Sunday, June 30, 2013

Letters We Wish We'd Written Dept. -- Voting Rights Edition

From today's once great Washington Post Kaplan Daily:

The Supreme Court majority in the voting rights decision has forgotten some bitter history. In the 1890s, “redeemer” movements managed to cancel the protections of the 15th Amendment and to disenfranchise voters whose right to vote is protected by it. That sweeping counter-movement, featuring literacy tests, poll taxes and other obstructive devices, was heralded — and licensed — by a similarly improvident Supreme Court decision. In Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) the majority of that day held, airily, that “separate but equal” signified racial inferiority only insofar as those disadvantaged by the doctrine perceived it that way.
Justice John Marshall Harlan, a Kentuckian and former Confederate officer, dissented. He knew his history and understood the dangers and potential mischief that could take many decades to correct. He saw that the court had fastened a “badge of inferiority” on black people.
Speaking of the 15th Amendment, many will wonder how the Roberts court could hold unconstitutional what the Constitution itself empowers Congress to do by “appropriate legislation.” Is this court a better judge of what is constitutionally appropriate than Congress? That is the paramount question this foolish decision raises. Judicial arrogance can hardly go further.
Edwin M. Yoder Jr., Alexandria
Well put, sir.  (See also blog posting below.)

Sunday Funnies

(click to enlarge)

The right wing imagines that they've won the war to deny voting rights to minorities, and thus have maintained their artificial power.  But it's a Pyrrhic victory, because where rights are denied, it only rededicates those fighting to restore them.

In the same vein, here's what the New York Times has to say:
What is needed now is a new coalition — as loud and as angry as the voices of 1965 — to demand that Republican lawmakers join Democrats in restoring fairness to the election system. Discrimination at the ballot box continues and is growing.
It comes in more forms than it did a half-century ago, but it is no less pernicious. Instead of literacy tests, we now have rigid identification requirements. Instead of poll taxes, we now have bans on early voting, cutbacks in the number of urban precincts, and groups that descend on minority districts to comb the registration rolls for spelling errors.
These measures, largely undertaken to reduce Democratic votes in the Obama period, have a direct impact on minority voters in dozens of states. But they also affect the poor of all races, older people, students and legal immigrants, increasing the need for expanded legislation.
(top:  Jeff Danziger, New York Times Syndicate;   bottom:  Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Obama: We're Already Paying Cost of Inaction on Climate Change

And as the Flat Earth Society (a.k.a., the Republican/ Stupid Party) continues in its unprincipled denial, the American West is burning up

Where Reforms Go To Die

Now that the Senate has voted 68 - 32 on an immigration reform package, attention turns to the Rethug-controlled House, where Weeper of the House John "Mr. Tangerine Man" Boehner has already dismissed the Senate bill out of hand, and won't consider a bill that the majority of House Rethugs don't support.  The reason:  the strong tea bagger caucus that dominates the Rethug majority.   Immigration reform, which the Rethuglicans need to get on the right side of for national political reasons, will be almost impossible to pass thanks to nativist / racist tea bagger resistance.

Some optimists are pinning their hopes for reform on the Democratic minority and a handful of Rethugs getting together to pass a discharge petition, which would bring an immigration reform bill to the floor for a vote.  As this piece in TPM notes, however, that's a long shot at best, as few if any Rethugs of a "moderate" persuasion on immigration will buck their leadership and vote with the Dems.  (Though there are some significant Rethuglican interests that support reform and will be pressuring Mr. Tangerine Man.)  So it looks like we're in to a "stall" pattern as House Rethuglicans try to figure out how to blame their obstruction of reform on the Dems and Obama.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Weekend Reverie Music

Music for a languid summer weekend:


In a preview of next week's New Yorker cover, Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie watch coverage of the Supreme Court ruling knocking down the Defense of Marriage Act.  The Muppet duo have always portrayed a Felix Ungar/Oscar Madison-style straight "Odd Couple," but the illustration is still touching in its own way.

(New Yorker cover illustration by Jack Hunter)

Well, Hush Your Mouth

The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson has a great column on cooking-with-cholesterol maven and Ol' Dixie life stylist Paula "I Paulagize" Deen's self-inflicted wounds, which have severely damaged her cooking and home style empire:
"She has spent her adult life in an America where black people are not compelled to be subservient to whites. She has made her fortune in an America where most people, white as well as black, consider warm-and-fuzzy nostalgia for the days of slavery and Jim Crow to be highly offensive.

I’ll put it in terms that someone who missed the last 50 years might understand: All black people are uppity now. Every one of us, I’m afraid."
Read his whole column here (hat tip to dear friend P.E.C. for pointing us to the column).  We saw clips of her interview with Matt Lauer, and aside from the self-pitying, defensive tone she took, we noticed that when she "cried," oddly there were no tears.  Just saying.

(photo:  Today Show, NBC.  All out of tears?)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

How Tweet It Is!

(click to enlarge)

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

If one had any doubts about the continuing need for a strong Voting Rights Act after Tuesday's gutting of the Act by the right-wing majority of the Supreme Court, look no further than the actions taken immediately by several southern States to curb minority voting.  Rethuglicans in Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Virginia launched new voter ID and other measures intended to suppress minority, young and poor voters in their states.  Now that they are free from the "pre clearance" requirement of the Act's Section 4, the frightened bigots in those States are trying to change the outcome of elections by changing the rules to favor them.  What remains of the Voting Rights Act can still be used by private organizations to sue States violating voting rights of their citizens (Section 2), but it's an "after the fact" process and so much harder without the resources of the Federal Government to block it in the first place.

When Rethugs claim that times have changed, the only things that have changed are the tactics and methods to undermine voting rights of minorities.  Poll taxes, literacy requirements, and police dogs have been replaced by more subtle methods of disenfranchisement, but it's a rear-guard action by those who know their ideology and policies would be defeated in open elections.

