Saturday, February 28, 2015

Last Call For Freeloaders, Inc.

Former Arizona county sheriff Richard Mack, a fierce opponent of Obamacare and a leader in the "constitutional sheriff" movement, is struggling to pay his medical bills after he and his wife each faced serious illnesses. The former sheriff and his wife do not have health insurance and started a GoFundMe campaign to solicit donations from family and friends to cover the costs of their medical care.

"Because they are self-employed, they have no medical insurance and are in desperate need of our assistance," reads a note on Mack's personal website.

Mack, the founder of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, suffered a heart attack in January and is in recovery. His wife fell ill late last year. Mack is on the board of Oath Keepers, a right-wing fringe group made up of police and military veterans, and is known forsupporting Cliven Bundy in his standoff against the federal government. He is also an ardent opponent of Obamacare.

"The States do not have to take or support or pay for Obamacare or anything else from Washington DC. The States are not subject to federal direction," he wrote on his website, outlining how state governments can block President Obama.

So now, you're supposed to give money to the Macks because they're exactly the kind of people Obamacare was supposed to help.  Instead of signing up for Affordable Care Act exchange plans in Arizona, they refused to get health insurance, and literally expect the rest of us to pay.

The irony would be rich except of course the Macks are trying to advocate for taking affordable ACA health insurance coverage from millions of Americans.  Do you think the Macks would donate one penny to someone who didn't sign up for health insurance and expected the rest of the country to pay for it instead?

Instead of doing the responsible thing, the Macks are depending on charity.  But guess what?  Now the Macks, even though they now have pre-existing conditions, can't be turned down for insurance should they buy it in the future.  And they are wanting to take that away from themselves rather than admit a black President ever did anything good for America.

This is how much they will hate President Obama.  They will hate him until they die.

Putin On Airs

Vladimir Putin is a barbarous Cold War relic, but he knows that there isn't anyone in Russia who can really oppose him, and he's out of damns to give to the point now where what little opposition he does have ends up getting murdered in front of the Kremlin.

Thousands of stunned Russians laid flowers and lit candles on Saturday on the bridge where opposition politician Boris Nemtsov was shot dead near the Kremlin, a murder that showed the risks of speaking out against President Vladimir Putin.

Nemtsov, 55, was shot four times in the back by killers in a white car late on Friday as he walked across the bridge over the Moskva River in central Moscow with a Ukrainian woman, who was unhurt, police said.

Police sealed off the blood-stained bridge close to the red walls of the Kremlin and Red Square for two hours overnight, then hosed it down as people came to pay tribute to one of Putin's biggest opponents over Russia's role in Ukraine.

Russia's Investigative Committee, which answers to Putin, said it was following several lines of inquiry, including that the opposition may have committed the crime to rally support for a march against Kremlin policies on the economy and Ukraine.

Flowers were piled at least a meter (three feet) high, about two meters deep and two meters wide. A piece of white paper saying "We are all Nemtsov" stood among the flowers.

"People are afraid to support our movement. Opposition activists receive threats every day and Boris was no exception. But they won't stop us," said opposition activist Mark Galperin.

On the contrary, Mr. Galperin, Putin is doing an excellent job of stopping his opposition.

Leading international condemnation of the murder, U.S. President Barack Obama called for a prompt, impartial and transparent investigation to ensure those responsible were brought to justice for the "vicious killing".
Political murders often go unsolved in Russia. Police said they were investigating whether the murder was aimed at destabilizing the political situation in Russia or was committed by radical Islamists against Nemtsov, a Jew.
A car suspected of being used by the killers, and identified as coming from the mainly Muslim Ingushetia region, was found abandoned in central Moscow. Some Russian news outlets said surveillance footage showed two men leaving it.
Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev cautioned against jumping to conclusions but some opposition figures blamed Putin directly. Others said Russian society was in decline, describing an environment where Putin demands total loyalty and supporters go to great lengths to do what they think may please him.
"In Putin's atmosphere of hatred and violence, abroad and in Russia, bloodshed is the prerequisite to show loyalty, that you are on the team," another opposition leader, former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, said on Twitter.
"If Putin gave (the) order to murder Boris Nemtsov is not the point. It is Putin's dictatorship. His 24/7 propaganda about enemies of the state."

This is what an actual tyrant looks like.  So odd that Republicans scream at Obama over tyranny, but worship Putin.

Oh wait, that makes perfect sense too.

Boehner's Week Hand

So late last night Democrats rescued the incompetent John Boehner with a one week extension of Homeland Security funding after Boehner's own three-week plan failed completely.

Republicans vowing to govern effectively as a congressional majority failed a fundamental test Friday, when House leaders only narrowly managed to avert a partial shutdown of theDepartment of Homeland Security after an embarrassing defeat earlier in the day.

The seven-day funding extension, approved by a vote of 357 to 60, came just hours before money for the department was to run out at midnight. The accord was reached after a stunning and humiliating setback for Speaker John A. Boehner and his leadership team earlier Friday, when the House voted against their original plan to extend funding for the department for three weeks — a position that Mr. Boehner had considered a fail-safe. More than 50 House Republicans defected, voting against the bill.

The speaker was rescued by Democrats, who supported his offer of a weeklong extension because they believed it would lead to a vote next week on full funding for the department through the fiscal year, without any provisions related to President Obama’s executive actions on immigration included in the House’s original legislation. A spokesman for Mr. Boehner said the speaker had made no promises or deals with House Democrats to guarantee such a vote.

And curiously, a one-week extension passed the Senate last night with no problem. Republicans are jumping ship as fast as possible.

We should have never fought this battle,” said Senator Mark S. Kirk, Republican of Illinois. “In my view, in the long run, if you are blessed with the majority, you are blessed with the power to govern. If you’re going to govern, you have to act responsibly.”

Just two months into the new Congress, Republicans were sounding a grim note, far removed from their triumphant election victories in November. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said Friday that “2015 is about us.”

There’s nobody to blame but us now when it comes to the appropriations process,” Mr. Graham said. “If we can run the place more traditional, like a business, so to speak, I think we flourish. If we self-inflict on the budget, and the appropriations process, and we can’t get the government managed well, then I think we’re in trouble.”

 Now the question is will the tea party blow up the country again like the terrorists they are.  We'll find out in a week.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Last Call For He Lived Long And Prospered

The legendary Leonard Nimoy, Mr Spock, has passed at the age of 83.

Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut “Star Trek,” died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83. 
His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, confirmed his death, saying the cause was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. 
Mr. Nimoy announced last year that he had the disease, which he attributed to years of smoking, a habit he had given up three decades earlier. He had been hospitalized earlier in the week. 
His artistic pursuits — poetry, photography and music in addition to acting — ranged far beyond the United Federation of Planets, but it was as Mr. Spock that Mr. Nimoy became a folk hero, bringing to life one of the most indelible characters of the last half century: a cerebral, unflappable, pointy-eared Vulcan with a signature salute and blessing: “Live long and prosper” (from the Vulcan “Dif-tor heh smusma”).

