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31 October 2009

Breaking: It's A Two-Way Race In NY-23


Breaking from Politico:
Republican Dede Scozzafava has dropped out of next Tuesday’s NY 23 special election. She did not endorse either of her two opponents, Conservative party candidate Doug Hoffman or Democrat Bill Owens.
...and then there were two.

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Saturday Morning Cartoon

Finish your Wheaties -- it's cartoon time!



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30 October 2009

Mending

As I continue to mend my body -- by eating lots of Halloween chocolates -- I hope that you all have a great Halloween weekend. Be careful and have fun.

Just do me two favors: don't eat too much candy or wear a costume like this:


Nooch. Have a good one.

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Best. Costume. Ever.


...and I want one.

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The End Of The HIV/AIDS Travel Ban

The President's remarks:
A couple of years ago Michelle and I were in Africa and we tried to combat the stigma when we were in Kenya by taking a public HIV/AIDS test. And I'm proud to announce today we're about to take another step towards ending that stigma.

Twenty-two years ago, in a decision rooted in fear rather than fact, the United States instituted a travel ban on entry into the country for people living with HIV/AIDS. Now, we talk about reducing the stigma of this disease -- yet we've treated a visitor living with it as a threat. We lead the world when it comes to helping stem the AIDS pandemic -- yet we are one of only a dozen countries that still bar people from HIV from entering our own country.If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it.

And that's why, on Monday my administration will publish a final rule that eliminates the travel ban effective just after the New Year. Congress and President Bush began this process last year, and they ought to be commended for it. We are finishing the job. It's a step that will encourage people to get tested and get treatment, it's a step that will keep families together, and it's a step that will save lives.
I've followed this story via Andrew Sullivan, who is quite pleased with the results.

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For Fox Sake

"To be fair, the average consumer hasn't opened a newspaper since 1997."

Priceless.

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UPDATED: Nothing Can Stop... THE BLOB

[editor's note: this post was originally published on July 18th -- see below for further updates]

A strange/interesting/weird/baffling story in Alaska via Justin Gardner at True/Slant. Headline: 15 Mile Long Alaskan Blob Of Goo Baffles Experts:
Folks, they literally can not figure out what this thing is. There are guesses that it’s algae, but 15 miles of solid algae?

Here’s what we do know…

1. It’s 15 miles long.

2. It’s not oil.

3. It’s organic in nature, so it’s alive (sort of).

4. It appears to be growing larger.

5. It’s not affected by extremely cold temperatures.

6. AND, it’s “eating” things that fall on it or that it envelopes as it slowly travels the Arctic Ocean.

I am officially terrified.
Me too.

UPDATE:: courtesy of Fury, here is some video of the Blob:



UPDATE II:: courtesy of Fury again (apparently he's obsessed with blobs), here is a follow-up article. Money:
It was a dark, floating mass stretching for miles through the Chukchi Sea, a frigid and relatively shallow expanse of Arctic Ocean water between Alaska's northwest coast and the Russian Far East. The goo was fibrous, hairy. When it touched floating ice, it looked almost black...

While Alaskans may find the algal blob unusual if not frightening, scientists say that algal blooms are nothing new in Arctic Ocean waters, though the blob itself might be a little weird. Brenda Konar, a marine biology professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said algal outbreaks can and do occur even in icy Arctic waters. It just takes the right combination of nutrients, light and water temperature, she said. "Algae blooms," she says. "It's sort of like a swimming pool that hasn't been cleaned in a while." The blob, Konar said, is a microalgae made up of "billions and billions of individuals." "We've observed large blooms in the past off Barrow although none of them at all like this," Barry Sherr, an Oregon State University professor of oceanography, said in an e-mail. "The fact that the locals say they've never seen anything like it suggests that it might represent some exotic species which has drifted into the region, perhaps as a result of global change. For the moment that's just a guess."
So, it's just algae. Algae that is going to take over the planet and enslave the human race.

Great.

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Sarah Palin Is 'Not Very Serious' About Iowa

An interesting tid-bit about Sarah Palin's Iowa ambitions:
The Iowa Family Policy Center’s effort to cobble together $100,000 for Palin would represent a striking departure from customary practice in the first-in-the-nation state, these Republicans say, noting that a generation of White House hopefuls has paid their own way to boost their party and presidential ambitions.

Were Palin to appear in Iowa on November 21st, it would mark her first trip back to the state since she spoke to a handful of rallies there last fall as the GOP’s vice-presidential nominee. She would offer powerful counter-programming to another major political event that night: The Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner with Vice-President Joe Biden as the headliner.

