Saturday, July 09, 2011

Sharron Angle And Sean Hannity Have A Big Bowl Of Sour Grapes Over Her 2010 Election Loss To Harry Reid

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Sharron Angle went on Sean Hannity's Fox News show last night to promote her new book, ostensibly, but really, it was mostly a long session kvetching about Angle's loss to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:
HANNITY: You lost a tough election. That was, for me, one of the harder ones. I wanted him beaten so bad.

ANGLE: Everybody did. You know, I had a 7-year-old boy say to me, I'm so sorry you lost. And I have lots of people coming up. And all I can say is, I'm sorry too. But life isn't about winning or losing, it is about doing the right thing and doing your very best. And I think, that's what we just have to continue to do as people who want to get back to the Constitution. We can't give up, we can't quit. We've got to keep in the game even if we lose one.

HANNITY: Let's talk about, did Harry Reid steal this election? Do you think he stole votes in this election?

ANGLE: Well, in my book, the "Right Angle," I do discuss that a bit. And you may know this, we have a lawsuit after Department of Justice.

HANNITY: About ACORN and the SEIU?

ANGLE: It's actually about Harrah's casino and the SEIU and their involvement and what we feel was not legitimate election conduct.
Of course, Angle was making these claims even before the election, and they were every bit as groundless then, though of course you'll never learn that while watching Hannity.

Neither, for that matter, will you hear any mention of the real reasons Angle lost, beyond her utter nutbaggery -- the primary one being that Republicans tried a stop-the-Latino vote campaign that horribly backfired, along with Angle's obscene demonizing of Latinos in her campaign, followed by her hilarious flip-flopping on the subject. Result: Some 90 percent of Latino voters backed Reid, and he won going away.

Friday, July 08, 2011

The Wait Is Over! Palin's 'Undefeated' Movie Trailer: Pure Essence Of Propaganda

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Most normal moviegoing folks -- especially those of us with kids -- are looking forward to July 15 for one very good reason: It's the release date for the final Harry Potter film, and the trailers look terrific. The end of Voldemort, at last!

Then there are the hapless conservadweebs who instead will plunk down their hard-earned dollars to endure two hours of propaganda devoted to singing the praises of Sarah Palin titled The Undefeated.

Of course, this is kind of a strange title, considering that Palin indeed was defeated in her campaign for the vice presidency. And for some reason, they didn't title it The Uncompleted as a way of actually describing her term as governor. Or The Quitter, which would also be more accurate.

Anyway, Andrew Breitbart plumped the first trailer for the movie yesterday. You'll notice that he didn't bother to mention to readers that he's in the trailer. There is no need for full disclosure at propaganda mills like Breitbart's operation.

Indeed, the Palin trailer -- and no doubt the movie itself -- reminds me of the propaganda techniques identified half a century ago by the long-defunct Institute for Propaganda Analysis, because each of them can be seen at work here:
-- Name Calling, or hanging a bad label on ideas or persons.

-- Card Stacking, or the selective use of facts or outright falsehoods.

-- Band Wagon, or claiming that everyone like us thinks this way.

-- Testimonial, or the association of a respected or hated person with an approved or despised idea, respectively.

-- Plain Folks, a technique whereby the idea and its proponents are linked to "people just like you and me."

-- Transfer, or an assertion of a connection between something valued or hated and the idea or commodity being discussed.

-- Glittering Generality, or an association of something with a "virtue word" to gain approval without examining the evidence.
Now, you may ask yourself: Why would Sarah Palin put out a propaganda movie about herself right now if she weren't running for the presidency? And that would be a good question.

The answer, of course: She wouldn't.

Meanwhile, look for a fresh bumper crop of "Republicans for Voldemort" bumper stickers.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Paul Ryan Thinks Voters Will Go For His Medicare-killing Budget Plan If It's Just Sold Right

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Republicans have been deluding themselves, ever since the debacle in NY-26, that all Republicans really have to do is sell their proposals better, and voters will get on board with the Paul Ryan Path to the Poorhouse budget plan -- you know, the one that ends Medicare as we know it, among other things.

