Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sure, He's A Turtle, But He's Our Turtle!

It's saying something that in Kentucky, where African-Americans make up only about 8% of the population (well under the national average of 13% and waaaaaay under other Southern states like Mississippi, Alabama, or Georgia) that the Senate race here is close enough for Mitch McConnell to even care about the black vote.

As such, Mitch McConnell's pitch to black voters like myself here in Kentucky is really simple:  As Senate majority leader, I'll get you the green.

As the latest Bluegrass Poll poll shows, the Kentucky Senate race remains tight between GOP leader Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes and the campaigns are battling for every last vote in the home stretch. 
McConnell goes on the radio Tuesday in an ad targeting African-American voters following a negative ad aired on Louisville-area radio last week that criticized the minority leader on voting rights. In his response ad, McConnell again leans on Noelle Hunter, an African-American woman and community college professor, to make the case for his re-election. 
Alison Grimes won’t say she voted for President Obama, but I will. I voted for President Obama — twice. So you might be surprised to hear that I’m also voting for Mitch McConnell,” Hunter says in the ad.. “As an African American I know from personal experience that Mitch fights for our community and cares about us.”

Vote for Mitch.  He has black friends, unlike that mean ol' white girl who hates President Obama.

Of course the reason Mitch is deigning to admit the black vote exists in the first place is because Alison Grimes knows damn well what Republicans really mean for the black vote.

The Grimes campaign is seeking to motivate black voters with a radio ad suggesting their voting rights are at risk if McConnell is re-elected. “Worst of all, Mitch McConnell has been leading the Republican effort to take away our voting rights,” the man says in the Grimes ad. “Just like he blocked everything from getting done in Washington, he’s blocking the ballot box and trying to silence our voices.”

Still, Grimes attacking Obama has hurt her among black voters.

The latest Bluegrass Poll gives Grimes a 38-point lead, 60%-22%, among black voters, with 17% undecided two weeks from Election Day.

You'd be hard pressed to find any other Republicans running this year who's getting 22% of the black vote.  In a state like Alabama, that would be a landslide GOP win.  In Kentucky, well, that's more like 2% of the total vote, but in a race that will probably be decided by a couple of points, the margin may be enough.

We'll see.

BREAKING: O(h No), Canada

Our friends to the north have suffered what appears to be an attack by multiple shooters in at least two locations in the capital of Ottawa, Parliament Hill and a nearby hotel.

Parliament Hill came under attack today after a man with a rifle shot a soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa,before seizing a car and driving to the doors of Parliament Hill's Centre Block nearby. 
MPs and other witnesses reported several shots fired inside Parliament, and a gunman has been confirmed dead inside the building, shot by the House of Commons Sergeant-at-Arms, according to MPs' eyewitness accounts. 
The soldier's condition has not been confirmed. 
MP John Williamson tweeted that the Conservative caucus has been told "one CAF soldier was killed," adding "a moment of silence followed." CBC News has confirmed the soldier is a reservist from Hamilton.

One shooter is dead, as the story says, but another appears to be on the loose in downtown Ottawa. Not a good day at all.

Here's hoping that the RCMP and Ottawa Police can get this under control without any more casualties.

Weather Or Not We Do Anything About It, Well...

No big deal, the 12 month period from October 2013 through September 2014 was only the hottest 12 months in recorded history.

2014 is turning into a superlative year for global temperature. September was the warmest such month on record, according to the monthly climate report by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. This follows the warmest August on record, and the warmest summer on record, as well. And year to date, 2014 ties with 1998 and 2010 — two of the warmest years in recorded history — with a temperature departure of 1.22 degrees above average. 
If 2014 maintains this temperature departure from average for the remainder of the year, it will be the warmest year on record,” says the report
While we still have three months to see whether the calendar year will set a record, the past 12 months — October 2013 through September 2014 — was the warmest 12-month period on record, at 1.24 degrees above the 20th century average temperature. 
September’s average global temperature was 1.3 degrees above the 20th century average, according to NOAA. And global sea surface temperature was an astonishing 1.19 degrees above average — making September 2014 the warmest on record for any month over the oceans.

But there's nothing to worry about because the science isn't settled and there's nothing we can do about it anyway, why bother.  Meanwhile, one case of Ebola is the end of America!

Well I take that back.  We should probably cut taxes on energy companies so they do more drilling and fracking.

Because science.

