Friday, June 7, 2013

Romney Revisionism

I don't know if he thinks lying makes it better, or if he really doesn't know what he's talking about. Generally, I follow Hanlon's Razor, and try not to attribute to malice what can just as easily be explained by stupidity, but either one seems plausible at this point.

Talking about what went wrong, Romney said they didn't get the turnout from minority voters that they needed and he acknowledged his campaign was outmatched by his opponent's massive organization.

"I think he had as many as 10 times the number of ground workers, paid staff, that we had, because he could afford them and we couldn't," he said.

Uh, Romney's campaign directly spent over $480 million. I'm pretty sure they could have afforded a better field program than the one they actually built.

The Obama campaign had more ground workers and paid staff because they managed their funds a lot better than Romney did and prioritized their field and data programs higher than Romney's. Mitt squandered a fortune on consultant fees and wildly mis-targeted his media buys, which wasted millions of dollars that could have gone to build a more competent field program.

He also came off as a self-important, dishonest, uncaring jerk, which might have had some impact on his low-dollar fundraising efforts. But either way, he could easily have afforded a better campaign, he just didn't have the skill to build one.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Chris Christie knows what he's doing

Calling for a special election in October, when there's already going to be a general election in November, is an expensive hassle that will annoy voters and pundits alike. That's probably the best that Christie could have hoped for. The worst-case scenario for him would be going up against the Cory Booker GOTV machine, simply because the biggest obstacle to his reelection is the likelihood that Democrats will simply mob the polls in this off-year election.

When you look at it that way, it's worth $24 million to Christie to call for an October vote. It's terrible financial stewardship for crass political purposes, but they're really important crass political purposes.

Just when you thought racism couldn't get any more racismer

Kinda makes me wanna sing a verse of "My Country, 'Tis of Thee." But not in the happy way:

Who would have thought that breakfast cereal would trigger the latest racial battle line? In this case, a Cheerios ad much like every other homespun Cheerios ad — with a heart healthy message and loving family – ran into trouble from some commenters because of the kind of family it featured. Mom is white, dad is black and their cute little daughter is a mix of the both of them.

That’s it.

Cheerios had to disable comments on YouTube – I’m not going to repeat them but you can imagine the general witless racism with stereotypes about minorities and warnings of race-mixing as the end of civilization. Late Friday night, after a day of widespread news coverage, the ad had more than 8,400 thumbs-up votes on YouTube, versus about 900 thumbs-down.

If your conception of the American state or your core convictions can be shaken by a commercial for bland cereal, you've got bigger problems to worry about.

And you're also an asshole.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Harvard Law, folks! Let's give them a round of applause.

I'm beginning to wonder if the GOP might not be making an attempt to undercut the President's legal background by having some of its own HLS grads act like complete idiots.

First example: Congressman Cotton of Arkansas.

Sure, I'm obligated to point out how obliviously unconstitutional the Cotton Amendment was. But stunning stupidity aside, there's something really depressing in his follow-up:

“I sympathize with their plight if they are harmless, innocent civilians in Iran. I doubt that that is often the case.”

He seems to be suggesting that it's more likely that people from a country governed by a domestically oppressive, murderous regime are coming to America in order to attack us than that they're coming to seek shelter and aid from us.

Setting aside the rest of the offensively paranoid racism, that's a really sad--and very unpatriotic--sentiment to hear from a Congressman. I tend to think people from countries that murder demonstrators in the streets who come to the U.S. are probably more interested in taking shelter in our freedoms than attacking them. When the world looks up at the Shining City on a Hill, does Rep. Cotton really believe they're thinking "hey, a shining city on a hill! Let's attack it!"?

Next we have someone who I don't think will ever run dry as a fount of entertainment (unless he's actually elected and put in a position of power, in which case I don't think anyone will find it funny at all): the GOP nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, E.W. Jackson, who doesn't think federal disaster relief is constitutional, says that the idea of GLBT Pride Month "makes me feel ikky all over," and, of course, this:

In an April 28, 2011 statement while he was a Senate candidate, conservative minister and lawyer E.W. Jackson held up the three-fifths clause as an “anti-slavery” measure. The context of his statement was to attack President Obama after a pastor at a church service he attended referred to the three-fifths clause as a historical marker of racism.

“Rev. [Charles Wallace] Smith must not have understood the 3/5ths clause was an anti-slavery amendment. Its purpose was to limit the voting power of slave holding states,” Jackson, an African-American, said in his statement.

The Three-Fifths Compromise was the way that the South was able to dominate American politics until the Civil War. It's why more than half of Presidents before Lincoln were Southern slave-owners. It's why the list of Speakers of the House before the Civil War is dominated by Southerners and slave-owners. To claim that it was an "amendment" is bad enough for someone from HLS (the sort of mistake we expect from the laity), but to claim it was "anti-slavery" is stupid beyond all mortal ken.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

"Community" inches closer to six seasons and a movie

When Joel McHale made his deal with Satan, it seems he did a good job of reading the fine print:
“Community” has squeaked out a fifth season renewal from NBC. And the Greendale Community College gang undoubtedly owes a debt to the expanding SVOD marketplace for persuading NBC that it was worth investing in what will probably be a last hurrah for the cult-fave series from Sony Pictures TV.