This one legitimately left a hole in my heart.  He absolutely will be missed. As Mr. Spock, Nimoy was more than a cultural icon, he was a hero to outsiders and nerds and geeks everywhere. We related to him. One of the best birthday presents I ever got from Zandardad was his autobiography, "I Am Spock".

Think I'll read it again this week.  His final tweet, by the way, was this:

A more perfect goodbye?  That would be...illogical.

It's Both Who He Is And What He Wants

I wasn't aware that Max Boot was still in the game (and writing for Time Magazine no less) until Zandardad emailed me Boot's article yesterday asking for my opinion.

Guess what Max Boot wants?

Back in 2007–08, when al-Qaeda in Iraq, ISIS’s precursor, was pushed out of the Sunni-dominated northwest of Iraq, it was by Sunni tribal fighters working in conjunction with American troops. To inflict serious setbacks on ISIS today will require resurrecting that successful coalition rather than flatly refusing, as Obama has done, to put any “boots on the ground.” 
It is in America’s interest to send as few troops as possible into harm’s way and to get our allies to do as much of the fighting as possible. But sending only 3,000 troops and essentially prohibiting them from leaving base, as Obama has done, is a recipe for ineffectiveness. If we’re going to have any impact on the fight against ISIS, we need to take off our self-imposed shackles. 
It’s hard to know now what commitment may be necessary, which is why it’s vital not to pass an Authorization for the Use of Military Force that would prohibit “enduring offensive ground combat operations.” It is folly to tell ISIS in advance that it has nothing to fear from the best ground troops on the planet. 
Credible estimates of how many troops we should send range from 10,000 to 25,000. Just as important as the troop numbers are the rules of engagement under which they operate. It is imperative that U.S. advisers and joint tactical air controllers be able to operate on the front lines with the local troops they support. This was the formula that made possible the rapid overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001.

"But Zandar," you may ask, "isn't Max Boot one of the leading voices that pushed for all-out ground war in Iraq while writing op-eds for the NY Times and helped paved the way for the decade plus and trillion plus we spent there? Why is he still writing articles for Time Magazine, and why is he advocating the same, open-ended Permawar strategy from 2002?"

Good questions. The answer of course is neocons can't be discredited, just the wars they want the rest of us to fight. And it's always the rest of us who pay the price. This time won't be any different either, is my guess.

Just Akin To Return

Guess who's back?  Back again?  Akin's back, tell a friend!

Todd Akin is considering a primary challenge to Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) in 2016
“I have not ruled anything out,” the former congressman and 2012 GOP Senate nominee told The Hill in a phone interview on Wednesday.

“I think there is a high level of dissatisfaction among conservatives, that they have to some degree been pushed out of the Republican Party,” he continued. “The sentiment is there. The Tea Party is skeptical and wants some fresh blood, not just the same establishment guys.” 
Akin’s reemergence is sure to be an unwelcome development for national Republicans.

You think Mr. Legitimate Rape might be a problem in 2016 for the GOP?  I do.

During his 2012 race against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), the Republican triggered a firestorm of criticism from both Democrats and fellow Republicans for saying that women rarely get pregnant from "legitimate rape” during a discussion about why abortion should be illegal in all cases, even rape and incest. 
When Akin refused to back down, the GOP essentially abandoned him in the once-winnable race, and his gaffes hurt the party across the board. 
Now, the GOP pariah says if he did run, it’d be to try to move his party away from a singular focus on economic issues, which he says has come at the expense of social issues, like abortion. 
And Blunt, he argues, will have problems with the state’s conservative base. 
“I think [Blunt’s] support among conservatives is weak,” Akin said. “His biggest liability is a third party conservative getting into the race. If I were in Roy’s shoes, that’s what I’d be worried about.”

Oh please run, Todd.  Be on the news as much as possible reminding voters exactly what Republicans think of women and their "place" in America", especially when the odds are very good that a woman will be at the top of the ticket for the Dems next year.

We'll have a way to shut all that down.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

John Kerry's Breakfast Of Champions

Righteous indignation is a good look on you, Secretary Kerry, especially when dealing with Benjamin Netanyahu.

Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday slammed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's opposition to a potential nuclear deal with Iran, calling it as wrongheaded as the prime minister's backing of the Iraq War.

"Israel is safer today with the added time we have given and the stoppage of the advances in the nuclear program than they were before we got that agreement, which by the way the prime minister opposed," Kerry said during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. "He was wrong." 
Kerry was later asked to address Netanyahu's criticism of a hypothetical deal with Iran as a threat to Israel. 
"The prime minister was profoundly forward-leaning and outspoken about the importance of invading Iraq under George W. Bush," Kerry replied. "We all know what happened with that decision."

I'm betting it's right about now Netanyahu is wishing he never talked to John Boehner about trying to put President Obama "in his place".  Bibi's looking like a lonely man without a friend in the world at this point.

And yes, a not-so-gentle reminder that Bibi was part of the relentless drumbeat to invade Iraq and should be punished for it.  Hopefully Israeli elections will take care of that very, very soon.  About time Kerry told Bibi to go suck it.

Trump, Card


Real estate mogul Donald J. Trump, who has long toyed with presidential ambitions, said Wednesday he is serious about pursuing a run for the White House — moving ahead with a spate of political hires and delaying his television commitments for 2016. 
In recent days, Trump has enlisted several strategists to advise him in three key states, retained an attorney to help him navigate federal election law and alerted GOP officials about his desire to seek the Republican nomination. 
Trump said he has also declined to sign on for another season with the entertainment division of NBC, where he hosts “Celebrity Apprentice,” because of his political projects.

Oh this should be amusing.  Please, let The Donald stay in this mess as long as possible.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Last Call For The Religion Test

Here's what Americans think about President Obama's religion, "deep down":

Only 9% of Republicans believe Obama is a Christian, in their heart of hearts.  The vast majority think he's Muslim.

Independent voters mostly have no clue and don't know (47%), abut again only 16% believe it when the President says he's a Christian, a quarter think he's Muslim.

Hell, even 10% of Dems believe Obama is a Muslim.  But 45% believe he is a Christian.

Now given what most Republican believe about Muslims: that they are the Enemy and want to kill them, what does that tell you about Republicans and President Obama?

Both Sides Do It, Forever

The useless Ron Fournier literally blames both sides within the first 20 words of his piece on the Republicans shutting down Homeland Security in order to kill Obama's immigration orders.

Who's at fault for the looming Homeland Security Department shutdown? Everyone in power. Let me count the ways.

