Saturday, December 27, 2008

Where in the world is Mike Connell? (or the saga of Turd Blossom)

Do you know who this man is?

Is Karl Rove the most dangerous man in America? How does a portly, baby-faced fascist with a predilection for leather bars manage to

  1. cheerlead the most presidential administration in American history as it shepherds one disaster after another for 8 mind-boggling years
  2. treasonously engineer the outing of a clandestine CIA operative
  3. railroad a Democratic governor of a southern state into prison
  4. mastermind scads of election fraud scams and schemes in order to secure his moronic doppelganger another term in office
  5. thumb his nose at every congressional attempt to get his broad criminal ass in front of a committee under oath
  6. enjoy paid gigs with both Fox news and the Tribune Corporation (Newsweek) as a talking head despite the fact that he is a sociopathic lying sack of shit?
And Rove, no matter what he does, comes up smelling like a rose. Could it be what his best bud GW meant when he bestowed the honorific "Turd Blossom" on his loyal wonder boy? Perhaps the one time when Dubya's verbal irony was not accidental.

If you really want to know just how wondrously wretched one damaged human being can be, read these three books by James Moore and Wayne Slater: Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential, Rove Exposed: How Bush's Brain Fooled America, and The Architect: Karl Rove and the Dream of Absolute Power.

But getting back to the lead-in to this post ... Do you know who Mike Connell is (was)?

Mike Connell is/was Karl Rove's brain. Or at least his IT whiz kid. You see, Connell was a Republican consultant accused of involvement in alleged vote-rigging in Ohio in 2004. This case, which was being heard in Ohio, was the result of a civil suit brought by two civil rights lawyers. Though at first he refused to appear, Connell eventually was forced to cave and was expected to fully testify. It was the hope of the plantiff attorneys that Karl Rove himself would eventually have to appear in court as part of their suit.

And that's where things start to get ... well, meaningfully coincidental. Because, you see, Michael Connell -- founder of Ohio-based New Media Communications, which created campaign Web sites for George W. Bush and John McCain -- died instantly after his single-prop, private aircraft smashed into a vacant home in suburban Lake Township, Ohio on December 19, 2008.

"The plane was attempting to land around 6 p.m. Friday at Akron-Canton Airport when it crashed about three miles short of the runway," reports the Akron Beacon Journal.

Connell's exploits as a top GOP IT 'guru' have been well documented by RAW STORY's investigative team. You can also read about it on Brad Friedman's Blog. In fact, Brad's offshoot org, Velvet Revolution, had been offering a $100,000 reward for information lining Karl Rove to the shady shenanigans of the 2004 presidential election, a scandal which VR calls: "Rove Cybergate."

It gets nastier:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Michael Connell, the Bush IT expert who has been directly implicated in the rigging of George Bush's 2000 and 2004 elections, was killed last night when his single engine plane crashed three miles short of the Akron airport. Velvet Revolution ("VR"), a non-profit that has been investigating Mr. Connell's activities for the past two years, can now reveal that a person close to Mr. Connell has recently been discussing with a VR investigator how he can tell all about his work for George Bush. Mr. Connell told a close associate that he was afraid that George Bush and Dick Cheney would "throw [him] under the bus."

A tipster close to the McCain campaign disclosed to VR in July that Mr. Connell's life was in jeopardy and that Karl Rove had threatened him and his wife, Heather. VR's attorney, Cliff Arnebeck, notified the United States Attorney General , Ohio law enforcement and the federal court about these threats and insisted that Mr. Connell be placed in protective custody. VR also told a close associate of Mr. Connell's not to fly his plane because of another tip that the plane could be sabotaged. Mr. Connell, a very experienced pilot, has had to abandon at least two flights in the past two months because of suspicious problems with his plane. On December 18, 2008, Mr. Connell flew to a small airport outside of Washington DC to meet some people. It was on his return flight the next day that he crashed.

So, the question that nags at the back of my feverish and Rove-hating brain is this: is Turd Blossom a murderer, or is Mr. Connell enjoying a new life on some private Caribbean island owned by ... let's say, Rupert Murdoch?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The myth of the over-paid union auto worker

In a prepared statement for his December 4, 2008, appearance before the Senate Banking Committee, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said:

Contrary to an often-repeated myth, UAW members at GM, Ford and Chrysler are not paid $73 an hour. The truth is, wages for UAW members range from about $14 per hour for newly hired workers to $28 per hour for assemblers. The $73 an hour figure is outdated and inaccurate. It includes not only the costs of health care, pensions and other compensation for current workers, but also includes the costs of pensions and health care for all of the retired workers, spread out over the active workforce. Obviously, active workers do not receive any of this compensation, so it is simply not accurate to describe it as part of their "earnings."

Yet, both the Big Three CEOs (for whom over-compensation IS the shoe that fits), abetted by the media, continue to promote this fiction in an effort to cast the blame of their titanic mis-management and poor strategic decisions on the people whose job it is to put together their low quality products, not design them. Here is a fine review article from Media Matters for America.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Jeb Bush momentarily emerges ...

... from underneath whatever rock in Miami this fiercely partisan* foil for his dimwit sibling has been hiding.

His call to arms? That Republicans should form a "shadow government" to thwart the Obama agenda.

Wait a minute. "Shadow government?"

What the hell have we had for the past 8 years?

In this same interview Bush reiterates the myth that America is a "center-right" country. Well, if you only converse with millionaire Republicans, I am sure that is the perspective engendered.

No doubt, the Jebster will be running for Mel Martinez' Senate seat, now that the latter has announced his retirement. My greatest pleasure will be helping to usher in his defeat.

