Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Last Call

The misleading, untruthful and generally stupid Obamacare DOOOOOOM articles are becoming a weekly occurrence now at FOX News the Wall Street Journal.

Start with people who have individual and small-group health insurance. These policies are most affected by ObamaCare's community-rating regulations, which require insurers to accept everyone but limit or ban them from varying premiums based on age or health. The law also mandates "essential" benefits that are far more generous than those currently offered.

According to consultants from Oliver Wyman (who wrote on the issue in the January issue of Contingencies, the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries), around six million of the 19 million people with individual health policies are going to have to pay more—and this even after accounting for the government subsidies offered under the law. For example, single adults age 21-29 earning 300% to 400% of the federal poverty level will be hit with an increase of 46% even after premium assistance from tax credits.

"Insurance industry study finds that Obamacare will hurt insurance industry" is getting old, but now the nonsense is getting outright crazy.   By the way, if you're 21 and earning 300-400% of the federal poverty level, that's roughly $38-45k a year. That 46% premium increase means your insurance would go from about $60 a month to what, $85?  Somehow, if you're single and pulling down $45,000 at 21, you can afford it.  But we press on...

In total, it appears that there will be 30 million to 40 million people damaged in some fashion by the Affordable Care Act—more than one in 10 Americans. When that reality becomes clearer, the law is going to start losing its friends in the media, who are inclined to support the president and his initiatives. We'll hear about innocent victims who saw their premiums skyrocket, who were barred from seeing their usual doctor, who had their hours cut or lost their insurance entirely—all thanks to the faceless bureaucracy administering a federal law.

The allure of the David-versus-Goliath narrative is likely to prove irresistible to the media, raising the pressure on Washington to repeal or dramatically modify the law. With the implementation of ObamaCare beginning to take full force at the end of the year, there will be plenty of time before the 2014 midterm elections for Congress to consider its options.

Obamacare's not going anywhere.   When it starts working, people will accept it and move on.  Besides, Republicans have nothing to replace it with.

More Nullification Nonsense

South Carolina is once again trying to do everything it can to sink a federal law it refuses to enforce.  150 years ago we had a few problems along those lines, but it seems the SC GOP hasn't learned anything from the lesson as it seeks to make sure Obamacare can never work in the Palmetto State.

Nearly two centuries ago, South Carolina Sen. John C. Calhoun nearly sparked a civil war when he led an unconstitutional effort to nullify a federal law his state government disagreed with. One hundred and eighty years later, South Carolina lawmakers want to do it again. Last night, the South Carolina House passed an attempt to “interpose and refuse to enforce” much of the Affordable Care Act. 
The bill includes a number of attempts to undermine health reform, some of which are unconstitutional, others of which are merely unwise. The most insidious provision of the bill, however, is this: 
A South Carolina resident taxpayer who is subjected to a tax by the Internal Revenue Code under 26 U.S.C. Section 5000A of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act shall receive a tax deduction in the exact amount of the taxes or penalty paid the federal government pursuant to 26 U.S.C. Section 5000A. The tax deduction allowed by this section must be used in the year the federal tax or penalty is paid.

You know, the individual mandate.  The one that penalizes those folks who don't buy health care in order to fund state health care exchanges.  The feds collect the mandate, and the state of SC would refund it back immediately under this law.

You're beginning to see where the problem is, yes?  It's patently unconstitutional (at least until the Roberts Court decides 5-4 that maybe it's cool to deliberately make laws to undermine black presidents and stuff) but there's tons of damage that could happen in the years it would take to settle this fight.

Meanwhile, SC's state budgets would increasingly go into the red, meaning more cuts in schools, safety, public services, etc in a state that already has one of the lowest per capita spending on students in the nation.  It's a recipe for disaster, and SC Republicans are deliberately sabotaging the law in order to make the system collapse, then say "Obamacare can't work, see!"

You can bet more states will follow.  Health care for the neediest among us?  Let's sabotage it!

The Republican way, indeed.

Your Right To Be Wrong As Hell

King Reasonoid Matt Welch reminds us that ESPN's Chris Broussard apparently has every right to be a homophobic fundamentalist bigot about NBA player Jason Collins coming out because AMERICA.

Broussard is predictably getting beaten to a rhetoric pulp on Twitter. And while I think today is a wonderful, watershed day for people (especially the artist formerly known as Ron Artest) to live as open and free as they wanna be, I agree with the New York Post editorial Robert George here:
Chris Broussard spoke what more than a few players feel. If such comments aren't expressed, a real conversation can't be had.

I'm trying to come up with what "real conversation" Broussard is adding when he says Collins is a sinner who is "walking in open rebellion to Jesus Christ."  But here's where Welch goes with this as he brings in the civil rights movement in sports and the racism Jackie Robinson faced:

Now, there is no doubt that Jackie Robinson vehemently disagreed with this go-slow sentiment, but he also understood that you can't always persuade fence-sitters through a two-handed chest-shove.* And sometimes engaging with the I'm not ready to go that far just yet crowd brings out the best in activists. See, for example, Martin Luther King's "Letter From a Birmingham Jail."

Bigotry brings conflict which brings "real conversations" which brings out the best in people, not the worst, so apparently we need bigotry, racism, and outright ignorance in America because FREEDOMS AND THE LIBERTY.

On the other hand, Welch basically saying that the struggle of racism was necessary in order to forge a leader as brilliant as Dr. King is just about the best example of false equivalence Glibertarian nonsense that I've ever seen, so there's that.  Dave Zirin's take on Jason Collins is worth reading just as a reminder that Welch is full of crap, as usual, and the real change comes from those standing up to idiots like him who give bigotry acceptable cover in the first place because "conflict creates change".  That's great if you're a megalomaniac with a space fortress and an army of flying cyborg raptor ninjas, not so great if you want to live in a world where people are decent towards each other because people are decent.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Last Call: Just The First

A couple of weeks ago I noted this article on the economics of coming out in a major professional team sport:

According to Bob Witeck, 61, a gay-marketing strategist and corporate consultant, the first openly gay team-sport athlete -- provided he’s a recognizable name -- would earn millions in endorsements and speaking engagements from companies seeking to capture more of a U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adult population whose annual buying power he pegs at almost $800 billion.

“We’ve passed the tipping point to where national advertisers are no longer afraid of the gay market,” said Mark Elderkin, chief executive officer of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based Gay Ad Network. 

Well America, it took about two weeks, but we've got our first test of this theory:  12-year NBA veteran center Jason Collins (now a free agent), who comes out in a Sports Illustrated article this week.

I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.

I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, "I'm different." If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand.

My journey of self-discovery and self-acknowledgement began in my hometown of Los Angeles and has taken me through two state high school championships, the NCAA Final Four and the Elite Eight, and nine playoffs in 12 NBA seasons.

I've played for six pro teams and have appeared in two NBA Finals. Ever heard of a parlor game called Three Degrees of Jason Collins? If you're in the league, and I haven't been your teammate, I surely have been one of your teammates' teammates. Or one of your teammates' teammates' teammates.

