Saturday, November 30, 2013

You're A Democrat, Alison

The Daily Beast's Sam Youngman has the same question I do for Alison Lundergan Grimes as she tries to defeat Mitch McConnell in 2014:  When are you going to admit you're a Democrat?

There is grumbling in Frankfort and Washington, at least outside of the DSCC’s press office, about the state of the Grimes campaign and concerns about the lack of growth. 
Four factors have stopped Democrats from pushing the panic button: 1. It is just still way too darn early for Kentuckians to care about an election just less than a year away. 2. Grimes is avoiding any lasting damage from her missteps. 3. In national media reports, Grimes is being hailed as a strong and sturdy challenger who excels on the stump. And 4. She outraised McConnell in her first quarterly report at the end of October. 
The first two are undeniable and speak to just how much time and space Grimes has in front of her to find her footing as a candidate. 
The third is risky for Grimes, clearly enjoying the national media spotlight and potentially risking complacency as she and her team have looked at poll numbers in the mid to low-40s as signs of support instead of the more likely result of dislike for McConnell. 
But the fourth factor was key. Grimes raised more than $2.5 million in her first quarter as a candidate, out-raising the Senate minority leader, who came up with a personal best of $2.27 million. 
While the triumph was near universally pronounced as an eye-popping sign of Grimes’s strength, it too could be misleading. 
First and foremost, it ignores the $10 million McConnell still has in cash despite a shocking burn rate aimed at bruising Grimes and Bevin right out of the gate. Not to mention the cozy six degrees of separation two post-Citizens United groups—McConnell’s SuperPAC Kentuckians for Strong Leadership and Karl Rove’s American Crossroads—share with McConnell, beginning with former campaign manager and longtime ally Steven Law, who holds leadership positions with both groups. 
If you’re a conservative giving to Crossroads next year, your money is going to Kentucky.

Mitch McConnell is mortally wounded and should have lost to Bruce Lunsford in 2008.  But at some point, Grimes is going to have to at least pretend she's to the left of Mitch.  So far that's not happening.

It really needs to.

Another Failure To Communicate

NY Times columnist Timothy Egan has noticed that the entire GOP strategy these days is making sure President Obama (and everyone who voted for him) fails.

It’s hard to remember a time when a major political party and its media arm were so actively rooting for fellow Americans to lose. When the first attempt by the United States to launch a satellite into orbit, in 1957, ended in disaster, did Democrats start to cheer, and unify to stop a space program in its infancy? Or, when Medicare got off to a confusing start, did Republicans of the mid-1960s wrap their entire political future around a campaign to deny government-run health care to the elderly? 
Of course not. But for the entirety of the Obama era, Republicans have consistently been cheerleaders for failure. They rooted for the economic recovery to sputter, for gas prices to spike, the job market to crater, the rescue of the American automobile industry to fall apart
I get it. This organized schadenfreude goes back to the dawn of Obama’s presidency, when Rush Limbaugh, later joined by Senator Mitch McConnell, said their No. 1 goal was for the president to fail. A CNN poll in 2010 found 61 percent of Republicans hoping Obama would fail (versus only 27 percent among all Americans). 
Wish granted, mission accomplished. Obama has failed — that is, if you judge by his tanking poll numbers. But does this collapse in approval have to mean that the last best chance for expanding health care for millions of Americans must fail as well?

Egan has some good points here, but let's go over two things here.  One, what's different about Barack Obama compared to the previous 43 POTUS, and two how terrified are the Republican tea party rump of an America that allows someone like Barack Obama to become President?

It's gotten to the point where not only Obama must fail and suffer, but everyone who supported him.  We all have to pay for messing up "their" America.  So yes, that includes anyone Obamacare is trying to help.  That includes making it harder for the people who supported the President to vote.  That includes making it harder for the people who supported the President to feed their families, and earn a decent wage, and get decent health care and schools and opportunities.

Which is fine with the GOP.  They don't see it as rooting against Americans, because they don't see us as "real Americans".  We're just "those people".

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Last Call For Argle Bargle Bloogity Bloo

This country is insane.

A birther preacher is pushing the conspiracy theory that Miriam Carey, who was shot to death Oct. 3 after police said she tried to ram her car into a barrier outside the White House, was the mother of President Barack Obama’s illegitimate child. 
Rev. James David Manning, pastor of Atlah World Missionary Church who believes the president was born in Kenya, claims that Carey’s family has called for a paternity test to determine whether the woman’s 15-month-old daughter was fathered by the president. 
While Carey’s family has indeed asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to look into the fatal shooting, the only source for the claim about the family’s request for a paternity test seems to be additional videos posted online by Manning. 
He also links to a petition purportedly set up by Carey’s sister asking for more investigation, but that too fails to mention a paternity test.

Thanks, Obama!

The Other Side: Hobby Lobby's Waging War

A Twitter exchange this morning with Hot Air's Jazz Shaw about Hobby Lobby partially resulted in this post on something we both agree on:  the pending Hobby Lobby SCOTUS case will have far-ranging effects on American businesses and employees, and that the religious freedoms of the company are not the real issue (bold emphasis mine:)

But this leads us to what I think should be the real debate at the heart of this case. The question I would like to hear the SCOTUS justices ask the participants in this case is as follows: “Do you believe that the government has the power to tell employers how many days of paid vacation they have to offer their employees?” 
Employers offer a collection of things to prospective applicants for job openings which the HR department collectively refers to as a compensation package. This goes far beyond the wages offered, covering items such as vacation, sick time, casual Fridays, employer contributions to 401K plans and, yes, health care options. Different companies offer different packages, and as you would expect, those who offer the best collection of benefits will attract the most and the best applicants. The employer must balance the costs of all this against their bottom line. 
Conversely, an employer who offers virtually nothing but the bare minimum wage will attract only those who can’t find a position anywhere else. They may show up for work most of the time, but they will hardly be motivated to excel and further the company’s goals, generally keeping an eye on the clock and the door, hoping for a chance to bolt to a better situation. Such a company is unlikely to do well. It’s the invisible hand of the market at work yet again. So the real question I’m asking is not if the employer has the religious freedom to single out certain items of health care which they will or will not offer, but rather if they have the freedom to decide which – if any – benefits they offer the employee of any kind and to live with the consequences of those decisions. If the Hobby Lobby case actually settles anything, I’d hope it would be that question rather than the religious liberty debate which dominates the headlines.

And this is a point where I freely admit Jazz and I are on different sides.  Jazz argues that businesses should be able to determine in a free market system what compensation and benefits they can offer, and that the government should step aside and let the market determine the winners.  My argument is that if a local, state, or federal government elects people who create laws to mandate minimums that apply to all businesses and those laws are passed by elected officials in a representative democracy, then businesses are obligated to follow those laws.

