Saturday, November 30, 2013

Clueless Quote of the Day II

"People want to say Obama can't make these moves or he's not executing. That's because he ain't got those connections. Black people don't have the same level of connections as Jewish people."  Rap singer Kanye "Jackass" West, in a radio interview with New York City's 105.1 FM that was surfaced Friday.

We wish Jackass would just go back to bouncing up and down on Kim Kardashian, rather than "explaining" the ways of the world.

Clueless Quote of the Day I

"The Senate Conservatives Fund is giving conservatism a bad name. They’re participating in ruining the [Republican] brand."   Senate Minority Leader and model for the Turtle Wax turtle Mitch "Missy" McConnell, in an interview with the right-wing Washington Examiner.  The Senate Conservatives Fund was founded by Missy's former colleague Jim "Demented" DeMint, so you know how batsh*t crazy they are.

So Missy thinks they're "giving conservatism a bad name" and "ruining the [Republican] brand."   Bwahahaha.  Missy need look no further than his mirror for the rejoinder to that.  Missy and some fellow Rethugs are under siege from far-right tea baggers who would take the U.S. back to the 1890s at best.  They're beginning to see that the wedge issue seeds they've sown over the past 30+ years were actually poison ivy and not roses.

Saturday Reading - Rooting For Failure

Today, of course, is the target date imposed by the Obama Administration for many fixes to the web site to enable more people to successfully sign up for affordable health insurance.  Who's that cheering from the sidelines, and what are cheering for? Tim Egan in the New York Times explains:
It’s hard to remember a time when a major political party and its media arm were so actively rooting for fellow Americans to lose. When the first attempt by the United States to launch a satellite into orbit, in 1957, ended in disaster, did Democrats start to cheer, and unify to stop a space program in its infancy? Or, when Medicare got off to a confusing start, did Republicans of the mid-1960s wrap their entire political future around a campaign to deny government-run health care to the elderly?
Of course not. But for the entirety of the Obama era, Republicans have consistently been cheerleaders for failure. They rooted for the economic recovery to sputter, for gas prices to spike, the job market to crater, the rescue of the American automobile industry to fall apart.
The Republican media arm (Fox "News" and the rest of NewsCorp., of course) has been getting a lot of help from other corporate media, who react to the smell of blood in the water and love a good "government fails again" story as much as any Rupert Murdoch entity.  But the early, very unfortunate mis-steps on the Federal web site may not be as painful a memory in the spring or summer of 2014.  With potentially millions of Americans successfully subscribed to affordable health insurance by then, and with health care costs slowing for the great majority, the Failure Chorus on the right and in the media may end up being drowned out by the Hallelujah Chorus of newly insured Americans.  Let's withhold judgement until then, at least.

Saturday Cartoons - Low Wages, Every Day

(click to enlarge)

(Drew Sheneman, via

(Dan Wasserman, via

And, speaking of Food Stamps:

(Mike Luckovich, via

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Moneygrabbing Song

Most of us are hoping for strong retail sales starting today, "Black Friday," and continuing through the holiday season. (Jobs.  Jobs.  Jobs.)  In the meantime, here's our "Black Friday" song for you by Los Angeles neo soul/ indie group Fitz and The Tantrums, 2011's "MoneyGrabber." Enjoy your  shopping weekend!

A Profile in Hypocrisy

Your hypocrite, the ever-frothing Charles "Kraphammer" Krauthammer, today on the end of the presidential nominee filibuster:
This was a disgraceful violation of more than two centuries of precedent. If a bare majority can change the fundamental rules that govern an institution, then there are no rules. Senate rules today are whatever the majority decides they are that morning.

What distinguishes an institution from a flash mob is that its rules endure.
Now, courtesy of Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog, we look back through the mists of time:
I'm sure I don't have to tell you that, back in 2005, Krauthammer called the judicial filibuster "the bastard child of Democratic bitterness over recent lost elections" and said that a GOP vote to break it would have been "a profile in courage." 
So, Democrats in power:  rules that favor knuckle-draggers must prevail!   Republicans in power:  rules, schmules!  Toujours la merde, Monsieur Kraphammer!

(Image:  Kraphammer, bastard child of Republican bitterness.)

Saying "Thanks"

Now that Thanksgiving Day has passed, and the crazy, often violent shopping maelstrom of "Black Friday" is upon us, it's worth saying "thanks" to those companies that put the Thanksgiving holiday for their employees above their profits.  Unlike corporate predators like Walmart, K-Mart and Target, there were many large store chains that closed on Thanksgiving in order to say "thanks" to their employees, who could spend the holiday with family, rather than feeding the corporate register.  Costco, Barnes & Noble, Nordstrom, Radio Shack, Marshall's, and Patagonia are a few of the corporate good guys that closed for Thanksgiving.  Hopefully, the stores that remained open will have second thoughts next year, but probably only if there's not a profit to be made.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving, 2013

Love one another.  Enjoy family.  Serve others.  Give thanks.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pope Donohue's Latest Crusade

It's been awhile since we've heard from hateful shitsack "Sweaty" Bill Donohue, self-appointed head of something called the "Catholic League."  Seems Sweaty Bill's up in a lather about a segment of "Real Time with Bill Maher" on HBO, specifically Maher's interview with columnist and gay rights activist Dan Savage.  Dan got Sweaty Bill's rosary in a twist when he vented his frustration at the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church and its obsession with peoples' sexy time, and specifically with a Catholic Bishop's statement that children of same sex parents were at greater risk of suicide (!).   Here are the relevant excerpts (C&L video at the link):
"Sorry, I am just done being lectured about children and their safety by Catholic-f*cking bishops, priests, cardinals.” he continued. “The pope, himself, has let it go. The new pope, who I kind of dig, has let it go."
Savage noted that Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas John Paprocki had recently performed an exorcism on the state of Illinois after Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signed a bill legalizing same sex marriage.
"To exorcise the state of gay people of having full civil equality!" Savage said. "No exorcism, exorcising the demons of, like, kiddie-f*cking Catholic priests. They never got around to that exorcism."
"They don't have moral high ground when they talk about the welfare and safety of children, they just don't," he added. "They have squandered that on the tips of their d*cks."
Sweaty Bill, of course, is now pressuring HBO to cancel "Real Time" (it must be fundraising time at the League).  Good luck with that.

