Paul the Octopus — animal oracle of the 2010 World Cup — did not survive long enough to pick the winners in Brazil this year…No such tradition for paranormal prediction has caught on for American politics, and it seems imprudent to think it will during the midterms. Why rely on a lion or tiger or bear for your election predictions when you can conscript the prophesying skills of Mitt Romney? The former presidential candidate has been busy during the primary season, picking favorites in some of the most important party infighting of the year. And, about halfway through the midterms, all of his endorsements have led to victories at the polls, as other news organizations have noticed.
Last week, he endorsed Nevada state senator Mark Hutchison in the Nevada lieutenant governor primary — a race he won. One week earlier, Joni Ernst, whom he endorsed in the Senate primary in Iowa, and Neel Kashkari, whom he endorsed in the California governor race, both won. On May 20, Monica Wehby won the Republican primary after a Romney endorsement. Romney also picked winners in the North Carolina Senate race and House races in Idaho, Pennsylvania and California.
This is an example of correlation not equaling causation. These candidates aren’t winning because of Romney’s adapted Midas touch. He is just proving a knack for knowing what’s on voters’ minds — and the minds of those who spend money trying to influence voters. (The Chamber of Commerce’s winning primary picks this year closely follow Romney’s.) It’s a knack for choosing winners he’d like to cement before the 2016 Republican primaries finally roll around, if the tea leaves scattered around his GOP summit this weekend are to be believed.
NBC News reported on Friday that Romney told reporters, “As someone who has run and has served, I would like to be able to, if you will, push our party and our nominees toward the positions that I think are the most effective for the country.”
In other words, Romney is hoping that the party remembers his clairvoyance in a year or two…
Romney’s ability to pick general election winners, however, has yet to be tested — as does the Chamber of Commerce’s. According to the Sunlight Foundation, 6.9 percent of the money the Chamber spent in 2012 went to winning candidates…
Red State’s Erick Erickson wrote after Romney lost the 2012 election, “Just please, GOP, PLEASE — in four years let’s not go with the “he’s the most electable” argument. The most electable usually aren’t.”
The Republicans may yet decide to run the ghost of George Wallace. Why listen to an opportunist moderate when you can go all out with someone truly contemptible and bigoted.
Oh, the RedState dude? Last time around he hosted the campaign kickoff for Rick Perry. ‘Nuff said.
Tourists steaming in the Blue Lagoon
When Iceland’s banks failed in 2008 under $85 billion of debt, dozens of hedge funds flocked to the island betting they could make money buying up creditor claims. Five years later, they’re still waiting.
The firms, including Davidson Kempner Capital Management LLC and Taconic Capital Advisors LP, snapped up the claims on the lenders’ assets at prices far below face value. They were wagering, as they did when Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. went bust, that they’d profit as markets recovered, bank assets were sold off and creditors repaid. Over the years, about 80 firms joined, including Paulson & Co., which had made more than $1 billion betting on Lehman claims…
What the investors, some of them managing more money than Iceland’s $14 billion economy, may not have factored in was the backlash in the country of 320,000 people against the speculative Wall Street culture that, in their view, helped cause the failures of Glitnir Bank hf, Kaupthing Bank hf and Landsbanki Islands hf. While Lehman has paid out more than $40 billion to claim holders in the past five years, the hedge funds have yet to get any distributions from the Icelandic banks’ estates. The government, elected in April on a platform that included providing mortgage debt relief to Icelanders, has proposed paying the funds only part of their claims and using the difference to finance its campaign promise…
Attacks on the country’s banks “give off an unpleasant odor of unscrupulous dealers who have decided to make a last stab at breaking down the Icelandic financial system,” Morgunbladid newspaper editor David Oddsson said at the central bank’s annual meeting. “They will not get away with it.”
Keep on rocking in the Free World. Especially when the center of that world apparently is Reykjavik.
To those who knew him, or thought they knew him, he was a cerebral, fun-loving gadfly who hosted boozy gatherings for Hollywood’s political conservatives. David Stein brought right-wing congressmen, celebrities, writers and entertainment industry figures together for shindigs, closed to outsiders, where they could scorn liberals and proclaim their true beliefs.
Over the past five years Stein’s organisation, Republican Party Animals, drew hundreds to regular events in and around Los Angeles, making him a darling of conservative blogs and talkshows. That he made respected documentaries on the Holocaust added intellectual cachet and Jewish support to Stein’s cocktail of politics, irreverence and rock and roll.
