Thursday, March 3, 2016

Not Welcome At All

For most of the folks that tried and failed at getting the GOP nomination, they have a private life to go back to; they can fade into the background and resume whatever consulting or lobbying or grift they had going before they decided to save the country and shower us with their glory.  Bobby Jindal is no longer the governor of Louisiana, Mike Huckabee can pick up his gig at Fox News or hustling diet plans, Carly Fiorina can go back to looking for another Fortune 500 company to tank.

Not so for Gov. Chris Christie.  He still has a state to run and a term to finish out, and now that he’s endorsed Donald Trump and broken the world’s record for going from a blustering bully to a toadying sycophant to Donald Trump (and by all appearances having buyers’ remorse), he’s even not welcome back in the Garden State.

Six New Jersey newspapers say Gov. Chris Christie should resign over his endorsement of Donald Trump. They add that if Christie refuses to quit, New Jersey citizens should initiate a recall effort.

The papers — all owned by the Gannett Company, Inc., — on Wednesday ran brutal editorials saying they are fed up with everything from Christie’s famous sarcasm to “his long neglect of the state to pursue his own selfish agenda.” They add that they are “disgusted with his endorsement of Donald Trump after he spent months on the campaign trail trashing him.”

Christie quit his own presidential campaign after disappointing finishes in early state contests and abruptly endorsed Trump. He said he was backing the billionaire because Trump represents the best chance to defeat Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton in November.

It sounds like the guy has some work to do back home.  Perhaps he should spend his time building bridges instead of blocking or burning them.

HT to Booman.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Reversal of Fortune

The Republicans and the anti-choice movement just got their heads handed to them by a grand jury in Houston.

A grand jury here that was investigating accusations of misconduct against Planned Parenthood has instead indicted two abortion opponents who made undercover videos of the organization.

Prosecutors in Harris County said one of the leaders of the Center for Medical Progress — an anti-abortion group that made secretly recorded videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials trying to illegally profit from the sale of fetal tissue — had been indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record, a felony, and on a misdemeanor charge related to purchasing human organs.

That leader, David R. Daleiden, 27, the director of the center, had posed as a biotechnology representative to infiltrate Planned Parenthood affiliates and surreptitiously record his efforts to procure tissue for research. Another center employee, Sandra S. Merritt, 62, was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record.

The record-tampering charges accused Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt of making and presenting fake California driver’s licenses, with the intent to defraud, for their April meeting at Planned Parenthood in Houston.

Abortion opponents claimed that the videos, which were released starting in July, revealed that Planned Parenthood was engaged in the illegal sale of body parts — a charge that the organization has denied and that has not been supported in numerous congressional and state investigations triggered by the release of the videos.

On Monday, the Harris County district attorney, Devon Anderson, said in a statement that grand jurors had cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing.

She declined to provide details about the case against Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt, including any documents or evidence presented to the grand jury, citing state law on the secrecy of grand jury proceedings.

“As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us,” Ms. Anderson said. “All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case.”

In a statement on Monday night, Mr. Daleiden said: “The Center for Medical Progress uses the same undercover techniques that investigative journalists have used for decades in exercising our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and of the press, and follows all applicable laws. We respect the processes of the Harris County district attorney, and note that buying fetal tissue requires a seller as well. Planned Parenthood still cannot deny the admissions from their leadership about fetal organ sales captured on video for all the world to see.”

The release of the videos last summer created a furor and gave new strength to the conservative drive to defund Planned Parenthood. The organization was forced to apologize for the casual tone that one of its officials had used to discuss a possible transfer of fetal tissue to what she believed was a legitimate medical company. But Planned Parenthood said the fees being discussed were to cover costs and were legal.

No word yet on whether or not Carly Fiorina, who has based a good deal of her presidential campaign on demonizing Planned Parenthood and claiming that she saw a non-existent video of dismembered foetuses, has apologized or owned up to making stuff up.  Not that it would make any difference; she and the rest of the anti-choicers will go on lying and demonizing PP.

But it is righteous justice, especially since the grand jury was supposed to investigate PP and ended up indicting the accusers instead.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Calgary Stampede

There are a lot of reasons Ted Cruz should be kept as far away from the Oval Office as possible, and the question of his “natural born” status is way down there on the list.  After all, if Barack Obama can be born in Hawaii and no one has problem with that, then… oh wait.

