Palin defends her bloodlust politics

Sarah Palin: Does she even give a damn?

Prominent Republican Sarah Palin defended her fiery rhetoric on Wednesday but ignited a fresh controversy by accusing critics of “blood libel” in linking her to a deadly Arizona shooting spree.

A defiant Palin, leaping into a roaring debate on the consequences of overheated political rhetoric, said her critics had been irresponsible in rushing to blame Saturday’s gun rampage on vitriolic campaign speech.

“Especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn,” Palin, a potential 2012 White House contender, said in a video posted to her Facebook page.

Palin’s reference to “blood libel,” a false, centuries-old allegation that Jews were killing children to use their blood in religious rituals, launched a new round of criticism of Palin’s rhetoric.

“We wish that Palin had used another phrase, instead of one so fraught with pain in Jewish history,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

The accusation of “blood libel” has been employed for centuries to justify the killing or expulsion of Jews. The phrase had been used by other conservative commentators, including a Wall Street Journal column, since the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who is Jewish.

“Perhaps Palin honestly does not know what a blood libel is, or does not know of their horrific history — that is perhaps the most charitable explanation we can arrive at,” said David Harris, president of the National Jewish Democratic Council.

Suspected Arizona gunman Jared Lee Loughner faces five federal charges in the weekend attack, including the attempted assassination of Giffords, who is in critical condition after being shot in the head while talking to constituents outside a Tucson supermarket.

The rampage fueled a growing debate about whether the heated partisan rhetoric featured in recent U.S. political campaigns can lead to violence, and politicians in both parties have suggested cooling the tone of discourse in Washington.

“Palin’s invocation of a ‘blood libel’ charge against her perceived enemies is hardly a step in the right direction,” Harris said.

FOCUS OF CRITICISM

Palin has been a focus of criticism from the left since the shootings for urging followers to “reload,” not retreat, after the healthcare debate and publishing an electoral map identifying vulnerable Democratic congressional districts, including Giffords,’ with rifle cross-hairs.

The 2008 vice presidential candidate, a favorite of Tea Party conservatives but a lightning rod for liberal critics, has hinted at a presidential run but polls show her trailing many possible Republican rivals and President Barack Obama.

Seated before a fireplace and an American flag, Palin said in the video it was reprehensible for critics to say political rhetoric was to blame for the shootings.

“They claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those ‘calm days’ when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols?” she asked.

Blame for the shooting should not rest “with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle,” she said.

Palin had been silent on the shooting for days since posting a message of sympathy for the victims on her Facebook page, even as other Republican presidential contenders spoke out about them.

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was the only potential Republican contender to distance himself from Palin, although subtly. He told The New York Times the crosshairs map was “not a device I would have used.”

Palin’s comments came on the day Obama headed to Arizona to attend a memorial service for the dead, who included a federal judge, a 9-year-old girl and one of Giffords’ young aides. Her colleagues in Congress put most of their work on hold and held a bipartisan prayer service.

Palin was not the only conservative voice to defend campaign rhetoric from the right.

Losing Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle, a Tea Party favorite, condemned criticism of her call during the campaign for “Second Amendment remedies” — a reference to the constitutional amendment on the right to bear arms.

“Inappropriately attributing blame of a singular tragedy to achieve a political agenda is contrary to civil discourse, and is a media ploy to which I refuse to belong,” Angle said in a statement.

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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How the GOP will deal with Sarah Palin

Plucked from obscurity in the middle of a presidential campaign, encased in new clothes, beloved by thousands, and given a ghost writer so a journalism major could bless America’s coffee tables with her wit and wisdumb.

Finding that the responsibility of holding office was too much for her, she decided to quit midterm, and promote what came naturally. Herself.  She was packaged, sold and resold, measured by the armey of Koch, and honored with money and free access to the media, unlike anyone before her. Some of this was by accident, most of it was by design. In other words, the GOP has invested a lot in Sarah.

In some ways, the most unpleasant ones, to be sure,  Sarah reminds us of a character in one of Sir Douglas Adams’ comical books, Zaphod Beeblebrox:

Only six people in the entire galaxy understood the principle on which the Galaxy was governed, and they knew that once Zaphod had announced his intention to run as president it was more or less a fait accompli:

* Only six people in the Galaxy knew that the job of Galactic President was not to wield power but to attract attention away from it.

The more outrageous Zaphod was, the more popular as president he became. One only has to look at the eight years of Bush to find something similar. Yet, one of her talents seems to be using her disadvantages to earn ever more profit and among the Tea Baggers, at least, popularity.

Let’s review what Sarah has done:

a) She aided and abetted the creation of Tea Baggers, since renamed the Tea Party because those hired by the Koch Brothers were too out of touch with certain parts of America’s culture.

b) She pushed out GOP candidates she deemed too moderate, too conciliatory, too pragmatic for her tastes.

c) She attacked moderates almost as much as she attacked liberals.

d) She invited gun toters to her talks, and smiled when the fetid scent of future violence pervaded her dog and pony shows.

e) Using a gun metaphor, she concocted what she described as a “Hit List,” literally targeting liberals and moderate Democrats for attack.

f) She began using code words for guns, armed responses to liberals, and worse.

