Thursday, September 27, 2012

New Romney Video: Bain Exists To "Harvest" Companies for Profit

Mother Jones has discovered another devastating Romney video - this one from 1985. In it, Romney describes the creation of Bain Capitol as a firm designed to "harvest" troubled companies for "a significant profit".

At Bain, Romney's top priority wasn't to boost employment. As the Wall Street Journal recently noted, creating jobs "wasn't the aim of Bain or other private-equity firms, which measure success by returns produced for investors." And, the newspaper reported, Romney's 100,000-jobs claim is tough to evaluate.

Mother Jones has obtained a video from 1985 in which Romney, describing Bain's formation, showed how he viewed the firm's mission. He explained that its goal was to identify potential and hidden value in companies, buy significant stakes in these businesses, and then "harvest them at a significant profit" within five to eight years.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The 47% Speaks Out: This DIY Political Ad Will Break Your Heart asked its members to create and submit their own political ads based on Mitt Romney's comments that the 47% of US voters who don't pay Federal income tax see themselves as "victims".

The following, submitted by Virginia residents, is now running in the Roanoke, VA media market.

It will break your heart:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Happy Autumnal Equinox

As seen from Venice Beach, California. Happy Fall, y'all.

Friday, September 21, 2012

PHOTOS: Endeavour Goes Hollywood

Making a final victory lap around the state of California, the Endeavour came to Hollywood for it's close-up before landing at LAX a little after noon. I was fortunate enough to be allowed to set up my photo equipment at the top of City Hall, where I had unobstructed views of the Hollywood sign and the Griffith Observatory.

Endeavour made three laps near downtown Los Angeles, the last lap taking it within half a mile of the City Hall tower.  (You can read more about my adventures in this LA Times story.)

Endeavour makes it's first pass near City Hall - Griffith Park is in the background

As it passed by us the third and final time, I thought it somehow fitting that America's space shuttle program finally came to a close in Los Angeles, the city of dreamers and make-believe.

Click on any photo to see it full-size.

Spectators waiting on the roof of the Superior Court building

Endeavour  passes by the Hollywood sign

Spectators on the 27th floor of City Hall trying to line up a shot

Endeavour  passes over downtown LA

Downtown Los Angeles in between passes of the Endeavour

The shadow of LA City Hall falls on the new Grand Park

Shadow of the LA City Hall tower falls on a security guard

Spectators on top of the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion

Endeavour  passes over downtown LA

Spectators on top of City Hall take photos as the Endeavour passes by

Endeavor passes over downtown LA

Endeavour  passes over downtown LA

Endeavour  passes by downtown LA on it's way to Long Beach

Endeavour  in front of Mount Wilson - that's a chase plane on the right.

Endeavour  passes close to City Hall on its third and final pass

Endeavour passes close to City Hall on its third and final pass

Endeavour passes close to City Hall on its third and final pass

Endeavour and two escort aircraft close to City Hall on their third and final pass

My last photo of Endeavour as it flies by City Hall

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Live In California? Now You Can Register To Vote With The Click Of A Mouse

Do you live in California? Have a valid driver's license or state issued ID card? Not registered to vote or moved since the last election? Well now you can register to vote on your laptop or mobile device thanks to a new online voter registration program launched yesterday.

Go to this link to get started:

You must file an application by Oct. 22 to qualify to vote for the November election.

According to the California Secretary of State's website, all you need to do is provide your ID number from a valid California drivers license or state-issued identification card, the last 4 digits of your Social Security number, and your date of birth in order to file electronically.

The online system will search the Department of Motor Vehicles database for the applicant's driver's license and other identifying information and match it to the electronic form. Elections officials will use an electronic image of the voter's DMV signature to complete the application.

All electronic applications will be verified using the same process used to review paper applications submitted by mail or voter registration drives.

Those without a California drivers license, state ID or Social Security number can still fill out an application online, but they will have to print it out, sign it and mail it in.

