Thursday, January 31, 2013

Today's Dispatches From The Stupid Party

Today's stupid (it burns!) from the heartland of the Stupid Party * :

"A [Rethuglican] state senator [Sheryl Nuxoll] in Idaho is expressing her distaste for President Obama’s health care reform law by drawing a comparison between the private insurance companies participating in Obamacare and the 'Jews boarding the trains to concentration camps' during the Holocaust."
"A Republican state senator [Dan Brown] in Missouri has proposed legislation that would make gun safety a mandatory part of the first-grade curriculum."
"The bill, SB 234, still bars Tennessee teachers from discussing any facet of “non-heterosexual” sexuality with children in grades K-8. But the newest iteration also includes a provision requiring teachers or counselors to inform the parents of some students who identify themselves as LGBT." [More about the bill's author here.]
And last (but we're sure won't be the last), Mississippi Rethuglican Jeff Smith:

* Thank you, Gov. Bobby "Kenneth" Jindal!

Grumpy and Huck on Offense

President Obama's nominee for Defense Secretary, former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, underwent a hostile grilling at the Armed Services Committee largely from Rethuglican Senators who are eager to score points against the President, more than object to Hagel's qualifications. Especially obnoxious was the line of questioning from the Dynamic Neocon Duo, Sen. John "Grumpypants" McCain and Sen. Lindsay "Huckleberry Closetcase" Graham. Grumpypants tried to vindicate the Iraq War debacle by demanding a "yes or no" answer to whether Hagel believed he was correct in saying the Iraq surge would be a blunder; when Hagel attempted to give anger management candidate Grumpypants a complete answer, Grumpypants cut him off. Likewise, Huckleberry Closetcase, who is showing he's petrified of a Tea Party challenge in 2014, tried to butch-up in pressing Hagel on whether Israeli lobbyists have an undue influence on our Middle East policy.

Hagel will probably get OK'ed by the Committee, mostly along party lines, and confirmed by the Senate, again along party lines. This hearing is illustrating clearly the choices in terms of national security policy, not only regarding defense budgets and strategy, but between the neocon / Likudnik view of the world which wants endless wars as long as they're against Muslim countries, and a sane view of America's commitments and capabilities in the world.

BONUS: Wonkette has the perfect description of Grumpypants' state of emotional disturbance:
"We are guessing John McCain needs a new wife, because if we were Cindy McCain, we woulda hightailed it to one of our other seven mansions a long time ago; McCain kind of seems like he’s graduated to that post-Vietnam-vet stage where he comes to in the middle of the night with his hands around her neck, and no idea how they got there."

(photo: Grumpypants and Huckleberry catching a date movie)

Gun Nuttery Continues

There was vivid and wrenching testimony at yesterday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on new gun safety regulations, starting with former Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband, astronaut and Navy Capt. (ret.) Mark Kelly. Both made the case for bold action on military-style assault weapons and background checks, among other common-sense proposals.

Then it came time for the National Rampage Association's Chief Loon Wayne "Bullets for Babies" LaPierre to claim that no blame for gun violence should be placed on....guns. Reciting NRA leadership's radical, obscene talking points, which should have become discarded after Newtown, his bottom line was regulations on guns don't work (so let's regulate video games, Hollywood movies, and people with mental illness?). B for B's position against universal background checks -- at gun shows particularly -- is at odds with some 90% of Americans, and even with his own NRA membership. Fortunately, he got caught in a flip-flop by Michigan Dem Sen. Carl Levin, who made Bullets for Babies look like the lying, hypocritical buffoon that he is.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cartoon of the Day - Rethuglican Hispanic Outreach

(click to enlarge)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald, via

For The Record

We saw these headlines today as a hopeful sign of things to come:

Fox News Ratings Hit 12-Year Demo Lows In January Cable News Figures


Obama Popularity Rating Rises In Second Term, Poll Shows

Reince, Dry, Repeat

In the past few weeks, the Rethuglican National Committee has been pushing a plan for Rethug-controlled statehouses in swing states to change the way their states award electoral college votes, from the current "winner-take-all" basis to one determined by how each Congressional district voted. RNC Chairman and rodent/human hybrid Reince "Prepuce" Priebus has been the leading culprit in coordinating this rigging of the game, which would give the Rethugs an electoral win even when they lose a state's popular vote.

Now, with the plan exposed for what it is, Rethug Governors and state legislators in four swing states (Virginia, Ohio, Florida and Michigan) have thrown cold water on the scheme, dooming it in their states...for now. Only Pennsylvania's and Wisconsin's Rethug leaders haven't come out strongly against...and Gov. Scott "Koch Head" Walker of Wisconsin is waffling. You have to wonder about the wisdom of playing games with the voting system if you're the party that just lost the last election big time. Even a right-wing standard bearer and transvaginal probe advocate like Virginia's Attorney General Ken "Cooch" Cuccinelli balked at the scam. That should tell you something.

Back to the drawing board, Prepuce.

Mid-Week Birthday Boy Song

Singer Phil Collins, who celebrates his 62nd birthday today, had this great hit back in the '80s. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The New Princess Dumbass of the North

The former Princess Dumbass of the North is gone. All hail the new Princess Dumbass of the North, who unfortunately calls herself a Democrat.

Our Broken Media - Cillizza Starbursts Edition

H/t to P.E.C., who had a similar reaction when she read once great Washington Post Kaplan Daily's Chris "The Lizard" Cillizza's largely star-bursty fare-thee-well to snowbilly grifter Sarah "Princess Dumbass of the North" Palin. The kicker quote that sums up Cillizza's assessment of Palin should get your digestive juices flowing:
"The Palin story is, in the end, one of tremendous talent misused. Like any number of playground greats who never make the NBA or, when they do, wind up disappointing, Palin had as much natural ability as anyone this side of Barack Obama or John Edwards, but was unable to translate that talent into results once the bright lights came on. That she never made good on her remarkable natural talents is a sign of how the political process can chew up and spit out those who aren’t ready for it." (our emphasis)
As brother Hackwhacker says,
"What great 'natural talent' of hers was wasted? Wearing clothes paid for by her PAC long into the future? I don't think she cracked a book or read a newspaper in years; even Fox's chief Roger Ailes called her 'stupid' behind her back (naturally). I've watched Cillizza on cable, and he always plays the game of saying something critical right before he lavishes praise. Guess he needs to keep people on both sides returning his phone calls."
At one point The Lizard asks what went wrong? His answer is the disastrous interview with Katie Couric, after which Palin started to blame the "lamestream media" for anything and everything wrong with the public's perception of her. Um, no, Lizard. What happened is that, after her initial introduction at the Rethuglican convention, the more people heard her "thoughts" on various issues, the less people thought of her as a viable national politician =cough=dumbass=cough=; she ceased being a novelty and began grating on the public (except for her dimbulb followers and the likes of The Lizard, apparently). She was and is an uninformed yahoo, to put it bluntly, and that was a reality no amount of handling could disguise.