Here are just some of her words:

We’ll aim for these races and many others. This is just the first salvo in a fight to elect people across the nation who will bring common sense to Washington. Please go to sarahpac.com and join me in the fight.

She began talking about “not retreating, but reloading. Her audiences strongly supported gun ownership, and were being told that progressives, democrats, and most of all, Barack Obama, were planning to take them all away. Most of the time, democrats didn’t even bother responding to such charged, because they were totally baseless and ridiculous.

In hindsight, that was a mistake. The paranoia and fear caused by such deliberate rumors had several intended effects. The ranks of fearful  Tea Baggers grew, fearful that the new black guy in office would be a socialist communist fascist anti-American foreigner taking away our rights. Silence from our side only reinforced such fears. Rumors about Obama’s health care bill became conventional wisdumb, displacing and replacing rational discussions on the whole bill.

The more Sarah used code words for guns, war, revolution, armed uprisings, the more popular she became with a significant (but still small) minority. As we laughed at their misspelled signs, and pointed to their messages, we missed just how demented and dangerous this could turn out to be. Sure, some of us warned, worried, and wrote about Sarah and the danger she represented. But even then, despite raising a warning, we could not help but look at her as a bit of a joke, a Zaphod Beeblebrox-type goof who would never . . .  who could never be elected.

It worked. Too well. She remains popular with the Tea Bagger crowd, some of whom went out and bought their first book since high school. Several of her Tea Bagger candidates did incredibly well, and several even got elected to national office. The abject fear instilled on a daily basis since the 2008 election came home to roost, and the nation predictably reacted out of fear.

The House became Republican, even though we still have not repaired the incredible damage done by them earlier this century. Still, people did recall who ran things into the ground, and luckily the Senate remained in the hands of people who take the constitution and this country’s future seriously.

Several people here have long predicted that Sarah’s words and actions would eventually result in a crazy person going postal and probably taking a Democratic candidate or office holder out.  Well, it happened.

Even though there is no sign that Jared was a Tea Bagger, a supporter of Sarah, or a fan of Sharron Angle’s 2nd Amendment solutions to America’s pesky socialist liberal problem, clearly the tone and content of Sarah’s words, and frankly, honestly, and seriously, most of the Tea Bagger leaders’ and candidates’ positions and speeches, laid the groundwork for future violence.

When you repeatedly hear that the Federal Government can do no right, (what was really a code word for that uppity muslim from Kenya) and that we have to take the solutions in our own hands, using the 2nd Amendment, it matters not whether those hearing these messages fully understand them or not. That’s the whole point with mentally sick and unbalanced people. They DON’T fully get it. But that does not mean that they missed all the messaging that Sarah and her crew were pushing.

What resulted was both predictable AND predicted. The horror of yesterday will stay with America for some time to come. But the response of the GOP, and more pointedly, of Sarah and her clan have already become clear.

Here’s Lamar Alexander (growing ever more conservative since the advent of Teabaggerism) attacking Candy Crowley for even raising Sarah Palin’s bullet (ahem) points in her question:

Well, Candy, I think you’re — I think you’re responsible, by bringing this up, of doing the very thing you’re trying to condemn. I mean, you’re making and implying a direct connection between Sarah Palin and what happened yesterday.

Sarah’s minions have been scrubbing every reference to Giffords from her Facebook page. She issued tweets and messages that seemed weak and pointless. Now, we learn that the SarahPac is testing  a new meme, “They were not crosshairs, they were mapping aids!”

John Kyl takes any comparison with Sarah’s proposed shooting gallery personally and blames those who even dare raising the issue for any violence. Talk about a pot’s description of a kettle.

Right. Reload? Take Aim? Aim High? Join the battle? Come armed? Get ready for the first salvo? Be prepared to take no prisoners? It’s a battlefield? Hell, even Sarah crowed about how she took down 18 out of 20 she took aim at. Those were all her words of choice, intended to anger her troops.

Others, including reich winger Debra Saunders on CNN, and others did their best to insulate Sarah and other Tea Baggers from this event, in essence, insulating them from their own words of destruction.

I do believe this clearly shows the path of the GOP’s response, as well as showing how the MSM will deal with this in the future.  I’ll give you a couple of  hints:

When Senator Vitter was outed for his creative-diaper based hiring of prostitutes for sexual gratification, the family values GOP Senators gave him a standing ovation when he came back.

When Joe Wilson broke all protocols and shouted that President Obama was a liar, he was greeted with support, applause and additional financial backing.

When Judith Miller was caught acting like a mouthpiece for the warmongers of the Bush Administration, GOPers came out and supported her. Even now, she is a heroine, especially in her new position.

When Sarah Palin appears at the next big gathering of the GOP, she will be met by a standing ovation. You see, the logic is simple. Sarah did nothing wrong, and taking her words out of context, or worse, in context,  is simply unfair. Also. And, because we are all raising up against her, she must be supported! Protected. Lauded. Applauded.