Anyway, now the Republicans are beginning to raise the issue of Mr. Cruz’s citizenship status more as a way to tweak his nose — he’s universally despised by his fellow Senate members — than a serious question about his eligibility to actually serve in office.  It sounds like they’re having fun with it.

So we’re entitled to savor some schadenfreude now as Cruz himself gets caught in the birther web. Donald Trump’s questioning of Cruz’s status as a natural-born American and, therefore, his eligibility to be president is rough justice. Cruz, like Trump, has stoked the fires of resentment and xenophobia, so it’s entirely fitting that he gets burned.


Like Cruz foe John McCain (the 2008 Republican presidential nominee said Cruz’s eligibility is a “legitimate question”), Democratic leaders have been happy to see Cruz twist in the wind. “I do think there is a distinction between John McCain being born to a family serving our country in Panama and someone born in another country,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said Thursday.

Jim Morin in the Miami Herald

Jim Morin in the Miami Herald

But there may be something worth looking into back up in Canada.  In 2013 TPM found documentation that Ted Cruz’s mother was a registered voter in Calgary, Alberta.

TPM shared an electronic copy of the document with Sen. Cruz’s office when it originally obtained the document in 2013. Cruz’s then-communications director, Sean Rushton, emphasized that the document is not a record of people who actually voted in any election. He further pointed out that the document itself provides notice that “applications for corrections,” “deletions from,” and “additions to” the list may have been necessary.

“At least one other error is evident on its face: the name of Sen. Cruz’s father is misspelled,” Rushton told TPM in his 2013 statement. “Regardless, Mrs. Cruz has never been a Canadian citizen, and she has never voted in any Canadian election.”

TPM eventually decided not to publish an article based on the document at the time, in part because Cruz was not yet a candidate for president. TPM decided to revisit the story earlier this week as rival Donald Trump renewed his skepticism about Cruz’s eligibility, moving the story to the center of the campaign, and was prepared to publish this evening.

Then late Friday afternoon, published an article about the same document TPM had shared with Cruz’s office in 2013, a voter list for the southern district of Calgary, alongside a lengthy, exclusive statement from the Cruz campaign.

Jason Johnson, Cruz’s chief campaign strategist, said in the statement that candidate’s mother “was never a citizen of Canada.” He added that she could not have been a Canadian citizen at the time her son was born because of residency requirements. Eleanor Cruz was born in Delaware, while her ex-husband, Rafael Cruz, was born in Cuba, obtained Canadian citizenship while living in Calgary and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in the mid-2000s.

The document in question is a voter list of individuals who lived in the southern district of the city of Calgary, were over the age of 18 and were Canadian citizens, thus eligible to vote.

In accordance with the Canadian Election Act, such lists were compiled in the 1970s by a pair of officials, called enumerators, who went door-to-door together in an electoral district to ascertain the name, address and occupation of any person qualified to vote. The statute states that enumerators who “willfully and without reasonable excuse” added a name to the list “of any person who is not entitled to have his name entered thereon” forfeited pay for their services and were be subject to other punishments.

Another election official, called a returning officer, then reviewed the list. The statute states that the returning officer could not certify the document if he believed the list contained the name of any person who shouldn’t be included. The document obtained by TPM was certified in Calgary by a returning officer.

In 2013, a Canadian elections official told TPM that in the process of compiling the list, enumerators asked people to affirm that they were Canadian citizens.

“So when they knock on doors, they ask them: are you Canadian citizens, are you 18 years of age or older, and are you a resident in this facility and how long have you been living here?” Drew Westwater, the director of election operations and communications for Elections Alberta, told TPM. “If they meet all that criteria then they add them to the list, take their name and addresses and anyone else who’s living there. And they ask, is anyone else living here a Canadian citizen 18 years of age or older? And if they are, then they take their names from them at the door. And that’s the way it worked in those days.”

The Raphael and Eleanor Cruz listed on the document clearly appear to be Cruz’s parents. The spelling of Cruz’s father’s name is anglicized to “Raphael” rather than the correct spelling “Rafael” and his occupation is listed as self-employed; at the time, the Cruzes worked in the oil industry running a seismic data-processing business.

To confirm the Cruzes’ identity, TPM cross-referenced the address listed for the couple on the southern district voter list with Calgary city directories for the years 1971-1974.

