27 September 2010

The Chosen One Can't Cite the Creator

A couple of weeks ago during the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Gala, President Barack Obama attempted to echo the preamble of the Declaration of Independence while leaving out the source of American’s rights coming from “our Creator”. Talk radio made great hay over this slight omission. How could a supposed Constitutional Scholar from the University of Chicago not know this famous phrase? Speculation centered on theories that either the TOTUS (Teleprompter Of The United States) failed him or the President figuratively called an audible play and left out the acknowledgment to try to please his audience.

But when President Obama spoke before the DCCC/DSCC Dinner in New York City last week, the prepared remarks astoundingly shared the same omission:

[I]f we believe that all people are created equal and everybody is endowed with certain inalienable rights and we’re going to make those words live, and we’re going to give everybody opportunity,

So should we blame the speechwriting shop this time? Maybe it is a manifestation of the Living Document jurisprudence that takes what it wants from America’s foundational documents? Or perhaps our Dear Leader has a problem with the Creator?

The latter theory could not be true, as Obama went to church the Sunday before for the first time in six months with a a gaggle of the press corps in tow.

Chavez Stymied

In the Venezuelan Congressional elections, exit polling indicates that the Democracy United coalition won 52% of the vote and garnered enough seats to revoke President Hugo Chavez’s legislative rubber stamp for strong arming “21st Century Socialism” policies.

Due to gerrymandering which favored Chavez’s rural strongholds, the opposition’s electoral support did not translate into proportional gains in seats. But it appears that the opposition to Chavez did win more than 33% of the seats in the legislature, which means that Chavez can not hegemonically appoint judges, other officials and pass new laws. If the Democracy United opposition clinches 67 seats, which is possible, then it could block the president's requests for temporary decree powers.

Venezuela has a Presidential Election scheduled for 2012 in which Chavez is a candidate for a third term. But the leader of the opposition is more concerned at the moment about a lame duck session that rushes through Chavista laws before the new Congressional session in January 2011.

Those fears about rushed lame duck legislation seem very familiar between the beltways.

The Most Trusted Name in Mid-Term Election News

A POLITICO/GWU Battleground Poll indicates that 81% of likely voters surveyed got their mid-term election news from cable news networks. Comparing the Cable TVNewsers, Fox News garnered 42% approval, CNN was favored by a still respectable 30% and only a paltry 12% considered MSNBC as the place for politics.

The POLITICO echoes the leitmotif un-named political analysts who lament that political news junkies are gravitating to news sources that reinforce their weltanschauung rather than turning to media sources that “...present them with more objective reporting that might challenge their assumptions.”

It’s funny to think that in the Lamestream Media there is such a thing as Objective Journalism. After Rather-gate, the JournoList, news organizations manufacturing conflicts and garden variety double standards for how the Lamestream Media treats similar peccadillos between Republicans and Democrats, how can the Lamestream Media continue to delude themselves that their product was (to crib from Walter Cronkite) "that's the way it was"?

The success of Fox News over the last decade has shown that Opinionated News Analysis can draw an audience of news junkies. While Fox News is friendly towards conservatives, it boasts a bevy of prominent media lefties (e.g. Greta VanSusteren, Geraldo Rivera, Juan Williams) which, to borrow a phrase, they report and you decide.

On the other hand, MSNBC has overtly thrown itself in bed with the DNC (doesn’t that make your leg tingle?) and its ratings have disappeared after President Obama’s Inauguration. This is reflected in what the survey says about how widely "MessNBC" personalities are known–only 30% knew who Ed Schultz is, 45% recognized Rachel Maddow and only 58% identified the omnipresent Keith Olbermann.

The public has voted with their remotes
. Fox New’s audience is regularly 1.5 times the size of CNN’s viewers (and treble that of MSNBC). When giving advice to host Joe Scarborough, MSNBC President Phil Griffin suggested “Pretend that your audience is one. And pretend it’s Tim Russert”. By my estimation, Griffin was only partially prescient.

Washington Stealth

In the waning days before breaking for the mid-term elections, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) scheduled 40 minutes to valuable floor time to to debate a resolution honoring the Washington Stealth for winning the 2010 National Lacrosse League Championship. During an interview with Glenn Beck, freshman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) laments that the House can not find time to prevent tax increases from crippling job creation but there is time for this minutia.

With this sort of focus, the chamber is already broken. But it is fitting that the majority party is wasting valuable time and money honoring the Washington Stealth.

26 September 2010

Castle in Alaska

An early Spanish lesson taught me that a Castle in Spain (castilla de espana) was an idiomatic expression for an impossibility, like a castle on the moon. A similar sort of impossibility is being experienced with a Castle in Alaska.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was appointed by her father, Frank Murkowski, to take his old seat in the Senate when he became Governor in 2002. This nepotism created a furor in the Last Frontier and resulted in a successful referendum that stripped the Governor of the power to directly appoint replacement Senators.

