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MA-Sen: PPP Has Brown (R) Up One Point

January 10th, 2010 admin No comments

Public Policy Polling (PDF) (1/7-9, likely voters, no trendlines):

Martha Coakley (D): 47
Scott Brown (R): 48
Undecided: 6
(MoE: ±3.6%)

Some findings from Tom Jensen:

• As was the case in the Gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia last year, it looks like the electorate in Massachusetts will be considerably more conservative than the one that showed up in 2008. Obama took the state by 26 points then, but those planning to vote next week only report having voted for him by 16.

• Republicans are considerably more enthusiastic about turning out to vote than Democrats are. 66% of GOP voters say they are ‘very excited’ about casting their votes, while only 48% of Democrats express that sentiment- and that’s among the Democrats who are planning to vote in contrast to the many who are apparently not planning to do so at this point.

• Brown has eye popping numbers with independents, sporting a 70/16 favorability rating with them and holding a 63-31 lead in the horse race with Coakley. Health care may be hurting Democratic fortunes with that group, as only 27% of independents express support for Obama’s plan with 59% opposed.

Tom also offers some thoughts on how he thinks Coakley can win, and says that PPP will be back in the field next weekend. Meanwhile, Taegan Goddard has this update:

Meanwhile, polls from the Boston Globe and Boston Herald should be released in the morning.

A source tells Jim Geraghty that the Globe poll finds Coakley ahead by 15 points and the Herald poll finds her ahead by seven points — but just one point among likely voters.

And Mark Blumenthal promises that Pollster will put up a trend chart once it has a fifth poll of this race (PPP makes five).

(Ongoing discussion can also be found in calchala’s recommended diary.)


Categories: Politics Tags: , , , ,

Tea Baggers to Picket Detroit Auto Show

January 10th, 2010 admin No comments

What do you do if you’re upset that the government had to bail out the auto industry? If you’re a tea bagger, your first thought it to stamp your feet and whine about how the socialist government is taking over private industry, by picketing the Detroit Auto Show.

The anti-tax group National Tax Day Tea Party has called on supporters from southeast Michigan to “make a peaceful yet clear statement against government takeover of America,” namely the Obama administration’s 61% stake in General Motors.

The auto companies owe the government too much money, so picket them so that they… uh… can’t pay back that money! But hey, this means that the Tea Baggers will be marching beneath Joe Louis’ upraised fist, which should be highly photogenic.

Start lettering those signs, guys, and remember GOD HATES JAGS.


Categories: Politics Tags: , ,

Late afternoon/early evening open thread

January 10th, 2010 admin No comments

What’s coming up on Sunday Kos ….

  • Dante Atkins will introduce himself and try to remind us of just how far we’ve come in his initial essay, (by way of reintroduction).
  • With Ellen Malcolm, the president of EMILY’S List, announcing her retirement, Angry Mouse will examine whether the nation’s largest feminist advocacy organizations are still effective or even necessary.
  • exmearden will stir the dust with thoughts on life, death, health insurance, and, well, dinnerware.
  • Meteor Blades will discuss why progressive activism, both the idealistic and pragmatic kind, is essential for transformative change and always has been.
  • If you’re always looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint, or if you’ve ever been woken up by the noise of a garbage truck, Laura Clawson will tell you about something you’ll wish they had in your town: The Pedal People collect the trash on bicycles.
  • In many ways, 2010 could turn out to be a year that will see unprecedented changes in the national security landscape. One of the areas in which President Obama has the potential to make history is in the area of arms control, specifically with respect to nuclear weapons. Plutonium Page will go beyond the rhetoric and the headlines to show you how.


Categories: Politics Tags: , , ,

White House Backing Away from Net Neutrality? Not So Much

January 10th, 2010 admin No comments

An opinion column at CNET News suggests that the White House is backing away from the strong Net Neutrality position taken by FCC Chairman Genachowski. Larry Downes, “nonresident fellow at the Stanford Law School Center for Internet & Society,” writes:

The Obama administration and its allies at the Federal Communications Commission are retreating from a militant version of Net neutrality regulations first outlined by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in September.

