Monday, December 17, 2012

President Obama attends Newtown vigil

The president was in Newtown to attend a vigil to remember the victims.  While I link to the text of the full speech, here is an excerpt that shows that President Barack Obama means business.
I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no.  We’re not doing enough.  And we will have to change.
Since I’ve been President, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by a mass shooting.  The fourth time we’ve hugged survivors.  The fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims.  And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and big cities all across America -- victims whose -- much of the time, their only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
We can’t tolerate this anymore.  These tragedies must end.  And to end them, we must change.  We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true.  No single law -- no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

New York City and Boston Mayors Speak Out on Gun Control

The co-chairs of Mayors Against Illegal Guns have spoken out after Friday's shooting.

Michael Bloomberg:
With all the carnage from gun violence in our country, it's still almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen. It has come to that. Not even kindergarteners learning their ABC's are safe. We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year olds. President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for 'meaningful action' is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership - not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response. My deepest sympathies are with the families of all those affected, and my determination to stop this madness is stronger than ever.
Thomas Menino:
As a parent and grandparent, I am overcome with both grief and outrage by the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. This unspeakable act of violence will forever imprint this day in our hearts and minds. My heart goes out to the families impacted by this senseless tragedy and the many others we have recently witnessed across the United States. As a Mayor who has witnessed too many lives forever altered by gun violence, it is my responsibility to fight for action. Today's tragedy reminds us that now is the time for action. Innocent children will now never attend a prom, never play in a big game, never step foot on a college campus. Now is the time for a national policy on guns that takes the loopholes out of the laws, the automatic weapons out of our neighborhoods and the tragedies like today out of our future.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

1775: A Good Year for Revolution

Hardcover: 656 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (November 27, 2012)

I'm a big history buff and that's what found me interested in reading 1775: A Good Year for Revolution by Kevin Phillips.  For most Americans, 1776 is seen as the biggest year for the Revolutionary War.  After all, it's the year that saw the adoption and signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Not so fast, argues Phillips.  The political and economic commentator decided "to write about a United States taking shape rather than losing headway."  Phillips goes on to explain why 1776 is not the "watershed year" and makes the argument that 1776 has been elevated by mythology because of "an unusual case of historical hype and confusion."

Phillips calls 1775 a critical year as it is the year when the American commitment to revolution took shape.  He goes on to focus on several events and confrontations, including the start of the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps.

This book offers some insights into our own times as well as the country that the USA became.

Online poker

In 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was pass and online gaming was effectively banned in the United States.  Online poker was included in that ban and supporters of online poker have been lobbying since 2006 to get the game legalized.  With the recent reelection of Barack Obama as President, poker lobbyists feel that they are in a good position to finally get the game legalized, but the question remains whether or not he truly supports online poker.

It is widely known that President Obama plays poker and even described himself as a good player.  He is known to have played in a weekly home game with Illinois lawmakers in Sprinfield.  The President's style was described by Illinois state Senator Terry Link as conservative.  The President often, "played the odds. He didn’t play for the inside straight."

While a known poker player, the President has by and large remained mum on the issue of online poker.  The closest that the Administration has come to making a formal statement was in response to a "We the People" petition on the White House's website back in May of this year.  In response to a petition regarding the White House's stance on online poker, the statement essentially left it to the states:

“…Online gambling on sporting events or contests violates federal law. The legality of other forms of online gambling is dependent upon the law of the states where the bettor or gambling business is located. It is left to each state to determine whether it wishes to permit such activity between its residents and an online poker business authorized by that state to accept such wagers…:

The question was raised yet again during the weeks leading up to the elections.  As part of the Republican party platform, the party openly spoke out against online gambling and called for a ban of all online gambling.  This includes online poker.  When the Democratic platform was released, no mention of online gambling was made.  Poker supporters were surprised and a bit dismayed that this issues was completely ignored.

In essence, the answer to whether or not President Obama supports online poker would seem to be maybe based on the response to the petition earlier this year.  If he is indeed a supporter of the game, he looks to be holding his cards close to the vest and calculating the odds of when the best time would be to come out with an official declaration of support.

The issue at the Congressional level is a bit more murky.  For years, there have been attempts to attach online poker legislation to bills.  Key poker supporters in Congress include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Texas Representative Joe Barton.  They have worked on poker legislation together and their first serious attempt was planned to be attached in Obama's tax cut plan back in 2010 but it failed to make it to the bill. 

Now, a bill drafted by Senator Reid and AZ Senator Jon Kyl is trying to make it's way through the lame duck session but is looking at a slow death.  Problems with the bill include that it would ban all forms of gambling online except for poker and horse racing.  States do not support this as it would harm them from being able to put lotteries online.  In addition, there is a constitutional question about a clause that would ban online poker companies that operated in the United States past 2006.  There are claims that the law is essentially a bill of attainder which bypasses due process laws, and therefore unconstitutional. 

At present, only two states have legalized online poker.  Those are Nevada and Connecticut, but neither have started offering games.  A federal online poker solution would provide a legal and regulated framework for online poker operators but it appears that support for this type of solution is still a ways off.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Book Review: America Again by Stephen Colbert

Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; First Edition edition (October 2, 2012)

Stephen Colbert is at it again.  The comedian is back with another book, America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't, that came out rather than in the election season.  If Colbert released it over the summer, maybe Mitt Romney could have used it to his advantage.

Colbert takes advantage of the 3D craze of the last few years and released the book in 3D.  Whether it really affects the sales, I don't know.  Moreover, will this lead to other authors deciding to release their books in 3D?

Colbert uses his wit to explain why America is perfect and how to put the country back on track.  Some of the hot button issues that Colbert looks at include jobs, healthcare, Wall Street, energy, justice, and food.

