Monday, June 30, 2014

Last Call For Executive, Now With Action

President Obama, after finally being informed by Orange Julius that there will be no immigration vote in the House in 2014 because Republicans hate his guts and want him to die or something, has decided that it's time for some good old fashioned executive orders.

A clearly angry President Obama announced Monday that he plans to move forward with administrative action by the end of the summer on steps he can take without Congress, but within his existing authorities, to “fix as much of our broken immigration system as we can” because of Republican inaction on an immigration overhaul.

The announcement comes a week after Speaker John Boehner and Obama spoke before the PGA golf event where Boehner told him the House will not take a vote on immigration reform this year.

Remember, Boehner not doing his job is Obama's fault.  Because everything is Obama's fault.

“Today I’m beginning a new effort to fix as much of the immigration system as I can on my own without Congress,” he said, later adding that “it’s very rare that you get labor, business, evangelicals, law enforcement all agreeing on what needs to be done.”

The most important expected policy shift is “administrative relief,” which activists have been calling for for all of 2014, a plan that would reset enforcement priorities and lessen record deportations. The president previously directed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) chief Jeh Johnson to look at its policies to make sure they are “humane.”

So, looks like border policy and immigration and detention policy will get a major rewrite.  House Republicans will snivel and choose to not vote on the bill and it will die, just like Republicans killed immigration reform seven years ago under a Republican President.

So nothing will get done.  Remember which side is choosing to do nothing.


The final two rulings of this Supreme Court term were 5-4 decisions written by Justice Samuel Alito, and they're just as terrible as you'd expect.  First, in Harris v. Quinn,  the decision came down that public unions cannot force non-union members in a union shop to pay dues.

In a 5-4 decision by Justice Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court dealt a serious blow to public sector unions on Monday, although the opinion fell short of the claim made by the anti-union litigation shop that argued that case, which sought to undermine the finances of all public sector unions. The plaintiffs in this case, and their anti-union attorneys, argued that non-union members cannot be required to reimburse unions that bargain on their behalf for the costs it incurred during that bargaining. Without those reimbursements, the financial viability of the unions is in jeopardy. 
Alito’s opinion in Harris v. Quinn recognizes a category of “partial public employees” who cannot be required to contribute funds to the collective bargaining that they benefit from. This case involved Medicaid home health workers who are paid by the state but who work directly for individual patients. Nevertheless, the case hints that the Court will deal additional blows to public sector unions in the future. Alito labels a seminal Supreme Court opinion allowing unions to collect reimbursements from nonmembers “questionable on several grounds.”

That case is 1977's Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which upheld that public employees could unionize.  Alito dropped several hints in his decision that an open challenge to that ruling would find fertile ground (or at least five votes to sink it.)

Alito then went on to blow a hole in 120+ years of established legal precedent involving the religious rights of corporate entities in the Hobby Lobby case.

If you’re one of the estimated 14,000 individuals who work at Hobby Lobby or Conestoga Wood — the companies who represented the two plaintiffs in the case — then you’re most immediately affected by Monday’s decision. Your employers no longer have to cover several types of birth control that they’re opposed to. 
Both companies object to covering emergency contraception, which they falsely claim is a type of abortion despite all scientific evidence to the contrary. Hobby Lobby’s owners also take issue with two forms of intrauterine devices (IUDs), long lasting forms of birth control inserted in the uterus, for the same unscientific reason. So the workers employed by those businesses won’t be able to use their insurance coverage for those types of birth control anymore. They’ll presumably be able to continue using their health plans for other methods, like hormonal birth control pills, that their bosses don’t have a problem with.

But even if you don’t work at Hobby Lobby or Conestoga Wood, there’s a chance that your birth control coverage may be put into question. More than 70 other companies also sued for the right to stop following Obamacare’s contraceptive provision. According to the National Women’s Law Center, 48 of those cases are still pending. Now that the Court has sided with Hobby Lobby, it will be much easier for some of those companies to win their suits and opt out of covering certain types of contraception.

And now that this decision has opened the door to "closely-held" corporations having the same religious freedoms as the family that owns them,, and being able to subject their employees to those beliefs, a whole lot more douchebaggery is coming down the pike.

In her epic dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted that the Senate blocked an amendment to the Affordable Care Act that would have given Hobby Lobby the religious exemption they later sued for.  In other words, this is a perfect example of real judicial overreach, and litigating from the bench.

But that's how SCOTUS works these days, slowly rolling back laws passed by Democrats.

The Darkest Of Waters

Remember our old Iraq War military contractor friend Blackwater (now the cryptic "Xe") and founder Erik Prince?  Turns out this awful bunch of mercenaries weren't just immoral, they liked to push our government around too with death threats against anyone investigating them.  TPM's Josh Marshall recounts the NY Times investigation:

Over the course of the last decade, Blackwater became a notorious symbol of military contracting run amok, with price-gouging, reckless behavior and your occasional atrocity. So it's hard to imagine anything coming out that would genuinely shock anyone. Until this.

According to documents reviewed by The New York Times, State Department investigator had already begun probing Blackwater a short time before the infamous Nisour Square shooting in 2007. But the probe broke down when Blackwater's top guy in Iraq threatened to kill the lead investigator, suggesting, not improbably, that amid the anarchy of Iraq it could be easily covered up as just another moment of sectarian violence or a terrorist attack.
Nice guys, huh.  Would be a shame if anything happened to your State Department investigation team, right?

Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq. But the inquiry was abandoned after Blackwater’s top manager there issued a threat: “that he could kill” the government’s chief investigator and “no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,” according to department reports. 
American Embassy officials in Baghdad sided with Blackwater rather than the State Department investigators as a dispute over the probe escalated in August 2007, the previously undisclosed documents show. The officials told the investigators that they had disrupted the embassy’s relationship with the security contractor and ordered them to leave the country, according to the reports.

Nobody was going to mess with these guys, and they probably got away with all kids of truly horrific if not criminal acts for years in Iraq.  And the American people paid them billions to do it.   Who in the Bush administration would ever question Blackwater about a dead US civilian sent to a war zone to poke around where they shouldn't be?

It's not like anything happens to these guys even if people do ask questions.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Last Call For The Bufferless Zone

With the Supreme Court having struck down the Massachusetts "Buffer Zone" law around abortion clinics to prevent violence (indeed the ruling of SCOTUS was unanimous in that the law was an arbitrary violation of the free speech rights of anti-choice protesters) the first Saturday without the 35-foot distance between protestors and clinic workers and patients at a Boston-area clinic got ugly and fast.

At its height, the protest drew about 70 people — three times more than the average Saturday morning crowd, typically the largest gathering of the week — a turnout inspired by Thursday’s US Supreme Court ruling that struck down the Massachusetts law that since 2007 had kept them outside the yellow line.

“I have a friend that had an abortion 45 years ago. I saw what she suffered, and that’s why I come,” said Mary O’Donnell, 82, of Arlington, clutching a handful of pamphlets, rosaries, and medals. “To let them know there’s another option.”

The Supreme Court ruling, she said, “just gives us the chance to be a little bit closer, to let them know that we care.”

Yes, show them your caring and compassionate side by intimidating and berating them.

