The Devil You Know

I just worked twelve hours after only five hours of sleep (Yes, Wembley, it’s hot and you can’t sleep. Yes we can go out at 11PM, 2AM, 4:30AM… oh look, there goes the alarm at 5:30….Bitter? Not me.) so I don’t have the energy to get all into the latest Democratic Inter-Tribal Genocide War, but you all know how I feel about sitting out elections because all of your hopes and wishes have not been fulfilled.

Having said that, the White House is profoundly tone-deaf and the people advising Obama that this is the way to motivate the base are recklessly stupid. I’m assuming that Rahm didn’t have any input on how the White House would get the “professional left” in line or Obama’s little pep talk might have ended up like this:

Brown v. Whitman Debate: Meg Does NOT Support Immigration Reform

In a sign that perhaps Pete Wilson is still pulling the strings in her campaign, the following words came out of Meg Whitman’s own mouth: “I wouldn’t support a path to legalization”. Watch the video from the debate for yourself here.

The question that asked the candidates to state their positions on immigration was “do you see any positive impacts of immigration to California and would do you support a path to legalization?”

Interestingly, both candidates skipped the first part of the question: “do you see any positive impacts of immigration to California?” Instead, they both chose to focus on the usual “secure our borders, go after employers” mantras. It’s not surprising, being that politicians hardly ever stand up to talk about the actual positivies that immigration has in our economy like how undocumented immigrants basically subsidze our way of life because undocumented immigrants pay taxes, they do some of the hardest-labor jobs, save our Social Security from going into the hole, etc. etc.

Moreover, it was particulary interesting to see Meg Whitman say she opposes a path to legalization, which by definition would be included in any comprehensive immigration reform. This was of particular interest being that her position would be at odds with most Californians. Via this Public Policy Institute poll back in March 2010 which showed that:

Seventy percent of Californians believe undocumented immigrants who have been living and working in the United States for at least two years should be allowed to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status.

On the other hand, Jerry Brown bragged about how he signed on California to the so-called ”Secure Communities Program”. Too bad that the program actually makes our communities unsafe because it punishes the good guys and lets the bad ones go. Nevertheless, kudos to Jerry Brown for the reference he made to Eastern European authoritarian regimes of the past, reiterating that authoritarian laws that only focus on inhumanely rounding people up are just plain wrong. Also, kudos for not letting Meg Whitman off the hook for her inconsistencies on her stand on immigrant economic refugees. Jerry Brown’s Facebook page highlighted the following after the debate:

JUST THE FACTS #5: MEG WHITMAN FLIP-FLOPS ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION
Meg Whitman’s position on how California should handle its undocumented immigrants is riddled with inconsistencies. She initially embraced the strict, anti-illegal immigrant rhetoric of her campaign chairman, former Gov. Pete Wilson, during the Republican primaries. However, in a transparent attempt to pander to moderate voters, she has muddled many of her positions saying that her past statements should be viewed in light of her unfamiliarity with the issue.

Whitman Names Prop. 187 Champion Pete Wilson Campaign Chair, Nowhere To Be Found After Primary

• “In the GOP primary…Whitman brought out her campaign manager, former Gov. Pete Wilson, a man celebrated by many conservatives and reviled by many Latinos because of his highly visible support of Proposition 187. Wilson appeared in a radio ad called ‘Tough as Nails,’ in which Whitman said, ‘Illegal immigrants should not expect benefits from the state of California.’” [Los Angeles Times, 7/14/10]

• “During the Republican gubernatorial primary, Meg Whitman responded to her rival, Steve Poizner, by enforcing her opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants. She even went so far as to enlist former Gov. Pete Wilson, who declared Whitman “tough as nails” on the issue. But that was then. Now, Whitman is on the air with two new Spanish-language ads, and Wilson is nowhere to be found. Instead, the ads discuss Whitman’s opposition to Arizona’s immigration law and to Proposition 187, the 1994 measure backed by, you guessed it, Pete Wilson.” [Los Angeles Times, 6/17/10]