Just as with Lewis Black's books, you can really hear Colbert's voice in your head while reading this best-seller.  You cannot call yourself a comedy fan and not read this book.  It's a classic.

Ed Marksberry announces 2014 Senate run

Ed Marksberry, an Owensboro resident, will announce on Wednesday that he is a candidate for the 2014 U.S. Senate race.  The Democrat will be making his official announcement on Wednesday at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Room B109 at 1:30 PM.

Mitch McConnell is UNPOPULAR

Mitch McConnell is the most unpopular Senator in the country. Only 37% of Kentucky voters approve of him to 55% disapprove. Both in terms of raw disapproval (55%) and net approval (-18) McConnell has the worst numbers of any of his peers, taking that mantle from Nebraska's Ben Nelson.

McConnell is predictably very unpopular with Democrats (23/73). But his numbers are almost as bad with independents (33/58) and even with Republicans he's well below the 70-80% approval range you would usually expect for a Senator within their own party (59/28).
What about matchups in a general election?
3 of them- Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson, Attorney General and 2010 nominee Jack Conway, and actress Ashley Judd- come within 4 points of McConnell at 47/43. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer trails by 5 at 46/41, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes has a 7 point deficit at 47/40, Congressman John Yarmuth is down 10 at 48/38, former Ambassador Matthew Barzun lags 48/37, and State Auditor Adam Edelen trails by 12 at 48/36.
What about Democratic primary voters?
Ashley Judd is the clear choice of Democratic primary voters to be their candidate in 2014. 29% say she would be the first pick, followed by Abramson at 16%, Conway at 15%, Grimes and Yarmuth at 9%, Fischer at 5%, Edelen at 2%, and Barzun at less than 1%. Judd is a particularly popular choice among young voters and those describing themselves as 'very liberal.'

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Carbon Crunch by Dieter Helm

Hardcover: 273 pages
Publisher: Yale University Press (October 22, 2012)

In The Carbon Crunch, author Dieter Helm has tackled what we are getting wrong with climate change and offers proposals on how to fix it.

How is it that Helm is the person to tackle these issues?  For starters, Helm's credentials are rather impressive.  He is a professor of energy policy at Oxford and a member of the Economics Advisory Group to the UK Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change.

Make no mistake.  Climate change means warmer winters and summers approaching the brink of disaster.

Helm uses this book to serve as a critique of the global climate and energy policy spanning the last 40 years.

Since 1990, Helm argues, absolutely nothing has been achieved in the worldwide fight against climate change.  Helm advocates for a transition from coal burning to clean energy by way of natural gas.  This proposal won't sit well in areas of Kentucky, where coal mining is seen as a way of life.

Helm proposes that we spend money not on the the current technologies but towards research and development and future technology that will be able to solve the problem of climate change--while encouraging the quick transition from coal to gas.

There's no doubt that this book will serve as a blueprint for the future debate into climate change.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Thanksgiving Message - 2012 Edition

May you have a safe, healthy, and happy Thanksgiving.

On this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my family and friends. Times have been rough, more so these past three years than possibly ever before. Those friends have come through for me in more ways than they could possibly imagine and for that, I'm grateful.

I am thankful for my great-grandparents getting out of Europe and Russia before the war started.

I am thankful for my public school education, although the state of Kentucky has a lot of work to do. The education system in this state needs work. Teachers need to teach, not show the movie Forrest Gump on a rainy day because they don't want to deal with students. No excuse for having seen that movie five times while in the public school system, especially when it had nothing to do with the curriculum. Seriously, teachers. Get with it. A history class? Sure. Other classes, no way.

I am thankful to those of you who have forgiven me for doing that which will not be mentioned, although it gave me my first fifteen minutes of fame. If you don't know what I am talking about here, please message me appropriately. Strike that. In 2009, I was told by a friend of mine that used to be on mainstage at Second City that he loved it. These guys know what they are talking about. They do this for a living. It makes up for all the death threats that I recieved, whether those were done in a joking manner or not.

I am thankful for our troops serving us overseas even if I disagree with why we went over there in the first place, except for Afghanistan which was justified.

I am thankful to be living in a free country which allows the freedom of religion. On that note, I am thankful for the Anshe Sholom community for their warm welcome following my move from Kentucky to Chicago in 2008. And their warm welcome each and every time that I go back to visit until I can get back their for good.

I am thankful for the Jewish comedians of the vaudeville and Borscht Belt eras for paving the way for comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Jon Stewart.

I am thankful for President Bush for providing so much comedic material along with Sarah Palin as well. She's self-destructing when she doesn't realize it.

I am thankful that shows like The Daily Show, Conan, The Late Show with David Letterman, Saturday Night Live, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, NCIS, CSI: NY, Modern Family, Community, Parks and Recreation, The Office, 30 Rock, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Homeland, 2 Broke Girls, Suburgatory, Last Man Standing, Once Upon a Time, Revenge, New Girl, Ben and Kate, and The Colbert Report were approved by the networks so that I have television to enjoy.

I am thankful for the writing room of Caesar's Hour, considered to be the smartest and funniest room since Thomas Jefferson dined alone at the White House.

I am thankful for all my friends in the improv and sketch comedy scene, be it in Chicago, New York, or LA.

Last but not least, I am thankful that my first book, Turn That $#!+ Off! has been published. It's on sale via CreateSpace, Amazon, and Amazon Kindle as of now.

I am thankful for my appreciation of American history, which will be the basis for my second book.

Plymouth Rock

Plymouth Rock.  If you look closely, you can see the numbers 1620 carved into the rock.  It's as small as it looks and does not live up to the hype!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mark Regev hands it to CNN

Mark Regev, a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, hands it to a CNN anchor over her line of questioning.

