New Year’s Eve Question of the Day

Can we consider this a sequel to 500 Days of Summer?

Romney Son Makes Birther Joke

Until this week the most significant actions from families of the candidates were the YouTube videos by the Huntsman daughters, but they will have no effect unless Jon Huntsman joins the other underdogs in the GOP race who have had a surge. This week Tagg Romney made a mistake responding to questions about when his father will release his tax returns by joking that he, “heard someone suggest the other day that as soon as President Obama releases his grades and his birth certificate.” The Obama campaign used this to their advantage:

In an email to supporters today about the joke, Obama for America campaign manager Jim Messina wrote, “This is how the Romney campaign thinks it’s going to win the Republican primary: by pandering to the dead-ender fringe of extremists who still question where the president was born.”

While asking for a donation, Messina said, “we can drive up the cost of this kind of politics… when they do this, you’ve got to do something about it.”

The email was sent under the subject line, “Donald Trump or Mitt Romney?” in reference to Trump’s persistent questions about Mr. Obama’s origins, which ultimately prompted the president to release his long-form birth certificate from Hawaii.

The Obama team also tweeted about the gaffe, sending its Twitter followers a link to mugs the re-election campaign is selling that poke fun at the birther issue.

Maybe it inspired a few more supporters to contribute but otherwise this is unlikely to have much effect. Nobody in the Romney family is likely to  make a mistake such as this in the future and this will be long-forgotten in the general election campaign. The bigger question is whether Mitt Romney’s tax returns will hurt him in a general election campaign.

Ron Paul and the GOP Polls: Question of the Day

Why do some pundits find it surprising that Ron Paul’s support among Republicans continues to rise as more information comes out about his racism, antisemitism,  homophobia and belief in conspiracy theories?  Do they understand nothing about the right wing?

Posted in Polls, Ron Paul. Tags: , . 4 Comments »

Gallup Shows Voter Misconceptions Regarding Views of the Candidates

In recent years multiple polls have showed that voters are far closer to the Democrats, including Barack Obama, on the issues when questions are asked purely based upon issues and not candidates. However, this has often failed to translate into support at the ballot box, partially because of voters not knowing the actual positions of the candidates. A Gallup poll shows that voters perceive the views of  Republican candidates to be closer to their own while they see greater differences between themselves and Obama. In other words, there are voters who agree with Obama on the issues but, due to all the right wing propaganda claiming he is a far left socialist, many voters fail to realize this.

On the one hand, this shows the success of the right wing noise machine. On the other hand, looking further into the poll, it is Republicans, as opposed to either independents or Democrats, who are most likely to see Obama as being on the far left. Republican views are so warped that they shift the overall result, while the perceptions of candidates by independents are far closer to those of Democrats. The poll found, “Obama’s mean ideology rating ends up furthest away from Americans’ own mean score because Republicans place him far to the left, with an average of 1.7, compared with 2.5 among independents and 2.8 among Democrats.”

Another example of how little voters in the poll understand the actual position of the candidates is seen with Ron Paul. Those who see other Republicans as having view similar to their views say the same of Ron Paul.  Regardless of whose views are preferable, it is clear that Ron Paul does not occupy the same portion of the political spectrum as other Republican candidates. This shows why Paul has surged in some Iowa polls, but once his views become known it is hard to see him surviving in GOP contests beyond Iowa and New Hampshire.

While it is primarily Republicans, who would not vote for Obama under any circumstance, who see his views as far different from their views, there are bound to be some swing voters who now are saying they will not vote for Obama based upon misconceptions about his ideology. At least it will be far easier to win the votes of such individuals by showing what Obama’s actual views are, as opposed to having to change people’s minds on the issues.  The Democrats have an edge if they can actually get people who agree with them on the issues to vote for Democratic candidates. The Democrats need to make it clear where they stand, as opposed to frequently allowing the right wing media to define them.


