Thursday, February 28, 2013

Last Call

Sen. Tom Harkin will see President Obama's $9 a hour minimum wage, and do it one better.  Or in this case, do it one and ten cents better.

The White House is coming under pressure from liberal Democrats in the House and Senate to press for a minimum wage hike as high as $10.10.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) argues President Obama “missed the mark” in calling to raise the minimum wage to $9 in his State of the Union address, and his staff met with White House staff last week to argue for a higher number.

The veteran senator, who will retire at the end of this Congress, is working with Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) on legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 over three years and then index future increases to inflation.

“Well, we’re going to introduce our own bill on it,” Harkin told The Hill on Tuesday. “I’m going to be in discussions with them because I think they missed the mark, but people make mistakes.”

Besides Harkin and Miller — a confidant of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — Democrats backing a higher minimum wage hike include Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Rep. Charles Rangel (N.Y.).

Hey, can't wait to see Republicans shoot this down because the real problem is that "minimum wage workers are making too much" in our economy.

You can take that argument to the bank.  Cause, $20k a year is too much, right?

Doing The Right Thing By Force Of Outrage, Apparently

It's the only way to get Republicans to actually do anything that doesn't involve being privileged misogynist dipsticks.  As I noted yesterday, the House was likely going to pass the Senate's version of VAWA...because they didn't have the votes to pass their own version of it.  Today, they did just that.

On Thursday, by a vote of 286 to 138, the House passed the bipartisan Senate-approved version of the bill — one that includes added protections for LGBT, Native American, and undocumented victims of domestic violence.

A watered down Republican version of the bill, which was offered as a substitute amendment, failed to garner enough votes to slow the process. It was struck down by a vote of 257 to 166. Sixty Republicans voted against their own party’s replacement measure.

During the last session of Congress, the GOP-led House approved their watered-down VAWA, while the Senate included expanded provisions in the version it passed. The two were never reconciled, and Congress failed to renew the 18-year-old domestic violence law by the time it disbanded at the end of 2012. 

PS:  All 138 no votes?  Republicans.  What war on women, right?

The provisions included protections for Native American women, allowing them to seek justice with tribal courts when the assailant is non-Native, protections for LGBT Americans, and the provisions of the SAFER act, which will reduce the untested backlog of rape kits in America's police custody.  This is a solid win for Democrats, President Obama and all Americans here.

And it's about damn time.

We Come Not To Praise Progress Kentucky...

...but to bury them.  Joe Sonka has the epitaph after Tuesday's nasty little race-baiting incident involving Mitch the Turtle's wife, former Bush 43 Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.

And this is why Democrats who want to defeat McConnell have a great sense of relief right now, because Progress Kentucky is effectively dead, and they’ll soon be replaced by a new group of seasoned professionals who know how to mess with a powerful political candidate on the ropes and know how to raise a hell of a lot of money to further that cause.

In fact, if I was McConnell, I’d seriously consider finding an obscenely wealthy supporter who is willing to write Progress Kentucky a ginormous check that could keep them operational, as Progress Kentucky has been the only thing helping McConnell’s re-election campaign over the past four months. His campaign and national Republican organizations were celebrating yesterday, but in four months they’ll be wishing Progress Kentucky was the independent expenditure group they were battling, and not the hardened pros who are bludgeoning McConnell with focused messaging that has loads of money behind it.

But until that time, Democrats in Kentucky and across the country – liberals, moderates and conservatives – have a loud and unified message for Progress Kentucky: Pack up your stuff and go away.

The fact is these guys managed to raise all of a couple thousand dollars in four months.  They're about as super a PAC as I am a professional jazz flautist, and getting these guys off the stage so that the Dems can really lay into McConnell for the depleted-uranium albatross of a record around his neck is a pretty good thing.

In other words, it's a damn good thing these guys crashed and burned early.  To take down Mitch McConnell is going to take a crapload of hard work, and the sooner we got these guys out of the way, the better off Kentucky Dems were going to be.

I'm glad I never got around to donating to these guys, either.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Last Call

It looks like the House GOP has figured out that actively legislating discrimination about which women deserve protections under the Violence Against Women Act is not only unrelentingly awful, but political hemlock as well.

House Republican leaders signaled Tuesday night that they are ready to let their VAWA bill die and clear the way for a broader, bipartisan Senate bill. The Senate legislation includes new protections missing from the House bill for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), Native American and immigrant victims of domestic violence.
Here’s the House GOP plan procedurally, based on House Rules Committee actions Tuesday night: The House is expected to hold two VAWA votes on Thursday. The first will be to strip out the language of the Senate VAWA bill and replace it with the House GOP language. Since that isn’t expected to pass, lawmakers will then vote on the Senate VAWA bill itself. A GOP source involved in negotiations conceded that there is greater support for the Senate bill, and that the Senate version is likely the one to pass. That means VAWA could land on President Barack Obama’s desk by the end of this week — the version sought by the White House and Democrats.

Pretty much total surrender here on the issue as House Republicans have the approval ratings of somewhere between ebola in a nursery school and National Chewing On Tinfoil Month.

That House Republican leaders are allowing the Senate bill to get a floor vote is significant because they refused to let that happen in the last Congress, even though lawmakers in both parties believed it would pass. The move also signals that GOP leaders are ready to stop fighting over an issue that has damaged them politically. Congress failed to reauthorize VAWA in 2011 due in large part to House Republican resistance to the new protections in the Senate bill, and Democrats clobbered them over it throughout the 2012 election season.

People forget in what was supposed to be a big year for the GOP in 2012, not only did they lose Senate seats, but House seats as well.   Letting VAWA die for a year now looks like a fatal mistake for the GOP, one they’re now scrambling to correct after badmouthing the Senate version as recently as last week.  What’s behind the change in heart?  Perhaps correctly assuming he would personally shoulder the blame should the bill die, Eric Cantor has now relented.

It’s not a victory yet for the good guys, but things look a lot better than just last Friday, when the house version was passed.  Suddenly, this same House version doesn’t have the votes to survive the reconciliation process with the Senate bill. 

Funny how that works.

Re-Birther Of The Uncool, Part Eleventy Squared

Oh racist Republican jackass birthers, don’t ever stop reminding the American people just which party is full of bigots and crackpots whose awful views aren’t just tolerated but are openly welcomed.  Via Taegan Goddard:

Michigan state Sen. Tom Casperson (R) told a radio show he’s not sure where Obama was born, according to Deadline Detroit.
Said Casperson: “I don’t know because it seems like that issue was dropped immediately as far as the major media went. My gut tells me if it had been a different president, say George W. Bush, they’d have been digging into like there was no tomorrow and trying to get to the bottom of, which they never really tried to get to the bottom of.”

