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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: , , , ,

Steele abruptly cancels ABC interview

January 9th, 2010 admin No comments

Uh-oh…is RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s head about to roll? CQ Politics:

Under fire from top donors and Congressional Republicans, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele Friday abruptly cancelled a scheduled noon interview with ABC News — the network that has played host to some of Steele more controversial statements.

Steele had been scheduled for an appearance on “Top Line” with Rick Klein, but after confirming his noon appearance at 11:15 with Klein, Steele suddenly backed out 15 minutes later, according to Klein’s Twitter feed.

According to Klein’s tweets, Steele initially blamed his cancellation on a mysteriousemergency meeting.” Next, sources told Klein there was not only no emergency meeting, there was no meeting at all. Then, the story changed again, with aides claiming that there was a meeting scheduled, but it wasn’t an emergency. Hmmm, sounds fishy.

Who knows what is going on, but just in case this is our last chance to weigh in on the matter, it’s time for our first ever official leadership poll on Michael Steele.

Let your voice be heard!


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Chris Weigant: Friday Talking Points [106] — Election Season Begins

January 9th, 2010 admin No comments

Before we begin our weekly talking points, we must sadly offer our condolences to Vice President Joe Biden, whose mother just passed away. No matter what side of the political divide you come from, or what you think of our Vice President, losing your mother is something everyone can sympathize with, so we offer our thoughts to the Biden family in this sad time for them.

Of course, in Washington, the craziness goes on as usual, forcing us once again to pay attention to various bits of lunacy. Topping the list of lunatics this week was a man arrested for jogging naked near the White House. Now, I’ve got to admit, although “streaking” is a fad we all wish would make a comeback, you’ve got to hand it to this guy for pulling such a stunt in January in Washington, rather than waiting until at least the cherry blossoms had peeked out. Jogging around The Ellipse naked in January? Brrr!

The media continues its ongoing lunacy, this week hitting their well-used chorus of: “everything is bad news for Democrats, all the time.” But we’ll get to that a bit later, in the actual talking points.

The final bit of lunacy is the breathlessness which awaits the decision of when to hold the State Of The Union speech, which was earlier rumored to possibly pre-empt the season-opening episode of Lost. This will likely go down in history as the first time the biggest speech the president makes each year had to worry about enraging fans of a television show. This is mostly due to the fact that previous presidents didn’t have to worry about such lunacy, and the fact that television used to actually have “seasons,” and the “season” started in the fall and went through uninterrupted to spring, after which time re-runs would air until the “season” started again. Nowadays, television has mini-seasons which start and end for no particular reason, at random times during the year, resulting in fewer actual new episodes for viewers. Don’t even get me started on that particular lunacy, please.

But we can all breathe a sigh of relief, as the White House is now reassuring everyone that Obama will not pre-empt Lost, but will instead pre-empt the last ten minutes of the Super Bowl.

Heh. Just kidding. Because that really would get some folks annoyed at the president. Hoo boy.

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

The Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week was an easy choice. Senator Chris Dodd made an impressive announcement this week, that he would not be seeking re-election this year.

This is good news, because Dodd’s chances of winning weren’t good, and instead this virtually guarantees Democrats will hold this seat. Dodd, quite plainly, put his party’s interests ahead of his own self-interest. And that is a rare thing indeed in politics, even when you are faced with poll numbers which say you’re going to lose.

Senator Byron Dorgan decided to step down as well, but Democrats don’t have as good a chance in North Dakota of holding on to his seat. Dorgan was faced with the same bad polling news as Dodd, and decided one more run wasn’t worth it. To be fair, we’ll give him a Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week as well.

Because politicians who step down early from a losing race at least give some up-and-comer a shot at winning back the seat. The alternative is to run a campaign everyone knows you are going to lose, and by doing so, give the other party an easy pickup. At least this way, even if Democrats lose, they’ll at least have a better shot at winning than if Dorgan had tried to run again. The betting is that Republicans will pick up North Dakota anyway, I have to admit.

But for putting party ahead of ego, we congratulate Senators Byron Dorgan and Chris Dodd for winning Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week. The award is Dodd’s ninth, putting him in third place on the all-time rankings, and Dorgan’s third, putting him in a nine-way tie for eighth place.

[Congratulate Senator Chris Dodd on his Senate contact page and Senator Byron Dorgan on his Senate contact page, to let them know you appreciate their efforts.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

I almost couldn’t think of a Democrat who disappointed me, which is remarkable since we’re really covering a three-week period this week (due to ourselves being pre-empted by our own annual McLaughlin Awards columns, of course).

But then Tim Geithner’s scandal sprang to mind.