StupidiNews!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Last Call For Getting Your Priorities Straight

The latest monthly Gallup poll on Americans and the issues important to them finds Ebola now outranks racism, crime, and poverty as top concerns among We The People:


Recent Trend for Most Important U.S. Problem

These results come from an Oct. 12-15 Gallup poll, conducted while dozens of people in the U.S. were still being quarantined after coming in contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, who died earlier this month from the virus. Two of the nurses who cared for Duncan have now been diagnosed with the virus. Most others who had contact with Duncan were quarantined for three weeks, which ended Monday. 
Separate Gallup polling about Ebola specifically finds more than one in five Americans saying they worry about getting the Ebola virus.

We're so very, very screwed.

House Republicans Versus Los Innecesarios

Over at his new NY Times Upshot digs, Nate Cohn breaks down the electoral picture for Latino voters and comes away with some hard numbers and harder truths: as far as hyper-gerrymandered House districts go and even Senate races, Latino voters are Los Innecesarios: The Unnecessary Ones.

Political analysts keep urging the Republican Party to do more to appeal to Hispanic voters. Yet the party’s congressional leaders show little sign of doing so, blocking an immigration overhaul and harshly criticizing President Obama for his plan to defer deportation for undocumented migrants. 
There’s a simple reason that congressional Republicans are willing to risk alienating Hispanics: They don’t need their votes, at least not this year. 
Republicans would probably hold the House — and still have a real chance to retake the Senate — if they lost every single Hispanic voter in the country, according to an analysis by The Upshot. 
Such a thing would never happen, of course, but the fact that the Republicans may not need a single Hispanic vote in 2014 says a good deal about American politics today.

So what does that mean when Latino grassroots immigration groups are sitting this election out in order to punish President Obama?

Not a whole lot.  On the other hand, if Democrats won 100% of the Latino vote, Democrats would pick up 8-10 House seats, especially in Florida and California.  But the truth is Latino voters make up less than 4% of the electorate in competitive House races.

I'm thinking Latino leaders might want to reconsider sitting this election out.

The Totally Moderate Rand Paul

Remember, Rand Paul's big selling point is that he's a moderate, a Republican who supports criminal justice reform and legalization of marijuana.  The fact he's a standard right wing nut job on most other things doesn't seem to matter, and the fact that he's a screaming tinfoil-hatted douchebag on everything else certainly doesn't seem to get enough play.

As this government-bashing tea partier moves toward a White House bid, journalists scrutinize his every wiggle and whisper. But one core component of his political personality has largely escaped exploration: The senator is close to being a full-blown conspiracy theorist. 
In 2010, before winning his Senate seat, Paul sat for an interview with Luke Rudkowski, a libertarian YouTube personality who specializes in quizzing political leaders about the plot to establish a "one-world socialist government." Rudkowski asked what Paul knew of the Bilderberg Group, a collection of government and business leaders whose annual conference is a favorite target of conspiracy-mongers. Paul replied, "Only what I've learned from Alex Jones." That's right: Alex Jones, the radio host who claims that Bilderberg is a key part of a global plot to create a "scientific dictatorship" that will exterminate the "useless eaters," a.k.a. 80 percent of the human population.

Rand Paul is nuts.

Paul had his own conspiracy theory about 9/11. In speeches in 2008 and 2009, he warned about the influence of military contractors and zeroed in on Halliburton, the corporation that Dick Cheney headed before becoming vice president. Cheney, he noted, opposed the advance of American troops into Baghdad when he was defense secretary during the first Gulf War. Yet as veep he changed his mind because, Paul explained, the war would benefit Halliburton with a "billion-dollar no-bid contract."

Rand Paul is bug nuts.

Paul also has embraced one of the conspiracy theories promoted by his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul: that leaders from the United States, Canada, and Mexico are seeking to merge their countries into a socialist megastate that would issue the "Amero" currency to replace US and Canadian dollars and the Mexican peso. (Anti-feminist campaigner Phyllis Schlafly and Jerome Corsi, who led the 2004 Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign, are among the key proponents of this idea.
At an appearance for his father's 2008 presidential campaign in Bozeman, Montana, Rand Paul was asked what steps his dad would take to thwart the scheme to impose a North American superstate. The first thing to do, he said, was "publicizing that it's going on" and pushing Congress to "stop it." He insisted the Amero push was "a real thing" but cautioned, "If you talk about it like it's a conspiracy, they'll paint you as a nut. It's not a conspiracy, they're out in the open about it. I guarantee it's one of their long-term goals—to have one sort of borderless mass continent." He did not specify who "they" were.

Hey guys?

Rand Paul is completely effing nuts.

But he's still a contender?

