An outside-the-Beltway perspective on current events, politics, media, and the arts. We are proud to be part of the Reality-Based Community.

Contact Us

Recommended Diversions

Tuesday :: Jul 28, 2015

What Email Scandal?

by Deacon Blues

Several short items of note:

The Email Scandal That Wasn’t
Commenter Ten Bears somehow dismissively labeled my concerns about anti-Hillary bias by the New York Times as a mea culpa. Please note the Times’ Public Editor yesterday castigated the NYT for bad work in that story.

Bernie’s Poll Numbers
As we’ve been asking and demanding for weeks now, it’s about time Bernie Sanders be treated as a legitimate presidential contender, and be included in national head-to-head polls. Finally, CNN is the first media outlet to report the results of such head-to-head matchups, yet they did their best to ignore those results. Not only does Hillary beat Bush, Walker, and Trump, but the supposedly unelectable Sanders runs even, or also beats them.

Registered Voters
Hillary 51%
Bush 46%

Hillary 53%
Walker 44%

Hillary 56%
Trump 40%

Bernie 47%
Bush 48%

Bernie 48%
Walker 43%

Bernie 59%
Trump 38%

This tells you the real state of the 2016 election, which is that the GOP is in major trouble even before Donald Trump damages them further.

Hillary’s Specifics
While the Beltway has been focused on the evaporating Hillary email scandal and Donald Trump, they’ve ignored Clinton’s rollout of specific policy proposals on short-term capitalism and clean energy. It was just last week that MSNBC's Lawrence O’Donnell nicked Hillary for not being specific in her speeches, like (he claimed) Sanders was in his speeches. Now that Hillary has rolled out specifics over the last week, what has O’Donnell said about it? You guessed it – Nada.

Deacon Blues @ 10:57 AM :: Link :: Comments (0) :: TrackBack (0) :: Spotlight :: Digg It! ::

Saturday :: Jul 25, 2015

The New York Times Reveals Its Bias Once Again

by Deacon Blues

Now that we are on Day Two of the alleged Clinton classified information scandal, let's peel the onion back a bit before any more hot air comes out.

In its breathless, headline-grabbing story Friday, the lead paragraph in the New York Times' story stated:

Government investigators said Friday that they had discovered classified information on the private email account that Hillary Rodham Clinton used while secretary of state, stating unequivocally that those secrets never should have been stored outside of secure government computer systems.

Then buried down in Paragraph 7 is this:

The two investigators did not say whether Mrs. Clinton sent or received the emails. If she received them, it is not clear that she would have known that they contained government secrets, since they were not marked classified.

But of course by then, the damage is done. By the way, this is the same newspaper that gave us years of Whitewater stories that even Ken Starr couldn't turn into impeachable offenses.

For its part, the Washington Post noted in its story that Elijah Cummings, ranking member of the House Governmental Affairs committee used his time Friday (unlike the NYT) to actually reach out to the two Inspector Generals involved in the story, Steve Linick at State, and I. Charles McCullough III of the intelligence community, to verify that neither had asked the Justice Department to open a criminal referral. Therefore, any inference by anyone in the media that DOJ was weighing a criminal case wasn't journalism but a hit piece. It should be pointed out that McCullough told the House and Senate intelligence committee leadership Thursday night of the potential leakage of classified information. Yet within hours of that communication, the NYT was going with their breathless story. I wonder how that happened.

Going forward on this story, let's just stipulate to the following:
-Hillary showed poor judgment in setting up a private email server as Secretary of State;
-GOP committee leaders are leaking information to the New York Times to damage Hillary Clinton;
-The New York Times thinks they have their next Whitewater story with this email fiasco;
-There's still no evidence that Hillary Clinton knowingly received and mishandled known classified information through her email server;
-Any attempts by Trey Gowdy or any other Republican to allege otherwise is nothing more than a political smear.

There, we're done.

Deacon Blues @ 10:27 AM :: Link :: Comments (1) :: TrackBack (0) :: Spotlight :: Digg It! ::
Friday :: Jul 24, 2015

One Stupid Decision May Knock Her Out

by Deacon Blues

I suspect that with developments like this, Joe Biden is quietly preparing to run for president.

Deacon Blues @ 12:29 PM :: Link :: Comments (1) :: TrackBack (0) :: Spotlight :: Digg It! ::
Tuesday :: Jul 21, 2015

Sanders Still Not In Head-to-Head Polls

by Deacon Blues
Graphic courtesy of

With the news yesterday that the latest ABC News/Washington Post Poll shows Hillary Clinton beating Jeb Bush in two-way and three-way races, and that Donald Trump now tops the GOP field, I still ask: Why don't the national polls test Bernie Sanders in head-to-head matchups against GOP contenders?