From this past Thursday:

Senate passes resolution in support of Israel

While the United Senate passed a resolution in support of Israel, neither Mitch McConnell or Rand Paul decided to co-sponsor Senate Resolution 599.

Friday, November 16, 2012

McCain thinking Independent?

After reading the book that Meghan McCain co-wrote with comedian Michael Ian Black this past summer, I am not the least bit surprised to have read the following today:
Times are changing. The face of America is changing and we as Republicans stand at a crossroads. Are we going to accept the changing face of America and change with it? Or are we going to continue to become more isolated and irrelevant? It's possible to maintain the core values of this party and evolve when it comes to social issues. Quite frankly, I don't see any other path to success.

I've spent most of my adult life fighting for change from inside the Republican Party... And if we don't move forward, adapt, and become relevant again, the Republican Party isn't going to survive. It will just continue to alienate more moderate voters like myself. If I don't see some changes in the next four years, I'm going to consider registering as an Independent in 2016.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mitch McConnell recycles Romney line

Mitch McConnell, in essence, recycled a Mitt Romney line this past June when he appeared on CBS This Morning.  Nobody made a big deal about back then.

What McConnell said on the show:
“I understand full well that our friends on the other side live to every day to raise taxes...Almost 70 percent of the federal revenue is provided by the top 10 percent of taxpayers now. Between 45 and 50 percent of Americans pay no income tax at all.”
 Obviously,  he ignores the fact--like Romney did--that these people pay other forms of federal taxes.
The problem with McConnell's statement is that, at best, it's misleading. McConnell claims that nearly 50% of Americans don't pay income taxes, but he fails to mention the other numbers. The Americans McConnell is speaking of pay a state tax, a sales tax, a gas tax and many others. They also pay into the payroll tax of Social Security and Medicare. The reason many Americans don't pay a net federal income tax is because they make such a small amount of income that they qualify for a tax return.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Book Review: Argo by Tony Mendez

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (September 13, 2012)

Released just weeks before the motion picture directed by Ben Affleck, Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History tells the true story of what really happened.

Tony Mendez, the CIA agent who was portrayed by Ben Affleck in the film, wrote this book with Matt Baglio.

Whenever I see a movie based on a novel or non-fiction book, I like to read the book afterwards just to see how they compare and where things are different.  Oy, are there so many things that were different in the film!

Mendez pens a great book that shares what happened when Hollywood and the CIA worked together.  There were times that I found myself thinking why did Hollywood get the film wrong.  For everything that the film got right, there's a scene or two that strays far from what actually happened.

While the the Affleck movie was inspired by an earlier work of Mendez, this work finally describes in detail everything that happened.  Hollywood changed things in the film for dramatic licenses, which should come as no surprise.  However, the writing flows perfectly from page to page.  Yes, names were changed in some instances but Mendez tells us how the 6 house guests were rescued.

If you want to understand just how the CIA works, this is a great read.  It's not a James Bond action-packed thriller but it does the job just fine.

Secessionist movement is treason

I don't get this whole secession movement.  Actually, I do.  It's because these people are racist assholes that put their hatred of the president over their love of country.

You didn't Democrats file petitions when Bush was re-elected in 2004.

These people are racist assholes that should be considered traitors to the Union.  Nothing more, nothing less.

The latest from Kentucky and Indiana:
“We petition the Obama administration to: Peacefully grant the State of Kentucky to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government,” the petition for the commonwealth reads. It had 13,617 signatures as of late Tuesday afternoon.

The Kentucky version of the petition then cites the Declaration of Independence, including a section that states: “...Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and institute new Government.”

The Indiana petition is worded the same way as Kentucky’s. It had 14,616 signatures.
These people should be deported from the United States of America.  If they really hate the country so much, why don't they just move?

Campaign Finance Reform

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams brought this up last Tuesday during the election night coverage about the insane amount spent on advertising.

The Forward has a nice editorial on how that money could have been spent on other things.
Six billion dollars. Six billion dollars.

That’s the amount spent on the 2012 election campaign, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission data by the Center for Responsive Politics. It is by far the most money spent on an election in American history — probably in human history — and that is thanks in large part to the nearly $1 billion raised and spent by the newly-sanctioned, supposedly independent organizations known as super-PAC’s this year.[...]

Just think of what $6 billion will buy. Not just 30 million iPhone 5s or 15,503 Lamborghini Aventadors, as one website cheekily noted. Serious stuff. Life-saving stuff.

A sea barrier of the type that protects major cities in Europe could have prevented superstorm Sandy from destroying lives and property in New York. Its cost? Engineers have estimated $6 billion.

An accelerated availability of antiretroviral drugs could prevent 7.4 million people from dying of AIDS, and another 12.2 million from contracting HIV, by 2020. The cost? Scientists have estimated $6 billion.

A millennium vaccine fund could commit to purchasing an effective malaria vaccine for each of Africa’s 25 million newborn children, thereby preventing untold deaths and suffering. Its cost? Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs puts it at $3 billion.

There’d be another $3 billion to spare. With that, we could buy nearly 500 new public elementary schools, or build 225 small hospitals.
America can do better.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

No Knocked Up references in This is 40?

According to a recent interview with Judd Apatow, there are no references to the hit 2007 comedy.

There are other characters from Knocked Up who reappear here, including Jason (Jason Segal), who’s a personal trainer now, and the perpetually stoned Jodi (Charlyne Yi), who’s working as a clerk in Debbie’s boutique. But Ben and Allison themselves are conspicuous by their absence.