But representatives from other Iowa-based political advocacy groups said they would never consider shelling out money for what many politicians see as a privilege: the opportunity to speak to a room full of sure-fire caucus-goers who often serve as precinct captains and can be instrumental to a presidential candidate’s success.

“If somebody tells me they want me to pay an appearance fee, it tells me they’re not very serious about running for president,” said Ed Failor, Jr., president of Iowans for Tax Relief and an influential GOP insider.

“I found it really, really odd,” Failor said.
As I've said before, I don't think that the former Governor of Alaska is going to run in 2012 (perhaps in 2016 or 2020, but even that would be a stretch). I think that this business in Iowa may be further proof that Mrs. Palin is indeed retiring from politics -- or at the very least backing away from her presidential ambitions. Thoughts?

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Photo: Robert DeBerry/The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman/AP

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Beggar's Night

Tomorrow (Oct 31) is Beggar's Night here in Grinnell when spooks and ghouls will go running around town telling jokes and collecting candy in celebration of Halloween.

Yes, I said that right, they tell jokes in order to earn their candy. The Des Moines Register has ran it's yearly article explaining how Iowa's tradition of Beggar's Night jokes got started 60 years ago.
The credit for providing Des Moines children with the perfect outlet for their most groan-inducing jokes largely goes to one woman, Kathryn Krieg, director of recreation for the Des Moines Playground Commission (later the Parks and Recreation Department) for 43 years.

When Krieg assumed her post in 1931, kids on Beggars' Night were more likely to clamor "Soaps or Eats" than "Trick or Treat." Every year the newspaper ran a long list on Nov. 1 of youths arrested the previous evening for crimes ranging from soaping windows and sidelining streetcars to setting fires and throwing bricks through windows.

The flash point came on Halloween in 1938 when Des Moines police answered a record 550 calls concerning vandalism. Krieg, along with the Community Chest' group work council, began a campaign to encourage less violent forms of Halloween fun.

They set aside Oct. 30 as Beggars' Night and got the word out to the public that on that night - and only that night - children would be allowed to go from door to door and say the phrase "tricks for eats." The council urged that "eats should be given only if such a 'trick' as a song, a poem, a stunt or a musical number, either solo or in group participation, is presented."

The next year, the group work council again promoted the Beggars' Night concept, this time as a way to aid the war effort. An article published in The Des Moines Register on Oct. 29, 1942, carried the headline "Kids! -Don't Help the Axis on Halloween" and included this poem encouraging proper behavior:

"Soap and ticktacks are taboo,
Ringing doorbells? Not for you.
Thoughts of pranks, you must detour,
Lest you bet a saboteur."

The Beggars' Night program was so successful that by the mid-1940's, the number of Halloween police calls in Des Moines had been cut by more than half.
Over the years since the tradition has spread to most of Iowa's communities with only slight changes. Now a days, homeowners that want to participate turn on their porch light. Krieg retired in 1974 and died in 1999 at the age of 94, and while the tradition she set in motion doesn't entirely do away with the vandalism, as this morning's news from Indianola shows, it has certainly kept it low. It's also a great way to get caught up on all the new jokes.

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Department Of Really Sad Charts


Wow. Balloon Boy was popular with both people and media, no?
The latest weekly News Interest Index survey, conducted Oct. 16-19 among 1,004 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, finds that public interest in the war in Afghanistan continues to be fairly modest. Only about one-in-ten (9%) cite the war as their top story for the week, which is less than the percentage (14%) that mentioned the story of a boy thought to be aboard a runaway balloon who was later found safe, and the proportion citing swine flu news (20%). The health care debate was the top story (at 32%) as has been the case in most recent weeks.

The public expresses a range of feelings about the news concerning the war in Afghanistan: a majority (56%) often feels that "it seems like the same news about the war in Afghanistan all the time, nothing ever really changes"; 42% say they do not often feel this way.

Nearly as many (53%) say they do not always have enough background information to follow the news about Afghanistan. By contrast, far fewer Americans (26%) say the news about the war is so depressing they would prefer not to follow it. Only 20% say they feel guilty about not following news from the war in Afghanistan more closely.
Head nod: TYWKIWDBI

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Happiness Is...




Dressing up for Trick-Or-Treat Night.

[editor's note: the Boy is dressed as Yoda, the Girl is dressed as Annie]

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MSNBC Is The Left's Fox News

Greg Sargent tackles the meme that MSNBC is the left-wing equivalent to Fox News, and therefore the White House is being hypocritical:
Sure, MSNBC has Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and Ed Schultz. But it’s debatable, to begin with, that they are polar opposites — in terms of their ideology or their relationship to reality — of Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.

Put that aside, however. More to the point, it’s plainly obvious that there’s a much brighter line between reporting and commentary at MSNBC than there is at Fox.