*According to my state assemblyman, for the eight years he was in office as Florida's governor, Jebimiah never even so much as knocked on a Democratic legislator's door.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Economy in Crisis

In case you never scroll down the length of my blog page, I have added a new feed in the left panel, Economy in Crisis. This extraordinarily informative web site "is a news blog dedicated to educating legislators and the American public in regards to the destruction of our country's industrial base, the impact on national and economic security, and the effect on our standard of living. We publish critical but overlooked facts and figures, keeping our readers up-to-date with daily articles regarding the U.S. economy.

"Out of concern for America's deteriorating economic condition, the individuals responsible for donate their expertise and time. EIC does not support any political organization or corporate interest."

As a testament to the even-handedness of EIC, one can read plaudits on their web site from a diversity of pundits of all spectrums, from reactionary Pat Buchanan through Reaganite Paul Craig Roberts to liberal intellectual Air America host Thom Hartmann.


And that's exactly what they are doing. Barack Obama isn't in office yet, but the right wing radio voices are already making references to "Obama's recession." My local pinheads write into the newspaper proclaiming how the economic shitstorm that we have entered is -- of course -- the result of Democratic party policies and, most specifically, Bill Clinton. Of course the oxygen-starved brains of the wingnut brigade forget two salient facts: 1) that Bill Clinton, zealous centrist that he was, left the ecocomy of our nation with a budget surplus, a declining deficit, and an expanding job market; and 2) that it was the capitalist wet dream of deregulation ushered in by Ronald Reagan where the seeds of today's corporate implosion were sown. But the right will forever excel at one thing and one thing only: re-writing history to justify their sorry ass gospel of greed, hypocrisy and intolerance.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Last tag

I might have thought that after last week's electoral victory I would be willing to cast a little slack George Bush's way. But the little thug is determined to be a miscreant to the very end of his sad, larcenous administration, not content to merely fade into history's dustbin.

The sociopath intends to finalize 90 Federal regulations, and do so in a way that will insure that the Obama administration must spend hours, weeks, months, embroiled in the process of undoing them.

According to constitutional scholar John Turley, Bush's moves are "akin to fouling a water-well ... almost a sign of contempt for the results of the election."

From a Raw Story article by David Edwards and Muriel Kane:

In an appearance of Keith Olbermann's MSNBC show, Turley explained, "This is the ultimate dead-hand control. ... What a president can do is, by finalizing a regulation, he can force his successor to go through an entirely new regulatory process that can take years."

"What the means in real terms," Turley noted, "is that you can have an Obama administration that continues to carry out George Bush's directives. And for people who elected Obama for change, that's a particularly obnoxious reality to accept."

Turley explained that the regulations in question are not the same as executive orders, which "are easier to undo. A President Obama can come in with his own superseding executive orders." However, once a federal regulation has been in effect for 60 days it can no longer simply be reversed by presidential action. This means that as of January 20, President Obama will be unable to undo any regulations finalized by November 22.

"We're talking about environmental regulations, a lot of issues that the public clearly indicated they wanted a change on," Turley continued. He observed that "President Bush has a certain benefit in being the least popular president in modern history. ... That seems to, in a strange way, have freed up his subordinates, where they are trying to just run the table and move every regulation, executive order they can to try to create this control."

However, as Politico pointed out on Wednesday, the "little-known" Congressional Review Act (CRA) of 1996 was passed to address just such a situation and will allow Congress to undo these last-minute regulations "with a joint resolution that can’t be filibustered in the Senate."

"It creates something of a fiction," Turley said of the CRA. "It says if you push it through in the final days of your administration, it won't be considered final until the new Congress comes in. ... Congress gave itself extra time to reverse it."

"The key here, however, is time," Turley continued. "We're not going to have a lot of time, and we're talking about a lot of regulations and a lot of executive orders. And that's why Obama reportedly has a team of dozens of people who are trying to unravel this very complex web of executive orders and regulations."

Olbermann asked whether late January will see Congress handling "a flurry of legislations in which a dozen of these are repealed at the same time -- or one giant Get Rid of Bush Bill?"

"They could do it in an omnibus manner like that," stated Turley, "and I suspect that they may have to."

"Congress ... is going to be dealing with literally hundreds of executive orders and regulations and also hundreds of signing statements by this president," Turley concluded. "And eventually, they going to have to tackle each one of those individually to give Obama the right to direct his own administration."

Here's the video:

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Circling the wagons (and shooting at each other)

It had to happen. The Republican Party is licking its wounds, and at the same time putting its worst foot forward. Soon, they will start eating their young. Instead of taking a lesson from the sweeping mandate given to Barack Obama by the American people, and accepting that turning the GOP into a vehicle for incoherent, white, radical right-wing rage is a thoroughly failed party paradigm, the wack jobs are proposing to expunge all moderate elements from the Republican Party forever, and crown Sarah Palin as the new voice of the elephant brigade.

They call it "Operation Leper." To quote, the blog where the proposal received its maiden voyage:

"RedState is pleased to announce it is engaging in a special project: Operation Leper.

"We're tracking down all the people from the McCain campaign now whispering smears against Governor Palin to Carl Cameron and others. Michelle Malkin has the details.

"We intend to constantly remind the base about these people, monitor who they are working for, and, when 2012 rolls around, see which candidates hire them. Naturally then, you'll see us go to war against those candidates.

"It is our expressed intention to make these few people political lepers."

Notable members of the list so-far? Steve Schmidt, McCain-Palin's campaign strategist.

