Sunday, March 31, 2013

Last Call

Former Reagan economist David Stockman goes off the deep end into Doomsday Prepper territory, and the New York Times is happy to run with it.

So the Main Street economy is failing while Washington is piling a soaring debt burden on our descendants, unable to rein in either the warfare state or the welfare state or raise the taxes needed to pay the nation’s bills. By default, the Fed has resorted to a radical, uncharted spree of money printing. But the flood of liquidity, instead of spurring banks to lend and corporations to spend, has stayed trapped in the canyons of Wall Street, where it is inflating yet another unsustainable bubble. 

When it bursts, there will be no new round of bailouts like the ones the banks got in 2008. Instead, America will descend into an era of zero-sum austerity and virulent political conflict, extinguishing even today’s feeble remnants of economic growth

In other words, Stockman is now predicting America's collapse and a Second Civil War.  And of course it will be all Obama's fault. 

 Instead, the White House, Congress and the Fed, under Mr. Bush and then President Obama, made a series of desperate, reckless maneuvers that were not only unnecessary but ruinous. The auto bailouts, for example, simply shifted jobs around — particularly to the aging, electorally vital Rust Belt — rather than saving them. The “green energy” component of Mr. Obama’s stimulus was mainly a nearly $1 billion giveaway to crony capitalists, like the venture capitalist John Doerr and the self-proclaimed outer-space visionary Elon Musk, to make new toys for the affluent. 

Less than 5 percent of the $800 billion Obama stimulus went to the truly needy for food stamps, earned-income tax credits and other forms of poverty relief. The preponderant share ended up in money dumps to state and local governments, pork-barrel infrastructure projects, business tax loopholes and indiscriminate middle-class tax cuts. The Democratic Keynesians, as intellectually bankrupt as their Republican counterparts (though less hypocritical), had no solution beyond handing out borrowed money to consumers, hoping they would buy a lawn mower, a flat-screen TV or, at least, dinner at Red Lobster.

Nowhere does Stockman take responsibility for quadrupling the national debt under Reagan.  In the end it's GOLD WEED END THE FED Paultard nonsense, only with a veneer of minor credibility.  That veneer gets eaten through by the acid about halfway through the screed.  It was all doom the second we went off the gold standard, which has been the case for generations now.

Nonsense is boring.

Here's Your Spirit Of Easter

Meanwhile, the NRA's official magazine is warning that only NRA's armed members that "only you can save our guns" and instructing armed gun owners to "stand and fight" against "King Pinocchio" Obama.

NRA Magazine
There's a word for wanting a bunch of armed people to "stand and fight" the President. It's not a very nice one.

Victim Mentality

Josh Marshall has the right of this:

Over the last few days, as the emerging national marriage equality consensus has become more clear, a number of social conservatives have begun suggesting they are now in a new and oppressive climate in which they’re no longer able to speak their minds about the immorality of homosexuality or why laws should discriminate against gays.

Or, to put it more bluntly, they say they’re losing their right to calls gays gross and weird.

Every single 19th century counter-attack by the right against the modern, 21st century left is based along these lines.  "Reverse discrimination" is nothing new, but today's conservatives use it constantly.  The war on women's reproductive rights is really the war on lost white men, robbed of their right to bully others, and emasculated by having to perform duties that should "traditionally belong" to women.  The antagonism towards African-Americans is to try to balance the scales because obviously racist black voters go 95%+ for black Democrats like Obama.  Hatred for Latinos is all about them taking jobs from good white men and bringing crime along with them.  Always white men are the victims.

At a certain point during the civil rights struggle it ceased to be acceptable in mainstream political rhetoric to say that the government should privilege whites over blacks. It basically happened between 1965 and 1970. That obviously didn’t end the issue of race or racial discrimination or widespread racism. But, in public, it displaced it onto a different set of questions and policies, a different kind of rhetoric. Pity party notwithstanding, the folks who oppose full equality for LGBT Americans seem to realize that we’re on the cusp of a similar transition.

And all of this is happening in the space of a few short years.  It is overwhelming, but that's just because of all the pressure built up behind the dam when it broke, and now the forces of privilege are drowning in it.  We're all going to have to learn to get along eventually, but now we can at least start.

[UPDATE] And speaking of victim mentality, behold the screaming from our Christian brethren over today's Google Doodle celebrating March 31 as Cesar Chavez's birthday.  It's persecution of the Christian majority, I tell you!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Worked Over Something Awful

America, where pulling yourself up by the bootstraps is a bit difficult due to all the sharp bootstrap-cutting objects lying in your path.

A Tupelo woman hired earlier this month by a KFC was fired Monday after the franchise owner discovered she’s homeless.
Eunice Jasica has been staying at the Salvation Army lodge since early December after losing her job, her car and her home.
The nonprofit organization requires its residents to seek employment daily and, upon finding it, to pay for lodging and start saving for a place of their own. Jasica said she had been job hunting for months and was relieved to find work on March 11 at the KFC on North Gloster Street.
A document signed by that location’s general manager on March 12 confirms Jasica had been hired to perform “prep work” and would receive a paycheck every two weeks.
But when Jasica reported for duty Monday, franchise owner Chesley Ruff withdrew the job offer upon learning she lived at the Salvation Army.
“He told me to come back when I had an address and transportation,” Jasica recalled. “But how am I supposed to get all that without a job?

Firing someone you hired because they don’t have a place to live when the entire reason they took the job was to be able to afford a place to live, and you don’t pay enough to afford a place to live?  I’m betting Chesley Ruff is a lifelong Republican.

Luckily, this story now has a better ending.

A woman fired from a KFC in Tupelo for being homeless has found a new job and an outpouring of support.
Eunice Jasica was tentatively hired Tuesday by On Time Transportation to shuttle Medicaid and Medicare patients to and from doctors’ appointments. She still must complete the final stages of her application process but should be on the job by early April, said the company’s office manager, Yolanda Baskin.

The much larger problem is America is largely designed to keep poor people poor, and ridiculously rich people ridiculously rich.

Respect Given, Respect Earned

I've had my problems with Chris Hayes in the past, but I am reminded by Ann Friedman at the Columbia Journalism Review (as Hayes moves forward to MSNBC's prime time 8 PM weekday slot next month) that the objective data from his year plus on his weekend morning show demonstrates his commitment to diversity when so many weekend show pundits and panelists are white men.

But earlier this month, after MSNBC announced it was giving Chris Hayes his own daily primetime news show, Media Matters published a chart that showed how his weekend show, Up with Chris Hayes, differed from its cable-news competitors: It wasn’t all white dudes. Specifically, 57 percent of the show’s guests were not white men. (Full disclosure: I have, in the past, been one of the non-dudes featured on said program.) To hear lots of journalists tell it, this is an impossible feat. So I called up Hayes to ask how he and his team created a shining oasis of diversity in a cable-news desert of sameness.

“We just would look at the board and say, ‘We already have too many white men. We can’t have more.’ Really, that was it,” Hayes says. “Always, constantly just counting. Monitoring the diversity of the guests along gender lines, and along race and ethnicity lines.” Out of four panelists on every show, he and his booking producers ensured that at least two were women. “A general rule is if there are four people sitting at table, only two of them can be white men,” he says. “Often it would be less than that.”