BONUS:  Ed Kilgore has a good analysis of the contortions Chief Justice Roberts was willing to engage in in order to get his "trophy" -- the gutting of the VRA.

BONUS IIA possible "fix" for Section 4?

BONUS III:  Wait until you read what Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit had to say about Roberts' gymnastics on the VRA!  (Posner's a respected judicial conservative, appointed by St. Ronnie of Hollywood!)

Picture of the Day

Pictures of the shoes that Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Awesome) wore during her pro-choice marathon filibuster this week have gone viral.  The Daily Show's John Oliver referred to them as "Fila - busters."

Gail Collins has a nice column in the New York Times summing up the epic stand (pun intended) that Davis took, and how Texas ol' boy politics will never be the same.

UPDATEOh no he dint... oh yes she did!

(photo:  New York Magazine)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How's That Republican Rebranding Coming Along? A Progress Report

Q and A of the Day - DOMA Edition

REPORTER: Congresswoman [Michele] Bachmann put out a statement and she essentially said that the decision today cannot undo God's word. How do you guys react to that?
NANCY PELOSI: Who cares?

Historic Rulings on Marriage Equality

In two historic rulings today by the Supreme Court, each by 5 to 4 votes, the Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) an unconstitutional violation of the Fifth Amendment, and declared California's Proposition 8 law banning same sex marriages null and void.  The ruling on DOMA means that in States that recognize same sex marriage, benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples must be extended to same sex couples (i.e., spousal health benefits, etc.).  However, it doesn't require States not recognizing same sex marriage to change their laws to allow marriage equality.

We can expect the movement for marriage equality to be energized at the State level in those States that don't allow same sex marriage.  Now that the Court has ruled favorably on gay rights issues, and with public opinion becoming more supportive every year, the tide for equality and freedom has shifted dramatically and that should be cause for celebration by everyone.

UPDATE:  If you can stomach it, here's "Justice" Antonin "Tony Thumb on Scales" Scalia's hateful dissent on the DOMA ruling.   Our reactions:  1) Methinks he doth protest too much, and 2) he should be committed to a mental health institution.

Victory For Choice in Texas

Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Ft. Worth) yesterday singlehandedly blocked a bill in the Texas Senate that would have effectively banned abortions in Texas.  She did it by filibustering -- standing the whole time without a break -- for almost 11 hours until the deadline for the vote had passed.  For good measure, pro-choice supporters in the Senate gallery and outside the chamber raised their voices in support, so that Rethuglican Lt. Governor David Dewhurst had to suspend debate and admit defeat.  Of course, Dewhurst came up with three phony reasons why Sen. Davis had violated the filibuster procedure in an attempt to silence her, but in the end the Dems -- and women -- won.

(photo:  Dallas Morning News.  Sen. Wendy Davis, heroine)

Markey Victorious in Massachusetts

Rep. Ed Markey swept to victory yesterday in the special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by now  Secretary of State John Kerry.  Markey defeated his Rethuglican opponent, vulture capitalist and former Swiftboat mouthpiece Gabriel "Just Go" Gomez, by a 55 - 45 margin.  The Senator-elect is expected to be a strong voice for progressive issues, along with his stellar teammate Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Markey campaigned vigorously and was able to outspend Just Go in advertising.  Sen.-elect Markey will be up for re-election in 2014, when Kerry's term would have expired.

(photo: Boston Globe.  Sen.-elect Markey and his wife Dr. Susan Blumenthal at last night's victory party.)

Mid-Week Blue Song

Blues artist Bobby "Blue" Bland passed away last Sunday at age 83.  Sometimes called the "Sinatra of the Blues," Bland was a Lifetime Achievement Grammy winner, and member of both the Rhythm and Blues and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame.  Here's his beautiful "Members Only" from 1985.  RIP.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Quote of the Day -- SCOTUS Edition

“[T]he Court’s opinion can hardly be described as an exemplar of restrained and moderate decision making.  Quite the opposite. Hubris is a fit word for today’s demolition of the VRA.”  -- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, in her dissenting opinion following the Supreme Court's gutting of the VRA today in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder et al.

UPDATE:  With these cases being decided by assholes restrained and moderate jurists like this,  what's the big deal?

Taxing Our Patience

Attempts by Rethuglicans and their supporters in the press to puff up the IRS "scandal" were dealt perhaps the fatal blow in recent revelations that progressive groups were also being challenged by the IRS when they applied for tax exempt status as "social welfare" organizations.  This means that the buffoonery of Rethug Rep. Darrell "Grand Theft Auto" Issa may be winding down, as he overreached on this and the Benghazi! BENGHAZI!! affair.

This has been a cautionary tale for both Rethuglicans and members of their courtier press about getting your facts straight before you launch a smear campaign.  At least the Rethugs might be minimally "dissuaded" by failure, if only to fall back on weasel wording and misdirection;  the arrogant, unaccountable courtier press, not so much.

UPDATE:  Looks like Grand Theft Auto was directing the IG's investigation from the get-go to manufacture the whole "scandal."

Cute Picture of the Day

After almost a day missing from Washington, D.C.'s National Zoo, Rusty the red panda was captured yesterday afternoon in the nearby Adams Morgan neighborhood.

Apparently he was caught trying to buy a drink at a bar on Columbia Road and couldn't produce a valid ID.

(photo:  National Zoo)

Court Undermines Voting Rights Act

The 5-member right-wing majority of the Supreme Court today struck down the section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that established a formula for determining whether States and local jurisdictions were engaged in discrimination in laws concerning voting.  The Court indicated that Congress needed to update the formula to make it contemporary with current voting patterns.   Without a determining formula, the Court effectively undermines the provision in the Voting Rights Act that requires States and local jurisdictions subject to the formula to "pre clear" any changes to their voting requirements with the Justice Department, such as changes in polling places, voter ID requirements, etc.