It's classic libertarian versus liberal stuff here.  US v. Darby Lumber Company, decided in 1941, clearly held that under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution that since Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, and that Congress has the power to regulate commerce, then a federal minimum wage was within the purview of the Congress.   That's the same legal logic behind the Affordable Care Act's minimum coverage laws for health insurance, including birth control.

The issue of the scope of what constitutes "commerce" has long been a bone of contention in American jurisprudence, as the Tenth Amendment declares intrastate commerce the dominion of states themselves. Either way, states all have minimum wage laws that cover this as well, even if it just says "The minimum wage is whatever the federal minimum wage is right now."  Some states have higher minimum wages than the federal one.  Those too are constitutional.

So that again brings us back to Jazz's question:  do businesses have any real freedom to decide what they can offer employees at all?  Would allowing them to do so help the American economy?

My answer is yes, they do, and yes, at the expense of workers.  Look, let's not split hairs here on this:  a business is in business to turn a profit, and in nearly every business I can think of, from lemonade stands to professional sports teams, the number one cost of a business is paying employees.  If we got rid of the minimum wage tomorrow, you can bet that the invisible hand of the free market would pull everyone's wages down.  If your employer can pay you less for the same work, they're going to do it.

If I'm Wal-Mart, and I have shareholders, my job is to provide maximum profit to the shareholders.  So if I can get away with paying my cashiers $2 an hour, and I can find cashiers who will work for that much, then I win.  Are they going to be the best cashiers?  Probably not, but you know what?  If I'm the nation's largest private employer and I drastically lower wages, and I've driven local competition out of business, and I can lower my prices even further in order to keep customers, I win again.

The real issue is not whether or not we need a minimum wage or regulation of benefits, it's whether or not we want to be a country where working 40 hours a week is enough to support a household.  Increasingly, the answer is no, and that has long term repercussions.  After all, workers that don't get paid don't have money to spend.

Recount Redux In Virginia

It's official:  Republican Mark Obenshain has officially filed for a recount in his 165-vote loss to Democrat Mark Herring for the Virginia Attorney General's race, and TPM's Dan Strauss has the details:

A three-judge panel is formed for overseeing the election process. The panel, made up of the chief judge of the Richmond Circuit Court, Bradley B. Cavedo, and two other judges appointed by the Supreme Court of Virginia will oversee the recount. Most of the rules for the recount are already established but the panel will handle setting some of the procedures for the recount as well as any complaints either the Obenshain campaign or Herring campaign has about how the recount is going. The panel will hold hearings roughly a week after the Obenshain campaign's recount petition has been filed to establish the specific dates and procedures for the recount.
The Obenshain campaign said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning that it expected the recount to happen sometime in mid-December and that it would likely take a day, possibly two, for all the ballots to be recounted.

This recount will be different from previous Virginia recounts in that all ballots counted through optical scan will be rescanned again. That's in contrast to the 2005 attorney general recount between Bob McDonnell (R) and Creigh Deeds (D). State law during that recount said that the three-judge panel had to re-tabulate scanned ballots by hand. In 2008, Deeds sponsored legislation changing the law so all scanned ballots went through optical scan machines again instead of a hand recount. All other types of ballots cast in the race, including provisional and absentee, will be hand counted again.

What I don't expect:  the idiotic Minnesota Al Franken/Norm Coleman 2008 recount that took well into 2009 before Franken was declared the winner.  Hopefully Herring will be declared the victor before Christmas.

We'll keep an eye on this one.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

StupidiNews, Turkey Day Edition!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Last Call For A Streetcar Named Retired

Something funny happened on the way to Cincinnati Mayor-elect John Cranley's destiny to kill the city's streetcar project:  the painful reality of cold hard mathematics.

The total cost of cancelling Cincinnati's streetcar could run as high as $125 million, just $8 million less than the estimated cost to complete it, according to the project manager.

The $133 million project faces the threat of cancellation when mayor-elect John Cranley takes office next month; killing the streetcar was Cranley's top campaign promise.

Streetcar project manager John Deatrick outlined the cost of cancellation at a special session of City Council's Budget and Finance Committee this afternoon. The costs include:
  • $32.8 million spent so far which will not be returned
  • $30.6 million to $47.6 million to close down the project
  • $45 million in lost federal funds

Whoops.  As such, suddenly the support Cranley had on the incoming city council to nuke the project is a bit on the wanting side.

Cranley had six anti-streetcar votes on the new nine-member council. But one member said yesterday that he no longer supports stopping construction. 
It feels neither prudent nor fiscally responsible to scrap the whole thing,” Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld said. 
Sittenfeld said the possibility that the city won’t have to pay an estimated $3.5 million to $4.5 million in annual operating costs helped influence his change of mind. He said fares and sponsorships will partly cover those costs.
Sittenfeld also supports creating a special improvement district to pay for the rest of the operating costs. That plan would require property owners along the route to pay higher taxes than other city-property owners. Sixty percent of the affected owners would have to agree to the plan in order for the district to be created.

That's an idea I actually agree with, and it seems like a very good compromise.  Indeed, it seems after backing Cranley for Mayor, the Cincinnati Enquirer is now warming up to the project.

It seems the reports of the streetcar project being dead are greatly exaggerated.

A Failure To Communicate

As with the "failed stimulus" and "failed recovery" and "failed foreign policy" of the Obama administration, none of which were actual failures (but that doesn't matter if you call them failures enough times) we now have "failed Obamacare" as the latest Republican tautology.

With Obamacare facing its deadline for website functionality, Republicans appear absolutely, irrevocably, 100 percent certain the law’s total collapse is at hand, or even already complete. However, they may be the only ones who are convinced of this.
A new CNN poll tests public opinion on the law in a way I haven’t seen before — and it shows Republicans are the only group who believe the law’s problems can’t be solved and that it should now be pronounced a failure. Independents and moderates believe it can still work.

To be sure, opposition is running high, at 58 percent, as in many other polls, and virtually no one believes the law is a success, which is as it should be. This means, again, that the rollout continues to put Democrats in serious political peril. But disapproval does not necessarily translate into giving up on the law, which matters, because it goes to whether people will enroll in the numbers necessary to make it work over time.

The poll finds 53 percent of Americans say it’s too soon to tell if the law will succeed or fail, versus 39 percent who pronounce it a failure. That latter sentiment is driven by Republicans: Independents say it’s too soon to tell by 55-41; moderates by 58-35. But Republicans overwhelmingly believe it’s a failure by 70-25.

The poll also finds 54 percent believe current problems facing the law will eventually be solved, versus 45 percent who don’t. Again, that latter sentiment is driven by Republicans: Independents think they will be solved by 50-48; moderates by 55-43. By contrast, Republicans overwhelmingly believe they won’t be solved by 72-27.

