Today is another of my vacation days, coincidental with the long Memorial Day holiday coming up on Monday, so I’m going to go to a light and variable blogging schedule for the duration.
See you later.
In a much-anticipated speech at the National Defense University, Mr. Obama sought to turn the page on the era that began on Sept. 11, 2001, when the imperative of preventing terrorist attacks became both the priority and the preoccupation. Instead, the president suggested that the United States had returned to the state of affairs that existed before Al Qaeda toppled the World Trade Center, when terrorism was a persistent but not existential danger. With Al Qaeda’s core now “on the path to defeat,” he argued, the nation must adapt.
“Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue,” Mr. Obama said. “But this war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises. It’s what our democracy demands.”
The politics of this perpetual war may be the hardest part. We have become so used to the drumbeat of invade and occupy from the neocons and the armchair generals who never wore the uniform or picked up anything more than a cigar that moving in any other direction sounds like retreat to them. But for the sake of our country, our treasure, and the lives of the people who are the ones who will have to fight, the war that we were whooped into and then lied to in order to perpetuate it must end, and the speech Mr. Obama gave yesterday was the first indication that it will.
The Boy Scouts voted to allow openly gay Scouts but only until they’re 18, and still keep the ban on openly gay leaders.
The decision, which came after years of resistance and wrenching internal debate, was widely seen as a milestone for the Boy Scouts, a symbol of traditional America. More than 1,400 volunteer leaders from across the country voted, with more than 60 percent approving a measure that said no youth may be denied membership “on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”
The top national leaders of the Boy Scouts, who pledge fealty to God and country, had urged the change in the face of vehement opposition from conservative parents and volunteers, some of whom said they would quit the organization. But the vote put the Scouts more in line with the swift rise in public acceptance of homosexuality, especially among younger parents who are essential to the future of an institution that has been losing members for decades.
The policy change, effective January 2014, is unlikely to bring peace to the Boy Scouts as they struggle to keep a foothold in a swirling cultural landscape, with renewed lobbying and debate already starting Thursday evening.
The Scouts did not consider the even more divisive question of whether to allow openly gay adults and leaders. This drew criticism from advocates for gay rights, who called the decision a breakthrough but vowed to continue pressing the Scouts to allow gay members of all ages.
A number of churches such as the Southern Baptists and Catholic dioceses that sponsor Scout troops say they will drop out now that openly gay boys are allowed in. Good. There’s the door. Kids don’t need to be around bigots, and if they believe that’s part of Scouting, they’re teaching the wrong values.
The halfway measure — allowing gay Scouts but not leaders — and the logic behind it reminds me of the ill-fated Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the military. It’s designed to open the closet door only a little bit and placate the folks who think that just because an adult is openly gay he’s going to hit on children. It plays to the prejudice and homophobia that breeds among the sex-obsessed blue noses. They’re the ones to worry about.
Immigration law faces tough fight in Senate.
5.7 earthquake hits northern California.
A bridge collapsed on I-5 in Washington sending cars into a river.
Jetliner makes emergency landing at Heathrow after engine fire.
IRS places Lois Lerner on administrative leave.
The Tigers climb back and beat the Twins 7-6.
Now I know why I’m out of peanut butter.
Continuing with the vacation theme:
What’s the one place in the world you’ve always wanted to visit?
Another bit of Star Trek technology is on the brink of coming true.
NASA can send robots to Mars, no problem. But if it’s ever going to put humans on the Red Planet, it has to figure out how to feed them over the course of a years-long mission.
So the space agency has funded research for what could be the ultimate nerd solution: a 3-D printer that creates entrees or desserts at the touch of a button.
Yes, it’s another case of life imitating “Star Trek” (remember the food replicator?). In this case, though, the creators hope there is an application beyond deep-space pizza parties. The technology could also be used to feed hungry populations here on Earth.
Texas-based Systems and Materials Research Corp. has been selected for a $125,000 grant from NASA to develop a 3-D printer that will create “nutritious and flavorful” food suitable for astronauts, according to the company’s proposal. Using a “digital recipe,” the printers will combine powders to produce food that has the structure and texture of, well, actual food. Including smell.
One of the first goals for SMRC’s printer is the humble pizza. It was chosen because it contains a variety of nutrients and flavors, said David Irvin, director of research at SMRC. More importantly, a pizza is made up of layers, a key principle used in 3-D printing technology.