I don't expect the ratings to get any better, but the last few episodes of the season that just ended were surprisingly solid. There's also the added benefit that, knowing this is almost certainly going to be all she wrote, and not having Chevy Chase around to deal with, they can go ahead and give the cast something for their highlight reels. If Alison Brie doesn't have her own sitcom deal within the next few years, it's a sign that there is no justice in the world. Donald Glover needs a feature film (as funny as "Mystery Team" was, the man deserves an eight-digit budget). And poor Danny Pudi has spent too much time stuck in what I call "Spiner's Valley": that career trough that only comes when someone plays an essentially expressionless character for too long and afterwards can't really get any parts that require real acting. They need some showpieces.

Read it with the eyes you use for reading

I'm unsure whether to consider this pastiche or parody, but I'm leaning extremely funny pastiche.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A crazy man and a "fighting rifle"

(Cross-posted at DailyKos)

On March 10th, in the small town of Middlefield, Ohio, James Gilkerson took a right turn too fast onto the State Route 608. Two local police officers--Erin Thomas and Brandon Savage--were patrolling in their cruiser and saw the turn. They pulled Gilkerson over.

Before they could approach his car, he stepped out with an AK-47 holding 40 rounds and opened fire on the officers. Thomas was wounded. The two officers returned fire, hitting Gilkerson. He doubled over in pain and yelled, "kill me!" He stood back up, raised his AK-47 back towards the officers, and started firing again. The officers again returned fire, killing him.

The dashboard camera ran the entire time, and the audio was recorded as well. This footage is now available, though it is extremely graphic, and I wouldn't recommend watching it.

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer released a slide show of items found in Gilkerson's car. In addition to many more high-capacity magazines, he also had literature on corpse disposal, ammunition and explosive manufacturing, a book on homemade weaponry, a book on constructing suppressors, a copy of "Invisible Resistance to Tyranny" (which, according to its Amazon page, promises to teach readers "the many paths of invisible resistance to tyranny - intelligence collection and dissemination, propaganda, support for active operations and, if it should ever come down to it, direct operations against a totalitarian regime"), and a couple of training manuals in gunfighting.

It was one of those last items that stood out to me as I looked through the slides. Specifically, this one:

This manual was recovered along with ammunition and other militant literature from the car of an insurrectionist who attacked police officers in Ohio back in March.

I noticed, as I skimmed past it, the logo on the bottom-right corner.

"Tactical Response"

Tactical Response is the weapons training company run by James Yeager. Mr. Yeager, you might recall, made headlines in January for a web video where he promised to "start killing people" if President Obama pursued tougher gun control:

"James Yeager, CEO of Tactical Response, a Tennessee company that trains people in weapon and tactical skills, claimed in a video posted on YouTube and Facebook that he would "start killing people" if President Barack Obama decides to take executive action to pass further gun control policies, Raw Story reports.

In a frenetic address to the camera, Yeager puts a call out to other gun rights advocates to "load your damn mags" and "get ready to fight" in what he claims will turn into a "civil war" if gun control measures in the country get any stricter."

Transcript: "Fuck that. I'm telling you, if that happens, it's going to spark a civil war and I'll be glad to fire the first shot. I'm not putting up with it. You shouldn't put up with it. And I need all you patriots to start thinking about what you're going to do, load your damn mags, make sure your rifle's clean, pack a backpack with some food in it, and get ready to fight. I am not fucking putting up with this. I am not letting my country be ruled by a dictator. (yelling) I am not letting anybody take my guns! If it goes one inch further, I'm going to start killing people."

Mr. Yeager's permit to carry a concealed weapon was temporarily suspended after that video, but was returned to him last month.

The course book that Gilkerson had with him was for a two-day Tactical Response training program called "Fighting Rifle." Here's the course description from their website:

You know how to shoot your rifle or subgun now let us teach you how to FIGHT with it! This course is far more advanced than any other rifle course you can attend (with the exception of our advanced course) and covers trajectory, battlesight zero, gear set-up, sling configurations, transitions to pistol, use of cover and concealment, practical ready and firing positions, close- and medium-range snap shooting, weapons handling, urban applications, team drills, firing while moving, multiple targets, plus the tactics required to employ this potent tool in combat. Every student leaves this class with empty mags, a red hot rifle, and a smile from ear to ear! This is one of our most popular courses.

This class is great for nearly any magazine fed rifle or subgun and any traditional military style rifle. We will show you how to run your MP5, AR, AK, RPK, FAL, M1A, G3, VZ-58 or whatever weapon you have!

To my knowledge, Tactical Response hasn't made any statements about the Middlefield shooting, not even to comment on the attacker's form and technique. And just because he had what appears to be materials from this course doesn't mean he necessarily received training--I'm confident he could have picked it up from the same source as the other literature in his car, which I assume probably came from a vendor at a gun show or a table at an extremist right-wing rally--but I think it's worth looking into, especially as the course is regularly taught in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

In January, the CEO of this company says he wants "patriots" to "load your damn mags, make sure your rifle's clean...and get ready to fight," because he's ready to "start killing people." In March, someone with his company's training materials from a course on how to better kill people using assault weapons opens fire on police officers with an AK-47 loaded with a high-capacity magazine.

Say what you will, it's a uniquely American story.