With the characteristic deficit of self knowledge we've come to associate with this wing of the party, they obviously fail to understand that they themselves are the true lepers in our nation today.

So, is it worth $11.99 to buy one of those cups for the simple pleasure of smashing it against a rock?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Not as red as you think

You are looking at a cartogram of the now familiar red/blue electoral map that has become the hallmark of Election Night media. The difference between this cartogram and the usual map is that the states have been "morphed" to proportionally reflect their population rather than the size of the state. Looking at the results of Tuesday's election from this perspective gives a much more realistic view of how successful Barack's campaign was and how solid was the victory.

This and other transformations of the electoral map can be found here.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Best news I heard all day

"BREAKING: Federal Judge Compels GOP IT Guru Mike Connell To Give Deposition in Ohio '04 Election Case "

"The BRAD BLOG has learned that Mike Connell, the Republican IT guru whose company, GovTech Solutions, created Ohio's 2004 election results computer network, appeared in federal court today, as compelled, and has been ordered to appear for his deposition on Monday, November 3, just 24 hours before Election Day 2008.

"Though Connell's attorneys have fought to quash the subpoena, recently issued after the judge lifted a stay on the case several weeks ago, it looks like his options to avoid testimony, or at least jail for avoiding it, may have come to an end. The attorneys in the case have said that Connell's testimony may well lead to the subpoenaing and under-oath questioning of Karl Rove, who, they say, would be unable to use Executive Privilege as an excuse to avoid such a subpoena in a civil RICO case."

Sunday, November 02, 2008


GOTV. It stand for "Get Out The Vote." It is the rallying cry of the last days of the Campaign for Change of Barack Obama who stands to inspire not only the largest voter turnout in American history, but perhaps a shift in the consciousness of our nation. A much-needed shift, after the seeds sown by Ronald Reagan have their flowering amid the meltdown of the American Dream.

My garage is a local staging area for GOTV. My area field organizer arrives early with his older sister - I'll call her "T," who will man our HQ with me. We suspend a huge "CHANGE" sign from the open garage door, and pepper the yard with signs and flags. From here, we dispatch volunteers to other neighborhoods in the vicinity throughout the day, armed with canvas lists and their own story. "Hi, I'm ______ , and I'm a local volunteer for the Barack Obama campaign. Have you voted already?" The supporters we cajole for a few volunteer hours.

All day, the cars pull up. Women and men by themselves, or families. Perhaps they have done nothing else since the campaign began. But now they have stepped up to the plate, because they know what is riding on a Florida victory for Obama/Biden. White, black, Asian, Indian, Hispanic, of all ages, they arrive in spurts of activity. T. checks them in, and I train them in the art of canvassing. Only one returns prematurely, embarrassed by her admission: "I"m sorry, I can't do this." After that we team up the more timid ones, though that usually means less doors knocked. But we want every one in their comfort zone.

The packets come back, unsurprisingly, with a comfortable margin of Barack supporters. Over weeks and weeks of door-knocking and phone calling, the lists have been winnowed down to predominantly Obama voters. We look for people who will need transportation to the polls, and press the able ones for a canvas commitment. And always: "Have you voted yet?"

Early voting ends today in Florida. On November 4, we decide nothing less than the future of our country, and perhaps the world. Regardless of the outcome (which I hereby declare will be a landslide victory), I have had the opportunity the past 3 months to see the best side of America, a taste of the unification of spirit that I believe will be the over-arching theme of an Obama administration. That has changed me, in late middle age, back to something of the innocent I was before Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were mowed down within 3 months of each other. I have always thought that something inside me was irrevocably lost that year. But is turns out that it was only sleeping.

The whole world is watching.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Knocking on Doors for Obama, Part II

Last weekend's canvass highlighted the class divide of 21st century America all too gamely. First stop was a trailer park, one of the four or so that hang by a thread in my town, surrounded by middle class subdivisions. This park was predominantly white, but decidedly downscale. It was a strange mix, as mobile home communities often are. One street might be all relatively well-attended homes, while the next could look like some distillation of Appalachia (albeit higher density). Some of the people I talked to were living in abject squalor. Most everyone had at least two dogs. Some of them were pit bulls.

There were Obama supporters here in Desolation Row: a woman on disability for whom I arranged a ride to the polls (she had no transportation). A biker couple. A lesbian roofer who told me the general sentiment of most of her neighbors was "What a choice. A n****r or an old old man." But no one would take an Obama sign for their yard. "Things get too weird here sometimes, " my roofer friend told me. Other residents just wanted to talk about their situations. The impossibility of making ends meet on a take home pay of $250 per week.

Sunday brought me to one of the vintage areas of my community. The kind of subdivisions that preceded today's fortress neighborhoods with single gated entrances manned by uniformed security men who demand photo ID (earlier that day I tried bluffing my way into ones of those, too, but failed). Custom houses on one or two acre lots, some at least 40 years old. Long driveways and, frequently, electronic gates with intercom systems. The McCain signs outnumbered the Obama, but here, too, were pockets of support.

My favorite moment: couple leaving their house and heading for their car just as I started up their driveway. I called out my spiel long distance. The man of the house waves me off with a shake of his head. "I'm not voting for him," he says gruffly. His wife, invisible behind him, silently points to herself, shakes her head in assent, mouths the words "But I am," then flashes me a thumbs up.

