Monday, May 31, 2010

Israel vs. Unarmed Flotilla UPDATE

Turns out the IDF was totally right to kill all those guys! Check out this video, literally actually provided as evidence by the IDF propaganda department, which conclusively proves that the aid workers were armed:

Slingshots! Small bags of marbles! This definitely presented a real and immediate threat to a nuclear-armed country with an enormous military, provided with the very best of the best by Uncle Sam. Now I totally understand why Israel felt the need to board them in international waters and kill a bunch of them.

Edit: This actually makes the whole thing feel a lot better:

Israel: The Worst Country

Last night I noticed hundreds of new posts in an LF thread about the Freedom Flotilla. The Flotilla is a convoy of 6 ships loaded with humanitarian supplies and bound for Gaza, which has been under Israeli blockade for quite a while now. The blockade strangles their supply of many things, but one of the worst is the complete ban on building supplies- badly needed to rebuild structures after the Israeli attack on Gaza left most of their buildings in ruins. Cement is apparently being smuggled in through the border with Egypt, but this has to come in bag by bag and isn't anywhere near enough to meet demand. The Flotilla was composed of six ships filled with building supplies and other humanitarian aid. People aboard included a holocaust survivor and a survivor of the USS Liberty incident.

One of the ships had been broadcasting a livestream onto the net for the last few days, which people in the LF thread had been watching. I was pretty sure that all their posts about how Israel had opened fire on the convoy, boarded it, and killed a number of people onboard had to be jokes, right? I mean come on, how could-
"At least 10 pro-Palestinian activists were killed and dozens were wounded aboard an aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip when Israeli naval commandos seized control of the boats in international waters early Monday. Some Turkish, Israeli and Arab media outlets put the death toll at 19 activists."
Ahahaha they weren't even in Israeli waters yet, this is pretty much an act of murderous piracy as far as I can tell. Hey, who wants to bet that Israel conveniently 'finds' a bunch of weapons once the ships reach Ashdod?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Rand Paul Has a Racism Problem

Coming off of a media tour defending his ever changing stance on whether or not the Civil Rights Act was a good thing, shockingly enough Rand Paul can't seem to shake accusations of racism.

So to counter those charges and turn his campaign around, he's fired his old campaign manager and hired one who has ties to a white supremacist.

Wait... what?

Kentucky Blog Barefoot and Progressive:
As we noted earlier, Rand Paul's new campaign manager/spokesperson is Jesse Benton, the current Senior Vice President of Ron Paul's 501(c)4 lobbying organization Campaign for Liberty.

Campaign for Liberty does work throughout the country by appointing state, regional and county coordinators. These coordinators are responsible for the recruitment, training and activism of local members. Though states have a certain degree of autonomy, the national HQ has the power to fire or remove coordinators.

And speaking of county coordinators, this seems like a good opportunity to reintroduce our readers to someone we met back in back in March.

Meet the Fayette County (KY) coordinator for Campaign For Liberty, Basil "Bazz" Childress.
Basil, you see, is a white supremacist.

He is the state chairman of the Kentucky League of the South. And the Kentucky League of the South is, as the SPLC points out, a White Supremacist Hate Group advocating a second southern secession from the Union.
Uh yeah. So as B&P points out, combine this with the racist Rand Paul spokesman who had to resign, a refusal to condemn or return money raised on white supremacist website and support from David Duke, and we have a bit of a pattern emerging.

We aren't all lucky enough to look deeply into Rand Paul's soul and definitively state that he isn't a racist like Dave Wiegel of the Washington Post did, but we aren't idiots and can start to add up the evidence.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Obama Acknowledging Reality on GOP Cooperation?

I know he's said stuff like this before but this is what you like to hear:
“There are members of their base who think if somebody even smiles at me, they think, ‘You’re a traitor. You smiled at Obama,’” the president said at a fundraiser Tuesday night for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). “The day has passed when I expected this to be a full partnership.”

There is hardly any “room for cooperation” in the Republican Party, Obama said.

At the same time, he said he understands why the GOP is “sitting on the sidelines.”

“Politically it hasn’t been bad for them,” he said — an apparent reference to the Republicans’ expected gains in the midterm congressional elections this fall.
I'm still not sure whether Obama honestly believed the Republicans would be interested in cooperating or if he was fully committed to this idea rhetorically. I happen to think Obama is smart, so I lean towards the latter, but attempts at cave- tastic bipartisanship have been such a constant in his administration that you never know.

Regardless, any change on this thinking is good, so hopefully he means what he says and will start acting accordingly.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Americans Continue to Speak Out

I seriously have to thank JJ for alerting me to this- I read his post and then went to LF, where sure enough a thread has been formed and suggestions are being sent to the site at blazing speed. Americans Speaking Out? The first reply to the LF thread got it just about right: "I think we've all heard enough out of America." Still, the site is full of pretty good trolls right now. From the "how to increase prosperity" section:

change the national anthem to "It's Raining Men"

I've noticed lately that America's birds are getting a little on the small side. The North African Ostrich is the world's largest and therefore best bird. Why is it that the greatest country on earth doesn't have the world's biggest birds? Liberals want our birds to be small because they hate the Constitution. Jews did 9/11.

we should let BP sue anyone who tries to steal the oil that's flowing into the gulf. they may have misplaced it, but it still BELONGS TO BP. stop stealing BP's oil.

