Saturday, November 22, 2014

Bye Bye Benghazi

It looks like the Nutsery will have to find something else to obsess about.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees.

Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, intelligence about who carried it out and why was contradictory, the report found. That led Susan Rice, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to inaccurately assert that the attack had evolved from a protest, when in fact there had been no protest. But it was intelligence analysts, not political appointees, who made the wrong call, the committee found. The report did not conclude that Rice or any other government official acted in bad faith or intentionally misled the American people.

The House Intelligence Committee report was released with little fanfare on the Friday before Thanksgiving week. Many of its findings echo those of six previous investigations by various congressional committees and a State Department panel. The eighth Benghazi investigation is being carried out by a House Select Committee appointed in May.

But never fear; there is sure to be someone somewhere who is sure that this too is nothing but a vast cover-up and that if only they would have one more investigation…

Friday, November 21, 2014

Executive Action

I missed the live broadcast of President Obama’s speech on immigration last night (video here).  But fear not; Sahil Kapur at TPM has the essentials.

He will expand an existing program to avoid targeting certain young people, and create a new program to relieve undocumented parents of Americans of deportation fears, senior administration officials told reporters in the White House ahead of the prime-time announcement.

“That’s the real amnesty – leaving this broken system the way it is. Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character,” Obama said. “What I’m describing is accountability – a commonsense, middle ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.”

He also challenged the Republicans in Congress to fix immigration on their own, telling them that if they didn’t like what he was doing, the solution was simple:

“To those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: pass a bill,” he said during a prime time address on Thursday night announcing his actions. “I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution. And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I take will no longer be necessary.”

No, he did not add “Neener, neener,” but he might as well have.  The GOP is beyond furious, which is a sign that they know they’re in trouble.  The more they carry on, the more we know the president’s actions are going to have an impact both on policy and politics.

The reactions stand to sharpen the contrast between Democrats and Republicans, which is particularly salient among Hispanics, who broadly support immigration relief. Pledging to overturn Obama’s actions could become a litmus test in the GOP primary, if Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and other opponents demand as much. That could make life miserable for the eventual Republican nominee in the general election, where Hispanic voters, who helped give Obama two terms in office, are likely to again play an important role.

One of the things that pundits and the Village chin-scratchers have been saying since the mid-terms is that the Democratic Party has pretty much written off the white straight male voter and that it’s crucial for them to work to get them back.  Sure, it would be nice if the party that stood up for unions and the working class when the Republicans were all in favor of closing plants and sending jobs overseas could get the support of the folks whose economic well-being was trashed by the party they now flock to, but the Democrats chose to support civil rights and treating the least among us as well as the richest.  They’ve paid a price at the polls in Congress, but in the long term the number of people they helped and who know it is growing.  The biggest fear the Republicans have isn’t hoards of undocumented immigrants in Browsnville.  It’s the hoards of people in the voting booths in Toledo and Seattle and Omaha who remember who stood with them when Ted Cruz and Steve King wanted to ship them back in cattle cars.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Financial Climate

Jonah Goldberg is the right-wing pundit who told the world that it’s the liberals who are the real fascists and that conservatives are endangered because lesbians can get married or something.  Now he’s out with a new bit of Orwellian logic: climate change scientists are in it for the money.

Fox News provided American Enterprise Institute (AEI) fellow Jonah Goldberg a platform to attack climate scientists as profiteers who are “financially incentivized” to advocate climate change action, without disclosing AEI’s own financial incentive to undercut action on climate change. AEI has taken over $3 million from ExxonMobil, and once offered money to scientists to write articles criticizing a UN climate change report.

On the November 18 edition of Your World with Neil Cavuto, Goldberg argued that climate scientists have a conflict of interest reporting on climate change because they are ”deeply invested in the whole industry of global warming” for their university programs. Goldberg also called climate scientists and advocates “people who are financially incentivized to go one way.”