That’s because there’s nothing to get to the bottom of, you moron.  The President was born in Hawaii, period.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is a racist clown, point blank.  Stop it.  It’s the guy’s second term already.  If you’re still questioning his birthplace at this point after five years, there’s really nothing left but good ol’ racism to explain it.  End of line.

Ain’t nobody got time for this, as they say.

Why We Still Need Section 5

SCOTUS will hear arguments today in the case of Shelby County, Alabama versus the Voting Rights Act.  Section 5, which determines which counties and states (all with decades-long histories of discrimination against minority voters) are subject to Justice Department "pre-clearance" before changes in voting laws can take place.  Shelby County argues those laws are no longer necessary in 2013, and that holding Shelby County to Section 5 violates the Tenth Amendment.  As Sahil Kapur reports at TPM, the goal here is the end of the Voting Rights Act, and the end of voting equality in southern red states.

The lead plaintiff, Shelby County of Alabama, argues that although Section 5 was justified at the time to correct the evils of racism, it now lacks constitutional basis because the regions it singles out have experienced a dramatic rise in minority voter participation and because outright discriminatory laws like literacy tests are outlawed.

“Section 5 exacts a heavy, unprecedented federalism cost,” Shelby County wrote in its brief, “by forbidding the implementation of all voting changes in jurisdictions identified by Section 4(b) until federal officials are satisfied that the changes do not undermine minority voting rights.” Without more evidence that those parts of the country continue to systematically disenfranchise minority voters, “Section 5’s federalism cost is too great,” it said.

Congress begs to differ. In 2006, a Republican-led Congress reauthorized the Voting Rights Act, including Section 5, after it determined that “vestiges of discrimination in voting continue to exist as demonstrated by second generation barriers constructed to prevent minority voters from fully participating in the electoral process.”

Defenders of the law argue that Section 5 remains an essential tool to proactively combat voter disenfranchisement. They point to various instances in recent years where the Justice Department has denied preclearance for voting changes to covered regions, and will contend that efforts at voter discrimination are more routine in those areas than in the rest of the country. They also note that Congress, not the courts, is tasked with enforcing the 15th Amendment.

Section 5 has been validated four times by the Supreme Court, in 1966, 1973, 1980 and 1999, noting that the 15th Amendment authorizes Congress to enforce the ban on discriminatory voting laws. But the ideological makeup of today’s Court means another victory will be a tough slog for defenders, as five justices have sympathized with the notion that Section 5 is unfair.

“Things have changed in the South,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in 2009.

And yet voter discrimination exists today, where a new class of more subtle Jim Crow laws put minority voters at a distinct disadvantage.  Let's not forget that just eight months ago, federal judges unanimously found that Texas Republicans blatantly violated Section 5 laws when the state's redistricting plan openly discriminated against Latino voters, and that in fact the plan was based on taking political power away from Latino voters.  Without Section 5 in place, that plan would have gone through.

A redistricting plan signed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) intentionally discriminated against Hispanic voters, a three-judge panel unanimously ruled Tuesday. The judges found that seats belonging to white incumbent members of Congress were protected under the plan while districts belonging to incumbent minorities were targeted for changes.

The court was “persuaded by the totality of the evidence that the plan was enacted with discriminatory intent,” according to the ruling. There was “sufficient evidence to conclude that the Congressional Plan was motivated, at least in part, by discriminatory intent,” the court found.

The three judges said they were overwhelmed with the amount of evidence showing the congressional redistricting plan was intentionally discriminatory, writing in a footnote that parties “have provided more evidence of discriminatory intent than we have space, or need, to address here.”

No, Chief Justice Roberts.  Things are not different in the South.  Not at all.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Last Call

Try harder, Republicans.  Bryan Preston at Bananas in Pajamas:

Progress Kentucky is angling to push GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell out of the Senate. The “progressive” group seems to have a problem with race, though, specifically the race of McConnell’s wife.
Recently, the group turned its attention to McConnell’s wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, with a focus on her race.
In a Feb. 14 Twitter message, Progress says: “This woman has the ear of (Sen. McConnell)—she’s his wife. May explain why your job moved to China!”
Chao, you see, is ethnically Chinese. She was born in Taiwan. To these “progressives,” she’s a yellow menace.

Now, Chao was Labor Secretary for Dubya for eight years, under which 2.3 million US jobs were lost to China.  Still, that was a bad choice of words for the tweet and it's minimum casting Chao as the "other" based on China, which means somebody is an asshole and deserves the crapstorm that's coming.  Public apologies to Chao are minimum acceptability here, which is what they have done this evening:

Progress Kentucky is dedicated to ensuring the people of KY have the kind of representation in the US Senate they deserve. In an effort to educate KY voters as to the varied interests of Sen. McConnell we provided information about connections between the senator and business and government interests in China. This information included an inappropriate comment on the ethnicity of the former Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao, the senator’s wife. 

We apologize to the secretary for that unnecessary comment and have deleted the tweets in question. In addition, we have put a review process in place to ensure tweets and other social media communications from Progress KY are reviewed and approved prior to posting.

Which is lukewarm at best.  But, you notice this story broke nearly two weeks after the tweet was made, until Ashley Judd conveniently had to denounce something less than 24 hours after a story about her in the NY Times?  Even more so, let's remember Progress Kentucky is basically one guy on Twitter, Shawn Mark Reilly.  If it's a Democratic SuperPAC, I'm a world-famous archaeologist because I found an arrowhead once when I was in Boy Scouts.

Finally, let's not forget that Republicans sure enjoy making actual racist comments on purpose.  But what's uncalled for is this tirade by Preston:

Progress Kentucky’s racist tweet is far from the first time leftists have engaged in overt racism against Republicans who happen to be minorities. Bobby Jindal faced race-based attacks on his Indian heritage when he successfully ran for governor of Louisiana. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has faced racist and sexist attacks from the left. The Democrats opposed Miguel Estrada’s appointment to the federal judiciary during the Bush years explicitly because he is Hispanic. He was never even given a vote. The Democrats’ opposition to Clarence Thomas’ appointment to the US Supreme Court was fueled by Democrat racism.

The Democrats are and have always been the party of racism. From sparking the Civil War to defend slavery, through the “white primaries” in Texas to Jim Crow and now this attack on Elaine Chow, the left exploits race for power when they can and run racist attacks when they believe they can get away with it.

No, that's projection.  I'll tell you what,  when you decide to hold the GOP to the same standard on iffy tweets where the President and his wife are referred to as tarbabies, gorillas, and savages, let me know.

Wrestling With The Immigration Debate

Oliver Willis has a point here with the WWE's latest gimmick, where wrestler Jack Swagger and his Hannity-spouting manager Jeb Colter are the Gadsden Flag waving heels -- the bad guys being booed by crowds -- and "Mexican Millionaire" Alberto Del Rio is the face -- the good guy fighting to cheers.

