Friday, July 31, 2015

Last Call For Bevin's Ballast

Looks like Republican Matt Bevin's comments on destroying Medicare expansion and Kynect here in Kentucky if elected as governor in last week's farm bureau forum with AG Jack Conway hurt him somewhat, as he's now down three points in the latest Bluegrass Poll after a four point lead in June.

Despite a summer of social change and subsequent conservative backlash, Attorney General Jack Conway holds a slim advantage over Republican Matt Bevin in this year's race for Kentucky governor, according to a new Bluegrass Poll.

Conway, the Democratic nominee, leads Bevin 45 percent to 42 percent, with 13 percent of voters undecided.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points, which means the two candidates are locked in a toss-up race with large numbers of voters up for grabs just before Saturday's Fancy Farm picnic, the annual event in Western Kentucky that serves as the unofficial kick-off for the fall campaigns.

The survey of 685 likely voters was conducted July 22-28 by SurveyUSA on behalf of the Herald-Leader and WKYT-TV in Lexington and The Courier-Journal and WHAS-TV in Louisville. Seventy-two percent of respondents were surveyed on their home telephone and 28 percent were shown a questionnaire on their smartphone, tablet or other electronic device.

The wild card remains independent candidate Drew Curtis (we're famous for those here.)

When potential independent candidate Drew Curtis, the founder of alternative news website, is added to the mix, he takes support from both candidates. Curtis polled at 8 percent, leaving Conway with 43 percent and Bevin with 38 percent.

Bevin, a party outsider who ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in last year's GOP Senate primary, has picked up support among Republicans since winning the gubernatorial primary in May, when he trailed Conway 37 percent to 48 percent, but there are signs that he continues to have problems uniting his party.

Among registered Republicans, 15 percent said they plan to vote for Conway. More than 1 in 4 of those who consider themselves "conservative" said they plan to vote for Conway, as did 15 percent of those who described themselves as "very conservative."

Likewise, a substantial number of Democrats — 20 percent — support Bevin over Conway, though that number is less surprising given that many conservative Kentucky Democrats routinely vote for Republican candidates.

And yes, as much as it enrages me to say this, it turns out that Conway running against Obama isn't hurting him as much as I thought, and may actually be a net benefit to him as Republicans see Bevin as too much of a nutbar and may vote for Conway. They remember Bevin's attack on Mitch the Turtle last year, and they also remember that Bevin barely got a third of the GOP vote in the primary this year.  The guy just isn't that popular.

Jim Chappell, 64, of Louisville, said he would vote for Conway because Conway is not a Republican.

"I think Republicans have a disgusting philosophy," Chappell said. "If Donald Duck was running against them, I would vote for Donald Duck."

Jessica Whitedove, 67, of Perry County, said Conway is the lesser of two evils, but there are no good options in the governor's race.

"We don't have much to choose from. We really don't, and that is sad, but you've got to pick somebody," Whitedove said. "We can not let the Republicans rule. I'm going to watch another debate, then I'll make my final decision, I guess."

Read more here:

Of course, neither is Jack Conway.

Jim Weaks, 50, of Louisville, said he'll likely vote for Bevin because Conway does not follow through on his promises.

"Jack Conway is a guy that stands and says all kinds of stuff, but he doesn't do anything," Weaks said. "He's a good talker, he's a good spokesman, but I don't believe anything that comes out of his mouth."

Read more here:

We'll see how much support bleeds to Drew Curtis.

Read more here:

Always Overplaying Their Hand

You can always count on Republicans to take an issue that's gaining traction and starting to scare Democrats in Washington (like, say, the manufactured outrage over Planned Parenthood) and find a way to seriously screw it up.

Calling next week’s Senate roll call to defund Planned Parenthood a “legislative show vote,” GOP firebrand Ted Cruz said Republicans should do everything they can to eliminate federal money for the group — even if it means a government shutdown fight this fall
He’s not alone. On Wednesday afternoon, 18 House Republicans told leadership that they “cannot and will not support any funding resolution … that contains any funding for Planned Parenthood.Meanwhile, GOP social conservatives like Sens. James Lankford of Oklahoma and Jeff Sessions of Alabama said they’d consider supporting an effort to attach a spending rider that would eliminate Planned Parenthood’s $528 million in annual government funding to must-pass spending legislation this fall.

It’s a potentially ominous sign for GOP leaders desperate to avoid another shutdown debacle. While Cruz may be radioactive in the Senate GOP conference after calling his leader a liar, his analysis of next week’s vote has merit: With Democrats vowing to block the measure, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) won’t be able to get the 60 votes he needs to advance the bill next week, a result that likely won’t satisfy a conservative base itching for confrontation over abortion. 
In a Wednesday interview, Cruz said the GOP should go as hard as it can to block funding for Planned Parenthood, including the same strategy he tried to use to defund Obamacare in 2013: force the issue by blocking funding in a government spending bill that must pass by Sept. 30. 
Asked whether he would support such a maneuver again, Cruz replied: “I would support any and all legislative efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. We do not need a legislative show-vote.”

Cruz may have made an idiot out of himself and shut the government down in 2013, but Republicans didn't pay anything close to an actual price, gaining the Senate and a bunch of House seats in the 2014 midterms.

But the 2016 presidential election is a different animal, and if Ted Cruz shuts down the government over Planned Parenthood, he's playing right into Hillary Clinton's hands.

So go for it, Republicans!  Make headlines for all those campaign commercials for the rest of the election cycle.

Hell, we might even win because of him.

A History Of Surrender

After a year of bullying by Republicans, the College Board has released this year's revisions to AP US History courses, and of course the conservative viewpoint of America, Greatest Country Of Ever, is now center stage.

The revisions consolidate learning objectives -- 19 are listed this year, down from 50 last year -- and seek to make sure "statements are clearer and more historically precise, and less open to misinterpretation or perceptions of imbalance." 
The revisions broaden how the curriculum explores American national identity and unity and how it looks at ideals of liberty, citizenship and self-governance. This includes considering American exceptionalism, which was not explicitly mentioned in last year's curriculum -- an absence that became a rallying point for conservative critics.

This year's changes highlight the nation's founding documents and founding political leaders, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin. The curriculum includes considering the productive role of free enterprise, entrepreneurship and innovation in shaping U.S. history. It explores America's role and sacrifices during World War I and II and U.S. leadership in ending the Cold War.

When last year's framework was released, the Republican National Committee passed a resolution condemning the course, decrying it as a "radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation's history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects." 
The RNC resolution urged Congress to withhold any federal funding to the College Board, the private company that designs AP curriculums and the SAT and AP exams, until the course was rewritten. It called for a congressional investigation and at least a one-year delay in implementing the course so a committee of lawmakers, educators and parents could come up with a new version that would tell "the true history" of the country.

Looks like the College Board folks did the RNC's work for them.  In fact, conservatives seem pretty darn happy about the changes where the College Board faced the loss of millions in funding unless they literally rewrote the history books to favor the Republican viewpoints on WW II:

In the 2015 version, the first bullet now reads: “Americans viewed the war as a fight for the survival of freedom and democracy against fascist and militarist ideologies. This perspective was later reinforced by revelations about Japanese wartime atrocities, Nazi concentration camps, and the Holocaust.” The framework still notes the internment of Japanese Americans and the moral complexities of dropping the atomic bomb, but these are now situated in a broader, more textured tale. Teachers have plenty of room to emphasize moral ambiguities and contemporary critiques, as they well should — but it’s no longer implied that those are the whole story.

