Friday, October 9, 2015

Roosting Chickens

Charles P. Pierce is in the House.

There are all kinds of chickens coming home to roost. This development – which, I would point out, leaves Jason Chaffetz (R-Zygote) as the “moderate” choice for Speaker of the House, and third in line to be president of the United States – is the final justification for all of us who have been saying for a while now that there is no “extreme” wing of the Republican party any more. The prion disease has taken full hold of the party’s higher functions. It is already being bruited about the monkeyhouse that Chaffetz may not be pure enough to satisfy the Freedom Caucus, the claque of angry gossoons who sank McCarthy the moment that McCarthy told the truth about what the House is up to with its hearings on Benghazi, Benghazi!, BENGHAZI! ​Let us have a look at some of the folks in the Freedom Caucus, shall we?

Louie Gohmert: Padishah Emperor for life of the Crazy People.

Raul Labrador: Wanted to run for Majority Leader the moment he walked in the door. Led an unsuccessful putsch against John Boehner in 2013. Who’s the sap now?

Mark Meadows: Wants to send the president back to Kenya. Has a bit of a staff problem on his hands at the moment.

Dave Brat: Upside—Rid the Republic of Eric Cantor. Downside—Thinks this was founded as a Christian nation. Is wrong.

Barry Loudermilk: Wants all immigrants to pack up and leave the country. Stalwart foe of Agenda 21, the secret UN plan to steal all our golfs.  Was elected over noted liberal favorite Bob Barr.

Jim Bridenstine:  Thinks he’s Patrick Henry. Thinks the Supreme Court is not the ultimate judge of what is constitutional. Thinks Mark Levin is.

Tim Huelskamp:  Made no friends. Influenced no people. Is from Kansas. Res ipse loquitur.

I could be googling forever here, but you get the point. The balance of power in half the national legislature now seems to be in the hands of the crème de la crazee.  (This is such a mess at this point that Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver from Wisconsin, and a man whose ambition makes Satan look like Uriah Heep, has done everything except hire a skywriter to say he’s not interested.)  Is this finally enough for the elite political press to notice that half the American political process is in full-blown dementia? Or does Jason Chaffetz have to lose, too?

Allow yourself as much schadenfreude as you can muster, then remember that the debt ceiling needs to be raised by November 5 or we default, and the budget deal hammered out at the end of September expires on December 11.  Do these look like the kind of people you want making those kinds of decisions?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

House Republicans Go Bananas

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) dropped out of the race to replace Speaker John Boehner thanks to a lack of support from the Tea Party.  Hilarity ensued.

Dent, a moderate, spoke to MSNBC after McCarthy announced that he was ending his bid to replace Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) just minutes before House Republicans were set to pick a nominee for the job.

“Well it’s pretty obvious what happened,” Dent said. “The same members who wanted to take down John Boehner, I always said would try to frag the next guy. Well, they just fragged Kevin McCarthy.”

Dent said he thought McCarthy’s concern was that he didn’t want to be “embarrassed” or “humiliated” if he didn’t get enough votes.

There’s no obvious choice to replace Mr. McCarthy, and no one really seems to know what’s going on.  One representative compared it to a “banana republic,” and I don’t think he was talking about the clothing store.

Banana Republic Tweet 10-08-15

Bananas 10-08-15Photo by CLW.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Leave It To The Boors

Digby has a profile of Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who is vying to become Speaker of the House.

Chaffetz is a well-known figure on Capitol Hill but the average member of the public, if they know him at all, probably remembers him mainly as the guy who sleeps on a cot in his office rather than spring for a room somewhere. But he’s been marked for stardom since he was a college football star: In the words of Dave Weigel in this 2010 article, “when [Chaffetz] started to make it in politics, his teammates would recall how, after successful kicks, he would remove his helmet to reveal a perfect head of hair for the TV cameras.”

The son of a man once married to Kitty Dukakis, wife of 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael, Chaffetz started off as a Jewish Democrat, then converted to Mormonism during his last year of college in Utah — and Republicanism when former President Ronald Reagan was hired as a motivational speaker for Nu Skin, the “multi-level marketing” company (think Amway) which employed Chaffetz for a decade before he entered politics. He worked as chief of staff for the famously moderate Gov. Jon Huntsman and then beat the very conservative Representative Chris Cannon by running against him from the right in the 2010 Tea Party electoral bloodbath. On Election Night, Cannon said, “the extremists who don’t want to win elections have taken over the party. We don’t want that to happen in Utah. Politics is way too important to leave to the boors.”