Whitman Says She Would Let The Arizona Law Stand For Arizona

• “I would, you know I think, I understand that immigration is a federal issue, but I would say, you know, the states have got to be able to decide what is right for their state, so I would let the Arizona law stand for Arizona.” [Meg Whitman on Talk Radio Network’s "America’s Morning News," 7/28/10]

• “If the Arizona law is correct, are you [Meg Whitman] going to be an advocate to get a similar law passed in California? Oh, wait a second. California has different geography? Oh, I understand now. ” ["The John and Ken Show", KFI 640 AM, 8/2/10]

Whitman Supports Forced Reporting Of Undocumented Immigrants-Which Was Part Of Proposition 187

• “Whitman said…that schools, hospitals and law enforcement agencies should be required to report undocumented immigrants to federal authorities. She later backtracked on schools, saying, ‘I want to think about that a little bit.’” [Los Angeles Times, 2/11/09]

Whitman Wants To Ban Children Of Undocumented Immigrants From Public Universities

• “As governor, Meg will support policies that will not allow undocumented immigrants admission to state-funded institutions of higher education, such as UC, CSU and community colleges. [Meg Whitman, Meg 2010: Building A New California]

Whitman Says She Is Unfamiliar With Illegal Immigration Terminology

• “[Whitman] has struggled to explain her past and current positions on the issue. She said…her lack of familiarity with the issue and her newness to politics had caused the misunderstanding. ‘When you’re new to politics, sometimes you use words that have like a meaning to people who have been in politics for 20 years,’ she explained.” [The Washington Post, 5/31/10]

For other video clips from the debate, visit KABC’s site here.

Why Peace Talks Fail

I saw this interview of someone with the appellations of "middle east expert’ and ‘Ambassador’ and thought how similar it was to those who support the tea party and those in our Congress. Starts at 7:25 into the program.

Guy doesn’t respond to interviewers mention of ‘world demand’ and then goes on to talk about how the settlement freeze was an act of honor and nothing occurred; no wonder the average Israeli citizen has a completely fucked up view of the world. (I mean besides the view of themselves that they share with U.S. culture of being ‘special’).

I thought I’d see this on the Israel Broadcast Network site but they apparently put out a feed that is different from their internally broadcast tv program.

BUT I did see this on the IBA site:

"US recommends ditching UNHRC report on Israeli flotilla raid"

The United States has criticized a United Nations probe into Israel’s May 31st raid of a Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla in which nine Turkish citizens were killed, urging the Human Rights Council to prevent the report from being used to torpedo peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

US ambassador Eileen Donahue to the UN in Geneva, told the council that Washington is concerned by the report’s unbalanced language, tone and conclusions. She said Washington urges the report not be used for actions that could disrupt the direct Israeli-Palestinians talks now underway, or actions that could make it harder.

From the beginning, Israel rejected the probe as biased."

BUT of course, such isn’t reported in the U.S., which simply will not accept decisions about Israeli murders just as it won’t admit to it’s use of torture. Ever hear anyone actually state "we committed torture in the interrogations we have held'; all you ever hear is "we do not torture", "it is not the U.S. policy to use torture,etc."

And this: "87 US senators ask Obama to pressure Abbas to continue talks

Eighty-seven US Senators have signed a letter appealing to President Barack Obama to put pressure on President Mahmoud Abbas not to drop out of the peace talks with …
Eighty-seven US Senators have signed a letter appealing to President Barack Obama to put pressure on President Mahmoud Abbas not to drop out of the peace talks with Israel.

In their letter, the senators said that the talks are crucial for both sides and that neither party should threaten to drop out of the negotiations. They called on the president to make it clear to both Israeli and Palestinian leaders that direct talks are the best way to achieve a peace agreement.

The senators also said that Arab countries could do more to give their political and economic backing to the peace process."

BUT NOT ONE DAMN WORD ABOUT THE SETTLEMENTS BEING ILLEGAL !!!

And this: "Settlers start clearing ground for more housing

Israeli settlers in Judea and Samaria marked the end of the construction Sunday vowing to build thousands of new homes.
On Monday, foreign news services reported a small amount of construction in different settlements.

In Adam, north of Jerusalem, contractors surveyed building plans for new housing as a bulldozer cleared away earth.