That’s my reading of a number of recent developments, underscored by comments made by government speakers on a panel on the first day of a Tech Policy Summit at CES in Las Vegas….

The administration is clearly backtracking. But why?

Part of the reason is some unexpected political pressure, including a letter signed by 72 congressional Democrats opposing the FCC’s proposed rules soon after they were announced.

But the bigger explanation is the growing priority within the administration for nationwide, affordable broadband service. In the course of preparing the national broadband plan, mandated by the 2009 stimulus bill, universal high-speed access has taken on increased significance in the government’s hopes for a rapid economic recovery. Beyond the current financial woes, Congress, the FCC and the White House all recognize the importance of improving the communications infrastructure to maintain U.S. competitiveness in technology innovation….

The major carriers are making the investments, and have every business reason to make more. But the Net neutrality rules, depending on how the FCC defines key terms, could hamstring their efforts to make their money back. Net neutrality is making Wall Street uncomfortable about financing broadband deployment. That in turn is making the White House nervous.

Net neutrality is turning out to be a noisy side show and a growing distraction from the real priority for both the White House and the FCC: getting the country wired for recovery.

The argument that somehow the administration had completely changed position on the criticality of Net Neutrality as a key component of expanding broadband deployment and the recovery plan was a new one to me. I asked Tim Karr, campaign director for Free Press and the smartest Net Neutrality expert I know, for his take on this interpretation:

Downes offers a series of loose assumptions and scant evidence to support his idea that the White House is backing away from Net Neutrality.

The notion that Net Neutrality is a “sideshow” when it comes to the “real priority” of using the Internet for our recovery blithely ignores the role an open Internet plays to fuel innovation and economic growth in the country.

I gather Downes was too busy conjuring conclusions to have read yesterday’s report from several NYU legal scholars and economists who find that Net Neutrality fosters an essential “open and entrepreneurial dynamic” that “creates billions of dollars in value for American public.” (http://policyintegrity.org/documents/Free_to_Invest.pdf)

The idea that Net Neutrality thwarts investment in network improvements has been thoroughly debunked by real market data. And connecting more people to a non-Neutral (and therefore value-less) Internet is not a sound economic solution.

There has been a concerted effort by AT&T to undermine Genachowski’s strong NN position, including a massive astroturfing campaign with progressive bloggers and organizations (of which I’ve been a target, receiving a handful of e-mails from USIIA, a proxy for AT&T and the phone and cable industry) in an attempt to convince us that strong NN means massive job loss and thus Democratic losses. That effort did get 72 Congressional Dems (all but two of whom received “received campaign donations this year from Internet service providers, the companies most likely to be impacted by new regulations”). But there’s no evidence, outside of Downes’ interpretation, that the administration is wavering.

The FCC is still taking public comments on its strong NN proposed rule-making. Save the Internet has an easy-to-use online tool that you can use to add your support for the proposed rule. But you have to act soon–the comment period closes next Thursday, Jan. 14.


Obama accepts Reid apology for racial remarks

January 10th, 2010 admin No comments

As many have heard by now, Politico reported earlier today on Harry Reid’s remarks–and subsequent apology–about then-candidate Barack Obama featured in a new book:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apologized Saturday for calling Barack Obama a “light-skinned” African-American who lacked a “Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

“I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words. I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African Americans for my improper comments,” Reid said in a statement. His office later confirmed that Reid spoke with the president directly about the matter on Saturday.

Reid’s remarks were revealed in a new book, “Game Change” by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann about the 2008 race. According to the book, Reid was impressed by Obama’s candidacy during the primary campaign, and privately said the country was ready for a black president – particularly a “light-skinned” one “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

In response, President Obama issued the following statement:

Harry Reid called me today and apologized for an unfortunate comment reported today.  I accepted Harry’s apology without question because I’ve known him for years, I’ve seen the passionate leadership he’s shown on issues of social justice and I know what’s in his heart.  As far as I am concerned, the book is closed.


