Archive for October, 2010

Scenes from “Sanity”

Americans came from near and far — California, Georgia, Mississippi, Maryland — to the Jon Steward/Stephen Colbert rally to Restore Sanity And/or Fear. There were no political speeches but lots of political signs; no sermonizing, just lots of wicked satire. It was a diverse crowd of young, middle-aged and old, black, white and brown.
There will be plenty of time to fight over crowd size later. Suffice it say, for now, that a whole lot of people came out to express their disgust with fear-mongering, hate speech and incivility.

A few scenes snapped with my iPhone:

Alex Shirreffs of Bryn MPa. with cousins Sarah Offner, 10, and Abigail Offner, 12, of Norcross, Ga

Alex Shirreffs of Bryn Mawr, Pa. with cousins Abigail Offner, 10, and Sarah Offner, 12, from Norcross, Ga

These women came from Mississippi to show sanity, Southern style

These women came from Mississippi to show sanity, Southern style

A couple of lads hoist flags

A couple of lads hoist flags

An un-tea-partier

An un-tea-partier

RepubliCorps invested effort and money into their satire

RepubliCorp invested effort and money into their satire

Hassan Ahmad, an immigration lawyer, wants you to know he's not a jihadist

Hassan Ahmad, an immigration lawyer, wants you to know he’s not a jihadist

Halloween a day early?

Halloween a day early?

Now that's sanity

Now that’s sanity

Continue reading Scenes from “Sanity” »

Here’s hoping California legalizes pot

WASHINGTON — In 2000, Hollywood released a critically-acclaimed and (I thought) important movie, “Traffic,” about the futility of the so-called war on drugs. I was naïve enough to believe it would spark a national conversation about the stupidity of our generations-long policy of drug prohibition.

It didn’t. We continued as we had since the 1960s — locking up drug offenders, spending countless billions on police and prisons and abetting the devastating violence that attends the market in illegal narcotics. The United States, with about five percent of the world’s population, accounts for nearly 25 percent of its prisoners — largely as a consequence of draconian drug laws.

But in Tuesday’s mid-term elections, Californians have an opportunity to finally give the country a shove in the right direction. If they approve Proposition 19, which would make it legal to possess and grow small quantities of marijuana for personal use, they will start to wind down the war …

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Latino vote could save Harry Reid and other Democrats

In mid-term elections that will be decided on the basis of turn-out — which candidate does the better job of getting his/her voters to the polls — some influential Spanish-language media outlets, including Univision, have launched last minute campaigns to get Spanish-speaking voters to go to the polls and cast their ballots. From The WSJ:

Days before the midterm elections, Spanish-language media have unveiled a get-out-the-vote blitz to energize Hispanic voters, whose turnout could be decisive in many races. . .

“There are 12 million Hispanic registered voters…If we all vote on Nov. 2, we will make a decisive impact,” says one spot featuring Judge Cristina Pereyra, star of the network’s court show, “Veredicto Final” (Final Verdict).

“We are going to be banging the drum of ‘You have to go vote, you have to go vote,’” said Ramon Escobar, Telemundo’s executive vice president of network news, in an interview.

Although Latinos are projected to make up less than 10% of the …

Continue reading Latino vote could save Harry Reid and other Democrats »

Health insurers admit they’re lying about Obamacare

Around the country, health insurers are jacking up premiums and blaming the increases on the new health reform law. From NPR (via Kaiser Health News):

Dan Thystrup, owner of a paddleboat manufacturing company in Indiana, says he was told it was the new health care regulation that helped prompt a doubling of his firm’s premiums. Thystrup, who’d been providing health insurance for his workers for more than two decades, said he had to make the difficult decision to drop coverage for both his workers and himself.

Thystrup’s business isn’t the only one where premium increases are being blamed on the new health law. Celinda Lake runs the Democratic polling firm Lake Research. She said her firm’s premiums are going up 20 percent.

“My broker told me that it’s because of health insurance reform,” she says.