Voters need to register to vote every time they change addresses, party affiliation or if they wish to become permanent absentee (vote-by-mail) voters.

"Today, the Internet replaces the mailbox for thousands of Californians wishing to register to vote," Secretary of State Bowen said at a Sacramento news conference. According to Bowen, 9,596 applications were filed online in the first 18 hours of the system's operations Wednesday.

California has one of the lowest rates of voter registration in the country, with more than a quarter of eligible Californians unregistered according to Kim Alexander, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation. "We're hoping that this new system will encourage more young people to get registered. This is going to make the process more accessible to more people."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Obama Campaign Releases "Romney's Responsibility Map"

From the "when your opponent is drowning throw him an anvil" school of politics, the Obama campaign just released this graphic.

Ouch. That's going to leave a mark.

Venice For Change Bi-Annual Voter Registration Drive At The Abbot Kinney Street Festival - WE NEED VOLUNTEERS!

Folks, no matter how many times Mitt Romney sticks a silver foot in his mouth, we can't assume this election is in the bag for President Obama, not with Citizens United and Republican efforts to suppress the vote. Plus there are many California races and ballot initiatives which will have a huge impact on us right here at home. We need to register as many new and returning voters as we can while we can.

That's why Venice For Change is setting up a voter registration booth at one of the largest open-air festivals in the state - the Abbot Kinney Street Festival in Venice on Sunday, October 7th.

In 2010 Venice For Change volunteers registered over 300 new voters at the festival. This year, with the presidential election, I believe we can easily double that number - but only with your help.

Fill out the form below to sign up for a two hour shift. 

Never registered voters before? No problem, we'll train you! And bring a friend, you'll all have a blast, I promise!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Romney In The Raw: Secret Video Reveals Candidate Saying That Obama Voters Are "Victims....Dependent On The Government"

In a devastating new video just released by Mother Jones,  Mitt Romney drops any pretense of being the pragmatic, moderate leader of the Republican party, sounding instead a lot like a far-right leader of the Tea Party.

Behind closed doors, Mitt Romney tells a group of high-powered donors that voters supporting Barack Obama consider themselves "victims" who "believe the government has a responsibility to care for them."

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what, " Romney told the donors. "All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax."

Romney's talking point - that low-income Americans aren't paying their fair share because they don't make enough money to pay Federal income taxes - is a popular, if discredited, trope of the extreme right-wing. In fact, low-income tax-payers actually have a higher overall tax rate than top wage-earners due to state income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, and various fees.

From Talking Points Memo:

The notion that virtually all Obama voters depend on government handouts has strong support within the right wing of the Republican Party. On Friday, former Family Research Council President Gary Bauer made the idea a highlight of his speech to the Values Voter Summit.

“They will vote for their own perceived interests, which is they don’t want anybody cutting back the size of the checks,” Bauer told TPM at the summit.

Romney has for months claimed publicly that Obama is trying to create an “entitlement society.” He said in August that Obama was trying to “shore up his base” with welfare reforms Romney says will eliminate the work requirement for benefits (it won’t), but he hasn’t gone as far as Bauer in public. The Mother Jones video suggests he has gone that far in private.

The Obama campaign said Monday that the video shows Romney isn’t focusing his campaign om the majority of Americans.

“It’s shocking that a candidate for president of the United States would go behind closed doors and declare to a group of wealthy donors that half the American people view themselves as ‘victims,’ entitled to handouts and are unwilling to take ‘personal responsibility’ for their lives,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a statement. “It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Smirk Is Worth A Thousand Words (UPDATED)

The AP just posted a photo from Romney's press conference this morning, taken as Romney left the podium. Romney had just doubled-down on remarks accusing President Obama of sympathizing with mobs attacking our embassies in Egypt and Libya.

He's smiling.

Four Americans - including the American ambassador - are dead in Libya.  Killed on 9/11. And Romney is smiling.