Cheered with a standing ovation.

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Reid, McDonnell keep Senate leadership posts

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Senate Democrats and Republicans alike are poised to return their respective party leaders to their posts following an election in which the top Democrat scrambled to retain his seat and the senior Republican picked up 13 new senators.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, is unopposed to keep his post, as is Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell, the minority leader.

Reid’s midterm election victory over tea party favorite Sharron Angle spared Democrats a battle over who might have replaced him.

And McConnell is sidestepping a divisive fight with conservatives over earmarks by endorsing a tea party-sponsored ban on them.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

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With friends like the tea party, Republicans don’t need enemies

Christine O'Donnell: a right-wing flake

Amid all the hoopla over the phony grassroots operation called the tea party, a central and important question gets lost.

Did Republicans recapture control of the House of Representatives because of the tea party or in spite of it?

One can argue that the tea party’s willingness to accept and push questionable candidates cost Republicans in key Senate races. Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell were so far out there that even the zealots who dress up as Uncle Sam or wrap themselves in American flags couldn’t muster up the courage to vote for them.

Without Sarah Palin and the tea party’s intervention in Delaware, Mike Castle would have captured the GOP nomination but Castle is — God forbid–a moderate and there’s just no room in the tea party universe for moderation.

It takes more than wrapping up fishy candidates in an American flag.

Polls show Castle would have cruised to victory in a win the GOP needed but Christine O’Donnell was a flawed candidate with fudged credentials and a persona so flaky that she made Palin seem smart.

And this was the year that Republicans could finally send Nevada casino bagman Harry Reid packing. The Senate majority leader’s public approval rating in his home state was so low that a banana-chomping monkey could have taken the seat.

But the tea party went even lower on the evolutionary chain and came up with Sharron Angle, a devisive extreme right-wing troglodyte with a penchant for off-the-wall statements.

Two vital Senate races, two lame-brained candidates.  The endorsement of the Tea Party’s chief flake — Sarah Palin — was apparently the only qualification needed to meet the fledgling party’s incredibly thin standards.

In an election year where public anger towards President Barack Obama and his Democratic co-conspirators were so high it is entirely feasible that Republicans would have won control of the House without help from the fruitcakes of the tea party.

And the tea party’s presence — in the end — probably hurt the GOP more than it helped.

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Tea Party scores big wins in key races

Kentucky Senate winner Rand Paul (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Voters embraced the tea party’s conservative throw-the-bums-out anthem in key races across the country, with the movement’s favored candidates taking more than a dozen House seats held by Democrats, three Senate races and the South Carolina governorship.

The movement commanded widespread victories but did not make a complete sweep, with the most prominent losses coming from Senate hopefuls Christine O’Donnell of Delaware and Sharron Angle of Nevada. Angle couldn’t overcome Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and O’Donnell was soundly defeated after old videos emerged of her discussing witchcraft, masturbation and mice with human brains.

But tea party stars Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida were elected to the Senate, while Sarah Palin-backed Republican Nikki Haley was elected South Carolina governor. All were long shots when they declared their candidacies but won over voters with their Washington outsider, anti-tax campaigns.

“We’ve come to take our government back,” said Paul, a first-time candidate and son of libertarian hero Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. He promised to lead a movement for fiscal sanity, limited constitutional government and balanced budgets and to begin working to build a tea party caucus in the Senate first thing Wednesday morning.

“There’s a tea party tidal wave, and we’re sending a message,” Paul said.

Tea Party Patriots co-founder JennyBeth Martin said local activists from across the country would host a meeting for freshmen tea party lawmakers Nov. 14 to remind them that the movement’s continuing support depends on their performance.

“We’ve watched what’s happened in the past — Republican or Democrats promise things when they are running, and then they get to Washington and they do what their party leadership wants them to,” she said in a telephone interview from a tea party victory party at a Washington hotel. “We’re not going to let that happen this time. If they uphold our core values and the Constitution, then they will have political backing from us. If not, we’ll do this again in two years.”

Tea party candidates were running strong as returns came in Wednesday morning, picking up several Democratic seats in the Republican takeover of the House. Chief among them was Republican Vicky Hartzler, who courted tea party support in her victory over House Armed Service Committee Chairman Ike Skelton. She ended Skelton’s 34 years in Congress.

Republicans with tea party support also defeated Democratic incumbents in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, South Dakota and two seats each in New York and Illinois. And they picked up seats held by retiring Democrats in Louisiana, Washington, Wisconsin, Michigan and two in Arkansas.

Tea party candidates put some leading House Democrats who usually win by wide margin on defense. That included House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank of Massachusetts, who lent his campaign $200,000 to stave off a tea party challenger, and Michigan Rep. John Dingell, who after 55 years is the longest-serving member of the House. Both were able to hold onto their seats in closer than anticipated contests.

