Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Debate Thoughts

So I only caught half of the debate - but from what I saw Drudge's headline would seem to be correct:

Scorn: As the Men Gang Up

Hillary was definitely the topic of conversation - except when it came to UFOs. Kucinich admitted to seeing one (go him!) - but Obama, when asked about whether he believed in life on other planets sidestepped. He definitely lost my vote there.

So what are your guys' thoughts? Who was good? Who was bad? Who won? Who lost? Are UFOs really aliens?

The aliens picture is for Jessica.

Monday, October 29, 2007

"The Audacity of Homophobia"

Kos goes on a tirade - hits Obama hard over campaign hypocrisy and ineptitude.

Some notable excerpts:

Obama's condescending attitude that anyone who attacks him on this is "hermetically sealed from the faith community". Is he really saying that 1) fighting for a tolerant "faith community" is impossible because 2) it is vehemently, inherently, and un-redeemably homophobic? I know for a fact the latter point is not true, so this truly looks like a big STFU for a politician who suddenly doesn't like the second-guessing of his actions.

This is truly an epic flameout by the Obama campaign, engaged in actions that are completely indefensible. Those of you who continue to try and rationalize it -- would you be making the same exculpatory arguments if it was George W. Bush doing the things Obama is doing right now? Or one of the rival campaigns? Somehow, I doubt the vast majority of you would.

Obama and his campaign have had a bad week. The worst I have seen from any candidate this presidential cycle. A candidate whose entire rationale for running was to elevate the discourse, unite our country, and end the politics of division has just been exposed as cynical and clueless, embracing some of the worst hatred and divisiveness in our society today.

And at a time when he's trying to make an issue of Hillary's "judgment" on Iraq and now Iran, he's shown little judgment in pretending that a rabidly anti-gay gospel singer wouldn't use his microphone on the big stage (with the national media paying attention) to, well, spread his rabidly anti-gay gospel.

This will be my last post on this topic....I promise...

Bill Maher: Real threats vs. fearmongering

Bill Maher had another excellent New Rule to close his show on Friday, asking what are the real threats, versus what are the hyped up threats the GOP presidential candidates are using to scare the American people with yet again.

And here was an interesting segment where Andrew Sullivan has some questions for the GOP candidates. If only if someone would ask THESE questions at an actual debate. But what got even more interesting was when Gen. Clark hit Sullivan over his anti-Hillary stuff, and Maher defended Sullivan. Earlier in the show, Sullivan and Clark had also gone at each other over Hillary's support of Lieberman-Kyl, and if Muslim women really want "freedom". Very interesting segment. Do a search on YouTube, and you can see the entire show, cut up into several segments, online.

And as always, here is the Overtime segment, which can only be viewed online. They discuss some more things about Iraq, Iran, and terrorism.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

KY-Sen: McConnell VERY vulnerable

This is for Navid, a native Kentuckian, and still a Kentucky voter. So while the rest of us just watch the race, Navid will actually be voting in it. Via Swing State Project, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) is actually vulnerable.

Check out the potential matchups against these four possible candidates, from a Research 2000 poll done for the Lexington Herald Leader (.pdf).

Chandler (D): 41
McConnell (R-inc.): 46
Undecided: 13

Stumbo (D): 37
McConnell (R-inc.): 46
Undecided: 17

Luallen (D): 40
McConnell (R-inc.): 45
Undecided: 15

Horne (D): 34
McConnell (R-inc.): 45
Undecided: 21
(MoE: ±4%)

  • Ben Chandler currently represents Kentucky's 6th Congressional District. He lost a gubernatorial race to Gov. Ernie Fletcher in 2003, but held statewide office for many years prior.

  • Crit Luallen is Kentucky's State Auditor. She is seeking re-election to that post this year. At least one poll showed her in the lead for that race.

  • Greg Stumbo is the outgoing state Attorney General. He is probably best known for bringing charges against Fletcher over the latter's corrupt state hiring practices. Stumbo ran for the Dem Lt. Gov. nod earlier this year on a ticket with Bruce Lunsford, but the pair lost to Steve Beshear and Daniel Mongiardo.

  • Andrew Horne is a Marine who lost a primary last year to John Yarmuth in KY-03. (Yarmuth of course went on to defeat GOP Rep. Anne Northup in one of the bigger upsets of 2006.)

  • So regardless of who we run, the key is that McConnell is under that crucial 50% mark. For an incumbent, being under 50% in a re-election poll is a big danger sign. Mitch can't break 46% in any matchup. And as the folks from DitchMitchKY remind us, just six months before the 2006 midterm elections, George Allen was still leading Jim Webb 56%-37%, and Allen ended up outspending Webb $19 million to $8.5 million. All that could not help Allen keep his seat.

    We're in good shape here. We CAN compete in "red" states, people just need to realize it can be done. Keep in mind Bill Clinton won Kentucky twice.

    Night of the Living Republicans!

    STARRING Curtis Whatley and Kyle Kleckner

    Join in all the festivities of our annual Halloween "Scary Republicans Week!"

    Friday, October 26, 2007

    Genarlow Wilson freed!

    Good news for justice today out of Georgia. Genarlow Wilson, who was given a 10-year prison sentence for receiving consensual oral sex from a 15-year-old, has been freed by the Georgia Supreme Court.

    Interesting side note: Now that he's free, we can joke about this with some levity. Wilson's lawyer is "B.J." Bernstein.

    More discussion here in my DailyKos diary on this.