A little background if you're just tuning in.

Mitt Romney reiterated on Wednesday his condemnation of President Obama’s response to an attack on a diplomatic compound in Libya that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, accusing Obama of apologizing to Islamic militants.

In a press conference delivered minutes after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the attacks, Romney expanded on his initial statement, in which he said the administration’s first response was “to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

“We join together in the condemnation of attacks on the American embassies and the loss of American life and join in sympathy for these people,”Romney said. “It’s also important for me — just as it was for the White House, last night by the way — to say that the statements were inappropriate, and in my view a disgraceful statement on the part of our administration to apologize for American values.”

It was the second time in just over 12 hours that Romney had suggested the White House sided with rioters and militants. Romney’s initial statement came late Tuesday, after news had broke that an American officer had been killed in Libya, but before the State Department had confirmed Stevens was among the dead. It inaccurately suggested that the U.S. embassy in Cairo, which also came under attack, had issued a statement condemning an anti-Muslim film online that had sparked the riots as its “first response” to the violence. In fact, the embassy and multiple press reports assert that the statement came before the protests and was intended to head off a confrontation......

Romney declined to answer whether he would have said the same thing on Tuesday if he had known that Stevens had been killed in the attack.

“I’m not going to take hypothetical what would have been known when and so forth,” he said. “We responded last night to the events that happened in Egypt.”

What makes Romney's "Ready, Fire, Aim" political exploitation of the fast-moving Libyan crisis particularly dangerous is that it's emerged this morning that the anti-Muslim video which sparked the violence turns out to have been made and financed by a self-identified someone posing as an "Israeli Jew" real estate mogul living in the US. So the repercussions could easily spread beyond Libya's borders and into an already combustive atmosphere between Israel and the Arab World.

Romney's full press conference can be viewed here. 


The story around the self-identified "Israeli Jewish real estate mogul" filmmaker is getting stranger by the minute. Gawker is reporting the man who claimed to have written and directed the video, Sam Bacile, may not, in fact, actually exist.

Web and public record searches bring up no evidence of the supposed real estate mogul. The Israeli government told the Post they couldn't find records Sam Bacile was a citizen. Even Bacile's age is a mystery: He told the Wall Street Journal he was 52, but told the AP he's 56, as pointed out by Religion Dispatch. His YouTube page says he's 75.

The mystery deepend this afternoon when The Atlantic's Jeffery Goldberg reported that "Sam Bacile" is a pseudonym and not Israeli. He spoke to a consultant on the film, a self-described "militant Christian activist" in California named Steve Klein. Klein told Golbderg:
Bacile, the producer of the film, is not Israeli, and most likely not Jewish, as has been reported, and that the name is, in fact, a pseudonym. He said he did not know "Bacile"'s real name. He said Bacile contacted him because he leads anti-Islam protests outside of mosques and schools, and because, he said, he is a Vietnam veteran and an expert on uncovering al Qaeda cells in California. "After 9/11 I went out to look for terror cells in California and found them, piece of cake. Sam found out about me. The Middle East Christian and Jewish communities trust me."
Klein told Golbderg that around 15 people were involved in the making of the film, "They're from Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, they're some that are from Egypt. Some are Copts but the vast majority are Evangelical," he told Golbderg.
The 80-member cast and crew who participated in the project released a statement to CNN saying they were mislead about the project.

The entire cast and crew are extremely upset and feel taken advantage of by the producer. We are 100% not behind this film and were grossly misled about its intent and purpose. We are shocked by the drastic re-writes of the script and lies that were told to all involved. We are deeply saddened by the tragedies that have occurred.

Cindy Lee Garcia, an actress from Bakersfield, Calif. who has a small role in the video, told Gawker she had no idea she was participating in an offensive spoof on the life of Muhammed when she answered a casting call through an agency last summer for a script titled Desert Warriors.

