On October 12th, big donors laid down some very, very big money to defeat Democratic Senate candidates. While it's not a surprise, the size of the expenditures was eye-opening, even to someone like me who thinks she's seen it all. They are at least ten times the usual amount spent on ads three weeks out. Combined with today's news that the US Chamber of Commerce has taken in at least $885,000 from foreign corporations, I fear our democratic process is forever corrupt and irreparably tainted with the smell of global agendas.
From the FEC near real-time report on independent expenditures:
AMERICAN CROSSROADS - C00487363
1. Opposes Candidate: Michael F. Bennet (S0CO00211)
Office Sought: Senate, Colorado District
Payee: Crossroads Media LLC
Date Expended = 10/12/2010 Amount Expended = $770144.20
Purpose: TV/Media Placement
2. Opposes Candidate: Michael F. Bennet (S0CO00211)
Office Sought: Senate, Colorado District
Payee: McCarthy Marcus Hennings Ltd.
Date Expended = 10/12/2010 Amount Expended = $14899.00
Purpose: TV/Media Production
So the centrist Third Way think tank has come up with a clever idea of making up a receipt that the government can send Joe Q. Taxpayer every year to show him what his income taxes are paying for.
While the sample the Third Way drew up isn't accurate -- as Kevin Drum notes, Social Security and Medicare shouldn't be lumped in with all the other expenses since they're funded differently -- the idea itself is pretty cool. At the very least it should show Americans that most of our taxes go to popular entitlement programs and defense-related spending rather than ungrateful foreigners and bridges to nowhere.
But uh-oh! Megan McArdle thinks we smug liberals shouldn't celebrate just yet! Here's why:
There seems to be an unspoken assumption that opposition to spending rests on misperception of what the money is spent on; Americans tell pollsters they want to cut spending, but it turns out that what they really want cut is the imaginary fortune they think we spend on foreign aid.
But of course, it seems to me that this could just as easily go the other way: isn't it possible that the widespread support for programs like Social Security and Medicare rests on the fact that most people don't realize just how big a portion of your paycheck those programs consume?
We're busted, liberals! We can't let people know how much we're taxing them every year for entitlement programs! They'll completely revolt and Social Security and Medicare will be abolished forever!!!!
But, wait a minute, what's this? Oh hello, it's our old friend the W2 form:
And looky there! It tells you exactly how much money your employer withheld every year for Social Security and Medicare! Wow-wee!
The lesson here is this: People like Social Security and Medicare. They're well-designed programs that have saved millions of people from poverty and medical bankruptcy in their old age. Along with desegregating the South, enacting women's suffrage and winning World War II, they're some of the very best things that American liberalism has done over the past 100 years. And come to think of it, that's a damn impressive list. Why are people ashamed to call themselves "liberals" again?
Oh, Arizona, how you do disappoint. Or not. Actually, you really just rise to my diminished expectations on a near-daily basis, and today is no exception. While Sheriff Joe's alleged corruption spills onto the front pages, the back page carries news of how Arizona courts fail to protect election integrity.
Recently I wrote about how Jan Brewer permitted Maricopa County -- the most populous county in Arizona and home to the worlds' most evil sheriff -- to break their own election laws in order to rush-report the vote counts to eagerly awaiting media outlets and viewers across the nation.
In Senate races, Republican-leaning interest groups outspent Democratic-leaning ones on television $10.9 million to $1.3 million, from Aug. 1 to Sept. 8, according to Campaign Media Analysis Group, a company that tracks political advertising.
In the House, Republican-leaning groups outspent Democratic-leaning ones, $3.1 million to $1.5 million.
Right in the middle of all of this spending is American Crossroads, the Karl Rove organization created post-Citizens United to collect big donations from big money donors for the sole purpose of defeating candidates with ugly, negative, expensive commercials. Of course, they love to play the innocent game...
“The groups that perfected this were on the Democratic side,” said Steven Law, president and chief executive of American Crossroads, a Republican-oriented advocacy group, and its sister organization, Crossroads GPS. Crossroads GPS has been the biggest third-party player on television by far since early August.
Well, progressives aren't sitting still for it, and I'm glad to see it. That "wanted poster" image is the real deal. It offers a $100,000 reward for:
"information leading to the arrest and conviction of Karl Rove or any principal of American Crossroads for money laundering, election rigging, or felony campaign finance violations."