Now, Geithner hasn’t been actually convicted of anything, but what leaked out this week was pretty damaging. Geithner, at the New York Federal Reserve, apparently was in the center of some hanky-panky involving AIG and the whole financial collapse last year (before Geithner was named Secretary of the Treasury). Geithner may have told AIG executives to keep quiet about some payments made (after AIG got billions of taxpayer bailout money), so the Securities and Exchange Commission wouldn’t find out about them.

This could be a big enough scandal to force Geithner to resign, although for now it seems he (and the White House) is hunkering down and hoping it will blow over.

Whatever comes of it, though, for telling a bailed-out company to essentially lie to a government regulatory agency, Geithner has more than earned Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week.

[Secretary Timothy Geithner has no contact info on the Treasury Department webpage, but you can always let the White House know what you think of his actions.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 106 (1/8/10)

The usual talking point from the media, no matter the subject or circumstance, is how bad things are for Democrats, as I mentioned previously. This week, it reached a crescendo of fantastical proportions, as news headline after news headline screamed: “Democrats retiring — midterms will be Republican blowout!”

Democrats, as usual, appear befuddled by the whole thing. Democrats need to wake up, and start sounding a little more confident about their chances in the upcoming election. Not to the extent of appearing Pollyannaish, but still, they need to realize that doom-and-gloom can quickly become a self-fulfilling prophecy in the political world.

Democrats face the same conundrum that faces teenage boys everywhere — girls aren’t interested in guys who exude self-doubt, they are drawn instead to those who appear self-confident. The electorate, in this twisted metaphor, are the teenage girls (which actually isn’t that bad a comparison, considering the fickle nature of both).

So instead of individual talking points this week, I offer up instead one big talking point — how to talk about the upcoming elections, and Democrats’ prospects. This may be seen by some as sheer laziness on my part, which is probably a fair criticism, but in my defense, I am in the process of preparing to upgrade my ChrisWeigant.com website this weekend, and have been swamped with lots of details on this front. Next week, I promise, we’ll get back to a regular format here.

So, for Democrats everywhere, especially those about to be interviewed, let’s have a little rah-rah go-team talk for a change, because the Republican spin is solidifying in the media’s myopic eye, and will soon set as hard as concrete. Democrats need to counter this — soon — with some of their own spin. To wit:

 

“I see the media is obsessed over two Democratic senators announcing their retirement. But what goes completely unmentioned in these stories is the fact that six Republican senators have also announced they’re not running.

“Let’s do a little math, shall we? Two Democrats out of 58 is a little over three percent. Six Republicans out of forty is fifteen percent. So, the media’s focus on three percent of Democrats retiring, while completely ignoring the fifteen percent of Republicans retiring strikes me as a little one-sided in its reporting.

“Over in the House, much has been made over Democratic retirements as well, while ignoring the fact that more Republicans are retiring from House seats than Democrats. This is not exactly ‘fair and balanced’ reporting, guys.

“In actual fact, the two retirement announcements by Byron Dorgan and Chris Dodd were actually good news for Democrats. Before the retirement announcement, people were betting that both of them would lose their seats to Republicans. Net loss to Democrats, two seats, in other words. After the announcement, the smart money is that Democrats will hold onto the Connecticut seat. Net Democratic loss, one seat. By these announcements, Democrats’ chances in the Senate actually improved — but I must have missed all those news stories which examined this fact.

“History shows that a new president’s party will lose some seats in Congress in the midterm elections. But we Democrats do not see this as any sort of ‘landslide’ election, because we fully expect to start 2011 with a majority in both the House and Senate. We simply do not think that it is in the cards for Republicans to take control of either house of Congress this year.

“We’ve got some mighty good candidates running in some very competitive races, and if we ran the table, we even have an outside chance of picking up a few seats in the Senate. We do face some tough races to hold onto a few of our seats, it is true, but we also have some opportunities in other states of picking up a few seats as well. So I wouldn’t be writing the obituary of Democratic control of Congress quite yet, if I were you.

“Democrats have shown in the past year that we are willing to tackle the enormous challenges our country faces at the moment, and offer solid solutions for how to improve America in the future. Republicans have shown that they know how to say the word ‘no.’ Over and over and over again. It seems to be their entire party platform — stand in the way of progress, and obstruct everything rational adults know needs doing.

“We don’t think voters are ready to go back to the way Republicans ran things when they were in charge. We don’t think voters trust Republicans to be fiscally responsible, because when they were in power they refused to even pretend to pay for anything. Democrats have taken the lead in what is called ‘pay as you go’ legislation — making sure that things are paid for, and not just heaping on more spending.

“The voters are understandably annoyed over all the bailout money which President Bush had to ask Congress for, after the economy collapsed on his watch due to deregulation. But that money is starting to be paid back, and the taxpayers may even eventually turn a profit on the money, as the economy enters full recovery.