"It was going to be a film based on how things were 2,000 years ago," Garcia said. "It wasn't based on anything to do with religion, it was just on how things were run in Egypt. There wasn't anything about Muhammed or Muslims or anything."

In the script and during the shooting, nothing indicated the controversial nature of the final product. Muhammed wasn't even called Muhammed; he was "Master George," Garcia said. The words Muhammed were dubbed over in post-production, as were essentially all other offensive references to Islam and Muhammed.

Garcia was horrified when she saw the end product, and when protesters in Libya killed four U.S. Embassy employee.

"I had nothing to do really with anything. Now we have people dead because of a movie I was in. It makes me sick."

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bill Rosendahl Returns To Council Chambers For The First Time Since Being Diagnosed With Cancer

"Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
- Mark Twain

Councilman Bill Rosendahl returned to LA City Hall today for the first time since announcing his cancer diagnoses August 1st.

Looking noticeably thinner, and moving with the aide of a walker, the Councilman was nonetheless upbeat and energetic, announcing a Friday community meeting in Venice and not-so-subtely signaling his intention to run for a reelection.

“I feel strong enough not only to serve a third term, but my goal is to live until 96 and when I’m getting all this know, God is love,” Rosendahl said.

Up until now, the councilman has not disclosed what type of cancer he is battling. The cancer is of the ureter, which is a tube that connects the kidney and bladder. The councilman has a tumor between his fourth and fifth vertebrae and another tumor between the third and the fourth vertebrae, he said.

"The amount of love I have gotten has been phenomenal," Rosendahl wrote in his blog.  "People have brought food to the house. People have prayed with me. People have sung with me. They have put all sorts of positive energy around me.”

As for the immediate future, Rosendahl indicated he would remain involved in City issues while undergoing treatment, but that he would only physically attend City Council meetings if his presence was needed to meet a 12-vote threshold.

For those wishing to give the Councilman their best wishes in person, supporters will be holding a community event for Rosendahl this Friday, 7-9pm, at Scott Mayers' Lantern House, 745 Milwood Avenue, Venice, CA 90291

Monday, September 10, 2012

Yelp Becomes Political Battleground For Obama-Hugging Pizza Parlor Owner

Silly season has definitely arrived.

On Sunday, Scott Van Duzer became the Obama campaign’s favorite Republican bench-pressing pizza-parlor owner when he lifted President Obama off the floor during a surprise hug in his Florida restaurant. The image made the front pages of newspapers around the country and immediately whizzed around the Internet.

But on Monday, Mr. Van Duzer found that fame can be a complicated proposition. The Yelp profile page for his pizza place, which had only two reviews before Monday (“Love the Pizza, wings, subs and the best strombolie [sic] in town”) was suddenly inundated with hundreds of reviews, making it perhaps the most politically charged pizza review board around.
Self-identified conservatives flooded Duzer's Yelp page with one-star negative reviews. 

“People are saying a lot of bad things and boycotting my restaurant,” said Van Duzer, a registered Republican. “There’s no middle line anymore, and that’s exactly what’s wrong with our country right now.”

Yelp appears to now be yanking the reviews as fast as it can, but these screen-captures are typical (click on captures to see full-sized): 

Duzar's fans - both local and across the country - quickly came to his defense however, posting hundreds of positive reviews like these:

By this afternoon, positive comments supporting the small-business owner completely overwhelmed negative ones. All I can say is, if you find yourself in Fort Pierce, Florida, go have yourself a piece of pie.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Paul Ryan About To Vote For GOP Bill Killing Investment In US Clean Energy Companies

Even as Mitt Romney wasted no time touting Friday's mediocre jobs report, his Vice Presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, was poised to vote for a GOP bill that would effectively end all government investment in one of America's fastest growing industries - clean energy.

House Republicans will pass a bill next week that suspends new loans for clean-energy companies under the Department of Energy program that loaned nearly $530 million Solyndra, the failed solar panel producer that Republicans have targeted as an example of government waste. 

