Friday, December 19, 2014

He Will Find A Way

If John McCain stepped in a dog turd on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, he’d blame President Obama.

“Recently reported intelligence findings that North Korea directed cyber-attacks at Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Pictures’ decision to cancel the release of an upcoming movie in reaction to those cyber-attacks, are profoundly troubling.

“By effectively yielding to aggressive acts of cyber-terrorism by North Korea, that decision sets a troubling precedent that will only empower and embolden bad actors to use cyber as an offensive weapon even more aggressively in the future.

“But, make no mistake. The need for Sony Pictures to make that decision ultimately arose from the Administration’s continuing failure to satisfactorily address the use of cyber weapons by our nation’s enemies.

I’ll bet he’s even figured out a way to blame Obama for putting Sarah Palin on the GOP ticket in 2008.

The Dignity of the Office

The House of Representatives takes on a frat house flavor:

Congresssman Who Owns “Blow-Me.org” Sued For Sexual Harrassment

On its own, last week’s news that Republican Texas Representative Blake Farenthold registered the domain name “Blow-me.org” when he owned a computer consulting business in the ’90s is amusing, but inconsequential. However, add that to a new lawsuit accusing the congressman of sexual harassment (plus an old photo of Farenthold wearing duckie pajamas and standing next to a lingerie model) and you’ve got one of the more colorful accusations of congressional misconduct in recent memory.

In court documents filed Monday, Lauren Greene, Farenthold’s former communications director, claims that he regularly made comments meant to “gauge whether Plaintiff was interested in a sexual relationship.” She says she was cut out of important meetings after she complained, and was then fired in July 2014.

I wondered who was going to fill the void now that Michelle Bachmann has left town.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Message For Marco

Hello, Sen. Rubio; Irrelevancy is on Line 1.

A couple of points to ponder as your presidential hopes begin to flicker and fade:

1.  It’s probably not a good idea to call out the pope for his role in negotiating the re-opening of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S.  That’s going to piss off the devoted.

2.  Calling Barack Obama the “worst negotiator since Jimmy Carter” may work among the knuckle-dragging “America Fuck Yeah” crowd, but Mr. Carter was able to get Egypt and Israel to lay down their arms for the first time since the Exodus, and he has done far more for the cause of peace than you’ll ever hope to accomplish in your pathetic little pandering career.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Kansas Karma

I feel sorry for my friends who live in Kansas and have had to suffer under the rule of Gov. Sam Brownback.  He’s basically gutted the state budget in the name of Tea Party fiscal purity.

The state began bleeding when the governor and his party stalwarts cut taxes to practically nothing and the expected resurrection of Ronald Reagan did not happen, defying the prophecy that he would magically shower the state with money.  Of course they refused to implement anything to do with the evil federal government plans to socialize their healthcare.

But reality has arrived and now the state facing a massive budget deficit.  And it seems that the only way to fix it is through Obamacare.

Ah, the freude is especially schaden today.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Totally Awesome

Fox News host Andrea Tantaros:

The United States of America is awesome, we are awesome. We’ve closed the book on torture, and we’ve stopped doing it. And the reason they want to have this discussion is not to show how awesome we are. This administration wants to have this discussion to show us how we’re not awesome.

Yes, we’re so awesome that we still use a system of weights and measures that dates back to the Renaissance and we’re the only industrialized country that still does.

Our public education is so awesome that most of our schools are on the verge of going broke and they’re being taken over by religious fundamentalists who deny science going back to Galileo.

We’re so awesome that we can pollute our air and water in the name of profits that will guarantee we have a magnificent funeral.  We have more nuclear weapons than the rest of the world combined so that we can hold off assimilation by the Borg.

Our criminal justice system is so awesome that we can incarcerate more black and brown people for smoking pot but guarantee that the robber barons who wrecked the economy get their bonuses.

And we we’re so awesome that we can torture people with methods that would make Torquemada get out of the business and say we’re doing it in the name of putting an end to terrorism.

America, hurrah.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Something For The Children

Watching the House of Representatives is like trying to keep an eye on a bunch of sugared-up eight-year-olds on the playground, except you expect more maturity from the kids battling it out on the monkey bars than you do from this bunch of spoiled brats.

By a vote of 219-197, the Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL)-sponsored bill seeks to undo the president’s latest executive action by exempting “categories of persons unlawfully present in the United States from removal under the immigration laws.” The president announced before Thanksgiving that he would take executive action to extend deportation relief and temporary work authorization to the parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents and other undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children and who have lived here for at least five years.

According to NBC News’ Luke Russert, Reps. Gohmert and Stutzman voted against the bill “because it doesn’t go far enough.” Seven Republicans, Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Jeff Denham (R-CA), David Valadao (R-CA), Mike Coffman (R-CO) Louis Gohmert (R-TX), and Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) voted no.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) gave his approval for the symbolic vote partly to allow Republicans to express their anger at the president for what they perceived to be an unilateral action on immigration law, Politico reported. Boehner hoped that allowing the vote would make Tea Party lawmakers more amenable to a two-part government spending bill next week that would prevent a government shutdown.