And despite his politically eclectic past, Chaffetz has stuck to his arch-conservative guns during the five years he’s been in Congress. He wants to slash Social Securityban gay marriage and look into impeaching President Obama. Still, he sees himself as a sort of mediator between the hard-core Tea Party insurrectionists and everyone else — perhaps because he’s been everything from a liberal Democrat to a moderate Republican to a hard-right zealot, depending on where the opportunities lie at any given moment.

He is good communicator, except for the fact that he seems to have a tiny problem with the truth, which he perfectly illustrated in the Planned Parenthood hearing, when he offered up a chart so misleading that it caused Politifact to call it not only misleading, but, quoting one expert, “ethically wrong.” And while he may have a point that Kevin McCarthy screwed the pooch on Trey Gowdy’s Benghazi committee, his own history of being loose-lipped and excitable puts McCarthy’s little faux pas to shame.

Far be it from me to question the motives of someone who converts from being a Jewish Democrat to a Mormon Republican when you’re looking for a job in politics in Utah, but this guy sounds like an opportunistic and shameless self-promoter that makes Donald Trump take notes.  Now he wants to be Speaker of the House.  Third in line to the presidency.

He’s going to lose to Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), but if I had any advice to Mr. McCarthy (other than to keep on talking about whatever pops into your mind), it would be watch your back around Mr. Chaffetz.

Running Into Fire

Dr. Ben Carson’s great idea to stop mass killings:

“Not only would I not probably not cooperate with him. I would not just stand there and let him shoot me,” Carson said. “I would say, ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.’ “

That would be one way to ensure an end to his presidential ambitions.

Short Takes

General John F. Campbell: U.S. responsible for mistaken hospital attack.

Justice Department set to release 6,000 prisoners.

40,000 residents of South Carolina are without water after weekend flooding.

N.Y. Attorney General opens investigation into fantasy sports sites.

Ten Commandments monument removed from Oklahoma City capitol grounds.

Monday, October 5, 2015

I Got Your Patriarchy Right Here

A right-wing radio host says he gets a say in what women do with their bodies because he’s a man and that’s what men do.

Conservative radio host Mark Davis argued on Sunday that he deserved to have “a say” on whether women were forced to carry their pregnancies to term because he said that “half of the babies aborted are women” and needed his protection.

On Sunday’s edition of Inside Texas Politics on WFAA, former Democratic state Rep. Domingo Garcia and Davis reflected on last week’s congressional Planned Parenthood hearings.

“This isn’t about abortion rights or women health,” Davis scoffed. “It’s about whether this group might have broken the law in selling baby parts for money.”

Garcia, however, argued that the attack on Planned Parenthood was part of the “war on women” being waged by Republicans.

“The Republicans, especially grumpy old guys, care about what women to with their bodies,” Garcia noted. “Why can’t you leave them alone? Let them make their own decisions.”

“This grumpy old guy believes that those distinct lives in the womb deserve protection,” Davis shot back. “I’m a grumpy old guy, that’s a human life, I get a say.”

Yeah, why bother asking the person who’s got the womb what she thinks because all she is is just a vessel for it.  No say in the matter whatsoever because that’s a man’s job, right?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Beyond Belief

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), heir apparent to John Boehner as Speaker of the House, told Sean Hannity what everyone already knew: the House Benghazi Committee was set up and has been run as a vehicle to bring down Hillary Clinton.

I’m shocked, shocked.

It’s not like they really tried to cover it up, but either the Republicans behind this farce are way too stupid if they thought they could pull the wool over everyone’s eyes, or they think the rest of us are too stupid to figure it out.  Either way, they’re beyond belief.

Short Takes

Congress passes stop-gap spending measure.

Russia launches airstrikes against Syria, targeting rebels.

Oklahoma governor halts execution of convicted killer.

Hackers tried to break into Hillary Clinton’s e-mail at least five times.

Kim Davis had a private meeting with the Pope.

The Tigers lost to the Rangers 6-2.

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Taliban Dan for Speaker?

Raw Story reports that Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) is being touted by the far right of the GOP as the replacement for John Boehner.

Julie Ingersoll of the Annenberg Institute said that Webster’s views are “well outside the mainstream.” Some voters find Webster’s views so medieval that they have nicknamed him “Taliban Dan,” although Ingersoll said that may be too far.However, she said, “Webster has aligned himself with an organization that espouses an orientation to the Bible and its role in civil society that is certainly relevant to his campaign for public office” in that he is a follower of Bill Gothard and his Institute of Basic Life Principles (IBLP), which prescribes strict rules for the sexes and urges women to be submissive to their male family members in all things.

Among Mr. Gothard’s disciples are the famous Duggar family, the folks behind “19 Kids and Counting” on TLC, last heard from when one of their adult children was busted for molesting his own sisters.