Fund Hamas instead of the IDF

Idea for New Jobs: Construct Additional Pylons. This will keep our drones gainfully employed and increase the size of our base. My Life for Auir!
I figured I might as well chip in an idea:
voting for democrats is haraam. democrats want to allow gay people to seriously get it on in your living room. democrats want to separate church and state. democrats want many unseemly and disturbing things. all of this is haraam. my suggestion is that republicans embrace the creation of a new global caliphate and islamic fundamentalism. if this doesnt work then try gay fascism or maoist-third worldism or something. ron paul did 9/11.

Unfortunately they seem to have banned my account :(

America Speaking Out!

One of the more fun aspects of the modern Republican Party is that teabaggers manage to teabag their way into anything the GOP does.

Example: A seemingly harmless idea where the GOP creates a site to to submit ideas they have about how to improve the government. What pressing issues of the day are Republican voters concerned about?
On Tuesday morning, GOP leaders unveiled, a website that they pitched as a "giant step forward" towards popularizing the Republican platform. The idea is simple -- allow viewers to suggest legislative remedies that they and others could then debate and vote upon. The top suggestions would, naturally, rise to the top.

But opening up the process of debate means inviting in uncomfortable voices. Within minutes, a poster on the site suggested repealing Section II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act because it was "UNCONSTITUTIONAL, PROGRESSIVE and HITLER." [yes, they used Hitler as an adjective]. (That entry has since been shut down by the GOP.)
"Hitler" often goes underused as an adjective, but that clearly didn't stop this guy.

I was originally going to end the post there, but luckily I decided to click through the links and head over there myself. It's a fantastic combination of people trolling the site and morons, absolutely worth checking out for yourself.

The first idea I saw:
There are too many states these days. Please eliminate three. I am NOT a crackpot.
Abe Simpson, fucking awesome. The people who weren't trolling were equally hilarious:
Just get out of the way! Businesses do fine on its own if you don't saddle them with taxes and regulations.
Because that's working so well! And speaking of those regulations...
eliminating minimum wage laws will allow companies to hire many more Americans for just a fraction of the price. If Mexicans can work for 2$ an hour, so can we.
Like millions of Americans, this person wakes up every morning and asks themselves: "How can our country be as poor as Mexico?" That idea has 130 votes.

My best part of this rant is that it showed up under the site's "Job Creation ideas" page:
Good white christian folk everywhere must stand up and refuse to apologize for committing crimes that infuriate the communist democRATS: 1) Being white and proud of it! (Black people are allowed to declare their racial pride!) 2) Being a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. 3) Not accepting being a sodomite as legitimate lifestyle much less grant these AIDS infected beasts the same rights normal non-child m0lesting people have. 4) Demanind that this white christian nation retain its racial and cultural heritage by rejecting the marxist multi-culturalism of the left. 5) Knowing for a fact that the black communist muslim in the white house was NOT born in the U.S.A. and therefore is not legally president! 6) Demanind that Barack HUSSEIN Obama stop taxing us to death already! 7) Respect our inherent God-given right to own whatever firearm we like! We don't need to justify owning an M4 or AK-47. We may need them when Obama orcastrates a distaster as an excuse to throw us into his FEMA death camps. Stand up America and be counted in November! Kick some communist butt and take back this country for future generations before the allah-loving stalinst in the white house makes us his white slaves permanently!
It's so over the top you'd have to assume that it's someone trolling the site, but real life teabaggers are so out of their fucking minds you can never be sure.

So keep at it guys! Pushing the Republican party into insanely stupid positions might be the best chance we have this November!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What's Good For BP is Good For America

What the fuck is going on here?
More than a month has passed since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig blew up, spewing immeasurable quantities of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and frustrating all efforts to contain it. The billowing plume of undersea oil and water has thwarted the industry’s well-control efforts and driven government officials to impotent rage.

It has demonstrated the enduring laxity of federal regulation of offshore operations and has shown the government to be almost wholly at the mercy of BP, the company leasing the rig, to provide the technology, personnel and equipment to stop the bleeding well.

Senators and administration officials visiting the southern Louisiana town of Galliano lashed out again at BP on Monday, saying they were “beyond patience” with the company. The day before, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who early in the crisis vowed to “keep the boot on the neck” of BP, threatened to push the company out of the way.

But on Monday, Mr. Salazar backed off, conceding to the reality that BP and the oil companies have access to the best technology to attack the well, a mile below the surface, even though that technology has proved so far to have fallen short of its one purpose. The government’s role, he acknowledged, is largely supervisory and the primary responsibility for the spill, for legal and practical reasons, remains with the company.

“The administration has done everything we can possibly do to make sure that we push BP to stop the spill and to contain the impact,” Mr. Salazar said. “We have also been very clear that there are areas where BP and the private sector are the ones who must continue to lead the efforts with government oversight, such as the deployment of private sector technology 5,000 feet below the ocean’s surface to kill the well.”
Why the hell is BP still calling the shots? If they had "the best technology" as it's often claimed, wouldn't some of it would have worked by now?

I'm obviously no expert, but I simply don't understand how the company whose fucking up caused this mess is still in charge of fixing it a month later when they've been lying to us about how big the spill is and there have been no signs of progress.

That's also going on the assumption that they aren't making things worse:
At a news conference Monday, the E.P.A. administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, said that she was “dissatisfied with BP’s response” and had ordered the oil giant to take “immediate steps to scale back the use of dispersants.”
. . .
Ms. Jackson said that in theory, BP’s deployment of dispersant directly onto the l well head, a novel use of the chemicals, would reduce the amount of oil on the surface and the need for application of dispersant there. She said the company could reduce its use by 50 percent to 75 percent, regardless of which dispersant was used.