Under the "No More Solyndras Act, H.R. 6213", any similar applications for government loans made in 2012 could not be accepted, and any applications submitted before 2012 could only be approved after a Treasury Department review of the proposed financial terms of the loan. ....Any violation of the bill would subject related officials to penalties, including a fine of at least $10,000 and up to $50,000. 

Sharply falling solar cells prices, "fueled" mostly by China's massive $46 billion investment in their own country's solar and green tech sector, has bankrupted a number of solar-energy companies in the US and abroad.

Despite this setback in one part of the industry, the Brookings Institute reported that the clean energy sector as a whole - wind, solar, fuel cell, smart grid, biofuel, and battery companies – grew at an average rate of 8.3 percent, nearly twice the growth rate of the US economy as a whole.  The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates "green jobs", of which the clean energy sector is a part, employed over 2.1 million worker in this country.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Video Highlights: Day Three of the DNC Convention - Obama Accepts The Nomination

Miss yesterday's speeches? Here are the highlights - including the full speeches from Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Jennifer Granholm, John Kerry, and Gabby Giffords leading the Pledge of Allegiance.

President Barack Obama

Vice President Joe Biden

Gabby Giffords leads the pledge of allegiance (short commercial before video)

Former Governor Jennifer Granholm

Senator John Kerry

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Video Highlights: Day Two of the DNC Convention - The Big Dog Speaks!

Day two of the DNC convention saw Bill Clinton take on the entire billion-dollar right-wing lie machine and brought it to it's knees.  In only 48 minutes, Clinton decimated every false claim of the Romney/Ryan campaign in a lecture so impressive even my conservative brother-in-law could not stop watching.

One by one, Clinton picked through and exposed Romney/Ryan's lies about welfare reform,  Medicare (about Ryan, "It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did"), the budget deficit, immigration, the military, and in one spectacular bit of arithmetic, job creation.

"Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24", said Clinton. "In those 52 years, our economy produced 66 million private sector jobs. What's the jobs score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million!”

But Clinton wasn't the only game in town yesterday. Rising California stars Congresswoman Judy Chu and Attorney General Kamala Harris wowed the crowd, Sandra Fluke demonstrated to Rush Limbaugh that revenge is a dish best served cold, Benita Velize became the first undocumented immigrant to address a convention of either party and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver brought the crowd to its feet with a speech that was more sermon than anything, rallying the troops with cries of "Hope on!".

And of course, there was Elizabeth Warren taking on Romney's "corporations are people too" mantra. 

"No, Governor Romney, corporations are not people, " said Warren.  "People have hearts. They have kids. They get jobs. They get sick. They thrive. They dance. They live. They love. And they die. And that matters. That matters. That matters because we don’t run this country for corporations, we run it for people."

If you missed any of the speeches yesterday, check out the videos below. Video from the first day of the convention can be found at this link.

Be sure to check in for livestreaming video of today, the final day of the Democratic National Convention at this link.

President Bill Clinton

Elizabeth Warren

Sandra Fluke

Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver

Sister Simone Campbell from "Nuns on the Bus"

Benita Veliz - the first ever undocumented immigrant to address a national political convention

California Attorney General Kamala Harris

CA Congresswoman Judy Chu

Cuban-American Journalist Christina Saralegui

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

VIDEO: Get Your Hope On, Watch Emanuel Cleaver's Inspiring DNC Speech

Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver fired up the interweb's this afternoon with an impassioned speech defending the Democratic Party and its ideals.

"Make no mistake: I am proud to be a Democrat. I am proud to be a member of this great party," said Cleaver. "And we have, in many instances, been hit: 'They are liberal, they are progressive.'

"Look, if being liberal and progressive means that I care for children and whether they go hungry, color me! Color me a Democrat!" exhorted Cleaver in one of many deviations from his prepared remarks. "If being a Democrat means I'm concerned about our seniors in the sunset of their life, color me Democrat! Color me liberal! After all, we are the ones who protected Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, who fought for fair wages and who ended 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' We are Democrats! And don't you ever forget it!"