And who's at the top of his list?  President Obama, of course.

1. President Obama and Democratic congressional leaders punted on immigration reform while controlling the White House and Congress in 2009 and 2010. Choosing politics over the policy, they wanted immigration as a point of attack against the GOP in the 2010 midterm elections.

Never mind that Republicans trashed their own immigration plan under Bush in 2007, it's Obama's fault for not passing immigration reform in 2009, despite the fact that when Obama wanted to work on immigration, the GOP blocked the bill.

2. Just weeks after voters repudiated his administration in the 2014 midterms, Obama granted temporary relief from deportation to more than 4 million illegal immigrants. He did so without congressional approval, despitewarnings that such action might be illegal and would almost certainly worsen polarization and dysfunction in Washington. (The fundamental promise of his 2008 election was to break gridlock.)

So at this point it's literally all Obama's fault. Somehow, he made the GOP tie DHS funding to immigration executive orders.

3. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised the new GOP Senate would not allow a government shutdown. "So I think we have an obligation to change the behavior on the Senate and to begin to function again," he said.

This is somehow third in a two-party blame game.  That tells you all you need to know about Fournier.

5. Congress approved the annual federal budget in December, but Republicans held back funding for the terrorist-fighting agency known as DHS. They wanted leverage against Obama's immigration action. The DHS budget was extended only to February 27.

Now, this is the actual cause of the impending shutdown, but it's not listed until fifth.  Again, classic Fournier.

9. McConnell proposed to "get the Senate unstuck" by decoupling the president's immigration action from the DHS funding bill. Likely outcome: The agency would be funded; Republicans would register a symbolic vote against the president; and Obama would protect his immigration action with a veto.

This is somehow the last "cause" of the problem, the fact that this was all for show and always was. It rather neatly erases the other 8 "causes" but again, this is last.  Fournier ends with this:

The fact that both sides are wrong doesn't mean they are equally wrong. Most voters are likely to conclude that Republicans are a bit more culpable than Democrats. "As we learned during the last government shutdown," according to NBC's First Read political analysis, "the side that's using government spending to demand changes to existing law or directives is going to be the side that gets blamed if the government (or just part of it) shuts down." 
After the 2013 government shutdown, Republican approval ratings plummeted, and yet that searing example of government dysfunction was all but forgotten by the time Republicans stumped Democrats in the 2014 midterms. 
In 2013, voters viewed the GOP as the worst of two bad choices. In 2014, the coin flipped and Democrats were the most-worse option. If DHS shuts down this weekend, it almost doesn't matter who get blamed in the short, medium, and long terms. Both parties will be failures. Again.

So literally two paragraphs after noting that most Americans will blame the GOP because both parties are not "equally wrong", he then ends with "it doesn't matter" and "both parties are equally wrong."

Fournier, folks.

The Black Hole Of Chicago

Spencer Ackerman's series in The Guardian on Chicago's crooked cops continues with this horrifying piece on what can only be described as a "domestic black site" for off-the-record arrests, interrogations, and unconstitutional detainment.

The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.

The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights. 
Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:
  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases. 
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  • Shackling for prolonged periods.
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.
At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead. 
Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid. Officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, denying him access to an attorney, before sending him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged. 
“Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,” Church told the Guardian on Friday. “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.”

And Chicago cops are using this on protesters and minorities, people that nobody will miss.  No attorney, no cameras, no oversight, just treating people the way we treat Gitmo detainees.  In America.  On American soil.  By American cops.

Jesus hell.

The secretive warehouse is the latest example of Chicago police practices that echo the much-criticized detention abuses of the US war on terrorism. While those abuses impacted people overseas, Homan Square – said to house military-style vehicles, interrogation cells and even a cage – trains its focus on Americans, most often poor, black and brown. 
Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked. Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are, as happens when someone is booked at a precinct. Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts. Those lawyers who have attempted to gain access to Homan Square are most often turned away, even as their clients remain in custody inside. 
“It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place – if you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re there,” said Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes.

And this is an open secret in Chicago among law enforcement and attorneys.  My god.

Get the DoJ in here yesterday.  People have to go to prison for a very long time for this one.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Last Call For Anything You Want

The Internet Service Economy(tm) reaches its nadir. TechCrunch's Sarah Burh introduces us to Magic.

Get sushi on a boat, a tiger at your door, or make your parking ticket vanish into thin air. An ambitious new startup says it will let you text for anything you want (and they do mean anything) as long as it’s legal, and it will magically come to you. 
Just text 408-596-5017 and Magic, a texting service that seems to have blown up over the weekend, promises to deliver. 
Magic is only 48 hours old, but we’re told it has already had over 17,000 text messages as of this morning. Someone added Magic to Product Hunt over the weekend and it was No. 1 on Hacker News within 20 minutes. 
Requests have ranged from help getting out of court to a tiger delivered to a customer’s door, according to co-founder Mike Chen. 
Magic seems to have blown up because of what I call “Product Hunt Effect” (similar to the “TechCrunch Effect“). A small startup with a simple idea gets posted on Product Hunt and it’s flooded with more traffic than it knows what to do with. 
Chen seemed overwhelmed when I spoke to him. “I had zero idea it would get like this. You know people say things happen overnight and I didn’t believe them before and now it’s happening to me,” he told me over the phone. 
The original idea was to create a service using text messaging instead of going through several steps on an app to order food, a driver or other things people might want. “Something like DoorDash or Postmates you have to manage it a bit,” Chen said. 
So this last Saturday his team put together a simple site with a number to text that would try to give you anything you want, as long as it’s legal and you are willing to pay the price.

And off to the races Magic goes.

Magic charges a fee on top of the cost of the products or services you're requesting, essentially acting as a middleman for services like Instacart or Seamless that are already acting as a middleman. That means you're paying two premiums: one for the convenience of simplifying the process to just a text message and one premium if Magic ends up using an existing delivery service. To be clear, you can definitely save some money if you go directly through those delivery apps or just order those plane tickets online yourself.

The ultimate concierge service for people with too much money and not enough common sense? These guys are going to make billions.

Shutdown Countdown: DHS Edition

With days left before 85% of Department of Homeland Security employees will have to start reporting to work without pay (because that will make them really want to protect America) Republicans finally have a plan for moving forward by caving on immigration, but a GOP partial shutdown is looking all but assured as there's no way the House will play ball.

Congress approved a full year’s funding for the rest of the federal government in December, but Republicans held back funding for DHS in reaction to Obama’s immigration actions, giving the agency budget authority only through midnight Feb. 27. 
Now, with four days before the security agency’s budget lapses, senior Republicans are pushing for a new strategy that does not directly link Obama’s actions on immigration to funding for DHS. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who had previously acknowledged that the chamber was in stalemate over the issue, set up votes later this week on separate legislation that would repeal one of Obama’s immigration actions.