Clearly, the Court's right-wing majority intends that the obstructionist Rethugs in Congress will do absolutely nothing to update the law to restrict voter suppression measures against minority voters who vote overwhelmingly against them.  Along with Rethug obstruction on immigration reform, we're confident that the green light that the right-wing Court majority gave to voter suppression will mobilize the targets of their partisan war like never before.

Monday, June 24, 2013

He's Got The Bunga Bunga Blues

Former Italian Prime Minister and poster boy for bad behavior Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced by an Italian court to seven years in prison and barred from any future political office for hiring underage prostitutes for his notorious "bunga bunga" parties.  Berlusconi is expected to appeal the sentence.

Assuming he's incarcerated, a Hackwhackers gift of soap-on-a-rope is on its way to Berlusconi for those "intimate" prison showers.  Bunga bunga baby.

The Republican War on Women: Lone Star State Edition

Today, we have an all-Texas edition of the on-going drama, "The Republican War on Women":
Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives voted in the wee hours of Monday morning to cut off a marathon 15-hour debate over a bill that would close nearly all the state’s abortion clinics and ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, overwhelmingly approving the highly contentious measure after Democrats pulled out all the stops to gum up the process.
During the debate on the bill,  Democrats wanted to offer an exception in the case of rape or incest to the 20-week ban.  That was when lady Republican/ Stupid Party State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg "broke the glass stupid ceiling" (h/t Wonkette) by wanting everyone to know that rape exception wasn't necessary 'cause
If a woman is raped… We have hospital emergency rooms... We have funded what’s called rape kits that will help the woman, basically clean her out. And then hopefully that will alleviate that.
That's right, lady!  A kit that's used to collect evidence of a rape will "alleviate" a potential pregnancy resulting from rape!  Also:  "Hopefully!"  She got that straight from Dr. Todd Akin (or was it Dr. Richard Mourdock?)!  Then again, maybe it was "Law and Order:  SUV."

Ordure In The Court

The attorneys for racist-motivated stalker / vigilante George "Bang Bang" Zimmerman are going for the "funny" now in the Trayvon Martin slaying case.  In his opening statement, Bang Bang's clownish attorney, Don West, offered the following hi-LAR-ious knock knock joke:
"Knock knock. Who’s there? George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman who? All right. Good. You’re on the Jury."
Oh, snap, Don West!  You're such a card!!  You're killing us....oh, bad analogy. Now tell us how Bang Bang's stalking of Trayvon Martin after being told not to follow him by police, and his subsequent fatal shooting of an unarmed man is funny.

Ha ha, didn't think so.

(photo: Warren Photographic)

The Scandal-Driven Media

 Jon Favreau sees an unhealthy tendency in the media to presume the worst, and its corrosive effects:
... [I]t does not serve the public good when elected and government officials, be they Democrat or Republican, are constantly presumed guilty until proven innocent. When the American people are told that every action or decision is motivated by politics or power; when every mistake or misstatement is exaggerated into an instance of Nixonian malfeasance; when the line between impassioned advocacy and objective reporting ceases to exist, it does nothing but erode an already-fragile faith in our democratic institutions.
Many in the press have called for a national debate on privacy and security. And in the coming weeks, issues like climate change, immigration, and any number of controversial Supreme Court decisions will be added to the list. But national debates don’t just require a willing public, President, and Congress—they require a willing press that is able to report with a sense of nuance, patience, and perspective.
Favreau hits a lot of nails on the head, but "nuance, patience, and perspective" in the press?  Unfortunately, that doesn't generate clicks, sales or audience share, which is why we're where we are and why that's not likely to change.

D-Day For Supremes

The Supreme Court is expected to render its decisions on several key issues today, the most far-reaching of which are voting rights, affirmative action and marriage equality.  The right-wing members of the court may prevail in weakening Federal capabilities under the Voting Rights Act, and in striking down affirmative action programs at public institutions.  Striking down California's Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriages -- or allowing a lower court's decision against Prop 8 to stand -- may be the bright spot in today's slew of decisions.

We'll be watching and updating.

UPDATE:  No decision on marriage equality or the Voting Rights Act today, perhaps tomorrow.  The Court remanded the University of Texas-Austin case regarding affirmative action back to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals for further review.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Snowden to Ecuador?

NSA leaker, Ron Paul admirer and legend in his own mind Edward Snowden has left Hong Kong, China, for libertarian paradise Russia, and has  reportedly sought asylum in libertarian paradise  Ecuador, following earlier speculation that his ultimate destination would be libertarian paradises Cuba or Venezuela.  Snowden is reportedly to travel from Moscow to Cuba, enroute to Ecuador on Monday.  That's quite the travelogue of open, freedom-loving places, Mr. Snowden! 

Snowden is being sought under the Espionage Act for disclosure of classified information, gathering or disclosing defense information, and embezzling public property or records.  His passport was also revoked today.

If he was intending to change the story from domestic intelligence gathering overreach to himself, he's done a bang-up job.

UPDATE:  Snowden was not on the flight to Cuba earlier today, raising speculation that the Russians are finding the laptops he carried with him with national security information too tempting.  They may end up keeping the laptops and handing Snowden over to the U.S.

UPDATE II:   Edward Snowden, the not-accidental mole.  Also calling into question Glenn Greenwald's role (h/t LGF).

Photo of the Week -- Score!

President Obama and British PM Cameron work on a project at the Enniskillen Primary School in Northern Ireland, June 17.  We wonder what prompted the joyous young lad on the left to react as he did (early dismissal?  no homework that night? the photographer yelling "hey kid, over here!"?).  No matter, we love the picture.  (AP/  Matt Dunham)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Call The Waaahm-bulance!

Former Rethug Presidential nominee and plutocratic champion Lord Willard "One Percent" Romney and his spouse,  Lady Ann, were routinely mocked during the 2012 campaign for their out-of-touch elitism, the most obvious example of which was their car elevator in their La Jolla, California mega-mansion.