So the jury's still out for most of America except for the GOP  Surprise!  But there's two major bright spots:

Crucially, young Americans — who are important to the law’s success – overwhelmingly believe the problems will be solved (71 percent). Part of the campaign by Republicans to persuade Americans that the law’s doom is inevitable is about dissuading people from enrolling, to turn that into a self fulfilling prophesy. 
By the way: The CNN poll also finds that of those who oppose the law, 14 percent say it’s not liberal enough — meaning the total who support the law or want it to go further is 54 percent, versus 41 percent who say it’s too liberal.

I cannot overemphasize the second point enough there.  A majority of Americans want Obamacare to succeed.  The GOP rooting for failure, and in fact taking steps to make it fail, will not go unnoticed by voters.

A Trey-tor To The Cause

If you want to know why Florida Republicans are suddenly throwing rehab-bound GOP Rep. Trey Radel under the bus and demanding his resignation, it's because Connie Mack IV, son of former GOP Sen. Connie Mack III, wants his old House seat back.

Former Rep. Connie Mack has begun reaching out to supporters to run for Rep. Trey Radel’s House seat, several sources tell POLITICO. 
Mack (R-Fla.) gave the seat up in 2012 when he ran unsuccessfully against Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). But with Radel in rehabilitation following his arrest for possession of cocaine, Mack is trying to shore up support. One Republican lobbyist said that Mack has “made his intention known.” 
As he undergoes rehab in Naples, Fla., Radel is coming under increasing pressure to give up his House seat. On Tuesday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) said Radel should step down, according to the Fort Myers News-Press. On Monday night, Lenny Curry, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, called on Radel to “step down and focus his attention on rehabilitation and his family.” The two local party chairs in Radel’s southwest Florida district also called on the first-term Republican to step down, and said if he decides to run again, he will not have their support. 
Radel is on probation for one year. He was caught buying cocaine from a federal agent in Washington. 
Radel’s district is solidly Republican, so if he decides not to resign, he’ll certainly face a primary challenger on Aug. 26. A source close to Mack, who would not speak for attribution, said the former congressman has not decided whether he would primary Radel.

So yeah, if this is true, Radel is toast and Mack gets his old digs back in a safe red district that he already lives in.  Bonus points: Mack gets to dodge any heat for the government shutdown, which he was not in office for.  A real no-brainer for the no-brainers here, it seems.

Would love to see a Dem run here.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Last Call For General Hospital...Closures

Just a reminder that in red states where Republicans turned down Medicaid expansion, rural hospitals are closing and people are dying as a direct result.

At least five public hospitals closed this year and many more are scaling back services, mostly in states where Medicaid wasn’t expanded. Patients in areas with shuttered hospitals must travel as far as 40 miles (64 kilometers) to get care, causing delays that can result in lethal consequences, said Bruce Siegel, chief executive officer of America’s Essential Hospitals, a Washington-based advocacy group for facilities that treat large numbers of uninsured or low-income patients.

“Everyone in a community will be affected,” Siegel said. “We could see the end of life-saving services, and patients would bear the brunt.”

Hospitals have dismissed at least 5,000 employees across the country since June, mostly in states that haven’t expanded the joint state-federal Medicaid health program for the poor as anticipated under the U.S. health overhaul known as Obamacare. Hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee and Indiana University Health are among providers seeking cost savings in areas such as cancer treatment, mental health and infant care. 

And just so it's clear whose fault this is:

Obama proposed delaying for a year the subsidy cuts for hospitals to give states more time to expand Medicaid. Congress didn’t go along with his proposal.  

Republicans blocked Medicaid, Republicans blocked doing anything about the subsidy cuts.  So hospitals are closing in red states and people are dying.  Point blank.  Your death panels making life and death decisions about people's health care choices are called "Republican state and congressional lawmakers."

Any questions?

A Heckler Of A Problem

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how the President of the United States of America handles a heckler, in a country where free speech is enshrined into the Constitution.  It happened Monday during the president's speech in San Francisco:

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Mr. President, please use your executive order to halt deportations for all 11.5 undocumented immigrants in this country right now.
THE PRESIDENT: What we’re trying –
AUDIENCE: Obama! Obama! Obama!
AUDIENCE MEMBER: — that we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform at the same time we — you have a power to stop deportation for all undocumented immigrants in this country.
THE PRESIDENT: Actually I don’t. And that’s why we’re here.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: So, please, I need your help.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Stop deportations!
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Stop deportations!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. All right.
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Stop deportations! Stop deportations!
THE PRESIDENT: What I’d like to do — no, no, don’t worry about it, guys. Okay, let me finish.
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Stop deportations! Yes, we can! Stop deportations!
THE PRESIDENT: These guys don’t need to go. Let me finish. No, no, no, he can stay there. Hold on a second. (Applause.) Hold on a second.
So I respect the passion of these young people because they feel deeply about the concerns for their families. Now, what you need to know, when I’m speaking as President of the United States and I come to this community, is that if, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so.
But we’re also a nation of laws. That’s part of our tradition. And so the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws. And what I’m proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve. But it won’t be as easy as just shouting. It requires us lobbying and getting it done. (Applause.)

As PoliticusUSA's Jason Easley points out, this is exactly what the President should have said and did say.

The president didn’t have the heckler removed. He didn’t insult or try to humiliate the heckler. Instead, he listened and had a dialogue about his concerns. The president also made an important point during the conversation. 
He can’t wave a magic wand and stop the deportations. It will take comprehensive immigration reform to change our system. Even if Obama could magically stop the deportations, is that the way we want our country to be governed? 
If President Obama stopped the deportations, there would be nothing to stop the next president from reversing his policy and adopting a harsher policy. The way to get lasting change is to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill through Congress
The passion of activists deserves our appreciation, but many activists don’t understand how to use their activism to change the way the nation is governed. Anyone who yells and wants President Obama to snap his fingers and make something happen is pretending. They aren’t being honest with themselves about the slow and often frustrating policy process. 
These activists shouldn’t be yelling at President Obama. They should be yelling at John Boehner. There is enough support in the House to pass the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill, but Speaker Boehner will not allow a vote.

Which is the point.  It's not President Obama preventing the House from taking a vote to pass immigration reform.  It's Orange Julius.  The Senate has once again passed comprehensive immigration reform.  The House refuses to even consider the bill precisely because it would pass.

And that failure is 100% on John Boehner.

Unfortunately, it's something the heckler himself seems incapable of getting.

A pro-immigration activist who on Monday heckled President Barack Obama during a speech on comprehensive immigration reform told CNN he found Obama's response "very disappointing." 
"This is very urgent," Ju Hong, a graduate of the University of California-Berkeley, told CNN afterwards. "This is the only venue where I could speak out, and I'm representing the voices of other undocumented students who are actually in the detention center right now who can not be here."

