Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Oh, Mitch...

Mitch McConnell released a statement this afternoon but it doesn't go far enough.

Via The Courier Journal, here is the statement from Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:
“It’s incredibly irresponsible for anyone to take what Richard said about his views on life to demean his opposition to the detestable act of rape,” McConnell said.

“We’re at the end of an election season here and I understand each side is looking to make hay out of every comment, but sharing the view of millions of Americans that life begins at conception is Richard’s deeply held personal belief that shouldn’t be misconstrued by partisans to imply something it does not,” the senator said.
I'm sorry, Senator but you are avoiding the subject.  Richard Mourdock made a disgusting comment and essentially said rape victims should not be allowed to have an abortion and that they should carry the results of a rape to full term.

That is just wrong.

What's worse is that, during the debate, Richard Mourdock didn't say he was or was not opposed to rape but that if a female were raped, he would not support her getting an abortion unless her life was in danger.  Was her life not in danger when she was raped?

I don't understand what it is with Republican candidates for the United States Senate essentially saying that rape victims should not be allowed to have an abortion.

The G-d that I believe in would not want a women to suffer from a rape.

Book Review: Netflixed

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover (October 11, 2012)

Journalist Gina Keating penned the recently published Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America's Eyeballs.  This book does to Netflix what The Social Network did for Facebook.  It would not surprise me if a movie studio or production company optioned the rights to make a film.

Keating draws on interviews and behind-the-scenes access so as to reveal how Netflix got to where it is today and what is in store for the future of the company.

Believe it or not but it was in 1997 when Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings decided that they would start an online DVD store.  This was at a time when most people had yet to purchase a DVD player.  I should know--I was buying VHS tapes at that time!

They have come a long way from an April 1998 server crash when they launched to the  25 million subscribers that they have today.  While Netflix is stealing eyes from the broadcast and cable networks, there's still a question of survival.

Keating reveals the true story of how the Netflix idea was born.  Contrary to the myth, it's birth was not a result of a $40 fee owed by Netflix founder Reed Hastings returning Apollo 13 late.

Keating reveals what led to Hasting's decision to raise fees and then later abort the plan to spin-off into two separate companies.  This did not sit well with their subscribers.

Netflix and Red Box were the ones that killed not only Blockbuster but also Hollywood Video.  Nowadays, one can just rent a movie from the comfort of their home without having to wait for the mail.  Netflix has been making agreements with studios for instant streaming of classic television shows and getting new episodes as soon as 15 days after they first air on TV.

Now, while they killed renting DVDs as we now know it, there is still a battle for online video streaming between Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Google, and the cable companies.  What has proved crucial for Netflix' success is that they created the DVD rental by mail, their patented online queue for upcoming rentals, and the Cinematch algorithm for recommendations.

The Netflix story is not just absorbing but it is important.  Keating has done a well-done job here.

Indiana's Richard Mourdock: Mitch McConnell's worst nightmare

Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock is Mitch McConnell's worst nightmare.

McConnell, currently the Republican Minority Leader, would love to be the Majority Leader some day. It won't happen because of Republican candidates like Todd Akin and now Richard Mourdock, who seem to not have a filter when it comes to on camera appearances.

On Tuesday night, Richard Mourdock appeared at a debate where he was caught saying the following:

Too lazy to play the video?  Here's what the candidate said:
"I know there are some who disagree, and I respect their point of view, but I believe that life begins at conception.  The only exception I have to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother.  I just struggled with it myself for a long time but I came to realize: Life is that gift from G-d that I think even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that G-d intended to happen."
Unbelievable, right?  Did Mourdock not learn anything from the Todd Akin fiasco.

Mitt Romney's campaign immediately disavowed the comments by the Hoosier candidate.

LEO reports that Mitch McConnell watched Monday night's presidential debate with Mourdock.  He's gone on record saying that the GOP cannot win the Senate without "Lugar Republicans."

Can you imagine what Mitch must be feeling right now?!?  It's got to be embarrassing for him, especially since there's a good chance that he will be defeated come 2014.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

That's Not What They Meant!

