Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Olbermann speaks out on Prop. 8

Incredibly powerful Special Comment from Keith Olbermann on Monday night. Lots of people, not just Keith, were in tears over it.

More discussion in my diary on DailyKos. There were also some useful ideas in the comments on what we as Bruin Democrats could do to help combat the anti-gay bigots in California.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Good times for the Democrats!

For all the hard work, for the teamwork, the engagement, the energy, the passion, the drive: YES WE DID!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

MN-06: Shades of McCarthyism

So last Friday on Hardball, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R), representing Minnesota's 6th congressional district, made some disgusting comments implying that Barack Obama holds "anti-American views", and accused certain members in Congress of being anti-American, even calling for an investigation into where their allegiances really were. Just like Joseph McCarthy.


That video went up on YouTube before the show was even over, and quickly became viral. And just like that, people started taking action, donating to Bachmann's Democratic opponent, Elwyn Tinklenberg, former mayor of Blaine and Transportation Secretary of Minnesota under Jesse Ventura. And boy, did they donate! Tinklenberg came to DailyKos to inform everyone that in just 24 hours since Bachmann's appearance, he had raised over $488,000. By Monday that figure had gone up to over $810,000.

You may recall Bachmann was the woman who kissed Bush after his 2007 State of the Union address and held on to him in a very creepy manner, but this is hardly the first embarrassing incident involving Bachmann. Populista has a rundown of all the batshit crazy stuff she's been involved in. The blog Dump Bachmann has much more.

Since her comments on Friday, her Republican primary challenger, college professor Aubrey Immelman, has announced he's going to mount a write-in challenge, specifically targeting "disillusioned Republicans" who can't bring themselves to vote for a Democrat. Even Colin Powell called her comments "nonsense" after he endorsed Obama. An online petition is calling for her censure, and there's already a song parody of a classic Bachman-Turner Overdrive tune about her. And when even Sarah Palin is repudiating your comments, that's a sign this media hound may have finally gone too far. And smelling the blood in the water, the DCCC is dropping $1 million into this race.

For her comments, Bachmann found herself the target of both Keith Olbermann and Jon Stewart on Monday.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Palling around with terrorists

So by now you've probably heard that Sarah Palin has played the Ayers card, accusing Obama of "palling around with terrorists". This, as McCain's own ad also invokes Ayers. As a result, Obama has taken the gloves off on McCain's own involvement in the biggest scandal of the 1980s, the savings & loan scandal, of which McCain was intimately involved. McCain was one of the "Keating Five". Obama's people have set up a new website, Keating Economics, where you can see just how involved McCain was in helping out the super-rich at the expense of us regular Americans. Quite apropos in this time of economic crisis, no? Here's the full video explaining just what McCain did.

But it's much more than that. If McCain and Palin want to play the terrorist card, then let's look at who has the REAL terrorism problem. Who was really "palling around" with secessionists who despise America? Sarah Palin.

And who tried to provide cover for domestic terrorists that would MURDER abortion doctors and volunteers? John McCain.

But by going down this dark path, the Washington Post reports that at Palin rallies, you now have overt cases of racism and even assassination threats.

Worse, Palin's routine attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric's questions for her "less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media." At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."


The reception had been better in Clearwater, where Palin, speaking to a sea of "Palin Power" and "Sarahcuda" T-shirts, tried to link Obama to the 1960s Weather Underground. "One of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers," she said. ("Boooo!" said the crowd.) "And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,' " she continued. ("Boooo!" the crowd repeated.)

"Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.

Palin also told those gathered that Obama doesn't like American soldiers. "He said that our troops in Afghanistan are just, quote, 'air-raiding villages and killing civilians,' " she said, drawing boos from a crowd that had not been told Obama was actually appealing for more troops in Afghanistan.

And at a McCain rally, when he asks who is the "real" Obama, you have an audience member yell out "a terrorist!" It almost looks like McCain suddenly realizes the Pandora's Box of hatred that he's opened up, but it's too late.

All this led to Keith Olbermann's latest Special Comment on Palin's remarks.

Get ready for more of this, Bruin Dems. Digby warned us last year of the coming deluge of right-wing violence if Obama wins.

I predict that we are going to see a remarkable resurgence of rightwing violence if the Democrats take full control of the government. These people are always surprisingly cooperative when the government is run by Republicans and then rediscover their "anti-government" beliefs when Democrats share or dominate the government. I can't imagine why that would be.

The Tennessee church murders and the murder of the Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman were just the first two salvos.

Update: And now from London comes a story of a black man getting shot simply for wearing an Obama t-shirt.

Monday, October 06, 2008

SNL does the VP debate

Tina Fey just gets better and better at playing Sarah Palin.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

What was Lowry doing?

From all the reactions to the VP debate, the most... um... interesting... one may have come from the National Review's Rich Lowry.

A very wise TV executive once told me that the key to TV is projecting through the screen. It's one of the keys to the success of, say, a Bill O'Reilly, who comes through the screen and grabs you by the throat. Palin too projects through the screen like crazy. I'm sure I'm not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, "Hey, I think she just winked at me." And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America. This is a quality that can't be learned; it's either something you have or you don't, and man, she's got it.

As James Wolcott wrote, "Good thing Palin didn't blow a kiss at the camera or Lowry might have fucking fainted. I'm not a licensed psychotherapist but when you think the people on TV are addressing you personally and directly it's often a sign of incipient dementia."