If they did end up booking a show that featured a majority of white men, they’d call it “taking a gender hit.” Hayes explains, “and then we’d be like, well, we have to make up for that either in the second half of the show or on the Sunday show.”

In other words: quotas. Hard quotas.

“The editorial decisions, the content we decided to pursue, also dovetailed with that,” he continues. “We had three Iraqis join us when we talked about the 10-year anniversary of the war. We did a full show about feminism. And so, part of it is that we weren’t talking about the Ryan budget every week. Often we were discussing topics on which there was a natural affinity between people of backgrounds different than the standard one that is often presented on television.”

And while some of his guests are maddeningly obnoxious, at least they tend to be outnumbered rather than making up the majority.  That's a huge deal, and considering the ratio of white men to everyone else on other weekend punditry roundups tends to be 2 to 1, the opposite is true on Up With Chris Hayes.

Here's hoping that tradition continues on his new show, All In...but my question is where's the praise for Melissa-Harris Perry?

StupidiNews, Easter Weekend Edition!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Last Call

The Big Apple has just approved a citywide ordinance that will give paid sick days to thousands who don't get them...that is if companies decide 14 is a great number, and the real issue is mayoral candidate and current NYC City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's reaction.

The mandate will take effect on April 1, 2014, and will extend to include businesses with 15 or more employees a year later, under the accord, which was confirmed by Robin Levine, a City Council spokeswoman. It will also require all employers in the city to provide unpaid sick leave starting in 2014.

“The final outcome leaves out over 300,000 New Yorkers,” said city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, a rival to Council Speaker Christine Quinn among five Democrats running for the party’s mayoral nomination. She had previously blocked efforts to bring such a proposal, backed by 38 of the 51 council members, to a vote.

The law, if adopted, will mean workers won’t have to fear losing a job because of illness. It will affect 1 million New Yorkers by 2015. A similar measure has won approval in Portland, Oregon, while others are pending in Massachusetts, Vermont and Washington state.

Quinn for three years resisted calls from a majority of the council to permit a vote on a bill that would have covered employers with five or more workers, saying it would impose too great a burden on small businesses while the unemployment rate remained at more than 9 percent. As a mayoral candidate, she has been criticized by de Blasio and others for her opposition to the measure. 

The loopholes are big enough to drive a truck through, frankly.   But good for Christine Quinn to at least recognize that half a loaf here is better than none.  When the nation's largest city instituttes a law like this, I'm only hoping more cities will follow.

Fueled Up, Ready To Go

The Obama administration is today having the EPA lay out major new rules for cleaner gasoline with less sulfur.  Big energy companies are screaming it will "dramatically" raise the price of fuel by 9 cents a gallon, the reality is it'll add less than a penny and be the equivalent of taking about 12% of the nation's 250 million plus cars off the roads in reducing emissions.

While gasoline sulfur itself does not pose a public health threat, it hampers the effectiveness of catalytic converters, which in turn leads to greater tailpipe emissions. These emissions — nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and fine particles — contribute to smog and soot, which can cause respiratory and heart disease.

The proposed standards were first reported by The Washington Post on Thursday afternoon and confirmed by the administration Thursday night.

The regulations are supported by environmental advocates, state regulators and even automobile companies, who would prefer uniform sulfur standards for fuel nationwide. But oil industry officials and their congressional allies say it will cost up to $10 billion to upgrade refineries and an additional $2.4 billion in annual operating costs.

Both public health advocates and the administration say the ultimate cost would be much lower because of provisions giving refiners flexibility in complying with the standards. The EPA estimates annual health benefits of up to $23 billion by 2030.

The agency surveyed 111 U.S. refineries and found 29 already can meet the sulfur standard or come close to it, 66 can reach it with modest modifications and 16 would require a major overhaul.

Time to invest those record tens of billions in profits back in your businesses and into the health of your customers, energy companies.  Of course, Big Oil knows it can jack up the prices whenever it feels like and they can continue being the most profitable companies on Earth, so I have no sympathy for them.

But the Obama EPA is doing the right thing here for all of us.  More of this, please.

Ohio Comes To Carolina

Back home in North Carolina, the Zandarparents inform me that new GOP Gov. Pat McCrory and the Tea Partified legislature are on a roll now that Democratic Gov. Bev Purdue is gone. She was the only thing standing between the Tarheel State and nonsense like this.

Two bills filed by Republican lawmakers seek to cut back early voting and eliminate same-day registration in North Carolina.
Senate Bill 428, filed by Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, would cut the early voting period from two weeks to one and would eliminate same-day voter registration.
House Bill 451, filed by Rep. Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, goes even further. In addition to cutting early voting and same-day registration, it would also outlaw early voting on Sunday and straight-ticket voting.

To recap, Republicans are happily running in NC on "We want fewer people to vote, and fewer people to be allowed to vote." Nobody apparently sees the problems with this. They're not even trying to hide the fact that it's voter suppression anymore.

Democrats say such bills are intended to make it harder to vote and will disproportionately affect low-income, working and minority voters – groups that traditionally favor Democrats.
The Sunday ban, in particular, would affect popular "Souls to the Polls" voting drives at African-American churches.
"I think Sundays just should be – some things you just shouldn't do on Sundays, so I am just opposed to voting on Sunday," Starnes said.

You can practically see the hidden "those people" before the word "voting" in that sentence there. But again, Republicans are actively saying A) we make it too easy to vote in North Carolina, so we should probably put an end to it, because if you can't vote during banker's hours on a Tuesday, you don't deserve to be a part of the body politic.

Tillman said his bill isn't meant to be partisan, noting all voters would still have equal access to the polls.
Meanwhile, he said, keeping early voting sites open for two weeks costs money that could be better spent elsewhere.  "We're paying people for two weeks to run those election centers," he said. "Let's cut it to one week, and we can do the same thing. It's not to disenfranchise anybody."

Why should representative democracies spend money on stupid crap like "voting", anyway? GOP learned their lesson in Ohio, and that lesson is "if the minorities can vote, we lose." Gotta actively legislate the end of that, call it non-partisan, and say God didn't want you to vote on Sundays anyway, plus why are we spending money to hold elections? Let's take the difference and cut some taxes for some one percenters, and they'll create votes instead!


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Last Call

To recap, "GOP savior Marco Rubio" just signed up with Rand Paul to block all Senate gun control legislation.

Full-body portrait of Marco Rubio

Republican Sens. Marco Rubio (FL) and Jim Inhofe (OK) have signed on to a letter threatening to filibuster new gun legislation, according to Sen. Mike Lee's (R-UT) communications director. 

Sure.  This will help the GOP.

Reverse Energy Poll-arity

Seems Americans are nothing more than filthy eco-hippie commie pinkos who actually care about the environment and getting more clean energy, particularly solar power.

U.S. Should Place More Emphasis on Each Source of Domestic Energy Production, by Party ID
 What's this?  Over two-thirds of Republicans think we should put more emphasis on solar power?  Three-quarters of independents?  But that means we should build infrastructure to encourage solar projects, what about FREEDOM and LIBERTY and DON'T TREAD ON ME and stuff?

What about King Coal?  Well, if you're not in Kentucky or West Virginia, it turns out no, it's even less popular than nuclear power.

At the same time, Americans seem to think natural gas (and fracking!) is a pretty good idea...but not as good as wind or solar.  Go figure.