In an interview with WISN-TV, Ryan himself explained why polls consistently voters strongly disapprove of his plan:
RYAN: Those polls don’t describe it very well. When the plan is described accurately, it actually polls very well.
Well, Greg Sargent runs through the list and finds that the polls describe his plan perfectly well:
In reality, the polls that accurately describe Ryan’s plan almost all show woefully low support for it. What’s more, Republicans have in effect already acknowledged that they lost the larger argument over Medicare by beginning to attack Dems from the left on the issue. They are now accusing Democrats of being the ones who really want to cut Medicare, and have even accused Dems of wanting to “shred the social safety net.” And even Mitch McConnell has distanced himself from Ryan’s plan.
How does Ryan intend to improve those poll numbers? The WISN interview makes it plain that his strategy is simple: Slag the Democrats on Medicare.
RYAN: Whenever you lead and propose a solution to a complex problem, you're putting yourself out there to be distorted, to be demagogued to be lied about. What's happening is the other party's chosen to try to scare senior citizens to try and get votes. Here's the deal on our Medicare plan: ObamaCare ends Medicare as we know it.
Got that? The whole story on Ryan's plan is that it's actually "Obamacare" that's the problem. Of course, this has been Ryan's fresh new lie for a week now. And as Brian Beutler observes, it's profoundly mendacious:
Ryan's plan actually sustains those $500 billion in cuts, while repealing just about all other parts of the health care law. Far beyond that, though, his plan would close the door on traditional Medicare in 10 years, and phase it out by putting new retirees in a private, subsidized health insurance market. As usual, though, privatizing a major entitlement polls really poorly, and Republicans are facing huge voter backlash in their districts after voting to endorse Ryan's plan.
The most amusing part of all this is watching Republicans flop back and forth on scaremongering seniors. After NY-26, they denounced Democrats for waging "Mediscare" tactics. There was no small irony in this, considering that this was the party that invented the "death panels" lie and ran videos of Democrats killing poor grannies.

Man Loses His Job After Chase Bank Has Him Arrested For Cashing Their Own Check

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Lynda Bryon at KING-5 News in Seattle has the story, ably summed up at The Consumerist:
Ikenna [Njoku], a 28-year old construction worker, went to deposit a $8,463.21 Chase cashier's check at his local Chase branch, only for the teller to decide that neither he nor his check looked right and he got tossed in jail for forgery, KING5 reports. The next day, a Friday, the bank realized its mistake and left a message with the detective. But it was her day off, so he spent the entire weekend in jail.

By the time he got out, he had been fired from his job for not showing up to work. His car had been towed as well. It ended up getting sold off at auction because he couldn't afford to get it out of the pound. He had been relying on that cashier's check for his money but it was taken as evidence and by the time he got it back it was auctioned off.

All this while the cashier's check had been issued by the very bank he was trying to cash it at.

Chase didn't even apologize, not even after a year. A lawyer volunteered to help write a strongly-worded letter requesting damages. After trying hard to get a response, they sent KING 5 a two-sentence reply: "We received the letter and are reviewing the situation. We'll be reaching out to the customer."
I dunno about you, but I have a sneaking suspicion that if he had been another color, none of this would have happened. Auburn is not a lily-white suburb by any means, but the man's description of her questions raises all kinds of red flags.

Meanwhile, I just love being at the mercy of the people who run the financial-services sector, don't you?

Just How Is It That Republicans Get To Lecture Democrats About Ballooning Federal Deficits?

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

This sneering, preening performance by the new Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, yesterday on Fox News really set me off, for some reason. As you can see, it's all about blaming Democrats for the state of the economy, insisting that they are somehow responsible for the ballooning federal deficit and the need to raise the debt ceiling. That's the thrust of the RNC's latest round of Obama-bashing ads.

You certainly can't say they lack for chutzpah.

Look, this meme has been building ever since the Tea Partiers started raging about the deficit and the debt, and now it's the official Republican talking point. It all makes me want to ask:

Where do you guys get the balls to lecture Democrats about deficit spending and the state of the economy?


The previous Democratic president -- a guy named Bill Clinton, who Republicans hounded with a meaningless sex scandal -- handed off to his Republican successor a $46 billion federal surplus after having erased the deficit for three successive years.