To paraphrase the old saying, "If you can't say something truthful, don't say anything at all."

BONUS: Laughably, now that Princess Dumbass is fading from view, Cillizza has developed a man crush on... wait for it... phony deep thinker and creationist Gov. Bobby "Kenneth" Jindal. We think this bromance is going to end in the same tragic way as Cillizza's starbursts for Princess Dumbass (Cillizza, circa 2017: "In the end, the Jindal story is one of tremendous talent wasted...").

Mess In Mass?

Salon's Steve Kornacki has an interesting article about the prospects for the Dems retaining Sen. John Kerry's seat, now that Kerry will succeed Secretary of State Clinton. Kornacki's argument is that the only announced Dem candidate, Rep. Ed Markey, hasn't run in a competitive race for many years, and may not go all out in campaigning for the Senate seat, if he's the party's nominee. So, the reasoning goes, a primary contest with other well-known Dems would help to weed out the best candidate/campaigner to face the almost certain Rethuglican candidate, Scott "Centerfold" Brown. Perhaps, but it would also bleed funds from the Dems, and could produce a damaged Dem candidate.

It's too bad, of course, that President Obama was forced to drop U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice from consideration, after bitter Senate Rethugs including John "Grumpypants" McCain and Lindsey "Huckleberry Closetcase" Graham threatened to filibuster it. The move put a safe Dem seat in jeopardy for no good reason, and played into the hands of the Rethuglicans who want to put Centerfold back in the Senate and see a good opening to do so. Was there no other highly qualified candidate for Secretary of State that the President could have chosen?

Climate Change? What's The Big Deal?

Stephen Colbert handles right wing climate change denialists in this clip from last night's show. Especially amusing is his treatment of CNN's resident wing nut, Erick "Son of Erik" Erickson, whom he refers to as an "inertial lump" for his attitude that nothing can be done about climate change. Enjoy.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Immigration Nation

A group of Senators today announced a proposed framework for immigration reform. The group includes Rethug Senators John "Grumpypants" McCain, Marco "Polo" Rubio and Jeff "Flakey" Flake, and Dem Senators Charles Schumer, Dick Durbin and Bob Menendez.

The proposal would add more technology and border agents to secure the borders, and would provide a "path to citizenship" for undocumented workers here in the U.S. It remains to be seen whether the Rethug far right will accept the deal, since it's seen as a boon to the Dems politically. But they really have no choice: when 71 percent of the population votes against you in 2012, and that population is growing, that's demographic suicide.

UPDATE: "He Who Shall Be Obeyed" (hate radio's porcine Rush Limpballs) says it's up to him and Fux to stop immigration reform. We fervently hope he does his damnedest, and drags his Rethug followers down with him.

Run For Cover Cartoon of the Day

(click to enlarge)

(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

Daily Kos has put together a roster of shootings in the past few days to illustrate that, aside from mass gun murders like Newtown, there are random single/double/triple killings each day. We've just become numb to the proliferation of gun violence, which is the strategy of the National Rampage Association's demented leadership.

BONUS: Typical of the Rethug pols blowing smoke on gun violence is Rep. Marsha Blackburn (NRA-Tenn.), who said on Face the Nation Sunday:
"You do because you want to make certain that people are safe in public places. You want to make certain that children are safe at school. But, Bob, I've got to tell you, doing a so-called assault weapons ban is going after a symptom, and as teachers have said to me, don't focus on whatever is the weapon, get to the root cause. Look at some of these mental health issues. Look at some of these drugs that are involved in this. Look at some of the is violence that is permeating this society. Teachers, parents are all saying, you know, you need to drill down on this a little deeper. Be a little bit more thoughtful on it. And, you know, I'm with the speaker. Why should law-abiding citizens be compromised because you've got some bad actors over here that are not complying."
That's pure NRA hackery, right there.

BONUS DEUX: Life imitates cartoons, as residents of Charlottesville, VA found out.

Krugman on Republican "Reverse Robin Hoodism"

Here's what Professor Krugman has to say in "Makers, Takers, Fakers":
"In the past, Republicans would justify tax cuts for the rich either by claiming that they would pay for themselves or by claiming that they could make up for lost revenue by cutting wasteful spending. But what we’re seeing now is open, explicit reverse Robin Hoodism: taking from ordinary families and giving to the rich. That is, even as Republicans look for a way to sound more sympathetic and less extreme, their actual policies are taking another sharp right turn."
Several Rethuglican governors, including some with national aspirations like Louisiana's Bobby "Kenneth" Jindal, are leading efforts in their states to replace the progressive state income tax with a regressive sales tax. Others, like Virginia's Gov. Robert "Blowdry Bob" McDonnell, are proposing eliminating the state gasoline tax and hiking the sales tax, thus rewarding gas-guzzling motorists and penalizing low- and middle-income people.

Rethuglicans are in the process of trying to air-brush their policies and philosophy to make them more palatable to the American public. Pursuing these tone-deaf, regressive policies lays bare their true colors for all to see.

Debt, Deficits and Austerity: The Credulous and The Credible

Once great Washington Post Kaplan Daily editorial page editor and prominent austerity fan Fred "Pain For Thee, Tax Breaks For Me" Hiatt, quoting President Obama from 4 years ago:
"...Obama has said the national interest requires both revenue increases and reform of entitlement programs."

“'The real problem with our long-term deficit actually has to do with our entitlement obligations and the fact that historically if our revenues range between 18 and 20 percent of GDP, they are now at 16,” the president told the Post editorial board in January 2009. “We’re going to have to shape a bargain. This, by the way, is where there are going to be some very difficult choices, and issues of sacrifice and responsibility and duty are going to come in, because what we have done is kicked this can down the road. We’re now at the end of the road. And we are not in a position to kick it any further.'”

"In a phone interview with me later that year, the president added: “It may start with Social Security because that’s, frankly, the easier one.'”