In Karmei Tzur, a parcel of land was prepared by a lone bulldozer. In Ariel construction vehicles worked on leveling a plot to make way for 100 homes"

So there you have it; the U.S. is very good at making war but a COMPLETE FAILURE when it comes to making peace.

Boycott ANYTHING associated with Israel if you want to get the message out that the Israeli’s MUST quit illegally occupying land which does NOT belong to them.

Late Night: Senate to Drop Ban Hammer on teh Internets?

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The Internets. Both of them. This meme may become a reality…

We will support a free and open Internet.

That’s what Barack Obama told the United Nations. But then why is there a bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee that would allow the Attorney General to block certain Internet domain names from ISPs?

The bill S. 3804, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) would create two blacklists of Internet sites “dedicated to infringing activity,” which is defined very broadly as any site where counterfeit goods or copyrighted material are “central to the activity of the Internet site.”

Heck, that could be eBay–I’ve seen some pretty bogus Marc Jacobs Stam bags on there, as well as faux Max Studio, BCBG and Betsey Johnston dresses. And certainly YouTube could be considered such a site, though they do pull any video which is flagged with a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) infringement notice. Flickr.com and other photo storage sites allow people to upload their photoshopped images, as of course does the monster shoop site ICanHazcheeseburger.com

Anyway, one of the blacklists can be added to by the courts, the second by the Attorney General. According to DemandProgress.org:

Internet service providers (everyone from Comcast to PayPal to Google AdSense) would be required to block any domains on the first list. They would also receive immunity (and presumably the government’s gratitude) for blocking domains on the second list.

Copyright is a tricky thing. The Associated Press says:

Associated Press text material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium. Neither these AP materials nor any portion thereof may be stored in a computer except for personal and non-commercial use.

And that means if a tree falls in the forest and only the AP is there to cover it, does that actually mean you can’t mention the tree hitting the earth without violating the AP’s copyright, even if you blogged under Fair Use that : (more…)

Late Night: Senate to Drop Ban Hammer on teh Internets?

The Internets. Both of them. This meme may become a reality…

We will support a free and open Internet.

That’s what Barack Obama told the United Nations. But then why is there a bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee that would allow the Attorney General to block certain Internet domain names from ISPs?

The bill S. 3804, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) would create two blacklists of Internet sites “dedicated to infringing activity,” which is defined very broadly as any site where counterfeit goods or copyrighted material are “central to the activity of the Internet site.”

Heck, that could be eBay–I’ve seen some pretty bogus Marc Jacobs Stam bags on there, as well as faux Max Studio, BCBG  and Betsey Johnston dresses. And certainly YouTube could be considered such a site, though they do pull any video  which is flagged with a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) infringement notice. Flickr.com and other photo storage sites allow people to upload their photoshopped images, as of course does the monster shoop site ICanHazcheeseburger.com

Anyway, one of the blacklists can be added to by the courts, the second by the Attorney General.  According to Demand Progress:

Internet service providers (everyone from Comcast to PayPal to Google AdSense) would be required to block any domains on the first list. They would also receive immunity (and presumably the government’s gratitude) for blocking domains on the second list.

Copyright is a tricky thing. The Associated Press says:

Associated Press text material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium. Neither these AP materials nor any portion thereof may be stored in a computer except for personal and non-commercial use.

And that means if a tree falls in the forest and only the AP is there to cover it, does that actually mean you can’t mention the tree hitting the earth without violating the AP’s copyright, even if you blogged under Fair Use that

a mighty big piece of living lumber  was felled by unknown means, according to the AP

rather than

a tree fell in the forest

because that is “rewritten”?

So technically if you did blog about it, under COICA your site could be blacklisted by servers and basically disappear because you “violated” copyright by reporting news to which you didn’t have direct access. Unless you paid the AP. So news becomes proprietary information. And that means control of information and possibly no freedom of the press since unlimited access would be truncated.

Nowadays, copyright infringement is handled with lawyer letters, threats of lawsuits and actual court trials, where there is a burden of proof. Should this pass, the lights would go off on sites deemed violators. Demand Progress says:

This bill would bypass that whole system by forcing Internet service providers to block access to sites that are otherwise up. People in other countries could still get to them, but Internet users in the US would be blocked.