Many of the young women entering the clinic, however, appeared upset by the crowd, and hustled through with their heads down, some clutching the hands of their partners.

“You have to walk through this circle of people staring at you and talking to you and judging you,” a young woman named Julie said after leaving the clinic. “It’s very intimidating.”

Julie, who was not at the clinic for an abortion and asked to be identified only by her first name to protect her privacy, said that as she walked in, one person tried to hand her pamphlets and another shouted to her: “Fetuses have fingernails and a heartbeat.”

To her, the Supreme Court’s ruling felt hateful to women.

Sitting in there today, I was thinking about all these protesters outside, and what if somebody just threw a bomb in?” she said. “That’s what was going through my mind when I was getting my blood pressure taken.”

Not like it hasn't happened before, folks.  But in this new era, pro-choice Americans are adapting.

Marty Walz, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, said the clinic will now need escorts to shepherd patients through the crowd every day it is open, not just on Saturdays.

“We know there’s horror at the court’s ruling,” Walz said. In anticipation of that ruling, Planned Parenthood received about 100 applications from people volunteering to work as escorts, she said. In the first 24 hours since the ruling, they were overwhelmed with nearly 200 more.

Since the ruling, said Walz, Planned Parenthood has received many complaints from patients about the protests, and more patients than usual have canceled appointments.

“Our patients and staff are subjected to this extreme, aggressive behavior, but that’s what the Supreme Court thinks is appropriate for the women of this country,” Walz said.

You have a constitutional right to harass women at abortion clinics, you know.  Unanimously decided by the highest court in the land.

You know, until all the clinics are gone.

Psychological Logic Kill

Reminder for folks out there: big social media companies like Facebook and Twitter pretty much completely own any data you enter into the system, and they can do whatever they want with it.

The latest way that Facebook has been peeking into its users’ personal lives may be the most surprising yet: Facebook researches have published a scientific paper that reveals the company has been conducting psychological experiments on its users to manipulate their emotions.
The experiments sought to prove the phenomenon of “emotional contagion” — as in, whether you’ll be more happy if those in your Facebook news feed are. They took place over the week of January 11th-18th, 2012, and targeted 689,003 English-speaking Facebook users.

The study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. was successful. It found that, indeed, manipulating the algorithm to show more “positive” posts in your news feed will actually inspire you to write more “positive” posts yourself. So, for example, if you see a lot of people happy about their jobs or excited to be seeing the concert of their favorite band, then you’re more likely to post that you are happy about something in your life, too.

While that little fact in itself may be interesting, there’s one disturbing aspect of the study: None of the people involved in the experiment were explicitly told that they would be a part of it.

Facebook does have terms of service — ones that every Facebook user has agreed to — thatspecify users’ data may be used “for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.” The researchers of this psychology experiment argue that their experiments fall under these terms of use because “no text was seen by the researchers.” Rather, a computer program scanned for words that were considered either “positive” or “negative.”

“As such,” the researchers write, “it was consistent with Facebook’s Data Use Policy, to which all users agree prior to creating an account on Facebook, constituting informed consent for this research.”

Something to remember when you're out there in the big world of social media.  Your data belongs to these companies 100% as far as they're concerned, and there's very few regulations for protecting your privacy from them, if any.

So,What Domestic Terrorism Problem Here In Cincy?

The best part about these open carry numbskulls in Texas is the copycat open carry guys hoping for their 15 minutes of YouTube fame by acting as terrible as possible while.  Turns out some of them live only a few miles away from me.

Police arrested one of four people who walked through a Cincinnati neighborhood while openly carrying AR-15 rifles and repeatedly using racial slurs and profanity. 
One of two men in the group, which included two women, filmed their open carry rally in the East Price Hill neighborhood, where they walked past District 3 police headquarters and marveled that they were exercising their constitutional rights. 
“Broad day, you see this? Walking down the street with a AR-15,” says the man filming the demonstration, who police later identified as Jesse Deboard.

The video, which was later posted on YouTube and shared on social media, shows the foursome encounter police officers, who question them on camera but let them go on their way, reported WKRC-TV
“Like you said, it’s your right to do that, it makes no sense to me I mean, unless you just want attention and us to stop you and ask you,” an officer says on camera. “I just don’t understand it, that’s all. I’ve seen enough of these YouTube videos where everybody just tries to get the cop to stop them.” 
The group then brags about openly carrying assault weapons on city streets. 
“Open carry in the state of Ohio, the cops can’t do nothing,” one of them men says on camera. 
Deboard can be heard asking if unidentified Facebook friends “still want that drama, though.” 
“This is going on YouTube, n*gga, world star,” Deboard says to a passing group of black men.

What a great bunch, walking through East Price Hill, with AR-15s, shouting the N-word at residents, daring them to do anything about it, and laughing that the cops can't do anything.

Only, the cops did something.

Police conducted a further investigation after the video was posted online, and the 23-year-old Deboard was arrested and charged with menacing by stalking and violation of a protection order. 
He remains jailed on $25,000 bond, and an April 16 Facebook post apparently announced his intention to buy the weapons seen in the video.

Was awfully nice of this assclown to post all that evidence on YouTube for the cops to analyze, wasn't it?

So, do we think open carry is a stupid idea yet?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Last Call For The Same Song And Dance

Republicans are getting sloppy.  It's taken then weeks to come up with this latest poutrage, that captured alleged Benghazi attack mastermind Ahmed Abu Khatallah can't possibly be tried in criminal court because, umm, superpowers or something.

“I have serious concerns that conducting a rushed interrogation onboard a ship and then turning Abu Khatallah over to our civilian courts risks losing critical intelligence that could lead us to other terrorists or prevent future attacks,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, said in a statement Saturday. "I've asked the Defense and Justice Departments for an update on his status-including whether he has been told he has the right to remain silent." 
Shortly after the White House announced Abu Khatallah’s capture on July 17, Republicans like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio began to criticize President Barack Obama’s administration because they believed the alleged terrorist should go through a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay instead of being tried in a federal court. 
“If they bring him to the United States, they're going to Mirandize this guy and it would be a mistake for the ages to read this guy his Miranda rights,” said South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. 
But the White House has defended its decision, saying that they have successfully tried a number of terrorists domestically and that no new captives have gone to the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in years. 
“We have not added a single person to the GITMO population since President Obama took office, and we have had substantial success delivering swift justice to terrorists through our federal court system,” National Security Council Spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement the day the capture was announced.

In other words, Republicans are going to call President Obama weak and a traitor for not torturing "intelligence" out of Abu Khatallah, if you can believe that nonsense.  But, that's where we're going to be after the Sunday shows tomorrow, because our idiot media will somehow take this seriously.

Maximum Wingnut Achieved

Republicans are delightfully insane, almost charming, aren't they?

On Tuesday, Timothy Ray Murray challenged longtime incumbent Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) for the Republican nomination in Oklahoma's 3rd Congressional district. Murray lost, but he did manage to pull in 3,442 votes, good for 5.2 percent of the total. Now Murray says he will contest the outcome of the election. Because, he says, Lucas is dead and has been replaced by a "look alike."