Let us introduce Fred to E.J. Dionne, same page, same day:
"The moment’s highest priority should be speeding economic growth and ending the waste, human and economic, left by the Great Recession. But you would never know this because the conversation in our nation’s capital is being held hostage by a ludicrous cycle of phony fiscal deadlines driven by a misplaced belief that the only thing we have to fear is the budget deficit."

"Let’s call a halt to this madness. If we don’t move the economy to a better place, none of the fiscal projections will matter. The economic downturn ballooned the deficit. Growth will move the numbers in the right direction."
Hiatt's views are an example of the credulous Beltway-think that has gone on for at least the past 4 years: the Simpson-Bowles worshipers, the "serious thinkers" who are almost always late to the realization that their long-held serious thought has, at the very least, been overtaken by events. Note how he quotes Obama's 4-year-old prescription of sacrifice approvingly (not that we're not for "sacrifice" -- we just prefer it be evenly distributed and only when it's going to solve a real problem rather than undermining faith in government as a protector of the vulnerable).

Meanwhile, Dionne points out that there's an emerging counterweight to the austerity chorus that's been dominating economic policy discussions here and abroad. Austerity has been a disaster in Europe and would effectively halt the recovery that's been slowly building here over the past 18 months. That, of course, is what the Rethuglican agenda really boils down to: it's not the deficit, stupid -- it's dismantling the progressive social safety net and diminishing the Obama legacy. Too bad Hiatt and his fellow Beltway chin-strokers have a deficit of insight (or honesty) and can't see that.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Cheat 'Em, Cont'd.

After their failed attempts to suppress the Democratic vote in key battleground states in 2012, the Rethugs continue to try to change the rules of the game in their favor. Now, after attempts to change the way electoral votes are counted in Virginia has failed, Wisconsin Gov. Scott "Koch Head" Walker is contemplating a similar scheme. Instead of awarding the state's electoral votes in total to the popular vote winner -- as it's always been done -- Koch Head's thinking about supporting a Rethug scheme to award them on the basis of which candidate won Congressional districts. If this scheme had been in place in 2012 in Wisconsin, Willard "One Percent" Romney would have captured 5 out of 8 Congressional districts, even though he lost the statewide popular vote by over 200,000 votes.

This is a campaign which threatens our system of fair elections. Since the Rethugs' policies have been rejected by the people in two straight Presidential elections, they're seeking to change the rules of the game. It's politicians picking the electorate they want, rather than the electorate picking the politicians.

The Rethugs' Next Hostage

Ezra Klein on the Rethuglican's threat to use the looming sequester cuts as leverage:
"This is the kind of perverse policy outcome that’s the consequence of the GOP’s no-tax pledge. They could get a deal from the Obama administration that would cut Medicare and Social Security and all the other spending Republicans want to cut so long as they’d also raise taxes. And they wouldn’t even have to raise tax rates — they could just get rid of loopholes and tax breaks in the code. Instead, they’re threatening to cut the spending they care most deeply about using an unreliable mechanism that was designed to be so objectionable that they’d never let it become law.

"But this is the corner they’ve backed themselves into. Having lost an election, and having tied themselves to a no-tax pledge, they’re so desperate for leverage, so desperate for a hostage they can actually shoot, that they’re willing to point the gun at their own head and threaten to pull the trigger." (our emphasis)
To which we can only say, "Go ahead. Make my day."

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Beyonce's National Anthem

There's been some criticism of Beyonce's decision to lip-sync the National Anthem at President Obama's Inaugural. We really don't have a problem with that (cold weather, you know). But we do wonder whether Ms. Knowles knows the correct words and music to the Anthem. You be the judge.

(h/t Washington, D.C., Bureau Chief Brian)

What's It Going To Take?

From Balloon Juice:
"There’s a lot of talk on this blog about the inevitable Democratic majority, but how many more voters do Democrats have to gather before their agenda actually becomes law? The Republicans out-gerrymandered Democrats to keep the House, they’re working to slant the Electoral College in their direction, and they just won a big victory in the Senate that will let them obstruct for two more years. As DougJ memorably said, Democrats are still coming to a knife fight with a tote bag, and we keep getting cut." (our emphasis)
You can add to that list the recent ruling by the three Rethuglican hacks D.C. Circuit Court voiding President Obama's recess appointments (pending appeal to the =hack= Supreme Court). Kudos all around.

Winky Booted From Fux

It's reported that Fux News "girlfriend" (see post below) half-term Gov. Sarah "Winky" Palin is leaving the cable channel, after Fux failed to renew her $1 million per year contract. Winky's chums claim that it was her decision, but we tend to think that a grifter doesn't walk away from a $1 million grift on her own. Fux said buh-bye to Winky by simply saying they wished her well (cough cough don't let the door hit ya cough cough).

Winky proved not to be the most incisive political analyst (bwahaha), and was widely condemned for her comments after the shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords two years ago, when she referred to criticism of her use of a target over Giffords picture in a political ad as a "blood libel." Fux "News" chief Roger "What Ails You" Ailes reportedly called Winky "stupid" in private conversations, and limited her appearances on the cable channel last year.

(photo: She has a future as an optometrist's assistant.)

Cartoon of the Day - Fox "News" Alternate Reality

(click to enlarge)

There seems to be a growing consensus about the value Fox "News" provides as a girlfriend corporate media arm of the New Confederate/ Rethuglican Party. Needless to say, it's causing us a sad...

(Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle, via

Friday, January 25, 2013

Right-Wing Nuttery - Bombs for Cocaine

Via Crooks and Liars, here's the story of a heavily armed right-wing nut who traded homemade bombs for cocaine because FREEDUMB!

Americans need to realize that there are many, many more of these gun-happy clowns in militias, white supremacist groups, and other right-wing associations, and "lone wolves," who are real and present dangers in our midst. It doesn't help that the local media, in this case, never identified the "right-wing manifesto" by which the dimbulb was guided. Nice work, Jimmy Olson!

Letters We Wish We'd Written Dept.

In today's once-great Washington Post Kaplan Daily, a reader writes to comment on the recent action by Rethuglicans in the Virginia Senate to do some redistricting hanky-panky:
No doubt Virginia Senate Republicans consider themselves brilliant political tacticians after seizing the Inauguration Day absence of a Democrat in the evenly divided chamber to force through a redistricting plan highly favorable to their party. But it also exposed a contempt for the legitimate redistricting process and their insecurities about Virginia voter preferences.