“Democrats are proud to run on our record, and will be making this case to voters everywhere this election season. And we are fairly confident that the voters are going to take a good hard look at both parties, and they’re going to see Democrats as the party that gets things done, and Republicans as the party of ‘no.’

“If the voters can even figure out who is a Republican and who is not, that is. It seems there is a gigantic intra-party struggle between Republicans and the insurgent Tea Party folks. The Republican Party is moving to a very radical, hard-right fringe position, and we don’t see that as a recipe for success in getting elected.

“Americans want to see their government work. Most of them aren’t interested in destroying government for some ideologically narrow viewpoint. But that, it seems, is what the Republican Party is offering them this year.

“Which is why I’m actually feeling pretty good about Democrats’ chances in the upcoming election. We think we can energize our base, and convince swing voters that we are the ones offering good ideas for moving the country forward. And, with Republicans offering nothing more than a vision of moving this country backwards, we think our chances are actually pretty good this year — especially since it looks like Republicans will be defending more open seats than Democrats.”

 

Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com

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Boxee Box interface demo video

January 9th, 2010 admin No comments

We’re already gone hands-on with the Boxee Box and its sweet QWERTY RF remote, but now that we know there’s a dual-core Tegra 2 in there it’s time for a little interface demo with founder Avner Ronen. First things first: yes, it ran Hulu in the browser — but the network connection on the show floor was acting up, so we couldn’t demo it very well. Avner tells us the built-in browser IDs itself as essentially standard Mozilla, so we’ll have to see if Hulu goes out of its way to block it –it’s definitely still possible, but it’ll take some work. Apart from that minor drama, we’ve got to say we’re incredibly impressed — the interface was lightning fast, the remote’s keyboard felt great, and we’re liking the Facebook / Twitter integration, which mines your feeds for videos posted by your friends and displays them on the home page. Avner tells us he thinks D-Link will be “aggressive” with that under-$200 price point when the Box launches in Q2, and there’ll be tons of content partners at launch. Video after the break!

Continue reading Boxee Box interface demo video

Boxee Box interface demo video originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 08 Jan 2010 18:41:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Categories: Electronics, Technology Tags: , , ,

Waylon Lewis: Is Avatar a "Recruiting Film for Eco Terrorists?"

January 8th, 2010 admin No comments

Red County Blogger: Avatar is Subliminal Eco Propaganda!

avatar green eco
~
…Actually, what Dr. (of what) Richard Swier says is far worse, and far more laughable:

“AVATAR – Recruiting Film for Eco-terrorists?”

Dr. ThinkTooMuchOughtaGetOutsideForSomeFreshAir’s whole article is about how Avatar has a hidden “let’s live in harmony with our own planet earth for the sake of our children” agenda. Say it ain’t so!
.
My guess: James Cameron will repent right around the same time that Tiger Woods gets himself some Brit Hume-worthy forgiveness.

avatar republican red county green eco propaganda

Excerpt via Red County:

I saw it as pure eco-propaganda released to coincide with the end of the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen. Just like Copenhagen this movie is a flop in terms of content and outcomes. However, AVATAR and Copenhagen are both successes because they are part of the never ending propaganda movement to “save the planet” from you and me, the evil human beings. Just as AVATAR is science fiction, human caused global warming science is a fraud. But both live on in spite of bad reviews, scientific facts, and negative public opinion.

AVATAR is pure eco-propaganda designed to subtly and not so subtly force the environmentalist agenda on us all. The story line in AVATAR is simple: Humans invade the pristine planet Pandora with the intent to take all its natural resources for profit.

Did you get the Pandora analogy? You know, by extracting natural resources we are opening Pandora’s box and thereby releasing all the evils of mankind. When Pandora closed the box she left only hope inside.

Several times in the movie the comment is made that planet earth is a wasteland and that is why humans are seeking minerals on other planets like Pandora. Of course Pandora is inhabited by primitive tribes of the Na’vi race (akin to the “Elves” of the Earth Liberation Front) who are in touch with nature and their “mother” planet. The Na’vi physically link, much like a computer, with various animals, plants, and of course trees, all kinds of trees. Trees and animals are the spiritual symbols of environmentalists, particularly those groups involved in eco-terrorism…

can’t get enough? Click here!

Don’t bother with outraged comments. I’m filing this one under “comedy.”