The last three houses I passed as I exited the neighborhood were empty. One of them, surrounded by a 6' concrete wall, looked to be at least 6000 sq. ft. The wrought iron gate was broken, spider webs shimmering across the ornate tips of the bars. The weeds in the yard were as tall as the wall. All were in foreclosure.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Obama's America

Along with 30-40,000 other people yesterday, I crowded into Miami's Bicentennial Park to get close to one of history's pivotal moments. That moment, of course, being the future presidency of Barack Obama, a man who has become the embodiment of every dream deferred for the last, what, 200 years? A man who represents not only the repudiation of the neoconservative putsch of America, but also the paradigm shift his election to the highest office in the land must surely represent.

When I turned to scan the crowd as Bara
ck took the stage, I marveled at what I saw. I saw America. Not the imagined America of Sarah Palin playing herself in the Reagan tradition, but the America I have known since birth as a child of the New York City streets, and now the jambalaya of Miami's. A polyglot America. A rainbow- complected America. An America the likes of which Whitman wrote about without ever seeing. And we, for the most part, stood shoulder-to-shoulder in unity, linked by the improbable fortunes of this one man in whom we have placed perhaps our last hopes of "this, a more perfect union."

Thousands of young African-American parents brought their children to be witnesses to history, while those of us who could offered to lift those same children onto our shoulders so that they could bask in the wondrous elemental glow of history at one of its occasional glorious turning points.
Oh, the speech was good, and there were memorable moments. But it was the sheer intensity of of turnout that cast the greater numinescence to the event. Not even some Republican folly, in the form of an airplane banner reflecting the sad and sorry litany of a bankrupt political party could take that away from us. We, people of so many different tribes, laughing, dancing, and listening together.

From this vantage point, it is almost impossible not to believe that November 4 will bring a landslide victory. The world is holding its breath, and if I stop from my own labors on behalf of this one man, who so many of us now sense is riding the crest of a tsunami of historical proportions, perhaps so would I. America needs Barack Obama, as much for who he is as what he will do when we give him the power on our behalf.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Joe the Plumber update (and epitaph on another McCain campaign fantasy)

The premise of Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher's complaints about Barack Obama's tax plan was ill-informed. Contrary to Wurzelbacher's claims, "neither his personal taxes nor those of the business where he works are likely to rise if Mr. Obama's tax plan were to go into effect."

As CBS News reported, even "Joe The Plumber" acknowledges this fact now:

So today, Joe, who said he makes much less than $250,000, reluctantly admitted Obama would lower his taxes.

"I would, if you believe him, I would be receiving his tax cuts," Wurzelbacher said.

Friday, October 17, 2008

More vote suppression news

1. "States' Actions to Block Voters Appear Illegal," New York Times, October 8, 2008

"Check-off box delays thousands of voter registrations," Denver Post, October 14, 2008

2. "ACORN defends efforts amid voter-fraud allegations," Associated Press, October 14, 2008

3. "In 5-Year Effort, Scant Evidence of Voter Fraud," New York Times, April 12, 2007

"The Truth About Fraud," Brennan Center for Justice

4. "The Truth About ACORN's Voter Registration Drives," ACORN

"Group Answers Charges of Voter Registration Fraud," New York Times, October 14, 2008

5. "Voter Group Admits Mistakes, Defends Work," ABC News, October 14, 2008

"Is there ACORN fraud in Florida?," Orlando Sentinel, October 15, 2008

6. "'Fraud' vs. 'Suppression'," Politico, October 14, 2008

7. "After A Surge in Registration, A Surge in Suppression," Brennan Center for Justice, October 7, 2008

"Democrats fear GOP will turn away foreclosed voters; GOP won't rule out using residency change to challenge a ballot," Indianapolis Star, October 3, 2008

"Vote-scam fliers target black neighborhoods," Philadelphia Daily News, October 2, 2008

Is the fix in without a landslide for Obama?

Block the Vote by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. & Greg Palast in the current issue (#1064) of Rolling Stone.

Don’t worry about Mickey Mouse or ACORN stealing the election. According to an investigative report out today in Rolling Stone magazine, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast, after a year-long investigation, reveal a systematic program of "GOP vote tampering" on a massive scale.

Republican Secretaries of State of swing-state Colorado have quietly purged one in six names from their voter rolls.

Over several months, the GOP politicos in Colorado stonewalled every attempt by Rolling Stone to get an answer to the massive purge - ten times the average state's rate of removal.

While Obama dreams of riding to the White House on a wave of new voters, more then 2.7 million have had their registrations REJECTED under new procedures signed into law by George Bush.

Kennedy, a voting rights lawyer, charges this is a resurgence of 'Jim Crow' tactics to wrongly block Black and Hispanic voters.

A fired US prosecutor levels new charges - accusing leaders of his own party, Republicans, with criminal acts in an attempt to block legal voters as "fraudulent."

Digging through government records, the Kennedy-Palast team discovered that, in 2004, a GOP scheme called "caging” ultimately took away the rights of 1.1 million voters. The Rolling Stone duo predict that, this November 4, it will be far worse.

There's more:

Since the last presidential race, "States used dubious 'list management' rules to scrub at least 10 million voters from their rolls."

Among those was Paul Maez of Las Vegas, New Mexico - a victim of an unreported but devastating purge of voters in that state that left as many as one in nine Democrats without a vote. For Maez, the state's purging his registration was particularly shocking - he's the county elections supervisor.

The Kennedy-Palast revelations go far beyond the sum of questionably purged voters recently reported by the New York Times.

"Republican operatives - the party's elite commandos of bare-knuckle politics," report Kennedy and Palast, under the cover of fighting fraudulent voting, are "systematically disenfranchis[ing] Democrats."

