.  This is simply insulting to women, period, and shows a cruel ignorance of reality.  Over at Slate, Dalia Lithwick has the bill of particulars:

Why not start with John Derbyshire, who put it this way in the National Review: “Is there anyone who thinks sexual harassment is a real thing? Is there anyone who doesn’t know it’s all a lawyers’ ramp, like ‘racial discrimination’? You pay a girl a compliment nowadays, she runs off and gets lawyered up.” In Derbyshire’s America, “girls” see litigating as a shortcut to riches. Evidently we can’t procure riches the old-fashioned way anymore.


Laura Ingraham, who—recall—also has no idea whatsoever what happened between Cain and his accusers, is equally certain that each of the women involved is just greedy: “We have seen this movie before and we know how it ends. It always ends up being an employee who can’t perform or who under-performs and is looking for a little green,” she said on her radio show. Exactly. Like my mom always said: If you can’t marry a rich man, your next best option is to sue one.


Or take the legal stylings of Kurt Schlichter, who asserts that “the only things you need to file a lawsuit are the filing fee and a printer. Facts are optional. … Where sexual-harassment law once protected women from being forced to be the playthings of crude lechers, it’s been transformed to enforcing a prim puritanism that drains the humor and humanity from the workplace.” The humorless line is the route Sen. Rand Paul chose to deploy as well: “There are people now who hesitate to tell a joke to a woman in the workplace, any kind of joke, because it could be interpreted incorrectly.” You catch that? Humorless puritanical women have weaponized sex-discrimination law as a part of their global war on humor.


Rep. Steve King doubled down on this theme, calling sexual harassment “a terrible concept,” and lamenting the tendency “to define an action by the perception of the perceived victim.” Not clear whether the civil justice system is better off for examining only the perceived perceptions of the drunken harassers, but I take it that King is generally more confident that men are more perceptive about all things than the women who work for them.

But leave it to former Sen. Fred Thompson to really elevate the debate. In a riotously funny column penned in Cain’s defense, he too blows the whistle on the whole “sexual-harassment scam.” Because it is, as he conceives of it, a talentless woman’s golden ticket to fame: “These alleged victims and their lawyers—no matter what they may say publicly—are champing at the bit to come forward for their day in the limelight and the inevitable book deal.” Just think of all the famous sex-discrimination memoirs you’ve read recently. Yeah, me too. Or as my colleague David Weigel notes, “My idea of frothy fun would be to make accusations of sexual harassment against a powerful person, become a notorious figure whose life and character came under microscopic examination, and then spend the rest of my life living in a legal system shaped by the man I accused.”

And Ms. Lithwick sums it up nicely:

This isn’t just an effort to discredit Cain’s accusers. It’s an effort to dissuade women with genuine complaints from coming forward to report them…. [and] what’s worrying to me is the indifference of so many Republican voters:  New poll results show that 70 percent of Republicans say the sexual harassment scandal makes no difference in their vote. It’s no longer just a Republican war on women. It’s a war on the idea that any woman might ever tell the truth.

Ultraconservative DC Circuit Judge Upholds Obamacare

Opinion here.  Very well reasoned, and does a great job shooting down the legal arguments of those who think the individual mandate is unconstitutional.

UPDATE:  Obviously, other circuit courts have adjudicated on the merits of Obamacare and this will all go to the U.S. Supreme Court.  

But this means that three appellate courts have now considered the health care law on the merits. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in June that the Affordable Care Act is perfectly constitutional, rejecting conservative arguments out of hand. In August, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reached the opposite conclusion.

This particular case did more than "break the tie".  It's a major defeat for the right, in part because of the court's role — the D.C. Circuit is generally considered the most important federal bench below the U.S. Supreme Court — and in part because of the judges who heard the case are conservative.  

Judge Laurence Silberman, who wrote the ruling upholding Obamacare and the individual mandate, is a Reagan appointee who has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the most right-wing jurists on the federal appeals bench.  He's been described by some court observers as "a biased judge with a hair-trigger temper and a thinly veiled partisan tint to his opinions."  Read more about him here.