Blocked from entire domain names. Sort of like how the governments of Iran, China, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere block undesirable sites. Granted, because of copyright and licensing laws, when I was in Ireland, I couldn’t watch clips from The View on ABC.com; when in Turkey, I was unable to listen to Coast to Coast on KFI640.com, so I wonder how many blocked sites would actually still be visible. And plus there are ways around that. Demand Progress claims that

if this law passes Internet traffic will be reconfigured to route around it. Companies will move their US servers and domain names overseas, Internet users will route their traffic through other countries (just like Chinese citizens have to do now!), and software will have to be reconfigured to no longer trust answers from American servers.

Demand Progress is concerned that this bill is the start of a slippery slope  and that with a little prodding from Teh Gubbermints  all sorts of sites could end up being banned, not only news, blogs, politics, and entertainment, but  porn and gambling, which is really what fueled the series of interconnected tubes.

The Health Care Hypocrisy of a Tea Party Candidate

What word would you use to describe a candidate for the U.S. Senate, who just happens to be a Tea Party favorite, that publically advocates repealing health care reform, opposes the regulation of health care insurers while at the same time benefits from health care provided by a federal government agency? If the word hypocrite comes to mind, you just hit the jackpot. Not necessarily intended to be a tongue in cheek quip, but our winner of the hypocrite of the day award goes to Nevada’s Sharron Angle, who just happens to hail from the land of slot machines and crap tables.

Yeah, you read me correctly, this morning’s “Politico’s Morning Score” blew the cover off of Ms. Angle’s dirty little secret and possibly a hole in her campaign to be the next U.S. Senator from Nevada. Needless to say, this isn’t exactly the kind of publicity that the Tea Party Movement is looking for either. Its one thing for the Tea Party Movement to be lampooned by the political highbrows on MSNBC and the Daily Show who can be dismissed as elitist by the party faithful. It’s quite yet another for one of its premier candidates to so seriously stumble just weeks before an election that is supposed to be the movement’s coming out party in the big leagues of electoral politics. Politico’s Morning Score reports: “Angle’s campaign acknowledged to Nevada journalist Jon Ralston Monday that both the candidate and her husband receive health care from the federal government. Spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said in a statement: "Mr. Ted Angle receives his pension through the (federal) Civil Service Retirement System. While it is not supplemented by the federal government, current civil servants pay into the program to pay the schedule of those already retired – much like how the Social Security Program works today.” But there’s more to it than just the machinations of the Angle family, another prominent mouthpiece of the Tea Party Movement, Michelle Bachmann, a regular critic of government health care is also a beneficiary of the very programs she rails against. According to MediaMatters.com:” Angle isn’t the only right-wing Republican to bash government involvement in health care while benefiting from it. Back in May, the Minnesota Independent reported that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), a frequent critic of "socialized medicine," was profiting from a government-run health program in Minnesota through her husband’s Christian mental health clinic.” A Christian clinic?, What became of the values of honesty and truthfulness, or are they to be convienently ignored when politics is what’s on the menu?

So there you have it, some of the leading lights of the movement that is supposed to “take back our country” and bring us back to “the values and wisdom of our Founding Fathers”, have found it in their best interest to talk you out of the need for health care reform and insurance company oversight while they and their families are more than happy to benefit from programs they publically oppose. These Tea Party elites, who regularly blast the established Washington elites, have seen fit to insulate themselves and their families from life’s vicissitudes while admonishing the rest of us to” work hard, be frugal and trust in the markets and what made America great in the past." The hypocrisy in all of this is obvious and undeniable. What is not immediately obvious is to what extent these revelations just weeks before the mid-term elections will give the independent voter cause for concern as it regards supporting candidates like Sharron Angle or re-electing a Michelle Bachmann. I doubt it will do much to dissuade the rank and file Tea Party foot soldier, but it may. That said, what the rank and file intend to do really is of secondary import, it’s the independent voter who holds the key to both this election and the next.