Rear Adm. Mary E. Landry of the Coast Guard said that while the government had approved the use of dispersant beforehand, “no one anticipated that it would ever be used at this scale and this scope.”

Admiral Landry said the preferred method of responding to oil on the ocean was to burn it or to soak it up with devices like absorbent booms. Dispersant applications should be a second line of defense, for when the weather is too severe to rely on other techniques, she said.

It was not clear how the environmental agency would enforce the demand that BP reduce its use of the dispersant.
It's unclear how we'd enforce their use... meaning we can't stop BP from doing something that might do more damage than good? Fantastic! And that brings us to something that should have been pointed out long ago any time we discuss BP's role in cleaning up their own mess:

The British Petroleum Corporation has different priorities and goals than the United States of America.

A shocking statement I know, but apparently it needs to be said out loud.

Relevant example: It's in our best interest to stop this leak as fast as humanly possible, while it's in BP's best interests to stop it in a way that won't permanently damage their well.

So even though BP may have "the best technology", it's been over a month and they've proven they either don't know what they're doing or are unwilling to do what's necessary. Try something else or threaten BP that you'll never give them a contract again unless this is stopped by the end of the week.

Just do something, anything to show you aren't waiting around for the same fuck ups who created this disaster to fix it on their own terms.

Where's the Oil?

Worth remembering that Brit Hume said two weeks ago:

Just like everything else he's been wrong about, this should be damming enough to get him pulled of the air for good. Instead, he'll be back on Fox News tomorrow, saying something equally stupid.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Beck Insanity Theater for 5/23

Apparently two of my most frequent Train topics collided this week, when Glenn Beck took a few minutes off from his busy “BUY GOLD NOW!!!11” shtick to compare Tibet to Texas:

Wowee! Some observations:

1. Are Glenn and his co-host high? They both sound like my freshman year roommate and some of his friends, blazed out of their minds, engaging in civilized discourse as to the intricacies of how to best observe 4/20. Shouldn’t a veteran radio guy know how unlistenable that was?

2. Speaking of drug abuse, how high do you have to be before you start talking about Tibet and forget that the people who live there are called Tibetans?! Seriously? He thinks the inhabitants of Tibet are Uighurs? And while we’re on that subject…

3. How the fuck has Beck ever heard of Uighurs? And when he did read about them, how did he not jump to the usual right-wing conclusion and assume (based on their observable state of ‘being Muslim’) that they are terrorists?!

4. Finally- without getting too graphic about the sorts of things that China does to Tibetans, how could even the Randest of wingnutty far-right mcnutcases say/think that the comparison is valid?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Train of Thought Lounge: Notorious B.I.G.

Posting this from a bus with DCJonesy and RB on my way to see 6.54 in New York.

At Rb's suggestion a googled Bus and Train, and got this image:

I'm pretty sure that accurately displays what's happening right now.

In honor of NYC and Brooklyn:

Notorious B.I.G. - Juicy

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Another Rand Paul Rundown

Just a quick follow-up on J.N. and JJ's coverage of this developing story.



Is it just me, or does it seem as though politicians like Rand Paul speak in a code that their supporters can understand, but that sane people cannot?

GOING LOLT: The Rand Paul Story

Ladies and gentlemen, I present Rand Paul on the subject of whether lunch tables (slash, everything) should have been desegregated during the Civil Rights era:
"What I think would happen -- what I'm saying is, is that I don't believe in any discrimination. I don't believe in any private property should discriminate either. And I wouldn't attend, wouldn't support, wouldn't go to. But what you have to answer when you answer this point of view, which is an abstract, obscure conversation from 1964 that you want to bring up. But if you want to answer, you have to say then that you decide the rules for all restaurants and then you decide that you want to allow them to carry weapons into restaurants."
Ahahahaha, there you have it, the Teabagging Prince, the future of the movement. Great stuff.

Thoughts on Tuesday's Elections

A few thoughts on Tuesday's STALINIST IDEOLOGICAL PURGE primaries:

Pennsylvania Senate

The Joe Sestak win is remarkable on a lot of levels, but the media missed the boat on a couple of them. In itself, it's not remarkable that Joe Sestak (a Democrat) would beat Arlen Specter, (a career Republican) in a Democratic primary. However...
  • The effort that Obama, Biden and Rendell and the Democratic machine put behind clearing the primary field to save the ass of a career Republican was stunning
  • The balls that it took for Sestak to remain in the race are unmatched.
  • Fucking disgraceful that OFA and the DSCC wasted tons of resources pushing Specter, even as his general election prospects dimmed
  • Voters not blindly listening to people they otherwise like (Obama, Biden, Rendell) is an encouraging sign
  • Craven assholes who are openly only concerned with keeping their jobs occasionally get what they deserve.
Arkansas Senate

This was a pleasant surprise. Not only did we hold Lincoln under 50% and force a runoff, but she only narrowly beat out Halter's vote totals. In a runoff election that tends to favor those with stronger ability to turn out the vote, I think we stand a very good chance of taking her out.

Murtha's Seat

Mark Critz won this special election, and big. This is a district that voted for McCain, and one where Obama has a 30% approval rating, so this *should* put some serious dents in the ZOMG ALL DEMOCRATS ARE SCREWED BECAUSE STUPID PEOPLE FIGURED OUT THAT YOU CAN GO OUTSIDE AND HOLD RACIST SIGNS narrative.