Now I'm a free agent, literally and figuratively. I've reached that enviable state in life in which I can do pretty much what I want. And what I want is to continue to play basketball. I still love the game, and I still have something to offer. My coaches and teammates recognize that. At the same time, I want to be genuine and authentic and truthful. 

Good luck to you Jason.   Hopefully it'll open the floodgates.  The truth is a hell of a thing, folks.  Here's hoping that the rest of the NBA is as accepting.

Stopped Clock Is Right Alert For Johnny Volcano

Turns out Sen. John "Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran" McCain doesn't want to put troops in Syria after all.  Given his warmongering, that's an improvement.

An international coalition of troops should be ready to go into Syria to secure the country’s chemical weapons stockpiles, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Sunday, warning that U.S. troops on the ground would only spark more Mideast anger.

But McCain said that putting troops in Syria is the “worst thing United States could do right now,” because the Syrian people are bitter and angry at the United States.

“I think that the American people are weary. They don’t want boots on the ground. I don’t want boots on the ground,” McCain said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Well, he's right, actually.  But, as always with the constantly dishonest and prevaricating McCain, there's always a catch.

But McCain urged the Obama administration to take several actions in Syria, such as arming rebel groups or establishing a safe zone, steps he and other GOP hawks have long pressed for.

Yeah, what does "establishing a safe zone" mean, and how do we do that without troops on the ground to enforce that zone?  Doug Mataconis responds:
What McCain doesn’t understand, or which he chooses to ignore, is that even the “limited” involvement that he’s in favor of poses the significant danger of sucking us further into the conflict in the future. In for a penny, in for a pound so to speak. Additionally,an “international coalition” is far harder to put together than McCain seems to think. Who is going to make up this coalition? The British? Somehow I don’t think the British public is going to want to bear that burden in the wake of their experiences in Iraq. The French? That poses the danger of reigniting passions from the days when France controlled what is now Syria and Lebanon after the post-World War I collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The Turks? That poses the danger of igniting regional tensions, not to mention Kurdish resentment in the areas of Syria where they predominate. In the end, the U.S. would end up having to shoulder a large part of the burden of this “international coalition,” and the mission would be seen as predominantly an American initiative notwithstanding whatever “international” window dressing may be put upon it.
I'll go one step further.  Who's going to pay for this?  Deficit hawk Republicans who are screaming about "the debt crisis" every 35 seconds?  The ones who say we can't spend money for Sandy victims because we can't afford it, but can spend tens of billions, maybe hundreds of billions or more in a protracted Syria campaign?  And in the age of European Austerity, who in Europe has the appetite for war, either?

Here's the truth about Damascus:  there are zero good options.  Bashar al-Assad is by no means innocent in this vicious civil war, but he's also riding the runaway train that is the Syrian Army, and if he tries to rein them in, they'll end him.  Frankly, he's the only thing standing between the generals and a full-out military coup, and the junta would then go weapons free on everything moving.  He's inherited all the sins of his father Hafez, and the cost in blood to the Syrian people will skyrocket no matter what happens.

Getting rid of al-Assad won't stop the war, and if anything he's the plug in the dam bottling up a lake of blood.  If he goes, so does the region...and yet I don't see any way out for him at this point that doesn't end in his demise, Saddam-style.  He knows this, and I don't think he's too keen on his death. 

A lot of people are going to die in Syria if we get involved.  That's going to go up by an order of magnitude or so if we do.  Perhaps pressure on China and Russia to stop blocking the UN on Syria will finally pay off and something can be done through peacekeeping forces, but as Doug says anything the US puts together is a guaranteed hunk of sodium in the bathtub.

There may not be much of anything we can do other than try to contain the fallout.  The alternative is another ten-year war.  I'll pass. President Obama continues to play things cautiously, and given the last guy in the Oval Office, I'm glad for it.

The GOP Plan Is Backfiring

There's new evidence from the Associated Press today that GOP efforts to suppress the black vote backfired in 2012 and resulted in record turnout instead.

America’s blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time, reflecting a deeply polarized presidential election in which blacks strongly supported Barack Obama while many whites stayed home.

Had people voted last November at the same rates they did in 2004, when black turnout was below its current historic levels, Republican Mitt Romney would have won narrowly, according to an analysis conducted for The Associated Press.

Census data and exit polling show that whites and blacks will remain the two largest racial groups of eligible voters for the next decade. Last year’s heavy black turnout came despite concerns about the effect of new voter-identification laws on minority voting, outweighed by the desire to re-elect the first black president.

That's why you're seeing Republicans scramble to kill early voting and institute increasingly strict voter ID hoops for voters to jump through.  When African-Americans vote, things change.

Romney would have erased Obama’s nearly 5 million-vote victory margin and narrowly won the popular vote if voters had turned out as they did in 2004, according to Frey’s analysis. Then, white turnout was slightly higher and black voting lower.

More significantly, the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida and Colorado would have tipped in favor of Romney, handing him the presidency if the outcome of other states remained the same.

Romney would have won all three of the traditional big three battleground states (OH, FL, PA) without the black vote (plus VA and CO).  4 of those 5 states, including the big three, are currently under Republican control.  No wonder the GOP is furiously trying to make voting more difficult.

What will happen in 2014 and 2016?  Time will tell.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Last Call: Stark Raving Sane

WIN THE MORNING is moving to a new phase of the austerity battle:  identifying the few Dems that think making 90% of America suffer at the hands of the 1% is a bad idea and publicly shaming them as the new lunatic "Tea Party" fringe of the Donks.

The two parties are miles apart on how to cut the deficit and national debt: Republicans want to slash spending even more. Democrats want to raise revenue.

And then there are the other Democrats — the ones who reject the entire premise of the current high-stakes fiscal fight. There’s no short-term deficit problem, they say, and there isn’t even an urgent debt crisis that requires immediate attention. This group could make it even harder for President Barack Obama to strike a grand bargain because they increasingly see no immediate need for either new spending cuts or significantly more revenue, both of which they say could further slow the economy.

These Democrats and their intellectual allies once occupied the political fringes, pushed aside by more moderate members who supported both immediate spending cuts and long-term entitlement reforms along with higher taxes.

Note the aspersions cast here.  There's a reason for that.

This intellectual shift away from the need for more immediate deficit reduction is likely to make this summer’s debt ceiling fight even tougher. Democrats are now increasingly likely to revolt against GOP demands, which could include a dollar of spending cuts for each dollar increase in the nation’s borrowing limit.

And it makes execution of a “grand bargain” on debt reduction — a pillar of Obama’s agenda and the subject of renewed talks between the White House and GOP senators — appear all but impossible. Because after all, if the deficit is already on the decline as a percentage of the economy and the debt is likely to remain stable for a decade, why would Democrats agree to fresh cuts to cherished social programs such as Social Security and Medicare, including the president’s proposal to reduce cost of living increases by using a different measure of inflation?