Lisa was elected to a full term in 2004, aided by the Alaska landslide vote for George W. Bush. But Lisa lost her Republican senatorial primary to Tea Party favorite Joe Miller and she is acting like a sore loser. First she shopped her candidacy around to the Alaska Libertarian Party, which had a guaranteed line on the general election ballot. But the Libertarians showed some spinal and refused to dump their current candidate and their principles in lieu of a chance of electoral success.

Two and a half weeks after the primary ballots were counted, Lisa Murkowski announced her write in campaign for the general election, but not before her campaign dunned beltway lobbyist for support. This seems to be the same tactic that her RINO confrere Mike Castle is contemplating in the First State after his loss to Christine O’Donnell for the Joe Biden’s old Delaware Senate seat.

Let Freedom Ring, a Tea Party inspired 527 organization, produced an outstanding radio & Web advertisement that tells the story as a fairy tale. Although the ad is amusing, it certainly conveys a core truth in the American body politics, especially in an anti-incumbent year.

If there is any solace, Murkowski’s quixotic campaign does not seem to be significantly hurting the GOP nominee. According to Rassmussen Reports, Miller [R] is leading with 42%, McAdams [D] has 25% and Murkowski [?] with 27%. So Lisa seems to be pulling more Democrats than Republicans.

Kings of Shame (Reyes de Verguenza)

The Reyes of Comedy was the entertainment portion of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s policy conference. The CHCI claims that it is a nonprofit and nonpartisan leadership development organization established in 1978, so many large corporations (like Anheiser-Busch, Safeway, Raytheon and Si TV) financially sponsored the proceedings. But any illusions of nonpartisanship or respectability dissolved in the opening acts.

The MC started off with an observation that he said he could not make on his Spanish language based radio program. But the Governor of Arizona was an "hija de suet". That sounds like Latin American slang for a "pig's daughter". Such an observation seems rather low brow, but hey he's a comedian.

Before the professional comedians started, Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) did a mildly humorous joke about Anglo bumpkins saying "Para el Espanol, oprima el dos" on automated bank phone banks.

But what was shocking was the Representative Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) shtick. Reyes quipped “Yeah, those teabaggers (sic) don't know what to do with the Spanish recordings on the phone. The teabaggers sit in the corner, and drink warm beer, they can't learn Spanish. Teabaggers have something else on their minds." As he said this, Reyes made a hand motion from his mouth towards his crotch. The crowd thought that this was hilarious. In case there was any doubt that Reyes was trying to be lewd, Reyes then quipped "My wife doesn't know what teabagging means. I'll think up of something when I go back to explain it to her." Someone turned to me and said "Is this guy a comedian?" I replied "Yes, he's a Congressman".

This incident elucidates several thought:

  • The shame of the left--Recently, I have been to the Restoring Honor Rally as well as themore partisan March on Washington (Remember in November) rallies. We certainly have grievances with the way we have been governed as well as the mistaken focus of our culture. That behavior is unfathomable from anyone on the dais, much less intentionally obscene ad hominem attacks from a so-called Honorable Congressional Representative. Yet we are called hateful, uneducated racists. But then again, that might be expecting too much from a Congressional Chairman of the Select Committee of Intelligence who did not know the difference between Shia and Sunni when he took the helm.
  • Going to the man--Silvestre made repeated references to teabagging, which the Congressman makes clear is about fellatio. Yet Reyes did not have the testicular fortitude to tell his wife that the right (dis)Honorable Representative chose to call some of his constituents by an obscene sexual insults. If you are going to engage in vulgar machismo then own it, especially when he shares his bon mot with his better half.

Granted, it was a comedy show and as Steve Martin put it, “Comedy isn't pretty.” But Silvestre Reyes showed contempt for constituents, no decorum befitting the office, and insults those who
utilize alternative sexual practices. In my mind, he's no longer just a Congressman--he's the Reyes de Verguenza.

Latin Hussle (sic)

In a mid-term election when Democrats are running away from their record, it is expected strategy to sling mud at their opponents. But what Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) did to defend her seat representing Orange County was beyond the pale.

Sanchez went on Univision to appeal to her Hispanic voters and stoked racist lies against her Republican opponent Van Tran. During an interview on Univision, the seven term Congresswoman claimed that her opponent was very anti-immigrant and that the Vietnamese and the Republicans were trying to take this seat away from “us”.

After a public outcry, Sanchez shimmied by issuing a half apology for a poor choice of words that some might find offensive, yet she still continued to do the Hustle that Van Tran was anti-immigrant and anti-Hispanic.