That surplus disappeared the first year George W. Bush was in office, even before the 9/11 attacks happened, in no small part because Bush began slashing taxes for the wealthy immediately upon taking office. And then he and his Republican allies running the Congress proceeded to ring up the deficit to unheard-of heights, thanks largely to a needless invasion of another nation under false pretenses.

Where were all these Republicans in the years 2001-2006, when they were setting new records for federal deficits and destroying the economy along the way?

And then blaming Obama and the Democrats for lost jobs really takes the cake. It's undoubtedly true that Obama's policies have not restored jobs in anything near an adequate fashion. But those millions of jobs were destroyed on Republicans' economic watch, as a result of Republican economic policies.

Fixing the economy is indeed a much bigger uphill climb than the Pollyannas on the White House economic team reckoned. But Republicans have done nothing but make it harder, by obstructing every Democratic initiative to stimulate the economy and improve our economic competitiveness (which was what the health-care debate was largely about), not to mention the employment picture generally.

Indeed, it's now becoming crystal clear that they are perfectly willing to wreck the American economy entirely in order to defeat Obama's economic policies, such as they are. And at the same time, they not only plan to blame Obama for the wreckage, they are already doing so.

Remind me again why our president is deluded into believing he can bargain in good faith with these people.

OK, rant over.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

To No One's Surprise, Exxon/Mobil Was Lying About The Severity Of The Yellowstone River Oil Spill

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

We already noticed that Exxon/Mobil officials were downplaying the severity of that oil spill in the Yellowstone River. Now it turns out -- to absolutely no one's surprise -- that they were lying through their teeth:
Federal documents show it took Exxon Mobil nearly twice as long as it publicly disclosed to fully seal a pipeline that spilled roughly 1,000 barrels of crude oil into the Yellowstone River.

Details about the company's response to the Montana pipeline burst emerged late Tuesday as the Department of Transportation ordered the company bury the duct deeper beneath the riverbed, where it is buried 5 to 8 feet underground to deliver 40,000 barrels of oil a day to a refinery in Billings.

The federal agency's records indicate the pipeline was not fully shut down for 56 minutes after the break occurred Friday near Laurel. That's longer than the 30 minutes that company officials claimed Tuesday in a briefing with federal officials and Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

An Exxon Mobil spokesman said the longer time span was based on information provided to the agency by the company and the discrepancy might have come about because Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. President Gary Pruessing was speaking without any notes in front of him when he addressed Schweitzer.
There's also been a startling lack of information for the people who are directly affected by the spill.
Gee, who could have foreseen this? Drill, baby, drill!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

ACLU And Elon James White Call Out The Lost War On Drugs

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

[Video Not Safe For Work]

Elon James White, one of our favorite comedians and a Netroots Nation stalwart, channels a lot of people's sentiments in this video. It might be NSFW, but White says a lot of things that need saying.

It's part of the ACLU's campaign to End the War on Drugs:
June 2011 marked the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon's declaration of a "war on drugs" — a war that has cost roughly a trillion dollars, has produced little to no effect on the supply of or demand for drugs in the United States, and has contributed to making America the world's largest incarcerator.

The war on drugs has sent millions of people to prison for low-level offenses, and seriously eroded our civil liberties and civil rights while costing taxpayers billions of dollars a year, with nothing to show for it except our status as the world's largest incarcerator. There are 2.3 million people behind bars in this country — that is triple the amount of prisoners we had in 1987 — and 25 percent of those incarcerated are locked up for drug offenses. Taxpayers spend almost $70 billion a year on corrections and incarceration. A far more sensible way to deal with a public health problem like drug addiction is to provide treatment, which study after study has shown is more effective than incarceration.

Through advocacy and litigation, the ACLU has been seeking an end to this failed war on drugs and our costly addiction to incarceration for decades. Go here to read more about the ACLU’s work to end to excessively harsh crime policies that result in mass incarceration and stand in the way of a just and equal society.
There is a series of posts on the subject at the ACLU's Blog of Rights. Be sure to check it out.