Consider MSNBC’s daytime content. Morning Joe is hardly a liberal program. Throughout the day you get lots of reporting and commentary from Chuck Todd and David Shuster. Todd fits squarely in the “nonpartisan Beltway analyst” category. Shuster? Sure, he’s aggressive in debunking conservative attack lines, but agree with him or not, Shuster calls them as he sees them on the facts, and he’s fundamentally a reporter.

More to the point is MSNBC’s news judgment throughout the day, which contrasts sharply with that of Fox. You’d be hard pressed to argue that MSNBC’s choice of stories to report on is as ideologically driven as Fox’s editorial choices. There’s simply no equivalent on the MSNBC news side of Fox’s constant “news” coverage of the tea partiers, the czars, the ACORN story, the crusade against gay education adviser Kevin Jennings, etc. etc. The point is that Fox’s news judgment is far more ideologically motivated than MSNBC’s is.
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Quote Of The Day


"If this is organized, we suck." -Joan Abbott, a protester at yesterday's gathering on the Capitol Lawn protesting the announcement of a final health care reform bill in the House.

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29 October 2009

Birther Watch, Ctd.

Orly Taitz and her merry band of zealots have been beaten down (again) by the court system. U.S. District Judge David O. Carter has dismissed Barnett et al v. Obama et al, the latest in Taitz's attempts to 'overthrow the ursurper', President Obama. Here is the entire ruling. Here is the disposition:
Interpreting the Constitution is a serious and crucial task with which the federal courts of this nation have been entrusted under Article III. However, that very same Constitution puts limits on the reach of the federal courts. One of those limits is that the Constitution defines processes through which the President can be removed from office. The Constitution does not include a role for the Court in that process. Plaintiffs have encouraged the Court to ignore these mandates of the Constitution; to disregard the limits on its power put in place by the Constitution; and to effectively overthrow a sitting president who was popularly elected by We the People‚ sixty-nine million of the people. Plaintiffs have attacked the judiciary, including every prior court that has dismissed their claim, as unpatriotic and even treasonous for refusing to grant their requests and for adhering to the terms of the Constitution which set forth its jurisdiction. Respecting the constitutional role and jurisdiction of this Court is not unpatriotic. Quite the contrary, this Court considers commitment to that constitutional role to be the ultimate reflection of patriotism. Therefore, for the reasons stated above, Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.
Too good not to post. Now, back to being sick.

Head nod: David Weigel

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It Got Me

So, the dasty bug that has decibated the Pajaba Fabily has fidally caught-up with be.

I'm dowd for the coudt -- and todight is Trick-Or-Treat dight!

Ugh.

Hab a good Thursday and (hopefully) I'll be back up and rudding toborrow.

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28 October 2009

Hate Crime Legislation: What Took So Long?

Eleven years later...
President Barack Obama plans to sign legislation today adding gays to the list of groups covered by the federal hate-crime law, the biggest expansion of such protections in decades.

[snip]

Democrats in Congress who long have been pushing for expansion of the hate-crime law added it to the bill. The 1968 statute, passed in the aftermath of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., applies to people attacked because of their race, religion or national origin.

Under the new provision, the law will cover those attacked because of their sexual orientation, gender or gender identity. The U.S. Justice Department will have expanded authority to prosecute such crimes when local authorities don’t.

The provision is named after Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming college student killed in 1998 because he was gay, and James Byrd Jr., a black man dragged to his death that year behind a pickup truck in Texas.

There were 7,624 hate-crime incidents in 2007, almost 17 percent of which were based on sexual orientation, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Eleven. Years.

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Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

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Department Of Ironic Headlines

Jayson Blair To Speak At Journalism Ethics Institute

No, no... I get it. Who better to speak about ethics in journalism that someone who has none.

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Why Rush Limbaugh Has Zero Credibility

Exhibit A:


Look, El Rushbo makes some salient points about the White House attacks on Fox and Valerie Jarret versus the Chamber of Commerce. But it's Rush Limbaugh right? He couldn't simply quit after making a point. He has to go eight steps over the proverbial line.

To make the 'little boy' and 'man-child president' comments in reference to Barack Obama is just plain stupidity. Period.

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Could Weed Be Legalized In California?

A movement to legalize marijuana is gaining steam in California:
SAN FRANCISCO — These are heady times for advocates of legalized marijuana in California — and only in small part because of the newly relaxed approach of the federal government toward medical marijuana.

State lawmakers are holding a hearing on Wednesday on the effects of a bill that would legalize, tax and regulate the drug — in what would be the first such law in the United States. Tax officials estimate the legislation could bring the struggling state about $1.4 billion a year, and though the bill’s fate in the Legislature is uncertain, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has indicated he would be open to a “robust debate” on the issue.