Bonus: “Proud Flag-Waving Communists and Socialists March in Copenhagen to Stop Global Warming”

And the Avatar trailer, for the two of you who, like me, hadn’t yet seen it:

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Chris Weigant: Obama’s Second-Year Potential

January 7th, 2010 admin No comments

President Barack Obama has the potential of having a pretty good second year in office. Conventional inside-the-Beltway wisdom is that “nothing much gets done in a congressional election year,” but this ignores the fact that life itself does not halt for electioneering, but rather keeps right on happening. And there are quite a few positive things either explicitly scheduled for 2010, or at least very likely to happen. This doesn’t automatically mean the president is guaranteed to have a great year, but it certainly sets the scene for Obama managing to have a fairly good year.

The first good news Obama is expecting is the culmination of an effort which absorbed much of his first year in office — healthcare reform legislation appearing on his desk to sign into law. Barring any huge surprises, at some point in the next few weeks, Obama’s going to be able to proclaim a legislative victory that (in his own words) “seven previous presidents” have attempted — and failed to achieve.

This will be the end of a long battle, and for many (who fought for even stronger reforms), it may not feel like much of a victory at all. But most of the American public doesn’t fixate on “what might have been” so much, preferring instead to focus on “something getting done.” And something big and historic is indeed about to get done. Whether this turns out to be a political plus or minus is likely going to have to take a few years to figure out, but in the immediate future it will be hailed as a big win for the president. Even the mainstream media will have to begrudgingly give Obama some credit on this issue. Obama will proudly say he campaigned on big issues, and has now checked one of them off his list.

Of course, Obama’s big ambitions have yet to be fully matched with the strategy and tactics he chooses to use in order to promote his agenda, but being president is always a learning process. And, hopefully, Obama has learned a few lessons from his first year in office. This also has potential to become a much stronger political plus for the president, as he will (assumably) make fewer rookie stumbles next year, and become more effective in nudging Congress to produce. Tactics which bear no fruit (such as Obama’s wishes for bipartisanship) will likely be either completely abandoned, or just be given minimal lip service in the coming year.

Obama’s second year will begin in grand fashion, with the traditional State Of The Union address to a joint session of Congress, and to the American public at large. The speech has already been moved a few weeks back, to “early February,” to give the House and the Senate time to get the healthcare bill on his desk. This is smart, because standing up and saying “we got healthcare reform done” is a lot better than mumbling, “well, we’re almost there, give us a little more time….” Obama will use the stature of the speech to remind America where we all were one year ago, point out some of the good things that Democrats have accomplished, and also remind everyone of some bad things which were avoided. Presidents usually get a bump in the polls from giving State Of The Union speeches, and Obama will most likely reap this benefit as well.

But the biggest, and most important thing which could happen in 2010 is which direction the economy will be heading. Once again, Obama can most likely expect some good news on this front. This may begin before any of the rest of the items on this list, as the unemployment numbers for last month come out in a few days. The last week of last year saw a steep drop in people initially filing for unemployment, which may be no more than an anomaly (most bosses are assumably bright enough to either fire people before the holidays, or wait until just after, rather than dumping workers between Christmas and New Year’s). But even if it is an anomaly, it may result in the best news Obama could hope for at this point — that America actually added jobs last month, instead of suffering yet another net loss. This will be the first time in a long time that this has happened, and the first time during Obama’s presidency.

Of course, Democrats (including Obama) will urge, cautiously, not to read too much into this number — every time they speak of it. But this restraint will fail to completely conceal the glee that they feel in being able to report some good news on the jobs front, just as the midterm election season gets underway. Much more importantly, if the good news continues for a few months, then Democrats can start talking about the “economic recovery” in a more full-throated fashion. Which will help Democrats’ chances in the congressional elections, and will also help Obama himself. If the country starts thinking “things are getting slowly better” rather than “things continue to get worse,” it always helps the party in power in Washington, as measured by opinion polls.

A minor piece of all this is the decennial census, which will take place this year. This means a lot of people are going to get temporary jobs, which (in a minor way) will help improve the employment numbers for the next few months as well.

Obama, and Congress, are likely to spend a few months on some window-dressing “jobs legislation,” which (if you ask economists) will likely have very little actual result this year (these things take a lot of time), but which will politically benefit the Democrats, because at least they’ll be seen as addressing the problem. Especially if Republicans fight every proposal tooth and nail (as seems a safe bet, at this point).

The next big piece of good news for Obama will be a massive troop withdrawal from Iraq. The Iraqi national elections were supposed to take place this month, but got pushed back to the first week in March. But the American military commanders on the ground say they are going to stick to their schedule of beginning to withdraw combat troops in early May, and will do so at the rate of 12,500 troops per month, until all combat forces are gone (leaving about 50,000 troops in the country, until the final withdrawal takes place at the end of next year). This has always been the plan, and was actually put in place by President Bush, right before he left office a year ago. But for three or four months this spring and summer, television screens will show joyful reunions of soldiers and their families — which, politically, is good news, and will help Obama (somewhat) with the people who are outraged over his Afghanistan policy.