The question for Election Day was whether the tea party candidates would end up hurting the Republican Party more than they helped by putting up some less viable candidates. That appeared to be the case in the Nevada Senate race and in Delaware, where tea party-fueled candidacies for O’Donnell and Glen Urquhart for the state’s Republican-held House seat gave Democrats easy victories that wouldn’t have been expected early in the campaign.

Democrats were able to hold onto the Colorado governorship after tea party-backed GOP nominee Dan Maes’ campaign imploded and third-party candidate Tom Tancredo entered the race and splintered the support of the state’s activists. But fears that other third-party tea party candidates would siphon voters from Republican nominees were unfounded.

Rubio, Paul and tea party Republican Mike Lee of Utah were elected to seats held by Republicans, so they did not contribute to GOP hopes for gains in the Senate. And Republican leaders may get a challenge from tea party lawmakers who vowed to put their conservative principles before party.

“Our nation is headed in the wrong direction and both parties are to blame,” said Rubio, a former state House speaker and son of Cuban exiles. He said his election was part of “a second chance for Republicans to be what they said they were going to be not so long ago.”

Rep. John Boehner, who planned to take over as speaker after Republicans won the House, assured tea party activists from his Ohio district in a Skype call after poll closing that he would never let them down, Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said.

Candidates with tea party support were on the ballot in more than 70 House districts, seven races for Senate and three for governor. Some were incumbents, such as South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson. Wilson became an early hero to tea partyers for yelling “You lie!” to President Barack Obama during a joint session of Congress, and held onto his seat in a race that was infused with out-of-state donations for both sides after the heckle.

Four in 10 voters considered themselves tea party supporters, according to preliminary exit poll results. And nearly 9 in 10 of those tea party supporters voted for the Republican House candidate.

But the tea party also was a polarizing force among some voters — about a quarter of voters said they considered their vote a message of support for the tea party and nearly as many said their vote was meant to signal opposition to the movement. About half said the tea party wasn’t a factor.

The movement’s candidates had no unified agenda, but often pushed for a balanced budget, elimination of the federal debt, repeal of the health care law and strict interpretation of the Constitution. The AP’s polling analysis found nearly 9 in 10 tea party supporters wanted to repeal health care and felt Obama’s policies hurt the country. Only about a quarter of non-tea party supporters felt that way.

Tea party candidates weren’t always easy to identify since the movement is a network of loosely connected community groups — not an established political party with official nominees. Even within the tea party there often was disagreement among rival groups about the legitimacy of candidates claiming tea party credentials.

In identifying candidates, The Associated Press assessed factors including a candidate’s history with the movement, the involvement of local leaders and activists in a campaign, endorsements or support from tea party-affiliated groups and whether a candidate is running on a platform that dovetails with the movement’s agenda.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

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Harry Reid hangs on to win in Nevada

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Reuters)

Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid won re-election in Nevada against Republican Sharron Angle in a tight race, Fox News projected on Wednesday, a blow to Republicans who had hoped to oust him.

Republicans had targeted Reid and poured millions of dollars into Angle’s campaign, which was also backed by the conservative Tea Party group. Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin campaigned for Angle as well.

The victory will give a little breathing room to President Barack Obama who has relied on Reid to shepherd his legislative agenda through the Senate, where Democrats will hold a reduced majority.

If Reid, a former boxer and lawyer, had lost, it would have been the second time in six years that Republicans had ousted the Democratic leader in the Senate. Tom Daschle was defeated by his Republican opponent in South Dakota in 2004.

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Back from the dead, GOP hopes for a big election night

Sen. John Boehner, R-Ohio, takes a seat before speaking at a Republican fundraiser, Friday, Oct. 29, 2010, at the University of Northwestern Ohio's Event Center, in Lima, Ohio. Boehner is seeking re-election against Democratic challenger Justin Coussoule. (AP Photo/J.D. Pooley)

Resurgent Republicans appear poised to capture control of the House if not the Senate on Tuesday in elections midway through President Barack Obama‘s term, reaping a rich harvest of voter discontent with the economy and profound public skepticism about the future.

Drawing strength from the clamorous tea party movement, the GOP also is in line to wrest governorships from Democrats in all regions of the country, according to political strategists in both parties and public opinion polls. Big-state races in Florida, Ohio, Illinois and California remain intensely competitive into the campaign’s final hours.

Republicans must gain 40 seats to win control of the House and 10 to take the Senate. A victory in either case would spell the end of a two-year stretch in which Democrats controlled the White House and held comfortable majorities in both houses of Congress.

With unemployment at 9.6 percent nationally and economic growth anemic, as many as 100 seats appeared competitive or ripe for turnover in the 435-member House – a list that included two dozen or more already given up for lost by the Democrats.

After absorbing thrashings at the hands of voters in 2006 and 2008, Republicans guarded against public displays of overconfidence. In private, though, their debate was not whether they would win a House majority, but the size of the victory margin.

“Ladies and gentlemen, your government hasn’t been listening,” said Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the Republican in line to become speaker of the House. “Your government is disrespecting you, your family, your job, your children. Your government is out of control. Do you have to accept it? Do you have to take it? Hell no you don’t. That’s what elections are for!” he said at a late-campaign rally in Ohio.

