Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Normal Stupid

In case you’ve forgotten what stupid politicians and grifters behaved like before the giant meteor of Trump smashed into the planet, here’s a reminder.

U.S. Rep. Steve King has introduced an amendment in Congress that would prevent Harriet Tubman, an abolitionist and supporter of women’s suffrage, from replacing President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.

However, the House Rules Committee agreed Tuesday night to deny floor consideration of proposal, which would have prevented the Treasury Department from spending money to redesign paper currency or coins.

The Iowan Republican’s amendment, which was first reported by the Huffington Post, would scrap the federal government’s plans to replace Jackson on the $20 bill with a picture of Tubman, a black woman who was born in to slavery in 1822 and later escaped. She subsequently made repeated missions on the Underground Railroad to rescue black people from slavery. During the Civil War, she served as a Union Army scout and spy.

“It’s not about Harriet Tubman, it’s about keeping the picture on the $20,” King said Tuesday night, according to Politico, pulling a $20 bill from his pocket and pointing at President Andrew Jackson. “Y’know? Why would you want to change that? I am a conservative, I like to keep what we have.”

Politico quoted King as saying it is “racist” and “sexist” to say a woman or person of color should be added to currency.

Kinda makes you miss the good old days of normal stupid, doesn’t it?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Short Takes

Venezuela is circling the drain.

The Justice Department released transcripts from the 911 calls during the Orlando massacre.

The Supreme Court — with one notable dissentmade it easier for police to conduct searches.

Oakland has trouble keeping police chiefs.

Trouble in Trumpland.

Tropical Update: TS Danielle is heading across Mexico.

The Tigers beat the Mariners 8-7 in extra innings.

Friday, June 17, 2016

From The Man Who Brought You Sarah Palin

Despicable toad.

Republican Sen. John McCain said Thursday that President Barack Obama is “directly responsible” for the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, because of the rise of the Islamic State group on the president’s watch. But he later issued a statement saying that he “misspoke.”

“I did not mean to imply that the president was personally responsible. I was referring to President Obama’s national security decisions, not the president himself,” McCain said in his statement, issued as his initial comments were drawing heated criticism from Democrats.

No, it was George W. Bush invading Iraq in the first place that gave us ISIS.  So STFU.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Mapquest

Quoth Mr. Trump:

“The bottom line is that the only reason the killer was in America in the first place was because we allowed his family to come here,” Trump said at a rally in New Hampshire. “That is a fact and a fact we need to talk about.”

Trump, who read from a teleprompter, then appeared to catch himself after suggesting the shooter was born in Afghanistan. Law enforcement officials said Sunday that Omar Mateen was born in New York.

 

Birthplaces 06-14-16

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Sore Losers

Via TPM, Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America will not take kindly to it if his candidate doesn’t win in November.

In a conversation on his “Gun Owners News Hour,” Larry Pratt, executive director emeritus of Gun Owners of America, interviewed Robert Knight, a fellow at the conservative American Civil Rights Union, who said a Democrat taking the White House and replacing the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia would pose “great peril” to gun rights.

“At that point, we would have to come to an understanding, which we’ve been sort of taught, it’s been taught out of us, that the courts do not have the last word on what the Constitution is,” Pratt said on the show, in remarks first flagged by RightWingWatch.

“And we may have to reassert that constitutional balance, and it may not be pretty,” he continued. “So, I’d much rather have an election where we solve this matter at the ballot box than have to resort to the bullet box.”

Threats of sedition and assassination if you don’t get what you want?  Hey, it’s the American way.  Second Amendment and all that.

HT to NTodd.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Sounds Like A Winner

The folks at Bloomberg have figured out that Bill Kristol’s candidate for the independent run to beat Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is lawyer and National Review columnist David French.

French is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. According to the website of National Review, where French is a staff writer, he is a constitutional lawyer, a recipient of the Bronze Star, and an author of several books who lives in Columbia, Tenn., with his wife Nancy and three children.