How Many Times Can Republicans Tell The Same Lies About Health Care Reform And Have The Media Repeat Them As News?

I don’t know which is worse, that a major party candidate would tell such a lie or that a major news organization would cover it without pointing out the facts. Rick Perry is repeating the same type lie frequently made by Republicans that the Affordable Care Act would deny people care. This is from NBC:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday warned that President Obama’s health reform law could result in the death of ill patients, relating the story of a cancer patient he met Tuesday at a campaign stop in Creston, Iowa.

“She came up to me and she said ‘Governor, if you don’t get rid of Obamacare, I’m dead,” he recounted. “She said they will never take care of me. And that’s a powerful testimony by that lady.”

A random person makes a factually untrue statement and it becomes a news story because a dishonest Republican candidate repeats it.

The reality is the opposite of what is claimed by Perry. There is absolutely nothing in the Affordable Care Act which would limit care to cancer patients such as this. There are no “death panels.” In reality, healthcare reform became necessary because of the large number of people who really are dying without the needed reforms. Today, many cancer patients do not receive health care because they cannot afford insurance. ObamaCare is changing that.  Before the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies would refuse to sell insurance to people with a history of cancer (and many other problems), and some would drop the coverage of cancer patients to save money.

We expect such lies from Republican candidates, but couldn’t the news media do a better job of covering such false claims?


Paul Accepts Support Of Advocate Of Execution Of Homosexuals

While Ron Paul has virtually zero chance of winning either the Republican nomination or a general election in this country, there is something about him which makes following his campaign interesting. Part of it is having a candidate who does not fit well into the normal left/right divide of today’s politics. It is also fascinating to watch who does and does not support his campaign. Paul is essentially a candidate of the old, isolationist right. His opposition to the war resulted in many supporting him without giving adequate consideration to his full philosophy. His support for  states’ rights and opposition to most actions by the federal government gives the illusion that he is libertarian. I’ve found that some libertarians do support him, while others do see through him, especially since his connection to other common viewpoints of the old right, racism and antisemitism, were exposed during his last presidential run. The latest embarrassment for those who mistakenly see Paul as being pro-freedom is the endorsement by of Rev. Phillip G. Kayser, a pastor at the Dominion Covenant Church in Nebraska. Talking Points Memo discussed Kayser’s views and how they tie into Paul’s version of federalism:

Paul’s Iowa chair, Drew Ivers, recently touted the endorsement of Rev. Phillip G. Kayser, a pastor at the Dominion Covenant Church in Nebraska who also draws members from Iowa, putting out a press release praising “the enlightening statements he makes on how Ron Paul’s approach to government is consistent with Christian beliefs.” But Kayser’s views on homosexuality go way beyond the bounds of typical anti-gay evangelical politics and into the violent fringe: he recently authored a paper arguing for criminalizing homosexuality and even advocated imposing the death penalty against offenders based on his reading of Biblical law.

“Difficulty in implementing Biblical law does not make non-Biblical penology just,” he argued. “But as we have seen, while many homosexuals would be executed, the threat of capital punishment can be restorative. Biblical law would recognize as a matter of justice that even if this law could be enforced today, homosexuals could not be prosecuted for something that was done before.”

Reached by phone, Kayser confirmed to TPM that he believed in reinstating Biblical punishments for homosexuals — including the death penalty — even if he didn’t see much hope for it happening anytime soon. While he said he and Paul disagree on gay rights, noting that Paul recently voted for repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, he supported the campaign because he believed Paul’s federalist take on the Constitution would allow states more latitude to implement fundamentalist law. Especially since under Kayser’s own interpretation of the Constitution there is no separation of Church and State.

“Under a Ron Paul presidency, states would be freed up to not have political correctness imposed on them, but obviously some state would follow what’s politically correct,” he said. “What he’s trying to do, whether he agrees with the Constitution’s position or not, is restrict himself to the Constitution. That is something I very much appreciate.”

