Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Attention East Coast Hurricane Victims: Willard Romney has a message for you.

From the Denver Post:

"During a "storm relief" event Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio, Romney ignored repeated questions from reporters about whether he wished to scale back the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a position he advocated during a GOP primary debate, in June 2011. FEMA is in charge of coordinating the federal response to disasters such as Hurricane Sandy."

Yeah, Mitt doesn't have time for the likes of you. For more details, check out the rest of the Denver Post article here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane news: Manhattan south of East 39th Street is a total disaster. Where’s the outrage from the governor and mayor?

Fortunately my office is a few blocks north of my apartment. My Manhattan apartment, south of 39th Street has been turned into the equivalent of a cave in Afghanistan.

Now pay attention, folks.

I blogged last night about the sorry joke it was when the Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Cuomo, and the New York Transit Authority closed down Manhattan 24 hours in advance of the hurricane. As usual, they were sweating the small stuff and making a great show of over-caution for political purposes while totally ignoring the big booby traps. For example?

Despite several recent crane disasters in Manhattan in recent years, the Mayor forgot to check whether there were any cranes out there that should have been taken down before they began blowing in the wind. There was one. It’s a huge monster, twisting and waving in the 100 mph gusts, that caused the closing of a nearby hotel and forced several hundred people out of their apartments in the midst of a hurricane. But even that’s relatively small stuff.

Who's minding the power grid?

A major thing they forgot to do was check to see if there was anybody competent minding the store at Con Edison, the local power utility.

While a few thousand New Yorkers were evacuated from water’s edge apartment buildings in the Battery Park City area, near Wall Street, there are now 1.9 million New Yorkers without power.

Because of the way the city’s residential infrastructure is set up, that means many New Yorkers, particularly the elderly, are trapped in unheated apartments that are getting colder as the temperature drops. (Con Edison supplies steam that heats many apartments. And even oil and gas-burning boilers need electrical power.) The residents have no hot water. They have no cold water either, since water in New York high rises gets pumped to water tanks on the roofs electrically for storage. They can’t flush their toilets. They can’t bathe. They have to ration their drinking water. The food in their dead refrigerators is rotting. Many have no phone service. Or cable TV service. Or Internet. (Modems go down when the power goes down.)

 If they have flashlights, perhaps they can make their way down ten, or fifteen, or thirty flights of stairs with a flashlight (and then up again to go home.)

But when they get to street level, there won’t be much there for their solace. Most of the food stores south of 39th Street are now closed. Most of the restaurants are now closed. The subway isn’t working yet. So even if stores want to open and have product to sell, there's nobody there to sell it. Or cook it.

“Redundancy? We don’t need
no stinking redundancy” – Con Ed

What’s the cause of all this? Somehow, a transformer blew up somewhere in Manhattan. It may have been due to flooding from the storm. If may have a wind-driven object that flew into the transformer. For all anybody knows, it may have been sabotage.

Whatever the case, I’m sure al-Qeada took note last night that you only have to blow out one transformer to plunge half of Manhattan (I’m guessing close to a million people) into misery and paralyze the city. There seems to be no redundancy. No spare transformer that kicks in when the old one kicks the bucket. There's no way of routing current around the blown transformer, the way telephone companies used to reroute signals around a failed communications node.

In effect Con Edison is saying, “So it’s busted. Tough cookies.”

People will die

There are going to be people who die from this. People who have heart attacks or strokes and can’t call for help because they have no phone service. People who tumble down darkened stairwells. Even people who starve to death in their own apartments.

Once the power is up, I do hope there will be some serious governmental (and journalistic) investigation into why there is no redundancy built into Con Edison’s power distribution system. And then I hope we get some legislation to get it built. Fast.           

Or, once the crisis is tamped down, will Governor Cuomo get back to cultivating his presidential ambitions while Mr. Bloomberg takes off for his getaway in Bermuda?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Bloomberg and Cuomo turn New York into a hurricane-anticipating ghost town while local supermarkets sell off the worst crap on their shelves

Above: The view from my window, mid-afternoon. No people. No traffic. No wind. No driving rain. No nothing except for a little bit of drizzle. Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo effectively turned the city into a ghost town.

New York - Well, the subway stopped running at 7 pm last night. It’s now 2:42 pm the next day and so far nothing much has happened.

