Wednesday, October 31, 2012

And in Other News.... Iranian supporters: "Herioc Iranian Regime caused Sandy"

Yep, I kid you not... You have to see this to believe it:


Syrian Group: Heroic Iranian Regime created Sandy

The "News Network of the Syrian Armed Forces" claimed in a statement posted on its Facebook page that "secret Iranian technology" was behind the storm....
...... "Sources confirmed to us that Hurricane Sandy that is slamming the US was set off by highly advanced technologies developed by the heroic Iranian regime that supports the resistance, with coordination of our resistive Syrian regime," the group's post read, according to a CNN report"
 Okie Dokie then. 

I wonder why it didn't hit Israel then? Inquiring minds want to know. 

Need a laugh? Check this out

Looking for a good laugh... Here you go: The Tea Party gets a news site

Yep... as if they didn't already have FOX News, Drudge, Breitbart, CNN (lately) and many other outlets, now they have their own News Site.

Of course their site is merely a repeat of Drudge and RNC Talking points. But look what is at the top of their page.... The group that wants to bring "morality" back into politics.... features everyone's favorite adulterer Dinesh D'Souza and touts his hacktastic movie "2016"

Amongst their features... there are gems like this: The Polling Spread in Ohio: Is it real?
Over the last few months, there has been a raging debate over the demographics that most of the pollsters are using both nationally and in state polls. As the race has narrowed down the stretch, this has become particularly relevant in Ohio, which is likely to be the decisive state if the election turns out to be a nailbiter. 
Out of the last 19 polls of that state, the breakdown has been 14 (Obama) vs. 4 (Ties) vs. 1 (Romney).
The good news is that the one Romney victory was the latest poll, by Rasmussen, which had Mitt up 50-48.
Can you say mo-men-tum, boys and girls?
Okie Dokie then... forget the dynamics of this race, every poll out there and the fact that... there is this:
Ohio, as usual, is harder to measure, since the state doesn’t have traditional party registration. Polling last week showed Obama winning the early vote by between 26 and 30 points. A new CBS News/New York Times poll shows his advantage at 26 points and an automated SurveyUSA poll shows that margin is down to 16. A late Friday poll from CNN showed Obama winning by 21 among people who already voted or planned to vote early. The polling suggests that Obama is clearly building an early vote advantage in Ohio, even as we don’t have the party registration numbers to back it up.
And...

Let’s Get Real, General Powell….It IS about Race where the author opins:
No Republican, not even the biggest RINO Republican, could ever endorse someone like Obama based upon his policies, his moral (or in my opinion, immoral) compass, and his blatant disregard and disrespect for the Constitution and our system of government.... 
....To accuse Sununu or anyone else of racism for saying that Gen. Powell’s support of Obama is steeped in racial allegiance is outlandish, especially given how we have seen the black community react when “one of their own” dares to express support for Romney over Obama.
Yeah, because accusing someone of voting along racial lines because he supports the President is NEVER racist... Nope... Not at all...

And finally the ultimate Republican whine: "How come we get nailed with all the "gotcha" questions... why doesn't the media do that to Democrats"
Here are some suggestions for the future for Republicans.  First, we need to start demanding that we have conservative moderators.   If we cannot get a conservative moderator, then we should either boycott the debates or demand instead that there be a Lincoln-Douglas style debate with no moderator. 
Second, Republicans need to take debating lessons from Newt Gingrich.  Gingrich is the master at taking a gotcha question and using it to beat up on the media or his opponent, whichever is more convenient.
Finally, we Republicans should stop trying to speak for God.  I don’t speak for God.  It is too far above my pay grade.  We have priests, bishops and other clergy to do that.
As for Richard Mourdock, he is one of the best candidates the Republicans have advanced this year.  The fact that worthless RINO’s Richard Lugar (who he beat like a rented Democrat) and John McCain would turn their back on Richard is just more of an endorsement.
But there is much more than just these gems...

Personally, I think that the Teahadist News Site will be about as factual as those tabloids that you see at the supermarket (like the Globe, or the Weekly News) but, you never know... it is possible they can top those places. I guess those in the ODS crowd will have yet another place to post their lies and racist drivel.

RedState: Go All in for Mourdock and Akin

Well, Republicans have decided that they no longer care about "appearing" to be moderate and are all for the War on Women. Here (WARNING: LINK TO REDSTATE) noted Republican / Conservative commentator Erick Erickson (proprietor of the RedState blog) illustrates just WHY Republicans should flip Women voters "the bird" and support anti-women warriors Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock under the Headline: "If You Want to Repeal Obamacare, Support Akin & Mourdock."

Erickson states:
Even if Mitt Romney wins, it will be for naught if Harry Reid still controls the Senate. That is the reality. That is why Republicans must rally to two gentlemen who are committed pro-lifers, but who said things in defense of children that others have decided to beat them up about..... Honestly, you can be a pro-lifer and be offended by what they said. But at least they spoke up and tried to defend a position many in the GOP run away from. We should, however, be ashamed of a pro-life community that does not have these gentlemen’s backs now. (vb1 emphasis) We need them in the Senate to repeal Obamacare. We need them in the Senate to take a Senate majority.
So what exactly did these "two gentlemen" go on to say that were in "defense of children".... 