And you don’t have to figure out how to wedge the empty box into the trash can.
Fed Chair Ben Bernanke knows why the economy isn’t doing better: Congress screwed it up.
Of course, Bernanke is too polite to phrase things quite so bluntly. But to anyone versed in Fedspeak, that’s the gist of his message. Even as state and local governments are becoming less of a drag on growth, Bernanke says in his prepared testimony before the Joint Economic Committee, “fiscal policy at the federal level has become significantly more restrictive.”
“In particular,” his testimony says, “the expiration of the payroll tax cut, the enactment of tax increases, the effects of the budget caps on discretionary spending, the onset of sequestration, and the declines in defense spending for overseas military operations are expected, collectively, to exert a substantial drag on the economy this year.”
But they have voted 37 times to repeal Obamacare, so you can’t say they haven’t done anything.
E.W. Jackson is the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in Virginia, and he is rapidly overshadowing Ken Cuccinelli, the candidate for governor, with his over-the-top remarks about anyone to the left of Genghis Khan. He’s gone after gays, abortion providers — comparing Planned Parenthood to the Klan, for example — and a few other bon mots.
Asked about his wide variety of condemnations and whether or not he might want to dial it back, he has no intention of apologizing.
“I say the things that I say because I’m a Christian, not because I hate anybody, but because I have religious values that matter to me,” Jackson told reporters at a campaign stop in Fredericksburg. “Attacking me because I hold to those principles is attacking every church-going person, every family that’s living a traditional family life, everybody who believes that we all deserve the right to live. So I don’t have anything to rephrase or apologize for. I would just say people should not paint me as one-dimensional.”
Yeah, so now you can get away with being a sniveling bigot because you’re a Christian, and anyone who disagrees with you is the hater, not you. So you can get away with it because of your faith.
That’s the same logic of every other religious fanatic that has wiped out millions of non-believers.
The man is a laughingstock, to be sure, but he’s not just one extreme example. He sounds a lot like a large portion of the GOP base: he’s just saying it out loud.
Just a suggestion to Lois Lerner of the IRS:
If you have apologized for making mistakes, acknowledge that things got out of hand, claim that no laws were broken and then plead the Fifth in front of Congress, you probably should consider spending more time with your family.
Long weekend coming up…
I haven’t done this one for a while, but I always enjoy the answers.
You (and your best-beloved if you have one) have won an all-expenses-paid weekend vacation anywhere in the world. Where do you go?
If you need a little amusement, watch Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) go after the misbehaving Republicans.
In the latest expression of Republican frustration with conservative GOP colleagues, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Susan Collins (R-ME) excoriated Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) for persistently refusing to initiate House-Senate budget negotiations.
Their comments on the Senate floor Tuesday reflect a growing Republican schism over how to approach the tax and spending fights that have hamstrung Congress for years and dragged its approval ratings to historic lows.
“For four years, four years, we complained about the fact that the majority leader … would refuse to bring a budget to the floor of the United States Senate,” McCain said. “What [do] we on my side of the aisle keep doing? We don’t want a budget unless — unless — we put requirements on the conferees that are absolutely out of line and unprecedented.”
Kids these days.
Charlie Pierce has a nice piece on Sen. Rand Paul and RNC Chair Reince Priebus, the Martin and Lewis of Wingnuttia, paying a call on the GOP in the Granite State. Hey, it’s already 2013; time’s a-wasting for the primary.
Among the gems that they tossed out was this little diatribe from Mr. Priebus on the state of the Constitution at the hands of Barack Obama:
“A president that touts ego, power, and a hatred for dissent above everything else, that’s Barack Obama, that’s the leader of this country. I don’t think this administration realizes that the First Amendment wasn’t a suggestion. The Bill of Rights is not a wish list, it’s a set of non-negotiable limits on the federal government.”
He thereupon ripped Eric Holder for wanting to read Miranda rights to the Christmas Day bomber and to Osama bin Laden (?).
I wasn’t there when the guys in Philadelphia came up with the first ten amendments to the Constitution, and I don’t know off-hand if there was a debate among them as to which amendments should go where, as if being the first made it more important than the others that came after. It looks to me as if they did them in an order that set out some very basic principles of law and limitations, and then went along and included others as they came along without ranking them, and none of them take precedence over the other.
