Thursday, February 11, 2016

Good Reading

I am ashamed to admit that Blogroll Amnesty Day got past me without a mention.  This is an annual event that began long ago — in blog years, that is — by skippy and the dear departed Jon Swift.  It is meant to encourage readers to explore bloggers who don’t get a million hits a week yet have good writing and interesting points to share.  I’ve been very fortunate to be included on the list, and I truly appreciate the honor.

Go check out this year’s list.  You won’t be disappointed.

Rubio Tantrum Update

After a brief moment of clarity on Tuesday night where Sen. Marco Rubio blamed himself for his poor performance in the New Hampshire primary and said it would never happen again — and please send money — he reverted to the usual fallback position of blaming the media for having the temerity of reporting on his I, Robot moments.

“What happened is obviously Saturday night the debate went the way it went, and then just the media coverage over the last 72 hours was very negative about it and so forth,” Rubio said Wednesday on “Fox & Friends.” “So the last thing voters heard going into the booth yesterday was, you know, something bad happened Saturday night. And so it made it very difficult for us to get any other message across.”

And now he’s doubling down on his oft-repeated claim that Barack Obama is a traitor and that he has more foreign policy experience than anyone ever.

“One of the things I’m criticized for is saying the truth, and I’ll continue to say this: Barack Obama is undermining this country. He is hurting this country. He is doing serious damage to this country in a way that I believe is part of a plan to weaken America on the global stage. This is the truth,” Rubio said on Fox.

He also defended himself from criticism that he’s inexperienced.

“This line that somehow I have no experience is absurd. It’s true I haven’t lived as long as some of the people running for president, but I have more foreign policy experience than any of them,” Rubio said.

That last part is laughable on its face; Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State for four years and no matter what you think of her tenure in the job, that automatically gives her more experience than he has.  With his attendance record in the Senate, I’d say that Téa Leoni has more foreign policy experience than Marco Rubio, and serving on a committee for five years doesn’t count if you don’t show up for work.

Mr. Rubio has a tendency to panic when confronted by a challenge.  That’s not something you want in a president.  If karma does its thing, his next job will be hustling Hondas on Biscayne Boulevard.

From A Dark Place

There might be more to the Republicans’ preemptive strike on President Obama’s last budget than just financial disagreement.

Since he was elected, Obama has gone head to head with Republicans in Congress who have seemed to reject the president’s ideas with a ferocity that has been unrivaled. Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, said that the decision not to entertain Donovan on the budget committee came from the committee chairmen, but that “we support the chairman.”

From his executive actions on immigration to his signature health care bill, Republicans have vowed at every turn to reverse Obama’s policies even after they have been implemented. In 2010, the now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), bluntly told National Journal that “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

But, the backlash–especially on the President’s final budget–is raising eyebrows and questions about Congressional Republicans’ motivations.

“When I examine the GOP’s mistreatment of Barack Obama in the historical context of presidential scrutiny, I can only assume there are some deep, racial motivations behind their actions,” one senior staffer to a Congressional Black Caucus member said. “Republican leadership has long tried to disguise the racial undertones employed by some of their colleagues, but I think it’s painfully clear the disdain many have for President Obama comes from dark place.”

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA)–one of only two black Democrats on the House’s budget committee–said in a statement to TPM that “the decision of Budget Committee Republicans to reject the President’s budget – sight unseen, without even a hearing – further shows that Congressional Republican are glued to their extremist, Tea Party agenda.”

“It is clear from their budget proposals and actions that they have no interest in effectively governing or improving the lives of American families,” Lee said.

In other words, the GOP once again reminded Barack Obama that he’s black and they don’t like it.

FBI Moving In On Occupiers

Woke up to this:

FBI agents surrounded the last four occupiers of an Oregon wildlife refuge on Wednesday night.

Negotiations were under way and no shots have been fired, according to the FBI’s Portland office. It said agents have been stationed at barricades in front of and behind the area of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge where the occupiers are camping.