Meanwhile, Savage's comments about the Church not having the moral high ground are even more appropriate when applied to Sweaty Bill and his den of homophobic right-wing god-botherers.  The "Catholic League", through Donohue, presumes to speak as an "anti-defamation" organization, but he seemingly spends most of his time defaming gays and Jews, while defending pedophile priests. Did we mention he runs the "Catholic League" like a Republican front organization, whose Board of Advisors reads like a wingnut directory (Kate O'Beirne? Brent Bozell?? Alan Keyes???).

Pope Francis, time to take back the Catholic brand from this bigot.

BONUS:   Let's see if Sweaty Bill will go after Oxycontin Rush Limbaugh for this... or Stuart Varney for this...  or Pammy Jugs for this... now that's a lot of defamation!

(Photo:   Bill Donohue - defender of the faith  hate.)

Iran-amok Cartoons of the Day

(Click to enlarge)

Politics used to end at the water's edge, but no more.  It's not just Israeli Likudniks, it's the Saudis, Chinese, etc.  It's just played more effectively--and ruthlessly-- by the Likudniks.

(top, Jeff Danziger, bottom, Clay Bennett, via

Poll: Americans Support Agreement With Iran

While Rethugs and Likudniks are feverishly trying to scuttle the interim agreement with Iran that would temporarily halt their progress toward nuclear weapons capability, the American public favors the deal by a 2-to-1 majority, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.  Forty-four percent approve of the agreement, while 22 percent disapprove.

Over the next weeks and months, count on seeing the usual suspects spreading misinformation and fear about the agreement.  Already, we're seeing outrageous comparisons to the Munich Agreement by the hardliners who want to steer this country into another war in the Middle East against an Islamic nation.  Many are the same neocons who lied us into the diversionary war in Iraq over non-existent WMD and connections to 9/11, letting al Qaeda gather strength in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere during the Bush Assministration.

Mid-Week Weather Song

California-based alt rock group The Neighbourhood had success with their #1 alt rock hit last June, "Sweater Weather."   The song has an interesting change of tempo roughly two-and-a-half minutes into it.  With winter weather bearing down on the Thanksgiving holiday, sweaters would be a good choice.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"Leave of Absence"

CBS News President Jeff Fager announced today that "60 Minutes" contributor and home wrecker Lara "Lara Croft" Logan, along with her producer Max "Maxed Out" McClellan, have been asked to take a "leave of absence" from CBS News after the false report that they aired on the Benghazi attack.  An internal CBS investigation takes Logan to task for not employing the full reporting resources of CBS News to determine that the story that they ran with on October 27 was bogus. Do tell.

The summary of the investigation does address the fact that a CBS subsidiary -- "Threshold Editions" -- was publishing the false claims that aired on "60 Minutes" (indicating a financial conflict of interest), and that Logan's vocal  bias regarding the handling of the Benghazi incident, and what the U.S. should do to retaliate, violated CBS News Standards.

No word on how long Lara Croft Logan and Maxed Out will be absent, but in any event we're happy to say, "buh bye" for now.

(Image: Liar, liar, background Benghazi! BENGHAZI!! illustration on fire)

Papal Quote of the Day

"Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the 'exploited' but the outcast, the 'leftovers'. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting." --  Pope Francis, in today's "apostolic exhortation," is making his stand as the Pope of the Excluded.

Wow.  Imagine how popular the Catholic Church would be today if, say, 40 years ago, his predecessors would have taken up the cause of the weak, sick and "excluded," as opposed to defending pedophile priests and wealthy patrons. It's only a matter of time before right-wing Catholics (the so-called "Catholic" League, etc.) express dismay that the Pope actually cares about the poor.  Also, snowbilly grifter Sarah "Winky" Palin will likely issue her own Papal Bull (and we know she can dish the bull) identifying the Pope as a Commie dupe.

Medicaid Expansion: Rethug's Achilles Heel?

Amid all of the real and manufactured problems with the Affordable Care Act roll out, the expansion of Medicaid as part of the law is having an impact on low-income working families.  States that are taking advantage of the expansion are able to cover more working poor.  Oddly, many Rethug politicians think they have a 2014 winner in bad-mouthing Medicaid expansion.  Case in point:  Rethuglican Senate Minority Leader and turtle/human hybrid Mitch "Missy' McConnell.  Missy, who is being challenged by a tea bagger for the Rethug nomination, and who faces a tough general election challenge in Dem Alison Lundergan Grimes, isn't taking any chances in bashing the working poor to appeal to the far right wingers:
“Well look, if I went out here on the street today [and said], ‘You guys want free health care?’ I expect you’d have a lot of signups."
"Free health care." The irony in Missy's statement is that people without health insurance or Medicaid end up in the emergency room for their health care, which is "free" to them, but which costs everyone with health insurance because those costs are absorbed by them.

So Missy thinks he has a winning, appeal-to-teabagger-anger case.  Not so fast, says Greg Sargent in the formerly great Washington Post Bezos Bugle.  The Dems can appeal to low income working voters who may align culturally with the Rethug message on, say, immigration or marriage equality by providing expanded Medicaid coverage and easing their health care burden.  Eighty-five percent of new signups for health care in Kentucky are under the expanded Medicaid program, and those are often  the independent or Rethug-leaning lower income working voters struggling in an economy where wages are stagnant and health care costs (and the incomes of the top 1%) are growing.  The Dems would be wise to take that on.

