Friday, August 29, 2014

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Paging Dr. Strangelove

Via Kevin Drum, William Kristol is at it again, this time taking his love of raining terror on people back to ISIS in Iraq:

What’s the harm of bombing them at least for a few weeks and seeing what happens? I don’t think there’s much in the way of unanticipated side effects that are going to be bad there.

Oh, I get it; he’s saying that just to get a rise out of us.  He doesn’t really want to kill a bunch of people just to see if they decapitate any more hostages or something.  He’s messing with us.  Right?  Right?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Second To None

According to the parole board in Georgia, the Second Amendment is absolute, trumping every other amendment, including those that guarantee life, liberty, and safety, and even a former police officer, now a convicted felon and rapist — white, of course — has the right to carry a gun once he’s served his debt to society.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “[h]is record was filled with allegations of misconduct: that he beat a prisoner so severely the man’s brain bled; that he threatened to fabricate charges against a suspect so he could sleep with the man’s wife; that he pressured at least 10 women for sex to avoid arrest.” The former cop, for his part, is unrepentant. When asked about his sexual assault conviction, he claims that “[t]here wasn’t any crime,” and that “I was dealt a bad hand.”

And yet, in July of 2013, the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles restored Krauss’ right to carry a firearm. According to a Journal-Constitution tally, he is one of 358 violent felons who regained these rights over a six year period. That includes 32 violent felons who killed someone, and 44 who committed sex crimes. One man regained his right to own a gun in 2012 after serving a 10 year sentence for child molestation and aggravated child molestation. Some offenders regained their gun rights after being convicted of crimes such as armed robbery, burglary or aggravated assault.

So these are all “good guys with a gun” now?

Annals of the Truly Desperate

If you’re in a Senate race you have no hope of winning, I guess it doesn’t hurt to throw everything you can because, hey, why not?

That’s the case with Allen Weh who is running against Tom Udall (D) in New Mexico.

The masked man who beheaded journalist James Foley appears in a web video created in support of New Mexico Republican Senate candidate Allen Weh.

The ad, released by the New Mexico Republican Party, is a combination of clips of President Barack Obama golfing and smiling paired with violence. The video also features Weh’s opponent, Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM).

Halfway through the one-minute video a still shot of Foley’s not-yet-identified killer is displayed for a few seconds. Foley’s image does not appear in the video, just the image of the jihadist, holding a knife.

Text at the end of the video reads “to change Washington, you must change your Senator.”

Mr. Weh must figure the only way anyone will pay him any attention is by pointing out how truly exploitative and despicable he can be.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Race Relations In A Nutshell

It’s hard to hold out hope for improving understanding between communities when you have people like Rep. Steve King (R) of Iowa speaking their mind.

I’ve watched them pit us against each other for a long time. And by the way, it also should be said that someone like Lacy Clay, who’s a member of the Congressional Black Caucus — there is no ‘Congressional White Caucus.’ It is a self-segregated caucus and it is a caucus that they drive an agenda that’s based on race. And they’re always looking to place the race card. They’re always looking to divide people down that line. And I have friends in that caucus. I get along with them personally, but their agenda is to play the race card. And we have a President who had a perfect opportunity to eliminate a lot of this friction in this country, and instead, he and his attorney general have been in a place where they’ve created friction rather than eliminated it.

Mr. King checks off nearly every square in White Privileged Patriarch Bingo.  You’ve got I’m The Victim Here, Some Of My Best Friends Are Black, The Race Card, The Politicization Trope, The Outside Agitators, and of course the all-time favorite, They Don’t Know What They’ve Got.

Mr. King would be genuinely shocked if you called him a racist.  He didn’t use the N-word, he never said anything about black people “knowing their place,” and he would remind you that his views are no different than a lot of the people he represents and a lot of people he works with in the United States House of Representatives.

That’s the problem.  He and his friends see it all as something someone else caused and can be fixed only if someone else does something.  Look how nicely we treated them: they can go to our schools, they can use our bathrooms, they can even have big celebrities who are a credit to their race.  But instead they loot and riot, and even when we white folks benevolently grant them the boon of electing one of them to be president, they do nothing but play golf and stir up trouble.  And now they expect us to stop being suspicious of them?  Good golly.

Being lectured on race relations by a man and a mindset that says every person who is some Other is a threat to our America of white picket fences, Wonder Bread, and good old American heterosexual family values tells me that while we may have progressed from where we were fifty years ago, we’ve barely begun.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Secret Is Out

Via TPM:

A Republican city councilman in Missouri apologized this week for posting racist messages about President Obama on Facebook, citing his own strong engagement with the Republican Party as the reason behind his actions.

According to television station KFVS, Poplar Bluff, Mo., councilman Peter Tinsley’s offensive posts were brought up during a city council meeting on Monday night. Tinsley apologized for his behavior, saying he didn’t intend to offend anyone when he made those posts last year, reported KFVS.