Wednesday’s confrontation began about 4:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. ET) when one of the occupiers drove an all-terrain vehicle outside the group’s own barricades, the FBI said. When agents approached the driver, he speeded back to the encampment.

“We reached a point where it became necessary to take action in a way that best ensured the safety of those on the refuge, the law enforcement officers who are on scene and the people of Harney County who live and work in this area,” said Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon. “It has never been the FBI’s desire to engage these armed occupiers in any way other than through dialogue.”

Tens of thousands of people listened in to a live stream of a phone call which appeared to include the four occupiers and several supporters. Amid prayers and anti-government diatribes, the participants in the call repeatedly expressed distrust of the FBI’s intentions and of their chances in the legal system.

By around 9:30 p.m. local time (12:30 E.T.) the tone of the call — posted by Gavin Seim, a Washington state writer and activist allied with the so-called patriot movement — had cooled significantly.

The remaining occupiers are believed to be: David Fry, 27, of Blanchester, Ohio; Jeff Banta, 46, of Elko, Nevada; and Sean Anderson, 48, and Sandy Anderson, 47, a married couple from Riggins, Idaho.

Let’s hope it ends peacefully and that the next news out of this is that they’ve signed Woody Harrelson to do the TV movie version.

Short Takes

Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina quit the GOP race.

U.S. will sue Ferguson for rejecting policing agreement.

Fed chief Janet Yellen is being cautious about raising interest rates.

Senate votes to sanction North Korea.

NTSB calls for tougher lithium battery regulations due to fire risk.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Beta Version

Marco Rubio got the BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) in New Hampshire last night, but not to worry.

“I’m disappointed with tonight. But I want you to understand something. I want you to understand something. Our disappointment tonight is not on you — it’s on me,” Rubio said. “I did not do well on Saturday night. So listen to this: that will never happen again.”

I get that same message every time they update Windows.

Let’s Get Serious

We knew Bernie Sanders would win the New Hampshire primary; he’s been leading there since the beginning of polling, and if you’re worried about Hillary Clinton getting drubbed, she still has the rest of the primary field to run, including Super Tuesday in March.

As for the Republicans, Ohio Gov. John Kasich pulled out a second, ahead of Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio, in that order with one percentage point between Cruz and Rubio making up the difference.  The rest of the field is pretty much in the dust.

But it was Donald Trump who will tell you he won the night, and he did.  And I agree with Ezra Klein: that should scare the crap out of America.

Trump is the most dangerous major candidate for president in memory. He pairs terrible ideas with an alarming temperament; he’s a racist, a sexist, and a demagogue, but he’s also a narcissist, a bully, and a dilettante. He lies so constantly and so fluently that it’s hard to know if he even realizes he’s lying. He delights in schoolyard taunts and luxuriates in backlash.

Trump is in serious contention to win the Republican presidential nomination. His triumph in a general election is unlikely but it is far from impossible. He’s not a joke and he’s not a clown. He’s a man who could soon be making decisions of war and peace, who would decide which regulations are enforced and which are lifted, who would be responsible for nominating Supreme Court Justices and representing America in the community of nations. This is not political entertainment. This is politics.

Trump’s path to power has been unnerving. His business is licensing out his own name as a symbol of opulence. He has endured bankruptcies and scandal by bragging his way out of them. He rose to prominence in the Republican Party as a leader of the birther movement. He climbed to the top of the polls in this election by calling Mexicans rapists and killers. He defended a poor debate performance by accusing Megyn Kelly of being on her period. He responded to rival Ted Cruz’s surge by calling for a travel ban on Muslims. When two of his supporters attacked a homeless man and said they did it because “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported,” he brushed off complaints that he’s inspiring violence by saying his supporters are “very passionate.”