Keith Olbermann went a different route, in a Worst Person in the World segment that is not meant for tender ears. Watch at your own risk.

Needless to say, I think it should be obvious now why Palin did better among men than women.

And now for something completely random, a train analogy.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Video roundup

Did you know that on Tuesday, September 30, 6 of the top 8 YouTube videos were mocking Sarah Palin? Ever since "macaca" took down George Allen (who disgraced our campus by attending UCLA for a year before transferring to Virginia), viral videos have become a part of the political process. Here are some pretty good videos being put out there on the Intertubes.

Signs of Hope & Change

"Hey Sarah Palin" (parody of "Hey There Delilah")

CNN's Campbell Brown: Free Sarah Palin!

Sarah Palin's greatest hits

Exposing the lies in McCain's ads

Thank John McCain (user-generated TV ad)

Tina Fey parody was a direct quote of Palin!

5 Friends

Keative Five scandal in 97 seconds

Homer Simpson wants Obama!

Les Misbarack

And this is almost 10 minutes long, but here is the video of Palin's pastor, who directed a literal witchhunt, praying that Palin herself be protected from witches. Cuz you know that Alaska is just crawling with witches.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Barney Frank Reacts to GOP Hurt Feelings

House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (maybe the most powerful gay politician in the world), reacts to the failure of today's bailout/rescue bill and the Republicans' accusations against Nancy Pelosi.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Beware of latest e-mail scam

This e-mail has been making the rounds. Beware, don't fall for it!!!!!!!!!!

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson

Sunday, September 21, 2008

GA-03, GA-08: Uppity Georgia Republicans?

What is with the recent spate of Georgia Republicans using the word "uppity" to refer to black people? First, it was Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia's 3rd congressional district who called Barack and Michelle Obama "uppity". Even after a media firestorm, Westmoreland stood by what he said, again saying that it "accurately describes" Obama. Oh, and get this, he claimed that even though he grew up in the segregated South, he had no idea that "uppity" was a derogatory term for blacks who sought equal treatment. The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman, who also grew up in Atlanta, did not buy Westmoreland's excuse for a second.

This led to Stephen Colbert doing an update of his Better Know a District series. You'll recall that Westmoreland is also the guy who wants to put up the Ten Commandments in public buildings, but when asked by Colbert, could only name three (his staff says that he was finally able to name a fourth one, but that Colbert edited that part out).

And then, to follow that up, Rick Goddard, running for Congress in Georgia's 8th congressional district, called MSNBC's Ron Allen (who is black) a "very uppity newscaster" because he dared to question Newt Gingrich on Sarah Palin's experience. You can watch the clip for yourself to determine if Ron Allen was being "uppity" there in letting Gingrich talk for 40 seconds without interruption after posing the same question many in the media had been asking.

Stephen Camp is the Democrat seeking to unseat Westmoreland, and Jim Marshall (D) is the current Congressman that Goddard is challenging.

Powerful anti-McCain ads

This first user-created video is too long to be a commercial, but is incredibly powerful.

This one, if ran nationally, could be devastating for McCain.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

RNC recap, Colbert Report version

My previous post had Daily Show videos recapping the convention. Now, for Stephen Colbert's treatment of the convention.


Stephen's The Word looks at the Palin pick and the GOP's defense of her inexperience. Also thrown in there is an excellent USC Football/O.J. Simpson joke. :-)


Stephen covers turncoat Joe Lieberman speaking at the RNC. Best line is about how Lieberman spit in the face of everyone who voted for him back in 2000.

Stephen's "Her Story" takes a satirical look at McCain pandering for the female vote.


Stephen covers the mocking of community organizers and Sarah Palin's speech, and how one college student started the Draft Palin movement.


Stephen talks about McCain's acceptance speech and notices that he was, again, in front of a green screen.

Stephen gives an update on Better Know a District's Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) after his "uppity" remark about Obama.

RNC recap, Daily Show version

Just like I did here with the DNC, here's the Daily Show recap of the Republican convention, as only the Daily Show can do. Again, they went from Tuesday-Friday to recap the previous day's action. Here are the highlights. The next post has the Colbert Report recap.


The Daily Show kicked things off with an absolutely devastating look at the RNC, in light of Gustav, mimicking the news coverage after Katrina.

They also had this hilarious send-up of the Palin pick as a weather event.


The Larry Craig Bathroom. Yes, the Daily Show had to go there. :-)

Some good lines here about the traitor, Joe Lieberman.

This one really is a must-see video where Jon eviscerates the GOP's utter hypocrisy over the Palin pick, highlighting the double-talk from Karl Rove and Dick Morris. "In Dick Morris's defense, he is a lying sack of shit." LOL!

Newt Gingrich was the interview guest, and Jon took him to task for the hypocrisy over the abortion issue with Palin, and wouldn't let Newt get away with the standard GOP talking points, which is infinitely more than what most real journalists do. A comic is putting them to shame.


Jon ripped into the Republicans mocking community organizers and Sarah Palin's speech.

Samantha Bee did a great job exposing the hypocrisy of the RNC delegates themselves, going into contortions to describe what Bristol Palin did in keeping her baby. How can you say it was her "choice" if you don't believe in "choice" for any woman?


Jon recaps the final day and John McCain's acceptance speech. Included is their Walter Reed gaffe where they mixed up the medical center with the middle school in North Hollywood, CA.