As CLW noted, “that must explain why I see all the climate scientists driving Bentleys and the oil company execs driving 20-year old Volvos.”

It’s also interesting that Mr. Goldberg would bring up the idea that climate change scientists are cashing in on it.  He knows whereof he speaks.

Though host Neil Cavuto did disclose that Goldberg is a fellow at AEI, he did not mention AEI’s ties to the oil industry or its history of offering money to climate scientists to write articles undermining a climate change report. In 2013, The Union of Concerned Scientists reported that AEI received $3.04 million from ExxonMobil between 2001 and 2011. According to ExxonMobil’s website, in 2012 the company also donated $260,000 to AEI.

There’s your financially incentivized people right there.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

If You Like Your Plan…

One nagging problem for Obamacare is that it keeps polling unfavorably with the public; just about every time there’s a question about it, the results show voters have a negative opinion of it.  That could be because some don’t think it went far enough to get it out of the hands of for-profit corporations, and it may also be because there’s been a concerted and well-executed effort on the part of the Republicans and their mouthpieces at Fox News to demonize it.

But when you ask the people who are actually enrolled in it what they think of their insurance, the results are encouraging.

Over seven in 10 Americans who bought new health insurance policies through the government exchanges earlier this year rate the quality of their healthcare and their healthcare coverage as “excellent” or “good.” These positive evaluations are generally similar to the reviews that all insured Americans give to their health insurance.

Among those who bought new health insurance policies through the exchanges, the majority are about as satisfied with their coverage and healthcare as are other Americans — suggesting that the end result of the exchange enrollment process is a generally positive one for those who take advantage of it. Americans who still lack health insurance will have the opportunity to buy coverage when the national insurance marketplace exchanges open again on Nov. 15.

What this means is that the Republicans had better hurry up and repeal the law before the rest of America finds out how good it is.  That would prove that William Kristol was right way back in 1993: if they don’t kill healthcare reform, it could prove to be a disaster for the Republicans.

Look What You Made Me Do

The Republicans are threatening to shut down the government again if President Obama takes executive action on immigration.  And it will be all the president’s fault if they do.

CHUCK TODD:

Very quickly on immigration. If the president goes through with his executive action, do you think Republicans and Capitol Hill ought to use even the power of shutting down the government to stop him from doing it?

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL:

Two things. I don’t think the president should shut down the government to try to break the Constitution. The reality is this. I do think the–

CHUCK TODD:

You think the president would be shutting down the government?

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL:

Oh, absolutely.

CHUCK TODD:

So you do want Republicans to fight him on this to the point that it could shut down the government?

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL:

Absolute– I don’t think the president should shut down the government.

So if President Obama does something the GOP doesn’t like — which at this point is anything at all — they will hold the government hostage and blame it all on him.

I think I saw something like this on The Blacklist, but at this point James Spader would just get bored with all the jibber-jabber, pull out a gun, shoot the bad guy and pour himself another glass of wine.

I think it’s particularly appropriate that the person putting forth this particular line of reasoning is Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) who once admonished his fellow Republicans to stop being the stupid party.  He skipped the part about being the ironic party, it seems.

HT Steve M.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Run On Sentence

Charlie Pierce looks at the climate change agreement with China and the reaction to it from the usual gang of idiots.

…newly emboldened by their victory in last week’s midterms, the Republicans slapped on the old clown shoes and did a buck-and-wing. (This does take away one of their prime talking-points against doing anything about the problem. Go Talk To China is now inoperable. Marco Rubio will be grieved.) Giving them a chance to weigh in on this issue is like watching raccoons deal with a sugar cube. The raccoon takes the cube and dunks it in water, causing it to dissolve, whereupon the raccoon starts screeching and hollering and running around in circles.

This is yet another in a long line of issues where the immediate reaction by the Republicans to whatever stand the president takes is the polar opposite and therefore grounds for impeachment.

