Saturday, May 31, 2014

Last Call For One Of Ours Coming Home

US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan for five years, is being released in exchange for five Taliban prisoners being held in Gitmo, to be delivered to the government of Qatar.

The lone American prisoner of war from the Afghan conflict, captured by insurgents nearly five years ago, has been released to American forces in exchange for five Taliban prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Obama administration officials said Saturday.

The soldier, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 28, was handed over to American Special Operations troops inside Afghanistan near the Pakistan border about 10:30 a.m. Saturday in a tense but uneventful exchange with 18 Taliban officials, American officials said. Moments later, Sergeant Bergdahl was whisked away by the helicopter-borne commandos, American officials said. He was found in good condition and able to walk.
The five Taliban detainees at Guantánamo, including two senior militant commanders said to be implicated in murdering thousands of Shiites in Afghanistan, were being transferred to the custody of officials from Qatar, who will accompany them back to that Persian Gulf state, where they will be subject to security restrictions, including a one-year travel ban.

President Obama spoke this evening at the White House Rose Garden to address the release, along with Bergdahl's parents, saying that Sgt. Bergdahl was "never forgotten" by the US.  Bowe's father Robert had this to say on Twitter:

It's a good day for the Bergdahl family.  A very good day indeed.

"Not Sure" If Thousands Should Lose Health Coverage

That's our Sen. Rand Paul, showing leadership for Kentuckians with authentic frontier gibberish.

A reporter asked Paul if he thought Kynect should be dismantled. Paul responded that he was "not sure."

"You know I'm not sure — there's going to be … how we unravel or how we change things. I would rather —I always tell people there's a fork in the road. I was in healthcare for 20 years so we had problems in healthcare so we had problems in healthcare but we could have gone one of two directions," Paul said. "One was towards more competition and more marketplace and one was toward more government control. The people who think that the government can efficiently distribute medicine need to explain why the VA's been struggling for decade after decade in a much smaller system. And they also need to explain, even though I think we all want Medicare to work better, why Medicare is $35 trillion short. There's a lot of questions that are big questions that are beyond the exchange and the Kynect and things like that. It's whether or not how we're going to fund these things."

What happened to "It has to be repealed" Rand?   Suddenly Republicans like Rand and Mitch can't say if they want to get rid of Kynect or not.  They certainly hated it before and promised us it would surely fail.

Except for the fact Kynect has been a model for the entire country, and everything.  Suddenly it's the Palin-speak above.  Suddenly it's not a yes or no answer anymore.

Funny how that works.

We Ain't Got Time For Questions

Newsweek's Kurt Eichenwald puts together a list of 16 questions that Brian Williams didn't ask Edward Snowden, but should have.  Most of them are very good, good enough that they deserve to be posed to the major players on both sides of this issue.  For example, question number 7:

Technologically, the world has changed dramatically since the original adoption of FISA. With wireless and disposable phones and devices that communicate directly over the Internet, old-style wiretapping is no longer possible. The NSA maintains that, because terrorists often use phones for a single call and an email account for a single message before disposing of them, it would be impossible to identify their numbers and emails without the collection of metadata that allows for retrospective searches. Is the agency lying? And if so, what methods are you aware of that would allow for the discovery of those numbers and email addresses that do not entail the retrospective analysis of metadata?

That's actually the kind of question we need to be focused on.  What roles should the NSA be allowed to fill in 2014, and what boundaries should be placed on those roles?  This is a perfect example of the real debate over the NSA and the duties it should be allowed to pursue.  But there are some other issues involving Snowden that should have been asked.

Question number 10 is short, but very important:

Do you believe that surveillance in foreign nations is intrinsically wrong?

There are a number of people who would answer yes to that question, and of those I'm betting 99.5% are backing Snowden and his actions as necessary.

That leads into 11:

You say that you do not believe your actions damaged United States security and that the government has failed to reveal instances where it did. Two questions: What kind of analysis did you conduct to be sure that the information you were taking did not compromise security? And, secondly, given that journalists do not have security clearances, why did you think they were the best placed to determine what would compromise national security and what didn’t?

Is America allowed to even have a foreign intelligence service?  Because the distinct impression I'm getting is that singularly so, the United States is not.  The fact we have one is the root cause, many would argue, of our foreign entanglements.

And then there's 13:

Your passport was revoked while you were in Hong Kong. How did you get out and manage to fly to Russia?

Nobody seems to have an answer to this that I've heard.  I'd like to know.

Hell, there are a lot of things I'd like to know.  Maybe some enterprising journalist types should get on that.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Last Call For Twin Bees

Sriram Hathwar and Ansun Sujoe correctly spelled so many words Thursday that the Scripps National Spelling Bee had to declare them both winners.

Why? Because there weren't enough words left on the competition's list for them to keep facing off until only one was left standing.

In the bee's final round, Hathwar, a 14-year-old eighth-grader from Painted Post, New York, correctly spelled the word "stichomythia" -- dialogue especially of altercation delivered by two actors.

Sujoe, a 13-year-old seventh-grader from Fort Worth, Texas, correctly spelled the word "feuilleton" -- part of a European newspaper.

You win at life when you make the National Spelling Bee run out of words to spell. B-A-D-A-S-S.

It's the first time the bee has ended in a tie in more than 50 years. The last time there were co-champions was in 1962, organizers said. Ties also ended the bees in 1950 and 1957.

"I think we both know that the competition was against the dictionary, not against each other," Hathwar said on ESPN after the win. "I am happy to share this trophy with him."

And like any great national champions, they got a shoutout from POTUS.

Well done.

Shinseki Sacked, Sadly

This morning President Obama announced that he has accepted VA Secretary Eric Shinseki's resignation.  Shinseki will be replaced for now by Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson.  In the wake of Wednesday's devastating report on the issue, I don't see how Shinseki could have survived the firestorm anyway.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has resigned amid widespread troubles in the VA health care system.

President Barack Obama says he accepted the resignation with "considerable regret." He and Shinseki met in the Oval Office on Friday morning.

Shinseki had faced mounting calls to step down from lawmakers in both parties.

Shinseki's resignation comes two days after a scathing internal report found broad and deep-seated problems in the sprawling health care system. The system provides care to about 6.5 million veterans annually.

I gave Alison Grimes a hard time about calling for Shinseki's head last week, but she's looking pretty shrewd right now.  I don't know if that's good or bad.

The report is pretty damning.

The report said 1,700 veterans using a Phoenix VA hospital were kept on unofficial wait lists, adding that “these veterans were and continue to be at risk of being forgotten or lost in Phoenix HCS’s convoluted scheduling process.”