And, while speculative, the Washington rumor-mill has it that at least one (and possibly two) Supreme Court Justices will announce their retirement at the end of this year’s term. This means that during the summer, Obama will be able to nominate his second pick for the high court. His last pick did him a lot of good with Latinos, and one expects that his next pick will also gain him some political capital with a portion of his Democratic base.

One thing on the calendar this year which isn’t likely to do Democrats or Obama much good is the fact that the 2001 Bush tax cuts are set to expire next year. The reason this is politically dangerous for Democrats is that revamping tax policy is not exactly an election-winner for Democrats (or, at least, it hasn’t been for quite a while). Republicans are going to make as much political hay over this situation as possible, and Democrats are already signaling that they are likely to punt on the issue, and pass a very short-term (one to three years’ worth) tax policy, so don’t look for any structural, sweeping changes on this front. Republicans are also going to be fear-mongering on the deficit, but again, I wouldn’t look for Democrats to do much more than a bit of grandstanding on this issue, either.

Speaking of grandstanding without accomplishing anything, Obama will likely not get his energy policy through Congress this year, either. Bruised from the healthcare battles, and facing election season, I just don’t see it in the cards for cap-and-trade legislation (or anything of similar significance on energy) to actually get passed this year. Of course, I could be wrong about that. But, again, Democrats will likely at least be seen as making the attempt, while Republicans fight any ideas tooth and nail, further cementing their “Party of No” label in the American electorate.

Which brings me to the final issue likely to be a big one politically in 2010 — immigration reform. Now this one could really go either way. It could very easily, like energy legislation, get punted to next year. But that is going to seriously annoy Latinos, who are fast becoming one of the biggest and most important constituencies in the Democratic Party. Getting Sotomayor on the Supreme Court was a nice victory for Latinos, but their biggest goal is comprehensive immigration reform. And they’re not in the mood to hear “we’ll tackle it next year, promise” from the Democratic Party at this point.

Meaning both Obama and Democrats in Congress may have to move forward on the issue — which may become one of the most contentious issues of the entire year, politically. This could wind up helping Democrats, and it could just as easily wind up hurting them.

The biggest reason for this is the fact that immigration reform opponents will tie the issue to the “jobs” issue. With unemployment at record levels, they will argue, why should we allow millions more into the legal job market at this point in time? The economy improving will dull this argument a bit, but nowhere near enough (as the economy simply isn’t going to get that much better that quickly).

But that’s assuming that immigration reform opponents will calmly and rationally explain their objections to the public, without going overboard with demagoguery. And my money is on the opposition getting so emotional on the issue that they find themselves allied with racist elements, as has happened before. Now, to clarify, I think most Republicans in office are smart enough to avoid direct race-baiting on the immigration issue, but I also think the people who show up at right-wing rallies and get their signs on television will not likewise be so restrained. Which will wind up hurting their cause with moderate suburban voters and independents.

Republicans have tried this before. Republican candidates in the past few congressional elections have latched on to anti-immigrant rhetoric in an attempt to get elected, and most of them have failed — even in border states where the issue is of paramount political importance. Sooner or later Republicans are going to realize that this really isn’t a winning issue for them to demagogue, either in the short term (of winning a specific election), or in the long term (by driving Latinos away from their party for a generation).

So, if handled correctly, pushing for comprehensive immigration reform could be a good political move for Democrats this year — especially if they actually get something passed before the election. Democrats face a real “enthusiasm gap” among voters, heading in to this November’s contests, and boosting Latino enthusiasm could go a long way towards improving this situation.

Of course, the latter half of the year will be consumed with the midterm elections. Dire predictions of the Democrats’ chances are already a dime a dozen among the punditry. Later this year, look for the main storyline to be “this election is a referendum on Obama,” even though most elections at the state level are concerned with either local issues or the personalities of the candidates themselves. Historically, presidents almost always lose seats in their first midterms, so that’s what the expectation is for 2010. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that Republicans will likely not take control of either house of Congress this November. Democrats will likely lose some seats in the House, but still retain a healthy majority. Over in the Senate, Democrats may lose a few seats, and by doing so, lose their 60-vote supermajority. This could be a prescription for utter gridlock on Capitol Hill for the next two years, as the Republicans gleefully filibuster everything to death.

But, with the bar so low on what people are expecting out of the midterms (due mostly to the media’s “Democrats are toast this year” drumbeat), Democrats may actually surprise the chattering classes and do better than expected. As long as the election isn’t a total rout, Obama shouldn’t be damaged politically too much by the results.