Most of the directories listed the Cruzes as living at the northwest Calgary address where it’s been reported that Ted Cruz was born. The address listed for the couple in the 1973 city directory matched the address on 1974 voter list and further listed both Cruzes as executives of the data-processing firm.

According to phone books from 1971, 1972 and 1973, Cruz’s parents were the only individuals with the surname Cruz living in Calgary.

There’s no proof that Mrs. Cruz ever voted in an election in Canada, but showing up on a voter list at least raises the question as to what she was doing on it.

If the schadenfreude fits, enjoy it.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Smarmy Pharma Dude Gets His Karma Moment

It could not happen to a more worthy target.

Martin Shreli Busted 12-18-15It has been a busy week for Martin Shkreli, the flamboyant businessman at the center of the drug industry’s price-gouging scandals.

He said he would sharply increase the cost of a drug used to treat a potentially deadly parasitic infection. He called himself “the world’s most eligible bachelor” on Twitter and railed against critics in a live-streaming YouTube video. After reportedly paying $2 million for a rare Wu-Tang Clan album, he goaded a member of the hip-hop group to “show me some respect.”

Then, at 6 a.m. Thursday, F.B.I. agents arrested Mr. Shkreli, 32, at his Murray Hill apartment. He was arraigned in Federal District Court in Brooklyn on securities fraud and wire fraud charges.

In a statement, a spokesman for Mr. Shkreli said he was confident that he would be cleared of all charges.

Mr. Shkreli has emerged as a symbol of pharmaceutical greed for acquiring a decades-old drug used to treat an infection that can be devastating for babies and people with AIDS and, overnight, raising the price to $750 a pill from $13.50. His only mistake, he later conceded, was not raising the price more.

My schaden is now freude.  Heh.

Photo by Andrew Burton, Getty Images.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

It’s Over, Jeb!

Charlie Pierce says it’s time to take the Bush campaign out behind the barn and put a merciful end to it.

To be completely fair, no candidate was less suited to the carnival of souls that this campaign has become than was Jeb (!). He had lots of money, and lots of influential friends, and he even had a mainly undeserved reputation as a Republican with the ability to reach out to minorities. Then, two things happened. He ran facefirst into I, Trump, who found in Jeb (!) the perfect foil—humorless, stuffy, and very easily pantsed on stage. Nobody could have anticipated how truly deformed one man could make our politics. But, for all that, Jeb (!) has proven to be an absolute lemon of a candidate.  He has entirely different—​​but no less serious—​problems with English than his brother did. He couldn’t find spontaneity if you gave him the ghost of Robin Williams as a guide. And, let us never forget that The Base has decided that his surname is a curse unto 10 generations, and Jeb (!) is nowhere near the pol to turn all that around in one election cycle. Rubio is younger. Cruz is more conservative. Fiorina is a bigger prevaricator. Ben Carson is crazier. Rand Paul is quirkier. And He, Trump is more, well, everything. Even if you put him at the top of the Single Digit Club, where’s the room for Jeb (!) to run in a Republican primary field?​

It’s not your year, big fella. Just admit it. Don’t go to Vegas next week and stand up there and get your trou’ dropped on you again. (I mean, Jesus H. Christ on a package tour of the Balkans, Rubio embarrassed you last time.)  Maintain some dignity. Take the campaign out behind the shed and come back alone. There’s no hope for it now. It’s suffering, Jeb (!), and only you can do it.

In a way, you have to feel sorry for the guy.  He missed his shot by coming this close to being the first of the Bush fils to follow his father’s footsteps into office.  But he lost the Florida governor’s race the first time out, leaving the door open for W to do the Texas two-step into office and leaving Jeb to have to wait until next time, finally winning election in Florida in 1998.  He nearly fumbled the 2000 election, drawing way too much attention to his inability to cleanly deliver his state when it should have been an easy get.  And now this.  The poor guy can’t catch a break.

It’s one thing to lose an election or a primary in an evenly matched field.  But in this collection of fascists, religious whackos, hate-mongers, and know-nothings, it must be really humiliating.  Heh.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

You Broke It, You Bought It

The pithy Pottery Barn slogan comes to mind when I read Jonathan Martin’s piece in the New York Times about the panic setting in on the Republican establishment in the wake of Donald Trump.

