Sunday, June 30, 2013

It's Good To Be A Corporate King

If American businesses really are being "crushed by regulatory burdens" and "driven into uncompetitiveness by massive government overreach" it sure as hell isn't being reflected in CEO pay at America's largest corporations.   While real wages for workers went down again in 2012 and have never exceeded their 1972 peak, CEO pay jumped by double digit percentages in 2012 and are now substantially above where they were even at pre-2007 financial crisis levels.

WHEN we made our annual foray into the executive pay gold mine in April, chief executives’ earnings for 2012 showed what appeared to be muted growth on the year. The $14 million in median overall compensation received by the top 100 C.E.O.’s was just a 2.8 percent increase over 2011, the figures showed. 

Well, what a difference a few months and a larger pool of C.E.O.’s make. According to an updated analysis, the top 200 chief executives at public companies with at least $1 billion in revenue actually got a big raise last year, over all. The research, conducted for Sunday Business by Equilar Inc., the executive compensation analysis firm, found that the median 2012 pay package came in at $15.1 million — a leap of 16 percent from 2011.  

And it's not just CEOs making hundreds of times the wages of average employees, other top chief-level executives are pulling in huge salaries too.

Because the data shows only chief executives’ pay, it does not reveal how good it still is to be a prince. Brian Foley, an independent compensation consultant in White Plains, pointed out that the 2012 compensation of the No. 2 executives at some of these companies would have vaulted them to the top ranks on the C.E.O. roster. 

“The interesting thing is that there are people at these companies that make as much or more than other C.E.O.’s,” Mr. Foley said. “I’m sure it’s a case of ‘Look at what the C.E.O. has; I want more of that.’ “ 

Two things that shock me here.  One, there's at least 200 US companies with more than $1 billion in revenues each year.   At the top of the heap are companies like Apple, making hundreds of billions in revenue in a year.  That easily adds up to trillions in corporate revenues, and hundreds of billions in pure profit.

Second, the other officers at some of these massive corporations, the CFO, the COO, etc are making millions each year too, in some cases more than the CEOs of smaller corporations.  That's just nuts.

Republicans and Democrats aside, these guys are the real problem.  Did you get a 16% raise last year?

I didn't think so.

Zee Germans Are Pissed

While it's ridiculous to think that the NSA isn't listening in on our friends in Europe (and equally ridiculous to assume they're not doing the same) the recent NSA stories about checking up on our neighbors has provided the excuse for EU lawmakers to score some political points at the expense of the upcoming EU-US trade talks.

Senior European lawmakers say they are shocked at reports that U.S. intelligence agents bugged EU offices on both sides of the Atlantic.

The president of the European Parliament said he was "deeply worried and shocked about the allegations of U.S. authorities spying on EU offices" made in a report published Sunday by German news weekly Der Spiegel.

Martin Schulz said if the reports were confirmed "it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on EU-U.S. relations."

Green Party leaders in the European Parliament, Rebecca Harms and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, called for an immediate investigation into reports published by Der Spiegel and suggested that further negotiations on a trans-Atlantic trade treaty be put on hold.

Given the domestic economic disaster brought on by continued EU austerity, having somebody else to slap around is a welcome relief for beleaguered European pols, and at the same time European opposition parties get to considerably raise the price tag of any trade deal with the US.  Politics is politics the world over at times.

We'll see what Germany wants in return for this, as they're still the big dog on the EU block, but I'm betting it's going to be substantial trade concessions from the US that are probably going to hurt jobs here.

Something to keep in mind when thinking about consequences.

Chris Hayes Couldn't Be More Naive On The GOP And Immigration

By now you're well aware of my feelings on immigration legislation as the Senate bill passed this week with 68 votes.  I absolutely want the Senate bill to pass the House, and that there's no way in hell it will as the House GOP will most likely fail to pass any legislation, leading to the bill's ignominious death (and the consequences of that for the GOP as they galvanize into the party of white privilege.)

One person who absolutely doesn't believe the GOP is this suicidal is MSNBC's Chris Hayes of All In.

Hayes believes that liberals like myself who think the House GOP will kill the bill are "supplying an excuse for the Republican caucus to do something inexcusable".  He believes Boehner's bluster is "staking out a negotiation position in which there's no wiggle room."  In fact, Hayes gets very close to saying that should the bill fail, liberals who bought into the narrative that it was doomed in the House to begin with are culpable for its failure.

To which I respond to Hayes's startling naivete with, of all things, Sarah Palin, who is now openly warning about a third party split if the GOP passes immigration reform.

The former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican nominee for vice president responded to a Fox viewer’s Twitter question Saturday about the possibility of her and conservative commenter Mark Levin leaving the Republican Party and creating a new political group called the 'Freedom Party.'

Palin hinted that she is open to the thought of going independent and said that if the GOP continues to stray from its conservative roots, others in the party would do the same.

'I love the name of that party — the "Freedom Party,"' Palin replied. 'And if the GOP continues to back away from the planks in our platform, from the principles that built this party of Lincoln and Reagan, then yeah, more and more of us are going to start saying, "You know, what’s wrong with being independent," kind of with that libertarian streak that much of us have.

'In other words, we want government to back off and not infringe upon our rights. I think there will be a lot of us who start saying "GOP, if you abandon us, we have nowhere else to go except to become more independent and not enlisted in a one or the other private majority parties that rule in our nation, either a Democrat or a Republican."

So Chris, given John Boehner's  massive incompetence as House Speaker, which is more likely, a masterful compromise on the immigration bill, or a complete fold to the Sarah Palin Tea Party wing and killing the bill exactly like they did in 2006?  If this is the reaction to Boehner after he's staked out the position that the Senate bill is DOA, and that he'll be trying to only push piecemeal border security and E-Verify measures, what makes you think, given Boehner's complete inability to pass a Farm Bill that he can pull this off?

They will blow this.  It will be their fault.  They'll pay for it in 2014 and 2016.  The only question is what that eventual cost will be.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Last Call Before The Inevitability

The Prop 8 defendants shot down Wednesday are still trying to piss in the punchbowl, it seems.  They have filed an emergency petition with Justice Kennedy to stop same-sex marriages, just to piss everyone off.

The application argues that the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Proposition 8 case is not yet “final,” so the stay must remain in place. The Supreme Court ordinarily does not issue its formally binding ruling – known as the “judgment” – in a case from a federal court of appeals until 25 days after it releases its “opinion.” Because the Court issued its opinion in the Proposition 8 case on June 26, it would by default not issue the judgment until Monday, July 22. (The 25th day is July 21, a Sunday.)
The principal point of that delay is to permit the losing party to prepare and submit a petition for rehearing to the Justices, though such petitions are as a practical matter never granted.

