Saturday, July 4, 2015

Keeping Bernie Sanders In Perspective


For those of you not engaged in Fourth of July preparations here and abroad, we have some reading with caveats about one of our favorite Senators- who- isn't- a- Democrat, Bernie Sanders (I-VT).  First, Martin Longman (BooMan) warns against "irrational exuberance" (no-pologies to Alan Greenspan) for Sanders' supporters:
I’m apprehensive about any effort to temper the enthusiasm of Bernie’s supporters, because all the goals I just mentioned are worthwhile and perhaps within reach, but a few larger-than-expected rallies and a lot of small donors shouldn’t get anyone irrationally exuberant. By the only metrics we have, Bernie is exceeding expectations and doing great. If you want to get onboard the Bernie train, do it so this can mean something and have a lasting positive effect. But don’t get thinking that Bernie is going to slay all the lions arrayed against him and win the nomination or the presidency. That’s not what his campaign is about.
What Sanders' campaign is about is to bring progressive issues to the fore (you know, ones the majority of the public agree on, like campaign finance reform, single-payer health insurance, raising the minimum wage, and tax reform) and to establish an effective, sustained progressive campaign apparatus that will outlast this election cycle.  He's rousting the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" and has already had a far greater impact than many would have expected when he began his campaign.  He'll continue to influence the direction of the Democratic Party in a positive way for as long as he's in the race.  But.  He's not going to be the nominee.  That he will shape the party and the party's message perhaps more than the person who will be the nominee will be a source of lasting satisfaction to him and to progressives generally.

Meanwhile, Joan Walsh discusses why the media has a stake in Sanders' campaign (cough= horse race =cough= Clinton-haters =cough=), and how Sanders isn't someone to be shunned, unlike the wig-stand running second in the polls in the Republican Party:
But the rise of Sanders, alongside that of the GOP’s surging star, blustering racist Donald Trump, also shows the media the difference between the ideological moorings of the folks who make up the Democratic and Republican base. The Democrats have a lot of lefties, FDR Democrats, folks who want single payer health insurance, people who think we can learn from Western Europe not stigmatize it — and yes, Sanders excites them. On the GOP side, there is a loud, large, angry segment of the GOP base that’s frankly xenophobic, nativist, even racist. Trump speaks to them.
Sanders and Trump thus offer different kinds of challenges to their party rivals. [snip]
By contrast, Hillary Clinton can afford to welcome Sanders’ candidacy, and even endorse a lot of his platform. As Jim Newell points out here, she’s enormously popular even among Sanders supporters in Iowa. And Sanders isn’t the polarizing figure that Trump is. He’s good for the Democratic Party — and for socialism too. He explains it in simple terms. He points to the strong, social democratic economies of Western Europe, not the USSR. And his rising popularity shows that millennials and other voters too young to remember the Cold War aren’t going to be red-scared away from Sanders because of the socialist label.
As Walsh points out, the media's sudden love for Bernie will dissipate once Hillary is nominated, and what the media loved or glossed over in his message they will find dangerous (socialist!) and questionable as Hillary adopts virtually the same platform.  Why?  Because as Walsh puts it, they're "lazy and apolitical political reporters who love horse races and hate the Clintons."

Friday, July 3, 2015

Weekend Fourth Music


Once again, we're choosing the John Philip Sousa standard, "The Stars and Stripes Forever," beautifully played by the Band of Her Majesty's Grenadier Guards at Blenheim Palace, to honor the founding of our nation on the Fourth of July.  The events of the past week or so have made this "a more perfect Union" for Americans who no longer have to wait to marry the person they love and for those who no longer have to fear having their affordable health insurance taken away -- therefore, a more perfect Union for all of us.  That's what we're going to celebrate this Fourth.  Have fun and be safe.

The Short Version of Krispykreme's Announcement


Someone's been toying with the roll out video of failed Governor and New Jersey's pay-to-play capo Chris "Krispykreme" Christie's announcement of his candidacy for President last Tuesday, much to our delight (hat tip to Mock Paper Scissors and Vic Berger).  Mrs. Krispykreme's strange facial expressions (is she flirting with the guy in the checked shirt and glasses?) and the numb looks in the crowd capture the mood:

You Have Cliven Bundy's Vote (If He Votes), Rand Paul!