The concept of public interest was a small but necessary sacrifice to ensure the perpetuation of the GOP’s preeminence in Virginia politics. Apparently skeptical of its continuing appeal, the party is pursuing off-cycle realignment to achieve what it couldn’t at the polls.

Ironically, the strategy illustrates why the GOP has cause to worry. A party that values its power more highly than the interests of those it was elected to serve can’t be attractive for long. The House of Delegates and the governor should prevent this bill from becoming law.

James A. Lindsay Jr., Arlington
"A party that values its power more highly than the interests of those it was elected to serve can't be attractive for long." That's it in a =ahem= nut-shell. Well said, sir.

Weekend Songs - Stones Twofer

The Rolling Stones are coming off their 50th Anniversary Tour (!), which was short and sweet naughty (although rumors persist of extending the tour this year). We'd like to offer these tunes in commemoration of that tour, and in the case of this song, in commemoration of President Obama's second inaugural, which made us --

Ben Affleck's Argo features the next Stones tune. It's Keith Richards doing the lead vocal. Have a wonderful weekend!

A Handy Gun Control Primer provides a nice set of counter arguments to the gun lobby and their political help in this article. Some favorites:
"4. So you’ve got “Second Amendment” rights? Where’s the rest of your militia?

The text of the Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Where are the other soldiers? Who’s in charge? And which state are you protecting?


9. Why is it that the people who think our “freedom to own guns” is absolute and inflexible are always the first ones to attack our other freedoms — of speech, of assembly, of worship (a religion other than their own), of privacy — in the name of national security?

We have the data which shows that our supposed “gun freedom” is causing thousands of needless deaths each year. Most “gun rights” advocates don’t care — and are more than eager to sacrifice other fundamental freedoms even when the evidence suggests it’s unnecessary and even wasteful.

Unconstitutional surveillance? Check. Unconstitutional suppression of Wikileaks and other information outlets? Check. Unconstitutional suppression of demonstrators’ rights? Check. Constitutional and rational gun control?


10. You say guns make us safer, but we already have more guns per capita than any other nation on Earth.

We also have the highest gun homicide rate of any developed nation. Our rate is 32 times that of Great Britain’s, for example.

Are we safe enough yet?"
As the National Rampage Association pulls out all the stops to block gun safety legislation, we need to be as disciplined, relentless, and ready as they are.

More Clueless Bungling By Harry Reid

After the House passed the $50.7 billion relief bill for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, over the objections of a majority of House Rethugs, it was believed that the Senate would act swiftly to approve the bill and send it to the President for signature. Not so fast. While the victims shiver in subfreezing temperatures, and after promising to take the bill up earlier this week, Senate Majority "leader" Harry "Bending" Reid has delayed Senate action on the bill until Monday. The reason? He had to screw up filibuster reform first, and give the Rethugs most of what they wanted.

Again, is this fool the best that Dems can do for a Majority Leader?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Reach Out Cartoons of the Day

(click to enlarge)

It seems the notion that the Rethuglicans aren't wired for accepting Obama's outreach is catching.

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Ben Sargent, Austin American-Statesman)

Harry Reid's Surrender

Today, the Senate is expected to announce a watered-down compromise on filibuster reform, as negotiated by Dem Sen. Harry "Bending" Reid and turtle impersonator and Sen. Mitch "Missy" McConnell. Senate Rethugs have been using the filibuster to stop legislative action in the Senate by requiring 60 votes to bring a close to debate (which is a fiction, since no Senator actually gets on the floor and talks for hours, as in the distant past).

Sadly, Bending Reid had an opportunity to shelve the filibuster for the next two years, but his spine failed him. Instead, this is what they got according to the New York Times:
"It will not include, for instance, a requirement that senators be present on the Senate floor when they want to block a bill from coming to a vote, continuing the practice of allowing them to filibuster in absentia. And opponents would still have the opportunity to filibuster a final vote on any legislation, thwarting its passage without 60 votes."
What this means is that Missy and Co. can still obstruct, despite being in the minority, and thwart legislation supported by the majority of Americans. Can you imagine, if the shoe were on the other foot, the Rethugs compromising at all? If they do retake the Senate, you can be sure that they'll deny the filibuster to Dems, so what did Bending Reid's "compromise" accomplish anyway?

Bending Reid has to be the worst Dem Senate Majority Leader in memory.

UPDATE: Progressive stalwart Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) says, "I dare say that Obama's package -- his very aggressive proposals -- will not get very far." More here on the reactions to this latest cave-in.

UPDATE II: Missy McConnell's campaign wants to thank you, too, Bending Reid, for helping him defeat the libruls!

(photo: Reid, left, waiting for Missy McConnell's approval)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fox "News" - More Irrelevant Than Ever

Take a few minutes to read this piece by Tom Junod on the slow demise of Fox "News," more bitter, disgruntled and irrelevant than ever. [Bwahahahahaha!]

BONUS: Stephen Colbert sums up the Fox "News" malaise perfectly:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Obama's Inauguration & Class Warfare
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Terry Lee, Model of Rethuglican Racism, Ignorance and Spite

From MSN, this heart-warming story of a small bidness owner cretin who, like Willard "Mutt" Romney, likes to fire people:
“They were Obama supporters. We just knew they were," Terry Lee, owner of Terry Lee Forensics, a Cedar City, Utah, digital forensics company, told The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday. [...]

According to the Tribune, Lee showed his support for the tactic by writing:

"Love it. We had to let two employees go to cover new Obongocare [sic] costs and increased taxes. Found two Obongo supporters and gave them the news yesterday. They wanted the idiot in the Whitehouse [sic], they reap the benefits.”

We have an idea that being unemployed is preferable to working for this good Christian? Mormon? turd pile.

(Image: Terry Lee (visual approximation))

Bibi's Bad Day

Israeli election results are in, and while Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu will continue in office, his Likud Party will have to form a more moderate government after the moderate Yesh Atid party made significant gains in the Knesset. A new governing coalition will have to be formed, and will force the new government to moderate its positions on settlements and peace talks. Other right wing parties lost ground in the election, including the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, which was virtually shut out. The Likud itself lost some 25% of its Knesset seats.

This is a break for the Obama Administration, which has become frustrated with Netanyahu's hard line positions, failure to move peace talks forward, and obvious tilt toward the politics of the Rethugs here in the U.S.