Those actions, announced in December, would grant temporary relief from deportation to more than 4 million illegal immigrants. McConnell’s hope is that moving the immigration issue onto a separate bill may create a path for the DHS funding bill to go through. 
“It’s another way to get the Senate unstuck,” McConnell said.

But getting a clean bill past the House once again comes down to Boehner selling it to a base that wants to obliterate Democrats from the country.

Outside conservative groups, including Heritage Action, have been pushing Republicans not to not approve a “clean” funding plan, demanding that any DHS budget include the immigration provisions that would reverse Obama’s actions. 
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has sided with Heritage Action and other conservatives, even after the judge’s ruling last week that could tie up the issue for many months in the courts. 
“The House has passed a bill to fund the Homeland Security Department, but Senate Democrats are blocking debate on it — and, with just days left before the deadline, President Obama is doing nothing to help,” Michael Steel, Boehner’s spokesman, said Monday in a statement.

So even if a clean bill passes the Senate, it's not passing the House.  And time is running out.

A Question Of Faith

When Byron York of the DC Examiner asks why Americans seems to be so confused and mentions the fact that less than half of Americans believe President Obama is a Christian, you'd better start looking for the catch.  (Hint: it's at the end.)

In the more than four years since that column was published, it's likely at least some confusion about Obama's religion has persisted. For one thing, few people see Obama openly practicing any religious faith. After the president did not attend church on Christmas 2013, the New York Times, citing unofficial White House historian Mark Knoller, noted that Obama had attended church 18 times in nearly five years in the White House, while George W. Bush attended 120 times in eight years. Yes, there are a variety of reasons some presidents don't go to church very often, but in Obama's case, absence does nothing to change existing public perceptions of him
And there are other factors. For example, it would not be a stretch to guess that those Americans who told Gallup and Pew that they did not know the president's faith would remain unsure after hearing reports that at the recent National Prayer Breakfast, Obama explained Islamic State violence by urging listeners to "remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ." Again, many people don't pay close attention to the news, and snippets of reports on Obama's faith, like his remarks at the Prayer Breakfast, could yield a confused picture. 
Some would argue that, while yes, many in the public don't know the president's religion, certainly Scott Walker, the governor of a state, should know. But Walker's answer to the reporters' question just reflects a broader public puzzlement over Barack Obama's faith — a phenomenon that he helped perpetuate and, at this late date in his presidency, seems unlikely to go away.

"Gosh, of course less than half of America thinks Obama is Christian.  He's terrible at it."  And so the racist, bigoted assholes like York keep concern trolling the President that he's not Christian enough, and absolve the "He's a seekrit Mooslem" nonsense all in the same breath.

And of course, York's bigotry is all Obama's fault.  It always is.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Last Call For Another Secession Session

Angry rural counties are at it again, this time in upstate New York, where towns in at least 4 counties want to leave the Empire State and become part of Pennsylvania over Gov. Cuomo's statewide fracking ban.

Fifteen towns in upstate New York have expressed interest in secession after the state banned fracking, according to an interest group researching the economic benefits of such a move.

The Upstate New York Towns Association said 15 towns expressed interest breaking away to join Pennsylvania, which allows fracking, according to television station WBNG. Although the group declined to name specific towns involved in the effort, WBNG reported the towns are located in Broome, Delaware, Tioga and Sullivan counties. 
Those counties are located in or near New York's natural gas-rich Southern Tier, which borders Pennsylvania. 
The secession seed apparently was planted by Conklin, N.Y. town supervisor Jim Finch (R) back in December when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced a ban on the gas extraction technique. Conklin is part of the towns association. 
"The Southern Tier is desolate," Finch told WBNG. "We have no jobs and no income. The richest resource we have is in the ground." 
New York state Sen. Majority Deputy Leader Tom Libous (R) also included a question on secession in a recent survey of his constituents. 
"After the one-two punch to our community from the recent casino and gas drilling decisions, my office received many emails, phone calls and messages from constituents calling for a Southern Tier secession from New York State," Libous said in a statement to WBNG. "While getting my constituents' opinion on spending the $5 billion surplus was our top priority, I thought a question on secession should also be included in the survey."

Boy if people figure out they can just up and secede over every little state law, there's not going to be very many states left in this whole United States of America thing.  Note too that this didn't become a problem until president 44 came along.

Just because you lost the vote in a Democracy doesn't mean you can just up and leave, guys.  No, I take that back, you can leave, and you can move.

So, whatever.

Patriot Games

Glenn Reynolds may be pulling one of the better Poe’s Law fast ones here, but it sure looks like the guy is saying (in his always baffling weekly USA Today column, how he keeps that I’ll never know) that, rather than questioning President Obama’s patriotism, it may be time to do something about those unpatriotic liberal voters who put him into power twice.

Perhaps we need to pay closer attention to these questions where presidents are concerned, but perhaps we should go a step farther: In a country like ours, where voters reign supreme, it seems as if concern about the patriotism of rulers ought to also apply to voters.
Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein, in his famous novel Starship Troopers, envisioned a society where voters, too, had to demonstrate their patriotism before being allowed to vote. In his fictional society, the right to vote came only after some kind of dangerous public service — in the military, as a volunteer in dangerous medical experiments, or in other ways that demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice personally for the common good. The thought was that such voters would be more careful, and less selfish, in their voting. 
So when the five-day wonder of questioning Barack Obama’s patriotism is over, perhaps we should address another question: How patriotic is the electorate? And how long can we survive as a nation if the answer is “not very”? And we should proceed from there.

Actually bringing up Starship Troopers as an example of a voting society and implying in the next paragraph that maybe having voting and citizenship be earned somehow by “patriots” is so ridiculously and completely peg-the-needle fascist that I honestly believe Reynolds is pulling our leg here, but there’s not anything in the rest of the column that makes me think this is satire or parody.

I think he might actually be serious.

I mean isn’t this the next logical step for the party that’s trying to limit the number of people who are allowed to vote, those trying to depress the electorate to the point of apathy leaving only the true believers to cast ballots, who believes the Voting Rights Act is an outdated relic, and is actively blocking any attempt to try to update it for the 21st century? Why not open fascism where only the right people are allowed to vote? That would certainly prevent that whole “demography as destiny” problem the GOP is facing, yes?

I dunno, nothing really surprises me anymore about these guys.

Another Nail In First Look's Coffin

First Look Media, the increasingly silly broken toy of tech billionaire Pierre Omidyar, helmed by Glenn Greenwald, continues to fall apart.  This time it's the loss of reporter Ken Silverstein, who left because of "management's incompetence and bad faith."  Here are some of Ken's Facebook posts on the issue from this weekend, from Jim Romanesko:

February 20 at 10:26pm
You know what’s cool about being a former employee of First Look/The Intercept? That Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, Betsy Reed and Pierre Omidyar all believe in Free Speech and the First Amendment so they won’t mind my writing about my time working for and with them. Tentative title: “Welcome to the Slaughterhouse.”