WASHINGTON — For months, much of the Republican Party’s establishment has been uneasy about the rise of Donald J. Trump, concerned that he was overwhelming the presidential primary contest and encouraging other candidates to mimic his incendiary speech. Now, though, irritation is giving way to panic as it becomes increasingly plausible that Mr. Trump could be the party’s standard-bearer and imperil the careers of other Republicans.

Many leading Republican officials, strategists and donors now say they fear that Mr. Trump’s nomination would lead to an electoral wipeout, a sweeping defeat that could undo some of the gains Republicans have made in recent congressional, state and local elections. But in a party that lacks a true leader or anything in the way of consensus — and with the combative Mr. Trump certain to scorch anyone who takes him on — a fierce dispute has arisen about what can be done to stop his candidacy and whether anyone should even try.

Some of the highest-ranking Republicans in Congress and some of the party’s wealthiest and most generous donors have balked at trying to take down Mr. Trump because they fear a public feud with the insult-spewing media figure. Others warn that doing so might backfire at a time of soaring anger toward political insiders.

That has led to a standoff of sorts: Almost everyone in the party’s upper echelons agrees something must be done, and almost no one is willing to do it.

With his knack for offending the very constituencies Republicans have struggled with in recent elections, women and minorities, Mr. Trump could be a millstone on his party if he won the nomination. He is viewed unfavorably by 64 percent of women and 74 percent of nonwhite voters, according to a November ABC News/Washington Post poll. Such unpopularity could not only doom his candidacy in November but also threaten the party’s tenuous majority in the Senate, hand House seats to the Democrats and imperil Republicans in a handful of governor’s races.

In states with some of the most competitive Senate contests, the concern is palpable, especially after weeks in which Mr. Trump has made a new series of inflammatory statements.

“If he carries this message into the general election in Ohio, we’ll hand this election to Hillary Clinton — and then try to salvage the rest of the ticket,” said Matt Borges, chairman of the Republican Party there, where Senator Rob Portman is facing a competitive re-election.

It’s not as if the GOP hasn’t been setting themselves up for this for a very long time; even before Barack Obama came onto the scene.  You can go back as far as the election of 1968 with the Southern Strategy of Richard Nixon and the planting of the seeds of resentment in the white male voter being told that women and minorities were getting all the “free stuff” like abortions and welfare and the hippies were corrupting our youth with their long hair and free love.

Ronald Reagan made it all sound so sunny and nice to beat up on the Others, but Lee Atwater laid the pipeline for Trump with his political strategy; the essence of divisive campaigning.

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

Now, thanks to the election of Barack Obama, we’ve gone from the abstract almost back to 1954 with the chorus of dog whistles bordering on air raid sirens about the president’s birth certificate and wails from the white folk about “getting their country back.”  All they needed was a candidate who would cast off the dog whistles, make up preposterous stories about himself and others, and feed it to the base of the party like cotton candy at a state fair.  Well, now they have him.

Via digby, here’s an evaluation of another political figure who rose to power in a similar fashion:

His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.

It worked then.  The problem is that it ended in flames and body counts.

Monday, November 9, 2015

This Is What Being a Front Runner Is Like

Dr. Ben Carson is not happy with the media scrutiny that his life story — as told by him — is getting.  West Point scholarship, violent youth, his relationship with a snakeoil company, even his time at Yale, have all come under the microscope.  And it’s all the fault of the “librul mudia.”

Known for his calm demeanor, Carson appeared unusually agitated during the press conference, accusing the press of engaging in a “witch hunt” to tarnish his reputation.

“There is a desperation on behalf of some to try to find a way to tarnish me,” Carson said. “They have been looking through everything. They have been talking to everyone I have ever known and everybody I have ever seen. There has got to be a scandal.”

Now that Carson is neck-and-neck with real estate mogul Donald Trump in both national polls and in several key primary states, details of his personal history have come under the spotlight. The retired pediatric neurosurgeon, who has never held elected office, has leaned heavily on his inspiring life story during the 2016 campaign, but even he concedes that some details are “fictitious.”

This week, he admitted to CNN that he had changed some facts in an often-told story about his attempt to stab a friend at age 14 after the network was unable to corroborate the incident.

This is how it works: Get a ghost writer to cobble together some bits and pieces of your life, string them together with a compelling theme of up from poverty in the Detroit ghetto to go to Yale and become a renowned doctor, and throw in some embellishments that don’t stand up to fact-checking because you never expect people to actually look into them.  Then when they do, blame it on the fact-checkers because they have it in for you because you’re an outsider and won’t give in to The Man.  Right on.