Rethug Crime Blotter, Cheesehead Division

It's well remembered that Wisconsin's Rethuglican Gov. Scott "Koch Head" Walker tried to turn Wisconsin into a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries and to create a one-party rule of thuggery and union-busting. He's been chastened slightly by the election victories of Dems in the Wisconsin State Senate, and by the victories of President Obama and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, but he'll be up to his old tricks again soon, no doubt.

Meanwhile, Koch Head's associates are taking some hard shots in the judicial system. The latest is former aide Timothy Russell, who was sentenced to two years in prison for stealing $21,000 from a veterans organization that he was appointed to lead by Koch Head. Let that sink in: from a veterans organization. Russell is one of several Koch Head associates to be convicted of felonies, and there are certainly more to come. In fact, Russell's domestic partner, Brian Pierick, is going on trial later this month for child enticement. Wonderful people, just the kind you want around your tax money and kids.

Mid-Week "Djazz" Song

Jazz guitar great Jean "Django" Reinhardt was born 103 years ago today to a Romani/Gypsy family in Belgium. He went on to become the most influential jazz guitarist of the 20th century. Here he is playing with the legendary Duke Ellington.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Villagers Haz A Sad Over President's Speech

The Beltway Village media need to maintain the fiction that both political parties are to blame for the heated "partisanship" in Washington, not acknowledging (as political scientists Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann have in their book "It's Worse Than It Looks") that the Rethugs bear the most responsibility by far for the dysfunction. For the Villagers, it's a combination of terminal cynicism and a desire to make sure Rethugs return their phone calls and include them on the cocktail circuit.

So it wasn't especially surprising when the Villagers' delicate "bipartisan" feelings were hurt by the President's failure to kneel rhetorically to the Rethugs in his second inauguration speech yesterday. After four years in which the Rethugs plotted to make the President a one-termer even at the cost of wrecking the economy, and after Obama repeatedly supported measures that were once Rethuglican-endorsed, one would think that the Villagers would have noticed. As Steve Benen writes in the MaddowBlog:
"Taken together, it seems many pundits and Republicans agree: Obama should be nice and bipartisan, reaching out to the right at all times, careful not to upset delicate sensibilities. Since his inaugural address didn't do this, it somehow came up short.

Indeed, this seems to be a strain of thought that's dominated much of the political discourse in recent weeks. How dare Obama nominate a Republican Defense Secretary he knows Republicans don't like! How dare the president present an ambitious agenda to prevent gun violence over the objections of his critics! How dare Obama use his inaugural address to present an unapologetic vision of progressive governance in the 21st century!

Who does this guy think he is, the newly re-elected president of the United States?"
He dares, and good for him that he does.

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Cheat 'Em, Cont'd.

The Virginia State Senate is split evenly 20 - 20 between Dems and least for now. Yesterday, while 79 year-old African-American State Sen. Henry Marsh was attending President Obama's historic second inauguration, the Rethuglican Senators, having a temporary one vote majority, rammed through a redistricting bill that would give them greater advantages, and likely cost one Democratic State Senator his job.

From playing with voter suppression laws to gerrymandering districts to their advantage, the Rethuglicans in State legislatures are hoping to achieve what they can't seem to win at the ballot box. It's symbolic of their deep anti-democratic, authoritarian make-up, and it should anger all Americans who believe in fair play and justice.

Hot Off The Press

The New Yorker's Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lawrence Wright has a new book out entitled, "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief." According to reviews, the book presents a chilling but even-handed story of an organization that often employs authoritarian methods on its members, using everything from personal intimidation and lawsuits, to private "camps" for those straying from the organization. From Lisa Miller's review in the Kaplan Daily:
"If a powerful Scientologist, someone who has seen the organization’s inner workings at the highest levels, attempts to leave the church, Wright reports, he or she is followed — to the airport, to a motel — and every attempt is made to force a return. Certain Scientologists, notably [Scientologist leader David] Miscavige’s wife, Shelly, haven’t been seen publicly in years. (Wright’s sources suggest she’s being kept under guard at a Scientology facility in Running Springs, Calif.)"
One of its primary goals is to convert famous figures in the entertainment business (e.g., Tom Cruise, John Travolta, etc.) and use them as the organization's public face and to raise money and new converts. Cruise, in particular, is a major figure in the organization, and is treated accordingly:
"We are told that, before Katie Holmes, Scientology found a different girlfriend for Cruise, one who was raised in the church and groomed and styled to suit the star; she moved into his house, but after a gaffe at a dinner party, she was unceremoniously dismissed. 'Cruise was too busy to say good-bye,' Wright writes. The girlfriend’s 'last glimpse was of him working out in his home gym.' Any casual observer who might have considered Cruise a benign or naive participant in a Hollywood spiritual fad will have a different opinion after 'Going Clear.' The star comes across as a narcissistic monster who finds in Scientology an army of acolytes ready to deliver on his whims."
More light is being shed on Scientology, both by this book and by former members, and that's needed.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Preview of the Second Term?

There's an eloquent analysis of President Obama's eloquent second inaugural address, and, of course, it's by Mr. Pierce. Here's a small teaser:
At the very least, the Romney campaign made very obvious, whether it knew the camera was rolling or not, what its vision for the country was. But, then, the nature of the opposition to his re-election forced him, in one way or the other, to defend every progressive political accomplishment back to the enactment of the child labor laws, and that is not entirely an exaggeration, either. I wondered if, finally, he saw the nature of the opposition for what it truly was — not merely obstructionist toward what he was trying to accomplish, but also desirous of using the president's good intentions to push their own retrograde agenda. Pushing back against that philosophy, day after endless day, I thought, had to work to clarify and to give perceptible form to what he was trying to do with his own presidency. I wondered about that all year.

I do not wonder any more.

It's well worth reading.

In some way, parts of the address read better after the fact than the spoken version. (Surprising, in a way, for someone as gifted a speaker as Obama.) Perhaps it was just seeing the words, being able to see the linkages and the power behind them, and gleaning what they were conveying about Obama's vision of the next four years -- all of which made the speech grow somewhat more remarkable in reflection.

Now for the tough work. Now for the follow-through!

President Obama's Second Inaugural Address

(Video: New York Times)


Gun Grabbin' !

(click to enlarge)

(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

In the gun control debate, as with other issues, you can always count on Senate Minority turtle impersonator Leader Mitch "Missy" McConnell to be a voice of reason in the New Confederate/ Rethuglican party. Always appealing to the best in us!

What an immoral turd bucket.