Here is Todd Akin on "Legitimate Rape" and on how Women's bodies can actually stop them from getting pregnant from rape.
Well you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, well how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.
And here is Mourdock describing that "Rape" is part of "G-d's plan":
“I just struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize: Life is that gift from God that I think even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen,”
and then when explaining it;
"I believe God controls the universe," Mourdoch told reporters, who asked if he thought pregnancies resulting from rape were God's plan. "I don't believe biology works in an uncontrolled fashion."
(On the ABC Link there is audio of Mitt Romney saying: "This fall I support Richard Mourdock") then in the way the Republicans are STILL trying to sell "Mittmentum"... Erickson says the following:
We need the Senate. We need Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock to get the Senate. Oh, and you want to know the punchline? They really can win. Mourdock probably will. Akin is close.
Just for information sake and to fact check Erick I went to TPM Poll Tracker to find out if this was true. Here is what I found: 
 
Missouri:
McCaskill: 48.5% Akin: 39%
Indiana
 
Shows nothing much from Independent pollsters but has the lead to which ever candidate did the poll.
Nonetheless, this just shows that Republicans will accept ANYONE as long as that person supports their agenda to privatize the Government and destroy the social safety net for those most in need. If that means going to individuals that support the most backwards narrative imaginable regarding Women and their bodies. So be it.

Apparently the War on Women continues with nary a break.

"Romney Resumes Campaign; Obama Deals With Storm" -- PERFECT HEADLINE on Today Show

Another fine post from Ian Reifowitz over at Daily Kos

Headline on the Today Show:  "Romney Resumes Campaign; Obama Deals With Storm"

Could we get a better headline than that one, folks?

On the all-important, hugely popular Today Show, we have Matt Lauer looking serious, sitting next to co-host Savannah Guthrie, who throws it to Chuck Todd at the White House.
Todd: Mitt Romney actually resumes a full campaign schedule today in Florida, but President Obama will focus for one more day fully on Sandy recovery efforts. He'll get that firsthand look of the Jersey Shore and the damage there later today.
The broadcast also included Christie's remark:
I don't give a damn about election day. It doesn't matter a lick to me, so let the politicians who are on the ballot worry about election day. It's not my problem. I'm not dealing with it at the moment.
In the context of the report about Obama working with Christie, that only further highlights the contrast between what the President is doing today, and what Mitt Romney is doing today.

The headline for the report online at NBC is:

Romney Resumes Campaign; Obama Deals With Storm

Just perfect. While Mitt Romney is out hunting for votes, saying anything people want to hear, the President will be out there doing his job. He'll be in New Jersey with Republican Chris Christie, observing the damage from Sandy up close, working across party lines to help Americans.

It looks like this election got its October Surprise after all. And her name is Sandy.

PS-Please check out my new book Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity, published last month by Potomac Books, where I discuss these issues in greater detail. You can read a review by DailyKos's own Greg Dworkin here.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Second Chances Do Happen....

Cross Posted at Daily Kos

Driving home tonight listening to election coverage I began to have a thought... One of the guests on Julie Mason's show "Straight talk on POTUS" was talking about the possibilities of something like Romney winning the popular vote with President Obama winning the electoral vote and the chaos that would likely erupt. So it got me thinking... What about all those people that said..."Ahhh there is no difference between Bush and Vice President Gore, so what?"

Now I wasn't one of those people (I voted for Gore) but, I heard it from a number of friends. Well... as we all know, there was a huge difference. The Republican administration of George Bush, came close to destroying this nation. and taking a good chunk of the planet with it.

They worked to destroy the Middle Class and set up a Plutocracy (and with decisions like Citizens United continue to do so). They worked to destroy our environment in the name of profit. They worked to destroy Civil Rights for ALL Americans, they worked to divide the country. Never mind the fact that they worked to destroy our relations overseas with a diplomatic core that could be considered the most toxic in history.
I think we can be certain that a President Gore would never have allowed those things to happen. I can't see a President Gore working on useless tax cuts while engaging in some serious overseas adventurism. I can't see President Gore ignoring National Security warnings because they interfered with his golf game. I can't see President Gore trying to gut the EPA for Big Oil. SO... while Gore certainly would not have been perfect a Gore administration would certainly have been better for America in almost every respect.

Well now, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to bring all of that Republican love back. They want to bring back the massive tax cuts all the while running up debt in a military expansion (that is not even being asked for and is not needed). They want to bring back an era of unregulated corporate greed. They want to decimate the environment and weaken the power of the EPA until it is nothing more than three people and two desks. They want to completely overturn healthcare and privatize the social safety net.

We know what President Obama will do. While he hasn't been perfect, he has done a great deal for so many Americans. So to those who would argue that President Obama and Mitt Romney are just two sides of the same coin. I will say it straight:

You. are. an. idiot. Period.

We know the President doesn't want to gut the social safety net. We know the President stands with Women in their fight for equality. We see the judges that President Obama would nominate for the Supreme Court. We know the President stands for higher CAFE standards and development of alternative energy. We know the President stands for Healthcare for all Americans, not just those who can afford it.

We have a second chance. We cannot and must not allow what happened during the Bush years be repeated. We cannot and must not allow those policies to be brought back and expanded.

This will be a tight election. We need to GOTV in a big way. We have to convince those that would sit at home and let this incredibly important election pass them by due to cynicism to get out and vote for the President because you know what.... President Obama and Mitt Romney are NOT the same. They are different and America's future hangs in the balance.

President Obama may not offer us 100% of what we want, but, he offers us a far shot more than Romney ever will and that is good enough for me.

Get out and vote. Show up and make a difference. 537 votes made all the difference last election.
We are getting a second chance. Let's make it count.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

CNN Anchor Kicks Anti-Gay Bigot Off Air

Cue the conservative wailing. CNN's Carol Costello kicked American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer off the air today after he spewed lies about homosexuality during an interview. After going through his usual shtick about how it's really the Christians that are being bullied and that people are being forced to accept the "normalization of homosexual behavior" he continued with his lies. Eventually, it got to be enough for Costello:

For the anti-gay bigots that regularly lie, this is nothing new. However, it's good to see that there's at least one person on television that said enough is enough and made clear that the bigots shouldn't have a forum for lying.

But as soon as Fischer began to spout off supposed health risks to homosexuality, Costello abruptly cut him off and ended the interview.