The investigators level a deadly serious charge:

"If Democrats are to win the 2008 election, they must not simply beat McCain at the polls - they must beat him by a margin that exceeds the level of GOP vote tampering."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hey Sarah Palin

And you can even sing along ...

ACORN has done nothing wrong

Afraid that they will lose this election, Republicans have turned ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) into the boogie man. They are making baseless claims that ACORN is perpetuating voter fraud due to its voter registration activities.

The Republican right wing sound bites about ACORN have been expectedly scurrilous. The Republican National Committee's chief lawyer has labeled ACORN a "quasi-criminal organization," and McCain's campaign has launched ads accusing the group of "massive voter fraud" and bullying banks into making risky home loans. As we saw last night in the debate, McCain's camp is also trying to link his opponent, Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, to ACORN.

It is all complete bullshit. Here's what you won't hear in the mainstream media.

ACORN pays people to register voters. Some of these temporary employees find it easier to make up fake prospective voters than actually get off their asses and to the job properly.

ACORN then spends hundreds of hours of staff time verifying the registration forms that they receive. When these are turned over to the local Elections Supervisor, ACORN clearly identifies which forms could not be validated, which were, and which are absolutely suspicious. In some cases, ACORN has helped government officials prosecute the people responsible.

Here are some additional facts:

  • ACORN has helped 1.3 million citizens from all parties and all walks of life apply for voter registration.

  • In most states, ACORN is required by law to turn in every voter registration card - even in cases where the cards are not valid.

  • It is ACORN that has reported almost all of the issues regarding voter registration cards.

  • Invalid voter registration cards do NOT constitute voter fraud. Even RNC General Counsel Sean Cairncross has recently acknowledged he is not aware of a single improper vote cast as a result of bad cards submitted in the course of an organized voter registration effort.

  • A 2005 study by the League of Women Voters and the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio found that only 4 of about 9, 000,000 votes cast in the state from 2002-2004 were fraudulent.
Here is a great analysis of the whole issue by Newsweek's Andrew Romano.

On Wednesday, Oct. 15, ACORN National President Maude Hurd issued the following statement in response to Senator John McCain’s attack:

"We appreciate Senator McCain's effort to stir up the Republican base by attacking a community organization working to increase public participation in our democratic process. However, these attacks reflect an increasingly panicked candidate. Unfortunately, the Senator McCain we saw tonight is very different than the Senator McCain who stood shoulder to shoulder with ACORN at a February 20, 2006 immigration reform event."

Meanwhile, the REAL efforts for voter suppression, perpetrated by the Grand Old Party of weasels continues:

Now, THAT'S Presidential!

US Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) reacts to almost heading the wrong way off the stage after shaking hands with Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) at the conclusion of the final presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, October 15, 2008. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

Joe the Bummer

We sure heard a lot about Joe the Plumber from John McCain last night. A regular slice of this here American life, this Joe, just trying to live the American Dream, right?

Well, when a Republican presidential candidate turns someone into an instant icon, my smell-o-meter goes into hyper-drive. Only it didn't take long to uncover this swine before the pearls.

From the Houston Chronicle's blog pages (the blog called Gimme Some Truth):

"Early in the debate last night, John McCain, in the role of Amos McCoy with a bad case of hemorrhoids, brought up a guy who had confronted Obama in Holland, Ohio, just outside of Toledo, at a campaign event on Sunday. This guy, Joe Wurzelbacher, who McCain called 'Joe the Plumber,' throughout the entire debate, became the central focus of McCain stream of lies and invective aimed at Obama. Obama responded well, and even addressed 'Joe' directly a couple of times himself.

"So. Who is Joe the Plumber? Apparently, he is actually is a plumber in Ohio, but clearly a McCain supporter. He told Obama that he was buying a business that just happened to make a little over $250,000 a year and why was Obama going to tax him. Conveniently, a camera with the appropriate microphone happened to be set up to perfectly record the exchange.

"Obama stopped and talked about his tax plans and trying to help small business. Clearly Joe was hostile to Obama during the exchange. Coincidently, an interview with Wurzelbacher popped up on the internet before the debate on a website run by Republican shill Carol Taber, who was caught in the 2004 campaign posing as a concerned mother when, in fact, she was an operative for Bush/Cheney. In the interview, he used the McCain talking point "redistribute wealth" that McCain pounded during the debate that night.

"So, are we to believe that a hard working plumber, who claims to work from 4:30 in the morning until 7:00 at night, single father, who is clearly not an Obama supporter, took off of work, came to Obama's rally, and positioned himself to get to Obama at precisely the same time that a professional cameraman with appropriate sound equipment was perfectly placed to record the whole thing? And the whole exchange just so happened to show up on the net prior to the debate, along with an interview with Joe, and then McCain featured him as his central theme?"

UPDATE: On ABC's Good Morning America today, Joe the Plumber admitted that "he had been invited" to the rally.

It gets better.

From the Toledo (Ohio) Blade:

'Joe the plumber' isn’t licensed

"Joe the Plumber" isn’t a plumber — at least not a licensed one, or a registered one.

A check of state and local licensing agencies in Ohio and Michigan shows no plumbing licenses under Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher’s name, or even misspellings of his name.

Mr. Wurzelbacher told reporters Thursday morning that he worked for Newell Plumbing & Heating Co., a small local firm whose business addresses flow back to several residential homes, including one on Talmadge Road in Ottawa Hills.

According to Lucas County Building Inspection records, A. W. Newell Corp. does maintain a state plumbing license, and one with the City of Toledo, but would not be allowed to work in Lucas County outside of Toledo without a county license.