Ashley, Alison, And The Turtle, Part 3

As I have been telling folks, I would have loved to have seen Ashley Judd run and win, but there wasn't any way she was going to survive King Coal, Kentucky Blue Dog Dems, and Bill Clinton. So while it's increasingly looking like Alison Lundergan Grimes will run, because six more years of Turtle is going to give me a heart attack... So is a Blue Dog better than Mitch? We'll see by how much. Here's a hint, it won't be by a lot, as Yellow Dog reminds us.
I trust Mitchie-poo is suitably grateful to the Kentucky conservadem establishment, the DINO Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, Bill Clinton and his buddy Jerry Lundergan (father of Alison) for sabotaging the only chance Kentucky had to get rid of him.
It's going to be damn hard for Lundergan Grimes to inspire liberals in the state to come to her aid when her positions on mining, labor, the environment and the state's badly needed safety net aren't any different from Mitch, and that's where Judd would have been clearly different. On the other hand, Mitch's plan if he wins in 2014 is simple: to take health care away from tens of millions of Americans by repealing Obamacare, including hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians. On the gripping hand, King Coal still runs this gorram backwater hellhole, and all the other supposedly top-line Dems (Gov. Dinosaur Steve Beshear, Lt. Gov. Dan "The Coal Man" Mongiardo, AG Jack "I lost to effing Rand Paul" Conway, and Rep. John "Deep Blue Dog" Yarmuth) all ran screaming from this race like the cowards they are. So yeah, we're down to the daughter of the state's former good ol' boy Dem party chair and a huge, long-time Clinton backer. Thrilled about that, just thrilled. All that might be enough to get Grimes the win. I don't honestly know. Better than Mitch? Yes, but with serious reservations. We'll see.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Last Call

Dear Wal-Mart: When you cut hours, cut employees, cut wages, cut cut cut to the point where there's not enough people in the store to keep things stocked and clean, people don't care about your "everyday low prices" being a few cents cheaper and they head to your competitors.

Margaret Hancock has long considered the local Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) superstore her one- stop shopping destination. No longer.

During recent visits, the retired accountant from Newark, Delaware, says she failed to find more than a dozen basic items, including certain types of face cream, cold medicine, bandages, mouthwash, hangers, lamps and fabrics.

The cosmetics section “looked like someone raided it,” said Hancock, 63.

It was raided by the heirs to the Walton family fortune.  They're worth billions and they gotta have more, you know.

Wal-Mart’s loss was a gain for Kohl’s Corp. (KSS), Safeway Inc. (SWY), Target Corp. (TGT) and Walgreen Co. (WAG) -- the chains Hancock hit for the items she couldn’t find at Wal-Mart.
“If it’s not on the shelf, I can’t buy it,” she said. “You hate to see a company self-destruct, but there are other places to go.”

It’s not as though the merchandise isn’t there. It’s piling up in aisles and in the back of stores because Wal-Mart doesn’t have enough bodies to restock the shelves, according to interviews with store workers. In the past five years, the world’s largest retailer added 455 U.S. Wal-Mart stores, a 13 percent increase, according to filings and the company’s website. In the same period, its total U.S. workforce, which includes Sam’s Club employees, dropped by about 20,000, or 1.4 percent. Wal-Mart employs about 1.4 million U.S. workers. 

That's right, during the Great Recession, the nation's biggest retailer and employer cut 20,000 jobs but added more than 450 stores.  Why do you think the company's lobbyists are pushing to rid the country of minimum wage?  If the nation's biggest single private sector employer could cut wages to $5 an hour, don't you think they would?  What would hundreds of thousands of "associates" do in this economy, quit?

Wal-Mart is the biggest single employer of minimum wage workers in America.  Think about that for a second.

Then refuse to shop there anymore.

The Long Derpy Arm Of The Law

Texas GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert is still a little fuzzy on the whole "Lawmakers are subject to laws" thing, apparently.

Outspoken Tea Party Republican Rep. Louis Gohmert (TX) got into a late-night altercation with U.S. Park Police over a parking ticket earlier this month. According to Politico, Gohmert attempted to pull rank with the police officers to get out of the citation.

A National Park Service (NPS) police report said that Gohmert’s black Ford SUV was cited at 11:00 p.m. on March 13 for parking in a spot reserved for NPS vehicles at Washington’s Lincoln Memorial. Gohmert, said the report, was “rude and irate” in his confrontation with the officers.

“I was issued a ticket and I am a congressman and parked my vehicle in the NPS parking only because I have a Congress placard, see,” Gohmert said to one officer. “I am going to a meeting on the Hill and I am the one who oversees the National Park Services and Natural Resources.”

Another officer described Gohmert as “ranting.”

“Oversight of Park Service is my job!” he shouted. “Natural resources! Thus the Congressional Plate in the window.”

Telling an officer he “did not have time” to deal with the issue, Gohmert left his business card with the officer holding his ticket, but insisted that he would not pay it. He then drove away.

He's way too important to deal with the likes of the US Park Police.  Expect a bill cutting funding for US Park Police by say, oh, 95%.  That's how the Tea Party rolls, you see.  YOU have to obey liberty and religious freedom, but not Louie here.

Keep that in mind.

Please Hemp Me I'm Falling

Kentucky's legislative session is wrapping up for the year (yes, Kentucky legislators work for approximately 3 months out of the year) and two last minute actions require attention:  first, the much maligned help bill is a go.

Legislators reached a last-hour deal Tuesday to pass a bill to license Kentucky farmers to grow hemp.

The deal between House Democrats and Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, will allow hemp licensing by the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission under the control of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

Who would do the licensing had been a big snag for House Democrats, who apparently buckled under public pressure.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said the bill will leave the hemp commission with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. The research functions will be performed by the University of Kentucky.

The House voted 88-4 and sent the bill back to the Senate where it passed 35-1.

Only one small problem:  the federal government has to stop treating hemp as a restricted schedule II drug, there's no difference between hemp and cannabis under DEA protocols right now.  Until that changes (and Kentucky's congressional delegation is pushing for it) this bill's dead in the water anyway.

And speaking of dead in the water, so is logic here in the Bluegrass State.

The Kentucky General Assembly voted Tuesday night to overturn Gov. Steve Beshear's veto of controversial legislation known as the "religious freedom" bill, which was opposed by many human and gay rights groups and leaders of some of Kentucky's biggest cities.

The override passed the Democratic House 79-15 and the Republican Senate 32-6.

Rep. Bob Damron, D- Nicholasville, sponsored the bill after the Kentucky Supreme Court issued a ruling last year upholding a state law requiring the Amish to display bright orange safety triangles on their drab buggies so motorists could better see them. Several Amish men in rural Western Kentucky felt so strongly that displaying the triangles violated their religious belief against calling attention to themselves that they went to jail rather than comply with the law.

The legislation protects "sincerely held religious beliefs" from infringement unless there is "a compelling governmental interest."

The bill means that laws in Kentucky now must have a "compelling governmental interest" or you can simply claim that it's conflicting with your First Amendment rights and you shouldn't have to follow the law.  Lawsuits from this are going to cost the state millions, but FREEDOM so hey, let's all join in.

I'll tell you what, the Creation Museum conflicts with my beliefs.  Show me a compelling governmental interest in keeping the place open, right?

