Saturday, May 8, 2010

Bob Bennett Ousted At Utah Republican Convention

By: David Dayen

Delegates at Utah’s Republican convention just denied three-term Sen. Bob Bennett the opportunity for re-election. Bennett finished third in voting on the second ballot for the Republican nominees for Senate at the convention, and only the top two will move on to the third round and have the opportunity to win. Candidates Mike Lee (a former clerk for Sam Alito) and Tim Bridgewater (a businessman and perennial candidate) will now vie for the nomination, and Bennett could only challenge them as a write-in, which he declined (he said he would support the GOP nominee).

Utah has an unusual nominating process for their Senate seats. Caucuses choose 3,500 delegates for the state convention, and those delegates then get to decide who becomes the nominee of the party. If nobody reaches 60% on the final ballot, then a primary election makes the final choice between the last two candidates. That was the likely outcome tonight.

But Bennett finished third on the first ballot, moving into the second round with Lee and Bridgewater. From there, he only managed 26% of the vote on the second ballot and was eliminated.

This was actually the expected outcome. Conservative activists, who dominate the roster of delegates, were angry with Bennett over his vote for TARP, and his sponsorship of the Wyden-Bennett health care bill. Given that Wyden-Bennett never got the time of day in Washington, it’s simply amazing that this was held against Bennett, who has one of the most conservative voting records there is.

I agree with Nate Silver that political types will make plenty more of this than meets the eye. If all races were decided by small gatherings of activists the composition of our legislatures will look quite different. Indeed, Bennett would have been favored, by some accounts, in a primary opened up to the voters, though that could be a function of name ID.

But while in the short term, the now lame-duck Bennett might be freed up for a vote with Democrats here or there, over the long haul Republicans will now be even more frightened that, if they don’t move hard to the right, they will suffer the same fate. Illogical as that may sound, the Bennett ejection holds a powerful message that the far right of the GOP has taken over.

UPDATE: The Salt Lake Tribune reports that this is the first time Utah has denied a sitting Senator the nomination of their party since 1940, when Sen. William King lost his party’s nomination over his opposition to the New Deal.

UPDATE II: Tim Bridgewater took 57% of the vote on the third ballot, not enough to avoid a primary against Mike Lee. So there will be a primary June 22. Meanwhile Jim Matheson, the Democratic Representative from UT-03, did not get the needed 60% of the vote to win the nomination of his party, so he’ll face a June 22 primary as well.

What’s the difference between Israel and North Korea? [Darleen Click]

Hey, there is none!
Neither is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and both employ their nuclear weapons in elaborate games of peek-a-boo with the international community. Israel and North Korea are equally paranoid about outsiders conspiring to destroy their states, and this paranoia isn’t without some justification. Partly as a result of these suspicions, both countries engage in reckless and destabilizing foreign policies. In recent years, Israel has launched preemptive strikes and invaded other countries, while North Korea has abducted foreign citizens and blown up South Korean targets (including, possibly, a South Korean ship in late March in the Yellow Sea).

This kind of demagoguery is not innocently done. However, considering Obama’s barely concealed contempt for Israel, perhaps it’s not surprising to see a rise of such attempts at pernicious equivalency. Feffer certainly isn’t alone:

Is the Star of David the new swastika?
One may be excused at wondering if Obama’s latest demonstration of international impotency is borne of incompetence or design.

So much for US President Barack Obama’s famed powers of persuasion. At the UN’s Nuclear Non-Poliferation Treaty review conference which opened this week, the Obama administration managed to lose control over the agenda before the conference even started.

Obama administration officials said they intended to use the conference as a platform to mount international pressure on Iran to stop its illicit nuclear proliferation activities. But even before the conference began, with a little prodding from Egypt, the administration agreed that instead of focusing on Iran, the conference would adopt Iran’s chosen agenda: attacking Israel for its alleged nuclear arsenal.

Heck of a job, Barry!

BOLTON: We Shouldn't Rescue Europe

US taxpayers will be helping to foot the bill for the Greek bailout, via the Interna tional Monetary Fund. And if the Obama administration doesn't draw a clear line, Uncle Sam may soon be on the line for even more and larger European "rescues."

Photo: police set afire in Greece "protest" by the left.

