Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Alvin Greene Story: A Post-Mortem of the S.C. Democratic Party

It appears that former U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene's 15 minutes of fame are up. After predictably losing big-time to tea party leader Jim DeMint and embarrassing the state Democratic Party enough to force a change in management, the unemployed and criminally-indicted Army dropout will surely, finally recede back into anonymity... Right?

Maybe not. At Greene's "victory" party Tuesday night, the defeated challenger's supporters were outnumbered by members of the media, who did their best to provoke the latest absurd statement from a candidate who has unintentionally inspired hours of late-night monologue material and teevee news kickers. True to self, Greene pranced sheepishly around the reporters before revealing a comic book starring himself as a super-hero.

Yep, you read that right -- from the man who proposed ending the recession by producing action figures of himself, now comes the depiction of an Alvin Greene who can take on the Incredible Hulk, and was only trying to help that USC student write an oncology term paper. Seriously, read it for yourself.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fox News sued for racial harassment: “This is what happens when you mess with white people’s health care”

An African-American former Fox News employee is suing the company for racial harassment and discrimination, according to court documents filed in New York on Monday. Harmeen Jones, 32, is suing three of his coworkers for making constant racist comments to and about him over the course of Jones' four years at Fox. Jones is also suing four of his supervisors for refusing to stop the conduct, and firing Jones when he complained about the harassment.

According to the lawsuit, Jones was hired in 2005 to monitor television feeds from all over the world, record relevant video and pass the clips on for broadcast. "The room was set up like a theatre, with a wall of screens in the front showing the feeds and several rows of control stations facing it," the lawsuit states.

Jones sat a few feet away from transmission operators Mike Greco, Sean McCool and Damien Rodriguez, and had no choice but to listen to the trio's conversations. "Greco, McCool and Rodriguez continually made racist, sexist and extremely offensive comments throughout the course of every working day," Jones says in the lawsuit. "These comments concerned African-Americans, Arabs, Muslims, Hispanics, women and Jews."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Attention, Christine O'Donnell: They're not laughing with you

Delaware tea party Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell seemed to be the only person in attendance at Tuesday's debate who didn't know that the audience was laughing at her, not with her, as she went after Democratic opponent Chris Coons on evolution and separation of church and state.

O'Donnell, trying to close a double-digit gap in polls over the next two weeks before the election, was intent on trapping Coons in a "gotcha" moment to show off his supposed lack of constitutional understanding. So intent, it seems, that she ended up displaying her own far greater misunderstanding instead:
Coons said private and parochial schools are free to teach creationism but that "religious doctrine doesn't belong in our public schools." "Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?" O'Donnell asked him. When Coons responded that the First Amendment bars Congress from making laws respecting the establishment of religion, O'Donnell asked: "You're telling me that's in the First Amendment?"

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jimmy McMillan of the Rent Is 2 Damn High Party: Reincarnation of Theodore Roosevelt?

New York gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan burst onto the national political scene this week after clips of his debate appearance Monday night went viral. McMillan is founder and apparent CEO of the "Rent Is 2 Damn High Party," and most of his talking points during the debate seemed focused around the general idea that rent in New York City is, well, too damn high.

The first thing I noticed about McMillan was how ready-made he seems for a Saturday Night Live skit starring Kenan Thompson. The folks at 30 Rock wouldn't even have to write much; Thompson could simply recite a bunch of actual quotes, like Tina Fey did in her brilliant Sarah Palin sketch. The second thing I noticed was McMillan's distinct similarity to former President Theodore Roosevelt. Stay with me here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Joe Miller's private security team handcuffs journalist

The bizarre Alaska Senate race has gotten even stranger. Tea party candidate Joe Miller is facing mounting criticism after members of his private security team handcuffed a reporter Sunday night at a public town hall event at an Anchorage middle school.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, Tony Hopfinger of Alaska Dispatch was trying to ask Miller about his departure from Fairbanks North Star Borough when he was surrounded by private security personnel who told Hopfinger to leave. As Miller escaped out the side door and a mob enveloped the reporter, Hopfinger said he felt threatened by the men in dark suits and crew cuts and pushed one away. Hopfinger says he was immediately shoved against a wall with his hands behind his back as steel handcuffs were put on his wrists by guards who dragged him into the hallway.
While Hopfinger was still in handcuffs, the guards attempted to prevent other reporters from talking to him and threatened them too with arrest for trespass. A Daily News reporter interviewed Hopfinger anyway. No other reporters were arrested, though a few shoving matches and chest bumps ensued as the guards attempted to cordon off Hopfinger and block photographs and videos from being taken of the bizarre school scene.