Mr. Webster is a strong adherent to his faith, which includes avoiding watching TV in hotel rooms and multiple prayer sessions during the day.  Hey, whatever gets you through the day, okay, but it sounds a lot like he’s putting his faith above everything else.  Does Ben Carson know about that?

Chaffetz Interruptus

No matter where you stand in regards to what Planned Parenthood does or does not do for healthcare, it was just plain rude the way the Republicans treated Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, at the House hearing yesterday.

It went something like this:

REP JASON CHAFFETZ (R-UT) : Ms. Richards, tell me how you murder babies.


MR. CHAFFETZ : I don’t want to hear it!

And on and on.  Every time Ms. Richards opened her mouth, someone from the Republican side was there to interrupt or talk over her, and rudely so.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s a video compilation.

Just one more example of how your Republican party is out to win over the women — and the men who support them.  Not.  Even the anti-choicers were embarrassed by their behavior.

Didn’t anybody teach them any manners?

Short Takes

Afghan forces struggle to retake Kunduz from the Taliban.

President Obama tells U.N. that it will take more than weapons to defeat ISIS.

House conservatives push Trey Gowdy for Majority Leader.

Volkswagen’s diesel fix doesn’t apply to U.S vehicles.

Tropical Update: TS Joaquin is heading towards the Bahamas, but is expected to turn north before it gets to the U.S. mainland.

The Tigers lost 7-6 to the Rangers.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Troll’s Bane

Dahlia Lithwick at Slate has some thoughts on why it is not a wise policy to ignore the outrages of people like Ann Coulter, the jesus-freakery of Kim Davis, and the big-footing of Donald Trump.

Right or wrong, our current media are driven almost entirely by isolated umbrage explosions. Last week it was the Texas school that called the police on a Muslim kid for making a clock, and Carly Fiorina, who invented a memory of a Planned Parenthood sting tape and went uncorrected at the GOP debate. The second wave after the umbrage—the Fury 2.0—was that the Texas student was garnering all this grotesque liberal attention and Fiorina was soaring in the GOP polls. “Shut them off!” was the cry from both sides. Pretend it didn’t happen.

This week it will be someone else. But the burgeoning response from both sides is: shut it down, don’t listen, don’t give them any more attention. That response is likely to engender a news media that is disengaged and polarized between my (serious) side and all the trivial people on the other side whose very existence I decline to recognize.

Don’t misunderstand me: The high ground is an attractive place to want to live, and if I never have to think about the Coulters of the world again, I will not be impoverished in any way. But the aggregate effect of persisting in thinking that we are too sophisticated and intelligent to even acknowledge arguments and characters on the other side is always going to be even more isolation and vilification. And I can’t bring myself to believe that this will yield anything positive in the long run.

Look: The media is absurd. It’s driven by extreme personalities and momentary outrage. The impulse to starve those personalities of their media oxygen is not wrongheaded. But those personalities and outrages are very real to half of this nation, and we need to engage and debate, even when they say hateful things, and not shame one another for feeding the trolls. So I am going to go ahead and write about people who may not seem real or serious or important. Because they speak to other people who are real and serious and important, and ignoring our way to a better discourse does not seem to be a recipe for meaningful political engagement; it’s its own form of solipsism, and we have quite enough of that already.

I think it is a worthy choice to hold them up as examples of just what passes for serious discourse about the problems we all face in our world, be it local or national, and how we look down — or up — upon them.

Exposing trolls to the clear light of day does not always magnify them.  It often has the opposite effect; much like sunlight has on the trolls of mythology, it turns them to stone.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Say What?

Ted Cruz, never going to be president, on the Pope’s call to end the death penalty:

I believe the death penalty is a recognition of the preciousness of human life, that for the most egregious crimes, the ultimate punishment should apply.

So he loves life so much that he’ll kill for it?  That’s along the lines of screwing in the name of chastity.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Monday, September 21, 2015

Against The Law

Dr. Ben Carson will never be president of anything meaningful, and here’s why.

Carson ignited a media firestorm in a Sunday morning interview with Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press,” in which he said he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.”

“I absolutely would not agree with that,” Carson said.

In an interview with The Hill, Carson opened up about why he believes a Muslim would be unfit to serve as commander in chief.

“I do not believe Sharia is consistent with the Constitution of this country,” Carson said. “Muslims feel that their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that’s inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution.”

Carson said that the only exception he’d make would be if the Muslim running for office “publicly rejected all the tenants of Sharia and lived a life consistent with that.”

“Then I wouldn’t have any problem,” he said.

Let’s apply the same test to other faiths and see how we do.  For example, there are some Christians who feel that their religion is very much a part of their public life and what they do as a public official.  Kim Davis, for example; the county clerk in Kentucky who went to jail for contempt of court rather than comply with the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality.  Clearly she’s putting her faith ahead of the law of the land.  How does Dr. Carson feel about that?