 The parties could ask the Supreme Court to expedite the release of the judgment. That is in fact what occurred last week in the “Baby Girl” Native American adoption case. After a request by the petitioner, the Court ordered the mandate issued in 7 days, rather than the usual 25.

Absent such a request, most observers expected that same-sex marriage in California (in the places in the State it did become available) would not begin again for roughly a month. Even if the court of appeals was not required as a matter of law to wait, that appeared to be the more measured and prudent course. But the Ninth Circuit acted more quickly, lifting the stay before the Supreme Court’s ruling became effective.

And this has apparently pissed off the God botherers.

Whether the emergency request to Justice Kennedy can succeed is unclear. But it is unlikely. As a formal matter, the Ninth Circuit did not put the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Proposition 8 case into effect prematurely. The Supreme Court held that the proponents of Proposition 8 could not file appeals in federal court. That ruling says nothing about imposing or lifting a stay on same-sex marriage. The court of appeals likely has the authority to act with respect to its own previously entered stay, which is a form of controlling its own docket. Although the court of appeals had previously stated that they stay would remain in effect until the Supreme Court’s ruling was final, it presumably can change its mind.

Put another way, before the Supreme Court issued its judgment the Ninth Circuit could not issue a new substantive ruling on Proposition 8′s constitutionality or the standing of the parties to appeal. The court of appeals lacked jurisdiction over those issues while the case was in the Supreme Court. But I am not aware of authority for the proposition that the court of appeals lacked the power to modify its own stay.

In other words, they're just being douchebags.  Here's hoping Justice Kennedy tells them to screw off.

Your Saturday Afternoon Nothing Can Possibly Beat This Ever



EV.  ER.

Down And Out In Carolina

Unemployed in the Tarheel State after Sunday?  Good luck getting any unemployment benefits at all:  Gov. Pat McCrory and the GOP have all but destroyed jobless benefits for 170,000 North Carolinians with the state's draconian unemployment law taking effect July 1.

A new law taking effect in North Carolina over the weekend will cut unemployment benefits for new claims and disqualify the state from receiving federal funds for the long-term jobless.

According the The Associated Press, lawmakers passed the bill in February to accelerate the repayment of $2.5 billion federal debt by cutting jobless benefits and increasing taxes on businesses. Because the bill cuts benefits to those who are newly unemployed, the state also disqualified itself from receiving federally funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC).

The U.S. Labor Department has estimated that about 170,000 out-of-work North Carolinians stand to lose $700 million in EUC payments.

Under the law passed by North Carolina Republicans, qualifying for state benefits will become more difficult and the payments will be cut from a maximum weekly benefit of $535 to $350. The benefit period will be shortened from six months to no more than five months, and in some cases only three months.

Hope you don't lose your job in NC where you were making more than $350 a week.  You know, more than $8.75 an hour.   Because that's all you're getting from Pat McCrory.  And because those cuts bring the state's maximum benefit down to below the poverty line, the federal government won't kick in a dime.

After all, if you really needed more than $8.75 an hour, you'd go get a job, you scumbag.  And I'm sure the money companies are saving on unemployment insurance will be used to create new jobs for the unemployed instead of being pocketed as profits.  Surely.


Enjoy your austerity regime, North Carolina.  You voted for it.  Now you're getting it.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Last Call For Prop 8

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals officially lifted its injunction against gay marriage in California in light of the Supreme Court's decision on Wednesday, meaning same-sex marriages can proceed immediately as Gov. Jerry Brown has advised county clerk's offices to be ready to issue marriage licenses as soon as the injunction was lifted.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday cleared the way for gay marriages to resume in California.

The court lifted its stay on an injunction which ordered state officials to stop enforcing Proposition 8. With the court's action, counties can now begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

A spokesman for the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had originally said it would takes the court at least 25 days to act after a Supreme Court ruling. Immediately afterward, Gov. Jerry Brown ordered his public health agency to advise the state's counties to "begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California as soon as the 9th Circuit confirms the stay is lifted."

Among the first to be married today:  Prop 8 plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandra Stier.

Well played, California Democrats.  Well played indeed.  And good riddance to enshrined discrimination in the Golden State (and hopefully soon the rest of the country as well!)

Schooling Instadope Yet Again

It seems like every six months or so, Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds disgorges his regular "How to fix US colleges" post in an actual publication of record.  This graduation season it's the WSJ (natch) as he recycles oldies but goodies on making higher education subject totally to the "free market", calling student loans "immoral".

Now here's where the real immorality kicks in. The skyrocketing cost of a college education is a classic unintended consequence of government intervention. Colleges have responded to the availability of easy federal money by doing what subsidized industries generally do: Raising prices to capture the subsidy. Sold as a tool to help students cope with rising college costs, student loans have instead been a major contributor to the problem.

In truth, America's student loan problem won't be solved by low interest rates—for many students, the debt would be crippling even if the interest rate were zero.

If we want to solve the very real problem of excessive student-loan debt, college costs need to be brought under control. A 2010 study by the Goldwater Institute identified "administrative bloat" as a leading reason for higher costs. The study found that many American universities now have more salaried administrators than teaching faculty. 

Actually the major problem in universities and colleges is that states have made massive cuts to university system budgets since the 2007 financial crash.   If they were serious about lowering tuition and loan costs, states would invest more in higher education, not less.  That's pushing college tuition up.

Second, student loans were, until recently, a massive cash cow for the same banks that nearly collapsed our economy.  They were profiting handsomely on student debt and will still continue to do so for older loans for some time.  Also pushing prices up.

Third, the influx of H-1B visas used to recruit science, technology, engineering and math graduates from other countries isn't covering any shortages.  If there were shortages, engineers would be making tons of money.  They're not.  What's going on is that firms that hire these folks are hiring them at garbage salaries and then complaining they can't find anyone to fill the positions except for immigrants.  That's pushing prices up too.

Fourth, for-profit higher education universities continue to push prices up by again using profit motive on an oligopoly to move prices higher.  His fixes address none of these issues:

A serious student-loan fix would change this incentive. First, federal aid could be capped, perhaps at a national average, or simply indexed to the consumer-price index, making it harder for schools to raise tuition willy-nilly. Second, schools that receive subsidized loan money could be left on the hook for a percentage of the loan balance if students default. I would favor allowing students who can't pay to discharge their loan balances in bankruptcy after a reasonable time—say, five to seven years, maybe even 10—with the institutions that got the money being liable to the guarantors (i.e., the taxpayers) for, say, 10% or 20% of the balance.