Mr. Wurzelbacher said he works under Al Newell’s license, but according to Ohio building regulations, he must maintain his own license to do plumbing work.

He is also not registered to operate as a plumber in Ohio, which means he’s not a plumber.

Mr. Wurzelbacher said he was hired by Mr. Newell six years ago and that the possibility of him eventually buying the company was discussed during his job interview.

He said it’s his understanding he can work under Mr. Newell’s license as long as the licensed contractor works on the same site.

Mr. Wurzelbacher said he is working on taking the Ohio plumbing contractors’ license test.

Mr. Wurzelbacher’s notoriety has raised the ire of Tom Joseph, business manager for Local 50 of the United Association of Plumbers, Steamfitters, and Service Mechanics, who claimed that Mr. Wurzelbacher didn’t undergo any apprenticeship training.

"When you have guys going out there with no training whatsoever, it’s a little disreputable to start with," Mr. Joseph said. "We’re the real Joe the Plumber."

"This individual has got no schooling, no licenses, he’s never been to a training program, union or non-union, in the United States of America," Mr. Joseph said.

In January, 2007, the Ohio Department of Taxation placed a lien against him because $1,183 in personal property taxes had not been paid, but there has been no action in the case since it was filed.

Say it ain't so, Joe.

Here's a copy of the lien.

So, much like his VP choice, John McCain's Joe is just another artifact of G.O.P. bancruptcy.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lame duck?

No, just lame.

"It looks like I'm going to have a lot of work to do between today and when the new president takes office," Bush said this past week.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Buckley endorses Obama

Posted: 07:08 PM ET

Christopher Buckley, son of William F. Buckley, is backing Obama.
Christopher Buckley, son of William F. Buckley, is backing Obama.

(CNN) — No, hell has not frozen over, but a Buckley is backing a Democrat for president.

Christopher Buckley, the son of the late conservative icon William F. Buckley, said Friday he's decided to back Barack Obama's White House bid, the first time in his life he will vote Democrat.

"It's a good thing my dear old mum and pup [sic] are no longer alive. They'd cut off my allowance," Buckley, a columnist for the conservative National Review, wrote on the Web site The Daily Beast Friday.

Buckley, who praised McCain in a New York Times Op-Ed earlier this year and defended the Arizona senator's conservative credentials against wary talk-radio hosts, said McCain is no longer the "real" and "unconventional" man he once admired.

"This campaign has changed John McCain," Buckley wrote. "It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget 'by the end of my first term.' Who, really, believes that?

"Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis," Buckley added. "His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?"

But Buckley made clear he's not just voting against McCain, praising Obama for his "first-class temperament and first-class intellect.

"Obama has in him—I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy 'We are the people we have been waiting for' silly rhetoric—the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for," Buckley wrote.

Friday, October 10, 2008


The Bush administration called it the "Help America Vote Act." In reality, it is more like the "Hinder American Voters Act." Why? Because it has made it so much easier to deny some Americans their right to vote, as Bobby Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast tell us in "Steal Back Your Vote." This was a prominent feature of the 2004 election in Ohio, New Mexico, and elsewhere. And now, with the Obama campaign's surge of voter registrations, large numbers of voters are being dropped from voter registration rolls in many swing states.

Today in the NY Times:

States’ Actions to Block Voters Appear Illegal Tens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law, according to a review of state records and Social Security data by The New York Times.

The actions do not seem to be coordinated by one party or the other, nor do they appear to be the result of election officials intentionally breaking rules, but are apparently the result of mistakes in the handling of the registrations and voter files as the states tried to comply with a 2002 federal law, intended to overhaul the way elections are run.

Still, because Democrats have been more aggressive at registering new voters this year, according to state election officials, any heightened screening of new applications may affect their party’s supporters disproportionately. The screening or trimming of voter registration lists in the six states — Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Nevada and North Carolina — could also result in problems at the polls on Election Day: people who have been removed from the rolls are likely to show up only to be challenged by political party officials or election workers, resulting in confusion, long lines and heated tempers.

Some states allow such voters to cast provisional ballots. But they are often not counted because they require added verification.

Although much attention this year has been focused on the millions of new voters being added to the rolls by the candidacy of Senator Barack Obama, there has been far less notice given to the number of voters being dropped from those same rolls.

States have been trying to follow the Help America Vote Act of 2002 and remove the names of voters who should no longer be listed; but for every voter added to the rolls in the past two months in some states, election officials have removed two, a review of the records shows.

The six swing states seem to be in violation of federal law in two ways. Michigan and Colorado are removing voters from the rolls within 90 days of a federal election, which is not allowed except when voters die, notify the authorities that they have moved out of state, or have been declared unfit to vote.

Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio seem to be improperly using Social Security data to verify registration applications for new voters.

In addition to the six swing states, three more states appear to be violating federal law. Alabama and Georgia seem to be improperly using Social Security information to screen registration applications from new voters. And Louisiana appears to have removed thousands of voters after the federal deadline for taking such action.

Under federal law, election officials are supposed to use the Social Security database to check a registration application only as a last resort, if no record of the applicant is found on state databases, like those for driver’s licenses or identification cards.

The requirement exists because using the federal database is less reliable than the state lists, and is more likely to incorrectly flag applications as invalid. Many state officials seem to be using the Social Security lists first.

In the year ending Sept. 30, election officials in Nevada, for example, used the Social Security database more than 740,000 times to check voter files or registration applications and found more than 715,000 nonmatches, federal records show. Election officials in Georgia ran more than 1.9 million checks on voter files or voter registration applications and found more than 260,000 nonmatches.