I agree with Bolton that we should not bail out Greece and sanction those barbarian leftists acts of incredible violence. But what the good Ambassador doesn't understand is Obama lives for this -- anyone, anything, any cause but the self- interest of America. Can anyone point to any initiative, action or policy of O's that served American self interest?
And anyway, who is going to bail us out when we go into debt shock?
AMB. JOHN BOLTON: We Shouldn't Rescue Europe FOX News
What we're seeing in Greece is a European problem and it should not be solved by the United States.
The Greek financial crisis is really a European Union ("EU") political crisis as much as it is economic. European Monetary Union, creating the Euro, was designed to facilitate "ever closer union" as well as to create a common currency.
Under the Euro, individual EU member governments continued to pursue their own fiscal policies without having to worry about consequences for the values of their national currencies, because everything was masked by the Euro.
Now, as Greece's unsustainable situation becomes clear, and as others -- Spain and Portugal, for example -- the Euro itself is under challenge. That is not surprising, given the Euro's peculiar status as a currency without a government.

Now the European union must decide whether to change its structure or save its currency. It will be a painful decision for them to make either way, but they are the ones who created the problem. And they are surely capable of solving it. As a European problem, and very much a political one, it should not be solved by the United States.
There is no United States interest in rescuing the Euro or European political integration, certainly not with American taxpayer dollars. In fact, the IMF is involved in the Greek rescue package only because the EU, and particularly Germany didn't want all of the responsibility.
That is not a sufficient reason to the U.S. to rescue Europe from its own mistakes.
John R. Bolton, a former ambassador to the U.N., is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a Fox News contributor. He is the author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad" (Simon & Schuster, 2007).
Ambassador Bolton penned to foreword to my book (with Robert Spencer) on Obama: The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration's War on America -buy it.

We're bailing out Greece Mike Pence and Cathy Rodgers

NY Staten Island Ferry Crash: 37 Injured UPDATED, PHOTOS from Staten Island Ferry Accident, 2003 UPDATED VIDEO

Fox News is reporting, (also via Google Trends), that the Staten Island ferry slammed into a dock on Staten Island injuring at least 37 people of which 17 have been taken to the hospital. For now only one person has been 'red-tagged' due to chest pain from the ferry boat accident.
The accident happened at 9 AM ET. Police, the fire department and EMS are on the scene as well as the Coast Guard to assist and inspect the boat.
UPDATED: The Coast Guard is saying that a steering problem may be responsible for the accident.
UPDATED x2: AP is reporting that the ferry boat involved in the accident is no stranger to this kind of situation. Known as the Andrew J. Barberi, it is the same ferry involved in the 2003 crash that killed 11 at the same terminal:

The ferry runs across New York harbor between Manhattan and Staten Island.
In 2003, the ferry Andrew J. Barberi with about 1,500 people aboard slammed into a pier on the Staten Island side during evening rush hour, killing 11 passengers and injuring dozens.

Photos of the 2003 Staten Island ferry accident:

UPDATED x3: Videos of the Staten Island Ferry Crash:

FEMA News Release on Preparing Pets for Disasters

Today FEMA put out a news release on how pet owners can get their pets ready for disasters, especially since hurricane season is coming soon. You can read more at

WASHINGTON - With less than a month until the beginning of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season on June 1, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urges Americans to ensure their families, homes and businesses are prepared for the risks associated with hurricanes, tropical storms and other emergencies. Individuals and families are encouraged to have a family communications plan, put together an emergency kit and include their pets in their planning efforts. FEMA recognizes Saturday, May 8, 2010 as National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day.

"As hurricane season approaches, FEMA is coordinating with state and local officials to ensure that all communities along the coast are prepared to respond. But we can only be as prepared as the public, and so it's important that everyone take steps now to help keep their family safe in the event of a hurricane or other emergency. This includes their pets," said FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino.

FEMA encourages pet owners to take the following steps:

Be informed: Know what emergencies happen in your community and how those events could impact your pet;

Prepare: Put together pet emergency kit specific to your pets needs; and
Plan: Develop a plan for what you will do with your pets in the event of an emergency. To learn more about the steps pet owners can take to prepare your pets for a disaster.

To learn what you can do to prepare your family and your pets, visit

To view a message from FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino, visit

Court rules against National Post in source case

TORONTO (AP) — The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday that journalists do not have a blanket right to shield confidential sources.

The court ruled 8-1 against the National Post and former reporter Andrew McIntosh, who sought to quash a search warrant issued almost a decade ago in a case dealing with a possibly forged document from a secret source linked to a political scandal.