Murca. Hell yeah.  Just like Reagan won the Cold War by himself:

Of Reagan’s role in ending the Cold War, the 2014 framework read (in its laughable entirety): “President Ronald Reagan, who initially rejected d├ętente with increased defense spending, military action, and bellicose rhetoric, later developed a friendly relationship with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.” The framework managed to depict Reagan as simultaneously a bully and a naif. That’s the view of left-wing history departments, of course, but it is cartoon history. The 2015 framework now reads, “Reagan asserted U.S. opposition to communism through speeches, diplomatic efforts, limited military interventions, and a buildup of nuclear and conventional weapons,” and notes that these actions “were important in ending the Cold War.”

What's not mentioned about Reagan?  How he sold weapons to Iran, stifled federal AIDS research, and tripled the national debt.

No, that treatment gets reserved for Democrats like FDR.

Whereas the 2014 framework gave hagiographic accounts of FDR’s and LBJ’s domestic initiatives, the 2015 version gives a much more tempered account. The 2014 framework explained, “The liberalism of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal drew on earlier progressive ideas and represented a multifaceted approach to both the causes and effects of the Great Depression.” The 2015 framework now reads, “Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal attempted to end the Great Depression by using government power to provide relief to the poor, stimulate recovery, and reform the American economy.” This is both less starry-eyed and more accurate.

More accurate of course if your idea of accuracy involves "Democrats are evil."  But hey, history is written by the winners, right?


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Last Call For NCIS: Ukraine

I can't imagine why Vladimir Putin would want to stop a UN international tribunal investigation into who's responsible for shooting down Malaysian Airlines Flight MH12 over Ukriane last year.

Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council draft resolution on Wednesday that would have set up an international tribunal to prosecute those suspected of downing a Malaysia Airlines passenger airliner last year in eastern Ukraine. 
Eleven countries on the 15-member council voted in favor of the proposal by Malaysia, 
Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Ukraine, while three countries abstained: China, Angola and Venezuela. A resolution needs nine votes in favor to pass and no veto by Russia, the United States, China, Britain or France. 
Flight MH17 was shot down in July 2014 with 298 passengers on board, two-thirds of them Dutch. It crashed in Ukrainian territory held by Russian-backed separatists. 
"Those responsible may believe that they can now hide behind the Russian Federation's veto. They will not be allowed to evade justice," Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told the council. There were 39 Australians on board flight MH17.

She said Australia, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Belgium and Ukraine would now seek an alternative prosecution mechanism.

Good luck with that.

Actually nailing Russia with evidence of an act of war? That won't be tolerated. And Putin continues to gain territory in Ukraine and laugh at the world.

Guess we'll have to crash the price of oil again.

The Donald's Last Laugh

Bloomberg News decided to actually talk to some of these GOP primary voters about why Donald Trump appeals to them, and their answers are exactly what you'd expect.

A Bloomberg Politics focus group of 12 Republican and independent voters who are supportive of Donald Trump's presidential candidacy shed light Wednesday night on the billionaire's swift rise to the top of the GOP field, and confirmed that his brash, “You're fired!” style and lack of experience in politics is more of an asset than a liability.

“He says it like it is,” said Jessica, a data analyst, during the focus group in the first-in-the-nation primary state, conducted by Purple Strategies at St. Anselm College in Manchester. “He speaks the truth.” 
He's willing to tell you his opinion,” Andrew, an educator, said. “So many other politicians won't take an opinion.” 
Many said Trump's success in the business world appealed to them.

“Business, we need business and I like his roughness,” said Danielle, a financial-planning consultant, adding, “He's just tough, we need someone tough.” 
“Donald Trump is strong,” Nick, a home inspector, said. “He carries a sentiment and frustrations that I think a lot of Americans are going through and feeling right now. He's the one that's able to articulate that, and bring those frustrations to light. I believe him when he talks.” 

Of course Trump would be successful.  He's a billionaire.  Billionaires aren't stupid or lazy, otherwise they wouldn't be billionaires, now would they?  He's as American as they come.  Wealth is morality here.

Even as the group praised Trump's directness, some worried it could be his undoing in the race.

“I think potentially, he could cross over with some inappropriate comments,” said Andy, adding, “And it would very much concern me if he was the nominee.” 
“I could see him being a hothead,” Fred, a tax preparer, said.

Trump's remarks about whether McCain, the Arizona senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee, should be described as a war hero rubbed some in the group the wrong way.

“I thought that was disrespectful,” said Jean, a banker. “Regardless of whether he [McCain] was technically a war hero or not, it was disrespectful.” 
As for Trump's characterization of undocumented immigrants as “rapists,” however, many in the room said it didn't bother them.

Why should it?  Trump doesn't like those people, and neither do Republican primary voters.  Those people are poor, lazy, dirty criminals, not like GOP primary voters, who are real Americans.  And they're tired of candidates tiptoeing around nationalism and racism rather than just admitting that the prospect of becoming a majority minority nation scares the hell out of them.

The GOP is the party of white privilege, and there hasn't been anyone in American history better suited to representing the base than a rich, obnoxious, loudmouth billionaire who has marketed himself into a worldwide brand and can say and do what he wants, and only gets more popular for it.

Though Trump's considerable wealth—which the Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimates at $2.9 billion—resonated with those who participated in the focus group, many seemed to regard him as being on the same page as ordinary Americans.

“He's like one of us. He may be a millionaire, which separates him from everybody else, but besides the money issue, he's still in tune with what everybody is wanting,” Janet, a former dog breeder, said.

Trump is "like one of us".  They all want to be him.  And they will vote for him.  He's not going anywhere, folks.

The Kochs Go Shopping

Since the Koch Brothers effectively have their own Republican party apparatus now, when they command 2016 candidates to come running in order to whore themselves out, the candidates at this point are just haggling over the price.

Four leading GOP presidential candidates – Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker – are traveling to a Southern California luxury hotel in coming days to make their cases directly to the Koch brothers and hundreds of other wealthy conservatives planning to spend close to $1 billion in the run-up to the 2016 election. 
The gathering – which also will include former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, but notably not Sen. Rand Paul — is hosted by Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the umbrella group in the Kochs’ increasingly influential network of political and public policy outfits. It represents a major opportunity for the candidates at a pivotal moment in the presidential primary.

The crowded field of GOP contenders is competing aggressively for the support of uncommitted mega-donors as the campaign hurtles towards its first debates in what’s expected to be a long and costly battle for the Republican nomination. 
Freedom Partners’ annual summer conference is set for August 1 through August 3, and is expected to draw 450 of the biggest financiers of the right for sessions about the fiscally conservative policies and politics that animate the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch and many of the donors in their network. Most have the capability to write seven- or even eight-figure checks to the super PACs fueling the GOP presidential primary, and a significant proportion have yet to settle on a 2016 choice, or are considering supporting multiple candidates. That includes Charles and David Koch, as well as Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and hedge fund billionaires Paul Singer, both of whom will be represented at the conference by advisers, and a number of other attendees of past conferences whose 2016 leanings are being closely watched. 
The Koch operation is not expected to formally back any candidate in the GOP primary. But the Koch brothers and many of their donors can still play kingmaker roles. In addition to the massive checks many are expected to write to the super PACs aligned with specific candidates, they also serve as bellwethers for other donors.
These are the people that own the Republican party.  What the people in red states and caucus meetings and party conferences at the local and even state level want?  It doesn't matter in the least. These are the people who will buy the next GOP nominee and flood the airwaves with a billion dollars in ads to get you to vote.