“That’s just not true,” she said. “I’m going to end this interview now, sir, because that’s not true.”

She signed off: “Thanks for sharing your views, I guess?”

As I said above, cue conservative whining because they're not used to this type of reaction to their lying. They just want to be able to continue going on with spewing their hatred and lies and think that they won't be called out on it. Of course, we know what happens when they get called out. They whine even more, just like they did after Vice President Biden destroyed Paul Ryan in the vice presidential debate.

And let's see if they can answer this question: If homosexuality is so unnatural and abnormal, as they claim, then why is it found in hundreds of animal species, including our closest relatives?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Daily Kos: Schadenfreude

Schadenfreude means deriving satisfaction from the misfortune of others.  And that is what I am going to do here in regard to Daily Kos.

Background: The Betrayal


I was a participant at Daily Kos for 6 years, blogging about all sorts of topics ranging from science to Scotland to, of course, Israel.  Near the end of my time there, there was a dramatic shift in the site, as it started to tolerate blatant antisemitism, ridiculous conspiracy theories, and silly bullying.

It was around then that founder Markos Moulitsas started unfairly banning Jewish members, including, eventually, myself.  Even though it was time for me to leave anyway, the banning stung like the betrayal of an old friend.

I avoided viewing Daily Kos on principle for a long time after that.  However, today curiosity got the better of me and I just had to see what was going on there.  I am happy to report that Daily Kos is a complete shell of its former self.

What I saw today vs. back in the day

Numbers

First of all, it seems that the number of participants has declined dramatically.  I want to emphasize that I visited Daily Kos today at around noon Pacific time (3 pm Eastern), in the middle of the day on a Sunday less than a month before a Presidential election.  This should be an optimal time for Daily Kos traffic.

In the past, diaries on the Daily Kos "Rec List" would always have hundreds - and sometimes approaching two thousand - comments.  This would be the case on weekends and weekdays, early morning and late at night, any time of year.  Today when I looked, every diary on the Rec List save one had well under 100 comments, in some cases under 50, and the one that had more had only around 250.  This alone speaks of a precipitous drop in participation.

For the diaries in the "Recent Diaries" list, in the past almost all diaries would have comments in the double digits and many would have 100 or even more.  Today most diaries had less than 10 comments, with some, even near the bottom of the list, only having one or two, and many under five.  The decline in participation is simply stunning to me.

Campaign Participation

One major metric of success or failure is the participation of Democratic politicians.

Now that it is less than a month from a major election, I get, no exaggeration, around 20 e-mails, 5 phone calls, and several mailings per day asking for contributions.  So if ever there was a time when political campaigns would be posting at Daily Kos, it would be now.

However, today I saw ZERO diaries from political campaigns.  None.  Contrast this with 2008 when there was a constant stream of diaries from Democratic campaigns, often under the name of the politician him or her self.  It is very telling that while campaigns think it is worthwhile to invest in several e-mails and phone calls per day, none of them think it is worth the bother of posting a single Daily Kos diary.

I assume that campaigns have decided that Daily Kos' readership is now too small to be worth the effort.  They may also be wisely avoiding any controversy associated with Daily Kos.  In any case the reversal from several years ago is stunning.

Israel Nonsense

One of the major reasons Daily Kos went off the rails was the fawning approval bestowed on transparent fraud David Harris Gershon, who blogs under the handle "The Troubadour".   In the past, his diaries would always make the Rec List and have hundreds of fawning comments (and some dissenting ones).  Today, a search for his recent diaries revealed that of the 6 that turned up on the first page, only one had over 100 comments, and two had only four and two comments, respectively.  Ouch!

Ironically, the amount of activity surrounding the Israeli-Arab conflict, which Daily Kos calls "I/P" seems to have also declined.  The latest diary from Palestinian activist Sandra Tamari, aka "soysauce", appears to be from several months ago, and she has an NR rating.  Recent diaries from the group Adalah that I looked for have very few comments, often in the single digits.  User Friendlystranger is still there with his half-literate repostings of Al Jazeera youtube videos, always generating less than five comments.

Career Trajectories

Another very interesting metric is whether any Daily Kos bloggers are gaining wider exposure.  I did Google searches for Joan McCarter and Kaili Joy Gray, the two most prominent Daily Kos "front pagers" who use their real names (They also happen to be enamored of ridiculous conspiracy theories in the case of the former, and the person who told me I should be "ashamed" of objecting to such conspiracy theories in the case of the later).  After looking through pages and pages of Google results, I could not find one thing on the internet for either of these two people that was not either somehow related to Daily Kos, their own Twitter feeds, or other small niche blogs.  Not a single newspaper, magazine, or broadcast has picked up their work!  This has to be incredibly frustrating for aspiring political writers.  Several years on the Daily Kos front page now gets you zero exposure.


Conclusion

There was a time in the mid 00s when Markos Moulitsas was something of a player in American politics.  He was a guest on cable news shows, Democratic Senators and Presidential candidates posted on his blog, and he and his site were even a boogeyman for the right wing media.

My how times have changed!  Today seemingly no mainstream Democratic politicians post on Daily Kos.  Its number of participants has declined dramatically.  Markos himself is nowhere to be found in the news and not mentioned, and neither is Daily Kos.  It has even fallen off the radar of right wing media and sites, who do not even consider it worth mentioning - and they'll make a boogeyman out of anything.

Not that Markos is a passive victim of the vicissitudes of fame and the internet.  He absolutely brought all of this decline on himself, by favoring frauds like Gershon and McCarter over real intellects, and by refusing, whether because of agreement or incredible stubbornness, to do anything about hate speech and bullying.