Reached in Israel late Tuesday afternoon, Kristol declined to comment on his efforts to induce French to run. The two Republicans confirmed that French is open to launching a bid, but that he has not made a final decision. One of the Republicans added that French has not lined up a vice-presidential running mate or significant financial support.

Via Steve M we also learn that Mr. French and his wife Nancy are advocates of the right-wing hit parade with a heavy emphasis on the private doings of other people:

Both are obsessed with current battles over sexual orientation and gender: For National Review, David writes posts with titles such as “Transgender Extremism — Two Videos Show How Quickly the Absurd Became Accepted, Then Mandatory” while his wife defends Curt Schilling’s trans-bashing (“ESPN Fired Conservative Curt Schilling, but Hires Female LGBT Activist”) and reacts to an ad featuring two gay dads with a post titled “Nabisco, Spreading Liberal Propaganda on Your Honey Maid Graham Crackers.”

Voters had a chance to choose among several candidates in the primary who sounded like that — Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson — and they rejected them all and went with the sex-addled Mr. Trump.  What makes Bill Kristol think that they’ll suddenly switch back?

Friday, May 27, 2016

Einstein Was Wrong

Apparently you can travel faster than light because Sen. Orrin Hatch has done it.  He went so fast that he distorted time and went into the future and came back.  Now he’s reporting on a meeting he had with Judge Merrick Garland that hasn’t happened yet.

Like many of my Senate colleagues, I recently met with Chief Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court. I have known Judge Garland for many years and think highly of his character and credentials. He has an excellent reputation among lawyers and fellow judges alike. I met with Judge Garland as a personal friend and out of respect for his position as a distinguished federal judge.

Our meeting, however, does not change my conviction that the Senate should consider a Supreme Court nominee after this presidential election cycle.

This is from an op-ed in the Deseret News that was published on Thursday and then yanked by the paper when they realized that they had posted an event from the future.

Sen. Hatch was unavailable for comment.  He was out getting the flux capacitor calibrated on the DeLorean.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Short Takes

Next: Taliban appoints new leader.

Eleven states make a federal case out of peeing in private.

The T.S.A. says long lines at airports are here for a while.

The housing market recorded their best gains in 24 years in April.

The Tigers lost 8-5 to the Phillies.

Tropical Update: Invest 91L gets an early start on the season.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Answer Is Obvious

David Brooks mused, “Why is Clinton disliked?” and then proceeded to tell us that because we don’t know what she does for fun — macrame? crossword puzzles? barrel roping? — we can’t really know her and therefore we can’t like her.

Clinton’s career appears, from the outside, to be all consuming. Her husband is her co-politician. Her daughter works at the Clinton Foundation. Her friendships appear to have been formed at networking gatherings reserved for the extremely successful.

People who work closely with her adore her and say she is warm and caring. But it’s hard from the outside to think of any non-career or pre-career aspect to her life. Except for a few grandma references, she presents herself as a résumé and policy brief.

I think there’s a simpler reason.  After twenty-five years of demonization, sexism, misogyny, and the full-throated attacks from the Right-Wing Noise Machine on every aspect of her life from her wardrobe to hairstyle to the way she laughs, it’s little wonder that the public’s perception of her is skewed to the negative.  And who in the world would willingly put up with that?

If you want to understand her in the context of the forces allayed against her, I strongly recommend you read this profile by Tom Junod in Esquire.

