Friday, May 31, 2013

Obamacare Extends Medicare Solvency

More good news resulting from the landmark health care reform act:
The chief of Medicare on Friday credited Obamacare for continuing to help extend the life of Medicare after a new trustees’ report said it will be solvent for two years longer than expected.
The trustees’ report found that Medicare’s trust fund will remain fully solvent until 2026; last year’s projection was 2024. The two years comes on top of eight more years of initially projected solvency for Medicare due to the Affordable Care Act.
This coming on the heels of news that the exchange being established in California is expected to result in lower rates, and that young adults and hospitals have saved $147 million in 2011 alone,  thanks to Obamacare.

The snowballing successes, well before full implementation, have the Rethugs so scared, they're now desperately trying to find ways to cut off funding for health care reform.

BONUS:  The New York Times had an editorial yesterday on the progress of Obamacare.

Weekend Swing

Yesterday was jazz/swing/big band great Benny Goodman's birthday, so we thought we'd give you a little selection of some of his best known standards (we didn't want to overload you, so we didn't include such beauties as "Let's Dance" and "Moonglow," which we heartily recommend for your listening pleasure):

Gun Nuts Acting Out

For decades, the National Rifle Rampage Association's operating model has been to whip up paranoia and anger among its membership and among the more unstable members of society with the message that their guns will be confiscated by the Government.  Some of their efforts are bearing fruit:  the recent threatening letters laced with poisonous Ricin that were sent to gun safety advocate Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his organization were similar to one sent to the President.  All of the letters raged against imaginary plans that the Government has to confiscate guns (if that doesn't sound like an NRA mailing, what does?), and threatened to shoot anyone "in the face" that would come to take their guns away.

A majority of NRA members favored the background checks legislation that the NRA's leadership opposed, despite flagrant lies and distortions spread by the organization about the legislation.  But their message is resonating with the unstable, black helicopter nuts, who continue to stockpile guns much to the delight of the NRA's only true client:  the gun manufacturers.

Let Them Eat Tax Breaks

House Rethuglicans -- never shy about cutting programs for the vulnerable and powerless -- recently voted to slash the food stamp program (the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) which provides assistance to some 50 million Americans.  The Senate is now looking at restoring some or all of the House cuts.  Paul Krugman had this observation in the New York Times today:
"Look, I understand the supposed rationale: We’re becoming a nation of takers, and doing stuff like feeding poor children and giving them adequate health care are just creating a culture of dependency — and that culture of dependency, not runaway bankers, somehow caused our economic crisis. But I wonder whether even Republicans really believe that story — or at least are confident enough in their diagnosis to justify policies that more or less literally take food from the mouths of hungry children. As I said, there are times when cynicism just doesn’t cut it; this is a time to get really, really angry."
As pure obstruction is the goal of the tea bagger-dominated Rethuglican Party, it's unlikely that the food stamp program will stay whole, along with other programs aiding the working poor and middle class.  But watch them all get on board when they vote for corporate tax cuts or new loopholes for their wealthy benefactors.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

More Austerity Fail - Reinhart and Rogoff Edition

Two new studies further debunking the work of austerity economists Reinhart and Rogoff, who falsely linked high debt to slow growth, are now out:
In a post at Quartz, University of Michigan economics professor Miles Kimball and University of Michigan undergraduate student Yichuan Wang write that they have crunched Reinhart and Rogoff's data and found "not even a shred of evidence" that high debt levels lead to slower economic growth.
And a new paper by University of Massachusetts professor Arindrajit Dube finds evidence that Reinhart and Rogoff had the relationship between growth and debt backwards: Slow growth appears to cause higher debt, if anything.
As it's said, a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.  In this case, it's taken three years for those pants to get on.

The Rethuglican War on Women, Cont.

The war on women comes home... to a Rethuglican woman - Maine Sen. Susan Collins:
A participant in a conference call sponsored by the Tea Party Wednesday night said the best way to get Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to listen to her constituents on the immigration reform issue would be to "shoot her," according to ThinkProgress.
Spoken like a member of a true "social welfare organization," all right!

On Fox Bidness an assembly of right-wing male Rethugs was on hand to discuss the recent Pew study showing that American women were the sole or primary breadwinners in 40% of families. The result?  That squishing sound you hear is that of Red State's Erick "Son of Erick the Halfwit" Erickson stepping in it:
"When you look at biology, look at the natural world, the roles of a male and a female in society, and other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it's not antithesis, or it's not competing, it's a complementary role. We as people in a smart society have lost the ability to have complementary relationships in nuclear families, and it's tearing us apart."
"We as people in a smart society..."  Don't speak for yourself (or those around you), quarter-wit dillweed.

Greedy Oil Baron Quote of the Day

From ExxonMobil's CEO Rex "The Planet" Tillerson:  “What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?”

While we think that the only thing that Rex The Planet wants to save is ExxonMobil (and his big bucks), what exactly does he think humanity will live on if the planet isn't saved?  Maybe the planet he's living on.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Question of the Day

Posed by Walter Pincus:
When will journalists take responsibility for what they do without circling the wagons and shouting that the First Amendment is under attack?
Clearly, not an outlook shared by some at the New York Times, and CNN's Jake "Tippy" Tapper, self-appointed guardians of journamalistic purity.

Cuccinelli Wants Northern Virginians To Think He's A Democrat

Ultra-right culture warrior, transvaginal probe enthusiast and Rethuglican nominee for Governor of Virginia Ken "Cooch" Cuccinelli has had an ad playing in the Northern Virginia market for a couple of weeks now,  apparently with the intention of making those folks think he's running on some Democratic rather than theocratic Rethuglican principles:

Um, sorry, Cooch.  That dog isn't hunting

Today's Cartoons - Scandalpalooza Edition

(click to enlarge)

(Mike Luckovich, via

(Rob Rogers, via

Mid-Week Don't Look Back In Anger Song

Oasis was a successful British band out of Manchester that sold some 70 million records worldwide from 1991 to 2009.  The Gallagher brothers -- guitarist Noel (whose birthday is today) and Liam -- formed the nucleus of the band, but had a tempestuous relationship which led to the band's demise.  Featured in this video is the wonderful Patrick Macnee -- The Avengers' John Steed himself.  Well played!