There is a history of homophobia being expressed in Paul’s newsletters, and we recently learned of his fear of using the bathroom of a gay supporter. While Paul may not advocate the death penalty for homosexuals, he does have a strong history of accepting infringements upon individual liberty by the states (as opposed to the federal government) as part of his fanatical states’ rights viewpoint. The neo-Nazis and white supremacists who have backed Paul understand the consequences of his views far better than the remaining libertarians who support Paul. They understanding how Paul’s views would destroy civil liberties at the state level and make it far easier to impose fascism. Fortunately some libertarians do seem to understand, such as Doug Mataconis who writes:

So basically this guy supports Ron Paul because he thinks a President Paul would make it easier for him and people like him to enact state laws that mirror the Book of Leviticus, and the Paul campaign welcomes his support. This is not libertarianism.

The first commenter to the post cited above also makes it clear:  “Paul’s Federalist Libertarianism (hat tip: Popehat) is nothing new. He’s fine with authoritarianism as long as it’s at the state level.”

How Obama Really Ranked Presidents

Right wingers, perhaps realizing they cannot take on Obama if they stick to facts, rely upon a large variety of distortions. There’s the ridiculous claims that he’s a Muslim, a socialist, and that he palls around with terrorists. Twisting statements, even going as far as editing audio or video, is another common right wing tactic. They will even claim they are just using their opponent’s own words against them, ignoring how they have altered them. The latest example is the claim which has become common in right wing (as well as some far left) blogs that Obama claimed in unaired portions of his interview with Sixty Minutes that he is the fourth greatest president of all time. Steve Benen reviewed the actual interview to show Obama did not actually say this. Here is what Obama really said:

“The issue here is not going be a list of accomplishments. As you said yourself, Steve, you know, I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president — with the possible exceptions of Johnson, F.D.R., and Lincoln — just in terms of what we’ve gotten done in modern history. But, you know, but when it comes to the economy, we’ve got a lot more work to do.”

Obama is placing Johnson, FDR, and Lincoln ahead of the others and then places some portions of his record as competitive with the others. He is correct on this point. As Steve wrote:

In his first two years, this president helped pull the economy back from a depression, rescued the American auto industry, passed a health care reform law 100 years in the making, signed Wall Street reform, DADT repeal, the woefully under-appreciated student loan reform, New START, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the biggest overhaul of our food-safety laws in 70 years, new regulation of the credit card industry, a national service bill, expanded stem-cell research, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, net neutrality, the most sweeping land-protection act in 15 years, and health care for 9/11 rescue workers, among other things. (That’s just his first two years. In his third, Obama also ordered the strike that killed bin Laden and helped oust Gadhafi in Libya.)

Love Obama or hate him, how many presidents have put together records like that? Putting aside the nonsense about Obama ranking himself, which obviously didn’t happen, weren’t his comments about accomplishments entirely accurate?

Obama didn’t really say what his detractors claim, but even if he did there would be a strong argument in his favor. Without trying to rank different presidents at different times and in different situations, there is no question that Obama’s legislative and foreign policy achievements are competitive with most of his predecessors.

Realistically I doubt that any president today can accomplish enough to go down in history as fourth best considering both the terrible situation he inherited, the degree to which Republicans are trying to obstruct economic recovery for political gain, the manner in which Republicans are forcing virtually everything to obtain sixty votes in the Senate, and the strength of the right wing’s propaganda machine.


Posted in Barack Obama. Tags: . 4 Comments »

Ron Paul Aide on Charges of Racism and Anti-Semitism

There have been many articles and blog posts over the past week over the racist and anti-Semitic articles in Ron Paul’s old newsletter. So far this has primarily been a repeat of material which was widely discussed four years ago, especially after Paul’s denials of knowledge of the articles were debunked. (Besides, even if it was true that others were posting these articles under Paul’s name and Paul really was unaware, this still would raise questions as to Paul’s ability to run the federal government). The New York Times also raised the old issue of Paul’s support from extremists today. One new aspect to this story was raised today when former Paul aide Eric Dondero wrote a post which “defends” Paul from charges of racism and homophobia in a manner which really appears designed to harm Paul.

