Friday, April 29, 2011

New on NewsReal - PC Comics: Superman Renounces His US Citizenship

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Once upon a time, superheroes were a source of comfort and escape from the difficulties and ugliness of real life. While real-life recession and terrorism aren’t likely to meet any tidy resolutions soon, we can always count on Batman to solve the Riddler’s latest puzzle just in time, or Spider-Man to save the damsel in distress (well, usually).

Somewhere along the line, though, it was decided that our heroes had to grapple with real-world issues. When done sparingly and handled well, this can elevate the genre, such as Harry Osborn’s battle with drugs or 2008’s brilliant The Dark Knight. But more often than not, such efforts these days instead result in train wrecks of heavy-handed political proselytizing and moral confusion.

Such is the case with the latest development in DC Comics’ Action Comics #900, in which Superman decides he has to renounce his U.S. citizenship:
In it, Superman consults with the President’s national security advisor, who is incensed that Superman appeared in Tehran to non-violently support the protesters demonstrating against the Iranian regime, no doubt an analogue for the recent real-life protests in the Middle East. However, since Superman is viewed as an American icon in the DC Universe as well as our own, the Iranian government has construed his actions as the will of the American President, and indeed, an act of war.

Superman replies that it was foolish to think that his actions would not reflect politically on the American government, and that he therefore plans to renounce his American citizenship at the United Nations the next day — and to continue working as a superhero from a more global than national perspective. From a “realistic” standpoint it makes sense; it would indeed be impossible for a nigh-omnipotent being ideologically aligned with America to intercede against injustice beyond American borders without creating enormous political fallout for the U.S. government.
First, it’s interesting to note that the story’s starting dispute comes dangerously close to a damning indictment of Barack Obama for not taking a stronger stand on the Iranian protests of summer 2009, which is surprising coming from an iconic cultural mainstay and a major entertainment company. And while John Hawkins is right to note that there are certain practical difficulties with throwing someone as powerful as Superman into geopolitical situations, I can see definite story potential in exploring the tension between Superman’s no-nonsense moral clarity and the empty suits on Capitol Hill.

But renouncing his citizenship?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

New on NewsReal - Latest Indicator of Racism: Questioning Obama's Intellect

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

As the White House deals a devastating blow to one Obama conspiracy theory, leave it to leftists to dig up another one to browbeat allegedly-bigoted conservatives with. At the Daily Beast, pseudo-feminist Michelle Goldberg “traces the far-right history of the claim” that something funny’s going on with Barack Obama’s academic background:
Claims about Obama’s educational history date back to September 2008, when The Wall Street Journal attacked him for not releasing his school records, writing in an editorial, “Some think his transcript, if released, would reveal Mr. Obama as a mediocre student who benefited from racial preference.” Since then, Orly Taitz, queen of the birthers, has developed elaborate theories about Obama’s college years. As Taitz argues, Obama himself acknowledged that he was directionless when he started college. How, then, did he get himself accepted into the Ivy League?
Despite purporting to refute the right-wing “fever swamps,” Goldberg won’t actually reference the WSJ piece again, so it’s worth mentioning that it makes substantive points, among them that the ambiguity of Obama’s college days doesn’t square with the prominence of his personal story in his claim to fame. And as Andy McCarthy points out, Obama has a habit of modifying details of his biography for different audiences. (Ace has more solid analysis of Obama’s college days here.)

But not a peep about any of this from Goldberg. Instead of addressing what serious Obama critics have said, she spends the next couple paragraphs shooting down the theories of Orly Taitz, an especially destructive Birther attorney, who speculates that Obama attended Columbia as a foreign exchange student, attended for a mere nine months instead of two years, and even that he got into Harvard Law thanks to the machinations of a Saudi prince.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

Monday, April 25, 2011

New on NewsReal - Barack Obama Is Too Much Like Jimmy Carter, Says...Eric Alterman?

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Conservatives frequently make unfavorable comparisons between Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter, but it’s a rarer occurrence to see leftists do the same. So when a lefty zealot like Eric Alterman does precisely that in his latest Daily Beast article, it’s bound to raise eyebrows, though it shouldn’t—where The One reminds right-wingers of Carter through his international and economic ineptness, Alterman sees Obama aping some very different traits from his predecessor:
The gregarious Massachusetts pol, House Speaker Tip O’Neil, could hardly have been more eager to work with a Democratic president after eight years of Nixon and Ford. But when they first met, and O’Neil attempted to advise Carter about which members of Congress might need some special pleading, or even the assorted political favor or two with regard to certain issues, to O’Neil’s open-jawed amazement, Carter replied, “No, I’ll describe the problem in a rational way to the American people. I’m sure they’ll realize I’m right.” The red-nosed Irishman later said he “could have slugged” Carter over this lethal combination of arrogance and naivety, but it would soon become Carter’s calling card.
Alterman doesn’t know just how right he is. The Left can never entertain the possibility that they might be wrong on questions of fundamental principle. Progressive ideology holds itself to be the culmination of man’s intellectual and moral development thus far, enlightenment from which there could be no fundamentally different deviation. John F. Kennedy said the days of “grand warfare of rival ideologies” were behind us, replaced with “more basic discussion” of “technical questions.” If someone rejects the key tenets of the progressive agenda, it must be because he either doesn’t yet understand it properly, or is blinded by his personal biases or interests. Someone simply can’t be enlightened and well-informed, and still reject leftist policies.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