You can bet that under this kind of a rule, universities would be much more careful about encouraging students to take on significant debt unless they are fully committed first to graduating, and second to a realistic career path that would enable them to service that debt over time. At the very least, schools would be more likely to warn students of the risks.

What Reynolds's recommendations would do is make college completely unaffordable and unavailable for Americans who don't have $150,000 or so to attend a university.   In fact, his plan would be to shut down all but the most profitable college degree programs and get rid of most university faculty.  If we only send people to college because of profit motive rather than to learn, universities stop becoming universities, and start becoming even more of a barrier to income equality than they are now.

Which is the point:  to limit universities (and the ability to land an upper-class job) to the rich and the rich only.  That's immoral, but don't tell Instadouche here.

The Keys To Ben's Helicopter

Don't look now, but Helicopter Ben Bernanke's term as Fed Chairman is almost up.  Somebody's going to need to fly the thing without crashing it into a mountain. The White House has made it pretty clear that spending political capital on getting Ben another term in January isn't going to happen, so much so that the search for his successor is starting now, seven months ahead of time.

Wall Street Journal reporters Peter Nicholas and Jon Hilsenrath are reporting that the White House has "quietly begun assembling a short list of candidates" to take over as chairman of the Federal Reserve when current Fed Chair Ben Bernanke's term expires in January.

Earlier this month, President Obama said in an interview, "Well, I think Ben Bernanke's done an outstanding job. Ben Bernanke's a little bit like Bob Mueller, the head of the FBI - where he's already stayed a lot longer than he wanted or he was supposed to."

Yeah.  The smart money is on current Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen.

By every account, Yellen is a thoughtful and brilliant economist, which has allowed her to rise to where she is today.

"Ms. Yellen climbed the Fed ranks by being methodical rather than iconoclastic," writes Wall Street Journal reporter Jon Hilsenrath in a recent profile of the Fed vice-chairman. "She shows up at policy meetings with carefully crafted statements. Those who work with her say she arrives at the airport hours early."

"[Yellen] is very low-key, but impresses people quickly with the depth of her understanding and the sincerity of her views," said fellow Berkeley professor Andrew Rose in 1994, describing her as "collegial, persuasive and effective."

She has also worked with the academic elite of the economics sphere her entire career. Her mentor at Yale, where she received her Ph.D. in 1971, was Nobel-Prize winning economist James Tobin, whose legacy is enshrined in today's economics textbooks. After graduating from Yale, she taught at Harvard for five years. Then, she did a two-year stint (1976-1978) as a staff economist at the Federal Reserve, where she met her husband, fellow economist and future Nobel Prize winner George Akerlof.

After the Federal Reserve, Yellen was faculty at the London School of Economics for two years. Then, in 1980, she accepted a position at the University of California, Berkeley, where she stayed until her appointment to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in 1994 by President Bill Clinton.

Having been kicking around the Fed for 20 years is a pretty big bullet point on the resume, admittedly.  Republicans on the other hand are going to extract their pound of flesh, since both they and the Paultards believe the Fed created the financial crisis by themselves (and the banks had nothing to do with it, which is like blaming the fire department for arsonists.)

We'll see.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Last Call For The Senate Immigration Bill

It passed 68-32, with all 54 Democrats voting for it.  Too bad that the House GOP leadership is vowing that the Senate bill will never get a House vote.

Rep. Paul Ryan says the House won’t be taking up the Senate immigration bill, but it will be working on its own legislation that he says will create a “workable legal immigration system.”

The Wisconsin Republican told Sean Hannity on Fox News on Wednesday that the border security amendment to immigration reform passed by the Senate brings that bill closer to the House position, but he wants to make sure there are “triggers” in the final bill.

Guess what those triggers are.
We’re not going to bring up the Senate bill, we’re going to do it our own way, on our own very methodical way, because we want to make sure we get this stuff right,” Ryan said. “We want to have real triggers on the border, real triggers on what we call the e-verify.”

And of course Orange Julius says that no compromise with the Senate will get a vote in the House unless House Republicans support it.

Speaker John Boehner says he will not bring up any eventual House-Senate immigration compromise for a vote unless it has the support of the majority of House Republicans.

“For any legislation — including the conference report — to pass the House it’s going to have to be a bill that has the support of the majority of our members,” Boehner told reporters Thursday.

So far the 2006 playbook is continuing apace, and I'm confident the results will be the same:  the House GOP won't even be able to pass immigration reform among its own members and the Senate bill will die.

Right along with the GOP's chances in 2014 and 2016.

Moving Ahead At His Own Perry, Again

Well, that didn't take long, did it.

Gov. Rick Perry is calling lawmakers back immediately for another special session to deal with abortion issues, and also to consider transportation funding and new sentencing guidelines for 17-year-olds convicted of capital crimes.

Unlike the last 30-day special session, Perry is not waiting 16 days before adding abortion to the agenda. It will start immediately.

“Through their duly elected representatives, the citizens of our state have made crystal clear their priorities for our great state,” Perry said in his proclamation.

“Texans value life and want to protect women and the unborn. Texans want a transportation system that keeps them moving. Texans want a court system that is fair and just,” he said.

Perry also alluded to the throngs who flooded the Capitol Tuesday night and disrupted the Senate just as it was poised to break the filibuster of Sen. Wendy Davis and push through abortion regulations.

We will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do,” Perry said.

The people of the state of Texas want you to violate the Constitution?  OK.  Well, it'll get blocked in federal court, so have fun with that, chumpy.

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

After this week's historic SCOTUS rulings, Steve M. asks:

When I consider the possibility that the difference is that powerful economic interests don't lose anything from gay equality, I think: but why does there seem to be progress on immigration? Well, the party the powerful like best, the GOP, allegedly can't win the White House without Hispanic votes. But, then, why are abortion rights under attack in just about every state where Republicans are in charge? Why do Republicans still think a hard-line stance on abortion has no political downside? And why don't they seem to feel that way anymore about gay rights? How did gay rights get decoupled from abortion as part of the traditional-values wedge-issue package that always kept Middle American whites voting for the party most unabashed in its defense of the plutocracy?

Three reasons.

  1. Because unlike African-Americans, LGBTQ folks don't vote 95%+ for the Democrats.
  2. More than a few of them are white.
  3. We didn't just re-elect an LGBT president.
Really is that simple.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Last Call For The Gulf Ecosystem

Reminder:  the millions of gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico three years ago, not to mention all the chemicals used to break up that oil, didn't just "go away".

