Monday, June 1, 2015

Last Call For Huckleberry's Hat In The Ring

It's pretty impressive to see a 2016 candidate so brickheaded that he loses the presidency in his announcement speech.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) not only became the latest Republican to jump into the 2016 presidential race, he also became the latest Republican to signal strong support for deep Social Security cuts.

"Washington's failure to do the hard but right thing has put Social Security and Medicare in jeopardy," Graham said during his speech on Monday. "As my generation retires both programs are on track to go bust. We're living longer and fewer workers are supporting more retirees. That's unsustainable, everybody knows it, but not everybody will admit it. We have to fix entitlement programs to make sure people who need the benefits the most receive them. That's going to require determined presidential leadership."

Because what America really, really wants is somebody who will screw everybody under 60 out of the couple hundred bucks they get a month and everybody under 40 out of ever seeing a dime in retirement benefits.

Graham specifically described how he and his sister Darlene benefited on Social Security while growing up. 
"I know from personal experience how important these programs are to the lives of millions of Americans. As Darlene mentioned, we lost our parents when I was a young man and she was in middle school. We depended on Social Security benefits to survive. I've been fortunate," Graham continued. "I've done better than I've ever dreamed. If I and others like me have to take a little bit less and pay a little more to help those who need it most, so be it. And younger people, you may just have to work a little bit longer. As president I'll gladly do what it takes to save a program that once saved my family."

To save it of course he'll have to cut billions from it and raise the retirement age to 72 or higher, which is pretty awesome when the plan is to keep Social Security's retirement age above the average black life expectancy.

Climate Of Hyperbole

Noah Rothman continues to be one of the most vile conservative pundits, and he gets around too, this week implying the phrase "climate change denial" is anti-Semitic in Commentary Magazine.

But no record of failure will keep future generations from bellying up to the table and pushing in their chips. The latest fad that has come to dominate the attentions of our would-be Cassandras is the matter of climate change, and specifically the immediate threat this phenomenon poses to American national security. Washington Postopinion writer Catherine Rampell is the latest to submit a classic example of partisan agitation disguised as dispassionate analysis related to this vogue subject on Thursday. She contended in that essay that the Republican 2016 presidential field, one primarily composed of various breeds of hawks, is so blinkered by their ideology that they have thus far refused to address at least one glaring national security threat: That posed by global temperature fluctuations and the chaotic weather patterns the result. 
In this painfully transparent bit of political advocacy masquerading as defense analysis, Rampell praised Praised Barack Obama’s sagacity on climate issues and scoffed at the GOP field for signing the “No Climate Tax Pledge.” In a galling and audacious effort to frame Republicans as fear-mongering cynics and climate change alarmists as sober forecasters, Rampell contended that those GOP aspirants that do not regard weather pattern shifts as a threat as grave as, say, the invasion and annexation of territory in Europe by a revanchist nuclear power, are simply “incoherent.” 
“Actually it’s worse than incoherent,” she averred. “It’s an oxymoron.” 
But this piece did not consist entirely of polemics. Rampell did marshal some evidence to buttress her contention that America’s defense establishment is growing ever more concerned about the threat posed by climate change. To support that conclusion, she produced the Pentagon’s 2014 “Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap.” Rampell noted that the DOD has dubbed climate change a potential “threat multiplier.” She added that this report, and others like it, have “warned in no uncertain terms of the severe threats” posed by climate changes. 
No climate catastrophist would earn his or her stripes without deploying the vituperative and insulting claim that those who remain skeptical of the doomsday scenarios are indulging in “denialism.” The appropriation of the term, once exclusively used to describe the virulent strain of anti-Semitism that dubbed the Holocaust a myth so as to delegitimize post-War reparations to the Jewish people, has become a common form of self-validation among modern armchair climatologists. Only a few on the right would “deny” that the ever-changing climate is, in fact, changing, but many others do take issue with the notion of anthropogenic global warming or the many proposed means of addressing it. Rampell’s use of that term is as crude as it is ill-informed, but so is her citation of the Pentagon’s 2014 climate report.

So there you have it, Rothman all but insinuating that use of term "climate change denial" is actually an anti-Semitic insult to the Jewish people.  It's an incredible leap, even for as someone as vituperative as Rothman, but there you have it.  If ever there was an example of a faux controversy deployed to cover up a real one, brother, this is it.

And all this to try to distract from the fact that even the Pentagon believes climate change is going to lead to resource wars and conflicts over water, food, and arable land in the more dangerous future that we now must prepare for.

So Now What, Kentucky Fried Senators?

This is a tale of my two senators, who have managed to put a huge hole in the PATRIOT Act.

The government’s authority to sweep up vast quantities of phone records in the hunt for terrorists expired at 12:01 a.m. Monday after Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, blocked an extension of the program during an extraordinary and at times caustic Sunday session of the Senate.

Still, the Senate signaled that it was ready to curtail the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection program with likely passage this week of legislation that would shift the storage of telephone records from the government to the phone companies. The House overwhelmingly passedthat bill last month. Senators voted, 77 to 17, on Sunday to take up the House bill.

Mr. Paul’s stand may have forced the temporary expiration of parts of the post-9/11 Patriot Act used by the National Security Agency to collect phone records, but he was helped by the miscalculation of Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, who sent the Senate on a weeklong vacation after blocking the House bill before Memorial Day.

Let's get one thing straight right off the bat: Both of these men are irresponsible clowns, and the whole thing could have been avoided if the USA Freedom bill had been passed last month. Both McConnell and Paul concede that the USA Freedom act, which makes serious reforms to the NSA, backed by President Obama and both parties, was the way forward.  Instead, ego, brinksmanship, and serious screw-ups left us with a self-inflicted wound to our intelligence capability that could have been avoided weeks ago.

Both of these men are an embarrassment to my state and my country, and as a constituent I'm furious.  McConnell deserves a lot of blame here, but Rand Paul's irresponsible rhetoric means he didn't "win" this battle either, at one point saying that his fellow lawmakers secretly were hoping for a terrorist attack on US soil just so they could "blame" him for it.

If that isn't a massive load of idiotic nonsense, I don't know what is.  Both senators have shamed this state and the United States, as usual.


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