Kentucky Senate

We hadn't paid much attention to this race but Jack Conway, the more progressive and better general election candidate won. And this is very important because...
Rand Paul Fan Art - Courtesy of some teabagger

The Republicans nominated Rand Paul who

a) Is named RAND
b) Is the son of Ron Paul (Yes, Ron Paul named his son Rand)
c) Is crazy as all shit.

The Republicans nominating crazy as hell/less electable candidates is only fun if we have someone who can beat them, so getting Conway is extra huge.

One Train Action candidate victory complete, one pending.

Donate to Bill Halter and help him knock Blanche Lincoln out of the Senate once and for all!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sestak / Halter Results LIVEBLOG

Sestak / Halter Results Liveblog Tonight

Both Train Of Thought endorsed Senate primary challengers have their elections today, so a liveblog is definitely in order.

In Pennsylvania, Sestak has surged in the polls over the last two weeks and has a slight lead. Today's vote is the one and only, so we find out tonight whether or not we'll have a chance of beating raving lunatic Pat Toomey in the fall.

In Arkansas, things are a bit different. Bill Halter trails Blanche Lincoln by 10 points, but there's a 3rd wheel in the race drawing 6-7%. If Halter can force Lincoln under 50%, then we move to a runoff on June 8th, giving Halter more time to boost his name recognition, whereas the delay would almost certainly hurt Lincoln.

I'd say both races are still longshots (considering the name ID for Lincoln and the political machine that's turning out for Specter), but I'm cautiously optimistic.

So join JN, RB, myself and others discussing the results 7:45 tonight!

Dale Peterson, American Hero

While Joe Sestak might have already given us the best political ad of this cycle, we'll be doing an on going search throughout the year for the best unintentionally funny ad. John McCain gave us a candidate last week, and now we have this from Dale Peterson:

Like @fbihop said, towards the end of ad I was legitimately wondering if he was going to shoot the horse.

We should all be grateful to live in a time where the line between legitimate political ads and something you'd see on Tim and Eric has been blurred beyond recognition.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Glenn Greenwald on This Week

It's amazing what happens when you put smart people on television:

Moments like the owning of Greg Craig (starting around 7:55) are probably why people like Glenn aren't usually asked to appear on these shows.

Kudos to Jake Tapper for allowing this to happen, watch a replay of the whole panel discussion if you get a chance.

Train of Thought Lounge: The Space in Between

Headphones or playing loudly on a good set of speakers recommended:

Friday, May 14, 2010

A "Relatively Tiny" Spill

While some on the left may be still be concerned about the environmental impact of offshore drilling, I'm glad we put an end to those age old old left/right debates and embraced how awesome a never ending oil spill really is:
The amount of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico may be at least 10 times the size of official estimates, according to an exclusive analysis conducted for NPR. At NPR's request, experts examined video that BP released Wednesday. Their findings suggest the BP spill is already far larger than the 1989 Exxon Valdez accident in Alaska, which spilled at least 250,000 barrels of oil.

BP has said repeatedly that there is no reliable way to measure the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by looking at the oil gushing out of the pipe. But scientists say there are actually many proven techniques for doing just that.

Steven Wereley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, analyzed videotape of the seafloor gusher using a technique called particle image velocimetry.

A computer program simply tracks particles and calculates how fast they are moving. Wereley put the BP video of the gusher into his computer. He made a few simple calculations and came up with an astonishing value for the rate of the oil spill: 70,000 barrels a day — much higher than the official estimate of 5,000 barrels a day.
While 70,000 barrels a day may seem like a lot, the CEO of BP wants to remind us to keep things in context. And by context he means to compare the size of the spill with the AMOUNT OF WATER EVERYWHERE ON THE FUCKING EARTH:
Tony Hayward, the beleaguered chief executive of BP, has claimed its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is "relatively tiny" compared with the "very big ocean".

In an bullish interview with the Guardian at BP's crisis centre in Houston, Hayward insisted that the leaked oil and the estimated 400,000 gallons of dispersant that BP has pumped into the sea to try to tackle the slick should be put in context.

"The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume," he said.
Gee, Tony I'm so glad the "total volume" of the spill isn't that bad when you compare it to the total amount of water in the Gulf of Mexico. I guess when oil starts crossing the Atlantic and washing up on British shores, then he'll start to think this is serious.

Rich Trumka: Beast

Reading things like this make me like AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka even more than I already do:
A more contentious moment came during a gathering of union leaders in mid-January. By that point, the president's preference for a tax on high-cost health care plans was well known. But he had done little to temper labor's protests. The friction was obvious. Not only would the tax hit negotiated union contracts, Obama himself had launched blistering attacks on the proposal when it was part of Sen. John McCain's platform in 2008. (Axelrod would tell associates it was the campaign ad that tested best with voters).

On January 11, the president brought a group of more than a half-dozen union presidents to the White House to remove any lingering doubt. "There will be an excise tax," he declared, according to one attendee.

"I'm committed to doing it," another attendee had him saying. "And I need you guys to be on board."

The crowd wasn't sold. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, seated across from the president, shot back that the tax was "bad policy and bad politics" pointing to the percentage of middle-class workers (even the non-unionized) who would be hit. Anna Burger, the executive director of union campaign arm, Change to Win, brought up Deb Lovell, a state worker in New Hampshire and wife of a chronic myelogenous leukemia patient, who despite earning $30,000-a-year salary would see her health care plan taxed under the proposal.

