Thursday, July 31, 2014

Last Call For Rescue 9/11

Meanwhile, my local member of Congress (and Junior Rand Paul Fan Club President) GOP Rep. Thomas Massie has been using his powers of "I'm a Congressman, dammit!" to look over classified documents pertaining to the 9/11 attacks, and apparently he really wants to share.

U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky. on the Glenn Beck Program Tuesday said there will be "anger, frustration and embarrassment" if a classified 28-pages of an intelligence report on the 9/11 terrorist attacks are released to the public.

Massie, however, thinks the American public should be allowed to read the redacted 28-pages of the "Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001." 
Massie has co-sponsored a bill authored by Reps. Walter Jones, R-N.C., and Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., that would declassify the redacted pages. 
Massie has read the documents but can't reveal what's in them, he said in a press conference earlier this month. He said he was shepherded in a soundproof room to read the material and couldn't take notes. 
"It is sort of shocking when you read it," Massie said in the press conference. "As I read it, we all had our own experience, I had to stop every couple of pages and absorb and try to re-arrange my understanding of history for the past 13 years and the years leading up to that. It challenges you to re-think everything."

Well, or you could have paid attention to America's foreign policy before 9/11, and to the ridiculous failures of the Bush administration that preceded the attack.  It sounds like those 28 pages would deal primarily with the latter.

Amazingly enough, this is the least damaging thing Massie has done so far in representing myself and my fellow northern Kentuckians in Congress, and I'd like to see this legislation pass.  Challenging Americans to re-think everything since 9/11 seems like a very good plan.

Having said that, I'm supporting Massie's Democratic opponent in November, Peter Newberry.  Even though Newberry is pretty much a Tea Party Democrat, he's still a D, especially if he's willing to term limit himself out of a job so a real Democrat can run.

Border Line Sociopaths

Republicans have managed to get themselves trapped in their own "clever trap" for President Obama. America overwhelmingly wants the flood of kids from Central America coming over the border with Mexico to be treated as refugees and not as criminals, and as Greg Sargent points out, the GOP can't help but look like a pack of cartoon villains with their proposed House border fix bill, which would drastically cut the President's $3.7 billion request to help these kids into a mere $700 million.

Yet it’s unclear whether even this bill can pass the House, because conservatives such as Ted Cruz, Steve King, and Jeff Sessions are demanding that the measure include language blocking Obama’s program to defer deportation of the DREAMers. The Heritage Foundation has come out against the GOP proposal for the same reason, further dimming chances of passage. 
GOP leaders are resisting the inclusion of such language. But it needs to be stated once again that Cruz, King, and Sessions are not outliers in this debate. Broadly speaking, their position on this crisis — and on immigration in general – is the GOP position writ large

So there's a very good chance that the GOP will once again wreck their own bill, and sure enough Boehner wasn't able to pass it.

Republican leaders don’t want to include any measure against Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in the current border plan because the politics are terrible. That would entail responding to a crisis involving migrating minors not just by expediting deportations (which the current GOP bill would do), but also by calling for still more deportations from the interior. But the GOP leadership’s position is only that they don’t want any anti-DACA language in their current response to the crisis. The GOP position writ large is still that we should deport all the DREAMers, block Obama from any further executive action to ease deportations, and not act in any way to legalize the 11 million. 
Remember: The House GOP already voted last year to end DACA. Meanwhile, Republicans are preparing to cast any future Obama action to ease deportations, no matter what it is, as out-of-control lawlessness and executive overreach, which is functionally equivalent to calling for maximum deportations from the interior. And they are heaping outright derision on the mere suggestion by Democrats that perhaps this crisis should be an occasion to revisit broader reform — yet another reminder that they won’t act to legalize the 11 million under any circumstances. So how, exactly, is this collection of positions, broadly speaking, any different from those of Cruz, King, Sessions, et. al.?

It's not.  If they pass the bill, they look like total scumbags.  If they don't pass the bill, they look like ineffective buffoons.  (Hint: they're both.)  We'll see how they get stuck in their own rhetoric this time, but no matter what the GOP does at this point, they've already lost the fight.

The GOP Has Already Lost The Lawsuit Battle

Wednesday, House Republicans voted along party lines to allow House Speaker John Boehner to sue President Obama.  Now they have to explain why they took this unprecedented step to stop a "runaway" President, while maintaining that impeachment is somehow a step too far.

The lawsuit gives Republicans the chance to go on offense and gin up their base by highlighting what they see as executive overreach. But that strategy is becoming more complicated as Democrats and White House officials argue the lawsuit is merely the first step in a broader battle against Obama that could result in impeachment proceedings.

“Republicans have a history of doing this. They shut down the government under [former Speaker Newt] Gingrich and then impeached the president. Now they’ve already done half of that,” Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the minority whip, said this week. “The speaker has said things weren’t going to happen, and then days later they did happen and he changed his position.”

Republicans dismiss the impeachment talk, but the party is now in the awkward position of arguing that Obama is improperly exerting executive authority — but not in such a dramatic way that would warrant his removal from office.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said on Wednesday that Obama’s executive orders do “not rise to the high crimes and misdemeanor level” to warrant impeachment proceedings. Boehner (R-Ohio) has dismissed the impeachment talk as a “scam” by Democrats to gin up their base ahead of the midterm elections.

So President Obama is somehow overstepping his Constitutional authority (which of course never happened during Bush's term, and would be the definition of a high crime in the Constitution as the President's oath of office is to swear to uphold it) but the Constitutional remedy that already exists for the legislative branch, impeachment, is not applicable.

This means the House has to in fact make up a brand new check/balance system by leaving the President open to a lawsuit, one authorized solely by one half of Congress, without giving the Senate any say in the matter.

Sure.  That sounds totally legit.

At what point does the Supreme Court realize that if this is allowed to continue, Presidents will be sued over every bill that passes that the opposition party dislikes?

Who knows.  But the GOP has seriously lost this entire battle.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Last Call For Alison On Foreign Policy

Kicking off her bus tour of the state yesterday, ending in the annual Fancy Farm campaign picnic this weekend, Alison Lundergan Grimes had plenty to say about the situation in Israel and Gaza.

Maybe a bit too much to say, actually.

As foreign policy inches its way into a debate that has largely focused on the economy, Grimes was asked about congressional efforts to aid Israel's missile defense system, known as the Iron Dome. 
"Obviously, Israel is one of our strongest allies in the Middle East, and she has the right to defend herself," Grimes said. "But the loss of life, especially the innocent civilians in Gaza, is a tragedy. The Iron Dome has been a big reason why Israel has been able to withstand the terrorists that have tried to tunnel their way in
"My hope is that a cease-fire can be structured. Ultimately, I think the long-term solution though is not one we can impose. It has to come from within. It's a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine."

Yeah, about that Iron Dome missile system and those tunnels, Alison...

Never mind.  At least she's for a two-state solution.  On to immigration!

On immigration, with the U.S. House of Representatives preparing a significantly scaled-down version of the emergency supplemental funding request to deal with the influx of migrant children at the southern U.S. border, Grimes was asked whether she thought it was worth it for Senate Democrats to attach comprehensive immigration reform even if that meant the proposal might fail. 
"We're a year too late for comprehensive immigration reform, but it's needed and necessary," she said.

