Thursday, May 21, 2015

Short Takes

California clean-up crews are rushing to clean up an oil spill north of Santa Barbara.

The Nebraska legislature voted to abolish the death penalty.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) goes Jimmy Stewart over the USA PATRIOT Act.

Turns out Osama bin Laden read Bob Woodward.

Israel rescinded their segregated-buses-for-Palestinians plan.

The Tigers beat the Brewers 5-2.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Give Us A Break

George Stephanopoulos gave $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation — a charity that buys medicine for poor people and supports AIDS research among other things — and the Beltway goes into meltdown.  He has to apologize on the air and and has now set himself up as the target for all the right-wing nutsery as proof of the “liberal media.”

Charles and David Koch, who run a huge oil and gas conglomerate, gave billions of dollars to PAC’s for Republican candidates and helped write right-wing legislation against combating climate change, and no one gives a shit.

What am I missing here?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Short Takes

The engineer is now the focus of the inquiry into the train wreck in Philadelphia.

Fast Track back on track: Senate Democrats reverse course and hand President Obama a victory.

Man arrested for trying to fly drone over White House fence.

Proofread: Clinton-bashing book gets some error corrections.

R.I.P. B.B. King, 89, blues guitarist and legend.

The Tigers wallop the Twins 13-1 thanks to two homers by Miggy.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Train Wreck

Perfect timing:

The bodies had not yet been fully recovered from the Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia before Capitol Hill erupted hours later into its usual partisan clash over how much money to spend on the long-struggling national rail service.

As investigators picked through the rubble on Wednesday morning, Democratic lawmakers in Washington angrily demanded an increase in Amtrak funding, calling Tuesday night’s accident a result of congressional failure to support the rail system. Republicans refused, defeating the request in a morning committee hearing and accusing Democrats of using a tragedy for political reasons.

Just like after a gun massacre, their excuse is “Now is not the time to talk about fixing the system.”

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Short Takes

Amtrak train derails en route from Philadelphia to New York City; at least 5 dead.

U.S. Marine Corps helicopter missing on rescue mission in Nepal.

Keeping an eye on Iranian ships off the coast of Yemen.

Senate Democrats slow down “fast track” trade bill.

Verizon buys AOL.

No charges filled in police shooting of unarmed black teen in Madison.

The Tigers beat the Twins 2-1 in 10.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Short Takes

President Obama apologizes for drone strike in Pakistan that killed two hostages.

France: Police say they’ve foiled five terror attacks since Charlie Hebdo.

Finally: Loretta Lynch confirmed as Attorney General.

The Deal’s Off: Comcast walks away from Time Warner merger.

The Tigers lost to the Yankees again 2-1.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Short Takes

Standoff in the Gulf between the U.S. and Iran continues.

Saudi Arabia is ending its airstrikes in Yemen.

Over 850 reported dead in the Mediterranean after immigrant-smuggling ship capsizes.

The Senate will finally get to vote on Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be Attorney General.

A real Monkey Trial: Chimpanzees are granted the right to sue for unlawful imprisonment.

The Tigers lost to the Yankees 5-2.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Colorful Language

From the New York Times on the GOP “quandary” over confirming Loretta Lynch as the first African-American woman to be Attorney General:

The inert situation shows just how Republican anger and resentment over the president’s immigration actions color issues ranging from Ms. Lynch’s status to trade negotiations to the nuclear talks with Iran.

“Color” being the operative word here.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

This Is A Hold-Up

It’s been five months since Loretta Lynch was nominated to replace Attorney General Eric Holder and almost two months since the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of confirmation.  But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell still hasn’t scheduled a floor vote because… well, basically because he can and because he’s a shitheel.

Lynch has public support from five Senate Republicans: Orrin Hatch of Utah, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois. With support from all Senate Democrats, that would give Lynch 51 votes, enough to be confirmed.

But her nomination is tangled up in an unrelated Senate fight over a human-trafficking bill that has been bogged down by a partisan dispute over its abortion provisions. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reiterated earlier this week that the chamber would not move on to Lynch until it resolves the dispute over that bill.

The partisan spat over the trafficking legislation took an even sharper rhetorical turn earlier Wednesday when the Senate’s two top leaders fought over the impasse in dueling speeches.

McConnell accused Democrats of choosing to aid doctors who serve Medicare patients, while shunning sex trafficking victims. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) shot back that his counterpart’s complaints were “illogical” and devoid of facts.

Mr. Holder will remain as Attorney General until Ms. Lynch is confirmed.  So I’ll bet if his Justice Department were to open an investigation into Dick Cheney’s meetings with oil company executives back when he was in office and issue a few subpoenas, Ms. Lynch would be confirmed this afternoon.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Holder or Folder

The nomination of Loretta Lynch to succeed Eric Holder as Attorney General is still stuck in the Senate because the Republicans are scared to vote on it.  Via the New York Times:

Senate Republicans bolted for a two-week spring recess with the confirmation of Loretta E. Lynch as attorney general in jeopardy, and themselves in a quandary: Accept a qualified nominee they oppose because she backs President Obama’s policies or reject her and live with an attorney general they despise, Eric H. Holder Jr.

The nomination of Ms. Lynch, a seasoned United States attorney from New York, has laid bare the difficult politics confronting the new Republican majority. Lawmakers have found nothing in Ms. Lynch’s background to latch on to in opposition, and many are loath to reject the first African-American woman put forth to be the nation’s top law enforcement officer.

But, they say, their constituents have told them that a vote for Ms. Lynch affirms Mr. Obama’s executive actions on immigration, which she has said she finds lawful.