Crazy Eyes Bows Out of 2014

One of Congress' most extreme tinfoil-hatted specimens has decided not to run for reelection in 2014.  Minnesota loon  Rep. Michele "Crazy Eyes" Bachmann made her announcement on a YouTube video and her website late last night.  Crazy Eyes was facing another tough challenge from hotel executive Jim Graves and, more significantly, an investigation by the FBI over possible violations to campaign finance laws last year when she ran for the Rethuglican nomination.

Crazy Eyes has been dodging the press of late, mainly over the investigation and related topics, but also because some members of the press have questioned her heretofore unchallenged nutty utterances.  Releasing a political statement in the middle of the night is one way of saying you can't stand the heat of the day.  There're plenty of wealthy, right wing sugar daddies out there that provide wingnut welfare to the Bachmanns and Palins of the world, so don't expect Crazy Eyes to completely disappear after 2014.  For the sake of political comedy, we hope not.

BONUS:  "mistermix" at Balloon-Juice sums it up: "I don’t know what I’ll miss more: the soft music of her sweet lies, her crazy eyes, or her fabulous beard of a husband. No matter: she’s gone, and I’ve got to learn how to face it."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The IRS and the Tea Party Scammers

From the New York Times yesterday:
When CVFC, a conservative veterans’ group in California, applied for tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service, its biggest expenditure that year was several thousand dollars in radio ads backing a Republican candidate for Congress.
The Wetumpka Tea Party, from Alabama, sponsored training for a get-out-the-vote initiative dedicated to the “defeat of President Barack Obama” while the I.R.S. was weighing its application.
And the head of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, whose application languished with the I.R.S. for more than two years, sent out e-mails to members about Mitt Romney campaign events and organized members to distribute Mr. Romney’s presidential campaign literature.
Representatives of these organizations have cried foul in recent weeks about their treatment by the I.R.S., saying they were among dozens of conservative groups unfairly targeted by the agency, harassed with inappropriate questionnaires and put off for months or years as the agency delayed decisions on their applications.
But a close examination of these groups and others reveals an array of election activities that tax experts and former I.R.S. officials said would provide a legitimate basis for flagging them for closer review. (our emphasis)
Do those groups sound like "social welfare organizations" to you?

Charles Pierce has a pithy analysis and suggestion which we heartily endorse:
... a lot of what is being called a "scandal" is plainly an attempt to police a scam designed by people who are trained to game any campaign-finance system, and who have made their careers doing precisely that. Maybe it's time for the IRS — and the administration — to come out of a crouch on this.
Yeah, we'd like to see the Obama Administration stop being on the defensive about the IRS trying to police these teatard scam outfits' gaming the tax system.  Come out of a crouch and take the offensive.

BONUS:  Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog has another example of the game-playing.

Crumbling Cartoon of the Day

(click to enlarge)

The collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Washington State is a warning.  Almost 10 percent of America's 607,380 bridges are rated "structurally deficient," so there's a clear public purpose in funding infrastructure repair and replacement, not to mention the economic benefits.  But don't tell teahadist Rethugs.  From health care to gun safety to collapsing bridges, their message is "who cares?"

(cartoon:  Ben Sargent, via

Fux's Subpoena Flim-Flam

Right-wing media tycoon Rupert "Aargh" Murdock's News Corporation is saying that they don't have a record of receiving a subpoena in 2010 from the Government for Fux "News" reporter James Rosen's phone records.  Rosen authored a story about North Korea's intent to conduct more nuclear tests, and cited a Government source, who is facing trial for espionage.

Strange that a corporation that's had to deal with so many legal problems concerning its hacking of private phones wouldn't have a record of a Federal subpoena involving an espionage case, isn't it?  Are the Fuxers playing games and trying to embarrass the Obama Administration to get another "scandal" going?   Is the Pope Catholic?

Where's Waldo, Er, Walnuts?

Playing President in Syria.  Incessant Sunday gab fest guest Sen. John "Walnuts" McNasty (Bitterville-AZ) skipped the talk shows and snuck into Syria over the weekend to grandstand with a rebel faction.  Apparently, he was embarrassed by ABC's Martha Raddatz interview a couple of weeks ago that demonstrated he didn't know Jack Sh*t about the Syrian uprising or its al-Qaeda elements.  Always ready to pretend he's actually the President after his bitter loss in 2008, McNasty has been pushing for U.S. involvement in yet another Muslim country (after Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya), despite the Pentagon's deep reservations and the fact that our allies in Europe and in the region have been counseling against it.  But the neocon / Likudnik impulse dies hard, and who would ever question McNasty's judgement? <cough picked Palin cough>.

(photo:  "I'll show Obama who's President.")

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sunday, May 26, 2013

"Guess What's Behind This Sign?"

New York City mayoral hopeful Anthony "My Name Is My Fame" Weiner is campaigning this weekend in New York.

Wonder who the first New Yorkers will be to shout, "How's it hanging?" or "Beat it," or "You're nuts" at a campaign event?  We don't mean to pile on the guy -- he was a passionate voice in Congress countering tea bagger nuttery -- but this run for mayor could be a train wreck for him and his forgiving wife.

Missy's "Ms." Problem

Rethuglican Senate Minority Leader and human/turtle hybrid Sen. Mitch "Missy" McConnell (R- Kaintuck) is up for reelection in 2014, and he's running scared again (well, as fast as a turtle can run).  A month or so ago, it was actress and activist Ashley Judd that had Missy wetting his panties about a Democratic challenger.  Now, it's businesswoman and champion of disabled veterans Heather French Henry (who happens to be the 2000 Miss America and wife of the former Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky). As the linked article notes, Missy's smear artists are already hard at work trying to paint Ms. Henry as a lightweight and wife of an ethically-challenged politician.