Paperback: 285 pages
Publisher: Prometheus Books (September 18, 2012)

 What Michael Austin does so well in That's Not What They Meant! is helps to reclaim the nation's founders from the right wing.  He does it in under 250 pages of text, no less.

During the last few election cycles, Republicans--especially those of the Tea Party breed--attempted to rewrite what the founders have said.  Sometimes, they succeeded while other times, they got mocked by commentators in the media.

America has a political system that works best when those in it are compromising with each other.  That's what the founders envisioned.  Congress is a place where people can debate, disagree, and then come together on the issues that they do agree on.

Austin's book comes a year after Glenn Beck decides that the Federalist Papers need a "modern translation" and Texas Governor Rick Perry decides that the founders meant for the states to have more power than the strong central government that is our federal government.  Instead of offering real analysis, the right wing has provided out-of-context proofs and given a "collective mythology of the founding era."

What Austin does here is examine the numerous books, articles, speeches, and broadcast of right wingers such as Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Larry Schweikart, and David Barton and exposes them for the frauds that they are.  In doing so, Austin lets the founders speak.  As a result of Austin's work, what we see is an image of the Founding Fathers disagreeing with one another on crucial issues but more importantly, it is in their words and not that of the Tea Party crowd.

The real legacy of the Founders, Austin tells us, is a political process that is a system of disagreement, debate and compromise that has kept the American democracy alive for 200 plus years.

This reading isn't only well-researched and rigorously argued but it is essential for seeking the historical background in all of its accuracy.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

RIP George McGovern

This morning, it was announced that we lost former Senator George McGovern, a South Dakotan that ran for president in 1972.  The United States of America would have been a better place had McGovern been elected in 1972.

I attended Northern Kentucky University for college from 2004 until 2007.  One of the things that NKU does annually is holds a Fall Alumni Lecture series in which they bring in American politicos.  My first such alumni lecture came in 2004 on the same day as the Vice Presidential Debate between John Edwards and Dick Cheney.

Being an election year, NKU had brought in both former Senators George McGovern and Bob Dole, both of whom had ran for president in 1972 and 1996, respectively.  A Democrat and a Republican.

Prior to the student lecture, I met both former Senators.  McGovern arrived first and I told him how he was indirectly responsible for my being politically active as President Bill Clinton worked for his campaign.  Clinton named Al Gore as his running mate.  Then-Vice President Gore named Joe Lieberman as his running mate.  The rest is history.

At the time, I wanted to be a future president of the United States of America.  I sat in the front row being the political person that I was back then...and to an extent, I still am.  I asked what one should factor in when deciding to run for for president someday.

"I'd start with something else first," Bob Dole responded.

McGovern mentioned how he considered running again in 1992 and that he spoke with former President Richard Nixon about it.  As we all know, McGovern never ran again for president.

Later that evening following the big alumni lecture was the Vice Presidential debate.  Sen. Bob Dole had an early flight but after signing books, Sen. McGovern stayed around to watch the debate in the Student Union Center.  I was within 5 feet of the former senator and, the politico that I am, I was in awe of his presence.

Being able to be in the same room, let alone within 5-10 feet of a guy such as George McGovern, while watching the Vice Presidential debate is something that I will never forget.


Bob Dole released a statement on the passing of Sen. McGovern: "Today the world has lost a great American. Senator George McGovern lived his life by serving others."

Over at Politico, former Senator Gary Hart paid tribute to George McGovern after saying days earlier: "If George McGovern represents the political losers of the world, then I
for one am proud to stand with him"

I, too, am proud to stand with Sen. George McGovern.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book Review: The Victory Lab

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Crown; 1st Edition edition (September 11, 2012)

The Victory Lab was written by Sasha Issenberg, a columnist for Slate.  It does to presidential elections what Moneyball did for baseball.  Issenberg is a rising star in the political press corps and brings a whole new meaning to the science of winning elections.

Elections at all levels have gotten more expensive than before.  There's no justification for this.  Outside of inflation, of course, but that goes without saying!

Issenberg focuses in on those that have reshaped the political campaign landscape:  strategists, statisticians, academics and maverick operatives.  Without a doubt, he reshapes how such campaigns are won and lost.

Issenberg gives us the insight on tactics and strategies that are being used for human-decision making, marketing, and campaign tactics.