California voters are also taking up legalization. Three separate initiatives are being circulated for signatures to appear on the ballot next year, all of which would permit adults to possess marijuana for personal use and allow local governments to tax it. Even opponents of legalization suggest that an initiative is likely to qualify for a statewide vote.

“All of us in the movement have had the feeling that we’ve been running into the wind for years,” said James P. Gray, a retired judge in Orange County who has been outspoken in support of legalization. “Now we sense we are running with the wind.”

Proponents of the leading ballot initiative have collected nearly 300,000 signatures since late September, supporters say, easily on pace to qualify for the November 2010 general election. Richard Lee, a longtime marijuana activist who is behind the measure, says he has raised nearly $1 million to hire professionals to assist volunteers in gathering the signatures.

“Voters are ripping the petitions out of our hands,” Mr. Lee said.
If (when?) a legalization law were to pass in California, the battle is not over. Keep in mind that federal law states that marijuana is illegal, regardless of what state law says. There will likely be a large debate about the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that ensues any legalization of pot in California.

Head nod: Doug Mataconis

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Open Thread: Sarah Palin's Pie

Um... what?
A small mystery in Sarah Palin's personal financial disclosure: In April, while still governor, she founded what she describes as a "marketing" business, called "Pie Spy."

Palin lists herself as the owner of the limited liability company, which was incorporated in March by her spokeswoman, Meghan Stapleton, who listed Palin's lawyer, Thomas Van Flien, as its agent.

The April 3 filing with the Alaska Department of Commerce offers just one more hint as to the company's purpose: It is listed with a North American Industry Classification System code corresponding to companies that provide services to the elderly or to people with disabilities.

Stapleton and Van Flein didn't respond to questions about Pie Spy.
What do you think 'Pie Spy' is? Sound off in the comment section...

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More 'Community' Goodness


Remember my fondness for Community? Here is some more (remixed). Now with auto-tuning! Nooch.

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Dust-Off The Chuck Hagel Tag...

... he's finally getting a job in the Obama administration:
Former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel will soon have a new role in the Obama administration, he will be named co-chair of President's Intelligence Advisory Board.

In that capacity, Hagel will be charged with overseeing the work of the intelligence agencies for the president and investigating violations of law by the clandestine community. The panel, formerly known as the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, was renamed and stripped of some of its powers in 2008 by the George W. Bush administration.

Hagel never endorsed Obama or Arizona Senator John McCain for the presidency, but he often spoke out on in favor of Obama's foreign policy ideas during the campaign and his wife endorsed Obama just before the election.

Hagel was rumored for a high level appointment when Obama was elected. A Vietnam veteran, he was at times said to be up for the position of Secretary of Defense or ambassador to a major ally such as Japan.
I remember during the campaign that there was a lot of speculation about Hagel working with -- or even running with Barack Obama. Obviously, the latter did not happen. However, I think that Hagel is a good pick for this post.

Cue the Republican base calling Hagel a 'traitor' or 'war criminal' in 3... 2... 1...

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Karzai's Brother

Dun dun dun!
KABUL, Afghanistan — Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials.

The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai’s home.

The financial ties and close working relationship between the intelligence agency and Mr. Karzai raise significant questions about America’s war strategy, which is currently under review at the White House.
Significant questions... to say the least. I like Sullivan's response:
Look: you can pore over these details for blame-targets all you want. The bottom line is that all occupations of countries as corrupt and as broken as Afghanistan will lead to such a complex network of bribes, threats, unholy alliances and unintended consequences that almost any neo-imperial power will at some point be working against itself. And the US is a neo-imperial power in effect if not in motivation.

[...]

The logic of empire is the logic of the welfare state. You begin by helping; you end by fomenting dependency and corruption. The conservative insight is that the solution can be worse than the problem.
The sooner that the United States stops playing Team America: World Police with real-life situations, the sooner that our government will be able to stop doing dreadfully stupid things like paying the allegedly-corrupt-relatives (opium? come on!) of allegedly-corrupt leaders for favors in foreign lands. In increasingly hostile (understatement) foreign lands.