Okay, okay, it’s drizzling a little here in Manhattan. There’s still hardly any wind. And that's about it. 

On the TV screen I’m seeing meteorologists in rain slickers standing in plastic boots and nylon rain parkas, somewhere in some Godforsaken spot that Chris Christie panders for votes in. Call it Eggvelt, New Jersey. The broadcast jouros are talking about a wave – you shoulda seen it –  that went over the boardwalk a while ago. Maybe if they just stand there blathering long enough, another might come by in real time.

But here in New York?

Listen, I’m not saying a hurricane isn’t coming. The weather radar says it is, and with considerable force. And I’m not saying people living in flood zones – well anyway, most flood zones ­– shouldn’t pack a bag and head for the hills. All I’m saying is, the politicos, aided and abetted by journos with dreams dancing in their heads about broadcasting while holding a lamp post and fluttering sideways like a wind whipped flag, have spread unnecessary panic. They told everybody, way too soon, to head for the spare bedroom at the uphill neighbors (who must be thrilled) or get out of town. Way, way too soon. Call it premature evacuation.

The hurricane may be a big one when it hits. But it ain’t gonna hit until tonight or sometime tomorrow in the wee hours. By that time every theater, restaurant, pizzeria, nail salon, hamburger joint and specialty shop (businesses like those are even open on Sundays in New York), not to mention the subway, bus and suburban rail systems, will have already lost a full 24 hour cycle’s worth of income, or more, for nothing. Nada. Zilch. Plus a day's worth of Wall Street productivity today.

There’s no reason why businesses couldn’t have been open a half or three-quarters day today, with the subways shutting down after 5 pm. But once the subways are closed, as they did yesterday evening, everything closes. So now one of the key enablers of the local economy has put the entire economy out of business. 

(As I write this, I've just received a call from Con Edison, the local utility, telling me to "turn off all major appliances" so that "if" they cut off the juice, they won't fry my refrigerator when the power comes back on. If it goes off.)

Irony of ironies, even people living downtown in Battery Park City high rises, a score to several hundred feet above where the waves could possibly rise, are getting told to pack up and leave. Nice trick if they can do it, with public transport and now some of the city’s automotive tunnels closed in anticipation. But hey, you know, if the basements of their skyscraper homes flood, they might have to walk down the stairs. Or use flashlights when they brush their teeth.

The one kind of business that seems to be doing well in Manhattan is the supermarket business. Last night, out for a stroll, I stepped into my neighborhood D'Agostino to pick up a quart of milk and a box of strawberries, since I was out of both. Big, big mistake. Each of the five checkout lines there was about fifty people long. The shelves were nearly empty. (Make an exception for the milk fridge. Milk didn’t seem to interest anybody.) The clerks, since they couldn’t get home any more, were talking about sleeping on the floor in the basement. (Most basements in Manhattan are a lot more waterproof than either the subways or, evidently, Con Edison's power lines.)

New Yorkers had been told to stock up on water and canned goods, and that was what the fools were trying to do. Except that, save for a dented can kumquats here, and a tin of tomato paste there, the canned goods were  sold out by 4 pm yesterday. So people were buying anything that can survive outside of a refrigerator. Cheese doodles. Beef jerkey. Twinkies. Super Sugar High Cereal. All the stuff that gives Mayor Bloomberg the vapors, save that he’s the one who indirectlh caused the run on this junk food in the first place.

Let’s assume that we really do have a bad, street-flooding, tunnel-deluging, electric wire-frying storm tonight, about the time that Jay Lenno starts making jokes about it in Burbank. At that point, the city will have already been through about 29 hours of near lockdown. Let’s assume that the city then goes through 24 hours of real hurricane conditions, followed by cleanup. With any luck the city (and perhaps the nation’s financial system, since Wall Street is currently shut down, too) will have suffered nearly an economy-wrecking week. Millions of people will have been inconvenienced two days more than necessary. Local citizenry will have unnecessarily lost about $2 billion on this. 

Why all this concern from our politicians? I’d like to think they worry about my life and health, but it’s a bit hard to believe that when they close the means of egress, lock up the subways, send the busses back to the garage, and then tell people in dry, sky-high apartments to leave town or die. I think what they’re really trying to do is make sure that if there is a disaster, nobody’s going to blame them for it. The last thing Michael Bloomberg wants to hear is, “You’re doing a helluva job, Bloomie.” Cuomo, who’s is cultivating presidential ambitions, also wants to emerge from this blame free. 