(Slow is his M.O.)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Airheads Fire Air Cannon With Predictable Results

What could possibly go wrong when the dimbulbs at Fox & Friends fire a pumpkin from an air cannon in downtown Manhattan?
On Monday, "Fox & Friends" showed off several high-powered pumpkin launchers taking part in an annual Thanksgiving Day "Punkin Chunkin" pumpkin-tossing contest. However, before you could say "food fight," anchor Elisabeth Hasselbeck got a little too frisky with her air cannon! While she was aiming for fellow anchor Steve Doocy, who stood taunting her from about half a football field away, Elisabeth channeled her inner "Survivor" skills and launched a pumpkin over Steve's head and out into the busy NYC street, where it nearly caused a taxi accident! Things then went from bad to worse, when the long-gone gourd was retrieved by an unhappy member of NYPD's finest. An embarrassed Elisabeth cringed, calling out, "I'm really sorry!", while Steve tried to talk the officer out of giving them a ticket for unlawful disposal of a holiday decoration. Oh, gourd!
Hasselbeck and Doocy.  Together, they make one wit.

Engage Brain Before Flapping Tongue

We know CNN -- the "most busted name in news" -- has had a rough few months years, as their ratings slide and as they attempt to rebrand as "Fox Lite."  We saw this clip at "Crooks and Liars" of Wolf "Cry Wolf" Blitzer making what can only be described as a tin ear transition from discussing the Iran nuclear agreement to a program looking at the assassination of President Kennedy:

While it's not up there with his prompting a woman to "thank God" for surviving a tornado, only to find out she was an atheist, or CNN's bungled coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing, where he and John King were peddling false information off their i-Phones, it's another small sign of a network flailing.

Monday Morning Excerpt - Bye Bye Bibi?

From Amir Owen in Haaretz (via Daily Kos):
The agreement with Iran will be carried out, over Netanyahu’s objections, because that is what the superpowers want. John Kerry, encouraged by the diplomatic success that began with Syria’s chemical disarmament, will not let go regarding the Israeli-Palestinian talks. The Likud leadership anticipates a diplomatic and political crisis next spring, with a divided party that will try to tie Netanyahu’s hands. If he wants to run again, as his ministers believe he does, he will have to become even more extreme and speed toward Obama on a collision course.
This morning, in Switzerland, Netanyahu had his toy gun taken away. In Basel, Herzl founded the state of the Jews, and in Geneva, Obama ended Netanyahu’s era.
If the Iran nuclear agreement has the salutary side-effect of ending the career of Bibi "Bomb Bomb" Netanyahu, all the better for Israel and the world.

BONUS:  Gawker has a nice compilation of other events Bibi considers "historic mistakes."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Bill Maher on Kennedy vs. Reagan


Today's Dispatch From The Stupid Party - Iran Nuke Deal Edition

Sen. John "All Hat, No Cattle" Cornyn (R-Asswhistle), the number 2 idiot man in the Senate Republican leadership, had this to tweet about the Iran nuclear deal (click to enlarge):

The stupid, it burns like radiation.

Sunday Cartoons - Nuking the Filibuster Edition

(click to enlarge)

(Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

You get the idea, even if the once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle and Ruth Marcus don't.

Interim Nuclear Accord Reached With Iran

A major breakthrough was reached in Geneva today on halting Iran's momentum toward nuclear weapons capability.  The foreign ministers of the major powers -- the U.S., UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany -- along with the European Union's representative, worked late into the night to achieve a six-month interim agreement that would halt uranium enrichment activities and allow international inspections to verify Iranian actions.  In return, over $4 billion in Iranian oil revenues would be unfrozen in Western banks, plus lifting of limited economic sanctions and an agreement not to impose new sanctions.

Israel's Likudnik Prime Minister Bibi "Bomb Bomb" Netanyahu expressed great disappointment in the interim agreement, calling it an "historic mistake", and will no doubt work through his neocon allies in the U.S. to undermine the agreement.  Hardliners in Iran will likely side with Bomb Bomb, since they see any agreement with the major powers as an infringement on their right to pursue enrichment and, by implication, nuclear weapons.

This is a first step, and it's hoped that Iran's new leadership was serious when they stated that they wanted a fundamental change in their relationship with the rest of the world.  Time -- in this case six months -- will tell.

BONUSHere's the clincher:
The concessions not only halt Iran’s nuclear advances but also make it virtually impossible for Tehran to build a nuclear weapon without being detected, the officials said. In return, Iran will receive modest relief of trade sanctions and access to some of its frozen currency accounts overseas, concessions said to be valued at less than $7 billion over the six-month term of the deal. The sanctions would be reinstated if Iran violates the agreement’s terms. (our emphasis)
Looks like a deal anyone but the most hard-core Likudnik could live with.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

One Reason It's A New Day In The Senate

It's people like Senator Christopher Murphy (D-CT):
"These folks [tea baggers] have come to Washington to destroy government from within and will use any tool at their disposal," Murphy said. "To the extent that we have the ability to take tools away from the tea party, we should do it. And one of the tools was the filibuster. Another was the belief that Democrats would cave in the face of another shutdown or debt default."
Democrats with a spine.  Who'da thunk it?!

Today's Cartoon - Walmart Edition

The turkeys at Walmart are sure into the holiday spirit!

(click to enlarge)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Tailgunner Ted's Next Failed Mission

Texas demagogue and Joe McCarthy doppelgänger Sen. Ted "Tailgunner Ted" Cruz apparently is considering another kamikaze attack when the FY 2014 budget comes up for a vote in January.  As he did in September, Tailgunner Ted may use the budget vote as an opportunity to shut down the Government over the Affordable Care Act, which he wants to repeal.  Despite Senate Rethuglican leaders saying that's not going to happen again, after disastrous poll numbers showed the public blamed them the last time, Tailgunner Ted is on a mission to draw the spotlight to himself...and to raise campaign funds from the bumpkins who think he's on to something.

Even though Tailgunner Ted's going to end up shooting himself and his party in the ass again, this points up the urgency of getting the "" website up and running, and of ironing out any other implementation problems quickly so that a credible number of people will be signed up under the Affordable Care Act by December 31.  Hopefully, Jeff Zients and his team can undo Secretary Sebelius & Company's bungling on the ACA roll out in time for the Administration to demonstrate some real progress in getting affordable health insurance to millions of Americans.