The second time in the article the notion of a Grand Bargain is shot down as "impossible" because Dems are likely to "revolt".  Such subtle language usually reserved for intractable cement-heads like Bachmann or Gohmert, now applied to Chris Van Hollen and the Dems.

If I didn't know any better, I'd say Politico was setting up the Democrats to be blamed for whatever debt crisis the Republicans will manufacture in the next few weeks.

Shocking, I know.

StupidiVid: Knocked 'Em Dead

President Obama at last night's White House Correspondents Dinner was a thing of beauty.

Enjoy. I certainly did.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

What The Hell Happened To Yggy?

Pretty sure this is a sign that Matt Yglesias has been hanging out with beltway Cato Institute types just a bit too long.

It's very plausible that one reason American workplaces have gotten safer over the decades is that we now tend to outsource a lot of factory-explosion-risk to places like Bangladesh where 87 people just died in a building collapse.* This kind of consideration leads Erik Loomis to the conclusion that we need a unified global standard for safety, by which he does not mean that Bangladeshi levels of workplace safety should be implemented in the United States.

I think that's wrong. Bangladesh may or may not need tougher workplace safety rules, but it's entirely appropriate for Bangladesh to have different—and, indeed, lower—workplace safety standards than the United States.

OK, sign number one you've been a Beltway econ blogger for too long is that you start assigning cost/benefit analysis to the lives of people in third world sweatshops.

Sign number two is choosing to defend the above post.

Here's what I did. I read a guy who pivoted from the tragedy to a call for the U.S. government or U.S. consumers to try to impose U.S. safety standards on all U.S.-supplying factories around the world. I did not have detailed information about the situation in Bangladesh, but I did—and continue to—have good reason to believe that this call was mistaken. So I wrote a post trying to outline why I think it's appropriate for rich countries to have more stringent standards than poor ones, and I absolutely stand by that conclusion.
But at a certain point as a writer, if you feel like everyone's misreading you, you have to consider the possibility that you've miswritten (thanks to Kendall Clark for making the point). I wanted to write about something I know about (the sound basis for globally differentiated regulatory regimes), and people wanted to read about the news (a scandalous breakdown of Bangladeshi law and basic concepts of informed consent), and mixing them up has done no good.

See, no.  As Lindsey Beyerstein points out, when Bangladesh tried to improve sweatshop conditions, it was US companies that killed the idea.

A group of Bangladeshi and international trade unionists put forward a bold plan to make the garment industry in Bangladesh safer. A surcharge of 10 cents per garment over 5 years would raise $600 million a year, enough to radically transform the infrastructure of the garment industry in Bangladesh. Walmart and the Gap rejected the proposal in 2011.

The Bangladeshi government is unlikely to fundamentally transform the garment industry on its own. Many members of parliament own factories themselves. Whatever the self interests of the elites, Yglesias is right that Bangladesh is a very poor country with many pressing problems. Massive public investments in policing the garment industry may not be a high priority.

The cost of retrofitting the garment industry must be born by the Western firms that flock to Bangladesh for the cheap labor and favorable trade policies. If safety investments were made across the board, then no company could derive a competitive advantage by scrimping on safety. The garments are being made for export, so expense will be passed on to the Western consumers, not Bangladeshis.

The greater point is US corporations are pocketing the difference.  Those profits come at a cost, in this case 300+ lives at last count.  Perhaps we should be talking about how complicit Walmart and the Gap are in these deaths, rather than grousing about globally differentiated regulatory regimes.

Just an idea.  My second piece of advice Matt is take a vacation outside DC.

Winning Rand Paul's Morning

Just a general hint, when a political website gives you a story about how the political perception of a political figure is being changed, politics is being played.

Almost from the moment Rand Paul was elected to the U.S. Senate, a team of advisers has been working over time to distance him from his father’s brand of unconventional politics — both in style and substance.

And they may be succeeding. GOP strategists say the junior senator from Kentucky has come a long way in shedding the eccentric label that dogged Ron Paul’s presidential efforts. Just last week, the younger man was dubbed one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people.

Rand Paul is different from Ron Paul.  More specifically, Rand Paul is a much better liar than his father, he's much more convincing, and he's better at prevaricating and hiding his loathing for Those People.  Paul the elder simply isn't very media savvy.  He can't help but come across as a lunatic because he is one.

But Rand is different in one key way:  he's learned how to disguise the philosophy he's literally named after by embracing the Tea Party as cover.  It's a good match, and Rand uses it well.  So it's no surprise then that Politico is writing a piece where conservative Republican pundits say Rand Paul isn't like his dad.  It's a smokescreen that benefits both groups heading into the austerity era of America.

Rand has tried to maintain this delicate balance by latching onto hot issues at strategic times — like drones, immigration and gun control — that at once thrust him onto the national stage and also appeal to libertarians. “He’s either remarkably lucky or he instinctively knows how to effectively drive a media story,” said Brian Jones, a Republican political and communications strategist.

I'm going to go with the latter.  Rand Paul is far more dangerous than Ron ever will be.  Just keep in mind beneath all the whitewashing is the same deeply mean philosophy of "I've got mine, screw you."

He's perfect for the "new" GOP, isn't he?  He's nothing more than the newest austerity salesman.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Last Call

What Ezra Klein thinks happened on sequestration:

In effect, what Democrats said Friday was that in any case where the political pain caused by sequestration becomes unbearable, they will agree to cancel that particular piece of the bill while leaving the rest of the law untouched. The result is that sequestration is no longer particularly politically threatening, but it’s even more unbalanced: Cuts to programs used by the politically powerful will be addressed, but cuts to programs that affects the politically powerless will persist. It’s worth saying this clearly: The pain of sequestration will be concentrated on those who lack political power.

What actually happened, via Steve M:

Democrats didn't lose the sequester fight today. Democrats have spent the last few decades losing the sequester fight. They lost it long before it even began, because they've done absolutely no pushback against the notion that government budgets are riddled with colossal amounts of waste, the elimination of which is all we need to have balanced budgets and low taxes and a happy dance around the maypole to celebrate our widespread abundance.

Democrats have defended a few programs fairly vigorously at times -- Medicare, Social Security, public broadcasting -- and they've gotten Joe and Jane to accept the notion that the rich are undertaxed. But Democrats have let the "waste, fraud, and abuse" narrative become unquestioned gospel in the heartland. And so the public went into this sequester moment assuming that a few minor adjustments could get all the good stuff paid for.

Republicans understood that. Democrats didn't. So Democrats lost this fight before it began.

I'll go even further.

Please note that in the Senate, that not a single one of the supposed bastions of liberal purity who are far more progressive than President Obama bothered to lift a finger to stop the unanimous consent motion to agree to the FAA deal.  Not Bernie Sanders.  Not Elizabeth Warren.  Not Al Franken.  Not a single effing one of them showed even token resistance to this when they were given a chance to do so.  When one voice saying stop would have least registered the disappointment of the American people, "those who lack political power" as Ezra put it, the Democrats in the Senate did nothing.