Self-certified ophthalmologist, plagiarist, and Republican presidential  loser candidate Sen. "Ayn" Rand Paul (Dudebro-KY) may want to check himself for fleas after laying down with this dog:
Scofflaw rancher Cliven Bundy said he met with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for nearly an hour this week and found he sees eye to eye with the GOP presidential candidate.
Bundy, whose ongoing dispute over grazing rights on federally owned land sparked an armed militia standoff last year with the Bureau of Land Management, said Paul assured him he would grant the rancher’s demands and make Nevada a sovereign state if elected next year to the White House.  [snip]
The rancher said Paul’s campaign staff escorted him to an impromptu meeting with the candidate after Bundy attended an event in Mesquite.  [snip]

Paul said during the campaign event that he believed all land issues – including endangered species protections – should be handled by the states and not the federal government.
Bundy said the candidate expressed an appreciation for the American Lands Council – a Koch brothers-funded group that is working to give states control over federally owned land through legislation and litigation(our emphasis)
A "sovereign state" filled with "sovereign citizens" like egomaniacal racist moocher Cliven "Hoof" Bundy, huh. We're not sure how that works in the context of the Constitution (o.k., it doesn't), and perhaps neither does "Ayn" Rand Paul, and certainly not nitwit Bundy, who doesn't recognize, and therefore owes no allegiance to, the Federal government (a.k.a., United States of America). But we see the Koch brothers' operation is working on it day and night, so freedumb!

At least now "Ayn" Rand Paul has cornered the tumbleweed- racist- moocher "sovereign citizen" vote ... except, wait;  since "sovereign citizens" don't recognize the Federal government, would they even vote in a Federal presidential election?  It would seem highly hypocritical if they did, wouldn't it?  We believe that's called a cornpone-nundrum!

(Photo:  Welfare rancher Cliven "Hoof" Bundy has himself a candidate!)

Great Moments in Republican Rhetoric, Cont'd.


In an interview with CNN's Don Lemon, Donald "Rump" Trump, the true voice of the Republican base's bigoted id, was misrepresenting accounts of rape occurring to female immigrants in their journey to the U.S., falsely implying that rapists were crossing the border.  When Lemon pointed that the story Rump referred to was about the incidence of women being raped and not about rapists crossing the border, Rump's comeback was:
“Somebody’s doing the raping! You can’t say ‘it’s just women being raped.’Who’s doing the raping? Who’s doing the raping?”
Which, in turn, gave The Daily Show's Jon Stewart an idea for Rump's new campaign slogan:




Jeb! Bush And The Rules The Rich Play By


The sleuths at the once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle take a break from flipping nothing-burgers in their Hillary Clinton Conspiracy Cafe to finally take a look at the tax returns and bidness dealings of one Jeb!:
Shortly after Jeb Bush left the Florida governor’s office in 2007, he established his own firm, Jeb Bush & Associates, designed to maximize his earning potential as one of the country’s more prominent politicians.
Tax returns disclosed this week by the Republican’s presidential campaign revealed that the business not only made him rich but also provided a steady income for his wife and one of his sons. [snip]
The returns show that the company set up a generous and well-funded pension plan now rare in corporate America, allowing Bush to take large tax deductions while he and his wife built up their retirement portfolio.
They also illustrate how Bush — who has touted his business experience on the campaign trail — relied on his public persona and political connections to rapidly increase his net worth. [snip]
Although Bush presented the release of 33 years of tax returns this week as evidence of his transparency, a review of the filings shows that more than a third of his company’s income was from sources that his campaign has largely declined to disclose.
Bush’s small firm paid more than $2 million in wages over seven years. A large share of that money appears to have gone to his youngest son, Jeb Bush Jr., 31, who worked as a management consultant. The tax records indicate that Bush’s wife, Columba Bush, was collecting an annual salary that averaged about $31,500 — totaling more than $220,000 over seven years.
The position she held at the firm is unclear. Bush did not mention his wife’s role during his tax-document release this week. His campaign declined to provide any information about her duties. A campaign official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss Columba Bush’s position, called her a “true partner in work and life” who “contributed significantly to the firm’s success.”  (our emphasis)
The article goes into Jeb!'s relationship with defunct bankster Lehman Brothers, but many of Jeb!'s company's clients are not disclosed.  (Hmmm.)  But, oh, what a sweet, sweet retirement plan Jeb! set up:
From its inception, Jeb Bush & Associates made large contributions to retirement plans for its employees. From 2007 to 2013, the company put nearly $2.4 million into a pension plan and a 401(k) plan, money that it was then able to deduct from its taxes. That’s more than the $2 million it spent on wages during the same time period.
A large share of the retirement contributions went to a ­defined-benefit plan for just two employees, according to records the firm filed with the Labor Department.
The campaign declined to say which family members participate in the plan. (=cough= Jeb! and Jeb!'s wife =cough=)  (our emphasis and throat-clearing)
As you reflect on all of this (and there's much more in the article), please keep in mind Jeb! wants to eliminate the Federal minimum wage and (like brother Dumbya) privatize Social Security (i.e., run it like a casino).  After all, he's got his!  That's just about all you need to know about this clueless,  pampered elitist and the plutocrat party he wants to represent.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Republican Crime Blotter - Straight But Crooked Edition


Texas(s) teabagger Republican Attorney General Ken "Doll" Paxton was in the news last week after the Supreme Court issued its ruling allowing same-sex marriage nationwide, saying the First Amendment “may allow accommodation of [county clerks’] religious objections to issuing same-sex marriage licenses.”  (Um, no, now that the Fifth Circuit has directed court clerks in Texas and other states under its jurisdiction to issue those licenses.  But nice try, Ken "Doll.")