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    When Everyone Turns Right Who can We Trust to Turn Left?

    So there have been quite a number of political faux pas made by some of the presidential candidates on the Democrats' side concerning civil rights and homosexuality within the past year.  Now as a heterosexual, I can only do my best to empathize the emotional distress some have felt regarding Obama's recent showing with an anti-gay pastor.  Albeit I was personally disappointed by his move because of my own personal position on civil rights, the most poignant issue however isn't Obama's ties to this controversial pastor.  The salient issue that has taken my immediate concern to this blog is holding each of the Democratic candidates equally responsible for holding similar yet unpopular positions among their liberal supporters.

    So let's go back and re-examine each of the candidates' history over the year regarding this sensitive issue.

    Remember, John Edwards came out with his opposition towards gay marriage with an early announcement in February when he visited Dartmouth University.   He later cemented that position in June, when he said, "I don't think the federal government has a role in telling either states or religious institutions, churches, what marriages they can bless and can't bless," which to me seemed as a personal concession that there’s no real moral or rational basis for his opposition to gay marriage, just a traditional one that were solely based on his upbringing.   Although he's been consistent in his ideology, all I can say is that I felt it was a cop out, plain and simple.

    Bill Richardson on the other hand, had a tough time making up his mind regarding his stance on gay rights. At the forum on August 9th, Richardson shared his belief that being gay "[i]s a choice."  He later "corrected" his position by issuing this statement after the forum, "Let me be clear — I do not believe that sexual orientation or gender identity happen by choice." 


    Interesting, however, are the two leading candidates' positions.  We've all heard about the recent news over Barack Obama's controversial position with his anti-gay pastor.  Hillary, however, has yet to explain or shed any light on an endorsement made by one of her own anti-gay pastors.  Frankly, I don't understand why this hasn't engendered a similar distaste that has brewed over the Obama controversy, that is if we're sincerely discussing issues of hate and homophobia.

    Regarding Hillary's political faux pas, her campaign posted a press release trumpeting the endorsement of a particular pastor among 60 ministers she met in the Summer. In this press release Hillary said, "I thank all the leaders whom I met with for their contributions to our country and their commitment to fighting for civil rights and equality."  Yet the only notable pastor who is quoted in this press release is Reverend Dr. Harold R. Mayberry. But the Hillary campaign left out the fact that he believes homosexuality to be comparable to thievery when they quoted him in the press release.

    Fighting for civil rights and equality? Discussing urban policy issues with homophobic pastors? Isn't that like discussing environmental issues with a Conservative?

    I'm sorry am I the only one seeing the hypocrisy here? Is it only me who's having a hard time understanding how some of her supporters overlook this and then go on to hold her morally superior on this issue? How can she be argued to be trusted with what she's doing when she's not honest or open about her partnerships, endorsements, donors, etc.? It just makes me cynical about these partnerships and endorsements because I feel she's just out there for votes and nothing else. Again I need not point it out but she's fighting for civil rights with people who have conflicting beliefs in that regard. And we must remember, this isn't her first time she was caught associating with controversial individuals either.

    More notably too is that this recent mishap was the day after the televised forum that focused on gay issues. What was the point then of her showing up to the forum if she's not there to respect them the next day? If she wished to separate herself, she would have denounced the endorsement or at least distinguished that although she had worked with Reverend Mayberry on urban policy issues, she did not agree with him when it came to gay rights. But sadly that wasn't said.


    Now this post was to take the opportunity to share my disappointment with the liberally unpopular positions all of these candidates have taken regarding homosexuality and homophobia. As someone who respects all of the candidates in this race, the least I can do is to objectively assess each of the candidates' positions before I judge any one candidate. Otherwise I'd have to question my own ethics if I were to hold a double standard regarding the same issue when judging each candidate.

    Obama and Hillary now are in the same boat, yet in the following weeks we'll start to see how each of the candidates' characters stand or change as the challenges become tougher.

    Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Real Bigotry: Ann Coulter at it Again with Anti-Semitic Statements

    The following is an article from Rabbi Levi Brackman about a statement from Ann Coulter, an embarrassment to the left, the right, and this country in general. If you want to learn more about the rabbi visit Levi Brackman.Com