I shot some stuff, in case the audience demanded to know. I shot a version where Pete talks about how Ben and Allison live in Atlanta where she works for CNN. I covered my ass quite well. But when I was conceiving the movie, my interest wasn’t in what happened to Ben and Allison, because Pete and Debbie in a way are Ben and Allison. They were always meant to be the future for them, and in a lot of ways in Knocked Up, Ben and Allison and Pete and Debbie are meant to be the same couple. They’re a fabricated, exaggerated version of Leslie and myself at two different ages.
Kind of a shame, in my opinion.

Listen to Bill Kristol

I think it's about damn time that Republicans in Senate and House leadership start listening to Bill Kristol.  He has some good things to say when it comes to letting the Bush tax cuts expire for those making over $250,000.

Politico reports:
"The leadership of the Republican Party and the leadership of the conservative movement has to pull back, let people float new ideas. Let's have a serious debate," Kristol said on "Fox News Sunday." "Don't scream and yell if one person says 'You know what? It won't kill the country if we raise taxes a little bit on millionaires.' It really won't, I don't think."[...]

"I don't really understand why Republicans don't take Obama's offer to freeze taxes for everyone below $250,000, make it $500,000, make it $1 million," Kristol said. "Really? The Republican Party is going to fall on its sword to defend a bunch of millionaires, half of whom voted Democratic and half of whom live in Hollywood?"
Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, etc. would be wise to listen to Kristol's comments.

Friday, November 09, 2012

The First Polling for 2016

While the fiscal cliff talks are already about to begin as this week's election has ended, the race for 2016 has already begin.

The big question is:  Will Hillary Rodham Clinton make one last run for president?

Politico has an exclusive on polling.
The PPP poll, which was shared exclusively with POLITICO, shows Clinton taking 58 percent of the Iowa vote in a hypothetical presidential run. Vice President Joe Biden trails far behind at 17 percent, followed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at 6 percent and Massachusetts Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren at 3 percent.

None of the other Democrats tested – Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner – cracked 1 percent in the poll.

If Clinton doesn’t run, Biden would jump into the lead with a less-commanding 40 percent of the vote, with Cuomo rising to 14 percent and Warren up to 9 percent. In the event that neither Clinton nor Biden runs, Cuomo draws 30 percent to Warren’s 13 percent, with 46 percent of voters unsure who they’d support.
Of the other potential candidates, it does not mean that they don't have a chance if Clinton doesn't run.  Potentials like Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley will not run if Clinton makes a run for office.

It's a long way to Indecision 2016.

LaTourette on current state of Republican Party

Retiring congressman Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio) offered his thoughts on what the Republican Party will need to do over the next two yours if they want to win the White House again.  LaTourette is a centrist Republican, or as he called it, an "endangered species."

LaTourette was responding to criticism by Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin, who said Mitt Romney was a "weak, moderate candidate" who was "hand-picked by the Beltway elites and country club establishment wing of the Republican Party."

LaTourette in full:  "There's a one-word phrase we use in Ohio for that: crap. I mean, that's nonsense... The Republican Party cannot be a national party if we give up the entire East Coast of the United States and say -- we don't have any Republicans in New England, we don't have any Republicans in the Mid-Atlantic states. We can't continue to diss the Latino voters and -- you know, my wife's a Democrat, and she was so close to voting for Mitt Romney, but then Mourdock and Akin opened their mouth and we sent them running back to the Democratic Party because they think we're nutty. We have the right message on the finances. We have to get out of people's lives, get out of people's bedrooms, and we have to be a national party, or else we're going to lose."

Thursday, November 08, 2012

1859, 1950, and 2012

This map is disturbing to see how some things don't change.

The same and territories states that allowed slavery or were open to slavery are practically the same ones that required segregation or didn't have specific legislation on segregation.  Not only that but a majority of them voted for Mitt Romney.

Colorado, Nevada, and Virginia seem to be the ones that have progressed over time.  Colorado, while open to slavery, prohibited segregation in 1950 and voted for Barack Obama.  Nevada was open to slavery and didn't have any specific legislation on segregation and also voted for Obama.  Virginia has been helped in recent years by the vast majority that live in the DC area more so than anywhere else in the state.

Idaho is a different case.  It was a free state/territory and prohibited segregation.

In New Mexico, they were open to slavery, segregation was allowed to varying degrees, and they voted for Obama.

Florida, while being a slave state and requiring segregation, voted for Obama.

Indiana is a strange case.  They were a free state, prohibited segregation, and voted for Romney.  But then again, Indiana also voted for Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush, too.

It's amazing to see how these maps look so similar.  The states that owned slaves really have not changed.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Takeaways from Election 2012

Some takeaways from last night's national results are that the GOP needs to evolve in what they stand for.  It's clear that they have to stop focusing on abortion rights and other social issues.  Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock lost because of their views on social issues.  In doing so, the Democrats were able to pick up a Senate seat in Indiana.

In 2004, George W. Bush won 44 percent of Hispanics. Four years later, John McCain, the author of an immigration reform bill, took 31 percent of Hispanics. And this year, Romney captured only 27 percent of Hispanics.[...]

But the GOP’s problem is more fundamental than one bloc of voters. For the second consecutive presidential election, the Republican got thumped among women and young voters in the states that decided the election.
If you're a Republican, that's a very depressing stat to read.  Just looking at the exit polling data from yesterday's election, it's astonishing.

Still though, it's as if liberal (moderate) Republicans no longer have a home in the Republican Party.  The political center is longer where it once was due to the fact that the far right of the GOP has taken control.

Mitch McConnell congratulated the president on re-election and will have to work with him.  He doesn't have a choice.  He is very vulnerable for 2014 and is likely to see strong opposition in Kentucky, whether it is Ben Chandler, Alison Lundergan Grimes, or even Ashley Judd.