Auditors determined that the hospital’s leadership “significantly understated the time new patients waited for their primary care appointment in their FY 2013 performance appraisal accomplishments, which is one of the factors considered for awards and salary increases.” 
Official VA data showed that 226 patients in a sampling from the Phoenix clinic had waited just 24 days on average for their first primary care appointments. But the inspector general’s office determined that those veterans had actually waited an average of 115 days
The unofficial wait lists may represent the “secret” list that whistleblowers claim the Phoenix clinic used to cover up treatment delays, according to the report.

In other words, this looks like a complete cover-up.  Yes, Republicans blocked the VA from getting the funding necessary to help correct this problem, but that doesn't absolve Shinseki's VA from lying about what was going on at the expense of veterans who needed health care, didn't get it, and suffered greatly because of it.

I'm hoping now that Shinseki is out of the way, that the problem can then be addressed.  A bill to fix the VA like the one Senate Democrats put forth in February will be tough to block.  I figure it'll just die a quiet death in the House instead.

Why would Republicans choose to fix a problem when they can do nothing and successfully blame Democrats for things not getting fixed?

That's been the story of the last six years, and it's worked for them to an extent.  But this is where Democrats need to make it clear that this was definitely a problem that Obama inherited from Bush.

But according to VA inspector general reports and other documents that have gone overlooked in the current firestorm, federal officials knew about the scheme at the heart of the scandal—falsifying VA records to cover up treatment delays—years before Obama became president. VA officials first learned of the problems in 2005, when George W. Bush was entering his second term, and the problems went unfixed for the duration of his presidency.

The underlying issues date back even further. In 1995, as part of a broader overhaul, the VA began pressing clinics to cut wait times for new patient appointments to 30 days. But there was no system for tracking which facilities were meeting this target until 2002, when the VA introduced electronic waiting lists to keep tabs on patients who couldn't be seen within a month. Managers who slashed wait times were given bonuses and other perks. This created an incentive to game the system, especially after veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars began flooding into VA clinics and straining their already stretched resources.

Got this?  Good.  Shinseki's head will probably roll because, hey, politics. But following that Democrats need to kick some Republican ass for this. These problems go back to 2005, and that means all the Republican efforts to block legislation to fix the problem since then are part of the problem as well.

And finally, it's important to remember that firing Shinseki won't do anything to fix the VA.

The fundamental problems at the VA are systemic and not individual, though some individuals undoubtedly did very bad things. In large organizations, it is systems that drive behavior. No one individual, even a cabinet secretary, can dictate systemic behavior to such a degree.

In the case of the disinformation about waiting times at VA hospitals, there was a system in place that set a standard that no wait time should be longer than 14 days. There was also an individual performance review system that would be affected positively with more money or promotions for meeting the standard, and negatively for missing the standard.

There were other systems in place regarding resources – personnel, facilities, financial, and computing systems – that apparently made it impossible to meet this lofty wait time standard. If you don’t have enough psychologists to treat veterans with PTSD, for example, it is impossible to make an appointment for them when no service is available. There may also have been sheer incompetence at some facilities, but it is important to eliminate the systemic problems before assuming incompetence or malfeasance.

Once again, Democrats in the Senate intended to pass legislation to do this.  41 GOP senators blocked it.

Joe The Dumber

Samuel Wurzelbacher -- better known as Joe the Plumber -- likes guns. And he wants everyone to know why.

"Guns are mostly for hunting down politicians who would actively seek to take your freedoms and liberty away from you," Wurzelbacher wrote on Thursday in a blog post on his website. "Google 'Hitler, Mao, Kim Jung Il, Castro, Stalin' just for starters."

Nope.  Can't think of a reason why at all.  He ends his diatribe with:

As far as me being nice, cordial, respectful – don’t hurt people’s feelings… bla bla? We tried that and look where it got us?

Sure.  Hey, good luck running for office with your admission that your solution to politicians who don't agree with you is to shoot them.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Last Call For Lights Out, Ohio

Gov. John Kasich and the GOP-controlled state legislature are about to kill green energy in Ohio.

Senate Bill 310 is a two-year freeze on standards that apply to electricity utilities for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

It also makes major changes to the rules when they resume in 2017, ending a requirement that utilities purchase half of their renewable energy from within the state and expanding the types of projects that count as energy efficiency

The standards needed to be changed because they “are simply not achievable or sustainable,” said Rep. Peter Stautberg, R-Anderson Township.

Ohio is the first state of the 29 with renewable-energy standards to pass a reduction of the standards in both legislative chambers. Similar proposals have been made in more than a dozen other states and were all beaten back by some of the same concerns that were expressed in Ohio.

In light of this distinction, the bill makes Ohio the “laughingstock of these United States,” said Rep. Robert Hagan, D-Youngstown.

Rep. Mike Foley, D-Cleveland, said the bill is the worst proposal he has seen in eight years as a legislator. Supporters of the bill are “bound and determined to drag Ohio backward,” he said.

Two Democrats voted for the bill. Six Republicans voted against it, including Rep. Mike Duffey, R-Worthington.

Asked about the disagreements among Republicans, House Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina, said there had been a healthy debate.

I think some people really believe in this green stuff,” he said. “That’s fine. But somebody’s going to have to answer to the public as this additional expense gets added on.”

The funny part is that the "additional expense" is going to be higher for Ohio taxpayers without the efficiency standards, and of course, this was yet another piece of ALEC legislation from the Tea Party lunatics.

So good job with that, Ohio.  Better hope in two years there's Democrats in charge of the state, because if it's still Kasich and his clowns, Ohio's future in green jobs is over.  It'll go to other states who really do want jobs.

More Naked (GOP) Lunch

Big Agra and Big Sugar are huge contributors to the GOP, so it's no surprise that they want to roll back 2010 school lunch standards and federal nutrition programs in general.  Turns out the First Lady has something to say about that.

Michelle Obama lashed out in a newspaper opinion piece Thursday against Republican plans to roll back recently improved nutrition standards in American schools, one of her cherished causes as US first lady.

Obama wrote in the New York Times that revamped school nutrition standards requiring less salt, sugar and fat in meals served at school have helped reverse the obesity trend among US school children.

But she said those inroads have been put at risk by members of the Republican-dominated House of Representatives, who, for budgetary reasons, have proposed exempting some school districts from the tougher food standards.

“Unfortunately, we’re now seeing attempts in Congress to undo so much of what we’ve accomplished on behalf of our children,” Obama wrote in the Times.

In 2010, President Barack Obama signed a law boosting school lunch standards on the regulations, following recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences.

The effect of rolling back the standards, the first lady wrote, would be to “lower the quality of food our kids get in school.”