What Missy & Co. don't seem to realize is that with every female Dem candidate floated as a potential opponent, his attack poodles go over the top in their smear campaigns.  At some point, Kentucky women (and honorable men) will have big problems with Missy's politics of personal destruction.  This is not to say Missy isn't the odds-on favorite to retain his seat.  It's simply another glaring example of the Rethugs' contempt for progressive women seeking to influence public policy (how far back do we have to go?  Eleanor Roosevelt would do).

Today's GOP? "Reagan Couldn't Have Made It"

Here's what former Republican Senator Bob Dole, the party's presidential nominee in 1996 and a WWII disabled veteran, had to say today on Fox "News" Sunday (h/t AmericaBlog):
BOB DOLE: I think they ought to put a sign on the national committee [the RNC]: ‘Doors closed for repairs until New Years Day,’ and spend that time going over ideas and positive agendas.”
CHRIS WALLACE: Could people like Bob Dole, even Ronald Reagan, could you make it in today’s republican party?
BOB DOLE: I doubt it. Reagan couldn’t have made it. Certainly Nixon could have made it because he has ideas. We might have made it, but I doubt it.
CHRIS WALLACE: Too moderate, too willing to compromise?
BOB DOLE: I just consider myself a Republican, not all this hyphenated stuff. I was a mainstream conservative Republican, most people are in that category.  (our emphasis)
As we've said before, the "mainstream media" has been missing ignoring the biggest political story of the last 40 years:  the radicalization of the Republican Party.  Instead, we get a media that is so Rethuglican-wired that stuff like this gets into the national bloodstream.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Letters We Wish We'd Written - IRS "Scandal" Edition

From today's once great Washington Post Kaplan Daily:
The May 20 front-page article “How the IRS seeded the clouds for a political deluge” buried inside the paper the following sentence: “Many liberal-leaning and nonpolitical groups were also caught up in the effort.”
Oh? The entire thrust of the Internal Revenue Service “scandal” being pushed by Republican and tea party groups is that President Obama had the IRS target them for special mistreatment because of their political leaning. If that were true, one would have expected that tax-exemption applications from left-leaning “social welfare organizations” would have sailed through the IRS at warp speed.

For the past week, I have read many articles online of similar problems encountered by progressive groups seeking 501(c)(4) status. But there has been far less about this in what the GOP and tea party groups like to call the “liberal lamestream media.”
The fact that applications from groups of all political stripes met with similar problems from the IRS belies the Republican narrative. Therefore, it belonged on the front page, not buried inside.

Henry Cohn, Gaithersburg

A long time ago, they used to practice journalism at the Kaplan Daily.  Now, it's just easier to follow the herd and copy Rethuglican talking points.

Today's Cartoons - Oklahoma Tornado Edition

(click to enlarge)

(Paul Szep, via

(Jeff Danziger, via

You can still donate to relief efforts for Oklahoma tornado victims.

Joey Fought The Law, And The Law Won

Maricopa County Arizona's infamous Sheriff, Joe "Joey Oops" Arpaio, has run afoul of a Federal Court, which found him to be profiling Latinos on traffic stops and in other instances in order to determine their immigration status.  Ruling in favor of Latinos who had brought suit in U.S. District Court, Judge Murray Snow also found that Joey Oops's department detained Latinos pulled over for traffic violations for an unreasonable amount of time.

While the ruling doesn't impose a fine or other penalty on Joey Oops, it sends a signal that his tactic of harassing Latinos is on the Court's radar, and he won't be getting away with it in the future.

Today's Dispatches From The Stupid Party

We're going to have to create a whole separate wing in this feature just for the Stupid Party's Representative from the 1st District in Texas, Rep. "Screwie Louie" Gohmert.  The pea-brain keeps laying on the dumb -- and not just dumb, but incredibly insensitive, heartless dumb:
At a congressional committee hearing to discuss a proposed measure to criminalize abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a Texas lawmaker [ed. - that would be Gohmert] told a woman who made the difficult choice to terminate a non-viable pregnancy that she should have carried the fetus to term anyway — even though an MRI had already revealed that he was missing a large part of his brain and didn’t have much chance of survival.
Perhaps Gohmert feels a kinship with anyone missing a large part of their brain?  It's hard to imagine, but Gohmert was recently reelected with 70 percent of the vote.  Was the 1st District gerrymandered to include every knuckle-dragging moron in east Texas?

Belated Birthday Song

Yesterday was Bob Dylan's 72nd birthday.  This most influential of American musical artists has survived many of his contemporaries and is still, thankfully, on tour performing.  His recent work has been critically acclaimed as among the best of his remarkable career.  But, since we will always think of him as "forever young," we offer this birthday salute from an early album ("Another Side of Bob Dylan") from nearly 50 years ago.  You'll note the dated references (Cassius Clay, Barry Goldwater), but Dylan's humorous "talking blues" style is, to us, still fresh.  Enjoy "I Shall Be Free No. 10."

Friday, May 24, 2013

Obamacare California Exchange Rates: Not Higher, Mostly LOWER

This has been all over the progressive blogosphere in the last 24 hours:
On Thursday, California officials revealed insurance companies’ opening bids for the state’s Obamacare marketplace in 2014. The numbers are great for consumers — and terrible for right-wing fear mongering over the health law.
Covered California, the agency tasked with constructing and maintaining the Golden State’s insurance marketplace, announced in a press release that rates submitted by 13 insurers for the 2014 individual marketplace were far lower than initially expected, ranging from a stunning 29 percent below the current average premium for small business health plans to only two percent above them.
Huge markets like California and New York will be leading the way in quickly implementing Obamacare (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), which will make it increasingly difficult for the reactionaries of the right to slow walk and otherwise gum up the works,  try as they might (and possibly succeed in the near term in their benighted red states).  Seeing actual numbers, as opposed to speculation and fear-mongering, might counter the "death-panels syndrome," wherein the right sets the tone and parameters of the discussion and leads the credulous media around by the nose.  A lot depends on honest brokers to spread the information (for example AARP,  Kaiser Family Foundation, etc.) because surely you won't be reading or hearing it in the news media.