Categories: Politics Tags: ,

Midday open thread

January 10th, 2010 admin No comments
  • Baby, it is cold outside:

    By the end of the weekend, 180 million Americans may shiver through record-setting cold. Sixty percent of Americans will see and feel temperatures 15 to 30 degrees below normal.

  • Let’s talk creative gerrymandering.
  • Ken Burns is going to update his classic baseball documentary.
  • Motor City socialist activists mobilize inside the party to change it:

    Democratic socialists in southeastern Michigan can do something most of their counterparts across the nation cannot: they can boast of electoral victories. Moreover, they possess a level of influence within the Michigan Democratic Party of which many American leftists dream. And they’ve done it all without compromising their beliefs or values.

    Their success has come from working with, instead of against, local Democrats. …

    “As a small organization, how can we make a difference? We leverage our forces. We put our efforts towards a progressive Democrat challenging a Republican, or a progressive Democrat challenging a centrist Democrat [in a primary]. “

    “We don’t pick symbolic victories,” Green says, “We pick things we can win.”

    — Meteor Blades

  • Here’s a story you don’t see every day: Cops are ordered to return marijuana to rightful owner.
  • Color me unconvinced:

    Jan. 8 (Bloomberg) — Timothy Geithner, the former Federal Reserve Bank of New York president, wasn’t aware of efforts to limit American International Group Inc.’s bailout disclosures because the regulator’s top lawyer didn’t think the issue merited his attention, according to a letter sent to lawmakers.

  • Business Week looks at the new importance of IMAX to contributing to Hollywood blockbuster status.
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has announced its Top Ten Science Stories of 2009, including:

    The changing conditions in the ocean due to increased acidity from increased CO2 is one of the unknowns in future climate change projections.  LANL’s Climate, Ocean, and Sea Ice Modeling effort for DOE and the National Science Foundation develops the highest-resolution dynamic models of the world’s oceans and polar icecaps.

    – Plutonium Page

  • The New York Times looks at how spending habits are changing due to the recession, and Newsweek looks at just how long those habits might last:

    The Recession Generation: Those entering the workforce now will likely make less and save more—not just in the short term but for the rest of their lives.

  • CBS polls Americans about their weekends:

    Sixty-three percent of those surveyed say they ask themselves “Where did the weekend go?” while only 34 percent say they feel relaxed and ready for Monday morning. Working Americans and parents of children under age 18 are even less likely to feel rested and relaxed at the end of a weekend.

    While the weekends fly by for many, fewer than half (42 percent) of working Americans say they would give up a day’s pay per week in exchange for a longer weekend to spend more time with family and friends. Fifty-three percent of Americans said they would rather keep their current hours and pay even it means less time with family.

  • Proof that not all big elections this year are legislative in nature–social conservatives are gunning to claim a bigger stake of the Texas State Board of Education. Their success or failure could say a great deal about the quality of education for a generation of kids in the second-largest state in the Union. What are the goals of the cons?

    Another far-reaching decision will come next week, when board members decide what students must learn in U.S. history, government and other social studies courses. The board is sharply divided on the topic; social conservatives, for example, want a greater role for religion in U.S. history classes and textbooks.

    “I see [the elections] as a referendum on what we’ve done the last few years,” said Republican board member Don McLeroy, an outspoken social conservative who served as chairman until last summer.

    The seven Republicans who make up the conservative bloc have made their influence felt in new curriculum standards for English and science – including much debated language that requires students to examine “all sides” of scientific evidence for evolution in biology classes.

    In a real way, this matters every bit as much as any singular House or Senate campaign. Worth keeping an eye on. –Steve Singiser

  • Katha Pollitt examines The Decade for Women: Forward, Backward, Sideways?:

    Women are still drastically underrepresented on op-ed pages, on Sunday chat-shows, as experts in news stories, and are scanted in literary prizes, awards and Best of the Year lists, as actresses and directors and playwrights. It seemed like 20,248 articles and 1,507 books were published explaining why women’s inequality is their own fault.