Jon's team put together their own John McCain bio video. A great piece of parody.

The Daily Show team asks just what the Republicans mean by "small town values".

And here's a special treat for y'all, from August 4, 2000, when Stephen Colbert describes what it's like on the floor of the RNC. :-)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Obama-Mania: African Style

Hey all,

I know it's been a while since many of you have heard from me, but I just wanted to share a little of my experience here with you. For those of you who don't know, I'm doing volunteer work in a rural village in Tanzania for two months, teaching HIV/AIDS education in local schools, and helping build an orphanage.

Anyway, whenever I meet new locals, and introduce myself as Marikani (American), they immediately ask me if I know about Obama, and whether or not I support him. Everyone from airline security, to local mamas, to my 7th grade class has asked me about him. They want to know his tribe, how he'll help his African brothers and sisters, even "why Americans would ever let a black man run the country." The same student who asked that question also asked us if he could change the UN so that countries like Tanzania have the same rights as permanent countries on the council.

It's all so fascinating and mind-boggling to really understand how much influence our country has upon the rest of the world. These people, living in mud huts in rural Tanzania, listen to their radios to American news and hope that with a new African-American President, their lives will change for the better.

"Obama means hope! Obama means change! That means for us too, right?"

Sunday, August 31, 2008

McCain picks Sarah Palin to get the Vagina-American vote

The Daily Show's Samantha Bee really nailed it about why McCain chose Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. (Also, Fox News's Steve Doocy is a true moron. EPIC GEOGRAPHY FAIL.)

Stephen Colbert also highlighted the hypocrisy and cheap political ploy of it all.

Now, as for who Sarah Palin really is, BoBo2020 lists 45 different problems with Sarah Palin, ranging from scandals she's involved in, dangerous policies she espouses, recent gaffes she's made, to her radical right-wing beliefs. The biggest problem? She's a global warming denying, pro-ANWR drilling, pro-life even in the cases of rape and incest, Dominionist movement belonging, creationist loving, oil company shill.

As for why McCain picked her, this video may offer some clues. Turns out McCain's Brain was also miked during the rally introducing her.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

DNC recap, Colbert Report version

OK, so the previous post had Daily Show videos recapping the convention. Now, for Stephen Colbert's treatment of the convention.


Stephen shows what asswipes Fox News's Bill Kristol and Megyn Kelly are for their analyses of Michelle Obama's speech.


Hillary pledges her support for Obama. Included is video of Bill Clinton mouthing "I love you" to friend of Bruin Democrats, California State Controller John Chiang. No, folks, it's not real, it was spliced together. Plus, more evidence of Bill Kristol's douchebaggery.

Stephen profiles someone who loves what Bush did to the economy: a repo man.

Stephen interviews Mike Huckabee, who says he's proud of the fact that Obama is the Democratic Party nominee.


Stephen rips into the National Review's Kyle-Anne Shiver for claiming that Martin Luther King Jr. wouldn't vote for Obama if he were still alive today. This is actually a very insightful clip about how the right wing keeps wanting to play the culture war game of the 1960s, instead of discussing the actual issues of today.


Hilarious nalysis of Obama's speech with the Denver Broncos' Terrell Davis.

DNC recap, Daily Show version

OK, so you saw below the videos from the DNC. Well, here's the Daily Show recap of the convention, as only the Daily Show can do. This week, they went from Tuesday-Friday to recap the previous day's action. Here are the highlights. The next post has the Colbert Report recap.


Michelle Obama's patriotism: Best line from the clip (not to spoil things): "[Michelle Obama] must prove she loves America. As opposed to Republicans, who everyone knows love America... they just hate half the people living in it."

The gang rip into bitter Hillary "supporters". I put those in quotes because quite a few of them are the PUMA folks, who seem to actually be Republicans pretending to be lifelong Democrats in order to gain media attention and cause trouble. They got punk'd good. :-)


Coverage of Hillary's speech

Disunity at MSNBC?


With Bill Clinton, John Kerry, and Joe Biden speaking, the Daily Show called this one "white dudes speaking".

Daily Show's Obama bio video: some of you will be offended by this.


Obama's acceptance speech

Friday, August 29, 2008

DNC recap

Sometimes, it's best to see what happened without the media and pundits telling you what to think. Sometimes, it's best to simply view the key speeches unfiltered, and judge for yourself. So here are the full speeches of the key speakers from the four nights.


Ted Kennedy & Michelle Obama


First, here's the moment when Hillary officially asked that Obama be declared our official nominee by acclimation.

Mark Warner & Hillary Clinton


Bill Clinton & John Kerry

Beau Biden & Joe Biden


Al Gore & Barack Obama

But if you still needed any evidence that Obama hit a grand slam with that speech, just check out Pat Buchanan's reaction to his speech. This is Pat Buchanan we're talking about.

Too bad the AP decided to do a hit job on Obama's speech. Nice of them to write the story saying it wasn't that good... before Obama even finished his speech. Of course, they have a Ron Fournier problem. A guy who tried to get a JOB with the McCain campaign, and exchanged cozy e-mails with Karl Rove, should NOT be the AP's Washington bureau chief.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

It's 3A.M., and your cell phone is ringing

You pick it up, and it's Barack Obama, telling you he's selected Delaware Senator Joe Biden to be his running mate. Well, 3A.M. if you lived on the East Coast. ;-)

Here are the videos from Saturday in Springfield, Illinois, at the first event with the two together.