Friday, April 22, 2011

New on NewsReal - Academic Bigotry: Leftist Professor Drops an F-Bomb on College Republicans

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

The University of Iowa College Republicans’ Conservative Coming Out Week has a simple message—conservatives are people too, they aren’t alone, and they don’t need to fear discrimination on college campuses like liberal Iowa City. Leave it to faculty left-wingers, then, to demonstrate why conservative students need a little encouragement.

The Iowa Republican reports that Ellen Lewin, UI professor of—what else?—“Anthropology and Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies,” didn’t take kindly to the CR’s campus-wide email announcing the event:
Lewin responded to email by writing, “#*@% [F-Word] YOU, REPUBLICANS” from her official university email account.


Natalie Ginty, a University of Iowa Student and Chairwoman of the Iowa Federation of College Republicans, demanded an apology from Lewin’s supervisors.  “We understand that as a faculty member she has the right to express her political opinion, but by leaving her credentials at the bottom of the email she was representing the University of Iowa, not herself alone,” Ginty wrote to James Enloe, the head of the Department of Anthropology.

“Vile responses like Ellen’s need to end. Demonizing the other party through name-calling only further entrenches feelings of disdain for the other side. I am sure you understand that nothing is ever accomplished by aimless screams of attack,” Ginty concluded.

In an email to the College Republicans, Professor Lewin wrote, “This is a time when political passions are inflamed, and when I received your unsolicited email, I had just finished reading some newspaper accounts of fresh outrages committed by Republicans in government.  I admit the language was inappropriate, and apologize for any affront to anyone’s delicate sensibilities.  I would really appreciate your not sending blanket emails to everyone on campus, especially in these difficult times.”
Lewin followed up on Tuesday with this gem:
I should note that several things in the original message were extremely offensive, nearly rising to the level of obscenity.  Despite the Republicans’ general disdain for LGBT rights you called your upcoming event “conservative coming out day,” appropriating the language of the LGBT right movement.   Your reference to the Wisconsin protests suggested that they were frivolous attempts to avoid work.  And the “Animal Rights BBQ” is extremely insensitive to those who consider animal rights an important cause.  Then, in the email that Ms. Ginty sent complaining about my language, she referred to me as Ellen, not Professor Lewin, which is the correct way for a student to address a faculty member, or indeed, for anyone to refer to an adult with whom they are not acquainted.  I do apologize for my intemperate language, but the message you all sent out was extremely disturbing and offensive.
And, of course, UI President Sally Mason weighed in with a pitifully noncommittal statement about celebrating diversity and respecting differing viewpoints…without naming anyone who may have failed to display that respect. Let’s hear it for leadership.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New on NewsReal - "Extreme" Jan Brewer Vetoes a Handful of "Right-Wing" Bills. What's She Up To?

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

We’re all used to the zeal with which leftists conjure ugly smears of conservatives, but when conservatives prove the stereotype wrong, it takes serious chutzpa to then make a controversy out of that. Such is the spectacle on display in Terry Greene Sterling’s latest Daily Beast report, which tries to make sense out of recent decisions by Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer which don’t exactly fit the MO of a right-wing extremist:
A year ago, incumbent Republican Gov. Jan Brewer was trailing her Democratic rival Terry Goddard in the Arizona gubernatorial race. Then Brewer signed SB 1070, the state’s notorious immigration law, and further pandered to her Republican Tea Party base by touting her proud membership in the NRA, labeling unauthorized migrants drug mules, and scaring the daylights out of Arizonans with false tales of “beheadings” in the desert. Despite an agonizingly embarrassing senior moment in televised pre-election debates, Brewer rode a wave of conservative sentiment into the governor’s office, and achieved iconic status among her supporters.
(Since you bring it up, our friends at NewsBusters actually did find confirmation that at least one immigration-related beheading took place. But I digress.)
A year later, incredibly, that iconic status hasn’t diminished, even though Brewer, 66, appears to be changing her political stripes. She reversed a cold-hearted decision to deprive poor people of state-funded transplants in Arizona (after three patients on the transplant list died) and stunned Arizonans on Monday when she vetoed two Tea Party pet measures that had sailed through the state house. Her apparent tick toward the right-of-center comes on the heels of a highly successful Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry campaign to kill five proposed state immigration laws that Brewer likely would have supported a year ago.

In her sudden about-face, Brewer axed a “birther” bill that required federal and state candidates to submit to the Arizona secretary of state a “circumcision certificate” or a “baptismal” certificate absent a “long form” birth certificate. In a letter to House Speaker Kirk Adams, Brewer implied that the circumcision language was tacky and claimed the bill went “too far” while doing nothing “constructive” for the state. And she told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News that the bill was a “distraction.”