You got your free speech.  You don't like it?  Next time, keep your mouth shut.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Go home, French intelligence.  You're drunk.

French spies plotted to pose as neo-Nazis to assassinate Abu Hamza, the hate cleric, in London because they were so frustrated with Britain’s failure to deal with him, it was claimed Sunday
They planned to send the fanatic fake death threats from the far-Right group Combat 18 before shooting him with weapons said to be associated with that group. 
In a separate move, they also plotted to kidnap Hamza and take him to France, a report by the campaign group Hope not Hate claimed. 
Intelligence services across the Channel hatched the assassination plan in 1999, amid tensions between the two countries over the scale of Islamist extremism in Britain.  Bad, bad France.  Bad.  Every single aspect of this idea was horrible and stupid and bad.  Bad bad bad bad bad.

I mean I know the plan was 14 years ago, but...really?  This was before Bush/Cheney made this kinda of thing "socially acceptable".

Bad France.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Last Call For The Stuebenville Shuffle

Ohio AG Mike Dewine is still a voter-suppressing douchebag, but he promised to do the right thing in the Steubenville rape case, and it looks like that his office has finally delivered with new charges.

A grand jury investigating the 2012 rape of a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio, has indicted four school employees, including the school superintendent, who faces felony charges, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Monday.
Steubenville City Schools Superintendent Michael McVey faces three felony counts: one charge of tampering with evidence and two counts of obstructing justice. He also is charged with making a false statement and obstructing official business, both misdemeanors, DeWine said.

Also indicted was elementary school principal Lynnett Gorman and wrestling coach Seth Fluharty, both of whom are charged with misdemeanor failure to report child abuse. Volunteer assistant Steubenville football coach Matt Bellardine was charged with four misdemeanors: allowing underage drinking, obstructing official business, making a false statement and contributing to the unruliness or delinquency of a child.

This brings to six the number of people the grand jury has indicted after two students were convicted of rape, DeWine said. A school technology director and his daughter were indicted in October.

All I have to say is good, and about gorram time.  The school apparently did everything they could to protect the high school football program and not the student who was raped.  If that's the mindset of a school superintendent, they deserve to face felony charges.

The two boys convicted of the crime are serving their time, but the real book needs to be thrown at the adults who enabled them, and good for DeWine getting this right.

Fitting then that these indictments were announced on the United Nations' International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

A Healthy Load Of Crap

Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker has some interesting ideas about what constitutes a "healthy balance" of rights when it comes to same-sex anything, apparently.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV that was recorded on Friday, host Al Hunt asked the Wisconsin governor if the U.S. House should follow the Senate and pass a bill banning discrimination against LGBT people. 
Walker insisted that he had not looked at the Senate measure barring workplace discrimination, but said that Wisconsin had similar laws in place for years. 
“They’ve worked quite effectively,” he explained. “We’re also a state that has a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as one man, one woman.” 
We’ve had no problems… limited problems with that,” Walker added. “At the same time, we have a constitutional amendment that defines marriage.” 
“There’s a healthy balance there.”

Gotta have the parts where you treat The Gay(tm) like human beings offset by treating them as diseased lunatics who could spread The Gayness(tm).  That's a "healthy balance" if you're a Republican bigot, apparently.  Good cop, bad cop.  Carrot and stick.  Anti-discrimination laws and enshrined bigotry.

What?  Rights are rights and not subject to whatever the hell bigots want to define them as?  Boy, where have you been for the last 150 years?

Everything's Coming Up Munich

John Holbo over at Crooked Timber isn't the only person to notice the neo-con crowd has completely lost anything remotely marble-shaped over this Iran deal:

I knew folks on the right were going to be upset about the Iran deal, but isn’t this a bit much? The Corner has gone Everyday-is-like-Munich full neocon. 
OK, maybe there’s no point in even bothering, but just look at this post, “Munich II”, by James Jay Carafano (vice president of foreign- and defense-policy studies at the Heritage Foundation.) He is banging on about how ‘realism’, presumably in the I-R sense, opposes this deal. But, even as he’s trying to make the case, he can’t help inadvertently making the case that the other side has got the better realist case. 
What does Carafano think we should hold out for? “Any diplomatic deal that is not grounded in shared interests or a common sense of justice will surely fail.” 
That just means there’s no possibility of any diplomatic deal. Ever. If there’s any truth to realism. States are self-interested. Iran wants what’s good for Iran. US wants what’s good for US. There isn’t any overriding, operative sense of justice that overrides all that. So we’re done. This is Realism 101, right?

Yes, followed by the part where we pick up Iran and throw them against the wall for good measure a couple of times to let them know that this is our planet, and you can either be our friend and helpful vassal to our corporate oligarchy or get Regime Change(tm).  All this Munich 1938/Neville Chamberlain garbage is because Obama has called their bluff.  Now these idiots are left hoping that a nuclear weapon detonates in a major American city and kills hundreds of thousands just so they can say "I told you so."

And since us getting nuked is now "assured", we have every right apparently to go flatten Iran first before that happens.  Consequences, schmonsequences!

Of course, I'm also told there's no difference between Obama and Bush, so why Obama keeps doing the opposite of what Bush would have done and proving otherwise is just making things very inconvenient for certain parts of the Left.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Obamacare Is Working In Kentucky

In the states where Obamacare is allowed to work without GOP sabotage, it's an incredible system.  There's no greater example of this than right here in Kentucky.

Places such as Breathitt County, in the Appalachian foothills of eastern Kentucky, are driving the state’s relatively high enrollment figures, which are helping to drive national enrollment figures as the federal health exchange has floundered. In a state where 15 percent of the population, about 640,000 people, are uninsured, 56,422 have signed up for new health-care coverage, with 45,622 of them enrolled in Medicaid and the rest in private health plans, according to figures released by the governor’s office Friday.
If the health-care law is having a troubled rollout across the country, Kentucky — and Breathitt County in particular — shows what can happen in a place where things are working as the law’s supporters envisioned.
One reason is that the state set up its own health-insurance exchange, sidestepping the troubled federal one. Also, Gov. Steve Beshear (D) is the only Southern governor to sign on to expanded eligibility parameters for Medicaid, the federal health-insurance program for the poor.

The real benefit here is Medicaid expansion. Kentucky has already knocked more than a full percentage point off the number of uninsured, tens of thousands of people.  In just a month, a sizable dent has been made in the state's uninsured population.  This is what Obamacare was supposed to do all along:  give states the tools to control their health costs and to help their people.