There was just one problem. Stein was not who he claimed. His real name can be revealed for the first time publicly – a close circle of confidants only found out the truth recently – as David Cole. And under that name he was once a reviled Holocaust revisionist who questioned the existence of Nazi gas chambers. He changed identities in January 1998.
“That was when David Cole officially expired,” he told the Guardian in an interview this week. “That was the end of Cole. Or so I thought. That was when David Stein was brought into this world.
For 15 years I have been David Stein. Now the genie is out of the bottle. I’m done. I’m finished. I’m not going to try to remain as David Stein…”
The unmasking shocked and angered the small, tight-knit community of Hollywood conservatives, setting their Facebook groups ablaze and prompting emergency meetings.
Some of Stein/Cole’s erstwhile friends are media figures with blogs, newspaper columns and syndicated radio shows. They put a lid on the story. Not a word has been published or broadcast. “When people found out it was, ‘Oh my God, get the fuck away from him.’ There was debate about whether everyone would look guilty by association,” said one entertainment industry artist, a member of Republican Party Animals, who requested anonymity. “The reason we were all so pissed at him is it plays into every horrible stereotype about the right…”
…Cole today still challenges established Holocaust scholarship, including the certainty about Nazi gas chambers. “The best guess is yes, there were gas chambers” he says. “But there is still a lot of murkiness about the camps. I haven’t changed my views…
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, said Cole’s views on the Holocaust could no longer be attributed to youthful naivete. “I’m very disappointed that someone who abused his Jewishness to get his five minutes of notoriety still stands by his lies. It’s disgusting and puts him in the camp of bigotry.”
Not a lot of anything new either about opportunistic bigots disguising the disgusting truth for their own profit and position. Another reason why – sometimes – stereotypes aren’t stereotypes; but accurate.
RTFA for beaucoup details about this slimeball.
This week millions of “Chreasters” — Americans who attend church only on Christmas and Easter — will crowd into pews to sing carols and renew their vague relationship with the Christian God. This year, there may be fewer Chreasters than ever. A growing number of “nones” live in our midst: those who say they have no religious affiliation at all. An October Pew Research Center poll revealed that they now account for 20 percent of the population, up from 16 percent in 2008.
Avoiding church does not excuse Americans from marking the birth of Jesus, however. Most of us have no choice but to stay home from work or school — and if you complain about this glaring exception to the separation between church and state, you must be a scrooge with no heart for tradition. Christmas has been a federal holiday for 142 years.
Yet Christianity’s preferential place in our culture and civil law came under fire this year, and not simply because more Americans reject institutional religion. The Obama administration subtly worked to expand the scope of protected civil rights to include access to legal marriage and birth control. Catholic bishops and evangelical activists declared that Washington was running roughshod over religious liberty and abandoning the country’s founding values, while their opponents accused them of imposing one set of religious prejudices on an increasingly pluralistic population. The Christian consensus that long governed our public square is disintegrating. American secularism is at a crossroads.
The narrative on the right is this: Once upon a time, Americans honored the Lord, and he commissioned their nation to welcome all faiths while commanding them to uphold Christian values. But in recent decades, the Supreme Court ruled against prayer in public schools, and legalized abortion, while politicians declared “war on Christmas” and kowtowed to the “homosexual lobby.” Conservative activists insist that they protest these developments not to defend special privileges for Christianity, but to respect the founders’ desire for universal religious liberty — rooted, they say, in the Christian tradition…
How accurate is this story of decline into godlessness? Is America, supposedly God’s last bastion in the Western world, rejecting faith and endangering religious liberty?
“Duck and cover!” Republicans really miss the Cold War
Sales of bulletproof backpacks for schoolchildren are through the roof days after a masked gunman’s rampage left 20 kids dead at a Connecticut elementary school.
Parents began snapping up the high-tech bookbags Friday, the same day of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Elmar Uy of the Massachusetts-based armor company BulletBlocker told the Daily News.
Who buys this crap? The same panic-stricken dweebs who buy more AR15s to protect themselves from the army of people who look different – preparing to invade their subdivision.
They also sell shields that start at $175 — bulletproof inserts that can slide into backpacks, laptop bags or purses. They add about 20 ounces — it’s just like tossing a bottle of water in your bag, Uy said.
The company has seen a 300% to 400% increase in sales since the tragedy…
Online, reaction to the kiddie armor reflected sadness.
“They are now selling bulletproof backpacks for children. What is this world coming to?” wrote Twitter user Courtney C. Jenkins, a pastor in Ohio.