And they expect a massive rate of return on their investment.  Most likely they will get it because they've already bought Congress.  But if they get the whole ball of wax, the Republic is done.

New Tag, and one long, long overdue:  The Powers That Be.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Last Call For Black Lives Matter

Here in Cincinnati this afternoon, Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters announced the indictment of UC police officer Ray Tensing on charges of murder for the shooting death of Samuel DuBose. The video of Tensing's body cam will be the evidence that most likely sends him to life in prison.

Video of the incident shows Tensing approach the car July 19 and ask Dubose for his driver’s license, but the driver does not do so. 
Dubose insists he has a license and asks the officer to check his name to confirm, but he does not offer any explanation for why he cannot show his license. 
Tensing asks about a bottle he can see inside the vehicle, and Dubose hands him a bottle of gin. 
The officer asks him to be honest and admit if his license is suspended, but Dubose insists that his license is valid. 
Tensing then asks Dubose to unbuckle his seat belt and step out of the car, and the driver starts to do so. 
As he turns to unbuckle the seat belt, he apparently takes his foot off the brake, causing the car to move slightly. 
The officer then draws his weapon and fires immediately, killing Dubose.

That's it.  No warning, no reason, just point blank slaughter.  Because his foot came off the brake slightly.  For this he was sentenced to immediate death.

And then Tensing and the UC police department covered it up.

“He didn’t do anything violent to the officer, he wasn’t dragging him, and he intentionally pulled out his gun and shot him in the head,” said Prosecutor Joe Deters. 
The officer told 911 dispatchers immediately after the shooting that he fired one shot, fatally striking Dubose in the head, because he was “almost run over” during the traffic stop. Tensing said in the incident report that he was “dragged” by the vehicle
“He was making excuses for the purposeful killing of another person,” Deters said. “I’m not saying he’s smart, I’m saying that’s what I think he did.”

Tensing wasn't dragged.  Nothing happened to him at all.  He just executed a man in cold blood for no reason whatsoever.  Then he lied about it, Proseuctor Deters flat out said that without the body camera footage, there would have not been any charges.  Two officers backed up Tensing's outright lies about being "dragged" and the Cincinnati media ran with the narrative.

Until the bodycam video surfaced.  That video is going to put Ray Tensing in prison.  Without it he would still be a free man.  You will never convince me otherwise.

Enjoy your prison time, asshole.

Conway's Coal-ed Shoulder For Obama

Meanwhile, AG Jack Conway is trying to turn out Democrats for the Kentucky governor's race in November with this ad.

Yep, that's Jack Conway, bragging about how he sued that there Obama fella and stood up for (white) coal miners.

Sure makes me want to go vote for him in November.

Why, just ask Senator Alison Grimes.

The Coming Conflagration In Cincy

The recent shooting of Samuel DuBose by a University of Cincinnati campus officer has barely made national news, even in the era of increased awareness of police brutality and murder of black lives, but all of that is about to rapidly change here in the Queen City.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said he's confident police are ready for whatever happens this week after prosecutors release video of a fatal shooting by a University of Cincinnati police officer.

Cranley said city officials are preparing for the video's release, as well as the conclusion of a grand jury investigation, in two ways: They are making sure police have the resources they need to respond to any protests or unrest, and they are reaching out to community leaders to prevent trouble from getting started.

"I think we're prepared," Cranley said Tuesday. "Everyone has the right to peacefully protest, but we will not tolerate lawlessness."

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters has said he expects the grand jury investigating the shooting to complete its work this week, at which time he will announce whether UC Police Officer Ray Tensing will be charged with a crime and also will release video of the incident from the officer's body camera.

Tensing shot and killed Samuel DuBose, 43, during a traffic stop on July 19. The officer stopped DuBose at Rice and Valencia streets in Mount Auburn for having a missing front license plate.

Many questions remain unanswered. The police incident report said Tensing was "dragged," but there was no mention of the dragging in the police dispatch call. Deters has refused to release video of the incident until the grand jury's work is done, saying it is part of the investigation.

Cranley and other city officials say they have not seen the video, but City Manager Harry Black said Monday he has been briefed on what it shows.

"My reaction is that it is not a good situation," Black said. "Someone has died that did not necessarily need to die."

The various reactions by Mayor Cranley, Police Chief Blackwell, and City Manager Black tells me that 1) the body camera video is explosively bad, and 2) that there's little question that Officer Ray Tensing is in a world of trouble.  For this administration to go into damage control mode before the video is even made public tells me Cranley, Blackwell, and probably the city council as well are all terrified of the city's reaction to this, and after the 2001 protests they are painfully aware of what can go wrong.

Cranley in particular is arrogant, even when he's beaten, full of bravado and noise. You have only to look at how he's the champion of Cincinnati's streetcar program after running on killing the streetcar two years ago. Now Cranley's acting like he's the voice of reason and is the one making the streetcar "work" when it would otherwise be a mess.  He's more than happy to take credit for "reforming" it these days.

But for Cranley to go into damage control mode publicly without being pushed by protesters and national press?  Cranley's not even attempting to fight this.  I don't think Cranley is overreacting at all, because I think the body camera video of the stop must clearly show that Tensing murdered DuBose.

Usually you have local governments prevaricating and qualifying things, "I can't comment on an ongoing investigation" or "We're still looking at all the evidence" or "You'll have to talk to UC President Santa Ono about this", and for Santa Ono to be openly talking about reforming the campus police rather than having to be forced into reforms and the defense attorney for the University saying that he expects an indictment is amazing.  Remember, 99% of the time police are never convicted of murder of citizens, especially black citizens, and the trial is just for show.

This is starting to look like it might be the 1% where justice actually happens.  The Cincinnati Enquirer is suing for the release of the video but the news now that the grand jury expects to wrap up this week is very strange and almost too orderly.  It's like the entire city administration is getting out in front of something horrific that hasn't gone public yet.  This just doesn't happen, even with Cincy's history of reform, and Chief Blackwell's crusade to make the police more accountable.  You always deny deny deny and circle the wagons, not, you know, do the right thing.

All we can do now is await the video's release later this week, and I'm betting it's going to put Cincinnati in a very, very harsh national spotlight.  But maybe that spotlight will see justice done for Samuel DuBose.

[UPDATEHamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters is holding a press conference on the DuBose shooting at 1 PM, followed by Mayor Cranley and Chief Blackwell giving a press conference at 2 PM.

University of Cincinnati is cancelling classes today starting at 11 AM ahead of the press conference, which means that that grand jury decision may very well be coming down this afternoon, plus the video.

More later today.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Last Call For Bevin's Break

Over at the Lexington Herald-Leader, Sam Youngman argues that the Summer of Trump could very well turn into the Winter of Jack Conway's Discontent here in Kentucky's governor's race.