The Kentucky Democratic Party also has to learn from last night.  Candidates have to run like REAL Democrats, not Republican-lite.  The party needs to take control of the State Senate in 2014.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Really, Mitt?!?

I'm not even fucking sure what the hell Mitt Romney was thinking when he made these comments.  Was there not a snowstorm in Massachusetts that he could have referenced?  Surely, there had to be a snowstorm that he could have referenced?
I remember once we had a football field at my high school. The field was covered with rubbish and paper goods from people who’d had a big celebration there at the game. And there was a group of us there assigned to clean it up. And I thought, ‘how are we going to clean up all the mess on this football field?’ There were just a few of us. And the person responsible for organizing the effort said, ‘Just line up along the yard lines. You go between the goal line and the 10-yard line, and the next person between the 10 and 20, and just walk down and do your lane. And if everybody cleans their lanes, we’ll get it done.’ And so today, we’re cleaning one lane if you will.
Bullshit, Mitt.  Homecoming celebrations just simply do not work as an analogy to what happened along the east coast.

Add on the Buzzfeed reports that the campaign pre-bought items and gave to people to give right back to them as a photo opportunity.
As supporters lined up to greet the candidate, a young volunteer in a Romney/Ryan T-shirt stood near the tables, his hands cupped around his mouth, shouting, "You need a donation to get in line!"

Empty-handed supporters pled for entrance, with one woman asking, "What if we dropped off our donations up front?"

The volunteer gestured toward a pile of groceries conveniently stacked near the candidate. "Just grab something," he said.

Two teenage boys retrieved a jar of peanut butter each, and got in line. When it was their turn, they handed their "donations" to Romney. He took them, smiled, and offered an earnest "Thank you."
This is just fucking disgusting.

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!

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Rachel Bennett, a television columnist at, wrote some honest and thoughtful analysis on what is happening with NBC.  It is a really good read and it's one that I find myself in complete agreement.

Right now, Revolution has the ratings to be considered a successful hit.  It's got the J.J. Abrams pedigree and was created by Supernatural creator Eric Kripke.  It had the best ratings for a drama debut in 3 years.  For a 10 PM show, it also had the best ratings at that hour since a January 2010 episode of Private Practice.

While some moves this season have been questioned, especially moving Community off of Thursdays, it's too early to tell just what kind of fall season that NBC will have.

I've watched the pilots for Go On, Animal Practice, Partners (CBS), and Ben and Kate (FOX).  I can tell you that out of those four pilots, Ben and Kate is the best one by far.  NBC passed on a Sarah Silverman pilot.  I would have been interested in seeing what that was like.

NBC can get back to the heyday of the 1990s but what really hurt them was giving up on the 10 PM drama in 2009 by placing Jay Leno there.  Also, by going unscripted for a while, they lost viewers to other channels.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Quote of the Day

“When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem.”
--Mitt Romney, quoted by the Los Angeles Times, September 22, 2012

Hat tip to Think Progress for this quote.  There are days when I feel that Think Progress headlines are being ripped from The Onion.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Winners

Here are the winners for the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards presented for the 2011-12 television season on September 23, 2012.

Outstanding comedy series: Modern Family
Outstanding drama series:
Outstanding miniseries or movie:
Game Change
Outstanding lead actor in a miniseries or movie:
Kevin Costner, Hatfields & McCoys
Outstanding directing for a miniseries or movie: Jay Roach, Game Change
Outstanding lead actress in a miniseries or movie:
Julianne Moore, Game Change
Outstanding writing for a miniseries or movie:
Danny Strong, Game Change
Outstanding supporting actor in a miniseries or movie:
Tom Berenger, Hatfields & McCoys
Outstanding supporting actress in a miniseries or movie:
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
Outstanding variety series:
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Outstanding directing for a variety special: Glenn Weiss, 65th Annual Tony Awards
Outstanding writing for a variety special:
Louis C.K., Louie C.K. Live at the Beacon Theatre
Outstanding lead actress in a drama series:
Claire Danes, Homeland
Outstanding lead actor in a drama series: Damian Lewis, Homeland
Outstanding directing for a drama series: Tim Van Patten, Boardwalk Empire
Outstanding supporting actress in a drama: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Outstanding writing for a drama series: Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff, Homeland
Outstanding supporting actor in a drama series: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Outstanding host for a reality show: Tom Bergeron, Dancing with the Stars
Outstanding reality-competition program: The Amazing Race
Outstanding lead actress in a comedy series: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Outstanding lead actor in a comedy series: Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Outstanding directing in a comedy series: Steve Levitan, Modern Family
Outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series: Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Outstanding writing for a comedy series: Louis C.K., Louie
Outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series: Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family

Book Review: Our Divided Political Heart by E.J. Dionne

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (May 22, 2012)
E.J. Dionne is at his best with this book.  In 279 pages, the columnist takes a long look at what has happened to both liberalism and conservatism since the country was founded.  Like several books out this election season, it's a must-read and a real eye-opener.  It's brilliant, in my opinion, and he breaks down exactly what has happened through thoughtful analysis.

What E.J. argues in the book is "underlying our political impasse is a lose sense of national balance that in turn reflects a loss of historical memory."  He shows how the political atmosphere is being poisoned.

America is a "nation of individualists who care passionately about community."  America is not a nation of radical individualists.  It's shown through which parties have shown a communitarian approach to their politics.

E.J. takes us on a rousing trip through history from the Founding Fathers to Henry Clay to Abraham Lincoln and both Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Dionne looks at Populists, the Progressives, and the New Dealers.