Read more here:

Well, I actually agree with that.

Damn, I really hope she knocks it out of the park at Fancy Farm, because she's been having a rough time of it this month.  She really needs a strong speech like her primary victory lap to really move the needle and get ahead of Mitch.

Read more here:

The Turtle's Race Tightens

The latest Bluegrass Poll from Kentucky's major newspapers and TV stations finds Mitch McConnell's lead over Alison Lundergan Grimes down to just 2 points, 47-45%.

The real story, as usual, is in the crosstabs. 17% of self-identified conservatives are voting for Grimes, but 18% of liberals are voting for Mitch.  Grimes is also winning voters making less than $40k by 4 points, and those making over 80k by the same margin, but McConnell is winning the middle there by 9 points, 52-43%.

When you throw Libertarian David Patterson into the mix, things get complicated.  It turns into a 41-39% race with McConnell keeping his 2 point lead, but Patterson gets 7% and the undecideds jump from 8% in a two-person race to 13%.  In other words, Patterson is pulling equally from both candidates, and not hurting one or the other.

McConnell's favorable rating is down to 36% in this poll, with 43% unfavorable. The problem is Grimes has the exact same 36% rating, although her unfavorable rating is 33%.  31% are neutral or have no opinion of her, even at this point in the race.  By comparison, President Obama's favorable rating here is 28%, with 55% unfavorable.  Welcome to Kentucky, folks.

In Mitch's favor, 48% say Republicans would do a better job controlling the Senate, to 40% for the Democrats remaining in control.  In Grimes's favor, she only trails McConnell by 4 point, 43-39%, over which candidate would "strike the right balance" between coal jobs and the environment, so her stance on coal isn't hurting her.

The state is split on Medicare: 42-42% on who would keep Medicare affordable.  Grimes has a 4 point edge on creating jobs, 41-37%

Finally, the state agrees 46-40% on the Hobby Lobby decision (men agree 55-34%, women disagree 45-39%) but voters back a candidate who would keep the state's current abortion laws in place, 43-39%.

We'll see how all this shakes out, but Kentucky is still pretty conservative, and Grimes playing the conservative Democrat card is definitely keeping her in this race.  We'll see what happens with this year's Fancy Farm campaign event on Friday.

Impeachment And You: The Long Game On The Border

Associated Press reporter Erica Werner has a pretty sharp analysis on President Obama's anticipated immigration move, and its effects both short and long term.

Even as they grapple with an immigration crisis at the border, White House officials are making plans to act before November's mid-term elections to grant work permits to potentially millions of immigrants who are in this country illegally, allowing them to stay in the United States without threat of deportation, according to advocates and lawmakers in touch with the administration.

Such a large-scale move on immigration could scramble election-year politics and lead some conservative Republicans to push for impeachment proceedings against President Barack Obama, a prospect White House officials have openly discussed.

That's the first two paragraphs, and so far that's the smartest, most accurate response I've seen on this subject.  The scope of this immigration order is large, and the urge by the bonkers right to push "the big I button" will be, I think, too much for them to resist.

Advocates and lawmakers who were in separate meetings Friday said that administration officials are weighing a range of options including reforms to the deportation system and ways to grant relief from deportation to targeted populations in the country, likely by expanding Obama's two-year-old directive that granted work permits to certain immigrants brought here illegally as youths. That program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, has been extended to more than 500,000 immigrants so far. 
Advocates would like to see deferred action made available to anyone who would have been eligible for eventual citizenship under a comprehensive immigration bill the Senate passed last year, which would be around 9 million people. But Obama told them in a meeting a month ago to "right-size" expectations, even as he pledged to be aggressive in steps he does take. 
That's led advocates to focus on other populations Obama might address, including parents or legal guardians of U.S. citizen children (around 3.8 million people as of 2009, according to an analysis by Pew Research's Hispanic Trends Project) and parents or legal guardians of DACA recipients (perhaps 500,000 to 1 million people, according to the Fair Immigration Reform Movement).

Expanding the reach of DACA to even one additional undocumented immigrant would be enough for impeachment for some, let alone another 500k or million, let alone 9 million.  On top of all that, Americans really, really want to treat the tens of thousands of kids coming over the border as refugees, and not as instantly deportable time bombs.

The Republican party might favor rushing to deport the tens of thousands of migrant children that have been apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border since the fall of last year, but the American populace does not. In fact, the vast majority—nearly three quarters—of people in the U.S. feel quite the opposite, according to a new survey released Tuesday by the Public Religion Research Institute. 
When asked what the U.S. government should do about all the children arriving alone at the U.S. border, some 70 percent of Americans said they favor offering the minors shelter and support while determining whether they were eligible to stay in the country. The results varied widely by age—82 percent of 18 to 29 year olds felt that way, but only 50 percent of those 65 years and older did. "The generational differences on these questions were enormous," Dan Cox, research director at the Public Religion Research Institute said in an interview. "No differences of opinion were more divergent than those along generational lines."

The GOP still has this tiny perception problem with Latino voters, and video of angry white people yelling at 8-year old brown kids trying to come to America and calling them "terrorists" and "disease carriers" isn't exactly helping to fix the problem.  Republicans have to get rid of this border problem and fast, and the best way for them to do it might be to turn the OUTRAAAAAAAAAGE into impeachment. 

So what's the long game here?  Is President Obama setting an impeachment trap?  Even Johnny Volcano says that the votes to impeach aren't there, so that would mean impeachment would come across as a petty, petulant move by the GOP and would ultimately go nowhere. Having said that, 25 months after Clinton's impeachment in December 1998, the GOP controlled both Congress and the White House by January 2001.  It's not like Republicans paid a price for going after Clinton.  Sure, Clinton's popularity recovered nicely, but voters didn't punish the GOP at all.

That brings us to Orange Julius, who says impeachment talk is a fundraising "scam" by Democrats, mind you, and that it's "off the table."

It's all a scam started by Democrats at the White House,” Boehner said at the weekly House GOP leadership press conference.

“This whole talk about impeachment is coming from the president's own staff and coming from Democrats on Capitol Hill. Why? Because they're trying to rally their own people to give money and show up in this year's elections,” Boehner said.

Boehner said the GOP does not intend to begin impeachment proceedings against Obama.

We have no plans to impeach the president. We have no future plans,” Boehner said.

Karl "Ham" Rove says President Obama should be ashamed for "starting" impeachment talk, because he's suffering from amnesia or something, and I'm worried about the guy.  Meanwhile, the "off the table" thing has got to be news to Boehner's far right flank, who are laughing their heads off remembering that he said a government shutdown was off the table too, right up until the point Boehner was bypassed and the shutdown happened in January.

Our Village betters say impeachment is just talk.  They consider it a "both sides are doing it" issue and they are quick to dismiss it as a threat.

All this impeachment bluster also may be laying down the terms of engagement for another battle, should Obama soon — as many expect — take executive action to protect millions of illegal immigrants from the threat of deportation. 
Republicans are saying that such a move would far exceed the president’s constitutional authority. But whether they will go so far as to begin impeachment proceedings remains to be seen.