Publicly, Democrats betrayed no expectation that their House majority was at an end. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., turned aside any and all questions about the possibility of a night that would end her four-year tenure as the first female speaker in history.

But there was nothing bullish about the Democrats’ late-campaign pronouncements.

“While there is some evidence that the Democrats’ efforts are starting to pay off, the party still has ground to cover,” said an Oct. 27 memo from Anzalone Lizst Research, a Democratic polling firm.

The ubiquitous polls were maddeningly inconsistent on many points. But most agreed that voters preferred Republicans over Democrats in hypothetical matchups, one key indicator of voting behavior, and also that independents were swinging back to the GOP for the first time since President George W. Bush‘s re-election in 2004.

The economy dominated all else, although the discovery of an apparent al-Qaida terror plot aimed at the United States four days before the elections served as a reminder that all concerns were not domestic.

An Associated Press-GfK poll taken Oct. 13-18, found 59 percent of voters thought the country was heading in the wrong direction.

Republicans campaigned as advocates of tax cuts to stimulate the economy and promised at the same time to cut federal spending, tackle the deficit and reduce the reach of the government in general, though they offered few specifics. The agenda was a reaction to the 2008 bailout of Wall Street, the government’s partial takeover of the auto industry and the economic stimulus and health care overhaul Obama won from Congress. Some Republicans, including Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, said “there will be no compromise” on spending, debt control or an attempt to repeal the health care law.

In rebuttal, Democrats said Republicans had wrecked the economy once and were promising a return to the same policies they had pursued before.

Whatever the outcome, the election was the costliest at any midterm in history – and one of the coarsest.

The incomplete tab was $3.6 billion and growing, with final disclosure reports not required until after Election Day. That included spending by candidates, the political parties and independent organizations, including one, Crossroads GPS, with a sterling Republican pedigree that raised tens of millions from anonymous donors and spent it attacking Democratic candidates.

Obama and the Democrats sought to make an issue of that, warning repeatedly that foreign money might be influencing an American political campaign.

But with the economy running in idle, they got little traction for that argument, or most of their others.

The ads seemed unending, and insults were woven into the fabric of many campaigns.

In the Illinois Senate race, Republicans labeled Democrat Alexi Giannoulias a “mob banker.” Democrats returned the insult, calling Republican Rep. Mark Kirk a “serial liar.”

“Man up, Harry Reid,” Republican Sharron Angle taunted the Senate majority leader in the only debate she would agree to attend in their Nevada contest.

In the House, Republican targets began with the 55 seats they lost to Democrats in 2006 and 2008, many of them in a band of states that stretched from New Hampshire to Michigan. New York was home to six; Pennsylvania five, Ohio four and Indiana three. There were four more in Florida and three each in Arizona and Virginia, where Obama campaigned on Friday in hopes of extending the career of first-term Rep. Tom Perriello.

Democratic retirements gave Republicans another group of targets, including a pair of seats in Tennessee, two more in Arkansas and one each in Kansas and Louisiana.

Additionally, the political environment brought jeopardy for a third category of Democrats, veterans such as Reps. John Spratt in South Carolina, Earl Pomeroy in North Dakota and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in South Dakota.

The sternest test for the tea party-favored candidates came in Senate races. Marco Rubio in Florida, Rand Paul in Kentucky, Joe Miller in Alaska, Ken Buck in Colorado, Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and Angle in Nevada all defeated better-known, establishment-backed rivals to win their primaries.

Rubio’s election seemed all-but-assured, so much so that Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican-turned-independent, and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek spent the final few days of the campaign trying to embarrass one another in a battle of the also-rans.

O’Donnell was the opposite of Rubio, an unknown political quality who defeated veteran Rep. Mike Castle in the primary and instantly became fodder for late-night comedians. “I am not a witch,” she said in her first ad of the fall campaign. The commercial spawned serial imitators on YouTube.com, but did little to stem her slide in the polls for a seat Republicans had once counted as a sure pickup.

Paul’s race with Democrat Jack Conway has been close for months. Buck’s challenge to Sen. Michael Bennet in Colorado and Angle’s run at Reid were closer, and the extent of Republican gains hinged in large measure on the outcome of all three.

Obama’s final-weekend campaign itinerary included his home state of Illinois, where Kirk and Giannoulias ran a race as close as any in the country.

Third-term Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer in California and Patty Murray in Washington also have struggled for new terms, and Sen. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin was an underdog in his bid for a fourth term.

Democrats long conceded they would lose seats held by retiring Sens. Byron Dorgan in North Dakota and Evan Bayh in Indiana, and two-term Sen. Blanche Lincoln ran behind in the polls in Arkansas.

In all, there were 37 governors’ races on the ballots, 19 currently held by Democrats and 18 by Republicans.