Wait, what?

"The election for U.S. House for Oklahoma’s 3rd District will be contested by the Candidate, Timothy Ray Murray," Murray wrote in a press release posted on his campaign website. "I will be stating that his votes are switched with Rep. Lucas votes, because it is widely known Rep. Frank D. Lucas is no longer alive and has been displayed by a look alike."

Maybe you're fed up. Maybe you want to be by yourself. Who knows? You look down and see an incumbent Congressman , Timothy. It's crawling toward you...

On the website, Murray claims that Lucas and "a few other Oklahoma and other States’ Congressional Members," were executed "on or about" Jan. 11, 2011 in southern Ukraine
"On television they were depicted as being executed by the hanging about the neck until death on a white stage and in front of witnesses," the website claims. "Other now current Members of Congress have shared those facts on television also. We know that it is possible to use look alike artificial or manmade replacements, however Rep. Lucas was not eligible to serve as a Congressional Member after that time."

Because he's a dead clone, or a replicant.  Or a pod person.

Rep Frank Lucas (R-Outer Space), apparently.

Remember when the worst thing about Republicans was that they would occasionally say something stupid or misspell "potato" or invade some crapass Central American country for a couple of weeks?  Those were good times.  Good time indeed.

Categorical Denial

The new Pew Research Center study on America's political ideology is a fascinating read, finding that the country is far from just a red/blue dynamic.  The Pew study finds eight different categories of American voters, ranging from Steadfast Conservatives to Solid Liberals to Bystanders who don't vote or care about politics at all (and a quiz to find out where you fit) based on responses to 23 questions.

Vox's Max Fisher discovered something rather depressing however.  One of those questions involves blacks and discrimination, and the numbers are pretty breathtaking: 63% of Americans believe that blacks who can't get ahead have only themselves to blame, including majorities of 6 of Pew's 7 categories of American voters.

A wide majority of Americans say that, if black people are struggling to advance in society, then it is primarily their fault and not because of discrimination. That's the majority view for some types of liberals but is far, far more common among conservatives. Over 80 percent of conservatives say they agree that "Blacks who can't get ahead are mostly responsible for their own condition," while just some seven percent say that "Racial discrimination is the main reason why many black people can't get ahead these days." 
That's based on Pew pollsters asking Americans which of those two statements they agree with more. Nationally, 63 percent say "blacks who can't get ahead are mostly responsible for their own condition" versus 27 percent who say "racial discrimination is the main reason why many black people can't get ahead these days." That's more than two-to-one.

 Here's the chart:


Only Solid Liberals, which make up 15% of Americans, believe discrimination is still the main reason why African-Americans who can't get ahead are unable to do so. When it comes to the two groups of Millennial voters (libertarian-leaning Young Outsiders and socially liberal Next Generation Left) who together account for 26% of America, only about one in seven believe discrimination is more of a factor than lack of hard work.

Solid Liberals on the other hand overwhelmingly believe that discrimination is still a problem.  That's because, as Fisher points out, it still is.

The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates, in his recent cover story "The Case for Reparations," wrote about the popular American fiction that the age of widespread discrimination against black people is over in American, as are its effects. Because, even though it is widely perceived as fact by American conservatives and even liberals, it is a fiction. 
In fact, not only does discrimination continue today, but the consequences of two centuries of slavery and one century of explicit white supremacy still directly impact and hold back black families.

The evidence is there, but of course talking about it remains taboo.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Last Call For Puckett, We'll Do It Live

The story of Democrat turned "What's in it for me?" douchebag Phil Puckett, the Virginia state Senator who resigned to take a cushy job with the GOP-led state tobacco regulatory commission, giving control of the state Senate to the Republicans as a result, just got a whole lot more interesting (and possibly very, very criminal).

The head of the state tobacco commission warned that the panel would create the appearance of “manipulating” power in the Virginia Senate if it announced that it was hiring Sen. Phillip P. Puckett on the same day he gave up his seat, according to e-mails released Thursday
Tim Pfohl, interim executive director of the commission, said in a June 5 e-mail to Puckett, a Democrat from rural Russell County, that he had begged Del. Terry G. Kilgore (R-Scott) to delay making it known that Puckett was getting a top staff job with the commission. Kilgore is chairman of the commission. 
“Phillip: Terry spoke to us today about announcing your role w/ the Commission in conjunction with what he said is your intention to announce your Senate plans tomorrow,” Pfohl wrote. “I implored him to ‘decouple’ those announcements for the sake of the appearance of the Commission manipulating the Senate balance of power and starting WW3 w/ the Governor’s administration.” 
Pfohl went on to say that the commission’s executive committee still planned to meet a few days later to give Puckett the job. 
I mention all this so you know what’s being planned on our end to give this the most defensible appearance of due process,” Pfohl added.

In other words, this is clearly a case where Puckett was rewarded with the commissioner's job for resigning his state Senate seat and giving power to the GOP, so obvious that that the commission's interim head honcho emailed people to beg them to try to make the rotten deal not appear so bloody obvious.

These emails also prove that the deal was in the works before Puckett resigned, which is a huge problem.  In no way was this a spontaneous act, but a deliberate thumb, hand, arm, shoulder and body on holding down the scale to tip it in favor of the crooked Virginia GOP.

Oh, but it gets worse.

The e-mail messages indicated that the commission was creating the post especially for Puckett, who was asked to help come up with his own job description. The position was to come with state employee benefits, a cell phone and possibly a car, according to the e-mails. The salary was not specified.

And remember, all of this was done in order to give Virginia Republicans the window they needed in order to pass a budget that strips social programs and Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansions from needy Virginians.  Puckett's ridiculously unethical and illegal deal was the price, and the ones paying it are thousands of Virginians who will not get health coverage as a result.

All this just to screw over poor people.  The American way, right?  Or at least, the Republican way.

Even More GOP Minority Outreach, Post-McDaniel Edition

Mississippi GOP Senate "candidate" Chris McDaniel will take his "graceful concession" to Sen. Thad Cochran in Tuesday's primary runoff and shove it right up America's ass

We haven’t conceded and we’re not going to concede right now. We’re going to investigate. 
Naturally sometimes it’s difficult to contest an election, obviously, but we do know that 35,000 Democrats crossed over. And we know many of those Democrats did vote in the Democratic primary just three weeks ago which makes it illegal. 
We likewise know that we have a statute, a law in our state that says you cannot participate in a primary unless you intend to support that candidate. And we know good and well that these 35,000 democrats have no intention to do that. They’ll be voting for Travis Childers in November. We know that. They know that. And so that makes their actions illegal. 
So we’re going to be fighting this.

It's illegal because McDaniel "knows" it was illegal.  He can't actually prove anything, but who gives a damn when there's lynching to be done?  Justin Baragona at PoliticusUSA:

A few points need to be made. First, the Mississippi law about voters needing to support the candidates they vote for in primaries has already been ruled unenforceable by a federal appeals court. Therefore, McDaniel doesn’t have a leg to stand on if he tries to file a lawsuit centered on that law. That particular law is impossibly vague, especially since Mississippi doesn’t have party registration. There is absolutely no way you can find out if a voter stuck with a candidate in the general election. This could hardly even be called a law. It is more of an honor system.