“They want to make it optional, not mandatory, for schools to serve fruits and vegetables to our kids. They also want to allow more sodium and fewer whole grains than recommended into school lunches,” said Obama, who also slammed proposed relaxed standards for a federal nutrition program for low-income women and their young children.
I know I know, wanting kids to eat healthy and exercise more and having schools serving healthy food is intolerable statist tyranny or something, just like wanting kids to read more like Laura Bush did, or wanting kids to stay off drugs like Nancy Reagan campaigned for.

Only the insults are hurled at just Michelle Obama.  Funny how that works.

A Way To Shut That Down

Oklahoma and Louisiana are seeing the success of using anti-choice hospital admitting privileges restrictions on abortion clinics in Texas and are adopting similar laws in order to eliminate as many clinics as possible.

Legislation in the two states require physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at an adequately equipped hospital within 30 miles (50 kms) of the place where the abortion is performed. Supporters say the measures are aimed at protecting women’s health.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican, signed into law the new restrictions on Wednesday and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, also a Republican, will sign a similar bill this week, representatives for the two said on Wednesday.

Abortion rights groups maintain the privileges provision is unnecessary because abortion complications are rare and tend to be similar to those of a miscarriage, which often are treated by emergency room physicians.

Admitting privileges generally allow a doctor who is approved by a hospital to admit a patient for treatment at the hospital.

Melissa Flournoy, Louisiana director for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, has predicted that at least three of the state’s five clinics could close once the abortion bill becomes law.

“It’s clear the intent of this legislation is to shut down health centers, which would have devastating consequences for women across Louisiana,” Flournoy said in a statement.

But then, that's the point.  Safety was never an issue, just regulating abortion clinics out of existence.  That of course will totally make the need for abortions vanish.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Last Call For Mitch's Dis-Kynect

The Lexington Herald-Leader lets Mitch McConnell have it for his double-sided stance on wanting to both completely repeal Obamacare and to somehow keep Kentucky's state insurance exchange.

Sen. Mitch McConnell has some explaining to do.

What in the world did he mean last week when he told reporters that repeal of the Affordable Care Act — "root and branch," as he has demanded many times — is "unconnected" to the future of Kynect, Kentucky's health insurance exchange?

Asked specifically if Kynect should be dismantled, McConnell said: "I think that's unconnected to my comments about the overall question."


Nothing could be more connected — or should be more important to Kentucky's senior senator — than the fates of the more than 400,000 Kentuckians who are getting health insurance, many for the first time, and the federal Affordable Care Act, which is making that possible.

Repeal the federal law, which McConnell calls "Obamacare," and the state exchange would collapse.

Ouch.  For the LHL to actually go after Mitch openly like this is rare and appreciated, and shows you just how stupid he thinks we Kentucky voters are.

We asked the McConnell campaign for a clarification and were sent the usual talking points and a statement saying, "If Obamacare is repealed, Kentucky should decide for itself whether to keep Kynect or set up a different marketplace," a suggestion that is unconnected to reality.

Kentuckians are waiting to learn if their five-term senator understands — or cares — how much is at stake.

He doesn't care, neither do any Republicans in Congress whatsoever.  But he'll care in November when he's out of a job.

Read more here:

Read more here:
We asked the McConnell campaign for a clarification and were sent the usual talking points and a statement saying, "If Obamacare is repealed, Kentucky should decide for itself whether to keep Kynect or set up a different marketplace," a suggestion that is unconnected to reality.
Kentuckians are waiting to learn if their five-term senator understands — or cares — how much is at stake.

Read more here:

Dr. Maya Angelou Passes At 86

Reports from Winston-Salem TV station WXII confirm that the prolific civil rights author, poet, and speaker died at her home in North Carolina this morning.

Two independent sources confirmed Angelou's death to WXII's Wanda Starke Tuesday morning. She was 86.

A police car and an ambulance were seen outside Angelou's home around 8:30 a.m. Winston-Salem police said they are at the home to investigate a death.

Angelou, a Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University, was born April 4, 1928, in St. Louis. In the 1960s, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. asked Angelou to serve as northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Angelou received many accolades, including the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000 and the Lincoln Medal in 2008.

The world is truly a darker place in her absence.   "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" should be standard reading in American classrooms.  I'll never forget her reciting her poem "On The Pulse Of The Morning" at Bill Clinton's first inauguration in 1993, either.  Here it is:

Her work will live on.

Dear America:

"Why hasn't That One been impeached yet?  I guess it's the fault of the liberal media and those people.  If Bush had done 1% of what Obama did, he'd be imprisoned in the Negative Zone or something."

--Victor Davis Hanson, Works and Days

Bonus Verbatim Stupid:

Think of the following: the Fast and Furious scandal, the VA mess, the tapping of the communications of the Associated Press reporters, the NSA monitoring, Benghazi in all of its manifestations, the serial lies about Obamacare, the failed stimuli, the chronic zero interest/print money policies, the serial high unemployment, the borrowing of $7 trillion to no stimulatory effect, the spiraling national debt, the customary violations of the Hatch Act by Obama cabinet officials, the alter ego/fake identity of EPA head Lisa Jackson, the sudden departure of Hilda Solis after receiving union freebies, the mendacity of Kathleen Sebelius, the strange atmospherics surrounding the Petraeus resignation, the customary presidential neglect of enforcing the laws from immigration statutes to his own health care rules, the presidential divisiveness (“punish our enemies,” “you didn’t build that,” Trayvon as the son that Obama never had, etc.), and on and on. 
So why is there not much public reaction or media investigatory outrage?

Maybe because everyone thinks the right-wing's permanent clown show isn't worth giving a damn about, Vic.   But please, go scream BENGHAZI and FAST AND FURIOUS some more, and see if Obama's still President tomorrow.

Spoilers:  he will be.

Also, the thought of someone at Pajamas Media screaming that there's not enough outrage against Obama is the most obnoxiously stupid complaint ever.  Please go away.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Cash And Open Carry

Mark Follman over at Mother Jones reports that the open carry movement in Texas is, amazingly enough, running into some problems.

It would be an understatement to say that the tactics of gun rights activists have been backfiring of late. The showdown has taken place foremost in Texas, where in recent months groups such as Open Carry Texas have conducted provocative demonstrations in which armed men exercise their right under state law to carry semi-automatic rifles in public. No fewer than five national food and beverage chains have now told them to get rid of their guns or get lost, including Starbucks, Wendy’s, Applebees, Jack in the Box, and Chipotle.
And now Chili's and Sonic have effectively joined the list: Two videos posted on YouTube on May 19 by the San Antonio chapter of Open Carry Texas—since removed from public view but obtained by Mother Jones—show its armed members being refused service at both restaurants. The two companies have not made official statements on open carry but have since indicated that they are reviewing their policies. From the nervous and angry reactions of some patrons to comments from some of the gun activists themselves, it's not difficult to see why these spectacles haven't been winning many people over.