Friday, August 13, 2010

My granddad, the "anchor baby"

My grandfather loved to tell stories. It's one of the things I remember best and most fondly about him, and it's a trait I seem to have inherited. Whether you had heard the story before or not, he often delighted in telling us about the time he watched the Hindenburg fly over New York City on its fateful journey to Lakehurst, or used a borrowed limousine and his tan complexion to masquerade as a Saudi prince at Manhattan's exclusive nightclubs, or once answered the phone "Yankee Stadium, third base," only to learn the person on the other end was Admiral Chester Nimitz. I don't know how much was true and how much was exaggerated, but I do know he lived an extraordinary life and that he loved sharing it with his family.

Ernie Stevens,
notorious "anchor
It's funny, though. Of the dozens of Granddad's stories I must have heard hundreds of times, he never told me the one about being a terrorist plant bent on destroying America from within. Obviously that's because such a concept is completely absurd -- my grandfather was born in Pennsylvania, served in the Army Air Corps in World War II, married a farm girl from Kansas and became a successful accountant for major U.S. corporations. But though he voted Republican all his life (one of the only disagreements he and I ever had was over FDR), many on the right now believe my grandfather was somehow a dangerous individual who didn't even deserve American citizenship.

You see, though he probably never heard the term in his life, my grandfather was an "anchor baby." Born in America to non-U.S. citizens in 1921, the Fourteenth Amendment granted him birthright citizenship in the U.S. rather than forcing him to take the nationality of his parents. Now, however, Republican leaders like sens. Glenn McConnell, John Kyl and South Carolina's own Lindsey Graham (with Fox News' predictable support/guidance) are actually trying to change the Constitution to eliminate the clause which allowed my grandfather to be an American.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Looking ahead to 2012 (already?)

Barack Obama isn't even halfway through his first term, and politicos across the country have already started talking about the Republicans who will try to replace him in 2012. Consequently, I've compiled an analysis of where the GOP primary race stands, and how it will change over the next two years. Of course, there are several unresolved variables which could profoundly impact the 2012 election, and this post will attempt to identify and examine as many as possible.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Michigan Republican wants to register, regulate reporters

Republican lawmakers across the country seem to have been supporting more and more efforts lately which directly contradict the Constitution. Now that much of the GOP establishment has established the news media as one of their favorite punching bags, I suppose it was only a matter of time before a Republican legislator tried to go after the First Amendment itself.
A Michigan lawmaker wants to register reporters to ensure they’re credible and have “good moral character.” State Sen. Bruce Patterson ... says the general public is being overwhelmed by an increasing number of media outlets -- traditional, online and citizen generated -- and an even greater amount of misinformation. “Legitimate media sources are critically important to our government,” he said.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Oh, maybe tea partiers really are kinda intolerant

From time to time we see political commentators on teevee insinuate that the Tea Party is motivated solely by hatred for minorities and their inability to accept an African-American as president. At the same time, we see other pundits claim tea parties are joyous family affairs and that their members are devoid of any intolerant beliefs whatsoever. As with most issues presented on cable these days, the truth must lie somewhere in the middle of this dichotomy. But where?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Palin was against robocalls, until she started making them

Remember when Sarah Palin used to give actual interviews to the media other than Fox? I know it's been a while, but try to think back -- all the way back to October 2008, when Palin told reporters the McCain campaign's automated robocalls "irritate" voters, and that she wouldn't use them if she called the shots.
Palin said that if she had her way, the McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee would not be flooding battleground states with automated phone calls tying Barack Obama to former radical William Ayers, as they have done over the last week.
Calling robocalls "kind of draining out there in terms of Americans' attention span," Palin went on to say voters "get a bit irritated with just being inundated" by the pre-recorded campaign calls. No kidding.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

GOP official caught breaking SC campaign laws

South Carolina isn't exactly unfamiliar with boneheaded politicians who think they can get away with anything, and it looks like Republican state Treasurer Converse Chellis and his deputy, GOP operative Scott Malyerck, are no different. It seems Chellis and Malyerck visited the Spartanburg Herald-Journal last week to meet with the editors about a possible endorsement in the June 8 primary election. But in a blunder that would make Mark Sanford proud, Chellis may have instead exposed serious violations of state law during his interview with editor Lane Filler:
About 20 minutes into the sit-down, Chellis was summarizing what his agency does on a day-to-day basis. He explained how his agency functions for several minutes, ending with an explanation of what Malyerck's department does, at which point alarms started chiming.
"You work for the Treasurer's Office?" [Filler] asked Malyerck.
Malyerck: "Yes."
[Filler]: "Then what are you doing here?"