And yet he upheld Obamacare, shooting down the argument from the right that the Constitution's Commerce Clause does not give Congress the power to regulate people for their inactivity.  Steve Benen sums it up:

As for the activity/inactivity question, the ruling addresses the debate exactly as the left has been all along. Yes, there may be folks who don't want to buy insurance, and they would be penalized under the law. But under our system, those folks still get sick, still go to the hospital with medical emergencies, and — here's the kicker – still get care. As you may have noticed, for quite a while, it's been one of the right's favorite arguments: the uninsured can always just go the emergency room and receive treatment, whether they have insurance or not.

Of course, when the uninsured get this care, and can't pay for it, the costs are passed on to the rest of us — it makes the entire system more expensive, with hospitals and medical professionals providing care without compensation from the patient. As a consequence, those who would choose not to get coverage have a significant impact on the larger health care system, which is precisely why the notion of a mandate enjoyed broad, bipartisan support up until late 2009. There was never any doubt as to its constitutionality.


Cain Campaign Delusional

This is part of a statement released by the Cain campaign last night, after Cain's fourth accuser got on national television and told her story in detail:

Unfortunately, the media-driven process by which one must seek this opportunity is fundamentally unserious. I have touched on this before – the emphasis on "gaffes," gotcha questions and time devoted to trivial nonsense – and everyone knows the process only became further detached from relevance this week as the media published anonymous, ancient, vague personal allegations against me.

Hey, if people don't want to believe the accusations of Sharon Bialek, that's fine.  But factually, you simply can't call them "anonymous" or "vague".

And you lose credibility by saying so.

GOP Polls Shows Romney Simply Not Making Gains

ABC News/Washington Post. 10/31-11/3. Republican primary voters. MoE ±5.5 (7/17, 9/1, 10/2, 11/3):

Poll raw data

The story from this poll is that Cain is neck-and-neck with Romney (although obviously, the poll does not reflect fallout from the Cain sexual assault bombshell dropped today).

But the big take-away is that no matter what, Romney cannot seem to break away from the pack.  Republicans just are not enthused about him.

Poll Of The Day

Election 2012 between Obama and Whoever will (as everyone says) turn on issues of the economy and jobs, rather than foreign policy.  No president since Roosevelt has been re-elected with such dismal unemployment numbers.

Obama's tactic will be to say to the American people, "Look, I've tried to get bills passed that will help stimulate the economy and put people back to work.  The problem is that I've been blocked by an obstructionist GOP Congress."

Are people buying that?

A New Washington Post poll asks people to choose between two options. This: “President Obama is making a good faith effort to deal with the country’s economic problems, but the Republicans in Congress are playing politics by blocking his proposals and programs.” Or this: “President Obama has not provided leadership on the economy, and he is just blaming the Republicans in Congress as an excuse for not doing his job.”

The toplines: Americans agree with the first statement over the second one, 50-44.

At first blush, that's not good news for Obama.  His "it's not my fault" message wins, but barely.  Probably not enough to sway voters.

But the news gets better — much better — when you view the breakdown.

According to numbers, the "obstructionist GOP" meme is more pronounced among moderates and independents:

* Independents favor statement one over statement two by 54-40.

* Moderates favor statement one over statement two by 57-37.

The overall number is lower, at 50 percent, because a hilarously meager nine percent of Republicans believe this to be the case.  And they are not going to vote for Obama anyway.

This, then, is good news.  Many swing voters (independents and moderates) are already pre-disposed to thinking that Obama is not to blame for failing to get us on the right track (and indeed, he isn't).  And this is before Obama goes into full campaign mode.


Personhood and Semantics

Tomorrow, Mississippians will vote on whether to amend their state constitution to declare that embryos are persons.

