Friday, August 1, 2014

Cruz To November

The remote possibility that Congress would pass some form of bill addressing the border crisis — even one that the president would veto — died yesterday when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) lobbied Republicans to vote against the Republican leadership’s own bill.

From the Dallas Morning News via Balloon Juice:

Facing revolt from tea partiers egged on by Sen. Ted Cruz, House Republicans gave up suddenly Thursday on a bill that would have provided hundreds of millions to address the border crisis.

It was the latest in a string of embarrassments handed to Speaker John Boehner by Cruz, and the biggest since last fall, when the Texas freshman prodded House tea partiers to defy Boehner on efforts to avert a government shutdown.

The House GOP plan included $659 million, a fraction of the $3.7 billion requested by the White House. Democrats opposed it, as did some conservative Republicans.

Cruz hosted a pizza-fueled strategy session Wednesday night with some House conservatives – a reunion of the so-called Tortilla Coast Caucus, named for the Capitol Hill restaurant where Cruz and House allies huddled during the shutdown fight.

The senator’s meddling across the Capitol has drawn predictable attacks from Democrats.

“Whether it’s shutting down the government or stopping his own party’s efforts to appear relevant and in control on a key issue, Ted Cruz can always be counted on to lead the Republican Party to his own far right extremes – and further and further away from the rational middle ground that appeals to everyone other than the Tea Party base,” taunted American Bridge, a Democratic group.

Congress was due to leave town yesterday until the second week of September with GOP hopes that they could go out and campaign on the falsehood that they passed “comprehensive immigration reform,” which is a dog-whistle for “we kept the brown horde at bay.”  Now they have nothing, and the Republicans are so desperate that they’re planning on meeting again today to try and save something out of the mess, least of all their dignity.  Not as long as Ted Cruz — Joe McCarthy without the charm — has anything to say about it.

Were it not for the fact that it still gets nothing done about the immigration issue and that a lot of people on both sides of the border are suffering from this lack of action, the Republicans can comfort themselves with two thoughts.  First, they denied President Obama anything that could be seen as a victory for him, which has to count for something in the perverse minds of those who think that is the way to run a country.  Second, despite getting less done than any other Congress in history, it will not matter come November.  The polls indicate that not only will the voters not punish them, they will re-elect them at a rate that would make the North Korean legislature jealous and probably even pick up seats.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Today’s Dose of Chutzpah

The winner is the governor of Mississippi.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) blamed President Barack Obama for a reported increase in uninsured Mississipians. The problem is, Bryant didn’t acknowledge that he’s been a staunch opponent of expanding Medicaid under Obamacare and refused to encourage enrolling in private coverage through Healthcare.gov.

Bryant directed his blame at Obama in response to a question about a WalletHub study that showed an increase in the percentage of uninsured Mississippians. The study found that the uninsured rate increased by 3.34 percentage points to 21.46 percent of Mississippi’s population, according to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.

Gotta give him props for doing it with a straight face.

Facebook For Wingnuts

Via TPM:

The president of conservative pro-family group Faith2Action last weekend announced the pre-launch of ReaganBook, a social networking site described as “the Facebook for patriots,” according to Right Wing Watch.

Faith2Action President Janet Porter told attendees at the Ohio Liberty Coalition’s “Reload 4 Liberty” event that Facebook has been censoring people like anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera.

Porter lamented that “while tomorrow Facebook employees are gathering to go march at the gay pride parade in San Francisco,” they are censoring people with “unpopular opinions.”

She then described ReaganBook as a social network that tears down walls like President Reagan.

“We’re tearing down walls of tyranny and censorship,” she said.

Yes, Facebook is enabling tyrants by letting their members unfriend people who tell them their cat is ugly.  Oh the jackbooted horror.

This is yet another attempt by the righties to counter a popular trend with something  tuned to their wavelength only to have it crater.  Remember Fox News’s pathetic attempt to counter The Daily Show?  Yeah, me neither.

In This Corner

The House Republicans have trapped themselves with all this impeachment talk.

Boehner and other Republican leaders are now trying to walk an impossible tightrope. On one hand, they’re arguing that they have no interest in impeaching the president — they know that it would be a political catastrophe if they did — and any suggestion to the contrary is nothing but Democratic calumny. On the other hand, they’re arguing that Obama is a lawless tyrant who is trampling on the Constitution. If that contradiction has put them in a difficult situation, they have no one to blame but themselves.