StupidiNews!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Last Call For Surgin' In General

Bob Cesca notes that we're in the middle of a public health "crisis" and the GOP has blocked Surgeon General nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy for a year now, and will happily continue to block him now:

Sen. Tex Cruz (R-Tex.) appeared on CNN with Candy Crowley on Sunday and was perfectly clear about why his buddy from Kentucky, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), blocked Dr. Murthy.
Of course we should have a surgeon general in place. And we don’t have one because President Obama, instead of nominating a health professional, he nominated someone who is an anti-gun activist.
He’s not a what? This is how badly corrupted the GOP has become. Murthy graduated from Harvard, magna cum laude with a degree in Biochemical Sciences. He earned his MD from Yale, and served his residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In addition to running a cloud-based clinical trial program, he’s also an attending physician at Harvard Medical School. But because he tweeted, “Guns are a health care issue,” back in 2012 — just a couple of months before Adam Lanza used an AR15 to mow down 25 kindergarteners and teachers at Sandy Hook — he was disqualified from becoming surgeon general. 

To recap, Senate Republicans like Cruz and Paul shut down the government ten months ago but nobody seems to care.  Much easier to say BOTH SIDES DO IT and just absolve yourself of the blame when the middle class continues to be annihilated by the right, you know?

So let's turn over the Senate to the anti-science party because we're scared about Ebola, which has killed one person, and not scared about guns, which kill tens of thousands a year.

That's a good plan, right?  Hey, Ted Cruz is letting you know exactly what the GOP-led Senate will do in 2015.

First, embrace a big pro-jobs, growth agenda. For six years, the Obama economy has been trapped in stagnation, hurting millions. A Republican Congress should immediately help Americans get more jobs by embracing America's energy renaissance. This means passing legislation to make it easier to build energy infrastructure, such as the Keystone pipeline. But, we need an energy policy that's bigger than Keystone. An effective energy plan would also protect innovative energy technology, such as hydraulic fracturing, from being handcuffed by the federal government. We can also open up land for exploration and ensure that American companies can export liquefied natural gas around the world. And, lastly, stop the EPA from implementing rules that will destroy coal jobs and drive up our electricity bills
Second, pursue all means possible to repeal Obamacare. There is a reason Obamacare has miserable 37% approval ratings: it has caused millions to lose their jobs, be forced into part-time work, lose their health insurance, lose their doctors, and pay skyrocketing premiums. It simply isn't working. We should pass repeal legislation (forcing an Obama veto), and then pass bill after bill to mitigate the harms of Obamacare. Prevent people from having their healthcare plans cancelled, prohibit insurance company bailouts, eliminate the provisions forcing people into part-time work, and repeal the individual mandate. 
Perhaps, President Obama vetoes every one. But each has powerful appeal with the electorate who are hurting under this law, and Democratic senators may not be quite so eager to join their 2014 colleagues in losing their jobs over Obama's refusal to listen to the people.

Drill baby drill and repeal Obamacare piece by piece.  The party of the future, folks!  Also included at no extra charge, deport all undocumented immigrants, hold endless hearings on the Obama administration, term limits(!?!?), the awesome flat tax, audit the Fed, a balanced budget amendment that will destroy the economy, repeal Common Core and defeat ISIS with our mind bullets.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Team WIN THE MORNING on how we got into this mess:

The Republican Party continue to trail heavily among young and nonwhite voters, losing Hispanics by 25 points, African-Americans by 74 points, women by 5 points and every age group of voters under 65. 
But the GOP maintains important leads among whites (12 points), voters over 65 (12 points) and men (4 points) — advantages that are likely to prove decisive on a midterm electoral map tilted toward less diverse and more conservative states in the South and Mountain West.

Old, scared white people vote during midterms.  The rest of us don't.  If that remains true like it did in 2010, then the GOP will take the Senate and gain even more seats in the House.

It really is that simple.  If the FOX News crowd votes, and the rest of us sit on our asses and bitch about Obama, then the GOP wins.

Go vote.

How The Dems Get To 50

Greg Sargent goes through the scenarios on how the Dems keep the Senate. (Hint: runoffs in December will decide Senate control.)