On Monday’s edition of WWE Raw, Colter and Del Rio had a debate about immigration that really could have been ripped right out of cable news. Colter again complained that undocumented workers were taking American jobs and weren’t hard workers, while also whining about it being politically incorrect for him to refer to “illegals.”

He was booed. Loudly.

Del Rio responded by describing America as “the greatest country in the world,” which was the motivation for immigrants coming here to seek a better life for themselves.

This argument from Del Rio, coming from the Latino character in response to the right-wing xenophobe, was roundly applauded and prompted a “USA” chant in the arena.

In Texas.

(True to conservative form, Colter later complained that the moderator of his debate with Del Rio had shown… bias)

Sure, it’s a silly, goofy, over the top fake wrestling show – but it is also an entertainment vehicle that historically has had its finger on the pulse of its audience, changing itself to pander to the cultural zeitgeist of the moment.

WWE boss Vince McMahon, a modern day P.T. Barnum (and husband to a failed Republican Senatorial candidate), tends to give his audience the heroes and villains needed to attract eyeballs and open their wallets. McMahon and WWE have discovered that a pro-immigrant hero attracts applause and cheers, while an anti-immigrant villain is laughed at and booed.

The character who would be right at home between The O’Reilly Factor and Hannity is the bad guy.

Maybe somebody should tell the Republicans.

Oliver's right here, Vince McMahon knows what sells (his wife as a teabagger Senator in Connecticut, not so much.)  But it's a least a small sign that the times, they are a-changin'.  No matter what the GOP says, the rest of the country is having a huge laugh at the expense of the teabaggers, and if the fans of the WWE are booing the GOP line on "illegals" and cheering for a Latino hero living la vida loca (what's more "American Dream" than that?) then that's at least one more brick coming down in the wall.

Welcome to 2013, GOP.  Maybe someday you'll join us.

The Sequester Fester

As I mentioned this morning in Stupidinews, Republicans have decided to Do Something About The Sequester:  propose that the Obama Administration has to come up with the cuts, but leave the total amount of slashing the same, so that all the blame falls on the President.

In a last-minute bid to minimize the most painful impacts of federal spending cuts – and perhaps blame – Republicans will propose this week allowing the government to choose where to cut.

They plan to introduce proposals to allow flexibility while maintaining the overall level of cuts mandated by a 2011 law.

The proposal is in response to the Obama administration’s repeated complaint that the law doesn’t allow managers the flexibility to shift the reductions from such areas as teachers or programs to help female victims of violence. It’s also a move to shelter the GOP from blame should the cuts cause widespread pain. 

“As a leader, he should want as much flexibility as he can get from Congress,” said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association. “When did he ever go to his Cabinet secretaries, his agency heads and say, ‘What would be the least painful . . . way?’

Democrats criticized the proposal, however, saying it would lock in the overall level of cuts – $85 billion for this fiscal year and $1.2 trillion over 10 years – which they argue would hurt the economy. They’ll propose smaller spending reductions supplemented by tax increases.

“The overwhelming majority of Americans want us to compromise before our neighbors, friends and family members get pink slips or notices that they can only work for a few days a week this month,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

So this is GOP 101, a move so stupidly partisan that even McClatchy is pointing out the obvious.  They're literally proposing a bill that absolves them of any responsibility for the sequester.  If the cuts are "miniscule" and helpful to the economy then why not own them?

Nobody seems to have the answer to that question, least of all the GOP.

Read more here:


Monday, February 25, 2013

Last Call

House GOP dipstick Steve "Let's immediately impeach Obama" Stockman continues to try to out-stupid the rest of the clowns in his caucus with this nonsense:

"Obama's anti-gun campaign is a fraud," Stockman said. "Obama's supporters are panicking and willing to do anything to create the appearance of popular support, even if it means trying to defraud Congress," he added. "I call upon the president to denounce this phony spam campaign."

Wait a minute.  He has proof that the vast majority of Americans, including Republicans, who support universal background checks, are a fraud?  Oh do proceed, Congressman.

Stockman said that in response to Obama's call for people to tweet their congressman in support of gun control legislation, he received just 16 tweets. But he said all of these messages were identical, and that a closer look at them revealed that only six were from real people.

Never heard of retweets, I guess.

"The other 10 are fake, computer-generated spambots," his office said in a press release. As evidence, he said these 10 tweets use default graphics and names, and have not engaged in any interaction with other people. Two of the tweets were sent at nearly the same time, and both follow just one person: Brad Schenck, Obama's former digital strategist.

So...that's his evidence?  Ten spambots on a social media site with millions of them means that 10 out of 16 of all gun control supporters don't actually exist?  Who's a big enough moron to take credit for this idiocy?

Oh, J.S. McCain.  Natch.

And then Stockman's office runs with this story?  Hooboy.  They don't grow em real smart down in Texas, do they.  Just go ahead and secede, guys.  Nobody'll miss you.

Also, hope Stockman doesn't figure out Horse_ebooks isn't real.

Or is he?

And Then It Really Hits Home

The damage from the "miniscule cuts" of the sequester will have deep impact on thousands of jobs in individual states, and here in the Cincy Tri-State of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, that means some serious cuts, starting with schools in Kentucky:

Kentucky will lose approximately $11.8 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 160 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 21,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 40 fewer schools would receive funding. In addition, Kentucky will lose approximately $7.7 million in funds for about 90 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.

It gets worse for the Hoosier State:

Indiana will lose approximately $13.8 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 190 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 12,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 50 fewer schools would receive funding. In addition, Indiana will lose approximately $12.4 million in funds for about 150 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.

And far worse for Ohio:

Ohio will lose approximately $25.1 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 350 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 34,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 100 fewer schools would receive funding. In addition, Ohio will lose approximately $22 million in funds for about 270 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities. 

There's more than just schools that will be hit:  work study jobs, law enforcement, public safety, head Start, environmental programs, and more.  You can look up your state to see what sequestration means for where you live, and keep in mind Republicans have gone on record saying not only do they want these deep cuts, they want even more.

And they don't mind wrecking hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide to get those cuts.

Is it starting to hit home now, folks?

No, He Cantor

Ryan Lizza's piece in the New Yorker on GOP House majority leader Eric Cantor is thick with disappointment and hubris, and the goal appears to be absolving him of the guilt of 2012 to allow him to take credit in 2014 and 2016.

Cantor is the House Majority Leader, which means that he is responsible for the mundane business of managing the schedule, the House floor, and committees, where legislation is generally written. He has used his position to transform himself into the Party’s chief political strategist. Cantor is frequently talked about as a future Speaker; he could even be a future President, some of his aides say. Since the election, as Republicans have confronted Obama in a series of budgetary battles—another will unfold this week—few have tried as hard as Cantor to reposition and redefine the defeated party.