E.J., in this book, challenges the Tea Party movement's views by looking back at American history.  It's fascinating to read his argument.  There's a myth that Americans have been "one-sided individualists."  Dionne disproves that idea.  Dionne believes that we can end this divisive era by "rediscovering the balance between our core values."

It's fascinating to see just how far the Republican Party and conservative movement have gone to the right in recent years.  The following excerpt comes from page 248 of the text:
What needs to be recognized is how far Republicanism and conservatism have strayed from their own history and their own past commitments. They have chosen--on principle, it could be said--to make middle-ground politics impossible. They have done so by jettisoning their own communitarian commitments, by adopting a highly restrictive view of the federal government's role, and by advancing (in the Supreme Court no less on the campaign trail) a view of the Constitution that would prohibit or restrict activities that the federal government has undertaken for a century or more. In the process, they have chosen to rewrite the American story and unsettle the American balance.
I think, when all is said and done, we will be seeing the rise of a strong third party that covers the center.  There's really no room for moderates in the Republican Party and this book shows that.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Ted Koppel talks to media personalties

Ted Koppel has always been a great newsman. Working for NBC News now, Koppel has a great story on what has happened with cable news.

42 Trailer

Here is the trailer for 42, the real life story of baseball legend Jackie Robinson. The film stars Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford and Alan Tudyk. Also in the cast are Nicole Beharie, Lucas Black, Christopher Meloni and T.R. Knight. The film was written and directed by Brian Helgeland. 42 is due out on April 12, 2013, just 3 days prior to the 66th anniversary of Robinson's debut in the majors. The film was shot on location in Alabama, Georgia and Chattanooga, Tenn., where Engel Stadium stood in for Ebbets Field.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The West Wing reunion

Cast members of The West Wing reunited to film an add for Bridget Mary McCormack, a candidate for the Michigan Supreme Court. She's the older sister of both Mary and Will McCormack. Mary played the Deputy Nat'l Security Advisor in seasons 5-7 and referenced herself in the short film as noted in this article.
The script, written by Mary McCormack’s husband, is a reasonable facsimile of the rapid-fire, sardonic dialogue that was the show’s signature. It has a few light moments as well, including one in which Mary McCormack describes the candidate’s “whip-smart and incredibly hot” sister Mary McCormack.
From CNN:
The video, titled "Walk-and-Talk-the-Vote," opens with Joshua Malina (Will Bailey) throwing a ball against his office wall. Soon he's joined by McCormack and Janel Moloney (Donna Moss) who then "walk and talk" their way to meet the rest of the cast including Allison Janney (C.J. Cregg), Bradley Whitford (Josh Lyman), Richard Schiff (Toby Ziegler), Melissa Fitzgerald (Carol Fitzpatrick), Lily Tomlin (Mrs. Fiderer) and the President himself Martin Sheen (Josiah "Jed" Bartlet).
John Spencer died and Dule Hill was out of town during filming.

GOP goes hard after Romney

Prominent conservatives in the past week have distanced themselves from the 47% comments that Mitt Romney made.

Meanwhile, Stephen Colbert has brought back his Atone Phone!

NSFW: Must watch video of comedian

Anthony Griffith is "a comic must earn his living as a clown while suffering the ultimate heartbreak."

This 9 minute video includes some language that is not safe for work but it's emotionally moving.

Republicans vote against jobs bill for Veterans

The Republican Party is turning me into the second angriest man in America...second only to Lewis Black.

Stop doing this to America.  Just stop it.  All it does is boil our blood pressure.  It's not good for you and by golly, it's sure not good for me.

Cut the crap, please.  Tell us how you really feel.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Afternoon notes

Dr. Robert J. Shapiro offers a must-read on how Mitt Romney isn't ready to be president.  Shapiro is the co-founder and Chairman of Sonecon, LLC.

Mitt Romney penned an op-ed in The Onion.

Tax Cuts for rich lead to income inequality

A new report in the Wall Street Journal shows that tax cuts for the wealthy do in fact lead to income inequality.
“The evidence does not suggest necessarily a relationship between tax policy with regard to the top tax rates and the size of the economic pie, but there may be a relationship to how the economic pie is sliced,” according to the CRS report, circulated on Friday.
The report appears to give a lift to Democrats’ calls for the Bush-era tax cuts to lapse next year on incomes above $250,000. Democrats say that low taxes on the rich merely exacerbate income inequality. Republicans say that higher taxes on big incomes would hurt the economy by damping the after-tax income of small-business owners who pay taxes through their individual returns.

The top individual tax rate for high earners has generally declined since World War II, and is at 35% currently, down from 94% in 1945, the report noted. Although capital gains tax rates have been more variable, the current 15% rate is the lowest in more than 65 years. The capital gains rate was 25% before 1965.

The government researchers found that “the top tax rates do not necessarily have a demonstrably significant relationship with investment.” The researchers also said that the correlation between economic growth and the top tax rates “is not strong,” and that any links “could be coincidental or spurious because of changes to the U.S. economy over the past 65 years.”
 This report shows why Congressman John Yarmuth supports "a fair, responsible tax system that works for everyone and helps ensure a strong middle class."

In Mitt Romney news, he's favoring fundraisers over rallying voters.

Romney on Israel

I have always said that I would support a two-state solution between the Israelis and the Palestinians if it meant having peace between the Jews and the Arabs.  That said, there is a part of me that does feel as if the Palestinians don't wish for peace.  They have had time and time again to accept an agreement with Israel but Yasser Arafat walked away from the table and rejected a deal.

The video containing Mitt's comments on the conflict can be found here.  The transcript is below the jump.