Of course, she sounded paranoid back when she first said it—participants in apocalyptic battles always sound paranoid when they first say they’re participants in apocalyptic battles. They sound especially paranoid when they answer a question in apocalyptic terms when the question was really about, well, blowjobs. This was a long time ago. This was back in 1998. Bill Clinton was the president of the United States of America. Hillary Clinton was the First Lady. He’d offended people by being a resourceful rascal. She’d offended people by saying something about cookies. They’d both offended people by trying and failing to bring about universal health care and by trying (and sort of failing) to allow gays to serve openly in the military. They’d been under investigation for years for something they’d supposedly done in Arkansas when, really, everyone knew the investigation was about sex—and secrets. He’d been accused of rape in the nascent right-wing press; she’d been accused of murder; and now they were finally caught. He had a secret, indeed—he’d had sex with a young woman in the White House and he’d testified, under oath, that he hadn’t. He had sinned all right; he had sinned against her, his wife, so that now even she couldn’t defend him. But she did. And she defended him by inveighing against them—against the “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

She sounded a little crazy. She sounded guilty of, at the very least, bad faith. Except that what she was saying turned out to be true—there really was an obscurely wealthy man, Richard Mellon Scaife, bankrolling the attacks against her and her husband; there really was a right-wing media spawned by structural changes overtaking the news business, and it had found, in the Clintons, the template for every story that was to follow. Her only error was a matter of language. She used the word vast to describe what she faced. It wasn’t vast, yet—

It is now. Nearly 30 years later, Richard Mellon Scaife has evolved into the Koch brothers, the then-fledgling right-wing media now claims the biggest and most powerful cable-news network among its ranks, and the money unleashed by the Citizens United decision has conjured a ring of super PACs organized specifically against her candidacy. The vast right-wing conspiracy is still here, and yet—and here’s the thing—so is she. The vast right-wing conspiracy has outlasted everybody but her. From the start, the attacks on her have had a tendency to resolve themselves in the most mundane terms—the Whitewater investigation turned out to be about a husband lying about infidelity; the Benghazi investigation turned out to be about, of all things, Sidney Blumenthal. But that doesn’t mean that both sides haven’t known the stakes all along. She’s always chosen to fight on metaphysical ground; she’s always defended herself cosmically because she’s been attacked cosmically, and so she’s lived to fight another day. But now that day is here. She helped create the modern right wing; the modern right wing helped create her; and now there is no place for them to go except at each other. The 2016 election is nothing less than the climactic event of the last three decades of American politics, and—it’s an amazing and scary thing to be able to write these words without irony—the future of the Free World lies in the balance.

So no, I really don’t care if she does the New York Times crossword puzzle.  And neither should you.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Oklahoma Stupid

The wind coming sweeping down the plain is carrying a lot of nonsense.

The Oklahoma Legislature has filed a measure asking Congress to impeach President Barack Obama.

[…]

“The members of the United States House of Representatives elected from this state are hereby requested to file articles of impeachment against the President of the United States, the Attorney General of the United States, the Secretary of Education and any other federal official liable to impeachment who has exceeded his or her constitutional authority with respect to the letter referenced in this resolution, based upon the grounds that the Constitution of the United States does not grant the executive branch of the federal government any authority whatsoever over the public education system, nor over the use of restrooms or other facilities thereof.”

Because allowing people to go where they feel safe is a high crime and misdemeanor.

Meanwhile you’ve got oil companies pumping chemicals into the groundwater that will end up poisoning people and causing earthquakes and that’s perfectly okay.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

It Takes All Kinds

And then there’s this:

InfoWars broadcaster and Donald Trump ally Alex Jones is back to claiming that First Lady Michelle Obama is secretly a transgender woman, but this time he’s adding a new twist to his conspiracy theory: that Obama had comedienne Joan Rivers killed after she joked about the first lady being trans.

The trains don’t go to where he lives.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Butler Did It

David Corn at Mother Jones reports that Donald Trump’s former butler and in-house historian at his estate in Palm Beach has some rather strong feelings about President Obama.

Anthony Senecal, who worked as Donald Trump’s butler for 17 years before being named the in-house historian at the tycoon’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, has repeatedly published posts on his Facebook page that express profound hatred for President Barack Obama and declare he should be killed.