“He’s a fantastic Majority Leader,” Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee and a close friend, said. “Eric keeps the trains running on time very efficiently.” As Mitt Romney’s former running mate and the architect of the budget policies that some Republicans blame for their loss in 2012, Ryan is well aware of his party’s problems. “What Eric is really focussed on is that we need to do a better job of broadening our appeal and showing that we have real ideas and solutions that make people’s lives better,” Ryan said. “Eric is the guy who studies the big vision and is doing the step-by-step, daily management of the process to get us there. That is a huge job.”

To recap, the losing VP candidate thinks Cantor is "fantastic".  That's all you need to know about the House GOP over the next 2 years, more likely 4, as they will continue doing what they are doing now, only worse and more of it.

Cantor was one of the most influential political forces in Obama’s first term. In June of 2011, the President and the Speaker began working toward a Grand Bargain of major tax increases and spending cuts to address the government’s long-term budget deficits. Until late June, Boehner had managed to keep these talks secret from Cantor. On July 21st, Boehner paused in his discussions with Obama to talk to Cantor and outline the proposed deal. As Obama waited by the phone for a response from the Speaker, Cantor struck. Cantor told me that it was a “fair assessment” that he talked Boehner out of accepting Obama’s deal. He said he told Boehner that it would be better, instead, to take the issues of taxes and spending to the voters and “have it out” with the Democrats in the election. Why give Obama an enormous political victory, and potentially help him win reĆ«lection, when they might be able to negotiate a more favorable deal with a new Republican President? Boehner told Obama there was no deal. Instead of a Grand Bargain, Cantor and the House Republicans made a grand bet.

The bet failed spectacularly. Just as Cantor had urged, Obama and Romney spent much of the campaign debating tax and spending policies that the House Republicans had foisted on the Romney-Ryan ticket. What’s more, by scuttling the 2011 Grand Bargain negotiations, Cantor, more than any other politician, helped create the series of fiscal crises that have gripped Washington since Election Day. The failure of the Grand Bargain led to a byzantine deal: if the two parties could not agree on a new deficit plan, then a combination of tax increases and spending cuts—cuts known, in budget jargon, as a “sequester”—would automatically kick in on New Year’s Day. (The sequester was postponed until March 1st.) Looming beyond this “fiscal cliff” was an even more perilous fight, over the expiration of the debt ceiling, which is the limit on how much money the government can borrow, and which Congress must regularly raise if the Treasury is to pay its bills.

Lizza is correct here.  The mess we're in now is a direct result of Cantor's politically terminal case of Obama Derangement Syndrome.  Four years of manufactured crises designed to destroy the Democratic president backfired, so now those who voted for him must be punished by another four years of crises.

It really is negotiation with terrorists, and always has been.  And the man behind this tactic has been Cantor, not Boehner, from the beginning.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

More Makers And Takers

Glenn Reynolds is furious that states are giving Hollywood $1.5 billion a year in government handouts, just furious I tell you.

The $1.5 billion in subsidies that states provide, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "would have paid for the salaries of 23,500 middle school teachers, 26,600 firefighters, and 22,800 police patrol officers." Or it could have gone to cut taxes on small businesses, which, as Ms. Longoria noted in her DNC speech, produce two out of three jobs in the economy.

In her words: "It's the suburban dad who realizes his neighborhood needs a dry cleaner. It's the Latina nurse whose block needs a health clinic—and she knows she's the one to open it! It's the high school sophomore who is building Facebook's competitor. They are the entrepreneurs driving the American economy."

And they are the people who aren't receiving the kind of special tax treatment that states dole out to Hollywood.

"What are you going to do about that, libtards?  Huh?"

Why, point out the fact that $1.5 billion is what Reynolds' own state of Tennessee gives away in tax credits to profitable corporations every year, or 14%of the state's budget.  Funny how that works, Glenn.  Where's your outrage at Tennessee Republicans for passing these incentive programs and making the taxpayers of the Volunteer State pick up the tab when that $1.5 billion could be used for "the salaries of 23,500 middle school teachers, 26,600 firefighters, and 22,800 police patrol officers" or whatever?

And sure, Tennessee doesn't need 23,500 middle school teachers.  But they fired 150 teachers in Memphis because of budget cuts.  And you know who's giving away subsidies?  Why, the top subsidy in Tennessee is Memphis, giving $132 million to Electrolux.  How many jobs did that create?  I'm betting not a lot.

Oh, and let's not forget Tennessee is one of the taker states over the last 20 years, getting $80 billion in federal tax money more than it took in. And then they turn around and give that money to corporations.

Boy, Reynolds must really, really be upset with Tennessee Republicans over that.  Oh wait, he's not?

That would make him a hypocrite.  Imagine that.

The Moderate (Bigoted) Bobby Jindal

GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal doesn't seem to think that the Republican party needs to moderate its position on LGBT bigotry at all, and is convinced millions of LGBT voters will vote Republican based on three decades of economic policies that have failed.

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) — a possible Republican candidate for president in 2016 — rejected former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman’s argument that conservatives must embrace marriage equality for gays and lesbians if they want to survive as a party and reiterated his support for “traditional marriage.”

“Look, I believe in the traditional definition of marriage,” Jindal said during an appearance on Meet The Press on Sunday, and went on to claim that Republicans don’t have to make the case on social issues to attract young voters and win future elections and instead should continue focusing on economic issues. “We lost [the 2012 election] because we didn’t present a vision showing how we believe the entire economy can grow, how people can join the middle class. We’re in aspirational party and we need policies that are consistant with that aspirational private sector growth.” 

Sure.  Republicans are aspirational if you're straight.  If you're LGBT, or believe that being so doesn't make you a second-class citizen, oh well.   Some Americans are more equal than others, and Republicans figure they don't the rest of us.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Last Call

That's funny, wingers.  I thought sequestration cuts were "miniscule".  Mary Katherine Ham:

If we lived in a perfect world, it would be Job No. 1 of every single news report on the sequester to give context to the cuts, so Americans know just how huge minuscule they are. Unfortunately, instead of illuminating the numbers, too many reports just regurgitate President Obama’s or Jay Carney’s or Sec. Ray LaHood’s fearmongering. 

I guess then that GOP governors are fearmongering too this week in DC, huh?

Governors of both parties said on Saturday that they knew federal budget cuts were coming, and they pleaded with President Obama and Congress to give them more discretion over the use of federal money so they could minimize the pain for their citizens. 