Read more here:

Read more here:


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Last Call

Tom Goldstein at SCOTUSBlog covers today's Supreme Court oral arguments on Prop 8, and where things go from here.

The Justices seem divided on the constitutionality of Proposition 8 on ideological lines, four to four – i.e., all the members other than Justice Kennedy.  For the more liberal members of the Court, there was no clarity on how broadly they would rule.

But Justice Kennedy seemed very unlikely to provide either side with the fifth vote needed to prevail.  He was deeply concerned with the wisdom of acting now when in his view the social science of the effects of same-sex marriage is uncertain because it is so new.  He also noted the doubts about the petitioners’ standing.  So his suggestion was that the case should be dismissed.

If those features of the oral argument hold up – and I think they will – then the Court’s ruling will take one of two forms.  First, a majority (the Chief Justice plus the liberal members of the Court) could decide that the petitioners lack standing.  That would vacate the Ninth Circuit’s decision but leave in place the district court decision invalidating Proposition 8.  Another case with different petitioners (perhaps a government official who did not want to administer a same-sex marriage) could come to the Supreme Court within two to three years, if the Justices were willing to hear it.

Second, the Court may dismiss the case because of an inability to reach a majority.   Justice Kennedy takes that view, and Justice Sotomayor indicated that she might join him.  Others on the left may agree.  That ruling would leave in place the Ninth Circuit’s decision.

(The puzzle will be what judgment the Court will enter if there are, for example, three votes to dismiss as improvidently granted, two to find no standing, three to reverse, and one to affirm.)

The upshot of either scenario is a modest step forward for gay rights advocates, but not a dramatic one.  The Court would stay its hand for some time for society to develop its views further.  But combined with a potentially significant ruling in the DOMA case being argued tomorrow, the Term will likely nonetheless end up as very significant to gay rights.

In other words, the court really seems to want to punt.  Both liberal and conservative justices appear to be saying that a narrow ruling that would only affect California is not in the cards, so a tie or a punt would effectively be SCOTUS getting a ruling that would only affect California without having to actually make it.

But the ruling on DOMA won't be as easy to duck, it being a federal law and all.  Still, SCOTUS could conceivably punt there too and say that a call this big has to be made by the people through the legislative and executive branches.

My gut feeling says they're ducking Prop 8 because the big money decision is on DOMA.  We'll see what the Justices have to say tomorrow.

Shot In The Back

Once again, the GOP (and my senator in particular) believe they know better then the overwhelming will of the 91% of Americans who support reasonable background check legislation.  They instead serve a tiny percentage of the the leadership of the NRA, itself less than 2% of the population in total.  Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee don't care:  they will block all firearms regulations regardless because FREEDOM.

Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are threatening to filibuster gun-control legislation, according to a letter they plan to hand-deliver to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office on Tuesday.

We will oppose the motion to proceed to any legislation that will serve as a vehicle for any additional gun restrictions,” the three conservatives wrote in a copy of the signed letter obtained by POLITICO.

In other words, they are confident they can block the measure, period.  They are confident you will let them, and that you will throw up your hands and say "It's Congress, what can you do?"

You can do a lot.

Sen. Ted Cruz's office is (202) 224-5922.
Sen. Rand Paul's office is (202) 224-4343.
Sen. Mike Lee's office is (202) 224-5444.

Especially if you live in Texas, Utah, or Kentucky (like myself) let them know just how many people support universal background checks for all gun sales.

Let then know.

Coming (Out) To America

Will Portman, son of Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman, explains his side of the story about coming out as gay through his father's change of heart on same-sex marriage.  Sure, it's political as hell and Democratic senators have politically convenient changes of heart too and appear to be coming out of the woodwork in Portman's wake, but the younger Portman lays out a good case.

I worried about how my friends back home would react when I told them I was gay. Would they stop hanging out with me? Would they tell me they were supportive, but then slowly distance themselves? And what about my friends at Yale, the “Gay Ivy”? Would they criticize me for not having come out earlier? Would they be able to understand my anxiety about all of this? I felt like I didn’t quite fit in with Yale or Cincinnati, or with gay or straight culture.

In February of freshman year, I decided to write a letter to my parents. I’d tried to come out to them in person over winter break but hadn’t been able to. So I found a cubicle in Bass Library one day and went to work. Once I had something I was satisfied with, I overnighted it to my parents and awaited a response.

They called as soon as they got the letter. They were surprised to learn I was gay, and full of questions, but absolutely rock-solid supportive. That was the beginning of the end of feeling ashamed about who I was.

I can't fault the guy.  It still take courage to come out, and the fact that Rob Portman, while a senator with many positions I vehemently disagree with, was and remains a supportive father for his gay son Will.  That's a point in his favor.

As Bon said last night, the pendulum is indeed swinging.  The question of same-sex marriage goes before the Supreme Court this week, with a ruling expected in both the California Prop 8 and federal DOMA cases in late June.

We'll see how fast and how far that arcing swing is in a matter on months.  More on the SCOTUS arguments later on tonight in Last Call.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Last Call: Claire McCaskill Hits A Home Run

Claire McCaskill has gracefully and thoughtfully decided to support gay marriage.  We knew this time had to come, and it's finally here.  Let the GOP clown car stop, and the idiots unload.  The pendulum is swinging.  The sun of logic has broken through the clouds of stupidity.  Grab your bag of cliches and metaphors and pick one, the important thing is that change is coming.  And it's about damned time.

I have come to the conclusion that our government should not limit the right to marry based on who you love. While churches should never be required to conduct marriages outside of their religious beliefs, neither should the government tell people who they have a right to marry.
My views on this subject have changed over time, but as many of my gay and lesbian friends, colleagues and staff embrace long term committed relationships, I find myself unable to look them in the eye without honestly confronting this uncomfortable inequality. Supporting marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is simply the right thing to do for our country, a country founded on the principals of liberty and equality.
That says it all.  It isn't complicated, and the people who have a reputation for intelligence can no longer fake a logic train that promotes discrimination.  It's that simple.  In a country where beliefs and freedom are respected, a shrieking clan of self-righteous nutjobs cannot make us forget that people can make personal choices.  Their bigotry is our legacy of shame, but I truly believe we have reached the tipping point where accountability trumps trendiness.

She doesn't just advocate justice for the LGBT population, however.  She points out that churches shouldn't have to act outside of their beliefs, while she also acknowledges that government should not regulate lawful personal decisions.  She reminds us that liberty and equality should be our default for all citizens, and that it is hard to look our gay friends in the eye while doing anything less than championing for their equality.   Her message holds up because it is truly about respect, for all sides and all people.  It never had to be an either / or solution.

That isn't to say it will be a smooth road, but we can see the progress.  On a larger scale, it seems reason is taking hold and common sense is returning to the land.  The Tea Party leftovers are ridiculed as they should have been all along, and people who want to appear rational are separating themselves from the GOP core values as fast as they can.  Meanwhile, those who frankly waited too long to speak are at least refusing to make their error worse.  Voices that were silent or dodging for way too long are finally coming out in support of freedom and choice.

Better late than never.  Well done, madam.

We've Been Here Before

House GOP intel chairman Mike Rogers of Michigan is one of the many House Republicans still in office after voting to put us in Iraq after assurances of weapons of mass destruction just waiting to be used by a vile dictator.  Now he wants to put us in Syria for the same reason.

You're an idiot and a fool if you believe him.

There's mounting evidence that over the last two years the Assad regime has used "at least a small quantity" of chemical weapons against rebel forces in Syria's raging civil war, House Intelligence Committee chair Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said today on "Face the Nation," adding that the time is now for U.S. intervention.

Amid debate over an alleged chemical weapons attack out of Syria last week, President Obama during a visit to Israel doubled down on his claim that such an attack would be considered a "game changer" for his administration, but qualified that it's important to find out "precisely whether or not this red line was crossed" before making a decision that could lead to an act of war.

"I think that it is abundantly clear that that red line has been crossed," Rogers said. "There is mounting evidence that it is probable that the Assad regime has used at least a small quantity of chemical weapons during the course of this conflict." 

Sure, just like Saddam is going to nuke the Kurds and has mobile weapons labs driving around the desert.  Why is anyone taking this guy seriously, or at least expressing that "Gosh Congressman Rogers, after the Iraq debacle that you voted for, shouldn't the bar for US troops on the ground in Syria be much higher than this?"

Rogers said Mr. Obama "can do this in a way that doesn't lure the United States into a big, boots-on-the-ground conflict." Intervention, he said, "doesn't mean 101st Airborne Division and ships; it means small groups with special capabilities reengaging the opposition, so we can vet them, train them, equip them so they can be an effective fighting force."

"The president went to the Middle East and said, 'This is a hard decision: If I go in, it might be wrong, if I don't go in it might be wrong,'" Rogers said. "Indecision, in this case, is dangerous."

This is true (as Libya proved) but the point still stands.  I still thought Libya was a bad idea, but we got in, got out, and cleaned up after Qaddafi and we were done with it once it happened.  We need an imminent reason to intervene militarily in Syria and even then I damn sure don't see a coalition of folks lining up like there was in Libya, and I'm guessing there's a reason why.

That imminent reason sure is hell not going to be legitimate coming from Mike Rogers.

Operation Cypriot Slip, Part 4

As I alluded to in this morning's StupidiNews, Cyprus got a last minute bailout deal from the ECB, but the cost is pretty steep.

The agreement came hours before a deadline to avert a collapse of the banking system in fraught negotiations between President Nicos Anastasiades and heads of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Swiftly endorsed by euro zone finance ministers, the plan will spare the Mediterranean island a financial meltdown by winding down the largely state-owned Popular Bank of Cyprus, also known as Laiki, and shifting deposits below 100,000 euros to the Bank of Cyprus to create a "good bank".

Deposits above 100,000 euros in both banks, which are not guaranteed under EU law, will be frozen and used to resolve Laiki's debts and recapitalize Bank of Cyprus through a deposit/equity conversion.

The raid on uninsured Laiki depositors is expected to raise 4.2 billion euros, Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijssebloem said.

Laiki will effectively be shuttered, with thousands of job losses. Officials said senior bondholders in Laiki would be wiped out and those in Bank of Cyprus would have to make a contribution.

So, goodbye to the island's number 2 bank, and at least a 30% haircut through "unwinding" of Laiki on big Russian whale accounts, a clever maneuver that's not exactly a tax...oh yeah, and the loss of maybe half a percent of the nation's total jobs.  We'll see who signs off on the deal in the rest of Europe, because this deal is being done as a "bank restructuring" which the Cypriot parliament has already approved, they can't vote on this and sink it again.  Now, the rest of the EU however does have to sign off, and that's expected to happen.  After all, they're not going to burn over this, just Cyprus and Russia.

The Russians, I expect, will arrive for their payback quite soon.  Meanwhile, expect Cyprus to slip into a full-blown depression, as the Offshore Money Laundering industry was the island's major industry.  With that dead, yearly GDP contraction in the double digits isn't out of the question.  Big time depression coming here.  The real losers are the Cypriots themselves, who I expect will be in the riot stage before the end of the year, if not the end of spring.

Gotta love austerity.  In the end, the little people always pay.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Last Call

Mike Lillis over at The Hill can barely suppress his glee as President Obama's political obituary is written once again over gun regulations being dead, dead, dead in Congress.

An assault weapons ban is on life support and Senate Democrats have failed to entice a single Republican to back universal background checks. Congress also this week solidified four gun-friendly laws as part of legislation to fund the government through September.

To some observers, the shift in momentum comes as no surprise at all.

"[NRA CEO] Wayne LaPierre made terrible mistakes early on. They took two very bad spills," Ross Baker, political scientist at Rutgers University, said Friday in a phone interview. "But they quickly recovered and they assumed their usual position of dominance.

"They may do poorly in the first quarter, but they rally and they're usually ahead by halftime," he added. "They've been at it a long time. They know what buttons to push."

Adam Winkler, a constitutional expert at the UCLA School of Law, offered a similar explanation this week, arguing that even when the NRA is on the ropes, it "still sways a lot of voters."

"The NRA didn't become the political powerhouse it is by losing high-profile battles," Winkler, the author of "Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America," said Friday in an email.

"Even though the NRA had a poor showing in the November elections, the people whose job it is to know who sways voters — members of Congress — still think it can deliver."

In the world of The Hill -- again, about as inside the Beltway as it gets -- the NRA does indeed rule triumphantly.  I've warned time and time again that Wayne LaPierre's seemingly insane babbling makes perfect sense to the doomsday prepper crowd, and they're millions strong.  Barack Obama has been the best thing for firearms manufacturers and ammo makers since the beginning of time.  Record sales, huge shortages, and demand growing by double digits quarterly?  Tell me the NRA is crying.  They exist to get Americans to buy guns and ammo and brother, are they ever buying.

Like it's the end of the world or something.

Denial Ain't Just A River In Ross Douthat's Mind

I've decided that the "We're sorry we got suckered into supporting the Iraq War apologists" crew in both liberal and conservative circles alike can suck it, of course (and Ezra Klein's mostly sincere apology still means he will always have that strike against him).  Thanks for reminding us who lacked character, credibility, and judgment back then so we're all inclined to take anything you've said in the last ten years or anything you say now with an entire salt mine.  The number of dead Iraqis and coalition troops your apologies have resurrected remains precisely zero, which coincidentally is the quantity of damns I give about your tortured consciences.  Live with it.  You still have that option, unlike the dead.

But Ross Douthat singularly compounds his idiocy by deciding that liberals should really be grateful for Bush's bungled war because it gave us Obama.

No, seriously.  That's his argument.

History is too contingent to say that had there been no Iraq invasion in 2003, there would be no Democratic majority in 2012. (It’s easy enough to imagine counterfactuals that might have put Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office.) But the Democratic majority that we do have is a majority that the Iraq war created: its energy and strategies, its leadership and policy goals, and even its cultural advantages were forged in the backlash against George W. Bush’s Middle East policies

Not mentioned anywhere in Douthat's piece:  The fact that liberals AND conservatives may have been angry about Iraq, but hey, Afghanistan and Bin Laden still happened.  Oh, and that whole nearly collapsing our economy thing in his second term.

Barack Obama couldn't possibly have won election or re-election based on his policies and performance, right?  He couldn't have beaten the most powerful Democratic party machine in modern history (or at least since Camelot) without Bush Bungles Baghdad, right?  What's next, telling me how slavery, the Civil War, and the Jim Crow era were an awesome lucky break for black folk like me?

Douthat's one of those people who lack character, credibility, and judgment.  So why would anyone listen to his self-serving nonsense now?

I can't think of a reason.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Baby You're A Rich Man

Want to know why reducing the deficit, cutting social programs, repealing Obamacare and cutting taxes for the rich are Washington's only real priorities right now?  They're the top priorities of the people who have bought Washington, of course, as the LA Times discovers.

We recently conducted a survey of top wealth-holders (with an average net worth of $14 million) in the Chicago area, one of the first studies to systematically examine the political attitudes of wealthy Americans. Our research found that the biggest concern of this top 1% of wealth-holders was curbing budget deficits and government spending. When surveyed, they ranked those things as priorities three times as often as they did unemployment — and far more often than any other issue.

The game is always about money and power.  It always has been, it always will be.

Two-thirds of the respondents had contributed money (averaging $4,633) in the most recent presidential election, and fully one-fifth of them "bundled" contributions from others. About half recently initiated contact with a U.S. senator or representative, and nearly half (44%) of those contacts concerned matters of relatively narrow economic self-interest rather than broader national concerns. This kind of access to elected officials suggests an outsized influence in Washington.

Imagine if two-thirds of Americans donated $4,633 rather than just the rich.   Course, we don't have that kind of money.  The people who do will forever own our country's politicians.

While the wealthy favored more government spending on infrastructure, scientific research and aid to education, they leaned toward cutting nearly everything else. Even with education, they opposed things that most Americans favor, including spending to ensure that all children have access to good-quality public schools, expanding government programs to ensure that everyone who wants to go to college can do so, and investing more in worker retraining and education.

The wealthy opposed — while most Americans favor — instituting a system of national health insurance, raising the minimum wage to above poverty levels, increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit and providing a "decent standard of living" for the unemployed. They were also against the federal government helping with or providing jobs for those who cannot find private employment.

Unlike most Americans, wealthy respondents opposed increased regulation of large corporations and raising the "cap" that exempts income above $113,700 from the FICA payroll tax. And unlike most Americans, they oppose relying heavily on corporate taxes to raise revenue and oppose taxing the rich to redistribute wealth.

If this sounds like 100% of the Republican party's austerity platform, and the votes of Blue Dog Dems, there's a reason for that.  The rich bought and paid for the campaigns, and they expect delivery.  Sure, it will come at the expense of the rest of us, but we never mattered anyway.

We could if we wanted to.  We don't.

Operation Cypriot Slip, Part 3

Cyprus, facing Monday's ECB deadline to pull the plug on their banking system, and a re-opening of banks that have seen their depositor's confidence shattered, is in a huge bind.  They called the ECB's bluff by voting down the first bank levy plan to tax all depositors.  The ECB responded with the Monday deadline which will lead to the country's economic collapse unless averted.  Cypriot leaders see they now have no choice other than to cough up cash by dropping a huge bank levy on only the island's biggest accounts, most of which are held by Russian oligarchs.

Cyprus is considering a levy of about 25 percent on bank deposits over 100,000 euros ($130,000) in the island's largest local lender, Bank of Cyprus, Finance Minister Michael Sarris said on Saturday.

Sarris told reporters that "significant progress" had been made in talks with officials from the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund - the so-called 'troika' - and that the discussions may conclude on Saturday evening.

If that's true, the Russians are going to blow a gasket.  It also means that oligarchs in other EU countries are going to look at this in horror.  They know they're next.

Stay tuned.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Last Call

Dinosaur Steve comes through in the end with a veto of the unconstitutionally stupid KY House Bill 289, the "Religious Freedom Act" but there are enough Blue Dogs (and in Frankfort, all the Dems are Blue Dogs) to most likely override the veto and make us the laughingstock of the nation again.

Gov. Steve Beshear vetoed a controversial religious-freedom bill Friday afternoon, saying the measure was well intended but would spark costly taxpayer-funded court cases and bring an array of unintended consequences.

"I have significant concerns that this bill will cause serious unintentional consequences that could threaten public safety, health care and individuals' civil rights," Beshear said in a statement. "As written, the bill will undoubtedly lead to costly litigation."

House Bill 279 would allow someone with "sincerely held" religious beliefs to disregard state laws "unless the government proves by clear and convincing evidence that it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing" the person's religious freedom. Gay rights and human rights groups have said the bill could be used to challenge local anti-discrimination laws that protect gays and lesbians in Lexington, Louisville, Covington and Vicco. 

"My religious beliefs are that (non-white people/LGBT people/non-Christians/women) are cursed by God, and I refuse to serve them.  It's now up to the Commonwealth to prove with clear and convincing evidence that they can infringe on my right to be a racist bigot."

Sure, this law won't cause lawsuits or anything.  I wonder how long this lasts if you replace the category up there with "white men".  Odds are we're going to find out really soon.

The sponsor of House Bill 279, Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, said he thinks he'll have the 51 votes required to override the veto if House leaders decide to take a vote. Damron said Beshear, a Democrat, did not ask him or Democratic House leaders to refrain from trying to override the bill during a conversation of more than an hour Friday in the governor's Capitol office.

In a written statement, Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said, "The Senate is prepared to override the veto of HB 279 if and when the Speaker moves to do so. As a House bill, that chamber must act on the bill first."

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said in a statement that Democratic leaders "will be discussing what action to take with our caucus."

The House passed the bill earlier this month with only seven dissenting votes. The Republican-led Senate passed it 29-6.

Lawmakers return to Frankfort on Monday for the final two days of the legislative session. Damron said there will be enough time to override the veto by midnight Tuesday.

So yeah, unless House Speaker Stumbo can talk the Blue Dogs down, Kentucky's about to become the land of 4.4 million theocracies.  Still, I'd love to see some atheists start refusing to serve anyone with religious beliefs.

In fact, I think that needs to happen...

Read more here:

Read more here:

A Little Perspective Music, Please

To recap, the House has passed the Senate 2013 Continuing Resolution.  The Senate CR bill makes the sequestration cuts permanent and makes several pro-gun NRA policy riders permanent.   Every Dem but two and both Independents voted for the CR (with the exception of New Jersey's Frank Lautenberg, who didn't vote and Jon Tester's no vote) along with several Republicans.  You want to know what the Republicans were getting in exchange for Reid's gun control bill even getting a vote?  Now you know.  That price came up front for the GOP, and they'll probably find a way to kill Reid's bill anyway.  Even if it does move through, it faces the House.

This means that Liz Warren, Tammy Baldwin, Bernie Sanders, Tom Harkin, Al Franken, all these bastions of progressive purity, voted for this in order to prevent a government shutdown next week, knowing that the gun control bill is in serious trouble and the GOP now has no real reason to negotiate in good faith.  It's the price of doing America's business, right?

Keep that in mind when President Obama signs the bill Congress gives him into law.  That sausage making machine is a pretty awful process to watch, ya know.  Tester and Lautenberg aren't exactly the bluest of blue, either, if you're planning on holding them up as more liberal than Liz Warren or anything.