Democrats do still have paths to retaining control. But they are increasingly narrow. 
Look at the map this way. If Democrats can hold on in just one of the four following toss-up states — Colorado, Iowa, Arkansas, or Alaska — their hopes of holding the Senate remain alive. That is plausible. But a lot has to go their way after that.
Let’s give Republicans West Virgina, Montana, and South Dakota up front, while giving Democrats North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Michigan — outcomes that are consistent with the polling averages. If Dems can limit Republicans to wins in three of these four (CO, IA, AR, AK), that puts the GOP at 51 seats. 
That would probably send us into overtime, with Louisiana and Georgia likely to head to run-offs due to election rules. To keep the Senate at a 50-50 split, Democrats would then have to win one of those run-offs (so they cancel one-another out) and Greg Orman would have to win in Kansas andhe would have to caucus with Dems. Without Kansas, Democrats would have to win both those runoffs. This is not entirely impossible. As Harry Enten has explained, recent history doesn’t tell us much about how these runoffs will go, and high African American turnout could scramble them. But it’s a very tall order, partly because the outcome of these red state run-offs would decide which party controls the Senate. 
Alternatively: Democrats would have to win two out of the following four core toss-ups: CO, IA, AR, AK. This, too, is not an impossible outcome. Democrats trail by 2.1 points in Iowa and 1.5 in Colorado. As Nate Silverhas detailed, the polls only have to be a little off for Dems to win in such states. What’s more, there’s a great deal of uncertainty remaining: No one knows what sort of electorate will result from Colorado’s first experiment in all-mail balloting. Democrats insist mobilization efforts will enable Bruce Braley to close his small deficit in Iowa, a possibility that can’t be dismissed. Arkansas, which hasn’t been contested in recent presidential elections, has never seen this level of organization. (For these reasons, Dems winning one of these is plausible, too.)

Bottom line: Dems have to win 2 of the following 7 races: Colorado, Iowa, Arkansas, Alaska, Georgia, Kentucky and Kansas (with Greg Orman caucusing with the Dems) while winning in NC, NH, and Michigan. It's not impossible, but all seven favor the GOP right now.

Either way it's an uncertain, uphill battle that would only get the Dems to 50, with zero room for error.

We'll see.

StupidiNews!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Last Call For Out Of Their Gourd

As many people have wondered on Twitter this weekend, what in the hell happened at the Keene, New Hampshire Pumpkinfest that caused the proceedings to degenerated into riots?

Tear gas and pepper spray hung in the air as police in riot gear descended on Keene, New Hampshire, on Saturday night, trying to disperse a rowdy crowd that brought chaos to the city's 24th annual Pumpkin Festival, CNN affiliates reported.

"State and local public safety officials are on the scene and have been working closely together to defuse the situation," Gov. Maggie Hassan said a statement. "We will continue to monitor the situation and provide any assistance necessary to Keene."

Bonfires burned into the early hours of Sunday morning on city streets that were littered with broken beer and liquor bottles, video from CNN affiliate WMUR showed.

"I am saddened and disheartened at the events surrounding this year's Keene Pumpkin Festival," said Keene State College President Anne Huot. "Despite the concerted efforts of organizers, city officials, police, and Keene State College, there continued to be disruptive behavior at parties in multiple locations around the city, injuries, and property damage."

Huot said Keene State students bore some of the responsibility for the unruly behavior, but also suggested that some outside the community had billed the event "as a destination for destructive and raucous behavior."

There are a lot of snide remarked to be made about "destructive culture of pumpkin spice lattes" and "it's dangerous to have groups of white people together because they might riot over pumpkins" that are pretty well deserved after the way the media treated (and still treat) black America after demonstrations protesting the killings of Trayvon Martin in Florida and Michael Brown in Missouri.

But underneath those cheap shots you notice that 1) police didn't dare use live firearms on this crowd despite the kind of property destruction that resulted in armed riot squads in military gear in Ferguson and the fact that 140 people were arrested last year for similar destruction (those violent white people, you know) and 2) it's being played off as "college kids being rowdy" whereas more than four black people is a militant, dangerous mob.

In other words, there's a definite case of a double standard here in "post-racial" America.

It's probably Obama's fault.

Black Or Bleak For Dems In November

An internal election 2014 memo from Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher to the White House is both blunt and dismaying,and as NY Times political reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg details, the message is clear: black voters will make or break the Dems in 2014.

The confidential memo from a former pollster for President Obama contained a blunt warning for Democrats. Written this month with an eye toward Election Day, it predicted “crushing Democratic losses across the country” if the party did not do more to get black voters to the polls.

“African-American surge voters came out in force in 2008 and 2012, but they are not well positioned to do so again in 2014,” Cornell Belcher, the pollster, wrote in the memo, dated Oct. 1. “In fact, over half aren’t even sure when the midterm elections are taking place.”

Mr. Belcher’s assessment points to an urgent imperative for Democrats: To keep Republicans from taking control of the Senate, as many are predicting, they need black voters in at least four key states. Yet the one politician guaranteed to generate enthusiasm among African Americans is the same man many Democratic candidates want to avoid: Mr. Obama.