I am reminded of Markos' desperate seeming bid for people to purchase "lifetime memberships" right around the time that I left.  It seems that he saw the writing on the wall, and was trying to cash out as much as he could.  Well, this reversal of fortune could not have happened to a more deserving person!  Daily Kos has become the Myspace of blogs, the thing that used to be big but that is now just a living relic.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Romney Endorses Obama

Originally published October 11, 2012, 5:27 ET

WASHINGTON – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney endorsed his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, this afternoon in a move that took Americans by surprise.

“I’ve taken every other possible position throughout this election, so I decided it was now time for me to take this one as well,” Mr. Romney said, explaining his decision to endorse his opponent.

Mr. Romney’s surprise endorsement caught Mr. Obama completely off-guard. “I don’t know what to make of it. I know Governor Romney has consistently changed his opinions throughout his various campaigns, but I thought that this was one position he would never take,” Mr. Obama said.

Party leaders were also taken aback. House Speaker John Boehner and Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus both condemned the decision, while Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz applauded the decision.

“I welcome Mitt Romney to the good side and congratulate him on renouncing his own far-right positions and those of his party,” Ms. Wasserman Schultz said.

Rep. Paul Ryan, Mr. Romney’s running mate, also echoed Mr. Romney’s support for the Democratic ticket. “I have always said that there is no light between Governor Romney and myself and that continues to remain the case. I therefore strongly endorse the re-election of President Obama and Vice President Biden,” Mr. Ryan told reporters this afternoon when confronted with the news.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who back in 2009 declared that it was his objective to make Mr. Obama a one-term president, was last seen fleeing Washington to parts unknown. Making no statement, he declined to answer reporters’ questions as he boarded a flight at Reagan National Airport.

The effect this has on polls remains to be seen. While other major tracking polls showed Mr. Obama opening a significant lead over Mr. Romney, Rasmussen Reports showed Mr. Romney opening a 13-point lead over the president. Polls have yet to come back from key battleground states.

UPDATE 5:43 ET: Andrea Saul, a spokesperson for Mr. Romney, has indicated that Mr. Romney was misquoted and “of course does not support the re-election of President Obama.” When confronted with video of Mr. Romney explicitly endorsing Mr. Obama’s re-election, she continued to insist it was a misquote and that Mr. Romney was taken out of context.

UPDATE 5:47 ET: Following the announcement from the Romney campaign, Mr. Ryan has also withdrawn his endorsement of his Democratic rivals.

UPDATE 5:52 ET: Mr. Priebus has now released a statement defending Mr. Romney. “It is clear that the liberal media has once again distorted the truth. Yes, Governor Romney endorsed Mr. Obama at one point, however they reported this before Governor Romney shook his Etch A Sketch and reset his position. Everyone should know that whatever the governor says should not be taken seriously until he has shaken his Etch A Sketch at least twice.”

UPDATE 5:53 ET: Democratic leaders have condemned Mr. Romney’s sudden change of positions. “This sets a new standard even for Governor Romney. Before it would take at least several months before he switched positions, now he has done so in a matter of minutes. It once again proves why he is wholly unqualified to be president,” David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama, told reporters.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Holocaust Denial / Revisionism Is Always Antisemitic

I've been following the fallout from the infamous tweet by Free Gaza founder Greta Berlin in which she promoted a video by notorious antisemitic conspiracy theorist Eustace Mullins that charged Zionists with perpetrating the Nazi Holocaust.

One tortured angle that seems to be featuring prominently in defenses of Berlin at certain websites (nope, no links to such sewers) is that while the video and her apparent endorsement of it are clearly anti-Zionist, they are not actually antisemitic because they don't blame Jews as a whole, just Zionists.

Now, there are many reasons why this is incorrect and ridiculous.  For one thing, we all know that the word "Zionists" is frequently substituted for "Jews" in antisemitic speech, interchangeably.  For another, any ridiculous, paranoid, irrational, batshit, conspiracy theory charging a large subset of Jews of something insanely a-historical is just as antisemitic as one which charges all Jews.

But I doubt that the partisans defending Berlin will be persuaded by these, plainly evident as they are.  So instead, I will simply point out that Holocaust denial and revisionism of any sort are always antisemitic.

There is no purpose to Holocaust denial and revisionism other than antisemitism.  There is no audience for Holocaust denial or revisionism other than antisemites.  It has always been that way, since the beginnings of Holocaust revisionism, and it will always be so.

It is established, incontrovertible, historical fact, which 100% of legitimate historians agree on, that the Holocaust was perpetrated by the German Nazi regime in concert with their fascist collaborators throughout Europe, and resulted in the systematic genocide of six million Jews and thousands of others.  Period.  To suggest otherwise is antisemitic, and has been so since it was first attempted.

In light of this, there can be no denying that the video, and Berlin's promotion of it, are antisemitic.  The question remains, what will be done about this by those in the pro-Palestinian community.  The world is watching.

Breaking: Early Elections for Israel

This has been talked about for a bit... well today, it's official. PM Benjamin Netanyahu has called for early elections.