As far as voters participating in the Democratic Senate primary and then this Republican primary runoff, McDaniel may appear to have a somewhat valid argument. In this instance, voter rolls from the Democratic primary can be compared with log sheets from the runoff. It would seem possible that some votes could be tossed aside. However, I wouldn’t bet on a huge amount. The Democratic primary had a very low turnout, especially when compared to the Republican primary. In the initial Republican primary, 313,000+ votes were cast, compared to just 75,000+ votes in the Democratic primary. The runoff pulled in an even higher number, as over 372,000 votes were counted.

McDaniel is assuming that a very large portion of the Democratic voters that participated in the runoff also voted in their own primary a few weeks ago, while conveniently ignoring the fact that the vast majority of Democrats in the state did not take part in that primary. My feeling is, even if the state decides to check and compare the voter rolls between the Democratic primary and Republican runoff, they’ll find very little crossover. And, even if they did, they can’t simply make the assumption that every one of these votes was for Cochran. Once again, McDaniel is left with no recourse even if he tries to go down this road.

But go down that road McDaniel and his supporters will, and they don't care who gets hurt along the way.

The Mississippi Tea Party President says they've found evidence that nearly 800 voters crossed over in Tuesday's runoff election that should not have been allowed to vote Republican.

"We have some evidence that we are concerned about," explained president Laura Van Overschelde. "We're here to ensure the integrity of the electoral process. There's a great concern over a great many of the irregularities and enrolling of voters."

However, Hinds County GOP Chairman Pete Perry says there are some precincts where he knows workers marked the wrong column and corrected them the day of the election. He believes that could account for at least 200 of those being cited by the Tea Party.

I'm sure McDaniel has fevered glory dreams of the US Supreme Court magically declaring him the winner, right after declaring Democrats are no longer Americans, but hey, let's keep this guy on TV as long as possible blaming black people for his loss.

Ted Cruz's Latest Windmill Tilt-A-Whirl

GOP Sen. Ted Cruz is back to threatening to impeach Attorney General Eric Holder if he doesn't appoint a special prosecutor over the IRS's missing emails.

Attorney General Eric Holder must appoint a special prosecutor to investigate IRS targeting of conservative groups or expect to face impeachment proceedings, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on the chamber floor Thursday.

“When an Attorney General mocks the rule of law, when an Attorney General corrupts the Department of Justice by conducting a nakedly partisan investigation to cover up political wrongdoing that conduct by any reasonable measure constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors,” said Cruz. “Attorney General Eric Holder has the opportunity to do the right thing. He could appoint a special prosecutor with meaningful independence who is not a major Obama donor.”

The donor Cruz is referring to is Justice Department prosecutor Barbara Bosserman, who has given $6,750 to the Democratic Party and President Obama over the past ten years, according to the Washington Post. Bosserman has been chosen to lead the Justice Department probe into the IRS.

Cruz and other conservatives are dismayed that the Justice Department has yet to indict anyone 13 months after the IRS admitted that it targeted nonprofit political advocacy groups with the terms “tea party” or “patriot” in their names from 2010 to 2012.

That's actually not true, as more liberal groups were targeted than conservative ones, because the IRS was going after a number of "advocacy groups" on both sides basically using unlimited anonymous funds to run unlimited political ads. 

"Republicans have yet to prove any laws were broken after 13 months" is the problem, after wasting taxpayer money with piles of investigations in the House.  Impeachment will fail of course, but the longer Ted Cruz is in the news reminding people about his nonsense with the shutdown, the better.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Last Call For Don't Know Howitzer, Don't Know Whenitzer

This is either a completely ridiculous story about gun nuts treating a howitzer as a friggin' toy and lobbing a shell into somebody's house 3 miles away, or a case of custom critical courier delivery methods gone horribly wrong.

An Oklahoma home was damaged last weekend by a howitzer artillery shell fired from a gun range three miles away. 
The artillery shell – which is 14.5 inches long and 3.5 inches across – crashed through an exterior wall, hit the ceiling, and damaged another wall while homeowner Gene Kelley and his wife were in another room, reported KOAM-TV
“It’s unbelievable,” Kelley said. “Unless you were here to see it or see the pictures I’ve got, you would not believe how huge this thing is.”

No one was hurt, but Kelley said the damage could have been worse if the shell had not hit a tree limb and then the ground before striking his Wyandotte house.

Unless you're a Mythbuster and doing a myth on howitzers or something, why are you allowed to fire one of these when it can go, I dunno, three miles (and could have gone a lot further?)  Were people warned or anything beforehand?

The shell was fired from a 105mm howitzer at the Oklahoma Full Auto Shoot and Trade Show, but the gun range owner insists the historic weapon was safely fired by professionals in a downward projection. 
“It was not on a level plane, but on a downward trend, pointed downhill in the bottom of a valley,” said Mike Friend, Owner of Fast Machine Gun Shoot. “For that thing to rise and go far northwest of the range, it’s just unheard of.”

Max range on a 105mm howitzer is what, 6-7 miles or thereabouts?  So yeah, did this guy warn anyone in the area?  This seems like totally reasonable behavior and not weapon fetishist stuff or anything, you know?

I appreciate the skill and training that it takes to operate a field gun like this, but if you put a shell in a dude's living room in a freak accident, there's a problem somewhere.  Get a bigger range or something next time, guys.  Or better yet, leave the 105mm boom-boom at home.

More GOP Minority Outreach, Post-McDaniel Edition

Conservatives are fuming over the loss of Mississippi Tea Party darling Chris McDaniel to GOP Sen. Thad Cochran in Tuesday's GOP primary runoff, and really all they know about why McDaniel lost is that black people were allowed to vote and that kind of thing clearly has to be stopped.  El Rushbo led the charge...

Some conservatives aren't happy that their preferred candidate, state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) lost to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) in the runoff of the GOP primary for U.S. Senate in Mississippi. Many tea party types are openly speculating foul play and that Democrats and black voters were involved. Take Rush Limbaugh who wondered if Cochran's campaign slogan in Mississippi over the last few days was "Uncle Toms for Thad."

"I wonder what the campaign slogan was in Mississippi the past few days, 'Uncle Toms for Thad'? Because I thought it was the worst thing you could do as an African American, vote for a Republican. The worst thing you could do," Limbaugh said on Wednesday. "But somehow they were made to believe that voting for old Thad would be fine and dandy. And why? Because they were told Thad's done a lot for black people in Mississippi. Must be the first time they were told that."

 As a result, neighboring Alabama is calling for immediate laws to close that state's primaries.

The chairman of Alabama's Republican Party fears that Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran's (R) triumph Tuesday over a tea party primary challenger could have a ripple effect on runoff elections in his state unless party registration is implemented.

"I think what happened in Mississippi last night definitely sends a strong signal to us in Alabama that until we have party registration that same kind of thing could happen here in our state," Chairman Bill Armistead said, as quoted by

And Moose Lady offered some more Authentic Frontier Gibberish.