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Quote Of The Day

"I offer my sincere apology to Linda Robertson, an adviser to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. I did not intend to use a term that is often, and correctly, seen as disrespectful of women. This characterization of Ms. Robertson, made during a radio interview last month in the context of the debate over whether the Federal Reserve should be independently audited, was inappropriate, and I apologize." -Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fl)

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Photo: John Shinkle/Politico

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Good News For Arlen Specter

Kind of. Franklin & Marshall College has a new poll (.pdf) out that is mixed news for Arlen Specter:
A large number of registered Pennsylvanians are undecided about the upcoming senatorial elections. Despite Senator Specter’s weak job performance ratings, he leads his primary challenger and is in a close race with his general election challenger. Specter leads Congressman Joe Sestak 30% to 18% among Democrats, with about half (47%) undecided. In the general election race, Specter has a small lead over Pat Toomey, 33% to 31%, with nearly a third (30%) undecided (see Figure 4). Toomey has a slight advantage over Sestak in a general election matchup, 28% to 20%, but half (48%) are undecided. The greatest problem facing both Toomey and Sestak is their low name recognition. Many (64% and 77%, respectively) registered Pennsylvanians say they don’t know enough about each to have an opinion.
My emphases.

Hey. It's time to get educated Pennsylvania.

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What Is Going On At Zogby?

Nate Silver fisks Zogby. Big time.
In November, Zogby polled on a series of misleading statements about Barack Obama and Joe Biden on behalf of conservative media personality John Ziegler. In the face of criticism at FiveThirtyEight and other websites, Zogby issued a partial apology, implying that their quality control process had broken down, and declined to do further polling for the client.

It seems clear, however, in light of this new poll [.pdf, link added], that Zogby has made a decision to become the bottom-feeders of the polling marketplace, a one-stop-shop for wingnuts of all stripes, who will make no particular distinction between fact and innuendo in the questions they poll. To be clear about the issue at hand, there is a distinction between a merely leading question -- merely couching a statement of fact in favorable terminology -- and a misleading one -- reporting a highly questionable statement as fact to the respondent. To imply from Lloyd's statements that the FCC is considering pursing a policy of forced resignation for white broadcast personalities seems pretty far over the line. That the question as posed is highly racially charged is somewhat tangential to the ethical issue at hand, although it arguably raises the stakes and may certainly further indict John Zogby's judgement.
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Photo: Daniel A. Anderson/University of California at Irvine

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Schwarzenegger: 'F**k You, San Francisco'


I'm not sure if it's a hoax... but if it is, the hoaxsters did a good job in getting people to buy it. From the San Francisco Bay Guardian Blog:
[T]here’s a real message, an actual missive from the Gov to Tom, embedded in this text. And it’s not hard to find -- in fact, it’s hard to believe it could have been a coincidence.

Read down the letters on the left side of the message
Too good to check...

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Shep Smith: 'Sorry For The Unbalanced Report'


Shep Smith once again exhibits some integrity for Fox News. [side note: if anyone does get footage of Fox interviewing Corzine or Daggett, I would love to see it]

Head nod: Paul Levinson, who points out:
Smith's stubborn integrity - in the above case, apologizing to his viewers for the blatantly unbalanced Fox coverage of the New Jersey gubernatorial campaign, with a beaming Shannon Bream interviewing only the Republican candidate - shows the error of dismissing all of Fox News as worthless or worse. The reality is a lot of that operation is hopelessly right wing, but a professional on camera can still do the right thing.

And, in some ways, that's more valuable than blanket denouncements of Fox from the left and the White House. Given the political attitudes of the audience that Fox has attracted, a few words from Shep Smith can do a lot more to shake up their view of the world, and see it more clearly, than all the ranting of Keith Olbermann (who, coincidentally, wasted yet another few minutes of his show tonight lashing out at a Fox Entertainment television show, 24).
Indeed. Although I would argue that if Fox gave Smith his own prime-time show, we would see a shift toward the type of ranting and raving that is commonplace with the likes of Olbermann and Hannity.

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Get Out Your Sharpie

[click image to enlarge]

Blue Cross has been sending out postage-prepaid postcards to its members. Clearly, Blue Cross opposes a health care public option and the postcards are pre-printed with that sentiment and addressed to members of the U.S. Senate.

One snarky (and smart) guy decided to use Blue Cross' postal generosity to promote the opposite ideology. He simply took a marker and edited the postcard to favor a public option.

Head nod: TYWKIWDBI

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Garden State Update, Ctd.

John Corzine takes the lead according to a new Quinnipiac poll (via RealClearPolitics):
“You could see it coming," Quinnipiac's Maurice Carroll says of the polling outfit's new survey on the New Jersey gubernatorial race today. Gov. Jon Corzine has taken a 5-point lead with one week to go, after trailing Christie in previous surveys all year.

General Election Matchup
Corzine 43 (+3 from last poll, 10/7-12)
Christie 38 (-3)
Daggett 13 (-1)
Undecided 5 (unch)

Corzine now leads the RCP Average of New Jersey by 0.6 percent.