Officials of the Social Security Administration, presented with those numbers, said they were far too high to be cases where names were not in state databases. They said the data seem to represent a violation of federal law and the contract the states signed with the agency to use the database.

Last week, after the inquiry by The Times, Michael J. Astrue, the commissioner of the Social Security Administration, alerted the Justice Department to the problem and sent letters to election officials in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio. The letters ask the officials to ensure that they are complying with federal law.

“It is absolutely essential that people entitled to register to vote are allowed to do so,” Mr. Astrue said in a press release.

In three states — Colorado, Louisiana and Michigan — the number of people purged from the election rolls since Aug. 1 far exceeds the number who may have died or relocated during that period.

States may be improperly removing voters who have moved within the state, election experts said, or who are considered inactive because they have failed to vote in two consecutive federal elections. For example, major voter registration drives have been held this year in Colorado, which has also had a significant population increase since the last presidential election, but the state has recorded a net loss of nearly 100,000 voters from its rolls since 2004.

More here.

But whether this is by design or through sheer incompetence, do the smart thing.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Economist's poll of economists

I rely on the Economist news magazine for a rational, intelligent - if at times slightly stodgy - conservative perspective. At best, it forces me to venture outside of my left-liberal comfort zone and consider another perspective. At worst, I may sometimes think that they are completely full of shit.

In the latest issue, the Economist presented a poll of ... well, economists. The result may surprise you. It did me (click on the chart to enlarge).

They may be the purveyors of the "dismal science." But can 9 out of 10 economists be wrong?

Obama and Bill Ayers

Caribou Barbie's (Sarah Palin for those of you who never listen to Mike Malloy) latest wink fest is to try and once again associate Barack Obama with former Weather Underground radical William Ayers (now, a respected education Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois). This says more about the total and complete bankruptcy of the McCain-Palin campaign than anything else, but if there is even one right-brained reader of this blog who is convinced by such calumny, I suggest that you check out the article in yesterday's NY Times entitled "Obama and ’60s Bomber: A Look Into Crossed Paths."

First and foremost, Barack Obama was 8 years old when Bill Ayers was plotting and carrying out acts of violence. As Steven Benen reports in the Washington Monthly:

"OBAMA AND SOME GUY HE BARELY KNOWS.... About a week or so ago, the Wall Street Journal editorial page ran an 1,100-word piece from conservative writer Stanley Kurtz about Barack Obama's past with 1960's-era radical William Ayers. The Journal gave it a provocative headline -- 'Obama and Ayers Pushed Radicalism on Schools' -- and far-right blogs got really excited about it.

"There was one small problem: Kurtz, after exhaustive research, couldn't find any meaningful dirt.

"But the hunger for a scandal remains, and unhinged Republicans just know there's more to this story, if only major media outlets would bother to keep digging. So, the New York Times kept digging, and published a 2,100-word piece today, detailing the 'crossed paths' of Obama and Ayers. Presumably, the report is intended, and will no doubt be used, to push the Ayers "story" back into the political discussion of the day.

"And yet, there's that problem again: the Times couldn't find any meaningful dirt, either."

Even if Ayers is somewhat less than repentant about his past bombing days (and it is certainly arguable about which is a more an act of violence - blowing up statues and parts of buildings without loss of a single human life or shooting wolves, an endangered species, from airplanes), he is clearly no advocate of "terrorism."

From Wikipedia:
"Much of the controversy about Ayers during the decade since the year 2000 stems from an interview he gave to the New York Times on the occasion of the memoir's publication.[18] The reporter quoted him as saying 'I don't regret setting bombs" and "I feel we didn't do enough', and, when asked if he would 'do it all again' as saying 'I don't want to discount the possibility.'[14] Ayers has not denied the quotes, but he protested the interviewer's characterizations in a Letter to the Editor published September 15, 2001: 'This is not a question of being misunderstood or 'taken out of context', but of deliberate distortion.'[19] In the ensuing years, Ayers has repeatedly avowed that when he said he had 'no regrets' and that 'we didn't do enough' he was speaking only in reference to his efforts to stop the United States from waging the Vietnam War, efforts which he has described as '. . . inadequate [as] the war dragged on for a decade.'[20] Ayers has maintained that the two statements were not intended to imply a wish they had set more bombs.[20][21] The interviewer also quoted some of Ayers' own criticism of Weatherman in the foreword to the memoir, whereby Ayers reacts to having watched Emile de Antonio's 1976 documentary film about Weatherman, Underground: '[Ayers] was 'embarrassed by the arrogance, the solipsism, the absolute certainty that we and we alone knew the way. The rigidity and the narcissism.' [14]

"'We weren't terrorists,' Ayers told an interviewer for the Chicago Tribune in 2001. 'The reason we weren't terrorists is because we did not commit random acts of terror against people. Terrorism was what was being practiced in the countryside of Vietnam by the United States.'[2] In a letter to the editor in the Chicago Tribune, Ayers wrote, 'I condemn all forms of terrorism — individual, group and official'. He also condemned the September 11 terrorist attacks in that letter. 'Today we are witnessing crimes against humanity on our own shores on an unthinkable scale, and I fear that we may soon see more innocent people in other parts of the world dying in response.'"[22]

While Professor Bill Ayers is not universally beloved in Chicago, here's what the mayor has to say about him:

“He’s done a lot of good in this city and nationally,” Mayor Richard M. Daley said, explaining that he has long consulted Mr. Ayers on school issues. Mr. Daley, whose father was Chicago’s mayor during the street violence accompanying the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the so-called Days of Rage the following year, said he saw the bombings of that time in the context of a polarized and turbulent era.