She also vetoed a measure that would allow guns on vaguely defined “public pathways” close to state schools. In a letter to her political ally, Senate Majority Leader Russell Pearce, Brewer huffed that the gun measure was “poorly written” and could be construed to mean that people could pack guns on “public pathways” meandering through grammar schools and kindergartens.
“So what gives?” Sterling asks. Why the “shocking” transformation? Why, despite Brewer supposedly having re-invented herself as the second coming of Charlie Crist, aren’t “Tea Party Republicans furious at Brewer?”

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

Monday, April 18, 2011

There's Just No Good Spin for This One

Electronic Arts, the publisher behind the NFL's official Madden video game series, has a problem:
Today, the two finalists for the Madden NFL 12 cover were revealed. It couldn't have turned out worse for EA. Forget being between a rock and a hard place; EA Sports is trapped between a knife and a gun fight: relative unknown Peyton Hillis of the perennially awful Cleveland Browns, or convicted dog-killing pariah and ex-convict Michael Vick. Either EA has to market a game featuring a player the average person cares little about, or they're hit with animal rights activist protests for a highly controversial cover boy. 
IGN's Hilary Goldstein has some words of wisdom for EA:
EA made a fatal error in preparation of the Madden cover vote. The person voted to be on the cover only hurts or helps EA. It doesn't impact a Madden fan's sponsorship opportunities. It doesn't affect a gamer's promotion plans. No one voting stops and thinks, "Man, I better not let Vick win or EA will have a tough time doing a media tour." Don't think for a moment that EA ever would willingly put Peyton Hillis or Mike Vick on the cover of Madden. They expected the voters to do the right thing for EA. That's not how popularity contests work.

The lesson here: never, ever, give people the option to affect your product unless it's something you can live with. The 32 players in the Madden voting bracket needed to be 32 players EA would gladly have on the cover. Because, as we can see with the final round in this contest, online voters aren't predictable. Never assume they have the same priorities or business sensibilities of a publicly traded corporation. The public loses nothing by turning on EA and biting them in the ass. 
Me, I'm trying to decide what the worst part of this story is: that Vick's still part of the NFL, that EA included Vick in the poll, or that enough sports fans still like Vick enough to make him a finalist?

New on NewsReal - What Donald Trump's Popularity Means for the Rest of the 2012 Field

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Before I sat down to write this article, I pinched myself just to make sure I was awake and today’s subject wasn’t some weird dream. But alas, talking heads on both sides of the political spectrum really are seriously entertaining the possibility of President Donald Trump.

At the Daily Beast, Jim DeFede reports on why several Florida Tea Partiers have said they’re backing the Donald:
“We need a real businessman,” said Linda Kogelman, 63, a retired postal worker. “The lawyers don’t know how to run the country. They bow down to too many people.” Kogelman said no one else in the Republican field excites her.

“There is no one there,” she continued. “Romney is old hat. Newt is old hat. It’s just the same old same old. We need new blood.”

Her husband, Ken, 64, who closed his crane business in 2009 because of the downturn in the economy, nodded in agreement.

“They’ve destroyed this country,” he spit. Who?

“The Democrats.”

Standing nearby, 78-year-old Richard Walters was holding on to a letter he had written. He was hoping to be able to hand it to Trump.

“I used to be the Rolls Royce dealer in Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach,” said Walters, who is now retired. “And he was one of my customers.”

Fond memories of The Donald?

“I didn’t like him,” Walters said. “He was an arrogant bastard. But I love him now. He is the only person in this country who can right the ship.”
Lest you think DeFede has cherry-picked some outliers to exaggerate Trump’s popularity, note that The Donald has some formidable poll numbers in the Republican primary field (he fares worse, however, in general election match-ups). Among the conservative punditocracy, the reaction is more mixed—Sean Hannity has been giving Trump substantial interview time, while Mark Levin has been intensely critical, and with good reason—Trump has flip-flopped on abortion, healthcare, and his party affiliation, used to be far more favorable to Barack Obama (calling George W. Bush “evil” in the process), and has donated substantially to Democrats.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Trump Factor

His naked transformation into a full-spectrum right-winger, sudden professions of religiosity, and weird dive into the fever swamps of Birtherism definitely seem to indicate that Donald Trump's serious about seeking the Republican presidential nomination. Some are tempted to dismiss him as another Ross Perot, but I think John Ziegler hits the nail on the head as to why his candidacy is resonating with conservative voters:
Trump is now in a position where he could be extremely dangerous. Conservatives are aching for someone with the gonads to take it to Obama and really shake things up in Washington if he happens to win. Many are so fed up that they are willing to jump on almost any bandwagon that even appears to be headed in that direction, even if the driver, like Trump, is totally unreliable.
Despite all the substantive reasons Trump shouldn't be the nominee, he's gaining traction because he's got the presentation - gutsy, bold, aggressive - that the right kind of nominee should have, which puts the rest of the mostly-milquetoast field to shame. Conservatives know that we're in perilous times, and they're looking for a leader who seems to get the stakes and doesn't care whether or not the bad guys say mean things about his tone.
 