Mr. Boehner says its all a “scam” started by the White House to raise money for Democrats and that no Republicans are talking about impeachment.  Well, except for these Republicans.  But that’s it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Old Lies Never Die

Bill Maher calls them “zombie lies;” tales proven to be false that still have the shelf life of a Twinkie in a landfill.  The latest to be resuscitated is the one that President Obama waived the work requirement in welfare reform.  It’s being used by Speaker Boehner as one of the things he’s suing the president for doing that he claims exceed his authority.

Steve Benen elucidates:

In the president’s first term, a bipartisan group of governors asked the Obama administration for some flexibility on the existing welfare law, transitioning beneficiaries from welfare to work. The White House agreed to give the states some leeway – so long as the work requirement wasn’t weakened.

That’s not “waiving the work requirements in welfare”; that’s the opposite. Providing governors, including several Republicans, the flexibility they requested to help move beneficiaries back into the workforce is exactly the sort of power-to-the-states policy that Boehner and his cohorts usually like.

But in 2012, the policy inspired Mitt Romney and GOP leaders to turn this into a rather shameless lie, accusing Obama of weakening welfare work requirements. The more fact-checkers went berserk, the more aggressive Romney became in pushing the lie. One can only speculate as to the rationale behind the ugly falsehood, though the Republican presidential campaign seemed quite eager at the time to use the words “Obama” and “welfare” in the same sentence, even after the GOP candidate and his team realized they were lying.

By the way, when he was the governor of Massachusetts, Mr. Romney signed a letter asking for the same waiver for his state.  But that was between running the Olympics and running for president, so he can be forgiven for that brief moment of governance.

I knew Speaker Boehner could not come up with any real reason to sue the president, but I thought that at least he would come up with something slightly original.  (Well, he can’t bring up the real reason, which is the GOP belief that no black man should ever have this much power unless he’s a center for the Miami Heat.)  But he’s not even trying.

Then again, why should he work at it when he knows that an old lie will work on the rubes and the press just as well as something he plucked out of his ass that morning?

Null Set

Another genius runs for the Senate in Iowa.

Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Iowa, appears to believe states can nullify federal laws. In a video obtained by The Daily Beast, Ernst said on September 13, 2013 at a forum held by the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition that Congress should not pass any laws “that the states would consider nullifying.”

“You know we have talked about this at the state legislature before, nullification. But, bottom line is, as U.S. Senator why should we be passing laws that the states are considering nullifying? Bottom line: our legislators at the federal level should not be passing those laws. We’re right…we’ve gone 200-plus years of federal legislators going against the Tenth Amendment’s states’ rights. We are way overstepping bounds as federal legislators. So, bottom line, no we should not be passing laws as federal legislators—as senators or congressman—that the states would even consider nullifying. Bottom line.”

Ernst, a first-term state senator, has never explicitly supported pro-nullification legislation in her time in the Iowa state senate. However, she co-sponsored a resolution that says “the State of Iowa hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States.” It was introduced in response to “many federal mandates [that] are directly in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”

Perhaps candidates for office should be required to take some kind of test to prove they know something about the laws of this country before they propose ideas that run counter to the laws of the land.  Oh, wait; they do.  It’s called high school civics class.

States cannot nullify federal laws.

As Erwin Chemerinsky, a noted constitutional law scholar and Dean of the University of California, Irvine Law School, told The Daily Beast, nullification is expressly forbidden under Article VI of the Constitution. “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof… shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” Chemerinsky also noted that the Supreme Court had dealt with this issue as recently as 1958, when in Cooper v. Aaron, a unanimous decision signed by every justice on the court, it was made clear that states could not nullify federal laws or Supreme Court decisions.

Prior to that there was a rather long and contentious discussion about states’ rights vs. the federal law.  It was in all the papers.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mustn’t-See TV

Guess who’s launching her own TV channel!

The Sarah Palin Channel, which costs $9.95 per month or $99.95 for a one-year subscription, will feature her commentary on “important issues facing the nation,” as well as behind-the-scenes looks into her personal life as “mother, grandmother, wife and neighbor.” Palin serves as executive editor, overseeing all content posted to the channel.

“I want to talk directly to you on our channel, on my terms — and no need to please the powers that be,” Palin, who is also a Fox News contributor, said in a video announcing the channel. “Together, we’ll go beyond the sound bites and cut through the media’s politically correct filter.”