In finding there is no broad protection for journalists to shield sources, the justices said claims of immunity can be argued on a case-by-case basis.

“The law should and does accept that in some situations the public interest in protecting the secret source from disclosure outweighs other competing public interests — including criminal investigations,” Justice Ian Binnie wrote on the court’s behalf.

“In those circumstances, the courts will recognize an immunity against disclosure of sources to whom confidentiality has been promised.”
But Binnie wrote that in this situation, the needs of a police investigation trumped the right to keep sources confidential.

In 2000, McIntosh was investigating allegations that then-prime minister Jean Chretien had profited from real estate deals in the 1990s.

McIntosh reported that Chretien had called the Business Development Bank of Canada to promote a loan for the Grand-Mere Inn, a resort in his home district in Quebec.

McIntosh had promised confidentiality for a source known only as X, who sent the reporter a document containing what appeared to be a 1997 internal loan document from the bank. It said a loan of 615,000 Canadian dollars was granted to Grand-Mere, which allowed the company to pay an outstanding CA$23,000 debt to a Chretien family corporation.

The bank said the document was a forgery. McIntosh testified that X told him the document had arrived by mail anonymously and X had forwarded it to the reporter, believing it to be genuine.
In 2001, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were called in. They wanted to test the document and envelope for DNA or fingerprints — which would likely have identified X.
They obtained a search warrant and an assistance order. The order required the National Post to help find the document, which McIntosh said he had hidden in a safe place, not in the newspaper’s offices.

The newspaper went to court to fight the warrant and order.
The Ontario Superior Court quashed the warrant, but the provincial court of appeal reinstated it.Read more:

Poll: 61% Of Americans Think Arizona Was Right To Act On Illegal Immigration

I like this poll, less for what it has to say about Arizona and its illegal immigration than for what it says about an increasingly federalist attitude in America.

The new poll finds 61 percent of voters nationally think Arizona was right to take action instead of waiting for the federal government to do something on immigration. That’s more than twice as many as the 27 percent who think securing the border is a federal responsibility and Arizona should have waited for Washington to act. . . . Significantly more voters think the Obama administration should wait and see how the new law works (64 percent) than think the administration should try to stop it (15 percent).

Glenn Reynolds also think it says something about the media’s ability to shape a narrative:

What this poll says is that despite weeks of national-media coverage that was unrelentingly negative, calling the bill racist, drawing Nazi analogies, etc. — only 15 percent are really against it. Sorry guys — you’re still talking, but people aren’t listening.

People are listening. They’re just less likely, perhaps than ever before, to believe what they hear/see/read.

PA-Sen: More “Cataclysm”: Sestak Ties Specter in Tracking Poll

Pennsylvania Democratic Party chair TJ Rooney whined yesterday that a victory by Joe Sestak over Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary would be “cataclysmic.” Why a longtime Republican with high negatives and a strong incumbency factor in an anti-incumbent year should be seen as the savior of the Democratic Party is unclear. But the ground is shifting below TJ Rooney’s feet:

Snarlen and Joe Sestak are in a statistical dead heat in this morning’s Morning Call/Muhlenberg College tracking poll.
The two Democrats are at 43 percent each in the poll of 410 likely primary voters, with 13 percent undecided. Just yesterday, Specter held a 45-40 percent lead, with 14 percent undecided.
Yesterday, Sestak began airing an advertisement linking Specter to former Prez George Bush and, worse for Dems, Sarah Palin. Looks like there was some penetration there.

That brutal ad probably didn’t even factor into this poll – so things will probably get worse for Specter. I think making Sestak the favorite now is probably the right move.

And a word to TJ Rooney – your potential nominee for Senate just went up against a 30-year incumbent, with the entire political establishment against him, with nobody giving him a chance, outspent, out-endorsed, with the President of the United States cutting ads for his opponent; and he is about to shock the world. I think he may be strong enough to carry a victory in November. Surely it’s possible?

As Chris Bowers notes, this is part of a pretty good polling cycle for Democrats. Bill Halter looks like he may force a runoff against Blanche Lincoln now; Arizona shows a Democrat suddenly in the lead for Governor, Ned Lamont’s upin Connecticut, and progressive Democrat Roxanne Conlin is within single digits of Chuck Grassley (his vote against destroying consumer protections in Wall Street reform yesterday may not have been an accident).