The governors, arriving here for the winter meeting of the National Governors Association, said that the automatic across-the-board cuts in federal spending that are scheduled to begin at the end of the week were creating havoc, threatening jobs and sapping economic growth in their states

They urged the president and Congress to strike a deal that would allow state officials to set priorities and prune spending in a more selective way. They said the cuts would be easier to cope with if they had more freedom to decide how to allocate the savings in education, health care and public safety programs. 

We are just saying — as you identify the federal cuts and savings — give us flexibility to make the cuts where they will do the least harm to our citizens,” said Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, a Republican and the vice chairwoman of the association. “Don’t balance the federal budget on the backs of state governments.” 

Hmm, and let's remember these are the same states  and governors like Oklahoma's Mary Fallin who are warning of dire consequences of sequestration cuts as part of revenues from the federal government...and at the same time are calling for massive state tax cuts for the rich, and raising them on the poor.

In Oklahoma, Governor Fallin has significantly scaled back her tax cut ambitions from last year.  Rather than aiming for a fundamental restructuring of the income tax, the Governor has proposed simply repealing the state’s top personal income tax bracket, thereby cutting the state’s top rate from 5.25 to 5.0 percent.  The Oklahoma Policy Institute explains that this proposal “would take $106 million from Oklahoma schools, public safety, and other core state services without offering any way to pay for it.”  And ITEP’s new Who Pays? report shows that last time Oklahoma cut its top income tax rate, in 2012, the vast majority of the benefits (PDF) went to the highest-income taxpayers in the state.  Meanwhile, State Senator Anderson has once again proposed a dramatic flattening of the income tax that would actually raise taxes on most of the state’s lower- and moderate income residents.

To recap, Gov. Fallin is upset that cuts will do harm to citizens when the federal taxpayers in other states are funding Oklahoma...but apparently she has no problem when those citizens are the poor, the elderly, or schoolchildren and the taxpayers are poor Oklahomans.  Go figure.

And no wonder she's frightened by sequestration's cuts to discretionary federal spending:  the state's taken federal taxpayers to the cleaners for nearly $50 billion over the last 20 years.  And they just cut taxes on the rich again.

Who are the makers and takers now, folks?

Constant Vigiliance, He Shouted

Don't look now, but swing state Republicans are trying to rig the 2016 electoral college again, this time in Pennsylvania, and this time there may not be anything Democrats can do to stop it.

Gov. Tom Corbett (R-PA) was one of the earliest supporters of rigging the Electoral College, backing a plan to do so as early as 2011. Republican state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi was one of the leading supporters of election-rigging the and late this week, he — along with a dozen other co-sponsors — introduced a new plan to rig the Electoral College votes in his blue state of Pennsylvania. Under this legislation, a large chunk of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes would be awarded to the Republican candidate even though Pennsylvania is a solid blue state that has supported the Democratic candidate for president in every election since 1992.

Oh, it gets worse.

The 13 co-sponsors on Pileggi’s bill amount to exactly half of the 26 votes he needs to pass the bill through the state senate. According to state Rep. Mike Sturla (D-PA), now that Pileggi has introduced his election-rigging plan, Republicans could conceivably ram it through both houses of the state legislature and have it on Corbett’s desk in just four days.

In other words, this could end up law within a week:

 The nominee for the Office of President of the United States who wins the plurality of the Statewide popular vote shall be awarded two presidential electors.

The remaining presidential electors shall be divided among nominees for President of the United States by multiplying the number of remaining presidential electors by the percentage of the Statewide popular vote received by a nominee for President of the United States and rounding up to the nearest whole number, subject to the following:

If the total number of presidential electors allocated to all candidates is greater than the number of available electors, the number of presidential electors allocated to the nominee with the smallest percentage of the Statewide popular vote shall be reduced by one.

In other words, the PA plan is to split the state by popular vote percentage, with the winner getting two additional electoral votes, rather than the state being winner take all.  It neatly rigs the state for Republicans, and turns PA into a permanent battleground state.

Now, if every single state did this, that would be one thing, but it's only purple states where Obama won in 2012 that are thinking about this.  Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan Florida, and Wisconsin could do this without any interference from Dems, too, all but assuring Republicans win in 2016.

Here we go again.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Last Call

You know, a funny thing happened on the way to that Democratic party super-majority in California...

An interesting shift in political strategy and policy negotiations was felt through the Capitol on Friday, with news that a rising star in Democratic circles will immediately resign his seat in the state Senate.

Sen. Michael Rubio, D-Shafter, cited the need to spend time with his family in a statement announcing his resignation.

"My wife and I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters, from whom we have learned a great deal," said Rubio in a written statement.  "Our youngest child, who has special needs, has given me great perspective as to life's priorities and our eldest has reminded me that the most critical decisions are made at home and not under the Capitol dome."

OK, so big deal, right?  Wrong.  So very, very wrong.

There are now three vacancies in the Legislature's upper house, all Democrats who have left their elected posts early (the first two were senators who won seats in Congress last fall).  That means only 26 Democrats, one short of the supermajority. While Democrats are no doubt favorites to ultimately retain enough seats to resume their supermajority status, the temporary drop in power ends talk of any immediate actions on issues ranging from taxes to urgency measures and beyond.

So until special elections can be held to fill at least one of those three seats, a united GOP bloc in the CA State Senate can now stop any major legislation.   They went from powerless to minority veto power for just about anything.  Again.

But here's the real kicker:

His statement says he will accept a government relations job with Chevron.

You know, "government relations".  Lobbyist.  Best what, couple hundred thousand ever?  All spent for six months or so of being able to at least try to block any major environmental, energy, or tax laws?  Seems like a damn good deal to me if you're Chevron.  Well played, Evil Mustache-Twirling Dudes.  Well played.

On The Next Beltway High

Meanwhile at Beltway High, the preppie yearbook clique over at WIN THE MORNING has had quite enough of that snotty Kenyan kid.

President Barack Obama’s greatest adversary in the latest budget battle isn’t the Republican leadership in Congress — it’s his confidence in his own ability to force a win.

"We haaaaaaate him.  We doodle little X's over his eyes on all his pictures, and we're totally not going to buy anything at his commnity organizer bake sale."

He has been so certain of his campaign skills that he didn’t open a line of communication with House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell until Thursday, a week before the spending ax hits. And when they did finally hear from Obama, the calls were perfunctory, with no request to step up negotiations or invitations to the White House.

"Totally in our Burn Book, Barry.   You pull this crap before Homecoming, we retaliate."