Either Mr. Boehner doesn’t have any kids or if he does he’s never learned Rule #1 of parenting: never give in to a child’s demands in hopes of insuring better behavior later on.  It never happens, and in this case, he didn’t even get the desired results: Gohmert and the rest of the Nutsery caucus will never be satisfied with symbolic gestures and empty votes unless it’s one of their own.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Easy Money

Hey, freeloaders, this guy is on to you.

In an interview this weekend with Milwaukee’s WISN, Republican congressman-elect Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin said that one of his priorities in the U.S. House will be to cut aid to low-income families, which he called “a bribe not to work that hard or a bribe not to marry someone with a full-time job” and “a strong incentive not to raise children in wedlock.”

“A single parent with a couple of kids can easily get $35,000 a year in total benefits between the health care and the earned income credit and the food share and the low-income housing and what have you,” he said.

“When you look at that amount of money, which is in essence a bribe not to work that hard or a bribe not to marry someone with a full-time job, people immediately realize you have a problem.”

Yeah, those darn kids who would rather eat and go to school are such a burden on society.

I think the folks in his district elected him just to get him out of town.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Life’s Little Lessons

Elizabeth Lauten, a staffer for some GOP congressperson from Tennessee, needs to learn that if you pick a fight with teenage girls, you’re going to lose.

Take it from a recovering middle school English teacher: don’t even start.  Even if you’re right — and in this case you are not — you’re going to come across as both a bully and a prig, and you’ll be the one heaped with scorn, not the girls.

When you apologize, do the whole thing, not just the “if I offended” half-assed non-apology.  While you’re at it, apologize to the kids’ parents for hinting that they’re anti-American and blah.

Now go to your room.

False Equivalency Bingo

Ross Douthat hits the full card with his “both sides do it” meme and blames the left for not solving our racial divide without antagonizing the white Christians.

Ultimately, being optimistic about race requires being optimistic about the ability of our political coalitions to offer colorblind visions of the American dream — the left’s vision stressing economics more heavily, the right leaning more on family and community, but both promising gains and goods and benefits that can be shared by Americans of every racial background.

In the Obama era, though, neither coalition has done a very good job selling such a vision, because neither knows how to deliver on it. (The left doesn’t know how to get wages rising again; the right doesn’t know how to shore up the two-parent family, etc.) Which has left both parties increasingly dependent on identity-politics appeals, with the left mobilizing along lines of race, ethnicity and gender and the right mobilizing around white-Christian-heartland cultural anxieties.

Except that the left hasn’t exploited identity politics by trying to scare the bejesus out of the country with fear-mongering about Kenyan secret-Muslim gay socialism and legalized voter suppression.

Booman:

If the right would stop treating every social program as the societal equivalent of a car-jacking, would stop stripping voting rights from the underclass, would stop reflexively defending killer cops and vigilantes, and would stop treating the first black president and his family with relentless disrespect, we might have a less racially-tinged response from the left.

But the right has made a decision. Their decision is to mobilize “around white-Christian-heartland cultural anxieties.”

The left has not mobilized around “black-inner city cultural anxieties.” And it won’t.

That’s why the problem of race in this country is not perpetuated or exacerbated by the left. To the degree that the left is at fault on racial issues, its because they don’t do enough. But the main reason they don’t do enough is because the backlash is so strong. Look what happens the second anyone tries to get serious about prison reform for example.

And you’re not going to get very far with race relations by trying to sing “Kumbyah” at a Klan rally.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Take Your Pick

Sen. Ted Cruz musing on his own political beliefs:

“Historically, the media has had two caricatures of Republicans. We are either stupid or evil.”

[…]

“I don’t think I’m all that conservative. And it’s interesting. Reagan never once beat his chest and said ‘I’m the most conservative guy who ever lived.’ Reagan said, ‘I’m defending common sense principles—small businesses, small towns.’”

Two things: Caricatures work because they are based on reality, and it is possible to be both stupid and evil.

Annals of Asshattery

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) wants a Kumbyah moment.

“I think it would be very helpful if President Obama went and met with the police officer, or invited him to the White House and said, ‘You’ve gone through four months of smear and slander, and the least we can do is tell you that it’s unfortunate that it happened and thank you for doing your job,’” the New York Republican told Fox Business on Tuesday.

Why stop there?  Why not get George Zimmerman to stop by, too?

Sheesh.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Someone Needs A Time Out

Aw, poor little Lindsey; the GOP Benghazi report didn’t give him what he wanted.

The senator insisted that members of the administration altered the Benghazi talking points after the attack.

“I’m saying that anybody who has followed Benghazi at all knows that the CIA deputy director did not come forward to tell Congress what role he played in changing the talking points,” he said. “And the only way we knew he was involved is when he told a representative at the White House, I’m going to do a hard review of this, a hard rewrite.”

CNN host Gloria Borger then told Graham that the House report concludes that the administration received bad information at first and did not lie.

“That’s a bunch of garbage,” Graham shot back. “That’s a complete bunch of garbage.”

You can hear the stamping of his little feet.  “No no no no no no NO!”

I don’t think anyone really expected the Republicans to hear this news and then say, “Oh, well, I guess we were wrong about all those conspiracy theories and we should apologize to all the people we’ve slandered and dragged into hearings.  It was a big mistake.  Sorry.”  They’d never do that.  But this tantrum is over the top even for this little drama queen.

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.