February 20 at 11:39pm
I have to go to sleep soon but before I forget, you know what my favorite part of working for First Look was? Last year’s holiday party when two of our fiercely independent staffers “interviewed” Pierre Omidyar and asked him what he did in the morning. Since you are all hanging on the edge of your seats, he drinks tea and reads stuff, the NYT and other things and then The Intercept was about #5 (he claims). And for the record, I boycotted this embarrassing affair and sat in a conference room with two other people, one who no longer works there and one who may or may not. It’s hard to keep track. What a joke.

February 21 at 11:34am
Wow, it is amazing how good it feels not to work for The Intercept. And what feels even better is the incredible support I have received from friends and editors (some editors who are friends). I have lots of work lined up and the day could not be better. Also, just one last comment on First Look Media: The fact that that it hired so many talented people to create Racket and spent millions of dollars on it and in the end fired everyone and Racket never published a single story is probably the greatest squandering of money and example of criminal ineptitude in the history of modern journalism. Again, what a pathetic joke. Oh yeah, I was not originally hired to work at Racket and didn’t get fired, so I am not including myself in the group of “talented” people I mentioned above. Thanks again everyone.

February 22 at 10:24am
So this will be my last post about First Look. First, let me say I’ve had a great weekend enjoying by status as a former FL employee and hanging out with my son and talking to friends and otherwise having a fine time. Though it may appear otherwise, I am not blindly lashing out at FL. My prior posts reflect the anger and disillusionment I feel towards the company, and my anger and disillusionment is shared by many former employees. I am one of a many employees who was hired under what were essentially false pretenses; we were told we would be given all the financial and other support we needed to do independent, important journalism, but instead found ourselves blocked at every step of the way by management’s incompetence and bad faith….


Can't say you weren't warned.  Those of us who saw through Double G years ago knew what he was about: monetizing attacking the Obama administration from the left.  Snowden was his chance of a lifetime, and since then he's been coasting on fumes, realizing that he's being used by any number of people (and maybe the Russians) to make Obama and America look bad.

It's got to suck, but what has The Intercept done except fail?  Look at the people who left without writing a single decent article, who were driven out and lied to.  They all have the same story, like Silverstein does, time and time again.

That's a serious problem for First Look and at this point they have no credibility left.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Last Call For Plus Ca Change

It'll be 2007 for the next two years for these Republican assholes.

They can do this whenever the narrative looks like Obama might accomplish something, and voters will never punish them for it.

Scientific Objectivity, For A Price

It's difficult to pass your research on climate change as "ground-breaking" or "the smoking gun" when you're taking millions from right-wing think tanks and corporations that want to see all of climate science and 98% of climate scientists "proven guilty of fraud".

For years, politicians wanting to block legislation on climate change have bolstered their arguments by pointing to the work of a handful of scientists who claim that greenhouse gases pose little risk to humanity.

One of the names they invoke most often is Wei-Hock Soon, known as Willie, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who claims that variations in the sun’s energy can largely explain recent global warming. He has often appeared on conservative news programs, testified before Congress and in state capitals, and starred at conferences of people who deny the risks of global warming.

But newly released documents show the extent to which Dr. Soon’s work has been tied to funding he received from corporate interests.

He has accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure, and in at least eight of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work. 
The documents show that Dr. Soon, in correspondence with his corporate funders, described many of his scientific papers as “deliverables” that he completed in exchange for their money. He used the same term to describe testimony he prepared for Congress.

Though Dr. Soon did not respond to questions about the documents, he has long stated that his corporate funding has not influenced his scientific findings.

This guy is the 2015 equivalent of the studies by cigarette companies that show that smoking doesn't cause cancer.  At this point that's a laughable scientific stance t have on smoking, and hopefully this is the beginning of "climate change is a hoax" being just as laughable.

The Erasure Of Race

FOX News contributor Juan Williams takes to the WSJ to write a paean to Justice Clarence Thomas entitled "America's Most Influential Thinker on Race".  It's true in the same way Hurricane Katrina was America's Most Influential Hurricane on Race.

Justice Thomas, who has been on the court nearly a quarter-century, remains a polarizing figure—loved by conservatives and loathed by liberals. But his “free”-thinking legal opinions are opening new roads for the American political debate on racial justice.

His opinions are rooted in the premise that the 14th Amendment—guaranteeing equal rights for all—cannot mean different things for different people. As he wrote in Fisher v. University of Texas (2013), he is opposed to “perpetual racial tinkering” by judges to fix racial imbalance and inequality at schools and the workplace. Yet he never contends racism has gone away. The fact that a 2001 article in Time magazine about him was headlined “Uncle Tom Justice” reminds us that racism stubbornly persists.

His only current rival in the race debate is President Obama. At moments of racial controversy the nation’s first black president has used his national pulpit to give voice to black fear that racial stereotyping led to tragedy. But that is as far as he is willing to go. His attorney general, Eric Holder , has gone further by calling Americans “cowards” when it comes to discussing race. And some critics have chastised him even for that.

Justice Thomas, meanwhile, is reshaping the law and government policy on race by virtue of the power of his opinions from the bench. Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American on the Supreme Court, stood up as a voice insisting on rights for black people. Justice Thomas, the second black man on the court, takes a different tack. He stands up for individual rights as a sure blanket of legal protection for everyone, including minorities.

Thomas has taken it upon himself to address racism by dismantling the civil rights era protections of the law over the last 50 years and saying "those were training wheels, you have to succeed on your own."  This, he argues, will magically create the respect from white America necessary to rid the country of racism.

This only works of course if you believe that the direct victims of racism (which Thomas does absolutely recognizes as still existing in America) are white people, and that the corrective actions of the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act other legislative fixes were the problem for the last two generations, and in no way part of the solution.

Thomas has many like-minded comrades on SCOTUS when it comes to this with the goal of putting America back to 1965, and that the Civil Rights era was a massive error, a huge mistake which has damaged America for decades.

Rather, Thomas's solution is simple: the burden to rise above racism is placed upon minorities to simply be better and to succeed in spite of it, solely through personal responsibility. If racism exists (and Thomas again admits it does) then your duty as a black or Latino or Asian or other minority is to overcome it.  That's all upon you to choose to do so.