MSNBC is doing all it can to take Sanders' Iowa and New Hampshire poll results, and his crowd sizes to build a narrative that he is a serious challenge to the loathed Hillary. Fair enough. As I said last week, let's test that proposition and see how Sanders matches up against Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and yes, even the Donald in head-to-head matchups nationally. What are the pollsters afraid of?

Deacon Blues @ 11:11 AM :: Link :: Comments (3) :: TrackBack (0) :: Spotlight :: Digg It! ::
Sunday :: Jul 19, 2015

Trump and the GOP Breaking Point

by Deacon Blues

Donald Trump’s smear of John McCain is the breaking point for the modern GOP. By attacking McCain’s Vietnam internment in the Hanoi Hilton as the mark of being a “loser” because he was captured, Trump has pushed the poison of his candidacy front and center for the GOP. Either he hits his “15 minutes” threshold now, and steadily suffers diminishing support from this point on, or worse yet for the GOP his comments don’t harm him with his Tea Party and fringe base support, and he hurtles the party to a probable third-party movement next year that capsizes the GOP as a major political party.

Please note that Ted Cruz refuses to condemn Trump’s remarks. And yet too many pundits continue to stupidly claim Cruz is a smart man. He isn’t. He’s an overrated pandering creep who bamboozles the Beltway. As for Trump calling McCain a loser, that’s a tall smear from someone whose claim to fame is bankrupting casinos and then passing the costs onto other people.

Deacon Blues @ 1:18 PM :: Link :: Comments (2) :: TrackBack (0) :: Spotlight :: Digg It! ::
Wednesday :: Jul 15, 2015

Iran Deal and Its Critics

by Deacon Blues

Put aside the mindless bluster from many GOP critics about the deal with Iran over their nuclear program. Many of these critics would oppose Obama if he said the sun was coming up tomorrow. The deal contains a stronger monitoring regimen than anticipated, and does what it was intended to do: trade sanctions relief for delaying or even eliminating Iran’s ability to create nuclear weapons. For all those critics who complain that the deal doesn’t address Hezbollah, Iranian regime change, or its non-nuclear activities in the region, they intentionally are loading demands onto a cart that weren’t part of the sanctions action in the first place. The UN didn’t sanction Iran over those things; it sanctioned Iran over its advancing nuclear program, and this deal addresses that issue.

For Lindsey Graham, a man who voted and fully supported our invasion and occupation of Iraq to say that this deal is the worst foreign policy decision in our history, it only confirms that this pathetic small man hasn’t the judgment necessary to be commander in chief. I expect asinine comments from GOP governors, who couldn’t find a coherent world view if it bit them in the ass. As for Scott Walker, the Democrats should simply ask him if his position on the matter has been approved by the Koch Brothers. Jeb for his part has already soiled himself in this cycle on his flip-flopping, so we can disregard anything he or any of the other GOP clowns say. Donald Trump's expertise starts and ends at bankrupting casinos.

The deal appears to be a good deal that achieves what the sanctions intended to achieve. Nothing Bibi Netanyahu, John Boehner, or any right wing critic offers as an alternative stops Iran from going nuclear, plain and simple. But their solutions do require war and a full destabilization of the Middle East, and if Boehner, Bibi, and Dick Cheney want war, then they should send their kids into battle and tell them to suit up, instead of cheerleading from the sidelines like the limp chicken hawks they are.

Deacon Blues @ 9:06 AM :: Link :: Comments (2) :: TrackBack (0) :: Spotlight :: Digg It! ::

Letter From California

by paradox

O7/15/15 0448.32 PST
San Jose, California

A few weeks ago I got an invitation/exhortation from the Clinton campaign to host a house party, an amusingly impossible evolution on multiple levels. Some men carve wood, some play sports or read or work on cars, hell even play with train sets1, thus is the benign gaze upon which the rest of the family views their political junkie. The election is next year, how could anything relevant happen this Fall?

Should I clear the significant mental hurdle for my partner that this indeed the case, I’d get the inevitable statement that she’s voting the straight D as usual in 2016, isn’t that the ultimate deliverable in her political duty? Well, not exactly, but basely, yes. Isn’t it true that you’re always bitching our blue California zip code means we’ll be ignored again anyway? Ah, yes, but still, there are many personal and societal valuable elements to be gained with a house party, surely.

Continue reading "Letter From California"
paradox @ 7:02 AM :: Link :: Comments (0) :: Spotlight :: Digg It! ::
Tuesday :: Jul 14, 2015

Include Bernie in the National Polls

by Deacon Blues

True to form last night. Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC took a negative line against Hillary's economic agenda speech yesterday, saying that unlike Bernie Sanders, who he says has presented specific economic proposals, Hillary presented none yesterday. To be fair to O'Donnell, he's being consistent in his bias against Hillary and in favor of fellow socialist Sanders. And yes, the Sanders website contains specifics if you look around for them. But the truth is that Hillary could do everything O'Donnell demands and he still would not support her. That's just the way it is for him, and millions of others in the electorate.