So screw all if it costs the city’s citizens and business a billion, or a couple of billion, or ten billion (roughly half as much money as Bloomberg personally owns) to get through a day or two of  real crisis with manufactured pre- and post-crisis days that double or triple the losses.

If Cumo and Bloomberg (and Governor Fatso in new Jersey) really wanted to make themselves useful, they’d find a way to pump out the subways and car tunnels as water gurgles in, so that transportation can’t be flooded back to the 12th Century. And they'll figure out how to keep the buried power lines dry.

But that’s never going to happen, kiddo. So sit back and munch a Twinky or three. And wash it down with that $5 water, instead of the free stuff that’s coming out of your tap. When it’s over, Bloomberg will be back to hectoring you for being too obese. (Notice, he never makes the same criticism of Chris Christie.)

And that’s the way the hurricane hovers, here in drizzly New York.

6:25 pm update: Well, at long last, we're having a hurricane out there. The wind is whistling past my windows. Whistling! And sheets of water are coming out of the sky. Twenty-three hours after Cuomo and Bloomberg closed down New York, the weather is finally cooperating with them.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Note to Mitt Romney: Do you realize that by endorsing Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, you're also endorsing rape?

So Mitt, look at it this way. Senate candidate Mourdock of Indiana believes rape is "something God intended," and he's standing by that statement, while you're not backing off your endorsement of him.

I'm not kidding. Let's figure this out together. If rape is something God intended, then committing rape is doing God's work.

And doing God's work can't possibly be a felony. Nor can any moral person oppose it. After all, it's what God has ordered.

Therefore, if you endorse Mourdock, and if you believe in God as you say you do, you're in favor of rape and rapists, and the next thing we know you'll be wanting to decriminalize rape and let all the rapists out of prison.

Nice going, Mitt. Hundreds, maybe thousands of guys behind bars are right now cheering.

And if Mourdock gets elected, let's remember to always refer to the state of Indiana as "Indiana, the Rape State."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Yo! U.S. Supreme Court, listen up! We may have a lap dance coming your way and we’re wondering if you’ll find it taxing.

I hate to repeat a tired cliche, but hey, you can’t make this stuff up. There’s a lawsuit brewing in Albany, New York’s state capital, where hookers and strippers have been doing their stuff ever since legislators from other cities in the state discovered that Albany was “out of town" – the legislative equivalent of a business trip with a high potential for mischief.

Seems that an exotic dance, umm, club named Nite Moves has been trying to get itself, and its admission fees, drink sales, tips, and whatever other revenues it takes in declared tax exempt. The reason, you see, is that New York State doesn’t tax “dramatic or musical arts performances,” and the pole and lap dancing that goes on at Nite Moves is, you know, artistic.

The state’s Court of Appeals split four to three in favor of falling off the bench and rolling around the floor, belly laughing. In other words, the court’s majority told the strip club to take their claim of tax exemption in the name of art and go stuff it in a G-string. The club owes the State of New York $125,000 in taxes and that’s that, said the majority.

That decision had at least one member of the minority choking, and not without cause.

“The people who paid these admission charges paid to see a woman dancing,” thundered judge Robert Smith. (Well, he thundered it in writing, but this is a story about the, uh, arts, so I’m taking a little artistic license here.) “It does not matter if the dance was artistic or crude, boring or erotic. Under New York’s tax law, a dance is a dance.”

He added that tax collectors shouldn’t be charged with deciding what’s a meritorious dance and what’s a … well, whatever a lap dance is that isn’t dancing. The judge has a point. Otherwise, the next supremely bored New York tax collector whose wife drags him to a performance of Les Sylphydes is likely to get so irate, he’ll slap the New York City ballet with a tax bill that’ll sink them and the tutus then danced in with.

The lawyer who argued the strip club’s case, Andrew McCullough, said he’s considering appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, but I don’t think so. The legal cost of a Supreme Court case is likely to run several multiples of Nite Moves’ tax bill, and in any case I'm not persuaded there's a Federal constitutional issue here. If the Nite Moves folks have any sense, they’ll follow the principle of law explained in an ancient vaudeville routine: Pay the two dollars.