UPDATE:  Meanwhile, State exchanges are reporting a "November surge" in Obamacare enrollment.

Friday, November 22, 2013

"Against Fires and Fire Hoses"

Jonathan Chait writes in New York Magazine about the angst exhibited on the editorial pages of the once great Washington Post  Bezos Bugle about the decision by Senate Democrats to scale back the filibuster in the face of unrelenting Republican obstruction and sabotage:
The more prevalent threat is that scaling back the filibuster will worsen bipartisan relations. The Washington Post editorial page, and two of its centrist columnists, Ruth Marcus and Dana Milbank, all excoriate Senate Democrats for what the Post calls “accelerant of poisonous partisanship.” They argue that weakening the filibuster will create more partisan rancor, undaunted by the fact that partisan polarization and use of the filibuster have risen precisely in tandem.

The bizarre, defining feature of this argument is that, unlike the crocodile tears being shed by Republicans, the centrist Establishmentarians all take the view that the Republican judicial blockade was completely unacceptable. They argue that the solution to the unacceptable blockade is that, as the Post piously insists, “Both parties should have stepped back and hammered out a bipartisan compromise reform.”

That Republicans did not offer to compromise or in any way back down from the stance the Post calls unacceptable is a fact so fatal to this argument that none of the three writers in any way acknowledges it. I would agree that a 5o-vote threshold for lifetime judicial appointments represents a sub-optimal arrangement. It would be better if there were some way for the Senate to filter out extreme nominees without having the power to wantonly blockade a vital court for nakedly partisan reasons. Given the refusal of Republicans to back down, I prefer majoritarianism to the existing alternative. The Establishmentarians refuse to grapple with the trade-off. They are against fires and fire hoses alike(our emphasis)
Charles Pierce also had this reaction to the Bezos Bugle's pearl-clutching "Civility Fairy" Marcus:
I believe that somebody who looks quite like me -- and, oddly enough, was wearing my socks -- predicted yesterday that Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post would not take well the adjustment of the Senate rules whereby Barack Obama will actually get to be president for a couple of years. The Civility Fairy did not disappoint.  (our emphasis)
Anyone who maintains the notion that the power-for-power's-sake Republican party, in the instant following their becoming a majority and regardless of whatever precedent had been set or broken, would not run amok with Senate rules to lock in every advantage, as they already have with existing House rules, should not be allowed near sharp objects or open flames. Also, as we noted the other day, nearly half of all nominees filibustered since the beginning of the Republic have been President Obama's.  The anti- fires- and- fire- hoses crowd over at the Bugle may be shocked (shocked!) that this era is over, but it is over, and thank God (and Harry Reid) for that.

Musical Remembrance - 50 Years Gone By

The English folk song "Greensleeves" goes back nearly half a millennium, and was one of Jacqueline Kennedy's favorite pieces of music, which is why we want to showcase it here.  The great English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams adapted the traditional folk song in this beautiful piece,"Fantasia on Greensleeves."

The Kennedy Administration, of course, became associated with the Lerner and Loewe musical "Camelot," a romantic retelling of the legend of King Arthur and his magical domain.  Perhaps the greatest man to play King Arthur was the legendary actor Richard Burton, who here is performing the title song from that musical. 

"Once there was a fleeting glimpse of glory..."

50 Years Gone By

For those of us of a certain age, there will always be a feeling of lost innocence and melancholy on each anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination 50 years ago today.  It was almost impossible to comprehend at the time:  a youthful, smart, witty, handsome member of the greatest generation suddenly dead from an assassin's bullets.

There are those "where were you when..." moments in life, and this was certainly the one for our generation.  We were sophomores in high school when the news broke over the radio after 2 p.m. Eastern time.  Gym class for one, chorus for the other.  Everyone was overcome with shock and grief as we sat in silent class rooms later listening to the radio over the public address system.  "This can't be happening," must have been what most were thinking and feeling.

It was about a year before Vietnam heated up and about a year after the Cuban missile crisis had ended.  It was a time of growing awareness of the civil rights cause, and of urgency in the race to the moon.

We'll never know how this country would have changed had President Kennedy lived and served two full terms.  The Vietnam War?  We may have pulled out before committing thousands of ground troops.  Cynicism about Government and institutions? A different course of events in Vietnam and with the civil rights movement might have affected that.  We do know that Kennedy's agenda on civil rights and space exploration was strengthened and implemented (to his often-forgotten credit) by President Lyndon B. Johnson.   But we're still left with questions about what might have been, what we might have been as a country.  The assassin's bullet took all that away, too.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Republican War on Women: Supreme Court Edition

We're a few days late on this one.  On Tuesday the five male Republican appointees to the Supreme Court ruled that restrictions on abortion clinics in Texas could proceed, pending an appeal to the 5th Circuit that the lower court is likely to hear in January. The restrictions would require doctors who perform abortions in clinics to have admitting privileges in hospitals.  What could be wrong with that? 
"We will take every step we can to protect the health of Texas women. This law is blocking women in Texas from getting a safe and legal medical procedure that has been their constitutionally protected right for 40 years. This is outrageous and unacceptable — and also demonstrates why we need stronger federal protections for women's health. Your rights and your ability to make your own medical decisions should not depend on your ZIP code," [Planned Parenthood's Cecile] Richards said. [snip]

In Texas, 12 abortion providers say they have attempted to obtain hospital privileges for their doctors, but so far none of the hospitals have responded to the requests. That means those clinics can no longer offer abortions, leaving at most 20 facilities open in a state of 26 million people(our emphasis)
Greasy carbuncle on the posterior of American justice, Antonin Scalia, wrote the majority opinion.

Enough Is Enough

Ever since 2010, when Senate Dems lost their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, Senate Rethuglicans have done nothing but invoke the Senate rule requiring a supermajority of 60 votes for almost any vote, or be threatened with a filibuster.  For the President's nominations to the Judiciary, it has been particularly damaging, as the Rethugs seek to maintain conservative majorities in as many of the Appellate Courts as they can, even though vacancies have remained unfilled for years.