It's Republicans who have refused the program and wrecked the ship.  You can complain about the federal website all you want, but the real issue is Republicans are making this fail for millions on purpose and are complaining about why it's not working.  It's not working because they've done everything they possibly can to make it not work in more than half the states.

Where it is working?  Kentucky.  Think about that.

Iran Towards The Finish Line

Everything you possibly need to know about last night's historic "5+1" group nuclear deal with Iran is the reaction of NRO's Daniel Pipes.

This wretched deal offers one of those rare occasions when comparison with Neville Chamberlain in Munich in 1938 is valid. An overeager Western government, blind to the evil cunning of the regime it so much wants to work with, appeases it with concessions that will come back to haunt it. Geneva and Nov. 24 will be remembered along with Munich and Sep. 29. 
Barack Obama has made many foreign-policy errors in the past five years, but this is the first to rank as a disaster. Along with the health-care law, it is one of his worst-ever steps. John Kerry is a too-eager puppy looking for a deal at any price. 
With the U.S. government forfeiting its leadership role, the Israelis, Saudis, and perhaps others are left to cope with a bad situation made worse. War has now become a much more likely prospect. Shame on we Americans for reelecting Barack Obama.

Shame on us for electing the guy who didn't want to drag us into another decade-long Middle East shooting war!  Munich 1938!  Neville Chamberlain!  Abandoned Israel!

Of course, it's not like Pipes was every right about anything in the Middle East to begin with, the dope's been on the wrong side of history on Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Libya, Syria, and now Iran.

The fact that he's sputtering invective this morning tells me everything I need to know.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Last Call For The New Blockbusters

Zandardad flagged this article for me this morning and it's an important one.  LA Times political writer Mike Memoli discusses the critical mass of newer Democratic senators elected since 2006 who have A) only known a Senate majority, and B) only known of Republicans blocking everything they possibly could.  They feel no allegiance to the empty rhetoric of Senate comity because they've never seen it, they only have seen various occasions where Senate Republicans have weakened Democrats' legislation in return for their votes, and then House Republicans simply block it when these same Senate Republicans abandon their own positions to kneel to the Tea Party.

In other words, after 7 years, they are sick of being suckers.  And they've finally convinced Harry Reid to push the button.

"The Senate is a graveyard for good ideas," Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), who along with Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon led the filibuster reform effort and won over veteran colleagues in a body where seniority was once the most valuable currency. 
This newer class of Democrats came to Washington, not unlike the tea party Republicans, with a strong commitment to their ideals and policy goals. But while the tea party rule in the House has been characterized by attempts to stifle the president's agenda, Democrats see their goal as helping to implement it. 
Thursday's action to limit the use of filibusters — seen as so drastic it was termed the "nuclear option" — shows they are willing to carve out a different path to get there. 
"There's a time to reach across the aisle and there's a time to hold the line," said Sen. Christopher S. Murphy (D-Conn.), the body's youngest member at 40, who was elected in 2012. "And I think so far this year Democrats in the Senate have done a very good job of mixing across-the-aisle compromise with some heretofore unseen spine-stiffening." 
The time has come for Democrats to take a harder stance against the tea party Republicans, he said. 
"These folks have come to Washington to destroy government from within and will use any tool at their disposal," Murphy said. "To the extent that we have the ability to take tools away from the tea party, we should do it. And one of the tools was the filibuster. Another was the belief that Democrats would cave in the face of another shutdown or debt default."

Keep your eye on Chris Murphy.  He's only a few years older than I am, and I couldn't agree with him more. When a bully punches you in the mouth and then bends the rules so he can keep doing it, you have to fight back. 

And keep in mind at various times, all of these "Republican moderates" like McCain, Murkowski, Collins, etc have voted in lockstep with the tea party to block President Obama.

Why play their game?  Good for the Dems to stand up to these assholes.

Stopped Clock Is Right Alert

Today's contestant:  Townhall's Conn Carroll, giving the most blunt assessment yet as to why Republicans have no alternative to Obamacare and won't even try until 2016:

1. Democrats Are Dying for a Villain to Run Against. President Obama is at his most effective when he has an opponent to demonize. Right now, he doesn't really have one, other than the insurance companies, and he needs them as allies or Obamacare will completely collapse. 
That is why, as The Washington Post's Greg Sargent reported Wednesday, "the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is set to launch a new campaign designed to refocus the debate on the Republican position on health care, which Dems will widely label as 'Cruz Care.'" 
It doesn't matter what the actual policies in any Republican plan are, Democrats will label whatever Republicans come up with as "Cruz Care." Democrats will then tie Cruz, who is highly unpopular among independents across the country, to every Republican candidate. Why would Republicans want to help Democrats do this? 
2. Congressional Republicans are not Popular. Americans' opinion of Congress has never been lower. That will color any solution congressional Republicans present. If you are a candidate challenging a Democratic incumbent, why would you want to defend a plan created by a body with an 11 percent approval rating? 
3. Obama will veto any Republican plan anyway. Obama has already made it abundantly clear that he will veto any health care law that he believes would undermine Obamacare. The only Obamacare fixes Obama will not veto, are fixes that would expand the size and scope of the federal government. Any Republican plan that could pass the House would have to go in the polar opposite direction, shrinking the size and scope of the federal government.

You know what?  Carroll is completely correct here, which means that the Clown Hall crew is in fact occasionally capable of rational discourse.  The only people who can't run on health care more than the Democrats are congressional Republicans, who have an approval rating somewhere between "Being chained to a desk and forced to write the script for The Hangover Part 4" and "Oh boy, chewy tinfoil for everyone!"

And you know what?  I'm betting that reason number 2 there will prevent any GOP hopefuls in 2016 from presenting any plans then, either.

McCain's Modern Maverick Mania

MSNBC's Steve Kornacki argues that GOP "moderates" are really secretly happy that Harry Reid's filibuster elimination for executive and judicial nominations went through.

Republicans en masse have been denouncing and condemning the “nuclear option” filibuster reform passed by Senate Democrats on Thursday, but MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki argued on Hardball GOP senators are actually happy at the outcome because it took the pressure of the angry tea party off them and onto the Democrats
Chris Matthews argued that the real goal of the GOP is to “stop this president from being president” so that President Obama is essentially forgotten in the history books. But Kornacki thought the GOP’s breathing a sigh of relief at today’s events instead. He said, “If you gave truth serum to a lot of Republican senator, I think they’re secretly relieved by this.” 
Kornacki argued Republicans have been under pressure for years to oppose basically everything that President Obama stands for, even opposing judicial nominees just because, and many Republican senators felt boxed in between their duties to the country and saving their political hides. So basically, the fix “lets them off the hook,” as Kornacki put it, by making votes on appointments a simple majority instead of requiring 60 votes to come to the floor.