It seems that Lady Ann was not pleased with the common folks' "rules and regulations," which hampered her and Lord One Percent's style.  At a recent local government hearing, Lady Ann railed against the lowly bureaucratic minions (Dems, no doubt!) that delayed the permitting process for her and One Percent's small $12 million upgrade of their La Jolla property.  The effrontery!  The nerve of these unwashed commoners to delay the plans of their betters!!  Waaaahh!

Her sense of entitlement and false victimhood reeks with the assumptions of the privileged few that think that their wealth entitles them to preferential treatment and perks.  Sorry, Lady Ann, your self pity is passé.  Waaaahh yourself.

Decision Day Nears In Massachusetts

Two recent polls indicate that Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey holds a solid two-digit lead over his Rethuglican opponent, Gabriel "Just Go" Gomez to fill the Senate seat vacated by John Kerry.   A UMass-Lowell / Boston Herald poll showed Markey with a 20 point lead, 56 - 36, and an Emerson College poll showed Markey with a 10 point advantage, 51 - 41.  The special election will be held this coming Tuesday, June 25.

Of course, Dems are notorious for sitting out off-year and special elections.  We dearly hope this isn't one of those years, because the only poll that counts is the one that voters go to on election day.

Deen Done

Food Network host and Southern cooking and lifestyle maven Paula "I Paulagize" Deen has been let go by the Network after admitting in a deposition that she used the N-word in the past and was racially insensitive in a number of instances, including planning for a "Southern plantation" event at which middle-aged African-American males would serve as waiters dressed in antebellum-style butler uniforms.  While she released videos yesterday offering her apologies, the Food Network declined to renew her contract.  These events were triggered by a lawsuit alleging discrimination and harassment at a restaurant she co-owns with her brother in South Carolina.

(photo:  Well hush my mouth....please.)

The IRS "Scandal" Souffle Collapses

From Jonathan Chait's article in the latest New York Magazine:
"When the IRS first revealed that its Cincinnati office had attempted to enforce its nonprofit laws using a search function that disproportionately impacted conservatives, Republicans were certain it must have come from the White House. They were going to follow the facts. But all of the facts point in the same direction, which is that the Obama administration had nothing to do with it at all. That was the conclusion of the agency’s inspector-general report, as well as the House Oversight Committee’s own interviews, which the Republican majority tried to suppress and which (when the Democrats released them) showed the operation was an independent, well-intentioned effort to enforce the law led by an IRS official who happens to be a conservative Republican."
Over the last three years, when literally thousands of right-wing teabagger groups flooded the IRS claiming to be "social welfare" organizations to claim a tax exemption, by law the IRS had to screen the applications to weed out the clearly political, of which there were thousands.  When the Rethuglicans tried to tie it to the White House, they failed.  To his great credit, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) exposed the charade when he released the complete transcripts of the IRS staff interviews, which had been very selectively quoted by scummy bungler Rep. Darrell "Grand Theft Auto" Issa (R-Conspiracyland) to hint at a White House-IRS connection.

This marks the second "scandal" that Grand Theft Auto Issa has puffed up and watched deflate, the first being Benghazi!  BENGHAZI!! which was a thinly-veiled attempt to damage the political future of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and dirty-up the President at the same time.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Weekend Song - Summertime

Welcome to Summer with the incandescent Ella Fitzgerald singing Gershwin.  Enjoy.

Don't Cry For Me, Tangerina

If it hasn't been evident for years, it is now.  Weeper of the House John "Mr. Tangerine Man" Boehner can't seem to get anything done in the Rethug-controlled House, except for umpteen votes on abolishing Obamacare and naming Post Offices.  The latest fiasco for the Weeper was the defeat of the farm bill.  The bill was going to cut billions per year from the food stamp program, while boosting farm subsidies that would, of course, aid agribusiness giants like Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill who contribute to Rethuglican politicians.  It failed on a vote of 234 - 195, when the Weeper lost dozens of his own teabagger caucus members who thought the bill was too generous to food stamp recipients.

Next up:  immigration reform.  As the Senate appears poised to deliver a somewhat bipartisan reform bill, the House remains as reactionary and obstructionist toward reform as possible.  The teabagger caucus in the House has Weeper Boehner's cojones in a vice grip, and they won't reason or compromise.  No wonder he cries so much.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Today's Cartoons: Republican Rebranding FAIL (Cont.)

(click to enlarge)

(Ben Sargent, via

(Mike Luckovich, via

How's That Republican Rebranding Coming Along? Minority Female Dept.

After their flop in 2012, the Rethuglican Party has claimed to be seeking a more inclusive approach to minority and women voters.  They've certainly tried to cosmetically put their craven politicians at the forefront of such debates as immigration reform (Sen. Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio) and women's reproductive rights (Rep. Marsha "Man's World" Blackburn).

It looks like their rebranding efforts have run into a bit of a snag again.  Erika Harold is a black female, the 2003 Miss America winner and a Harvard Law School graduate.  She's a Rethuglican running against Rethug incumbent Rep. Rodney Davis in the primary, and that's made some ol' boys in the Montgomery Co. (IL) Rethuglican Party angry, especially their county chairman Jim "Jim Crow"Allen, who wrote this lovely missive:
"Rodney Davis will win and the love child of the D.N.C. will be back in Shitcago by May of 2014 working for some law firm that needs to meet their quota for minority hires... Now, miss queen is being used like a street walker and her pimps are the DEMOCRAT PARTY and RINO REPUBLICANS."
We suppose he's angry because his white hood and sheets came back from the cleaners with wrinkles. This is the quintessential teabagging Rethug these days: deranged, angry, racist, and misogynist. They need to be kept as far away from the levers of power as we can keep them.  Oh, and Ms. Harold, what the f*ck are you thinking running with these s.o.b.'s?

UPDATE:  Apparently, Allen was too much even for the Rethug Party:  he's been forced to resign.