And here's Joe Biden with a personal message to everyone after being selected.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

OH-11: R.I.P. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, 58

The Cleveland community was dealt a sharp blow on Wednesday with the sudden death of Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D), who represented Ohio's 11th Congressional district. She died of a brain aneurysm at the age of 58. She was the first black woman to represent Ohio in Congress.

Though she was viewed as a Democratic firebrand, even objecting to certifying the 2004 presidential vote in Ohio, she was immensely respected by politicians on both sides of the aisle. A passionate Hillary supporter in the primary, she immediately switched to Obama once Hillary dropped out, and became a passionate advocate for Obama on the cable news shows.

(And yes, if you're wondering, she voted against going to war with Iraq.)

Here she is from The Colbert Report back in November 2005.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Devastating new web ad against McCain

And it's the creation of fellow Kossack cartwrightdale. Devastating. Hopefully the DNC will take notice of this ad.

"Do you support Bush more today than you did four years ago?" Excellent question that should be repeated every day from now on.

WA-08: Darcy Burner, netroots hero

If you were to ask me which one of our Congressional challengers I want to see win the most, even with our slew of incredible candidates all over the country, I would have to go with former Microsoft program manager Darcy Burner, running in Washington's 8th Congressional district. Dave Reichert (R), known mostly as the Sheriff who caught the Green River Killer, first won the seat in 2004 with only 51.5% of the vote against radio show host Dave Ross (D). With Reichert becoming a reliable Bush rubber stamp, Burner challenged Reichert in 2006, and lost by a slim 51.3%-48.7% margin. Last year, at Yearly Kos 2007 in Chicago, she coined the phrase "more and better Democrats" while angrily denouncing the FISA bill that had just passed Congress that granted Bush extra wiretapping powers. That phrase has now become a rallying cry among the netroots as we look to 2009 and fixing the major problems that Bush will have left behind for us.

And now, Darcy's back for a rematch. (I met Darcy just a short while after she made that video in the hotel lobby.)

Acknowledging that Reichert is in trouble, the GOP had Bush himself go to Washington last August to help out Reichert with a fundraiser. Well, the netroots countered with an innovative 24-hour fundraiser of our own called "Burn Bush for Burner". So what happened?

We shattered our goal of raising $100,000 for Burner, netting over $123,000 in just a little over a long weekend from almost 3,200 people across the country. We managed to raise almost as much, with just small dollar donations, as what Bush managed to scrounge up for Reichert from the GOP fat cats at $1,000 a head. And it seems that not only did the Washington State GOP and Reichert lie about how much was actually raised, it seems they also illegally put some of the money raised that was supposed to go to the state party into Reichert's campaign account. Tsk, tsk.

Then this past March, Burner brought in some major military brass, such as Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, Brig. Gen. John Johns, and Dr. Lawrence Korb (former Asst. Secretary of Defense under Reagan), to help unveil A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq. Pretty soon over 50 candidates running for the U.S. House of Representatives had signed on to the plan. Paul Eaton explains the necessity for something like this in this video.

Then in Q1 of 2008 (i.e., January - March), she raised a whopping half a million dollars, more than double what Reichert was able to raise in the same time period, even with yet another fundraiser with Laura Bush in that time period (which only netted him about $90K). She followed that up with another quarter of raising over half a million dollars yet again.

Things were looking up for her... and then on the first day of July, her home was completely destroyed in a fire at 6:45AM, with her family barely escaping with their lives (their cat did not survive, but their dog did).

(Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

This was one of the enduring images from the fire. As Markos noted, "Darcy is a huge netroots sensation because she is truly one of us -- a former Microsoft exec who is a geek at heart, and someone who has been with us on the war and FISA since she first started running in 2005. Some politicians can put up a facade or say the right things for the right audience, but there's no faking it when you've just run out of your burning house, seeing all your worldly possessions go up in flames as you frantically try to ensure your family is safe." Those who know some HTML or XML know exactly what that shirt means.

Now, as a political challenger, without the power of incumbency, as those of you who attended the EMILY's List training session know all too well, challengers need to be constantly "dialing for dollars". But as she needed to be putting the pieces of her life back together, she was in no state to do any such thing. So enter the netroots yet again. Progressive blogs all over the place (yes, each word goes to a different blog) set a goal of raising $150,000 for Darcy in the month of July so that she could stay financially competitive. Even other candidates helped out.

Darcy ended up raising a stunning $350K in just the month of July, more than triple what Reichert raised in that month. And when you break down the numbers, it becomes pretty obvious who's the people-powered candidate, and who's funded by corporations and lobbyists.

Total for July:
Burner: $350,897.68
Reichert: $115,474.88

From Individuals:
Burner: $329,022.30 (94%)
Reichert: $49,159.88 (43%)

Small Individual Donations:
Burner: $186,832.07 (53%)
Reichert: $8,544.00 (7%)

Total for Cycle from Individuals:
Burner: $1,995,109.43 (85%)
Reichert: $1,084,379.23 (58%)

PACs for July:
Burner: $18,100.00 (5%)
Reichert: $62,250.00 (54%)

Total for Cycle from PACs:
Burner: $296,859.24 (13%)
Reichert: $570,645.46 (31%)

Total for Cycle:
Burner: $2,337,372.67
Reichert: $1,866,086.08

Refunded in Cycle:
Burner: $6,550.01
Reichert: $56,970.00

Cash on Hand:
Burner: $1,476,757.53
Reichert: $928,113.96

It doesn't really get better than that. The difference between a people-powered progressive campaign and that of an establishment Republican really couldn't be made more clear. Also note that Burner's ActBlue numbers are at $416,118, or just under the difference in cash on hand. One of the reasons Darcy gets so much support is because, even though she's not in Congress yet, she's already a leader.