Many called the backpacks a “sad sign of the times.”
What’s the demographic? It ain’t all political. There will be liberal wimps as well as gun-toting teabaggers caving in to fear and immobility.
The best of Americans, Left or Right, will get off their dusty butts and join the fightback against flunkies of the gun industry like the NRA, gun nuts who substitute firearms for sex as part of their failed transition from puberty to adulthood.
Pick your favorite activist organization. Every one with conscience will be supporting measures against assault weapons, combat magazines, dozens of appropriate measures to turn the tide of American culture from self-destruction to modern, thoughtful, self-assured sanity.
Reed – 2nd from left – the only creep in the front row who skipped prison
Ralph Reed is clearly relishing his revival.
Just six years ago, the man who turned the Christian Coalition into such a powerful political force that he was called “God’s right-hand man” was all but written off, tarnished by his ties to the disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, then trounced in his campaign to become Georgia’s lieutenant governor.
But after several years in political purgatory, Mr. Reed has found his way back.
Courtesy of the Party-formerly-known-as-Republican.
Three years ago, Mr. Reed formed the Faith and Freedom Coalition and began assembling what he calls the largest-ever database of reliably conservative religious voters. In the coming weeks, he says, each of those 17.1 million registered voters in 15 key states will receive three phone calls and at least three pieces of mail. Seven million of them will get e-mail and text messages. Two million will be visited by one of more than 5,000 volunteers. Over 25 million voter guides will be distributed in 117,000 churches…
The rank-and-file of white conservative Christianity are treated as little obedient puppets – like a target for a corporate marketing maven out to sell his quota of laundry detergent.
With…a database with the addresses and, in many cases, e-mail addresses and cellphone numbers of the more than 17 million faith-centric registered voters — not just evangelical Protestants but also Mass-attending Catholics. The group is also reaching out to nearly two million more people who have never registered to vote…
In addition to its presidential election turnout campaign, the group plans to focus on two state ballot measures: a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Minnesota and an effort to recall an Iowa Supreme Court justice who voted to legalize same-sex marriage in the state…
The group plans to pair its social message with a broader economic one. The president’s health care overhaul will be depicted as both big government spending and an assault on religious liberty; the law mandates that employees of organizations affiliated with religions, like hospitals, universities and charities, be able to obtain free contraception through their health care plans.
Romney and his claque haven’t any problem accepting the publicly reactionary portion of Reed’s religious ideology. It matches their private conversation perfectly. They just get a little testy when pushed to admit how backwards their goals really are.
Reed fits the plastic-fantastic shiny veneer adopted by hustlers – whether religion-based or political. He’s working his way back up towards the position of power he was aiming for under the crusader’s shield of George W. Bush. Let’s hope he fails as badly, once again.
Vote for me or burn in hell. I can’t imagine someone running for office saying that. And yet four candidates — Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum — have said they had a sense that God was leading them to run.
How far can we be from “vote for me or burn in hell” when it seems we’re already comfortable with “vote for me, I’ve been called by God”?
There was a time when if a candidate wanted to inject faith into a campaign he or she would be photographed going to church or shaking the Rev. Billy Graham’s hand.
Now it seems many GOP campaigns aren’t complete without claiming God’s seal of approval, which suggests the other candidates may be running without it. Such a sentiment is an ideological piñata for comedians like Bill Maher and Jon Stewart, but for conservatives trying to secure the GOP nomination, it’s a highly manipulative campaign tool…
But why aren’t we questioning the candidates who make these kinds of statements the same way we would question whether God actually wanted a particular athlete to win a game?
I do believe a person’s faith is personal, but I’m not the one using it to get votes. Four candidates have claimed a level of divine intervention with their campaign, which either means the creator of heaven and Earth is hedging his bets or somebody’s mistaken…
If I could trade places with Anderson Cooper, who is moderating Tuesday’s debate, I would ask, “Now which ones of you were really called by God and which ones are hearing voices in your head?” then let them discuss among themselves.
God-baiting each other is probably something the nutball right-wing does in private, anyway. In public, they save it for the Democrats – who are only a smidge less opportunistic at pulling the same stunt.
The smartest line Obama came up with was the tag he started partway through his campaign for the presidency: “God bless you – and God bless the United States of America.”
You could practically see the Technicolor sunset fade away while WW2 fighter planes passed overhead in a salute to this courageous nation saving the world once again.