The Gulf of Mexico could see a record-size dead zone this year of oxygen-deprived waters resulting from pollution, US scientists have cautioned based on government data models.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s forecasts said the dead zone could be as large as New Jersey, or up to 8,561 square miles (22,172 square kilometers).

Dead zones are toxic to marine life and are caused by excessive nutrient pollution due to agriculture runoff. They are influenced by weather, precipitation, wind and temperature.

When there is little oxygen in the water, most marine life near the bottom is unable to survive.

“This year’s prediction for the Gulf reflects flood conditions in the Midwest that caused large amounts of nutrients to be transported from the Mississippi watershed to the Gulf,” NOAA said in a statement.

Oh yeah, and the fact the Gulf seabed is a nightmare of oil, chemicals, and other pollutants.  Enjoy!

More On DOMA's Demise

Section 3 of DOMA is toast, but Section 2, which does allow states to discriminate still on same-sex marriage, may be ripe for challenge.  James Joyner explains:

It occurs to me, however, that the impact of Windsor is effectively to render gay marriage the law in all 50 states.

Recall that the chief motivating fear of the Defense of Marriage Act was to prevent a judge in one state—Hawaii, where gay marriage remains illegal, was thought to be the likely culprit—declaring limiting marriage to one man and one woman violated the Equal Protection Clause, people flocking to that state to marry, and returning back home and,  because of the Full Faith and Credit Clause, being deemed legally married at home.

Well, SCOTUS has now said that the Equal Protection Clause prevents Congress from discriminating against gays as a class, at least in the arena of marriage, which is fundamentally the province of states. Given that, then, doesn’t the Equal Protection Clause mean that residents of Alabama are now free to travel to California, tie the knot, and then able to demand recognition of their marriage back home?

If not, why not?

I personally think the court is now waiting for this exact challenge.   The logic striking down Section 3, that singling out same-sex couples for federal discrimination is itself unconstitutional, would have to apply to the individual states as well.

Or it would, if the courst would be given a reason to say so.  That appears to be the next step:  someone getting married in say California or New York and moving to Florida or some other anti same-sex marriage state, and then suing under DOMA.

I would have to think that would be the thing to do.  Somebody will, just a question of how quickly that case gets to SCOTUS.

When it does, bang.  Five votes to say denial of same-sex marriage violates the Fifth Amendment.

The Great Prop 8 No Hate Debate, Season Finale

DOMA Section 3 banning federal recognition of same-sex marriage, ruled unconstitutional on 5th Amendment grounds.  5-4 ruling.

California Prop 8 case dismissed for standing grounds, lower court ruling stands, Prop 8 is unconstitutional.  Also a 5-4 ruling.

Bottom line, CA can start limited same-sex marriage where officials believe the lower court ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional is valid.  Federally, where states have same-sex marriage, they are entitled to all federal marriage benefits and must be recognized by the US.

Carry on.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Last Call For The Nadering Nabobs Of Negativity

Ralph Nader can't quit trying to win it for the GOP.

“I’m going to find at least ten enlightened billionaires or multibillionaires and I’m going to have a criteria. Have they spoken out about where they think the country is going? And are they worried about it? And have they done things reflecting some sort of civic enlightenment and courage? And are they able to communicate? Obviously, they have the money. And I’m going to encourage them to run.”

His target is to make sure Hillary doesn't get into the White House.

“We really need a dynasty now? We’ve had twelve years of the Bushes, what — do you want eight more years of the Clintons? Do we really want a redux here or do we want fresh energy and refresh redirection?” Of his specific criticisms of Clinton, Nader says the former Secretary of State “never saw a weapons system she didn’t like, never challenged the Pentagon when she was on the Senate Armed Services Committee.”

Nader would like to see Sen. Barbara Boxer run, but assumes “she’s not willing to take the next step.”

“They’re all deferring to Hillary and, let me tell you, anyone who thinks Hillary will have cakewalk three and a half years from the next presidential election better look back at 2008 and see if that was a cakewalk. She’s going to have competitors.”

Barbara Boxer?  Sure, she's pretty anti-Pentagon, but there needs to be more.  Which is why Nader keeps screwing things up.  He ran against Al Gore and we got Dubya as a result, remember?  And he sure prevented useless, bloody, expensive wars, didn't he?

Nope.  I'll never forgive the guy for Florida 2000.  Ever.  Show yourself out, Ralph.  Don't come back.

Prefacing A Pre-Failure

WIN THE MORNING decided last night that President Obama's climate change initiative being announced today has already failed and won't get any support from anyone, so he might as well quit now.

President Barack Obama’s new climate change agenda may be ambitious, but experts warn it won’t be enough to avoid the worst effects of a warming planet.

The climate threat is so severe, they say, that the administration must quickly pivot from the steps it’s announcing Tuesday — including greenhouse gas regulations for power plants — to tackle other parts of the economy.

Le sigh, le groan.

Even the most unprecedented strides toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions pale next to the scope of the problem facing the planet. Still, environmental activists say Tuesday’s announcements will be a big deal. They’re thrilled Obama is finally refocusing on climate change in his second term.

“Really, this is a moment that has been 20 years in the making, and most of the last 20 years unfortunately has not been well spent,” said David Hawkins, director of climate programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

While climate change activists and long-time observers of the ebbs and flows of environmental policy are elated, they are also quietly reminding the president that more work needs to be done.

Yes, so quietly that Politico is shooting down the initiative in advance, along with Coal State Dems.

You can’t do something that is unattainable,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who famously fired a bullet through the cap-and-trade bill in a 2010 campaign ad. “It’s unreasonable. What they’re doing has never been done.”

So yes, if this seems familiar, where the President is being dumped on by the purist left for an insufficient effort and attacked by moderates in his own party before he's actually made the announcement, welcome to the last four years of this administration.

When President Obama chooses to user the executive branch to get things done, it's either "not enough" or "unprecedented tyranny".  When he doesn't, it's "failure to act" and "another broken promise".

The guy can't win, and not a single person it seems is grateful for the effort.  Ever.

The Day The Voting Died

As expected, the Roberts Court has struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act by cleverly striking down Section FOUR instead, saying that the formula that Congress uses to determine which states are under Section 5 pre-clearance is no longer Constitutional.  And of course is was a 5-4 vote to throw out 49 years of voting protections for minorities.