That’s because Obama’s all-in on an outside strategy, doing just about everything other than holding serious talks with Republicans. In the last two days alone, he’s courted local TV anchors, called in a select group of White House correspondents to talk off the record, chatted up black broadcasters and announced plans to stump next week at Virginia’s Newport News Shipyard. Throughout, he’s talked in tough terms that signal little interest in compromise — or suggestion of backing down.
He’s navigating a thin line. Obama is convinced he’s got the upper hand on Republicans. Yet he can go only so long before he risks being perceived as a main actor in Washington’s dysfunction, threatening a core element of his political brand — and the fragile economic recovery he’s struggled to maintain.
The calls placed Thursday to Boehner and McConnell were prompted, in part, by a White House desire to inoculate Obama from that exact criticism.

"So yeah, try to win NOW mister smart eleventy-dimensional chess nerd.  We own you now.  Round up the guys, we're going to Pinkberry to celebrate."  And high fives were given all around!

And then the President of the United States burned 50 calories from laughing at this article this morning, because it's such a completely transparent attempt to not appear like a group of ungrateful emo high school twits that it pretty much reinforces every awful stereotype about Politico's brand of "journalism" (in the same way that flesh-eating bacteria is a "weight-loss aid".)  Meanwhile, these goofballs continue to believe that Republicans are serious players with a serious plan that didn't come from Doofenshmirtz Evil, Inc.

Haters gonna hate, yo.

Chris Bag O' Veto Override

New Jersey Democrats in the state legislature are planning to try to gather enough GOP votes to override GOP Gov. Chris Christie's veto of the state's law allowing gay marriage.

In early 2012, lawmakers in New Jersey successfully passed marriage equality bill, but Gov. Chris Christie (R) vetoed it, claiming same-sex marriage was not an issue of “gay rights.” The legislature has until January 2014 to attempt to override that veto, and Democratic leaders in both chambers announced this week that they will attempt to do just that.

The bill originally passed the Senate with a 24-16 vote, so only three more votes are needed to reach a two-thirds majority for the override. In the Assembly, however, the bill only passed 42-33, so 12 more votes are needed. Lawmakers will likely wait until after the June elections to hold the vote so that Republicans are more willing to consider a controversial vote. LGBT activists have been lobbying for more support for an override since the bill’s passage last year, primarily because they are opposed to a referendum.

So, after state elections in June, the move will be on to get an override vote before the end of the year.  It's going to take a bipartisan effort to do it, not to mention enough New jersey Republicans interested in butting heads with Christie.  I wish them the best of luck:  after a year now, New York is happily bringing in gay marriage bucks, with NYC alone racking up over a quarter of a billion dollars.  You can bet Jersey legislators of both parties want in on that cash, big time.

I wouldn't be surprised if this happens.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Last Call

FOX News:  we report, you decide that we're pretty much crazy.  Crazy all the way to the bank, that is.  Also, dear Current TV owners Al Jazeera English:  Welcome to the neighborhood, love, Lisa Daftari.

The point is they want to differentiate themselves from their sister network, but at the same time, it’s the same thing. They’re having the same type of coverage. They’re apparently expanding to eight cities, including Detroit, Michigan. Detroit, Michigan is a large ex-pat community of Muslim-Americans and sleeper cells have been detected. You can Google this, you can find out all this information. So if you’re trying to set yourself apart the Qatari petro-dollars are backing this, you’re still developing in this area where the sleeper cells have been detected. They’re going to have do do much more to prove to me that they’re different from their sister network

Paranoid and bigoted much, ma'am?

I mean to be a FOX News contributor, apparently take any statement true to FOX, and replace all the FOX stuff with something liberal.  The reverse seems to hold true:  "So if you're trying to set yourself apart the Exxon petro-dollars backing this, you're still developing in this area where patriot militias and white supremacist groups have been detected."

Any more projection from this one, and she can get a job in your local theater.

Reality Is Clearly On The Obama Payroll

I’m sure the wingers are already trying to unskew this one

President Obama starts his second term with a clear upper hand over GOP leaders on issues from guns to immigration that are likely to dominate the year, a USA TODAY/Pew Research Center Poll finds. On the legislation rated most urgent — cutting the budget deficit — even a majority of Republican voters endorse Obama’s approach of seeking tax hikes as well as spending cuts.
The survey underscores the quandary for the GOP as it debates the party’s message in the wake of disappointing losses last November for the White House and in the Senate.
Now just 22% of Americans, nearly a record low, consider themselves Republicans.

Ouch.  I’m actually kind of starting to feel bad for the GOP.  They can’t even find their usual 27% anymore.  And yeah, I’m aware that if Americans think cutting the deficit right now is our most urgent priority over firearms, climate change, and immigration, we need to get that unskewed real damn fast.  We’ve got far bigger issues than the GOP brand meltdown here.

There is bipartisan agreement on this: Dealing with the budget deficit is urgent.
That’s a change. When Obama took office in 2009, during a cascading financial crisis, Americans put deficit reduction in the middle of a list of policy goals in a Pew poll. Now it has risen near the top. Seven of 10 Americans (including not only 81% of Republicans but also 65% of Democrats) say it is essential for the president and Congress to enact major deficit legislation this year.
Just 4% say nothing needs to be done within the next few years.

Umm, two-thirds of Democrats say we need a grand bargain this year to reduce the deficit?  Eff austerity.  We’re taking ourselves out here, guys.

The Battle Of Fourteen

Nate Silver reminds us that the Democrats were very much on track to lose the Senate last November, but they were saved by a convergence of unlikely factors that actually allowed the Democrats to beat the odds and gain two seats.  In 2014, the Dems will need those five seats as a cushion, because the task of not losing six or more (and control of the Senate) to the Republicans is going to be difficult.

The party will face a difficult map again in 2014, however. Twenty-one of the 35 seats up for election are now held by Democrats. Moreover, most the states that will be casting ballots for the Senate in 2014 are Republican leaning: 7 of the 21 Democratic-held seats are in states carried by the former Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, while just one of the Republican seats is in a state won by President Obama.

Democrats could also suffer from the downside to presidential coattails. Most of the seats up for grabs in 2014 were last contested in 2008, a very strong Democratic year. Without having Mr. Obama on the ballot, and with an electorate that is likely to be older and whiter than in presidential years, some Democrats may find that their 2008 coattails have turned into a midterm headwind instead.

Are the conditions favorable enough to make Republicans odds-on favorites to gain six seats and win the Senate majority? Not quite. Six seats are a lot to gain, and Republicans are at risk of nominating subpar candidates in a number of races. But it would not take all that much to tip the balance toward them.

Nate shows West Virginia, with retiring Dem Jay Rockefeller, as a pretty clear GOP pickup.  Four other states:  Montana, North Carolina, Louisiana and South Dakota are tossups, with SD favoring the GOP, Montana and NC slightly favoring the Dems, and Louisiana as a true 50/50 matchup.

But three more states are in striking distance for the GOPAlaska, Arkansas, and retiring Dem Tom Harkin's seat in Iowa.  That means a GOP across the board tilt could put the Dems in a real hole, real fast...and the Dems don't have much of a clear shot at any pickups, yet.