On Wednesday, Senecal put up a post that read:

To all my friends on FB, just a short note to you on our pus headed “president” !!!! This character who I refer to as zero (0) should have been taken out by our military and shot as an enemy agent in his first term !!!!! Instead he still remains in office doing every thing he can to gut the America we all know and love !!!!! Now comes Donald J Trump to put an end to the corruption in government !!!! The so called elite, who are nothing but common dog turds from your front lawn are shaking in their boots because there is a new Sheriff coming to town, and the end to their corruption of the American people (YOU) is at hand !!!! I cannot believe that a common murder is even allowed to run (killery clinton) OR that a commie like bernie is a also allowed to also run !!!! Come on America put your big boy pants on—this election you have a choice—GET YOUR ASS OUT AND VOTE !!!! Thank you !!!!

Though Senecal’s Facebook page is public, this message could only be read by his Facebook friends. In an interview with Mother Jones, Senecal confirms that those were his words: “I wrote that. I believe that.”

A spokeswoman for the Trump campaign says, “This individual has not worked at Mar-a-Lago for many years.”

Senecal, who is 84, says he has been employed at Mar-a-Lago since about 1959. Trump acquired the property in 1985, and Senecal remained on staff. “As [Trump] says, I came with the furniture,” Senecal remarks. About seven years later, he became the butler for the celebrity mogul who is now the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee. In 2009, Senecal informed Trump he wanted to resign as butler, and Trump persuaded him to stay on as the in-house historian at Mar-a-Lago. There is no salary for the job, Senecal says, but he makes money leading tours of the estate.

Senecal regularly posts screeds on his Facebook page from a far-right perspective in which he decries Obama and his wife—along with Hillary Clinton, other Democrats, and Republican leaders. He often refers to Obama as “zero,” and several times he has called for the president’s execution. He confirms that he has written all the posts on the page that have appeared under his name. “It’s all me,” he says.

NBC News reports that the Secret Service is looking into the matter and will take appropriate action if necessary.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Hitting The Marks

The reason you’re still getting those phone calls from Kevin with Tech Support at Windows Security and he needs you to reprogram your computer so he can install malware is because the scam is working; they’re finding more marks every day.

In a way, that would also explain why Donald Trump is now the Republican nominee for president.

Jonathan Chait:

Why did almost everybody fail to predict Donald Trump’s victory in the Republican primaries? Nate Silver blames the news media, disorganized Republican elites, and the surprising appeal of cultural grievance. Nate Cohn lists a number of factors, from the unusually large candidate field to the friendly calendar. Jim Rutenberg thinks journalism strayed too far from good old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting. Justin Wolfers zeroes in on Condorcet’s paradox. Here’s the factor I think everybody missed: The Republican Party turns out to be filled with idiots. Far more of them than anybody expected.

[…]

In the previous election cycle, joke candidates like Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann briefly caught the fancy of Republican voters but collapsed in the face of scrutiny. Republicans did rally around Sarah Palin after her vice-presidential selection was unveiled, but eventually her lack of qualifications became so impossible to deny that she didn’t even bother running in 2012. It was natural to expect a similar collapse from Trump, who cut an even more absurd figure (and certainly carried more ideological baggage on issues like abortion, health care, past support for Democratic candidates, and many other things).

Unlike Bachmann or Cain, Trump had an even weaker grasp on intro-level Republican dogma, instead ranting like a drunk on a bar stool (“Bomb the shit out of ISIS!”). In debates, rather than use the standard tactic of mouthing pabulum that sounded vaguely like a substantive response before pivoting to his preferred message, he dispensed with the pabulum altogether, relying instead on vague, repetitive bragging and grade-school-level personal insults of his opponents. He puts down his opponents’ beauty or their height, or simply smirks at them. His appeal operates not at a low intellectual level but at a sub-intellectual level.