In California, Democrat Jerry Brown sought a return to the office he held for two terms before stepping down in 1983. His Republican opponent, businesswoman Meg Whitman, spent more than $150 million of her own money opposing him. In Iowa, former two-term Republican Terry Branstad mounted a comeback bid of his own, challenging Gov. Chet Culver for the office he left in 1999.

Obama’s final campaign swing included two Midwestern states where the gubernatorial campaigns were fiercest. In Ohio, Gov. Ted Strickland sought re-election in a race with former Republican Rep. John Kasich. And in Illinois, Gov. Patrick Quinn struggled against Republican Bill Brady.

Apart from bragging rights, the statehouse races carried extra significance in the run-up to the post-census redistricting of House districts required by the Constitution. In many states, the governor has a vote in determining the new boundaries in what is often an intensely partisan event.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

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What ever happened to Juan Williams?

1929 –  Black Tuesday, Stock Market crashes triggers Great Depression

2004 – Osama bin Laden, in a videotaped statement, directly admitted for the first time that he had ordered the Sept. 11 attacks.

COINCIDENCE? I think NOT!

“Is there no longer freedom of speech in this chamber, Mr. President?….Mr. President…MR. PRESIDENT?….You can turn my microphone off now.”
Michelle Bachmann

“It is not enough to be abstinent with other people, you also have to be abstinent alone. The Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery. You can’t masturbate without lust!”
Christine O’Donnell

FROM THE CHURCH OF INEFFABLE STUPIDITY:

About three months ago I predicted that O’Keefe and other radical, serial lie-based life forms (See generally, Drudge, Rush, Sean) would concoct some new issue, and go hog wild on Democrats and liberals.

Sure, O’Keefe did hire actors, dubbed lines, and creatively edited a recent meeting of the New Jersey Educational Association, because people were awake this time, his efforts have gone nowhere.

There have been a few other bits of tid, efforts and tossing up huge handfuls of shit, and seeing what might stick to the ceiling. Unfortunately, their efforts were eclipsed by a series of events so odd, so unusual, that one feels like quoting Condi Rice’s reaction to accusations that she fell asleep on the job before 9/11.

For a short while, I worried that the Yawn Williams imbroglio would grow legs, and become the rallying cry against an already mentally barren NPR, and quite possibly grow into an attack on all outlets, journalists, and media figures who failed to toe the most conservative GOP  line. Despite strong pushes by John Kyl, deMental deMidget DeMint, and other hatchetmen, the most surprising thing happened. The Williams story died an early death.  After all, not one democrat dared show the slightest bit of support for NPR (Shades of ACORN) and even NPR managed to outdo itself in terms of how lame its response and handling of the situation was. But again, the story died before it could become a movement.

True, in part, Juan dug his own grave. Pawing and harassing sweet young things since 1991 didn’t help matters any. Neither did coming into proverbial gold, to the tune of $2,000,000. But again, something else happened, something that killed these kind of stories in their tracks. So, what stopped the final framing (and sideways attack on Democrats) from taking hold?

We know it as the Tea Bagger impact.

From wrestling divas out east, to clueless, cold hearted, semi-slave owners on the left coast, people could not help but notice that today’s GOPers, along with their evil mini-me sidekicks, the Tea Baggers, are raving loons. Sharron Angle, Jan Brewer, Rand Paul, Michelle Bachmann, Joe Miller, and so many others continuously showed themselves to be the ideal representatives of America’s Ignorant, the modern know nothings, the people most likely to be helped by a new Americans with Mental Disabilities Act.

To be sure, the media did its best to ignore Rand’s gestapo stomping tactics, but because the media no longer controls the story, those ugly videos were seen by millions. Sharron tried to ignore the media, and therefore, keep out of the public eye, (Running for public office in secret? the mind boggles) but her own well-documented history and her political stances (circa 1438 CE) kept her in the news. Joe Miller, bless his unethical soul, was forced to out himself. Despite half-baked mea culpas, Joe’s unsavory past easily blended with his present persona, and not even Sarah can save his bloodied ass.

When Jim DeMint is out-weirded by senatorial candidates trying to join him inside the Bloatway, you know something strange is up.

In some ways, I would love to relax and enjoy the moment. The daily outrages, the constant drumbeat of Ineffable Stupidity, and the ever distant relationship these Tea Baggers have with reality would be really entertaining and amused, but for one problem. Some of them could be elected, and actually might be, if we let down our guard, and forget to get out the vote as early and often as possible. I am sure many here would have loved to do the same. Instead, we fought. We raised money. We got out the vote. We voted early. We fretted, we worried, and we wrote LTTEs.

Luckily, our efforts have not gone for naught. Partly due to the Tea Baggers own mental Buggery, partly due to a population realizing that these “morans” are blithering idiots, and partly due to an allergic reaction from the presence of so much conservative corporate money, early voting has never been higher.

In Illinois alone, especially among the yute, people of color, and in lower income areas, early voting has doubled, yes D O U B L E D, the numbers in 2008.  Absentee voting is also twice as high as 2008, and far higher than 2006. Lines yesterday (our last early voting date) were reported to be more than two hours long.