If Barack Obama were to come out in favor of mountaintop removal coal mining, fracking in the middle of the Everglades, personhood for gametes, and a constitutional ban on marriage equality, the GOP would find ample reason to defend the pristine mountaintops of Kentucky, save the rosette spoonbill, deny a fetus the right to vote, and get the government out of the marriage business.

Hey, I think I just found the perfect Democratic platform for 2016.

HT to FC.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

In This Corner

The climate change agreement with China has the GOP all twitterpated.  Not just because a number of them are bought and paid for by energy interests such as coal mining and oil production, but because if China is on board with reducing carbon emissions, they lose their excuse for not doing anything about it because the Chinese were not doing anything about it.

Via TPM:

They might as well go back to the whole “climate change is a hoax” meme.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Full and Fair Consideration

In a rational world, there should be no reason that Loretta Lynch shouldn’t be confirmed right away as the next Attorney General.  After all, she’s been through Senate confirmation twice before, and as Steve Benen points out, she was approved unanimously.

Ah, but the trick is I said “in a rational world,” and that excludes the whacky world of the GOP and Sen. Ted Cruz.

The junior senator from Texas opined that her confirmation should wait until after the new Senate is sworn in in January because it would be totally wrong to confirm any cabinet position during the lame duck session.

President Obama’s Attorney General nominee deserves fair and full consideration of the United States Senate, which is precisely why she should not be confirmed in the lame duck session of Congress by senators who just lost their seats and are no longer accountable to the voters.

But that rule only applies to Democratic presidents.  In November 2006, after the Republicans lost a lot of seats in the midterms, President Bush fired Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and appointed Robert Gates to replace him.  He was confirmed 95-2 in December 2006; long before the new Senate was seated.  As far as the Constitution is concerned, the new Senate doesn’t get to work until January 2015.  It’s not like the current one went out of business on November 5.  (Well, at least technically it didn’t; it’s had the lights out for the last four years as far as getting anything done is concerned.)

I suspect that Mr. Cruz’s objection is merely a delaying tactic until the new Senate is seated, but for the life of me I can’t fathom any other reason that a black woman appointed by a black Democratic president would face any trouble being confirmed by a GOP majority-led Senate, can you?

Annals of Asshattery

Right-wing “news” site Breibart had a huge scoop this weekend: Loretta Lynch, who has been nominated to succeed Eric Holder as Attorney General, worked on the Clinton’s Whitewater defense team.

The site ran the BREAKING NEWS in 24 pt type and everything else except a flashing light and a Klaxon horn:

And then it was pointed out to them that the Loretta Lynch that worked for the Clintons was someone else who is also named Loretta Lynch.

So Breitbart did what any responsible journalistic establishment would do: they ran a correction.  Well, actually, they did what any bombastic piece of crap website would do when they get caught running a story that is completely wrong: they left the original story intact, added [CORRECTED] to the huge headline, and at the very bottom in the same size type they would use to insert a footnote, they added “Correction: The Loretta Lynch identified earlier as the Whitewater attorney was, in fact, a different attorney.”

In Breibart’s defense, they have never done any fact-checking in the past, so why should you expect them to start now?

Friday, November 7, 2014

How Did He Sneak In?

Maryland doesn’t top the list of hard-core right-wing nutsery havens; not like some places I can think of (*cough-Texas-cough*), so how did the good people of Anne Arundel County, the home of Annapolis, let this guy out of the pen?  Via C&L:

[Michael] Peroutka is a radical Christian Reconstructionist, a Southern secessionist, and has claimed in the past that “so-called civil rights laws” aren’t valid because “there is no such thing as civil rights.” This man, who wound up as the newly elected to the Anne Arundel County Council in Maryland, has claimed that promoting evolution is an “act of disloyalty to America” and said that SCOTUS Justice Anthony Kennedy “hates God” because “he thinks he is God.” Peroutka, not above the querulous paranoia so rampant on the right wing today, cleverly refers to being gay as a “deathstyle” and has claimed in the past that they’re out to “recruit your children.”