    Ann Coulter’s Wakeup Call to Jews

    Written by Rabbi Levi Brackman
    Friday, 19 October 2007
    Were Ann Coulter’s recent remarks on a recent TV show about Jews anti-Semitic? Coulter said "We just want Jews to be perfected, as they say. ... That's what Christianity is. We believe the Old Testament, but ours is more like Federal Express. You have to obey laws." No matter how she may explain this away as a Jew I find this statement offensive and disturbingly telling.
    But you may ask and who is Ann Coulter to offend us? She is but a shallow political pundit who is not taken seriously by anyone? Right? No, wrong. She is a best selling author who is quoted by people on the conservative right as if she is the author of the Bible. Her words have influence and they reflect the thinking of many of her political and religious ilk.
    What many Christians do not understand about Jews is that for the last two thousand years others have tried to “perfect” us against our will. In many instances this has been done by force and millions of us have been killed in this “perfecting” process. We Jews have suffered terribly from “pious” Christians who felt the need to make us “better Jews.” The long litany of expulsions, pogroms and inquisitions of Jews in Christian lands are the legacy of Christians trying to perfect Jews. The founder of Protestantism Martin Luther (November 10, 1483 – February 18, 1546) is just one example of a person holding such an ideology. He wrote a book entitled, “On the Jews and their Lies” describing the Jews in extremely unforgiving terms and giving detailed recommendations for a pogrom against them and their permanent oppression and expulsion. Simultaneously, however, he also preached, “We want to treat them [the Jews] with Christian love and to pray for them, so that they might become converted and would receive the Lord."Clearly this is one side of the same coin that we Jews are sensitive to. Many Christians would like to see us Jews convert to Christianity. They see us as stubbornly refusing to except their savior as our god. Many also see this as an affront to their religion and to Jesus. Fortunately today in America there is a separation between church and state which does not allow the other belligerent side of Ann Coulter and Martin Luther’s ideology rear its ugly head against us.We thankfully live in a country which allows us to protest when people like Ann Coulter say these types of demeaning and bigoted things in public. However, this must be a wakeup call for the Political Right in this country. Over the last eight years the evangelical Christians have become almost synonymous with rightwing Conservative politics. This is unhealthy for any democracy. History has clearly shown that when religious leaders gain political power there is always bloodshed. The Middle East today is a prime example of this phenomenon. One of America’s greatest successes is that freedom of worship is granted to all. This fact allows all people to compete on an equal playing field which then drives creativity and thus economic growth. Unfortunately people like Ann Coulter and other rightwing demagogues with religious agendas have considerable power in the Republican Party today and they therefore have influence over U.S. elected officials. This does not bode well for the future of the United States. Those who read my columns regularly know that I am neither a liberal nor a conservative, I am a realist. We must all start being realistic about the damaging effect of a growing bigoted religious influence in American politics and for obvious reasons we Jews must be the first to sound the alarm bells about this growing danger. I thank Ann Coulter for this wakeup call.
    (First published by Ynetnews.com)

    Obama and Bigotry

    I am actually fairly shocked that Obama's supporters are standing by his decision to remain on stage and campaign with someone who declared that homosexuality is a curse and should be cured.

    Aria even called it a 'hullabaloo.' Honestly? A hullabaloo? Standing on stage with a bigot is not a hullabaloo - it's offensive hypocrisy, particularly when you claim to be the candidate of change, of HOPE. It is irrelevant that Bill Clinton did the same thing in 1992 - it was wrong then and it was wrong now. How can a presidential candidate who claims to come from the mold of MLK and RFK stand on stage with someone who curses 10% of the population? Someone who spews hate and is a proponent of 'conversion therapy' - pseudoscientific babble condemned by every reputable doctor and responsible for thousands of teenage suicides.

    That's exactly what it comes down to - this cursed Reverend supports a policy that is not only scientifically unsound but is also responsible for thousands of teenage suicides and cutters and the like. The fact that he added a gay pastor is entirely irrelevant - just because you have a token queer with you onstage doesn't mean the bigot's hate is undone. The bigot YOU'RE standing next to. Also, let's get one thing clear - the gay preacher was added after this Reverend's horrendous views came to light.

    Obama's campaign might have made a mistake to initially campaign with him - I'd understand if that were the case HOWEVER, they issued a statement condemning the hateful reverend...but are still campaigning with him. Is that leadership? Saying you don't like what a bigot says but nonetheless using him for votes? This situation is vile - and I think the opening paragraph of the Human Rights Campaign's response sums it up nicely:

    “I spoke with Sen. Barack Obama today and expressed to him our community’s disappointment for his decision to continue to remain associated with Rev. McClurkin, an anti-gay preacher who states the need to ‘break the curse of homosexuality.’ There is no gospel in Donnie McClurkin’s message for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. That’s a message that certainly doesn’t belong on any Presidential candidate’s stage.”

    And yet that's where it remains. This honestly hurts me on such an intense level that it's difficult to describe to those who've never been ostracized for being gay. Like, it's a gut feeling - something that almost brings tears to my eyes.

    And yet, it's 2007. Disgusting.

    Curve Ball

    Something the Rockies don't seem to know how to throw right now (as I speak it's 13-1, hence the blogging). Anyways... the other curve ball of the day comes amidst the hullabaloo over the Donnie McCurklin/Obama story. Never mind that Obama's policy proposals and record on LGBT issues are identical to that of any other major Democratic candidates. Never mind that the same McClurklin stood on stage performing and raising money for Bill Clinton in '92.

    In response over the controversy the Obama campaign has added Rev. Andy Sidden to the "Embrace the Change" South Carolina campaign tour. Who is Andy Sidden? Well he is one of South Carolina's only openly gay pastors. Talk about damage control.

    This is obviously something the campaign is not smiling about in a week where the new Jesse Jackson Jr. radio spot came out and was making waves.

    h/t Huffingtonpost

    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    The Truth is Out There

    Congressman and Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich has had a close encounter with a UFO:

    Kucinich "had a close sighting over my home in Graham, Washington, when I lived there," the actress, a close Kucinich friend, wrote. "Dennis found his encounter extremely moving. The smell of roses drew him out to my balcony where, when he looked up, he saw a gigantic triangular craft, silent, and observing him.

    "It hovered, soundless, for 10 minutes or so, and sped away with a speed he couldn't comprehend. He said he felt a connection in his heart and heard directions in his mind."

    Kucinich's campaign and congressional representatives did not return calls and e-mail asking whether the Cleveland Democrat, now in his sixth congressional term, in fact saw a UFO or if there was some other explanation for MacLaine's recollection.

    Triangles are common in UFO sightings, as are craft that move away at amazingly fast speeds.