There are reams of opposition research that McConnell's team unearthed but didn't need on their way to crushing Bevin in last year's primary. 
And none of that might matter one bit. 
It might not matter because Bevin, the man Trump said he would've fired, could well be holding a trump card of his own if a summer of social change becomes an autumn of angry conservative defiance. 
That card covers several issues — gay marriage, the Confederate flag and Planned Parenthood — but it's easier to just lump it into one category: The Obama card. 
If the Democratic strategy of continuing McConnell's attacks on Bevin is crystal clear, then so is the Republican strategy of tying Conway and every other Democrat running for office to a president who has never been well-liked by the vast majority of Kentuckians. 
This summer, that disdain has become a frenetic and vocal war cry as conservatives, believing their president is out to get them and that the country they love is becoming a permissive, socialist haven, are screaming at the top of their lungs for someone to push back. 
That's how Trump jumped to the top of most polls measuring the 2016 Republican presidential contest despite a history of supporting liberal causes and politicians and outlandish, controversial statements that could kill the Republican Party on the national level. 
But Kentucky isn't a national electorate. It's a conservative electorate and has only grown more so in the last 15 years. While the Trump school of politics is music to the ears of national Democrats, it's certainly not disqualifying in the commonwealth
Conway has been around state government for a very long time, gathering a deep knowledge of the state's laws, interests and needs, but he also has a scarlet D behind his name. 
It's an increasingly detrimental designation for a politician in Kentucky. 
As Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes found out last year, the liberal Democratic bases in Louisville and Lexington are not willing to sit idly by and watch as a Democrat tries to appeal to conservative members of their party.

And as Jack Conway increasingly goes down Grimes's losing path of "I will stand up to Obama" we're coming closer and closer to putting our own Trump in Frankfort.  It's a disaster waiting to happen and I don't think Conway has any clue that he's going to end up losing by double digits unless he gives Democrats in Kentucky a reason to show up at the polls.


Andead more here:

The one good thing going is that Bevin is going to be a nightmare and a national joke by the time the 2019 race rolls around.  Too bad the only thing standing between him and turning Kentucky into the next Kansas is Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo, who on a good day is still one of the most conservative Dems in the country.

I honestly see the next four years as "limiting the damage Bevin will do to our state" but after all, we elected Rand Paul rather easily.

Post-Racial America Update

Remember folks, overt, deliberate racism is a barbaric relic of the past present.

Witnesses at a birthday party in Douglasville, Georgia over the weekend said that festivities were interrupted when men waving Confederate flags threatened them and used racial slurs. 
Cell phone video obtained by the Atlanta Journal Constitution shows police officers holding back people attending a birthday party as white men in trucks with Confederate flags and other flags drive by yelling at them. 
“This is a child’s birthday party!” one woman shouts back. 
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the woman who posted the video on Facebook said that the men were armed and were on her property. She said that they threatened to “kill y’all n****rs.” 
“I don’t mind them riding with their flags but I don’t want them going around threaten[ing] people in their yard like they did mine or harassing folks either,” the woman explained in her Facebook post.

Kid's birthday party, mind you.

I'm sure they did something to deserve that.  You know, like being black.

This is 2015 and this is still happening, but it's probably Obama's fault or something, right?

Iran Out Of Excuses

WaPo's Paul Waldman asks the question everyone in the press should be asking of Republicans on the Iran deal: if the GOP gets its way, Congress rejects the Iran deal, and then overrides a veto by President Obama, what happens next?

You can argue that this deal should have been different, but when it comes time to vote on whether it should go forward, members of Congress will be choosing between two options, neither of them hypothetical. A yes vote means all the parties — not only Iran and the United States, but also the United Nations, China, Russia, and the European Union — implement this deal. A no vote, in contrast, doesn’t mean that some fantasy deal will fall from the sky. It means that the U.S. walks away from this deal, and it collapses
That also could mean that the existing sanctions regime collapses. We can keep our sanctions on Iran, but the reason sanctions have been so devastating to the country’s economy is that they haven’t just come from the U.S., but also from the United Nations, the European Union, and elsewhere. If those other sanctions were to disappear, Iran would get most of what it wanted without having to fulfill any obligations at all. And if they want to pursue a nuclear weapon, they could then go right ahead
So now that the deal is on the table and congressional votes are on their way, what Republicans really need to explain is not what sort of deal they might have preferred. We know their answer to that question — they’ll say they would have rather had a deal where Iran gives us everything we want, and we give up nothing. But that’s irrelevant at this point. What they need to explain now is why the U.S. pulling out of this deal — and what happens afterward — will be preferable to implementing it, imperfections and all. Do they think the Iranians will come crawling back and make further concessions? Do they think the rest of the world’s powers, which support the deal they helped negotiate, will just follow us and impose new sanctions in the hope that eventually that might lead to more negotiations (which, like these, would take years) and ultimately the fantasy deal where Iran capitulates? What precisely is the chain of events Republicans think will occur if we pull out? 
If they’ve given that question even a moment’s consideration, you wouldn’t know it to listen to them. But it’s what they ought to be asked now.

The chain of events inside Fantasy Iran Deal is actually pretty simple: Brave Republicans talk enough Democrats into abandoning the deal, it goes under, and Iran shows its "true colors" and the American people demand war and regime change.  And in 2017, under a Republican president and Congress, they get that war against God's enemies, because Onward Christian Soldiers.  That war is magically won in six weeks and the US, having disposed of a terror state, suddenly has everyone falling in line to appease our might.

It's total lunacy, of course.  They can't say it because of precisely that reason.  But we know exactly what will happen should Republicans win the White House and keep Congress: war, plain and simple.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Lat Call For House Of Mirrors

So after all the noise in the Senate, the Sunday session, Ted Cruz getting on the Senate floor to call Mitch McConnell a liar, an agreement for six years' funding of the Highway Trust Fund and renewal of the Export-Import Bank...the House won't even consider the bill as majority leader Kevin McCarthy says Mitch better pass the GOP House version or highway projects across the country run out of money by the end of the week.

McCarthy’s decision leaves Congress with two possible paths forward.

The House could simply do nothing, leave town and hope that will force the Senate to swallow the five-month highway bill it passed two weeks ago. That measure does not include any Ex-Im language.

Another, less confrontational option would be to go smaller and send the Senate a two- or three-month highway patch, punting the issues of highway spending and Ex-Im until after Labor Day, when Congress returns from its summer recess.

Senate and House Republicans are on different planets when it comes to the highway bill.

Besides the fight over the Export-Import Bank, House Republicans prefer a shorter-term bill to buy time for negotiations with the White House on tax reform, which Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) believes could be used to pay for a full six years of highway funding.

The Senate bill, crafted by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), covers six years but only pays for three years of funding.

McConnell prefers the Senate bill because it would prevent a series of votes on stopgap measures this fall, and possibly in 2016, when the GOP leader wants to focus on helping his conference retain its Senate majority.

A majority of Senate Republicans have backed McConnell, and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) reacted to McCarthy’s comments by stating on the Senate floor that he is “very concerned about what the House is doing right now.”

McCarthy said the House would stick to its schedule and head home on Thursday.

Imagine that.  House Republican are going to wreck a must pass bill because they can.  Oh, and they'll blame Obama when they choose not to even vote on the Senate bill that was worked out very publicly over the last two weeks.

The only suckers here are the American people who thought that Republicans gave a damn about things like "roads" and "governance".

Rockin' The Doc Costs

Obamacare's mission to make health care more affordable has several key components. Making health insurance more affordable and increasing insurance availability, plus having more people on insurance to lower the cost for everyone is what most of the debate about Obamacare involves.

But a big chunk of that is the fact that health care costs aren't skyrocketing like they have been before the ACA was passed.  And as the economy improves, health care costs are remaining flat.