Chew on that for a bit. Imagine an unengaged, uncaring, non-enthusiastic voter waiting in line for TWO HOURS simply to vote early.

I do not predict major upsets on Tuesday. The economy has been too troubled, the employment figures are jarring and upsetting, too many democrats in office proved to have a Slinky-like spine, and the President misread just how evil his opposition was going to be. Besides, after two huge victorious election results, we were bound to lose ground in this one. Besides, the MSM has been pounding the “Dems Lose” meme since June. Koch and company, along with other ultraconservative bastards, have spent close to $400,000,000 attacking Dem candidates, and supporting Tea Baggers. The top self funders spent another $250,000,000 of their own money. No matter how you cut it, money does create interest, and interest can translate into votes.

I do predict that it will not be as bad as we feared, and nowhere near as bad as MSM was trying to paint it. Already, news groups are backtracking, questioning the methods pollsters used, and suddenly realizing (something we knew back in 2008), that the younger, more liberal LIKELY voters were connected to the world by cell phone, not a land line. In fact, the most likely landline owners are Fox News watchers, whose average physical age of 103 (with a mental age of 73) make them not only incredibly conservative, but astoundingly unread, uneducated, uninformed (hey, they watch Fox!), and allergic to facts.  Of course the polls are wrong. The question is how wrong.

So, to sum it all up,

a. The polls are skewed heavily to the right, to the elderly, to fox viewers.

b. Young voters, more liberal, and more progressive voters had no enthusiasm gap

c. Tea Baggers are fucking lunatics.

d. People are rebelling against too much money, mostly conservative, in politics

e. Colbert/Stewart will be a huge success, in part, because people want sanity back in our country.

All this adds up to one result: Who the hell can predict this November election?

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Early voting report – Illinois

Wow, what a pleasant surprise. In my town of 19,000 (with its 2,187 churches and 2 bars) the voting has been fast and furious. I voted yesterday, expecting to pop in city hall, and get back to work.  Nope.  There were 25-30 people ahead of me, waiting for one of four booths. The pleasant voting clerk was advising people after me that the wait was more than an hour.  (it turned out to be 1.5 hours)  Yet, every time she mentioned the wait, PEOPLE STAYED AND VOTED.

The idea that there was some enthusiasm gap is clearly a media concoction, and bears no relationship to reality. People were not only excited to vote, they were determined to vote.

What was even more surprising was the discussions I overheard. This is the reddest part of Cook County, the largest county in Illinois. People supported McCain almost 2-1 here in 2008. Yet, it seemed that people were voting Democratic at the same pace as Republican, a major shift to the left. Reports from the South Side of Chicago also show extremely strong turnouts from Chicago’s black wards.

In a year where a deluded, misinformed and certifiably crazy Sharron Angle seems to be winning in Nevada, where a raving lunatic like Rand Paul can survive his gestapo beating up and stomping on Move.On members, and where Eric Canter (R-Va)  gets the local police to arrest Democrats at open house meetings – for the crime of being Democrats, it was easy to predict that Democrats and liberals would be demoralized. Add to that, every MSM was proclaiming a blowout by the GOP, and repeatedly claimed that the Democrats had no interest in this election. Perhaps, if only they had  stayed on that message longer and louder, they could have turned off people from this election.   Then again, the presence of Tea Baggery  has had several impacts on this year’s election.

First, it mobilized  a group of functionally illiterate, unread, misinformed, and willfully ignorant christian conservatives.

Second, Tea Baggers forced an already rabid GOP even further to the reich. Right. Whatever.

Next, The noise and constant free coverage that MSM provided the Tea Baggery movement also shook up someone else. Like the undecideds, the liberals, the progressives. Seeing just how insane, ludicrous, and ignorant the Tea Buggery movement is was one hell of an incentive for voting this year. We owe them all a vote of thanks.

Voting is important, even when, no, make that especially when the US Supremes foolishly lifted the cap on corporate interference in our political system. Citizens United will go down as being one the worst decisions made by any Supreme Court, following closely on the heels of Dred Scott.

Not only does the Citizens United decision make a screwed up system even worse, not only does it invite the wholesale purchase of desperate politicians, and not only does this decision allow one large corporation to have a voice a million times stronger than any individual, CU also shows that corruption in our political system does not stop in congress, but exists just as much in our Supreme Court.

Get out the Vote, folks. It is important. Vitally important.

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Bringing home the bacon can put incumbents in the frying pan



Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, left, greets supporters during a campaign stop at a Chinese restaurant Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

When Harry Reid, the No. 1 Democrat in the Senate, began his re-election campaign last year, he ran ads touting his ability to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in federal largess back to Nevada.

“From Vegas to Reno, Carson City to Elko, he’s helped build roads, hospitals and schools,” said an early television ad.

His poll numbers barely moved. Now, Reid’s running an ad boasting that he’s brought more than 1,300 “green jobs” to the state. He’s still neck and neck with tea party favorite Sharron Angle.