This really works well when you’re pitching your story to the folks who think the media is already biased against conservatives anyway; it’s an oldie but a goodie because it always works.  Pay no attention to the fact that the same technique was used to great effect on Democrats such as Joe Biden’s speeches, Gary Hart’s vacations, and any number of political hopefuls regardless of party.

Maybe the fact that the Republicans try to sell themselves as the ones who are honest and faithful and without sin so it’s always more schadenfreude-inducing when the sanctimonious are shown to be just as imperfect as the rest of us.  Or maybe it’s just because now Dr. Carson is the front runner along with Donald Trump, and unlike the real estate magnate, can’t say “Yeah, it’s all bullshit but people love me anyway.”

Monday, May 18, 2015

Caught Another One

The Iraq war has another casualty.

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida struggled on Sunday to give clear answers about whether it was a mistake for the United States to go to war against Iraq in 2003, becoming the latest Republican presidential candidate to trip on the wisdom of the military invasion.

Under a barrage of questions from Chris Wallace of Fox News, Mr. Rubio repeatedly said “it was not a mistake” for President George W. Bush to order the invasion based on the intelligence he had at the time. But Mr. Rubio grew defensive as Mr. Wallace pressed him to say flatly whether he now believed the war was a mistake. Mr. Rubio chose instead to criticize the questions themselves, saying that in “the real world” presidents have to make decisions based on evidence presented to them at the time.

“It’s not a mistake — I still say it was not a mistake because the president was presented with intelligence that said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, it was governed by a man who had committed atrocities in the past with weapons of mass destruction,” Mr. Rubio said on “Fox News Sunday.”

A moment later, as Mr. Wallace tried to pin him down on his view, Mr. Rubio began to reply, “Based on what we know now, I think everyone agrees — — ” but Mr. Wallace cut him off before he finished the thought.

“So was it a mistake now?” Mr. Wallace asked.

“I don’t understand the question you’re asking,” Mr. Rubio said.

At one point Mr. Rubio, in discussing the importance of hindsight on the Iraq war, raised a recent boxing fight to make a point. “Based on what we know, a lot of things — based on what we know now, I wouldn’t have thought Manny Pacquiao was going to beat, uh, in that fight a couple weeks ago — — ” Mr. Rubio said before Mr. Wallace interrupted.

The back-and-forth resulted in a three-minute video clip that Republican opponents could use against Mr. Rubio in the future, given that he came across as a politician used to debating fine points and nuances in the United States Senate — a problem that then-Senator John Kerry faced in his presidential run in 2004 — rather than as a seasoned leader used to giving clear statements. Mr. Rubio’s readiness for the presidency has been questioned among some Republican voters, given than he is a 43-year-old first-term senator, and moments like the boxing reference seemed discordant on a subject like the Iraq war.

I love it that it’s Fox News — supposedly the safe haven for the Republicans and the warmongers — that is trapping the candidates with this question.

Note to all once and future candidates: The answer is simple.  It was a mistake to go into Iraq in the first place even knowing what we knew then.  The outcome was foreseeable, the response from the hardliners such as al-Qaeda was predictable, and the birth of ISIS was inevitable even if our troops had stayed in Iraq after the combat mission had ended.  A lot of people were saying it then and sadly were proven right.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Pride Goeth…


The NFL has suspended Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady without pay for the first four games of the season, fined the New England Patriots $1 million and taken away two draft picks as punishment for deflating footballs used in the AFC title game, the league said in a statement Monday.


The Patriots will also lose a first-round pick in 2016 and a fourth-round pick in 2017.

Excuse my schadenfreude, but the Patriots and Tom Brady have been either dismissive or arrogant about this whole stupid thing, and I’ll bet that most of this punishment is the league hitting back at them for being such pricks.

Friday, March 6, 2015

A Tale of Two States

Policy.Mic looks at Minnesota and Wisconsin — one with Democrats in charge, the other with Republicans running the place — and compares and contrasts.

Since 2011, Minnesota has been doing quite well for itself. The state has created more than 170,000 jobs, according to the Huffington Post. Its unemployment rate stands at 3.6% — the fifth-lowest in the country, and far below the nationwide rate of 5.7% — and the state government boasts a budget surplus of $1 billion. Forbesconsiders Minnesota one of the top 10 in the country for business.