Barack Obama did not pass the FAA measure in the Senate by unanimous consent.  Senate Democrats did.  They handed the President this crock of shit and said "You deal with this.  We abdicate any responsibility for it."

Keep that in mind.

If It Weren't For All You Damn Parasites...

...why, handsomely paid business pundits like FOX's Steve Tobak wouldn't be so upset.  You were never supposed to benefit from the easy credit subprime bubble that made the one percent even wealthier, you're supposed to eat your Austerity Sandwich and like it.

Want to know why the gap between the haves and the have-nots keeps growing? Because the haves live within their means. They don’t waste their hard-earned money on all the crap that Americans spend billions, maybe even trillions, on each year.

American consumers seem to have an almost insatiable appetite for just about any type of useless garbage that anyone decides to make in China for a few bucks and sell here for a few hundred. Which is probably why nobody has any savings and everyone complains they don’t have enough money to live on.

Actually, the problem is much worse than that. The all-consuming consumer is like a lifestyle choice that’s quickly becoming the norm. What’s it all for? Honestly, I really don’t know. All I do know is that it wastes far more than our money. It wastes our time. It wastes our lives. And it doesn’t make us happy. It makes us miserable.  

To recap, the economy built on buying useless consumer crap is now your fault, consumers.  When the one percenters buy cars and pet toys and smartphones, that's the economy.  When your ass buys it, it's waste and making you miserable.

Tobak then goes on to rage for another 1500 words at Costco, Whole Foods, and basketball courts that "nobody plays on", and of course ends with saying that really, if all you brokeass mofos would just embrace the fact that you're supposed to be poor like GOP Jesus intended you to be, while guys like Tobak continue to shill for the obscenely rich folks buying up Congress to have them continue to get rid of police, schools, firefighters, environmental protections and the oversight on exploding fertilizer plants, you'd be content with the crumbs that fall to the floor and you'd generally be much happier!

Here’s the thing. Life is for living, not owning or buying. Just ask any legitimate Buddhist monk and he’ll tell you: the less you have, the happier you’ll be. The simple things make you happy. Complicated things make you miserable. No kidding.

Says the former Silicon Valley exec.  Considering Americans have less than ever before, we should be thrilled, right?

The Immigrant Song (And Dance)

Sick of Sen. Marco Rubio getting all the attention, House Republicans have decided that it's time to get started in killing immigration reform by getting the ball rolling on a piecemeal approach that will make a planned comprehensive Senate bill nearly impossible.

Leaders of the House Judiciary Committee announced Thursday they would begin introducing a series of narrow immigration reform proposals, choosing not to wait for a bipartisan coalition to reach agreement on comprehensive legislation.

Saying the committee would examine immigration reform “in a step-by-step approach,” Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said Republicans would introduce the first two pieces of legislation this week. One bill would establish an agricultural guest-worker program, while the other would create an employment verification system for businesses.

The move is part of Goodlatte’s plan to take a deliberative approach to immigration as House Republican leaders work behind the scenes to build support among the party’s conservative membership for a comprehensive overhaul. With the House bipartisan group slow to complete its legislation, the lower chamber has taken a back seat to the Senate, where an 844-page proposal is now moving through committee. 

No, that bolded part is an outright lie.  House Republicans aren't working on this to build support, they're working on it to kill support.  If the only thing to come out of the House Judiciary is party-line GOP enforcement and guest worker stuff (without all that messy "compromise with Democrats over citizenship" part in the Senate) then House Republicans can say "Well, we passed immigration reform and the Democrats killed it.  Why does Barack Obama hate Latinos?"

And boom, immigration reform blows up by June, July at the latest. Just like gun control, Republicans expect minimal damage from scuttling legislation that would only help Barack Obama's coalition.

Keep an eye on Rep. Goodlatte's committee here, because this is how the GOP will sink immigration reform.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Last Call: Not Blowing Up In Our Faces

Just another reminder while the Village is celebrating the opening of the Bush Presidentin' And Stuff Center in Texas this week and furiously rewriting the history on how we got into two brutal wars that cost us thousands of lives, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars and all, it's gratifying to see that the current President is trying to not get us into another decade-long Middle Eastern ground war.

The Obama administration shares the suspicions of several of its allies that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons, a senior official said Wednesday, but it lacks the conclusive evidence that President Obama has said would lead to American intervention.

Faced with mounting pressure to act against Syria — including a new assertion by an Israeli military intelligence official on Tuesday that Syria repeatedly used chemical weapons — the United States is waiting for the results of an exhaustive analysis of soil, hair and other material to determine whether chemical warfare agents have been used

You mean we're actually waiting to gather evidence ourselves before making it up and plunging the country into combat?  How novel.

Even if that investigation proves the use of chemicals, this official said, the White House must determine who used them and whether they were used deliberately or accidentally. He did not offer a timetable for that process. 

It is precisely because this is a red line that we have to establish with airtight certainty that this happened,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity so he could discuss internal deliberations. “The bar on the United States is higher than on anyone else, both because of our capabilities and because of our history in Iraq.” 

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, speaking in Cairo during a Middle East tour that has been dominated by worries about Syria, said, “Suspicions are one thing; evidence is another.” 

Amazing.  Here we have the Obama administration, including the Secretary of Defense, actively saying that after Iraq, we need to have a higher threshold of evidence before we commit to using our military.  The President will continue to fail to get any credit for that, Team Drones will just yell "Drones!" some more and the right will say that his lack of thirst for ground war means he's a wimp, unlike Bush who totally won Iraq by himself.

But here we are, not invading a country for once.  And silence from the usual suspects.  That is, unless we actually do find that evidence, in which case things get really interesting...

The U.S. intelligence community has uncovered strong evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria. Several blood samples, taken from multiple people, have tested positive for the nerve agent sarin, an American intelligence source tells Danger Room. President Obama has long said that the use of such a weapon by the Assad regime would cross a “red line.” So now the question becomes: What will the White House do in response?

We're going to find out very soon.

The Southern Suppression Strategy Continues

North Carolina is finding out the hard way what happens when the GOP has one party control of a state:  Republicans have no problem with taking voting rights away from thousands of the elderly, college students, and working-class African-Americans and Latinos in the name of preventing non-existent "voting fraud".  The Charlotte Observer:

“Our system of government depends upon open and honest elections,” said Rep. David Lewis, a farm equipment dealer from Dunn and a Republican. “Having people prove who they say they are as a condition of voting makes sense and guarantees that each vote is weighted equally and cumulatively determines the outcome of elections.”

But the move was strongly opposed by Democrats who said a photo ID would create longer lines at the polls, make it harder for the elderly, African-Americans and some students to vote, and would unconstitutionally create different categories of voters.

“This bill would attempt to turn back the strong voting we’ve had in North Carolina,” said Rep. Garland Pierce, a Baptist minister from Laurinburg, noting that the Tar Heel state had the 12th-highest turnout in the country last November.