Now Senate Majority Leader (and we hope he'll start living up to the title) Harry Reid is guiding a series of motions through the Senate to allow simple majority votes on nominations and other critical measures -- the so-called "nuclear option."  This would depart from Senate procedures that have been in place for years, but consistently abused in the last few years by obstructionist Rethugs wanting to stall or kill any policy proposed by a twice-elected President.  We say "it's about time" and hope that important nominations and other business will finally get done.

UPDATE:  To put it in perspective (click to enlarge):

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Photo of the Day

(click to enlarge)

The Obamas and Clintons today at the John F. Kennedy gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery.

Wow, Now That's News!

Headline in today's once-great Washington Post  Bezos Bugle (newspaper version):

GOP is ‘invested in failure’ of health law, Obama says

Also:  Dog Bites Man!

Zimmerman's Recurring Violence

It's probably only a matter of time before Trayvon Martin's killer, George Zimmerman, injures or kills someone else, possibly a girlfriend / domestic partner, if not another kid in a hoodie.  When he was arrested again on Monday, this time for felony domestic violence, his most recent record of arrests adds to the belief that Zimmerman's feeling empowered by his acquittal and believes he can get away with anything.  Fortunately the Seminole County judge ordered Zimmerman to wear a GPS device, stay away from his girlfriend, and be denied access to firearms.

Think Progress has this interesting analysis of Zimmerman's abusive pathology, how to spot a domestic abuser, and how they often get away with it.  Let's hope that either 1) Zimmerman gets the psychiatric help he obviously needs, or 2) is put away in prison for a long time, so that there won't be a next victim.

Mid-Week Solar Wind Song

We don't often feature jazz, but this up-tempo, smooth jazz number by Jeff Lorber Fusion, from the recently-released "Hacienda" album, works very nicely on a November day.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Republican Crime Blotter: Early Snow in D.C.

In what could be a real... blow to his family values image,
... freshman GOP Rep. Trey Radel, who represents Florida's 19th Congressional District, was arrested late last month in Washington, D.C. for possession of cocaine. He's due in court tomorrow, but so far, there are no further details about how Radel was nabbed or how much of the white stuff he had on him, though he's apparently been charged with a misdemeanor.
From his campaign web site:
Before running for Congress, Trey hosted one of Florida’s premier Conservative TV & Radio Talk Shows – Daybreak, on TV-6 & 92.5 Fox News.
Outside of radio, Radel ran a Media Relations company that focused on advancing conservative causes.  Radel says, “I have fought for and will continue to fight for lower taxes, less government and more freedom.” (our emphasis)
An ex-Fox "News" "journalist" and hate radio jockey, huh.  We wouldn't have thought he could sink any lower than that.

Expect the good hypocrite to tearfully announce (with family surrounding him) he's going to rehab, blah, blah, etc. etc., and ask for his family and knuckle-dragging constituents to forgive him.  Because (quoting Radel) "more freedom!"

(Photo:   High, Congressman Radel!)

"Obama's Katrina"

Jon Stewart takes on the media's brain-dead, pernicious "Obama's Katrina" meme:

Media Ninnies and Republicans' Worst Nightmare

A propos of the posting below, this commentary triptych comes courtesy of Daily Kos.

Paul Begala:
[D]espite the bed-wetting from Beltway Chicken Littles, the President's problems are eminently fixable. The Affordable Care Act isn't collapsing. The Obama presidency isn't imploding. And the ninnies making those sweeping and stupid predictions will one day look like the Washington pundit who boldly declared of the Clinton presidency, "This week we can talk about 'Is the presidency over?' " He asked that question 11 days after Bill Clinton's inaugural. His first inaugural. Clinton's presidency was not over for another 2,911 days.
 Noam Levey:
Despite the disastrous rollout of the federal government's healthcare website, enrollment is surging in many states as tens of thousands of consumers sign up for insurance plans made available by President Obama's health law.
A number of states that use their own systems, including California, are on track to hit enrollment targets for 2014 because of a sharp increase in November, according to state officials.
Kevin Drum:
It really is all about the website. In places where it's working, people are signing up and are pretty happy with what they're getting. Rate shock is an issue for a few of them, but not for a lot. The bottom line is the Republican Party's worst nightmare: Once Obamacare has been up and running for a while, it's going to be pretty popular.
Time, indeed, for Democrats and progressives generally to come out of their crouch on health care reform and start punching back hard against the New Confederate/ Republican/ Stupid Party and their media enablers.

BONUS:  Just for good measure, Michael Hilzick:
... the myth of Obamacare’s “failure” is a product of the same Republican noise machine that has been working to undermine this crucial reform since Day One. It’s assisted by news reporting about canceled health policies that typically ranges from woefully misinformed to spectacularly ignorant, and even at its best is incomplete.
Indeed, the spectacle of Democrats panicking over bad news on Obamacare resembles the herds of giraffes one sees on the Serengeti being stampeded by swarms of tsetse flies. Here’s a lesson the giraffes could teach the Dems: Stampeding leads only to injuries and death, and doesn’t solve the tsetse fly problem…

Time to Play Offense Quote of the Day

"Politicians might panic. But winning football teams just buckle down, slowly take control,  and—above all else—fight. And that’s what the White House needs to do starting right now; not to save its own political neck, but for the millions of people the Affordable Care Act will help and the other millions who have spent years in their various ways organizing for health-care reform." -- Michael Tomasky, writing in The Daily Beast, urging the President, and weak-kneed Dems, to remind us of why affordable health insurance is needed for tens of millions of Americans, including people qualifying for Medicaid under expanded funding (much of which is being turned back by Rethug Governors).

Seven Score and Ten Years Ago...