The price of health care has grown more slowly than core consumer prices—what Americans spend on everything except food and energy—over the past five years. It’s the first time that’s happened since record-keeping started in 1959. That’s a remarkable break from decades of health-care prices outpacing inflation, but consumers shouldering a greater share of their medical costs may not notice the difference.
Goldman Sachs economist Alec Phillips pointed out the milestone in a research note on July 22. His analysis uses a broad measure of health-care prices, including what health providers charge government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

The price of health care typically lifts overall inflation, but in recent years it’s been an anchor weighing down overall price growth. What’s behind the slowdown?

Some of it is from government-dictated reductions in Medicare and Medicaid payments. Wage growth in the health-care sector has also been slow since the recession, Phillips notes.

But health care prices are in fact stabilizing.  The cost curve is being bent, as predicted.

Maybe it's time to start acknowledging that Obamacare works?

Naah.  We can't have that.

The Huckster Hucks Up Big TIme

The best part of Donald Trump's continued rise in the GOP polls (by showing America just how terrible the GOP base is when they respond positively to him) is that the rest of the pack wants in on the action too.  Behold, Mike Huckabee on the Iran deal:

Former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee blasted President Barack Obama on Saturday over the nuclear deal reached between Iran and world powers, saying that by trusting the Iranians, the president "will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven."

Nothing is out of bounds anymore.  Everything is permitted.

In an interview with Breitbart, the 59-year-old conservative television personality called Obama's foreign policy "the most feckless in American history" and dubbed the Iran deal "the most idiotic thing." "It should be rejected by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and by the American people," he said.

Huckabee entered the race for his party's 2016 presidential nomination last May, vowing strong U.S. support for Israel and declaring "Hell will freeze over" before Iran gets a nuclear weapon.

In Saturday's interview, Huckabee urged the GOP presidential hopefuls to simplify their message to the American people, and focus on "conservatism, limited government, more local government, lower taxes, and less regulation to people who sweat through their clothes every day and have to lift heavy things to make a living.”

Watch Huckabee's number rise sharply.  Watch the rest of the pack keep reminding America just what the GOP stands for in 2015.  He won't pay a price for accusing a sitting President of another Jewish Holocaust.  He will only benefit, because Republicans are awful, awful people.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Last Call For Aptly-Named McCarthy

The National Review has collapsed in credibility to the point where editor Andrew McCarthy is calling for the impeachment of President Obama over the Iran deal because he "surrendered to the enemy" or something by going to the UN Security Council to approve the deal.

So, in his signature “if you like your health-care plan, you can keep your health-care plan” style, the president has come up with a fraudulent scheme: use the IAEA (the International Atomic Energy Agency) as a smokescreen. His administration now cynically claims that these critical agreement components — the rationale for lifting American sanctions on and making American commitments to the “Death to America” regime — actually have nothing to do with America . . . they are strictly between Tehran and the IAEA. Translation: Blame the IAEA, not Obama, for the abandonment of Obama’s core commitments.

This would be laughable if it were not so offensive — and so perilous. Put aside that the Constitution does not permit the U.S. government to delegate American national security to anyone. The IAEA is not an independent actor. It is an international bureaucracy forged by the United States in the 1950s. Not only is the U.S. is a staple of its governing board; the American people underwrite over 25 percent of its budget. Furthermore, the IAEA reports to the United Nations (to which the American taxpayers’ contribution also far exceeds that of other countries) and, specifically, to the U.N. Security Council (of which the United States remains the dominant permanent member).

Now consider this: Under cover of this IAEA ruse, Obama ran to the Security Council and rammed through a resolution commencing implementation of his Iran deal before Congress or the American people could consider it. He thus undermined American sovereignty and the Constitution by scheming to impose an international-law fait accompli. And he thus undermined American national security by transferring his inspection commitments to an international agency that he knows is not close to being capable of executing them — an agency that will be further hampered by notice restrictions that, as Charles Krauthammer concludes, render the inspections “farcical” in any event. 

The Constitution forbids providing aid and comfort to America’s enemies. And the Framers’ notion that a president would be punishable for deceiving Congress regarding the conduct of foreign affairs meant that lawmakers would be obliged to use their constitutional powers to protect the United States — not merely shriek on cable television as if they were powerless spectators. 


Well, you spittle-flecked moron, you need help.  Seriously.  There's a reason everyone's having a good laugh at this today, and that's because your temper-tantrum is so completely embarrassing and outright stupid that it's become the comedy hit of the week.

The same people who thought nothing about lying us into a war that cost hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars are convinced that doing the opposite is impeachable.

Utterly ridiculous.

Chamber Of Horrors

Don't look now, but the war between Tea Party GOP and Country Club GOP is about to get absolutely nasty.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is gearing up to challenge some House Republicans in primary elections, frustrated after much of its agenda has been stymied by a small pocket of conservative GOP lawmakers. 
The influential and well-heeled business group is already eyeing several races, but the plans are still in their infancy and the targets have not yet been decided upon, according to more than a half dozen Republican sources on K Street and Capitol Hill.

The group’s apparent new willingness to engage in hand-to-hand political combat to take out sitting Republicans would represent a major shift for the business community, which has largely shied away from targeting sitting lawmakers. 
House GOP leadership sources say they’re unaware of and don’t support any attempt to target sitting GOP lawmakers. But the Chamber’s internal dialogue comes as House Republican leaders have struggled to maintain discipline in their ranks. Recent attempts to crack down on dissenting lawmakers have backfired. 
The early discussions by top-level Chamber operatives like Rob Engstrom and Scott Reed reflect a broad consensus among companies with business before Congress that the political dynamic needs to change on Capitol Hill.
The theory is simple: The Chamber spent some $70 million in 2014, mostly to help Senate Republicans build their majority. But many of their legislative priorities — immigration reform, the renewal of the Export-Import Bank and a long-term highway bill — have been held up by a clutch of conservative lawmakers in the House.

The Tea Party was fine until the whole "shutting the government down" and "breaking the economy" thing started cutting into the bottom lines of America's biggest corporations.  Going after hippies in the Democratic party was one thing.  Going after corporate subsidies, transportation infrastructure used to move goods, and immigration as a source of labor, well, now that the GOP is firmly in control of Congress, suddenly it's gotten a whole lot more cost effective to replace the nutjobs.

I don't know who to root for here, but whoever wins this battle, we all lose in the end.

Sunday Long Read: What Happens In Vegas...

America's right-wing domestic terrorism problem, the anti-government, anti-authoritarian "sovereign citizen" types who believe they are a law unto themselves and nobody else, was personified in the Las Vegas shooting by David Brutsch and Devon Newman two years ago.  Ashley Powers at The California Sunday Magazine looks at that fateful and deadly summer of 2013.

Devon Newman parked her black Honda Civic outside the warehouse. Her friend David Brutsche glowered in the passenger seat — they’d spent the 12-minute crawl across Las Vegas bickering about the mission. How committed are you, David barked, in that prison-guard way of his. Is this a joke to you? A game of let’s pretend? A few weeks ago, when the mission was still a dark fantasy, their pal Scott Reibach had warned them: “What we’re doing, you know, is dangerous. We could be hurt, we could be shot by these knuckleheads, we could be thrown in prison for the rest of our lives.” David didn’t flinch. “I’m willing to give my life for this,” he said.