Memorial Weekend Music

It's becoming a bit of a tradition here to recognize Memorial Day (which is Monday) with this beautiful song by Richard Rodgers, "Beneath the Southern Cross," also known as "No Other Love Have I,"  from the Victory at Sea soundtrack.  Memorial Day in America is a day we remember those service men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  We honor them now and for as long as we live.  May they rest in peace.

Peg O' St. Ronnie's Heart

There are few, if any, more egregious sycophants of St. Ronnie of Hollywood than Wall St. Journal op-ed romanticist Peggy "Nooners" Noonan.  Almost everything that comes out of her vodka-cured mouth is an ode to St. Ronnie, the man-of-men, hero-of-heroes.  Well, Jon Stewart isn't letting Nooners get away with her soft-focus, rose-colored vision of Ronnie.  Enjoy his puncturing of Nooners' Ronnie rhapsodizing:

Another Major Bridge Collapse

Yesterday's collapse of the Skagit River bridge carrying I-5 traffic between Seattle and Vancouver may have been caused by a tractor trailer hitting part of the bridge.  Usually, if a major, four-lane bridge is sound structurally, it would take more than a truck to bring it down.  This particular bridge was rated "functionally obsolete" by the Federal Highway Administration, but it hadn't been inspected in several years, so it may have had unreported flaws that caused it to collapse after the truck's impact.  Fortunately, there have been no fatalities reported.

Inspection, repair and replacement of our bridges, tunnels, roads and ports should be a no-brainer for Congressional appropriations.  It puts perhaps hundreds of thousands to work, not just on the infrastructure itself, but for suppliers of cement, asphalt, heavy equipment, etc.  Of course, the main stumbling block is the Rethuglican obsession with denying any success to the Obama Administration, even at the cost of jobs and perhaps even lives -- not this time, but when?

(photo: Emerson Shotwell, via KSPR)

Austerity and Corporate Cash Reserves

The economically damaging effects of austerity are causing corporations to sit on huge reserves of cash, rather than investing in their businesses and hiring workers.  Corporations are holding $1.7 trillion in reserves due to slow economic growth that is being hampered by budget cuts at the Federal, State and local levels.  Corporate profits are at record levels, while corporate tax revenues are dwindling.

One only has to study Europe recently (or the Hoover Administration) to see that cutting public spending in a severe recessionary time will only fuel the recession.  So will corporations holding large cash reserves, unwilling to invest in the economy.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Praise Th' Lawd, and Pass Th' Smarm

CNN's Wolf "Cry Wolf" Blitzer dropped in to visit with those good ol' folks of Moore, OK following Monday's devastating tornado, and wanted to make sure his red state viewers appreciated his Jewish Evangelical sensibilities.  Sadly, for the "most busted name in news," Cry Wolf's smarmy attempt to appeal to the State's Bible thumpers fell flat when he interviewed survivor Rebecca Vitsmun:
BLITZER:We're happy you're here. You guys did a great job. You've gotta thank the Lord, right? Do you thank the Lord for that split-second decision? 
VITSMUN: I -- I'm actually an atheist.  
BLITZER: You are. All right. But you made the right call.
As some wags have pointed out, if "the Lord" saved Rebecca and others from the F5 tornado, what was "He" thinking when "He" unleashed the tornado in the first place.  We know..."mysterious ways."

(image: Possessed!)

The Antebellum African-American

The Rethuglican nominee for Lt. Governor of Virginia and Virginia's leading hankerchief head E.W. "Ewwww" Jackson must be getting his American history from some KKK publication.  A couple of years ago, he claimed that the U.S. Consitution's provision that African-American slaves were to be counted as three-fifths of a person as "anti-slavery."  Actually, this provision helped slave states to inflate their representation in Congress:
"The clause was demanded by Southern proponents of slavery as a way of enhancing their congressional representation. They wanted slaves to be counted as full persons but settled on three-fifths. People of African descent would have had no real rights either way. The inclusion of the clause greatly enhanced the South’s political power and made it harder to abolish slavery. The clause was effectively eliminated after the Civil War by the Thirteenth Amendment."
 The other day, we noted Ewwww's political extremism and militant homophobia, and no doubt that in the weeks and months ahead, he'll give us more twisted gibberish to comment on.

(photo:  Eyes by Bachmann, views by Jefferson Davis)

Twister Cartoon of the Day

(click to enlarge)

Oklahoma's nitwit Rethuglican Senator, James "Inbred" Inhofe is suggesting that somehow the Federal aid needed by his state after the deadly tornado is different from aid provided to Sandy victims.  Ironically, several billion in emergency aid appropriated for Sandy relief (which he voted against) is still available, and that's where Inhofe wants to grab.

Inhofe is also one of the main deniers of global climate change, and a big booster of his state's fossil fuel industry.  He's a poster child for the manifest selfishness, pettiness, and ignorance that permeates Rethuglican politics.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Today's Read - Austerity Bites Edition

Neil Irwin sums up today's Congressional testimony by Fed Chair Ben Bernanke:
Ben Bernanke testifies before Congress today for the first time in three months, and the Federal Reserve chairman has a message for lawmakers: You’re the reason the economy isn’t taking off more.
Of course, Bernanke is too polite to phrase things quite so bluntly. But to anyone versed in Fedspeak, that’s the gist of his message. Even as state and local governments are becoming less of a drag on growth, Bernanke says in his prepared testimony before the Joint Economic Committee, “fiscal policy at the federal level has become significantly more restrictive.”
Whether Bernanke acknowledges it or not, Rethuglicans are fully aware that the austerity policies they've been foisting (often with the foolish acquiescence or outright promotion by the White House and rudderless Dems) are holding the economy back.  Why would this crop of bone-stupid, nihilist Rethuglicans want a healthy economy when their only goal is to discredit this Administration in particular and Democratic stewardship in general?  How does a healthy economy achieve that end? 