It seems that these folks aren't interested in being responsible gun owners after all, but gleefully showing off their big metal shooty phallic things in order to be perceived as alpha males.  It's obnoxious behavior and insulting enough that even Texas is calling them on it.

Plus, let's face it, it's bad for business.  Having clearly irresponsible gun owners waving their pieces around while you're trying to eat with your family isn't exactly conducive to people wanting to stick around.

Let's discuss the open hostility towards women by these guys, especially in light of Elliot Rodger's deadly rampage.  One of the men mentions Moms Demand Action, the social media activist group trying to shut these guys down.  Open Carry Texas has been very, very awful to them.

A top target for gun extremists has been the women of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, the grassroots group that began after Sandy Hook and has since merged with Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns under the Everytown banner. The battle has grown particularly ugly in Texas, where gun groups such as Open Carry Texas have conducted demonstrations showcasing their right under state law to openly carry rifles in public. The sight of groups of (mostly) men carrying semi-automatic rifles along a busy road or inside the local Jack in the Box has prompted bystanders to call police. In response, Open Carry Texas has begun making open-records requests, identifying callers and threatening to publicize their personal information
On April 10, Brett Sanders, a member of Open Carry Texas in Plano, a midsize city in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, posted a video on YouTube highlighting the name and cellphone number of a woman who'd called the police after seeing heavily armed men on her way to a shopping mall. The post drew condemnation not only for outing the woman but also because it was misleading: It claimed that the woman had called 911, though she'd called the nonemergency line of the Plano PD. And the footage it used came from friendly-looking demonstrations elsewhere—not from the one that the woman encountered. ("Feel free to contact me when you work for a real news organization," Sanders replied to my request for comment.)

The woman—a high school teacher who asked not to be identified—quickly got pummeled with text messages and voicemails, copies of which she provided to Mother Jones. Callers told her she was a "stupid bitch" and "motherfucking whore."

"They fought for their right to carry guns," said another. "You're a piece of shit." One caller threatened to come after her with a gun.

Over the next four days she received nearly two dozen such calls and text messages. Someone put her information into a phony profile on a large e-commerce site, and she got a barrage of calls about agricultural products and security systems.

"I really felt strongly about not changing my cellphone number—I'm not going to be intimidated," she told me. "But it just got to the point where it's not worth it."

This has nothing to do with being a responsible gun owner.  It has everything to do with power and intimidation of those around them that they feel superior to.

Finally, all these guys packing in the video are white, which is why we're talking about "a bunch of super macho open carry jerks being asked politely to leave" rather than "half a dozen dead black guys killed by San Antonio police for obviously trying to rob the place."  Open carry is something people who look like me would never be allowed to do in any state, at any time, laws be damned.

Worth thinking about.

Chief, Is That You?

Well, somebody in the White House just got fired.

The White House accidentally revealed the name of the CIA's top intelligence official in Afghanistan to some 6,000 journalists.

The person was included on a list of people attending a military briefing for President Barack Obama during his surprise visit to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan on Sunday.

It's common for such lists to be given to the media, but names of intelligence officials are rarely provided. In this case, the individual's name was listed next to the title, "Chief of Station." 

The good news is somebody in the press pool noticed, but it was too late.

In this case, the same reporter, Scott Wilson, the White House bureau chief for the Washington Post, noticed the unusual entry after the list was distributed and then checked it out with officials. The White House followed up and distributed a shorter list from a different reporter that did not include the station chief's name.

In his account to CNN, Wilson said when they arrived in Afghanistan, he asked White House officials for a list of who would be briefing the President.

A White House official then asked the military for a list to provide to the pool of journalists. The official got an e-mail back from the military with a subject line, "manifest for briefing for Pool," Wilson told CNN. That e-mail was forwarded to Wilson and he proceeded to copy and paste that list for the pool report. He then sent it to the White House official, who sent the report to the distribution list.

So yeah, the Kabul station chief has to be considered burned at this point.   Wilson could have been the guy who spotted it, but the White House person checked it over and THEN sent it out anyway, which means yeah, somebody just got fired.  This is actually rank incompetence and terrible spycraft, and I'm hoping this was a stupid accident and not deliberately done.

Either way, the damage has to be considered done.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Last Call For Aborted, Retried, Failed

Well, after watching this video of kids born after 2000 try to get an old 80's era Apple ][ to work I think I'll go eat some floppy disk shards and lay down and die like the ancient, useless pile of worthless old person I am.

 I am filled with sadness.

Dear America:

"Far be it from me to politically take advantage of the tragedy in Santa Barbara last week, but clearly Elliot Rodger was everything wrong with liberal and liberalism and the left.  The fact is the vast majority of criminal scumbags out there have to be, by definition, liberals.  (Or black.  Same difference.)  Clearly we need huge piles of guns to protect us from Obama."

Actual Verbatim Stupid:

Actually, mass shootings are pretty equally distributed among ethnic groups. The worst mass shooter in American history was an Asian-American, Seung-Hui Cho, and an African-American, John Muhammad, murdered at least ten people in the D.C. area. And, of course, the overall homicide rate among African-Americans is something like eight times the white rate.

Now, you and I would probably interpret "pretty equally distributed among ethnic groups" as 1 to 1, or at least "in a ratio similar to the US population as a whole" if I was going to be generous.  Instead, Hinderaker finds two non-white mass shooters in the last 15 years and says "yeah, it's equal".  OK.

Bonus Verbatim Stupid:

Beyond that, some might argue that Rodger was a prototypical liberal male, only carried to a pathological extreme. Consider the profile: socially awkward, convinced of his own brilliance but not notably successful in life, hungry for revenge against those who have done better despite their obvious inferiority, eager to gain power over others, but through political influence rather than firearms–is this not a typical liberal on Twitter, or elsewhere on the internet? Or, for that matter, in the Obama administration? Isn’t state power the legal path to the long-awaited revenge of the liberal nerds? This strikes me as a plausible suggestion.

To recap, Hinderaker apparently believes the Obama administration and indeed liberalism itself is full of Elliot Rodgers, angry nerds with revenge fantasies who simply haven't yet acted upon them, and this pretty much justifies whatever measures are necessary to deal with them.  You know, more guns.

Sure, that's not paranoia or anything.  Jesus.