For now, the road is going to be long and rough, but the way GOP senators are acting right now, they may completely pull a 2012 again...

What a shame that would be, right?

New tag, he's more than earned it:  Nate Silver.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Last Call

Old and brokedown, GOP "savior" Sen. Marco Rubio.  New hotness, GOP "savior" Sen. Ted Cruz.

In an interview that aired Wednesday on Pat Robertson's 700 Club, CBN's David Brody told Cruz that the media had dubbed him "the Republican Barack Obama" and a "GOP rock star."

"I try to pay very little attention to the media," Cruz insisted. "It is, as you know, a fickle creature."
Instead, Brody said Cruz was focused on creating a "new Republican Party."

"I think President Obama is the most radical president we've ever seen, but I think an awful lot of Republicans failed to stand for principle and contributed to getting us into this mess," the senator explained.

During an appearance at a weapons manufacturer in Texas on Tuesday, Cruz accused both Democrats and Republicans of trying to "silence" him for using McCarthyism to smear Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel with suggestions that the former Nebraska senator had taken $200,000 from North Korea.

"Washington has a long tradition of trying to hurl insults to silence those who they don't like what they're saying," Cruz told the crowd.

"A lot of media attention has been focused on the attacks leveled on me and I would encourage all of you if you want to write stories on that great, knock yourself out, but I would ask for every ten stories you write, attacking me, perhaps write one story on the substance of Chuck Hagel's record."

Yep, he sounds nothing like the old victim mentality, why is Obama so mean to us coupled with Obama Derangement Syndrome GOP at all.  Not a single friggin' bit.

(Bad) Food For Thought

Laugh all you want to at Europe's horse meat in the mix problem.  As Aviva Shen at Think Progress reminds us, the American meat supply and the regulatory safety system here is in far, far worse shape.

Food regulators recently uncovered horsemeat masquerading as beef in Burger Kings, school cafeterias, and hospitals across Europe and the UK, prompting multiple product recalls and widespread horror. The horsemeat scandal has not touched the US, and many experts and journalists have rushed to reassure Americans that their burgers are safe from horse contamination. But compared to the dangerous pathogens hiding in US-produced meat, Americans might want to consider replacing their beef patties with European horsemeat.

The debacle has exposed weaknesses in the EU’s food safety procedures. However, horsemeat poses a negligible health risk. There have been no reported deaths or illnesses caused by this contamination. Though a harmful horse painkiller called bute was found in 8 of the 206 horses, a human would have to eat more than 500 burgers made entirely of horsemeat to ingest a human dose.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the average American consumes roughly 270 pounds of meat per year, and it’s unlikely that horsemeat is in the mix. There is, however, plenty of evidence that many Americans are inadvertently eating a side of deadly bacteria like salmonella or e. coli with their burgers. According to Center for Disease Control estimates, 48 million Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne illnesses every year. In comparison, the entire European Union had roughly 45,000 illnesses and 32 deaths from contaminated food in 2008. That means foodborne illness strikes 15 percent of Americans each year, but only .00009 percent of Europeans.

Pay attention to that last part, kids.  You're over a thousand times more likely to get food poisoning from food here than in Europe.  Maybe socialism isn't so bad when foodborne illnesses kill 3,000 a year in this country and we're pretty much okay with that.

Strike that, Republicans aren't okay with that.  They say that number should be higher because we've got too much government regulation.  You know what's getting cut as part of the sequestration meat axe?  The guys inspecting meat axes.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the White House have caused quite a stir in food and agriculture circles by warning that budget sequestration could lead to a two-week furlough of federal meat inspectors, which would effectively halt American meat and poultry processing.

The meat industry has responded by arguing that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is actually legally obligated to provide Food Safety and Inspection Service inspectors at meat plants — without an FSIS inspector plants are not allowed to operate — so USDA should instead furlough less important, or “non-essential” employees to meet the automatic cuts.

Sorry folks, Republicans are more than happy to let these cuts happen. These cuts will have consequences, and the GOP is hoping those consequences are "We block it and you'll blame Obama."

Somehow, that's a load of bull.  Or horse.

Moving Those Goalposts

Greg Sargent points out that the goalposts on deficit reduction in Very Serious Washington just got yanked hard to the right in the new revised Simpson-Bowles Punish The Proles Plan.  The amount of new revenues in the plan is drastically lower, and spending cuts, drastically higher.

In other words, the plan roughly represents the ideological midpoint between the Obama and Boehner fiscal cliff blueprints — which is why the plan is so heavily tilted towards cuts. As Kevin Drum notes, this is particularly odd, given that spending cuts have already been “75 percent of the deficit reduction we’ve done so far.” Drum adds: “this sure makes it hard to take Simpson-Bowles 2.0 seriously as a plan.”

That’s true, but it also provides a useful window into the arbitrariness of Beltway conceptions of what constitutes the ideological “center.” After all, the Boehner fiscal cliff plan raised taxes only on income over $1 million; the Obama offer raised taxes only on income over $400,000. Both of these are to the right of the balance Obama just won an election on: The expiration of the Bush tax cuts for income over $250,000. Yet these were designated the two ideological outer poles for the purposes of defining the debate.

Of course, there is actually a liberal position in this debate, and it isn’t the one held by Obama. As you may recall, House progressives recently released their own blueprint for Round 3 of deficit reduction; it proposed some $948 billion in new revenues, derived entirely from closing loopholes and deductions enjoyed by the rich. The result of this plan, if enacted, would be that overall, our short term fiscal problems would have been resolved through roughly equivalent spending cuts and tax hikes — which is to say, through roughly equivalent concessions by both sides.

But of course, such a notion of balance is so obviously a nonstarter in Washington that it doesn’t even factor into the discussion in any way, shape, or form. The left outer pole of the debate, then, is to the right of the position that helped decisively reelect Obama.

Punish The Proles 2.0 is about selling the Ryan Plan, plain and simple.  The little people have to be weaned off Medicare and Social Security, and more and more of our Village elders are moving past the "if it needs to happen" part to "when it needs to happen", and that's apparently going to be Obama's second term legacy, whether or not Obama actually wants to do it (which he's repeatedly said he won't.)

But the Simpson-Bowles plan is now calling for at least $5 trillion in deficit reduction, and basically all of the additional cuts from the $4 trillion or so plan from last time is coming from the social safety net.  Tinkering around the edges like Obama has already done will affect people down the road (and in some cases substantially), but the changes these guys are now demanding will turn the scalpel into an orbital particle cannon.