But again, that implies Boehner has control over his caucus, and that the Tea Party nutjobs are savvy enough not to impeach.  Just like they were savvy enough not to fall for the shutdown trap, right? Brian Beutler gives three reasons why impeachment could happen:

1). Republicans are more reactionary than Democrats 
In the 1990s, the Republican establishment was skeptical about shutting down the government and impeaching President Clinton, but went ahead and did both of those things. Upon Obama’s election, we were assured that Republicans had learned their lessons and wouldn’t be repeating either mistake. But last year Republicans shut down the government once again in spite of themselves. And though House Speaker John Boehner hasn’t allowed conservative hardliners to walk him into a political cul de sac in the nine months since the shutdown, Obama will be president for two and a half more years. 
2). Obama will be president for two and a half more years 
For all their agonizing about Obama’s putative lawlessness, nothing he’s done so far has been tyrannical enough to invite impeachment, or so it seems. And if Obama never does anything again, it stands to reason he won’t be impeached. But Obama’s not planning on doing nothing. Most importantly, he intends to take more executive action to curtail deportations of low-priority unauthorized immigrants. When he announces his plan, the Republican appetite for impeachment will grow in proportion to the scope of the policy. If it’s a very broad action, more conservatives and Republicans will call for impeachment, testing Boehner’s control over his conference. 
3). Boehner doesn’t have a great deal of control over his conference 
There is no comparing Boehner’s influence over House Republicans to Nancy Pelosi’s influence over House Democrats. This has been evident for quite some time. It is evident, too, in their disparate responses to questions they’ve both faced about impeachment. On Tuesday, whether he intended to or not, Boehner left the door wide open, when he told reporters, "We have no plans to impeach the president. We have no future plans…. It's all a scam started by Democrats at the White House." That is…not entirely true. And it's remarkably less Shermanesque than Speaker-in-wait Pelosi’s statement after Dems won the House in 2006: “I have said it before and I will say it again: Impeachment is off the table.”
Reason #3 there I've addressed, and #1 is a given.  Reason #2 makes a lot of sense too.  Because of Reasons 1 and 3, time is not exactly on the GOP's side.  They'll want to strike on this in order to generate as much outrage as possible. 

Given all that, I think impeachment is definitely coming.  The only question is timing:  before or after the 2014 midterms?  Before would be too messy.  Given the August recess and then campaign season in the House, I don't think the House would have time, plus doing so right before the election would be risky.  Sure, it would fire up the base but it could very well turn away moderate voters.  They might be forced to go through with it due to inchoate Tea Party rage, however. 

Impeachment is much more likely to see a December timeframe as with 1998, unless the GOP wins control of the Senate in 2014.  That would mean that the GOP would wait until early 2015, with the new House and Senate in place, to pull the trigger.

But let's look ahead a few moves on the chessboard.  How does the White House respond to this?  They know President Obama won't be removed from office, but they can certainly make the case that Republicans are so crazy that they'll impeach any Democrat that wins re-election as President.  It'll be good for President Obama, but will it help Hillary?  Clinton's popularity certainly didn't pass over to Al Gore.

We'll see.  This is just one way this could all shake out.  But I'm betting impeachment is coming.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Last Call For Tennant's Lights Out Play

The aggregate of the polls for the WV Senate race to fill retiring Democrat Jay Rockefeller's seat has Republican Rep. Shelly Moore Capito up by about ten points over Democrat and current WV Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.  That's been fairly constant, so the Tennant camp is taking a page from Sen. Joe Manchin's playbook:  attack President Obama as hard as you can.

Natalie Tennant is making it clear: she opposes President Barack Obama's policies on coal. 
"Where do they think their electricity comes from?" asks West Virginia's secretary of state and Democratic Senate nominee, as her new campaign commercial shows a picture of the White House.

"You and I know it's our hard-working West Virginia coal miners that power America. I've fought to protect our coal jobs right alongside Joe Manchin, and I'll stand up to leaders of both parties who threaten our way of life, I'll make sure President Obama gets the message," adds Tennant, as she pulls a power switch which turns the lights off at the White House.
Tennant's campaign says they'll spend six-figures to run the spot for two weeks in four markets that cover three-quarters of West Virginia. The ad is the first by Tennant or her Republican opponent, seven-term Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who is considered the favorite in the race. The winner in November's midterm elections will succeed longtime Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who is retiring after three decades in the Senate.

Hey, worked for Joe Manchin, right?  And we know how awesome of a senator he turned out to be.

Technically, Tennant's got to be a better lawmaker than Capito, but not by much.  West Virginia Democrats are basically indistinguishable from Kentucky Democrats in that respect.  But there's no mistaking that Tennant's campaign is now centered around attacking Obama, and she's spending six figures at least in order to do it.

If slagging the President gets her into office?  Hooray, I guess.  Maybe she'll warm up to Hillary.  Capito will be 100% of a problem compared to Tennant's 90%.  There's not much else we can hope for from West Virginia, folks.

The GOP Thinks You're Stupid, Con't.

Today's first contestant on The GOP Thinks You're Stupid(tm) is Mississippi GOP Gov. Phil Bryant, who after blocking Medicaid expansion for tens of thousands of uninsured in the Magnolia State, is now complaining that Obamacare hasn't lowered the state's uninsured as much as it could have, and of course it's all President Obama's fault.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) blamed President Barack Obama for a reported increase in uninsured Mississipians. The problem is, Bryant didn't acknowledge that he's been a staunch opponent of expanding Medicaid under Obamacare and refused to encourage enrolling in private coverage through

Bryant directed his blame at Obama in response to a question about a WalletHub study that showed an increase in the percentage of uninsured Mississippians. The study found that the uninsured rate increased by 3.34 percentage points to 21.46 percent of Mississippi's population, according to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal
"If statistics show that the ill-conceived and so-called Affordable Care Act is resulting in higher rates of uninsured people in Mississippi, I'd say that's yet another example of a broken promise from Barack Obama," Bryant said. 
An estimated 137,800 people in Mississippi were left uncovered by health insurance because the state did not expand Medicaid.

You see, He Thinks You're Stupid(tm).  He believes that he won't pay any price for refusing federal dollars in order to help insure tens of thousands of people in Mississippi, and that'll you'll just blame Obama.

And hey, it might even work this election cycle.  But eventually voters are going to figure this out, and when they do, it's not going to be pretty for the GOP.

That brings us to our second contestant, GOP Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst, who it turns out Thinks You're Stupid(tm) because of nullification nonsense.

Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Iowa, appears to believe states can nullify federal laws. In a video obtained by The Daily Beast, Ernst said on September 13, 2013 at a form held by the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition that Congress should not pass any laws “that the states would consider nullifying.”

You know we have talked about this at the state legislature before, nullification. But, bottom line is, as U.S. Senator why should we be passing laws that the states are considering nullifying? Bottom line: our legislators at the federal level should not be passing those laws. We’re right…we’ve gone 200-plus years of federal legislators going against the Tenth Amendment’s states’ rights. We are way overstepping bounds as federal legislators. So, bottom line, no we should not be passing laws as federal legislators—as senators or congressman—that the states would even consider nullifying. Bottom line.” 