The King Of The Nice Guys

Mass shooter Eliot Rodger apparently did leave enough warning signs to trigger a visit from sheriff's deputies last month.  They apparently found a charming young man who totally wasn't planning to murder women.  Rodger's sprawling manifesto/premeditated murder handbook details the notion that he thought he was caught for sure.

"I had the striking and devastating fear that someone had somehow discovered what I was planning to do, and reported me for it," Rodger wrote toward the end of a 137-page account of his life. "If that was the case, the police would have searched my room, found all of my guns and weapons, along with my writings about what I plan to do with them.

"I would have been thrown in jail, denied of the chance to exact revenge on my enemies. I can't imagine a hell darker than that."

The manifesto, titled "My Twisted World," was obtained by CNN affiliate KEYT.

"It was apparent he was very mentally disturbed," Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said, referring to the contents of the autobiography.

So disturbed that someone from a mental health agency, after consulting with one of Rodger's relatives, requested police check on his welfare April 30, Brown said.

Rodger's family contacted police after discovering social media posts about suicide and killing people, family spokesman and attorney Alan Shifman told reporters Saturday.

Brown said Rodger told deputies it was a misunderstanding and that he was not going to hurt anyone or himself. Rodger said he was having troubles with his social life.

"He was articulate. He was polite. He was timid," Brown told CNN on Sunday.

There was nothing in his behavior to suggest he was violent, and the deputies "determined he did not meet the criteria for an involuntary hold," Brown said.

And so a month later, he happily carried out his plan and murdered six people and himself because women would sleep with him.  He got the benefit of the doubt, I guess.  The two bored deputies didn't think anything was wrong.

Rodger wrote that a wave of relief came over him when the deputies left. "If they had demanded to search my room ... (t)hat would have ended everything. For a few horrible seconds I thought it was all over."

Instead it was all over for six other people, and yes, Rodger himself.  Something to think about.

StupidiNews, Memorial Day Edition

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Last Call For The GOP Money Guys

The Country Club wing of the GOP has the Tea Party right where they want them, and that's fine with the money guys because they're sick and tired of the nutjob side of things interfering with the corporate takeover of America.

Banks are breathing a sigh of relief after established GOP incumbents bested a handful of Tea Party challengers at the polls recently.

Industry sources said the establishment wins improve Republican odds of retaking the Senate, which would in turn lead to a friendlier climate for the long-beleaguered sector. But some note that the Tea Party has left a mark on the Republican Party, presenting a challenging landscape for the industry.

The Tea Party movement can trace its roots back to fury about bailouts and banks, but the force that pulled the Republican Party right in recent years is finding less success at the polls recently.

In Idaho, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) was repeatedly blasted by outside groups for his 2008 vote in favor of the Wall Street rescue, but he soundly defeated his conservative challenger all the same.

Voters in Georgia, Oregon and Pennsylvania also opted for more mainstream candidates as opposed to conservative upstarts. And in Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) trounced his primary challenger, Matt Bevin, who made McConnell’s vote in favor of the bailout a central plank of his campaign.

The recent shift away from feisty conservatives who are antagonistic toward Wall Street is a welcome development for a sector long in the political crosshairs of those at both ends of the political spectrum.

The fact that [Sen.] Ted Cruz [R-Texas] will not have a whole lot of new allies is very encouraging,” said one senior financial industry executive.

Shutting down the government and screwing up the markets?  Not what the corporate types signed up for.  They run the GOP and they're more than happy to continue to do so.  If the Tea Party suckers vote for them too after losing in the primaries?  Let them.  It's all good with the money men who really run the place.

Who are the bankers scared of?  Democrats.

Banks are also watching election returns this year with one eye on a lawmaker who isn’t even on the ballot in 2014.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is not up for reelection until 2018, but he currently occupies the inside track to take over the Senate Banking Committee in the next Congress once Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) retires.

Brown is a frequent critic of Wall Street, and has advocated for tougher restrictions on the industry.

With more mainstream candidates on the general election ballot, financial industry advocates are hoping Senate power changes hands, and shifts that panel’s gavel away from Brown.

So what a surprise, the anti-banker bailout Tea Party saps are voting for the same guys that destroyed our economy again and again.  The bankers fear the Democrats however.

There's a lesson there.

The Damage Caused By Fragile Egos

Daily Banter editor Bob Cesca covers last week's Twitter e-peen slap fight between Double G and Julian Assange over who was the most ideologically pure when it came to "no more secrets".  Why should you care?  Because the end result is that people's lives are in danger.  Cesca:

It all began Monday morning when The Intercept posted a new Snowden revelation with the cutesy headline: “Data Pirates of the Caribbean: The NSA Is Recording Every Cell Phone Call in the Bahamas.” Get it? Pirates! The article exhaustively describes an operation called MYSTIC and another called SOMALGET in which NSA gathers audio and metadata of cellphone calls in the Bahamas in order to spy on human traffickers and drug cartels. The Bahamas is notorious for both.

Greenwald went on to inflate claims that this was all illegal spying, except at the very end where he admits SOMALGET is legal and the program cannot be used against US citizens, even in the Bahamas.  So yeah, standard Double G tactics.  But that's not the dangerous part:  Wikileaks founder Julian Assange stepped in because Double G didn't go far enough to harm the US.

The article refers to five nations where MYSTIC is used: the Bahamas, Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and nation that Greenwald redacted because, to quote the article, “The Intercept is not naming in response to specific, credible concerns that doing so could lead to increased violence.”

The redaction didn’t sit well with Julian Assange, who is widely believed to operate the @wikileaks Twitter account.

Assange then threatened to reveal the 5th country, something that Greenwald wouldn't even do.  And sure enough on Thursday, Assange carried through on his threat.

We do not believe it is the place of media to “aid and abet” a state in escaping detection and prosecution for a serious crime against a population.

Consequently WikiLeaks cannot be complicit in the censorship of victim state X. The country in question is Afghanistan.

The Intercept stated that the US government asserted that the publication of this name might lead to a ’rise in violence’. Such claims were also used by the administration of Barack Obama to refuse to release further photos of torture at Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

And that's where we are.  President Obama is in Afghanistan today for a Memorial Day visit to our 32,000 troops and service personnel still there, and an NSA program in use in the area now will have to be scrapped because the bad guys now know the full details.

Both Greenwald and Assange have decided they are the people who get to determine what is a criminal act by the US government, and if they hurt Americans in the process, it doesn't really matter because as Americans, we're all complicit anyway and maybe we deserve it based upon what's being done in our name, because if we were as ideologically pure as these two arbiters of justice, we'd rise up against our government to stop them.  We haven't. so clearly we're just as guilty.

Therefore, some eggs will have to get broken.

So sayeth Assange, and to a lesser extent, Greenwald.

