Saturday, October 29, 2011

Herman Cain Crosses the Biden Line

Herman Cain has crossed the Biden Line. As of the end of today (10/29/2011) he has more followers (307,364) on Facebook than Joe Biden (307,205).

The Biden Line is based on the studied observation that Vice President Joe Biden is a joke and not to be taken seriously. It therefore follows that any candidate for President with fewer followers on Facebook than Joe Biden also is not a serious contender, at least not yet.

Herman Cain joins three other declared Republican candidates on the serious side of the Biden Line: Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Michele Bachmann. When Bachmann crossed over last May, it looked like Cain was on track to cross the Biden line in mid-July. It took him three months longer than that.

None of the other declared Republican candidates - Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Gary Johnson, Rick Santorum, or Jon Hunstman - is on track to cross the Biden Line. With just a little over two months until the Iowa caucus, they have run out of time to become serious contenders.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Firing Tear Gas on Occupy Oakland Just Confuses the Issues

Is it too cycnical to suggest that a police crackdown that sends an Iraq war vet to the hospital with a head injury is just what the Occupy movement needed?

OK, white protesters like Keith Olbermann demanding an Asian-American woman mayor fire an African-American police chief or resign herself is fun to watch. But tear gas cannisters just confuse the issues being learned. Rain, snow, and subzero temperatures will do a much better job. Why use force to dislodge them when they'll be home by Christmas.

One could not devise a better lesson in the inherent problems of socialism, or a better way for that lesson to be learned than through self-administration by radical socialism's most ardent adherents. And by spreading these reeducation camps throughout the country and not just NYC, look how they have increased the educational opportunities.

Now it could get really ugly when the crowd figures out that the Obama student debt relief plan is a 10% tax for life on going to college that people who get good jobs or don't have student loans don't have to pay. But it will probably take them to age 40 to figure that out.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Elizabeth Warren the Rock-Throwing Matriarch of Mayhem

Elizabeth Warren is tagged as the matriarch of mayhem and as a rock-throwing radical in this pair of videos from the Massachusetts GOP.

Who is the Masschussetss GOP?

In terms of officeholders, the Masschussetss GOP is just 32 out of 160 members in the state House of Representatives, 4 out of 40 members in the state Senate, 5 county sheriffs, 2 district attorneys, 2 out of 8 members of the Governor's Council, 0 out of 10 U.S. Congressmen and 1 out 2 U.S. Senators.

That's to say that the GOP holds just 46 out of the hundreds of political offices in the state of Massachusetts, and the only one of those offices that carries any real clout is the U.S. Senate seat held by Scott Brown. That's the seat Elizabeth Warren wants.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Alan Khazei Bows Out of U.S. Senate Race in Massachusetts

Alan Khazei has been running a spirited campaign for U.S. Senate:

But tomorrow he will be officially bowing out of the race. Alan put his decision on the changing dynamics of the race and not seeing a path to win, which can be seen quite clearly on Facebook.

Scott Brown238,930
Elizabeth Warren62,740
Alan Khazei4,713
Setti Warren2,296
Bob Massie1,463
Marisa DeFranco354
Herb Robinson-
Jim King-

Scott Brown is the clear favorite, and the Democrats desparately need to catch up. This by the way is almost a complete reversal of the situation Republicans face against President Obama.

Was Khazei's admission that he cannot see a path to victory a recognition of the strength of Elizabeth Warren, the heavy hitter Washington Democrats sent to retake the old Ted Kennedy seat? Or was it a recognition that the people have grown comfortable with Scott Brown in the people's seat?

In Massachusetts, it all comes down to independent voters. Can those independent voters go into the booth in November 2012 and punch their ballots for both Brown and Obama? Yes, they can. And they probably will.

Just Whose Occupy Movement Is It Anyway?