And the polls have this raise being quite competitive. As I noted in the comments there, Reichert's still getting 37% support from those who are pro-choice, even though he's consistently voted against a woman's right to choose, getting an 82% rating from the National Right to Life Committee. The good thing she now most definitely will have the money to inform the voters of what Reichert's actual positions are when it comes to women's rights. Push those pro-choice numbers just a tiny bit more in her direction, and she wins this thing going away. Re-doing the numbers show that if she can just hold Reichert to 33% of the pro-choice vote, she already wins this thing. Hold him to 30% of the pro-choice vote, and she wins by a larger margin than what Reichert won by in his previous election wins.

Oh, and she still made it to Netroots Nation in Austin, Texas, a few weeks ago.

Go Darcy!

CO-02: An historic first

Tuesday marked the primaries in Colorado and Connecticut. Mark Udall (D) represents Colorado's 2nd Congressional district, but he's giving that up to run for the Senate. It's a pretty Democratic district, so the Democratic primary is in essence the real election. And there were a trio of well-qualified candidates. It says something when the "conservative" one of the bunch was endorsed by the Progressive Democrats of America. Ultimately, Jared Polis won his race with 42% of the vote, defeating former state senate president Joan Fitz-Gerald (38%) and environmentalist Will Shafroth (20%). Here he is at his primary victory party.

What would make this historic is that Polis is openly gay, and would be the first openly gay man to be elected to Congress. (Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin was the first openly gay person of either gender to be elected to Congress.) There have been others, of course, but they were not openly gay (though for some, it was an "open secret"). Of course, TIME magazine had to do a story about how Polis being gay wasn't an issue... thereby bringing it up yet again and making it an issue. :-\

And all Polis had to do was spend $5 million of his own money on the race. How'd he get so rich? Ever used an online greeting card from BlueMountain.com? Yeah, that was his site. In 2004, Fortune estimated his net worth to be $160 million, good for 28th place in their list of wealthiest Americans under the age of 40.

Not to worry, he's about as progressive as they come, and will be even more progressive than Mark Udall, the man he's replacing in Congress. (See: FISA.)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

TN-09: Racist and anti-Semitic ads from... a Democrat??

Ugh, this is disgusting. Tomorrow, on August 7, Tennessee will hold its primaries, and in Tennessee's 9th Congressional district, where Memphis is located, it's gotten ugly. This is the seat that used to belong to Harold Ford, Jr. (D), until he gave it up for a Senate run where the GOP ran that ad with the white woman going, "Harold, call me!" (Harold is black.) Well, when he gave up that seat, it went to fellow Democrat Steve Cohen, who is a white Jew.

And it seems that's become an issue.

In Congress, he's been pretty awesome. He's MUCH more progressive than Ford ever was, scoring a 96.28% progressive rating on Progressive Punch. But it seems certain folks in Memphis do not want them to be represented by anyone other than an African-American. So enter Nikki Tinker ("D"), who's challenging him in the primary. Cohen had already beaten her in a 15-candidate field in the 2006 primary.

Well, Tinker's people (so she can claim deniability) started in fine force back in February, unleashing this beyond disgusting flyer onto Memphis.

And then you get stupid racists spewing shit like this.

"He's not black and he can't represent me, that's just the bottom line," said Rev. Robert Poindexter of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church.

But now it's gotten even worse. This week began with Tinker herself releasing this ad associating Cohen with the KKK.

The local Memphis Commercial-Appeal denounced the ad. (In case you're wondering why he voted that way, RealClearPolitics provides the backstory. It's basically a jurisdiction issue.)

But that wasn't bad enough. Tinker then released this ad just today, and it has drawn so much negative reaction from all over the country, that her campaign has already removed it from YouTube. But we still have the transcript.

CHILD'S VOICE: "Now I lay me down to sleep..."
ANNCR: "Who is the real Steve Cohen anyway?"
CHILD'S VOICE: "I pray the Lord my soul to keep..."
ANNCR: "While he's in our churches, clapping his hands and tapping his feet..."
CHILD'S VOICE: "If I should die before I wake..."
ANNCR: "He is the only senator who thought our kids shouldn't be allowed to pray in school."
CHILD'S VOICE: I pray the Lord my soul to take.
ANNCR: "Congressman, sometimes apologies just aren't enough."
TINKER: "I'm Nikki Tinker, and I approve this message."

The announcer's voice specifically stressed "our" in that ad. That's about as blatant as an anti-Semitic dog whistle you're ever going to hear on TV. For this disgusting ad, Keith Olbermann tonight named Tinker today's Worst Person in the World.

EMILY's List, which had actually endorsed Tinker over Cohen, despite his perfect pro-choice record, back in May, condemned the ad too, as if that's really going to matter less than 24 hours before voting ends. Of course, they could have done what NOW and NARAL did, which was endorse Cohen over a truly despicable person in the first place.