Now, however, Constitushunal skolar Ken "Doll" may want to brush up on the Fifth Amendment:
A special prosecutor said Wednesday that he’ll ask a Collin County grand jury to indict Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on first-degree felony charges of violating state securities law.
Kent Schaffer, a Houston defense attorney, said a Texas Rangers investigation of Paxton revealed that the attorney general broke laws beyond what he admitted last year, when he was fined $1,000 by the State Securities Board.
“That’s what we intend to present to the grand jury,” said Schaffer, when asked whether Paxton committed a first-degree felony. “We have a sufficient amount of evidence. Whether it leads to a criminal indictment or not is up to the grand jury.” [snip]
Paxton, a Republican, took office in January after riding a surge of tea party support to victory in last fall’s election.
Last year during his campaign, Paxton admitted to the Texas State Securities Board that while he was in the Legislature, he solicited clients for a friend’s investment firm without being registered with the state. He paid a $1,000 fine and was reprimanded by the board.  (our emphasis)
As the article points out, it's up to the grand jury to indict, and Ken "Doll"'s lawyers can be expected to employ every legal trick in the book to forestall an indictment, or at the very least, drag the proceedings out.  But you notice how it's getting to be almost de rigeur for these far-right pols to have ethical or legal problems?  Must be in their political DNA.

Rump-a-palooza Cartoons of the Day

(click to enlarge)

Stuart Carlson, via Gocomics.com

Steve Breen, via Gocomics.com



We can't wait to see this egomaniac perform at the Rethuglican debates.  As his rhetoric becomes more unhinged and demeaning to others, the more the frothing base loves him.  Sadly for Rump, among the general public as indicated in this ABC News/Washington Post poll, his unfavorability numbers are toxic:

Q: Thinking about possible presidential candidates, do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of Donald Trump?

**NET Favorable**
16
%
Strongly favorable
7
Somewhat favorable
9
**NET Unfavorable**
71
Somewhat unfavorable
16
Strongly unfavorable
55
No opinion
13

On Chris Christie: "Don't Believe A Word The Man Says"


Tom Moran of New Jersey's largest-circulation paper, the Star-Ledger, has some memorable thoughts and a warning about anger mis-management case study Gov. Chris "Krispykreme" Christie (Thug- NJ):
Most Americans don't know Chris Christie like I do, so it's only natural to wonder what testimony I might offer after covering his every move for the last 14 years.
Is it his raw political talent? No, they can see that.
Is it his measurable failure to fix the economy, solve the budget crisis or even repair the crumbling bridges? No, his opponents will cover that if he ever gets traction.
My testimony amounts to a warning: Don't believe a word the man says.  (our emphasis)
Moran goes on to catalog some of Christie's more notable lies.  Fortunately for all of us, he's just the latest Republican who's lining up for the privilege of getting crushed by Hillary Clinton.  Good reading, though.

BONUSThe Jerk Store called - they're running out of Chris Christie.

"Bobby's" Modest Proposal



You know when a political campaign's act isn't together from the start.  For example, Donald "Rump" Trump's symbolic descent- on-an-escalator-among-paid-actors-posing-as-supporters entrance, followed by an extemporaneous rant about Mexicans and how great he is.  Despite that mess, Rump's polling well among Rethug mouth breathers who want to be ruled by a wealthy authoritarian narcissist.

Then there's Louisiana's failed Gov. Piyush "Bobby" Jindal, whose strange roll out video was the subject of widespread derision.  But it gets better with "Bobby," who needs to be the most reactionary and vitriolic wingnut in the Rethuglican sweepstakes just to get airtime, since he's hovering at 1 or 2 percent in the polls.  So last week, after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage for all 50 states, "Bobby" had this Constitution-destroying suggestion:
"If we want to save some money let's just get rid of the court."
From the political spectrum that wraps itself in the Constitution when it serves them, that should set off the hypocrisy alarm.  But for "Bobby," it achieved the desired outcome:  people are talking about it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Macy's Tosses Rump Overboard



Republican candidate for President and the voice of their dark soul, Donald "Rump" Trump, has had his relationship with Macy's come to an end, according to the retail giant, over Rump's outrageous comments about Mexicans and Latino immigrants.  Much of Rump's merchandise sold through Macy's is made by low wage foreign labor (in Rump-trashed China and Mexico by the way, and also Bangladesh), the kind of "job creation" that Rump would envision for the U.S.