Toss in a beheading (or stoning; if he’s a good Reconstructionist, he supports a return to Mosaic law, punishments included) and Maryland voters basically elected the Christian cousin to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

[...]

Peroutka has argued and continues to argue that since state legislatures have passed laws like marriage equality that “violate God’s law,” the Maryland General Assembly isn’t “a valid legislative body” and, therefore, none of the law that it passes are “legally valid and legally enforceable.” It’s very easy for a legislature to violate Peroutka’s view of God’s law, by the way. The government has a very clear purpose: protect God-given rights, enforce and obey God’s law, and not to “house, feed, clothe, educate, or give healthcare . . .  [to] ANYBODY!”

Sounds like a great guy.

My guess is the he was on the ballot along with a whole list of names and people just checked him off the way they do in county elections without knowing anything about the candidate.  Maybe they’ve seen his campaign signs along the street or in front yards and they figure, “hey, what the hell, that name is familiar,” and then move on to the question over the dog park.

Ah, democracy.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Monday, November 3, 2014

Ben Stein On Racism

Somehow I get the feeling that Ben Stein calling Barack Obama the most racist president ever doesn’t carry a whole lot of weight anywhere other than on Fox News.

What the White House is trying to do is racialize all politics and their especially trying to tell the Africa-American voter that the GOP is against letting them have a chance at a good life in this economy, and that’s just a complete lie,” he said. “I watch with fascination — with incredible fascination — all the stories about how the Democratic politicians, especially Hillary, are trying to whip up the African-American vote and say, ‘Oh the Republicans have policies against black people in terms of the economy.’ But there are no such policies.”

“It’s all a way to racialize voting in this country,” Stein continued. “This president is the most racist president there has ever been in America. He is purposely trying to use race to divide Americans.”

That’s true.  It was Barack Obama who came up with the Southern Strategy in 1968 for Richard Nixon and whispered it into the ear of Lee Atwater.  Despite the fact that he was seven years old at the time, he was already whipping up racist plots from his secret base in Kenya.  (By the way there were a couple of other presidents who actually owned slaves, but that’s totally not racist… just good business.)

It just strikes me as funny in a really sardonic way that middle-aged white people who promoted and promulgated policies and legislation aimed at suppressing participation in the electoral process are being called out for “purposely trying to use race to divide Americans.”  Or to put it in terms they might better understand, “I know you are but what am I?”

Friday, October 31, 2014

He Had Other Plans

Via TPM:

Federal agents reportedly found a supply of the explosive ammonium nitrate, along with a pile of guns and ammo, when they searched the hotel room of a leader of a Texas border militia member earlier this month.

The San Antonio Express-News reported on Wednesday about court records that showed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives dispatched agents to a hotel in Brownsville, Texas where Kevin “KC” Massey had been staying before his Oct. 20 arrest on weapons charges.

Along with a box containing the chemical, the officers found “an AK-47 with six loaded magazines, a loaded handgun, a ballistic helmet and several cameras,” according to the Texas newspaper.

As the Express-News noted, ammonium nitrate is the substance used by the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in the attack that killed 168 people.

Massey belonged to the paramilitary group “Camp Lonestar,” and was described as a “CO,” or commanding officer, in a September profile in the Texas Observer.

Yeah, I don’t think he was down there just waiting to catch some kid from El Salvador crossing the border carrying Ebola or bales of marijuana.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Conquer The World

Some nutjob at Fox News (I know; redundant) wants America to take over the world.

Keith Ablow, a doctor and Fox News analyst, thinks that the United States should aggressively export its system of government to every single country on earth. What could go wrong?

In a comically unhinged column posted to Fox News’ website on Tuesday, Ablow calls for an “American jihad” in which the U.S. would aggressively move to America-ify the entire world, which totally makes sense because “the Constitution is a sacred document that better defines and preserves the liberty and autonomy of human beings than the charter of any other nation on earth.”