I'll go one step further.  This is not secretly wonderful for the squishy RINO set, it's 100% pure awesome. Republicans like John McCain and Susan Collins now can say HARRY REID IS SOOOOOO MEAN YOU GUYS and do whatever they want.  No, they can't block federal nominees anymore, but they sure as hell can continue to block legislation, and will happily do so.

Democrats still have to come crawling to these guys in the "middle" to get their 5-6 votes and they know it. Then the House turns around and blocks the legislation anyway.  It's Maverick City.  So when John McCain goes on a rant about how Democrats will rue the day, rue I tell you, remember that he's full of crap and loving every second of it.

It means he can extract even more concessions on Democratic legislation in the Senate and he's well aware of it.  I don't buy the threats for a second.  McCain is gleeful.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Last Call For Profiles In Revanchist Nonsense

The conservative answer to "Reagan would have never been accepted in the GOP of today" is apparently "JFK would have never been accepted in the Democratic party of today", straight from the fever dreams of George F. Will.  His opinion on liberals and Kennedy:

For them, his conservative dimension is an inconvenient truth. Ira Stoll, in "JFK, Conservative," tries to prove too much but assembles sufficient evidence that his book's title is not merely provocative.

A Look magazine headline in June 1946 read: "A Kennedy Runs for Congress: The Boston-bred scion of a former ambassador is a fighting-Irish conservative."

Neither his Cold War anti-communism, which was congruent with President Harry Truman's, nor his fiscal conservatism changed dramatically during his remaining 17 years.

Visitors to the Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum here, on the salt water across which his ancestors came as immigrants and on which he sailed his yacht, watch Kennedy press conferences, such as that of Sept. 12, 1963, when, responding to a question about Vietnam, he said his policy was to "win the war there" — "That is why some 25,000 Americans have traveled 10,000 miles to participate in that struggle." He added: "We are not there to see a war lost."

His answer was consistent with a 1956 speech calling Vietnam "the keystone to the arch, the finger in the dike," adding: "This is our offspring — we cannot abandon it."

A few years later, with the war going badly, several Kennedy aides claimed that he had been planning to liquidate the intervention. But five months after the assassination, Robert Kennedy told an oral history interviewer that his brother "had a strong, overwhelming reason for being in Vietnam and that we should win the war in Vietnam."

Will basically argues that Kennedy would today be considered the George W. Bush of his time:  a scion of a wealthy New England family, a war and tax cut hawk, and a "compassionate conservative" who reached out to minorities.

Will is old enough to have been through Kennedy's presidency, and ought to know better than to overlook his stance on civil rights, the United Nations, nuclear proliferation, which got him labeled as a traitor by right-wing extremists.  Since 50 years later these are the folks now running the Republican party, I'm thinking JFK would be even less welcome there.

The Other Side Assesses The Nuclear Option

Allahpundit over at Hot Air sums up the GOP position on yesterday's Senate filibuster rules change vote:

It’s a 10-kiloton bomb, not a 10-megaton one: Supreme Court nominees will still require 60 votes for cloture before confirmation. The possibility of a Republican president and a Republican Senate pushing through pro-life justices is too horrifying to the left for them to risk changing the rules on SCOTUS appointments too. 
This doesn’t apply to legislation either, but so what? Once the precedent of weakening the filibuster in one context is set, it’s easy for either party to cite it in expanding that precedent to another context. My new mantra: 51 votes for repeal [of Obamacare].

I'm going to argue that was always the plan in case the Republicans win the Senate back in 2014, and that yes, while Democrats finally decided after five years to stop allowing Republicans to punch them in the face, I'm sure all sides agree that the second the GOP gets the Senate back, the filibuster is permanently gone. Again, my argument is that was going to happen anyway.

After all, a GOP controlled Senate is at this point, far, far more likely than another Republican president anytime soon.  That's something all sides agree on.

The Supremes Are "Over Roe"

Chuck Pierce makes the argument that Tuesday's 5-4 SCOTUS decision to refuse to block Texas's ridiculous anti-abortion law will be the basis of the eventual end of a woman's right to choose.

Once again, as it did in Citizens United and in Shelby County, a majority of the court determined to demonstrate to the nation that its members do not live in the same world with the rest of us. In Citizens United, we learned that, in the world where the majority of the court resides, unlimited corporate spending in our elections does not result in even "the appearance of corruption." In Shelby County, we learned that, in the world where the majority of the court resides, we have attained the Day Of Jubilee and institutional racism plays no significant role in the local laws governing elections. And yesterday, we learned that, in the world where the majority of the court resides, having no doctor legally capable of performing an abortion in 24 counties in a state the size of Texas does not place an "undue burden" on women who are attempting to exercise their constitutional right.

It's depressing to think about it.  Scalia's opinion is that there is "no special 'status quo' standard for laws affecting abortion." None.  So if a state wants to make it impossible to get one, that's a decision for the state to make, not the woman.

Lesser minded individuals will of course say "Well why do you have a problem with that, libtards?  Isn't that what Obamacare is?  The state making decisions for everyone on getting the safest health care?"  Sure, because the Affordable Care Act makes it impossible to get health care by making you jump through hoops.  The second there's a 24 hour waiting period and a doctor with surgical privileges required to get Viagra, this all would go away.

Meanwhile, Texas women will have to drive to New Mexico to get an abortion at this rate.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Last Call For One Track McCarthyism

If you're wondering what House Republicans are planning on doing in 2014, the answer is actually very simple:  attack Obamacare.

The memo distributed to House Republicans this week was concise and blunt, listing talking points and marching orders: “Because of Obamacare, I Lost My Insurance.” “Obamacare Increases Health Care Costs.” “The Exchanges May Not Be Secure, Putting Personal Information at Risk.” “Continue Collecting Constituent Stories.”

The document, the product of a series of closed-door strategy sessions that began in mid-October, is part of an increasingly organized Republican attack on the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature legislative initiative. Republican strategists say that over the next several months, they intend to keep Democrats on their heels through a multilayered, sequenced assault. 

The idea is to gather stories of people affected by the health care law — through social media, letters from constituents, or meetings during visits back home — and use them to open a line of attack, keep it going until it enters the public discourse and forces a response, then quickly pivot to the next topic.

Endless taxpayer-sponsored attacks on the law, endless repeal votes, and endless House investigations:

The effort has its roots in a strategy developed last spring, when House Republican leaders — plagued by party divisions that were thwarting legislative accomplishments — refocused the House’s committees on oversight rather than on the development of new policies. 

Rob Borden, a general counsel to Representative Darrell Issa of California, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, moved to a newly created position that reported jointly to Speaker John A. Boehner and Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader. Mr. Borden’s task was to coordinate and monitor oversight activities across separate committees to make sure they are not overlapping or undercutting one another. 