Once again, I question the motives of people who seem to be determined to do as much damage to our national security as possible.

Hawaii Ten Point Ten-Oh

The new law, approved overwhelmingly by Hawaii lawmakers in April, will raise Hawaii’s base wage in stages to reach $10.10 by January 2018 from a current level of $7.25, which is also the federal minimum.

“In today’s world that minimum wage is not a survival wage, certainly not in Hawaii,” Abercrombie said, referencing Hawaii’s high cost of living and rising housing prices.

Democrats headed by President Barack Obama have seized on the issue of raising the base wage of $7.25 as a way of stirring voter enthusiasm heading into mid-term elections in November.

Obama pushed Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 but has failed to win the backing of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Here's where's Hawaii Democrats are making the biggest difference in people's lives:

Much of the Hawaii wage debate centered on tips. Under the measure, employers of tipped workers making less than $17.10 per hour including tips would have to pay $10.10 per hour. For workers making more than $17.10 per hour, employers can deduct a $.75 tip credit from the hourly wage.

Under the $7.25 hourly rate, the tip credit is currently $.25 per hour for those workers making at least $7.75 an hour.

Considering Hawaii has just about the highest cost of living of any state, this is a long overdue change.  Good for Gov. Abercrombie and the Democrats who made this happen.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Last Call For Moon Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz is a joke, frankly.  But he's also a dangerous fanatic who will demagogue anything the Democrats do as the end of America.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) drew audible gasps Thursday when he told gathering of Christian conservatives that Democrats intended to amend the Constitution to limit free speech.

“When you think it can’t get any worse, it does,” Cruz warned at the Watchmen on the Wall gathering of pastors sponsored by the Family Research Council.

This year, I’m sorry to tell you, the United States Senate is going to be voting on a constitutional amendment to repeal the First Amendment,” Cruz said, to the audible shock of the crowd.

What horrible bill could this possibly be?

The Tea Party-backed senator said Senate Democrats intend to vote this year on Senate Joint Resolution 19, which would effectively undo the unpopular U.S. Supreme Court decisions on campaign financing in the Citizens United and McCutcheon cases.

You mean the SCOTUS decisions that effectively allow plutocracy in America?  Why, those aren't dangerous at all!  But try to get the rich out of buying our elections, and well, you're repealing the First Amendment.

“I am telling you, I am not making this up,” Cruz said. “Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has announced the Senate Democrats are scheduling a vote on a constitutional amendment to give Congress the authority to regulate political speech, because elected officials have decided they don’t like it when the citizenry has the temerity to criticize what they’ve done.”

They don’t like it when pastors in their community stand up and speak the truth,” he added.

And so Ted Cruz enlists the pastors in his war, because clearly our Founding Fathers meant the people with the most money to have the most influence on our election system.

Laugh all you want to at Cruz.  He's dangerous as hell.

No, Both Sides Don't Do It

President Obama took on the Villagers Thursday night at a fundraiser and tore into the "both sides do it" nonsense that somehow it's not the GOP blocking every piece of legislation that's causing nothing to come out of Washington.

“You’ll hear if you watch the nightly news or you read the newspapers that, well, there’s gridlock, Congress is broken, approval ratings for Congress are terrible. And there’s a tendency to say, a plague on both your houses. But the truth of the matter is that the problem in Congress is very specific. We have a group of folks in the Republican Party who have taken over who are so ideologically rigid, who are so committed to an economic theory that says if folks at the top do very well then everybody else is somehow going to do well; who deny the science of climate change; who don’t think making investments in early childhood education makes sense; who have repeatedly blocked raising a minimum wage so if you work full-time in this country you’re not living in poverty; who scoff at the notion that we might have a problem with women not getting paid for doing the same work that men are doing.

“They, so far, at least, have refused to budge on bipartisan legislation to fix our immigration system, despite the fact that every economist who’s looked at it says it’s going to improve our economy, cut our deficits, help spawn entrepreneurship, and alleviate great pain from millions of families all across the country.

So the problem…is not that the Democrats are overly ideological — because the truth of the matter is, is that the Democrats in Congress have consistently been willing to compromise and reach out to the other side."

Why would Republicans want to work with Democrats to make America better when their entire base runs on hatred, anger, and fear?

So when you hear a false equivalence that somehow, well, Congress is just broken, it’s not true. What’s broken right now is a Republican Party that repeatedly says no to proven, time-tested strategies to grow the economy, create more jobs, ensure fairness, open up opportunity to all people.”

Of course President Obama understands this.  Instinctively, Americans do too. A perfect example of this is the Warren Terrah and the Authorization of Use of Military Force declaration Congress made in 2001 for the war we've now been fighting for 13 years.  Both the AUMF and the terrorist detention facility at Gitmo remain ugly symbols of our permanent war, and they remain there because of Republicans.

You might want to keep in mind that Republicans keep passing bills specifically designed to prevent President Obama from being able to do things like close Gitmo.  That's why it's still open.  Period.

With An Iron Fist In A Velvet Minority Outreach Program

Keep up the good work chasing the votes of African-Americans like myself, Republicans like Newt Gingrich!

For the life of me, I just can't imagine why Republicans don't get 90% of the black vote.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Last Call For The Queen City, Uncrowned

The 2016 Republican National Convention will not be here in Cincinnati after all.

Cincinnati officials withdrew the city's bid to host the 2016 GOP convention because the U.S. Bank Arena does not meet the necessary specifications, the city's host committee announced on Thursday.

John Barrett, president and CEO of Western & Southern Financial Group and a leader of the effort to bring the convention to Cincinnati, said the Queen City was at a disadvantage in the GOP competition because of the arena.

"The site selection committee really liked what they saw here, but our arena is 40 years old," he told The Enquirer.

He said RNC officials gave Cincinnati leaders a 10-point list of items that would have to be improved or fixed at the arena for the city to remaining in the running—including doubling the number of box suites at the arena.

"We were able to do some of it but not all of it," Barrett said. "We're at a great disadvantage to these brand new modern arenas that have everything."
It's one thing to have a billionaire basketball or hockey team owner complain about the size of your arena, entirely another to have the GOP complain about it.  Maybe the problem is, oh, I dunno, Cincinnati doesn't have a major league hockey team like Columbus or NBA team like Cleveland. 

Considering no Republican has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio, scrapping one of the two remaining Ohio cities made some sense.  I just figured it would be Cleveland out.

Oh well.  It's not like I was looking forward to even more GOP jackasses around the city than normal.