“This is 2008,” Mr. Daley said. “People make mistakes. You judge a person by his whole life.”

For me the most interesting reference to Bill Ayers that I have come across was in a marvelous and inspiring book called "Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation", by Eboo Patel, "On Faith" columnist for the Washington Post and the founder and executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based international non-profit dedicated to building the interfaith youth movement. I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Patel speak at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in Fort Lauderdale this past summer. He is a young, profoundly religious man man who has dedicated his life to setting up institutions that, on one hand, PREVENT the conversion of youth into terrorists. In his acknowledgments, Patel thanks Bill Ayers for convincing him to tell his story.

Finally, if Ms Palin has been chosen to keep this the fires lit under the overblown relationship of Barack Obama with a man who, frankly, I would have no problem associating with today, then I suggest that we Democrats bring something to the table, too.

Todd Palin, the "first dude," is a former member of the Alaska Independence Party, an association of anti-American secessionists. Sarah Palin charges that Obama "is not a man who sees America as you and I do." Does Sarah see America like her husband did, to quote Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic "comfortable belonging to and being associated with a political party whose founder seemed to delight in denouncing the principles that hold our union together?"

Friday, October 03, 2008

"Just an everyday, working class American."

Estimates show Palin assets top $1 million

WASILLA, Alaska (AP) — Sarah Palin and her husband have pieced together a uniquely Alaskan income that reached comfortably into six figures even before she became governor, capitalizing on valuable fishing rights, a series of land deals and a patchwork of other ventures to build an above-average lifestyle.

Add up the couple's 2007 income and the estimated value of their property and investments and they appear to be worth at least $1.2 million. That would make the Palins, like Democratic vice presidential rival Joe Biden and his wife Jill, well-off but not nearly as wealthy as multimillionaire couples John and Cindy McCain and, to a lesser extent, Barack and Michelle Obama.

One measure of financial health: While there is a home loan, Palin reported no personal credit card debt on her most recent financial report as Alaska governor. That compares to average household credit card debt among Americans of $9,840 last year.

A more complete picture will come when Sarah Palin outlines her personal finances in federal paperwork in coming days. It will include details of any mortgage debt and at least rough dollar totals for bank accounts and investments.

Palin this week characterized herself as "an everyday, working-class American" who knows how it feels when the stock market takes a hit.

Full article

Homer's Election Day Nightmare

I guess the Simpsons make enough money for Rupert Murdoch that he forgives their trespasses.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Has Rove has already fixed the 2008 election?

I've been trumpeting the unerring investigative acumen of Greg Palast for years. In case this is all new to you, PLEASE watch this video.

The 5 McCain Videos Everyone Needs to See

1. The Real McCain 2: Watch as McCain's YouTube problem became his nightmare in the video that received over 4 million views.

2. Less Jobs. More Wars: What is this 'Iraq war' charge on my bill?

3. John McCain vs. John McCain: Tell McCain to get off the Double Talk Express.

4. McCain's Spiritual Guide: The video that caused McCain to renounce Rev. Rod Parsley's bigoted endorsement.

5. Why Won't McCain Sign the GI Bill? Presenting the most blatant hypocrisy of the McCain campaign.

Why aren't John McCain's medical records public?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Documentary Footage of Mass Arrest in St. Paul

From Laura Flanders and

Now that we've had a few weeks to settle, a look back at Labor Day in the Twin Cities. Labor Day was of course also Day One of the Republican National Convention. Video was released today of an apparent mass arrest of utterly peaceful concert goers at the SEIU Labor Day concert.

Police in riot gear have surrounded loungers in a waterfront park. They announce, "Ladies and Gentlemen, You're Under Arrest" and you hear one young woman say incredulously "Are you serious?"

Yep, I'm afraid they are.

John Stewart on the Palin Gender Card

The Daily Show on the Republican tendency for double standards. On everything.

More from "Steal Back Your Vote"

More previews from Greg Palast and Robert Kennedy Jr.'s "Steal Back Your Vote." Click on the pages to enlarge.

Night of the Living Vote-snatchers

Excerpted from the Greg Palast, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Robert F. Kennedy's comic book voter guide. See for more.

In 2002, George W. Bush signed the Help America Vote Act.

When a Bush tells you he’s going to “help” you vote - look out!

The result: in the 2004 presidential election, over three million votes - 3,006,080 - were cast and not counted. Like, what the !@#!?

That’s from the official data from an agency created by George Bush called the “Elections Assistance Commission.” When a Bush tells you he’s going to “assist” our elections... (well, you get it).

Three MILLION ballots disappeared - Pfft!

And not just anyone’s ballots. U.S. government experts reported, for example, that a black voter’s ballot is 900% more likely than a white voter’s ballot to get “lost” in the machine. Bush fired the experts.

Three million voters went missing in ‘04 - but that ain’t nuthin’!

Law professor and voting law expert Robert F. Kennedy Jr. warns that it’s about to get a whole lot worse. Nasty new spores of the “Help” America Vote Act went into effect since the last election that have turned the process into a vicious game of “Chutes and Ladders,” with traps and tricks between you and your vote...

Example: the Republican Secretary of State of Colorado “helped” her state vote by eliminating 19.4% of the voters from the voter rolls. That’s one in five !@#$#@ voters!

Over three million missing ballots – and now the voters themselves are disappearing by the millions. Where the hell did they go?