If the rest of the nominees are smart, they'll take notice, and draw the right lesson. But I'm not holding my breath.

So, About That "Conservative" Who Just Flip-Flopped for Gay Marriage

You ever heard of Louis Marinelli? Yeah, me neither, but the former National Organization for Marriage volunteer is getting lots of coverage just the same for changing his mind and declaring that he now supports “full marriage equality” (hat tip: Daily Beast).

In his announcement, he sobs about the “shame” and “embarrassment” he feels for having “targeted, hurt and oppressed” so many people. He says he “came to understand that gays and lesbians were just real people,” and claims to have realized he was “surrounded by hateful people.” He says valid reasons to oppose same-sex marriage evaporate “once you understand the great difference between civil marriage and holy marriage,” and concludes by declaring that “the Constitution calls for nothing less” than his new position.

Marinelli has ably peppered his announcement with all the requisite left-wing talking points about gay marriage, but as serious argumentation, he falls flat. He doesn’t even begin to address the fact that preserving marriage as a man-woman union doesn't actually harm gay people, nor does he respond to the case for marriage as an essential component of a free society.

Are we seriously supposed to believe that he was passionate about the issue and worked with one of the nation’s big marriage defense groups, yet isn’t even familiar with why people oppose gay marriage? What was his own former rationale for opposing gay marriage—that he didn’t think gays were “real people”?

Marinelli’s characterization of the anti-gay-marriage movement as all about hatred and religious fundamentalism is such a pitifully generic regurgitation of the liberal playbook on marriage that it’s hard to believe his conversion is on the level. At best, Marinelli is an unremarkable guy who never really thought through his original position, and was therefore susceptible to the superficial emotionalism of the other side. At worst, he’s an opportunist selling his soul in exchange for the accolades of the in crowd. Either way, he hasn’t made a substantive, meaningful contribution to the debate, and his defection is hardly the game changer the opportunists are treating it as.

To go along with his deeply, deeply personal change of heart, ol’ Louis is also claiming that NOM is working on a “secret online propaganda team,” and that NOM’s popular support is an illusion. The former story sounds ludicrous to me, and all he offers is (ahem) his word that this is going on, and as for the latter, it’s kind of hard to suggest NOM only represents the fringe when the overwhelming majority of the states explicitly reject same-sex marriage.

Unfortunately, as near as I can tell this story is spreading like wildfire on lefty websites while conservatives are all but ignoring it. I get the temptation to dismiss Marinelli as a Frumian resercon, but I think the story’s propaganda value is more potent than that. The Left can’t be allowed to engage in these heartstring attacks without forceful responses that expose their emptiness.    

Saturday, April 16, 2011

New on NewsReal - Boston Professor Hails Obama for Declaring War on Deficits. Wait, What?

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

To love your country is to hate red ink.
Sounds like a Tea Party slogan, doesn’t it? This concise declaration of fiscal responsibility would look at home on many a conservative bumper or amid a sea of protest signs, but incredibly, it was uttered by Boston University history professor Andrew Bacevich as—I kid you not—a glowing endorsement of President Barack Obama’s April 13 speech on the federal budget. On the Daily Beast, Bacevich declares that the 44th president has “expanded the operative definition of patriotism to encompass belief in balanced budgets”:
This is surely a good thing. So too is the president’s willingness to finger the essence of the problem: a widespread desire for an endless free lunch—people coveting government benefits without a willingness to pay for them.

Obama also performed a useful service in pointing out that any serious effort at deficit reduction will have to target the Big Four: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and national security.

Regarding that last category, the president promises to reassess not only military missions and capabilities, but also America’s role in the world. In our post-unipolar moment, such a reassessment is long overdue. Yet to have more than cosmetic results, Obama will have to take on some very sacred cows and some very powerful interests.
I defy you to find a more surreal reaction to Obama’s remarks. We’ve previously discussed how Diamond Barry’s proposed budgets have been so bloated they call for new taxes by the trillions to sustain them. The president might have said on Wednesday that he wants to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next twelve years, but as Mark Knoller of noted right-wing mouthpiece CBS News reports:
Budget totals issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in February project 10 years of deficits totaling $7.2 trillion between 2012 and 2021. Another two years at that rate would bring the 12 year total to $8.6 trillion.

The Obama 12-year plan would cut the projected deficit total in half, but would leave another $4 trillion in deficits that would be added to the National Debt, which now stands at $14.27 trillion.

Separately, OMB expects the Debt to double over the next ten years to a mind-boggling total of $26.3-trillion in 2021. It’s estimated the Debt that year would cost U.S. taxpayers $928-billion in interest payments. Four trillion dollars in deficit reduction would reduce the Debt to just over $22-trillion, and still inflict $700-billion in interest on the federal budget.
Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New on NewsReal - Why Do College Conservatives Seem to Be Lagging Behind the Paulestinian Fringe?