Oh, but that's only half the story. It gets worse. Much worse.

Steve Cohen forcibly removed a cameraman from his house who had barged in uninvited to Cohen's hastily-called news conference at Cohen's house to address the religion-baiting ad... and the cameraman is allegedly pressing 'assault' charges. (Video from the local Memphis Fox affiliate is available here.) The cameraman is an Armenian-American activist and documentary filmmaker who has been stalking Cohen all week; he's not officially affiliated with the Tinker camp, but Armenian groups have given more than $30K to the Tinker campaign because of Cohen's opposition to the bill to call the World War I-era slaughter of Armenians genocide (and thus infuriate Turkey).

Small legalistic note: there's a big difference between some sorehead pressing charges, and the county DA actually following through on them (which I guess we'll find out about that tomorrow). The video shows Cohen escorting the guy out the door with hand firmly on his arm and giving him a shove out the door for good measure; since the cameraman was essentially trespassing, this isn't likely to amount to anything.

Now, it turns out that filmmaker Peter Mursurlian is actually a Republican operative who used to work for former California Congressman Carlos Moorhead (R) of Pasadena. Also, none of the other Tennessee Democrats are co-sponsoring the resolution either, but none of them have been targeted the way Cohen has been.

I wonder why.

Update: Steve Cohen ended up CRUSHING Tinker 79%-19%. Hopefully this is an end to her political career.

Also, it turns out that Tinker supports abstinence-only education, which is hardly a platform of someone who's supposedly "pro-choice". Way to go, EMILY's List.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Friday, August 01, 2008

MI-07, MI-09: Wiccans, Asian invaders, oh my!

So this is what people saw earlier when they did a Google blog search on Congressman Joe Knollenberg (R) in Michigan's 9th Congressional district, which comes directly from his own Congressional website's blog.

It's about Chinese-made products that may not be safe, and he's since changed the title to "Protecting our Families from Harmful Products". But gee, ya don't think there was some stoking of xenophobic fears there with that wording?

Former state senator Gary Peters (D) is challenging Knollenberg. He's a breath of fresh air when you see what he stands for, unlike Knollenberg. All this comes on the heels of Roll Call reporting that Knollenberg may have violated House ethics rules by failing to properly disclose just how much his D.C. townhouse is worth, lowballing it at only $50K. Not a good week for the Congressman. (This is also the district where Jack Kevorkian is running as an Independent. Yes, that Jack Kevorkian.)

Meanwhile, next door in Michigan's 7th Congressional district, Congressman Tim Walberg (R) was the ONLY Congressman in the House Committee on Education and Labor to vote no on reauthorizing Head Start. It passed 42-1 in committee, and then passed the full House 365-48. So what reason did Walberg give for doing this? He explained it was to prevent lawsuits from the Wiccans!

In other words, say a Baptist or a Catholic church wanted to continue to offer its Head Start program and a Muslim or "a Wiccan from a coven in Ann Arbor" wanted to apply for a job to teach there, now it couldn't discriminate based on religious grounds anymore, or vice versa.

He said he offered an amendment that would have made that change, but it didn't get any traction.

He said he doesn't oppose Head Start, but by keeping that provision in the bill, he said religious organizations might decide it's better to get rid of Head Start. It would also open all of them to lawsuits, because the Wiccan, or the Catholic or the Muslim who wasn't hired, could say it was because of their religious beliefs, he said.

Yes, because Wiccans applying for jobs to teach at a... Catholic school... is such a big issue. Fear the Wiccans! Or, at least, their pending lawsuits.

For some background, Walberg only got to Congress by knocking out moderate Republican Joe Schwarz in the primary two years ago in a nasty primary where Walberg was funded by the anti-tax group Club for Growth. Schwarz refused to endorse Walberg in the general, and even said that people like Walberg (a former pastor) believe the U.S. should be a theocracy.

Luckily, this year we have state senator Mark Schauer (D) running against Walberg. Schauer's actually been outraising Walberg this year, so he'll definitely have the financial resources to compete. And he's damn good on the issues too. Here he is standing up for the Constitution that Walberg helped to shred.

Wal-Mart warns of Democratic victory

Wal-Mart's getting worried.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is mobilizing its store managers and department supervisors around the country to warn that if Democrats win power in November, they'll likely change federal law to make it easier for workers to unionize companies -- including Wal-Mart.

In recent weeks, thousands of Wal-Mart store managers and department heads have been summoned to mandatory meetings at which the retailer stresses the downside for workers if stores were to be unionized.

According to about a dozen Wal-Mart employees who attended such meetings in seven states, Wal-Mart executives claim that employees at unionized stores would have to pay hefty union dues while getting nothing in return, and may have to go on strike without compensation. Also, unionization could mean fewer jobs as labor costs rise.


The Wal-Mart human-resources managers who run the meetings don't specifically tell attendees how to vote in November's election, but make it clear that voting for Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama would be tantamount to inviting unions in, according to Wal-Mart employees who attended gatherings in Maryland, Missouri and other states.

"The meeting leader said, 'I am not telling you how to vote, but if the Democrats win, this bill will pass and you won't have a vote on whether you want a union,'" said a Wal-Mart customer-service supervisor from Missouri. "I am not a stupid person. They were telling me how to vote," she said.

JibJab actually covered this with their special brand of humor.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

FL-08: "We'll put people in prison."