But with his boomlet status and large crowds, and favorable coverage amongst some in the media, isn't it time Sanders get the full "national candidate" treatment? Isn't it time the pollsters start including Sanders in head-to-head matchup polls with potential GOP candidates? Right now, the national polls only include Hillary in all the head-to-heads. Isn't it time we see how Sanders' message and campaign is working in the real world of a general election? Why isn't a guy who is now drawing numbers in the range of 20-35% in the early states not included in head-to-head polling?

Or are the national pollsters and Beltway opinion makers afraid of what they may find when Sanders' agenda is actually put onto the national stage against the GOP drivel?

Deacon Blues @ 9:52 AM :: Link :: Comments (0) :: TrackBack (0) :: Spotlight :: Digg It! ::
Monday :: Jul 13, 2015

Hillary Lays Out Her Economic Agenda

by Deacon Blues

Our friends at MSNBC tell us that Hillary is worried about Bernie Sanders, and that he poses a threat to her in the early states. Yet Sanders is doing a service to the Democratic Party, to progressives, and yes, to Hillary Clinton by running a passionate and leftward campaign. But that doesn't mean Hillary needs to parrot Sanders' rhetoric, his tone, or his focus on income redistribution to be an effective and winning candidate in November 2016.

To that end, Hillary gave her answer to Sanders today in a major speech at the New School University in New York City. And what she laid out is a textbook case on how to get where Sanders wants to go without buring down the house, or losing a general election. Unlike Sanders, Hillary focused on women, didn't demonize Wall Street, placed facts and pragmatism ahead of ideological fights, and focused on fairness and growth rather than overt income redistribution. She also mentioned the GOP opponents by name and went after their failings, which always helps, and correctly pointed out that Democrats always seem to be cleaning up after trickle-down economics.

But before her MSNBC critics and other Bernie supporters trash her speech today for not being enough like Sanders' white-hot approach, they should pay attention to what she's saying rather than how she's saying it.
--Rather than focus on income redistribution, she focuses on the need for a "growth and fairness economy";
--She wants "less red tape, easier access to capital, tax relief and simplification" for small businesses;
--She wants to redirect tax incentives from offshoring jobs towards job creation back home;
--She called for comprehensive immigration reform as an engine of growth;
--She once again called for a public/private infrastructure bank;
--She called for greater investments in R&D and renewable energy;
--She insisted on more family-friendly policies so women can participate more in the economy;
--She supported "defending and enhancing Social Security", and increasing the minimum wage;
--As for trade, she supports agreements that "create jobs, raise wages and advance our national security."
--She wants to find "ways to encourage companies to share profits with their employees";
--She wants to make "sure millionaires do not pay lower rates than their secretaries";
--She wants to stop American companies from reincorporating overseas to escape US taxation;
--She argued that strong unions and collective bargaining could reduce income inequality for white males, a smart move;
--She wants economic incentives shifted from short-term gains towards long-term growth, disdaining "quarterly capitalism";
--She openly pokes Obama's DOJ by wanting to criminalize financial misdeeds;
--She wants to go beyond Dodd-Frank with more regulatory oversight of the "shadow banking system";
--She wants the federal government to "be a better partner to cities, states and the private sector':
And she closed with a call for the federal government to be more focused on long-term investments than short-term politics. Yet even after this long list of items in her agenda, some still chose to overlook most of it for being without detail.

The truth is that Sanders’ passion and crowds are actually helping Hillary. He is the energizer of the base, but doesn't have the burden of actually being electable. She nonetheless needs to anchor her appeal to the millions who agree with Sanders' message that they've been left behind by four decades of a "me first" economy, but she's showing him and the rest of the electorate how to do so without pitchforks.

Deacon Blues @ 12:31 PM :: Link :: Comments (3) :: TrackBack (0) :: Spotlight :: Digg It! ::

European Finance Leaders, Greek PM Reach Agreement

by Deacon Blues

Despite ominous rumblings last night that the Germans were willing to send the Greeks packing into oblivion, it appears the Greek government and European Central Bank have agreed on a new bailout package, including a short-term financial assistance package. However, the proposed deal contains no debt haircut on outstanding debt, and requires Greece to engage in structural reforms immediately like pension changes, tax increases, and privatization of government assets as well as active IMF oversight.

It isn’t clear if the Greek parliament will agree to the terms. In fact, some observers feel the final set of demands, totally from the Germans seems intent on making Greece exit the EU and sending a message to other nations with emerging, similar problems. However, forcing Greece to either agree to a one-sided package and privatize under the EU's thumb or leave the EU may only split Europe into several camps that will soon destabilize the whole continent. That's the end result of letting Germany and its austerity-at-all-costs dogma run amok in a multinational collaboration that needed more enlightenment than the Germans could ever provide.