Though the governor has been narrowing the gap for some time, the pollster warns it's still a fluid race. Independent candidate Chris Daggett has "changed it from 'ABC' – Anybody But Corzine – to a real three-way scrap," and "a lot of Daggett's voters say they might change their minds by Election Day," Carroll says.
Sooo, Corzine is ahead now after being behind for a long time -- but the race is still anybody's to win. That sounds very similar to what just about every other pollster is saying...

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27 October 2009

Really Arianna?


That is the headline you wanted to go with on the front page of The Huffington Post?

Ugh.

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Levi's Blues

Apparently, this guy is going to continue to milk his fifteen minutes of fame like so many dairy cows:
The father of the failed vice-presidential hopeful's grandson acknowledges he's out for revenge and has dirt to spill about Alaska's former first family.

"If she's gonna say things about me, I'm gonna leak things about her," he boasted during an interview airing Wednesday on the "CBS Early Show." "That's just how it is.'

Declaring, "now it's my turn," Johnston told the show's co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez that he's been hurt by what Palin has said about him and that he thinks she's been "fake."

"I'm just not going to take it anymore," he said.

Johnston's no-nonsense interview comes the same day it was revealed that Palin received a $1.25 million book deal for her autobiography, "Going Rouge."

The 19-year-old father of Bristol Palin's infant son Tripp started airing the dirty laundry in the October issue of Vanity Fair. He claimed Palin described her job as "too hard" - and offered to adopt the young couple's child to hide the embarrassing teen pregnancy.

And Johnston will be revealing more than dirty secrets for Playgirl magazine, where he plans to do a full-frontal photo spread.

He told US magazine, "I just get naked. That's what I do."
While I think that Johnston is beneath the conversation at this site, I mention him occasionally for two reasons: 1) he is a newsmaker, whether we care to admit it or not and 2) he's a car wreck. As you pass by, you cannot help but stare at the scene of the accident.

When this man (boy?) speaks, one is compelled to watch and listen -- not because Johnston is offering any discernible commentary or insight, but rather because he is akin to a circus act. It's difficult to avert your eyes.

Exit question: do you think that former governor Sarah Palin is worried about what Johnston has to say?

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Marco Rubio Talks To Joe Scarborough


I can see why Rubio is giving Governor Charlie Crist a run for his money...

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Hard Wuerk

Tweet Of The Day

"Lieberman subject to Beyonce rule: If we didn't like him then we shoulda put a leash on it." @pourmecoffee

[editor's note: if you don't 'get' that tweet, here is the story]

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Support For Public Option At Its Highest

Maybe Harry Reid knew something that we didn't:
[T]he latest NBC/WSJ poll shows support for a government-run insurance plan at its highest level since the debate began.

According to the poll, 48% say they favor a public health plan administered by the federal government that would compete with private insurers, compared with 42% who oppose it. That's a shift from last month, though within the margin of error, when 48% opposed the public option and 46% supported it. And it's a 10-point swing from August, when 47% were in opposition and 43% were in favor.

In another question asked a different way -- is it important to give people a choice of a public option? -- a combined 72% answered that it was either "extremely important" or "quite important," while just 23% said it was "not that important" or "not at all important." Those numbers are virtually unchanged from last month.
Still, 48% is hardly an overwhelming majority, no? The 'combined 72%' is a more interesting number to me...

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America Is A 'Center-Right' Country


...according to Gallup polling.

I'm not sure exactly what to make of this. I think a major take-home point is that, while many Americans self-identify as 'conservative' or 'very conservative', neither of those classifications necessarily equate to the Republican party. This may partially explain the GOP's low national party identification numbers.

But, as Doug Mataconis points out:
The mistake that most on the right will make upon seeing a poll like this is to believe that it confirms that America is, mostly, just like them and that what the GOP needs to do is become more conservative. Past results, and other polls, however, would clearly indicate that isn’t the case.

In Virginia, for example, Bob McDonnell is succeeding not because he has run on a hard-right platform, but because he’s done a much better job of communicating alternative Republican solutions to the problems that Virginians are facing. Those ideas can largely be described as “conservative,” but they aren’t ideologically extreme in any respect, and they are packaged in a way is attractive to the generally center-right voters in areas like Northern Virginia.
I can hear B-Diddy grinning from here...

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Polling Has McDonnell Over Deeds


So it appears that all of the headlines are correct; McDonnell is pulling away from Deeds in the Virginia gubernatorial race.

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Quote Of The Day II

"So I say to my many conservative friends who suddenly decided that whether they're from Minnesota or Alaska or Texas, they know more than the upstate New York Republicans? I don't think so. And I don't think it's a good precedent. And I think if this third party candidate takes away just enough votes to elect the Democrat, then we will have strengthened Nancy Pelosi by the divisiveness. We will not have strengthened the conservative movement.