Netanyahu announces early elections
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced early elections on Tuesday. Netanyahu said in a televised statement he had reached the conclusion that his coalition government would not be able to agree on a national budget, adding that he has "therefore decided, for the benefit of Israel, to hold elections now and as quickly as possible." According to estimates, the elections will be held in the end of January or the beginning of February..... 
.....Netanyahu held meetings last week with the heads of the other coalition parties to consider whether to step up efforts to pass the 2013 budget or move up the elections. He met with officials including Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz of his Likud party and Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who heads the ultra-Orthodox Shas party.
The prospect of early elections arose after Yishai said Shas would not support wide-ranging budget cuts, particularly cuts to benefits for the elderly, single-parent families and the poor.
Current Polls in Israel show the PM's party / Coalition winning handily:
Globes Poll conducted by Smith. If elections held today (expressed in Knesset seats)
Current Knesset seats in [brackets].
28 [27] Likud
19 [08] Labor
16 [15] Yisrael Beitenu
11 [---] Yesh Atid
10 [11] Shas
09 [07] National Union/Jewish Home
06 [05] Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ
04 [28] Kadima
04 [03] Meretz
02 [05] Independence
11 [11] Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad
69 [65] Right
51 [55] Center-Left
Poll conducted 23 September 2012 by Dialogue of a
representative sample of 502 adults Israelis with a statistical error of +/- 4.2%. Poll was published by Haaretz on 28 September 2012.
If elections held today (expressed in Knesset seats)
Current Knesset seats in [brackets].
28 [27] Likud
20 [08] Labor
14 [15] Yisrael Beitenu
11 [11] Shas
08 [---] Yesh Atid
08 [28] Kadima
07 [05] Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ
06 [07] National Union/Jewish Home
05 [03] Meretz
02 [05] Independence
11 [11] Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad
66 [65] Right
54 [55] Center-Left
Israel Radio Poll by Smith from 14 Sep 2012
If elections were held today who would you vote for?
Current Knesset seats in [brackets]
28 [27] Likud
19 [08] Labor
15 [15] Yisrael Beitenu
11 [---] Yesh Atid
10 [11] Shas
06 [05] Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ
05 [03] Jewish Home
05 [28] Kadima
04 [03] Meretz
03 [04] National Union
03 [05] Independence
11 [11] Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad
67 [65] Right
53 [55] Center-Left
Now, anything can happen dependent on a number of factors. Right now, when I talk to my Israeli friends, security is a major factor on their minds. The recent penetration of a drone (most likely from Hizbollah) that was shot down after 20 mins., the movement of U.S. Patriot Batteries to the Haifa area, and 55 rockets landing in Israel shot from Gaza are a big factor in discussions.

ALSO, the budget, and the Likud's plans to privatize more and more of the country opening it for economic piracy that comes with privatization.

Don't forget that finally there is the U.S. election. No one knows what will happen but one concern the PM has is what he perceives as "payback" should the President be re-elected. However, given the President's strong friendship with Israel, I don't see that really being an issue.
Anyway... Let the speculation begin.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Can We Please Be REAL!

Cross Posted at Daily Kos

On Thurs. Sept 19th, I wrote a diary called: Please Hold with the Victory Dance - GOTV! following in the wake of the awesome Democratic National Convention and the numbers that we were seeing.

Now the overall numbers on that diary were positive BUT there were a number of "Hey, let us celebrate the Republicans are dust" (paraphrased) or "Don't be a downer" comments as well. Given the aftermath of the debate debacle (and it was a debacle whether we think it was or not), I think my warning was more or less on target. AND NOW... I see it again.

Look, this thing is tight. Why? Who knows. In my mind I cannot fathom why the hell someone would ever even consider voting for that shameless liar Mitt Romney. But, you know what... People are going to and are considering voting for him. That is just a freakin' fact. People do dumb things all the time. It doesn't necessarily matter what someone who makes their decisions based on facts thinks, it's just the way it is.
So.. now we have all these diaries out there spinning away that the debate didn't mean a thing. That the President even got a bounce from them. Well guess what? The debate did mean something and the only bounce that anyone got was Mitt Romney's. Here is the RCP average: President Obama + 0.5 (47.9 - 47.4). Just today PEW came out with a poll that has Romney leading by +4.

How about those battleground states that we supposedly doing so well in.... Holy crap... the leads are disappearing. Ohio... was +8... now +3, Colorado (RCP has +.2 Ras. Has the President +1, but U of Denver has the President at +4), Florida - TIE...

Ok but, RCP has a slight Republican bias. SO... let's see what Poll Tracker says... Oh why look... Romney at + 2.7%. Over there we have the President DOWN in CO. by .1%, FL, the President up by .6 and in Ohio the Pres. up by 3.4%

Despite what we say to cheer ourselves up... this one is now "anybody's Ball Game" and understanding that the Romney campaign is going to continue to lie shamelessly in the debates and the President is seemingly playing "Not to lose" who the hell knows what is going to happen.

Look people don't give a crap that Mitt is lying like a rug. They don't care that he demonstrably takes five sides of every issue. They really don't. They hear things like "Government has to get smaller, we refuse to raise revenue, we must have the strongest military in the world and it has to keep growing, Oh yeah, and we have to have the best parts of the ACA... but remember we are not going to run deficits". I mean who would actually be stupid enough to believe that? Apparently a lot of Americans, that's who.

So, what do we do... How do we fight this? WELL... First off we "play to win". What does that mean? It means we get out and inform people. Not sitting around telling our group of people that everything will be alright. It won't. We get out and we inform people and let them know what is at stake here. Do we do that... well with ourselves we do, but do we do that outside of this? I talk to Romney supporters all the time. I constantly challenge them. We all need to do that. Get out of our comfort zone and fight (not physically)...
What else do we do... We sign up at OFA offices and put in the time with the "ground game",. Phonebanking, precinct walking. You name it.

In my last diary ParkRanger had an awesome group of links, some great resources.

Come on people no need to stick our heads in the sand on this one. Let's be real. We need to push here. No matter how evil getting rid of Big Bird seems. That is not what is going to help us, because if it was... it would have. We need a debate win from Biden, We need the President to win the next two debates, AND we need to have our ground game firing on all cylinders for the next month - THAT is what will do it.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Yes, Obama Cooked the Books

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz. Democratic Dust
  • 5 lbs. American jobs
  • 1 tbsp. ground moderate Republicans
  • 6 liberal lies
  • 1 lb. liberal media spin
  • 1 beaten tea bag
  • 1 tsp. oregano

Directions:

Preheat oven to 666 degrees. Mix all ingredients in large pan. Subtract two percent. Stick in oven. Beam oven to Chicago. Cook for four years. Release October before election. Feed Americans Soylent Green and claim something was actually done.