Colbert Fillets ABC's Jon Karl, Scandal-Promoting Media and Dimbulb Republicans

Took a while for us to get this up (o.k., last Anthony Weiner reference) but we think it's worth it:

Weiner Wants To Be NYC's Top Dog

Former Congressman and former underwear model Anthony "My Name Is My Fame" Weiner announced yesterday that he is running for Mayor of New York City.  Weiner released a two minute YouTube video, where he talks about his plans for New York, acknowledges his "mistakes" which cost him his seat in Congress, and features his lovely wife and former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin.  Dem favorite Christine Quinn currently leads the crowded Dem field, with Weiner rising (sorry).  You can expect New York's tabloid media to grill Weiner (sorry) again about his peckerdilloes  (sorry, we'll stop for now).

While we're all for second chances in life, an inner voice should be telling Weiner "go into private law practice and focus on your young the politics for another day."  Sadly, the way politics works, his "mistakes" will be brought back into the spotlight and into late night monologues, much to his and his wife's continued chagrin.

Mid-Week Memorial Song

The Doors' versatile keyboardist and founding member, Ray Manzarek, passed away Monday of cancer.  He was 74.  Fluent in blues, rock, and jazz styles, Manzarek was one of the most influential rock keyboardists of his era.  His keyboard literally introduced The Doors to the world with the opening bars of their first hit, "Light My Fire," and added a far-away, melancholy tone to their last hit, "Riders on the Storm."  NPR, among many, had this remembrance of him.  RIP.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Runner-Up Asshat of the Week

Among those big-hearted Rethuglicans recently arguing in Congress for cutting the food stamp program for the poor was Tennessee Tea Bag Rep. Stephen "Grinch" Fincher (Rethug-Crackerville).  A believer in self-reliance, Grinch thumped quoted the Bible, declaring Jeebus was on the side of thems that helps themselves.  Well, lo and behold,  looks like Grinch lived what he preached, at least as far as his agribusiness family helping themselves to over $8.9 million in federal farm subsidies over the past decade.

So, cut money for the poors, gummint!  The Makers like Grinch need it!

(Photo:  "Hey, where's my runner-up asshat?  I earned it!  I'm entitled!")

Hat Tip of the Week

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today on the Senate floor:

“So, you may have a question for me,” Whitehouse said. “Why do you care? Why do you, Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, care if we Republicans run off the climate cliff like a bunch of proverbial lemmings and disgrace ourselves? I’ll tell you why. We’re stuck in this together. We are stuck in this together. When cyclones tear up Oklahoma and hurricanes swamp Alabama and wildfires scorch Texas, you come to us, the rest of the country, for billions of dollars to recover. And the damage that your polluters and deniers are doing doesn’t just hit Oklahoma and Alabama and Texas. It hits Rhode Island with floods and storms. It hits Oregon with acidified seas, it hits Montana with dying forests. So, like it or not, we’re in this together. [snip]

So, I want this future: I want a Republican Party that has returned to its senses and is strong and a worthy adversary in a strong America that has done right by its people and the world. That’s what I want. I don’t want this future. I don’t want a Republican Party disgraced, that let its extremists run off the cliff, and an America suffering from grave economic and environmental and diplomatic damage because we failed, because we didn’t wake up and do our duty to our people, and because we didn’t lead the world. I do not want that future. But that’s where we’re headed. So I will keep reaching out and calling out, ever hopeful that you will wake up before it is too late.” 

All falling on deaf ears with loud mouths, no doubt.

Asshat of the Week

Oklahoma Rethuglican Sen. Tom "Golden Rule" Coburn is saying that disaster relief to his own state should be offset by cuts elsewhere in the Federal budget.  Seriously.  He's apparently catching hell from his constituents, but since he's retiring at the end of this term, he doesn't give a flea's feces.

The one thing you can say about this jackass is that he's consistent:  he's tried to tie disaster relief with budget cuts many times.

BONUS:  In stark contrast, Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant has donated $1 million to the Red Cross for disaster relief.  That's class.

Please donate if you can.

(photo:  Coburn, confusing his thumb with his middle finger.)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Tornadoes Rip Through Oklahoma

At least 51 reported dead, with toll expected to rise.

UPDATE:  Confusion among Oklahoma officials, who are saying that there was some double counting of fatalities.  Nevertheless, scores of injuries and massive property devastation.

[A woman carries her child through a field near the collapsed Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013. A tornado as much as a mile (1.6 kilometers) wide with winds up to 200 mph (320 kph) roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school. (AP Photo Sue Ogrocki)]

Please donate if you can.

Tale of Two Polls

We're seeing poll numbers for President Obama remaining steady, and even slightly improving, during "scandal" week in Washington.  A CNN poll shows that the President enjoys a job approval rating of 53%, up from a few weeks ago.  A Gallup poll shows similar results.

Meanwhile, Minnesota loon and Obamacare-obsessed Rep. Michele "Crazy Eyes" Bachmann's poll numbers are sagging.  She's behind likely 2014 Dem opponent Jim Graves (whom she narrowly defeated last November) by 47 to 45.  Her election fund scandal is fueling the notion that Crazy Eyes isn't so much focused on Minnesota's 6th Congressional District as much as she is on her own career.