    Monday, October 22, 2007

    Obama Campaigning with Anti-Gay Bigot

    It is utterly shocking that a leading presidential candidate and Democratic Senator would affiliate with these people - especially a candidate who is trying to claim the mantle of civil rights. Why is Obama doing this? Where does the buck stop?

    From Americablog

    As religious conservatives gather in Washington this weekend for the “Values Voters Summit,” Senator Barack Obama’s campaign announced its latest effort to attract people of faith to the campaign: a gospel concert tour.

    Gospel acts including Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin and Hezekiah Walker, Byron Cage and the Mighty Clouds of Joy are scheduled to appear.

    Gospel singer Donnie McClurkin, who has detailed his struggle with gay tendencies and vowed to battle "the curse of homosexuality," said yesterday he'll perform as scheduled at the Republican National Convention on Thursday, despite controversy over his view that sexuality can be changed by religious intervention.

    "I can't let off. I didn't call myself -- God called me to do what I do," McClurkin told The Post's Hamil R. Harris. The Grammy winner declared, "If this is a war, we are willing to fight. Not a war of violence, but a war of purpose."

    Sunday, October 21, 2007

    Edwards and Kasparov on Maher

    Everyone's talking about the 9/11 truthers invading Bill Maher's show (see below), but aside from that, Bill had two great interviews in that show. The first was with John Edwards, who was in the studio for a pre-taping (hence why the audience was asked to show up by 3pm, instead of the usual 6pm). Edwards did very well, and may have won over some people. For me, I liked his clarification on ethanol not being a solution, but more of a transition product to help us in our long-term goal of energy independence.

    After that, Maher had an amazing interview with former Russian chess champion Garry Kasparov, who is now running for President of Russia against Vladimir Putin, in what is still a police state in some ways. Kasparov deflects all of Bill's criticisms, and really challenges him on several key issues. How courageous of him, given that many of Putin's other opponents, especially those in the media who dare to investigate his regime, mysteriously wind up dead.

    And as always, the excellent New Rules to end the show, with a final rule to the "Values Voters".

    Saturday, October 20, 2007

    9/11 Truth Movement Psychos Annoy Bill Maher

    Bruin Democrats went to Bill Maher last week - but it appears we missed all the fireworks. Check out this clip from last night's Real Time with Bill Maher. When 50 of us went to see him, we saw the 9/11 Truthies outside. It appears they found a way in...

    Check it out:

    Best Quote

    Bill Maher: I don't think President Bush brought down the World Trade Center...

    Heckler: Mooooooooooooooooo Boooooooooo

    Bill Maher: And cows disagree with me.

    Friday, October 19, 2007

    Right-wing Facebook

    Check it out. The Right-Wing Facebook. LOL.

    You can click on the profiles of the leading GOP candidates for President, read their wall posts, see the groups they're in, their friends list, etc.

    (It's a parody site.)

    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    Republicans Block Health Care Insurance for the Poor Kids


    Bush veto of child health bill sustained

    By KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press Writer 6 minutes ago

    House Democrats were unable Thursday to override President Bush's veto of their pre-election year effort to expand a popular government health insurance program to cover 10 million children.
    The bill had bipartisan support but the 273-156 roll call was 13 votes short of the two-thirds that majority supporters needed to enact the bill into law over Bush's objections. The bill had passed the Senate with a veto-proof margin.
    The State Children's Health Insurance Program now subsidizes health care insurance coverage for about 6 million children at a cost of about $5 billion a year. The vetoed bill would have added 4 million more children, most of them from low-income families, to the program at an added cost of $7 billion annually.
    To pay for the increase, the bill would have raised the federal tax on cigarettes from 39 cents to $1.00 a pack.
    "This is not about an issue. It's about a value," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said just before the vote. "For the cost of less than 40 days in Iraq, we can provide SCHIP coverage for 10 million children for one year."
    Forty-four Republicans voted to override Bush's veto — one fewer than GOP members who voted Sept. 25 to pass the bill. Only two Democrats voted to sustain Bush's veto compared with six who had voted against the bill. The two were Reps. Jim Marshall of Georgia and Gene Taylor of Mississippi.
    "We won this round on SCHIP," White House press secretary Dana Perino said after the vote. She said a million-dollar lobbying campaign by several labor unions and advocacy groups to turn enough Republican votes for a successful override "didn't work."
    Bush, anticipating that his veto would stand, has assigned three top advisers to try to negotiate a new deal with Congress. One of them, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said: "It's now time for us to get to the hard work of finding a solution and get SCHIP reauthorized. We also have a larger task, to provide every American with the means of having an insurance policy."
    Republican opponents said the bill would encourage too many middle-income families to substitute government-subsidized insurance for their private insurance. The bill gives states financial incentives to cover families with incomes up to three times the federal poverty level — $61,950 for a family of four.
    "That's not low-income. That's a majority of households in America," said Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif.
    The bill specifically states that illegal immigrants would remain ineligible for the children's program, but Republicans seized on a section that would allow families to provide a Social Security number to indicate citizenship. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said it's too easy to get a false number, which would give an opening for thousands of illegal immigrants to enroll.
    But Democrats said the bill's original focus remained intact. States would be given bonuses for signing up low-income children already eligible for the program but not enrolled.
    "Under current law, these boys and girls are entitled to their benefits," said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. "Continuing to not provide them with coverage is a travesty."
    The president said his veto gives him a chance to weigh in on the future of the program.
    "Sometimes the legislative branch wants to go on without the president, pass pieces of legislation and the president can then use the veto to make sure he's a part of the process," Bush said Wednesday.
    Leading the discussions for his administration are Mike Leavitt, the health and human services secretary; Al Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council; and Jim Nussle, the White House budget chief.
    Supporters of the bill said they already had compromised in winning passage of the bill last month in both houses. The House originally had proposed a $50 billion increase over five years.
    The bill is bipartisan, and the Senate has shown it could override a veto. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has replied with an emphatic "no" when asked if he would seek a compromise with the administration.
    Both the House and Senate have to override a veto for a bill to become law over a president's objection.
    Through the program, the government and the states subsidize the cost of health coverage for families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance.
    Bush has recommended a $1 billion annual increase in the program, bringing total spending over five years to $30 billion — half the level called for in the bill that he vetoed.
    Proponents emphasized that the program still would focus on low-income families. Dingell said more than 90 percent of families covered have incomes that are below $41,300 for a family of four. That is the range that the program was originally designed to help.
    "There will be no wealthy people covered," Dingell said.
    Some public opinion polls indicate support for expanding the program. Sixty-one percent said Congress should override Bush's veto of a bill expanding the program, according to a CNN-Opinion Research Corp. poll released Wednesday. Blacks were more likely than whites to favor overriding Bush's veto.
    Talking about making rhe Republican Party party look bad, can their chances get any worse in 08