Of course, as I mentioned, having less than 60 seats in the Senate may bode ill for Obama’s political future in the final two years of his term. But 2010 is actually shaping up to be a pretty good year for him, at least with events that can be foreseen. The potential exists, as always, of unforeseen events completely overshadowing any or all of this, but “unforeseen” (by definition) means such things can’t be predicted in advance. And looking over the events which can be predicted to be on the calendar for the president’s second year shows that the potential is there for Barack Obama to have a much better year politically than he did last year. Whether he capitalizes on this potential or not remains to be seen, but at least this positive potential exists, at this point.

 

Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

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Panasonic’s other 2010 Blu-ray players keep making 2D look & sound better

January 7th, 2010 admin No comments

Not planning to make the jump to 3D this year? Panasonic is still working on hardware for you too. Continued revisions of the UniPhier processor and PHL Reference Chroma Processor Plus hardware at their core to improve picture quality, reduce size & power consumption, and lower the bootup time from off to playing to just 14 seconds. The DMP-BD45 foregoes any VieraCast features beyond BD-Live hookups, while the BD65 and BD85 (above) add access to streaming services, expanded audio codec processing, and in the case of the BD85, additional hardware tweaks to keep audiophiles happy. Check the PR after the break for every detail except price and shipping dates — we won’t call you Luddites for living in a 3D-less world, just think (& Twitter) it.

Continue reading Panasonic’s other 2010 Blu-ray players keep making 2D look & sound better

Panasonic’s other 2010 Blu-ray players keep making 2D look & sound better originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 06 Jan 2010 20:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Punching straw

January 6th, 2010 admin No comments

Under the header “Um, Pathetic,” the New Yorker’s Hendrick Hertzberg takes on left-wing critics of the health care reform bill. Notably, Hertzberg actually agrees with the substantive criticism of the health care bill.

The left-wing critics are right about the conspicuous flaws of the pending health-care reform—its lack of even a weak “public option,” its too meagre subsidies, its windfalls for Big Pharma, its capitulation on abortion coverage, its reliance on private insurance. And there are surely senators and representatives whose motives are base or, broadly speaking, corrupt.

So what’s Hertzberg’s beef?

But it is nonsense to attribute the less than fully satisfactory result to the alleged perfidy of the President or “the Democrats.”

Ah, so Hertzberg believes that progressives (especially members of what he calls “the Internet cohort”) are impugning President Obama’s motives. He singles out a weeks-old tweet in which Markos slammed the Senate health care bill as a “monstrosity” that should be killed. To Hertzberg, this is an example of “nonsense,” but such a glib proclamation overlooks the fact that when Markos made his statement, the final Senate bill was still being negotiated, and progressive pushback likely made it stronger than it otherwise would have been.

Certainly, progressives could have shouted from the rooftops about how great the bill was, but who can forget what happened when we jumped on board the Medicare buy-in compromise? Didn’t go so well, did it? At least this time, Ben Nelson was unsuccessful in his efforts to reduce subsidies, the loophole allowing insurers to cap annual benefits was eliminated, Bernie Sanders’ Community Health Centers were funded, and a loophole allowing national plans to sidestep state regulations was closed.

Would those things have happened without progressive pressure? Perhaps, but the notion that progressives made the bill worse is implausible. Still, Hertzberg has a helpful suggestion for how we can be more effective in the future:

The critics’ indignation would be better directed at what an earlier generation of malcontents called “the system”—starting, perhaps, with the Senate’s filibuster rule, an inanimate object if there ever was one.

So we should talk about the filibuster? Um, there’s been no shortage of that. On the Daily Kos front page, for example, I found more than 100 posts discussing either the filibuster and the public option or cloture and the public option. In fact, one of our Contributing Editors — David Waldman — is an expert on Congressional procedure and probably understands Senate rules better than any other political journalist in America. (David also blogs at Congress Matters.)

In light of Hertzberg’s concession that “left-wing critics are right about the conspicuous flaws of the pending health-care reform” and the fact that blogs like Daily Kos have been focused like a laser beam on the very thing that he wants us to focus on, it’s somewhat perplexing that he devoted a full column to trashing those with whom he agrees instead of looking for solutions to the substantive problems that he says we must address.


Categories: Politics Tags: , , , , , ,

Jeanne Devon ("AKMuckraker"): Palin Supporters Encourage Harassment of Alaska Judges? The Palin v. Johnston Custody Case Takes an Ugly Turn

January 6th, 2010 admin No comments

Just when you thought things couldn’t sink any lower, they drain the pool and start digging.