Behind Trump’s success is an unerring instinct for harnessing anger, resentment, and fear. His view of the economy is entirely zero-sum — for Americans to win, others must lose. “We’re going to make America great again,” he said in his New Hampshire victory speech, “but we’re going to do it the old fashioned way. We’re going to beat China, Japan, beat Mexico at trade. We’re going to beat all of these countries that are taking so much of our money away from us on a daily basis. It’s not going to happen anymore.”

Trump answers America’s rage with more rage. As the journalist Molly Ball observed, “All the other candidates say ‘Americans are angry, and I understand.’ Trump says, ‘I’M angry.'” Trump doesn’t offer solutions so much as he offers villains. His message isn’t so much that he’ll help you as he’ll hurt them.

[…]

Trump lives by the reality-television trope that he’s not here to make friends. But the reason reality-television villains always say they’re not there to make friends is because it sets them apart, makes them unpredictable and fun to watch. “I’m not here to make friends” is another way of saying “I’m not bound by the social conventions of normal people.” The rest of us are here to make friends, and it makes us boring, gentle, kind.

This, more than his ideology, is why Trump genuinely scares me. There are places where I think Trump’s instincts are an improvement on the Republican field. He seems more dovish than neoconservatives like Marco Rubio, and less dismissive of the social safety net than libertarians like Rand Paul. But those candidates are checked by institutions and incentives that hold no sway over Trump; his temperament is so immature, his narcissism so clear, his political base so unique, his reactions so strange, that I honestly have no idea what he would do — or what he wouldn’t do.

When MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough asked Trump about his affection for Vladimir Putin, who “kills journalists, political opponents and invades countries,” Trump replied, “He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country.” Later, he clarified that he doesn’t actually condone killing journalists, but, he warned the crowd, “I do hate them.”

It’s a lie that if you put a frog into a pot of water and slowly turn up the heat the frog will simply boil, but it’s a fact that if you put the American political system in a room with Trump for long enough we slowly lose track of how noxious he is, or we at least run out of ways to keep repeating it.

But tonight is a night to repeat it. There is something scary in Donald Trump. We should fear his rise.

We’ve heard this madness before, and at the risk of going full-on Godwin, it’s been from grainy black and white newsreels with banners flying and goosesteps.  The joke is long over.

Short Takes

Sanders and Trump win their respective New Hampshire primaries.

Supreme Court places hold on EPA carbon rules while trial proceeds.

Mercedes-Benz recalling over 700,000 cars over faulty airbags.

GOP pronounces President Obama’s last budget D.O.A.

Director of Intelligence chief James Clapper says the threats are diverse.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Priorities in Michigan

Thousands of people can’t drink the water in Flint.  The schools in Detroit are falling apart.  The roads and bridges across the state are crumbling.  And yet the Michigan state senate decided to take urgent action on … what?

Michigan is one of the last states to keep an “anti-sodomy” law on the books, which criminalizes oral and anal sex — most states dropped theirs when the Supreme Court ruled that law like these are unconstitutional.

Michigan’s anti-sodomy law also bans bestiality, lumping together sex between consenting humans and humans who have sex with animals. State Republican Senator Rick Jones has introduced an updated animal cruelty law, SB-0219, which is part of a package of laws aimed at protecting animals from abuse. But it keeps intact the language that bans oral and anal sex between humans.

The bill reads, in part: “A person who commits the abominable and detestable crime against nature either with mankind or with any animal is guilty of a felony” — that felony is punishable by 15 years in prison.

Jones says he kept the language intact because he thought that his fellow lawmakers and his constituents would have blocked the animal rights reforms if the bill addressed the rights of humans.

The bill has passed the Michigan senate.

Old Professor, stop reading now; you will not like the language I’m about to use.

*

Are you out of your fucking mind?  Seriously, are you fucking kidding me?  Your state is literally falling apart underneath your feet, children are being poisoned by the governor’s handiwork, and you’re worried about people getting or giving a blowjob?  Jesus H. Christ in a birchbark canoe.