BONUS:  Here's some additional analysis from Kos:
But it's not just Obama. The Democratic Party went from a 46-48 favorable-unfavorable rating a month ago, to 52-43 in this latest poll. That's a net gain of 11 points.
As for impeachment-screeching Republicans? They're DOWN a net eight points from 38-54 a month ago, to 35-59 this week.
It turns out that:
* The American people just don't think that it's the worst scandal since Watergate that Obama called the Benghazi consulate attack an "act of terror" as opposed to a "terrorist attack".
* The American people just don't care that the IRS spent extra time looking at the applications of political groups—none of which had their applications rejected, mind you. (Well, except for that one liberal group.)
* The American people can't be bothered to care that some reporters were spied on, after the GOP spent the last decade pushing for increased wiretapping powers in the name of "national security". This is exactly what Republicans wanted. No one believes they're really that outraged about it now.
So after the president's supposed worst week ever, with Republicans jumping in glee at the scandals, we find that the president's popularity has inched up, the Democratic Party's popularity is significantly up, and Republicans, at 59 percent unfavorable, are at their highest unpopularity level since CNN started polling the question in 1992.

Meet E.W. Jackson

We want you to know a little (as little as possible will do) about Bishop E.W. "Ewwww" Jackson, the nominee for Lieutenant Governor of the Petri dish that is the Rethuglican/ New Confederate/ Stupid Party in Virginia, and its most recent gift to Virginia Democrats.  He'll be running in November with goobernatorial nominee and transvaginal probe enthusiast Ken "The Cooch" Cuccinelli.  What you should know about Jackson, and why he perfectly encapsulates the zeitgeist of his ultra-reactionary party, has been summarized by Alex Seitz-Wald at Salon.  Here are but a few of Jackson's greatest hits:
1. On gay people: “Their minds are perverted, they’re frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally and they see everything through the lens of homosexuality. When they talk about love they’re not talking about love, they’re talking about homosexual sex.”
2. On gay people (again): “Homosexuality is a horrible sin, it poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things that we can think of… It’s an authoritarian, totalitarian spirit.”
3. Political predictions: Jackson said a few weeks before the 2012 election that black voters would “overwhelmingly” vote against Barack Obama because he had endorsed marriage equality. Over 90 percent of African Americans voted for the president.
4. On Democrats: “I liken them to slave masters who brag about how good their slaves are and how well-behaved they are but let them try to be free, let them try to escape and then you find out that they don’t really think very much of them.”
5. On Planned Parenthood and the KKK: “Planned Parenthood has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was. And the Democrat Party and the black civil rights allies are partners in this genocide.”
There's more at the link, if you need any more proof that this guy is a certifiable godbothering nut -- and thus fits the political mold most favored by his party's frothing base.

Also:  How's that rebranding coming along?

More Media Malpractice

Media Matters has a useful guide to yesterday's attempts by the Beltway media to equate the IRS/Tea Party dust-up with Watergate.   In the case of the IRS scrutinizing Tea Party and "patriot" groups, the problem stems from groups who are clearly political in nature trying to claim tax-exempt status under section 501(c)4 of the tax code as "social welfare" organizations.  They proliferated in the first four years of the Obama Administration, far more than progressive groups claiming the same status.  It may have been a blundering, heavy-handed process, but it doesn't rise anywhere near the criminality of the Nixon crew's burglary, obstruction of justice and perjury.

The broken media always needs something to fill the news cycle, and mundane policy issues and topics that impact everyday lives don't sizzle and sell air time.  "Scandals" -- whether manufactured or not -- do.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

How The Media Was Played On BENGHAZI! (And Why That Won't Change Anything)

Rachel Maddow dissects the fake emails press scandal associated with BENGHAZI!, with particular shame descending on Fox News Lite ABC News (h/t Crooks and Liars) :

Today's journalists  complicit Beltway media stenographers need to do some serious reflection on how they're being played by Rethuglican operatives and the right-wing noise machine... haha riiiight!

UPDATE:  ABC News' Jonathan Karl says "so sorry" for his false report (but says the story "entirely stands" -- see "haha riiight", above). Thanks a bunch.

UPDATE II:  Should have guessed why Karl is sticking with his "story:"  he's a product of a right-wing "journalism" organization.  So, he's part of the right-wing noise machine, just embedded at ABC News.

Sunday Cartoon Trifecta - "Scandal!" Edition

(Steve Breen, Arizona Republic, via

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald, via

(Tom Toles, once great Washington Post Kaplan Daily, via

Saturday, May 18, 2013

List of Shame

After the disastrous collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building in Bangladesh that killed an astonishing 1,127 people, a number of companies have signed an agreement that would require their suppliers to manufacture goods in safe, structurally sound buildings.  Such major international companies as Marks and Spencer, H&M, and Bennetton have pledged to abide by the agreement.  Not so a number of U.S. companies, who are putting their profits over the safety of thousands of third-world workers who are struggling to survive in their work environment.

Who are among the "dirty dozen" U.S. companies?  Walmart (surprise!), Gap, Macy's, Sears/K-Mart, J.C. Penney, Target, and VF Corporation (Wrangler jeans and North Face outerwear).  Shame. On. Them.  And remember who they are.

(photo:  Be proud, U.S. retailers.  Be proud)

We Did Not Make Up This Name

Dick Trickle, stock-car driver, dies in apparent suicide at 71

Here's the full article in the once great Washington Post Kaplan Daily, noting that he once carved a hole in his helmet in order to puff on a cigarette while on a warm-up lap.  Quite successful in short track racing, Trickle later joined the NASCAR circuit.  Former ESPN anchors Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick jokingly made a point of reporting where he finished in a race, no matter how far back in the pack.  RIP.

Quote of the Day

"Republicans are their own worst enemies at times like these, unable to leave well-enough alone, and missing chances to honestly engage the public as they race off the cliff in the supercharged outrage machine." -- Charles Blow, writing in the New York Times today.

The Rethuglican outrage machine, which has been operating at full-tilt since January 21, 2009, has worn down the public's tolerance.  They'll find in the days and weeks ahead that no matter how badly they want to bring down the Obama Administration with their allegations and smears, the majority of the public will tune them out.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Weekend Daylight Song

Maroon 5 is one of the most successful alternative rock groups of the past decade.  Here they are with their current hit, "Daylight."