That statement alone should disqualify her from office.  The last time states decided they no longer wanted to be under federal jurisdiction was about, oh, 150 years ago, turned into the Civil War, and ended with the assassination of a president.

We settled this long ago, but apparently She Thinks You're Stupid(tm), Iowa voters.

These clowns will never learn.

Nunn, Your Business

So it seems somebody got a hold of Democrat Michelle Nunn's strategy documents for her Georgia Senate run from back in December, and have waited until now to feed them to National Review.

Advisers for Democratic Senate Candidate Michelle Nunn (GA) warned that she might come off as "too liberal" and "not a real Georgian" and also laid out exactly how Nunn needed to approach key demographic groups to win the Senate race.

The documents, which seemed to be posted in December for a brief period of time, were reported by National Review on Monday. 
One of the memos said that there is a "tremendous financial opportunity" to draw from in the Jewish community among fundraisers. But, the memo warned, "Michelle's position on Israel will largely determine the level of support here." 
The documents also said that Asian Americans would need to be key fundraisers. The Asian American community was described as "very tight" and that people in that community strive "become citizens quickly."

It's very blunt and calculated advice for Nunn, you know, the kind of frank, high-level analysis you'd expect for a political consultant.  National Review is of course screaming bloody murder.  And if you want to know why this waited until now to drop, the answer is pretty simple:

The section on research into Nunn's background shows some initial concerns that her tenure as head of the Points of Light, a nonprofit that encourages volunteerism, could be used against her. Nunn has touted her background there as a positive attribute in the campaign, as also recommended in the document.

The document identifies several areas of concern related to Points of Light including: "grants to problematic entities," "layoffs," and "service awards to inmates, terrorists."

The National Review story reports that according to an IRS document, Points of Light awarded a more than $33,000 grant to Islamic Relief USA, a charity with ties to Islamic Relief Worldwide, which has ties to Hamas.

The Nunn campaign noted to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Points of Light did not give money but rather validated Islamic Relief USA as a legitimate charity.

The "service awards to inmates, terrorists" reference is apparently, according to National Review, to Nunn and an entity under the Points of Light umbrella praising Shareef Cousin, a former death-row inmate whose murder conviction was overturned but who later pleaded guilty to other crimes.

So boom, Michelle Nunn is now a "terrorist sympathizer".  It's complete nonsense, of course, but apparently somebody thinks Nunn is enough of a threat that this turd had to land square in the punchbowl.  You'd better believe the super-PAC ads attacking Nunn over this are on the way.  This all stinks to high heaven, but that's how the GOP rolls.  The story was apparently broken by NRO's Eliana Johnson, daughter of Power Line clown Scott Johnson, so that's everything you need to know about that.

The GOP knows that they need to run to table in order to get control of the Senate, and they'll do whatever they need to do in order to go after Democrats.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Last Call For Another Brick In The Bigotry Wall Falling

Today a three-judge panel on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Virginia's same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional in a 2-1 ruling.

"We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable," the majority said. "However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws." 
The circuit court has jurisdiction over Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The panel's decision can be appealed to the full court or to the Supreme Court. 
Like the first appeals court panel to rule on the issue this year in Utah and Oklahoma, the three-judge panel was deeply divided, but the swing judge -- in this case Henry Floyd, who was named to the bench by George W. Bush and elevated to the circuit court by President Obama in 2011 -- came down on the side of same-sex marriage. 
Judge Roger Gregory, originally appointed by Bill Clinton in 2000, joined Floyd in the majority. Presiding Judge Paul Niemeyer, a George H.W. Bush nominee, dissented. 
"I do strongly disagree with the assertion that same-sex marriage is subject to the same constitutional protections as the traditional right to marry," Neimeyer said. "I would reverse the district court's judgment and defer to Virginia's political choice in defining marriage as only between one man and one woman." 
The Virginia case, which involves two couples seeking to marry in the state and two couples seeking to have their marriages from other states recognized, now gives the Supreme Court a choice. It can hear the Utah or Oklahoma cases from the 10th Circuit, wait for Virginia's to be appealed, or wait even longer for other gay marriage cases scheduled for appellate hearings in August, September and beyond. 
One way or another, legal experts agree the high court likely will accept a case for its 2014 term beginning in October or the 2015 term that follows. Niemeyer joked about that during oral arguments in May, calling his courtroom a "way-station" en route to Washington.

Which means technically, unless a stay is issued, same-sex marriage is now legal in Virginia, West Virginia, North and South Carolina (already legal in Maryland as of Jan 1.)  Things just got real interesting, as that's the second Circuit Court to toss same-sex marriage, and the first in the South.

Again, all indications are this is headed for the Supreme Court.  The only question is whether it will be 5-4 in favor of same-sex marriage or against it.

Bibi's Just Out Of Damns To Give

Our good, good, good friends in Israel have apparently decided to deviate from the script on ground invasions, which usually goes like this:

1) Hamas gets caught doing something involving rockets or tunnels.
2) This becomes an excuse for craptons of Israeli airstrikes and lots of casualties.
3) Hamas says "Bring it, bro!" on social media.
4) Israel invades Gaza with tanks and brings it, bro, with even more craptons of casualties.
5) US steps in and says "Okay, break it up, here's some shiny new toys to use next time."
6) Israelis high-five each other, declare victory and have a beer.
7) Gaza remains a bombed out, hopeless open-air prison of a hellhole, inevitably leading back to step 1.

The problem this time around is with Step 5 there, the part where the US steps in and gives Israel something shiny like Iron Dome or new bunker busters or new jets or something in exchange for Israel not rearranging the rubble in Gaza (and the people living there) into new and exciting patterns.  Apparently, Israel doesn't want to put up with this part of the chain anymore and wants to prolong Step 4 (the Bringing It, Bro step) for the foreseeable future.

In fact, they are so gung-ho about the whole Bringing It, Bro process that they're basically telling the United States to go intercourse themselves vigorously.

In a briefing late Sunday, a senior American official told Israeli journalists that the document conveyed by Kerry to the Israeli leadership on Friday was not a ceasefire proposal but rather “a draft… that emerged from discussions between a number of parties.” The official, who asked not be named, added that the document “was provided for comment and input, not for rejection or acceptance,” that it was “fully consistent with the Egyptian proposal,” and that it did not aim to satisfy Hamas demands. The official also castigated parts of the Israeli media for misreporting Kerry’s work, mischaracterizing his strategy and motivations, and launching gratuitous attacks on him, including accusations of betrayal. 
Sources thoroughly familiar with what went on at Friday’s security cabinet meeting told The Times of Israel on Monday, however, that the document conveyed by Kerry was presented to the ministers as a ceasefire proposal, and that they were asked to vote on whether to accept or reject it. The vote was by a formal show of hands, and the result was a unanimous rejection of the proposal
Furthermore, the sources said, it was clear to the ministers that the document undermined the Egyptian ceasefire proposal that Israel had previously accepted and Hamas had rejected, and that it reflected the input of Turkey and Qatar to the clear benefit of Hamas. The wording marked an upgrading of Hamas’s standing, to an entity on an equivalent level with Israel, the sources said. And it provided specific gains for Hamas while including only amorphous language regarding Israel’s security needs, they said. 
It was rejected wall to wall, the sources said, eight to zero.