Sadly, I think there are Republicans that will probably believe this given the way that they're lapping up everything else. I'd say we should sit back and enjoy the show, but these people actually want to run our government. It's damn scary. It also reminds us not only why we need to re-elect President Obama, but also why we need to elect more Democrats up and down the ticket.

So, hopefully you've enjoyed this laugh, but remember that Election Day is barely a month away.

DNC Web Video: "Mitt Romney: Protect Big Oil, Fire Big Bird"

The DNC gets in on the act, splicing footage from news and Sesame Street to get back at Mitt Romney. The best part is seeing where they show even Fox News taking a bit of a jab over it.

And I'll close with something I saw posted at Yiddish Curses for Republican Jews yesterday:

May you have to explain to your two-year-old grandchild why Elmo had to die.

Shabbat Shalom. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

As IF there still was any doubt......

In the conflict in the Middle East, much has been made of the use of anti-Semitic meme's to attack Israel and it's supporters under the guise of being merely anti-Zionist and not bigoted. HOWEVER, most people reject that (using obvious evidence) and counter that many of meme's touted by the anti-Zionist movement ARE indeed anti-Semitic. The founder of the Free Gaza Movement, Greta Berlin, has now exposed this and made it abundantly clear with her embrace of some of the worst, and most offensive, anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

Several days back, the Free Gaza Movement tweeted a video that claimed Zionists were allied with the National Socialists (better known as Nazis) and that it was that alliance that was the origin of the term Nazi. The speaker also claimed that Zionists ran the concentration camps and were responsible for the Holocaust. That tweet was deleted. However, rather than apologize for spreading this anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, Berlin instead only apologized for tweeting it from her organization's twitter account.

What Berlin fully embraced, however, was the conspiracy theory. She made clear that she intended to post it to her private Facebook account. Yes, she actually admitted that. She was only sorry because she made her post public for the world to see her anti-Semitism on full display.
“I posted it from Facebook, not realizing that my private account was connected to the FG account. I apologise,” Berlin tweeted.
Think about that for a second. She's not sorry she engaged in anti-Semitism. She's not sorry she has blamed Jews for the Holocaust. She's only sorry that she's let the world see. She's only sorry that she has brought further discredit upon the anti-Semites that cloak their anti-Semitism in "opposition" to Israel and "opposition" to Zionism.

Understand that this accusation - aside from being complete fiction is amazingly painful and vicious. Ranking up there with the nonsense found in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The question I have is, will those of good conscience, who think they are trying to do something right, denounce this person and/or openly acknowledge the hatred and anti-Semitism within their movement?

In any case, for many of us, the dots were already connected. Hopefully this will connect the dots for a few more.

Get Ready For Anti-Zionists To Falsely Claim This One

A letter from famous physicist and Time Magazine's Person of the Century Albert Einstein has come to light, where he shares his negative thoughts toward religious belief.

There is really nothing new here, as the world has long known that Einstein, whose very name serves as a synonym for "genius" all over the world, was not a believer.  However, like clockwork, I can just tell that antisemites / anti-Zionists will seize on one unfortunately worded part of the letter:

For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups … I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.
In that passage I have emphasized it how antisemites / anti-Zionists will read it.  They will see a take-down of the religion of Judaism and of the Jewish people themselves, through the oft-misunderstood concept of being 'chosen'.

Basically, I can see house-Jew David Harris Gershon frantically penning his Daily Kos diary on it right this minute.

However, what dishonest antisemites / anti-Zionists like Gershon will fail to mention is that Einstein was an ardent Zionist.  In fact he spent much of the 1920s fundraising for Zionism.

And, in fact, this passage from the letter is very pro-Zionist.  If you read it the proper way, you see what needs to be emphasized:

For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups … I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.
See that?  The Jews are a distinctive people, just like any other, and in fact Einstein 'gladly belongs' to them.  Like any people, Jews deserve self-determination in a nation-state.  So says a person widely regarded as one of the smartest in human history.

It is not particularly noteworthy that the world's most famous scientist was non-religious.  But this letter drives home that he was a proud member of the Jewish people, and that Jews are a people, not a religion.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sign The Petition to Desmond Tutu Against Holocaust Revisionism

Desmond Tutu was a famous anti-apartheid and is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.  Whatever one thinks of his subsequent positions in regard to the Israeli-Arab conflict, he is still a figure that commands respect throughout the world.

That is why it is extremely important that Archbishop Tutu stand up to Holocaust denial and Holocaust revisionism within movements he allies with.

Recently, the group Free Gaza tweeted their endorsement of a virulently antisemitic video that accuses Jews themselves of being responsible for the genocide perpetrated by Nazi Germany.  This is absolutely revolting Holocaust revisionism that would be at home ideologically among neo-Nazis, and has no place among acceptable discourse.

Unfortunately, Free Gaza has in the past been endorsed by Tutu.

Please join me in signing a change.org petition calling on Desmond Tutu to take a stand against Holocaust denial and genocide itself, and remove his endorsement of this group.

The Right Wing Jewish Lunatic Fringe Flips Out on it's own community

Here is what happens when the Right Wing gets desperate. As we see from the train wreck that is the Romney/Ryan campaign, when the situation gets tough, all Republicans can seem to do is both lie in the extreme, and turn on each other through casting blame every which way for their own failures. In the case of the Lunatic Fringe Rightist element of the American Jewish Polity, the failure of their effort to turn Jewish voters has lead to the fringe freaking out completely and doing both - lying AND blaming their own community for the fact that we simply aren't stupid enough or crazy enough to vote for Mitt Romney.