Takes 5 paragraphs to get to the real reason why Republicans made voter ID a top priority in NC, and of course high turnout is bad for Republicans.  Target Democratic voters, make voting onerous, and classify thousands as "provisional" voters  you can disenfranchise if there's any dispute, putting the onus on the voter to prove they have the privilege and not the state to preserve as a right. 

And let's not forget Republicans want to get rid of all early voting in the state, too.

The voter ID issue resonated powerfully in the black community throughout the weeks of debate, with African-Americans comparing the measure to historical efforts to restrict blacks from voting. Complicating the voter ID debate are companion election bills being sponsored by Republicans, not debated Wednesday, that would restrict early voting, Sunday voting and same-day registration – all of which affect African-Americans disproportionately.

After the vote, the Rev. William Barber, head of the state NAACP, called the voter ID requirement an act of voter suppression. 

Funny how it seems like Republicans are targeting the most vulnerable and easiest groups to disenfranchise.  The state must spare no expense in defending the political process against fraud with a voter ID measure that will cost the state millions, but these same Republicans declare early voting is too expensive for taxpayers to foot the bill.

Of course it's an obvious scam.  But as with all the other Southern red states, it's too late now for North Carolina.  Giving in to fear and Obama Derangement Syndrome gave you the Republican nightmare you get to live with, and I don't feel sorry for my home state one bit.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/04/24/4002164/voter-id-one-step-closer-to-become.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/04/24/4002164/voter-id-one-step-closer-to-become.html#storylink=cpy

Granite State Punishment Detail

New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte has largely been singled out as the 41st Republican to vote against the Manchin-Toomey gun legislation, meaning that she was the vote that effectively killed the bill.  Public Policy Polling took a look at Ayotte's numbers and found that yes, she's currently paying a price for that vote, and a steep one.

Ayotte now has a negative approval rating with 44% of voters giving her good marks and 46% disapproving. That's down a net 15 points from the last time we polled on her, in October, when she had a 48% approval with 35% disapproving. 75% of New Hampshire voters- including 95% of Democrats, 74% of independents, and 56% of Republicans- say they support background checks. And 50% of voters in the state say Ayotte's 'no' vote will make them less likely to support her in a future election, compared to just 23% who consider it to be a positive.

Ayotte won her seat in 2010 by 23 points. But in a very early hypothetical match up between her and new Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan, she trails by a 46/44 margin. This issue is really giving her some trouble.

Ahh, but the key word in the top of the post is currently.  Ayotte will not face voters again until November 2016 should she run again for Senate, and while it may hurt her now, something tells me voters will have other things on their minds by the time New Hampshire gets around to the 2016 elections.  If this gun vote somehow does cost Ayotte her seat, that will certainly be one thing...but in the meantime, gun control legislation is effectively dead until further notice. 

The prospects of a new President raising this as an issue in 2017 is certainly possible, but meanwhile, the NRA will have had four years to lobby the rest of the Senate.  It's very, very unlikely that voters will remember anything Ayotte voted on this month when it comes to 2016.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Last Call: A Large Side Of Stupid

Ray Canterbury thinks poor kids have it easy. Especially the kids who don't get enough to eat and are suffering at school. A recent bill allows for nonprofit and donations to make sure kids eat enough. Because science, that thing Republicans hate, has shown without a doubt that hunger affects school performance.

"I think it would be a good idea if perhaps we had the kids work for their lunches: trash to be taken out, hallways to be swept, lawns to be mowed, make them earn it," Del. Ray Canterbury (R-Greenbrier) said during floor debate. "If they miss a lunch or they miss a meal they might not, in that class that afternoon, learn to add, they may not learn to diagram a sentence, but they'll learn a more important lesson." 

More important than math and grammar?  What could be more important to a child's future than an education?  Oh right, learning their place in the servant class.  We need to teach these softies that when they don't have enough  money, even though that is in no way their fault (you know, being eight years old and all) that they have to be separated from the kids who have plenty.  They need to sweep the floors and pick up trash, and be singled out for their economic status.  Only the rich kids should get the regular treatment at a public school.

This isn't the first time this has been mentioned.  Apparently, this has become a recurring theme among smug wealthy men who know just what America needs.  Men who see nothing wrong with kids not being able to afford food, but don't see anything wrong with the system that reinforces poverty and guarantees that entire families fail for another generation.  West Virginia has higher poverty than most states, and worse education statistics.  Gee, I wonder why?

Leave me alone with this babbling moron for ten minutes.  Ten minutes, and I'd teach him a lesson he would never forget.

I believe education is the great equalizer.  Men like Canterbury hate equality, because it is a threat to his privilege.  What a great way to make sure a few stay on top at the expense of many.


A girl who never had enough to eat in school and had to work twice as hard.

Business-Friendly, People-Deadly

Raise your hand if you thought Texas cares about regulating fertilizer plants with hundreds of tons of potentially explosive chemicals, which are placed near schools and nursing homes.  If your hand is still raised, put it the hell down.

West Fertilizer Co.’s problems complying with Texas environmental rules go back decades, state records show.

In 1984, the company moved two large pressurized tanks of liquid anyhydrous ammonia, a potentially lethal poison, from a site in nearby Hill County to its current location in West without notifying state authorities.

Seven years passed before Texas regulators took notice and told the company to fix its paperwork. The tanks had sat at their new location, near homes, schools and a nursing home, with little or no state oversight for all that time.

The company’s regulatory history going back to 1976 comes to light as investigators seek the cause of last week’s fertilizer explosion that killed at least 14 people.

For example, in 1987, the company — then known as West Chemical and Fertilizer Co. — was venting ammonia that built up in transfer pipes into the air despite explicit orders in its permit not to do so. The company apparently changed its practices.

And in 2006, a West police officer called a company employee to tell him an ammonia tank valve was leaking. The employee confirmed the leak and “took the NH3 [ammonia] tank out to the country at his farm,” according to a handwritten note. “West Police followed him.”

That employee, Cody Dragoo, was killed in last week’s explosion.

Seven years.  But government doesn't work, so let's cut spending on regulation and give more tax cuts to companies that break the law and then kill 14 people.  Government small enough that you can drown it in a bathtub isn't going to be able to protect you from companies that murder a dozen folks and go "oops."

Rand Paul Time Warp Theater

Just another reminder that "adamant champion of civil liberties" Sen. Rand Paul is still a lying sack of crap Republican douchebag who will change his stance (he'll filibuster 13 hours!)  in about 13 seconds when it's politically advantageous to do so.  Steve Benen:

In March, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) launched a high-profile filibuster on the Senate floor, bringing attention to drone strikes and civil liberties questions that too often go ignored. But as the spectacle faded, a problem emerged -- Paul didn't seem to fully understand the issue he ostensibly cares so much about.

The Kentucky Republican wanted to know if the Obama administration feels it has the authority to "use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil." Attorney General Eric Holders said the "answer to that question is no." For many involved in the debate, the answer was superficial and incomplete -- who gets to define what constitutes "combat"? what about non-weaponized drones? -- but Paul declared victory and walked away satisfied.