Today's Dispatch From The Stupid Party

There are a number of very stupid people in the Stupid Party, and there's no one more stupid than Texas Congressman Louie "Screwy Louie" Gohmert.  As the saying goes, if gunpowder were brains, Screwy Louie wouldn't have enough to blow his nose.  Screwy Louie is on the furthest far-right fringe of the Stupid Party along with Michele "Crazy Eyes" Bachmann and Steve "The Lying" King.  Yesterday, he extinguished distinguished himself in questioning Attorney General Eric Holder over the FBI's handling of information regarding the Tsarnaev brother responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing.  When Holder in so many words told him that he didn't know what he was talking about, Screwy Louie fumed and uttered the immortal line:
 "The attorney general will not cast aspersions on my asparagus."
Congratulations, voters of Texas' First Congressional District.  You elected this moron.

Report: Rethugs Altered Benghazi E-Mails

Maybe now there'll be a real scandal associated with Benghazi! BENGHAZI!!, namely that Rethugs on Capitol Hill apparently altered language in e-mails last Friday related to the Benghazi matter before feeding them to an unskeptical media itching for ammunition against the Obama Administration.  When the White  House released 100 of the actual e-mails on Wednesday, the two versions didn't match.  To its credit, CBS News spotted the fabrication by the Rethugs, but this simply adds to the fact that this has been a politically-inspired hatchet job by Rethuglicans from the start.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Picture of the Week

The I-35 bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis is lit in rainbow colors to celebrate Minnesota's enactment of marriage equality legislation.  Pretty damned impressive.

(photo: City of Minneapolis)

Senators Moving On Military Sexual Assaults

Sexual assault cases in the military have increased alarmingly, and several members of the Senate, led by New York Dem Sen. Kristen Gillibrand are introducing legislation to change the protocol for reporting serious abuse cases (felony-level).  Currently, serious abuse cases are reported up through the chain of command, offering huge potential for abuses of subordinates by superiors.  The new legislation would create channel to report abuse that wouldn't involve reporting to one's superior officer.  As Gillibrand said,
"When any single victim of sexual assault is forced to salute her attacker, clearly our system is broken."

Deja Vu Cartoon of the Day

(click to enlarge)

As we noted Monday, today will witness the 37th time the Rethug House will vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, despite the fact that the measure will go absolutely nowhere.

Living in an alternate universe can be so repetitive sometimes.

(cartoon: Mike Luckovich via

Poll: McAuliffe Leads In VA

In a new Quinnipiac poll released today, Dem candidate for Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is leading by 5 points over Rethug candidate and transvaginal probe enthusiast Ken "The Cooch" Cuccinelli.  Clearly, there's much that can happen between now and November, and polls are generally showing a very close race so far.  But the key factor will be turnout, since McAuliffe is favored among registered voters, while The Chooch is favored among likely voters (and countless morons).  Dems can't afford to let a tea bagger icon like The Chooch win Virginia.

Dissing Issa

What President Obama has rightfully called a "sideshow" -- the Benghazi! BENGHAZI!! witch hunt -- seems to be slowly circling the drain.  As evidence of its nothingburger status, the two respected co-chairmen of the Benghazi accountability review committee, Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, have asked Rethug circus barker Rep. Darrell "No Suh" Issa for a public hearing at which they can testify on the Benghazi matter.  No Suh just wants them to testify in a closed hearing, not surprisingly, since he's using the hearings as a political stunt to bring the current President and the (hopefully) next President, Hillary Clinton, down.  A copy of the Pickering/Mullen letter to the circus barker was obtained by CNN, and it's clear that they're wise to his attempt to hide their testimony and play political games.

When you don't want your "show" to be seen in public, maybe it's time to close it.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Note on the IRS "Scandal"

The storm of outrage that the Rethuglicans and their friends in the Beltway media are stoking over the IRS' scrutiny of conservative 501(c) (4) groups that were applying for tax exempt status might note this.
At least three progressive groups were also scrutinized over whether they were a "social welfare" group, as required by the above-mentioned IRS code.

If you consider that the outpouring of right-wing corporate money into conservative 501(c) (4) groups has overwhelmed similar progressive groups since Citizens United came along, you'll understand why the vast majority of groups examined were right-wing and not progressive.  So when you hear some boob on, say, Morning Joke, wax indignant over the IRS' blundering, remember that it was the Rethug-backed Citizens United case that opened the door to gaming the tax code to fund sleazy political ads, and the IRS has been walking a tightrope ever since.

Mid-Week Oldies Song

We're going to the back of the raaack for this song, specifically 50 years ago this week, when Peggy March -- billed as "Little" Peggy March -- had this number one hit, her first and only.  March was only 15 at the time of the recording, making her the youngest solo singer to have a number one hit. A classic combination of teen angst lyrics and the pop rhythms of a bygone era.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Breast Cancer Loses One Potential Victim

Body image is central to the way a lot of people define themselves, for better or worse, particularly for those in the entertainment industry.  That why it was so important that Angelina Jolie took the potentially life-saving step of having a pre-emptive double mastectomy surgery, since she inherited the genetic predisposition for both breast and ovarian cancer.  If this encourages more women to go for testing and evaluation, and if their genetic markers indicate a strong likelihood of breast or ovarian cancer, to take the necessary surgical treatment, then by going public, Jolie may have saved countless lives by her example.  Well done, and she's more gorgeous -- and healthy -- than ever.

Hey, How's That Rebranding Coming?

We had to laugh when we saw this story about the Rethuglican National Committee's head of Hispanic Outreach in Florida quitting his post, and changing his party affiliation to Democratic.  Bwhahaha!  Apparently, Pablo Pantoja had enough of Rethug reactionary racism over the immigration issue, writing in an open letter:
"It doesn’t take much to see the culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party today. I have wondered before about the seemingly harsh undertones about immigrants and others. Look no further; a well-known organization recently confirms the intolerance of that which seems different or strange to them."
The last statement refers to the Heritage Foundation's bigoted "study" claiming that Hispanic immigrants were too intellectually inferior and would cost too much to justify accepting them into the U.S.  The creep that authored the "study" ended up resigning, but not before the Heritage Foundation exposed itself for the right-wing nativist operation that it is.