It's not helping that basically 5 out of 6 Jewish Israelis are backing Operation Bringing It Bro, either.  Bibi and friends have clearly decided that they can keep up this whole urban renewal process for as long as they want to.  It's also pretty clear that they believe President Obama isn't going to be able to pick a fight with Bibi this time around, because of midterm elections.  They're betting heavily that the GOP will retake the Senate, and that they can wait Obama out, with talk of the GOP suing him and throwing around impeachment.

So, yeah.  Republicans at this point are figuring backing Israel is more important than backing an American president, which tells you everything you need to know.

The Manifesto Of Moose-olini

To recap, a failed vice-presidential candidate and former governor who quit her position to become a national reality TV punchline has declared herself the final arbiter of who has credibility and DEMANDS!!!11!! that the Washington Post impeach President Obama or else.

Or else what?  Nobody seems to be real sure.

The list of Obama abuses and impeachable offenses is long. I challenge you to lift a finger and help protect democracy, allow justice for all, and ensure domestic tranquility by doing your job reporting current corrupt events fairly. If not, you prove yourselves incompetent and in bed with Obama, not caring one iota about media integrity.

Those running the Washington Post’s show now, compared to those during the Nixon era, are too afraid of being uninvited to the permanent political class’ cocktail parties and petty gossip fests, making you all a bunch of wusses. I challenge you to get to work.

The words "I challenge you to get to work" coming from a woman who quit her job as Governor of Alaska are so absurd that it shatters the border into absolute farce.  If the Washington Post doesn't call for President Obama's impeachment, they are "wusses"?  This is how American democracy is supposed to work, egged on by schoolyard taunts?

Go back to your latest scheme to fleece people of their hard earned cash, Sarah Palin.  The adults are busy trying to run the country, and in no way shape or form have you ever shown that you deserve to be a part of that particular conversation.

Meanwhile, this happened.

Plenty more at that hashtag.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Last Call For Blaming The Victim

Republicans are getting cute now over impeachment.  They realize the Tea Party demands it and will turn on them like a rabid animal if they don't...but the country as a whole is very much against impeachment and they know it.  So how long will the Village let them play both sides?

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) on Sunday did not rule out impeaching President Obama after he was asked three times by "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace.

When first asked whether he would consider impeaching Obama, Scalise dove into a response pinning impeachment talk on the White House.

“This might be the first White House in history that’s trying to start the narrative of impeaching their own president. Ultimately, what we want to do is see the President follow his own laws,” Scalise said. "The Supreme Court unanimously said 12 times the President overreached and did things he doesn’t have the authority to do."

Scalise gave a similar response the second time Wallace asked if impeachment was on the table.

"Well, the White House wants to talk about impeachment and they’re trying to fundraise off that, too," he said.

"I’m asking you, sir," Wallace quickly responded.

Scalise dodge the question for a third time. 
"The White House will do anything they can to change the topic away from the President’s failed agenda," he said. "The president isn’t solving the problems. We’re going to try to solve problems for everyday people. I would like to see the President engaged in that, too, that’s his job, but he wants to change the topic, talk about things like this."

Blaming the White House for impeachment talk.  Pretty much like blaming the victim in, oh, anything requiring abuse of power, persecution, and whatnot.  Get a pair, Scalise.  You don't get to blame the White House for impeachment talk, when Sarah Palin is making an ass of herself demanding you do it.

The GOP's own impeachment talk is now a distraction from the real issues?  I'm glad Scalise agrees with the fact he has a party full of morons.


Seems the Millennials (and bordering Gen Xers like me) are willing to pay more for a good "fast casual" meal at a place like Chipotle, even if the prices have gone up in the last couple of years.

Chipotle is prospering even as it raises prices on burritos that are already expensive – about twice as much as those sold by Taco Bell (YUM.N). Besides its naturally-raised meats and organic ingredients such as beans and avocados, the company occupies the center of fast-casual dining - the booming "sweet spot of the restaurant industry," according to Hottovy - in which customers order at a counter but eat quality products inside a hip space. 
And Chipotle is still growing. The chain runs about 1,700 restaurants in the U.S., and analyst Stephen Anderson at Miller Tabak estimates that it could grow to 3,100, expanding in less populated areas beyond its urban strongholds. 
Chipotle hadn't raised menu prices for three years, but the higher cost of ingredients compelled it to roll out up to a 6.5 percent average increase in the second quarter. 
To be sure, the hike did not go unnoticed: some customers said goodbye to steak burritos because their price jumped on average 4 percentage points more than Chipotle's chicken-based dishes, the company said. 
Other fast food chains haven't fared as well. Dunkin' Brands Group Inc cut its outlook for the year on Thursday, while quarterly profit fell more than expected at McDonald's Corp.
The world's largest hamburger seller and other fast food chains have become "hooked" on discounting, Anderson said. While they built their reputations by delivering quick bites, new menu additions have often slowed their service, frustrating customers.

"What [McDonald's needs] to do is further simplify the menu. It is too operationally complex, and I think that leaves a lot of potential for errors," Anderson said.

There are times where a dollar burger will do, but the reason I keep going back to Chipotle and other fast casual places like Noodles & Co and Five Guys is the quality and consistency of the food.  Sure, you could get half a dozen Taco Bell tacos for the price of one Chipotle burrito, but they're nowhere near as good and who the hell knows what's in Taco Bell's "taco meat" anyway?

Quality does matter, and people will pay for it.  This is apparently "news".

Ryan Plan 3.0 Versus Reality

Mother Jones reporter Stephanie Mencimer calls out Rep. Paul Ryan's poverty plan for what it is: a massive scam that's impossible and prohibitively expensive to implement.

Consider, as a hypothetical, the food stamp program, which Ryan thinks should require people to work as a condition of receiving the benefit (ignoring, for the moment, that nearly 60 percent of working-age adults getting food stamps already work). More than 40 million Americans get food stamps. Providing all them with a hand-holding caseworker with whom, under Ryan's plan, they'd draft long-term plans and contracts outlining their responsibilities and goals before they'd be allowed to eat, would require a fleet of roughly more than 700,000 social workers, assuming a reasonable caseload of about 55 clients per caseworker. Social workers don't make much money, with a median salary of about $44,000 a year. Even so, 700,000 of them would cost more than $30 billion a year, not including benefits. That's nearly 40 percent of what the country currently spends on food stamps and nearly twice the entire federal welfare budget. By comparison, the current food stamp program delivers 92 percent of its funding directly to people in need; only 5 percent goes to administrative costs.

Somehow, I'm doubting that conservatives are going to be super excited to pay for 700,000 new government employees.  But wait, what if these are all private sector or non-profit organization hires? Surely somebody has tried the Ryan Plan 3.0 before, right?

Turns out the state of Nebraska did just that.