How Minnesota did it: The progressive economic policies in the North Star State came into being after the election of Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton. In 2010, Dayton surprised many political observers in Minnesota when he managed to win the governor’s mansion, as the first Democrat to seize the governor’s mansion in more than two decades. His political career up until that point was mainly defined by failure, despite the fact that he was a billionaire heir with countless resources.

Dayton’s margin of victory wasn’t impressive, but he was eventually able to make a dramatic mark on the direction of the state’s public policies. He instituted a wide variety of progressive policies that rendered him the “most liberal governor in the country in terms of his willingness to raise taxes and to spend,” University of Minnesota political scientist Larry Jacobs told Mother Jones.

Just across the Mississippi River is the state of Wisconsin.  The governor, Scott Walker, is the darling of the right wing of the GOP (sorry, that’s redundant), so he must be governing a paradise on earth:

By a number of measures, Wisconsin hasn’t fared as well as Minnesota. As the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal reports, Wisconsin’s job growth has been among the worst in the region, and income growth is one of the worst in the country. It has a higher unemployment rate than Minnesota. And the budget is in bad shape:

Our transportation budget has a $750 million hole in it, our health care budget is $760 million in the red, and that’s all on top of a $1.8 billion general budget deficit. Add it up and Walker has essentially taken a balanced budget and turned it into a deficit nearly as large as the one created by the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression.

Now, no political leader can take full credit or blame for the economic health of the state they oversee — the economy is shaped by a number of structural factors and historic trends that any one politician has little control over. Consider, for example, that Minnesota’s economy was outperforming Wisconsin by a number of measures beginning earlier than the recession.

But here’s what we can say: Dayton’s progressive vision for Minnesota has not ruined the economy, and has likely helped it. Walker’s conservative vision has clearly not ushered in the free market paradise he envisioned. And it’s noteworthy that since the Great Recession and the implementation of their divergent philosophies, Minnesota’s economy has pulled further ahead of Wisconsin in several areas.

So why is Scott Walker even being considered as presidential material?

Oh, and speaking of self-destructing Republican governors:

Gov. Sam Brownback (R) and the Republican-controlled legislature in Kansas is inching ever so slowly toward expanding Medicaid under Obamacare. If Kansas did expand Medicaid, it would be the latest in a list of deep-red states—including Arkansas, Utah, and Indiana—to actually take federal dollars through Obamacare, despite having conservative legislatures and fire-breathing, anti-ACA Republican governors.


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.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

NOM Broke

Get out the tiny violin.

On Wednesday, the viciously anti-gay National Organization for Marriage finally released its 2013 tax filings—two days late, in direct violation of federal law. The results are nothing short of brutal. NOM raised $5.1 million last year—a 50 percent drop-off from its 2012 earnings. Two donors accounted for more than half of that money. And the group’s “Education Fund,” which churns out anti-gay propaganda and homophobic calumny, raised less than $1.7 million, a 70 percent decline from 2012. NOM closed out the year more than $2.5 million in debt.

Heh.  Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of bigots.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sore Loser

Remember when the Gore-Lieberman campaign fought the election fiasco in Florida in 2000 and the Republicans all laughed, called them “Sore-Loserman,” and told them to move on and get over it.  Good times.

The freude is most schaden.

[Thad] Cochran’s turnaround victory in the race on Tuesday was immediately met with criticism by [Chris] McDaniel and tea partiers over his strategy of reaching out to not only Republicans but also Democrats and African-Americans, a move that dismayed tea partiers but isn’t illegal under Mississippi’s open primary laws.

When Cochran was named the winner, McDaniel himself openly questioned the results, and said “there is something a bit strange, there is something a bit unusual about a Republican primary that’s decided by liberal Democrats.”

“Before this race ends we have to be absolutely certain that the Republican primary was won by Republican voters,” McDaniel also said.

Move on.  Get over it.  BWAHAHAHAHAHA.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Over The Edge

The defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) in a primary is reverberating through the halls of Congress and the TV studios.  It was fun to watch the folks on the TV gasp for air as the election results came in.