Who wants to take credit for Ocuppy Wall Street? Two aspiring office-holders in Massachusetts have their claims.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate for Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren of Cambridge:

"I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do. I support what they do."
Green Party Presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein of Lexington:

"We are hearing the need for this race in every park and plaza where there’s an encampment around this country. There's an enormous need for alternatives, and we see that breaking out all over. We are proud to give that movement an electoral voice."
Dr. Jill goes even farther in embracing the Occupy movement on her website:

"Let's take our democracy back from Wall Street. We need a new politics for the other 99% of America that doesn’t collect a CEO's salary or write big checks for politicians."
So whose movement is it anyway? Elizabeth Warren comes out of a Professorship at Harvard Law School. Jill Stein is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Talking About the 2012 Republican Candidates

Facebook has a new metric. You can now see not only how many followers a candidate has but also how many people are "talking about" the candidate.

CandidateTalking about
Herman Cain71,131
Ron Paul70,504
Mitt Romney42,687
Michele Bachmann38,930
Newt Gingrich16,052
Rick Perry7,197
Gary Johnson4,778
Rick Santorum2,968
Jon Huntsman2,241

The anybody but Romney crowd now seems to be splitting their attention between Herman Cain and Ron Paul. If Romney focuses entirely on Cain, he may risk a Ron Paul surprise.

Michelle Bachman has been leaking support on Facebook, but it appears those who remain are still talking about her. She may do better in the votes than people expect.

Newt Gingrich has a huge following on twitter, so maybe he should rank higher than he does here.

If Rick Perry is making a big comeback after the Vegas debate, where many said he did better than in the past debates, they are not talking about it on Faceboook.

The rest of the field has been nice to have around, but it may be time to stop talking about them.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Me and Siri Walk Into a Bar ...

Me: Who are you?
Siri: I am Siri ... Here to help.

Me: Where are you from?
Siri: I, Siri, was designed by Apple in California

Me: Make me dinner.
Siri: I found a number of restaurants close to you. (with list)

Me: Where is my Jeep?
Siri: I don't know who you are, but you can tell me.

Me: Tell me a joke.
Siri: I don't really know any good jokes. None, in fact.

Me: Please tell me a joke.
Siri: Two iPhones walk into a bar ... I forget the rest.

Me: Try again.
Siri: Sorry, I couldn't do that. Could you try it again, please?

Me: Where can I buy beer near here?
Siri: I found a number of bars fairly close to you. (with list)

Me: Now we're talking!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Herman Cain Beats the Vegas Odds While Rick Perry Goes Bust

Last night's Republican Presidential debate in Las Vegas on CNN was a hard-hitting free-for-all that has probably left most of the candidates wishing that what happened in Vegas would stay in Vegas.

Watch how the race played out on Facebook since the last debate in New Hampshire:

CandidateWed 10/12 NoonWed 10/19 NoonPickup
Herman Cain261,454289,49028,036
Ron Paul540,562552,26411,702
Mitt Romney1,130,1501,137,7607,610
Newt Gingrich151,767154,0812,314
Gary Johnson138,825139,9211,096
Rick Santorum29,90630,550644
Jon Huntsman20,09420,628534
Rick Perry167,075167,513438
Michele Bachmann460,302459,979-323

Herman Cain took a lot of heat at the debate on his 9-9-9 plan but came out the big winner. He is still riding the wave.

Rick Perry finished the week second to last, ahead of only Michele Bachmann who has already busted out and continues to leak support. He threw some big punches in the debate, but that's not winning him any followers. Rick Perry is spent, busted out, drawing dead.

Rick Santorum finished between two guys, Gary Johnson and Jon Huntsman, who weren't even at the debate. Santorum got his hits in, especially on the 9-9-9 plan, but isn't going anywhere. He might as well have phoned it in.

Mitt Romney was lucky to finish between Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, two guys neither of whom is going to be elected President. The road is open for Romney to get embarrassed by Ron Paul in one or two of the early contests. Romney hasn't been able to best Ron Paul's follower pickup numbers in any of the 5 debates tracked here this fall. Romney will likely lose to Paul in Iowa and quite possibly Nevada. The Romney tortoise strategy only works if some more of these hares fall asleep in the next couple of months.