Dondero is a former Paul aide who split with Paul over the Iraq War. The two are at opposite ends of the spectrum with regards to Paul’s isolationism, with Dondero being a strong supporter of military action in Iraq. I’ve seen a number of claims on line that Paul fired Dondero, which Dondero has denied in comments previously posted on this blog. Regardless, it has been clear that Dondero has had poor relations with Paul which may or may not have a bearing on the accuracy of the statements in his post. Here is an extended portion, with more in the entire post which can be found here:

Is Ron Paul a “racist.” In short, No. I worked for the man for 12 years, pretty consistently. I never heard a racist word expressed towards Blacks or Jews come out of his mouth. Not once. And understand, I was his close personal assistant. It’s safe to say that I was with him on the campaign trail more than any other individual, whether it be traveling to Fairbanks, Alaska or Boston, Massachusetts in the presidential race, or across the congressional district to San Antonio or Corpus Christi, Texas.

He has frequently hired blacks for his office staff, starting as early as 1988 for the Libertarian campaign. He has also hired many Hispanics, including his current District staffer Dianna Gilbert-Kile.

One caveat: He is what I would describe as “out of touch,” with both Hispanic and Black culture. Ron is far from being the hippest guy around. He is completely clueless when it comes to Hispanic and Black culture, particularly Mexican-American culture. And he is most certainly intolerant of Spanish and those who speak strictly Spanish in his presence, (as are a number of Americans, nothing out of the ordinary here.)

Is Ron Paul an Anti-Semite? Absolutely No. As a Jew, (half on my mother’s side), I can categorically say that I never heard anything out of his mouth, in hundreds of speeches I listened too over the years, or in my personal presence that could be called, “Anti-Semite.” No slurs. No derogatory remarks.

He is however, most certainly Anti-Israel, and Anti-Israeli in general. He wishes the Israeli state did not exist at all. He expressed this to me numerous times in our private conversations. His view is that Israel is more trouble than it is worth, specifically to the America taxpayer. He sides with the Palestinians, and supports their calls for the abolishment of the Jewish state, and the return of Israel, all of it, to the Arabs.

Again, American Jews, Ron Paul has no problem with. In fact, there were a few Jews in our congressional district, and Ron befriended them with the specific intent of winning their support for our campaign. (One synagogue in Victoria, and tiny one in Wharton headed by a well-known Jewish lawyer).

On the incident that’s being talked about in some blog media about the campaign manager directing me to a press conference of our opponent Lefty Morris in Victoria to push back on Anti-Jewish charges from the Morris campaign, yes, that did happen. The Victoria Advocate described the press conference very accurately. Yes, I was asked (not forced), to attend the conference dressed in a Jewish yarlmuke, and other Jewish adornments.

There was another incident when Ron finally agreed to a meeting with Houston Jewish Young Republicans at the Freeport office. He berated them, and even shouted at one point, over their un-flinching support for Israel. So, much so, that the 6 of them walked out of the office. I was left chasing them down the hallway apologizing for my boss.

Is Ron Paul a homo-phobe? Well, yes and no. He is not all bigoted towards homosexuals. He supports their rights to do whatever they please in their private lives. He is however, personally uncomfortable around homosexuals, no different from a lot of older folks of his era.

There were two incidents that I will cite, for the record. One that involved me directly, and another that involved another congressional staffer or two.

(I am revealing this for the very first time, and I’m sure Jim Peron will be quite surprised to learn this.)