P.S. I wrote this piece because last night was the final Obama-Romney debate. Every other blog in the universe is writing about debates and politics and polls and spinmeisters, and who’s lying. I can’t stand it any more.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Are you ready to embrace your own poverty, misery and enslavement? You’d better be when Mitt Romney gets to the White House.

Cranky negativist that I am, I’m going to assume that it’s over for Obama. Just read the Gallup poll.

Incredibly, despite the overt deviousness of Willard Romney and the flat out declarations of Paul Ryan, Americans are liking them better and better. And the trend is growing at a dangerous rate for a nation this close to election. So don’t be surprised by any of the following:

If you’re old: Your Social Security income will fall farther and farther behind inflation and may be cut entirely. Ditto Medicare. Especially Medicare. You’ll get a voucher for a few thousand bucks, and good luck. What’s that? You say Romney and Ryan are promising this will only apply to young people? Think about what happens when the Medicare and Social Security deductions for younger people get applied to a different program. Where’s the funding for yours? You’re screwed.

If you’re under 55:  Healthcare? Ha! The first time you get an unexplained headache, a visit to the doctor and some followup diagnostic tests will eat up your voucher. And no retirement for you either, friend, until you’re 75. But since your corporate employer will be entitled to fire you for any reason or no reason at all, and nobody will hire you past fifty, be prepared to panhandle for a living starting late middle age, at least until the panhandlers are all rounded up. Get your hands on a cardboard refrigerator box and guard it carefully. You’ll need it to sleep in. Learn to scrounge meals from garbage cans. There’s good eating in some of that trash. Sandwich crusts only a few days old. A rotten banana or two. Maggoty mea won’t kill you. It’s good protein. Dog doo on it? Wipe it off.

If you’re young: The super-rich nobility will need a few serfs to drive cars, haul the garbage, patch building roofs and sweep the streets. They’ll even need a few technicians, who may get to go to junior college. The rest of you? Who specifically said you’re entitled to a higher education? Not the original language of the constitution.

If you’re a union member they’re coming for you. On November 15th, 1919, a time many Republicans yearn to go back to, a labor organizer named Joe Hill was executed by firing squad after – it turned you many years later – he was framed for the murder of a grocer. Did his union activities have anything to do with it? Everything to do with it, said his lawyer.  And in what state did all this take place? Why, of all coincidences, in Mitt’s native state of Utah.

If you’re an immigrant: You’re officially cannon fodder, amigo. The USA under Romney will have a problem. We have a war in Afghanistan that Romney doesn't want to get out of. We still have some troops in Iraq. And the Romney Republican war machine is just chomping at the bit to go into Syria and Iran. When that happens, the likelihood is that the war will spread throughout the Middle East. Yemen, for example. Kuwait. Libya. Maybe all of North Africa. Romney’s going to need lots of soldiers to get killed and maimed in those wars, and he’s sure as hell not going to rely on people like himself, whose missionary “work” was more important than the Viet Nam War. Instead, innocent children of undocumented immigrants will have a chance to become permanent residents “by serving honorably in the United States military.” Not by become badly needed educators, or cops, or firemen, or scientists, or engineers. Just by getting their arms and legs and heads shot off. No such demands are getting put on any other group. And that will hold things, until Romeny can reinstitute a military draft for the poor and what’s left of the shredded middle class.

Got a gun? You’re fine if you’re wealthy and living I a gated or well-patrolled community. Your firepower can back up the Hessian at the gagte. I was in Quito, Ecuador a few years ago where I noticed that the difference between the rich and the superrich was that the superrich had two guards with automatic rifles protecting their front doors. But if you’re common folk? Well, Malcolm X once advised Afro Americans to get guns, saying that “Violence is as American as Apple Pie.” He was assassinated under less than perfectly clear circumstances. And  BlackPanther leader Fred Hampton was assassinated in his sleep by a joint task force of cops and FBI.  You will only have a right to bear arms if you happen to agree on nearly everything with Mitt.

They’re also coming for you if… You are a doctor who performed an abortion, even before the all-conservative Supreme Court which Romney will appoint outlaws abortion. Or if you worked in a clinic where abortions were performed. Or if you referred or counseled anyone for an abotion. Or if you had an abortion. Or if you sold, bought or swallowed a morning after pill. The legal theory? That because the fetus is a human, destruction of a fetus was murder even if there once had been an “incorrect” law about it on the book.