....on Cemetery Hill in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, dignitaries gathered for the commemoration of a cemetery for the fallen soldiers of the Battle of Gettysburg, fought just 4 months earlier.  There was a chorus singing, a chaplain offering prayers and a band playing patriotic songs.  Noted orator Edward Everett was the main event, and he spoke for nearly two hours, using every oratorical flourish that was expected of the great orators of the period.  President Abraham Lincoln, who was only invited to the event two weeks before, was asked to deliver some "brief remarks" after Mr. Everett's oration.  Lincoln had written his remarks in Washington, and had polished them on the train ride up to Gettysburg.  Most contemporary observers expected Mr. Everett's speech to be long remembered and quoted, not the President's;  indeed, the immediate reaction to President Lincoln's "brief remarks" was not kind.  The Chicago Tribune called his address "silly, flat and dishwatery."  The Harrisburg, PA paper said, "We pass over the silly remarks of the President [and] are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that they shall no more be repeated or thought of." How wrong they were.

President Lincoln, slightly left of center, hatless and looking down, during the cemetery commemoration, November 19, 1863.  Brady-Handy Collection, Library of Congress

Not since the founding of the country had there been such a clear and profound statement of what this nation is dedicated to and what it could become with a "new birth of freedom."  The 272 words that President Lincoln spoke have become what Pulitzer Prize winner MacKinlay Kantor called "the most famous words of the American tradition."  They have become a cornerstone of the American civic catechism, words that are memorized by nearly every school kid and enshrined in our history.  As well they should be.

(citation: MacKinlay Kantor, "Gettysburg," Random House, 1952)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Paying Low Wages is a Bad Business Model, Walmart!

Robert Reich:
Walmart just reported shrinking sales for a third straight quarter. What's going on? Explained William S. Simon, the CEO of Walmart, referring to the company's customers, "their income is going down while food costs are not. Gas and energy prices, while they're abating, I think they're still eating up a big piece of the customer's budget."
Walmart's CEO gets it. Most of Walmart's customers are still in the Great Recession, grappling with stagnant or declining pay. So, naturally, Walmart's sales are dropping.
But what Walmart's CEO doesn't get is that a large portion of Walmart's customers are lower-wage workers who are working at places like ... Walmart. And Walmart, not incidentally, refuses to raise its median wage (including its army of part-timers) of $8.80 an hour.
 Leading to the inevitable:

(Photo: Via OUR Walmart, a sign at a food drive at a Canton, OH, area Walmart to benefit needy Walmart employees.  Walmart turned a profit of $15.7 billion last year.  Words fail.)

Delusions of Electability

We saw a clip of the ABC News interview that Wisconsin's Rethuglican Governor and union-busting weasel Scott "Koch Head" Walker about who the Rethugs should nominate as their 2016 Presidential candidate.  Not surprisingly, Koch Head virtually nominates himself:
"I think both the presidential and vice presidential nominees should either be a former or current governor, people who've done successful things in their states, have taken on big reforms, who are ready to move America forward." 
He thus eliminated such Rethug luminaries as Sens. Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio, Ted "Tailgunner Ted" Cruz, and "Ayn" Rand Paul, along with fellow Badger Rep. Paul "Lyin'" Ryan.  Strange that he didn't mention his valued experience as the Koch brothers' hand puppet in Wisconsin, but that's probably best to keep on the down-low for now.

Clearly, some Rethugs would agree with Koch Head and think that nominating a Rethuglican Governor from a blue state is the winning combination in 2016, to which we'd say "Willard Romney."

Lizard's Family Values

Former (Vice) President and Iraq War con man Dick "The Dick" Cheney's very nasty hatchling Liz "Lizard" Cheney is losing ground in her Wyoming primary challenge to fellow Rethuglican Sen. Mike Enzi, despite running to his right (that's a mean trick, given Enzi's ultra-conservatism).  Her desperation is such that she's throwing her own sister overboard to score points with American Talibangelists.  Her sister, Mary, is married to another woman, and Lizard is now saying that she disapproves of gay and lesbian couples having the right to marry.  Fortunately, Mary and her spouse Heather weren't afraid to push back on Lizard:
"Liz - this isn't just an issue on which we disagree - you're just wrong - and on the wrong side of history."-- Mary on her Facebook page.
"Liz has been a guest in our home, has spent time and shared holidays with our children, and when Mary and I got married in 2012 - she didn't hesitate to tell us how happy she was for us. To have her now say she doesn't support our right to marry is offensive to say the least.  I can't help but wonder how Liz would feel if as she moved from state to state, she discovered that her family was protected in one but not the other."-- Heather on her Facebook page.
The jab at Lizard moving "from state to state" refers to a major issue in the Wyoming primary, because Lizard is seen as someone who has lived most of her life in the Washington suburbs of Virginia, not Wyoming.  Well played!

(We'd love to be flies on the wall at the Very Cheney Family Thanksgiving this year!)

Today's Cartoon - Republican Alternatives to Obamacare

The "alternatives" are appropriately displayed in cartoon form:

(click to enlarge)

(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Immigration Reform = "Obamacare" Roll-Out

Congressional Rethuglicans will use any excuse to undermine President Obama's legislative agenda, even if it has overwhelming popular support.  Case in point, immigration reform, which is supported by a diverse constituency.  But Rethuglican House Majority "Leader" Eric "Cancer" Cantor sees it differently, and, not surprisingly, it's all about "Obamacare"
"We don't want a repeat of what's going on now with Obamacare.  That bill, constructed as it is by the Senate, last-minute ditch effort to get it across the finish line. I think that there is a lot that could be done a lot better in that bill."
Of course, we all know that Cancer and the Rethuglican pols would LOVE to have a repeat of the failed roll-out of the Affordable Care Act -- that's an easily identifiable lie.  Expect Cancer and the Rethug pols to use "Obamacare" as the "no we can't" excuse for every single piece of legislation that the President will propose in the next three years.  Because they have no alternative, don't want to have one, and don't want to talk about it.