The President conceded that taxing people like Lovell was not the design and promised to look into Burger's point. But he continued pitching the tax as necessary for keeping health care costs under control. "He was persuaded to do health care, I believe, by Peter Orszag [the budget director], not Ted Kennedy [the moralist former Senator]," is how one White House ally put it.

Trumka refused to let the argument go, pushing back on Obama point by point. Several people briefed on what happened said that after the discussion ended other union leaders told Trumka that he came off as "disrespectful" to the president. To which he replied: "If telling him the truth is disrespectful, then I have to be disrespectful."

At an impasse, Obama scheduled a meeting for the next day with the same group. But in this one, his deputies would lead the conversation, and union staffers were not permitted to attend (the White House thought that staffers would expand the conservation to topics beyond the excise tax). This didn't diminish the fireworks. As Jason Furman, the White House economist and excise tax booster, continued to push the proposal, Trumka reached a tipping point. "Don't fucking bullshit me," he demanded.
It takes tremendous courage to stand up to the president of the United States, especially when he's an ally that you helped elect. Although we didn't win the fight, I'm extremely encouraged that things at least got that heated. It's kind of comforting to hear that some of the people involved in the debate were as angry as I was at the time.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

John McCain: Still Extremely Lame

Before you watch John McCain's latest ad, Dave Wiegel lists a few things to remember:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on the need to build a fence on the U.S.-Mexico border, January 2007:
I think the fence is least effective. But I’ll build the goddamned fence if they want it.

McCain again in September 2008:

What my plan was, and what our proposal was, that we secure our borders, and we can secure it, not necessarily with walls and fences. Although that is important in populated areas, in the deserts of Arizona vehicle barriers, cameras, and sensors, all of those things, can be used.
And now, the first nominee for lamest election ad of the 2010 cycle:

"Complete the danged fence"

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Kaganing

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Monday nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, declaring she would demonstrate the same independence, integrity and passion for the law exhibited by retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

If confirmed by the Senate, Kagan would become the third woman on the high court. At 50, she is relatively young for the lifetime post and could help shape the high court's decisions for decades.
I'm a big fan of Supreme Court nomination hysteria, mainly cause I don't know that much about the law and it tends to bring out a special kind of stupid in our political media.

Unlike the last time around, we can add a third element, one where you have very serious concerns about the person who the President nominated, and there's about a 99% that she is easily confirmed. Reading people's opinions of Kagan, you seriously can't help but get worried.

Glenn Greenwald:
The prospect that Stevens will be replaced by Elena Kagan has led to the growing perception that Barack Obama will actually take a Supreme Court dominated by Justices Scalia (Reagan), Thomas (Bush 41), Roberts (Bush 43), Alito (Bush 43) and Kennedy (Reagan) and move it further to the Right. Joe Lieberman went on Fox News this weekend to celebrate the prospect that "President Obama may nominate someone in fact who makes the Court slightly less liberal," while The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus predicted: "The court that convenes on the first Monday in October is apt to be more conservative than the one we have now." Last Friday, I made the same argument: that replacing Stevens with Kagan risks moving the Court to the Right, perhaps substantially to the Right (by "the Right," I mean: closer to the Bush/Cheney vision of Government and the Thomas/Scalia approach to executive power and law).
. . .

First, given that there are so many excellent candidates who have a long, clear commitment to a progressive judicial philosophy, why would Obama possibly select someone who -- at best -- is a huge question mark, and who could easily end up as the Democrats' version of the Bush-41-appointed David Souter, i.e., someone about whom little is known and ends up for decades embracing a judicial philosophy that is the exact opposite of the one the President's party supports? As Goldstein wrote of Kagan:

Are there risks for the left in a Kagan nomination? God yes. The last nominee about whose views we knew so little was David Souter. . . . I don’t know anyone who has had a conversation with her in which she expressed a personal conviction on a question of constitutional law in the past decade.

Why would any progressive possibly want to take risks like that given how large the stakes are, and given how many other excellent, viable candidates Obama can choose who have a long and clear record?

Everyone who knows Elena Kagan says she's a great gal. This is deemed to be a huge asset because she will supposedly charm Anthony Kennedy into doing her bidding and then the liberals will have a 5-4 majority. Strangely, though, you can't find anyone who knows what her views on the law, culture, society, morality, policy are. I suppose it's possible that she has none, but that's unlikely. You really can't reach her age without forming some opinions about the world and you can't reach her level without having any brains. So, it's likely that she's just been very, very careful not to let anyone know what she really thinks in anticipation of this day.

The thing I'm hearing the most is that she and Obama are very much alike and that they have a strong personal relationship. So, if you like Obama's worldview and governing style, you'll like Kagan. I would expect a lot of split-the-baby opinions --- and we'd best keep our hopes up that Anthony Kennedy is a lot easier to charm than the Republican congress has been.
These descriptions make her sound the Supreme Court Nominee version of Hillary Clinton, someone who has built their entire professional career around one day facing a Senate confirmation battle. Even her defenders like Lawrence Lessig seem to mostly cite their personal relationships with her, which while nice, isn't much of an argument for those of us who aren't lucky enough to be her friend.