    — Meteor Blades


Will Durst: 2010 Predictions

January 10th, 2010 admin No comments

All right, it was a hecka long holiday season. I’m tired and you’re tired. And neither of us has the energy to go through the whole post- modern deconstructionist explanation as to why you’re reading a predictions column here. Yes, I’m doing a predictions column. What’s the matter with you people? It’s the beginning of a new year. Hell, it’s the beginning of a new decade. That’s what journalists do: prediction columns. It’s a festive tradition. Like mistletoe or Hopping John or calling hospital emergency rooms when Uncle Bud goes missing in the wee hours of Boxing Day. And no, I don’t care that we’re already deep enough into January that most of our resolutions lie broken on the calendar floor like branches of a discarded Noble fir on the shoulder of a logging camp approach road. C’mon people, what am I, flying solo here? Deal with it. Or don’t. Because here they are: a list of predictions of what we can or should expect from various people during the 1st year of the second decade of the 21st century.

I PREDICT THAT IN THE YEAR 2010:
The Airline Industry will make every effort to rid the skies of the most dangerous security threat known to man: panties.
Charlie Sheen will attempt to hire whoever is responsible for Tiger Woods’ damage control.
Steve Jobs will evacuate a series of smooth, light and aerodynamically curvaceous clumps of waste, which will be reported upon at great length.
Barack Obama will finally purge himself of that overabundance of expectations for a bit of Congressional assistance.
Tiger Woods will win the Masters evidencing such a triumphant links return that other PGA wives will be encouraged to take 9 irons to their husbands’ Escalades.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will direct his security detail to check out the firm responsible for Charlie Sheen’s damage control.
Termed out California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will band together with Jean Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal to form The Seniors Action- Star Film Series.
The US Congress will outline a plan to fix the Social Security problem once and for all that may or may not involve raising the retirement age to 83.
In order to thwart further underwear bombing plots, the TSA will perfect the speedy implementation of the two handed wedgie.
The Teabaggers will actively set out to find someone in their movement involved in popular culture sufficiently to help them vet a new name.
Law & Order Producer Dick Wolf will create his own network and fill each and every prime time slot with Law & Order & Law & Order spin-offs including a posthumous CGI enhanced Law & Order featuring fan favorite Jerry Orbach.
Joe Biden will undergo intense personal training to learn how to shut the hell up during moments of silence at Arlington National Cemetery.
Hillary Clinton will finally spit out that piece of meat stuck in her craw.
Jerry Brown will receive a clean bill of health from his paleontologist and go on to win the California gubernatorial election after being recognized as the biggest goober in the race.
George Steinbrenner will convince the Commissioner to award the 2010 World Series championship to the Yankees before the season starts to save wear and tear on his expensively fragile lineup.
CEO of the CIA, Leon Panetta will get a piece of meat stuck in his craw.
Former Vice President Al Gore will continue to cultivate a high profile in order to finally realize his dream of becoming a permanent cast member on Saturday Night Live.
Sarah Palin will actually finish, nah, never mind.

Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic, who writes sometimes; this being a sterling example.
Catch Durst in stand- up mode at The Pipeline Café in Honolulu on Wednesday, January 13th.


Categories: World Tags: , , , , ,

Failed Underwear Bombing: Ten Things President Obama Could Have Done To Make It All Better

January 9th, 2010 admin No comments
President Obama With Advisers
  1. Immediately flown to Detroit to examine the underwear personally.
  1. Ordered an immediate cessation of domestic underwear production and imposed a ban on imports of all underwear.
  1. Bombed any facility overseas developing undergarments of any sort (aka, Weapons of Ass Destruction)
  1. Declared another war on Iraq.
  1. Put Vice President Biden in a secure, undisclosed location.
  1. Demanded that John McCain finally reveal his secret plan to capture Osama bin Laden
  1. Lowered the flag to half-staff on all Federal buildings to honor the victims of Northwest Flight 253.
  1. Showed leadership by no longer wearing underpants on Air Force One.
  1. Asked Donald Rumsfeld to take over the Department of Homeland Security
  1. Declared Mission Accomplished.