(photo:  Waiting for the Rethug welcome mat)

James Gandolfini, 1961-2013

Best known for playing Tony Soprano, one of the iconic characters in the television age, James Gandolfini died of a heart attack yesterday in Rome at the all too young age of 51.  He was known as a warm and generous person to all in his private life, and of course, was a stunningly good actor.  RIP.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Shopping Fool's Warehouse

Among the most entitled, soulless Congressmen of the Rethuglican/ New Confederate/ Stupid Party (and Lord, there are so many) is NRA stooge  Rep. Steve "My Gun is My Manhood" Stockman (Guns!- TX).  But Stockman isn't a one trick pony, no suh!  Responding to a demonstration by House Democrats that cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program's (SNAP) budget by $21 billion over 10 years would cause people already subsisting on a tight food budget to suffer even more, Stockman sent his communications buttboy Dim Donny Ferguson out to the stupidmarket to buy some food and show them liebruls!  Here's what Dim Donny bought for his allowance (via Stockman's office - no link):
For $21.55 Ferguson purchased at Dollar Tree:
Two boxes of Honeycomb cereal
Three cans of red beans and rice
Jar of peanut butter
Bottle of grape jelly
Loaf of whole wheat bread
Two cans of refried beans
Box of spaghetti
Large can of pasta sauce
Two liters of root beer
Large box of popsicles
24 servings of Wyler’s fruit drink mix
Eight cups of applesauce
Bag of pinto beans
Bag of rice
Bag of cookies

For $6.03 at the Shoppers Food Warehouse next door Ferguson bought a gallon of milk and a box of maple and brown sugar oatmeal.
Mmmm. Yum!  We never realized the poors had it so good... or as Laura Clawson points out:
So he's got a lot of cereal for breakfast, and he can have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, along with maybe some applesauce and fruit drink. For dinner, it looks like he's eating spaghetti for a couple nights and otherwise eating beans and rice. Also popsicles and cookies. Healthy diet, there! And such a varied menu at dinner. Perhaps Ferguson isn't aware that the definition of low food security is "reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet. Little or no indication of reduced food intake." Exactly the diet he's reporting, in other words: fruits and vegetables only in the form of grape jelly, pasta sauce, and applesauce, heavily dependent on root beer and cookies and sugary cereal for calories, and beans and rice night after night for dinner. Not to mention the increased health care costs we can expect to see as a result of people living on diets like this and developing diabetes, hypertension, and a series of other health problems. 
Right.  Not surprisingly, Stockman whiffed on the point of the Democrats' demonstration, i.e., that you can't have a healthy diet on the subsistence-level assistance, much less if it's pared back over the next 10 years.  Sure, you can eat (and it looks like Stockman does quite well by himself in that category), but you're loading up on sugars and other empty calories.  But "not starving" isn't supposed to be the yardstick we use in this country, is it?

Video Clip of the Day

While Jon Stewart is on summer sabbatical at the Daily Show, his substitute John Oliver is a more than worthy replacement:  the brilliant Brit should anchor his own show.  Here he is on last night's segment dealing with Rethug obstruction on immigration reform.  His reference late in the clip to the Rethug House of Representatives as a "thousand foot high border fence built out of ignorance and spite" is classic.

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Aliens vs. Senators - Passing Immigration Legislation
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Mid-Week Song

Enjoy this studio version of Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillip Phillips, one of several successful talents to emerge from American Idol.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fair Warning

“There not a doubt in my mind that if the majority breaks the rules of the Senate to change the rules of the Senate with regard to nominations, the next majority will do it for everything.” -- Senate Minority Leader and human/turtle hybrid Mitch "Missy" McConnell, reacting to Dem threats to deny the filibuster on Obama's nominations.  If spineless, hand-wringing Dems in the Senate (cough Harry Reid cough) needed any proof that the Rethugs would immediately abolish the filibuster if they achieve the majority, there it is.  There's roughly 18 months before the next Congressional elections, plenty of time for the Dems to get something done, starting with abolishing the filibuster rule.

The Republican War On Women: A-Wanking They Will Go

Apparently, it's Abortion Week for the Rethuglicans in Washington:
House Republicans on Tuesday make their most concerted effort of the year to change federal abortion law with legislation that would ban almost all abortions after a fetus reaches the age of 20 weeks.
The "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," expected to pass by a comfortable margin late Tuesday, would be a direct challenge to the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortions up to the time a fetus becomes viable. Fetal viability is generally considered to be at least 24 weeks into the pregnancy.
Will Did the bill pass the House?  Yes!  Will it see the light of day in the Senate, survive a presidential veto or court challenge?  No, no and no!  Do House Rethugs give a s**t about equal pay, jobs, or any issues regarding the health and welfare of women and children?  Hell no!  So, let's waste everyone's time with more of this posturing for the goobers in your frothing base!

By the by, only after an uproar spurred by remarks from Rethug Rep. Trent "Beans N." Franks (Misogynist-AZ) did House Rethugs modify this DOA bill to exempt cases of rape and incest (!).  Mighty white (male) of them!  (Though, we must add that there's at least one Stupid Party female trying to get in on the week's festivities.) 

But that's not all!  In order to make his case for the bill, we have Rethuglican/ Stupid Party Rep. Michael Burgess (Wanker-TX) offering his insights on fetal pain, thusly:
They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to believe that they could feel pain?
[Errrg!  Had to take a shower after reading that!  Back to the blog.]

Perhaps Rep. Burgess was engaging in a little projection there, but the introduction of such a godawful thought (into a process that can best be described as legislative wanking) shows just out of touch and out of the mainstream this collection of loons in the Rethuglican caucus really is, and that they still haven't a clue what the priorities are for women, much less the nation, in two damn thousand thirteen.

Also:  how's that Rethuglican rebranding coming along?

A Fly In His Doughnut?