And so did his fans, who happily used Paul's position to attack the President from the left.  At the time I said Paul's position was nonsense and left a huge loophole for use of drones on US soil when it came to bed-wetting anti-terrorism nonsense.   Rand Paul happily got in some fundraising off the stunt and moved on.

Now however since the Boston marathon bombing, and with Rand needing an excuse to scuttle immigration reform he supported last month and to fly the colors on the perpetual security state so he can attack Marco Rubio from the right, Paul is now back to doubling down on use of drones on US soil against US citizens when it comes to Warren Terrah.  Steve Benen again:

Today, the senator went further, saying he's comfortable with drones being used over U.S. soil if the executive branch decides -- without a warrant or oversight -- there's an "imminent threat." Paul told Fox News:
"...I've never argued against any technology being used when you an imminent threat, an active crime going on. If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and 50 dollars in cash, I don't care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him. But it's different if they want to come fly over your hot tub, or your yard just because they want to do surveillance on everyone, and they want to watch your activities."

Oops.  Spoken like a true libertarian.

Tell me again how Rand Paul isn't an authoritarian pig like the rest of the Republicans (and some Dems, granted.)  But at least Barack Obama isn't going around saying he doesn't care who kills a guy who knocked over a liquor store.  Kinda puts a serious dent in his "unfair sentencing bill" credibility...well not really, you don't have to sentence dead people to prison, do you Rand?

Also, let's not forget his libertarian stances on same-sex marriage and women being able to control their own bodies.  Why, it's almost like Rand Paul is an unapologetic Republican jackass and always has been.

And he always will be.  Bookmark this one next time Rand decides he needs to attack President Obama from the left, and pay attention to the people who champion his dog and pony show.  Those are the ones you need to watch out for.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Last Call: Max Baucus Returns (Home)

Montana Democratic Sen. Max Baucus is joining the list of Dems retiring from the Senate next year, in yet another ominous sign for Team Blue to hold on.

At times infuriating his Democratic colleagues, Baucus worked with Republicans to co-write the Bush-era tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug plan, but he also served as the lead defender against George W. Bush’s 2005 effort to partially privatize Social Security and played a critical role in writing President Obama’s national health-care plan.

From conservative-leaning Montana, Baucus has voted against Democratic initiatives on some social issues, most recently last week’s effort to create an expanded background check system for gun purchases.

Despite Obama’s double-digit defeat in Montana, Democrats intend to vigorously defend the seat. The leading Democratic candidate is former governor Schweitzer, a popular figure who at times has feuded with Baucus over local political issues in the Big Sky state. In February, Schweitzer hinted at a potential run in a Facebook post.

The Baucus retirement also could have dramatic policy ramifications. No longer bounded by his own 2014 re-election, Baucus can now push for comprehensive tax reform without concerns about the political ramifications, his allies say.

He and Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the term-limited chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, could jump-start tax reform with both men looking toward their legislative legacy rather than their political fallout within their respective caucuses.

At least Baucus is passing the baton early enough for Schweitzer to make a clean run, but we'll see if the popular former Governor is even going to take a crack at it.  If he passes, the seat will almost certainly go to the GOP.

Having said that, Schweitzer would be better than Baucus on voting with progressive, surely.  We'll see how it shakes out.

Nate's Numbers On The Gun Vote

I said last week that Senate Republicans would pay no price in 2014 for voting adown the Manchin-Toomey compromise legislation on gun violence, and today Nate Silver's numbers back up that argument.

Did the senators who voted against a proposal last week to expand background checks on gun buyers take an electoral risk?

At first glance, it would seem that they did. Background checks are broadly popular with the public. Overwhelming majorities of 80 to 90 percent of the public say they favor background checks when guns are purchased at gun shows, at gun shops or online. Support for background checks drops when guns are bought through informal channels, or gifts from family members — but the amendment that the Senate voted upon last week, sponsored by the Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, and Pat Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, would have exempted most of these cases.

And yet, the Senate did not behave as though this was a piece of legislation favored by 80 percent or more of the public. The analysis that we posted last week suggested that, if anything, senators who are up for re-election in 2014 were less likely to vote for the bill.

Which is exactly what happened.  The gun bill came up five votes short, forcing Reid to vote against  it procedurally.  Nate summarizes:

My view, in other words, is that polls showing 90 percent support for background checks will tend to overstate how well the Democrats’ position might play out before the electorate in practice, though public opinion was on their side on this vote.

Moreover, few of the Republican senators who are up for re-election in 2014 are vulnerable for any reason. Only one, Susan Collins of Maine, comes from a state that Barack Obama carried, and she voted for Mr. Manchin’s bill.

In fact, the safety of the Senate Republicans may have enabled them to vote against the amendment, at least in part, for a tactical reason: to protect their colleagues in the House. This is not to suggest that Republicans are likely to lose the House — but there are 17 House Republicans in districts carried by President Obama last year. By preventing the background-check bill from securing the 60 votes necessary to pass the Senate, the Republicans may have prevented their House counterparts from having to take a tough vote.

Thus, Democrats are not in much of a position to capitalize on the vote from the standpoint of individual seats in Congress in 2014. To the extent that the issue plays favorably for Democrats in 2014, it is likely to be for symbolic reasons — because they are able to persuade voters that it reflects a Republican Party that is outside the mainstream.

Which is what I said last week, and in the weeks before.  Nate's analysis is worth reading completely as his numbers show pretty convincingly that no Senate Republicans are going to suffer from this next year.  The real issue was sparing House Republicans from going on record against it, and the Senate GOP played it perfectly.

Look for them to do the same on immigration reform.

Count on it.

Selling Out Marco Rubio

TPM's Benjy Sarlin argues that Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio really is trying to honestly sell immigration reform to his colleagues as a way for the Republicans to move forward (and for Rubio to get major national cred toward the 2016 race as a result.)  The problem of course is two-fold:  Rubio's chief Senate GOP rival is Rand Paul, and the Boston bombings have given him and other Tea Party conservatives the excuse to hang Rubio and his plan out to dry.

Rubio really is a one-man conservative outreach program when it comes to this bill. His ties to the tea party base are so deep that reformers were constantly worried he’d abandon negotiations rather than risk an inevitable backlash by signing onto a compromise. Rubio made light of the dynamic at a press conference introducing the legislation on Thursday when he took the podium, said “Actually, I changed my mind,” and pretended to walk off.

It’s created tension at times with more progressive reformers, but Rubio’s general strategy has been to acknowledge conservative complaints about the bill even while he refuses to back off his support. After reform skeptics in the Senate complained the process was moving too fast, for example, he fought to make sure there were multiple hearings on the bill. He’s spent much of the week appearing on conservative talk radio shows, many of which are hosted by skeptics — even leading opponents — of reform. And his office launched a website devoted entirely to knocking down “myths” about immigration reform, including a false claim this week on conservative blogs that the bill would give free “amnesty phones” to undocumented immigrants.