For God's sake, run Ashley!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Picture of the Day -- Obama Sworn In

Chief Justice John Roberts swears in President Obama for his second term as Michelle, Sasha and Malia look on. The swearing-in takes place on January 20 (per the 20th Amendment), with the public swearing-in ceremony taking place at noon on January 21.

Sunday Cartoon

(click to enlarge)

(Kevin Kallaugher, via

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Baseball's Sad Day

Baseball lost two of its Hall of Fame greats today: former Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver, 82, and St. Louis Cardinals baseball legend Stan Musial, 92.

Weaver was one of the most successful managers in baseball history with 5 seasons of 100 wins or more, who won 4 American League pennants and one World Series in his 17 years with the Orioles.

Stan "Stan the Man" Musial was a hitting force of the same caliber as his contemporaries Ted Williams and Willie Mays. He spent his entire 22 year career with St. Louis, and was one of the true gentlemen of baseball. He won seven National League batting titles, took the Cardinals to three World Series in the 1940s, and was arguably one of the top five players of all time. President Obama presented Musial with the Medal of Freedom in 2011 for his contributions to America. ESPN has nice tribute to him here.

ADDENDUM: Re Musial, Dodger pitcher Preacher Roe was once asked the best way to get Musial out. Roe responded: "I throw him four wide ones and then I try to pick him off first base." Former commissioner Ford Frick also had this to say about Musial: "Here stands baseball's perfect warrior. Here stands baseball's perfect knight."

Headline of the Day

Courtesy of Think Progress:
"5 People Shot at 3 Different Gun Shows on Gun Appreciation Day"
We bet they didn't appreciate it.

Der Kirche Teufels*

In today's New York Times, there's a report about the Catholic Church's problems in Germany with over 1,000 cases of pedophile priest sexual abuse, largely prior to 1980. While the Church has promised an investigation, they appear to be operating much in the fashion of their American counterparts:
"The church’s credibility regarding its commitment to an impartial investigation suffered a fresh blow last week when the bishops canceled an independent study into the abuse scandal amid allegations by the independent investigator, Christian Pfeiffer, that the church was censoring information."
That's not all. The article goes on to describe incidents in two Catholic hospitals in Cologne where a victim of rape was denied a gynecological exam and resources to ensure she wouldn't become pregnant from the rape.

If you want to understand why the Catholic Church, among other large institutions, is suffering from lack of trust, look no further.

BONUS: But if you want to look further, there's this.
*Church devils

Local Yokel Not To Be Confused With Justice John Marshall

In a letter to Vice President Biden, Linn County (Oregon) Yokel Sheriff Tim Mueller says he'll be the one to decide what Federally-mandated gun laws he will or will not uphold in his neck of the woods, f**k you very much. As the nullifying Oregon solon stated in an interview:
"We're restricted and prohibited from enforcing all types of federal laws, including immigration laws. It would be unreasonable for anyone to think that I would enforce a federal firearms law."
Yes, totally unreasonable! Daily Kos' 88 Kathy has penned a fantasy response letter from VP Biden that encapsulates our thoughts on this "we are a cafeteria of laws" cop:
Dear Linn County Board of Commissioners.

RE: Crazed letter from Sheriff Mueller, January 14, 2013

Your sheriff has lost his mind. Please remove him from office for the safety of the public.

All off and on ramps for Interstate 5 though your county, all off and on ramps for Highways 20 and 126 will be closed until your county wishes to elect a sheriff who will comply with federal laws.

Your Friend,

(Photo: Sheriff Tim with his letter to Santy Claus VP Biden.)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Police Blotter - N.R.A. Edition

From Betty Cracker at Balloon Juice, posted in its entirety (minus the photo art):
"The NRA thinks President Obama’s daughters are appropriate fodder for the gun control debate. Well, turnabout being fair play and all, I wonder if NRA President David Keene’s (adult) son has anything instructive to add to the conversation? Oops — we can’t ask him because he’s in the slammer for shooting at another motorist in a road rage incident!

'In 2003, David Keene’s son, David M. Keene, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for discharging a firearm in a crime of violence after he shot at the driver of another car from his BMW on the George Washington Memorial Parkway in northern Virginia. Police said the shot missed the other driver’s head by inches. At the time, the younger Keene, then 21, was serving as [American Conservative Union] ACU’s director of online communications'.

"In addition to Blam-Blam Junior’s legal travails, current NRA President Keene’s ex-wife pleaded guilty last year to embezzling $400K from the ACU. The Keenes sound like exactly the sort of people who need access to a vast arsenal. Honest to god, you can’t make this shit up." (our emphasis)

Weekend Belated Birthday Song

A belated Happy Birthday to First Lady Michelle Obama, who turned 49 yesterday. Rather than give you the obvious, we're giving you (and Michelle) a total musical non sequitur. Why? Because we can!
Enjoy CCR and your Inauguration/ Martin Luther King, Jr., weekend!

Power Behind The Dummies Cartoon of the Day

(click to enlarge)

If the Smith & Wesson/Colt Industries/Ruger Arms, etc. companies didn't want the National Rampage Association to do what it's doing, they could stop it in a nanosecond. This isn't about NRA members, it's about the gun manufacturers that the NRA truly represents.

(cartoon: Ben Sargent, Austin (TX) American-Statesman)

Quote of the Day

"The founders may have thought citizens should be able to keep a musket if they wanted, but they also wrote into the Constitution that the government had the obligation to 'suppress insurrections.' They hoped that our freedom would be guaranteed by our laws and institutions, not by a guy down the block with an AR-15 and a chip on his shoulder.

They certainly didn't set up our democracy in the hope that every time any group of people didn't like a law that democracy produced, they'd abandon any pretense of support for our system of government and start killing the cops and soldiers who protect us. There's a word for people who dream about doing that, and it isn't 'patriot.'"
-- Paul Waldman, in an op-ed on Worth reading the whole thing.

The word is "traitor," and it's the end result of the authoritarian and paranoid culture of the far-right, which doesn't believe in democratic institutions at all, or the Constitution for that matter, but the power that comes out of a gun barrel and rule by the few.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

If They Don't See The Light, We'll Go With The Floggings

Congressional New Confederate/ Rethuglicans are at their annual retreat, this year at the Kingsmill Resort in Virginia. Among the topics they've convened to chew over: "Coalitions - Discussion on Successful Communications With Minorities and Women." The venue for this at Kingsmill? The Burwell Plantation Room.

Can't make this stuff up.