I'm hoping Obama can hold out.  I don't think the rest of Democrats in Congress will give him much of a choice.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Last Call

Louisville Courier-Journal winger nutjob John David Dyche is calling it quits after the paper refused to publish his latest screed on how evilly liberal the Louisville Courier-Journal is.

Conservative columnist John David Dyche will no longer write for The Courier-Journal after the newspaper rejected a piece he'd written that suggested reforms to the editorial page and that the paper disclose political affiliations of editors and reporters.

On Monday, Courier-Journal Editorial Director Pam Platt told Dyche that his most recently submitted column would not be published. Platt explained that piece didn't reflect what he was supposed to be writing—a conservative take on the issues of the day, according to Dyche's transcript of a voicemail left by Platt.

Dyche wrote back to Platt and C-J Publisher Wes Jackson arguing that he'd never before been told what his column was supposed to be about and that a conservative take on issues includes "liberal media bias." Dyche told Platt that if the paper wouldn't change its mind, he'd sever their relationship. Platt wished him well on future endeavors.

"I never had a column censored or refused before," Dyche told WFPL on Friday. "I wrote about things that were interesting to readers and things that were public issues. I thought this was both. Media bias, the status of newspapers, et cetera. This seemed to me to be interesting, and the only problem apparently was that it was about The Courier-Journal itself. They just don't seem willing to subject themselves to the same scrutiny and demands that they routinely subject others to."

Platt responds via e-mail: "I believe my remarks about the reason I declined (the) column and my best wishes to him in the future have been posted."

Any newspaper editor will tell you that if you've got a problem with the paper's op-ed rules, formal or informal, writing a column for public consumption about your beef with them is the last thing you do.   No newspaper is going to want to make themselves the story, so Dyche did it for them.

If you can show me where in the Constitution it says that Dyche has the inalienable right to slag his employer in his column and that they must print it, go for it.  And let's remember, Dyche then tendered his resignation, he wasn't fired.

Good riddance.  His column was crap anyway.

Right Out Of Existence

The LIBERTY and FREEDOM guys apparently have no issue with using the power of government to regulate small businesses right out of existence, as long as those small businesses are women's clinics.

The Alabama House of Representatives is expected to take up abortion legislation Tuesday that supporters claim will protect patients in clinics and opponents claim will close down abortion providers.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin, R-Pelham, would require physicians at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at local hospitals; require clinics to follow ambulatory clinic building codes and make it a felony — punishable by up to 10 years in prison — for a nurse, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant to dispense abortion-inducing medications.

McClurkin and other supporters of the bill, known as HB 57, argue that the nature of abortion should require strict regulations, and claim that abortion clinics have a higher rate of regulatory violations than any other providers.

“When a physician removes a child from a woman, that is the largest organ in a body,” McClurkin said in an interview Thursday. “That’s a big thing. That’s a big surgery. You don’t have any other organs in your body that are bigger than that.”

So in one fell swoop, Alabama will all but close the last remaining few clinics in the state by making it impossible to meet the criteria, and to criminalize birth control drugs like Plan B.   Hell, depending on how they define "abortion-inducing medications" it could make prescribing any birth control a state felony.

But remember, small government, individual choice, freedom and liberty...unless it comes to your uterus.

Science, GOP Style

This Huffington Post article calls out the stupidity of Mary Sue McClurkin, who decides to change science to make her point.  As always, those pesky facts get in the way.

Alabama state Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin (R) is pushing legislation that would impose restrictions on abortion clinics -- a move that she argues is necessary because the procedure is a major surgery that removes the largest "organ" in a woman's body.
“When a physician removes a child from a woman, that is the largest organ in a body,” McClurkin told the Montgomery Advertiser on Thursday. “That’s a big thing. That’s a big surgery. You don’t have any other organs in your body that are bigger than that.”
Most junior high science classes could easily dissect this argument, and it is yet another embarrassment for a group already famous for being at odds with science.  She could at least use the correct word.  Oh wait, if she uses the correct word then her entire argument falls apart.  Very well, then.  Let the clown car skid into the courtroom once more.

Maybe this whole thing is just an argument for better elementary education in Alabama.


Monday, February 18, 2013

The Right's Hagel Finagle

Jen Rubin is a meta-hack, but she's a pretty reliable barometer of the winger zeitgeist, and the wingers are pretty pissed off that senators like John McCain and Lindsey Graham seem to be crumbling on Chuck Hagel.

In any event, McCain and Graham shouldn’t fold when the going gets tough. If this nominee is as bad as they say, they should, and indeed must, filibuster him if the White House (unlike the Bush White House) and the Democrats (unlike the GOP senators of yesteryear) won’t do the right thing.

Here's the thing, when Susan Rice was floated for Secretary of State, Republicans readily had John Kerry's name at hand because they wanted a shot at his seat.  But have you heard Republicans mention a possible replacement for Chuck Hagel?

Not to my knowledge.  We hear how awful, incompetent, and even anti-Semitic Chuck Hagel supposedly is, but nobody seems to have a name of somebody who would be an acceptable replacement.

Funny how that works.

Criss Cross Crash

For the first time in recorded history, Mickey Kaus may actually be right about something when it comes to the leaked draft of the President's immigration bill that may end up on the table in case Senators can't come up with anything.

So what’s the purpose of this hollow threat? The only explanation I come up with is that it’s a Double Kabuki play: 1) The President gets to posture as the tough guy demanding a deal (or else he’ll unleash his draft!). Meanwhile the Hispanic caucus and the amnesty lobby can gnaw on all the pro-illegal statutory tweaks they would like to see in the “path to citizenship,” etc.  But more important 2) Republicans like Rubio and Paul Ryan get to posture by denouncing the President’s draft (Rubio: “Dead on Arrival” Ryan: “the wrong direction”) thereby earning themselves seeming-tough-on-illegals street cred that might serve them well when they sell out by endorsing an instant-legalization compromise  (as, in fact, Rubio has already done).

That would not only explain why the plan exists but why it was leaked by “an Obama administration official” to USA Today. Obama wants to give Rubio and Ryan the opportunity to look like they are fighting him. But it’s a fake fight.

Got a better explanation?

Actually I think Kaus is correct in his own paranoid way.  I agree that the plan was leaked to USA Today in order to give Republicans something to publicly beat up on for a while, but the reality is immigration has to pass, or the GOP will take the blame for killing it, and that means the Dems will continue to get the vast majority of the growing Latino vote forever.  Dubya may have been a meathead, but even he was smart enough to listen to Rove and Cheney on this.  The problem is that he underestimated the bigoted monster he helped to create, and it turned on him.

That monster still rampages around the Republican countryside, and the last few Republicans left to be motivated by enlightened self-interest are trying to slay it.

I think it will fail.  The Republican Party is a hate group in 2013, period.  They will have to be reconstituted at some point in the future, but they are effectively done right now.
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