In 1988, Ron had a hardcore Libertarian supporter, Jim Peron, Owner of Laissez Faire Books in San Francisco. Jim set up a magnificent 3-day campaign swing for us in the SF Bay Area. Jim was what you would call very openly Gay. But Ron thought the world of him. For 3 days we had a great time trouncing from one campaign event to another with Jim’s Gay lover. The atmosphere was simply jovial between the four of us. (As an aside we also met former Cong. Pete McCloskey during this campaign trip.) We used Jim’s home/office as a “base.” Ron pulled me aside the first time we went there, and specifically instructed me to find an excuse to excuse him to a local fast food restaurant so that he could use the bathroom. He told me very clearly, that although he liked Jim, he did not wish to use his bathroom facilities. I chided him a bit, but he sternly reacted, as he often did to me, Eric, just do what I say. Perhaps “sternly” is an understatement. Ron looked at me directly, and with a very angry look in his eye, and shouted under his breath: “Just do what I say NOW.”

The second incident involved one or two other staffers many years later at the BBQ in Surfside Beach. I was not in direct presence of the incident. But another top staffer, and I believe one of our secretaries, was witnessed to it. This top staffer adores Ron, but was extremely insulted by his behavior, I would even say flabbergasted to the point of considering resigning from his staff over it.

“Bobby,” a well-known and rather flamboyant and well-liked gay man in Freeport came to the BBQ. Let me stress Ron likes Bobby personally, and Bobby was a hardcore campaign supporter. But after his speech, at the Surfside pavilion Bobby came up to Ron with his hand extended, and according to my fellow staffer, Ron literally swatted his hand away.

Again, let me stress. I would not categorize that as “homo-phobic,” but rather just unsettled by being around gays personally. Ron, like many folks his age, very much supports toleration, but chooses not to be around gays on a personal level. It’s a personal choice. And though, it may seem offensive to some, he has every right in my mind to feel and act that way.

Clearly this is a “defense” of Paul which will not be of any help to him.

Posted in Ron Paul. Tags: , , . 2 Comments »

SciFi Weekend: The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe Airs Today!

This year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe airs today. Doctor Who News has posted this  collection of newspaper articles on the show.  Steven Moffat was interviewed on BBC Breakfast last week (video above).

Moffat was also interviewed by The Scotsman, suggesting there might be more than one special for the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, and commenting further on the proposed move by David Yates:

As for the 50th anniversary in 2013, Moffat has already promised an appropriately special episode, although when pressed he teasingly replies, “Why talk in the singular? Again, genuinely, the plans are at an early stage, but we have some very clear ideas about some of the things we’re doing, and I think Doctor Who fans and kids will think it’s the best thing ever. We’ve got a load of very big plans – the mere fact that we’re talking about this two years before the event should tell you how seriously we’re taking it.”

Fans are clamouring for an anniversary special featuring current incumbent Matt Smith alongside many of the previous Doctors, I venture. “Apparently,” he shrugs with a laugh, with nothing more to say on the matter.

Extracting new information about the revived Doctor Who has never been easy. A magnet for rumour and misinformation, the series attracted confusion again recently when Harry Potter director David Yates claimed he was making a rebooted movie version with an entirely different cast and mythology. “It’s completely inaccurate!” says Moffat. “There’s nothing there. I mean it would be lovely, yes. If anything, the only good bit about this is that it might actually focus our minds on thinking that we actually should do a film. But to state the bleeding obvious, it’s not going to be a different version of Doctor Who with two different Doctors at the same time. Of course not, we’re not that silly. That would be no way to run a franchise, would it? I’d love it to happen, but that version you heard was just a guy getting cornered on the red carpet and not really being on-message.”

Karen Gillan was interviewed  by ABC Nightlife (Australia). Audio above.

BBC America is broadcasting the episode this evening, but if you want to see it as soon as possible, the show will be streamed internationally here.

Here’s a complete time line of almost fifty years of Doctor Who. Clink on the graphic or link for a larger version.

Quote of the Day

“Donald Trump said he was going to run for president and then he didn’t run. But now he may be serious because I understand he has demanded to see his own birth certificate.” –David Letterman