He gives us the low down on who is playing crucial roles in next month's election:  Todd Rogers, Alexander Gage, Jeremy Bird, and Dan Wagner.

Politico describes it as "Moneyball for politics."  I agree 100%.  This book is not only skillfully written and energetically reported, it should be considered as essential reading for anyone that has an interest in politics, history, and the social science of how elections are won.

Capitol Hell

Paperback: 328 pages
Publisher: Beaver's Pond Press (September 4, 2012)

Jayne Jones and Alicia Long, co-authors of Capitol Hell started their political careers by working for former Senator Norm Coleman (MN) as staffers in both his St. Paul, MN and Washington, D.C. offices.  Described as becoming fast friends, the two stuck together through thick and thin, joined forces to write a novel about life as a Capitol Hill staffer.  Earlier this summer, we got a taste of Domestic Affairs, about a campaign staffer.

In the case of Capitol Hell, Senator Anders McDermott is the main senator in this book with an eye on the White House.  Jayne and Alica's stories have become the stories of Allison Amundson and Janet Johannson.  The chief of staff has no control.  The press secretary is pompous primping and ppreening.  To make things worse, the Senator cares more about his rise to fame.

Their book has been described as "saucy novel about the crazy co-workers, high maintenance politicians, and over-the-top entourages that can only be found inside the beltway."

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Book Review: A Nation of Wusses by Ed Rendell

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons; 1st edition (June 5, 2012)

A Nation of Wusses: How America's Leaders Lost the Guts to Make Us Great by former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell is a great political read and one that is also funny.

Rendell has no problems with referring to elected officials as wusses.  Like the rest of us, he is frustrated with the fact that nothing seems to get done in Washington.

To put it simply, Rendell not only writes a memoir here but he also calls out those politicians who "rarely call for sacrifice for the greater good--to avoid making any sacrifices themselves."

Rendell even mixes in sports with politics.  As the Mayor of Philadelphia, he was on the postgame show to talk about the Eagles' performance in the game.  This was a job he continued to do, even as governor of Pennsylvania.  He didn't do it for the money.  He did do it for the money after his term as governor ended since it's no longer inappropriate

In a chapter on President Bill Clinton's wrongdoings with Monica Lewinsky, Rendell goes as far as calling out each and every Republican that voted to impeach the former president and went on to reveal or later have an extramarital affair.

Rendell offers rollicking stories that can be described as profane or profound and why the hard choices are only "hard" because the results that the pollsters get only conflict with the principles of what the politician, in this case Rendell, stands for.  Rendell is one of the few Democrats that had to take a hard stance with the city unions to lower the deficit but, in the end, it was the right thing to do in order to prevent Philly from going bankrupt.

Rendell looks at his rise in Philly, Pennsylvania, and as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, where he said some things that pissed off the Al Gore campaign leadership.  At times, even when he did what he thought was right, he was afraid it would be the end of his career.

Rendell looks at the current landscape and says that he has one more campaign in him and that is for another Clinton run.

I have followed Rendell's career since he became governor of Pennsylvania and he's one of the few elected officials that I truly admire.  I think he would make a great president but I believe him when he says he is no longer running for office.  We need more people like Ed Rendell.  He is funny and heartfelt in this book.  I can't say that about most political books unless they were written by comedians but Rendell could be a comedian in a different life.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Debate thoughts...

Nevermind the fact that Mitt Romney went after Big Bird tonight.  Of course, I had to go after Mitt for that one.
I love Big Bird. Big Bird is a friend of mine. You're no Big Bird.
Jim Lehrer, who is one of the best presidential debate moderators in the history of televised debates, just doesn't have it any more.  To put it simply, Lehrer lost control of the debate.

I'm not going to get into the specifics of who won or lost the debate.

When Lehrer said "We lost a pod," my immediate thought was this:
Where is this pod? Did it escape? Who was on board? ANSWERS, DAMN IT!
Then there was this:

Damn it Jim, you're a moderator. MODERATE!
Those were two of my highlights on Twitter this evening.

The guy that was the snarkiest on Twitter during the debate was none other than David Krumholtz!