It was mid-August and over 100 degrees. The air chapped lips, parched throats. The sun was starting to dip behind the mountains that ring the Las Vegas Valley; the Strip was shaking off its afternoon slumber. From outside the warehouse, David and Devon could glimpse the tops of the Wynn, the Encore, the Palazzo, and the Trump, its 64 stories sheathed in 24-karat-gold glass. That was not their Las Vegas. Neither was the Vegas of foreclosed McMansions — that was farther out, near the mountains, in the gated communities in Henderson and Summerlin.

Devon and David’s Las Vegas hadn’t lost its sheen in the recent recession; it had none to begin with. It was a Vegas of dollar stores, check-cashing services, EZPawn shops, gas-station slot machines, and storefronts stripped of fancy names — they offered DOG GROOMING and NAIL TIPS, nothing more. Everywhere there were apartment complexes painted in earth tones, their nameplates missing letters, their yellow welcome flags frayed. It was a Vegas of frustrations and resentments, of second and third chances squandered — the Strip’s opulence in sight, but always out of reach.

The warehouse was similarly glamourless, building B in a warren of squat structures. Scott worked there at a fledgling video-​​production business, near Code Red Emergency Plumbing and H&J Trophies. His boss didn’t mind if David and Devon stopped by. They mostly huddled in a backroom, on three couches arranged in a U, mapping out the mission until the sky was black and the Strip ablaze.

The mission: Kidnap a cop at a traffic stop. Jail him (or her, but likely him) at a house in the burbs. Hold their own trial. And then:

“Put a bullet in his head,” David said. He grinned

The plan of course went horrifically wrong as police got wind of it and the pair were arrested after dozens of meetings with an undercover officer.  But it's a chilling reminder that in the age of Obama, this domestic terrorism movement has grown exponentially, and so has the danger they pose.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Last Call For Mad Turtle Disease

Something something definition of insanity is repeating the same action over and over again and expecting a different result, see Mitch McConnell and Obamacare repeal.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has set up a vote to repeal ObamaCare in a bit do appease conservatives upset over a second planned vote to revive the Export-Import Bank. 
McConnell on Friday announced he would file cloture — a motion to end a filibuster — on amendments to fully repeal ObamaCare and to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank. Both votes likely will take place Sunday. 
McConnell argued that taking votes on both amendments offered a "balanced" way forward.

"Ex-Im shouldn't be the only vote we take on this bill, and under the compromise I just filed, it won't be. That's a much fairer way forward," he said, adding that Republicans will "continue to fight for" a repeal of ObamaCare. 
The Export-Import Bank is staunchly opposed by conservatives, including presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who shortly after McConnell spoke denounced the decision. 
Bringing back the bank is important to vulnerable GOP Sen. Mark Kirk (Ill.), one of the Democrats’ top targets in 2016, whom McConnell wants to help win re-election. 
Also, Democrats have insisted that the six-year highway deal McConnell negotiated with liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) include the Ex-Im Bank reauthorization. 
McConnell has often said he personally opposes reauthorizing the bank, an agency panned by conservatives as a tool of corporate welfare. 
He plans to file cloture to repeal ObamaCare and renew the bank’s charter after offering the highway bill on the Senate floor Friday.

So, bottom line, Republicans are planning to poison the must-pass Highway bill with a repeal of Obamacare. It won't pass, the amendment will need 60 votes, but it's amusing to see McConnell throw out a smoke bomb like this to cover his ass on the Export-Import Bank authorization.

But Mitch isn't very good at his job.  He does however think Republican voters are pretty stupid.

Bevin The Bulldozer

Earlier this week Kentucky Democratic AG Jack Conway and Republican Matt Bevin squared off at the Kentucky Farm Bureau forum, the first time the two gubernatorial candidates faced each other in debate.  Al Cross has more on the fact the forum's conversation quickly went to Bevin's promise to dismantle the state's successful Kynect health exchange and Medicaid expansion.

At a Kentucky Farm Bureau forum in Louisville, Bevin and Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway were asked how they would pay for the expansion of the federal-state program once the state starts paying 5 percent of the bill in 2017, rising to the federal health-reform law’s cap of 10 percent in 2020. 
Conway cited a study for the Beshear administration predicting that the expansion would pay for itself through 2020, by creating health-care jobs and tax revenue. It says there would be a net loss in 2021, the last year of the study. 
Conway said there are too many people on Medicaid, but said the solution for that is a better economy. “What I am not going to do is what my opponent will do on day one, which is by executive order kick half a million people off health insurance based on whether we can or can’t afford it in 2021. To me, that’s not courageous, that’s callous. . . . If we can’t afford something, we can potentially scale back.” 
Bevin said the “day one” line was “an absolute lie,” but when he was asked in February about the expansion, he said “No question about it, I would reverse that immediately.” 
As he has done before, Bevin conflated the Medicaid expansion with Kynect, the state health-insurance exchange where Kentuckians can get subsidized health insurance or, if their household income isn’t more than 138 percent of the federal poverty line, sign up for free Medicaid.

“With respect to the Kynect program, we cannot afford to have 25 percent and fast growing toward 30 percent on Medicaid, period, whether you like it or not, whether you think it’s fair or not, whether there’s supposedly a need or not, truth be told, we can’t afford it.”

He said later, “We’re gonna dismantle the Kynect program. We’re not gonna have 25 percent of Kentuckians on Medicaid."

To recap, Conway will address the costs of Medicaid expansion, and there will be costs.  Bevin on the other hand doesn't give a damn, and will just scrap arguably the country's most successful state exchange in Kynect and throw 430,000 people off Medicaid and say "Good luck with"

Money shot in the last paragraph, though:

As the questioning continued, Bevin said he had explained what would happen to the 430,000 new Medicaid beneficiaries. Told that he hadn’t, he replied, “They’re Kentuckians. They will continue to live in Kentucky if they choose to.”

What a nice guy.

As I've repeatedly said, the entire point of Republicans killing Medicaid expansion is simple: you either die or move to another state.  Either way, you're no longer that state's problem.

Bevin absolutely is running for governor of the Commonwealth on that platform, and right now he's ahead in the polls because of it.  Meanwhile, Jack Conway is going to learn that as with Alison Lundergan Grimes, if you run away from Obama, you're going to lose.

Planned Out In Advance

It's almost like Republicans have been gearing up to destroy Planned Parenthood well before the doctored videos showed up.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell started a fast-track process Friday on legislation to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding in the wake of two controversial videos showing officials discussing delivery of fetal parts.

The Republican leader began "Rule 14," which will let the legislation skip the committee process and be placed on the Senate calendar so it can be brought up for a floor vote.

The move comes after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) slammed McConnell during a blistering floor speech earlier Friday, suggesting the Kentucky Republican wanted to dodge a vote on defunding Planned Parenthood.

It's not that is matter unless the bill can get 67 votes.  But the pressure on what few Red State Democrats are left will be pretty strong.  We'll see how it goes, but let's remember that this is a snow job from the beginning, and that Republicans have been in on this the whole time.

Racing To Conclusions

A new NY Times poll shows that most Americans believe race relations have gotten worse.

A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last week reveals that nearly six in 10 Americans, including heavy majorities of both whites and blacks, think race relations are generally bad, and that nearly four in 10 think the situation is getting worse. By comparison, two-thirds of Americans surveyed shortly after President Obama took office said they believed that race relations were generally good.