Here are some numbers that aren't hypothetical: As part of its welfare reform overhaul, the state of Nebraska for several years attempted to do what Ryan seems to be proposing. Masters degree-level social workers, with tiny caseloads, delivered intensive personalized services, including home visits, to a group of welfare recipients, including a batch of extremely hard to employ single mothers. They attempted to get the women into the workforce and self-sufficient for the long haul. 
The program produced better results than any such program ever had. Almost half of the study participants went to work for at least a year, double the rate of the group without the individualized attention, and their earnings increased significantly. The clients who got the individual casework were less depressed, less likely to lose custody of a child, and more likely to receive child support. But they still faced food and housing hardship; they were still poor, if working poor. And again, only half the study participants went to work. 

So the program was a success.  But how much did it cost for all this specialized, attentive service?

Providing all those individualized services cost the state $8,300 per client—so much that researchers who evaluated the program concluded that the "benefits to society did not outweigh its costs during the study." The researchers speculated that if the successful program participants stayed employed for another two years, the effort might pay off, but individually helping these folks cost about $5,000 more than what those clients earned by entering the workforce.

The families might have been ended up in a slightly better place, at least for a while, but the state of Nebraska would have been better off writing them a $5,000 check and calling it a day.

So again, we come down to investing more money in the safety net instead of what Ryan wants to do: somehow getting states to give all these tailored, direct services by hiring private sector contractors, but to do all this with less money in a block grant.  It's impossible, and to do it right would be more expensive than it is now.

Which is precisely why the safety net today really doesn't deliver the kind of customized service that Ryan thinks it should. It's just too expensive, too hard to provide on a large scale, and in the end, not all that more effective than simply giving people money they need to keep the lights on until they can get back on their feet on their own. Is Ryan, whose budgets have proposed deep cuts to the food stamp and other poverty programs, really going to advocate spending billions to help all the nation's low-income people identify their "opportunities for growth" and craft long-term goals as a condition of getting federal aid? It seems unlikely.

Which is the point.  Ryan knows his plan is impossible to implement correctly.  When it doesn't work, the problem will be that government isn't capable of helping anyone, and that we'll of course need to make cuts to eliminate the waste.

When you design a government program to fail, it fails.  Ryan's trick is that he's programming in a catastrophic failure while making it look like it's a good idea.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Last Call For Working Class Blues

Molly Ball at The Atlantic wades through election data and comes up with the fact that Democrats have recently done very well when they win the working class vote big.  When they win it by a smaller margin, Republicans are able to make up the difference with wealthier voters.

Republicans consistently win voters making $50,000 or more, approximately the U.S. median income. The margin doesn't vary too much: In 2012, Mitt Romney got 53 percent of this group's vote; in 2010, Republican House candidates got 55 percent. And Democrats consistently win voters making less than the median—but the margin varies widely. In fact, whether Democrats win these voters by a 10-point or a 20-point margin tells you who won every national election for the past decade.

In 2004, Democrats won the working-class vote by 11 points; George W. Bush was reelected. In 2006, Democrats won the working-class vote by 22 points and took the House and Senate. In 2008, Democrats won by 22 points again, and President Obama was elected. In 2010, the margin narrowed to 11 points, and Republicans took the House back. In 2012, Obama was reelected—on the strength of another 22-point margin among voters making under $50,000.

So what does 2014 portend under this theory?  Not good news.

The Pew report didn't include a breakdown based on the $50,000 threshold, so I asked Pew to crunch the numbers for me. The result: 51 percent of voters making less than $50,000 plan to vote for Democrats, while 40 percent plan to vote Republican. (The rest are undecided, and the GOP wins the more-than-$50,000 vote 49-44.) That's exactly the same 11-point margin that has meant Democratic doom in every election since 2004.

If we stay home again like in 2004 and 2010, the Republicans will win.  If we vote like we did in 2006, 2008, and 2012, we'll win.

Really is that simple.

One Wonderful Nut At The Movies

Republicans.  Law that mandates you buy health insurance, worth burning the country down over.  Law mandating students watch a documentary on how evil liberalism and Barack Obama are, 100% small government freedom of speech approved.

Conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza may be getting an influx of new viewers of his documentary film ‘America’ after a Republican state senator from Florida said he plans on introducing a bill to make the movie mandatory in public schools
Republican Alan Hays, inspired after seeing the movie in theaters, said he now plans on introducing a one-page bill in November which would require all 1,700 Florida high schools and middle schools to show the movie to their students, unless their parents choose to opt them out. The documentary film is a conservative-spin on American history focusing on elevating the “essential goodness of America” while discrediting criticisms about American’s checkered history with civil rights and social justice. It’s not completely inconceivable for the bill to pass the Republican-controlled Florida legislature and be signed into law by Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

“I saw the movie and walked out of the theater and said, ‘Wow, our students need to see this.’ And it’s my plan to show it to my colleagues in the legislature, too, before they’re asked to vote on the bill,” Hays said.

To recap, teaching kids about climate change is "liberal political indoctrination" and we can't have that. Teaching kids about having safe sex, also "liberal political indoctrination.".  Teaching kids about evolution, insidious "liberal political indoctrination."

Actual political indoctrination through a law whose sole purpose is to expose kids to a specific political viewpoint favoring one political party?  Now that's completely legal and awesome, because FREEDOM and EAGLE and stuff.

This is what abusing the power of the government actually looks like, people.

More GOP Minority Outreach, Rand Paul Edition

This weekend is the National Urban League's annual conference here in Cincinnati, and of course this close to Kentucky, GOP Sen. Rand Paul just couldn't resist showing up to Randsplain to us black folk why Republicans are the bomb diggety.  Or something.  Very few people wanted to hear what he had to say.

So when Republicans ask blacks to give their party a second look, they have a hard time finding an audience. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky confronted this on Friday when he appeared at a highly publicized speech to the National Urban League Conference to see row after row of empty chairs. The space did not look much fuller after one of the organizers urged people seated near the back to fill in the front rows.
He pushed forward, quoting Malcolm X: “Nobody can give you equality or justice. If you’re a man, you take it.” And he sounded empathetic as he described the arrests of three young black men as they waited for a bus. Their apparent crime, he said, was “waiting while black.” And he delicately acknowledged what was perhaps the biggest cloud hanging over his visit: hiscomments in 2010 in which he suggested that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 encroached on individual liberties. He told the crowd he supported the law unequivocally.

The speech in Cincinnati was his latest before a mostly black crowd, and it was a demonstration of how Mr. Paul — however improbably — has become the only major figure in his party who seems eager to keep going back to African-Americans to appeal for support even if his approach unsettles some fellow Republicans.

That Malcom X quote rings pretty hollow when Paul has attacked President Obama and Attorney General Holder for "overstepping their Constitutional authority".  It rings even more hollow given the fact that Paul has voted against Democratic jobs bills, immigration bills, climate change legislation, the Paycheck Fairness Act and efforts to increase the minimum wage, all things that would help African-Americans...and all Americans for that matter.  It's great that he wants to do something about sentencing laws for drugs, but even if he actually had a change of heart on the Civil Rights Act, he's still publicly come out against the Voting Rights Act.

He wants to court the black vote.  He just doesn't want too many of us to be able to vote.

Rand Paul isn't interested in justice or equality.  Rand Paul is interested in Rand Paul.