    Monday, October 15, 2007

    Blog Action Day: The Environment

    As such, my contribution is this. The scientific consensus on global warming has been proven wrong. The actual Arctic sea ice loss is MUCH WORSE than all the scientists predicted. We are now looking at a complete loss of Arctic sea ice by 2030. The famed Northwest Passage is actually open again.

    The current rate of sea ice melt is much faster than predicted by computer models of the global climate system.

    Just last year the National Snow and Ice Data Center's Serreze said that the Arctic was "right on schedule" to be completely free of ice by 2070 at the soonest. He now thinks that day may arrive by 2030.

    "There's talk of a tipping point, where we thin the ice down sufficiently so that at some point large parts of it can't survive the summer melt season anymore, so we see this very rapid decline in ice cover," he said.

    "It's quite conceivable that that tipping point we talk about has already been reached."

    I mean, just take a look at the difference in the ice from 1979 to 2007.

    The evidence is in. The "debate" is over.

    For those interested in learning more about the lies being spread by the right-wing and Big Oil, check out my 3-part series I wrote last year on debunking their lies.

    Part 1: Carter & Harris: Gore "an embarrassment to U.S. science"
    Part 2: Exposing "Friends of Science" as Big Oil mouthpiece
    Part 3: How to debunk the Right's lies on global warming

    BTW, that Carter in the first diary is Australian professor Bob Carter, who David Lazar referred to in last spring's BD/BR debate as having never taken any money from Big Oil interests. This is FALSE. He works for one of the ExxonMobil-funded astroturf groups, Tech Central Station. If you're working for one of those "think tanks", you ARE putting some amount of money into your pockets from Big Oil.

    Rudy Guiliani Will Protect YOU From an Alien Invasion

    I may just have to switch my vote.

    Sunday, October 14, 2007

    The Case of Don Siegelman

    For those in Bruin Democrats who went to Friday's Bill Maher taping, we were treated to a special Overtime session where a viewer e-mail asked about Don Siegelman. Most of you probably hadn't heard about this, but this may be one of the biggest scandals yet, and may be the real reason Karl Rove resigned when he did. Here's the clip for those that weren't there.

    Siegelman, the Democratic Governor of Alabama, lost his re-election race to Bob Riley (R) in 2002 by a mere 3,000 votes. There were accusations of electronic vote tampering that gave Riley his victory. Because Siegelman wouldn't go away quietly, Karl Rove himself got involved, according to an affidavit filed by a Republican lawyer who was in on the conversation, in trying to railroad Siegelman. Bring him up on trumped up charges and send him to jail. Which is what they basically did, with the help of the U.S. attorney's office. In other words, the Justice Department became little more than what banana republics have, silencing opponents by throwing whatever they could at them and seeing what stuck.

    According to Simpson's statement, William Canary, a senior G.O.P. political operative and Riley adviser who was on the conference call, said "not to worry about Don Siegelman" because "'his girls' would take care of" the governor. Canary then made clear that "his girls" was a reference to his wife, Leura Canary, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, and Alice Martin, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.

    Canary reassured others on the conference call — who also included Riley's son, Rob, and Terry Butts, another Riley lawyer and former justice of the Alabama supreme court — that he had the help of a powerful pal in Washington. Canary said "not to worry — that he had already gotten it worked out with Karl and Karl had spoken with the Department of Justice and the Department of Justice was already pursuing Don Siegelman," the Simpson affidavit says. Both U.S. attorney offices subsequently indicted Siegelman on a variety of charges, although Leura Canary recused herself from dealing with the case in May 2002. A federal judge dismissed the Northern District case before it could be tried, but Siegelman was convicted in the Middle District on bribery and conspiracy charges last June.


    Siegelman, together with former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, was convicted on bribery and conspiracy charges and faces sentencing June 26. Lawyers for Siegelman and Scrushy told TIME they were considering whether to use Simpson's affadavit in expected motions to dismiss charges against their clients, or in some other phase of what is likely to be a protracted appeals process.

    Siegelman was convicted of appointing Scrushy to a hospital regulatory board in exchange for a $500,000 contribution to a campaign for a state lottery to fund education. Defense lawyers have argued that Siegelman drew no personal financial benefit from Scrushy's donation to the lottery campaign, and they note that Scrushy had served on the hospital regulatory board under three previous governors, before Siegelman reappointed him. The reappointment, they have argued, offered little of value to Scrushy except more work.