If that sounds insane, and it sounds like "Hey, Thomas is absolving all of white America of racism even though he knows it exists in 2015" and "Why are minorities the bad guys here?" then you're correct.  The free market will fix this.  It's dangerous thinking, and yet the evidence is pretty solid that the Civil Rights era in America is ending, thanks in large part to Thomas.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Last Call For Just Not Like Us

Jonathan Greenberg at the New York Observer puts forth one of the most obnoxious and truly stupid theories on radical Islam that I've ever had the misfortune to read, so to spare you I'll summarize it:

Bell Curve for Muslims.

The Obama Administration believes that people everywhere share the same basic values as Western civilization: we all negotiate in good faith to seek positive-sum solutions (this is the fallacy that drives administration policy on Iran), we all prefer an uncomfortable peace to war, and we are all more or less motivated according to Maszlow’s hierarchy. This is Prof. Landes’ meaning of cognitive egocentrism. Despite tremendous evidence pointing to the fact–and it is a fact–that the people we are fighting are zero-sum barbarians who glory in brutal war motivated by religious fanaticism, our leaders are more comfortable thinking that, deep down, they’d be happier manning the check-out lane at Wal-Mart.

It is, of course, terribly out of fashion to acknowledge that different people in different societies are different. Far more fashionable is the obnoxious bigotry that everyone–yes, everyone–is pretty much exactly like us! Hurrah!



"It is bigotry to believe that Muslims share any values at all with people of the West."  If that odious argument sounds disturbingly familiar, replace "Muslims" with "the blacks" and you have the entire Southern Strategy of the last 50 years. Greenberg calls his opinion "fact".  It's ridiculous on its face.  And then he continues.

Fashionable or not, we can no longer afford leaders who refuse to believe their lying eyes about the motivations and values of radical Islamists. Are there deep-seated reasons for cultures becoming what they are? Of course. But we can’t go back to school every time someone beheads one of our journalists. We can’t have leaders who agonize about root causes and long-term economic development while Coptic Christians are butchered by the dozen.

The enemy, of course, hears our assessment of the “root causes” and cackles maniacally. Even if it doesn’t represent administration policy, just once I’d like to hear something from the State Department that indicated an understanding that people in Tehran and Damascus and Sanaa and Gaza are listening.

Marie Harf is, of course, only a mouthpiece for Administration policy. What she said, while insipid, is only dangerous insofar as it reflects the public and private thinking of the Obama foreign policy team. Until our leaders start seeing the world as it is instead of as they wish it were, we’d better start killing our way out of this war. Because our cognitive egocentrism is preventing us from winning in other, preferable ways.

Got that?  Treating Muslims as human beings instead of vermin is making the war worse.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Like I said, utterly ridiculous nonsense.

Splitting Hairs In Colorado

Police have arrested a suspect in last month's bombing of an NAACP office in Colorado Springs, but the suspect is saying he wasn't targeting that office(?) KUSA in Colorado Springs:

Investigators are looking into the possibility a tax preparation business may have been the target of the bombing as opposed to the NAACP.

Thaddeus Murphy, 44, of Colorado Springs has been arrested by federal law enforcement officials, but so far charges haven't been officially filed against him.

9Wants to Know has learned Murphy was taken into federal custody sometime on Thursday.

According to high-level sources close to the investigation, Murphy's home was searched, and investigators found items that connect to the bombing.
The FBI, ATF and Colorado Springs law enforcement officers were seen executing a search warrant in Colorado Springs on Thursday.

Murphy told investigators he intended to target the tax preparation company and not the NAACP during an interview, according to sources.

An affidavit said Murphy was targeting an accountant named Steve Dehaven who "wouldn't return to him his tax records from 2006 to the present and wouldn't return his phone calls." The affidavit says Murphy had to file bankruptcy and needed the records due to his financial issues.

The affidavit claimed he "flipped out" and "built the pipe bomb as a warning."

The right seems to think this is now okay and that the real bad guys here are anyone who "jumped to the conclusion" that the NAACP office was the target, despite the fact that the NAACP office was indeed damaged.  You know, I'm the bad guy here rather than the guy who planted a pipe bomb and a can of gas.

Apparently being thought of as racist is worst than a terrorist act of using an explosive on a place of business in order to terrorize someone.  "As a warning". 

Funny, entirely not-racist world we live in, huh.

"MSN Be-See"-ing Ya

The good news is Ronan Farrow's awful MSNBC show is gone.  The bad news is so is Joy-Ann Reid's show, and the Sword of Phil Griffin is set to fall on Chris Hayes, Al Sharpton and more as NBC's corporate master Comcast no longer wants to offend conservatives with pesky nonsense like "liberal opinions".

It was hardly a surprise Thursday when ratings-challenged MSNBC announced the cancellation of the poor-performing afternoon programs hosted by Ronan Farrow and Joy Reid after less than a year, with veteran news anchor Thomas Roberts stepping in to preside over the two-hour block from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Until a permanent replacement is named for Roberts’ 5:30 a.m. program Way Too Early, the 6 a.m. Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski will temporarily take up the slack by starting a half-hour earlier.

But according to knowledgeable sources at the Comcast-owned cable network, Thursday’s moves were only the opening salvo in a wider programming shakeup.

In the relatively near term, two well-placed sources predicted to The Daily Beast, Chris Hayes will be relieved of his weak-performing 8 p.m. show All In,to be replaced by the current 9 p.m. host of The Rachel Maddow Show, while a talent search is underway to fill the prime-time slot to be vacated by Maddow.

An MSNBC spokesperson—who tried put a happy face on the demotions with talk of prime-time specials and “multiplatform” national reporting for the still-employed Farrow and Reid—declined to comment on the Hayes-Maddow scenario.

In the longer term, these sources said, the Rev. Al Sharpton—a larger-than-life personality who attracts a 35 percent African-American audience but continues, after 3½ years of nightly practice, to wrestle with his Teleprompter—could eventually be moved from his weeknight 6 p.m. slot to a weekend time period, as MNSBC President Phil Griffin attempts to reverse significant viewership slides by accentuating straight news over left-leaning opinion.

“Everybody in the food chain from top to bottom understands that the Olbermann era is over,” said an MSNBC source, referring to the glory days during George W. Bush’s administration when incendiary liberal Keith Olbermann regularly attracted a million viewers—many of them seeking refuge from White House and Republican talking points.

The MSNBC source said, “Going left was a brilliant strategy while it lasted and made hundreds of millions of dollars for Comcast, but now it doesn’t work anymore...The goal is to move away from left-wing TV.”

MSNBC had moved away from left-wing TV when they got rid of Olbermann and the cold hard fact is there's no place on the entirely of the cable spectrum for smart, nuanced news that a FOX News nation will tolerate.

Here's the bigger issue: TV news itself is all but dead.  My generation is cutting the cable, and anyone younger than me doesn't watch TV news at all.  Hell, I stopped watching Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow years ago, because I was sick of them entertaining guests who constantly attacked President Obama.  Hell, Hayes should have never been moved from his "Up" time slot on weekend mornings.