The Big Right-wing Lies: We're Going Broke, And Spending Is Out Of Control

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

We've remarked from the get-go that the most remarkable thing about the Tea Partying Republican Right is that they represent a political bloc predicated on people believing things that are provably untrue. This has, of course, ranged from the Birth Certificate nonsense to the belief that Obama is going to take everyone's guns away, and everything in between.

But these are in many ways secondary add-ons to Tea Partyism, whose core mantra really revolves around the federal deficit and spending: We're on the verge of bankruptcy, they claim, and it's being caused by "out-of-control" federal spending.

In the video above, Van Jones -- who knows all about right-wing lies -- deconstructs the Really Big Lie that is a cornerstone of Tea Party beliefs, not to mention right-wing media talking points, namely: We're going broke.

We're not.

Meanwhile, Brian Beutler at TPMDC deconstructs the claim that "federal spending is out of control":
But a close look at the numbers reveals a few important, and frequently overlooked facts.

Domestic discretionary spending is a small sliver of the budget. Our deficit and debts can be traced to the fact that spending on entitlement programs and defense has shot up, and tax revenues have plummeted to their lowest level in decades. But spending on domestic discretionary programs has grown much more slowly. And, if you correct for inflation, and for growing population, it turns out we're spending exactly the same amount on these programs as we were a full decade ago.

These numbers come from Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee, who are doing their best to guard this turf.

"Although non-defense discretionary spending in nominal dollars has increased, when taking inflation and population growth into account the amount contained in the [2011 budget] represents no increase over what we spent in 2001, a year in which we generated a surplus of $128 billion," said chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) in a prepared statement.

"So the right question to ask is: Are we really spending too much on non-defense programs? The answer is clearly no."
Beutler provides some graphic illustrations of the reality behind the numbers that make it clear, as he suggests, just who the chief culprit in this matter really is: right-wing governance and its mania for cutting taxes.
In the wake of the Bush tax cuts, and the Great Recession, tax revenue has fallen through the floor to near-historic lows. As a percentage of GDP, it's fallen 24 percent since 2001, and if you correct for inflation, the government is collecting nearly 20 percent less per person than it was a decade ago. At the same time, the population-adjusted costs of mandatory spending programs -- driven by Medicare, including its new prescription drug benefit, and Medicaid -- have increased by over 30 percent. And, of course, defense spending has skyrocketed. But if you isolate domestic discretionary programs, a decade later we're spending no more on a per-person basis than we were back then.
Meanwhile, Robert Reich explains all this in detail:

Yes, it's true: Right-wing ideology is increasingly built on a foundation of lies.

Gaxiola Found Guilty Of All Counts In Flores Family Murders

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

While cable channels like Fox have been paying attention 24/7 to the largely meaningless Casey Anthony murder case, we've instead been following the trials in the case of Shawna Forde and her killer Minutemen, which has considerably more social significance -- and thus has, of course, been largely ignored in the media. Indeed, the clip above was the only video I could find of the final verdict, which came down Friday:
An Arivaca man was convicted today of being behind a May 2009 home invasion that resulted in the death of a former friend and the friend's 9-year-old daughter.

It took a Pima County jury five hours to convict Albert Gaxiola, 44, of first-degree murder in the deaths of Raul Junior Flores, 29, and Brisenia Flores. He was also convicted this afternoon of attempting to murder Flores' wife, Gina Gonzalez, and one count each of burglary, armed robbery and aggravated robbery; and two counts of aggravated assault.

Jurors must now decide if the circumstances of the case warrant consideration of the death penalty. If they say "Yes," defense attorneys will present mitigation evidence over the next several days.
Dave Ricker has much more at his blog:
Now that the jury has found Gaxiola guilty of the two counts of first-degree murder the trial will move to the aggravation phase starting on Wednesday, July 6. If the jury finds one of the alleged aggravators, multiple murders and a victim under the age of 15, to have been proven then the trial will move to the penalty phase where the burden lies with the defense to persuade the jury to grant the defendant leniency.

During closing arguments in the trial, Thursday, the jury was reminded of a text message sent on May 30, 2009, by the defendant just hours after the a deadly home invasion in Arivaca.