"When an election is questionable, with potential legal violations, politics MUST be put aside and the irregularities MUST be fully investigated," Palin wrote on Facebook. "Regardless of party, we owe it to voters and to democracy within our Republic. The integrity of the vote speaks directly to the integrity of those who serve and the trust we ask the American public to put in our institutions."

To recap, the "irregularities" that Sarah Palin and others are screaming about being illegal is "black voters voting in an open primary to defeat a Tea Party candidate."  This is apparently against some sort of law somewhere that we just made up, and dammit, we have to be collectively punished by Republicans.

The fact that Mississippi is 38% African-American, nearly three times the national average, simply didn't occur to conservatives when it came to a state with an open primary system.  The real problem Republicans have with black voters is apparently when we are actually are allowed to vote.  Republicans want to resolve that little problem, and fast.

Just a reminder too that a year ago this week, the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act.  You're insane if you think today's Republican party will ever lift a finger to restore it. Because remember, Chief Justice Roberts assured us that racism is over in America when it came to voting, as evidenced by the reaction in Mississippi this week.


This Week In "What Domestic Terrorism Problem?"

I can't imagine why the state of New York would want to keep an eye on a group of law enforcement officers and military personnel, trained in the use of deadly force, who openly advocate ignoring state and federal laws they don't like.

An official with New York’s Oath Keepers organization denied the group held “far-right, anti-government views,” and then called on law enforcement officers to disobey orders and join them in their fight against socialist tyranny. 
John Wallace, vice president of the state’s Oath Keepers group, cited an alleged New York State Intelligence Center counterterrorism bulletin reportedly leaked to InfoWars that linked the organization and similar groups to the recent shootings of law enforcement officers by extremists. 
Wallace complains that the document, which has not been confirmed as legitimate, based its conclusions on news reports by “left-wing” and “communist” organizations such as the New York Times, Huffington Post, and CNN.

“What the state of New York has done, used left wing publications, organizations to identify the targets that they want to eliminate and put pressure on so that we stop doing what we’re doing,” Wallace said. “How can you be in favor of the Constitution, how can you take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and be a patriot, and be somehow put on a terrorist list made up and manufactured by basically communist organizations?”

I dunno, I'm gonna go with "openly advocating the direct disobeying of orders and state and federal laws while being an law enforcement officer."  No, this guy is totally stable, and we should reward him with extra points on his frequent gun and ammo loyalty card when making purchases for the Second Civil War.

Meanwhile, in Nevada, our friends at Bundy Ranch are still hanging out and being jerkbags, and they've discovered that since we don't actually have a domestic terrorism problem in the US, nobody's really going to care if they just choose to ignore laws they don't like, either.

Videos posted online show the scofflaw rancher’s supporters explaining their ideologies in lengthy lectures, such as one posted earlier this month that shows “private attorney general” Jeff Ball explaining that laws don’t apply to individuals if they understand how to rebut them. 
“I want to give you guys the basic chain of command, all right?” said Ball, of the Citizens Action Network. “Up at the top of this tree is the creator, whoever your creator is, that’s where the creator’s at. The one below that is you, okay? So your original contract was with the creator.”

Seems totally legit.

Ball argued that Americans had loaned out their sovereignty to public servants, but they reserve the right to take it back. 
So when that governor, that sheriff, doesn’t do his job, we can go take them out of office,” he said. “We don’t have to wait for an election.”

Maybe these Bundy Ranch guys should hook up with the New York Oath Keepers.  Is it just me, or is this totally a situation where the Gatekeeper is looking for the Keymaster so they can open up Gozer the Gozerian's World O' Guns Emporium and Shooting Range?


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Last Call For Downward Revision Collisions

The beginning of the year was not just bad for the United States economy: It was, on paper at least, the worst quarter since the last recession ended five years ago. 
The Commerce Department revised its estimates of first-quarter gross domestic product Wednesday to show that the economy contracted at a 2.9 percent annual rate. A combination of shrinking business inventories, terrible winter weather and a surprise contraction in health care spending drove the first-quarter decline, which is the worst since the first quarter of 2009, when the economy shrank at a 5.4 percent rate. 

So what about the very real possibility that we're back in a recession thanks to these factors, and oh yeah, Republicans blocking any and every possible plan to help the economy along for the last five years?

What makes the sharply negative number all the more stunning is that it didn’t feel like an economic contraction at all in the first quarter. Employers kept adding jobs. Many measures of business activity and consumer confidence were stable. And forecasters are expecting a healthy pop of growth in the second quarter, which ends next week. 
But the economy was hit by an unlikely combination of negative forces that conspired to turn what seemed set to be another quarter of so-so growth into a considerably more gloomy experience.

Ironically the reduced spending in health care by the Affordable Care Act contributed to these numbers.  A 1% GDP increase in the healthcare sector turned into a 0.16% contraction instead, a huge chunk of the latest downward adjustment.

But there are reasons not to freak out, thankfully.

Economists described the number as "horrid" and "dreadful," but then shrugged it off. So did investors. In fact, stocks rose.

"Despite the awful start to the year, the U.S. economy is nowhere close to recession," said Sal Guatieri, senior economist for BMO Capital Markets.

Something to keep in mind.  It looks bad on paper, but it's not the end of the world, or the beginning of another recession.

GOP Islamic Outreach Continues

Republicans are apparently trying to expand their voter base to non-Christian religions like Islam.  And by "apparently trying to expand" I mean "denouncing Islam as a terrorist philosophy and not a religion, therefore it doesn't qualify for protections under the First Amendment."

Jody Hice, a Republican candidate for a U.S. House seat from Georgia, does not believe that Islam is truly a religion and doesn't think it should be protected under the First Amendment.

In his book published in 2012, "It's Now Or Never," Hice made some anti-Islamic statements, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Although Islam has a religious component, it is much more than a simple religious ideology,” he wrote. “It is a complete geo-political structure and, as such, does not deserve First Amendment protection.”

Hice is running in GA-10 for Paul Broun's old seat (as Broun is now running for Senate to replace Saxby Chambliss) and will be in a runoff primary on July 22.  Paul Broun is basically nuts, but Hice makes him look sane by comparison.

"Most people think Islam is a religion, It’s not. It’s a totalitarian way of life with a religious component. But it’s much larger. It’s a geo-political system that has governmental, financial, military, legal and religious components. And it’s a totalitarian system that encompasses every aspect of life and it should not be protected [under U.S. law]," he said.

"This is not a tolerant, peaceful religion even though some Muslims are peaceful. Radical Muslims believe that Sharia is required by God and must be imposed worldwide. It’s a movement to take over the world by force. A global caliphate is the objective," Hice continued.

So odds a pretty good that Georgia will send a bonkers right-wing nut job with his own radio show to Congress who is a full-on avowed bigot.  And because people in Broun's district are apparently also bigots, they'll gladly choose to be represented by him.  In fact, openly being an Islamophobic conspiracy theory spouting jackass makes it more likely in 2014 that Jody Hice will be elected to Congress.

Because America.

McDaniel's Last Stand

As I said earlier today, Mississippi GOP Sen. Thad Cochran barely survived his primary runoff against Tea Party challenger, Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel.  Only one problem:  McDaniel refuses to concede and his Tea Party allies are looking to see what legal recourse they have in order to challenge the validity of the runoff.