As you might have noticed, Krugman is exceedingly anxious this days, and his column reflects it. After all, the Dems are about to get hit with a right-wing tsunami if the Republicans take control of the House, and yet, Obama's still trying to hit the ball down the Moderate Middle. It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion.
I just can't imagine Hillary Clinton sitting back and letting the Republicans get away with this crap all over again. Can you?
So what will happen if, as expected, Republicans win control of the House? We already know part of the answer: Politico reports that they’re gearing up for a repeat performance of the 1990s, with a “wave of committee investigations” — several of them over supposed scandals that we already know are completely phony. We can expect the G.O.P. to play chicken over the federal budget, too; I’d put even odds on a 1995-type government shutdown sometime over the next couple of years.
It will be an ugly scene, and it will be dangerous, too. The 1990s were a time of peace and prosperity; this is a time of neither. In particular, we’re still suffering the after-effects of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, and we can’t afford to have a federal government paralyzed by an opposition with no interest in helping the president govern. But that’s what we’re likely to get.
If I were President Obama, I’d be doing all I could to head off this prospect, offering some major new initiatives on the economic front in particular, if only to shake up the political dynamic. But my guess is that the president will continue to play it safe, all the way into catastrophe.
Laura Ingraham is clearly miffed that Muslims are starting to fear that the Right's increasing obsession with the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" is bringing to life a long-dormant hatred of all things Muslim in the USA. So last night, filling in for Bill O'Reilly on his Fox News show, she brought on Karl Rove to help dismiss the notion as ridiculous -- though you can judge for yourself how effective that was.
What irked Ingraham was this week's Time cover story, which stated a self-evident truth, namely, that "it is plain that many of Park51's opponents are motivated by deep-seated Islamophobia." (See, e.g., Pam Geller.)
Although the American strain of Islamophobia lacks some of the traditional elements of religious persecution — there's no sign that violence against Muslims is on the rise, for instance — there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that hate speech against Muslims and Islam is growing both more widespread and more heated. Meanwhile, a new TIME–Abt SRBI poll found that 46% of Americans believe Islam is more likely than other faiths to encourage violence against nonbelievers. Only 37% know a Muslim American. Overall, 61% oppose the Park51 project, while just 26% are in favor of it. Just 23% say it would be a symbol of religious tolerance, while 44% say it would be an insult to those who died on 9/11.
But many Muslims tuning into the debate see a demonization of their religion by some Americans who have been painting the 1,400-year-old faith as a dangerous political ideology. They bristle at the ignorance of politicians who argue the structure should not be allowed because Muslims don't allow Christian churches in their countries. Saudi Arabia is the only country to specifically bar churches.
While some conservative American critics allege the building would serve as a "victory mosque" to the terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center, Muslims contend the project could serve as a bridge not only to non-Muslims, but to those of their faith who may have lost their way.
Some counterterrorism experts say the anti-Muslim sentiment that has saturated the airwaves and blogs in the debate over plans for an Islamic center near ground zero in Lower Manhattan is playing into the hands of extremists by bolstering their claims that the United States is hostile to Islam.
slacktivist: There is no basis in law, principle, doctrine or morality for opposition to the free exercise of religion by Islamic Americans. And their proximity to the Temple of Mammon on Wall Street doesn't change that.
Elena Kagan has been confirmed by the Senate to become the newest Associate U.S. Supreme Court justice by a vote of 63-37. For the first time in history, three women will serve as Supreme Court justices at the same time.
As Senate confirmation battles go, this one was fairly low-key. Republicans spent a lot of time claiming she was anti-gun and pro-abortion, but with very little evidence to support their claims. The best they could do was to offer an argument about her lack of judicial experience -- an argument some Democrats also used against her.
The sole dissenting Democrat was Ben Nelson, who may call himself a Democrat, but never fails to bolster the Republican vote count. At the last minute, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) announced his opposition to Kagan's nomination, resting on the "lack of experience" excuse, but really just buying some political cover back home.
“Americans should be proud that Elena Kagan was confirmed to the Supreme Court today. She brings to the bench sterling credentials and a formidable intellect. Her commitment to the Constitution and equal justice under law will serve the Court well in the decades ahead
“During her hearings, Elena Kagan spoke powerfully about the Constitution as a timeless document, constructed by its framers to be interpreted over time in light of new situations and in new contexts. She articulated a view of the Constitution and the role of judges in sharp contrast to Chief Justice Roberts’ misleading analogy to an umpire calling balls and strikes. Solicitor General Kagan made clear that she has the intellectual fortitude and the command of the law to keep faith with our Constitution--its amendments, its history, and its core values like justice and equality under the law.