Digby's point about the similarities between her worldview and Obamas' makes sense to me, and frankly leaves me more concerned than ever. Obama's governing style of "ending age old left-right debates" makes me want to drive my head through a wall, not sure how that translates to the Supreme Court but hopefully it doesn't mean that she would get constantly out maneuvered by the opposition as we've seen far too many times during the Obama Administration.

The main concern here is that while Bush nominated hard line right wingers to the court, we are nominating people that conservatives are supporting because they think it's "the best they can hope for". Regardless of anything else Greenwald points out that this probably leaves the court further to the right than it was before, after the election of a Democratic President. Depressing.

The main mistake that people make in analyzing this pick is the same mistake people make constantly with Obama. Even with mountains of evidence to the contrary, people want to believe that Obama is a progressive and anything he does is to help progressives no matter how much you have to make shit up and distort reality to think so. Right after the election when people (very smart people, I should add) were claiming that Obama nominated a bunch of centrists to govern as progressives, I wrote this:
And as for Kuttner's(and others) argument about Obama's economic team secretly executing a progressive policy, I would be lying if I didn't see it as anything other than moderately insane.

I say this knowing that plenty of people who I greatly respect believe this to be true, but having followed Barack Obama's career and economic advisers for some time, they are making a leap that I'm just not comfortable making. Barack Obama's economic policies will be tremendously better than anything we've seen in some time (this speech is a great start), but people need to be realistic with their expectations. If he's had people like Summers, Rubin, Furman, Goolsbee as his closest economic advisers with very little progressive economic representation during his time in the senate and throughout his presidential campaign, then it is more than likely that he believes in their economic philosophy.
. . .
But to think that somehow Obama nominated a bunch of center right economists to carry out an amazingly progressive economic agenda that even Obama himself hasn't mentioned or committed to seems a bit off the deep end to me.
That same line of thinking can be applied to this supreme court nomination. For all the bending over backwards to claim that Kagan is going to secretly become a liberal stalwart once on the Supreme Court, I think explaining her nomination is far simpler. Obama nominated her not because he thought Diane Wood would be too hard to confirm, but because he thinks Elana Kagan is the best choice to be a Supreme Court Justice. As Greenwald says, she seems to share many of the same traits as Obama, especially related to courting conservatives and attempting to forge consensus. That type of shit may infuriate me, but people need to give Obama a bit more credit than to think he's screwing up his own supreme court pick by nominating the most conservative of his potential choices.

Deep thought: Obama is a very smart person, and he wanted to nominate Kagan BECAUSE of her career as a moderate, not in spite of it. He's not an idiot, he just has different values than the ones you projected on to him.

With all this said, I'm pretty sure I'm going to boycott cable news until this nomination fight is over. For one, it's fairly depressing because a nominee that I'm less than thrilled about is just about a sure thing to be confirmed and will most likely move the court to the right. Secondly, the RNC put out a press release criticizing Kagan for saying that slavery was a bad thing (no seriously, they did). When I said that supreme court nominations bring out the worst in everyone I honestly didn't think supporting slavery would be on the table, but there you go.

It's going to be a loooooooonnnngg couple of months.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Train Action candidate Joe Sestak is up 5 points in the latest poll, and is really closing strong.

He's been saving the hardest hitting ads for last, and with Arlen Specter, he's got great material to work with:

I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but that might honestly be the best political ad I've ever seen. This race is very winnable, and there would be few sweeter victories than knocking off Specter.

Consider voluntering for Joe Sestak's campaign if you're in Pennsylvania or donating through Train Action. There's only two weeks until the election, and every little bit matters (and as this ad shows, he's doing good things with your money!)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

Train of Thought Lounge: Neil Young

This week marked the 40th anniversary of the Kent State shootings.

Neil Young - Ohio

Alan Grayson's moving floor speech from last Tuesday:

Blanche Lincoln's Corporate Whoring Never Stops

Even for a career corporate shill like Blanche Lincoln, the timing on this is pretty stunning:
Sen. Blanche Lincoln won't be in Arkansas tonight, sounds like. Or maybe she'll send a stand-in to collect her Member of Congress Award from the Women in Government Relations (aka lobbyists) at their Spring Soiree tonight at the Columbus Club in Washington's Union Station. Major sponsors include the airline industry, realtors, FedEx and several oil companies, including BP America.
The League of Conservation voters didn't miss the opportunity:
WASHINGTON, DC - The League of Conservation Voters (LCV), which works to turn environmental values into national priorities, today called on Sen. Blanche Lincoln to return campaign contributions she received from oil giant British Petroleum, the corporation responsible for the oil rig currently spewing hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil per day in to the Gulf of Mexico.

"Given BP's role in the economic and environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, it would be highly irresponsible and inappropriate for Senator Lincoln to continue to finance her campaign in these final days before the primary with BP's tainted oil money," said Tony Massaro, LCV’s Senior Vice President for Political Affairs. "LCV calls on Senator Lincoln to return her BP bucks and either get on board or out of the way as Congress works to pass comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation that would increase energy independence, create new energy jobs and reduce the risk of man-made disasters like the BP oil spill."