You have to give Mr. Trump credit for being able, as veteran comedians and hucksters do, to read the room and know how to pitch to the crowd.  He knows that the base of the GOP is made up largely of people who fall for the most obvious cons like the Windows scam; after all, they bought into the Reagan “morning in America” line while the country spiraled into debt and sold guns to Iran, got screwed with their pants on by George W. Bush and his war on sanity, fell for the birtherism and racism against Barack Obama, and forgave every corrupt politician like Newt Gingrich who cried “Jesus!” and took their money and lusted after their wives, their daughters, and, in some cases, their sons.

The reason Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann sputtered and fizzled out is because they were as lacking as their marks.  Donald Trump knows how to exploit the stupid, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that he really does lack the judgment of your average middle-schooler.  The idea that he’s to be trusted with a classified intelligence briefing, let alone the nuclear codes, is enough to want to invite the British back.

I know it sounds like I’m some kind of elitist or snob who’s dismissing the ten million voters in this country who voted for Mr. Trump in the primaries as idiots, but at some point we have to face reality.  (By the way, not all poorly-educated people are stupid.  I know folks who never made it through high school who have more smarts than some with Ph.D’s.  Wisdom is not measured by degrees.)  All people may be created equal in the sight of the law and, as the Quakers say, there is that of God in everyone, that doesn’t guarantee that they have the intelligence to choose the right person to lead the nation.  And yet they vote.  After all, this is America, and that’s the choice we’ve made and the chance we take.

I just wish they were smart enough to hang up on Kevin.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

They’ll Get To It

When the White House announced that President Obama would visit Hiroshima while in Japan for an economic summit, they made it abundantly clear that he would not be apologizing for the U.S. dropping an atomic bomb on the city in August 1945 that killed over 140,000 people and helped bring an end to World War II.

This is seen as preemptive strike against the phony claim from the right wing that President Obama goes around the world apologizing for America.  But as Paul Waldman at the Washington Post notes, the Republicans haven’t raised much of a stink yet.

How come?  Well, maybe it has to do with the presumptive nominee and his view of America.

Donald Trump describes this country as a miserable hellhole where nobody has a job, nobody makes anything, nobody respects us, our military is pathetically weak, and an America that’s worth anything to anyone is a decades-old memory. “Our country doesn’t win anymore,” he said in a debate in December. “Nothing works in our country.” It’s a message he repeats all the time. He actually titled his campaign book, which barely anyone noticed, Crippled America.

Conservatives have always had contempt for Barack Obama’s capacity for complex thought and tolerance for nuance. A president willing to say that decisions can be complicated and we need to worry about unintended consequences? That we might want to learn from our mistakes? That this is a great country but not a perfect one? Despicable.

But when your party’s champion is practically campaigning on the slogan, “America: What a Dump,” it may be a little harder to muster up outrage when the president acknowledges, even if only implicitly, that the incineration of an entire city was a terrible thing, no matter how defensible in the circumstances. Could it be that the shame of having Donald Trump as their leader is forcing Republicans to be a little more thoughtful in their criticisms of the other side? Anything’s possible.

There are a few reasons why this is just a short respite from their spittle-flecked outrage.  First, Republicans are masters at pirouetting on a topic when they find out that Barack Obama has the same view they do.  If President Obama went to Hiroshima and said that Japan got what they deserved for starting the war in the Pacific and brutalizing half the world, there would be some jackass Republican who would bemoan the terrible loss of life at the hands of Democrat Harry Truman.

Second, no matter how Mr. Trump views America, he has a right to trash it because, well, he’s a white guy who knows how real America really is, and it sucks to be a white guy in America.

Third, they just haven’t gotten around to it.  They’re still worked up over e-mails and Benghazi!, so be patient; they’ll get to it.

Trending Topic

The Senate is back in session and doing the work for the American people.  That would include immigration reform, infrastructure repair, a Supreme Court vacancy to fill, and such emergencies as controlling the Zika virus, right?

No, they’re going after Facebook.