With the death of Dem Sen. Frank Lautenberg recently, New Jersey Gov. and doughnut inhaler Chris "Kris Krispycreme" Christie moved to set up a special election to fill the Senate vacancy two weeks before the November general elections in New Jersey.  By having a special election right before the general election (in which he and New Jersey Rethuglican state legislators are running), Krispycreme hoped to discourage Dem turnout in the general election to the advantage of the Rethuglicans.  The leading Dem candidate for the Senate seat, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, would draw many Dems to the polls in a November general election, and would hurt Rethug chances for holding their legislative seats.

But there's a fly in Krispycreme's doughnut, say New Jersey activists who have filed suit, claiming that a 1915 election law would prohibit a special election so close to the general election.  Krispycreme has been under fire for having a special election just two weeks before the general election due to the estimated cost, some $24 million to New Jersey taxpayers, money that would be better spent on Sandy recovery efforts.

(photo: Krispycreme indulges on the Letterman Show, CBS)

Willpower Cartoon of the Day

(click to enlarge)

Familiar voices on the right are pushing for more aggressive action in Syria:  bomb the runways, establish a no-fly zone, etc.  There are no good options for the Syrian civil war, and it's well to remember that it's easier to start a war than to finish one.

The tense meeting between President Obama and Russia's Vladimir Putin at the G-8 summit was evidence that Syria's main ally won't budge from supporting the Assad regime with advanced weapons, something we didn't face in Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya.

(cartoon: Stuart Carlson, via

Monday, June 17, 2013

Court Strikes Down Voter Suppression Law

In a defeat for voter suppression, by a 7 - 2 majority, the Supreme Court struck down an Arizona law that would have required proof of citizenship in order to register to vote.  Ostensibly enacted to prevent undocumented immigrants from voting, the Arizona law would also have made it just that more difficult for citizens voting for the first time to register.  Surprisingly, right-wing Justice Antonin "Thumb on Scales" Scalia wrote the majority opinion, while reactionary bitter enders Clarence "Uncle" Thomas and Samuel "The Whisperer" Alito dissented.

The Court is expected to rule on the continuation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 later this month, and that vote isn't expected to be as lopsided or as favorable in protecting voting rights against almost continual assaults by right-wing forces who are otherwise facing defeat at the polls.

"Even Republicans Are Sick of Republicans"

Via Democratic Underground, here's a (haha) telling finding in a recent (6/14/13) poll by Public Policy Polling (haha):

That divide in the Rethuglican/ New Confederate/ Stupid Party?  It's real.  Once again, haha.

Meet David Lane, American Teavangelical

Let's get to know David Lane, the faith "outreach coordinator" for Sen. Rand "Aqua Buddha" Paul (Objectivist- KY), who wrote this in the Wing Nut Daily World Net Daily:

As to the future of America – and the collapse of this once-Christian nation – Christians must not only be allowed to have opinions, but politically, Christians must be retrained to war for the Soul of America and quit believing the fabricated whopper of the “Separation of Church and State,” the lie repeated ad nauseum by the left and liberals to keep Christian America – the moral majority – from imposing moral government on pagan public schools, pagan higher learning and pagan media. Bill Bennett’s insight, “… the two essential questions Plato posed as: Who teaches the children, and what do we teach them?” requires deep thought, soul-searching and a response from Christian America to the secular, politically correct and multicultural false gods imposing their religion on America’s children. [our emphasis]
One need only view the crackpottery at the recent Ralph Reed circle jerk "Faith and Freedumb Coalition Conference" (see below) to realize how close we may be to having the David Lanes of America imposing their religion (a wholly unrecognizable, medieval Christianity) on the rest of us.  The best way to think of Lane's philosophy is, "Christian Sharia Law."

To think that this wanker is advising someone who, albeit fancifully, is being yakked about among the Beltway media numbnuts as a potential Rethuglican presidential nominee in 2016, should send chills up every thinking person's spine.

Prepuce Bitten At Wingnut Conference

On Saturday, we noted snowbilly grifter / word salad shooter Sarah "Winky" Palin's thought provoking perfomance at this past weekend's rage against minorities/ gays/ progressives "Faith and Freedumb Coalition Conference" that whipped the assembled crackpots into a lather.  The same can't be said for Rethuglican National Committee chair and snarl master Reince "Prepuce" Priebus, who left the fevered crackpots somewhat cooler.  Despite his lame offerings to the crowd, they didn't see him as a fellow wingnut.

The Prepuce Problem is a reflection of the divide in the Rethug ranks between what Michael Tomasky calls "teavangelical" and establishment corporate bidness-boosters.  Immigration is the key barrier, with the teavangelists wanting to kick the undocumented immigrants out entirely ("no amnesty"), and the establishment Rethugs, who want the immigrants for economic reasons (and in hopes of peeling off a few votes).  The Prepuce Problem reflects the difficulty in reconciling the corporate conservative viewpoint with the batsh*t insane far-right viewpoint, and presenting it to the general public as an appealing, coherent message.  It didn't work in 2008 and 2012, and it won't work in 2016 and beyond.

(image:  Prepuce dons the warpaint of the far right)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday Funnies

(click to enlarge)

As Rethugs attempt to poison the immigration reform bill in the Senate, the demographics are unmistakable:  in another generation, what are now minority populations will become the majority, and most likely a Democratic one at that.  That's the bottom line for Rethugs.  They know their base is shrinking, and instead of offering appealing policies to the growing demographic, they build fences, change voting rules, and block legislation.

BONUS:  South Carolina Senator Huckleberry Closetcase agrees, saying the Rethugs are in a "demographic death spiral."  Enjoy the ride.

(cartoon:  Mike Luckovich via

Happy Father's Day

To all our fellow fathers out there, have a wonderful Father's Day. Enjoy and appreciate your children and, if you're lucky to have your father still, give him a Hackwhacker hug!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Change in Iran?

 Via AP:
Wild celebrations broke out on Tehran streets that were battlefields four years ago as reformist-backed Hasan Rowhani capped a stunning surge to claim Iran’s presidency on Saturday, throwing open the political order after relentless crackdowns by hard-liners to consolidate and safeguard their grip on power.   [snip]

In his first statement after the results were announced, Rowhani said that “a new opportunity has been created … for those who truly respect democracy, interaction and free dialogue.”