“Thanks to today’s vote, the Supreme Court will have three female Justices for the first time in our nation’s history. This is an historic step forward for all Americans, and an advancement of which every citizen should be proud.”
Update: Kagan will be sworn in at 2pm on Saturday at the Supreme Court.
There are some moments on TV that should just be sent to the cutting room floor before they ever hit the screen. This is one of them.
Elisabeth Hasselbeck proves that she doesn't listen, she doesn't think, and she's as much of a troll as Breitbart when she wants to be.
This is a classic example of what I keep ranting about. There's no issue here, and anyone with half a brain knows it. But Hasselbeck concern trolls over the Hatch Act (inapplicable to the speech and group Sherrod was speaking to) as if it is the NEXT HORRIBLE RACIST THING.
HASSELBECK: There's another bit from your speech that's actually raising a second wave of controversy.
[from clip, SHERROD:]I haven't seen such a mean-spirited people as i've seen lately over this issue of health care. now we endured 8 years of the Bushes and we didn't do the stuff these Republicans are doing because you have a black President.
HASSELBECK: So what about that epiphany, where is that epiphany where it's not about color and it's not about race. What do you then say?
SHERROD: You know, why is it that there's such opposition to something that's so important to poor people. Again, I'm coming at it from the angle of poor people. Poor people need health care!
HASSELBECK: And i hear you because I listened to your entire speech and I read the entire transcript but when someone listens to that they're thinking 'yeah, well all of a sudden it's back to black and white, why did we have to get there' .
And then is it also because being a civil servant are you not allowed to have such a partisan opinion? I thought --
-- I thought that was not okay.
SHERROD: Poor white people need health care too. You know, so I wasn't talking about health care for just black people. I'm talking about health care for poor people. I know what happens to folks who don't get a chance to go to doctors. I know what's happening to hospitals and their emergency rooms with all of the load of dealing with the person after it's too late.
WENTWORTH: It's too bad, and I know we're going to come back and talk with you again, but it's too bad everything has to immediately take the road of racism. It's poverty. Poverty.
GOLDBERG: Hang on a second -- this is going to be great. you won't forget it.
After the break and re-intro, Hasselbeck gets another chance at the well of the Concern Trolls:
HASSELBECK: You know, we had just shown a clip where the tail end of it you say "we endured 8 years of the Bushes and we didn't do the stuff the Republicans are doing because we have a black President." Second part of my question: Doesn't the Hatch Act prohibit civil servants from making partisan and political statements? SO isn't that reason enough to look into okay, is this something even legal going on?
Wow, isn't it really nice of Elisabeth Hasselbeck to be concerned that Shirley Sherrod might have violated the Hatch Act? And it certainly plays well to the Fox/Breitbart crowd out there who loves the "scary black person doing illegal and racist things" trope. Only, Elisabeth really didn't know what she was talking about, because the Hatch Act does not rob government employees of their First Amendment rights. It simply limits political activity while they are ON DUTY. Here's all you ever wanted to know about the Hatch Act from the Office of Special Counsel.
And once again, Shirley Sherrod puts Hasselbeck right back in her place:
SHERROD: You know, maybe the Hatch Act would have been meant only for me, because I don't know any government official who was gagged, especially during the Bush administration.
BEHAR: You know, I want to support what Shirley said before, which is that during the Bush administration you had tax cuts for the wealthiest and he did not -- that whole adminiistration did not give a damn about poor people and everybody knows it. That's why Obama was elected in the first place.
-- and even now, Republicans are blocking an extension of unemployment insurance but they're okay with tax cuts to the wealthy --
Let me finish. So now you have Obama in office, and he does give a damn about black people
HASSELBECK: Black/white or rich/poor? Which is it?
BEHAR: A lot of people are poor because they were black --
HASSELBECK We're supposed to be postracial here --
GOLDBERG: There is no postracial yet. this was a media idea that sounded great, that sounded wonderful, but the truth is that these issues, these questions of race have never come up this way before because there has never been a black president before, so people are now trying to figure out how they feel, how they deal how they talk. this is a new world for us.
WENTWORTH: Obama has a very fine line to walk. I mean, can you imagine being the first black president having to deal with all these issues?