That aggressive campaign, which produced numerous hearings on the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, as well as on I.R.S. scrutiny of conservative groups, is now increasingly consumed by the health care fight. House Republican leaders empowered four committees — oversight, Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and the Workforce — to take the lead, with support from other panels, such as the Science and Homeland Security Committees, which have examined computer security. 

Forever and ever.  Forget the economy, immigration, climate change, job creation, anything.  All that matters now is destroying Obamacare and Obama.  Rooting for the destuction of the President and taking away health insurance from tens of millions.

And they're confident that you'll do nothing to punish them in 2014.

Where The Hate Comes Sweeping Down The Plain

The recent decision by the Pentagon and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to extend military same-sex couple benefits to National Guard personnel has not been received very well by bigoted Republicans in red states.  Mississippi recently told the Pentagon that its state constitution enshrining bigotry into law apparently supersedes any federal measures so neener neener, and now Oklahoma is one-upping the Team Hate Bus by ending all benefit applications for Oklahoma National Guard couples rather than extend benefits to same-sex couples.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) announced earlier this month that state-owned National Guard facilities will no longer allow any married couples to apply for spousal benefits, regardless of whether they are same-sex or opposite-sex. The Supreme Court’s decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act means that servicemembers with same-sex spouses are now eligible for federal benefits. Fallin’s unusual tactic is designed to avoid having to recognize those couples, which she asserts would violate Oklahoma’s constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman.

Charming.  Her reasoning:

Oklahoma law is clear. The state of Oklahoma does not recognize same-sex marriages, nor does it confer marriage benefits to same-sex couples. The decision reached today allows the National Guard to obey Oklahoma law without violating federal rules or policies. It protects the integrity of our state constitution and sends a message to the federal government that they cannot simply ignore our laws or the will of the people.

Change the words "same-sex" to "negroes" and "marriage" to "voting" or "attending schools" or "owning property" and you have the same arguments made 50, 100, 150, 200 plus years ago as to why people who looked like me had no rights because of "the will of the people".  It's easy to say that when, as Gov. Fallin apparently believes, you're not dealing with "people" to begin with.

Supreme Court kinda made this clear.  Those who were against civil rights then lost.  They will continue to lose.  Human rights are never subject to the will of the people.

Next time an EF5 tornado roars through Oklahoma City, I want Gov. Fallin to personally tell me that it matters if the National Guard members deployed to help Oklahomans are LGBTQ or not, and that the people who serve no longer deserve spousal benefits because of it.

The Big Casino Never Closes

Little hey, little ho, little high, little low, when you know which number's coming up on the wheel ahead of time, you can always beat the house.

Currency dealers in London gave information about client orders to day traders who then made bets on their behalf, sidestepping restrictions on personal trading, three people with knowledge of the practice said.

Bank employees used their mobile phones and instant-messages to transmit details of impending orders to individuals working from rented trading desks in offices on the outskirts of the U.K. capital, according to three traders who said they had witnessed the practice over a period of years. The day traders then made bets on the direction of currencies and any profit was later divvied up in cash, said two of the people, who asked not to be identified because the agreements are private.

The practice shows the extent to which dealers would go to circumvent rules designed to stop them from profiting at the expense of clients, and how alleged wrongdoing in the foreign-exchange market stretched beyond the trading floors of London’s financial district to unregulated day traders in Essex and Kent.

“It’s almost impossible for banks to have a lid on it –- unless they find a way of controlling all forms of communication out of the trading floor,” said Tom Kirchmaier, a fellow in the financial-markets group at the London School of Economics.

Free money comes out of nowhere because of the magic of unfettered capitalism.  Meanwhile, we'll have to make more austerity cuts because money doesn't come out of nowhere, you know.  I know the currency desk is about to make a big trade, I text you before it happens, you make the buy or sell move to take advantage of the trade, then we split the take.  The Big Casino never closes, folks.  Everyone in there's a winner!

Except all the rest of us on the outside.  We're too busy playing the Hunger Games.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Last Call For Anti-Choicers In Albuquerque

As expected, the vote on a municipal ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in Albuquerque has gone down in flames.

Voters in Albuquerque defeated a proposal on Tuesday that would have outlawed most late-term abortions in New Mexico's largest city in the first test of such a measure on a municipal ballot in the United States.

The measure, which would have barred doctors within city limits from performing abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, unless a mother's life was in danger, was rejected 55 percent to 45 percent.

Abortion rights advocates hailed the outcome as a victory against out-of-state anti-abortion activists seen as spear-heading an initiative.

Supporters of the measure predicted that similar proposals would gain ground in other cities and states across the country.

Except you know, where the anti-choicers try to turn it into no abortion ever.

The proposed 20-week cutoff on abortions in the Albuquerque measure allowed for few of the exemptions permitted in most late-term abortion bans enacted in other states in recent years. It contained no exceptions for victims of rape or incest, and would have waived the ban only to save a mother's life or if continuing her pregnancy risked "substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function."

Lost by 10 points.  So what now, Team Freedom Unless You're Talking About Vaginas?


Will The Honey Badger Finally Push The Button?

Sen. Harry Reid has barreled forward without giving too much of a damn about the Republican Party's tender feelings, but he's been skittish to make any major changes to the Senate's filibuster rules.  That is until the Republicans blocked all three DC Circuit Court federal judges nominated this month for no reason other than President Obama was doing it.  Apparently, this is enough of a violation of the "gentleman's agreement" for Honey Badger Harry to push the Big Red Button.  Greg Sargent:

Senator Harry Reid appears set to go nuclear — before Thanksgiving. 
With Senate Republicans blocking a third Obama nomination to the powerful D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, a senior Senate Democratic leadership aide tells me Reid is now all but certain to move to change the Senate rules by simple majority — doing away with the filibuster on executive and judicial nominations, with the exception of the Supreme Court – as early as this week. 
At a presser today, Reid told reporters he was taking another look at rules reform, but didn’t give a timeline. The senior leadership aide goes further, saying it’s hard to envision circumstances under which Reid doesn’t act.
“Reid has become personally invested in the idea that Dems have no choice other than to change the rules if the Senate is going to remain a viable and functioning institution,” the aide says. That’s a long journey from where Reid was only 10 months ago, when he agreed to a toothless filibuster reform deal out of a real reluctance to change the rules by simple majority. 
Asked to explain the evolution, the aide said: “It’s been a long process. But this is the only thing we can do to keep the Senate performing its basic duties.”

If this finally is the last straw, the Republicans broke that particular bunch over and over again.  No Senate in history has used the filibuster to block nominations as much as the GOP has to block President Obama's picks for federal positions.