The ballot measure, known as Proposition 26, asks: “Should the term 'person' be defined to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the equivalent thereof?” Organizers and supporters of the measure are pushing similar amendments in other states.

This wouldn't overturn Roe v. Wade; in fact, it (arguably) would run up against it and be unconstitutional.  But that's hardly the point.  Supports of the measure have a larger goal: a personhood amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which would supersede Roe and make abortion illegal nationwide.

Basically (they believe), if you define "person" to include fertilized eggs, then the law will protect them just as it protects real people.

Oddly, this will have many unintended effects beyond abortion.  Need three people in order to drive in the fast lane?  Well, if one is pregnant, maybe you can get by.  On the other hand, sharing an ultrasound picture on Facebook would probably violate pornography statutes.

It's bound to fail (although perhaps not in Mississippi).  And remember, this isn't JUST about abortion.  This concept means that even if you take a pill to block a fertilized egg from attaching to the uturan uterine wall (which happens all the time), you will have committed murder.

It’s Official: We Haven’t Contacted Aliens Yet

In response to an actual petition, the White House was forced to disclose the following information today:

The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race. In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public's eye.

However, that doesn't mean the subject of life outside our planet isn't being discussed or explored. In fact, there are a number of projects working toward the goal of understanding if life can or does exist off Earth.

Just in case you were wondering….


New Michigan Anti-Bullying Law Carves Out Exceptions For Christians Who Bully

A week or so ago, a cellphone video, showing a gay teenager being bullied and beat up in an Ohio high school, went viral.  And the issue of bullying, particularly bullying against gays, was (albeit briefly) back on the radar.

We don't like this kind of thing when it happens.  The Michigan state legislature addressed the terrible phenomenon yesterday, passing the new “Matt’s Safe School Law,” named after a Michigan teen who committed suicide after an anti-gay hazing attack.

One of the reforms will require school districts to have procedures in place to address bullying complaints. But the bill now also has language that says requirements don't "prohibit a statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil's parent or guardian."

Wait, what?

I see.  So if you have a religious or moral conviction that gay kids should be harassed in high school, bullying is okay?

Isn't that an exception which probably applies in MOST anti-gay bullying?

The law is insane.  Watch Michigan State Senator Gretchen Whitmer talk about the law that Michigan just passed:


Note: It goes without saying that the Michigan Senate is GOP-lead.

You Sneaky Mom!

Jimmy Kimmel asked parents to tell their kids "I'm sorry. I ate all your Halloween candy", and videotape the results.  The results?

LOTS of crying (but in my opinion, the last two kids are classic).


Pig (and Stupid Lawyer) Of The Day

Aaron Worthing (who purports to be a lawyer) at Patterico's Pontifications, on the subject of Herman Cain:

Or did he do the full quid pro quo (“something for something”) and say, “sleep with me or you are fired/won’t get that promotion, etc.?” Now I want to be careful to say that we are not nearly there, yet, but if that is what it was, then it’s not just “sexual harassment.” Seriously what do you call it when you give something of value in exchange for sex? In most states, that’s prostitution. 

No, Aaron.  An employer saying to an employeee "sleep with me or else you are fired/won't get that promotion" is the textbook definition of sexual harassment.  It is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Go back to law school (or alternatively, get a job and read the company employee manual).

EEOC, get my back:

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

Aaron has a hard time understanding these situtations.  For example, he gets puzzled about the following scenario:

Cain pressures the woman to have sex with him, she capitulates… and then she goes to HR, hires a lawyer and sues? That sounds odd to me, although the answer might be that something might be missing. 

He finds it "odd" that a woman would capitulate to pressure?  What's so odd?  That's what the harasser is trying to do, and sometimes they succeed!  