“It’s tragic that a nation of immigrants remains divided on immigration,” Rubio said at the presser.

None of the other “Gang of 8” Republicans have particularly strong followings on the populist right, so Rubio is really the only option when it comes to this kind of outreach. He’ll face another big test this month containing the fallout from the Boston bombing, where he’s already trying to ease Republican concerns about the bill’s national security implications. 

The 2-ton elephant in the room is of course the fact that tea party Republicans don't want immigration reform, they want to leverage continuing fear and scapegoating of Latinos and other minority groups to increase the percentage of the white vote that the GOP gets at the expense of the Democrats.  The Boston bombings present the perfect opportunity for them to do just that, and to permanently damage Marco Rubio among GOP primary voters heading forward.

Nobody's more excited to play that card than Rand Paul, as I pointed out yesterday.  I predict more than ever that Republicans will use Boston as political cover to end immigration reform, and Marco Rubio will be left holding the bag.  It won't end his career probably, but the 2016 nominee for the GOP will be somebody who went on record against the plan.

Count on it.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Last Call, Eh?

Meanwhile, our neighbors to the north continue to calmly and rationally treat terrorism as primarily a law enforcement function, leaving the detective work to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who have busted up a plot to bomb commuter trains in Toronto.

Canadian police say they have arrested two men and thwarted a plot to carry out a major terrorist attack on a Via passenger train in the Greater Toronto Area.

In a press conference that followed an exclusive report by CBC's Greg Weston, police named the two accused as Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, from Toronto. They have been charged with conspiracy to carry out a terrorist attack and "conspiring to murder persons unknown for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group."

The two men arrested are not Canadian citizens, police said Monday, but would not provide any details about their nationalities.

The RCMP accused the two men of conspiring to commit an "al-Qaeda-supported" attack.

The plot was apparently not related to the Boston Marathon bombing, but the Mounties decided to pull the trigger on these two anyway, just in case.  Can't blame them for that, frankly.

Highly placed sources tell CBC News the alleged plotters have been under surveillance for more than a year in Quebec and southern Ontario.

The investigation was part of a cross-border operation involving Canadian law enforcement agencies, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The arrests Monday morning were co-ordinated and executed by a special joint task force of RCMP and CSIS anti-terrorism units, combined with provincial and municipal police forces in Ontario and Quebec.

Gosh, a joint operation with provincial and local cops and help from us Yanks through CSIS.  Solid police work resolves this issue, got good intelligence, and led to an arrest.  What's not happening?  Canadian lawmakers screaming about deporting all Muslims, bugging mosques, and instilling fear in the populace for political gain.

Those Canadians must be insane, right?

Always The Political Operative, Our Rand

Please tell me again how Rand Paul is so different from DC politicians and how he doesn't play stupid Republican political games to score cheap points.  Please.

Losing Paul's support for the legislation could doom the Gang of Eight's legislation. Earlier this year the Tea Party favorite came out in support of comprehensive reform, including a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented workers in the country. His support has given cover to a number of other conservatives who have come out in support of tackling the issue this year.
But Paul made clear he would not be comfortable moving legislation without additional hearings on Boston, and new provisions.
"I respectfully request that the Senate consider the following two conditions as part of the comprehensive immigration reform debate: One, the Senate needs a thorough examination of the facts in Massachusetts to see if legislation is necessary to prevent a similar situation in the future. Two, national security protections must be rolled into comprehensive immigration reform to make sure the federal government does everything it can to prevent immigrants with malicious intent from using our immigration system to gain entry into the United States in order to commit future acts of terror," Paul wrote to Reid.

Please tell me again how my junior senator is a supposed champion of civil liberties and small, effective federal government when he's basically saying we need more "national security protections" in immigration reform and in America in general.

Go on, I could use the laugh.

Once again, Rand Paul is just another red state conservative GOP Senator who doesn't actually care about civil liberties or smaller government, because he just threw both principles away to give himself and other Republicans cover to keep on being racist bigots towards Latinos.


And It Begins

Bush-era Attorney General Michael Mukasey wastes no time today calling the Boston Marathon bombing "jihad" as the Islamophobic ghouls from the last administration offer their unsolicited advice.  Above all YOU MUST BE AFRAID OF MUSLIMS.

But if your concern is over the larger threat that inheres in who the Tsarnaev brothers were and are, what they did, and what they represent, then worry—a lot.

For starters, you can worry about how the High-Value Interrogation Group, or HIG, will do its work. That unit was finally put in place by the FBI after so-called underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up the airplane in which he was traveling as it flew over Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009 and was advised of his Miranda rights. The CIA interrogation program that might have handled the interview had by then been dismantled by President Obama.

At the behest of such Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups as the Council on American Islamic Relations and the Islamic Society of North America, and other self-proclaimed spokesmen for American Muslims, the FBI has bowdlerized its training materials to exclude references to militant Islamism. Does this delicacy infect the FBI's interrogation group as well?

Will we see another performance like the Army's after-action report following Maj. Nidal Hasan's rampage at Fort Hood in November 2009, preceded by his shout "allahu akhbar"—a report that spoke nothing of militant Islam but referred to the incident as "workplace violence"? If tone is set at the top, recall that the Army chief of staff at the time said the most tragic result of Fort Hood would be if it interfered with the Army's diversity program.

Mukasey, his hatred for Islam (and Democratic presidents, with not much space between them apparently) is saying torture and waterboarding could have saved lives.  He dares to say this a mere week after an independent report and review of Bush-era "enhanced interrogation" confirmed that yes, we did torture suspects for information and no, it got zero useful intelligence.

As a result of the Bush administration’s green-lighting of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” the report says, “U.S. forces, in many instances, used interrogation techniques on detainees that constitute torture. American personnel conducted an even larger number of interrogations that involved ‘cruel, inhuman, or degrading’ treatment.”

“Both categories of actions violate U.S. laws and international treaties. Such conduct was directly counter to values of the Constitution and our nation,” The Constitution Project report said.

To recap, we committed war crimes under Bush, and not only are the people responsible for that running free, they are writing op-eds in the Wall Street Journal complaining we're not committing more war crimes.

Let that sink in for a bit while we have FOX News trolls suggest we should be bugging all mosques.

It's 2003 all over again for these idiots any always will be.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

More Republican Second Amedment Remedies

Shorter Benton County, Arkansas Republican Party:  "It's a shame that some Republican state lawmakers betrayed us and voted to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.  It's an equal shame that we can't shoot these lawmakers, either."

Republicans in Benton County, Arkansas are not happy that their state legislators have agreed to expand Medicaid under Obamacare. In this month’s newsletter, columnist Chris Nogy encouraged his fellow Republicans to utilize their 2nd Amendment rights to make sure that lawmakers — particularly Republicans who vote with Democrats — are held accountable.