What appears to be happening is that Democrats want more reliable Democrats in office, and nobody wants incumbents to stay in place. Obviously incumbents still have lots of advantages, but this is a funny year.

UPDATE: Ed Rendell’s on Hardball right now, and he wouldn’t go as far as TJ Rooney, saying that Sestak or Specter could win a general election, though Specter is a “stronger candidate.” Rendell also praised Sestak’s tough ad as coming from “my ad agency,” though he obviously supports Specter – he just cut a robocall for him, and he said current Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter, Vice President Biden and President Obama would also make their support known soon.

By: David Dayen

A brief note on "Los Suns"

On Cinco de Mayo Phoenix wore "Los Suns" shirts to protest Arizona's Senate Bill 1070 - a jaw-dropping bit of racist, xenophobic legislation. The Suns' decision has sparked much discussion about the place of politics in sports. The idea that politics can be kept out of sport is giant fiction. If you are allowed to ignore the politics of your team's owners, it is only because this makes it easier for them to line their pockets. For those wondering where the Suns got their "Los Suns" shirts, I thought I'd share the following: The "Los Suns" shirt comes out of "Noche Latina" - an annual NBA promotional gesture towards Latino fans, in which teams housed in cities with a large Latino market wear jerseys sporting their names as spoken in Spanish by fans (e.g. "El Heat", "Los Spurs" and, my favorite - though not my favorite team - "Los Lakers.")A marketing gesture intended to acknowledge (and "monetize") Latino fans of NBA teams returns to the court as a provocative statement about what it means for NBA teams to support their fans.If you want more on this topic, listen to this conversation between Dave Zirin and Greg Esposito. Zirin lists other instances in which sports is politicized openly - the owners of baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks have used their teams as platforms to raise money for Arizona Republicans, and to organize against abortion rights. It's a good long discussion and heats up pretty quickly. Well I guess we can be glad that soccer isn't baseball. Except, of course, it is.
Posted by Jennifer Doyle

Will Smith Commits To 'Men In Black 3D' Threequel; Sony Sets May 25, 2012 Release


EXCLUSIVE: Men in Black 3 is officially a go, and Columbia Pictures will set a May 25, 2012, release date for a sequel that director Barry Sonnenfeld will shoot in 3D. Will Smith has signed his deal to reunite with director Barry Sonnenfeld, and deals are now being negotiated with Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin. An announcement is imminent.

The project has been in the prep stage for some time, but didn't become real until Smith chose it over several "next film" candidates. His decision to put on the sunglasses and dark suit gives Sony a killer 2012: the studio previously set a July 3, 2012 release date for its Spider-Man relaunch, which also will be shot in 3D. Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald return as MIB3 producers, and Steven Spielberg will be executive producer.

It has long been expected MIB3 would be next for Smith, who last starred in 2008’s Seven Pounds and then took the time to be a very hands on producer in the China-shot Karate Kid remake that stars his son, Jaden (which Columbia releases June 11). Smith then mulled several star vehicles that included City That Sailed, and I hear that he also contemplated Colossus, the scifi remake that Ron Howard wants to direct for Universal and Imagine.

While Smith pondered his choices, Columbia, Sonnenfeld and MIB3 producers Parkes and MacDonald positioned themselves to be ready. I’m told that Rick Baker has been designing and building the creatures, Bo Welch has been designing the sets, and David Koepp had been polishing a script by Etan Cohen that got this whole thing started. Cohen is back and polishing the shooting draft.

The film will use a time travel element that moves the action from contemporary back to 1969. Brolin will play the younger version of Jones's Agent Kay character. Sony had every reason to be stoked about more MIB, the franchise based on the comic book by Lowell Cunningham. The 1997 original grossed $589 million worldwide, and the 2002 sequel did $442 million in global ticket sales. Those films rank high on Columbia’s all-time gross chart, and the prospect of making an installment that captures the otherworldly creatures in 3D is enticing. Still, many felt another film would be impossible because the gross deals were so prohibitive. I’m told that the principal players showed flexibility. It's still a big-ticket film, and there is plenty of gross out the door. But the deals have built-in hiatus periods that allow the studio to recoup and make money.