Watch the whole thing and get your hope on:

Video Highlights From The First Day Of The Democratic National Convention

Miss the first day of the Democratic National Convention? You're in luck.

I've posted outstanding speeches from First Lady Michelle Obama, Keynote speaker Julian Castro, Actor Kal Penn,  Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, Lilly Leadbetter, and Corey Booker, as well as the moving video tribute to Edward Kennedy shown on the convention floor.

Don't miss today's action, which will begin streaming at this link live at 5pm eastern/2pm pacific time.

First Lady Michelle Obama

 San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (short commercial before video plays)

Video tribute to Senator Edward Kennedy

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley

Actor Kal Penn

Activist Lilly Ledbetter

Newark, NJ Mayor Corey Booker (short commercial before video plays)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Watch The 2012 Democratic Convention LIVE at Venice For Change!

It's almost time to get your political junkie on. For three days the party faithful are gathering in Charlotte, NC to formally nominate Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama the standard bearers of the Democratic Party.

If you're like me, it's not enough to watch whatever encapsulated primetime line up the major networks deign to show, so Venice For Change is happy to join with hundreds of blogs from around the country to livestream the convention 24/7 from our site. To make things interesting, we'll also be running a live twitter feed from our CA delegation and updating the site with any photos, impressions and links they share. Be sure to check back often for updates!

Miss the first day? Watch video of some of the outstanding speeches here.

You can read the Democratic Party Platform here.

Thursday Evening Speaking Schedule  

(full schedule here - all times Eastern)

4:30 PM – 6:00 PM
NC Senator Kay Hagan
NC Lt. Gov Walter Dalton
NC Congressman G.K. Butterfield
NC Congressman David Price
NC Congressman Mel L. Watt
James Rogers - CEO Duke Energy
Live Performance - James Taylor
Call to Order - Antonio R. Villaraigosa
Invocation - Reverend Gabriel Salguero
Presentation of Colors - American Legion Post 400 of Charlotte, North Carolina Darrell B. Bonapart, Joe Michalic, Robert E. Welch, Marvin R. Weber
Pledge of Allegiance - Gabby Giffords
National Anthem - Marc Anthony
MD Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards
MS Congressman Barney Frank

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
GA Congressman John Lewis
Stronger Together Video: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
American Voices - Jason Crow
Live Performance - Mary J. Blige
FL Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Antonio R. Villaraigosa
Tammy Baldwin - Candidate for US Senate, Wisconsin
Michael Nutter - Mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Stay Stronger Together Video: Marriage Equality

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Jim Messina - Campaign Manager, Obama for America
American Heroes Video: Auto Workers
American Voices - Kenyetta Jones, Ryan Case, Ed Meagher, Martha Figueroa, Lucas Beenken, Rob Hach
Vice Presidential Nomination Intro - Antonio R. Villaraigosa
Nominating Remarks - Beau Biden, DE Attorney General and Son of Vice President Joe Biden
Vote by Acclamation
Live Performance - Foo Fighters
SC Congressman James E. Clyburn
Scarlett Johansson and Kerry Washington

8:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Caroline Kennedy
CA Congressman Xavier Becerra
Jennifer Granholm - Former Governor of Michigan
Eva Longoria
Brian Schweitzer - Governor of Montana
Charlie Crist - Former Governor of Florida
MS Senator John Kerry

9:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Video: Veterans
Admiral John B. Nathman - United States Navy, Retired
Introductory Remarks - Angie Flores
Dr. Jill Biden
Vice President Joe Biden Video
Joe Biden - Vice President of the United States

10:00 PM – 11:00 PM
IL Senator Dick Durbin
Video introducing President Barack Obama
Barack Obama - President of the United States

Updated photos and stories below the fold: