Saturday, August 31, 2013

President Obama Calls The GOP's Bluff On Syria

Republicans were all set to have the best of both worlds:  still getting a bloody-minded attack on Syria, and having 100% of the fallout be on President Obama's shoulders, while claiming everything up to and including an "impeachable offense" by his attacking Syria without the approval of Congress.

So this afternoon, President Obama called their bluff and said he will do what the American people and Congress want:  debate and vote on the measure on Capitol Hill.

In an afternoon appearance in the Rose Garden, Mr. Obama said he had decided that the United States should use force but would wait for a vote from lawmakers, who are not due to return to town until Sept. 9. Mr. Obama said he believed he had the authority to act on his own, but he did not say whether he would if Congress rejects his plan

“I’m prepared to give that order,” Mr. Obama said. “But having made my decision as commander in chief based on what I am convinced is our national security interest, I’m also mindful that I’m president of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy.” 

Going to war with the support of the people’s representatives, he added, “I know the country will be stronger.” 

The president’s announcement effectively dared Congress to either stand by him or, as he put it, allow President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to get away with murdering children. By asking lawmakers to weigh in, he is trying to break out of his box of isolation of the last week, in the face of deep skepticism at home and around the world about the strike. His decision indicates he does not want to go forward without Congress and the American public. 

So now  this becomes Congress's problem, more specifically the GOP's problem.  They will have to go on record on Syria and bear responsibility for its future, which is exactly what they were attempting to avoid.

President Obama has outsmarted them yet again...and he's listening to the American people, who want debate before any military action.  Now he looks like the reasonable grown-up in the room.

Your move, Republicans.

London Calling (Out Obama)

The inestimable Juan Cole handily sums up yesterday's UK House of Commons disaster as MPs voted down PM David Cameron's preliminary plan to use military force against Syria, and what it means for President Obama, the United States, Syria, and force as a tool.

The British members of parliament who debated whether to take action against Syria were obviously haunted by the mistakes of the Iraq War and determined not to repeat them.

The case of Obama and Cameron against the Syrian government has some holes, but it isn’t a bad case. But it involves murky allegations of weapons of mass destruction use by an Arab regime, and a unilateral Anglo-American shock and awe aerial attack. It looks way too much like Iraq, and there is no telling where it might lead. Britain is not very far from Syria and the repercussions of an attack could be significant. Britain also has a significant Muslim minority population that is die hard set against an attack on Syria.

The vote puts President Obama between a rock and a hard place. The formerly solid Anglo-American solidarity has been broken. Obama does not have the Arab League and he does not have the UN Security Council. He does not even have a consensus on the European continent.

Obama should pivot now and choose vigorous diplomacy over a military strike. The latter will now have no legitimacy in international law, and would not be supported even by the British parliament

The duplicity of Bush and Blair has deeply injured faith in government, even on the part of members of government. Their use of the high-flown rhetoric of protecting helpless populations from tyrants and deflecting dire threats of WMD cheapened those endeavors and trivialized them They bent the sword of state and rendered it useless in any similar situation.

In a very real sense, the blown vote in the UK is the perfect excuse for the United States to reconsider action in Syria.  And yes, Bush and Blair made it now very difficult for future Presidents to deliver more than token military assistance, such as in Libya.  Here's hoping that President Obama considers the opportunity here to bring both sides to the table and end this war.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Last Call For The Black (And/Or Jewish) List

It's okay everyone, outdated concepts like racism and anti-Semitic hatred are over and stuff according to the Supreme Court and we don't need archaic relics like the Voting Rights Act and equal protection for those of different races or religions, so everything's fine, don't worry about things.

 Federal agents were tracking Ohio resident Richard Schmidt’s imports of counterfeit sports jerseys when they stumbled upon his arsenal of 18 guns, more than 40,000 rounds of ammunition, and bulletproof body armor. Besides the arsenal, he had lists of Jewish and black leaders in Detroit, MI. He is also an ex-felon who killed a Hispanic man and wounded two others 24 years ago.

Yet before December, no one even noticed that Schmidt, 47, was amassing weapons illegally, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Instead, federal investigators zeroed in on his sports memorabilia shop around September 2011, tracking his shipments of knock-off jerseys from China for over a year before they discovered the cache of firearms.

Schmidt plead guilty to federal gun charges and the counterfeit racket last month, and will be sentenced in October. But many connected to the crime are still scratching their heads over how an ex-felon with ties to white supremacist groups was able to get his hands on so many guns.

“I can’t tell you how he got all those guns and ammunition,” U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach told the Plain Dealer. “It’s not that I won’t tell you; it’s that I can’t. This is somebody who should never have had one gun, one bullet. But he had an entire arsenal.”

We don't need gun control either, apparently.  Can't stop a convicted killer from amassing a huge arsenal of firearms and ammunition, because it's just too hard, so why bother?  America!

Schmidt is technically banned from possessing a gun for the rest of his life. In 1989, he pulled a gun on three men during a traffic argument, killing one man and wounding the other two. He was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and served 12 years in prison.

Scott Kaufman, the head of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, was spooked after discovering he was on Schmidt’s list. “For a convicted violent felon to amass an arsenal with 40,000 rounds of ammunition with no red flags popping up is problematic,” he told the Plain Dealer. “No matter where you stand on the gun issue, it makes you wonder. The moment I saw my name in this guy’s notebook, I freaked out.”

Why would anyone be freaking out?  He was just exercising his constitutional right to have multiple firearms and tens of thousands of rounds.  While being a convicted killer and felon.  And a white supremacist.  And an anti-Semite.  And a guy with a list of black and Jewish targets.  Just leave the guy alone already!

Pot Holder: DOJ Flips On State Marijuana Laws

In a huge shift on federal drug policy, Eric Holder and the Justice Department have issued new prosecutorial guidelines for marijuana-related offenses, which boil down to "as long as the states that have legalized pot keep it under control, we're good."

More than six months after Washington and Colorado passed ballot initiatives to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said today he would not sue to block the implementation of the laws — at least not until he sees how the laws operate in effect. This announcement came as little surprise, after reports from earlier communication between DOJ and the governor.

More significantly, the Department of Justice also issued new guidance to prosecutors today calling for scaled back prosecution not just of users of marijuana, but also of distributors and growers complying with state law.

The guidance includes this passage:

Accordingly, in exercising prosecutorial discretion, prosecutors should not consider the size or commercial nature of a marijuana operation alone as a proxy for assessing whether marijuana trafficking implicates the Department’s enforcement priorities listed above. Rather, prosecutors should continue to review marijuana cases and on a case-by-case basis and weigh all available information and evidence, including, but not limited to, whether the operation is demonstrably in compliance with a strong and effective regulatory system.

So yes, big change from raiding large pot growers just because they are large pot growers.  This is a big step in the right direction for the Justice Department, and the second major signal this month that the US has al but admitted to losing the War on Drugs.

And it's about damn time.

Well, If Wingers Didn't Hate The IRS Before...

...they'll SUPER ULTRA HATE the IRS after today.

All legally married same-sex couples will be recognized for federal tax purposes, regardless of whether the state where they live recognizes the marriage, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service said Thursday.

The federal rules change is one of many stemming from the landmark Supreme Court decision in June that struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. That ruling found that same-sex couples were entitled to federal benefits, but left open the question of how the federal government would actually administer those benefits.

“Imagine a pair of women who marry in Albany and then move to Alabama,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote at the time of the decision. “May they file a joint federal income tax return? Does the answer turn on where they were married or where they live?”

As of the 2013 tax year, same-sex spouses cannot file federal tax returns as if they were single. Instead, they will have to opt for filing as “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately.” The location of their marriage — as long as it is legal — or residence does not matter: a same-sex couple who marry in Albany and move to Alabama will be treated the same as a same-sex couple who marry and live in Massachusetts.

Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax-filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide,” Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said in a statement. “This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”

Three reasons why homophobic jackasses in the GOP are furious over this: One, well, the whole homophobia thing. Two, hey look, in one stroke, Obama's IRS are the good guys now! Reason number three comes from my friend Jeff Fecke:



Thursday, August 29, 2013

Last Call For The Principled Opposition

Republicans keep trying to break Obamacare on purpose, putting their own constituents at risk because they dislike President Obama.  The media is beginning to notice, too.  The Washington Post:

Several Republican-led states at the forefront of the campaign to undermine President Obama’s health-care law have come up with new ways to try to thwart it, refusing to enforce consumer protections, for example, and restricting federally funded workers hired to help people enroll in coverage.

And in at least one state, Missouri, local officials have been barred from doing anything to help put the law into place.

The actions have drawn less attention than congressional efforts to cut off funding for the law, or earlier state decisions to refuse to set up online insurance marketplaces or reject an expansion of Medicaid, which sharply limited the law’s reach.

But the moves could impede Obama’s most significant domestic accomplishment, which, despite having withstood a Supreme Court challenge and a presidential election, still faces doubts about its viability. And they could affect implementation at a crucial time, just as some of the major provisions of the law, also known as Obamacare, are set to go into effect.

Now understand these are real people behind these numbers, millions of them, as McClatchy points out in the 21 states where Republicans are actively trying to shut down Obamacare.  They're calling it the "coverage gap"

With limited access to preventative care, many in the coverage gap with manageable chronic illnesses could end up seeking primary care services in hospital emergency rooms, where medical aid is costly and fleeting.

“If they fail to get an insurance card and don’t have ongoing adequate coverage, that’s how they’re going to continue to get care, in the most expensive, least efficient, least helpful way that they can,” said Ellen Kugler, executive director of the National Association of Urban Hospitals.

Gerald Friedman, a health care economist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, summarized the options for those caught in the coverage gap.

“There’s no way they can afford individual coverage at that income level, so they’ll do what they do now, which is they go to the free care pools in the hospitals, they go to public health clinics, they borrow from friends, they go to free clinics,” Friedman said, “and they just get sicker and sicker.”

These are real consequences, and real people who will be hurt here, not some nebulous collection of stats and charts.  It's going to do real damage to people, not to mention hospitals, providers, emergency rooms, families, you name it.

Republicans are willing to cause serious damage to the health of millions just because they hate Obama.  That's everything you need to know about the GOP in 2013.

Read more here:

Dayton Stands Up To Stand Your Ground

Dayton proves once again that while Ohio's GOP may have the reins now, those in opposition still get to make their voices heard.

City Commissioners have unanimously voted for a resolution opposing House Bill 203, which would expand Ohio law from the Castle Doctrine to the Stand Your Ground law. Ever since Ohio Legislators introduce house Bill 203 to bring the stand Your Ground Law to Ohio, City Leaders began speaking out against it.

"We have to take a stance when you look at the work we've put him in the city in an effort to try and reduce gun violence this kind of flies in the face of it," said City Commissioner Joey Williams.

"You're working as hard as you can Commissioner Williams as we all are here on commission to reduce gun violence why give people a legal way to kill," said Commissioner Matt Joseph.

Of all the citizens who spoke out at today's public hearing no one showed support of the Stand Your Ground proposal.

"All of the block parties that we have engaged in the last five years, all of the town-hall forums denouncing gun violence this proposed HB 203 would do nothing more than further separate alienate and increase the violence and not bring about peace," said Rev. Jerome McCorry of the Adam Project.

Wednesday's unanimous vote by the city commission fulfilled one purpose. It sent a message to the state that the city of Dayton will not stand for the stand your ground law.

"This is a dangerous law," said Bishop Richard Cox of the S.C.L.C. "It's a law that will affect every African-American male in this city and I'm glad you're sending a message to Gov. Kasich and the legislators."

A pretty strong coalition is building against SYG laws in Ohio, and it's a coalition that has beaten back the GOP before.  If there's one thing Gov. Kasich hates, it's bad press, and SYG is nothing but a nightmare for him.  Ohio voters will remember come 2014, and Kasich knows it.

Upper Class Twit Of The Year Awards

A new study shows some pretty interesting links between wealth, entitlement, and narcissism:  the more wealthy and educated you are, the more you think of yourself rather than others.

The fact that rich people often think they're better than poor people is one of those unspoken truths of society. We all know it happens, even if no one likes to admit it.

Luckily, we've got the research to prove it. In a series of studies, University of California at Berkley Psychologist Paul K. Piff tested the links between social class, entitlement, and narcissism.

"Americans may be more narcissistic now than ever, but narcissism is not evenly distributed across social strata," Piff wrote.

Piff and his team completed a number of studies, and every time found a significant link between wealth and narcissism.  The one shining spot:

Piff wanted to see whether simply reminding people of egalitarian values could change their levels of narcissism. He asked one group of people to list three benefits of regarding others as equals. He asked another group to list three activities they did during an average day. Afterward, both groups took a questionnaire meant to show their sense of entitlement.

Findings: People who thought about egalitarian things showed much lower entitlement than those in the control condition.

Injecting a bit of a reminder about the rest of us into the lives of those who think daily about themselves all the time seems like a good idea to me.  On the other hand, does self-absorption to the point of narcissism create wealth the way wealth creates narcissism?

That would be an interesting study.  When all you care about is getting ahead for your own benefit, do you actually benefit?


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Last Call For MSNBC

Ratings are down big at MSNBC from this time last year, and for some shows it's by as much as half the audience.

Compared to August 2012, MSNBC was down -28% in total viewers and -32% in the A25-54 demographic in total day and -36% and -32%, respectively, in primetime. MSNBC was the only cable channel to see viewership growth last August, thanks in part to live coverage from the Olympics.
“Morning Joe” was down -9% in total viewers and -17% in the A25-54 demographic compared to the same month last year, which actually was a better result than many of the programs that came later in the day.

In primetime, “The Rachel Maddow Show” posted all-time low ratings in total and demo viewers, down -43% and -47%, respectively. “The Last Word” posted a low in total viewers, losing -40% of its total viewer audience and -42% of its demo audience. at 8 PM, “All in” was down -48% and -42% in total and demo viewers, respectively, placing behind CNN for the hour.

In dayside, MSNBC was down double digits in pretty much every hour in total and demo viewers, including 6 PM’s “PoliticsNation,” which was down -31% and -37% in total and demo viewers, and 3 PM’s “The Cycle,” which was down -15% and -18% in total and demo viewers. One of the few programs to improve year to year was “The Ed Show” on Saturday and Sunday, which was up both days in total viewers, and in the demo on Saturday. This may help explain why the channel replaced the 5 PM edition of “Hardball” with the former weekend program.

Part of that loss has been viewers like myself.  I've stopped watching Maddow.  I gave All In a month or so, but have stopped watching that as well.   Last Word really isn't much of an option for me, being that late at night (I'm up at 5 AM on weekdays.)

Much of this is the fact that I could basically turn on any other cable news channel and see the Village taking swipes at the Obama administration.   Joy Ann Reid has been pretty good the few times I've seen her guest host.  Ezra Klein remains abysmal in the same capacity, but for the most part there's nothing on MSNBC that differentiates itself from the other news guys, which I don't watch.

It's telling that the network's longest running show is Hardball, going on its 15th year soon.  All the other shows have increasingly become more like Hardball, not less.

And I hate to say this, but losing Olbermann was the biggest blow to the network so far.  Olbermann at least made for good broadcasting, and he was a pro.  Hayes, Maddow, O'Donnell, not so much.

The Names Remain The Same

As BooMan points out, the people behind the latest neo-con screed demanding President Obama authorize military action that would bring "meaningful consequences" to Bashar al-Assad's regime are the same neo-con assholes who got us into war with Iraq.

We urge you to respond decisively by imposing meaningful consequences on the Assad regime.  At a minimum, the United States, along with willing allies and partners, should use standoff weapons and airpower to target the Syrian dictatorship’s military units that were involved in the recent large-scale use of chemical weapons.  It should also provide vetted moderate elements of Syria’s armed opposition with the military support required to identify and strike regime units armed with chemical weapons.

Moreover, the United States and other willing nations should consider direct military strikes against the pillars of the Assad regime.  The objectives should be not only to ensure that Assad’s chemical weapons no longer threaten America, our allies in the region or the Syrian people, but also to deter or destroy the Assad regime’s airpower and other conventional military means of committing atrocities against civilian non-combatants.  At the same time, the United States should accelerate efforts to vet, train, and arm moderate elements of Syria’s armed opposition, with the goal of empowering them to prevail against both the Assad regime and the growing presence of Al Qaeda-affiliated and other extremist rebel factions in the country.

And guess who thinks this is a great idea?

The signatories on the letter addressed to President Obama inlcude Senator Joe Lieberman, Bernard-Henri Levy, Karl Rove, Bill Kristol, Elliott Abrams, Leon Wieseltier, and many others. Right now, 66 experts have signed the letter.  

Those "many others" include Tim Pawlenty, Norm Coleman, Dan Senor, Max Boot, Larry Kaplan and pretty much the rest of the neo-con jackasses who helped Cheney and his propaganda shop lie us into two decade-plus long wars.  There is no goddamn way I'm supporting Syria intervention of any sort if these bloodthirsty ghouls back it.

Please, Mr. President.  Reconsider.  These are people who think assassinating the entire Assad family will somehow end the conflict in Syria, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Let's not throw our lot in with them.

Orange Potatohead Pie

House Speaker John Boehner is on the road fundraising for his fellow House Republicans, which I guess is like holding up a big sign with an arrow pointing to Orange Julius that reads "I'm with Stupid! (Now Give Me $200,000)."  Monday he was in Boise, Idaho where he had some choice comments about taking the economy hostage again, because apparently it worked so well for them in 2012.

House Speaker John Boehner said Monday that getting the GOP-controlled House to agree to raising the U.S. debt ceiling will only come with a bipartisan deal to make cost-saving changes to Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, farm programs and government pensions.

Before becoming speaker in 2011, Boehner said, he’d watched leaders of both parties delay a long-term solution to a baby-boom-fueled benefit crisis.

“I made up my mind that we weren’t going to kick the can down the road any more,” Boehner, R-Ohio, told a Boise lunch crowd at a fundraiser for Idaho’s 2nd District Congressman Mike Simpson. “We’re not going to inflict all of this pain and suffering on our kids and our grandkids.”

He's right.  The GOP is going to inflict all of this pain and suffering on the entire country instead.

“Now, it’s time to deal with the mandatory side,” Boehner said, winning applause from a crowd of 430 at the Boise Centre on The Grove. “I’ve made it clear that we’re not going to increase the debt limit without cuts and reforms that are greater than the increase in the debt limit.

“The president doesn’t think this is fair, thinks I’m being difficult to deal with. But I’ll say this: It may be unfair but what I’m trying to do here is to leverage the political process to produce more change than what it would produce if left to its own devices. We’re going to have a whale of a fight.”

Recalling the 2011 battle over raising the federal debt ceiling, Boehner recalled negotiations that spooked financial markets, prompted Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the U.S. credit rating and angered ordinary Americans. He warned the audience to expect more of the same.

“I wish I could tell you it was going to be pretty and polite, and it would all be finished a month before we’d ever get to the debt ceiling. Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way,” Boehner said. “If this were easy to do, somebody over the last 20 or 30 years would have gotten it done. We’re going to do it this fall.”

Read more here:

Good luck winning in 2014 with the strategy "We're going to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid or shut the government down trying!"  I'm looking forward to a Democratic House and Senate.

Read more here:


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Last Call For More Turtle Busters

As if Mitch McConnell didn't have enough problems, he's now drawn a challenger in 2014 from the Libertarian Party.

Libertarian David Patterson has announced his intention to run for U.S. Senate in Kentucky.

A 42-year-old Harrodsburg police officer, Patterson said in a statement that he's making a bid to unseat Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell because voters are looking for an alternative.

Ken Moellman, chairman of the Libertarian Party's state executive committee, said he's pleased Patterson wanted to get into the race. Patterson will seek the party's nomination in an internal primary on March 1.

Read more here:

We don't know too much about Patterson other than he's a cop and Libertarian (which is interesting combo, Libertarian and government employee) but Patterson even drawing 1 or 2% from McConnell supporters, should he survive Matt Bevin in the primary, may make the difference in this race when it comes to getting a win for Alison Lundergan Grimes.  Should Bevin upset McConnell, Patterson could possibly split off a substantial chunk of Bevin's support if he continues to be the raging Tea Party jackass he is now.  Either way, I'm happy to see the Libertarians helping pull off a Hoffman Effect victory here for Grimes and the Democrats.

We'll see what happens.  Still well over a year to go.

About To Be Some Syria(s) Fighting

Yesterday's statement by US Secretary of State John Kerry on chemical weapons use near Damascus last week left little room for doubt as to whether or not we're about to attack Syria:

In some of the most aggressive language used yet by the administration, Mr. Kerry accused the Syrian government of the “indiscriminate slaughter of civilians” and of cynical efforts to cover up its responsibility for a “cowardly crime.” 

Mr. Kerry’s remarks at the State Department reinforced the administration’s toughening stance on the Syria conflict, which is now well into its third year, and indicated that the White House was moving closer to a military response in consultation with America’s allies. 

Administration officials said that although President Obama had not made a final decision on military action, he was likely to order a limited military operation — cruise missiles launched from American destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea at military targets in Syria, for example — and not a sustained air campaign intended to topple Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, or to fundamentally alter the nature of the conflict on the ground. 

The follow-up by White House press secretary Jay Carney removed what little doubt was left after Kerry's statement.

But even if no decision has been made, Carney laid out a deliberate case for war against Syria, which appears to hinge on the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons. "The use of these weapons is a threat to our national interest and a concern to the entire world," Carney said. "It is because this international norm exits and because it has been so clearly violated that we and people around the world have to address this and seek an appropriate response." 

Syria is promising retaliation to any US action and for its part warns it has the backing of both Iran and Russia.

Syria's foreign minister says his country will defend itself using "all means available" in case of a US strike.

Walid al-Moallem says Syria has two choices, either to surrender or fight back, and it will choose the latter.

He declined to elaborate or say to what specific means he was referring.

Iran of course is ignoring the US and threatening Israel instead, vowing a "larger regional conflict".

A senior Syrian official on Monday issued a first direct warning that if attacked, his country would retaliate against Israel. Khalaf Muftah, a senior Baath Party official who used to serve as Syria’s assistant information minister, said in a radio interview that Damascus would consider Israel “behind the [Western] aggression and [it] will therefore come under fire.” 

And Russia is just outright concern-trolling at this point, continuing to blame Islamist Syrian rebels for inciting war, because really the al-Assad regime is filled with nice guys.

A Western military attack on Syria would only create more problems in the region, lead to more bloodshed and result in the same sort of “catastrophe” as previous such interventions in Iraq and Libya, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said Monday.

“Hysteria is growing, and confrontation is incited,” Lavrov said in what he portrayed as an emergency news conference. He said the United States and its European allies have condemned the regime of Bashar al-Assad without any evidence that it actually used chemical weapons in an attack in the Damascus suburbs on Wednesday. 

So at this point, who knows.  I've been warning about the consequences of a Syria strike for almost two years now and been predicting US intervention for almost as long.  The difference this time is that the American people are very much against any Syrian intervention.

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll has finally found something that Americans like even less than Congress: the possibility of U.S. military intervention in Syria. Only 9 percent of respondents said that the Obama administration should intervene militarily in Syria; a RealClearPolitics poll average finds Congress has a 15 percent approval rating, making the country’s most hated political body almost twice as popular.

Nine percent.  That speaks volumes. 60% oppose any intervention outright.  Count me in that group.  There's no way limited strikes will do anything to Assad's grasp on power and bringing enough fireworks to actually force regime change will all but guarantee Iran and Israel go to war.  It's not worth it.

President Obama can still back down.  I pray he does.  If he decides otherwise, we'll go from there.  But put me as on the record as saying any Syrian military intervention by the US is a bad, bad idea.  Syria is not Libya or Egypt, and the results won't be anywhere near as tidy as Qaddafi's ouster.  We're already seeing massive pressure from the media that an attack is inevitable at this point, and I don't buy that.

Trust me on this one, folks.  If we pull the trigger, it's going to be something we regret.

Dear America

Another one of these this week.  Man, it's getting to be silly season out here.

"Boy, liberals sure are delusional kooks over this inequality crap.  Why can't they just accept that life isn't fair, we're not created equal by any stretch of the imagination, and that the haves will beat the have-nots every time?"

--Thomas Sowell, National Review Online

Bonus Verbatim Stupid(tm): 

The fundamental problem of the political Left seems to be that the real world does not fit their preconceptions. Therefore they see the real world as what is wrong, and what needs to be changed, since apparently their preconceptions cannot be wrong.

This coming from people who believe the Earth is 6,000 years old and that all the scientific evidence otherwise was planted to test the faithless, that evolution is a horrific myth that must be challenged, that man-made global warming is a massive hoax designed to sell Tesla cars, that President Obama was born in Kenya, and that the scam of science itself is the primary function of academia the world over.

But the real world doesn't fit the left's preconceptions.  Sure, that's the problem.  This guy is projecting like a lighthouse hooked up to a nuclear reactor, methinks.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Last Call For Ben's Helicopter

The race to replace outgoing Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke continues to roll on, and while the "Anyone But Larry Summers" crew has strong contenders in Janet Yellen (who would be the first female Fed chief) and Roger Ferguson (who would be the first black Fed chairman) WaPo's Neil Irwin argues that the newest dark horse after this weekend's Jackson Hole conference is Bank of Israel head Stan Fischer.

The short version: He is an outstanding academic economist; he was the No. 2 official at the IMF; and he did a virtuoso job leading the Bank of Israel until earlier this year, making him the central banker to one of the nation’s closest allies. Whether you’re looking for academic brilliance, crisis management or central banking experience, Fischer’s resume is sterling.
He is deeply respected, even beloved, in the community of central bankers, an intellectual leader among the group of men and women who guide the world economy. In fact, he was a mentor to many of them. As it happens, he was thesis adviser to both current Fed chair Ben Bernanke and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi. In the symposium Saturday, Fischer raised a typically thoughtful point about capital flows to emerging markets, posing a question to the panelists who had just presented a paper.

And hey, I'm all for Not Larry Summers.  But Fischer? 

The reason Fischer is not viewed as a front-runner for the Fed chairmanship is that he is viewed as a foreigner. He was born in Zambia and raised overseas before becoming a U.S. citizen in 1976. More politically tricky is that he was a high public official of another country for the last several years while serving as governor of the Bank of Israel.
But Fischer has been an American citizen for a generation and maintained his U.S. citizenship while serving overseas.  And the politics around Israel are unique. Would Republicans really lead a charge against confirmation for Bibi Netanyahu’s top economic adviser?

They should, but not a one would.  And while this guy may not be Larry Summers, "Bibi's economic guy" is not a plus in my book.

Presidential Power Principles In Syria

Jeffrey Goldberg argues that UN Ambassador Samantha Power's award-winning book, A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, is the map for the coming US intervention in Syria.

I pulled the book off the shelf last night, and was reminded that it is brilliant, a carefully written, deeply researched indictment of American indifference in the face of atrocity. And I realized that the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria must be driving Power mad with frustration -- frustration, of course, with Bashar al-Assad's killer regime and frustration with the international community (so-called), in particular the Russians, who will do almost anything to protect the regime from censure, but also frustration with those in the administration who have spent the past two years looking for ways to distance the U.S. from the horror.

One caveat: The 100,000 dead in Syria do not count -- at least not yet -- as victims of genocide, as the word is traditionally understood, although I think a careful analysis of the civil war shows that Assad’s minority Alawite regime has directed its criminal violence almost exclusively against members of Syria’s Sunni Muslim population.

So I have a sense that Power would believe that the following statement, which she made in her book’s concluding chapter, would apply to Syria: “When innocent life is being taken on such a scale and the United States has the power to stop the killing at reasonable risk, it has a duty to act.”

Power is right here.  The problem is that applied to Syria, the United States doesn't have the power to stop the killing at reasonable risk.  We never did.  The Syrian military is substantial.  This would not be another ho-hum air power act like in Libya or even a shock and awe, six-week special like in Iraq in 1990.  It would be an actual war, and an ugly one.  Bush and Cheney put us into a pair of decade-long wars that cost us trillions.  President Obama wisely has kept us out of a third Middle Eastern war by comparison.  There's not going to be a couple of air strikes, and then the game's over, folks.

We're talking a guaranteed quagmire, if not a huge regional conflict, with the UK, France, and us on one side and quite possibly Russia and China on the other.  That's not one of those good things.

In her conclusion, Power asks, “Why does the United States stand so idly by?” in the face of mass killing. And she explains the traditional behavior of Western leaders when confronted with proof of large-scale atrocities: “Western governments have generally tried to contain genocide by appeasing its architects. But the sad record of the last century shows that the walls the United States tries to build around genocidal societies almost inevitably shatter. States that murder and torment their own citizens target citizens elsewhere. Their appetites become insatiable.”

Her argument for intervention in cases of large-scale violence against civilians is not motivated merely by moral interests: “Citizens victimized by genocide or abandoned by the international community do not make good neighbors, as their thirst for vengeance, their irredentism and their acceptance of violence as a means of generating change can turn them into future threats.” Two years of Western inaction in Syria, of course, have helped turn what began as a nonviolent citizens’ rebellion into an al-Qaeda-dominated campaign of anti-regime violence.

And no, Syria is not a good neighbor.  But unless we're willing to remove Assad and the Syrian military from power permanently, which will require a lengthy ground invasion, anything we do will not be enough.

Dear America

"I'm going to talk about race and say that the black reaction to the tragic murders of white people Chris Lane and Delbert Belton not warranting national demonstrations like Trayvon Martin's death proves that those same savage, riot-prone black people who are always talking about race are the real source of America's race problem.  Right, Obama?"

--Kathleen Parker, Washington Post

Bonus Verbatim Stupid:

We do know this much for certain: Had the races been reversed, the usual suspects would have had much to say. White teens beat up an elderly black veteran and leave him for dead? White teens shoot a talented black athlete visiting from another country?


Because all we black folk are?  Barely contained, quasi-human Whitey-seeking time bombs set off by the mere appearance of racism, just waiting to detonate in your neighborhood, your schools, your churches, your workplaces, and your block parties with fruit salad.  That's why we need stand your ground laws, so shooting one of us in self-defense because you're terrified isn't a criminal act.  It's better for everyone that way.

At least in the twisted, awful funhouse that is Kathleen Parker's personal, paranoid hell of a mind.  Jesus, how does the woman walk outside without macing everyone darker than John Boehner and peeing herself in sheer terror?

And just for the record, this is pretty much the most blatantly awful, race-baiting piece of nonsense I think the Washington Post has ever has the misfortune of printing.  It's that bad.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Last Call For Cory Booker's Doormat

Three observations on Steve Lonegan, the Republican running to lose spectacularly to Cory Booker in October's special election in NJ:

1)  Steve Lonegan is an idiot, has no chance in hell, and will lose by 20 points.

New Jersey Senate candidate Steve Lonegan (R) told MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki on Saturday that single mothers don’t need to rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, because his mother raised a family by working hard and building a successful career following the death of her husband.

We never had to have SNAP, when I was a kid,” Lonegan said during an appearance on Up with Steve Kornacki. “Ok, so, this thing that every single mother is the poster child for the welfare state is nonsense… I know a lot of single moms go out to work and do very, very well for themselves.”

2)   Why is Up with Steve Kornacki giving Lonegan a platform anyway?

3)  I'm hoping the answer to number 2 there is "to show people Steve Lonegan is an idiot and has no chance in hell, he's going to lose by 20 points."  I'm not so sure about Kornacki's motives.

4) This is the 15,000th post on ZVTS.  Damn I write a lot.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Ham, Turtle, And Rand For Dinosaur's Steve's Breakfast

Every now and again Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear reminds me he's actually a proud Democrat in a state full of bitter Republicans, and he ate Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell's lunch at Thursday's Farm Bureau breakfast at the KY State Fair as he defended Obamacare in front of the both of them.

The governor compared health insurance to "the safety net of crop insurance" and said farmers need both. He said 640,000 Kentuckians—15 percent of the state—don't have health insurance and "trust me, you know many of those 640,000 people. You're friends with them. You're probably related to them. Some may be your sons and daughters. You go to church with them. Shop with them. Help them harvest their fields. Sit in the stands with them as you watch your kids play football or basketball or ride a horse in competition. Heck, you may even be one of them."

Beshear went on to say that "it's no fun" hoping and praying you don't get sick, or choosing whether to pay for food or medicine. He also said Kentucky is at or near the top of the charts on bad-health indicators, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer deaths, and preventable hospitalizations. He said all that affects everything from productivity and school attendance to health costs and the state's image.

"We've ranked that bad for a long, long time," he said. "The Affordable Care Act is our historic opportunity to address this weakness and to change the course of the future of the commonwealth. We're going to make insurance available for the very first time in our history to every single citizen of the commonwealth of Kentucky."

About half the audience burst into applause at that point while the other half sat on their hands. But he wasn't done. He cited a study that showed the law would inject about $15.6 billion into the Kentucky economy over eight years, create 17,000 new jobs, and generate $802 million for the state budget.

"It's amazing to me how people who are pouring time and money and energy into trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act sure haven't put that kind of energy into trying to improve the health of Kentuckians. And think of the decades that they have had to make some kind of difference," Beshear finished pointedly.

Those are frankly two of the best arguments for Obamacare that I've heard, the third being "Expanding Medicare sure is a lot cheaper than taxpayers swallowing the cost of indigent emergency room care."  Jason Cherkis reminds us that if people don't know it's Obamacare, they love it.  Even here in Kentucky.

A middle-aged man in a red golf shirt shuffles up to a small folding table with gold trim, in a booth adorned with a flotilla of helium balloons, where government workers at the Kentucky State Fair are hawking the virtues of Kynect, the state’s health benefit exchange established by Obamacare.

The man is impressed. "This beats Obamacare I hope," he mutters to one of the workers.

“Do I burst his bubble?” wonders Reina Diaz-Dempsey, overseeing the operation. She doesn't. If he signs up, it's a win-win, whether he knows he's been ensnared by Obamacare or not.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- Obamacare -- totals 974 pages, and in the popular imagination is several times longer. How the complex law unfolds could very well determine the winner of Kentucky's high-stakes 2014 Senate race pitting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) against Democratic upstart Alison Lundergan Grimes -- and along with it control of the upper chamber.

But Diaz-Dempsey has managed to distill it all down to three sentences.

We are Kynect -- part of the new health care law.

Do you know anyone who doesn’t have health insurance?

You may qualify for Medicaid or a tax credit based on your income.

And people love Kynect.  It's not Obamacare, you see.  Regardless, it's good seeing Beshear stand up for Obamacare.  My question is does Alison Lundergan Grimes have the courage to do the same?

Your Stopped Clock Is Right Twice A Day Alert

With the Obama administration discussing intervention options in Syria today, we see a SCIRTAD alert issued for one "Cap'n" Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.

On one side, we have a hereditary dictatorship that has a track record of genocidal attacks on its own people.  On the other side, we have an aggregation of impotent secularists and radical Sunni Islamists with a track record of mass-murder attack on civilians.  The question isn’t which would use chemical weapons to further their cause, it’s which wouldn’t, and the answer is neitherUnless we start bombing everyone, it’s difficult to see why we’d want to intervene at all, except to grab or neutralize whatever stores of chemical weapons we can find.

There are no good guys in Syria's civil war, folks.  The Assad regime is horrific, and the rebels are killers as well.  If there's an ultimate big bad itself, it's Syria's military.  With the death toll above six figures and at least that many fleeing as refugees, it's good to remember that "intervening" in Iraq and Afghanistan didn't exactly go well, and in Libya we traded Qaddafi for an unstable cease fire that probably won't last the year.

And yet odds are very good we'll be in Syria very soon. 

Hanoi Jane And The Butler

Oh bitter old douchebags here in Kentucky, you're the reason Elizabethtown can't have nice things.

A Kentucky theater owner has banned the number one movie in America, The Butler, from his theater because he says that actress Jane Fonda is "an enemy of the United States of America."

Movie Palace and Showtime Cinemas owner Ike Boutwell told The News-Enterprise that he was not interested any of the $25 million that Lee Daniel's film about an African-American butler who served eight United States presidents had made during its opening weekend because Fonda had brought disgrace to the screen with her portrayal of former First Lady Nancy Reagan.

"I was a military flight instructor during the Vietnam War, taught hundreds of pilots to fly, many of whom Ms. Fonda clapped and cheered as they were shot down and killed," the retired Marine explained. "That's treason, right in our Constitution... aid and comfort to the enemy."

Boutwell said that it would be a "terrible dishonorment on my part to give money to a woman" such as Fonda.

He added that it would be "throwing gas on the fire" to support a "person of treason" as she portrayed a "patriotic lady" like Nancy Reagan.

"I'm a former Marine, I've got a long memory," Boutwell pointed out. "I just -- I cannot give up to the enemy, and Ms. Fonda, as far as I'm concerned, is an enemy of the United States of America. That's exactly how I feel about it."

Well, at least the guy's not saying "I'm not going to show this movie with black people in it" or anything.  That would be really ludicrous, right?

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Last Call For The Last Train To Cobbsville

And it's leaving Racist Station, you can be there at 4:30, but I'd get a reservation.

A man living in North Dakota plans to turn his small town into a bastion of white supremacists, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“I didn’t have a clue who the guy was until he showed up. All I know is he bought that house sight unseen, $5,000 cash, and had no idea what it looked like, where it was, other than he knew the directions to get to Leith,” Mayor Ryan Schock told the Hatewatch blog.

Craig Paul Cobb, 61, has been buying up abandoned property in Leith, a town of only 19 people. He has invited other white supremacists to live on his properties and help take over the city.

In a post last year on the Vanguard News Network forum, Cobb said anyone who lives on his property would be required to fly a “racialist banner” — such as a Nazi flag — 24-hours a day. They would also be required to try to “import more responsible radical hard core [white nationalists]” and become a legal resident of the state so they could vote in local elections. He plans to rename the city “Cobbsville.”

“Imagine strolling over to your neighbors to discuss world politics with nearly all like-minded volk. Imagine the international publicity and usefulness to our cause! For starters, we could declare a Mexican illegal invaders and Israeli Mossad/IDF spies no-go zone. If leftist journalists or antis come and try to make trouble, they just might break one of our local ordinances and would have to be arrested by our town constable. See?” he wrote.

Cobb has even built a concrete prison, where he plans to “lock up recalcitrant journalists and lefty commies who violate the codes or peace of the community.”

Sounds like a happening town for all your extremely Aryan, goosestepping buddies who need somewhere to hang their SS hats after a long day of hating everyone who's not them.  Perhaps someone should inform Chief Justice Roberts that Craig Paul Cobb here didn't get the memo that racism in America was over when the court's conservatives struck down Section 4 of the no longer necessary Voting Rights Act.

The plan to turn Leigh into a white supremacist paradise has the town’s only black resident understandably worried.

“The more the word gets out, the better chance that we can move him out. People are welcome if they’re here to improve our community, but they’re here to bring hate,” Bobby Harper told The Bismarck Tribune.

Yeah, I'd be understandably worried too.

Professor Obama's Higher Education Plan

President Obama yesterday unveiled his plan for containing college costs, and as Ezra Klein notes, it's applying Obamacare's "bend the cost curve down" theory to college tuition inflation.

The core of President Obama’s plan to cut higher-ed costs is “pay-for-performance.” The idea is to use federal financial aid to move colleges away from the current pay-for-enrollment model and toward a model in which they make more money if they graduate more students, hold tuition costs down, etc. (This is, in a sense, bringing the cost-control theories of Obamacare to the higher-ed sector.)

So how does it work?

The fact sheet is pretty clear on this: “Before the 2015 school year, the Department of Education will develop a new ratings system to help students compare the value offered by colleges and encourage colleges to improve.” Look ma! No Congress!

Linking the new ratings system to financial aid does require congressional action. But it doesn’t come till much later. “The President will seek legislation allocating financial aid based upon these college ratings by 2018, once the ratings system is well established,” the fact sheet continues. That’s two years after the end of Obama’s second term. That means that even if Obama did get legislation passed to link aid to performance, the law could be altered or undone by the next president before it even went into effect.

So what Obama is really promising to get done in his second term is to create the infrastructure necessary for a pay-for-performance system: the definition of performance and the routine collection of the underlying data. He doesn’t need Congress for that. When that’s are done, Obama can try to get legislation passed through Congress to tie them to financial aid by 2018. But even if he fails, he will have set the next president up to finish the job, as the technically hardest and most time-consuming task will be complete.

Seems like a good plan to me, especially when the big losers in the plan are those profiting off of college loans.  Going to a pay-for-performance, "Race To The Top" program approach puts the responsibility on colleges, universities, grad schools and trade school to turn out people who actually graduate, not drop out.

Naturally, Republicans are going to trash the plan.  And as usual, they've got nothing better.

A High Stakes Game Of Texas Hold 'Em

Texas GOP Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst apparently has a no problem with Texas Hold 'Em...especially when the person being "held" is his niece, in Collins County, for shoplifting.  He's got no problem going all in when it comes to throwing his weight around.

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R) reportedly called 911 when a relative was in jail and tried to use his influence to convince officials to release her. According to CBS Dallas-Ft. Worth, Dewhurst made the call on August 3, four hours after his niece was arrested for shoplifting at an Allen, TX Kroger grocery store.

“This is David Dewhurst, the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Texas, and I want to talk to your senior officer who is there at your department right now,” Dewhurst said at the beginning of the call.

When the Republican got a police sergeant on the phone, he proceeded to insist that his niece, Ellen Bevers, is “the sweetest person in the world,” and that she should be released as quickly as possible.

What I would like to do is if you would explain to me, sergeant, what I would need to do to arrange for getting her out of jail this evening,” he said. “You can proceed with whatever you think is proper.”

Allen police say they handled the case just as they would any other case of a relative calling about an inmate. The sergeant on duty explained that Bevers was charged with a Class B misdemeanor and would be transferred to the Collin County Sheriff’s Office for arraignment.

Yeah, you're a precinct sarge, and the Lieutenant Governor calls YOU up and says he wants to get his niece out of the pokey ASAP for a shoplifting charge.  Whatever YOU think is proper.  The cops played it by the book, apparently.

A spokesperson for the Allen Police Department, Sgt. John Felty, said that neither his department nor the lieutenant governor did anything wrong, “He didn’t threaten anybody. He didn’t demand anything. He didn’t ask for anything that was above and beyond what a normal citizen would.”

Dewhurst’s office released a statement that said, “David acted as a concerned family member in an attempt to acquire information on how to post bail for his niece while reiterating multiple times in the full conversation that law-enforcement follow their normal protocols and procedures.”

Sure.  Except this "normal citizen" asking for "normal procedures" happens to be the Lieutenant Governor of Texas.  Maybe what Dewhurst did was legal,but it sure as hell wasn't moral.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Last Call For 501(c)(4) Mystery Meat

House Democrat Chris Van Hollen of Maryland comes through with a novel approach to suing the IRS:  doing so to get them to adhere to federal law and stop allowing dark money PACs to play the anonymous donor game.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee whose office announced the action, will serve as lead plaintiff in the case, joining campaign-finance watchdogs Democracy 21, the Campaign Legal Center and Public Citizen.

The lawsuit will address one of the main concerns that surfaced with the recent IRS targeting controversy: Differences between federal law and the IRS rules on eligibility for 501(c)(4) candidates.

Current law says the organizations must engage “exclusively” in so-called “social welfare” activities, while IRS regulations require that their “primary” purpose fall into that category.

The distinction means that 501(c)(4) groups could no longer be tax-exempt at all, and would be subject to reporting requirements for donors.  That's going to be a real damper on GOP groups, which overwhelmingly use these groups compared to Democrats in fundraising hundreds of millions of dollars.

It ought to be interesting where this goes.  I hope it's the end of these dark money PACs for good.

The Big Red Line In Syria Means Squat

We've seen "chemical weapons" attacks in Syria that later turned out to not be chemical weapons attacks before, or at least there was enough doubt that chemical weapons were involved that the UN's only real action was to send in a team of chemical weapons experts.  But Wednesday's attack in the East Ghouta suburbs of Damascus may have removed all doubt, as the experts are now already on the ground, and their initial reporting has been horrifying. From Foreign Policy magazine's blog, The Cable:

U.S. intelligence officials and outside experts are looking into claims of a new and massive chemical weapons attack that's left hundreds dead. From the limited evidence they've seen so far, those reports appear to be accurate. And that would make the strike on the East Ghouta region, just east of Damascus, the biggest chemical weapons attack in decades.

Tthe early analysis is based on preliminary reports, photography and video evidence, and conclusions are prone to change if and when direct access to the victims is granted. Over the past nine months, the Syrian opposition has alleged dozens of times that the Assad regime has attacked them with nerve agents. Only a handful of those accusations have been confirmed; several have fallen away under close scrutiny. But Wednesday's strike, which local opposition groups say killed an estimated 1,300 people, may be different.

"No doubt it's a chemical release of some variety -- and a military release of some variety," said Gwyn Winfield, the editor of CRBNe World, the trade journal of the unconventional weapons community.