That hurdle was overcome some time ago, and it came down to Smith committing. He showed some flexibility by agreeing to a Memorial Day weekend opening. Since Independence Day, Smith has considered July 4 weekend to be his preferred domain for commercial vehicles, but that slot was already occupied by Spider-Man. Then again, Smith has always been shrewd about choosing projects, and he has positioned himself to keep intact his title as world’s biggest box office star.

LeBron scores 21 in 1st, finishes with 38 as Cavs coast to 124-95 victory over Boston

LeBron scores 21 in 1st quarter, finishes with 38

BOSTON — LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers only needed one quarter to elbow their way back into the lead of their Eastern Conference semifinal with the Boston Celtics.

James scored 21 of his 38 points in the first quarter to help Cleveland beat Boston 124-95 on Friday night, handing the Celtics their worst home playoff loss ever and taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals.

“It started with me tonight. Everyone else saw my aggression and took advantage of it,” James said. “I think rest helped me; rest helped all of us, and we were able to put together a complete game for the first time in these playoffs.”

Showing no ill-effects of an elbow problem that was the talk of Cleveland during the three-day layoff since a Game 2 loss at home, James finished with eight rebounds and seven assists. The 21 points in a quarter was a franchise postseason record.

“I know I’m going to hear a lot about the elbow, but I’m here to play basketball and give our team a chance to win,” James said. “We knew how important it was to come out and play aggressively after giving away Game 2.”

Antawn Jamison had 20 points and 12 rebounds for Cleveland, while Shaquille O’Neal added 12 points and nine rebounds.

Rajon Rondo, who had 19 assists in Boston’s Game 2 victory on Monday, had 18 points and eight assists.

The Celtics missed 10 of their first 13 shots, hitting just 27 percent in the first quarter to spot Cleveland a 21-point lead. The Cavaliers shot 67 percent from the field in the first — and 59 percent for the game — and Boston was never able to recover. The Celtics’ previous worst home playoff loss was 97-70 to Indiana on May 7, 2005, in Game 7 of the first round.

“It was great to see LeBron set the tone from the jump,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. “And the rest of the team followed.”

Game 4 is Sunday, and the Celtics need a victory to split their home games and assure themselves of another.

James wore a black sleeve on his right elbow, which became a concern after he shot a free throw left-handed in the closing minutes of Cleveland’s first-round playoff clincher against Chicago. But he went 8 of 10 from the field in the first quarter — most of them mid- to long-range jumpers — and after that it didn’t matter.

“I think he’s healthy,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who has been dismissive of James’ injury. “His elbow looked very good tonight. So enough with the elbow injury. I think we can go ahead and focus on basketball.”

James headed to the bench to rest his strained and bruised elbow with 5:41 left in the game. For 45 minutes afterward, he had it wrapped in ice.

“I had it going, we had it going,” he said, “and I wasn’t tired.”

The Celtics had high hopes for an upset of the top-seeded Cavaliers after taking Game 2 104-86 in Cleveland to swipe the home-court advantage. But Cleveland earned it back in Game 3, needing just one quarter to silence the Boston crowd that grew even more downcast when the Red Sox and Bruins also fell behind early — and then lost.

“There was no reason for me as a leader to be angry,” James said. “We played awful in Game 2, and I knew how important the next game was. I know how important the whole series is.”

The fans booed when Boston left the court at halftime down 65-43. And they cleared the building midway through the fourth, when Rivers pulled his starters and James headed to the bench to rest his strained and bruised right elbow.

“That was embarrassing. That’s embarrassing when you lose at home like that,” said Paul Pierce, who scored 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting and didn’t make his first basket until midway through the second quarter.

“We just let our guard down. … You’ve got to know the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to come in here with all the urgency in the world. They took the fight to us early, and we didn’t respond to it.”

James scored eight straight points to make it a 10-point lead midway through the first, and seven points during an 11-0 run that made it 36-15 with 19 seconds left in the quarter. Cleveland led by 24 points in the second quarter, 30 in the third, and never by less than 20 in the entire second half.

“He was playing H-O-R-S-E,” Rivers said. “We were awful. We just didn’t play with the same intensity they did. They played with a Game 7 mentality.”

Notes: The national anthem was sung by sandal-wearing Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir. … The Celtics had a moment of silence for Bobby Vines, a 45-year-old sales account executive who died after a lifelong battle with sickle cell anemia. … The NBA record for points in a quarter of a playoff game is held by Sleepy Floyd, who had 29 in 1987 for Golden State. … James reached 2,000 playoff points in his career.