The lawyer leading the tea party effort to ensure there is no improper voting in the race for U.S. Senate in Mississippi said he would review reports of poll watchers before announcing the next steps in support of state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-MS), who was narrowly defeated in the runoff election Tuesday night by Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS).

"After I read the hundreds of pages of observer reports, I will have more information for you," the attorney, J. Christian Adams, said when asked whether they would challenge election results, according to MSNBC.

The real problem is the state's ridiculous primary laws, which state that while Mississippi has open primaries, you can't vote in a party primary runoff unless you "plan to support the party in the general election."  How the state has any power to enforce this law involving mind-reading and time travel, I have no clue.  That's what lawyers are for, apparently.

Earlier on Tuesday McDaniel refused to concede after various news outlets called the race for Cochran. Instead he suggested that his campaign would take new steps to fight the election results.

"Now it's our job to make sure that sanctity of the vote is upheld. Before this race ends we have to be absolutely certain that the Republican primary was won by Republican voters," McDaniel said.

All I do know is that it's looking like the Tea Party is going to bitch and whine about losing until someone does something about it.  Mississippi has no party registration, you see.  Will these clowns try to push this to the Supreme Court or something?  Who knows?

But let's waste some taxpayer money while we're at it, says the party of small government.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Last Call For Ammo-merica The Beautiful

Welcome to the United States of Gun Fetishization, where our completely logical response to deadly firearm violence in our schools is training teachers to kill in self-defense.

In the heartland of a nation worn raw by school shootings, these teachers are now students, learning how to kill an armed intruder.

Most of their bullets find the intended pings; a few kick up red dirt of a berm. It’s a process.

In the year and a half since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, as America has struggled to find the answer to its epidemic of school shootings, some districts have decided that teachers are the ultimate first responders and need to learn to shoot back.

Four Missouri school districts recently sent staffers to this hilltop range for five days of firearms training. The instructors, all current law enforcement officers, refer to the teachers’ “unique situation” — essentially close-quarters combat while youngsters scream and run about.

“You have to pick your environment apart,” Jason Long, a lieutenant with the Howell County sheriff’s office, stresses to the class.

So, are these teachers ready to pull the trigger on a shooter? How about if it’s a kid they’ve had in class?

“None of us would be here if we haven’t already answered that question,” one man said

There now.  Don't you feel better? 

Instead of the problem being guns in schools, the answer is more guns in schools.  That makes perfect sense, like saying "the problem with arson is we need to train people to burn down more buildings in order to try to kill arsonists before they can start fires."  I mean fire just a tool, fires don't kill people, people kill people.  Your local disposable lighter factory thanks you.

Read more here:

Like A Kansas Tornado

Kansas Republicans, led by Gov. Sam Brownback, have all but destroyed the state's revenues with massive tax cuts for the state's wealthiest citizens and obliterated corporate taxes.  The stated goal was pure supply-side Laffer-curve madness: cut taxes enough and the resulting skyrocketing growth will create more revenues than lost through lowered taxes.  The reality has been a complete disaster, as predicted.

Kansas is the poster child for cutting taxes sharply in line with recommendations of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. Its calls for deep tax cuts and limits on revenues and spending reflect extreme "supply side" and anti-tax arguments that mainstream economic research discredited long ago, as my Center on Budget and Policy Priroties colleagues explain here
Now, we see that these policies have been a budgetary disaster for Kansas. So much so, my CBPP colleague Nick Johnson reports, “that leaders in Oklahoma, Nebraska, and other states are expressing concern about the Kansas results and distancing themselves — at least rhetorically — from the Kansas failures.”

Cut taxes so steeply that government cannot do its job, then complain that the fix is to cut more government to make room for more tax cuts.  That part is working as intended.

How badly is Kansas faring? State revenues have plummeted, employment growth continues to lag the national average, and the state’s credit rating has been downgraded. Kansas’ tax cuts this year are costing the state about 8 percent of the revenue it uses to fund schools, health care and other public services, a hit comparable to a mid-sized recession, according to this CBPP report. The revenue loss, state data show, will rise to 16 percent in five years if Kansas doesn’t reverse the tax cuts.

While most states are restoring school funding after years of significant cuts due to the recession, Kansas continues to cut (see chart). Funding for colleges and universities, libraries, local health departments and other services, which also were cut sharply, continues to fall. 
The largest tax cuts went to those at the top, and Kansas actually raised taxes on the lowest-income families. Nothing in the Kansas economy’s subpar performance since these tax cuts were enacted suggests the benefits have “trickled down” to ordinary Kansans.

In other words, Kansas was ground zero for Republican economic policies at the state level, and surprise! They failed totally.

But Kansans will continue to vote for the GOP because government is bad.

Mississippi (Voter Card) Burning

Today's GOP Senate primary runoff in Mississippi is going to get ugly as incumbent Republican Sen. Thad Cochran faces a strong primary challenge from Tea Party darling Chris McDaniel.  Cochran is trying to recruit anyone he can get to vote to keep McDaniel out, particularly black Democrats.  And McDaniel is doing everything he can to intimidate black Democrats from even showing up, saying he'll have "election observers" on hand to make sure these Democrats aren't allowed to vote.

Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, a political action committee that has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars backing Mr. Cochran’s Tea Party opponent, State Senator Chris McDaniel, said in an interview on Sunday that his group was joining with Freedom Works and the Tea Party Patriots in a “voter integrity project” in Mississippi.

By the way that's the same Ken Cuccinelli who lost the Virginia governor's race to Terry McAullife last November.  You thought he wasn't going to immediately get a wingnut welfare job?  Oh, and by "voter integrity project" he means "voter suppression through active harassment of black voters".

The groups will deploy observers in areas where Mr. Cochran is recruiting Democrats, Mr. Cuccinelli said. J. Christian Adams, a former Justice Department official and conservative commentator who said he was advising the effort, described the watchers as “election observers,” mostly Mississippi residents, who will be trained to “observe whether the law is being followed.” 
After nearly 42 years in Washington, Mr. Cochran is facing a dire political threat from Mr. McDaniel, a former radio talk show host. Under state elections law, Democrats may vote in the runoff if they did not vote in the Democratic primary on June 3
“The laws in Mississippi are unusually open to poll watching from the outside,” said Mr. Cuccinelli, a former Virginia attorney general. “We’re going to take full advantage of that and we’re going to lay eyes on Cochran’s effort to bring Democrats in,” he added. “And of course, if they voted in primaries, that’s illegal.”

So expect every black voter to have their eligibility to vote questioned by angry poll workers.  Things haven't changed much in 50 years, have they?  Rick Hasen at TPM:

The idea here appears to be that because poll workers cannot discourage Democrats from voting in the election (based upon an unenforceable Mississippi law which says that only those who intend to support the nominee of the party in the primary can vote in the primary), these outside election observers led by Adams may make such encouragement. That is what Adams must mean about “the law” “being followed.” That’s very troubling and I hope DOJ has some observers now heading down there too.