Given her record, I’ll bet it only lasts half a season.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Look At Me!

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is tired of being ignored.

Bachmann made the revelation during an interview, in which she was asked for her view on whether any Republican women might seek the Oval Office in 2016.

“The only thing that the media has speculated on is that it’s going to be various men that are running,” she replied. “They haven’t speculated, for instance, that I’m going to run. What if I decide to run? And there’s a chance I could run.”

The reason no one in the media is speculating about her is because they’re not unbalanced.  The only reason she would run is because she’s running short on cash, and hubby Marcus is just dying for a new pair of pumps for the fall cotillion season.

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, and grifters gotta grift.

Disease-Ridden

A Tea Party congressman in Texas got his head handed to him by a constituent at a town hall for having the unmitigated gall to express compassion for immigrant children.

State Rep. David Simpson (R-TX) gave a presentation on his recent tour of the Texas-Mexico border, explaining that officials believe tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors are fleeing abuse and sexual slavery in Central America.

“We need to love the immigrant, love people, and remember that these children are being fodder in this situation,” Simpson said at one point.

Once the floor opened up to questions, one constituent, who the Longview News-Journal identified as Longview resident Terri Hall, took the microphone to suggest that migrants were crossing the border in such large numbers because of a “well-planned, well-thought-out” government operation.

“I understand the humanitarian and the compassion. But you are to represent us,” she said. “We have children, and we have elderly people who have immunodeficiency disorders. These are people that are coming in with diseases — leprosy, tuberculosis, polio. You need to represent us.”

Hall’s comment was met with loud applause.

Yes, there are some sick people in Texas, but it’s not the kids coming in across the border.

Just Messing With Them

Steve Benen reports that the Democrats on the House committee that voted out the lawsuit against President Obama offered a series of amendments to the proposal to improve it.

Democrats asked for a provision that would require Republicans to regularly disclose how much this lawsuit was costing American taxpayers. Republicans said no.

Democrats asked for a conflict-of-interest measure that would prevent lawmakers from hiring lawyers for this case who lobby Congress. Republicans said no.

Democrats asked for a separate conflict-of-interest amendment that would stop Congress from hiring a law firm for this case that has a financial stake in the implementation of the ACA. Republicans said no.

Democrats asked for a disclosure requirement that said congressional contracts with outside counsel would be disclosed before they’re approved. Republicans said no.

Gee, I wonder why.

Since the lawsuit is about the president taking the law into his own hands, you would think that the Republicans would be against him doing anything on his own.  Okay, then explain why Speaker Boehner is scolding President Obama for not doing anything about the border crisis.

“We’ve got a humanitarian crisis on the border that has to be dealt with,” House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters Wednesday. “The president clearly isn’t going to deal with it on his own, even though he has the authority to deal with it on his own. But I do believe that Congress should act, and I hope that we will.”

But… Oh, never mind.  They’re just messing with us, right?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Two Fools

Rush Limbaugh says the breaking coverage of the shooting down of the Malaysian jet is just a distraction from the immigration crisis.  Don’t be fooled!  (And all along, I thought the immigration crisis was just to distract us from Benghazi!  Silly me.)

Meanwhile, the wreckage is still smoldering and John McCain is wondering why President Obama hasn’t sent troops into Ukraine already to avenge the shoot-down of another country’s plane over another country’s airspace.

It’s kind of comforting to know that in times of turmoil, there are always useful idiots to remind us of how some things never change.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Keep It Up

The best fund raisers for Democrats are the Republicans.

The DCCC sent at least two emails in 24 hours about Palin’s remarks to supporters — one unsigned under the subject line “BREAKING: Impeachment” and another under House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s name.

In a third email to supporters with the subject line “Palin HUMILIATED,” the DCCC claimed it received nearly 10,000 donations in just 24 hours — double the committee’s typical donation rate.

The committee said as a result of the flood of grass-roots donations, it was just short of a $3 million fundraising goal it set after House Speaker John Boehner threatened to sue Obama late last month — although it’s unclear how much of the money raised was in direct response to the impeachment-related emails.

Maybe they could use some of that money to pay Sarah Palin to keep talking.

Oh, and speaking of unintended consequences, the plan by Speaker Boehner to sue the president over implementation of Obamacare is being met with shrugs by other Republicans.