So no, I have zero interest in what he wants to say or do.  I don't trust him, and as my senator, he's never given me reason to trust him, and I will work to see he is no longer my senator in 2016.

Take your Rand Paul "well actually" baloney elsewhere.  I'm the one who has to live with him representing me, and he most certainly does not.  He's still a conservative Republican, end of story.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Last Call For Our Brand New Idiot

Remember Trey Radel, the former Florida Tea Party darling of a congressman who was such a moron that he demanded SNAP recipients get drug tested before they could get food stamps, and was himself busted for cocaine and resigned in disgrace in January?

Meet Radel's equally stupid replacement, GOP Rep. Curt Clawson.

Rookie Florida Rep. Curt Clawson appears to have made a major faux pas at a Foreign Affairs hearing, mistaking two U.S. government officials for Indian government representatives.

Foreign Policy called it "intensely awkward." From the FP blog:

The two officials, Nisha Biswal and Arun Kumar, are Americans who hold senior positions at the State Department and Commerce Department, respectively. Although both Biswal and Kumar were introduced as U.S. officials by the chairman of the Asia and Pacific subcommittee, Clawson repeatedly asked them questions about "your country" and "your government," in reference to the state of India.

"I'm familiar with your country; I love your country," the Florida Republican said. "Anything I can do to make the relationship with India better, I'm willing and enthusiastic about doing so."
Apparently confused by their Indian surnames and skin color, Clawson also asked if "their" government could loosen restrictions on U.S. capital investments in India.

He thought they were officials from India.  Because of course, they couldn't possibly be Americans.  Nor would Rep. Clawson give enough of a damn about his job to know who he was actually dealing with, because after all, he's a Congressman, dammit.

This, by the way, is what a real "out-of-touch politician", "arrogant princeling", and "empty suit neophyte" looks like.  Notice his name is not Barack Obama.

Yes, The White House Sees It Coming

Here's a clever play by White House staffer Dan Pfieffer, who fully expects Orange Julius to play the impeachment card after the 2014 midterms and lets everyone know it.

Dan Pfeiffer, a senior aide who has been with the administration since Obama first took office, told reporters that he anticipated that a lawsuit filed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) over executive actions taken by the president on health care would ultimately not be enough to satisfy some of the more vocal conservatives in Congress. 
Pfeiffer added that coming executive actions surrounding immigration reform would only stoke the impeachment flames. 
"I think a lot of people in this town laugh that off," said Pfeiffer. "I would not discount that possibility. I think that Speaker Boehner, by going down this path of this lawsuit, has opened the door to Republicans possibly considering impeachment at some point in the future."

Pfeiffer wouldn't bother responding to such speculation unless the goal was to egg the wackos in the GOP on to try to force Boehner to pull the trigger, and one loudmouth wacko is playing right into it:
Speaking at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast, Pfeiffer based his prediction on several factors. The first was former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) calling for articles of impeachment to be drawn over the president's executive action allowing certain young undocumented immigrants to stay in the country. The second was a CNN poll released Friday morning showing that while just 33 percent of the country supported impeachment, a full 57 percent of Republicans were in favor of it. 
"I think impeachment is a very serious thing that has been bandied about by the recent Republican vice presidential nominee and others in a very unserious way," said Pfeiffer. "And no one has even made any allegation of anything that would be within six universes from what is generally considered in that space."

Looks like somebody's found an actual use for Moose Lady after all. Who knew, right?

We'll see if the "unserious" charge sticks.  Villagers do love that imaginary word and if they start piling on, the anger factor in the GOP will certainly ignite something stupid, dangerous, and detrimental.

Maybe even before the midterms.  Wouldn't that be something...

Ford, The Border, And The Turtle

Last night was the annual Kentucky Democratic Party's Wendell Ford dinner, honoring the legendary 89-year old former senator and governor who is battling lung cancer.  Wendell's grandson Clay was in attendance, along with Gov. Dinosaur Steve and Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, and the main course was fried turtle with a side of crow.

After the event, Grimes took a few questions from the press and was asked again if she supported President Barack Obama's request for $3.7 billion in emergency supplemental funds to deal with the influx of Central American children across the nation's border with Mexico.

When asked earlier this month, Grimes four times declined to take a position, referring instead to the immigration bill that passed the U.S. Senate in 2013. On Thursday night, Grimes said, "My response remains the same."

"It's an example of Washington not working right now," Grimes said. "A year ago, we had the opportunity to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and Mitch McConnell stood in the way.

McConnell voted against the proposal, but it did pass the U.S Senate.

"Had we passed comprehensive immigration reform, we might not be here today," Grimes said. "My hope is that we can make sure to return these children safely and make sure we are securing our borders. Comprehensive immigration reform is a way to do that."

Grimes did say she was not in favor of "giving the president a blank check."

It's a good answer on immigration reform, but the non-answer on the current proposal to help the Border Patrol seems like another unforced error on Grimes's part.  At some point you're going to have to take a stand on this bill, Alison. 

On the other hand, Mitch McConnell's non-response on the issue is saving Grimes from having to really come up with one right now, so there's that.  Republicans seems to be backing a plan from Rep. Kay Granger of Texas.

Read more here:
The House plan would treat Central American children the same as Mexican children - which means Border Patrol agents could decide to send them back right away. Republican House Speaker John Boehner told reporters that the president needs to come out publicly in favor of changes to the law.
“Without trying to fix the problem, I don’t know how we are actually in a position to give the president any more money,” said Boehner.

There's room here for Grimes to make a statement along the lines of "Republicans are trying to force us to do what they want before they'll lift a finger to help" if she is so inclined.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Last Call For The Ryan Plan 3.0

Not content with his goal to turn Medicare and Medicaid into block grants that states will then use for purposes other than healthcare, Rep. Paul Ryan now turns his austerity machine upon those awful poor people in an attempt to block grant them out of existence.

Ryan, known as the Republican Party’s budget guru and a former vice presidential nominee, argued that disparate federal aid programs should be consolidated into “Opportunity Grants” to states, which would have the freedom to experiment with more flexible programs administered by certified providers like non-profit or community groups. No state would be required to participate in the program, which Ryan says would be budget neutral. The Wisconsin lawmaker and possible 2016 presidential hopeful, laid out the plan in a USA Today op-ed Thursday. 
Ryan, whose previous budget plans have been excoriated by Democrats in national ad campaigns as heartless slashes to crucial safety net programs, tried to strike a compassionate tone in his remarks Thursday, saying that he’s visited poor communities during the last year seeking solutions. “When I went to Milwaukee or Denver or Indianapolis, nobody asked me what party I belonged to,” he said. “They welcomed anybody who was willing to listen and learn. That should be our approach in Washington.”

Let's take a look at Operation Opportunity Grants, shall we?

Here's how the program would work: Each state that wanted to participate would submit a plan to the federal government. That plan would lay out in detail the state's proposed alternative. If everything passed muster, the federal government would give the green light. And the state would get more flexibility to combine things such as food stamps, housing subsidies, child care assistance and cash welfare. This simpler Opportunity Grant would include the same money as current law. 
Plans would be approved on four conditions: The state would have to spend all funding on people in need. Second, the state would have to hold people accountable through work requirements and time limits for every able-bodied recipient just as there are for cash welfare today. 
Third, the state would have to offer at least two service providers. The state welfare agency couldn't be the only game in town. And fourth, the state would have to measure progress through a neutral third party to keep track of key metrics.