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

We can’t expect to defeat the Left if we don’t take the time to reflect on the state of the Right. One of conservatism’s biggest inter-movement issues, the race between mainstream conservatives and the radical paleo-libertarian alliance represented by Ron Paul, recently caught the attention of Keith William Neely, a Vanderbilt University student who wrote a Huffington Post article identifying the “Radical Right” as the “real threat to conservatives on college campuses.”

Don’t let that headline fool you; it may sound like the start of another by-the-numbers HuffPo hit piece, but Neely’s piece is really a substantive take on a serious problem facing the Right:
Radical organizations on the right, in hopes of garnering more attention for their ideas, have resorted to increasingly provocative tactics to spread their message on America’s college campuses. And to some degree, it’s been effective. Polling at the latest CPAC suggests that nearly half of its attendees were between the ages of 18 and 25, temporarily dispelling the old political adage that a conservative at 25 has no heart and a liberal at 35 no brain […]

At Vanderbilt for example, a local chapter of the radical libertarian organization Young Americans for Liberty has found limited success in putting on large events like the one on March 26th, where they prominently displayed the ‘National Debt Clock’ alongside photocopied images of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to illustrate the need for disbanding the Federal Reserve. At public events, they wear Guy Fawkes masks to advertise their presence, and have even been known to target conservatives with their extremist ire. At the recent IMPACT Symposium, members of the organization passed out leaflets pejoratively branding both Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty and Weekly Standard founder Bill Kristol as ‘neo-cons’.
Remember YAL? I had a run-in with them last year, in which YAL writer Wesley Messamore wrote a crappy rebuttal to one of my Ron Paul takedowns and couldn’t defend it, so he instead demanded a video debate and declared victory when I said I wasn’t interested. YAL also shills for anti-American cyber anarchist Julian Assange, dislikes copyright laws, and writes insipid, self-worshipping poetry, so I’m glad to see someone else calling out these pretenders to the conservative mantle. Neely’s examples are hit and miss, though—I’ve also noticed the Paulestinians’ creepy interest in Guy Fawkes imagery, but opposing the Federal Reserve, however misguided they may be (an issue I readily admit I haven’t studied enough to pontificate on) doesn’t strike me as manifestly insane.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New on NewsReal - Has the Ayn Rand "Cult" Brainwashed the Tea Party?

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Leftist Rule for Engaging Conservative Ideas #1: conservatives’ motives are never what they claim. It must be rigorously asserted that right-wingers are invariably driven by impulses more sinister than making people better off or trying to find solutions to the problems we face. New Republic senior editor Jonathan Chait knows that lesson by heart—on the Daily Beast, he argues that from the lowliest Tea Partier all the way up to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the Right is animated by a view of “the poor as parasites” and “the rich as our rightful rulers,” a dogma we’ve picked up from philosopher Ayn Rand:
Ayn Rand, of course, was a kind of politicized L. Ron Hubbard—a novelist-philosopher who inspired a cult of acolytes who deem her the greatest human being who ever lived. The enduring heart of Rand’s totalistic philosophy was Marxism flipped upside down. Rand viewed the capitalists, not the workers, as the producers of all wealth, and the workers, not the capitalists, as useless parasites.

John Galt, the protagonist of her iconic novel Atlas Shrugged, expressed Rand’s inverted Marxism: “The man at the top of the intellectual pyramid contributes the most to all those below him, but gets nothing except his material payment, receiving no intellectual bonus from others to add to the value of his time. The man at the bottom who, left to himself, would starve in his hopeless ineptitude, contributes nothing to those above him, but receives the bonus of all of their brains.”

In 2009 Rand began popping up all over the Tea Party movement. Sales of her books skyrocketed, and signs quoting her ideas appeared constantly at rallies. Conservatives asserted that the events of the Obama administration eerily paralleled the plot of Atlas Shrugged, in which a liberal government precipitates economic collapse.
To be sure, Rand’s ultra-capitalist works have enjoyed a surge in popularity recently, a predicable response to our leaders overreaching in the opposite direction. But it’s not quite true to suggest Rand is universally embraced on the Right; for instance, consider National Review’s March 2009 symposium on Rand, which on the whole takes a dim view of the author (in fairness, she’s much more popular at Big Hollywood).

I haven’t read her, and have no strong opinions about her philosophy either way, but I can certainly tell when mainstream conservative thought is subjected to class-warfare caricatures:

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

New on NewsReal - Miraculous GOP Turnaround Causes Michael Moore to Drop the Act and Ask Obama to Disenfranchise Wisconsin

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

In a stunning development, a clerical error in Wisconsin has transformed what many expected to be a long, ugly legal battle favoring the Left into an almost certain victory for the Right, outraging leftists like Michael Moore, to the point where the radical “documentarian” has stopped bothering to hide his disdain for the democratic process.