Far from unanimously embracing the speaker’s plan, some prominent Republicans have been tepid in their support. Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican, said this week that while he believed in the lawsuit, he recognized that “in the end, it’s a symbolic gesture.”

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, was indifferent when asked whether he thought the House lawsuit was the best approach. He said that when Senate Republicans had wanted to challenge Mr. Obama’s recess appointments, they had done so not on their own but by signing on to a suit brought against the administration by a third party.

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University whom Republicans called to testify, described an “uber presidency” that had evolved to become something far more powerful than the founders had envisioned. “It is always tempting when one person steps forward and says they can get the job done alone,” he said. “That’s the siren’s call that our founders warned us to resist.”

Democrats and their constitutional experts pointed out that the lawsuit could have consequences Republicans probably do not intend. If it is successful in challenging the administration’s move to delay parts of the health care law, for example, the result will be that the law is put into effect more quickly.

I’m still gigglesnorting over them suing the president for not implementing a law they voted to repeal fifty times.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Wicked and Those Who Follow Them

Charlie Pierce has an epic rant about the Cheneys and the toadies who lap up their blather.

Close it down.

Its puerilty has finally crossed over into indecency. Its triviality has finally crossed over into obscenity. The comical political starfcking that is its primary raison d’erp has finally crossed over into $10 meth-whoring on the Singapore docks. Once a mere surface irritation, Tiger Beat On The Potomac has finally crossed over into being a thickly pustulating chancre on the craft of journalism. It has demonstrated its essential worthlessness. It has demonstrated that it has the moral character of a sea-slug and the professional conscience of the Treponema pallidum spirochete. Trust me. Stephen Glass never sunk this low. Mike (Payola) Allen has accomplished the impossible. He’s made Jayson Blair look like Ernie Pyle.

It’s not just that TBOTP invited the Manson Family of American geopolitics to come together for an exercise in ensemble prevarication. It’s not just that the account of said exercise is written in the kind of cacophonous cutesy-poo necessary to drown out the screams of the innocent dead, and to distract the assembled crowd from the blood that has dripped from the wallet of the celebrity war-criminal leading the public display. And it’s not as though this was a mere interview—a “get” that could help you “win the morning (!).” In that, it might have been marginally excusable. No, this was one of Mike Allen’s little grift-o-rama special events—a “Playbook lunch,” sponsored by that noted mortgage fraud concern Bank Of America. There’s an upcoming TBOTP “event” in L.A. that is sponsored by J.P. Morgan. I know what Mike Allen is, but I am so goddamn tired of haggling about the price.

In a perverse way, I hope the Cheneys take their act on the road, pop up on every local TV news show, and remind us of how much we love to loath Dick, Lynne, and Liz.

The Kids On The Bus

TPM has a video that encapsulates the racism and idiocy of some folks’ reaction to the refugees arriving in America:

Doofus congressional candidate tells how he saw the fear in the eyes of the migrant child being bused to a nearby shelter in on-going border crisis. Then confronted with the fact that they were local kids going to the YMCA.

If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be hilarious that all of these big tough right-wingers who sneer in the face of imagined evil-doers bringing their terror babies with calves the size of cantaloupes into the country are freaked out by the sight of a busload of ten-year-olds on their way to summer camp.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Out of Uniform

Two Florida cops are out of work for being members of the KKK.

Fruitland Park police Chief Terry Isaacs said his department has been shaken by troubling but unproven allegations that a deputy chief and a former police corporal were associated with the Ku Klux Klan.

The allegations, contained in a confidential FBI report provided to Isaacs by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, led to the sudden resignation of Deputy Chief David Borst and Isaacs’ decision Friday to dismiss Officer George Hunnewell.

Isaacs would not confirm that the report linked the two officers to the KKK, instead describing the group as a “subversive organization.” He said he couldn’t be more exact in his description because he thought he was not authorized to release details of the report. Issacs said the document was given to him as chief to consider how the allegations might affect the officers’ credibility and the perception of the department in the community.

Chief Deputy State Attorney Ric Ridgway, from whom Isaacs sought advice, identified the KKK as the hate group.

“It’s not a crime to be a member of the KKK, even if you are the deputy chief. It’s not a crime to be stupid,” Ridgway said, in a previous interview. “It’s not a crime to hate people. It may be despicable, it may be immoral, but it’s not a crime.”