They’re lying in blaming Obamacare, of course. Health insurance premiums have been going up since the 1990s, during the period when Clinton’s attempt to reform health care was …

Continue reading Health insurers admit they’re lying about Obamacare »

Why are CEOs mad at Obama? Their profits are soaring

One of the narratives of this campaign season has been the business community’s deep-seated animosity toward President Obama. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pouring millions of dollars into defeating Democrats at the polls. At every opportunity, business leaders complain that the Obama administration has treated them shabbily.
And, in a displaying of astonishing gall, even bailed-out Wall Street bankers are pouring money into defeating Democrats — despite the fact that many of those very banks would have gone under if Democrats hadn’t stuck their necks out to support The Troubled Asset Relief Program. (More Democrats supported the Bush administration program than Republicans.)
But what are corporate executives so angry about? The Obama administration has been good for them. As Politico reports, corporate profits have risen faster in this recovery than in any other period following a recession:

Profits have surged 62 percent from the start of 2009 to mid-2010, according to …

Continue reading Why are CEOs mad at Obama? Their profits are soaring »

Boehner makes a promise he can’t keep

The man of the moment is House Minority Leader John Boehner, and The Washington Post has a fascinating profile of him today. Among other things, Boehner pledges to be a kinder, gentler House Speaker should Republicans win control of the House, as is widely expected.

He attributes the scorched earth partisanship in the House to the politics of Newt Gingrich.

That’s how it has been ever since the combative Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), once a mentor to Boehner, became House speaker in 1994, the last time the GOP retook Congress from the Democrats. After Gingrich, Republican leader Tom DeLay, known as the “Hammer,” took this punitive style of leadership to the next level. And the current Democratic speaker, Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), has advanced a similar zero-sum approach to politics.

He won’t play mean like Gingrich or DeLay or Pelosi, he says.

“A lot of scar tissue has been built up on both sides of the aisle,” said Boehner, who says he would create an atmosphere in which Democrats …

Continue reading Boehner makes a promise he can’t keep »

What’s the GOP plan to fix health care?

Republicans have made repealing the new health care law one of their top priorities, and polls show that the GOP base wants them to do that. It’s a government takeover! It’s socialism! It’s . . well, you’ve heard the rhetoric.
But the more savvy pols on the GOP side insist that they are not just going to repeal the law that they have mendaciously mischaracterized and savaged. No-o-o-o. They’re going to replace it with something better.
Really? In the six years that Republicans had control of the White House and Congress, they never passed a single proposal to improve health care for consumers below the age of 65. And that was a period during which health care premiums soared by 78 percent. As the LA Times reports:

During the period from President George W. Bush’s election in 2000 to the end of GOP congressional majorities in 2006, Republicans failed to pass major healthcare changes despite evidence of an escalating crisis.

American workers saw their health insurance premiums …

Continue reading What’s the GOP plan to fix health care? »

McConnell: Defeating Obama “single most important job”

Last week, both President Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gave interviews to the National Journal in which they said something very similar: Each man said he and his party needed to view the uncoming mid-term results with “humility.”

Obama:
“I think it’s premature to talk about vetoes because maybe I’m a congenital optimist, but I feel as if, post-election, regardless of how it plays out, the most important message that will be sent by the American people is, we want people in Washington to act like grown-ups.”

McConnell:
“We need to have a humble, grateful response about this election.”

Inside the Beltway, that was widely read as an acknowledgment by both — but especially by McConnell, for the need for compromise on important issues in the next Congress.

But McConnell’s gesture of conciliation didn’t hold for a week. This week, he gave another interview to National Journal, in which he said “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for …

Continue reading McConnell: Defeating Obama “single most important job” »

Too bad more Democrats didn’t run this ad

Rick Waugh is engaged in a suicide mission against Eric Cantor, the GOP Whip and a popular Congressman from Virginia. Cantor will win easily. But Waugh has a great ad on the new health insurance law, and, if more Democrats had had the good sense to run ads like this, they might not be in danger of losing their Congressional majority.(h/t Ben Smith)

Continue reading Too bad more Democrats didn’t run this ad »

Do tea partiers care about the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth amendments?

Like many civil libertarians, I have been deeply disappointed in President Obama’s insistence on keeping many of the same disturbing, unconstitutional policies that President Bush employed during the so-called war on terror. Those policies include detaining citizens without any charge.

You’d have thought that tea-partiers would express outrage against those policies, since they advertise themselves as restorers of the constitution and advocates of individual liberties or “freedoms.” The Fourth, Firth and Sixth amendments are clear about the rights that citizens have to be free of imprisonment by the state.

In a case about to go to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Bush administration imprisoned a man, supposedly because he was a “material witness” holding valuable information about the commission of a crime. It wasn’t true and authorities never even interrogated him about any crime. From The NYT editorial page:

It can be hard to distinguish between the Bush administration …

Continue reading Do tea partiers care about the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth amendments? »