The intense Wisconsin Supreme Court race between the incumbent Republican, Justice David Prosser, and his Democrat challenger, state DNR enforcer JoAnn Kloppenburg, ended Wednesday with the latter declaring victory based on the Associated Press’s calculation of a 204-vote lead. Prosser didn’t budge, and most predicted an onslaught of recounts and vote fraud litigation to ensue.

But on Thursday evening we learned that Waukesha county clerk Kathy Nickolaus had erroneously passed on the county’s data to the AP without the numbers from the city of Brookfield, which shifted the lead to Prosser by more than 7,000 votes. Leftists are predictably outraged that hijacking the judiciary to thwart Governor Scott Walker’s public-sector union reforms won’t work after all, though none have topped the overreaction of Moore, who tweeted last night:
Republicans created the rule: “Whoever declares victory first, wins!” When will Obama Justice Dept impound ballots and stop the shenanigans?
Much has been said about the totalitarian impulse and anti-constitutionalism behind modern leftism, but rarely is it expressed so overtly by one of their own. Moore wants the federal government to forcibly prevent the certification of a state election and give the office to someone based strictly on her own, premature and entirely unofficial, declaration of victory?

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A (Perhaps Unnecessary) Plea for Action

A few hours ago, I sent out the following letter to many friends and colleagues in Wisconsin. Fortunately, new developments may render it unnecessary.

To my fellow Wisconsinites,

As you know, the final outcome of the state Supreme Court election will have tremendous ramifications for our future. JoAnn Kloppenburg is an environmental zealot with a record of disdain for the personal liberties of Wisconsin residents. She benefitted from a slanderous attack on David Prosser and did not have the decency to condemn it, despite the victim of the Prosser case calling on her to disavow the “offensive” and “inaccurate” ad.

As a judge, she will certainly rule based on her politics rather than the state Constitution, and we can expect her rulings to consistently side with government bureaucrats who want to micromanage our lives, and against the individual rights of the people. (By contrast, Prosser’s long judicial record matches his rhetoric, proving that he is an independent, impartial judge.) By giving the Supreme Court a liberal majority, her victory would, for all intents and purposes, rescind self-government in our state until the next Supreme Court election. The danger is that serious. For Kloppenburg’s supporters, this election was never about judicial philosophy; it was a proxy war to wage against Governor Walker’s agenda and preserve the dominance of government unions over our state.

As it stands, we do not know who won the election on Tuesday. Kloppenburg claimed her 204-vote lead as a victory, but as of Thursday afternoon, the lead has shifted to Prosser by 40 votes. We will not have a final answer for some time. But if Wisconsin history tells us anything, it’s that the Democrats and their allies will pull out all the stops to steal this election. We’ve already started to see several allegations of vote fraud and other suspicious activity, and more is sure to come in the days ahead.

Right now, the only hope Wisconsin has lies with the alertness and dedication of the state Justice Department. So I’m writing you today to ask you to all to contact Attorney General JB Van Hollen, to urge him to vigorously investigate and prosecute all reports of voter fraud in the days and months to come, and to watch the recount process very carefully. Ask your friends and family to do the same (feel free to forward this email to as many people as you can think of). Contact Governor Walker and your representatives, and demand that they pressure the Attorney General’s Office to take this seriously. You may contact each office below:


I appreciate your taking time out of your busy schedules to read this. Take care.

Calvin Freiburger

New on NewsReal - Three Guesses Who Andrea Mitchell Thinks the Ryan Budget Will Hurt the Most

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Unfounded accusations of racism over political disputes usually anger me like few other things can, but lately I find myself reacting to them more with yawns than scowls. It’s the law of diminishing returns in action—overdo something, and it ceases to be effective.

Alas, Andrea Mitchell still hasn’t gotten the memo. NewsBusters’ Alex Fitzsimmons reports that the MSNBC host and her Democrat guest see the specter of bigotry behind Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) 2012 budget proposal:
“Representative Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget, released today, includes reforms, what they call reforms, and also big cuts in housing assistance, job training, and food stamps,” warned Mitchell. “All of which would have a very big impact on particularly poor and minority communities, some say.” Mitchell was mum as Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) bandied ludicrous assertions about the 2012 Republican budget, which would slash spending by nearly $6 trillion over 10 years mostly by reforming unsustainable health care entitlement programs.

“It’s clearly a nervous breakdown on paper and it will do enormous damage, I think, to the vulnerable populations of this country,” predicted the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, who added that the House Budget Chairman’s proposed cuts to non-defense discretionary spending would “devastate the poor,” particularly in America’s racial minority groups.
Citing a concise Jennifer Rubin piece, Fitzsimmons points out that the Ryan plan’s welfare reductions are modest by historical standards, and that it in fact merely “pare[s] back such programs to 2008 levels.” If anything, it sounds like the Ryan plan can be best described as a welcome opening act, but not enough to escape the hole we’ve dug for ourselves. CATO’s Michael Tanner writes that it “cuts spending by $6.2 trillion over the next ten years” yet “still adds $6 trillion to the national debt.”