    That's the most bizarre thing. Siegelman merely re-appointed Scrushy to the SAME POST he held under THREE previous governors, including Republican ones. And he received no personal benefit from it. How exactly is that a crime?

    For more information on this, please read Harper's Scott Horton, one of the few reporters actually investigating all the sordid connections. In the end, Siegelman was probably guilty of nothing but being a Democrat in Alabama with Karl Rove working out of the White House.

    Also, TIME magazine had another must-read follow-up last week which opened up a new avenue, the one that was discussed on Bill Maher's show.

    On may 8, 2002, Clayton Lamar (Lanny) Young Jr., a lobbyist and landfill developer described by acquaintances as a hard-drinking "good ole boy," was in an expansive mood. In the downtown offices of the U.S. Attorney in Montgomery, Ala., Young settled into his chair, personal lawyer at his side, and proceeded to tell a group of seasoned prosecutors and investigators that he had paid tens of thousands of dollars in apparently illegal campaign contributions to some of the biggest names in Alabama Republican politics. According to Young, among the recipients of his largesse were the state's former attorney general Jeff Sessions, now a U.S. Senator, and William Pryor Jr., Sessions' successor as attorney general and now a federal judge. Young, whose detailed statements are described in documents obtained by TIME, became a key witness in a major case in Alabama that brought down a high-profile politician and landed him in federal prison with an 88-month sentence. As it happened, however, that official was the top Democrat named by Young in a series of interviews, and none of the Republicans whose campaigns he fingered were investigated in the case, let alone prosecuted.

    So not only does the Justice Dept. prosecute Democrats on trumped up charges, when presented with evidence showing Republicans got ILLEGAL campaign contributions, they decided NOT to file any charges. And so Sessions is still a Senator (up for re-election in 2008), and Pryor is still a federal judge, instilling conservative decisions in all his rulings. We discuss this more on DailyKos, if anyone's interested in reading more commentary about this.

    And just on Wednesday, House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers (D-MI) released an interview with Simpson that implicated Karl Rove in all this mess. This scandal is not over, not by a long shot. This may be the real scandal behind the U.S. attorney firings that eventually cost Attorney General Alberto Gonzales his job. It's already led to the retirement of New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici (R). It led to an innocent woman being thrown in jail on trumped up charges in Wisconsin just to tarnish Democratic Governor Jim Doyle's administration right before the election.

    We've only hit the tip of the iceberg in the deep-seated corruption that is now, sadly, our Justice Department.

    Saturday, October 13, 2007

    Missing Phil...

    Yes, he was easy to make fun of. Yes, its not like he ever really had a chance. And yes, I finally found it in my heart to throw out his foam likeness over summer. But after today's veto-extravaganza by Arnold, I find myself wistful for Phil. We worked our asses off here at UCLA to get him elected, and did what I think was a pretty good job- I think 60+% of the vote, according Daily Bruin exit polls.

    Pretty much, as hard as we were working, I remember the sentiment amongst a lot of Democrats at the time was "well, Arnold's not that bad- whats the difference?" Today, we saw the difference. We were one signature away from marriage equality. We were one signature away from allowing undocumented students, who came here as kids and worked their asses off to get to college, a chance to actually afford it. And Arnold decided to go back to good old partisan politics and put his party ahead of his constituents.

    Fucking shame. Remember this next time we're told that "moderate" Republicans "aren't that bad."

    Friday, October 12, 2007

    Al Gore wins Nobel Peace Prize!

    Not a huge surprise, but this morning, Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize, along with the IPCC for their work on climate change and spreading awareness of it to the world.

    The Rude Pundit has a good post on the impact of this.

    When the books are written, in the long-term histories of this and other countries, Al Gore will be cherished and George Bush will be crushed like so much real manure on a fake ranch. Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize does in Bush's seeming obsession with his legacy. And that's due in no small part to the smallness of Bush's thinking compared to the expansiveness of Gore's.


    Back in 2000, because we didn't riot in the streets and shut down the country in the wake of the presidential election debacle, the nation essentially abandoned Al Gore. And while Al Gore didn't totally abandon the nation, he turned his focus to the effort to demonstrate that real leadership need not emanate from the false mandate of a corrupted electoral process. In his crusade for action on climate change, Gore not only remade himself, but he remade the way in which people think about the world at large. Here was not just a cause confined to a specific continent (like African hunger) or a fight against a tyrant like Hitler to catalyze large portions of the population. Here was a way of thinking of the Earth as a whole, a way of seeing the interdependence of each country, of each population, and Gore has shifted a generation's view of itself as part of something larger.

    The great failure of the United States to lead on this issue, to be the place where we create solutions that benefit the globe, keep economies humming, and raise humanity up in a way that might, truly, do more for peace than all the pre-emptive wars ever, rests squarely on the shoulders of George W. Bush and his administration.

    It's the difference between a man who traveled and studied the world by choice in his life and a man who has to be dragged to different countries like a particularly incontinent dog is dragged out to the sidewalk on a snowy day.

    Gore's not gonna run. Give that up. To go from speaking out about melting icecaps to being asked what he thinks about, say, a flag-burning amendment would be a degradation of what he's worked for the last six years. And had that statewide recount in Florida happened and Gore had become president, Republicans would have simply worked night and day trying to destroy him, and his causes would have been washed away in a tide of worthless investigations of Buddhist monk phone calls and worse. And let's not even get into how Republicans would have exploded in berserk, ape-like rage over 9/11 if it had happened under a Gore presidency.