In the past decade, Sen. Lincoln has been among the top three recipients of BP PAC money in the Senate, having received $12,000 from the oil company's political action committee since the 2001-02 election cycle.[1] This election cycle alone, in which she has co-sponsored legislation that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing regulations to reduce harmful pollutants[2], Sen. Lincoln has received $4,000 in campaign cash from BP's PAC. [3]

Sen. Lincoln's Big Oil record:
  • Sen. Lincoln voted for the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act in 2006, which ended protections for Florida’s Gulf Coast and opened up 8 million acres off the coasts of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana for oil drilling. [4]
  • Sen. Lincoln currently opposes comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation, despite the fact that it will create clean energy jobs, reduce our dangerous dependence on oil and make polluters pay their fair share.[5]
  • Sen. Lincoln has taken more than $1 million in campaign cash from Big Oil and other energy interests, with oil and gas companies being among the top 5 industries that have contributed to her campaign this cycle.[6]
  • Sen. Lincoln has been inconsistent in supporting efforts to make cars run further on a tank of gas, voting to oppose increases in fuel efficiency standards in 1999, 2002 and 2005. [7]LCV was among the first to call for Sen. Lincoln’s defeat this year by naming her first to LCV's 2010 "Dirty Dozen" list. She has a lifetime LCV score of 49%, the third lowest score among Democratic senators. [8]
Bill Halter for Senate!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Obama/Lincoln Ad Unleashes the Stupid

Obama endorsed Blanche Lincoln months ago because you're supposed to endorse all incumbents to help get their votes in the senate, or make them like you or something.

Earlier this week, Obama cut a radio ad in support of her, and the lies were so over the top it was appalling:

This is President Barack Obama and I want to tell you why I support Senator Blanche Lincoln for re-election in the Democratic Primary on Tuesday, May 18.
Why he would support someone who has constantly obstructed his agenda? Valid question... let's find out!
Blanche is leading the fight to hold Wall Street accountable and make sure that Arkansas taxpayers are never again asked to bailout Wall Street bankers.
The derivatives language in the financial regulations bill is literally the only good thing she has done in entire senate career, and for that we have to thank for the primary challenge from Bill Halter. She is fighting so hard to hold Wall Street accountable that the Chamber of Commerce is taking out ads on her behalf! THIS MAKES SENSE!
She is standing on the side of workers who've lost their jobs in this recession by extending unemployment insurance payments and health care while they try to get back on their feet. And she cast crucial votes to create new jobs in Arkansas and all across America.
This one is just stunning. Her help in killing the Employee Free Choice act, her willingness to go to bat for Walmart and Tyson at any turn, clearly the signs of someone who is looking out for the working class. As Michael Whitney points out, this is a bit like her attempt to take credit for saving jobs at an Arkansas Cooper Tire plant when Blanche's own votes for NAFTA and CAFTA are the main reason those jobs needed saving.

I also love the idea that Lincoln casts "crucial votes". Why exactly are they so crucial compared to the rest of the Democratic Caucus? Oh that's right, because she's on the wrong side of so many issues that you can never count on her to support anything that isn't in Walmart/Wellpoint/BP's best interest. When she weakens the bill to the likening of whatever industry the bill is trying to regulate and votes yes, the President of the United States calls it a crucial vote. What a system.
On health care, Blanche took on big insurance companies by voting to end discrimination against Arkansans with pre-existing conditions and fought for tax credits that will help thousands of local small businesses provide insurance to their employees.
Simply amazing. Saying that Blanche Lincoln took on insurance companies during the health care debate moves into territory beyond common lying. That statement is firmly in Joe Lieberman land, where you say the factual opposite of what actually happened, and then hope that no one calls you on it. Blanche Lincoln did the legwork for the insurance companies in killing the reform that they feared the most, the Public Option. Obama didn't want it anyway, I'm sure he didn't mind, but a large majority of Arkansas residents supported the Public Option, and they might not be so thrilled with Lincoln's efforts.

It's not every day that you have the chance to put such terrible senator out of their job.

Support Train Action Candidate Bill Halter and help make this a reality!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I'm Proud to Be a Teabagger!

Can't figure out if this is a parody or not, but it was featured on Andrew Breitbart's blog:

The fact that the right is completely insane may destroy all hope of good governance for a while, but at least they do things like this to ease the pain.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Thomas Friedman Tea Party

It's been at least a few days since somebody pointed out what an unbelievable idiot Thomas Friedman is, so I figured it's my turn.

Some recent Friedman statements, as complied by Sadly No:
March 24, 2010:

That is why I want my own Tea Party. I want a Tea Party of the radical center.

April 25, 2010:

So if there is going to be a Green Tea Party, it will have to emerge from a different place — the radical center, a center committed to a radical departure from business as usual.

A few points:

1. Anyone who uses the term "Radical Center" should be banished to an island until they understand the consequences of their actions. If you think about it for too long, you can feel your brain looking for ways to kill itself.

2. Of all the formulas that Friedman uses in his columns, probably his most charming is when he assumes masses of people will be instantly captivated by his stupid ideas.

Idea 1: Talk about climate change and making things "green" (without disrupting any of the pro corporate globalization policies he's built his career around worshiping.)

Idea 2: Find a way to talk about "Tea Parties"

Solution: Let's forget that most teabaggers would rather impale themselves on their one of their tri-corner hats before associating with something "green", I declare this a movement! I will also repeatedly reference this same idea in later columns, as if it existed somewhere other than my imagination caught on as a trend.

3. Is there anything more arrogant/egotistical/narcissistic than declaring in your national column in the New York Times that you want a movement dedicated to yourself?
That is why I want my own Tea Party.
He actually wrote that.