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission
There was likely some semblance of good sense in homogenizing the Canadian army, navy and air force 43 years ago, creating a single home team — with its relatively new national flag — to represent our nation in hot spots around the world…
The change made it clear Canada was not a colony of Britain. We were a grown-up country with our own armed forces, no longer beholden to the Queen…
Stephen Harper’s government made everything old new again with its announcement that the old names of the air and maritime divisions of the Canadian Forces will be restored, with the “royal” intact. Welcome back Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force and Canadian Army. Never mind that the changes will not affect the military’s command structures.
The name changes come after five years of intense lobbying by veterans groups and military personnel, as well as recommendations of the Senate Committee on National Defence. In announcing the changes, federal Defence Minister Peter MacKay said it was important to correct a historic mistake made during unification. Restoring the historic identities, he said, is a way to reconnect today’s military men and women with the history and traditions of our armed forces…
But does the “royal” moniker make much difference to the young men and women starting their military careers? They are, after all, the future of our armed forces.
It seems a retrograde move to hearken back to colonial times, despite the fact that royal themes are ingrained elements in the fabric of our parliamentary democracy. It would be more appropriate for our military to look forward, not back, to define itself based on the present and the future, rather than the past.
Not that Harper and his Tory fan club are especially strong at forward-looking. I don’t know what my Progressive Conservative kinfolk on PEI think of the change – but, cyberfriends I know through one or another part of the blogosphere are embarrassed as all get-out. It should only cost about $25 million to get Harper a few new votes!
Yes – they must be teased. That rather advanced social and political structure up there in the GWN has proven capable of marching to the rear of backwards as easily as any Kool Aid Party birther. :)
Adolf – on the right – with a couple of mates in WW1
Letters and diaries revealed for the first time in a new book portray the future Nazi leader as a loner, a wimp, and an object of ridicule.
The documents published in, ‘Hitler’s First War’, overturn the commonly held view that he was popular within the 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment. The book dispels the myth that Hitler was at the heart of a close-knit regiment with many veterans going on to form the core of the National Socialist Party…
It overturns the popular belief that Hitler’s brutal experiences during the First World Ward radicalised him and led him to unleash his hatred on the rest of the world.
“The myth of Hitler as a brave soldier and the camaraderie of the trenches was used by the Nazi Party from the beginning in order to extend its appeal beyond the far Right,” Dr Thomas Weber said. “They went to great lengths to protect this idea but the reality was a gulf between the majority of soldiers and Hitler…”
It was Hitler’s distance from the front line that led one soldier to describe him as “a rear area pig”, or Etappenschwein in German.
Dr Weber argues that the Iron Cross was awarded to Hitler because he was known by officers who could make recommendations and not because of any heroics in battle…
Hitler only ever attended one reunion of veterans from his regiment where he was “cold shouldered”, the book claims.
Golly, can you imagine a politician being the sort of opportunist who could do something like this? Other than that small fraction of Congress who aren’t chickenhawks?
The tour organizer received assurances, he says, from four gangs that they would not harass the bus when it passed through their turf. Paying customers must sign releases warning of potential danger. And after careful consideration, it was decided not to have residents shoot water guns at the bus and sell “I Got Shot in South Central” T-shirts.
Borrowing a bit from the Hollywood star tours, the grit of the streets and a dash of hype, LA Gang Tours is making its debut on Saturday, a 12-stop, two-hour journey through what its organizer calls “the history and origin of high-profile gang areas and the top crime-scene locations” of South Los Angeles. By Friday afternoon, the 56-seat coach was nearly sold out.
On the right, Los Angeles’s biggest jail, “the unofficial home to 20,000 gang members in L.A.,” as the tour Web site puts it. Over there, the police station that in 1965 served as the National Guard’s command post in the Watts riots. Visit the large swath of concrete riverbed taken over by graffiti taggers, and later, drop in at a graffiti workshop where, for the right price, a souvenir T-shirt or painting can be yours…
But aside from its unusual logistical challenges — the liability waiver describes the tour as “inherently dangerous” and warns of the risk of death — the venture has also generated debate about its appropriateness. Chicago has a tour of Al Capone sites and Las Vegas has one devoted to the mob — but this gangland lore is still happening.
“Everybody says we are the gang capital of the world, and that is certainly true, no denying that,” said the Rev. Gregory Boyle, who has spent decades trying to steer people out of gangs into legitimate work. “It’s hard to gloss over that. But there are two extremes we always need to avoid. One is demonizing the gang member, and the other extreme is romanticizing the gang.”