    It's not that we're not worthy or that he's too good for us or any of that hyperbolic nonsense. We got the president we deserved, twice, and we realized too late that we didn't get the president we needed. As with so many things, our own temptation to that latent American selfishness has done us in.

    But for you Gore 2008 supporters who are still holding out hope, here is why all the pundits are wrong about Gore not running for President. And already, Fox News and right-wing bloggers are attacking Al Gore for winning the prize.

    And oh, what could have been....

    Monday, October 08, 2007

    2008 RNC logo a real laugher

    Not making this up, this here is the actual logo for the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, just a few miles away from the infamous airport bathroom stall where Senator Larry Craig (R, Idaho) was arrested.

    A lot of blogs are noticing the "wide stance" of the elephant in question, and zoologists say an elephant only stands on its hind legs when it wants to.............. Well, you get the idea.

    Check out some of the hilarious comments people have already said about it.

    Wide stance? Check.
    In Minneapolis? Check.
    Prison stripe-wearing? Check.
    Starry eyed? Check.
    As for the elephant humping the "2008"...

    Bad elephant. Bad, bad elephant. Probably even a nasty, bad, naughty elephant.

    The Blue-to-Red ratio looks to be about 80%-20%. That sounds about right for the 2008 election too.

    [I]t looks like the elephant is wrapping himself in the flag.

    Looks like he's trying to hump 2008! Bumpersticker on my car right now - The GOP: Humping 9/11 Since 9/12

    If you look closely you can see the remains of a collapsed bridge on its back.

    Total roadkill. [I]t really does look like an elephant that just got ran over by a truck and is now splattered and dazed on the ground, covered in skid marks.

    Judging by the shape of the eye, I'd say he's been shot in the face by Cheney.

    Post your best quips in the comment section if ya got any.

    Fabian Nunez Comes Under Fire...Hides Behind Fridge-Sized Bodyguard

    Apparently California Assembly Speaker and personal arch-nemesis Fabian Nunez has run into a little trouble. Watch as he's eviscerated for 'jetsetting' by Marc Brown of Channel 7 news.

    Saturday, October 06, 2007

    Candidate Pumpkins

    With Halloween less than four weeks away, it is time to start thinking of politically nerdy costumes. One of the hottest costumes in DC last year was Foley-bait (so bad). Former Bruin Dem and nationally known political blogger, Ezra, is dressing up as Jesus with a bong in honor of the big Supreme Court free-speech case about a "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" poster. He also found this site, which has stencils of Presidential candidates for your pumpkin.

    The bad part about not picking a candidate is that I do not know who to carve into my pumpkin. However, I am sure this is not a problem with most people in the club.

    Hillary: Blackwater & lobbyists

    So with all the news about the mercernary group Blackwater operating in Iraq above the law, murdering civilians and the like, it turns out that Hillary's pollster and message guru Mark Penn not only engages in union-busting on the side, but that his firm Burson-Marsteller also represents Blackwater. See DailyKos for more discussion on this.

    This is more disturbing that a rogue bundler on the lam. Penn isn't just some guy who endorsed her, or fundraised for her. Penn is one of her top advisers, and should she win the Presidency, he will almost surely hold a key role in the Hillary Clinton White House. For those of us who feel we need REAL change to get away from backwards-ass policies of the current crew of Republicans, Penn's clients sound obvious warning bells. Penn almost certainly had a role in Hillary voting yes on the insane Lieberman-Kyl amendment that deemed the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, thus giving Bush justification should he so choose (and, ah, we know he would so choose) to invade Iran under those premises.

    One of the comments in the DailyKos diary harkened back to August at the Yearly Kos Convention, where Hillary talked about why she still takes money from lobbyists. I was able to attend that in Chicago, and yes, I'm one of ones who was booing.

    The awesome Democratic campaign strategist Cliff Schecter has more on this "lobbyists are people too" moment. Type in his name on YouTube to see him make mince meat of GOP strategists on MSNBC last year, leaving them with a look on their faces like someone farted into their morning coffee. (If you're wondering what his credentials are, he worked as a pollster for Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign, and also for Mark Warner's successful campaign for Governor of Virginia in 2001, and Ned Lamont's successful primary challenge to Joe "Turncoat" Lieberman.)

    Thursday, October 04, 2007

    Al Gore: Defending the Constitution

    In an amazing January 2006 speech to the American Constitution Society, Al Gore gave a passionate defense of the Constitution, and railed against the Bush administration abuses on domestic spying. Keep in mind this was before a lot of the really dirty stuff even came out, with a complicit GOP Congress unwilling to do any oversight of the executive branch. For anyone who thinks Gore would be a single-issue candidate on the environment, should he choose to run, this video is a must-see.

    Yes, it is an hour and five minutes long. It's well worth it.

    Why Obama is a good choice for college students

    It's not just because he is young and seems to actually care about our age group, not just give it lip service. It is not just because he has written two amazing books. It is not just because he admitted to using narcotics and isn't ashamed of it. It is not because he gave a killer speech in East LA that the Bruin Democrats went to and loved. It is not because he is half-black and the prospect of a black president is very appealing to college students. It is not just that he has the kind of passion that our age group respects. It is not just because he seems to be from the "new Democrats" that are done with the old system of rhetoric and politicking and a lack of results. It is not just because he has the passion that Washington desperately needs. It is not just because he took a chance and voted against the war (which, really, was a chance - because if we had found WMD's or something, or it hadn't gotten out of hand, the hawks would have been lauded). It is a combination of all of this, and it is many more things. Every aspect of his personality, history, and campaign appeals to young voters, and I'm not ashamed to say that it appeals to me and gets me more fired up than any other campaigns, other than Gravel perhaps...