Sunday Funnies

Not a cartoon today, but a clip of the "cold open" for last night's Saturday Night Live, where they lampoon embattled Toronto mayor Rob "Home Cooking" Ford and his penchant for drugs, alcohol, and sexual harassment.  We love the Canadian accents ("aboot," "eh") and the dig at the end at "60 Minutes" and its poor excuse for a journalist,  Lara "Lara Croft" Logan.  Enjoy, after the unavoidable ad.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Today''s Cartoons - Cuts to Food Stamps

News itemRepublican base approves of cuts to Food Stamp program.  Because... moochers.  They're such sweethearts, aren't they?

(click to enlarge)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Constitution)

Letters We Wish We'd Written Dept. - Obamacare Edition

From today's once great Washington Post  Bezos Bugle:
Regarding the Nov. 12 news article “ tally: 40,000 are signed up”:

Many opponents of the Affordable Care Act seemed almost gleeful that only about 40,000 Americans signed up through the law’s federal health insurance marketplace in the six weeks since enrollment began. But it feels like good news to some of us.

With all the problems has had, tens of thousands of people still signed up, and that doesn’t include people who have been able to get reasonable insurance policies on the cooperating state exchanges. If we add in those hundreds of thousands who are benefiting from the expansion of Medicaid, I would have to say that things are looking pretty darn good. We mustn’t forget that only 123 people signed up in the first month of Romneycare. Can we please give the president a break?
Joanne Clark, Alexandria
That's right.  123 people in the first month of Romneycare in Massachusetts.

To whom it may concern:  Please to get your panties out of a bunch.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Navel Contemplation, Anyone?

Why are we not surprised that See-B.S. News won't permit an external, independent review of their "60 Minutes" Benghazi Benghazi! BENGHAZI!! debacle?  They have chosen to conduct an "internal" review by one of their producers (unlike the external investigation they commissioned for the Dumbya National Guard report by Dan Rather back in 2004).

So:  will there be an investigation of the report's connection to the right-wing, CBS-owned Threshold Editions?  Will Lara Logan's previously-expressed bias on the Benghazi incident be examined?  Will the "investigation" determine why the network couldn't accomplish what the New York Times and Washington Post did to discredit the manufactured story?  Will there be a whitewash?  No, no, no, and yes.

(illustration:  Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

"Batkid to the Rescue"

Your heartwarming vid of the day (thank you, San Francisco!):

Obamacare "Fixes"

Here's a helpful chart from Think Progress to help sort out in simple terms what the current "fixes" to the "ok, you can keep your crappy insurance" problem are:

(click to enlarge)

Weekend There Is An End Song

The Greenhornes released this song in 2005, featuring vocalist Holly Golightly (Smith).  It was featured in the film of the same year, "Broken Flowers."  We're all hoping there is an end to the Affordable Care Act implementation woes... someday.  Enjoy your weekend.

Cartoon of the Day 2

(Click to enlarge)

Professional nincompoop and former Governor-who-quit-midterm Sarah "Winky" Palin is apologizing -- in a way -- for her statement the other day that Pope Francis was "liberal."  Saying it was "not her intention" to criticize the Pope, Winky suggested she was only going on "media reports."  Riiight!

Almost all of the time, Winky has no idea what she's talking about, but if being "liberal" means putting an emphasis on feeding the poor and healing the sick, over policing contraception and defending the powerful, then maybe she has a point.

Cartoon of the Day 1

(Click to enlarge)

Yesterday's announcement by the President that people can keep their substandard health insurance plans for one year shifts the  burden back to the insurance companies that had notified people that their policies were being cancelled.  They will also have to notify their policy holders of options, including the health insurance exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act.  All the more reason for the Administration to get the "" web site up and running properly and quickly.

And the Rethugs?  They want to go back to the bad old days:  Rep. Fred "Down Is" Upton introduced a bill being voted on today that would not only extend the substandard health insurance plans, but allow new customers to buy them.  The result would be denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and coverage that goes away once you get sick.  That's their "alternative."

UPDATE:  Unfortunately, there were 39 chickenshit Democrats who cravenly voted for the Upton bill.  Yet another reason why we don't contribute to the DCCC:  too many spineless weasels.

UPDATE II:  OK, so it was a "free" vote;  it's still chickenshit.

(cartoon: Tom Toles, Washington Post)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How's That Republican Rebranding Coming Along? Immigration Reform Dept.

Weeper of the House John "Mr. Tangerine Man" Boehner shut the door yesterday on taking up the bipartisan immigration reform bill that was passed by the Senate.  As he told reporters:
“Frankly, I’ll make clear, we have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill."
Even though the bill - even without conferencing - would pass the House (it has 190 Democratic co-sponsors and 23 Republicans vowing to support it), Boehner values his Speakership, which is  being held hostage along with his balls by the Tea Party wing  crackpot caucus of House Republicans, more than doing what is morally right and politically astute.

You know not- so- good- Catholic Boehner's balls are in a hermetically sealed container when he even ignores the appeal of the Catholic Conference of Bishops:
Last week, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, made an urgent request to House Speaker John Boehner on behalf of the Catholic Conference of Bishops. He asked Boehner, a Catholic, to pass stalled immigration reform legislation, calling the current immigration system “a stain on the nation’s soul.”
Unfortunately, a "stain on the nation's soul" is nothing compared to Boehner's need to hold onto his job, which we think technically makes him a big part of that stain... and a coward, and morally bankrupt, of course.

(Photo:  "Will somebody please tell me where my balls are hidden?  Please!")

Next Moves on the Affordable Care Act

With Dems in the House and Senate beginning to abandon him given the problems with the Affordable Care Act, President Obama has little time to keep them from doing damage to his signature achievement, inadvertent or not.  The Rethugs, of course, will do everything in their power to undermine the Act.  For example, the obstruction by Rethuglican Governors in refusing to set up state exchanges has meant an even greater burden on the sputtering Federal web site.  Also, as Dylan Scott notes in Talking Points Memo:
"The problem for Obamacare isn't that people are receiving letters telling them that they're losing their current health plan. The problem isn't that has been performing poorly since it opened on Oct. 1.