So feel free. Vote for Romney. Or stay at home while other fools vote for him, based on a “feeling” they have about him, rather than what he’s going to do.

Americans get the country we deserve. And it looks as if we’re about to start deserving medieval serfdom.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Look out, Joe Biden! The Brits are coming after your teeth!

Hey, when it comes to analyzing (or criticizing) debates between the vice-presidential candidates, there’s irrelevance. And then there’s supersize irrelevance. Or maybe super-duper-humongous size.

Scroll down a bit and you’ll see my cranky piece about Republicans thinking that Biden laughing on TV last night was somehow “rude.” (What was he supposed to do? Nod sagely and say, “Those lies are absolutely right?”)

And we had those “serious” news guys from CNN counting the number of minutes and seconds each of the candidates spoke on each of the topics that came up, thus revealing….um, uh, mmm, unnh….

But now I find brewing – I suppose it’s on Fleet Street – a new pinnacle of irrelevance. Turns out some reporter for the conservative (natch!) Daily Mail wants to do a story on Joe Biden’s teeth – you know, the pearlies that were revealed when Biden had a few chuckles over some of Paul Ryan’s preposterous  claims about budget matters, Social Security and Medicare.

A services called HARO (an acronym for “Help A Reporter Out”) sends out thrice-daily e-mails from journalists desperately seeking information. And that’s where I found this muckracker in search of a scandal, perhaps pertaining to Joe Biden's dental bills or an implication of vanity:

Biotech and Healthcare1) Summary: Joe Biden's dentures Name: Hugo Gye Daily Mail - OnlineCategory: Biotech and Healthcare Email: Media Outlet: Daily Mail - Online Deadline: 5:00 PM EST - 12 October  Query: 

I'm looking for a dentist or prosthodontist to advise on what
sort of dental work Vice President Joe Biden has had and how 
much it might have cost.
Cross-posted at No More Mr. Nice Blog 

Never mind a close analysis of what the VP candidates said. Instead let's analyze some meaningless statistics and facial expressions

I’m gonna keep this short because, well, I’m gonna keep this short.

I think Ryan lied several times last night when talking about Social Security, Medicare, the budget and taxes.

On the other hand, Biden phumphered (that’s a made-up word that means what it sounds like) on the issue of the embassy security in Libya.

Tragically, much of the post-mortem on CNN was meaningless, or worse. Has not one reporter caught on that Biden was not "smirking?" He was clearly laughing heartily – as well he might – at the lies and misinformation that Ryan was propagating. The stuff coming out of Ryan’s mouth was often so off-the-wall it was funny.

Was that a sign of “disrespect?” Well, if Mr. Ryan wants more respect, he might try telling the truth.

But CNN (and Wolf Blitzer) really got my goat when, after the debate, Blitzer hauled out some giant graphics showing the number of minutes and seconds each candidate talked about each subject. This was in order to enlighten us about what?

I’ll never know, because that’s when I snapped off my TV and went to bed gnashing my teeth.

Cross posted at No More Mr. Niceblog

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mad Av and Sili Valley to human beings: “F-you and the privacy settings you rode in on! We’ll track you if we want to.”

Target Marketing magazine's subscribers are people whose businesses live or die based in part on the quality of the lists they use –  for sending you junk mail, e-mails, or popup ads, to name just a few “data driven” sales tools.

So imagine my surprise when I discovered, in an online version of Target Marketing, a story with this headline: “DAA Refuses to Enforce Do-Not-Track Default Browser Settings.”

DAA? That would be something called the Digital Advertising Alliance, a consortium of associations including the American Association of Advertising Agencies, The American Advertising Federation, The Association of National Advertisers, the Direct Marketing Association, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and (has the dizzying alphabet soup of names made you seasick yet?) the Network Advertising Initiative.

What you need to know about this consortium of jokers is that for some reason they’re simply not thrilled with the Do Not Track settings in your Microsoft Internet Explorer version 10, and intend to disregard them. Your only recourse is to go to a DAA website and jump through hoops to avoid, umm, receiving information you don’t want. Whether that means you nevertheless will continue to  share information about what you’re watching or reading that you don't want to share isn’t made entirely clear.