But in Iran, even landslides at the ballot box do not equate to policymaking influence.  All key decisions — including nuclear efforts, defense and foreign affairs — remain solidly in the hands of the ruling clerics and their powerful protectors, the Revolutionary Guard. What Rowhani’s victory does is reopen space for moderate and liberal voices that have been largely muzzled in reprisal for massive protests and clashes in 2009 over claims the vote was rigged to deny reformists the presidency.
Rowhani’s supporters also viewed the election as a rebuke of uncompromising policies that have left the Islamic Republic increasingly isolated and under biting sanctions from the West over Tehran’s nuclear program. The 64-year-old Rowhani is hardly a radical — having served in governments and in the highly sensitive role of nuclear negotiator — but he has taken a strong stance against the combative international policies of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and others.

“I’ve never been an extremist,” Rowhani said on state TV shortly after the official results were announced. “I support moderation.”
“I thank God that once again rationality and moderation has shined on Iran,” he continued. “This is the victory of wisdom, a victory of moderation and a victory of commitment over extremism.”
The words, of course, are encouraging. What remains to be seen is if Rowhani has the room to maneuver and effect internal and external changes that are sorely needed (future of nuclear program, posture towards Israel, support for Assad and Hezbollah, etc.).

Today's Deep Thought

ABC News

"I say let Allah sort it out."  --  Snowbilly grifter and word salad aficionado Sarah "I Can See Syria From My Basement" Palin, at the Faith and Freedom Freedumb Coalition Conference, giving her...uh... thoughts on what U.S. policy should be regarding the civil war in Syria, because OBAMA!  Also, MUSLINS!  Such a Islamophobic peabrain humanitarian!  We wonder what her pal, mentor and plumper for intervention in Syria, Sen. John "Grampypants" McCain, would say to that chunk of Palin brain stool.  We're certain he would value her opinion and expertise,  since he wanted her a heartbeat away from the presidency.

(Photo:  "Check.  Zing!  Now who's the smartypants?!")

Friday, June 14, 2013

Rethuglicans: The Next Generation

Who says the Rethuglicans are striking out with today's youth?  Here are two fine examples of Rethuglican Youth (who happen to have Congresscritters as fathers -- Happy Father's Day, Sen. Flake and Rep. Heck!) channeling core Rethuglican values.

Little Flake, take it away:
Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a devout Mormon and family man, has apologized for homophobic, racist and anti-Semitic comments posted online by his teenage son.
The high schooler, Tanner, posted the offensive remarks in February and March. In one message he threatened the “f—-t” who stole his motorcycle from a church parking lot and frequently used the N word in a series of Facebook postings. [...]
“To the f—-t who stole my dirt bike from the church parking lot, I will find you, and I will beat the crap out of you,” the boy, whose Twitter handle is @tflakey, wrote on March 20.
“I’m down to own some f—-ts,” he wrote in February, in a tweet directed at another Twitter user. [...]
"Say something hilarious, and I guarantee that ... will say it louder and get all the credit. Jew," he tweeted in February.
Not to be outdone in his promotion of Rethuglican values for the next generation is master Joey Heck:
A review of tweets by Joey Heck, 16, dating to August of last year shows numerous examples in which Heck used words like “faggot” and “nigga.” For instance, on Sept. 11 Heck tweeted “Fanny pack = fag bag,” and on August 23 he retweeted a tweet that read, “There are gays everywhere. Maybe that’s gods way of thinning out the population because faggots can’t have babies.”
Heck’s twitter feed also included numerous racial slurs. During a Sept. 16 Jets football game, the younger Heck tweeted “[Mark] Sanchez can hop the border faster than he can throw the ball.”
During the Oct. 16 presidential debate, Heck took issue with the performance of moderator Martha Raddatz, ABC’s Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent. “This is why men need to be moderators,” he wrote.
He also wrote that Mitt Romney “raped” Obama and made him his “slave” during a debate.
In an exchange with a friend during the debate on October 3rd, Heck asked rhetorically, “I would like somebody to tell me one good thing Obama did in these past 4 years…. I got nothing.” Later in the conversation he said “yeah like spear chucking and rock skipping. The sports they do in his home country…”
With youth like Flake and Heck representing the next generation of voting Rethuglicans, we see those eternal core Rethuglican values of intolerance, hatred, and stupidity lasting for way too long.  Teach your children, eh?

Weekend Song

This Pete Seeger song (words by Welsh poet Idris Davies), written about a Welsh mine disaster, could just as easily apply to the Newtown tragedy, Aurora, the plant explosion in Texas, or to any senseless disaster anywhere in the world.  "The Bells of Rhymney" -- and the bells of Merthyr, Rhondda, Blaina, Cardiff, Newport -- ring with different questions for us.   It's transcendentally rendered, with chiming 12-string guitar, by the Byrds:

Six Months Ago

The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School occurred six months ago today.  Events marking the tragic anniversary are being held today in Newtown and in other locations.  A bus tour sponsored by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns will visit 10 states over the coming weeks to get support for gun safety legislation.

Meanwhile, the amoral monsters that run the National Rifle Rampage Association are still gloating over their ability to frustrate the desire of roughly 90% of the public (and a majority of their membership) on the failed background check legislation. They're also running a despicable $100,000 ad campaign in West Virginia to try to intimidate Sen. Joe Manchin from continuing his role in bringing back a bipartisan bill on background checks.  But the legislators that are in trouble are those that voted against background checks (see Kelly Ayotte, Jeff Flake, etc.), so this may be another overreach by the gun lobby.