A deeply divided Supreme Court has limited use of a key provision in the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, in effect invalidating federal enforcement over all or parts of 15 states with past history of voter discrimination.

The court said it is now up to congressional lawmakers to revise the law to meet constitutional scrutiny.

"Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to the current conditions," said Chief Justice John Roberts for the 5-4 conservative majority.

Section 4 of the law was struck down, the coverage formula used by the federal government to determine which states and counties are subject to continued oversight. Roberts said that formula from 1972 was outdated and unworkable.

Sure.  Republicans will get right on that new formula thing.  Count out the South from here on out, folks.  It's open season on massive gerrymandering because now, no states, districts, or localities are subject to Section 5 rules.  Chief Justice Roberts' opinion is here:

Held: Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional; its formula can no longer be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdictions to pre-clearance.

Justice Ginsburg's epic dissent should be in America's history books:

In the Court’s view, the very success of §5 of the Voting
Rights Act demands its dormancy. Congress was of
another mind. Recognizing that large progress has been
made, Congress determined, based on a voluminous rec­
ord, that the scourge of discrimination was not yet extir­
pated. The question this case presents is who decides
whether, as currently operative, §5 remains justifiable,
this Court, or a Congress charged with the obligation to
enforce the post-Civil War Amendments “by appropriate
legislation.” With overwhelming support in both Houses,
Congress concluded that, for two prime reasons, §5 should
continue in force, unabated. First, continuance would
facilitate completion of the impressive gains thus far
made; and second, continuance would guard against back­
sliding. Those assessments were well within Congress’
province to make and should elicit this Court’s unstinting

The only thing that's history now?  The rights of millions of Americans to vote.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Last Call For Snowden's Motives

If this story from the South China Morning Post is true, young Edward Snowden is in a crapload of trouble (wherever he is).

Edward Snowden secured a job with a US government contractor for one reason alone – to obtain evidence on Washington’s cyberspying networks, the South China Morning Post can reveal.

For the first time, Snowden has admitted he sought a position at Booz Allen Hamilton so he could collect proof about the US National Security Agency’s secret surveillance programmes ahead of planned leaks to the media.

“My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked,” he told the Post on June 12. “That is why I accepted that position about three months ago.”

During a global online chat last week, Snowden also stated he took pay cuts “in the course of pursuing specific work”.

In other words, Snowden specifically took the job so he could leak.  That was always his intent.

He's done.  The only question is who else he brings down with him.  Yes, Mr. Greenwald, I'm looking at you.  Greendwald supposedly has been in contact with Snowden for months.  If Snowden's sole purpose was to get at classified material with the intent to leak it, what Greenwald knew and when suddenly becomes very germane.  He's not a journalist at this point.  He's a possible accomplice and possible co-conspirator.

Things just got real interesting.


The Supreme Court handed down a number of big rulings today, including Fisher vs. Texas.  In the case of Fisher however it was a non-ruling, the summary judgment of the 5th Circuit sent back down for further ruling.  Kevin Drum:

Well, the Supreme Court has finally handed down a ruling in one of this year's high-profile cases, punted. In a case challenging affirmative action at the University of Texas, the Supremes ruled that the Fifth Circuit court failed to apply strict scrutiny when it upheld the university's claim that affirmative action was necessary as way of promoting diversity. Key quote: "The reviewing court must ultimately be satisfied that no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity."

So now it goes back to the Fifth Court, and then most likely back up to the Supreme Court someday. For now, nothing has changed.

Clarence Thomas made it clear though that if the court had ruled, he would have eliminated all affirmative action nationally:

While it does not, for constitutional purposes, matter whether the University’s racial discrimination is benign, I note that racial engineering does in fact have insidious consequences. There can be no doubt that the University’s discrimination injures white and Asian applicants who are denied admission because of their race. But I believe the injury to those admitted under the University’s discriminatory admissions program is even more harmful.

He goes on to basically say that affirmative action now is as legally indefensible as Jim Crow laws, segregation, slavery, and the Confederacy were in America's past.

It was the other decisions that made things worse, particularly for those seeking a course of action to fight workplace discrimination.  Two decisions, Vance v. Ball State University and UT Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, made it much harder to bring workplace discrimination (Vance) and retaliation (Nassar) cases. Both were 5-4 rulings written by Justice Kennedy (natch.) Vance addressed this question: who's liable for harassment in a company, supervisors or co-workers?

Under Title VII, an employer’s liability for workplace harassment may depend on the status of the harasser. If the harassing employee is the victim’s co-worker, the employer is liable only if it was negligent in controlling working conditions. In cases in which the harasser is a  “supervisor,” however, different rules apply.

Kennedy's ruling:

An employee is a “supervisor” for purposes of vicarious liability under Title VII only if he or she is empowered by the employer to take tangible employment actions against the victim.

In other words, co-workers aren't company liable for harassment claims.

Nassar had a similar ruling that retaliation claims were held to a strict standard.  Not a good day to be an employee, but for now, affirmative action lives.

For now.  More SCOTUS fun tomorrow in a rare Tuesday session.  Still to go:  rulings on DOMA, California's Prop 8, and the big one, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

Gang Of Eight Head Fake

Senate Democrats say they're very close to 70 votes for immigration reform, which is going to make things all the more tragic when the GOP-led House kills the bill.

Immigration reform has gotten a new burst of life as a growing number of Senate Republicans have embraced the 1,000-page-plus legislation, setting up President Obama for a big victory this week.

The sudden surge in Republican support has been a pleasant surprise for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who urged the bill’s authors to focus on winning 60 votes — the minimum for passing it.

Instead, Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), the leaders of the Gang of Eight, are marching toward 70 votes, a target intended to put maximum pressure on the House to act.

The House is the X factor. The lower chamber is expected to pass narrow immigration bills that do not include a path to citizenship, which is a staple of the Senate legislation. Conservatives in the House, including Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), strongly oppose the Senate bill.

Still, an overwhelming bipartisan vote would be a strong boost for a Senate bill that just days ago was teetering.

What's going on here is there's more than a few Republicans who see the opportunity to sign on to the long game and say "Hey, I supported immigration reform."  They also know that Republicans in the House will never pass anything even remotely like the Senate bill, if they end up passing anything at all.

If John Boehner were even mildly competent, he would have already passed a massive border security and visa expansion bill with no path to citizenship measures and told the Senate to suck it.  Democrats would have choked on it and the GOP could say "Well, we actually passed a bill, unlike the Democrats."  It would have gotten them through 2014 easily, and handed another setback to President Obama.