And you, you geniuses of Grand Ledge, you actually elected this alleged human being to office?  What the fuck is wrong with you?  Are you that obsessed with other peoples’ private lives and behaviors that you allow this jackass to propose and shove this bill down the throat of the state senate?

*

Okay, OP, you can start reading again.

The pundits say that the American electorate is angry and fed up with the political system.  Well, it’s things like this, not Obamacare or even the juvenile behavior of the House of Representatives, that has people hating government.  It’s the panty-sniffers and the busybodies who preach smaller government unless it means leaving people to their own lives and women to control their own bodies that makes people want to stand up and throw up.

Call Tech Support

Via First Draft at the New York Times:

Maybe it was just the end of a long, tiring day of campaigning. Or maybe Senator Marco Rubio’s opponents have gotten into his head.

But on Monday, Mr. Rubio, the Florida Republican, who has been under relentless criticism for uttering his talking points over and over in Saturday’s presidential debate, had another repetitious lapse.

Speaking to a crowd in Nashua, he was lamenting the decline in American family values.

Then he lamented the decline in American values again.

This is what he said verbatim, as his wife and four children looked on:

“We are taking our message to families that are struggling to raise their children in the 21st century because, as you saw, Jeanette and I are raising our four children in the 21st century, and we know how hard it’s become to instill our values in our kids instead of the values they try to ram down our throats.

“In the 21st century, it’s becoming harder than ever to instill in your children the values they teach in our homes and in our church instead of the values that they try to ram down our throats in the movies, in music, in popular culture.”

Mr. Rubio appeared to notice his own echo: As he repeated the word “throats,” he caught himself, but proceeded to the end of his sentence nonetheless.

Time for him to spend some time in the regeneration chamber.

Windows_XP_BSOD

No, You Do Not Respect My View

Via the New York Times, Marco Rubio tried to sell his candidacy to the wrong couple.

MANCHESTER, N.H. – A middle-age gay man confronted Senator Marco Rubio here on Monday over his opposition to same-sex marriage, pointedly asking, “Why do you want to put me back in the closet?”

“I don’t,” Mr. Rubio replied. “You can live any way you want.”

The tense exchange inside the Puritan Backroom diner ended with Mr. Rubio walking away and the displeased voter calling him a “typical politician.”

Mr. Rubio, who is seeking to win over conservatives, is seldom asked about gay rights at his campaign stops. But courting voters in a crowded New Hampshire diner on the eve of the primary is an unpredictable business.

The voter, who identified himself as Timothy Kierstead, was seated at a table with his mother and his husband when Mr. Rubio walked up behind him, according to pool reports of the encounter. During a brief conversation, Mr. Kierstead, 50, told Mr. Rubio that he was married but complained that the senator’s position amounted to him declaring that “we don’t matter.”

Mr. Rubio, who was standing with his youngest son, Dominick, 8, by his side, gently disagreed. “No, I just believe marriage is between one man and one woman.”

“Well,” replied Mr. Kierstead, “that’s your belief.”

Mr. Rubio continued: “I think that’s what the law should be. And if you don’t agree you should have the law changed by a legislature.”

Mr. Kierstead said the law had already been changed, referring either to a Supreme Court ruling that has legalized same-sex marriage across the country or to state legislation in New Hampshire that did the same.

Mr. Rubio decided to conclude their conversation. “I respect your view,” he said, patting Mr. Kierstead on the shoulder and starting to walk away.

Mr. Kierstead was unsatisfied. “Typical politician,” he said loudly. “Walk away.”

At the risk of repeating myself, Marco Rubio is a sanctimonious asshole and a sniveling bigot.

Monday, February 8, 2016

No Escape

Speaking of repetition (see below), this time of a different sort, Jeb Bush is still trying to explain why his brother was right to invade Iraq.  Via Jon McCormack at Twitter:

Even with mistakes made, he showed fortitude and determination and he did the right thing. And I will do the same…

We get that.  He doesn’t.  That’s why he’s pulling 3%.