It's becoming clear that Mitt Romney's next big campaign move, in the next month or so, will likely be an endorsement from Donald Trump. The seal of approval from the President of the Wet Raccoon Club will not seal the deal. It can only hurt him in my estimation.

The next hurdle for Herman Cain is the Biden Line, getting more Facebook followers than Joe Biden. He can expect more questions on his 9-9-9 plan, but has 3 or 4 weeks to prepare. The next debate in Michigan on CNBC in 3 weeks won't draw a large audience so he really has 4 weeks until the CNN debate scheduled for Washington, DC. That means he can talk about 9-9-9 on his own terms for the next month.

After the two November debates it's time for the super committee report. That's the plan on spending cuts that's supposed to be submitted to Congress just before Thanksgiving. The Occupy movement is already in place to protest. That could take all the oxygen out of the Republican primary election, just 4 to 6 weeks before the first votes in Iowa and New Hampshire.

This Hick Will Not Be Voting for Elizabeth Warren

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Did the Math, Herman Cain's 9-9-9 Plan Would Cut My Taxes 25%

It's the Republican debate in Las Vegas. The Republican field from Romney to Santorum went all in against Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan.

Herman Cain challenged viewers to do the math themselves. For something to do while they continued to debate, I got out my 2010 tax returns. Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan would cut my federal taxes 25%. I crunched the numbers math a step further; I would save money even if the rates were 12-12-12 (I should keep that fact to myself).

The rest of the Republican field just went bust on 9-9-9. They all better hope that twhat happens in Vegas and stays in Vegas.

OK, 9-9-9 is a big, bold idea. But when was America afraid of big and bold ideas? I've had my doubts and the devil may be in the details, but any candidate who dismisses 9-9-9 as a stealth tax increase doesn't know what they are talking about.

A Tale of Two Tent Cities

It was the best of times in Cambridge this past Friday as Harvard celebrated its 375th birthday. A tent city went up in the Yard and a good time was had by all in the drenching rain and oozing mud. Why not, with a warm bed waiting?

It was the worst of times in Boston as the protest movement in Dewey Square hunkered down for its third week of occupation. Well, worst of times may be a bit of an exaggeration, but winter is coming and it isn't going to get any better sleeping out in the cold and wet.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Will Herman Cain Be the First Black American President?

Barack Obama is the first African-American President, his father is from Africa and his mother is from America, that much is undisputed. But one recalls the January 2007 pronouncement by Debra J. Dickerson in Salon:

"Obama isn’t black."

"Black," in our political and social reality, means those descended from West African slaves. Voluntary immigrants of African descent (even those descended from West Indian slaves) are just that, voluntary immigrants of African descent with markedly different outlooks on the role of race in their lives and in politics. At a minimum, it can’t be assumed that a Nigerian cabdriver and a third-generation Harlemite have more in common than the fact a cop won’t bother to make the distinction. They’re both "black" as a matter of skin color and DNA, but only the Harlemite, for better or worse, is politically and culturally black, as we use the term.
Against that backdrop, Dick Gregory's Sunday interview with Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain included this exchange:

MR. GREGORY: This is the cover of Newsweek magazine that'll hit stands this week. It is "Yes we Cain!: The Unlikely Rise of the Anti-Obama," talking about you. You've actually talked a bit about race, though, and you've created a contrast between yourself and your experience as an African-American, a term you don't like, by the way.

MR. CAIN: I prefer black American.

MR. GREGORY: Why? Why is that?

MR. CAIN: Because my roots go back through slavery in this country. Yes, they came from Africa, but the roots of my heritage are in the United States of America. So I consider myself a black American.

MR. GREGORY: So you draw some distinction between yourself and your experiences as a black man in America and the experience of President Obama.