How would this ambitious plan work? Well, Ablow explains, “we would tie American aid to incremental changes not just in the attitudes, but in the fundamental structures, of countries. These changes would move those countries, slowly but inexorably, toward reflecting our Constitution in their own charters.” The plan would also involve doubling the budget for the CIA and Special Forces, presumably to counter any foolhardy resistance to American domination. There’s more, but you get the idea.

Ablow further expounded on his vision on “Fox and Friends” Wednesday. After listening, host Brian Kilmeade correctly noted that Ablow had “some views that need to be discussed.”

Haven’t we done that already?  Coca-Cola is the world’s most recognized trademark.  Mickey Mouse has fans in North Korea.  They watch The Big Bang Theory in Cuba.

It’s only when we actually try to impose our form of government on other people that they get testy, like say in Iraq, or when we try to get them all to become Christians, like say in everywhere.

Give us time, Dr. Ablow; we won the world with our charm, Hershey bars, and money after World War II.  Now why don’t you go off and play with your home lobotomy kit?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Liberated

The columnist who advocated secession for southern states to make a new country called “Reagan” has been given the time to explore new opportunities.

Douglas MacKinnon, one of the most conservative and controversial columnists to grace the pages of a Tampa Bay daily newspaper in many a year, has been fired from the Tampa Tribune, sources tell CL.

The Trib isn’t saying anything officially. Metro Editor Dennis Joyce told CL that “It’s a personnel matter,” and refused to confirm or deny MacKinnon’s firing. But his name and work have been scrubbed off the paper’s website (On Tuesday his work was back on the site).

In all probability it’s because of the embarrassment to the paper.

That’s because of a book he’s just published in which he calls on the Southern U.S. states to secede from the rest of the country, because of the South’s more conservative stance on same-sex marriage and other rights pertaining to the LGBT community. Entitled The Secessionist States of America: The Blueprint for Creating a Traditional Values Country…Now, the book envisions a new Southern region called Reagan,after our 40th president, and would consist of Florida, South Carolina and Georgia. Not Texas, however, because, well, frankly, there are too many Mexicans there.

He and this guy are free to go off somewhere and form their own country.  Hopefully on top of an active volcano.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

That Suit Is Out Of Style

Remember the lawsuit the Republicans were going to file against President Obama for not implementing a part of Obamacare that they wanted to repeal in the first place?  Whatever happened with that?

Well, there seem to be three answers for why Boehner’s lawsuit is trapped in limbo. The first is that they never actually intended to follow through with the suit and that this was all a pre-election stunt intended to motivate the GOP base and mollify impeachment-crazy conservatives. That’s difficult to demonstrate conclusively, but it’s a satisfactory explanation for the utter lack of progress on the suit four months after its heavily hyped debut.

The second is that Republicans were actually going to file the suit, but started having second thoughts as the legal rationale fell apart and political embarrassments piled up. Key Republicans broke with Boehner by arguing that asking the courts to intervene in a separation-of-powers conflict was not the best solution, and that Congress’ best answer to executive overreach was to actually pass legislation. When the House Rules Committee held its hearing on the merits of the suit, it was discovered that one of the experts Republicans called to testify in favor of suing had previously argued unequivocally that Congress lacks standing to sue the White House.

As for the legal rationale for Boehner’s proposed action, the suit was considered a wild long shot even before the House voted to authorize it, and since then it’s only faced more and more setbacks. The most recent was turned up by Constitutional Accountability Center attorneys Simon Lazarus and Elisabeth Stein, who found a Congressional Research Service report from September that, in their view, leaves zero doubt that Boehner’s suit has no legal merit:

Although shrouded in twelve pages of fine print and protectively bureaucratic phraseology, the report’s bottom line is clear: not merely are the legal underpinnings of the Republicans’ planned lawsuit weak; the report turns up no legal basis – no “there” there – at all.

Translation: Never mind.