I hope so.  Not that Thad Cochran hasn't been a complete pain in the ass for the last three decades or so, but McDaniel is certifiable, and if he's willing to pull this crap to win a primary, imagine what he'll do in order to win a general election.

Luckily the Justice Department is very aware of this and is keeping an eye on the situation today.

The U.S. Justice Department says it’s keeping a close eye on a plan by conservatives to send poll-watchers to Mississippi for the state’s U.S. Senate race Tuesday—a “voter integrity” project that’s sparking fears of intimidation and racial profiling. And now, Mississippi’s attorney general and secretary of state are chiming in, too.

The department is aware of concerns about voter intimidation and is monitoring the situation,” a Justice Department spokesperson told msnbc. “Voters that experience problems are encouraged to call 1-800-253-3931.”

Here's hoping that this number won't have to be used.  I'm betting it will be used, and often today.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Last Call For McCarthy Populism

The hard right of the McCarthy era in the House GOP begins with -- surprise! -- billions for the banksters.

In an interview with Fox News, incoming House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) revealed leadership's first significant policy shift: opposition to reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank when its current charter expires on Sept. 30, a move that would shutter the credit agency. 
"One of the problems with government is it's going to take hard earned money so others do things that the private sector can do. That's what Ex-Im Bank does," he said. "I think Ex-Im Bank is one that government does not have to be involved in. The private sector can do it."

You've just read the entire raison d'etre of the GOP.  The private sector can do it.  It doesn't mean the private sector can do it well, can do it better than the public sector, or even should do it, but at every turn the GOP wants their private sector corporate donors involved in every step of the process, making them more and more profit at our expense.

The private sector certainly can teach our children, police our communities, put out fires, build and maintain our roads, and more.  But should they?  Should the driving mission of any of those be profit margins instead of providing for the common good?

It is in McCarthy's world.  And those profits go to his friends.  That's the real crony capitalism that Republicans are looking to create.

Infrastructure Rupture

When I repeatedly say that the Republican party in this country refuses to govern the country, this is exactly what I mean.

No state is needier than West Virginia when it comes to fixing crumbling highways, airports and water works, with annual repair needs of $1,035 per resident that’s three times the national average. 
Yet even with borrowing costs hovering close to four-decade lows, lawmakers rejected a January proposal to sell $1 billion of bonds to repair roads that run through the Appalachian Mountains. Budget cuts were a more immediate concern, they said. 
Across the U.S., localities are refraining from raising new funds in the $3.7 trillion municipal-bond market after the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression left them with unprecedented deficits. Rather than take advantage of Federal Reserve (FDTR) policy that’s held benchmark interest rates at historic lows since December 2008, they’re repaying obligations by the most on record.

At a time when spending is needed the most and rates are at the lowest levels in 50 years, Republicans (and more than a few red state Democrats) are saying we need more cuts in bridges and highways.

State and local spending on roads, railways and other infrastructure crested as a share of the economy during the post-war population boom. In the first quarter, the expenditures accounted for 1.4 percent of the economy, less than a third of the 1967 level, according to data compiled by Moody’s Analytics. 
America’s governments would need to spend about $3.6 trillion through 2020 to put everything from roads and water to sewers and electricity networks into adequate shape, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, based in Reston, Virginia. That’s about $1.6 trillion more than governments are expected to dispense. 
“We are not investing adequately in maintaining our infrastructure,” said Joshua Schank, president of the Eno Center for Transportation in Washington. “We are missing an opportunity to borrow at lower rates in order to do it.”

But we can't.  Spending on roads and bridges is now "wasteful extravagance" while traffic jams and delays cost American companies billions in lost productivity every year.   States won't spend the money, the federal government is blocked from spending the money, so who exactly is going to fix our highways?

Why, you are.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has signed legislation to allow tolls on a new bridge over the Ohio River into Kentucky that will replace an overpass deemed "functionally obsolete." 
Kasich signed the bill Wednesday at Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium. That's adjacent to the 51-year-old Brent Spence Bridge, which spans the river to northern Kentucky. 
The bridge carries about 172,000 vehicles a day. The reconstructed bridge would more than double its capacity and address safety and traffic concerns that have caused the National Bridge Inventory to label the Brent Spence as "functionally obsolete." 
The new bridge isn't yet built, and despite Kasich's approval, tolling is still far down the road. Kentucky also would have to approve legislation for tolling, and lawmakers in the commonwealth are vehemently opposed.

It would be Kentucky voters who would be paying the bulk of the tolls on this bridge, and that will cost people like Rep. Tom Massie their jobs.  Of course, a private toll collecting company would be contracted for the deal.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Republicans want to "maintain roads and bridges".

Keep that in mind.

Meanwhile, In Egypt...

For all the loud complaints by the right about Obama the "dictator" and from the left that the administration is "chilling free speech" here's a story out of Egypt that puts both of those ridiculous accusations into perspective as three Al Jazeera journalists were each sentenced to seven years in prison by the new Sisi government for "terrorism" charges.

Three Al Jazeera journalists were jailed for seven years in Egypt on Monday after a court convicted them of helping a "terrorist organisation" by spreading lies, in a case that has raised questions about the country's respect for media freedom. 
The three, who all deny the charge, include Australian Peter Greste, Al Jazeera's Kenya-based correspondent, and Canadian-Egyptian national Mohamed Fahmy, Cairo bureau chief of Al Jazeera English. 
The third defendant, Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed, received an additional three-year jail sentence on a separate charge involving possession of ammunition.

There was a loud gasp in the courtroom as the verdicts were read out. Shaken and near tears, Greste's brother Michael said: "This is terribly devastating. I am stunned, dumbstruck. I've no other words."

This is what real suppression of freedom of speech by the government looks like.  This is what dictatorships do in order to maintain power over the people.  None of these are present in this administration, and comparing this administration to the regimes that are making free speech and adversarial journalism a crime is both insipid and a disservice.

The ruling came a day after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met newly elected Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo and discussed the political transition the country. 
"This is a deeply disappointing result. The Egyptian people have expressed over the past three years their wish for Egypt to be a democracy. Without freedom of the press there is no foundation for democracy" Britain's ambassador to Egypt, James Watt, told Reuters after the verdict. 
Australia's ambassador Ralph King also said his prime minister would make his disappointment clear after entreaties made by his government in recent days appeared to make little difference.

Egyptian officials have said the case is not linked to freedom of expression and that the journalists raised suspicions by operating without proper accreditation. The trial began on Feb. 20. The journalists, known in the Egyptian media as "The Marriott Cell" because they worked from a hotel of the U.S.-based chain, appeared in metal court cages.

This is a terrible verdict and I hope that Sisi will get his head out of his ass and fix this.  I wouldn't hold my breath however.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Meet The New Obstructionist...

Newly elected House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Sunday the Senate, rather than President Barack Obama, is to blame for gridlock in Washington.

"I believe you can work with anybody," the California Republican said on "Fox News Sunday," when asked about his approach to doing business with the president. "The challenge has been Harry Reid."

McCarthy charged that on the watch of Reid, the Senate majority leader, the upper chamber has "not moved anything."

"How do you even negotiate with the president if he doesn't have a bill on his desk?" McCarthy asked.