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sarah Palin advocates a theocracy, and isn't laughed off the stage

I've written before about Sarah Palin's vast misunderstanding of the Founding Fathers and the First Amendment in particular, but this is starting to get a little ridiculous. At an evangelical women's conference in St. Louis Friday night (which didn't allow press), the former half-term governor yet again distorted the Framers' beliefs to suggest they would support a theocracy, as she apparently does. Greg Sargent of The Plum Line obtained a transcript of Palin's speech:
I beg you, Women of Joy, to bring light and be involved, loving America and praying for her. Really, it is our solemn duty. Praying for true spiritual awakening to overcome deterioration. That is where God wants us to be. Lest anyone try to convince you that God should be separated from the state, our Founding Fathers, they were believers. And George Washington, he saw faith in God as basic to life.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

GOP environmental group asks "What Would Reagan Do?" on climate change

Ronald Reagan's cult appeal has reached an almost mythical status in the Republican Party. During the 2008 GOP primary, every candidate argued ad nauseum over who was more like the Gipper. Last fall, Republican National Committee members proposed a conservative purity test based on Reagan's "unity principle," that "someone who agreed with him 8 out of 10 times was his friend, not his opponent." Of course Reagan would have failed the test, but don't tell the RNC.

Especially on teevee, it seems like nearly everyone on the right is asking "What Would Reagan Do?" about every political issue du jour. When the compromise climate bill hits the Senate next week, it will undoubtedly face fierce opposition from many conservatives. Some may use Reagan to illustrate their disapproval. But a Republican environmental group (yes, it sounds like an oxymoron) is using Reagan's own words to challenge the GOP consensus on climate change and energy legislation.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tax day Tea Party rally in Columbia (PHOTOS)

The Tea Party came to Columbia on April 15 for a tax day rally outside the State House.
There are a couple interesting things about this photo. First, the Associated Press claimed over 1,000 people attended the rally. This picture was taken about 15 minutes before the rally was supposed to begin -- problems with the sound system caused a half-hour delay until former mayoral candidate Joe Azar came to the rescue. As you can see, there are only about 200 people in the photo at most. Even at the height of the rally, there were no more than twice as many people as in the photo. Midlands blogger Wes Wolfe estimated only about 250 people in attendance. Perhaps the AP used the Fox News method of counting.

Another interesting thing: Out of the hundreds of people in that photo, there is exactly one black person. She's standing at the far left under the red and white umbrella. You can click through to a hi-res version to see for yourself. Now let me be clear: I did not see a single instance of overt or insinuated racism at the event. Still, it's interesting how in a city that's 46% African-American, the tea partiers were almost exclusively white. For most of the rally, the most "ethnic" person I could see was Nikki Haley.
Like I said, I didn't see any racism at the rally. But there was a whole bunch of good old-fashioned stupidity. The above photo is of a "Liberalism is a mental disorder" sign being held by a woman with purple hair and son carrying a "Germany thought the Nazis were great" sign. As far as irony goes, it was one in a series of amusing occurrences. Before the rally they played "We Will Rock You," sung by a gay man who died of AIDS. At least they're tolerant of his music? Then they played the Love Shack. Right outside Mark Sanford's office. How is that no one caught that?
It wouldn't be South Carolina without at least one poster advocating secession.

"If idiots could fly, this place would be an airport" pretty much sums up the entire event.
Tell you what -- I'll drive on roads paved by the government, and you can drive on roads paved by Jesus.
These anarchists, like most everyone else I encountered at the rally, had absolutely no idea what they were talking about.

Uh, what?
Gov. Mark Sanford speaks while former WIS anchor Susan Aude', who emceed the rally, looks on. Sanford received a mostly positive reaction from the crowd, getting loud cheers and applause and only one shout of "Traitor!"
...From this guy, Edward Quick of Sumter. Here a state trooper warns Quick about heckling the governor.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Jim DeMint tries to pass the buck on the C Street cover-up

Over the past year there's been a fair amount of coverage on the C Street House, which is owned and operated by the secretive religious group The Family. Several conservative members of Congress live at the house, paying about $950 a month for upscale accommodations just blocks away from the Capitol. According to the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, that's about half the market value of apartments in that area.

It also might break congressional ethics rules. CREW has filed an ethics complaint against several C Street residents, including Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) and Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN), laying out their argument here:
The House and Senate gift rules specifically include “lodging” as a prohibited gift. ... In addition, members may not accept gifts offered to members of Congress because of their official positions. As only members of Congress appear to live in the C Street House, it seems likely that it is because of their positions that they are permitted to live there and are offered below market rent.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Henry McMaster: Playing Politics With His Office?

South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster has been in the news a lot lately for leading a group of state attorneys general in a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn President Obama's health care reform law. McMaster knows it, too -- he produced a video of his many teevee appearances saying health care reform threatens our "liberty, freedom and sovereignty," which are "held by a thread" (presumably by McMaster?):