In a piece at the Times of Israel Hard Core Right Wing Activist Mike Lumish (formerly a Kossak) goes over the edge combining a series of lies and simple ignorance to guide his arguments. Arguments he then turns back on the Jewish community to show in some way that he far more the "Good Jew" than they are.
Lumish names gives five categories where he thinks that Liberal / Progressive Jews have "betrayed" their own kind. Now all five topics are chock full of hyperbole, exaggerations, paranoid ravings and of course, outright lies. More than that they are plainly based on ignorance and a complete lack of any coherent analysis of political problem solving.

The first one of these categories that Lumish cites states that Jews who support President Obama, ignore "inconvenient truths". And what pray tell are these "inconvenient truths"... Well let's just let Lumish speak for himself:
Obama wrecked whatever potential there may have been in the peace process and then blamed the Israelis for his own failure. He ushered the Muslim Brotherhood into power in Egypt and then said, in effect, “Oh, well. Egypt is no longer an ally. Not an enemy, really, but not an ally.” Obama is perfectly fine with the idea of a Judenrein state of Palestine and feels that he has the right to tell Jewish people where we may, or may not, be allowed to live, and thus build, in both Jerusalem and Judea.
NOW... let's see how many lies one person can fit into a single paragraph. I count five lies.

Lie # 1 and # 2 - Obama wrecked whatever potential there may have been in the Peace Process and then blamed the Israelis.

No... the Peace Process fell apart because both sides were not particularly serious about making it work. During this time the Americans got the Israelis to agree to a 10 month moratorium on all building in the West Bank, something that the Israelis agreed too and enacted to a degree.

BUT, for the Israelis, they were determined to continue building and adding on to settlements in Jerusalem in a move to consolidate their position in a City that has been annexed (though this annexation has never been recognized by anyone in the International community including the U.S.). Even though, the Palestinians see Eastern Jerusalem as their capital and take any continued settlement process in and around the borders of the City as defining terms and boundaries (which the Israelis will not declare), the Israeli government felt it necessary to continue their consolidation of this territory. Why, they could not stop building during this time is baffling to me.

The Palestinians for their part felt that the continued building in Jerusalem was a "slap in the face" (so to speak) and showed that the Israeli building process was meant to grab more territory and "create facts on the ground". With that presentation by the Palestinian leadership and community, continuing talks while construction was going on was seen as fruitless and humiliating. However, the Palestinians jumped into negotiations nine months into the process rather than starting out right away. Had they truly been serious here they would have started on day one.

So in my opinion both sides screwed this up. BUT... to say that Barack Obama did this is nonsense. This process was going nowhere before the President got involved. By requesting a settlement moratorium the President was articulating a position held by Palestinian President Abbas. Here:
On July 12, 2009, Mahmoud Abbas told Egyptian media that he would not cede any part of the West Bank to Israel, that he would demand territorial contiguity between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and that he would never waive the Palestinian right of return. In a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, Abbas demanded that any peace deal be based strictly on the 1967 borders and the Arab Peace Initiative. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat rejected any "middle ground solutions", saying that the Palestinians would reject any deal between the U.S. and Israel that would allow any construction to continue in Israeli settlements.[14] 
On 23 August 2009, Netanyahu announced in his weekly cabinet meeting that negotiations with the Palestinians will begin in September 2009 and will be officially launched on his visit to New York, after he had accepted an invitation from President Barack Obama for a "Triple Summit" there.[15] He added that there is progress with special envoy George Mitchell, though there is no full agreement on everything,[16] and there will be more rounds of meetings until September.[17] On the same day, a spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas said there would be no negotiations so long as Israel continued West Bank settlement construction.[18]
On 20 September 2009, the White House announced that it will host a three-way meeting between President Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu and PA President Mahmoud Abbas, within the framework of the United Nations General Assembly, "in an effort to lay the groundwork for renewed negotiations on Mideast peace."[19][20] The meeting took place on 22 September, in New York. Afterwards, Netanyahu said that he agreed with Abbas during the meeting that peace talks should be relaunched as soon as possible.[21]
A further reading of the timeline shows that BOTH sides were unwilling to compromise on major points (Israelis on building in J'slem and Palestinians on recognizing Israel as a Jewish State). It was NOT President Obama that torpedoed these talks.

As for Blame nowhere did he solely blame the Israelis. That is simply made up. He was disappointed that the Israelis would not stop building in the negotiation phase. That is reasonable. In the end the President blamed himself and both sides for "not really wanting it". That is a far more accurate assessment. The WaPo has an interesting piece on what really happened. SO...what we have here are two lies in one sentence and BOTH are based on ignorance.

Follow me under the squiggle for lies 3, 4 and 5.....

Lie # 3: President Obama "ushered" the Muslim Brotherhood into power and then waffled.
This is sheer nonsense. Of course, in other places Lumish has gone on and on about how the President supported the M.B. from the beginning and wants Iran to have nuclear weapons, so really how seriously can we take this clown?

The truth of the matter is that the President stayed neutral in the transition of the Egyptian people from dictatorship under Hosni Mubarak to a democratically elected Brotherhood government. The President acted appropriately but certainly took no partisan stand one way or the other regarding the Egyptian transition. To think that had the U.S. supported Mubarak (as Lumish and others have said we should) that there would have been no change shows a distinct lack of understanding of Egyptian politics, and really a distinct lack of knowledge regarding the region in general.

The President was very clear about it's priorities in this. He wanted a transition to Democracy with a government that would act in concert with our interests in the region. He wanted the Peace Treaty with Israel upheld, he wanted an Egypt that would stand with the U.S. against Iranian hegemonistic aspirations. When he saw that this might not happen the President spoke against the Brotherhoods plans. There was no "waffling" the President supported the rise of democracy in a country that has never really known democracy. He then dealt with it accordingly, and in a reasonable manner.