And yes, this is me going after the usual suspects.  Nobody is pure in Congress.  They all play the game.  There are times when it doesn't matter how liberal the Dems are if you don't have the number of votes needed to win.  This is the result.  If you think the answer is the throw the impure Dems out and not the real bad guy Republicans, this result will continue to be permanent, too.

Operation Cypriot Slip, Part 2

Cyprus is now on the clock again.  The country's parliament called the ECB out and totally shot down the deposit levy scheme.  The ECB responded with a "Monday or else" deadline that could lead to Cyprus being the first country to economically flunk out of the Eurozone, not to mention you know, trigger a new European debt crisis and collapse.

In a sign it was at least preparing for the worst, the Cypriot government sought powers on Thursday to impose capital controls to stem a flood of funds leaving the island if there is no deal before banks reopen following this week's shutdown.

Parliament will reconvene later on Friday to debate a raft of government crisis measures after lawmakers adjourned a late-Thursday sitting saying they needed more time for consultation.

Even those measures looked likely to fall short of a promised "Plan B" to raise the 5.8 billion euros demanded by the EU in return for a 10 billion euro lifeline from the EU and IMF.

The European Central Bank said it would cut off liquidity to Cypriot banks without a deal, and a senior EU official told Reuters the bloc was ready to see the island banished from the euro to contain damage to the wider European economy.

The problem is confidence.  If Cyprus burns, then the current PIIGS on the barbecue spit, Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain, are looking like they'll be next.   Paul Krugman sums it up:

What can be done? First off, Cypriot banks cannot honor their debts, which unfortunately overwhelmingly take the form of deposits. So a default on deposits is inevitable.

As I now understand it, the initial screwup was a joint error of the Europeans and the Cypriots. Europe didn’t want an explicit bank resolution, which would among other things have given clear seniority to small insured deposits; instead, it wanted this essentially fictitious tax scheme. Meanwhile, the Cypriot government still has the illusion that its banking model can survive, and wanted to limit the hit to the big overseas depositors. Hence the debacle of the small-deposit tax.

In the end this probably comes, in some version, to what it should have been from the start — a big haircut on deposits over 100,000.

That's going to A) piss off the Russians and B) turn into a truly ugly week in Europe starting Monday, regardless of what happens now.   But with TV screens across Europe soon to be filling with bank runs and riots, I'm betting more than a few people start getting really nervous and moving their money out of other banks in Europe too.  That could get really nasty and quickly.

We'll see.  So far the ECB has been able to stomp out the fires when they pop up, but each round gets more and more costly.  If Cyprus is the bridge too far, then hold on to your seats.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Last Call

Not sure how I feel about this new bill from Rand Paul and Patrick Leahy.

Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced a bill Wednesday designed to give relief to the nation's bloated prison system by offering judges leeway to consider sentences below the mandatory minimum for all federal crimes.

The bill, named the Justice Safety Valve Act, would expand a current provision in sentencing law, authorizing judges to hand down less harsh sentences if they determine doing so would not jeopardize public safety. Under current law, only certain nonviolent, low-level, first-time drug offenses are subject to sentencing below the federal mandatory minimum.

On the one hand, the travesty of mandatory minimum sentencing is absolutely one of the major reasons the US is the nation with the most people in prison, and an overwhelming majority of prisoners are minorities.  The prison pipeline in this country is arguably the single biggest fully preventable social injustice around.

On the other hand, I'm automatically suspect of anything that both Rand Paul and Grover Norquist think is a great idea.  I want to see the details.  I fully expect the crimes where judges are given leeway to be ones with mostly white convicts, like tax fraud or something.  I don't know.  What I do know is I don't trust either of these guys for a reason, and that reason is they are both soulless bastards.

In an op-ed in The Hill on Wednesday, Julie Stewart, founder and president of the Families Against Mandatory Minimums Foundation, and Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, both hailed the Justice Safety Valve Act as a "common sense" measure that would save money and help ensure that the "time fits the crime in every criminal case." Their column offered some data on prison capacity and overcrowding:
According to a recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, the number of inmates under the Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) jurisdiction has increased from approximately 25,000 in FY1980 to nearly 219,000 in FY2012. BOP prisons are operating at 38 percent over capacity, endangering the safety of guards and inmates alike. Last week, the Inspector General for the Department of Justice testified that it’s only going to get worse: the BOP projects system-wide crowding to exceed 45 percent over rated capacity through 2018.

On the gripping hand, the only way anything was ever going to get done about mandatory minimum sentencing in this country was through a bipartisan effort. It was always going to take a combination of fiscal conservatives horrified at the costs of incarceration to state budgets, and social liberals horrified at the costs of incarceration to people, communities, and families.

If it takes Rand Effing Paul to get the ball rolling on getting rid of minimum sentencing, great.  He's still an awful person, despite the one time he mathematically comes up with doing the right thing.  I don't trust him, I won't vote for him, I won't praise him.   But if this bill passes, I'll take it in spite of him.

Ashley, Alison, And The Turtle, Part 2

Yesterday I posted a Politico report that here in Kentucky, the Clintons were backing Alison Lundergan Grimes with the hope she would take on Mitch McConnell.  I said that I would take the Clintons offer of help to rid the Senate of Turtle Boy, and that the Kentucky coal industry would do everything they can to bury Ashley Judd anyway.  Lundergan Grimes, being the daughter of long-time Clinton friend and Kentucky Democratic Party chair Jerry Lundergan, would have the party machine necessary to beat Mitch.

Over at 3ChicsPolitico however, Ametia reminds us that the DSCC and the Clintons aren't exactly friends of progressive Kentuckians like myself.

You can do it, Ashley. Don’t fall for the old, “you’re not a resident of Kentucky” BS. Hillary Clinton moved to NY, established residency, ran for the senate, and she won. Don’t fall for you’re an actress and you have too much baggage. Ronald Reagan was an actor, he ran for POTUS, and he won. And don’t even get me started on coming in with “BAGGAGE.”

You’ve got something mighty special for McTurtle and nem to come after you, before you’ve even announced your bid for senate. And for the Clinton’s attempts to THROW YOU UNDER THE BUS for their hand-picked choice, I’d say RUN ASHLEY, RUN. Just like Barack Hussein Obama, Don’t be threatened by the Clinton MACHINE supposed power & $$, Or do they owe Grimes a favor?

I’ll wait for Ashley to announce, even with the rumors of her annoucing at the Kentucky Derby event in May.

Give it up, Bill and Hillary Clinton. We’re not voting for Hillary in 2016; at least, not me.

Yeah, they owe Grimes a favor because of her dad.  Ol' Jerry Lundergan was a huge Hillary backer here in 2008 and used his connections to help win the state for Hillary.  I said then that if the price for getting rid of Mitch was being nice to the Clintons, I'd be willing to pay it.  As much as Lundergan chafes my chaps, his daughter's still better than Mitch as my senator.

Yeah, I'd rather see Ashley Judd run and win, and as I said yesterday, Grimes hasn't committed to a Senate run and could take on a House or Governor candidacy.  She'd win, too.

Ideally, I'm hoping that's what happens.  Realistically, I just want Mitch's ass gone.  I live here, folks.  I'm casting my vote for whoever has the best chance of beating Mitch, and I stand by that.

What's The Penalty Here?