Mitt Romney's campaign for president is over

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney ran for president in 2008 and lost.  He decided to run again in 2012 and won this time.  Unfortunately for the Republican Party, to paraphrase a line from former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, this is not the presidential candidate that they wanted but the one that they had.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Quote of the Day

"Rosh HaShanah is Hebrew for I have no writers today."
--Conan O'Brien, Conan, September 17, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Quote of the Day

"We will never have the media on our side, ever, in this country.  We will never have the elite, smart people on our side."
--Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, speaking to an audience at the Omni Shoreham hotel, September 15, 2012

Since I'll be offline the next few days for the Jewish holiday, here's a bonus quote of the day from failed Delaware senate candidate Christine "I'm not a witch" O'Donnell:
I think I owe that to my supporters, to at least consider a run. People sacrificed. Not only came out of their comfort zone -- sacrificed to work hard in order to win the primary. And I think that I owe it to them to give it every consideration.

Netanyahu on Meet the Press

This morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared on Meet the Press with David Gregory.

I thought the prime minister held his own with David Gregory especially when Gregory challenged him when it came to the American political calendar and whether he thought a President Mitt Romney would be good for relations with Israel.

Netanyahu refused to endorse any particular candidate and stayed out of the presidential race.

There was a point, during the interview, when Gregory called Netanyahu the "leader of the Jewish people," which is as far from the truth as it could be.

Gregory later apologized on Twitter (1, 2) saying:
This am I called Israeli PM the leader of the Jewish ppl. Better to say he's leader of Jewish state.  Didn't mean to imply all Jews believe he represents them.
At least, David Gregory was wise enough to correct himself.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Some humor...

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell probably has Time Warner Cable like I do...

Also, this school typo is AWESOME. Not even spell check could catch it!

Mitt believes the middle class makes $200,000-$250,000. I think the former governor is high or something. The median income is $50,000.

Israel and more...

Over at the Forward, J.J. Goldberg pens an editorial on the fiasco that happened in Charlotte with the Democratic Party platform.
There are several lessons here. First, Jews still matter as a political constituency. Experts say Israel is mainly an evangelical Christian issue, that Jews are too few and divided to matter. Not so. The Christian right doesn’t figure in Democratic planning, yet Democrats scramble for Jewish backing. It’s simple math.

Second, Israel matters to Jewish voters. It’s true that surveys show only a fraction of Jews ranking Israel their top concern. When you ask their top three concerns, though, Israel looms large.

Third, Arab and Muslim Americans are emerging as a political constituency. Until now, pro-Israel activists could press Israel’s case without serious pushback. That’s wearing thin. In the coming era, American Middle East policy will have to be negotiated. The Charlotte convention was a taste of what’s ahead.
The Israel-Iran debate comes to America as we are in the closing weeks of the election season.  There are opposing views on the matter.  Some argue that the Obama administration isn't doing enough.

Would Mitt Romney have prevented attacks?

Richard Williamson, a foreign policy advisor to Mitt Romney, is coming off as a real idiot.  Listen to what he said in an interview with the Washington Post.  I hate to break the news to the Romney campaign but I honestly believe, based on news reports, that this was an attack that was planned on the embassy.  Would a Romney administration have beefed up security?
“There’s a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, you’d be in a different situation,” Richard Williamson, a top Romney foreign policy adviser, said in an interview. “For the first time since Jimmy Carter, we’ve had an American ambassador assassinated.”
Nobody knows what situation we would really be in under a Romney administration and I refuse to get into any of the hypothetical scenarios.  Just like nobody knows whether a President Al Gore would have prevented the 9/11 attacks from happening.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

More violence against American embassies

There is more violence and protests taking place against the American embassies in the Middle East and North Africa.

The New York Times reports new cases of protests and violence taking place in countries such as Yemen, Iraq, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia.

In Egypt, Morsi has broken his silence.

The Libyan ambassador to the United States has spoken and feels shamed.

Egypt "not an ally"

President Barack Obama sat down on Wednesday with Telemundo anchor José Diaz-Balart, host of Noticiero Telemundo.  Portions of the interview aired during The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC.

I think that what happened in Libya was much different than what happened in Egypt.  What happened in Libya was a terrorist attack against the American embassy.  It was a group of people that did not speak for the Libyan government as evidenced by what Libyan leader Mohammed Magarief did in apologizing to the United States and condemning the killings.

We are dealing with a very different Egpyt than in years past.  The Muslim Brotherhood is not a peace partner and is most definitely, in the president's words, not an ally of the United States.  Are they an enemy?  It depends on what they do in response to the attack on the American embassy in Cairo.

The President told Diaz-Balart:
"Certainly in this situation, what we're going to expect is that (the Egyptian government is) responsive to our insistence that our embassy is protected, our personnel is protected, and if they take actions that they’re not taking those responsibilities, as all countries do where we have embassies, I think that’s going to be a real big problem."
It's a much different language than when Anwar Sadat was in charge or even when Hosni Mubarak was in charge of Egypt.

The Cable looks into the public relations disaster that happened on Wednesday as a result of what happened in Cairo at the embassy.  It was what happened there that led to Mitt Romney having his John McCain moment.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mitt Romney shows he's not ready to serve

What Mitt Romney did this morning was absolutely disgraceful.  Even when he knew that the Obama administration did not approve a series or tweets by the American embassy in Cairo or a statement released by the administration in Cairo, Romney said that the administration is responsible for every word that is said.

Romney bit himself in the ass with his comments.  He has been slammed by the conservative editorial page of The Washington Post.  The editorial board offered a strong rebuke to Romney's comments.

NBC News shows a complete timeline of everything that went down yesterday and today, including the fallout from the Romney press conference.

What we now know is that the attack on the American embassy in Libya is that it was planned.