More Media Malpractice - Austerity Scolds Edition

H/t to Mr. Pierce for directing us to this analysis by Kevin C. Brown discussing the media co-conspirators in the austerity con game being run by "Plutocrat Pete" Peterson. Peterson, you might recall, has made his name in recent years by being at the forefront of Wall Street vultures "visionaries" looking to turn Social Security into what amounts to a Vegas table game. Unfortunately, he's hardly been alone in his efforts, as Brown points out:
"An essential and successful element of the Peterson strategy is to create an environment where it is widely if not universally believed that there is no alternative to his vision. In this view, it’s 'not realistic' to believe the country can afford the same programs it once did. Those who are prepared to be 'adults' will look at these 'hard truths' without flinching and recognize that it is time to take citizens-have-to-do-with-less medicine.

"The conceit is that those with 'courage' will see past narrow, partisan concerns and embrace an ideal: a bipartisan consensus that has the strength to demand 'shared sacrifice' from a childish and selfish populace.

"A review of the proceedings of the Fiscal Summits of the last three years makes agonizingly clear that most of the journalists who conducted interviews or moderated panel discussions both reflected and amplified the Peterson worldview — entirely unselfconsciously, it would seem."
Brown, of course, names those Peterson acolytes in the media =cough=Sunday talk shows=cough= often thought of as the "serious people" who are more than willing to prescribe needless pain for the poor and the middle class ("Tax breaks for me, austerity for thee."). It's an interesting piece, and you may find some surprising names on the list (or not).

Meanwhile, let's not forget what a smashing success austerity has been in Europe.

Bibi's Bomb-bastic Bluff

In our recent post about the smear campaign being waged by neocons against Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel, we noted that there are parallels between the political systems in the U.S. and in Israel. The current Israeli government is dominated by the right-wing Likud Party, which has close ties with the neocon/Rethuglican establishment here in the U.S.

U.S. neocons, of course, can't get enough of saber-rattling or foreign wars, especially if they involve Muslim countries. They hold the Defense Department's budget sacrosanct, even as top military officers argue for a leaner, smarter fighting force. Now, we see that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being accused by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of building up Israel's first strike capability against Iran primarily for the purpose of provoking U.S. action against Iran. According to the Daily Beast:
"[Olmert] said the extra spending was designed to make the United States believe that Israel genuinely intended to attack Iran’s nuclear program. Netanyahu hoped the perception would prod President Obama, who opposes an Israeli strike, to organize tighter sanctions against Iran and take action of his own to prevent it from crossing the nuclear threshold.

'The general opinion of those that were involved [in the preparations] was that this was much more about rhetoric and less about a real determination to activate it,' Olmert told The Daily Beast."
It's probably also true that the Israeli defense industry, much like ours, leans strongly right, so infusions of large sums of money -- "weapons welfare" if you will -- for the Israeli defense industry helps the Likud also. It's interesting how similar it is here in the U.S., with Rethugs benefitting from defense industry campaign contributions as the defense budget grows.

Tweet of the Day

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Rethuglican "Intransigence Training"

(click to enlarge)

(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

What Would St. Ronnie Reagan Do?

As the already unhinged far-right goes ape-shite over President Obama's gun violence proposals, let us open the Good Book, cast our minds back to the halcyon days when Ronald Reagan benignly ruled us, and ask ourselves "What would conservative saint Ronnie Reagan do?" Think Progress has the answer:
"In 1986, he signed into law the Firearm Owners Protection Act, which 'banned ownership of any fully automatic rifles that were not already registered on the day the law was signed.' He later backed the Brady bill, expressing support for 'a seven-day waiting period before a purchaser could take possession of a handgun, an even more stringent restriction than the five day cooling-off period that was included in the final legislation, and less stringent than the 15-day cooling-off period he signed into law as governor of California.'”
Someone tell Wayne LaPierre to double-up on his big boy diapers!

Coming Out Firing

President Obama today unveiled his plan to address gun violence in front of an audience that included the families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims, and a survivor of the Virginia Tech rampage.

The HuffPo summarizes the key measures, which include 23 executive actions that will be taken without Congressional approval:
The proposal, which comes at the end of a month-long review process spearheaded by Vice President Joe Biden, is broken down into four key subsections: law enforcement, the availability of dangerous firearms and ammunition, school safety and mental health. In an effort to touch on all four of those elements, the president recommended requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales; reinstating the assault weapons ban; restoring a 10-round limit on ammunition magazines; eliminating armor-piercing bullets; providing mental health services in schools; allocating funds to hire more police officers; and instituting a federal gun trafficking statute, among other policies.
Clearly, the President, as promised, put everything on the table, including funding for more police officers to provide school security, something that the National Rampage Association claims to be for. The heavy lifting will be the President and Vice President campaigning over the next weeks and months across the country, calling on community leaders, police, ministers, and others to add their voices to the growing gun control movement. The focus of the effort will be to put pressure on a corrupt Rethug House (and, frankly, some red state Dems) to enact as many of the proposals as possible, knowing that the NRA funds many of their campaigns and threatens them with challengers if they don't tow the NRA line.

(photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP-Getty Images)

Flinging The Filth

Later today, President Obama will discuss the comprehensive package of gun control measures that he plans to introduce, which are being described as the most sweeping since the 1968 Gun Control Act was passed in the aftermath of the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.

It's no surprise that the criminally insane leadership of the National Rampage Association is launching a full-scale attack on any meaningful controls, and have begun with a scurrilous personal attack on President Obama and his family. It suggests that the President is an "elitist hypocrite" for having Secret Service protection for his daughters, while not supporting armed guards at every school. Expect more of the same from this renegade group of paranoids as the battle heats up.

UPDATE: In a sign that the White House won't be taking the NRA's swill lying down, they issued a statement calling the ad "repugnant and cowardly."

Mid-Week Song

British singer Ed Sheeran had a worldwide hit with his song "The A Team," about a girl who descends into crack use and streetwalking (the song's title alludes to crack's categorization as a "class A drug"). The song is up for a 2013 Grammy Award for Song of the Year, and has won numerous awards. Sheeran himself appears in a cameo (at 1:20) in this video which was shot in stark black and white in and around London.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

More Media Malpractice

Fresh evidence from President Obama's news conference yesterday that the whiz kids of the Beltway press corps wouldn't recognize the top political story of the last 20 years (spoiler alert: it's the movement of the Republican party to the extreme ultra right) if it bit them on their keister.