Lies # 4 the President is perfectly fine with a "Judenrein" (Jewish Free) State in Palestine.
This is what happens when you A. Learn politics and history from the Michelle Bachmann school of Foreign Policy AND B. Simply pull stuff out of your ass to try to make a point.

The President diplomatically follows traditional American policy which does not see the Occupied West Bank as part of Israel. The President has never said that "Jews cannot live in the West Bank". Not once. What he has done is stated that Israelis should not settle on land that is not internationally (or recognized by Israel itself) as its own. Israel has not annexed the West Bank. BUT yet it sends people in who are Israeli citizens to live there.

Now it is true that the Palestinian Government does NOT want any Jews living there. Selling property to a Jewish person (not Israeli - the law says Jewish) is punishable by death (though this has not been carried out). And it is true that PLO Representative Ariekat had this to say:
"Answering questions on minority rights in a future state, Areikat was quoted by USA Today as saying on the possibility of a Jewish minority: "After the experience of the last 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it would be in the best interest of the two people to be separated."
However, the White House never supported that (Lumish is simply lying here) and accordingly quoting the Obama Administrations official position:
The Obama administration has repeatedly condemned instances of Palestinian incitement against Jews and Israel: “We have repeatedly raised with the Palestinian Authority leadership the need to consistently combat all forms of de-legitimization of Israel, including denying historic Jewish connections to the land.”18
Finally we have Lie # 5: President Obama feels that he has the right to tell Jewish people where we may, or may not, be allowed to live, and thus build, in both Jerusalem and Judea. 

NO... The President is simply echoing U.S. policy since 1967 which states that the territories taken in the 1967 War are NOT Israel's territory and are currently under Occupation. As mentioned previously, even the Israelis won't officially claim that the Occupied Territories are Israeli National territory. Therefore the President does not support the building and expansion of Israeli settlements on land that is not officially their land. He is not telling Jews where they may or may not live, he is telling Israelis that they should not build anywhere outside of their declared and recognized borders. How that gets translated to telling Jews where they can and can't live is simply mind-boggling (and false).
But even funnier (using Lumish' twisted logic) you know who else says that "Jews can't live wherever they want"?? The Israeli government itself by declaring most of the West Bank off limits to Jewish / Israeli settlement.

So in the end YES most Progressive, Liberal and Moderate Jews ignore Lumish' "Obvious Truths" because simply put they are neither obvious nor true. AND rather than focus on the candidate that he supports, rather than showing what he thinks Mitt Romney will do that would be positive he demonizes his own group. Of course, the fact that Mitt Romney offers no alternatives, solutions or leadership on this issue is an embarrassment to Lumish and other Right Wingers leaves them high and dry. They have nothing and so have to resort to lies and demonization to make their points.

Too bad for them that most of us (the Jewish American Polity) can see through this and are not as ignorant or as easily led as Lumish and his supporters.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Forget "Zingers" -- The Debate Is About Obama's America vs. Romney's America

Another good one from Ian Reifowitz over at Daily Kos

You may have heard that Mitt Romney's debate prep includes his memorizing some "zingers" to fire at President Obama. This strikes me as, well, ridiculous, although it's even more ridiculous to announce this strategy before the debate. But who am I to question the strategy of the vaunted Romney campaign team?
Before I get serious about what the debate should be about, I have to share some of the zingers folks have proposed for Governor Romney via twitter, collected by Joe Gandelman:
Ann is a stay at 5 homes mom. 
Whoa, last time I saw a mouth like that my manservant was taking a hook out of it!
I Was So Poor At College….I Had To Sell Some Of My Offshore Hedge Fund Certificates
Are you better off than one of my prized horses America?
You don’t have to own 4 houses to know housing market isn’t where it should be, Mr. President
I’ve displaced plenty of workers in my time, Mr. President. You won’t be the first.
Obama stole my bad, I mean good, no bad health care idea
Finally, from our own David Waldman @KagroX, there's this advice:
The audience at the debate should download the “Rimshot!” app and play the sounds after every suspected zinger.
That was fun. But that's not what the debate is going to be about. The debate and, for that matter, this entire campaign offers a choice between two radically different visions of America, in terms of policy, politics, and rhetoric.
 
It Mitt Romney's America, you're on your own. Period. And he isn't even going to "worry" about 47% of Americans. And that was more than just an unintended, self-inflicted zinger. That's his philosophy. It's a philosophy that says each of us succeeds or fails completely on our own, and, moreso, that receiving help along the way -- if it comes from the government -- turns you into a dependent victim. Of course, his analysis ignores the ways that almost everyone, including the wealthiest business owner, has received help from the government.

And on political rhetoric, Romney's America is one in which politicians employ racial dog whistles, and play on the cultural and racial anxieties of some Americans toward others in order to win votes. Let's not forget that part of Romney's America.

Obama's America, on the other hand, is one that balances our country's twin longstanding traditions: a strongly individualistic approach to success, and a recognition that we must work together -- through the institutions of our democratic government -- to do some things that we could not do as individuals. Obama's America praises success, but also emphasizes humility and a recognition that all success owes something to the achievements and structures put in place by others. It's a place that asks those who've achieved great success to contribute a slightly higher percentage of what they earn to the common good, but never demonizes people for their successes.

And, finally, Obama's America is a place that considers pitting racial and ethnic groups against one another, the ginning up of prejudice and hate, to be a moral crime of the highest order.

This election is a serious choice about what kind of country we want to be. The idea that the American people will be moved one way or the other by zingers isn't funny. Like so much else the Romney campaign has offered in recent months, that idea is downright insulting.

PS-For anyone interested, I discuss these themes in greater detail in my new book: Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity, published last month by Potomac Books. You can read a review by DailyKos's own Greg Dworkin here.