Deacon Blues @ 10:22 AM :: Link :: Comments (0) :: TrackBack (0) :: Spotlight :: Digg It! ::
Thursday :: Jul 9, 2015

Why Shouldn't America Bail Out Greece?

by Deacon Blues

Regardless of who you think is ultimately at fault for what's been going on between the European Union, its central banks, and Greece, a catastrophe is about to unfold.

Angela Merkel doesn't have the political latitude to allow the necessary debt forgiveness that Greece needs to move ahead with necessary reforms. The finance ministers want Greece to get religion and face the music. And the central bankers made the loans knowing that there wasn't a political structure and support inside Greece or even within the EU to balance needed reforms with growing the Grecian economy. In fact, the whole IMF program for Greece was doomed from the start because it demanded too much from a declining economy without also enforcing debt reductions.

Even with a vote this weekend on a new proposal to the bankers, once Greece misses its next repayment date, the European Central Bank will declare the country in default and demand a corrective action plan that Greece cannot and will not provide. Actual cash in the country has already dried up, the economy has already frozen up, and real people may soon start starving, all while central bankers complain that they aren't getting paid back for loans they made with eyes wide open.

And once Greece gets to that point, it ditches the Euro to print local money and scrip, causing hyperinflation. It eventually leaves NATO, and walks right into the arms of Vladimir Putin, who will only too happily loan Greece the short-term funds it needs in exchange for a NATO-breaking alignment and a new naval base on the Mediterranean. Think it won't happen? Think again.

So given the German political inability to be flexible, why shouldn't the US step in and provide the short term guarantees for both the ECB and Greece to keep their economy going while we work with them over the next 6-12 months on economic restructuring, and getting the benefits of such good deeds ourselves like our own new base for a newly reestablished Twelfth Fleet? Greece needs the restructuring, and needs the essential investment from the US, while we need the military presence in that region for many reasons.

Just a thought.

Deacon Blues @ 6:00 PM :: Link :: Comments (1) :: TrackBack (0) :: Spotlight :: Digg It! ::
Wednesday :: Jul 8, 2015

Memo to Keith: Come Home to MSNBC

by Deacon Blues

I'm not the first to say this, but I've been thinking this for about a year now: Keith Olbermann needs to come back to MSNBC immediately.

Olbermann's contract at ESPN isn't going to be renewed, and they've been sending signals for a while that he wasn't in their plans. Why? Because they've now decided to cut costs and don't want him to express his opinions, which can endanger their kiss-ass access to sports leaders. Asking Keith to not express his opinions renders him useless for the type of fawning journalism that ESPN and Disney want, yet it's exactly what MSNBC needs.

For its part, MSNBC's ratings are tanking and have been ever since Phil Griffin and Olbermann parted company several years ago when Griffin embarked on his "Cool Kids" approach. With Comcast now apparently wanting Brian Williams to rehabilitate himself at MSNBC, the channel has the opportunity to rebrand itself as a serious news and opinion outlet for the center-left demographic. Griffin and Andrew Lack have the opportunity to put the zing back into the network when Olbermann was there and almost single-handedly created it.

It isn't a stretch for example to envision Williams hosting a nightly MSNBC news program that would anchor the rest of the prime time lineup, capped by Olbermann resuming his perch at the other end of the lineup with "Countdown". Right now, there is little reason for progressives who want news and opinion to sit down and watch MSNBC each night unless they want to see the same talking points spun by Matthews, Hayes, Rachel, and then O'Donnell. It may work for the sheeple who watch Fox News, who wouldn't know an original thought or argument if it bit them in the ass, to watch the same trash night after night that confirms their sense of victimhood. But the demographic that Olbermann first brought to MSNBC wants more than a mindless progressive version of Fox, and instead wants real news with a worldwide perspective along with smart and sometimes witty progressive interpretations on that news. For example, tonight both Chris Hayes' "All In" and O'Donnell's "The Last Word" wasted their first 42 minutes on more useless drivel about Donald Trump. Really? Do we really need more drum-banging Mr. Griffin about the Donald or the Confederate flag? Why do I have to get something meaningful about the Greek/EU crisis from "Charlie Rose" when you have all those minutes and that megaphone during the day being wasted on more crap from your talking points?

We're already facing a presidential election cycle largely without Letterman and Jon Stewart, at a time when the GOP field screams out for a sharp news focus, and when necessary derisive commentary. Having Williams start each night with a solid news program, setting up some of MSNBC's remaining hosts (Rachel at least) for an evening capped each night with "Countdown" is the network's road to salvation, if they will only take it.

Deacon Blues @ 4:59 PM :: Link :: Comments (2) :: TrackBack (0) :: Spotlight :: Digg It! ::
« Link to Previous Entry