Categories: Politics Tags:

How’s that Name-Change Working Out?

January 9th, 2010 admin No comments

Back in 2007, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced Senate Bill S 2398, the Stop Outsourcing Security Act. It collected a single co-sponsor, Senator Hillary Clinton.

The crux of the bill:

The use of private security contractors for mission critical functions undermines the mission, jeopardizes the safety of American troops conducting military operations in Iraq and other combat zones, and should be phased out.

It went nowhere.

Back in the heat of the presidential campaign, in February 2008, Senator Clinton said that:

“…from this war’s very beginning, this administration has permitted thousands of heavily-armed military contractors to march through Iraq without any law or court to rein them in or hold them accountable. These private security contractors have been reckless and have compromised out mission in Iraq. The time to show these contractors the door is long past due.”

Indeed. And Clinton’s voice was not the only one raised against the damage done by mercenaries. A Congressional report found the same, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had tough words as well.

One of the main catalysts for those tough words was the company that now calls itself Xe but is still known to everyone as Blackwater. Although Blackwater’s contract for security work in Iraq was canceled after nearly five years of behavior that some might call scandalously reckless and I call bloodthirsty, the administration in which Clinton is now a key player has found itself unable to cut its ties to Blackwater. At a hearing last month of the Commission on Wartime Contracting, it was learned, as Justin Elliott reported at TPMuckracker, that Blackwater pre-qualified as one of the five companies to train Afghan police. It was learned too that Blackwater is the only company that handles security for State Department employees in Afghanistan. And it obviously has a security contract with the CIA for front line work in Afghanistan.

The question is why. Or, rather, what the hell? As if U.S. military interventions weren’t problematic enough, these cowboys still operate as if they were in some third-tier action movie. Not a low-budget one, however.  

As if all the sanguinary scandals and investigations of the past weren’t enough, all through December, the headlines fairly screamed “Blackwatergate.”

First came the news about Blackwater participating in CIA raids in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Then a more than mildly perturbed judge ruled that the five company employees who had killed 17 civilians in Iraq couldn’t be tried because federal prosecutors had botched what should have been an airtight case against them by violating their constitutional rights. Then it was learned that two of the seven CIA operatives killed December 30 by a double-agent suicide bomber in Khost, Afghanistan, were Blackwater employees. Then it turned out that a third Blackwater employee was injured in the Khost bombing. Then two Blackwater employees were indicted for murdering two Afghans last May.

The news about the deaths at Khost sent Illinois Democrat Jan Schakowsky, chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, over the edge. She was launching an investigation she told Jeremy Scahill, a reporter at The Nation who has been following Blackwater since he began research for his outstanding 2008 book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. Schakowsky said:
 

“The Intelligence Committees and the public were led to believe that the CIA was phasing out its contracts with Blackwater and now we find out that there is this ongoing presence. … Is the CIA once again deceiving us about the relationship with Blackwater?

“It’s just astonishing that given the track record of Blackwater, which is a repeat offender endangering our mission repeatedly, endangering the lives of our military and costing the lives of innocent civilians, that there would be any relationship,” Schakowsky said. “That we would continue to contract with them or any of Blackwater’s subsidiaries is completely unacceptable.”

Today, on Democracy Now, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez interviewed Scahill and Schakowsky. You can watch it, read the transcript at the link, or read the excerpt below:

JEREMY SCAHILL: … Let’s remember here that this was the worst attack on a CIA base that we know about since the 1980s. And here you have three Blackwater guys in the center of this blast at the time. Now, we’re not sure what the role was of the Blackwater guys there. That’s what Representative Schakowsky is investigating right now. But let’s say for a moment that they were doing security, because Blackwater has, since 2002, had a contract with the CIA to do force protection in Afghanistan for the CIA. They not only guard static outposts of the CIA, but when CIA operatives move around the country, Blackwater guys travel with them as their security.