In Florida's 8th Congressional District, attorney Alan Grayson is running to unseat incumbent Ric Keller (R), who has just broken his term limits pledge of four terms (he first won election to Congress in 2000).

Grayson is known for prosecuting Iraq contractors like Halliburton and KBR for war profiteering on behalf of their whistleblowers. In March 2006 he won a $10 million jury verdict against Custer Battles LLC for defrauding the government. As a result, Taxpayers Against Fraud named him their Lawyer of the Year for 2006.

Vanity Fair did a powerful story last year about his battle with KBR called The People vs. the Profiteers. It's a horrendous look at what KBR did to our troops. Warning: Do NOT read the following if you've just eaten.

His obvious adversaries are the contracting corporations themselves—especially Halliburton, the giant oil-services conglomerate where Vice President Dick Cheney spent the latter half of the 1990s as C.E.O., and its former subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root, now known simply as KBR. But he says his efforts to take on those organizations have earned him another enemy: the United States Department of Justice.

Over the past 16 years, Grayson has litigated dozens of cases of contractor fraud. In many of these, he has found the Justice Department to be an ally in exposing wrongdoing. But in cases that involve the Iraq war, the D.O.J. has taken extraordinary steps to stand in his way. Behind its machinations, he believes, is a scandal of epic proportions—one that may come to haunt the legacy of the Bush administration long after it is gone.

Consider the case of Grayson's client Bud Conyers, a big, bearded 43-year-old who lives with his ex-wife and her nine children, four of them his, in Enid, Oklahoma. Conyers worked in Iraq as a driver for Kellogg, Brown & Root. Spun off by Halliburton as an independent concern in April, KBR is the world's fifth-largest construction company. Before the war started, the Pentagon awarded it two huge contracts: one, now terminated, to restore the Iraqi oil industry, and another, still in effect, to provide a wide array of logistical-support services to the U.S. military.

In the midday heat of June 16, 2003, Conyers was summoned to fix a broken refrigerated truck—a "reefer," in contractor parlance—at Log Base Seitz, on the edge of Baghdad's airport. He and his colleagues had barely begun to inspect the sealed trailer when they found themselves reeling from a nauseating stench. The freezer was powered by the engine, and only after they got it running again, several hours later, did they dare open the doors.

The trailer, unit number R-89, had been lying idle for two weeks, Conyers says, in temperatures that daily reached 120 degrees. "Inside, there were 15 human bodies," he recalls. "A lot of liquid stuff had just seeped out. There were body parts on the floor: eyes, fingers. The goo started seeping toward us. Boom! We shut the doors again." The corpses were Iraqis, who had been placed in the truck by a U.S. Army mortuary unit that was operating in the area. That evening, Conyers's colleague Wallace R. Wynia filed an official report: "On account of the heat the bodies were decomposing rapidly.... The inside of the trailer was awful."

It is not unheard of for trucks in a war zone to perform hearse duty. But both civilian and U.S.-military regulations state that once a trailer has been used to store corpses it can never again be loaded with food or drink intended for human consumption. ....

But when Bud Conyers next caught sight of trailer R-89, about a month later, it was packed not with human casualties but with bags of ice—ice that was going into drinks served to American troops. He took photographs, showing the ice bags, the trailer number, and the wooden decking, which appeared to be stained red. Another former KBR employee, James Logsdon, who now works as a police officer near Enid, says he first saw R-89 about a week after Conyers's grisly discovery. "You could still see a little bit of matter from the bodies, stuff that looked kind of pearly, and blood from the stomachs. It hadn't even been hosed down. Afterwards, I saw that truck in the P.W.C.—the public warehouse center—several times. There's nothing there except food and ice. It was backed up to a dock, being loaded."

As late as August 31, 11 weeks after trailer R-89 was emptied of the putrefying bodies, a KBR convoy commander named Jeff Allen filed a mission log stating that it had carried 5,000 pounds of ice that day. This ice, Allen wrote, was "bio-contaminated." But to his horror, on that day alone, "approx 1,800 pounds [were] used."


Like many of KBR's employees, Conyers was risking his life on the job, which paid about $7,000 a month. He had already lost half a leg in an accident—coincidentally, while working for Halliburton—in 1990. Twice, in August and October 2003, his convoy was hit by roadside bombs, and although he was not seriously injured, his prosthetic leg was damaged. A third attack caused swelling and infection, making it impossible to wear the prosthesis. Then, three days after Christmas of 2003, about three months after he'd reported the contaminated ice, he was fired. His superiors accused him of refusing to work, an allegation he denies. Conyers says he had already been warned by KBR management that he was "not a team player," and he believes that the real reason for his dismissal was his refusal to keep quiet. Along with his job went his health insurance. Now confined to a wheelchair, he is still unable to work.

This is what Grayson is up against. He was also featured in Matt Taibbi's Rolling Stone cover story The Great Iraq Swindle last year on war profiteering.

Open Left's Matt Stoller got a good interview with Grayson at last week's Netroots Nation (which was AWESOME, by the way).

Now, check this out. This is Grayson's new TV ad that's making waves across the Internet.