Aaron, of course, is demonstrating the mentality that makes sexual harassers think they can get away with their harassment in the first place.  They hit on their employee (with the subtle threat of repercussions if the employee doesn't give it up).  If the employee shoots them down, the putative harasser can always say they were just joking.  Bu if the employee has sex with them, then the harasser is shielded from liability (i.e., "she wanted it")

Unfortunately for Aaron, that's not how it works.  It does not matter whether she "accepted" the full "quid pro quo".  After all, agreeing to have sex with a harasser doesn't negate the coercion aspect (and it arguably bolsters it).

Then, to make sure his stupidity and ignorance about sexual harassment is solidified, Aaron writes:

Indeed, I have read of cases where Virginia attorneys offered for their clients to pay them in sex instead of fees, which then led them to be arrested for soliciting prostitution.

Which relates to the Cain allegations how?  At the risk of pointing out the obvious, an attorney-client relationship is not the same as workplace conduct, since the two actors there do not work for the same company or employer.

FURTHER THOUGHT:  Of course, Aaron's views change when Democrats and blowjobs are involved.  In those situations, it is of course, sexual harassment.

UPDATE:  Worthing responds in the comments below, and for once, he's right about something: dyslexia wins the day.  I read what he wrote as "…then it’s just not 'sexual harassment'.", instead of what he actually wrote, which was "…then it’s not just “sexual harassment'.” (as in "it's not only sexual harassment").

So the "pig" remark is retracted on my part, although I stand by the rest of the post (and why is "sexual harassment" in scare quotes, anyway?).

Meta Flip-Flopping

Poor Mitt Romney.  He's flip-flopping on the subject of flip-flopping!

Several weeks ago, in one of the more amusing political claims of the year, Mitt Romney boasted, "I stand by my positions. I'm proud of them." Given Romney's record of abandoning every policy position he's ever taken, it was hard not to marvel at his shamelessness.

Soon after, Romney reversed course, acknowledging he has changed his positions, but insisting that this is a good thing. "In the private sector," he said, "if you don't change your view when the facts change, well you'll get fired for being stubborn and stupid."

Now, Romney has reversed course again.

Mitt Romney, under fire from all sides on the strength of his political convictions, said Thursday he has been as consistent as a person can be during his political career.

"I've been as consistent as human beings can be," the presidential candidate said in a meeting with the editorial board of New Hampshire's Seacoast Media Group.


Republican Family Values

Forgive me if you heard about this.

So, back in 2004, a teenage girl (with cerebral palsy) downloaded some music and games illegally from the Internet.  Her father, Judge William Adams (elected judge for Aransas County, on the GOP ticket) punished her.

Little did he know, she filmed it.  And now that he is up for re-election, she is distributing it.

This is disturbing. As he savagely beats his daughter, he screams about “beating her into submission” and the mother tells her to “take it like a woman.”


The statute of limitations has passed on this act, so he cannot be charged with child abuse.

Judge Adams, for his part, has been silent since the video was released last week and went viral.  Up until yesterday, the only thing he said was "it isn't as bad as it looks".

How it looks?  Interesting comment, given that the judge turned off the lights at the beginning of the video so that the neighbors couldn't see inside the house while he pummelled his daughter for 8 solid minutes.   

Hillary Adams, the girl in this video (now 23), claims that both she and her mom suffered physical and emotional abuse at the hands of Judge Adams for years.  Hillary's mom actually takes part in the beating, but Hillary does not blame her — she believes her Mom was psychologically forced to go along with her husband's mistreatment (her parents are now apart).

Today, Judge Adams, through his lawyer, has an explanation of why we are seeing this video now, and guess what?  He's the victim here, don't you understand?  And she's just a greedy bitch.

Just before the YouTube upload, Judge Adams told his daughter he was unwilling to continue supporting her financially because the young piano prodigy wasn’t living up to her potential, instead dropping out of school and working part time at a video game store, Dudley said.

“Hillary warned her father if he reduced her financial support and took away her Mercedes automobile, which her father had provided, he would live to regret it,” Dudley said. “The post was then uploaded.”

In other words, according to the judge, Hillary Adams uploaded the video… in retaliation.

Okay.  So???