MR. CAIN: Absolutely. I came from very humble beginnings. My mother was a maid, my father was a barber and janitor and a chauffeur. We, we had to, we had to learn--do things the old-fashioned way. We had to work for it. I--my parents never saw themselves as a victim, so I didn't learn how to be a victim. I didn't have anything given to me. I had to work very hard in order to be able to go to school and work my way through school. So, plus, my business experience, I have run small businesses. I have actually made pizzas, made hamburgers. I've actually had to do the inventory, clean the parking lot of a business. I've also had to ... (unintelligible) ... businesses.

MR. GREGORY: You're talking about business experience. You actually said President Obama's outside the mainstream. So you're making a different, more of a social cultural background distinction between you and the president.

MR. CAIN: More experiential. Look at his experiences vs. my experiences. It was more at a contrast of experiential differences than anything else.
Now back in 2007 the New York Times followed up the Salon hit piece by schooling Barack on how Obama Can’t Take Black Vote for Granted. Herman Cain is Republican, so he won't need that lesson. Cain says he might get a third of the black vote against Obama, not a lot but certainly more than any recent Republican Presidential candidate. Maybe enough to win the 2012 election.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Occupy Wall Street May Be Home for Christmas

The big question about Occupy Wall Street and the other Occupy movement cities around the country is how long they plan to keep their tent cities doing. My prediction is that they will be home for Christmas.

Now of course, the police may clear the various parks and squares where they are now camped. But they could of course relocate and set up new tent cities.

December is significant, as Congress typically adjourns for a few weeks over Christmas. This year the U.S. has set a December 8 target for the Christmas adjournment. We saw that date extended further into December in 2009 for the Senate ObamaCare vote and in 2010 for the tax cut extension compromise. This year spending cuts are on the agenda for December, with the Super Committee set up in August scheduled to report the day before Thanksgiving.

The Super Committee may be the real target of the Occupy movement in the U.S. The Occupy protests are modeled after protests in Greece, Spain, Italy and Britain over austerity budgets. And what the Super Committee has been charged with is coming up with an austerity budget that will have bipartisan support in Congress.

If you go to the Occupy Wall Street website, you'll find that they've scheduled general assembly meetings through September 23, 2013 (internet working group meetings are scheduled into the 2020s and beyond). On the other hand, this was the original call for protesters in July:

"On the 17th of September, we want to see 20,000 people to flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades, and occupy Wall Street for a few months."
How long is a few months? "Few" often means "three" and three months from September 17 brings you up to a week before Christmas. Christmas Day on December 25 is exactly 99 days from September 17. "We are the 99%" is their slogan so that could be the magic number.

Of course, the Occupy movement is an army, an army of activists to be sure, but still an army. And many an army has been told they'll be home by Christmas only to find themselves camped on the frozen ground through a bitterly cold winter.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Republicans Tweet But Are Enough People Listening?

The Twitter gap may reflect the general lack of enthusiasm for the Republican 2012 candidates. Aside from gadfly Newt Gingrich, not many people are following what the Republicans have to say.

CandidateFollowers on 6/15/2011Followers on 8/15/2011Followers on 10/15/2011
Barack Obama8,628,2739,654,44610,576,757
Newt Gingrich1,324,9041,327,0131,334,848
Mitt Romney51,58071,882134,459
Herman Cain43,54258,164118,117
Michele Bachmann52,10075,731104,362
Rick Perry44,43862,89596,509
Ron Paul54,45561,76370,778
Jon Huntsman70411,87541,107
Rick Santorum10,52917,42432,059
Gary Johnson--14,113
Donald Trump615,671686,929802,054
Sarah Palin561,050632,179677,857
Mike Huckabee165,040183,523185,516
Mike Bloomberg99,413132,520174,137
Jim DeMint95,266110,421112,931
Paul Ryan59,09472,07381,203
Chris Christie42,04150,83268,657
Bobby Jindal59,59861,53064,196
Tim Pawlenty40,98148,99255,508
Thaddeus McCotter-19,72627,477
Jeb Bush14,93717,26319,864
Total Republican Followers3,335,3433,702,7354,215,752

The problem for Newt Gingrich is that everyone wants to hear what he has to say but no one wants to vote for him. Mitt Romney moved up one spot while Herman Cain moved up three slots. Rick Santorum dropped a notch to seoond-to-last place. Almost forgot about Gary Johnson.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ann Coulter and Lawrence O'Donnell Need Remedial Civil Rights History Lessons

What do Ann Coulter and Lawrence O'Donnell have in common? Both dissed the giants of the civil rights movement this week, Rosa Parks in particular.