Republicans are betting that Nevada’s angry electorate — infused with many tea party insurgents eager to vote for Angle — is not nearly as receptive to the old-fashioned politics of pork as it was when Reid easily won re-election six years ago.

The Senate’s majority leader is hardly alone. The electoral landscape is filled with incumbents who are finding that, with the federal budget deficit easily topping $1 trillion, bringing home the bacon isn’t working as well as it used to.

“Nobody in this environment is going to tout, ‘Look at me spending,'” said Jennifer Crider, spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. She said fewer politicians are running for re-election bragging about their ability to procure back-home “earmarks” like water projects, community health clinics, road repairs and grants to local police departments.

Instead, more and more candidates — mostly but not exclusively Republicans — are swearing off earmarks, complaining about out-of-control spending and vowing not to be co-opted by the go-along/get-along culture on Capitol Hill. Among Republican candidates for the Senate, where earmarking is an entrenched custom among all but a handful of members, hardly any of a stoutly conservative group of candidates are embracing the practice.

“Congress has created a federal government that’s too big and too expensive,” said Senate candidate Mike Lee of Utah, who defeated incumbent Sen. Robert Bennett in GOP caucuses this spring after swearing off earmarks. “One of the many symptoms or manifestations of that is pork spending, which is the political lubricant that keeps this big machine going and keeps it growing.”

Earmarks totaled about $16 billion in the 2010 budget year, about one-half of 1 percent of the $3.5 trillion federal budget, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington-based watchdog group. That’s down by one-third from the heights reached when Republicans controlled Congress. Democrats, who have a different way of calculating, say the cut is more like 50 percent.

Most earmarks have merit, but they became outsized symbols of wasteful spending and goofy nonsense with projects like the $200 million-plus, later canceled “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska or an indoor rain forest in Iowa.

Earmarks have also spawned a “pay to play” culture in which lobbyists and business executives seeking earmarks lubricate the system with campaign contributions.

Opinion polls show that voters continue to appreciate pet projects.

A survey this month by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, National Journal and the Society for Human Resource Management found that 53 percent of voters would be more likely to vote for someone who brings home the bacon, with just 11 percent less likely — though 32 percent said it wouldn’t make a difference.

Such numbers are of little solace to Bennett, whose generous sprinkling of earmarks across Utah didn’t help him with staunchly conservative GOP caucus-goers.

Neither did earmarks rescue Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski in her bitter GOP primary battle against Joe Miller, who won substantial support from anti-spending tea party activists. Murkowski is waging a write-in campaign as she seeks to claim the mantle of the late GOP Sen. Ted Stevens, whose earmarks were a major force in the sprawling state’s economy.

“These appropriations aren’t wasteful spending; they aren’t ‘pork,'” Murkowski says in a news release detailing a bevy of recent earmarks, such as $333,500 for the redevelopment of an abandoned cannery property in Craig, Alaska.

The anti-earmark candidates promise to shake up a Capitol culture in which earmarking is seen by most lawmakers as a birthright. In the House, Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, who has never sought an earmark, earlier this year orchestrated a GOP rules change in which the party swore off earmarks.

But the boycott only applies to this year’s round of spending bills, and the no-earmarks promise was conspicuously missing from the House Republicans’ “Pledge to America” manifesto.

In the Senate, only a handful of members foreswear earmarks. GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is an avid earmarker — he ran ads in the last election cycle touting his ability to deliver — as are the other members of the GOP leadership.

But renegades like Sens. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., are pushing the party to give up earmarks. DeMint is counting on anti-earmark reinforcements from the election to help him force a vote on changing GOP conference rules to require Republicans to abandon the practice. An overwhelming majority of new GOP candidates have taken the no-pork pledge, a prerequisite for DeMint’s endorsement and support from his fundraising network.

“Most people think that the biggest issue Republicans lost their way on was spending,” said Matt Hoskins, a spokesman for DeMint’s political action committee, the Senate Conservatives Fund. “There’s no bigger example of that than earmarks.”

Democrats like Reid and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who still tout their ability to deliver taxpayer money back to their states, find themselves running neck and neck against Republicans who have sworn them off.

“The old-school measurement of a great senator was how much pork you could drag home,” said Republican Dino Rossi, Murray’s opponent. “I just don’t think this is the year to be talking about pork.”

Added Rossi, “Which part of ‘we’re broke’ don’t you understand?”

Some Democrats are getting into the anti-earmark act as well. In the Missouri Senate race, Democrat Robin Carnahan eschews earmarks in contrast to Republican Rep. Roy Blunt, a long-standing advocate of earmarking who’s obtained more than his share during his years in the GOP leadership.

More typical is Rep. John Hall, D-N.Y., who faces a tough re-election fight in New York’s Hudson Valley but boasts of earmarks such as $2 million for a water microfiltration plant in Warwick so that children there could have clean drinking water.

“My opponent has taken a written pledge not to ask for that money,” Hall said in a recent interview. “I’ll stand up and defend them (earmarks). There’s no Bridge to Nowhere here.”
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Associated Press writer Julie Hirschfeld Davis contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

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