Interestingly, a  press release in which the DAA nearly broke its arm patting itself on the back for “self regulation,” it doesn’t mention the fact that it’s refusing to let you exercise your freedom to use your Explorer do-not-track settings. Instead, it rears back on its hind legs and virtually dares you to cut your way through a tangle of nearly impenetrable prose, like this:
Representing more than 5,000 member companies, these [DAA member] associations have come together in an initiative to develop and implement self-regulation for the collection of web viewing data, in order to optimally assure transparency and trust in and consumers' control over their interactive advertising environments. The DAA administers the implementation of the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising and for Multi-Site Data ("DAA Principles").
But their meaning was made clear – and it ain’t privacy friendly – in this interview with Lou Mastria, the “chief privacy officer.”

And if you don’t have all day to read Mastria's self-serving interview responses, let me tell you what it boils down to: all you have to do when you arrive at a web page is look for some silly little symbol in the upper right hand corner, and if it’s there, click on it to begin the process of adjusting your privacy settings – for that web page.

A royal pain in the butt? Yet another chore imposed on you by those ad and silica guys? A well-unpublicized ordeal you have to go through at most every web page once the DAA gets around to educating you, which Mastria promises to do sometime or other?

Nah! Whatever gave you that idea?

Friday, October 05, 2012


NAME: Big Bird

SEX:    Ambiguous. May be a gay male, a female with a suspicious voice, a transsexual,  a Democrat or worse yet, a liberal-progressive-deficit-loving-Democrat.

DISTINGUISHING MARKS: Feathers. Yellow beak. Long spindly legs. Pronouncedly awkward gait.

WANTED FOR: Grand theft, intellectual, for singlehandedly hijacking the budget of the United States of America. Subverting children.

MODUS OPERANDI: Spends inordinate lengths of time hanging around places where chldren gather. While appearing to fuss about awkwardly and sing and dance, Big Bird has singlehandedly raised the national budget deficit by over a gazillion trillion dollars. He has put millions of people out of work, has crashed banks, caused companies to fail, and encouraged millions of lazy and dependent Americans to seek food stamps. On or about the beginning of January, 2009, Big Bird, backed by unknown terrorist nations, did willfully siphon off 99 percent of the nation' gross national product. May be backed by terrorist organizations. For all we know, when not on television he plants IEDs in Iraq.

ARMED AND DANGEROUS:  One presidential candidate has put out a life-or-death price on Big Bird's head, which may cause subject Bird to react violently if attempts to apprehend this creature are made. Big Bird may have to be taken out with a drone. If elected President, Mitt Romney will devote all necessary national resources to this effort.

DO NOT APPREHEND ALONE: If spotted, contact local law enforcement authorities.


Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Should there be a federal political defamation law?

Almost everybody – on the right, on the left, in the center – will probably tell you no. They'll say we shouldn't have libel laws that cover political speech. 

Public figures, you’re likely to hear, are different from you and me. The press has to feel free to cover them without fear of making an unintentional slip. “Vigorous political debate" is the fertile womb from which Democracy springs forth, and all that metaphorical crap.

I used to go along with this, but election season media noise is getting so loud, it’s deafening. You have to wade through a hailstorm of lies if you hope to get past Election Day.

I’m not just talking about mistaken overestimates of the price of preventing the poor from starving to death, or deliberately hyped declarations relating to taxes, or the national deficit, or the national debt, or whether the one percent is really the two-percent, or that the super rich somehow magically create jobs by stashing their cash in the Caymans.

I’m taking about vicious personal attacks, clearly false to anyone who carefully scrutinizes them, clearly deliberate, and clearly orchestrated not only to defame a candidate, but also to mislead you and me and have an unjustified influence on voter behavior.

President Obama has been under such an attack recently. Or rather, under a barrage of these attacks.  They question and falsify his paternity, smear his mother’s morality, falsify the circumstances of his upbringing, attribute non-existant rage to him, and more. You can read about some of it here

The claims, ranging from one that his mother was an overweight slut to one that his father-in-law wasn't a Kenyan or a Muslim after all, but an American rabblerousers, have been put together in a so-called “documentary” video disk and is being mass mailed by far right groups in swing states.

There are drawbacks to a political libel law. One of them is the risk of frivolous lawsuits and counter lawsuits, as one side or another tries to bend the law to its own purposes. But a clause in the law could discourage this by guaranteeing triple legal fees to victims of legal frivolity.

I guess you can tell what chance we stand of ever having such a law in our lifetimes.

Yeah. Exactly.