While the Obama administration says it has conclusive proof that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons in the recent past, the White House has been reluctant to take major action in response to those relatively small-scale attacks. ("As long as they keep body count at a certain level, we won't do anything," an American intelligence official told Foreign Policy earlier this week.) But this attack appears to be anything but small-scale. If allegations about this latest attack prove to be accurate, the strike could be the moment when the Assad regime finally crossed the international community's "red line," and triggered outside invention in the civil war that has killed over a hundred thousand people.

In other words, US involvement in Syria now may be inevitable, and all this is happening with Egypt falling down around our ears, too.  Things just got real, as the kids say.  But the problem remains Russia, spinning so hard for the Asaad regime that keeps paying them a crapload of money for weapons, that no UN Security Council action will be forthcoming, period.

Russia's Foreign Ministry called for a thorough investigation on Wednesday into reports that Syrian government forces had launched a chemical attack, suggesting that rebels could have staged the assault to provoke international action.

Syria's opposition accused President Bashar al-Assad's forces of gassing many hundreds of people - by one report as many as 1,300 - on Wednesday in what would, if confirmed, be the world's worst chemical weapons attack in decades.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said that its sources in Syria said that a homemade rocket carrying unidentified chemical substances had been launched from an area controlled by the opposition.

"All this cannot but suggest that once again we are dealing with a pre-planned provocation," Lukashevich said in a statement.

"This is supported by the fact that the criminal act was committed near Damascus at the very moment when a mission of U.N. experts had successfully started their work of investigating allegations of the possible use of chemical weapons there," he said.

Translation:  the Syrian terrorist rebels did this, and we're sticking with that story as long as Asaad's money is good.  It also means that with veto over any UN Security Council resolutions, precisely not a damn thing will be happening.

Well, other than thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing and hundreds dying daily.  That will keep happening, and Russia is more than cool with it.

Katrina And The Waves Reunion Tour

How insane/hateful/willfully stupid are Louisiana Republicans towards President Obama?  Apparently their collective rancor has manifested in the form of a Presidential time machine, able to whisk the Weather Dominator-in-Chief to 2005, where apparently he's now partially or totally responsible for Hurricane Katrina.

According to a Public Policy Polling survey, 29 percent of Louisiana Republicans say President Obama is more to blame for the botched executive branch response to Hurricane Katrina while just 28 percent blamed George W. Bush. A plurality of 44 percent said they were unsure who was more responsible, even though Hurricane Katrina occurred over three years before Obama entered the presidency when he was still a freshman Senator.

So yeah, a total of 63% of Louisiana GOPers think President Obama at least possibly responsible for the White House response to a natural disaster that happened three years before he got into the White House.

Sure, your abject hatred of the President makes perfect sense, guys.  Keep it up, he may not win a third term.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Last Call For, Well, Actual Watergate

The last batch of Nixon's secret Watergate tapes are due out today from the National Archives, covering the last few months in 1973 before Nixon resigned in disgrace.  Should be...illuminating stuff.

The final installment of secretly recorded phone calls and meetings from President Richard Nixon’s White House will be released Wednesday, marking a final chapter in a campaign for public access that continues as memories of Watergate fade.

The recordings cap the chronological release of 3,000 hours of tapes Nixon recorded between February 1971 and July 1973 that have been released by the National Archives and Records Administration. The final installment covers the tumultuous three months when Watergate was closing in on the 37th president. Still, he forged ahead with Soviet peace talks, worked to cement Chinese relations and welcomed home Vietnam prisoners of war.

“This is a really big release in volume and importance, because of the time period it covers,” said Luke Nichter of Texas A&M University-Central Texas in Killeen, who runs a website cataloging Nixon’s secret recordings. “This is the end of taping and this is Watergate really beginning.”

The recordings released Wednesday from the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, Calif., cover April 9, 1973, to July 12, 1973, the day before the existence of the covert recording system was revealed to a Senate committee probing Watergate.

So, some 40 years later we finally get to hear what Nixon said as the walls closed in on him (well, not all of it, a bunch still remains classified.)  The good news is we also get thousands of White House documents, including some 30,000 on the Vietnam War alone.

All my history major friends are going to have a field day, I think.  And we get a nice reminder of what a real "American dictatorship" actually looks like.

More On The I-Word

The dark secret about the GOP is that Republicans are eventually going to have to deliver on the threats of impeaching President Obama, or the base will replace them with people who will.

Rep. Kerry Bentivolio this week said he's consulted with lawyers about impeaching President Obama.

The Michigan Republican on Monday said it would be “a dream come true” to see the president forced from office over criminal misconduct.

“If I could write that bill and submit it, it would be a dream come true,” Bentivolio said in a video from a Monday town-hall meeting uploaded on YouTube and first discovered by BuzzFeed. “I stood 12 feet away from the guy and listened to him. I couldn’t stand being there, but because he is president I have to respect the office. That’s my job, as a congressman, I respect the office.”

Bentivolio said that after the encounter with Obama, he returned to his office and summoned lawyers to discuss the impeachment process.

“These are lawyers, Ph.D.s in history, and I said, ‘Tell me how I can impeach the president of the United States.’”

But the Michigan Republican said that until he could produce hard evidence, such as a directive from Obama to the IRS demanding that the agency target conservative groups, he didn’t have the legal means to pursue impeachment.

Gosh, why would we want legal means to pursue impeachment when Republicans can just make stuff up?

Eventually the Tea Party Beast Slouching Towards Washington is going to demand impeachment happen, and woe to Republicans that don't deliver in 2014 or 2016...

America Will Not Make The GOP Pay The Price In 2014

Because liberals upset with Obama sat out the 2010 elections and gave the Republicans at state level the keys to redistricting, in 2014 Republicans will continue to control the House.  That is simply reality.

Greg Sargent has two tremendous overviews today: the first an overview of the upcoming budget wars, and the second on immigration.

Both posts, especially combined with this sobering, smart take from Chait on the Dems' small chances of taking the House in 2014, reinforce something I've been saying for quite some time now: Republicans are mostly electorally immune to their extremism for the next long while. To be sure, the Republican Party faces increasingly long odds in Presidential elections, and the 2020 census may be devastating blow in the 2022 elections after the current wildly gerrymandered lines are replaced. But for most Republican legislators staring down the next few election cycles, the biggest threats still come from the right rather than the left or the middle. Extremism, in short, will be rewarded.

You can post this article again in 2015, 2017, and 2019 too.  It'll be equally valid.  We screwed ourselves over for a decade...unless...and this is a huge unless, we get out there in record numbers to vote.  All liberals.

The only way to get rid of extremist Republicans in the House is to vote them out.  But if you have a  Republican for a Representative, odds are better than 95% they will win re-election.  And if your reaction is "well, I'm going to stay home" then that 95% becomes 100%, and then they win the Senate too.

Literally, your choice.


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