However, because Boehner is herding cats and Eric Cantor is hanging around like Iago going "Hey bro, that's an awful bad break for ya" every 35 minutes, that hasn't happened yet.  It's still possible that Boehner, a handful of Republicans, and a pile of Democrats could pass the Senate bill, but I'm thinking that's not going to happen.

Rather, the most likely outcome is that Boehner tries to pass the border security and visa bill, fails miserably, and the Senate version of the bill dies without a vote.

We'll see, but the practical upshot is it doesn't matter if the Senate immigration bill gets 99 votes:  it will die in the House, if not from political reality, then from Republican voter apathy.  Only 37% of GOP voters in a new Pew/USA Today poll think passing immigration reform with a path to citizenship will help the Republican party.  There's no penalty from the base for failing to pass this bill, and that's all that will matter to the GOP in the House.

Count on it.  And I'm not the only one who feels this way.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Last Call For The Douthat Bubble

Here's a free piece of advice:  if you're a professional Beltway columnist, and you write a story about how any politician is disconnected from the reality of average Americans, you're destined for mockery for the precise reason that professional Beltway columnists are quite literally the least-qualified people in America to have any actual idea what Americans are thinking outside the Beltway.

Hence today's contestant, Ross Douthat.

After all, gun control, immigration reform and climate change aren’t just random targets of opportunity. They’re pillars of Acela Corridor ideology, core elements of Bloombergism, places where Obama-era liberalism overlaps with the views of Davos-goers and the Wall Street 1 percent. If you move in those circles, the political circumstances don’t necessarily matter: these ideas always look like uncontroversial common sense. 

Step outside those circles, though, and the timing of their elevation looks at best peculiar, at worst perverse. The president decided to make gun control legislation a major second-term priority ... with firearm homicides at a 30-year low. Congress is pursuing a sharp increase in low-skilled immigration ... when the foreign-born share of the American population is already headed for historical highs. The administration is drawing up major new carbon regulations ... when actual existing global warming has been well below projections for 15 years and counting.

If Ross had been paying attention, he'd realize that gun control really is an actual priority with a vast majority of Americans, along with a vast majority of non-Beltway scientists on climate change and yes, ordinary Americans are backing immigration reform.  

But Bubble Boy here seems to think that climate change is a myth, along with gun control and immigration reform...and he's so deluded that he thinks Americans don't care about that either.  He goes on to bleat about jobs, but fails to mention Republicans have blocked job legislation at every opportunity.

And in the end, Douthat has to admit his team are losers.

But so far, Republicans have mostly used liberalism’s relative weakness as an excuse for not moving much at all, and sticking with an agenda that’s even more disconnected from the anxieties of the average voter than the White House’s second-term priorities. 

Their assumption seems to be that eventually the public will simply have to turn to them. But their obligation should be to address both parties’ most conspicuous failure, and actually meet the voters where they are.

That's funny, Ross.  Every time the Democrats try to do that, the Republicans block them.  Pay attention.

A Strictly Poison Ivy League School

Zandar's Summer Movie Series continues with a reminder that great teams in animated history are forged by adversity, tempered by will, and then apparently quenched in the water barrel of slapstick physical comedy.

Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and James P. Sullivan (John Goodman) weren't always the beasts of the Monsters, Inc. Scare Floor, and in fact they started out in this prequel to the 2001 Pixar hit as a couple of college freshmen newly accepted as scaring majors to prestigious Monsters University.  It's been Mike's dream since a childhood field trip to MI, and Sully's destiny as he's a legacy admission and trading on the Sullivan family name.

But as the Pixar G-rated equivalent of a couple of dipstick dudebros, Sully's constant coasting and Mike's nerdy know-it-all act quickly results in a bitter rivalry that get the both of them tossed out of the MU Scaring School by Dean Abigail Hardscrabble (the delightfully perfect Helen Mirren) and headed for ignominious defeat...until fate gives them a second chance at the program by proving they can work together and win the MU Greek Scare Games.  All they have to do is beat the the rest of the fraternities and sororities, including the top dogs on campus, Roar Omega Roar and team captain Johnny Worthington (Nathan Filion, hamming it up brilliantly), with arguably the lamest movie fraternity in history:  the brothers of Oozma Kappa.

What follows is a predictable but charming tale for the kids while remaining smart enough to engage the parents as well.  It's still a good time and worth several laughs, and as far as Pixar second stanzas go a much better film that Cars 2 (not a high bar) but comes out close enough to Toy Story 2 to make the grade (not that anything's going to touch Toy Story 3 for a while.)

All in all a good time for everyone, with some solid lessons on teamwork and a few truly laugh-out-loud moments.

Edward's Midnight Runners

NSA leaker Edward Snowden has fled Hong Kong for Moscow, where he'll be shuffled off to Cuba and possibly Venezuela.

The Hong Kong government announced on Sunday afternoon that it had allowed the departure from its territory of Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who has acknowledged disclosing classified documents about United States government surveillance of Internet and telephone communications around the world.

The government statement said that Hong Kong had informed the United States of Mr. Snowden’s departure.

A Moscow-based reservations agent at Aeroflot, Russia’s national airline, said that Mr. Snowden was aboard flight SU213 to Moscow, with a scheduled arrival there a little after 5 p.m. Moscow time. The reservations agent said that Mr. Snowden was traveling on a one-way ticket to Moscow

Mr. Snowden’s final destination was unclear, but there were signs that it might be beyond Moscow. The Russian foreign ministry said that Mr. Snowden appeared to be making a connection in Moscow to another destination, but did not say where. 

Russia’s Interfax news service, citing a “person familiar with the situation,” reported that Mr. Snowden would remain in transit at an airport in Moscow for “several hours” pending an onward flight to Cuba, and would therefore not formally cross the Russian border or be subject to detention. Someone close to Mr. Snowden later told Interfax that he planned to continue on to Caracas, Venezuela

So at this point, China, Russia, possibly Cuba and Venezuela are having a good, long, laugh at the Obama administration.  Whether or not you think this is deserved, the damage Edward Snowden has done to the US by leaking classified info to foreign countries is pretty high, and he's a fugitive from justice.

The guy doesn't seem like a patriot to me.  It seems like everyone in the "We're not cool with the US" camp is getting in on the Snowden info gold mine.

I can't say I'm surprised.  Certainly this makes Snowden just like Dr. Martin Luther King, right?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Last Call For Scalia

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wants people to know he's not interested in making momentous decisions about rights and freedoms and social issues, because A) it's hard and B) it's hard, dammit.

With a potentially ground-breaking decision on gay marriage expected next week, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Friday morning that he and other judges should stop setting moral standards concerning homosexuality and other issues.