On one hand the fact that Senate Dems have stabbed President Obama in the back time and time again, on Gitmo, on his Surgeon General appointee, on gun control, and in commercials where white Democrats do everything they can to slag a black President is going a long way towards turning off black voters.

On the other hand, the cynic in me is hearing alarm bells.  Guess who will be blamed should Democrats lose in November?  Hint, it won't be the Senate Dems who trashed Obama.

Black voters made history in 2012, exit polling and census data show, when they turned out at a rate higher than whites to help re-elect Mr. Obama. But fewer voters go to polls in midterm elections. In 2010, a disastrous year for Democrats, blacks voted at a rate lower than whites, creating a “turnout gap.”

The numbers are significant. Although more than 1.1 million black Georgians went to the polls in 2012, only about 741,000 voted in 2010. In North Carolina, Democrats say there are nearly one million black registered voters who did not vote in 2010.

Mr. Belcher declined to discuss for whom he had written the memo, saying it was private, but the document was circulated by the Democratic National Committee. In the memo, he also argued that the turnout gap, more than any Republican Tea Party wave, was responsible for Democrats’ 2010 defeats. So the challenge for Democrats is to get midterm voters to the polls at presidential election-year rates.

There are those alarm bells again.  Note the memo blames black voters for Democratic losses in 2010.  How come the onus for voting falls only on black voters now?

If Dems win, that'll be great.  But if black turnout is so vital to the Democrats, why aren't we seeing more efforts to stop obvious black voter suppression through GOP voter ID laws?

And if Dems lose, well, guess whose fault it's going to be?


Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Democrats' Brand New Problem In Kentucky

There's nothing more depressing to see the fate of the Democratic brand in Kentucky.  Gallup finds that where Democrats had a 14 point edge in 2008, those days are now long gone.

A series of disheartening figures could make Democratic Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes' attempt to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell all the more difficult. Kentuckians are now more likely to identify as or lean toward Republicans (45%) than Democrats (39%). In the prior six years, Gallup found Democrats held at least a slight advantage.


The six-percentage-point edge favoring Republicans, based on interviewing conducted in Kentucky from January through June of this year, underscores the uphill battle Grimes faces in trying to unseat McConnell. And given typical Republican advantages in voter turnout, the Democratic deficit on partisanship among those Kentucky residents who actually turn out to vote may be even greater than six points.

I wonder what happened in 2008 that could have driven Kentuckians from the Democratic Party?  It almost seems like there was some major political event that happened in 2008 that was the last straw for many Kentucky Democrats, one so unique that it turned them into Republicans, at the rate of a 20 point swing in just six years.

It has to be unemployment, right?  It was 8.9% when Barack Obama took office in January 2009.

Only it's dropped to 6.7% in September 2014, down from a high of 10.7% in August 2009.

What about evil Obamacare?  Well, Kynect is one of the most successful state insurance exchanges in the country, if not the most successful. Nearly 500,000 Kentuckians have health insurance now that they didn't before, most of those now qualifying for low-cost Medicaid insurance.

So by a broad measure things are a lot better in Kentucky then when Bush destroyed the economy in 2008, and it was a Democrat who fixed it.

I guess we'll never know why Kentuckians hate President Obama...

Gosh I'm stumped. Maybe Hillary Clinton knows why.

The last time Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigned in Kentucky, she was delivering her victory speech after defeating Barack Obama in the state’s 2008 Democratic presidential primary on the strength of a huge advantage among white working-class voters. 
White Democrats voted for Mrs. Clinton over Mr. Obama by 49 percentage points in 2008, a telling indication of both her strength and Mr. Obama’s trouble in attracting traditional Democratic voters.

I'm not sure what the problem could be here.  I guess Kentucky really wanted a woman in the White House and that will only help Alison Grimes...

I think if Hillary Clinton were in the White House today, McConnell would be behind by 20 points,” said Todd Hollenbach Sr., a former Jefferson County judge executive whom Mr. McConnell unseated in 1977.

It's on the tip of my tongue, although for some reason Grimes is behind, even though she's a woman...

Jonathan Miller, a former Kentucky state treasurer, said it was voters’ animosity toward Mr. Obama, and not necessarily excitement for Mrs. Clinton, that was energizing Democrats here. “We’re just nostalgic for when Democrats were different than Obama,” he said.

Animosity towards the guy that gave 500,000 affordable health insurance and cut 4 points off unemployment?  I'm sure I'll figure out why someday.  Kentuckians must have a real problem with left-handed Presidents, I guess.
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