I can’t help but think that even though both Mr. Holder and Ms. Lynch would like to get this over with, there are a lot of people who are amused in a sardonic way by the fact that the Republicans are so afraid of their rancid base that they can’t even do what most of them want to do.

If this is their way of showing that they really want to reach out to voters in both the African-American and immigrant communities, they have got a long way to go.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What A Schock

AaronSchock-300x157Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) resigned because he was under suspicion of mismanagement of his use of campaign and taxpayer funds.

He had his office decorated for free like the set of Downton Abbey and  set up an Instagram account that had more pictures of him with his shirt off or with celebrities than a Kardashian.  (Doesn’t hurt that he’s built like a well-muscled frat boy.)  In other words, he didn’t know the meaning of “discrete.”  Naturally his lavish proclivities caught someone’s attention.

There are plenty of ways to be on the take from rich benefactors who feed your campaign fund, who make life comfortable for you and your loved ones, and who make sure that their interests and causes get frontsies when bills concerning them come up for a vote.  The trick is to make those ways so invisible and untraceable that you can go through your entire career in the pocket of a donor and no one else knows or at the most it’s just seen as part of good constituent service.  The quid pro quo is hush-hush-hush.  Life goes on and someone pays to wax the Explorer.

It’s not unlike men who fool around on their wives; if they’re smart, no one will know they’ve got a little something on the side, but if you parade through the halls of Congress with your girlfriend — or take trips with your personal photographer — you’re just asking for trouble.

I can’t decide if Mr. Schock was just stupid or was getting bored with being a congressman and didn’t care if he got caught.  No doubt he’ll land on his feet somewhere, either as a commentator on cable news or as a model for Abercrombie & Fitch.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Short Takes

U.S. ambassador to South Korea attacked.

The Senate tried and failed to override the veto of the Keystone XL pipeline bill.

Iran official says we are “very close” to a deal on nukes.

Boston bomber’s lawyer says he did it in opening statement.

Man burned by fajitas while praying can’t sue.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Obama 1, Boehner 0

The House passed a clean DHS funding bill.

The vote was 257-167. Most Republicans voted against it, but Democrats carried it to victory.

The bill passed the Senate last week, and now goes to President Barack Obama who is expected to sign it.

Some conservatives weren’t pleased, and tried to delay the vote by ordering a full reading of the clean DHS legislation.

“I’m very worried because we have a president that’s completely out of control. He’s very comfortable with violating the law and the Constitution,” Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) told reporters. “And if we don’t have a Senate and a House willing to stand up to him … we need to get ready to start defeating some of these things and get serious about it.”

But Fleming said conservative House members wouldn’t try to oust Boehner, despite speculation to the contrary.

“There’s no plan, no discussion about removing the Speaker,” he said.

Not to worry; Mr. Boehner isn’t going to lose his job over this, more’s the pity.  The question really should be why does he want it now anyway?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Joke of the Day

Via Greg Sargent:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that his planned speech to Congress is not meant to signal any disrespect for President Obama, nor to insert political partisanship into the U.S.-Israel relationship.

“Never has so much been written about a speech that hasn’t been given,” Netanyahu said about the address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday. “My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama or the esteemed office that he holds. I have great respect for both.”

Pull the other one, Bibi; it jingles.

They Have Other Plans

Via TPM:

There are now apparently 51 members of Congress not attending Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech tomorrow. Seven Senators and 44 members of the House. The latest is Sen. Al Franken (D). The list is heavily weighted toward African-Americans but also toward Jews. By my count, Franken is the 6th Jewish member of Congress to sit it out.

Sorry, can’t make it; I have monthly projections to get out.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Short Takes

The House is trying to come up with a plan to fund DHS without messing with immigration and pissing off the right wing.

The guy known as Jihad John, the English-speaking executioner of ISIS, has been identified as a Briton.

You’re welcome — Liberia’s president thanked the U.S. for helping them with the Ebola crisis.

The F.C.C. votes in favor of net neutrality.

The Klown Kar is in town.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Short Takes

Three men from Brooklyn were arrested on charges of plotting to foment terrorism in collusion with ISIS.

The Senate moved a clean DHS funding bill towards passage.  The House, on the other hand, is not happy about it.

New Fukushima reactor leak went unreported for months.

Morgan Stanley will pay fine of $2.6 billion to settle the mortgage cases.

Chicago voters forced the mayoral election into a run-off.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

No Peking

Way back in grad school I took a course in Asian theatre, including Peking Opera, Noh, and Kabuki.  Each form is unique, but the one thing they have in common is that most of the audience knows the stories they’re going to see down to the last detail, they know the rituals of the form, and they have their favorite actors playing their roles.  In Peking Opera, an actor will play the same role throughout his entire career; even if he’s in his dotage he will still play the Young Lover.  But the audience loves it and they willingly suspend their disbelief for the duration of the performance and will come back time and again to see it over and over.

We’re about to start that on Capitol Hill.  The Republican-led Congress passed the Keystone XL pipeline bill.  President Obama said he would veto it, and he did.  Congress will have a temper tantrum and will try to override the veto, which will fail, and some idiot Teabagger will claim that the president exceeded his authority with the veto pen because, well, you know why.

This will happen again and again.  The next one will be some bill to repeal the immigration executive orders followed by something else, and on and on; everybody on stage for the Dance of the Spittle-flecked.

The difference between this ritual and the real Peking Opera is that the theatre production has an orchestra and it’s actually entertaining.

Friday, February 13, 2015