As Steven D over at BooMan's place points out, Michele Bachmann is an inveterate liar, a hack, and a lunatic.  Yet she still serves in Congress and will continue to serve, even when she tells ridiculous lies like "70% of all food stamp money goes to government bureaucrats."  It's more like 0.3%, but who cares?  What real penalty does she face?

Of the $82 Billion budgeted for federal food and nutrition assistance relief under the USDA for 2013, less than 6% (5.8%) is allocated to all administrative costs, which includes, by the way, state administrative costs that represent 81% of all administrative costs for the Food Stamp Program.

If, in fact, "Washington bureaucrats" received 70% of that $82 Billion pie each year, they would all be multi-millionaires. Hey, if that were true I'd sign up to work for the USDA in a heartbeat. However, the truth is that working for the USDA will not make you wealthy. As of 2011:

As of September 30, 2011, there were 1,325 full-time permanent employees in the agencies. There were 529 employees in the Washington headquarters office; and 796 elsewhere, including in seven regional offices; 55 field offices; four SNAP compliance offices in Illinois, California, New Jersey, and Tennessee; and a computer support center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
That number includes the 166 government employees who work for SNAP. The average salary for USDA Food and Nutrition Service employes is around $61,000. The highest paid position is at the level of a GS 13, with salaries ranging from a little over $72,000 per year to a high of a little under $94,000 per year depending on various factors including geographic location. Nothing to sneeze at, but hardly a job that will move you into the top 10 percent of income.

Sadly, far too many people will believe Bachmann's absurd claim that food stamp recipients receive only 30% of the money budgeted for SNAP. The truth, that SNAP is on of the most efficient government programs in terms of the ratio of benefits provided to administrative costs (942:6) incurred will be ignored by most of the media, and the conservative talking point zombie lie that SNAP is a wasteful program that should be cut severely will be the default position of all "serious people" inside the Beltway, despite the reality.

Best part is Bachman's lie will be repeated in campaign ads, on Sunday shows, and on FOX News time and again.  It will rarely be challenged on air, in real time, if at all.  So it will become "conventional wisdom" and eventually will be the reason why SNAP will be discontinued by Republicans.

She knows exactly what she's doing and she knows there's zero penalty for her doing it.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Last Call

Seems our old friend Col. Mustard has a couple mountain ranges worth of umbrage to unload on that big 108-page GOP "why we lost in 2012" report, and he wants to know why he wasn't consulted.

No, really.

I would not be surprised if the RNC spoke with some of the salaried conservative media class who share the Washington professional circuit.  But did they reach out to the Army of Davids who are the anti-thesis of the consultant model because we mostly don’t get paid or make much money blogging, we do this in our “spare” time, and we are outside D.C.?

Did the RNC get any input from the great unwashed conservative blogosphere?  You wouldn’t know it from the report if it did...

Oh, considering how badly they lost, I'm pretty sure they were letting the "great unwashed blogosphere" run things, and that's exactly why they're avoiding you now, Bill.  Your advice was to run somebody even loonier than Romney, who would have managed to lose by double digits.  I would have been fine with that, but let's not pretend you have this deep well of wisdom just waiting to be tapped when you can't admit the GOP lost due to awful policies.  I'm a blogger too, man.  Don't play a player.

For the RNC to produce a 100-page report and not have a single mention of the need to interact with and support the conservative blogosphere tells me that the RNC simply has rearranged the deck chairs on the HMS Consultant.

We may not be all that, but it’s clear that the RNC doesn’t want us to be any part of that.

Can't possibly imagine why not, man.  Maybe it was your screaming hatred of Liz Warren?  How's that working out for you?

Mea Iraq-ima Culpa

Ezra Klein takes to Bloomberg News to admit his guilt in supporting the unconscionable Iraq War ten years ago, which in this business takes some guts.  It's also a reminder that A) it's been ten years, and B) a hell of a lot of liberals supported Iraq and believed the nonsense spun by Bush and Cheney.

I supported the Iraq War, and I’m sorry.

I have my excuses, of course. I was a college student, young and dumb. I thought that if U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell and former President Bill Clinton and U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair all thought it was necessary, then that was because they had intelligence proving as much. I thought there was no way the Bush administration would neglect to plan for the obvious challenges of the aftermath. I turned on the war quickly when I saw how poorly and arrogantly it was being managed. 

Back in 2002 I was out of college and had lost my job in the dot-com collapse,  so I had some time on my hands.  I didn't buy the intelligence then, and I'm glad I didn't.  I didn't see the reason to go in to Iraq at all, considering as a high school student I watched the first Iraq War on TV and saw how thoroughly flattened the place was.  If Saddam was a cruel despot and he still didn't use his "WMD" against us then with tanks rolling up entire divisions of his troops, why would he have waited years?

By 2004 it was clear Iraq was a huge mistake.  I was told to shut up and support our troops.  The anti-war movement was shouted down, ridiculed, and persecuted at every turn.  Now, a vast majority of Americans believe it was a horrible, bloody error in judgment.

It's a lesson all of us should remember.

Ashley, Alison, And The Turtle

It's yet another "Kentucky Democrats are quietly trying to get rid of Ashley Judd for current SecState Alison Lundergan Grimes to take on Mitch" story, this time from Politico, and featuring Big Dog.

Democratic heavy hitters — including Bill Clinton — are quietly trying to woo a new candidate to jump into the race to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, even as actress Ashley Judd is taking steps toward launching a star-studded campaign of her own.

With fears growing in some Democratic quarters over Judd’s potential candidacy, some prominent Democrats in the Bluegrass State are beginning to set their sights on 34-year-old Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state. Among Grimes’s attributes: She lacks political baggage since she’s served barely a year in office, and she hails from a well-connected family influential in Kentucky Democratic politics. But it’s not at all certain if she’ll jump into the race.

Grimes does have the Clintons in her corner. Earlier this month, the former president — a longtime friend of Grimes’s father — privately urged the young secretary of state to mount a Senate bid while assuring Grimes that both he and his wife, Hillary, would get behind her should she decide to take on the powerful Senate GOP leader, according to several sources familiar with the matter.

Attending an event for former Kentucky Sen. Wendell Ford in Owensboro earlier this month, Clinton privately met with Grimes for about 35 minutes, where they discussed her political future. Sources said Clinton made the case that the Senate bid would offer a bigger platform than the governor’s mansion or the U.S. House race in the 6th Congressional District, covering Frankfort and Lexington, which the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had hoped she would pursue.

Grimes has also met with officials from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, according to Kentucky Democratic sources. Both the DSCC and Clinton’s office declined to comment.

Now Grimes would have her own set of major problems, mainly the lack of experience and the fact she'd at best be another Joe Manchin/Heidi Heitkamp, a Red State Dem who would certainly not have the best progressive record on things, especially on the environment.  King Coal still rules here in the Bluegrass State, and nobody is getting into office without their blessing.  That includes Ashley Judd, folks, so pay attention.

Grimes might roll things back and go after Ben Chandler's old House seat in KY-6 too.  I don't know.  She could decide to walk away from Washington totally and stake out her claim for Governor, lord knows we need somebody in the D column to follow Dinosaur Steve Beshear.

What I do know is this:  I want Mitch McConnell gone, and if the price is I have to be nice to the Clintons long enough for them to use their pull here to actually help somebody other than themselves, I'll take it.
Related Posts with Thumbnails