Here's Nogy's column, in part:

We need to let those who will come in the future to represent us that we are serious.  The 2nd amendment means nothing unless those in power believe you would have no problem simply walking up and shooting them if they got too far out of line and stopped responding as representatives. It seems that we are unable to muster that belief in any of our representatives on a state or federal level, but we have to have something, something costly, something that they will fear that we will use if they step out of line. If we can’t shoot them, we have to at least be firm in our threat to take immediate action against them politically, socially, and civically if they screw up on something this big. Personally, I think a gun is quicker and more merciful, but hey, we can’t.

That's nice.  It's a shame we can't murder people we disagree with politically because it would be more "merciful" than what they deserve, but oh well.  Hey, isn't there a legal term for threatening to bring bodily harm to a group of people over purely political reasons?  I can't think of the word...hold on...

Such heated rhetoric from the Arkansas GOP is not new. Last week, state Rep. Neal Bell (R) tweeted that he bet the “cowering liberals” in Boston were “wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine.” Arkansas House Speaker Davy Carter (R) issued a public apology to Boston on behalf of Bell’s insensitive remark, and Bell ultimately offered his own apology.

But New Black Panther Party, so both sides do it.

She's Completely Dowd Of Her Mind

MoDo The Red cannot blame President Obama quickly enough for the failure of gun violence legislation, in a pretty solid candidate for worst NY Times op-ed of 2013.

President Obama has watched the blood-dimmed tide drowning the ceremony of innocence, as Yeats wrote, and he has learned how to emotionally connect with Americans in searing moments, as he did from the White House late Friday night after the second bombing suspect was apprehended in Boston. 

Unfortunately, he still has not learned how to govern. 

How is it that the president won the argument on gun safety with the public and lost the vote in the Senate? It’s because he doesn’t know how to work the system. And it’s clear now that he doesn’t want to learn, or to even hire some clever people who can tell him how to do it or do it for him. 

It’s unbelievable that with 90 percent of Americans on his side, he could get only 54 votes in the Senate. It was a glaring example of his weakness in using leverage to get what he wants. No one on Capitol Hill is scared of him. 

Even House Republicans who had no intention of voting for the gun bill marveled privately that the president could not muster 60 votes in a Senate that his party controls. 

Dowd's staggering ignorance of how Washington works betrays her own insecurities and inabilities to pin the problem on the real culprit:  the 41 Republican senators who blocked Manchin-Toomey.  These folks blocked the measure because they hate Obama and want to destroy him, not because they "fear" him.  They blocked the measure because screaming Village airheads like Dowd serve as useful idiots who blame Obama regardless of the actual culpability of a party dedicated to the destruction of anything the President decides to do.  

Any thinking observer would notice immediately that the Republicans in the Senate never had any intention of approaching gun violence legislation in good faith.  If anything, one could be forgiven for thinking that the Republicans took advantage of the situation, got the President and Senate Democrats to commit to Manchin-Toomey by stringing along the notion that hope was alive, and then burned them all for political advantage.

It's easy to say that "What Republicans fear is the NRA" but it's more than that.  What they fear is being replaced by people even more recalcitrant and more hateful than they are themselves toward not just the President, but more vitriolic towards the very idea that federal governance is even possible.  Dowd bemoans the President's supposed inability to govern and his ability to learn how to.  She should be going after the people making it impossible to govern at all.

We're trapped in a hell of our own making, where the only possible movement of one party is toward more nihilist extremism, not away from the brink of chaos, and Maureen Dowd is spouting empty nonsense about how good government is found in a Michael Douglas movie.  If she hasn't figured out by now that she's part of the problem with the government she complains about not working by disgorging this pile of fever-bright crap allowing the real culprits to escape blame, all while raging impotently at the only guy who can possibly fix the problem, she never will.

At this point, Maureen Dowd has to be considered part of the reason why Washington remains ungovernable.  At the very least, she remains part of the reason it is considered by those outside the Beltway as pathetic.

[UPDATEWalter Russell Mead absolutely levels Dowd in his column today.

Column writing is dangerous work and long success in the game can lead to the stifling of that Editor Within who keeps you from looking too stupid in print. A rich self esteem, fortified by decades of op-ed tenure and dinner party table talk dominance, has apparently given Ms. Dowd the confidence to believe that she is a maestro of political infighting, a Clausewitz of strategic insight and a Machiavelli of political cunning rolled up into one stylish and elegant piece of work. From the heights of insight on which she dwells, it is easy to see what that poor schmuck Barry Obama can’t: those 60 votes on gun control were his for the taking, if he was only as shrewd a politician as Maureen Dowd.

Do read the rest.  Dowd is the prototypical emoprog, whose only real defining trait is that they believe they know everything better than President Obama, manifesting itself in a blind hatred for the man that rivals the worst Republican lunatics.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Last Call

And the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto completely loses it in an epic tinfoil screed blaming the Boston Marathon bombing and basically everything wrong in the last century on the "thuggish majoritarianism of the Obama-era left".

The left's and the media's reflexive search for right-wing perpetrators is not unique to this attack. Indeed, it's not even unique among attacks this week. On Tuesday the office of Sen. Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican, received a letter containing ricin, a toxin derived from the castor oil plant. United Press International reported that the Anti-Defamation League "said ricin . . . is popular with domestic extremists. . . . Many ricin incidents have been attributed to homegrown extremists, particularly right-wing groups such as anti-government extremists and white supremacists. Other ricin incidents have been unrelated to any specific ideology, the ADL said."

A suspect, Paul Curtis, was quickly caught. On Wednesday the Jackson Clarion Ledger published a photo of him, posing with a bumper sticker that reads "Christian and a Democrat."

It is true, of course, that some terrorist attacks are committed by white supremacists, antiabortion extremists or others on what is called "the extreme right." It was not unreasonable to consider that as a possibility when Boston was bombed.

What is unreasonable is the impulse to blame mainstream conservatives, including the Tea Party, a diffuse mass movement that has never been linked to any violence. Never forget that after the Tucson massacre of 2011, the New York Times editorialized that "it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible"--even though it was already known that the killer had no political motive.

What the hope-they're-white crowd really wishes for is a reason to treat their domestic political adversaries as enemies of the state.

Where do I begin with dismantling this textbook case of projection?  Should I start with Taranto complaining about his voicelessness against the "media" when he's penning the day's top op-ed in the Wall Street Journal?  How about his rage over the Tea Party and conservatives being unfairly painted with broad strokes while in the same article he is indicting all liberals, all of the "media", all Muslims, all Democrats, and all Obama supporters as "thugs" and "fascists"?  His blithe dismissal of criticism of a Tea Party movement that has "never been linked to any violence" when even a cursory search pulls up dozens of incidents and his own article references abortion clinic bombers and white supremacists?  His utter contempt for the 90% of Americans who supported background checks for firearms as having "no organic reality" that is a "sign of weakness, not strength"?

It amazes me that a national newspaper would be employing Taranto at all at this point, considering how completely bonkers he has become.   Instead, like Jennifer Rubin's daily disgraceful slop at the Washington Post, he gets a platform to spew nonsense that should rightfully be laughed out of the room.

The problem of course is that tens of thousands of people read both of them daily and millions agree with them.

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