The problem is that those two things are happening at the same time."
Certainly the health insurance companies offering cheap, substandard plans have every incentive to dump those customers or tell them they'll have to pay more for different plans.  If the system at the state and Federal level hadn't been compromised by both obstruction and incompetence, those people receiving the cancellation notices would be able to shop the health insurance market for better deals.  It also didn't help that the President over promised with the "you can keep your policy" statements.  He'll be announcing some fixes this morning to alleviate some of the problems.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Evening Sublime Reading

A belated welcome back to the great tbogg, who's plying his craft over at Raw Story these days!  No one (with the possible exception of Mr. Charles P. Pierce) has quite the same way with words in describing the plankton otherwise known as the Republican base and their shearers.  Here's his lead-in to a piece about wingnuts running afoul of the Federal Elections Commission:
It is a fact of life that there is no sheep on God’s green earth more willing to be sheared than a god-fearing  flag-waving pocket-Constitution-owning being-kept-down-by-the-black-man middle-aged flyover-country white-American. It is said that, if God didn’t want these good people shorn of their disposable income that would  otherwise be spent on salty fattening high-fuctose-infused snacks  purchased in bulk from large warehouse stores,  He wouldn’t have given them Fox News for free on basic cable.  Add to that, the fact that no one ever went broke telling old folks that the government is sticking its nose in their Medicare in order to buy Obama phones for the New Black Panther Party. In fact, many have enriched themselves doing just that, thankyewverymuch.
A tingle is currently running up our legs.

More Media Malpractice - CBS Gets It Wrong Again

From "journalist" Sharyl Attkisson of CBS:
CBS News has learned that the project manager in charge of building the federal health care website was apparently kept in the dark about serious failures in the website’s security…. The project manager testified to congressional investigators behind closed doors, but CBS News has obtained the first look at a partial transcript of his testimony.
As Steve Benen (among many others) points out:
The CBS report sounds troubling, right? Probably, at least until one picks up the phone to ask Democrats on the committee whether the CBS report is accurate.

I talked to a Democratic staffer this morning about the partial transcript and the aide said Issa’s staff “basically sandbagged this witness with a document he had never seen before and then failed to inform him that it has nothing to do with parts of the website that launched on October 1. In fact, it relates to a function of the website that is not currently active and won’t be until the spring of 2014. Rather than seeking out the truth, this press release tries to scare the public by capitalizing on confusion caused by the Chairman’s own staff.” (our emphasis)
Who was that CBS "journalist" again?  Oh, that Sharyl Attkisson, the one with an affinity for using Rep. Darrell "Grand Theft Auto" Issa's press releases as fact.  The noted anti-vaccination shill

It would appear the "journalists" at CBS are less interested in facts than they are about grinding axes and serving as Republican sock puppets.  And here we thought Fox "News" had cornered that market!
Keep it up, CBS --  from "Tiffany Network" to "K-Mart Network" (no offense to K-Mart).

(Image:  If you See BS, you should dispose of it properly.)

Photo of the Day

Newly sworn-in Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy participates in a tea ceremony with Japan's Ambassador to the U.S. Kenichiro Sasae and her husband, Edwin Schlossberg.

Ambassador Kennedy was confirmed by unanimous consent by the Senate on October 16, and sworn in by Secretary of State Kerry yesterday.  Next week will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of her father, President John F. Kennedy.

(photo:  Embassy of Japan)

Winky's Warped Weligion

Snowbilly grifter and word salad expert Sarah "Winky" Palin has a new avocation:  Catholic theologian.   Winky, who once accepted the blessing of and shared the stage with a self-described "witch hunter" from Kenya (of all places, hee hee), isn't blessed (no pun) with self-awareness, so she criticized Pope Francis for some "liberal" views.  OK, putting a priority on aiding the poor and sick over monitoring reproductive choices for women is a "liberal" view, guilty as charged, much like that socialist Jesus Christ (you know, "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me").  After all, Jesus didn't present himself to the world as a successful banker / merchant / industrialist;  he was a humble carpenter, something that seems to be lost on Winky The Theologian.

BONUS:  Hat tip to our favorite reader P.E.C. for this satire of Winky's recent interview / cavalcade of ignorance with Matt Lauer.  Hilarious.

Mid-Week Elephant Song

With Rethugs stampeding in a rage over the Affordable Care Act and Benghazi Benghazi! BENGHAZI!!, we thought we'd feature a song by the aptly named group Cage The Elephant.  Grab the tranquilizer gun and enjoy.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Today's Cartoons - Obamacare Alternatives Edition

(click to enlarge)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

Republicans Offer College Students Obamacare Alternative: Tappa Kegga Beer!

Just when you thought the Koch brothers and Rethuglicans had bottomed out in their frantic efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), you find out they're still descending in their bathysphere:
Obamacare needs young and healthy people to sign up for health insurance for its finances to work, and its opponents know it. That's why groups like the Koch brothers-backed Generation Opportunity, which was behind the infamous videos with 'Creepy Uncle Sam,' have sprung up and urged young Americans to opt out of the law.

Step one of their master plan was that video series, an attempt to go viral. The next step, it seems, is going to where the young people are: Tailgating at college football games.

As Yahoo! News reported, Generation Opportunity teamed up with College Republicans to throw an anti-Obamacare party outside the University of Miami's game this Saturday against Virginia Tech.
Pizza, anti-Obamacare tchotchkes, beer pong (but no beer, mind you!), and "music" were among the goodies provided to the inebriated chuckleheads at this tailgating party, all in an effort to try to convince them not to sign up for health care.  (Reasoned arguments?  Nah!  Pass the brewski!)  That's the Koch brothers' "Creepy Uncle Sam" in the picture above with the guzzling co-eds.  It's unclear how many of them knew what they were being manipulated for or by whom.

If there's anyone more cynical and malignant out there than these ratf**kers, who are spending so much time and money to convince the "invincibles" that they don't need no stinkin' insurance, we'd like to know who they are.