There are new developments in the recently disclosed Bristol Palin v. Levi Johnston custody case. The Palin half of Palin v. Johnston wanted to keep the identities of the parties pseudonymous – Jane and John Doe. Of course, a custody hearing in Wasilla, Alaska between Jane Doe represented by Palin’s high-profile lawyer, and John Doe represented by Johnston’s equally high-profile lawyer couldn’t have stayed off the radar for long.

Palin’s argument was that the case would be traumatic for their 12-month old son Tripp. Johnston claimed that the trial, if kept secret, would allow the Palins to operate under the radar, allowing potential bad behavior from Sarah Palin in particular to occur out of the sunlight.

“I know that public scrutiny will simplify this matter and act as a check against anyone’s need to be overly vindictive, aggressive or malicious, not that Bristol would ever be that way, nor that I would. But her mother is powerful, politically ambitious and has a reputation for being extremely vindictive,” Johnston said in his affidavit. “So, I think a public case might go a long way in reducing Sarah Palin’s instinct to attack.”

His attorney, Rex Butler notes:

Embarrasing facts sometimes present themselves in cases involving custody. If the legislature chose to make any trial involving embarrasing facts subject to closure, nearly all the domestic violence hearings in this state would be sealed and private. This case presents a custody case with similar facts that attend open cases every day in the Alaska Court System. The plaintiff has failed to meet the test for either closure or the use of pseudonyms or a protective order and has not identified an evidentiary basis upon which to find closure necessary under a privilege rationale or for any other reason.

The judge ruled for open proceedings.

Sarah Palin’s group of supporters including controversial conservative radio shock jock Eddie Burke, and (you can’t make this stuff up) Palin’s Wasilla hairdresser, have decided to take action and help promote a campaign seemingly designed to harass the judges involved in Tripp’s custody case.

beehiveburke
KBYR Radio Host Eddie Burke at a meeting of the Anchorage Assembly, 2009

<img class="size-full wp-image-9272" title="beehive" src="http://www.get-your-news.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-o-matic/cache/145ee_beehive.jpg"
Sarah Palin’s Wasilla Hairdresser Jessica Steele, aka “Jessica Beehive”

Others, outside of Alaska have created a Facebook Group with a posting as follows:

“Tripp is not a Political Football”

We want to thank everyone for their time and attention to this matter. Over the Holidays; Superior Court Judge Kari C. Kristiansen issued a ruling under the authority of Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason. The ruling was a denial to keep the Custody dispute Between Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston over 1 year old Tripp closed.

Judge Kristiansen sited there was no reason to keep this matter private. The Palin’s trying to keep the proceedings focused on Tripp, fought for the closing of the proceedings. Levi Johnston argued for an open proceeding. The Decision raises many concerns of Political Hanky Panky; but even more, cannot be justified to be in the best interest of a 1 year old child.

Both of the Judges are appointees of Former Governor Tony Knowles–(Democrat). Both of the Judges are up for retention. Fancy for Re-Appointment in 2010. [<---Editor's pick for best sentence in Facebook post] Both have been accused of activist liberal rulings prior.

The Law in Alaska without doubt provides for the closing of a proceeding. The best interest of the child, or other mitigating circumstances is the guide. There is no question both elements are in play here.

We here believe this decision is either one of the worst in Alaskan History; or is in fact: a Politically motivated attempt to harm or perhaps payback Sarah Palin. Perhaps elements of both could also be correct. Barracuda Brigade for Our American Girl! 2012 has decided, since the Judges want a public proceeding; to give them one.

This the address for both Judges. [removed] 2004–Attn: Judge Sharon Gleason/Attn: Judge Kari C. Kristiansen

Judge Gleason’s phone: 907-***-****
Judge Kristiansen’s phone: 907-***-****

The Judicial Review Commission of Alaska is set-up in a way, that any protest to them would be handled in this situation by: Judge Sharon Gleason—yep–that is why she had Judge Kristiansen hand down the decision.

The next level up is the Governor, Sean Parnell. His phone is–907-465-3500, fax–907-465-3532. See link below; under contact: will take you to his e-mail.

The “Tripp is not a Political Football” protest will formally begin on Thursday Jan. 7th at 12pm. cst. We ask all concerned to call, fax and e-mail Governor Parnell: also to call and write both Judges and let them know: Patriots across America find your actions a disgrace to the Judicial system. That our concerns are being directed to the Governor’s Office.

The actual Court record will be available shortly, along with the list of retention.
We thank you for your time and concern—-Dave & Alicia

A formal protest of a custody case, including apparent telephone harassment and the identification of the physical location of judges by “patriots across America?” Whipping up a political frenzy while claiming the best interest of the child you’re trying to protect from a political frenzy?