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

Did Kloppenburg Steal the Election? Signs of Vote Fraud in Wisconsin Supreme Court Race

In the 2004 election, around 5,000 more votes were counted in Milwaukee alone than the number of voters recorded as having cast ballots, so it’s entirely plausible that JoAnne Kloppenburg's 204-vote lead in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race is fraudulent.

The following is a collection of election irregularities and signs of potential fraud in this week’s election that have been reported thus far. To be clear, many of these are unverified allegations, and while they may not all be true, they are all worth investigating. This post may be updated periodically as new facts and allegations come to light.

First, an anecdote of my own: as I’m currently at college in Michigan, I (along with my mother) voted absentee while I was home for spring break two weeks ago. When my father went in to vote on Election Day, he noticed that neither my nor my mother’s name had been checked off on the voter rolls as having already voted.

Blogger Thomas Ferdousi has been closely following signs of fraud. Among the highlights:
[W]e now have this from the Dane County election numbers.

Total votes for the Supreme Court Election: 182,382
For County Executive: 171,718

So we're dealing with about 10,600 more votes being cast for the Supreme Court election than in the County Executive race. Now, of course the Supreme Court race was very contested, so many may have seen it as more important-- but over 10,000 in the city?

Not to mention the fact that last night there were 10,000 (exactly) votes given extra to Kloppenburg by Dane County before the number was retracted.
WISN’s Mark Belling has received word of voter intimidation:
Village of Grafton Police were called to the Grafton Town Hall because election officials were concerned that protesters were too close to the polling place and were not following the rules established by Wisconsin's Election Authority or Government Accountability Board (GAB).  Two witnesses confirmed that a Police Officer who reported to address the incident apparently refused to deal with the protesters initially.  Jessica Schmidt, Grafton Town Clerk, and another witness heard the officer say, "I used to be a conservative but I’m not anymore."  Apparently, this behavior was a result of the recent debate over union rights that has consumed Wisconsin.  The officer then walked outside and without addressing the issues presented by the protesters and refused to do his job, allowing the intimidation to continue.  The officer’s behavior was apparently upsetting enough that an elderly poll worker was shaking immediately following the incident and needed to be calmed down by a nurse that was present at the polling place.   
Belling is also sounding the alarm [PDF link] on allegations of fraud in Mequon:
I have filed a Wisconsin Open records request with the City of Mequon demanding any ballot submitted but not cast in yesterday's election, including any remnant of a shredded ballot. We have received reports Mequon poll workers destroyed submitted ballots before poll closing time, demanding a driver’s license number from the absentee voter. This request is unusual and the destruction of ballots is of grave concern, given the closeness of the state Supreme Court election. I will consider seeking an injuction to back up my request if Mequon officials are not copperative.
WISN’s Vicki McKenna has asked her audience members to share their stories here. Among the highlights:
One caller, McKenna said, talked about a “missing box of ballots,” a voter overheard poll workers talking about. On air, McKenna said the ballot box could have contained blank ballots or it could have been filled with Wisconsin voters’ completed ballot. Either possibility presents a dilemma, though, as blank ballots in the hands of the wrong people could be used to illegally influence counts after the election.

“There are reports of 17-year-olds voting because they didn’t need to show proof of their age or anything like that,” McKenna told TheDC. “There were folks allegedly using their husbands’ or relatives’ utility bills in voter registration, ballots weren’t being counted because they were using the wrong kind of pens.
- Here is what I don't get. 222,761 votes were tallied in the Milwaukee County Exec race. [CF: Yep - see here.]  227,577 votes were tallied in the Supreme Court race. [CF: Yep - see here.] That is a difference of a touch over 4,800 votes. Shouldn't they be almost identical? And by almost I mean with a few hundred votes? I didn't take the time to do that math associated with cross checking numbers but wouldn't one assume they should be closer? Does this mean that Milwaukee County didn't count over 4,800 votes for the supreme court race? It was on the ballot so why the difference?

- I guess my mother and I were given the wrong ballot to fill out. I know that doesn't make a lot of difference in the Prosser/Kloppenburg race, but we were given the River Hills-Glendale School District ballot when we should have been given the Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District ballot.

- (Waukesha) My son moved over a year ago and filled out all the proper forms for change of registration of his new address and ward. However his name is still listed on our old ward's registration listing, I saw it just below mine! He easily could have voted twice, not that he would, but it exposes a problem. There should be no outstanding registration changes before an election occurs. he moved over a year a ago! This is also a disturbing loophole as even showing ID won't fix this. Maybe it would be caught some other way, but let's catch up on registration change paperwork people - scary.

- In my voting location, the machine was not accepting ballots first thing in the morning, so the guy was throwing them some place behind the machine. What number did my district turn in? The count on the machine that did not include my vote or did they remember to add those ballots later on when the machine was working?