We'll see what happens, but I get almost none of my news from cable TV anymore.

And here's a free hint, MSNBC.  The real problem is Phil Griffin.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Last Call For America Haters, Unite

Kevin Williamson over at National Review neatly gets around the thorny race issues that Rudy Giuliani questioning the patriotism of President Obama brings up by arguing that the patriotism of any and every liberal must be questioned, ergo it can't be racist to do so.

Does Barack Obama love his country? Call me a rube for saying so, but it’s a fair question. 
To ask the question is not the same as venting the familiar swamp gasses: that he’s a foreigner, at heart if not in fact; that he’s a Manchurian candidate sent to undermine the republic; that he’s a secret Marxist or secret jihadist sympathizer; etc. Put it this way: Why would anybody who sees the world the way Barack Obama does love America?  
For the progressive, there is very little to love about the United States. Washington, Jefferson, Madison? A bunch of rotten slaveholders, hypocrites, and cowards even when their hearts were in the right places. The Declaration of Independence? A manifesto for the propertied classes. The Constitution? An artifact of sexism and white supremacy. The sacrifices in the great wars of the 20th century? Feeding the poor and the disenfranchised into the meat-grinder of imperialism. The gifts of Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Morgan, Astor? Blood money from self-aggrandizing robber barons. 

And this lovely pile of ad nauseum nonsense ends up in an indictment of liberals themselves.

Barack Obama has a great, big, heaping dose of Holden Caulfield in him. That and chutzpah: When as a candidate he was in trouble because of his association with the racist lunacy of the Reverend Wright, he responded by giving the American public at large a lecture on racism and its culpability therein, while his minions began proclaiming that the only reason to oppose this politician with the racist associates was — presto-change-o! — racism. But if you believe that the system is basically rotten, that the society that produced that system is basically rotten, that the game is rigged, that your opponents are all phonies and hypocrites, then what’s a little intellectual dishonesty in the service of the common good? There is very little that a man with Barack Obama’s views and proclivities should love about the country, beyond the fact that its people are so vulnerable to insipid sentimentality that they twice elected him president.

And boom, Rudy Giuliani is absolved.  He can't be racist because all liberals hate America, so saying that Barack Obama, being a liberal, hates his country is not an opinion but fact, along with the fact that 66 million or so people who voted for him also hate America.  We're not a part of Williamson's America, and never will be.  We'll always be "the other", to be hated, shunned, pitied, and exterminated.

Nothing's changed since 2001 for the NRO set.  It's always "We're taking America back!" for them.

Still Terrified Of Israel

Greg Sargent notes that while Democrats overwhelmingly see Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's maneuver to join the GOP in attacking the President as unacceptable, only 23 House Democrats have signed a letter calling for a delay in Bibi's visit and big name House Dems aren't anywhere near it:

Missing from this list are House Democratic members and leaders whose voices could make a real difference here: Foreign Affairs ranking Dem Eliot Engel; Whip Steny Hoyer; DNC chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz. 
All in all, the failure of more Democrats to sign this letter suggests many still fear the politics of appearing out of sync with whatever Israel wants. It’s true that a number of Democrats have said they will skip the speech. But many of those have clarified that this isn’t due to any organized boycott, and far more are attending. And, really, all the talk of a “boycott” is misdirection. It shouldn’t be all that difficult for Democrats to call for amere delay in this speech, while rebuffing efforts to portray such a move as “anti-Israel,” given how egregious the circumstances surrounding this event really are
To be sure, given the aforementioned Democratic skittishness, the fact that two dozen Democrats have signed this letter does suggest that a political space is opening up for Democrats to feel like it might not necessarily be suicidal to occasionally appear at odds with Israel, even if it is a small one. 
But still, Congressional Democrats face a problem here: What are they going to do now? The CNN poll I referenced above strongly suggests the Democratic base is not happy with the fact that Netanyahu will be going forward with this speech, which has been portrayed by many commentators as forcing Congressional Democrats to choose between Netanyahu and Obama. If most are not willing to call for a delay in the speech, what will they prove willing to do? If they do nothing, how do they explain that to rank and file Democratic voters?

Very, very few House Democrats, only 23 out of 188, are willing to publicly go to bat for their own President on this.  The others are sitting on their damn hands, and yes, that includes Nancy Pelosi. There should be 188 signatures on that letter, or at least 100.  But 23?  That's only 12% asking for a delay of something that according to that CNN poll, 81% of Democrats are totally against.

Sargent implies at the very least an astonishing lack of support for the President from his own party, and in the worst case this is outright cowardice from Dems in Congress.


The Dumbing Down Continues

Oklahoma Tea Party nutjobs want to end AP History courses in the state because they teach too much of the bad parts of history, like that messy land grab from Native Americans and all that slavery and civil rights crap, and instead want to teach real US history, like the Ten Frigging Commandments.

An Oklahoma bill banning Advanced Placement U.S. History would also require schools to instruct students in a long list of “foundational documents,” including the Ten Commandments, two sermons and three speeches by Ronald Reagan. 
The bill, authored by Oklahoma Rep. Dan Fisher, designates a total of 58 documents that “shall form the base level of academic content for all United States History courses offered in the schools in the state.” Many of the texts are uncontroversial and undoubtedly covered by the Advanced Placement U.S. History course, such as the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and Gettysburg address. But the bill also has an ideological and religious bent. In addition to 3 speeches by Reagan, the curriculum as includes a speech by George W. Bush but nothing from any Democratic president since Lyndon Johnson.

Fisher’s bill was approved by the Education committee on an 11-4 vote.

And yes, those "foundational documents" include the Ten Commandments, as part of "Objects of historical significance that have formed and influenced the United States legal or governmental system and that exemplify the development of the rule of law".  Also, let's keep in mind that the bill would in fact form the basis of all US history taught in the state at all levels, and that the list of approved documents includes George Kennan's infamous "The Sources of Soviet Conduct", which was written post-WWII and ended up being the basis of the Cold War "containment" policy against the USSR.

It's great stuff if you want to raise a state full of conservative think-tank weenies.  Not so much for an objective view of United States history, but apparently Oklahoma Tea Party types are going to decide what these kids are going to learn, dammit!


Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Clown, A Jerk, And 9/11

Rudy Giuliani is still a terrible person, just in case you forgot that fact for a sec.

Rudy Giuliani went straight for the jugular Wednesday night during a private group dinner here featuring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker by openly questioning whether President Barack Obama “loves America.” 
The former New York mayor, speaking in front of the 2016 Republican presidential contender and about 60 right-leaning business executives and conservative media types, directly challenged Obama’s patriotism, discussing what he called weak foreign policy decisions and questionable public remarks when confronting terrorists. 
I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said during the dinner at the 21 Club, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.