Even More Republican Sneak Attacks

The long, strange story of winger blogger Clayton Kelly, his scheme to try to damage Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran in June's primary in order to support Tea Party primary challenger state Sen Chris McDaniel, and the Cochran camp's bizarre two-week delay sitting on the story just got a whole lot more weird as more arrests have been made, including a top state Tea Party official.

Two more arrests have been made in connection with the photographing of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's (R-MS) wife, Rose, who is patient in a Madison County nursing home.

Mark Mayfield, a member of the board of directors for the Central Mississippi Tea Party, was arrested Thursday, according to the Clarion Ledger of Mississippi. The second suspect arrested has not been identified. 
Clayton Kelly was arrested Friday and faces felony charges of photographing or filming another without permission where there is expectation of privacy and exploitation of a vulnerable adult, which carries up to a 10-year sentence. Kelly wanted to use the photograph of Cochran's wife in an anti-Cochran video.

Kelly supports state Sen. Chris McDaniel, Cochran's tea party primary challenger. Mayfield appears to be a McDaniel supporter as well and, according to the Clarion Ledger's Sam Hall, contributed $500 to McDaniel and served as an active volunteer on his campaign. 
Authorities claim Kelly photographed Rose Cochran at St. Catherine's nursing home in Madison, where she is bedridden and suffering from progressive dementia. Kelly, a political blogger and McDaniel supporter, allegedly used the photo in a video he posted online.

Since of course McDaniel is a freedom-loving responsible adult and a stalwart conservative Republican, he's dumping the blame for all this on Cochran and the liberal media "victimizing" him.

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) is pushing an open letter he sent to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) vowing not to engage either his campaign or the "liberal media in their absurd witch hunt." 
"No matter how many press releases your campaign puts out, I will simply not stoop to your level. Win or lose, I’d like to be able to wake up on June 4th and be proud of the primary campaign I ran on behalf of Mississippi," McDaniel wrote in the open letter to the incumbent senator, who McDaniel is challenging.

The letter, which the McDaniel campaign first released on Wednesday and has been sending out to supporters on Thursday, refers to criticism by the Cochran campaign toward McDaniel in response to pro-McDaniel blogger Clayton Thomas Kelly being arrested for photographing Cochran's bedridden wife at her nursing home for an anti-Cochran video. 
"Over the past several weeks, your campaign has resorted to shameful slander, even going so far as to call me a 'criminal' without a shred of evidence to back up these accusations," McDaniel also said in the open letter. 
"No doubt, many political campaigns resort to juvenile behavior when they are down in the polls, but this kind of slander goes beyond childish pranks. It is, frankly, an embarrassment to our great state. Mississippi deserves better than this."

It's all a plot by Thad Cochran working with Obama to smear me because ARGLE BARGLE CONSPIRACY TINFOIL I EAT MY OWN POO.

But odds are one of these clowns is going to end up a US senator in January.  Awesome.

Grimes Goes Goofy

Alison Lundergan Grimes remains infinitely preferable to Mitch The Turtle, but she's not acquitting herslef well when it comes to political moves.  Given Kentucky's healthcare exchange, Kynect, is arguably the best in the nation right now and easy to defend for that reason, she's ducking on the Affordable Care Act.

Asked two times whether she'd have voted for the 2010 overhaul, the Kentucky Democrat who is challenging Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told The Associated Press: "I, when we are in the United States Senate, will work to fix the Affordable Care Act." 
Grimes added: "I believe the politically motivated response you continue to see from Mitch McConnell in terms of repeal, root and branch, is not in reality or keeping ... with what the facts are here in Kentucky." 
The law Republicans call "Obamacare" presents a delicate issue for Grimes, who won the Democratic Senate primary on Tuesday. Kynect, Kentucky's state-run health insurance exchange made possible by the law, is wildly popular. More than 400,000 people have either signed up for an expanded Medicaid program or purchased private insurance plans with the help of government subsidies. But Obamacare remains unpopular in the state, mostly because President Barack Obama himself is unpopular here.

Real simple:  "Yes, because Kynect proves that the parts of the law that are working can make a difference in improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians.  We need to make sure every state has as good of an exchance as Kentucky does.  We're leading the way and we need to make the ACA better."

And then given the fact that her opponent filibustered a bill to fix the VA, she should have a fat, juicy fastball over the plate to smash past the fences.  Instead she fouls one off by going after VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

Kentucky's Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes on Thursday called on Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign over the growing scandal involving the deaths of dozens of veterans while waiting for treatment.

Her campaign put out a brief statement titled, "Grimes Calls For Veterans Affairs Secretary Resignation" in which she says: "We owe a solemn obligation to our veterans, and our government defaulted on that contract. I don't see how that breach of trust with our veterans can be repaired if the current leadership stays in place."

Also real simple:  "Mitch McConnell and 40 other Republicans blocked a Senate bill in February that would have addressed the very problems we've seen for years in the VA system.  Instead, Mitch McConnell gladly authorized trillions to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he then told our veterans that we suddenly had no money to keep America's promises to them.  The real problem here is the GOP Senate caucus that Mitch McConnell leads and they should be ashamed.  When they had the opportunity to help fix this problem, they did nothing instead."

This is the Alison Grimes we need more of.

The brilliant person who gave this speech Tuesday night after she won?  This is the person I want as my next Senator.  The person who less than 24 hours later called on Shinseki to resign? 

Not so much.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Last Call For Reparation Nation

In an Atlantic article that will be misinterpreted vilified, and unread by everyone who actually needs to read it, Ta-Nehisi Coates makes the case for American reparations to African-Americans and Rep. John Conyers's bill to study what would be necessary in order to make such a move, a bill that of course lies rotting in the GOP-controlled House and will do so for arguably the rest of my lifetime.

Scholars have long discussed methods by which America might make reparations to those on whose labor and exclusion the country was built. In the 1970s, the Yale Law professor Boris Bittker argued in The Case for Black Reparations that a rough price tag for reparations could be determined by multiplying the number of African Americans in the population by the difference in white and black per capita income. That number—$34 billion in 1973, when Bittker wrote his book—could be added to a reparations program each year for a decade or two. Today Charles Ogletree, the Harvard Law School professor, argues for something broader: a program of job training and public works that takes racial justice as its mission but includes the poor of all races. 
To celebrate freedom and democracy while forgetting America’s origins in a slavery economy is patriotism à la carte. 
Perhaps no statistic better illustrates the enduring legacy of our country’s shameful history of treating black people as sub-citizens, sub-Americans, and sub-humans than the wealth gap. Reparations would seek to close this chasm. But as surely as the creation of the wealth gap required the cooperation of every aspect of the society, bridging it will require the same.
Perhaps after a serious discussion and debate—the kind that HR 40 proposes—we may find that the country can never fully repay African Americans. But we stand to discover much about ourselves in such a discussion—and that is perhaps what scares us. The idea of reparations is frightening not simply because we might lack the ability to pay. The idea of reparations threatens something much deeper—America’s heritage, history, and standing in the world.