First comes Kaplan Daily's Dana Milbank's brain-dead meme that, gosh darn it, if Obama would just schmooze more with those Congressional Republicans, he might just get more votes. We can only say, that's some rock you've been living under for the past 4 years, Mildew! You must not have rock home delivery of the Kaplan Daily, otherwise you might have read this.

Exhibit two is from the presser in the form of a question from ex-Fox "News" and current CBS White House Correspondent Major "Asshole" Garrett, echoing fellow voice of reason and both-sides-are-equally-to-blame Chuck Todd (NBC):
"What Chuck [Todd] and I and I think many people are curious about is this new adamant desire on your part not to negotiate when that seems to conflict with the entire history in the modern era of American presidents in the debt ceiling and your own history on the debt ceiling."
So, the answer is to encourage Rethugs to engage in negotiating hostage taking every time a debt limit vote comes up? So they can move the goal posts further and further right every subsequent time?? It seems to us we just had an election, the American people voted, and... we won. Bottom line, as the President said, you don't hold the American economy hostage to score/ make a political point. The economy is people's lives, not a bargaining chip.

Exhibit three comes from Buzzfeed's John Stanton, whose article is titled "Obama Looks to Saddle Republicans With Blame for Debt Limit Fight." Well, sir, if the saddle fits the horse, put it on! Here's what Stanton went on to say:
"To hear Obama tell it, he’s simply trying to pay the country’s bills..."
"But even as he was calling for cooperation, Obama took a shot at Republicans..."

The "shot" Obama took was to basically remind everyone that the election was fought over certain principles and... we won. To hear John Stanton tell it, he's simply practicing unbiased journamalism.

UPDATE: Mr. Pierce, skewering MoDo for the same "Obama hasn't been nice" meme as above, puts the cap on it:
"This is the silliest goddamn meme in the history of silly goddamn memes. There is nothing this president can do to move the Republican opposition toward reason. (You can lead the whores to water...). They don't like Democratic presidents. They particularly don't like this one. They don't think Democratic presidents are elected legitimately. The particularly don't think this one was, twice. They are insulated in safe districts. They are the occupants of a self-sustaining universe of think-tanks, sugar daddies, talk-radio cowboys, and ideological chop shops. This simple fact is not going to change even if the president were magically to become a combination of Cary Grant and Sidney Poitier over the soup course. He could sprawl across a staircase, and it wouldn't matter."
End of discussion.

(Photo: Milbank, Garrett, Todd or Stanton - take your pick.)

Bad Guy Cartoon of the Day

(click to enlarge)

Of course, most sane people (which excludes the National Rampage Association's leadership) would say bad guys shouldn't have guns in the first place.

(cartoon: Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Cheat 'Em

After their massive failure to suppress the 2012 minority vote in numerous states, you'd think the Rethuglican / New Confederate Party apparatus would have learned its lesson. You'd be wrong.

When their voter suppression efforts backfired by angering minority voters who waited in line for hours to protect their right to vote, Rethugs were chastened, but are trying a new tact. Rethug Party national chairman and colossal dickhead Reince "Prepuce" Priebus told a Milwaukee paper that he and his co-conspirators are looking at ways to tilt the electoral college vote in their favor in 2016. They would change the system to award electoral votes on a Congressional district-by-district basis, which is very convenient for the Rethugs, who've spent the last decade gerrymandering Congressional districts to be majority Rethug.

Instead of re-examining their toxic policies and increasingly rightward drift, the Rethug Party has apparently chosen to cheat the people out of fair elections in order to gain power. It's the way of a banana republic, not America.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Oracle from Pin Point Speaks...Almost

Today, during oral arguments in the Supreme Court, Justice Clarence "Long Dong Silver" Thomas spoke in Court for the first time in 7 years (!!!). Sadly, for posterity, it's unclear what he mumbled, but according to court reporters it was something about Yale Law School, where he's been unwelcome since he joined the Supreme Court.

Who knows? It may be another 7 years before the Justice utters more, so we need to mark this historic moment...with a moment of silence.

(photo: "Mmmm, this month's Playboy centerfold is really something.")

One Month Anniversary Quote of the Day

It's been one month to the day since the massacre of children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary school. Tomorrow, Vice President Biden will present the recommendations of his committee, which are expected to include more extensive background checks, a ban on high-capacity magazines, and a reinstatement of the ban on assault rifles. In the meantime, the great Charles P. Pierce at asks the pertinent questions:
"How long are we supposed to pretend that the NRA really cares about the plight of the mentally ill in America? For that matter, how long are we supposed to pretend that the NRA is really bothered by the fact that young children are exposed to shooting games that glorify the use of actual firearms? I'm sorry, but [West Virginia Sen. Joe] Manchin and his 'fellow sportsmen' have had more than enough time to wrench their organization away from the sociopaths who run it, and more than enough time to turn it back into a genuine interest group, and not a front for the weapons industry. Here's what let's do. Let's put the assault-weapons ban back in place. Let's ban the high-capacity magazines. Let's establish a rigid and effective system of background checks. Let's close the gun-show loophole. Once we do all that, then we can have the commission on mass violence, where we all tug our forelocks about videogames, and then we can determine as a nation to spend whatever tax dollars have to be raised to do better by our citizens with mental illness. But let's do the gun part first. What say you, Senator Joe? You in?"
It was only a matter of time before the knees started to buckle and the National Rampage Association put pressure on the politicians to block rational gun control and safety measures. We'll see how much counter-pressure the public can put on them.

Hagel's Nomination Gets Boost

It's good to see strong pushback on the false charges that Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel is "anti-Semitic." This weekend, prominent figures in foreign policy, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, New York Times columnist Thomas "Moustache of Understanding" Friedman, and Council on Foreign Relations chief Richard Haas knocked down the charges coming from the neocon / Likudnik establishment in Washington, led by the likes of the Weekly Standard's Wee Willy Kristol and Iran Contra conspirator Elliott Abrams.

Just as there are political divisions in the U.S., there are political divisions in Israel. The right-wing Likud Party and its coalition allies line up with the U.S.'s most conservative elements, including the Rethuglican Party. Over a generation, they've succeeded in muting any criticism of actions by the Israeli right (say, for example, expanded settlements in the West Bank) by alleging the critic is "anti-Semitic" and "anti-Israel." Hopefully, with Hagel's nomination and the pushback on the charges of him being anti-Israel or anti-Semitic, the free pass our right wing smear artists have had is at an end.