Local political watchdog Linda Kellen Biegel at the blog Blue Oasis, who has frequently been on the receiving end of the wrath of Palin supporters was concerned enough to craft the following letter to a number of law enforcement agencies in the state:

“I was not sure who has jurisdiction over this issue, but I wanted folks to be aware that there is a push across the Internet involving Facebook and Twitter (and now posted on Sarah Palin’s Facebook page) to contact/harass the two Judges in the Palin v. Johnston custody case: Superior Court Judge Kari Kristiansen in Palmer and Presiding Judge Sharon Gleason in Anchorage.

They have their office phone numbers and the Anchorage office address published on a Facebook Fan Page and are encouraging everyone to start contacting them on January 7th through a Facebook “protest” page.

(Inclusion of text)

As someone who still receives regular (almost daily) harassment from these folks, I know that it isn’t a question of “if” but “when” someone actually makes a threat against one or both of these judges.

Three of the people pushing this within the State of Alaska are:

–Wasilla hairdresser Jessica Steele from Beehive Hair Salon. From her @JessicaBeehive Twitter page:

RT @ArcticFox2012: upcoming campaign: We R organizing event 2 show our disdain & utter disgust for this judges lack… http://bit.ly/5mgb6k

RT @ArcticFox2012: Patriots: Provided here R Names–Address’s—Phone Numbers of the 2 Judges in the Bristol Palin… http://bit.ly/6nwRH3

–another is KBYR talk show host Eddie Burke–from his @TalkRadioHost Twitter page:

@JessicaBeehive lets keep these ph num going!! its important to keep pressure on judges

–And Thomas Lamb.

I wanted to give a “head’s up” to whatever agency is in charge because, quite frankly, I know how extreme these folks can be.

Linda Kellen Biegel”

Biegel notes the recent report discussed on CNN and the AP regarding the spike in threats against judges and prosecutors.

The report by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine concluded there are still major gaps in reporting and responding to threats. Concerns about security for judges intensified five years ago after the husband and mother of a federal judge in Chicago were killed by a man angry over a court ruling.

Between 2003 and 2008, the number of threats and inappropriate communications jumped from 592 to 1,278, the report found. The government defines “inappropriate communications” as messages that aren’t explicitly threatening but worrisome enough to require further investigation.

What will actually happen on January 7th at noon Central Standard Time remains to be seen, but one thing in certain. Sarah Palin’s divisive influence and ability to fan the flames of anger and vitriol among her supporters continues, and enters uncharted territory. Let’s hope we see a Facebook post from her condemning this national campaign against Alaskan judges.

More on Sarah Palin


Categories: World Tags: , , , ,

Antonio Villaraigosa: Making Every Angeleno Count

January 5th, 2010 admin No comments

Every 10 years, our Constitution requires the federal government to make an accurate count of all of its residents. The data retrieved from the census forms the foundation for the number of representatives we send to Washington from each state, the amount of money our families get for health care, the resources directed toward our schools and classrooms, where we build new roads and how much funding is allocated for emergency food and shelter programs.

With each new decade, the census still manages to miss some of our most vulnerable residents such as young children in low-income homes, people living in large households, recent immigrants and the homeless. In 2000, 78,000 Angelenos went uncounted. Over the past 9 years, our City lost more than $200 million in state and federal funds.Too many Angelenos were left off the rolls and out of the system.

That is why I was excited today to welcome the Los Angeles stop of the 2010 Census Portrait of America Tour. Driving around Los Angeles today is one of the twelve road tour vehicles that will be traveling across the country to engage and educate citizens to fill out and mail in their 10-question census forms when they arrive in mailboxes March 15-17. The tour will travel more than 150,000 miles across the country and it is expected 18 million people will see it making it the largest civic outreach and awareness campaign in U.S. history. To find out if the road tour will be in your neighborhood go to www.2010.census.gov/roadtour .

Here in Los Angeles, we are doing our part by coordinating a citywide grassroots campaign through Complete Count Committees. These committees forge partnerships between government agencies, Neighborhood Councils, faith-based organizations, labor unions, and businesses to leave no stone unturned in our vastly diverse and boundless City. This effort hinges on participation from the bottom up, since people are more likely to hear our message that every person counts loud and clear if it is delivered by a family member, a friend, or a neighbor. This is why we are strategically deploying an army of volunteers to canvass local households in traditionally under-represented areas.

Also, we have a new media campaign that allows people to galvanize their community by linking to our interactive website: www.lacounts2010.org or by following our pages on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter and encouraging others to do the same.

The countdown has begun; the census forms will start appearing in mailboxes in exactly seventy days. It is too important to leave anything to chance.This census is in OUR hands, and we need ALL hands on-deck to ensure everyone gets their fair share. Each and every one of us must stand up, be counted, and assume our rightful places in America’s story.


Categories: World Tags: , , , , , , ,