It’s fair to say that there is a whole lotta schadenfreude going on among those of us who have been waiting for some insurgent to slip over the wall and scatter the GOP leadership like a cat among the pigeons.  This basically insures that the Republicans will now have to run even further to the right in the mid-terms than they were already going to.  And that will be good for the Democrats.

Immigration reform, which barely had a chance as it was, is not only not going to happen this year, it’s probably not going to happen during the remainder of the Obama presidency.  Dave Brat, the man who beat Mr. Cantor (and whose name seems to have been chosen by Charles Dickens), ran on an anti-immigration platform, branding any accommodation for undocumented immigrants — even children — as “amnesty.”  Not only is that bad for the people who would be helped by immigration reform, especially the children of undocumented immigrants who are here through no fault of their own, it puts the Republicans in a big bind.  This was the one thing that they could have used to reach out to Hispanic voters and get them to vote for them.  Now is it not only gone from being passed to being trashed, the GOP is going to run against it just to shore up their base and fend off any more Brat-style attacks from the right.

Not that it was going to do anything anyway, action from Congress is now shut down until January at the earliest.  They might as well just go home and turn the place over to Disney to shuttle the tourists through for the summer.  Mr. Cantor’s job as majority leader was to decide what bills to bring to the floor of the House and now that he’s got nothing left to live for, he’ll have no incentive to do much more than pack up his office.  You’ve got a better chance of getting a pony from Santa than you do of getting anything through Congress now.

In true classy style, the Tea Party is having a feast on the news.  This will embolden them, and it could even effect the outcome of the run-off in the Senate race in Mississippi between Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel, and overshadow the fact that a lot of “establishment” Republicans like Lindsay Graham of South Carolina are fending off Tea Party challengers.  All it takes is one win like Mr. Brat and there is new life in them.  We could see a whole new crop of nuts growing over the summer.

What the giddy victors are forgetting is that this was a primary; there’s still the general election, and if the past two election cycles are any guide, the more far right the candidate, the less chance they have of winning that race; just ask Sens. Sharron Angle of Nevada, Richard Mourdock of Indiana, Todd Akin of Missouri, and Christine O’Donnell of Delaware.  Even if Mr. Brat wins the general election, the Virginia 7th district goes from having one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress to the newest kid on the block.  The power doesn’t come with the seat, and Mr. Brat — assuming he wins — would be lucky to have an office above ground in the House Office Building.

So break out the popcorn, kids; this election is going to be fun to watch… as long as you don’t care about what’s not getting done by the people we’ve elected to represent us.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Thanks, Ted

Brian Beutler in Salon tells us how Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) just handed the GOP a steaming hot turd and perhaps the 2014 elections to the Democrats.

Last week the seams holding together factions of the Republican party burst open once again. And once again, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was the guy scraping at them with a scalpel.

He didn’t shut down the government, or talk himself hoarse on the Senate floor. But he did spoil his leadership’s plan to let Senate Democrats increase the debt limit on their own without implicating any individual Republicans — including the highest-ranking Republican, who just happens to be in the midst of an unexpectedly tough election.

This can get a little technical. But suffice it to say that Republicans — for once! — wanted to not filibuster a bill. To avoid the whole 60-vote requirement they’ve made so routine, and just get on to the up-or-down final passage vote. Let 50 Dems and Vice President Biden do all the dirty work.

But ending debate on a bill and going directly to final passage requires consent from everyone in the Senate, and Cruz refused to provide his. Now several Republicans, including Mitch McConnell himself, must wear scarlet letters whenever they face conservative activists, all because Cruz wanted to court another damaging confrontation with Obama and wants the people denying it to him to suffer for their actions.

The bad blood has grown redolent.

This means that the Republicans will try to run against Obamacare, Benghazi!, and anything else they can cook up with Fox News, but it’s going to be really hard to run against the Tea Partiers who are already sharpening their knives to go after the traitors and collaborators that sold the debt ceiling down the river.

U.S. Senate candidate Dwayne Stovall stole some attention Thursday from Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) in the Republican primary against Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).

In a new ad, Stovall sits in the bed of a pick-up truck with a golden retriever and equates Cornyn with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

“As a U.S. senator from Texas, you vote for Texans, you don’t stab her in the back by voting for cloture on Obamacare. You don’t enslave it’s children with unconstitutional laws and overwhelming debt. And you certainly don’t do all this to please some guy that looks and fights like a turtle,” Stovall says.