With NBC severing ties with Rump, and Univision's refusal to air Rump's partly-owned Miss Universe pageant, the narcissist's foray into Presidential politics appears to be backfiring on his wallet, too.

Mid-Week Jangle Song


For rock music, the summer of 1965 was full of unforgettable sounds, from the infectious sound of Motown's Four Tops and the Supremes, to amazing songs from the Beatles' Help! album soundtrack, to the blockbusting Stones hit "Satisfaction," to the release of Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" single. Speaking of Dylan, The Byrds' soaring version of his "Mr. Tambourine Man" hit number one 50 years ago this week (!), launching a new genre of music: folk rock.

June Was A Very Bad Month For Wingnuts


Let us count the ways:
  • Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change, "Laudato Si'", was the clearest statement yet to the world's 1.2 billon Catholics that right wing denial of climate change was harming the planet in a major, immoral way.  
  • The Supreme Court's 6 to 3 decision in King v. Burwell effectively terminated serious legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act (not that there won't be frivolous attempts by Congressional Rethugs to abolish "Obamacare" and take away health care for millions).
  • Another landmark decision by the Supreme Court established the right of same sex couples to marry in every State, a decision that is already causing resistance among red state yahoos and calls for a Constitutional amendment by the likes of holy roller Mike "Huckster" Huckabee.
  • In the wake of the Charleston massacre, the Confederate "battle flag" is still flying over many public places in the south -- including the grounds of the South Carolina capitol -- but a widespread movement to ban the symbol of racism and treason has started.  This should be a no brainer except for the most hardened racists, who are likely responsible for a rash of black church burnings throughout the South.
  • Wingnuts may not realize it yet, but the entry of Gov. Piyush "Bobby" Jindal and Gov. Chris "Krispykreme" Christie into the crowded clown car of the Republican race for the Presidency will only provide laughs for the rest of us as they stumble on.  They're so unpopular in their own states of Louisiana and New Jersey respectively that they'd lose in a vote against the President.  Speaking of clowns, voice of the Republican id Donald "Rump" Trump's vicious comments about Mexicans should help sink his Party's chances with Latinos in 2016.
  • Finally, a bit of schadenfreude icing was applied to June when grifter-in-training Bristol Palin announced her second out of wedlock pregnancy, which she initially called a "huge disappointment" to her family, but later claimed was "planned." Moral:  people lecturing others and quoting the Bible about "virtue" should look in a mirror first.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Weekend Celebration And Hiatus Song


We're on a bit of a hiatus until mid-next week (grandchildren need to be cuddled and other relatives need attention, too).  So, an early Weekend Song to end what's been a week that saw the flag of slavery and treason coming down across the nation and, most importantly, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) more firmly enshrined in law and custom than ever before, thanks to the King v. Burwell decision.  So, here's our happy song to take you into the weekend and next week, from the Beatles of course.  We'll be back soon!


Tiny Right-Wing Heads Exploding Over Obamacare Affirmation


Savor, as Ed Kilgore does, the schadenfreude of seeing right-wing Republican dead-enders in their agony over the Supreme Court's John Roberts' betrayal of their Noble Cause.  Here's an appetizer:
At National Review’s The Corner, Quin Hilyer had this to say about the Chief Justice:

With today’s Obamacare decision, John Roberts confirms that he has completely jettisoned all pretense of textualism. He is a results-oriented judge, period, ruling on big cases based on what he thinks the policy result should be or what the political stakes are for the court itself. He is a disgrace. That is all.
The headline was: “Chief Justice Roberts Has Officially Gone Native in Washington.”
There aren't enough pixels to capture all the agony - real and fake - that Republicans and small-bore people everywhere are experiencing over the King v. Burwell decision that, as President Obama said, means "the Affordable Care Act is here to stay."  But you'll be hearing "Apocalypse now!" from all the candidates in the Republican presidential clown car, Congressional hacks and the mouth-frothing grifters at Fox "News."  Feel free to roam the internet and get warmth from wingnut volcanic rage (after Kilgore's piece, you can go here for more unhinged reactions - hee hee).

And, you know what?  It doesn't matter anymore.  They lost, and the American people won.

BONUS:  There's a lot out there about human pus sac "Justice" Antonin Scalia's raving dissent, but a few discerning observers noted that Chief Justice Roberts used Scalia's previous argument against him in King v. Burwell.
To defend making the subsidies available to consumers everywhere, Roberts cited a line the dissent to the 2012 decision in favor of Obamacare, in which Scalia said, "Without the federal subsidies . . . the exchanges would not operate as Congress intended and may not operate at all."
Roberts used the line to argue that it "is implausible that Congress meant the Act to operate" in a manner to limit the subsidies only to those states with state-operated exchanges, as the challengers in King v. Burwell argued.
Who said a raging crackpot has to be consistent?  Nicely played.