Left-wing MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell lectured Herman Cain:

"In fact you were in college from 1963 to 1967, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, exactly when the most important demonstrations and protests were going on."
In fact, the greatest moment of the civil rights movement was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August 1963 and Cain did not start college until that fall. The Freedom Riders embarked on their historic bus journey through the Deep South in May 1961. Rosa Parks's refusal to move to the back of the bus sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott in December 1955.

Not to be outdone, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter lectured the Occupy Wall Street crowd:

"If Richard Nixon had won the 1960 election instead of John F. Kennedy -- as some say he did -- there never would have been a need for Rosa Parks, the Freedom Rides and the rest of the civil disobedience of the civil rights movement."
Again, Rosa Parks defied the Jim Crow laws in December 1955, almost 5 years before the November 1960 election. In 1960 itself, Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested in Atlanta, Georgia during a restaurat sit-in protest. John Kennedy and his brother Robert intervened to secure his release.

I say we lock Ann Coulter and Lawrence O'Donnell in a room and tell them they can't come out until they get their history straight. I promise, we won't even dream of throwing away the key. OK, we can dream.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Herman Cain Catches His Second Big Wave

Last night's Republican debate at Dartmouth in New Hampshire was televised on Bloomberg TV (what channel is that?) and so was seen by almost no one. And it's been almost three weeks since the last debate on September 22.

So how has that played out on Facebook? It was Ron Paul who picked up the most followers through the three September debates. But the last three weeks belong to Herman Cain, who racked up a commanding number of new followers.

CandidateFri 9/23 NoonWed 10/12 NoonPickup
Herman Cain181,117261,45480,337
Ron Paul519,151540,56221,411
Mitt Romney1,118,4441,130,15011,706
Gary Johnson135,559138,8253,266
Newt Gingrich148,855151,7672,912
Rick Perry 164,830167,0752,245
Jon Huntsman18,52720,0941,567
Rick Santorum28,44829,9061,458
Michele Bachmann461,806460,302-1,504

This is the second big move for Herman Cain. He more than doubled his followers last spring and early summer. He looks to be on track to do that again this fall, which would propel him across the Biden Line, currently at 305,850. No candidate can be taken completely seriously until they have more Facebook followers than Joe Biden.

Mitt Romney's tortoise-like campaign is still inching forward in first place. If building a slow and steady followership can win the race, Mitt may still be first across the goal line.

Gary Johnson wasn't even in latest the debate, so everyone below him on the list must be regarded as dead in the water. He's just barely treading water along with Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, and Rick Santorum. Michele Bachman, who swam out ahead of the pack earlier in the race has been leaking supporters since early September.

Pelosi's OWS Army Marches Uptown

Occupy Wall Street is moving uptown to the east side. Unions joined protesters in chanting "We are the 99%" as they marched past the Manhattan residences of billionaire David Koch, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch and JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. No word on whether they also marched past the home of George Soros.

Well we're movin on up,
To the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin on up
To the east side.
We finally got a piece of the pie.
Meanwhile, the pretext that these protests are being organized independently of the Democratic Party is growing increasingly thin. The latest is a petition of solidarity being circulated by Nancy Pelosi's Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Here is the text of the petition:

Speaker Boehner and Eric Cantor,

As Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters, "The message of the American people is that no longer will the recklessness of some on Wall Street cause massive joblessness on Main Street…"

It's time for millionaires, billionaires, and Big Oil companies to pay their fair share.
I don't remember anyone electing Nancy Pelosi the leader of the Democratic Party. In fact, I thought some guy named Barack Obama had that job.