America found out the hard way that the backlash against a black President brought out the racism long ignored by most of us.  It was a rude (and in some cases, deadly) awakening.

The swings in attitude have been particularly striking among African-Americans. During Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign, nearly 60 percent of blacks said race relations were generally bad, but that number was cut in half shortly after he won. It has now soared to 68 percent, the highest level of discontent among blacks during the Obama years and close to the numbers recorded in the aftermath of the riots that followed the 1992 acquittal of Los Angeles police officers charged in the beating of Rodney King.

A big part of this is the rise of social media.  Where shootings involving black victims don't make the news, they do make Twitter and Facebook.  We're more aware of these killings, and they're happening more often.

The divide, seen in the answers to virtually every question in the poll, was stark when respondents were asked whether they thought most Americans had judged Mr. Obama more harshly because of his race. Eighty percent of blacks said yes, while only 37 percent of whites agreed.

“I’m not surprised it’s gotten worse under President Obama,” said Elizabeth Gamble, 33, an African-American cook from Albany, Ga., “because he’s black, and so he already had that strike against him once he got into office.” 
Deep racial schisms were also evident in responses about law enforcement and the criminal justice system. About three-fourths of blacks said they thought that the system was biased against African-Americans, and that the police were more likely to use deadly force against a black person than a white person. Only 44 percent of whites felt that the system was biased against blacks. 
Clearly, views of the police are informed by personal experience. Four in 10 blacks, and nearly two-thirds of black men, said they felt they had been stopped by the police just because of their race or ethnicity, compared with only one in 20 whites. Fully 72 percent of blacks said they had suffered what they perceived as racial discrimination, compared with 31 percent of whites. 
At a time when the unemployment rate for blacks is double that for whites and black households earn 40 percent less, blacks continue to assert they do not enjoy an equal shot at attaining financial success. The share of blacks who said whites have a better chance to get ahead rose by 14 percentage points in about a year’s time, to 60 percent. More than half of whites said blacks have equal opportunities, compared with about a third of blacks who said so.

The problem isn't race relations.  The problem is the reality of black America in the era of social media is coming into the homes, the TVs, the PCs, and the tablets of white America, and frankly white America doesn't know what the hell to do about it other than to lash out.

We're seeing the results of that now.

I'm sorry that existing as a black man in America in 2015 upsets you so.

Naah, I'm not sorry.  You needed your bubble popped a long damn time ago.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Last Call For Just A Phase For Jeb

And while everyone's got their eyes on Trump's antics, Jeb Bush is quietly telling us exactly what his plans for Millennials and younger Gen Xers like myself are as far as "entitlement reform".

"The left needs to join the conversation, but they haven’t. I mean, when [Rep. Paul Ryan] came up with, one of his proposals as it relates to Medicare, the first thing I saw was a TV ad of a guy that looked just like Paul Ryan … that was pushing an elderly person off the cliff in a wheelchair. That’s their response. 
“And I think we need to be vigilant about this and persuade people that our, when your volunteers go door to door, and they talk to people, people understand this. They know, and I think a lot of people recognize that we need to make sure we fulfill the commitment to people that have already received the benefits, that are receiving the benefits. But that we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something – because they’re not going to have anything.”

Tie to phase out Medicare and move to a new system, huh?  Of course Boomers will get theirs, but me and anyone younger?  Hope you don't plan on ever being able to retire or afford health care when you're in your 70s, because that's not happening after a GOP government takes over in 2017, folks.

I'll tell you what, if Democrats can't find a way to bury Jeb here after saying he wants to phase out Medicare, I don't know if anything can save anyone under 40 from a lifetime of crippling austerity. Steve Benen:

Obviously, all of these projections come with caveats because no one can say with certainty what will happen in the future, but the projections are encouraging – and far more heartening than they were before the ACA passed. 
But Jeb Bush is under the impression that Medicare is, without a doubt, doomed, so we might as well get rid of the program now and see what Paul Ryan has in store for seniors in his far-right bag of tricks. 
There’s a better way. Medicare’s future is looking brighter, it’s as popular as ever, and its fiscal challenges can be addressed without tearing down the entire system. It’s a matter of political will – either elected policymakers will fight to protect Medicare or they’ll push to eliminate it.

Guess we better get off our asses and vote, huh?

Em Ess En Be Seeing Ya, Ed

MSNBC’s entire late afternoon lineup is apparently getting the axe.

A well-placed source tells me MSNBC will announce today major changes to its afternoon lineup…arguably the most significant revamp the network has made at one time in its 19-year history. 
Out: The Cycle at 3:00 PM. Now with Alex Wagner at 4:00 PM. The Ed Show with Ed Schultz at 5:00 PM (all times eastern).

Guess who’s baaaaaaack?

In: Chuck Todd at 5:00 PM. Similar to Jake Tapper at CNN doing both weekday afternoons (hosting The Lead) and anchoring Sunday morning’s State of the Union, Todd will also continue to work weekends as moderator of Sunday’s Meet the Press. Todd’s MSNBC show will likely take on its old name The Daily Rundown, but that is not a guarantee. 
More interesting: Andrea Mitchell will keep her program at noon (Andrea Mitchell Reports). Thomas Roberts will continue to anchor his midday news program from 1:00-3:00 PM. The programs being cancelled at 3:00 PM (The Cycle) and 4:00 PM (Now with Alex Wagner) will be replaced by a straight news program (similar to Roberts’ two-hour newscast preceding it). Whether that 3:00-5:00 PM slot goes to Brian Williams is not known at this time, but it would certainly make the most sense to put Williams directly up against Fox’s Shepard Smith (Shepard Smith Reporting) and CNN’s Brooke Baldwin (CNN Newsroom) for the first hour in a similar format.

Yeah, because MSNBC’s problem is that it needs more Andrea Mitchell, Chuck Todd, and Brian Williams.

Jeebus wept. They actually found the one person I’m willing to watch less than Ed “boycott the midterms” Schultz.

And yes, the bullseye is now squarely on the backs of Al Sharpton and Chris Hayes. Maybe you guys can bring in three hours of Tweety while you’re at it. That’ll get the kids running in from miles around.

Trumpenstein's Monster

The ultimate 2016 nightmare scenario for the GOP involving Donald Trump isn't him staying in the GOP hunt, but coming in as a third party candidate with his own billions to spend.

Donald Trump says the chances that he will launch a third-party White House run will “absolutely” increase if the Republican National Committee is unfair to him during the 2016 primary season. 
“The RNC has not been supportive. They were always supportive when I was a contributor. I was their fair-haired boy,” the business mogul told The Hill in a 40-minute interview from his Manhattan office at Trump Tower on Wednesday. “The RNC has been, I think, very foolish.”

Pressed on whether he would run as a third-party candidate if he fails to clinch the GOP nomination, Trump said that “so many people want me to, if I don’t win.” 
“I’ll have to see how I’m being treated by the Republicans,” Trump said. “Absolutely, if they’re not fair, that would be a factor.” 
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus called Trump earlier this month asking him to tone down his controversial rhetoric. More recently, the RNC rebuked him for saying that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is not a war hero. Trump didn’t apologize but has since said that the 2008 Republican presidential nominee is a war hero. 
Trump told The Hill that the GOP establishment in Washington dislikes him because he’s not part of the political class. 
“I’m not in the gang. I’m not in the group where the group does whatever it’s supposed to do,” he said. “I want to do what’s right for the country — not what’s good for special interest groups that contribute, not what’s good for the lobbyists and the donors.”