I suppose it’s a sign of progress.  It wasn’t that long ago that membership in the Klan was a requirement in some places to get a job in law enforcement.

Your Moment of D’oh

Republicans never fail to entertain.

They voted overwhelmingly Thursday to bar the Energy Department from blocking approval of offshore-drilling permits. But there’s just one thing: The Energy Department doesn’t regulate drilling. The Interior Department does.

The prohibition on the Energy Department regulating something that it doesn’t regulate came came via Republican Rep. Steve Stockman’s amendment to a wider department spending bill, which also passed Thursday.

Maybe we’re better off with Congress doing nothing.

Monday, July 14, 2014

No Passing Zone

I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that Congress will not pass the president’s request for almost $4 billion to help the immigration situation.

We’re going to see a lot of bobbleheads on TV and hear a lot of noise from the Republicans about how all of this is Obama’s fault and why should hard-working Americans bear the burden of taking care of refugees from other countries when we have our own problems, etc. something something.  Next thing you know it’s Labor Day and some other shiny object will have popped up to distract our attention.

Could this be a problem for the Republicans?  I doubt it.  The Republicans see this as a winner for them if they don’t do anything but blame the president.  They can campaign on that because there’s no Republican who ever lost a race by finding a problem, pointing it out, and blaming it on someone else.

It’s not like they’re worried about losing votes from the Hispanics to whom immigration reform is important.  The GOP already knows that it’s a lost cause and they risk provoking the raging ire from the hard-core Tea Party base if they are seen as being too nice to brown people.  So they’re not risking anything by letting this effort — like so many other things that could actually help people like minimum wage and unemployment assistance — wither away.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

And All This Science I Don’t Understand

According to Kentucky state Sen. Brandon Smith (R), climate change is not caused by humans because it’s just as warm on Mars as it is here.

“I don’t want get into the debate about climate change,” state Sen. Brandon Smith said, according to Louisville NPR affiliate WFPL. “But I’ll simply point out that I think in academia we all agree that the temperature on Mars is exactly as it is here. Nobody will dispute that. Yet there are no coal mines on Mars. There’s no factories on Mars that I’m aware of.”

However, Smith’s claim is definitely disputable.

The average temperature on Mars is -81 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average temperature on Earth is 57 degrees Fahrenheit, according to NASA.

Elton John knows that.

Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it’s cold as hell
And there’s no one there to raise them if you did
And all this science I don’t understand

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Getting Out The Vote

Steve Benen on you-know-who’s call for Congress to impeach President Obama:

First, for a prominent Republican figure to use immigration as a rationale for presidential impeachment – just four months before the midterm elections – is pretty much the opposite the message the party establishment wants to convey. GOP lawmakers have already killed a popular, bipartisan immigration bill, alienating Latino voters nationwide, and now Sarah Palin is making matters worse, largely because her contempt for the president is unrelated to any kind of sensible electoral strategy.

Second, the more the party’s highest-profile personalities raise the volume on impeachment talk, the more it motivates the Democratic base to actually get in the game this fall (look up “1998, midterm elections”). Put it this way: who do you think is more excited about talking up Palin’s harangue this afternoon, the RNC or the DNC? I’m guessing the latter.

[...]

And so, with 118 days to go before the midterms, Republicans are increasingly positioning themselves as the anti-immigrant, anti-contraception, pro-impeachment party that shut down the government last year for no reason. The GOP, in other words, is practically begging the Democratic base to wake up, show up, and get engaged.

There must be some kind of psychosis in the G.O.P. that compels them to do everything they can to poison their own water and yet think they can get away with it at the ballot box.  Maybe it’s because they’ve rigged the system through gerrymandering congressional districts so that no matter how crappy Congress comes off to the electorate — right now a 10% approval score would be an upgrade — so many individual districts are in the hands of the hard-core base that a competitive election would be as rare as one in North Korea.  It gives them the feeling of invincibility, and all too often the Democrats have accommodated them by barely trying.

But now that the screaming reminder of G.O.P. incompetence (thank you, John McCain) is holding forth, perhaps the Democrats will seize the chance to exploit the fact that the threat of impeachment is no longer the mutterings of talk radio and the birthers.  She has laid this turd smack in the middle of the Republican salad bar.  Enjoy your lunch, Speaker Boehner.