If indefinitely occupying cities across the U.S. is Pelosi's plan to take back the U.S. House in 2012, she might want to consider how that might affect the U.S. Senate races the Democrats have to win in 2012. Two of those Democratic Senators from Newbraska and Montana have already joined Republicans in voting not to take up the jobs plan with its poison pill tax on millionaires, billionaires, and big oil companies.

The DCCC set a goal of signing up "100,000 Strong Standing with Occupy Wall Street." So far they have gotten only 38,508. That's not 99% or even 1% but something like 0.01%.

Fish don't fry in the kitchen;
Beans don't burn on the grill.
Took a whole lotta tryin'
Just to get up that hill.
Now we're up in the big leagues
Gettin' our turn at bat.
As long as we live, it's you and me baby
There ain't nothin wrong with that.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mitt Romney Caught Between Southern Baptists, Rick Perry,, and Occupy Wall Street

Mitt Romney has reestablished himself as the frontrunner for the Republican nomination only to come under fire from all sides.

It starts with Southern Baptist pastor Dr. Robert Jefress, who says he'd rather have a genuine Christian than a "cult" Mormon as President. And while the good pastor says he would hold his nose and vote for Mitt should Mitt get the nomination, he also says that come election day 30 million evangelical voters will stay home.

Then he's got Rick Perry essentially equating Mitt Romney with Barack Obama, particularly on the issue of health care.

Not to be outdone, has hit Mitt for flip-flopping on abortion rights, the auto industry bailout, the economic stimulus bill, the recession, health care, and Ronald Reagan.

Meanwhile, Occupy Wall Street has been laying into wealthy businessman like Mitt Romney with their slogan "We Are the 99%." Their signs might as well read, "Mitt Romney need not apply."

Monday, October 10, 2011

Netflix Aborts Qwikster Spinoff

It isn't hard to guess why Netflix CEO Reed Hastings fell in love with the idea of spinning off his DVD business from his streaming video business. No doubt he was smitten with dollar signs when he crawled into bed with his management consultants.

But after the huge customer backlash his announcement three weeks ago triggered, it was the PR consultants who likely counselled adminstration of the morning after pill.

You don't see a walk of shame on a corporate decision very often, and in Netflix's case they are sticking with the price increase they put in this July, but are promising they will keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs with one website, one account, one password, and no Qwikster.

The damage to the customer relationship may already have been done. I, for one, have spent a couple of good nights with Redbox.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Memorial Mural on the Fieldston Beach Seawall for Zac Woods

Zac Woods died at age 23 in a boating accident off Brant Rock in Marshfield, Massachsuetts this past July. Now a mural for him has been painted on the Fieldston Beach seawall.

The new mural being finished up over Columbus Day Weekend.

The waters where Woodsy was lost in a boating accident last July.

Beatle rock is up the beach to the north from the mural.

Lots of sunbathers on an Indian Summer weekend.

Friday, October 7, 2011

U.S. Senate Democrats Face Epic Route in 2012

Could Democrats lose the U.S. Senate in 2012? The real question in the face of the current Republican electoral trend is how bad they could lose it.

Democrats must defend 23 U.S. Senate seats in 2012. Republicans only have to defend 10 seats. That's a lot of opportunities for Republicans. A loss of 4 seats would give control to Republicans. A loss of 14 seats would give Republicans a filibuster-proof majority.

Democrats are particularly vulnerable in 8 races, and losing just half of these would oust Harry Reid as U.S. Senate Majority Leader.

Claire McCaskillMissourifirst termer elected by only 49.6% in red state
Jon TesterMontanafirst termer elected by only 49.2% in red state
Ben NelsonNebraskacornhusker kickbacker faces red state anger
Bob MenendezNew Jerseyfirst termer in Chris Christie country
Jeff BingamanNew Mexicoretiring in purple state
Kent ConradNorth Dakotaretiring in red state
Jim WebbVirginiaretiring first termer
Joe ManchinWest Virginiawon 2010 special election in red state

Democrats also have some vulnerability in 10 other races. Democrats should win most of these but could lose some of them.