The difference is Republicans are making the argument not that the nominees are bad, but that President Obama doesn't have the right to make nominations period, because it would "change" the makeup of a federal court to favor the President's party.

Reid has concluded Senate Republicans have no plausible way of retreating from the position they’ve adopted in this latest Senate rules standoff, the aide says. Republicans have argued that in pushing nominations, Obama is “packing” the court, and have insisted that Obama is trying to tilt the court’s ideological balance in a Democratic direction — which is to say that the Republican objection isn’t to the nominees Obama has chosen, but to the fact that he’s trying to nominate anyone at all
Reid believes that, having defined their position this way, Republicans have no plausible route out of the standoff other than total capitulation on the core principle they have articulated, which would be a “pretty dramatic reversal,” the aide continues. 
“They’ve boxed themselves in — their position allows them no leeway,” the aide says, in characterizing Reid’s thinking. “This is not a trumped up argument about the qualification of a nominee. They are saying, `we don’t want any nominees.’”

So once again we're in a situation where 43 other Presidents could do things that apparently this President should not be allowed to do.  One has to then ask "well what's different about President Obama?"

What indeed, Republicans?

Push the button, Harry.

La Coke-a Nose-tra

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why drug testing welfare recipients is utter nonsense.

In September, Rep. Trey Radel voted for Republican legislation that would allow states to make food stamp recipients pee in cups to prove they're not on drugs. In October, police busted the Florida Republican on a charge of cocaine possession
“It’s really interesting it came on the heels of Republicans voting on everyone who had access to food stamps get drug tested," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told BuzzFeed Tuesday. "It’s like, what?” 
The House over the summer approved an amendment by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) that would let states drug test people on food stamps. The amendment passed by voice vote, meaning members' individual yeas and nays were not recorded. Radel later voted in favor of a broader food stamps bill that included Hudson's measure. 
In support of his drug testing legislation, Hudson cited the many state legislatures around the country that had considered similar requirements for other means-tested programs in recent years. 
"This is a clear and obvious problem in our communities as nearly 30 states have introduced legislation to drug test for welfare programs," Hudson said. "We have a moral obligation to equip the states with the tools they need to discourage the use of illegal drugs."

But not, of course, the people who make the laws to test welfare recipients for drugs.  Because welfare recipients, unlike members of Congress, have so much spare cash lying around for drugs.  But let's continue to tell ourselves those people are the problem, and not Republicans in Congress doing coke.

Of course, now we're all supposed to feel sorry for the rich right-wing broadcaster turned Congressman, earning $174,000 a year plus his multi-million dollar media relations company in Florida.  But you won't see him lose that salary or his company over this.  He'll get a slap on the wrist, and hell, probably get more famous for "beating addiction". So he can stay in Congress and vote to make sure that lesser plebes don't get that nice treatment program he'll get.

Nice job if you can get it.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Last Call For Concern Trolling 101

Today's master class in Concern Trolling is brought to you by House Republican Lamar Smith of Texas:

“President Obama has a responsibility to ensure that the personal and financial data collected as part of Obamacare is secure. It is clear that is not the case today. In their haste to launch the website, it appears the Obama administration cut corners that leave the site open to hackers and other online criminals.  As a result, the personal information that has already been entered into is vulnerable to identity thieves.  We already know of at least 16 attempts to hack into the system.  But we can assume that many more security breaches have not been reported. 
Given the testimony we have heard today, there is only one reasonable course of action. Mr. President, take down this website.”

Oh well played, Mr. Smith.  Let's not forget of course that those hacker attacks were both perpetrated by right-wing, anti-Obama hacktivists and unsuccessful because the site's security is solid.  But the "we can assume that many more security breaches have not been reported" is classic asshole.

And of course, when President Obama doesn't "take down this website" he'll get scolded by our "liberal media" for free.

If Dems could concern troll this well, they'd not be in half the trouble they are now.

The Only Thing Faked Here Is The Anti-Obama Headline

Our "liberal media" strikes again:

In the home stretch of the 2012 presidential campaign, from August to September, the unemployment rate fell sharply — raising eyebrows from Wall Street to Washington.

The decline — from 8.1 percent in August to 7.8 percent in September — might not have been all it seemed. The numbers, according to a reliable source, were manipulated.

And the Census Bureau, which does the unemployment survey, knew it.

Just two years before the presidential election, the Census Bureau had caught an employee fabricating data that went into the unemployment report, which is one of the most closely watched measures of the economy.

And a knowledgeable source says the deception went beyond that one employee — that it escalated at the time President Obama was seeking reelection in 2012 and continues today.

Please note the bolded part there.  In 2010, a Census Bureau found "an employee", singular, who was making up stuff to meet his quota.

That magically becomes "Obama has been faking all jobs numbers since 2010."  Hell, even Doug Mataconis calls bullshit on it.

Quite obviously the report has gotten considerable attention in the conservative blogosphere, and it’s easy to see how this could eventually become the kind of scandal that ended up before a House Subcommittee in the same manner that things like the Fast & Furious gun running story, the Behghazi attack, and the IRS targeting story have. Indeed, I’d almost guarantee that this is what’s going to happen eventually. Looking at the report in more detail, however, it’s quite apparent that there’s a lot less here than the Post headline, and much of the blog coverage, would have you believe, something that both Business Insider’s Joe Weisenthal and James Pethokoukis of the conservative American Enterprise Institute have pointed out today.

For example, the Post report indicates that this entire story about possible fabrication of census data actually goes back to 2010, two years before the Presidential election. This suggests that the allegations, if true, are more about institutional problems at the Census Department than some kind of conspiracy to aid the Obama campaign. Second, Second, as Weisenthal notes, to the extent that this Census employee Buckmon that is quoted as a source is claiming he was pressured, it was a pressure to produce reports, not a pressure to produce reports saying that he had interviewed people who were employed. He could’ve just as easily handed in reports saying, falsely, that he had talked to people who reported that they were unemployed. Third, as both Weisenthal and Pethokoukis point out, the problem of under-reporting that led to pressure from the Labor Department was apparently limited to New York and Philadelphia, but the figures for those areas for September 2012 actually show the unemployment rate rising rather than falling, so it’s unclear how this could have led to the national rate falling by 0.2%. Finally, as Weisenthal points out, while the September 2012 report seemed odd at the time, it was in fact overall consistent with how unemployment has trended in the year that has followed.

But hey, this is the new SCANDAL OF THE CENTURY so whatever.  Dude, even Pethokoukis is shaking his head at this nonsense.  But let's waste valuable taxpayer dollars on hearings and stuff.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Ask a complicated question of a simple mind...

Tell us your favorite joke. 
Q: What’s the definition of a liberal? 
A: Someone who doesn’t care what you do as long as it’s mandatory.

...and don't be surprised at the quality of the answer.

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