This is a long and significant read, I've been poring over it for the better part of a day now, just to try to find an agreeable synopsis above.  Do yourself a favor and take the time to read the entire thing.

I'll have more on this over the weekend when I've had more time to digest it.

Time To Get Our Veterans' Affairs In Order

Reminder to all Republicans screaming about how the Obama administration failed our veterans with substandard care and waiting lists:  Republicans blocked a $27 billion bill in February that would have overhauled the VA system when they weren't allowed to play politics and add Iran sanctions to the legislation.

With Democrats pressing for passage this week, Senate Republicans, backed by their leader, Mitch McConnell, attempted to attach controversial legislation calling for possible new sanctions on Iran that President Barack Obama opposes.

"The issue of Iran sanctions ... has nothing to do with the needs of veterans," complained Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Bernard Sanders of Vermont, the main sponsor of the bill.

Republicans also raised budget concerns, forcing another key procedural vote that ended up killing the bill. By a vote of 56-41, the Senate failed to waive budget rules that would have allowed the bill to proceed. Sixty votes were needed and 41 of the chamber's 45 Republicans voted against the waiver.

Referring to recent budget deals that aim to bring down federal deficits, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama said: "This bill would spend more than we agreed to spend. The ink is hardly dry and here we have another bill to raise that spending again."

The legislation had the backing of most veterans' organizations, but was doomed by deep disagreements between Democrats and Republicans that have made this Congress one of the least productive in decades.

The sad state of the criminally underfunded, terribly understaffed VA rests wholly on the shoulders of Republicans who said it was too expensive to fix our broken VA system and voted to kill this legislation that would have overhauled it. Our vets, some who gave everything in defense of America, were told by 41 Republican senators who blocked this bill that they don't matter.

Republicans don't give a good god damn about our nation's veterans.  They are nothing but political toys for them to attack Democrats with.  And now these assholes have the temerity to complain that Democrats haven't spent enough caring for vets?

Go to hell, all of you.

See Like A Hawk

The Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks visited the White House on Wednesday and President Obama welcomed them with a few notable observations.

Obama highlighted quarterback Russell Wilson, the second African American quarterback to win a Super Bowl after Washington's Doug Williams. "The best part about" Wilson's achievement, Obama said, "is nobody commented on it, which tells you the progress that we've made, although we've got more progress to make."

Amen to that.

Once inside, the president said he took special note of running back Marshawn Lynch, who was fined by the NFL this season for refusing to speak to the media.

"I just wanted to say how much I admire his approach to the press," Obama said of Lynch, who did not join the team at the White House. "I wanted to get some tips from him."

Cornerback Richard Sherman did attend the ceremony, and Obama joked he had considered allowing the outspoken Stanford graduate to take the mic.

"I considered letting Sherman up here to the podium today, giving him the mic, but we've got to go in a little bit," Obama said.

Congrats again to the Seahawks and their fans, being a North Carolinian and only getting to watch a victory parade in our state when Cam Ward, Ron Brind'Amour and the Carolina Hurricanes won Game 7 and the Stanley Cup in 2006, I know it was a long wait for the Emerald City.

Sadly, it was the only time Dubya was happy to see a Hurricane in his White House career, but I digress.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Last Call For Just Marriage

Gallup's latest numbers on marriage equality finds that in 2014, support has inched up to 55%, a huge jump from just five years ago and a massive jump from when this question was first asked by Gallup pollsters 18 years ago.

Two successive Gallup polls in 2012 saw support climb from 53% to 54%, indicating a steady but slight growth in acceptance of gay marriages over the past year after a more rapid increase between 2009 and 2011. In the latest May 8-11 poll, there is further evidence that support for gay marriage has solidified above the majority level. This comes on the heels of gay marriage proponents' 14th legal victory in a row.

When Gallup first asked Americans this question about same-sex marriage in 1996, 68% were opposed to recognizing marriage between two men or two women, with slightly more than a quarter supporting it (27%). Since then, support has steadily grown, reaching 42% by 2004 when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize it -- a milestone that reached its 10th anniversary this month.

In 2011, support for gay marriage vaulted over the 50% mark for the first time, and since 2012, support has remained above that level. In the last year, however, support has leveled off a bit. Currently, 17 states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage, while several states wait in legal limbo as they appeal judge rulings overturning state bans.

Among the most dramatic divisions in opinion on the issue are between age groups. As has been the case in the past, support for marriage equality is higher among younger Americans; the older an American is, the less likely he or she is to support marriage for same-sex couples. Currently, adults between the ages of 18 and 29 are nearly twice as likely to support marriage equality as adults aged of 65 and older.

And as usual, Republican remain on the wrong side of least for now.

Opinions also differ dramatically along party lines. Democrats (74%) are far more likely to support gay marriage as Republicans are (30%), while independents (58%) are more in line with the national average. Though Republicans still lag behind in their support of same-sex marriage, they have nearly doubled their support for it since Gallup began polling on the question in 1996.

But even Republicans are staring to come around.  They don't have a choice, it seems.  We'll drag them kicking and screaming into the 21st century by the short hairs if we have to.  

Naked (GOP) Lunch

Josh Marshall noticed this one, but it's concerning the House GOP's proposed agriculture budget bill.  To the surprise of absolutely nobody, House Republicans want to scrap a successful program that gives school lunches to kids in summer school and replace it with an identical program, except for one difference:

It would only provide summer school lunches for rural counties and districtsNot a dime for urban schools.

And in a surprising twist, the bill language specifies that only rural areas are to benefit in the future from funding requested by the administration this year to continue a modest summer demonstration program to help children from low-income households — both urban and rural — during those months when school meals are not available.

Since 2010, the program has operated from an initial appropriation of $85 million, and the goal has been to test alternative approaches to distribute aid when schools are not in session. The White House asked for an additional $30 million to continue the effort, but the House bill provides $27 million for what’s described as an entirely new pilot program focused on rural areas only.

Democrats were surprised to see urban children were excluded. And the GOP had some trouble explaining the history itself. But a spokeswoman confirmed that the intent of the bill is a pilot project in “rural areas” only.

I can't imagine why anyone would call this twist surprising, considering how Republicans feel about "urban" kids, "urban" voters, and "urban" culture.   Cause those people don't deserve lunches, that would make them parasites.  But real American kids going to summer school to improve themselves out there in farm country, well, of course they do.

Keep up the minority outreach, guys.

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