That message sent by Gaxiola read “Sweet dreams.” Deputy County Attorney Rick Unklesbay paused for a moment. “They had just killed a 9-year-old. They had just killed her father. They had just wounded Gina,” he said. “And, Albert Gaxiola’s text message back to Shawna Forde was ‘Sweet dreams.’ Shawna Forde’s reply was: ‘You’re one of my minutemen.’”

Unklesbay found himself searching for words. “I’m not sure what words can adequately characterize the actions of these people,” he said. “This is beyond outrageous. This is just downright scary.”

During those same closing arguments defense counsel Jack L. Lansdale suggested to the jury that his client was incapable of harming Brisenia or her sister. He asked the jury to recall testimony by the medical examiner complete with detailed pictures of the injuries suffered by Brisenia and her father. “Did anyone of you hearing the testimony during the presentation of the photographs of Brisenia Flores happen to notice Albert and his reaction?” he asked, rhetorically. “For him to participate in any action to hurt those children is incomprehensible.”
We'll keep you posted on the final sentence for Gaxiola -- which will wrap up this case, barring appeals, for good.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Oh, Those Annoying Peasants: Montanans Outraged By Exxon/Mobil's Tepid Response To Yellowstone River Oil Spill

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]
[From KTVQ-TV.]

That horrifying oil spill on the Yellowstone River in Montana is bad enough. But of course, Exxon/Mobil officials had to go and make it worse by minimizing the damage done to the river and making only the most tepid of cleanup responses:

An oil spill in Montana's Yellowstone River surged toward North Dakota on Sunday as outraged residents demanded more government oversight of Exxon Mobil's cleanup.

An estimated 750 to 1,000 barrels, or up to 42,000 gallons, spilled overnight Friday through a damaged pipeline in the riverbed, Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers said. The break near Billings could be related to the river's high water level, officials said.

More than 100 people were working on the cleanup late Sunday, Jeffers said. But local officials said that, because of the raging floodwaters, only a handful of crews were laying absorbent pads and booms to trap oil along short stretches of the river between Billings and Laurel. In some areas, residents said, oil may be flowing underneath the booms and continuing downstream in the murky water.

Jeffers said most of the oil was believed to be within 10 miles of the spill site, and Exxon crews were flying over the area late Sunday to assess how far it had spread.

But Montana's governor disputed the estimate.

"Nobody can say definitively," Gov. Brian Schweitzer said. "It's too early. We need boats on the water," not only flyovers. Boats were potentially unsafe because of the high water, however.
Montanans don't let just anyone mess around with their rivers. After all, this is A River Runs Through It country, and every summer the state's blue-ribbon trout streams draw a steady stream of fly fishermen who spend lots of tourist dollars. It's a big moneymaking industry -- maybe bigger than oil in the state.

As the story observes:
Oil was reported as far as 100 miles away near the town of Hysham, Yellowstone County Commissioner Bill Kennedy said.

Although the spill is downstream from Yellowstone National Park and the fertile Yellowstone fly-fishing grounds frequented by tourists, some officials worried about harm to the industry that draws 11 million annual tourists a year to a state with a population of 980,000.

"We take our rivers very seriously here in Montana," said Schweitzer, a soil scientist who planned to visit the spill site Tuesday. "We will not allow this catastrophe to affect the $400 million trout industry in Montana."
Of course, Exxon Mobil officials claimed there had been no sign of harmed wildlife so far:
UPDATE 7 a.m.: Gov. Brian Schweitzer says statements from ExxonMobil officials that no injured wildlife had been found were premature.

"For somebody to say at this early stage that there's no damage to wildlife, that's pretty silly," Schweitzer told the Associated Press on Saturday. "The Yellowstone River is important to us. We've got to have a physical inspection of that river in small boats — and soon."

The Billings Gazette has published photos of soiled pelicans and turtles. The Environmental Protection Agency said it can't confirm any damage to wildlife or fish kills, but investigators were checking and the federal agency expected to know more Monday.
Here's one of those photos:


The worst part is waiting to see what happens to the trout populations on the Yellowstone and its tributaries. This could get very ugly.