We aren’t qualified, Scalia said.

In a speech titled “Mullahs of the West: Judges as Moral Arbiters,” the outspoken and conservative jurist told the N.C. Bar Association that constitutional law is threatened by a growing belief in the “judge moralist.” In that role, judges are bestowed with special expertise to determine right and wrong in such matters as abortion, doctor-assisted suicide, the death penalty and same-sex marriage.

Scalia said that approach presents two problems: Judges are not moral experts, and many of the moral issues now coming before the courts have no “scientifically demonstrable right answer.”

As such, he said, it’s a community’s job to decide what it finds morally acceptable, not the courts’.


So yeah, that whole Constitutional fundamental rights thing?  Naah, those aren't guarantees, those are "what the community finds morally acceptable" and stuff.  So yeah, it's totally cool to hate gay people or brown people or immigrant people because as long as 50% +1 find it morally acceptable to do so, it's cool to discriminate.

Besides, not discriminating is hard, people.  Just take it from Justice Wario here.

Perhaps he should, you know, resign if it's just too hard to adjudicate stuff.  That's just me talking.

Read more here:

The Netroots Of The Issue

This morning House minority leader Nancy Pelosi spoke at this year's Netroots Nation conference in San Jose (And Imani Gandy and Elon White are there, the lucky bastards.)  She faced some tough questions from the audience about NSA leaker Edward Snowden, but faced them and answer them she did.  Here's what I predicted when the event happened:

And of course, Politico's coverage from Emily Schultheis didn't disappoint with the headline "Nancy Pelosi booed, heckled at Netroots Nation 2013".

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was booed by progressive activists Saturday for defending President Obama on the NSA’s surveillance programs and suggesting that alleged leaker Edward Snowden broke the law. 
Speaking in a wide-ranging Q&A session at this year’s Netroots Nation conference, Pelosi said it’s unfair to equate Obama and former President George W. Bush on the issue of surveillance. 
“People on the far right are saying oh, this is the fourth term of President Bush,” the California Democrat said. “Absolutely, positively not so.” 
As Pelosi was saying the country needs a “balance” between security and privacy, Marc Perkel, a 57-year-old activist from Gilroy, Calif., started shouting at Pelosi during her answer and was escorted out of the room. 
“It’s not a balance. It’s not constitutional!” he yelled. “No secret laws!” 
Others in the room began shouting as well, saying things like “Leave him alone!” or “That’s what a police state looks like right there!”

It's boring how predictable Politico's hatred of the Democrats is, it really is. It's always "DEMOCRATS IN DISARRAY" when the real story is "Nancy Pelosi engages critics, leads discussion on NSA policy at Netroots Nations".  Which is frankly exactly what we should be seeing from our elected leaders.

But no, that's not the headline with our "liberal" media.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Last Call For More Butter

Paula Deen just got chopped by Food Network for comments she made in a court deposition about race and gender.

Celebrity chef Paula Deen's contract with The Food Network will not be renewed, the network said Friday, the latest fallout over revelations this week that she admitted to using a racial epithet in the past.

Deen's contract with The Food Network, which airs three shows featuring the chef, expires at the end of the month, the network said.

The Food Network's announcement followed reports earlier this week that Deen acknowledged in a lawsuit deposition to using the "N word," but denied telling racial jokes.

It also came the same day that Deen apologized in video statements posted online for "the wrong that I've done."

Needless to say, if you're shocked by a older Southern white woman being casually racists and talking about reenacting a plantation formal dinner with black men in white jackets as waiters, you're not from the South.

The wingers are of course furious that reenacting Jim Crow is a fireable offense in 2013.

A Fox News correspondent is attacking "the liberal, anti-South media" for unfairly "trying to crucify Paula Deen" over her admission in a court deposition that she's used racial epithets.

Todd Starnes, who also hosts a Fox News Radio segment, wrote on his Facebook page that the "liberal, anti-South media is trying to crucify Paula Deen. They accuse her of using a derogatory word to describe a black person. Paula admitted she used the word -- back in the 1980s - when a black guy walked into the bank, stuck a gun in her face and ordered her to hand over the cash. The national media failed to mention that part of the story. I'll give credit to the Associated Press for telling the full story."

Starnes also defended Deen via Twitter, writing: "The mainstream media hates Paula Deen [...] I think it's because most of them don't eat meat."

Sure, that's it, Todd.

Oh, and I'm not even kidding about the PLANTATION DINNER THING.

Bye, Paula.

Unfinished Bush Business, 1787 Edition

So, who's surprised by this in the least?

Twelve American presidents owned slaves, eight while serving in office, and at least 25 presidents count slave owners among their ancestors. But new historical evidence shows that a direct ancestor of George W. and George H.W. Bush was part of a much more appalling group: Thomas Walker was a notorious slave trader active in the late 18th century along the coast of West Africa.

Walker, George H.W. Bush's great-great-great grandfather, was the captain of, master of, or investor in at least 11 slaving voyages to West Africa between 1784 and 1792.

Yeah I know, it's not like Poppy or Dubya had any control over who their ancestors are.  I was adopted, for all I know I've got a relative that made an awful lot of money for Zee Germans in the 1940's, or was a serial killer, or ate babies on trenchers of bread as medieval performance art.  Not really fair to hang this one on the Bush family.

Besides, there's enough evil that these two clown actually did in their federal political careers that would make me ashamed to have them as relatives, not to mention Poppy's dad and Dubya's granddad Sen. Prescott Bush, who really was a piece of work.  (And by piece of work, I mean he made an awful lot of money off Zee Germans in the 1940's.)

I'm not surprised by the fact, but it's far from the most reprehensible act from that particular genealogical line.

No, Obama's Black Helicopters Didn't Kill Michael Hastings

Of course there's plenty of Info Wars level tinfoil out there about the truly tragic death of BuzzFeed writer Michael Hastings in a car accident this week, but no, the LAPD confirms that sometimes a fatal car wreck is just a fatal car wreck.

The Los Angeles Police Department said there appears to be no foul play in the one-vehicle accident that killed journalist Michael Hastings.

The Los Angeles County coroner on Thursday positively identified Hastings as the driver of a Mercedes that crashed on Highland Avenue near Melrose Avenue on Tuesday morning.

Hastings' involvement with hot-button stories has led to a variety of conspiracy theories arising on the Internet over his death. But LAPD officials said the incident appears to have been an accident and that no other vehicles were involved. Officials are trying to determine whether there was a mechanical problem with the car. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case was ongoing.