    In spite of this, I am voting for Hillary Clinton. True, there are countless reasons not to vote for her, and yes there are aspects of her personality and past (her failed healthcare platform, staying by Bill's side if that is a bad thing) that are not too flattering. But, in my opinion, she is the best candidate. Not just because she is married to Bill and I want him back in office or something like that, and not just because I knew her name before I knew Obama's. She has experience, she knows the system, and she has a vision that, while not as passionate as Obama's, seems much more obtainable. She knows how to get votes, even if some may say that Republicans would never vote with her. She is a master compromiser, knows how to have productive back-office meetings. I am open to discuss these reasons and many more (because there are countless more) with someone willing to have an intelligent discussion and not jump down my throat.

    But this post is about Obama, and why he works for college students. Hillary is seen as the stodgy, unimpressive candidate who doesn't get your soul fired up. But she has what it takes to get it done, and she knows how to give her voters what they want. Much like Bill, she knows when to run to the center and when to stick it out on the mid-left, and it is better to have that than someone who I may agree more with ideologically but can't achieve those goals in Washington. I love Obama, I agree with him more, and he appeals to me on every level BUT those of experience and the ability to get it done.

    Barack Obama Hates America

    Lapels everywhere are shocked and disgusted.

    Not another Craig post!!

    He's not going to resign, after all!

    Regardless of how you feel about whether a homosexual sex scandal is something that should impact a man's ability to do his job, the whole media frenzy over this has been a bit ridiculous. Is it because it was a homosexual action, or is it just the nation's obsession with sex rearing its ugly head again? Regardless, the real problem is that it is irrelevant and distracting, much like the Clinton sex scandal. He may be a hypocrite, and it may make the Republican party look even worse, but we need to get past it. There are other, more important issues to talk about, and seriously, I have heard very little about his voting record or anything like that.

    Click here to read the WP article on his not resigning

    Wednesday, October 03, 2007

    This is Bound to Piss Off All the Obama-ites...

    ...and probably make me the target of more," Harrison, he's not running, just shut up already!"

    So I know I said earlier that I've pretty much given up all hope that Gore will run. Note how I said "pretty much..."

    Bill Clinton, not Hillary, said in June on whether or not he thought Al Gore would run for president:

    "I don't know, he could. Someone's got to fizzle," he said. "If someone fizzles, then he could enter the race. He's got plenty of money, his own money, to do it."

    Clinton agreed with what I've been trumpeting for months now: that Gore has enough personal wealth to be able to sit out and perch for a while before stepping in late in the game. He would also be able to raise a bunch of money overnight with considerable ease.

    That was June. Four months later, is Clinton's statement beginning to materialize for you? Take a look at the latest ABC News/Wall Street Journal Poll. Hillary now has more than half of the Democrats. Mr. Obama is running in at second with 20%, plus he dropped 40% in fundraising since the last quarter.

    Obama is "fizzling," and the time is ripe for Gore to throw his hat in. With Obama faltering quickly, Gore could step in right now and impress those anti-war Iowans with not only his anti-war record (sorry Hill-dog), but his extensive experience and enormous credentials (sorry Barack). Those Iowans would just eat him up.

    Some people are even going so far as to say that if he does not enter the race, he will cost the Democrats the 2008 election. Too many Democrats dislike Hillary's record and there is no chance in hell that Republicans will vote for her. They'll back their nominee and enough Democrats will vote for a third-party guy to lose the election. I'm not saying that I agree with this completely, but the fact that Gore could actually be a spoiler by not running is scary.

    The man has got to declare very soon, if not right now. If he comes in too late, too many people will consider him smug and arrogant. I declared in April that Gore would enter this October...now we'll find out.

    The clock is ticking. Could we end up seeing Al Gore 2008 soon (That's right, say it!)?

    In the end, it may still be a long shot, but I can dream, can't I?

    Good Grief Obama

    The New York Observer writes a scathing article noting Obama's stagnant campaign, jittery donors, and overly-cautious campaign.

    In recent weeks, Barack Obama’s chief campaign strategist David Axelrod has met with major contributors at the campaign’s Chicago headquarters and in private homes to allay concerns about his candidate’s lack of movement in the national polls. Obama campaign manager David Plouffe has presided over conference calls to calm down jittery bundlers. The candidate himself has even gotten on the phone with groups of big donors to assure them that the campaign is on the right track.

    “They were spending time trying to make all of us confident that there is a strategy,” said one major donor to Mr. Obama, who attended a meeting of the campaign’s finance team at the Chicago headquarters about a month ago. “And I remember David [Axelrod] saying that he thought Barack was positioned well. And all of a sudden it’s turning into October, and I’m not sure I see a strategy. And if it is being implemented—I’m not sure I see it being implemented so effectively.

    Let the flaming begin!

    Monday, October 01, 2007

    How to respond to an O'Reilly ambush

    Keith Olbermann provides comedy gold on what to do in case you're accosted by a Bill O'Reilly minion with a video camera trying to ambush you.

    Priceless. Just keep in mind these three words.