Grayson is also, of course, one of the good Democratic challengers when it comes to FISA and the Fourth Amendment. You know Grayson is going to stand up for the rule of law in Congress. If you want to see him in Congress, you can help contribute to his campaign.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

House Dems capitulate to Bush, allowing illegal spying of Americans

Un-fucking-believeable. Steny Hoyer (who's recently gotten over $12,000 from the telecoms) has reached a "compromise" bill that would grant retroactive immunity for the telecoms and the Bush administration for illegally spying on our phone calls. If this passes, the wording seems to show that we CANNOT pass another law next year repealing this. So we can NEVER hold Bush accountable in a court of law for violating the Constitution. He gets off scot free.

Thanks to Steny Hoyer. A "Democrat". Constitutional law expert Glenn Greenwald explains just how bad this is.

The provision granting amnesty to lawbreaking telecoms, Title VIII, has the exact Orwellian title it should have: "Protection of Persons Assisting the Government." Section 802(a) provides:

[A] civil action may not lie or be maintained in a Federal or State court against any person for providing assistance to an element of the intelligence community, and shall be properly dismissed, if the Attorney General certifies to the district court of the United States in which such action is pending that . . . (4) the assistance alleged to have been provided . . . was --

(A) in connection with intelligence activity involving communications that was (i) authorized by the President during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and ending on January 17, 2007 and (ii) designed to prevent or detect a terrorist attack, or activities in preparation of a terrorist attack, against the United States" and

(B) the subject of a written request or directive . . . indicating that the activity was (i) authorized by the President; and (ii) determined to be lawful.

So all the Attorney General has to do is recite those magic words -- the President requested this eavesdropping and did it in order to save us from the Terrorists -- and the minute he utters those words, the courts are required to dismiss the lawsuits against the telecoms, no matter how illegal their behavior was.

That's the "compromise" Steny Hoyer negotiated and which he is now -- according to very credible reports -- pressuring every member of the Democratic caucus to support. It's full-scale, unconditional amnesty with no inquiry into whether anyone broke the law. In the U.S. now, thanks to the Democratic Congress, we'll have a new law based on the premise that the President has the power to order private actors to break the law, and when he issues such an order, the private actors will be protected from liability of any kind on the ground that the Leader told them to do it -- the very theory that the Nuremberg Trial rejected.

And for those of you who think Obama will do anything about this, because he could definitely stop the bill in its tracks if he applies pressure on the House to do so, Glenn also shows it looks like Obama will do nothing about this, and will let Bush get away with this.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Political Pokemon


MO-06: Worst. Ad. Ever.

Since I can't embed YouTube videos in the comments, this is in response to Gabe's post on that laughable "bio" ad for John Cornyn. And all I gotta say is, you ain't seen nothin' yet. In MO-06, incumbent Sam Graves (R) is being challenged by former Kansas City mayor Kay Barnes (D). Graves released an ad that was considered a real stinker that "borders on the racist". See for yourself. And note that Graves was too chicken to run this TV ad in Kansas City, but rather only in one smaller TV market in Missouri.

Gotta love all those stereotypes. But wait! He wasn't done. Check out this follow-up ad from Graves. And listen carefully, the second time the voiceover mentions Barnes by name, she says "Gay Barnes". Listen for it.

Barnes isn't taking this lying down, and quickly hit back with this rebuttal.

This race will be one to watch. The DCCC has placed Barnes on their Red to Blue program, and a SurveyUSA poll from last month showed Graves under the 50% re-election mark. For an incumbent, that's sign of vulnerability. And Barnes will be quite financially competitive with Graves too.

[Interestingly enough, Sam's brother is Todd Graves, who was originally on the list of U.S. attorneys to be fired in that massive scandal that eventually forced Alberto Gonzales to resign. Seems Todd Graves didn't want to pursue a meritless lawsuit to force Missouri to purge its voter rolls (which could've knocked off registered voters in the process). Graves was replaced by Bradley Schlozman, known for pushing cases of "voter fraud", with the intent of suppressing minority voters.]

See here for previous Congressional diaries.

Watching this might change your life

For those of you that don't read dailykos, I didn't want you to miss out on the best political video since... well, it may just be the best ever.


Lakers lost... Democrats win?

Now, I know that many of my fellow Bruin Democrats were cheering on the Lakers as they battled the Boston Celtics for the chance to take home a NBA championship ring. I, more of a Warriors fan myself, was cheering the Lakers on, hoping that UCLA Alum Jordan Farmar and Trevor Ariza would bring another championship to L.A.

Yet, despite MVP Kobe Bryant and all the prayers of L.A., the Lakers lost to the Celtics in a pretty nasty game five defeat. And while our home team may have lost, this bodes well for a Barack Obama win in November.

Every year the Lakers have won a NBA Championship during an election year in recent history, the Republican candidate has won.

In 1972, the Lakers won, paving the way for a Nixon victory that fall. In 1980 the Lakers won again, as did Ronald Reagan. The 1984-85 season started with Reagan's reelection and was punctuated with--you guessed it--a Lakers championship. The Lakers won again in 1988 and so did George Bush Sr. George Bush was 'elected' in 2000, while the Lakers won another championship. And, as we all know, Bush was reelected in 2004 despite the Detroit Piston's best efforts (they beat the Lakers in the finals 4-1).

I am sure many Democrats would have enjoyed a Laker win followed by an Obama win in November. But at least the Laker's loss is joining a strong tide of unfavorable conditions for Republican John McCain.

So, sorry Kobe, and thanks Boston for making this a good year for Democrats to take back the white house.