Well I don't love Rudy Giuliani either, you know.

How you know President Obama is winning the argument: GOP responds with "He's not like us!" directly from 2007. Might stop a guy with a weird-sounding name like Obama from winning a third term, I dunno.

This code-word racist crap is all they have now, and it's all they ever had against him in the first place. It's also why they lost.

Second City, First Blood

I've talked before about Kansas and the massive austerity regime of GOP Gov. Sam Brownback.  But Republican governors across the country are looking to austerity and are targeting the poor, college students, and the elderly for the biggest hits, and Illinois GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner is no exception.

Illinois' new Republican governor on Wednesday will pitch a plan for fixing the state's budget mess that includes deep cuts to Medicaid and higher education and a new plan for reducing pension costs, according to three lawmakers with knowledge of the proposal.

Gov. Bruce Rauner is set to deliver his first budget address since campaigning on a pledge to reduce taxes and get state spending under control and beating a Democratic incumbent. 
The three legislators, briefed on details of the plan discussed in a Tuesday meeting between Rauner and legislative leaders, told The Associated Press that the governor will recommend cutting Medicaid by $1.5 billion and reducing funding for higher education by nearly $400 million, or 31 percent. They said he'll also propose reducing state aid to local governments and ask lawmakers to approve a new pension reform plan he says will save Illinois $2.2 billion
The lawmakers spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to pre-empt Rauner's budget address. Rauner's spokesman declined to comment.

Now keep in mind cuts to Illinois's pension systems have already resulted in the state having the most underfunded pension system in the country, and Illinois having the worst credit rating of all 50 states. The state is in a six billion dollar hole, much like California was in 2008.  But cutting education, pensions, and Medicaid isn't going to make that any better, and the Democrats holding big majorities in the legislature aren't going to put up with Rauner's crap for much longer.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat who was briefed by Rauner, said the governor warned he's prepared to deliver some "tough medicine." 
Madigan and other Democrats want to raise Illinois' income tax rate, which dropped on Jan. 1, to avoid some spending cuts. But he said Rauner indicated he won't propose raising taxes. 
"I don't think you can cut your way out of the problem," Madigan said. "I think you need some additional revenue, and that'll be my position (Wednesday)."

So we'll see which side wins.  I'm betting it's not Rauner.

John Kasich Just Disqualified Himself

How ridiculous is Ohio GOP Gov. John Kasich, mentioned as a long-shot candidate for the White House in 2016?  Keep in mind these two things:

1) John Kasich's main talking point is that he is running on a federal balanced budget amendment.
2) John Kasich wants to put ground troops back in Iraq and Syria.

In a sign of his rising interest in a potential 2016 presidential bid, Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich (R) said Tuesday he is studying up on foreign policy and beginning to outline his worldview, which includes support for sending U.S. ground forces to fight the Islamic State.

“You will not solve this problem with only air power,” Kasich said in a phone interview from his office in Columbus, ahead of a trip to the early-voting state of South Carolina. “There needs to be a coalition of NATO, Arab states, and ultimately some boots on the ground to stop the advancement of that group.”

Kasich added: “The Western world and the Arab world need to get serious about stopping this kind of radicalism. If not, it will continue to spread and just bombing is imposing the status quo at best.”

Kasich cautioned, however, that he is recommending targeted and multinational strikes, rather than a drawn-out conflict against the Islamic State militants in Iraq.

"It is probably something that can be addressed without an extended affair and without nation-building or any of that,” he said.

The notion that we can invade Iraq again, and possibly Syria, Yemen, and/or Libya with ground forces to battle ISIS is ridiculous.  The notion that we can do any of this and balance the federal budget is an absolute joke to the point where Kasich must be laughed off the national stage.

“Instead of young people talking about Justin Bieber or how bad the Grammys were, maybe we could get people talking about Washington, Madison, and Monroe, and have a renewal of American history,” Kasich said of a possible constitutional gathering to consider a balanced-budget amendment. “The more and more states that sign on, the more hopeful I get.”

It's these same young people who would be saddled with a crushing tax burden and an endless war in the Middle East to fight under a Kasich presidency.

Sheer lunacy.  Meanwhile, Kasich and the GOP have total control over Ohio right now, so you have a pretty good idea of what the mess would look like in the future.

Hint:  Think Kansas.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Last Call For The Science Of Stupid

FOX News once again proves to be why America can't have nice things, like government or infrastructure or science education.

A Fox News “Trouble With Schools” segment suggested on Wednesday that U.S. kids were behind in the world because a physics teacher in Seattle had tried to teach a lesson to privileged white students on why there were not more black physicists. 
“This probably wasn’t on the curriculum in your high school physics class,” Fox News host Elisabeth Hasselbeck announced. “A high school physics teacher came up with new six-day curriculum that includes lessons on white privilege. He says it will prepare students for institutional racism and social justice! So, what does that have to with physics exactly?” 
“It’s not an open mic night in these classrooms,” the National Review‘s Katherine Timpf opined. “You don’t get to decide you can talk about anything you want to these students. It has to be about what your class is. Physics class, you talk about physics. Really, it’s that simple.”

Well gosh, talking about why there aren't more black physicists seems entirely germane to a physics class, but not if you're an idiot conservative.

But in a guest post at the Quantum Progress blog, University Prep school physics teacher Moses Rifkin explained exactly how his lesson was important at a private school where students “weren’t learning about their own privilege (academic and, in most cases, economic and racial).” 
“I’ve found a way to introduce my students to the ideas of racial and gender privilege, to the idea that our society is far from a meritocracy, and to broaden their conception of who (racially, gender-wise, etc.) does science to include a much broader slice of society,” he wrote. “The project revolves, at least initially, around a question: why are there so few black[1] physicists? [..] Physicists therefore make up a small percentage of the U.S. population (0.06%), but that percentage is 3.2 times higher among white Americans than black.”

So using statistics, in a physics class, to analyze the data and draw conclusions.  Wow.  That is so totally off base for a science class.  Oh, and this is a private prep school.  Pretty much thought conservatives were okay with private schools teaching whatever they hell they want, because free market, right?

This was not enough to convince Timpf. 
“Physics class!” she exclaimed. “He said he was jealous that all the other teachers got to talk about society — English, History — then he also said they’re not learning about. Which one is it?” 
“I don’t’ know what this is really about,” Timpf continued. “I guess it’s just his own agenda. He wants to talk about it.”

You know, I went to a state residential magnet high school for science and math back in North Carolina, and the best teachers I had taught English, US History, and Brit Lit.  And yes, our science and math classes did at times cover the social history of the sciences and the people who were famous for them.

Go figure.  Asking why there aren't more black physicists in physics class seems like a damn good topic to me.
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