[...]

"And so this idea that we're suddenly going to establish litmus tests, and all across the country, we're going to purge the party of anybody who doesn't agree with us 100 percent -- that guarantees Obama's reelection. That guarantees Pelosi is Speaker for life. I mean, I think that is a very destructive model for the Republican Party." -Newt Gingrich, in an interview with Greta Van Susteren, responding to the Michelle Malkins and Sarah Palins who have been criticizing him for backing Dede Scozzafava in New York's 23rd District.

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H.R. 870: Gratitude For The Tea Parties

A House resolution -- sponsored by Representative Tom Price (R-Ga) and 75 other Republicans -- to commemorate the 9/12 Tea Party Protests in Washington, D.C.:
RESOLUTION

Expressing gratitude and appreciation to the individuals and families who participated in the Taxpayer March on Washington on September 12, 2009.

Whereas, on September 12, 2009, hundreds of thousands of American patriots, who refuse to sit idly by as the Federal Government advances skyrocketing deficits, taxpayer-funded bailouts, pork-barrel projects, burdensome taxes, unaccountable policy czars, command-and-control energy policy, and a government takeover of health care, came to Washington, DC, to show their disapproval;
The rest is after the jump...
Whereas individuals also wanted to convey their displeasure with the future tax increases that will be required to pay for deficit-financed spending;

Whereas these individuals understand that the fundamental American principles of limited government and personal liberty are under direct assault;

Whereas this dedicated group of freedom-loving Americans believe in open, accountable, responsible, constitutionally based government;

Whereas hundreds of buses, multiple caravans of cars from across the country, and many individually chartered flights, as well as thousands of lone-traveling cars and trucks, brought these patriots to Washington, DC, solely for this event;

Whereas these individuals endured considerable personal expense to get to the march, including transportation and lodging expenses, as well as lost wages in many instances;

Whereas estimates of the number of people who peacefully marched from Freedom Plaza to the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on September 12, 2009, range as high as 1,700,000 marchers;

Whereas all 50 States were represented in the march;

Whereas this event is considered to be the largest ever gathering of fiscal conservatives in Washington, DC;

Whereas special accolades are due to the grassroots citizens organizations across the country who helped individuals exercise their constitutionally protected First Amendment rights in the Nation’s capital; and

Whereas when the current trends of government expansion and freedom retrenchment are reversed, it will be due in large part to the efforts of the hundreds of thousands who marched on Washington, DC, on September 12, 2009: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives expresses its gratitude and appreciation to the hundreds of thousands of people who marched on Washington, DC, on September 12, 2009, to show their love of liberty and their grievance with recent government actions.
My guess is that Republicans are going to have a pretty difficult time getting Dems to vote in favor of this... considering that it basically trashes everything that Democrats have done since January. Thoughts?

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The Apocalypse Is Drawing Nigh

Tim Pawlenty Inches Ever Closer To Running, Ctd.

That explains why he is endorsing a Constitution Party candidate over a Republican one in New York's 23rd District:
Just four days after professing ignorance about the special election in New York's 23rd congressional district, Tim Pawlenty changed course Monday and decided to endorse Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman instead of the Republican in the race.

Pawlenty's move follows decisions by other prominent national conservatives - including Sarah Palin, Fred Thompson, Dick Armey and Rick Santorum - to line up against the GOP candidate, Dede Scozzafava. They and other activists on the right have accused Scozzafava of being too liberal for the GOP, and are throwing resources and support to Hoffman.
Exit question (that I haven't heard asked yet): what happens if Scozzafava wins? What will become the dynamic in the GOP?

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Quote Of The Day

"Right now [running for President is] not on my radar screen. I know everyone assumes that it is. It's on a lot of other people's because you know I get named in polls and it's always nice to be included but the truth is I'm having a great time doing what I'm doing and I think it's going to be a much tougher deal to knock Obama out than people think. It's not easy to unseat an incumbent president." -Mike Huckabee

Head nod: GOP12

------
Photo: Jim Young/Reuters

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The Public Option Is Possible

Harry Reid pushes health care forward in the Senate:
Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, sided with his party’s liberals on Monday and announced that he would include a government-run insurance plan in health care legislation that he plans to take to the Senate floor within a few weeks.

His proposal came with an escape hatch: A state could refuse to participate in the public insurance plan by adopting a law to opt out. Even so, the announcement was a turning point in the debate over how much of a role government should play in an overhauled health care system, and it set the stage for a test of Democratic party unity.

With Republicans united for now in opposition to any bill including a public option, Mr. Reid needs support from all members of his caucus — 58 Democrats and two independents — to take up the legislation. Aides said Monday that he appeared to be short of that goal, lacking firm commitments from several members of the caucus.
Read the rest here.