Voter anger at the government, especially among Republicans, is so high right now that Trump as a third party candidate would be a nuclear meltdown a 2000 Nader run raised to the power of Trump's fortune.  So yes, I fully expect the GOP and the RNC to suddenly start being a whole hell of a lot nicer to the guy in the coming months.

Trump's not going anywhere.  That suits me just fine.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Last Call For Full Court Depressed

Meanwhile, Republicans are continuing to openly talk about destroying the federal judiciary in response to rulings on Obamacare and marriage equality.  A Senate GOP hearing Wednesday had all kinds of nutjobs espousing a "solution" to the "problem" of having a Supreme Court at all.

Wednesday’s hearing -- titled “With Prejudice: Supreme Court Activism and Possible Solutions” and convened by the Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts, which Cruz chairs -- presented the latest wave of efforts to attack the Supreme Court for straying from the high hopes conservatives had after Bush nominated Samuel Alito to the seat vacated by the more moderate Sandra Day O'Connor. 
“When I see what’s happened at the Supreme Court level, it strikes me as a foreign, unhistorical approach to law. It’s just breathtaking, some of the things that have happened,” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said during the hearing. 
One witness, John Eastman -- a Chapman University law professor who also serves as the chair of the board for National Organization for Marriage -- suggested constitutional amendments allowing states by a majority vote to override “truly egregious” decisions by the court and a supermajority of Congress to do the same.
Another witness, Edward Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, threw out an assortment of ideas, including changes to the constitutional amendment process itself, opportunities to override decisions, more avenues to remove bad judges, and term limits. 
"The Court’s extraordinary abuses also call for consideration of extraordinary
," he said.

So please tell me again how Republicans are no different from Democrats, when Republicans are holding Senate hearings about how to destroy the Supreme Court as revenge.  Please, entertain me.

By the way, these people are insane.  And unless we decide to show up at the polls and stop them, they will control the whole ball of wax in 2017.

Red, White, Black And Blue

Greg Sargent notes that a new Washington Post poll is not exactly good news for the idea that Hillary Clinton (or any other Democrat) will magically do better with working class white voters than President Obama.

The new Washington Post/ABC News poll starkly illustrates the challenge Democrats face in this regard. It turns out that an overwhelming majority of non-college whites believes the U.S. economic system is stacked in favor of the rich — but far more of those voters also think Republicans, not Democrats, have better ideas to address that problem. 
The Post/ABC poll finds that 68 percent of Americans think the U.S. economic system generally favors the wealthy rather than being fair to most Americans (only 27 percent believe the latter). Some 69 percent of white non-college voters believe it favors the wealthy, somewhat higher than the 61 percent of white college-educated voters who believe the same. 
But look how non-college whites break down on the question of which party has the better ideas to make the economic system fairer: 

Non-college whites overwhelmingly believe the economic system is not fair to most Americans, but substantially more of them prefer GOP ideas on what to do about it. By contrast, other groups are much more evenly divided on this question. Among college-educated whites, Republicans lead by a much smaller 46-38. Independents are almost exactly split. And in a bit of good news for Dems, moderates favor their ideas by 45-34. But among non-college whites, GOP ideas enjoy a 21 point advantage.

If only 29% of non-college white voters think the Democrats are better for them economically after seven years of a Democratic president actually putting in policies that help them. then the Democrats need to kiss working class white voters goodbye.

Chasing these folks, especially at the expense of black and Latino voters (I'm talking to you, Jim Webb) is a guaranteed disaster.

The reality is that Republicans have succeeded in framing Obamacare, executive action on immigration, and international trade deals as benefiting those people at the direct expense of "good ol' boys".  White resentment is the driving force behind the Republican party right now (see Donald Trump). Putting Hillary or Bernie in isn't going to change that.  The GOP austerity regime is being sold as "We'll take away health care and jobs and entitlements away from them and never you.  Trust us."  It's working, unfortunately.

As a result, Democrats need to remember who voted them into the White House, and who ran from them in 2010 and 2014 in midterms.

Luckily, President Obama seems to be well aware of that distinction.

Jobapalooza Mini-Update

More good news on the employment front (not that anyone seems to still care about the Obama economy these days).

The fewest Americans in four decades filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, continuing to unwind an early-July surge that was probably tied to mid-year factory shutdowns and school vacations. 
Jobless claims plunged by 26,000 to 255,000 in the week ended July 18, the fewest since November 1973, a report from the Labor Department showed on Thursday in Washington. The median forecast of 47 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 278,000. Volatility is typical for this time of year as auto plants retool for the new model year and school staff varies with summer holidays, a department spokesman said as the data was released to the press. 
Claims continue to hover near historically low levels as employers are retaining workers to cater to a pickup in demand following a slump in early 2015. Combined with steady hiring across states, the improvement will help sustain household spending, the biggest part of the economy.

“Claims will remain low for the foreseeable future,” Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina, said before the report. “Businesses are having a tough time finding the workers they need. They expect sales to grow.”

The lowest weekly jobless claims number in my lifetime, but somehow the problem is Obama is terrible for the economy or something.

Yes, finally, we're seeing the shoe on the other foot after 2008: employers are scrambling to find workers, which means more workers entering the job market, which means more money in the pockets of households and hopefully higher wages across the board, which means more people buying products, creating more demand for workers.

Positive feedback loops can be wonderful things.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Last Call For Murder In His Eyes

Next time you ask yourself thinking "Why would a woman still not report sexual assault in 2015" please recall the awful case of Maine's Brittany Irish, who reported assault and most likely ended up kidnapped and wounded because she did.

The parents of a woman police say was kidnapped during a shooting rampage that left two people dead believe the gunman was furious at her when he found out she went to police saying he abducted and sexually assaulted her days earlier.

Rick and Kim Irish told The Associated Press that Anthony Lord had become obsessed with their 21-year-old daughter, Brittany Irish, before abducting her and attacking her on July 15, two days before the shooting rampage. 
Because of his lengthy criminal record, Lord knew he would be going back to prison and didn't care about the consequences, the parents said. 
"He knows he was going to jail for life for what he did to Brittany ... so he was just going to go out with a bang," Rick Irish said Monday at the family's home in Benedicta, where police say Lord fatally shot Brittany Irish's boyfriend, Kyle Hewitt, and shot and wounded her mother before kidnapping her early Friday. 
Afterward, police say, Lord fled from the Irishes' home and shot three other people, setting off a manhunt that shut down roads in parts of northern Maine and sent panic through several small rural towns where violence is so rare that residents usually leave their homes unlocked. 
Police have not publicly said what they believe motivated the shootings, which they say killed the 22-year-old Hewitt and 58-year-old Kevin Tozier, whom Lord happened upon during his crime rampage, and wounded three others. The Irishes said Brittany Irish also was wounded in the arm during the shootings. 
Lord, 35, is charged with kidnapping and murder. He remained in the Aroostook County Jail after making a brief court appearance via video link Monday. His lawyer did not immediately respond to a message from the AP on Tuesday seeking comment on the sexual-assault allegations.

So again, she reported the assault to the police, and the cops did...nothing.  Then when Lord found out about it, he kidnapped her and killed two people when things seriously went off the rails. If you want to know why women don't report sexual assault 100% of the time when it happens, it's because police don't protect victims 100% of the time.

It's a heartbreaking and all too common story in America.
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