The US Senate Commerce Committee—which has jurisdiction over media issues, consumer protection issues, and internet communication—has sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg requesting answers to questions it has on its trending topics section. The letter comes after Gizmodo on Monday reported on allegations by one former news curator, who worked for Facebook as a contractor, that the curation team routinely suppressed or blacklisted topics of interest to conservatives. That report also included allegations from several former curators that they used a “injection tool” to add or bump stories onto the trending module.

The letter asks that Facebook “arrange for your staff including employees responsible for trending topics to brief committee staff on this issue.” The letter was signed by Chairman for the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Senator John Thune (R) from South Dakota.

You can’t make this up.

Here’s a trending topic for you: “Voters plan to unfriend a lot of Republicans in November elections.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Progress Is Never A Bargain

I never thought that when the Supreme Court ruled for marriage equality last June that at last America was over state-sanctioned gay-bashing and marginalization any more than I believed that Brown v. Board of Education would end school segregation or that Roe v. Wade would make reproductive rights a matter for a woman to decide rather than the state.  There will always be a backlash against any sort of social change no matter if it comes naturally through civilization’s growth or through the bang of a gavel in a courtroom.  The current rash of laws limiting the rights of people to use a toilet is just another example of it.

In every case, the backlash has been defended on the grounds of tradition — “We’ve always done it that way” — or religion — “God says so” — or safety — “Think of the children!”  All three of them are weak on the face of it, but they are meant to put an end to the argument rather than rationalize their opposition to whatever the change is because they really cannot justify it on reasonable grounds.  So they respond with legislation that worms its way around the barriers of constitutionally protected rights to find some way to undermine it.  (Ironically, these overreaching laws are written by people who claim to cherish more freedom and smaller government.)

John Cole:

When these jackasses say they don’t want something like homosexuality normalized, what they mean is that they don’t want to have to stop brutalizing homosexuals and transgenders both physically and emotionally and socially. They want them back in the closet, so they don’t have to confuse their pretty little heads with something that scares them or that they don’t understand. What they really mean is not that they don’t want homosexuality “normalized,” what they mean is that they want to continue to treat normal people like shit for no reason or because Jeebus told them to. Or because it makes them feel superior or because they see political gain. Or because they are sociopaths. Or because they themselves are having feelings for the same sex or are confused about their gender identity and it scares the living shit out of them because they are surrounded by people like them who have spent their entire lives telling that that is wrong. Or some combination of all of the above.

There will always be those who fight change.  To quote Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee in “Inherit the Wind,” progress has never been a bargain; you have to pay for it by giving up something; in this case the idea that what someone else may be doing behind closed doors or in the stall next to you in the restroom is any of your business.

More importantly, you might want to examine why it is that you’re so concerned about it.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Texas Takes A Stand On Sitting

Folks in Texas must not have heard of all the trouble turned up by North Carolina and their anti-LGBT legislation, specifically the part that requires determining whether to stand or sit to take a piss.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is ready to sign in a new bill denying transgender access to all public restrooms in the state.

This comes shortly after Target received fierce criticism over their new bathroom policy regarding transgender people.

Abbott said this in a statement regarding the new bill:

“Texans have spoken, and I am acting. I will not stand idly by while this country becomes more and more open to the thought of grown men being in restrooms with our little girls. It’s not right. It’s not American.”

The bill is set to be signed into action on May 18th 2016. It was filed by state representative Debbie Riddle.It states that anyone who can not conform to traditional standards of identifying with biological gender, may not use any public restrooms, as no such restrooms exist for them.

Riddle says “If a man can’t dress and act like a man, he can use the restroom at home.”

There are a couple of things that come to mind.  First, there are people in Texas who are really obsessed with the toilet habits of other people, and they seem to pose more of a danger to the social fabric than a transgendered person with a full bladder.  They are the ones who should be the subject of new legislation.

Second, as the people of North Carolina have found out, the federal government does not take kindly to states who discriminate against people on account of their sex.  So how does Gov. Abbott propose to pay for all the inevitable lawsuits and court costs that will arise from this stupid and wicked law?