The so-called 'escape hatch' is definitely an interesting proposition. Exit question: are the sixty votes that are needed there, or will the bill fall flat and hurt Reid's standing even more?

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Glenn Beck Crying With Elvis

26 October 2009

Dear Santa...


I. Want. This.

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I've Been Rough On The Postal Service

... in the past. However, Nate Silver raises a good counter-counter-USPS argument. Money:
If the private carriers could afford to deliver everywhere for one flat rate and still turn a profit, they'd be doing so. But they can't. And that means that, in terms of redistributive nature of the USPS, at least insofar as redistribution occurs from one segment of the American population to another, some portion of that redistribution goes from urban and suburban areas to rural areas.
Read the whole thing.

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A Senatorial Showdown Over America's Pastime

It's New York versus Philadelphia:
Senators representing New York and Pennsylvania today went all-in on a culinary wager based on how their home states' teams fare in the World Series.

Should the New York Yankees who clinched their berth last night, pull out a victory Sens. Charles Schumer [D-N.Y.] and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) will receive a supply of Philly cheesesteaks.

But if the Philadelphia Phillies win, Sens. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) and Robert Casey (D-Pa.) will get a haul of New York cheesecake.
But, if it should come to pass, where will the cheesesteaks come from -- Pat's or Geno's?

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The Decline Of Cable News

Sullivan:
CNN Now Fourth In Prime-time
In a sign that all cable news is becoming talk radio, CNN slips behind even its own HLN in peak hours. At some point, blog readerships will eclipse CNN's at this rate. In some cases, that has already happened.
Oh, I can't wait until my blog gets more viewers than CNN. I wonder if I can get Lou Dobbs to do some guest posts...

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Quote Of The Day

"As far as I can see American football is a marathon of budweiser adverts occasionally interrupted by some 'talented bloke' chucking a rugby-like ball to some Billy Whizz halfway up the pitch, intent on scoring points for catching it while a couple of beefcakes try to put him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life." -A Brit's view of American football

That may be so, but I love me some Steelers. Did you see them hand it to Favre and the Vikes yesterday? Bam!

Head nod: Will at the League of Ordinary Gents

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The Goatee Gamble

The results are in and it's ABC's Jake Tapper for the win. Reactions from the White House press:


While Chuck Todd will not be shaving his trademark goatee, he will be making a donation to Tapper's charity-of-choice, Dr. Shershah Syed. According to Tapper, over $5,500 has been raised already via the Gamble.

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Newt Gingrich In 2012?

Probably. Or probably not. Errr, maybe:
Callista and I are going to think about [whether or not to run for President] in February 2011. And we are going to reach out to all of our friends around the country. And we'll decide, if there's a requirement as citizens that we run, I suspect we probably will. And if there's not a requirement, if other people have filled the vacuum, I suspect we won't.
That's professional non-committal there folks. Take note.

I have to hand it to the former Speaker; he really knows how to stick to his talking-points. This statement is taken nearly verbatim from what he said back in March.

Justin Gardner makes a good point:
Here’s the thing... Newt knows he’d never win. His personal skeletons are simply too numerous and he doesn’t have mainstream appeal.

Still, as a VP candidate? I could see a Romney/Gingrich ticket being compelling to fiscal moderates.
I can see that -- if Mitt Romney continues down the path that he is traveling. I could also see a Pawlenty/Gingrich or Romney/Pawlenty ticket emerging from the dust of the Republican primary in 2012...

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'This Week'


I thought that this conversation, particularly what George Will said about Dick Cheney's "dithering" statement, played out very nicely.

Although, is it just me or did Laura Ingraham seem both out of place and out of her league?

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More Religious Debate

The Big Apple Coalition of Reason is starting an ad campaign in the New York City subway system:
Starting next Monday, a coalition of local groups will run a monthlong advertising campaign in a dozen Manhattan subway stations with the slogan “A Million New Yorkers Are Good Without God. Are You?” The posters also advertise the Web site BigAppleCoR.org, which provides a listing of local groups affiliated with the Coalition of Reason, the umbrella organization that coordinated the campaign.
But, as one might expect, there are those who are claiming that this is discrimination, or something.


"Can you imagine the outrage if a Christian group put pro-God ads in the New York City subways?"

The problem Sean, is that Christian groups advertise in New York City transportation all the time.

Plus, in my experience, New Yorkers are fairly 'live and let live' folks.

I'm just plain tired of people complaining that Christians are some under-represented group that gets discriminated against. Atheists and non-believers are protected by the same rights as Christians, Muslims, Jews and other religions. If this ad campaign upsets you, take a cab -- or look the other way.

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