McConnell and Cornyn came under fire from conservatives for voting Wednesday to move forward legislation increasing the nation’s borrowing limit.

“I’m a Texan. We Texans don’t need a Beltway turtle telling us how to fight,” Stovall continues, suggesting that Cornyn’s votes have been influenced by McConnell.

I suppose we should chastise Mr. Stovall for making ad hominen attacks on Mitch McConnell’s reptilian resemblance, but if the carapace fits….

Let’s just stand back and let the fun begin.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Snakes Eating Snakes

They always turn on their own.

The conservative guerrilla filmmaker James O’Keefe and his organization, Project Veritas, have been sued for wrongful termination by a former employee.

As first reported by Slate’s David Weigel, Daniel Francisco initiated the lawsuit in Westchester County, N.Y. Supreme Court on Jan. 27. Francisco, who until earlier this year worked as the executive director of Project Veritas, claimed in a court filing that he had been “wrongfully terminated” by Project Veritas, that Project Veritas had “breached its contract” with him by not paying for his final week of employment, and that O’Keefe personally had “defamed” him following his departure from the organization. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages and a declaratory judgment to stop O’Keefe from “further defaming” Francisco.

In case you don’t remember, Mr. O’Keefe was the little twerp who dressed up like what he thought a pimp would look like and filmed himself covertly trying to pull some shenanigans on ACORN.  The heavily edited film went viral, ACORN went under, and he became a darling on Fox News.  He then ran into trouble with the feds for trying to pull the same shit on Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), but was busted and plead out.

People are lined up around the block to sue him, so I hope Mr. Francisco isn’t paying his lawyer by the hour.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cleaning House

Tea Partiers go ballistic over Boehner.

The outside tea party-aligned group Senate Conservatives Fund is calling for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to be replaced in response to House Republican leadership’s decision to push a clean debt ceiling hike.

The powerful outside group’s call came in an email to supporters on Tuesday, shortly after House Republicans announced that they would give up on previous demands for a debt ceiling extension and instead support a clean hike. In the email Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins wrote:

Republicans are giving up because they know that winning is impossible when their leaders are determined to lose. These leaders have telegraphed weakness to the Democrats and sabotaged conservative efforts so many times that Republicans now have no leverage. There’s only one solution.  John Boehner must be replaced as Speaker of the House.

Hoskins goes on to warn that Republicans will never have any leverage if Boehner stays as Speaker.

“Unless we install a new leader who will actually go on offense, Democrats will never fear us and we will never have any leverage,” Hoskins continued in the email.

The idea of governing by fear and stalemate is a short-sighted and fruitless way to get your way.  At some point, people are going to figure out that you’re all bark with very little bite, and even if they primary someone out of office, they end up losing the general election (vide Sharron Angle of Nevada, Richard Mourdock of Indiana, and Todd Aiken of Missouri).  On those rare occasions where some Tea Party favorite gets into office, they wear out their welcome with their colleagues, i.e. Ted Cruz.  (On the other hand, Tea Party favorites like Louis Gohmert provide hours of mirth on YouTube.)  So the only way they have of getting their way is to block everything, brag about it to their base, and blame the Democrats and the black guy when it blows up in their face.  At some point, the electorate will catch on to them.

Unfortunately, we haven’t reached the saturation point yet.  It probably won’t happen in this election cycle; the GOP will maintain the House and even pick up a Senate seat or two thanks to crazy-ass gerrymandering and bought-and-paid-for Koch-fiend races in safe nutsery districts.

John Boehner will survive this episode, more’s the pity, because the one thing he’s gotten really good at is getting nothing done, and that’s what the Tea Party and the GOP want.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Mitch In the Ditch

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has a problem at home.

The Herald-Leader/WKYT Bluegross poll released Thursday evening found 32 percent of those surveyed said they approve of McConnell’s job performance while 60 percent said they disapproved of the job the top Senate Republican has done. That rating is almost the same as Obama’s approval rating in the state, which is 34 percent and his disapproval is about 60 percent.

What’s more, the poll found Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) holds a small 4-point lead over McConnell in the Kentucky Senate race. The poll found Grimes with 46 percent support among Kentucky voters while McConnell has 42 percent support. That finding though is essentially within the poll’s plus or minus 3-point margin of error.

To paraphrase the immortal Jimi Hendrix, ‘scuse me while I schadenfreude.