Dianne FeinsteinCaliforniamay retire
Joe LiebermanConnecticutretiring
Daniel AkakaHawaiiretiring
Ben CardinMarylandfirst termer
Debbie StabenowMichigansecond termer
Amy KlobucharMinnesotafirst termer
Kirsten GillibrandNew Yorkwon 2010 special election
Sherrod BrownOhiofirst termer
Sheldon WhitehouseRhode Islandfirst termer
Herb KohlWisconsinretiring

So how many races are vulnerable for Republicans? Just U.S. Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts, who will be running for his first full term.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bad Day at Black Rock Has Rick Perry Pushing Up Daisies

Rick Perry had a bad day Sunday on account of a rock outside the Texas hunting camp his family once leased that had the name Niggerhead painted on it. Herman Cain called it insensitive, Mitt Romney called it offensive. No doubt, in this day and age that name is regarded as just that, insensitive and offensive.

But does Perry really need to take Al Sharpton's suggestion that he should withdraw from the race? Or is it possible that this is nothing more than a Texas ranch family naming their property many years ago after a beautiful albeit unfortunately-named wildflower?

Here we have an Echinacea, a purple coneflower of the daisy family whose roots and seeds are used in herbal medicine. These were once called niggerhead and the medicinal extract niggerhead tea.

Here we have a Black-eyed Susan, also formerly called niggerhead, another member of the daisy family and the state flower of Maryland.

One usually thinks of racist terms as having pejorative or insulting connotations. Beautiful flowers and medicinal herbs do not fit that mold. Is niggerhead an obviously racist epithet, or does it give honor by naming a flower afer a downtrodden race, a respectable word which has suffered guilt by association?

The press and the blogosphere are having a field day with Rick Perry:

The Washington Post - "Throckmorton County, where the hunting camp is located, was for years considered a virtual no-go zone for blacks because of old stories about the lynching of a black man there." - "Defense of Confederate symbols and Southern institutions can still be good politics below the Mason-Dixon line."

Steven Thrasher at the Village Voice - "Was Perry's campaign offering the crudest possible caption for just exactly what he was doing to that corn dog?"

chaunceydevega at Daily Kos - "Niggerhead will be a missed opportunity. This could be a teachable moment where White Americans could choose to look in the mirror and see the collective ugliness looking back at them. Whiteness, for most people in America, and indeed the world, was the face of terror. It was ugly and not beautiful."

Jason Cherkis at the Huffington Post - "Conservatives might rally around Perry's embattled campaign because a man with the living memory of what life was like for black people in the segregated South had the chutzpah to suggest that there was something 'insensitive' about a place called 'Niggerhead.'"

Jon Stewart also weighed in on The Daily Show:

All we can say for sure at this point is that the Texas property came by its unfortunate name many years before the Perry family began leasing it. Hints at a dark connection to so-far-undocumented lynchings notwithstanding, it could easily have been named for nothing more than a once-common colloquial name for a native wildflower.

Rick Perry's says his family painted over the old name as soon as they took up the hunting lease and later turned the stone over so it could not be read. Others claim the name was or is still visible, although oddly there were no pictures published of the alledgedly racist rock in the original Washington Post story, none out there that I could find.

Now don't get me wrong, if Rick Perry was actually inviting people out to the hunting camp using the name Niggerhead, that's a fatal political mistake showing poor judgment, rank stupidity, and gross insensitivity. But so far all the story really establishes is that the old name for the place may have been incompletely obscured and some of the oldtimers in the rural county continued using the old name.

You might ask who actually owns the property. That is reportedly the Hendrick Home for Children Trust, a 70-some-year-old charity that judging by the pictures on its website serves children without regard to race or ethnicity.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Liz Longley Offers a Ride in Her Camaro

Liz Longley will be back in town to play Club Passim on November 17.