U.S. To Respond To Syrian WMD Use

The Obama Administration has announced that they will provide light arms and ammunition to Syrian rebel forces, after yesterday's finding that the Assad regime had used sarin gas on several occasions.  The Administration has, for now, ruled out supplying the rebels with air-to-ground missiles which could be used to take down Assad's military aircraft.  Earlier, President Obama had said that the use of poison gas by the Assad regime would constitute a "red line" that would provoke stepped-up U.S. opposition.

At various times, the State Department, CIA and Pentagon have pushed for more aggressive action, including targeting air fields used by Assad's military and providing heavier arms, but Obama is reluctant to engage in another Middle East war.  Additionally, Russia is standing with the Assad regime for now, and relations between the U.S. and Russian are already chilly.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"It's Not Going To Look Very Pretty"

Get your popcorn poppin'!  News Corp./ Fox "News" shriveled sack o' shite Rupert Murdoch is divorcing his 44-year-old third wife Wendi Deng.  A source close to the situation says, "It's not going to look very pretty," and that the divorce is certain to be nasty (just like the old bugger).  Normally, we wouldn't take pleasure in another person's difficulties, but with Murdoch we're happy to make an exception.

(Photo:  The (un)happy couple.  Evan Agostini/Getty)

Hard Choices Cartoon of the Day

(click to enlarge)
l. to r. Limpballs, Drudge, Murdoch, Beck, Rove

Wingnuttery involves making some hard choices sometimes.

The Republican War on Women, Cont'd.

House Rethuglicans are pushing another "war on women" measure that would ban all abortions -- even those resulting from rape and incest -- after 20 weeks.  One of the bill's authors is crackpot Arizona Rep. Trent "Beans and" Franks,  who had this mind-boggling statement yesterday:
“The incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.”
Thank you, Beans and Franks, but you frankly don't know beans about the subject.  As noted here, there are estimates ranging from 32,000 to 83,000 pregnancies each year arising from rape.  Roughly one-third of the victims don't realize they're pregnant until the second trimester, beyond the 20 week limitation the Rethugs want to impose.

Once again, Rethuglican male politicians have weighed in on rape and pregnancy, displaying their bottomless ignorance as they attempt to dictate what women may do with their own bodies.  All together now,  Freedumb!!

BONUS:  Here's another Rethuglican male expert on wimmin, who thinks men's brains understand health care costs better.  If the guy only had a brain to begin with....

BONUS II:   Texas Rethug dimbulb Gov. Rick "Hair" Perry wants to make sure Texas women can't have it too easy when it comes to equal pay.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Good Questions

A hat tip to great friend and reader P.E.C. for this gem:

UPDATE: As if on cue, Media Matters has this compare/contrast of Fux News poo flinger Sean "Heil" Hannity's hypocrisy on the NSA issue. Seems he was fine with it during Dumbya's years.

Okie Dopey's Brainstorm

Redistricting in red states over the past few years has resulted in the election of more and more far right lunatic Rethugs to the House.  Case in point:  Oklahoma's climate change-denying Rep. Jim "Okie Dopey" Bridenstine.  Okie Dopey wants to blame President Obama for spending too much on climate change research -- climate change which climatology experts are linking to increasingly violent storms and weather patterns, like the tornadoes that recently devastated parts of Dopey's state.  Dopey's even sponsoring legislation to de-fund a lot of climate research.

The Stupid Party is electing more stupid people in every election.  At some point, the stupidity will bite them -- or sweep them up in a tornado.

Mid-Week Remembrance Song

We had an entirely different song in mind for today, before we were reminded that 50 years ago today, civil rights leader Medgar Evers was shot and killed in Mississippi.  An Army veteran who spent many very dangerous years representing the NAACP in Mississippi, when the Klan and white supremacists were openly violent, Evers was ambushed and shot in the back by a low-life by the name of Byron De La Beckwith.   In homage to Evers, Bob Dylan wrote this trenchant song, "Only A Pawn In Their Game," which refers to the manipulation of poor whites to keep African-Americans down.  In many ways, the Rethugs' old "Southern Strategy" and the current tea bagger movement has kept the "game" alive, for example in the form of voter suppression, attacks on the Voting Rights Act, calls for eliminating programs for the working poor, and opposing immigration reform.

Medgar Evers....RIP.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Wisconsin Is Open For Job Stagnation

Beltway speculation on who'll be running for the Rethug nomination for president in 2016 regularly comes up with an odd potential candidate:  Rethug Gov. Scott "Koch Head" Walker (Koch-WI).   Walker, you might remember, is the public-union-busting stain on the political history of Wisconsin who survived a rare recall election in 2012.   He came into office with the slogan "Wisconsin Is Open For Business."  So, how's this bright light in the right-wing Rethug firmament been doing?
Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) is a conservative hero with a record of taking progressives and unions in a state that went for Obama and beating them twice. He’s cut government, taken away worker protections and empowered the private sector, making him the Republican insiders’ favorite for the 2016 GOP nomination.
His only problem is, his economic policies continue to fail — miserably.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia has ranked the Badger State 49th in its 50-state Leading Index report for April. With an index rank of -0.74 percent, Wisconsin was one of only five states to show contraction.
Experts do not read much into one month’s data. This index — which factors in average manufacturing hours, unemployment, wage trends and building permits — often shows a wide margin of error. The state has been especially rocked by the national decline in manufacturing.
However, Walker doesn’t really have any positive economic data to point to. Since he took office, his state has fallen from 11th to 44th in job creation. Wisconsin’s wages are also declining at twice the national level.  (our emphasis)
Well, with cred like that on economic policies, he's bound to be the Stupid Party's standard bearer in 2016!

UPDATE:  If Koch Head weren't so busy doing this, he might create a job or tw...  Um, no.
[Walker's] planning to sign a bill forcing women to get ultrasounds they don't want before having abortions they do. He also seems inclined to sign a bill letting some employers refuse to include contraception in their health insurance coverage, and a couple more to boot. Because forced ultrasounds and opposition to contraception are soooo popular.
(Photo:  Beam us up, Scotty!)