Also, according to Jeffrey Goldberg, this Sam Bacile character isn't Israeli, nor is that his real name.

Former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge spoke to Think Progress and said that he doesn't think the president sympathizes with the attackers.
No, I don’t think President Obama sympathizes with those who attacked us. I don’t think any American does. I’m not going to question the strength of his words.
Romney did not find that many backers from the Republican side according to Salon.  Outside of RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, the only notables that backed Romney were Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich.  All of those in Congress released statements that offered their thoughts and prayers to the fallen Americans.

BuzzFeed's Ben Smith got the reaction of numerous foreign policy voices in the Republican Party.  Some are going as far as even comparing it to John McCain's moment in 2008, when he canceled on David Letterman and said he was going to return to Washington, DC to fix the economy.  Instead, he chose to go on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.
"They were just trying to score a cheap news cycle hit based on the embassy statement and now it’s just completely blown up," said a very senior Republican foreign policy hand, who called the statement an "utter disaster" and a "Lehman moment" — a parallel to the moment when John McCain, amid the 2008 financial crisis, failed to come across as a steady leader.
With less than two months before the election, it will be interesting to see how this hurts Romney's prospects.  My honest thoughts are that President Barack Obama has clinched his re-election.

American ambassador killed in attack on embassy

An American ambassador is dead after yesterday's attack on the embassy in Libya.  My condolences to the friends and family of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens as well as to those of the other Americans killed in yesterday's attacks.

I'm not going to get into the politics of what led to yesterday's events.  I'll let ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper tell you all about that.  We know that the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, put out a statement that was not approved by the White House.  This led to Mitt Romney and other Republicans slamming the administration.

As it turns out, according to NBC News, Mitt Romney's campaign looks worse by releasing a statement before all the information came out.  After all the information came out, the Romney campaign stands by it's original statement.

We also now know that Gainesville pastor Terry Jones was one of the financial backers of the film that outraged those in Libya and Egypt.  Jones had planned an "International Judge Muhammad Day."

I did not make any comments here yesterday on the matter because I needed more information on the issue at hand.  I was not in a position to rush to judgement.

While the White House Briefing Room is not updated with statements released, the Secretary of State's website is.

The first statement by Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton dealt with the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi:
I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi today. As we work to secure our personnel and facilities, we have confirmed that one of our State Department officers was killed. We are heartbroken by this terrible loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and those who have suffered in this attack.

This evening, I called Libyan President Magariaf to coordinate additional support to protect Americans in Libya. President Magariaf expressed his condemnation and condolences and pledged his government’s full cooperation.

Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.

In light of the events of today, the United States government is working with partner countries around the world to protect our personnel, our missions, and American citizens worldwide.
The second statement dealt with this morning's news that Ambassador Stevens and others had been killed in the Benghazi attacks.

The interim president of Libya, Mohammed el-Megarif, has offered an apology to the United States of America.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Obama, Netanyahu talk over the phone

President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did speak after all.  They did so over the phone this evening according to JTA.
"The two leaders discussed the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program, and our close cooperation on Iran and other security issues," said a statement issued Tuesday night by the White House. "President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu reaffirmed that they are united in their determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and agreed to continue their close consultations going forward."

The statement comes amid more frequent reports of tensions between the two governments, with Netanyahu demanding from Obama clearer red lines that could trigger military action against Iran, and the Obama administration refusing to outline these.
Apparently, Netanyahu never requested a meeting in Washington.
"Contrary to reports in the press, there was never a request for Prime Minister Netanyahu to meet with President Obama in Washington, nor was a request for a meeting ever denied," it said.
I don't know if it's a case of he said-he said but the two leaders did speak.

President Obama unable to meet with Israeli PM Netanyahu

I don't have all the details outside of the statement that came out today.  Since the Haaretz article is premium only, I'm linking to the JTA one instead.

I'm not sure exactly why President Barack Obama is unable to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when the PM comes to the United States for the United Nations General Assembly in a few weeks.  Outside of logistics, that is.

I know that the president is going to be busy campaigning and prepping for the debates with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.  That goes without saying.  I'm hoping that is the reason why the president is unable to meet but I cannot say with 100% accuracy that that is why.  It's a guess at best.

Here is what we do know according to the statement released to Jewish media.
“The President arrives in New York for the United Nations General Assembly on Monday, Sept. 24th, and departs on Tuesday, Sept. 25th. The Prime Minister doesn’t arrive in New York until later in the week. They’re simply not in the city at the same time," Tommy Vietor, National Security Council spokesman, said in a statement released Tuesday. "But the President and Prime Minister are in frequent contact and the Prime Minister will meet with other senior officials, including Secretary Clinton, during his visit."

A White House official told JTA that Obama's schedule is packed and that he is not scheduled to have any bilateral meetings at the General Assembly.
All of that now said, tensions relating to Iran are getting heated at the moment.  I don't blame the PM for being upset.  I honestly don't.  At some point, the United States will have to press the international community for a deadline.  The USA cannot just sit idle on this.  The leadership has to step up to the plate.

Everyone has their eye on Iran.

NBC Fail

NBC failed to display the official moment of silence this morning as The Today Show was speaking with Kris Jenner also known as the mother of all those Kardashians that refuse to go away.

NBC News released a statement to the New York Daily News:
“The `Today’ show dedicated a considerable amount of time to September 11th coverage this morning throughout the entire show,” said NBC News spokeswoman, Megan Kopf.
Throw this in with their NBC Olympics failure when it came to airing the big events live in the USA on television.

You have to love the comment from a Good Morning, America insider:
“It’s so typical,” sniffed a “GMA” insider. “Obviously they are more concerned about their ratings then anything else, but this just takes it to a whole new low.”