- Secondly, in a Milwaukee neighborhood of a relative, two people came to the door asking who lived there. The woman lived alone, but mentioned the name of her deceased husband. The person on the porch put his name into his palm pilot, thanked her, and left. It dawned on her later what must be going on - getting potential names of voters (whether dead or alive), but too late. The people involved in this activity had gone. No one knows how many names they got to use for voting.

- There are people on the voter rolls in my community that haven't lived there for years. I bet there are some people who move frequently who are registered to vote in many different places. Such a shoddy system, and the democrats like it that way.

- As a student at a state university, I sat in a class where they encouraged students to vote Tuesday. "Just bring your campus ID to prove you're a student and you can vote." What about proving residence? What about students like me who vote in their home district becuase they live off campus? Could I have voted twice? There was a large push all over campus to get students to "vote against Walker by voting for Kloppenburg." Her non-experience as a judge shouldn't matter, I guess. I think re-counts should focus on college campuses...

- I was at Greenfield City Hall from 8:00PM - 10:15PM and watched as the ballots, machine tallies, and other materials were returned and added. I noticed 2 problems. The first was that several ward officials were returning bags of ballots that had not been sealed. The second was that people were leaving their bags of ballots unattended (on benches, on the ground, etc.) as they walked away to chat with other election officials returning their ballots.

Monday, April 4, 2011

New on NewsReal - The Obama Presidency in Review, and a Preview of Hope and Change 2012

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

To nobody’s surprise, President Barack Obama has formally announced that he will seek reelection with a video that’s clearly geared toward motivating fans rather than attracting newcomers, as it’s decidedly light on reasons why the incumbent Democrat should be given four more years in the White House.

Fortunately, Newsweek White House correspondent Daniel Stone gets a bit more specific on the Daily Beast, laying out the case he expects Team Obama to make. Let’s take a look at his points, as well as the flip side.
Last week’s economic report showed an unemployment rate continuing to fall—incredibly slowly. It’s not good enough, but it still is progress, Obama will say. Defending the actions the administration took—especially the $987 billion Recovery Act—will fall to Joe “the stimulus sheriff” Biden, who will be fortified by a team of crack researchers preparing colorful graphs showing lines with positive slopes. Obama the president had trouble arguing the hypothetical that “we’d be worse off if I did nothing,” but Obama the candidate might have better luck. Any Republican will publicly doubt him, but would only be able to offer the same hypothetical that he or she would have done any better.
On the other hand, Obama’s going to have to explain the fact that he explicitly claimed his stimulus plan was needed because it would prevent unemployment rising to 8%, we passed it…and unemployment rose past 8% anyway. He’ll have to answer for record job losses. And while the latest economic news is encouraging, it’s tentative—labor force participation is still low, and Obama is unlikely to support one policy that could accelerate recovery further still:
The United States has stood alone while the rest of the developed world has moved forward with a pro-growth strategy of slashing corporate tax rates. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reports that its 30-nation membership cut corporate tax rates an average of 7.1 percentage points in the past decade, and the United States will have a federal corporate tax rate one-third higher than the OECD average of 25.7 percent.[2] When Japan’s corporate tax rate is lowered, the United States is one of three nations that will not have reduced the rate.

Corporate taxes are considered the most inefficient of all tax systems. They increase the cost of capital and slow economic growth. Nearly every economist believes that that tax burden falls on individuals, namely the workers and shareholders of the company. A more efficient corporate tax system would increase economic growth and boost the labor market.[3]
Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

New on NewsReal - Oh, Good: Left-Wing KINDERGARTEN Teacher Threatens to Kill Wisconsin Republicans

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

The fireworks in Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to rein in government employee unions aren’t over yet. Unions have declared war on any Wisconsin businesses that won’t publicly oppose Walker, and the budget repair bill has been blocked by an activist judge, turning next week’s state Supreme Court election into a proxy battle on the issue.

Oh, and we’re not done with the onslaught of violence and vitriol on behalf of the unions and the educational establishment, either. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Wisconsin resident Katherine Windels is now facing felony charges for death threats she made against state Republican lawmakers:
The subject line of the second email was: ”Atten: Death Threat!!!! Bomb!!!” In that email, she purportedly wrote, “Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your families will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks.”

“I hope you have a good time in hell,” she allegedly wrote in the lengthy email in which she purportedly listed scenarios in which the legislators and their families would die, including bombings and by “putting a nice little bullet in your head.”

According to the criminal complaint, Windels told investigators “I sent out emails that I was
disgusted and very upset by what they were doing.”


Asked if she intended to follow through on any of her threats, Windels told the investigators “No,” according to the complaint.
At Hot Air, Ed Morrissey reveals two key details about the story that the Sentinel left out: first, Windels is a pre-school and kindergarten teacher, and second, this isn’t the first time she’s done something like this—she sent the emails using the name and email address of Lisa Patterson, a woman who she allegedly sent threatening text messages to in October 2010.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.
The views expressed on this weblog are strictly my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of any other websites, blogs, campaigns, publications, or organizations where I have been employed and/or my work has been featured, nor do they necessarily reflect the views of any individuals employed by or otherwise affiliated with such groups.