Steven J. Gulitti

9/28/10

Sources:

Politico’s Morning Score: http://www.politico.com/morningscore/

Anti-Government Crusader Sharron Angle Receives Government Health Care; http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201009280002

Sharron angle and Her husband Receive Government Health Care: http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?link=225844_Sharron_Angle_And_Her_Husband

NY Sen: Gillibrand Leads by 11 Among Likely Voters

Appointed Democratic Senator Kristen Gillibrand has an 11-point lead over Joseph DioGuardi in New York’s Special election for US Senate, according to the latest Marist Poll (PDF) of likely voters:

Marist (PDF) (9/19-22)
Kristen Gillibrand 52
Joseph DioGuardi 41
Unsure 7

An 11-point lead and polling over 50 percent is good news for Gillibrand. Despite it being a bad year for Democrats in general, New York is still a very blue state, and Republicans were unable to get a top-tier recruit willing to challenge Gillibrand. To my knowledge, Gillibrand has made no serious gaffes or mistakes that would hurt her.

The poll found partisans pretty much rallied around their candidates, while independents slightly favored Gillibrand. Given the Democratic edge in the New York, if that pattern holds up, Gillibrand should win this November.

Last week, we had two polls showing the race in single digits, a SurveyUSA poll with Gillibrand leading by only one, and a Quinnipiac study with Gillibrand leading by six. I personally suspect this Marist poll is closer to the mark, but it all depends on turnout this November. The almost universal question right now is: will Democratic base turnout be just relatively lower than Republican turnout, or disastrously lower?

Study of Potential 2010 Turnout Paints Gloomy Picture for Democrats

According to a study by the New Organizing Institute of likely 2010 turnout demographics, things look bad for Democrats. Their research shows that, in addition to some long-term trends that hurt Democrats in midterm elections, like a substantial decline in youth turnout, there are some worrying signs for this year in particular, like a projected higher-than-average drop-off in African-American voting. From the NOI research paper:

  • We expect African-Americans to drop off at a higher rate in 2010 than in previous midterm elections.
  • We expect Democratic voters to drop off at a higher rate in 2010 than in previous midterm elections.
  • We cannot find a link between the “enthusiasm gap ” and base turnout.
  • Young people tend to drop off at very high rates in midterm elections.
  • Recent movers have also dropped off at very high rates in midterm elections.
  • African-Americans, Hispanics, unmarried women, and people with less than a bachelor’s degree tend to drop off at higher rates in midterm elections than the general public.
  • On average, self-identified Republicans make up a larger share of all voters in midterm elections than they do in Presidential elections.
  • Off-year elections such as those from 2005 and 2009 are indicators of drop-off in midterms.

While much of the findings are fairly intuitive, it is useful to have data showing roughly how much the youth vote or the Hispanic vote tends to drop.

Even without a bad economy or an enthusiasm gap, Democrats would have had a very tough time holding on to 2008 Congressional gains because of the pattern of decline in some of their most supportive segments. Add in problems specific to this cycle, and the picture becomes pretty bleak.

Of all the findings, the one that I think Democrats should be most worried about is the predicted drop-off in the African-American vote. There was not a disproportionately high African-American drop off in the 2005 off-year elections, but there was in 2009 in the Virginia and New Jersey elections.

Traditionally, African-Americans vote overwhelmingly for Democrats, so even a modest decrease in their turnout could be harmful to the party. Add to low turnout projections, PPP’s finding that Democrats are underperforming with African-Americans this cycle, and you have a recipe for some real trouble.

Watercooler – Amtrak Announces Ambitious High-Speed Rail Plan

Good news on the transportation front:

Amtrak is unveiling a $117 billion, 30-year vision for high-speed rail on the East Coast that would drastically reduce travel times along the congested corridor.

At a news conference at Philadelphia‘s 30th Street Station on Tuesday, Amtrak President Joseph Boardman said the proposal is at the visionary stage, and there’s no funding plan in place. It aims for high-speed rail by 2040.

Boardman says the Next-Gen High Speed Rail line would reduce the travel time between Washington, D.C., and New York City from 162 minutes to 96 minutes. The travel time between New York and Boston would go from 215 minutes to 84 minutes.

All we need now is the political will to make it happen and then expand the concept to the entire nation.

What’s on your mind tonight?