Carson, a longtime advocate for traditional marriage, said that Kim Davis’ beliefs should be protected by the First Amendment, which guarantees the freedom to exercise religion.

“I do believe in God. I believe in Jesus Christ,” the retired neurosurgeon told CBS12 in a Monday interview. “Congress has a responsibility to step up and create legislation that will protect the religious rights of all Americans.”

So he wants a Muslim who objects to marriage equality because of Sharia law to reject their faith and do their job, but Kim Davis should have Congress pass a law to allow her to defy the law because Jesus.

So either Dr. Carson is really inconsistent in his beliefs about the role of religion in public life, or he’s just a bigot against Muslims.  Or both.

He also is sorely lacking in his understanding of the Constitution.  It is very clear in its stand on religious tests: “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

To be fair, all religious dogma, be it Roman Catholic, Christian, Judaism, Muslim, and even what passes for Quaker dogma, is in one way or another inconsistent with the principles in our Constitution.  By definition dogma is antithetical to democracy.  In order to be a True Believer, you have to accept and live by their rules, not by those passed by a collection of people who happen to live in your country regardless of which supernatural being they believe in and the hoops they make you jump through to prove you’re one of them.  All religions require obedience to them, not the ballot box.  Some have made accommodations to government practices; some have not, and that apparently includes Dr. Carson’s dogma.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Just One Of Many

Via Raw Story:

A mayoral candidate in a small Charlotte suburb wants to “eradicate” homosexuality and throw LGBT people in jail, the Kings Mountain Herald reports.

Eugene Holmes, who is running for mayor of Kings Mountain, says he doesn’t want to be mayor, but he’s running because of his anti-gay views. He views Kentucky clerk Kim Davis as something of a role model.

“In my administration I would do just like Mrs. Davis did in Kentucky,” Holmes said. “If you elect me, I’ll uphold the law of the state of North Carolina. I would get the D.A. to swear out a warrant on any man who says he’s gay. Sodomy is a crime, a felony in the state of North Carolina.”

Holmes said he’s a member of the Church of God and also the Promise Keepers, a men’s religious organization.

“What’s wrong with eradicating homosexuals? We should jail them, throw them all in jail!” Holmes told the Herald.

A couple of notes for Mr. Holmes: they tried eradicating homosexuals in Europe a while back.  It didn’t work out so well.  Second, the Supreme Court tossed out sodomy laws a long time ago, and since they’re the Supreme Court, what they say goes.

I’m bothering to post this moment of sniveling bigotry not because it’s newsworthy but because I’m pretty sure that it’s what passes for normal in a lot of places other than North Carolina.

HT to NTodd.

Not So Safe

Jeb Safe Tweet 09-18-15Charlie Pierce:

I ran out of patience long ago with The Great Mulligan. C-Plus Augustus ignored the terrorist threat for nine months. He told his Attorney General to shift focus from counterterrorism to weed and porn. He told his National Security Advisor to worry about the Russians. He blew off a Presidential Daily Briefing and a CIA briefer. Then, on September 11, 2001, there were 3000 Americans who were not kept safe on his watch. He then stonewalled any real investigation of his negligence. He then launched a war of choice after allowing the architect of the attacks to go free. There were more than 4000 American soldiers who were not kept safe. And now his blithering brother suggests that time began on September 12, 2001. Scott Walker then chimed in about how it was all Barack Obama’s fault. Then there was Mike Huckabee, stressing the importance of “good intelligence” on formulating foreign policy. This would have been a good idea in, say, 2003, when Jeb(!)’s brother was cooking the books to start his pet war. But everybody cheered. Nobody called them on this. Nobody, except Rand Paul, had second thoughts on sending more American troops back into Iraq. But Donald Trump, whose combat experience is limited to punching out a music teacher in prep school, said that he thought the president lacked courage. I wouldn’t hire any of these guys as a crossing guard.

And then the Very Serious People wonder why voters are angry at the system and the Republicans blame the black guy for not playing with them.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

And The Bag It Came In

Mike Huckabee continues to prove why he’ll never be president of anything ever.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, whose presidential campaign has become a crusade for “religious liberty” and the rights of the unborn, told social conservatives this weekend that they should be skeptical of allowing more Syrian refugees into the United States.

“Are they really escaping tyranny, are they escaping poverty, or are they really just coming because we’ve got cable TV?” Huckabee asked, in an audience question-and-answer session at the conservative Eagle Forum conference in St. Louis. “I don’t meant to be trite. I’m just saying: We don’t know.”

If you think that the epitome of the American dream is to risk life and limb so you can get screwed over by Comcast, you really are a douche.