That means that you can’t pick and choose which right to enforce while undermining another just because you don’t like the outcome.
And it also means you can’t pull off bullshit like this:
Christmas may be seven months away, but Texas is ready for it.
State lawmakers there waged their own battle against the so-called War on Christmas on Friday, passing legislation, House Bill 308, that allows public school teachers to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” and display Christmas trees, nativity scenes or menorahs. Winter displays must represent more than one religion or include secular symbols.
But while the legislation specifies that schools may not constitutionally favor one religion over another, the bill is named for only one religion — Christmas.
The bill passed and Gov. Rick Perry plans to sign it. Of course he does. The Baby Jesus trumps the First Amendment every time. And when the law is struck down by the courts for being the breathtakingly blatant violation of the Constitution that it is, the Religious Reich will nail itself to the Cross of Martyrdom and Victimhood as the sacrifice of the suppressed majority and proclaim that Christians will be forced to hide their faith from the world. If only.
Dave Johnson via Crooks and Liars has a very good summation of the nothingburger that is the IRS “scandal.” I recommend you read it before responding to your whacky uncle who watches Fox News all day and gets excited when Sarah Palin updates her Facebook page.
Fact: The IRS is required to determine whether organizations applying for special tax status are “social welfare” groups or are instead engaged in political activity. Political groups cannot get the special tax status these groups were applying for.
Fact: Only one-third of the groups that were passed to specialists for a closer look were “conservative.” Lots of other organizations were also checked, including progressive organizations.
Fact: No groups were audited or harassed or “targeted” or “singled out.” This was about applications for special tax status being forwarded to specialists for a closer look to see if they were engaged in political activity that would disqualify them for the special tax status. This closer look is the kind of review all organization should get, but the IRS was swamped because of the flood of groups applying for a status that let them mask their donors, after Citizens United.
Fact: No groups were harmed. There were delays while the groups were checked to see if they should have special tax status. That’s it. But the rules are that they are allowed to operate as if they had that status while they waited for official approval.
Fact: The only groups actually denied special tax status were progressive groups, not conservative groups. In 2011, during the period that “conservative groups were targeted” the New York Times carried the story, 3 Groups Denied Break by I.R.S. Are Named . The three groups? Drum roll … “The I.R.S. denied tax exemption to the groups — Emerge Nevada, Emerge Maine and Emerge Massachusetts — because, the agency wrote in denial letters, they were set up specifically to cultivate Democratic candidates.”
Fact: The IRS commissioner in charge at the IRS at the time this happened was appointed President George W. Bush.
Fact: According to the inspector general’s report (p. 10) in the “majority of cases, we agreed that the applications submitted included indications of significant political campaign intervention.”
Now you can go on to something more important, like the one about Obama causing the tornado in Oklahoma because it’s a red state.
I don’t remember where I read it, but in response to Oklahoma Senators Tom Coburn and James Inhofe, who voted against disaster relief for the Northeast after Hurricane Sandy, a blogger noted that it will be interesting to see how they vote for relief for Oklahoma and how the folks back home react if they vote against any bill that provides assistance for the storms there.
Mr. Coburn is already on the record as being opposed to more aid without taking it from somewhere else (and not liking the pushback he’s getting for that), and Mr. Inhofe claims that aid for Sandy was “totally different” than what happened in Oklahoma.
I seriously doubt that either senator would face any kind of backlash from their constituents. (In the case of Mr. Coburn, it doesn’t matter; he’s retiring.) After all, these are the men the people of Oklahoma voted for, and other than the fact that Mr. Coburn has an easy-going personality and can yuck it up with the Village pundits (whereas Mr. Inhofe has a long history of being a cranky and ornery bastard), they’re both hard-core right-wingers, which is apparently what the people of the Sooner state want to represent them.
It is a testimony to the magnanimity and humanity of the American people that we will still send the people of Moore all the help and assistance they need without question or qualification in spite of the fact that they elect idiots. That is what good people do, and we will not hold the victims hostage.
Senate panel passed the immigration reform bill… while throwing same-sex couples under the bus to do it.
President Obama promises aid to Moore, Oklahoma victims.
Death toll in tornado lowered to 24.
North Korea sends an envoy to China.
IRS supervisor will plead the Fifth.
Miami loses out on two Super Bowls.
The Tigers beat the Indians 5-1.