So privatize the system first of all, giving billions in dollars meant to help the needy to corporations whose goal is to wring as much profit out of this as possible.  And of course we would need to have multiple corporations doing this to encourage competition.  You know, just like your cable company.  And then we'd have to of course hire more corporations to make sure the other corporations are doing their jobs. Yeah, that'll solve the problem with inefficiency and fraud.

Second, let's make getting poverty programs even harder to get into than getting good-paying jobs that don't exist, and then slap arbitrary limits on these programs so that people will magically find jobs or face starvation, eviction, or worse.  Because misery and shame creates good workers and magically produces jobs, or something.

If approved, the state could use that money to expand state programs and to partner with local service providers. Families in need would have a choice. There wouldn't just be a state agency. Instead, they could choose from approved non-profits, for-profits or even community groups unique to their neighborhood. These groups could provide a more personalized form of aid through case management.

It's cute that Ryan thinks that state leaders, particularly in red states, will give block grant cash to non-profits instead of lining their pockets the same way they have by privatizing schools and prisons.

In short, we would re-conceive the federal government's role in the fight against poverty. Instead of trying to supplant local communities, the federal government would support them. Communities have to lead this effort, and Washington should follow.

In short, Republicans are going to raid and profitize welfare at the expense of taxpayers and the needy, won't it?  And the best part is red state governments will be able to throw as many ridiculous requirements as possible.  Nobody will meet the criteria to actually benefit from the programs, and the corporations will pocket the difference.

If you think about it, there's no other possible "poverty program reforms" that Ryan could have arrived at. The three basic tenets of Republicanism in 2014 are:

  1. The only person keeping you from being a millionaire is you.
  2. Taxation is theft, but shame costs nothing.
  3. If it will piss liberals off, we'll do it. 

Put those three together and poof!  Classic Paul Ryanism.

Oh, but it gets even more awesome with the integrated shame component:

The "discussion draft" submitted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to the House Budget Committee on potential solutions to poverty in America includes the proposal that low-income Americans would have to sign "contracts" in order to remain eligible for social safety net benefits, such as food stamps, or SNAP. The contract would include: benchmarks, such as finding a job, enrolling in employment training, or even meeting "new acquaintances outside circle of poverty"; a "timeline" in which individuals are contractually-obligated to meet those benchmarks; bonuses for meeting benchmarks early; and "sanctions for breaking the terms of the contract"

We're subjecting the poor to contracts and sanctions now.  That's compassionate conservatism from today's GOP!

Walsh-ed Out Of The Service

That loud sucking sound you're hearing coming from the direction of Montana is actually not Brian Schweitzer's career going down the tubes, but that of his former Lt. Governor and appointed senator replacing Max Baucus, John Walsh.  Walsh it seems is a military man, only his 2007 master's thesis for the US Army War College appears to be massively plagiarized.

Democrats were thrilled when John Walsh of Montana was appointed to the United States Senate in February. A decorated veteran of the Iraq war and former adjutant general of his state’s National Guard, Mr. Walsh offered the Democratic Party something it frequently lacks: a seasoned military man. 
On the campaign trail this year, Mr. Walsh, 53, has made his military service a main selling point. Still wearing his hair close-cropped, he notes he was targeted for killing by Iraqi militants and says his time in uniform informs his views on a range of issues. 
But one of the highest-profile credentials of Mr. Walsh’s 33-year military career appears to have been improperly attained. An examination of the final paper required for Mr. Walsh’s master’s degree from the United States Army War College indicates the senator appropriated at least a quarter of his thesis on American Middle East policy from other authors’ works, with no attribution.

Oh, it gets worse.

Mr. Walsh completed the paper, what the War College calls a “strategy research project,” to earn his degree in 2007, when he was 46. The sources of the material he presents as his own include academic papers, policy journal essays and books that are almost all available online. 
Most strikingly, each of the six recommendations Mr. Walsh laid out at the conclusion of his 14-page paper, titled “The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy,” is taken nearly word-for-word without attribution from a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace document on the same topic
In his third recommendation, for example, Mr. Walsh writes: “Democracy promoters need to engage as much as possible in a dialogue with a wide cross section of influential elites: mainstream academics, journalists, moderate Islamists, and members of the professional associations who play a political role in some Arab countries, rather than only the narrow world of westernized democracy and human rights advocates.” 
The same exact sentence appears on the sixth page of a 2002 Carnegie paper written by four scholars at the research institute. In all, Mr. Walsh’s recommendations section runs to more than 800 words, nearly all of it taken verbatim from the Carnegie paper, without any footnote or reference to it. In addition, significant portions of the language in Mr. Walsh’s paper can be found in a 1998 essay by a scholar at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, a research institute at Harvard.

So, yeah.  Walsh was in trouble, trailing Republican Steve Daines for Baucus's seat by around 12 points, he had even narrowed it to 7 points in the latest PPP poll out Monday, and as Talking Points Memo reminds us:

Senator Walsh released every single evaluation that he received during his 33-year military career, which shows an honorable and stellar record of service to protecting Montana and serving this country in Iraq.

Where this goes now is up to the people of Montana.

GOP Minority Outreach, Con't

Republicans keep happily reminding people exactly how they feel about "illegal immigrants" and by that term I mean "anybody darker than Orange Julius".

Anti-immigrant activist William Gheen this month said that the increase of undocumented immigrants crossing the border into the U.S. is more dangerous than an al Qaeda attack. 
In an interview on the Tea Party News Network, host Larry Altman asked Gheen how many undocumented immigrants might be "affiliated with Al Qaeda."

Gheen, president of the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, which has been designated ahate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, launched into an answer about how immigrants will destroy America. 
"Well, what the illegals that are coming — and especially the ones that are coming from China — are going to do to America are much more powerful and lasting impacts than anything Al Qaeda could blow up, short of a nuclear detonation," he began.

Hello, my Asian friends.  You're the new Latino, which is apparently like being the new black folks, only that people resent you for being smarter than them rather than the other way around.

"And how do you put a price tag on a family, let’s say that’s been in the United States for 300 years, and four or five different members of that family have gone off to World War II and Korea and maybe World War I to fight for the American way of life, and then finally they get to their grandson that’s alive in the year 2020 who doesn’t get to go to the college of their choice because invaders have been brought in the country and put in those seats ahead of him," Gheen said. 
"That child’s life, that negatively impacts that child’s ability to self-actualize, to be all they can be, impacted because the future has been stolen by this usurpation, this treason, this treachery from the highest levels of our own government right here in the United States of America," he continued.

Some of our families have been "in this country" for more than 300 years.  Some of them were here already when your peeps showed up, man.  Some of them were brought here in chains.

You ever notice that with these guys it's always "You should hate group X that's different from you because they took your Y"?  I mean, there's a long an ugly history of that here in America and around the world for that matter, but apparently the classics never go out of style.


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