Meanwhile, House Republicans refuse to take up immigration reform, jobs legislation, food safety legislation, student loan improvements, gun safety legislation, net neutrality legislation , transportation bills, and more, all passed by the Senate.

But the problem is Harry Reid.

Sure.  By the way, the person solely responsible for setting the schedule of votes in the House?  Kevin McCarthy.

New tag as Cantor's out and McCarthy's in:  Kevin "Aptly Named" McCarthy.

They Can't Help Themselves

The loss of former House GOP majority leader Eric Cantor in his primary and the reaction by the Republicans to that loss tells me one thing:  they're going to try to impeach Obama sometime in 2015.

The South Dakota Republican Party state convention passed a resolution calling for the impeachment of President Barack Obama Saturday.

The resolution says Obama has "violated his oath of office in numerous ways." It specifically cites the release of five Taliban combatants in a trade for captive U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, Obama's statement that people could keep insurance companies, and recent EPA regulations on power plants.

"Therefore, be it resolved that the South Dakota Republican Party calls on our U.S. Representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings against the president of the United States," the resolution reads.

Allen Unruh of Sioux Falls sponsored the resolution.

"I've got a thick book on impeachable offenses of the president," Unruh said, calling on South Dakota to "send a symbolic message that liberty shall be the law of the land."

Now that impeachment is part of at least one state's GOP party platform, more will certainly follow.  This of course will put more pressure on GOP lawmakers to follow through or face the consequences.

Rep. Kristi Noem, South Dakota's lone delegate in the House of Representatives — which has the power to initiate impeachment proceedings — was cool to the resolution.

Noem, who addressed the Republican convention Saturday morning, hours before the resolutions was voted on, doesn't believe impeachment is the "best way" to deal with Obama.

"The congresswoman currently believes the best way for Congress to hold the president accountable is to continue aggressive committee oversight and investigations into the administration's actions like the ongoing VA scandal, the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS, Benghazi, and the recent Taliban prisoner exchange," said Brittany Comins, Noem's spokesperson.

That's not going to be good enough to satiate the monster they've created much longer, and they know it.  The Republican Party has one goal right now: to get rid of Obama.  Nothing else will matter to the red meat eaters.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Saturday night accused President Barack Obama and other Democrats of waging wars against religious liberty and education and said that a rebellion is brewing in the U.S. with people ready for "a hostile takeover" of the nation's capital.

Seems like an irresponsible thing for a sitting governor to say.  But he'll gladly take federal money from the other 49 states and their taxpayers.

"I can sense right now a rebellion brewing amongst these United States
," Jindal said, "where people are ready for a hostile takeover of Washington, D.C., to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren."

The governor said there was a "silent war" on religious liberty being fought in the U.S. - a country that he said was built on that liberty.

And there are those who want that silent war to become a bloody, shooting war and are actively trying to bring it about. 

Last Call For Nameless Nonsense

Dick Cheney, who should frankly be behind bars somewhere, still gets to go on TV and all but call the President a traitor for not re-invading Iraq.

Appearing on ABC’s This Week, Cheney was asked about his scathing Wall Street Journal op-ed criticizing Obama for withdrawing troops from Iraq and failing to adopt a more muscular foreign policy in response to the crisis in the Middle East.

In this op-ed, you suggest the president is a fool,” reporter Jon Karl said, “That is the word you used, ‘only a fool would take the approach he’s taking in Iraq right now.’” “It almost seems like you’re accusing the president of treason, that he’s intentionally bringing America ‘down a notch.’”

Without denying that he was questioning Obama’s intentions or dismissing the premise of Karl’s question, Cheney reiterated his criticism of the president for leaving “a big vacuum” in the entire Middle East, failing to recognize the terrorist threat, and limiting “the capability of future presidents to combat crises” by trimming military spending. Cheney ended his answer by stressing that he doesn’t “intend any disrespect for the president.

"I won't say he isn't a traitor, but I intend no disrespect to that one".  Sure. Dick.

By the way, a Republican party who has no shame in parading a war criminal like Cheney on national TV to attack the president would certainly choose to invade Iraq, Iran, Syria, and everywhere else if they get the White House and the Senate back, yes?  So they can send your kids to die for their oil money?

But you'll vote Republican anyway or stay home in November.  Good job on that, America.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Last Call For George Will's Unrestrained Id

Hot on the heels of his last column, "College Rape: Those Sluts Are Making It All Up" comes Washington Post carbuncle George F. Will's newest masterpiece, "Will Nobody Rid Me Of This Troublesome Black President?"

Regarding immigration, health care, welfare, education, drug policy and more, Obama has suspended, waived and rewritten laws, including the Affordable Care Act. It required the employer mandate to begin this year. But Obama wrote a new law, giving to companies of a certain size a delay until 2016 and stipulating that other employers must certify they will not drop employees to avoid the mandate. Doing so would trigger criminal perjury charges; so he created a new crime, that of adopting a business practice he opposes.

Presidents must exercise some discretion in interpreting laws, must have some latitude in allocating finite resources to the enforcement of laws and must have some freedom to act in the absence of law. Obama, however, has perpetrated more than 40 suspensions of laws. Were presidents the sole judges of the limits of their latitude, they would effectively have plenary power to vitiate the separation of powers, the Founders’ bulwark against despotism.

Congress cannot reverse egregious executive aggressions such as Obama’s without robust judicial assistance. It is, however, difficult to satisfy the criteria that the Constitution and case law require for Congress to establish “standing” to seek judicial redress for executive usurpations injurious to the legislative institution.

Got that? The President has the authority to do what he's doing, but not this President because the courts and Congress need to step in.  Otherwise, it's the plenary executive. It took me all of 60 seconds to Google up a George F. Will column saying the plenary executive under the last President was worthy of debate when it came to John Yoo, warrantless wiretapping, and the NSA.

Without more information than can be publicly available concerning threats from enemies operating in America, the executive branch deserves considerable discretion in combating terrorist conspiracies using new technologies such as cell phones and the Internet. In September 2001, the president surely had sound reasons for desiring the surveillance capabilities at issue.

But did he have sound reasons for seizing them while giving only minimal information to, and having no formal complicity with, Congress? Perhaps. But Congress, if asked, almost certainly would have made such modifications of law as the president's plans required. Courts, too, would have been compliant. After all, on Sept. 14, 2001, Congress had unanimously declared that "the president has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism," and it had authorized "all necessary and appropriate force" against those involved in Sept. 11 or threatening future attacks.

Will's biggest problem with Bush was that he should have told Congress, because Congress and the courts would have rubber-stamped Bush's efforts and would have made it look official.  When both Congress and the Supreme Court signed off on the Affordable Care Act, somehow it makes Obama lawless in order to do what's necessary to make the law work and get the American people affordable health care coverage.

When the goal is open lying to Congress, the Courts, and the American people about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and then bombing the hell out of Iraq, Will's got no problem.  When the goal is to correct the issues in a law that provides health insurance for Americans, that's lawlessness that must be stopped by whatever means necessary, including Will's solution, House Republicans suing the President in front of the Supreme Court, an unprecedented step that has never been considered before in American history.

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