Before he even decides on the "green tea party" insanity, he honestly wants to create a political movement based on whatever the fuck he's excited about this week. Knowing Friedman, that can range anywhere from invading a country to tell them they can suck on it, having ironclad knowledge that something important will happen in the next 6 months or supporting any legislation that contains the words "free trade" (for those who think I'm exaggerating, check the links, he actually said all of those things). That's a solid group of ideas to build around.

In the end, the idea of a "Tom Friedman/green tea party" idea gets 4 out of 5 Friedmans. It's about as Thomas Friedmany as you can get, but he didn't include a reference to a corporation or a world leader, so he can't get the full score.

Defending of the Rich and Powerful

It's unfortunately becoming fairly common that when something genuinely good is happening in congress, the White House is fighting against it:
The White House, Federal Reserve and Wall Street lobbyists are kicking up their opposition to an amendment to audit the Fed as a Senate vote approaches, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the lead sponsor of the measure, said on Monday.

Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who is shepherding the bill through the Senate, told Sanders Monday afternoon that "there's a shot we'll be up tomorrow," Sanders told HuffPost.

In the spring of 2009, Sanders brought a similar amendment to the Senate floor and won 59 votes. Eight senators who voted against it then are now cosponsors of his current measure.

"I think momentum is with us. But I've gotta tell you, that on this amendment, you're taking on all of Wall Street, you're taking on the Fed, obviously, and unfortunately you seem to be taking on the White House, as well. And that's a tough group to beat," said Sanders.
If you're wondering why we need an audit of the Federal Reserve, it's as if they can't stop giving us more reasons:
Earlier on Monday, HuffPost reported that former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan wanted dissent kept secret so that people outside the Fed wouldn't involve themselves in their debates.

"We run the risk, by laying out the pros and cons of a particular argument, of inducing people to join in on the debate, and in this regard it is possible to lose control of a process that only we fully understand," Greenspan said, according to the transcripts of a March 2004 meeting. "I'm a little concerned about other people getting into the debate when they know far less than we do."

Sanders said that Greenspan's comments are all the more reason for an audit. "I think it just adds a lot of weight to what we are trying to do," Sanders said. "It just points to the fact that if there was more transparency then it in fact would have allowed the debate to take place about the subprime mortgage [sic] unfolding crisis at that point. It may have prevented the horrendous recession that we're in now and the near collapse of the financial institutions."
The funny part about the White House opposing this bill is that it actually fits perfectly with their bipartisan fetish. Except when it's a group of democrats and republicans coming together to propose something threatens the power of the Federal Reserve and our banking industry... then the need for bipartisanship suddenly vanishes.

It's also good to have another issue where Obama is seen siding with the the banking industry, a stance that's sure to be a winner at the polls. The "Obama is in Wall Street's pocket" theme hasn't really caught on yet with the media, but with Tim Geithner and Larry Summers running your banking policies, it's only a matter of time.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Train of Thought Lounge: Reflection Eternal

DCJonesy and I get to see Talib Kweli and DJ Hi-Tek tonight live at the Black Cat. If you've ever wondered about the title of the blog, they would be the ones responsible.

Only 2 more weeks until Revolutions Per Minute, Reflection Eternal's long (LONG!) awaited follow up album!

Israel... Shining Beacon of Democratic Values

From Haaretz:
More than half of Jewish Israelis think human rights organizations that expose immoral behavior by Israel should not be allowed to operate freely, and think there is too much freedom of expression here, a recent survey found.

They found that 57.6 percent of the respondents agreed that human rights organizations that expose immoral conduct by Israel should not be allowed to operate freely.

Slightly more than half agreed that "there is too much freedom of expression" in Israel.

"Israelis have a distorted perception of democracy," said Daniel Bar-Tal, a professor at the university's school of education, and one of the conference's organizers. "The public recognizes the importance of democratic values, but when they need to be applied, it turns out most people are almost anti-democratic."

Regarding human rights groups' rights to operate freely, responses varied based upon the respondents' reported political views. Of those who said they were right-wing, 76 percent said human rights groups should not have the right to freely publicize immoral conduct on Israel's part.

Another 43 percent said the media should not report information confirmed by Palestinian sources that could reflect poorly on the Israeli army. Fifty-eight percent of respondents opposed harsh criticism of the country, an increase of 10 percentage points from 2003.
I'm finding it pretty much impossible to comment on this without Godwinning myself, so there ya go.

"Like Chocolate Milk"

Ummmmm... (Via atrios)
GULFPORT — U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor on Saturday said people shouldn’t be so scared about the massive oil spill in the Gulf; he said after flying over it, “it’s not as bad as I thought.”
. . .
He described the spill as a light, rainbow sheen with patches that look like chocolate milk.

He did not see any traces along the Louisiana shore, near the Chandeleur Islands in Louisiana or the barrier islands in Mississippi.

He said the closest he saw oil was 20 miles from the Louisiana marsh and that it was further than that away from the Chandeleur Islands and even further from the barrier islands.

“It’s breaking up naturally; that’s a good thing. The fact that it’s a long way from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, that’s a great thing, because it gives it time to break up naturally,” he said.

Walker said the sheen could collect on beaches and in estuaries, but it will evaporate within a week.

Walker’s plan is to let any sheen that makes its way into the marshes evaporate naturally.

“That’s what we will probably do, is leave it alone and let nature take its course,” he said.
Given the number of times he said naturally in that interview, I'm pretty sure he doesn't know what that word means.

Gene Taylor is a Congressman, one of the several hundred people in charge of making the laws for this country.