So if they were doing the security there, and you have, on their watch, this incredibly devastating attack, not just against some random CIA outpost in the middle of Canada or something, but against the epicenter of the forward operating maneuvers that the intelligence community of the US is engaged in to hunt down Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden, because this asset made it onto that base, we understand, claiming that he had just met with Ayman al-Zawahiri. So how is it that he walks in there with explosives? And then, I think that should be one of the things that’s investigated as Congresswoman Schakowsky takes this on.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Congresswoman Schakowsky, your concerns about this latest report and what you’re hoping to look into?

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY: You know, regardless of what the role that the Blackwater operatives were playing in this incident, why is the CIA, why is any unit of the government, the State Department, the Department of Defense—why would anyone hire this company, which is a repeat offender, threatening the mission of the United States, threatening, endangering the lives of American, well, CIA and military, and then—and also known to threaten and kill innocent civilians? It is just amazing to me, astonishing to me, that we still find Blackwater anywhere in the employ of the United States government at any place around the world.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, during the primaries, Hillary Clinton supported a ban on Blackwater. President Obama didn’t. How does that relate to what you’re introducing now, the legislation that you’re introducing?

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY: Look, I’m introducing legislation called Stop Outsourcing Our Security, and the idea of that is that when we have mission-sensitive activities, inherently governmental functions in battle zones around the world, that we should have only people that bear the stamp of the United States government. And that means that that would include no private military contractors at all in those operations.

Now, look, when we have a situation where you can question whether or not these contractors can get away with murder—after all, this case against those shooters at Nisoor Square has been dismissed—hopefully that there will be another effort by the Justice Department to go after these people, because it was dismissed for prosecutorial misconduct, which is true. I think there were many mistakes made. But right now, these contractors are in a legal limbo. And so, if these individuals can get away with murder, imagine—you don’t have to imagine, you know what it does to our relations with the Iraqi government and with governments around the world. And now you’ve got a situation where Germany is asking, what were Blackwater people doing in Germany?

Not just Blackwater. Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, chairperson of the Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, pointed out in mid-December that from June 2009 to September 2009, there was a 40% increase in Defense Department contractors in Afghanistan. In the same period, the number of armed private security contractors working for the Pentagon in Afghanistan doubled, to more than 10,000.

I suspect that the Stop Outsourcing Our Security legislation has no more chance of passing in 2010 than it did in 2007-08. That’s not merely troubling, it’s infuriating. Because whatever you think of U.S. policy in Afghanistan – and I think the White House is on the wrong track and we’ll all soon come to regret it – who can doubt that these private armies are a serious danger, and not just to U.S. “interests and image” abroad, but, quite possibly in the not-too-distant future, to citizens at home.  


Late afternoon/early evening open thread

January 9th, 2010 admin No comments

What’s coming up on Sunday Kos ….

  • Dante Atkins will introduce himself and try to remind us of just how far we’ve come in his initial essay, (by way of reintroduction).
  • With Ellen Malcolm, the president of EMILY’S List, announcing her retirement, Angry Mouse will examine whether the nation’s largest feminist advocacy organizations are still effective or even necessary.
  • exmearden will stir the dust with thoughts on life, death, health insurance, and, well, dinnerware.
  • Meteor Blades will discuss why progressive activism, both the idealistic and pragmatic kind, is essential for transformative change and always has been.
  • If you’re always looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint, or if you’ve ever been woken up by the noise of a garbage truck, Laura Clawson will tell you about something you’ll wish they had in your town: The Pedal People collect the trash on bicycles.
  • In many ways, 2010 could turn out to be a year that will see unprecedented changes in the national security landscape. One of the areas in which President Obama has the potential to make history is in the area of arms control, specifically with respect to nuclear weapons. Plutonium Page will go beyond the rhetoric and the headlines to show you how.


Categories: Politics Tags: , , ,