“I apologize from the bottom of my heart,” Tinsley said. “At one time, I was a very active republican, very opposed to Obama.”

Of course not all Republicans are racists.  But they certainly do attract them.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Not Getting It

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) offered up his view on what is causing the problems in Ferguson.  He tried to sound reasonable and pragmatic, but just couldn’t help stepping on the rake.

“What I don’t want to do, as a political leader, is try to graft my policy initiatives or my preferences onto this tragedy,” he added. “I think that would just be disrespectful.”

Okay, that’s fine.  He gets it that he should not inject himself into the situation.  His next line should be “Thank you very much, have a nice day.”  But no.

Ryan cautioned that people should allow the investigation into 18-year-old Michael Brown’s death at the hands of a white police officer to run its course before drawing conclusions. The Justice Department is conducting its own inquiry in addition to a state investigation, but the Wisconsin Republican cautioned against allowing the federal government to take on a large oversight role in Ferguson.

“There is no problem with the federal government having a role,” he said. “But in all of these things, local control, local government, local authorities who have the jurisdiction, who have the expertise, who are actually there are the people who should be in the lead.”

Sigh.  The problem is that “local control, local government” is what caused the problem in the first place.  Not the shooting of Michael Brown, but the response of the local authorities with tanks and heavy artillery.  Local control is what led us to nights of rioting and having to have the state government step in, and it was only after they did that some semblance of calm leadership prevail.

To be fair, at least he didn’t suggest using water cannons to calm the crowd.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Having The Balls

This is one of those items where I have to decide whether it’s worth noting because it will draw undue attention to the clown that is doing it, or ignoring it and thereby letting the perpetrator think that they are oh so clever (or ballsy) and that they can get away with it.

Personally I think it’s juvenile, classless, and proves that while we may cherish the right of freedom of expression, it only takes a few people like this to make us wish more people realized that part of responsibility of free expression is using it wisely.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

GOP Badge of Honor

Gov. Rick Perry gets his.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a potential Republican candidate for president in 2016, was indicted Friday in an investigation into an effort to force a local official out of office. A grand jury in Austin handed up the indictment in a long-running investigation of Perry’s threat to veto state funding to the Travis County Public Integrity Unit unless District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resigned.

The threat came after Lehmberg pleaded guilty to drunken driving and served a 45-day sentence last year, NBC station KXAN of Austin reported. Perry called on her to step down, but she refused; Perry then vetoed the funding. The grand jury issued indictments (PDF) Friday on charges of abuse of official capacity and coercion of public servant, both of them felonies.

Attorneys for Perry vowed to “aggressively defend” the governor. David Botsford, an attorney whom Perry had hired to represent him in the investigation, said he was “outraged and appalled” by the indictment.

A lot of Democrats are crowing that this is the end of Mr. Perry’s second attempt to run for president in 2016.  But the Republicans will see these indictments from a grand jury in the liberal bastion of Austin as a badge of honor and make him even more of a star for them.  After all, this is the party that has three other governors under investigation — Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Nathan Deal of Georgia, and … I forgot the other one (Rick Perry humor there) … oh yeah, Chris Christie of New Jersey — and they’re not worried at all.

That’s one difference between the Democrats and the Republicans.  A whiff of scandal will doom a Democrat such as the recently aborted campaign of Sen. John Walsh in Montana when he was accused of plagiarism on a paper from his college days.  But if you’re a Republican, you can pay off hookers like Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana and not only win re-election, you can run for governor.

When you’re the party of good governing, personal responsibility, and Jesus, you can pull off shit like that.  Those righteous folks love a good martyr.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Monday, August 4, 2014

phfft

Benghazi! goes off like a wet firecracker.

The House Intelligence Committee, led by Republicans, has concluded that there was no deliberate wrongdoing by the Obama administration in the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, said Rep. Mike Thompson of St. Helena, the second-ranking Democrat on the committee.

The panel voted Thursday to declassify the report, the result of two years of investigation by the committee. U.S. intelligence agencies will have to approve making the report public.

[...]

Among the Intelligence Committee’s findings, according to Thompson:

– Intelligence agencies were “warned about an increased threat environment, but did not have specific tactical warning of an attack before it happened.”

– “A mixed group of individuals, including those associated with al Qaeda, (Moammar) Khadafy loyalists and other Libyan militias, participated in the attack.”

– “There was no ‘stand-down order’ given to American personnel attempting to offer assistance that evening, no illegal activity or illegal arms transfers occurring by U.S. personnel in Benghazi, and no American was left behind.”

– The administration’s process for developing “talking points” was “flawed, but the talking points reflected the conflicting intelligence assessments in the days immediately following the crisis.”

Those talking points included assertions that those who attacked the compound were angered by an obscure anti-Muhammad video posted to YouTube in the U.S. There is disagreement to this day about whether that was the case.

The Republicans will still want to impeach President Obama for this because, well, shut up, that’s why.

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.