Video of the accident scene showed the car engulfed in flames. Law enforcement sources said the car appeared to be going at a high rate of speed but emphasized that the investigation was ongoing.

So, yeah.  Car accident, it happens.  Hell, I ran over something on the way home from work yesterday that ended up damaging two tires and I got to spend the evening at Pep Boys.  Fecal matter occurs, people.

Not to take anything away from Hastings work.  As I said, I respect the fact his Rolling Stone expose' of Gen. Stanley McChrystal was, in my view, a contributing factor as to why President Obama was able to wind down Afghanistan.  McChrystal was running the place like his own personal fiefdom.

But this "the gubment killed Hastings" stuff is offensive, degrading, and stupid.  Stop it.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Last Call For Speaker Boehner

John Boehner just lost, hugely...and so did the GOP.

In a blow to House GOP leaders, the House on Thursday rejected a five-year farm bill.

Members voted down the $940 billion bill in a 195-234 vote that only won 24 Democratic votes. Most Democrats voted against the bill because it cut food stamp programs by more than $20 billion.

Many Republicans also voted no, but for a different reason. They said it was too expensive a bill to pass when the country has $17 trillion in debt.

In the final vote, 62 Republicans opposed the bill, and with the Democratic defections, that was enough to send it to defeat.

Oops.   To recap, Republicans killed their own farm bill.  They added amendments to force SNAP recipients to have work requirements and cut $20 billion from the program.  Democrats walked away.  At that point, the plan should have been for Republicans to pass the bill anyway and tell the Senate to suck it.  Then the only question would have been how strict the work requirements would have been and how deep the cuts would have been, and it would have been a crap sandwich for the Dems.

But the GOP apparently doesn't know how this "governance" thing works because they revolted...over the fact the bill didn't punish poor brown people enough.

Even though the majority of SNAP recipients are white.  Oops.

But no, Republicans got scorched by members like Louie Gohmert, who was pissed his amendment to eliminate all food stamps failed.

Now the Republicans are up the creek, and as I keep telling people, if Boehner can't control his caucus on a farm bill, how is immigration going to pass?

Starting to believe me now, maybe?

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Just going to let this one stand without comment:

In July of 2011, James Vernon McVay slit an elderly South Dakota woman's throat before stealing her car as part of an alleged plot to kill President Barack Obama. But on Wednesday, McVay complained that he was being misrepresented as "some kind of monster."

The 43-year-old McVay is facing a possible death sentence for murdering 75-year-old Maybelle Schein before stealing her vehicle from her Sioux Falls, S.D. home. After he was subsequently arrested in Madison, Wis., McVay told both detectives and a television reporter that he stole the car as part of a plan to kill Obama on a golf course.

McVay has told a psychiatrist that, the night before he murdered Schein, he drank cough syrup and alcohol that he had stolen from Wal Mart. He claims that he was still intoxicated when he was caught in Wisconsin.

Appearing in a Sioux Falls courtroom on Wednesday, McVay — who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in 2012, but claimed mental illness — said that he's being unfairly portrayed by the media.

“I’m tired of it being conveyed to the public as if I’m some kind of a monster,” McVay said, as quoted by the Arugs Leader. “It feels like a joke.” 

I got nothin'.   Enjoy your afternoon.

GOP Minority Outreach Alert

Republicans:  still failing miserably at minority outreach, even to black Republican women.

A county Republican Party chairman in central Illinois called a black female congressional candidate the “love child” of the Democratic party; a “street walker” whose “pimps” are party leaders; and suggested that after the election, she will be “working for some law firm that needs to meet their quota for minority hires.”

And it's a Republican candidate he's talking about.

Montgomery County GOP Chairman Jim Allen wrote the comments in an email to a Republican website, regarding Erika Harold. She is the former Miss America and Harvard Law grad who is seeking the Republican nomination for the 13th Congressional District, which stretches from Champaign to the Metro East.

The episode is an illustration of the unusual state of the GOP in Illinois, where the party tends to fight with itself more than it does with the ruling Democrats.

Allen is a supporter of incumbent U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, whom Harold is challenging for the GOP nomination next year. Allen's letter appears today on RepublicanNewsWatch, an independent website by conservative Republicans who have challenged the more moderate GOP party leaders in the state.

You get a two-fer here folks, not only are we racist but misogynist as well.

On paper, Erika Harold is exactly the kind of candidate the Republican Party needs if it is going to stay relevant.  Harvard Law graduate?  Miss America winner?  That's a devastatingly awesome combination of intellect and charisma that any politician would die for and any party should be glad to feature.

And yes, I keep saying that we need an alternative to the Dems to keep them honest.  Eventually, anyway.  If Harold wants to run as a Republican that's her choice, but I would have to think that she'd at least be considering a run with Team Blue on some level.  I hope.

Just another reminder that there's a cost, folks.  A real one.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Last Call For Douchebag Darrel

GOP Rep. Darrel Issa's "IRS Scandal" charge has just run headlong into the brick wall of reality named Rep. Elijah Cummings.  Evan Puschak blogging at The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell's site:

Rep. Elijah Cummings–ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee–made good on his promise to release more transcripts from the committee’s interviews with workers at the Cincinnati IRS. Despite protests from chairman Darrell Issa, Cummings made available Tuesday the full interview of the IRS Screening Group Manager, who handled groups applying for tax-exempt status.

“This interview transcript…debunks conspiracy theories about how the IRS first started reviewing these cases,” Cummings wrote in a letter to Issa. “Answering questions from Committee staff for more than five hours, this official—who identified himself as a ‘conservative Republican’—denied that he or anyone on his team was directed by the White House to take these actions or that they were politically motivated.”

The “conspiracy theories” Cummings mentions were disseminated by Issa himself. On May 14th, Issa said unequivocally, “This was the targeting of the president’s political enemies effectively and lies about it during the election year, so that it wasn’t discovered until afterwards.” But he had no evidence to support this claim.

And not only does Issa lack evidence to support his nutjob claims, the evidence that the committee does have 100% contradicts those claims.   If anything, the "conservative Republican" whistleblower came forward out of a desire to vet Tea Party organizations to make sure they didn't screw up fundraising rules for the big Republican groups.  He was helping the GOP, not targeting them. 

In other words, if anyone's guilty of politics in the IRS, it's conservatives who want to make sure that the Citizens United gravy train of campaign billions rolls on unimpeded.  Imagine that.

Nice of Darrel to actually find the real scandal in this mess.  Will he do anything about it?

What do you think?
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