The charge that Van Tran was anti-immigrant is laughable as Van Tran was born in South Vietnam and was evacuated by the U.S. Army just before the fall of Saigon in 1975. But the notion of identity politics and a seat belonging to a minority group is despicable.

Naturally, the Lamestream Media ignores this obvious race baiting from one of their own, but if a Republican said such a statement, the drumbeat from the Media to resign would be incessant.

Sanchez beat the incumbent “B-1" Bob Dornan in 1996 by only 984 votes, amidst charges of voter fraud and 6% of right leaning voters casting ballots for 3rd party candidates. After Sanchez soundly beat Dornan in the rematch, she has not faced serious opposition until now.

While Sanchez’s district resoundingly voted for Obama in 2008, it is only D+4. In this cycle turnout is key and her natural base is not energized to go to the polls. While I hate to invoke identity politics, it bears repeating that Sanchez only got 44,000 votes in the last cycle and there are over 33,000 Vietnamese living in the 47th Congressional District.

After doing the Latin Hustle and hussling her constituents, Loretta Sanchez may well be sitting out future dances on Capitol Hill.

Congress Stoops to Conquer

Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert was the lead-off witness to the House Judiciary’s Immigration Subcommittee hearing. Apparently, he was qualified to be an expert witness after acting as a shadow migrant farm worker for ten hours. Will such a standard qualify Lindsey Lohen as an expert on prison reform when she gets released on parole?

Some tin-foil hat conspiracy types postulate that Colbert was actually allowed to do his shtick before Congress was to grab headlines from Chris Coates, the career civil servant, who testified before the Civil Rights Commission that Attorney General Holder pressured the DOJ to drop the Black Panthers conviction on white voter intimidation in the 2008 federal election in Philadelphia. To me, that theory is too clever by half as this Civil Rights Commission testimony had been often delayed.

I think that Colbert’s standup was comedic sop to Netroots (perhaps Nutroots) supporters to show that Democrats are cool. Colbert’s appearance certainly grabbed attention to an otherwise obscure subject matter. Of course, no one remembers the rest of the testimony that day. But it endeared House Democrats to the Comedy Central’s constituency. Maybe it even highlighted how Democrats care about the plight Hispanic undocumented aliens without pushing backdoor amnesty to the forefront.

If I were to entertain surreptitious thoughts, it would be that Chairwoman Lofgren (D-CA) is also the chair of the House Ethics Committee and her comedy packed schedule precluded holding the inchoate adjudications for Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) before November 2nd.

As for Colbert’s testimony itself, I question if the comedian’s day in the fields qualified him to be an expert witness, much less to be the leading witness. House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) could not put the comedy circus in its place with his plea, showing that the grown-ups are not in charge. But frankly this should have been done in the back rooms rather than after the publicity pageant in the Committee Hearings. I concur with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) that it was inappropriate for Colbert to testify in character.

I believe that the public will be left with two perceptions. The taint that will stick with most of the electorate is that THIS Congress is a joke. A more subtle point with political junkies is that Colbert’s Subcommittee testimony along with the faux Mall rallies on October 30th is that Democratic politicians are willing stooges for lefty comedians to mainstream their acts and make money.

If it would have been a made for television monologue, I would have enjoyed Colbert’s quip “I want my tomato grown by an American, picked by a Mexican, sliced by a Guatemalan, and served to me by a Chilean, at a spa where I am getting a Brazilian.” But it embarrasses me that it was testimony in the hallowed halls of Congress.

"Poll-sh" Joke

This weekend, the L.A. Times circulated polling numbers that raised some eyebrows. The USC/L.A. Times polling indicated that in the California gubernatorial race Democrat Jerry Brown was leading Republican challenger by a 49% to 44% margin. While this statistical snapshot is counter to most other recent surveys, it sounds almost plausible. But the same poll also indicates that in the mid-term elections California Senator Barbara Boxer is leading Republican challenger Carly Fiorina by a 51% to 43% margin.

If this were true, this would be news as Boxer has been unable to break the 50% re-elect rate, which is crucial for this three term Senator. But when you look at the internals, this LA Times effort is a headline grabbing Poll-ish joke. The survey sample did poll likely voters, but the pool was made up of 44% registered Democrats to 36% registered Republicans and 16% who declined to answer. As political consultant Michael Murphy points out in Hot Air, exit polling in the 2008 election was 42% Ds to 30% Rs and 28% Independents but this flawed poll effectively proportions likely voters at 55% Ds, 35% Rs and 9% Is. Of course, the incumbents looked so good with rose colored glasses

But this Blue Plate Special kicked up with special sauce will lead the headlines this weekend, ignoring the evident ire of the electorate.This report was not intended to inform readers but to obfuscate for their ideological overlords. No wonder that this outpost of the Lamestream Media can't give away its newspapers to staunch declining circulation numbers.