New Shoes Drop

Just as the public is beginning to see the Benghazi! BENGHAZI!! frenzy as a transparent attempt to preempt a run by Secretary Hillary Clinton in 2016, the Obama Administration can't seem to stop stepping on its own shoelaces.  The story of the IRS "targeting" tea party and other right-wing outfits for review who received tax exemptions under the IRS code, coupled with the breaking story of the Associated Press' phone records being examined in an investigation of Executive Branch national security leaks, are sadly giving new legs to the wingnut scandal-mongers.  Talk about self-inflicted wounds.

The President and Dems can't afford to let the Rethugs and their front groups spin the narrative for political purposes.  They need to do thorough and independent investigations of what happened and if wrongdoing was committed, hold those responsible to account.

1,273 Days Until The 2016 Elections...

...and Rethugs and their right-wing front groups are already in a feeding frenzy over, what else, Benghazi! BENGHAZI!!, and more specifically their presumed 2016 Presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton.  The Rethuglican National Committee, following Karl "Turdblossom" Rove's ugly ad targeting Secretary Clinton, has a new smear job out that should reveal exactly what Benghazi! BENGHAZI!! is all about. It's certainly not about diplomatic security, because the Rethuglicans voted against increased funding to make our embassies and consulates more secure against attack.  It's not about implementing the 29 recommendations of the Pickering/Mullen report that will make our facilities more secure in the future.

It's about the 2016 elections, pure and simple.  Maybe the Beltway media will wise up at some point, but that would be almost too much to ask for.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Today's Dispatch From The Stupid Party

Who better to represent the backward-looking, reactionary Stupid Party than the Minnesota Loon herself, Rep. Michele "Crazy Eyes" Bachmann, whose bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act will be voted on Thursday?   The bill will go nowhere, as have the previous 36 times the bill has been voted on, since the Senate won't take it up and the President would never sign it.  Stupid is as stupid does, and Crazy Eyes is as stupid as the Stupid Party gets.

When last seen a few days ago, Crazy Eyes was actually sitting in the audience of Rep. Darrell "No Suh" Issa's "hearings" on the Benghazi! BENGAZI! affair, furiously taking notes, which is certainly of supreme importance to the people of the sixth Congressional District of Minnesota.

Grumpypants' War Jabber

Incessant Sunday talk show guest and bitter loser Sen. John "Grumpypants" McCain loves the spotlight, but one wonders why the Beltway media has given him foreign policy "expert" status, especially when he comes up with incoherent reasons for jumping into Syria's civil war.

His latest foray into policy babble was on yesterday's ABC This Week, when he pushed for greater U.S. intervention in Syria, but without considering the consequences of arms falling into the wrong hands:
 MCCAIN: ...if [the Russians] move that in, it's going to make it more complicated, and certainly maybe gives us a little bit of skepticism about a conference. But, we can provide them with a safe zone. We can provide them a place to organize inside Syria. We can give them the heavy weapons that they need...

RADDATZ: Who's -- who's them? Who's them?

MCCAIN: ...well I -- I know them. I have met them. They're there. They...

RADDATZ: But how do you keep out good rebels, and bad rebels?

MCCAIN: Because...

RADDATZ: You've got al-Qaeda rebels, running around...
There you have it.  Grumpypants wants to dump sophisticated arms on Syrian rebels -- the most organized of which are al-Qaeda -- and create a "safe area" and "no-fly zone."  But he essentially says "trust them" regarding the rebels, not having any real basis for his optimism.  Add to that Russia undermining whatever we would do.

Once again, Grumpypants is showing the great judgment and wisdom of the guy who wanted Sarah "Winky" Palin on his Presidential ticket.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Quote of the Day

"I just played my damn position."  -- Charles Ramsey, the hero of the Cleveland abduction story who freed Amanda Berry from her (and her fellow abductees') decade-long nightmare, indicating that he didn't deserve all the praise.  Sorry, Charles, but you'll have to accept it.

Ramsey, who has been mocked recently by right-wing racists who think he should speak with an Oxford accent and be more -- you know -- white, is on a well-deserved celebrity tour, but who was insistent that he be back in Cleveland on Monday morning to get back to his dishwashing job.


(click to enlarge)

We smell some real 2016 Hillary-fear, too.

(top, Rob Rogers, bottom, Stuart Carlson, both via

Saturday, May 11, 2013

It's Still Called Treason

The Civil War ended (we thought) almost 150 years ago, but nine southern states haven't given up on celebrating treason.  Yesterday it was South Crackerland Carolina's turn to wave the flag of treason and close State offices in "celebration."  No word on how South Carolina's African-American population will "celebrate."

Reconstruction didn't go nearly far enough.

From The Sports Desk

With his manifest greed, vindictiveness and meddling in the operations of the Washington Redskins, owner Li'l Danny Snyder is one of the most hated owners in professional sports.  Now, Li'l Danny has weighed in on the controversial name of his team, saying that despite calls for changing the derogatory team name, he "will never change the name."  With the issue of the name being taken up by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, Li'l Danny could stand to lose serious money if the Board decides that the name "Redskins" is defamatory and denies trademark rights.  Nothing in the world of professional football would make us happier than for that little turd's trademark rights to be denied, allowing every t-shirt and sports equipment company to pocket all of the proceeds from the sales of Redskins items.

By the way, since the team is known shorthand as the 'Skins, you would think that a simple solution would be to rename them, for example, the Buckskins, after the deerskin clothing worn by both Native Americans and white settlers.  They'd still be referred to as the 'Skins.  Just like we'll keep referring to their owner as Li'l Danny.