Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

Have a Happy Easter!   Parade!


Sunday Funnies

(click to enlarge)

 Last week was a big week for marriage equality, although the Supreme Court's rulings are not expected until June.  Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act are two measures that may have been the high water mark for opponents of marriage equality, as the attitudes and opinion of the public move swiftly toward recognizing marriage for gay and lesbian couples.

(cartoon:  Tom Toles, Washington Post)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

News You Can Use: The Capuchin Caper

From our entertainment desk, we see that singing star Justin "Beeb" Bieber's monkey (no innuendo there) wasn't allowed entry into Germany because he lacked the proper primate paperwork.  His pet capuchin monkey had to be placed in quarantine as a result.  Beeb stayed cool, didn't go ape sh*t (sorry) over the miscue, and continued his swing through Germany.

We'll use this incident as an excuse to play a favorite scene from "Return of the Pink Panther," where Inspector Clouseau confronts a street musician and his "minkey."

Catholic "Traditionalists" P.O.ed At Pope

The backward-looking, reactionary Catholic Church of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI were the pride of backward-looking, reactionary Catholics for more than two decades.  With the installation of Pope Francis, the so-called "traditionalists" (misogynistic bedroom police, among other things) are having fits.  They're rubbing their rosaries over the Pope's ongoing displays of -- horrors! -- modesty and compassion for the poor.  From  using (non-Prada) shoe leather vs. the Popemobile,  to washing and kissing the feet of -- the shame! -- wimmens, Pope Francis has departed from the aloof, self-indulgent model of recent popes and cardinals.

For the traditionalists, aiding the poor and sick and rejecting materialism is akin to Socialism!, and they want their Pope to return to the good old gilded days of protecting pedophile priests, misappropriating the Church's huge wealth, and keeping women (especially nuns) in their proper place.  This Pope won't be another John XXIII, but he's much more in tune with what his Savior teaches than the "traditionalists."

Quote of the Day - The Fox "Media Colostomy Bag"

"[I]n my opinion Fux News is a last resort for kinda-sorta-almost-journalists whose options have been severely limited by their extreme and intolerant views; a media colostomy bag that has begun to burst at the seams and should be emptied before it becomes a public health issue." -- comedian/ actor Jim Carrey, responding to the attacks that have been orchestrated against him following his anti-NRA video on "Funny or Die."  Jim, we think you're being far too charitable.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Weekend Birthday Song

Tomorrow (the 30th) is Eric Clapton's 68th birthday.   The celebrated "Slowhand" who, along with Jimi Hendrix, is considered one of the ultimate rock guitarists, composed this song with his friend George Harrison, and recorded it with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker (a.k.a., Cream).  Here's Harrison's recollection of how the song got it's name, "Badge":
"I helped Eric write 'Badge' you know. Each of them had to come up with a song for that Goodbye Cream album and Eric didn't have his written. We were working across from each other and I was writing the lyrics down and we came to the middle part so I wrote 'Bridge.' Eric read it upside down and cracked up laughing-- 'What's BADGE?' he said. After that, Ringo walked in drunk and gave us that line about the swans living in the park."
Enjoy the song and your Easter weekend.



Headline of the Day


IS THAT SARAH PALIN’S HAND IN YOUR POCKET OR IS SHE JUST HAPPY TO SEE YOU?  (Wonkette)

Ever-grifting snowbilly Sarah "Big Gulp" Palin is on the money trail -- again.  Her super PAC (i.e., personal piggy bank) is out raising funds for the half-term Governor so that she can upgrade her hotel accommodations while out separating more rubes from their money.  Her comical performance at the recent CPAC would suggest that she's a right-wing comic in the making.  She could certainly play all of the Rump Trump hotel resorts ("she'd be yuuuge" as Rump might say).  He might even comp her room.

"We're Not Racist, We Just Say Racist Things" Cont'd.

There's just no hiding the basic intolerance of prominent Rethuglicans, despite lame efforts to paper over the bigotry that has cost them the votes of African-Americans and Latinos.  Take for example Alaska's Rethug Congressman and backwoods critter Don "El Paleto" Young, who referred to undocumented Latinos as "wetbacks," long a derogatory term for migrant workers from Mexico.  He didn't apologize for his words, only saying he meant no "disrespect."  (Well then, we can certainly call El Paleto a hick, meaning no disrespect of course).

El Paleto has consistently opposed comprehensive immigration reform, siding with those that focus only on border security, and has voted against birthright citizenship.  This hick -- no disrespect -- is shaping up to be the Todd Akin of Rethuglican minority outreach.

DAMAGE CONTROL:  Weeper of the House John "Mr. Tangerine Man" Boehner is putting distance between himself and El Paleto, calling his slur "beneath the dignity of the office he holds."

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tweet of the Day


President Obama spoke at an emotional meeting of families of gun violence today in the White House.

Situation Deteriorating On Korean Peninsula

After mounting threats by North Korea to launch a war against the U.S., two B-2 stealth bombers were dispatched to South Korea on a long-range show of force as part of an ongoing U.S.-South Korea military exercise.  Rhetoric from North Korea has grown increasingly bellicose, as tighter international sanctions were imposed on the regime after the North conducted a nuclear test in February.  Yesterday, North Korea cut communications with South Korea and warned war might be launched at any time.

North Korea's neighbor and closest ally, China, has become alarmed at their rejection of international attempts to halt their nuclear program and rocket testing, and joined in the U.N. Security Council's vote for tighter sanctions.  With their backs against the wall, the North Korean regime is a dangerous entity, but hopefully not a foolish one.

Rethug Crime Blotter: The Nut Case

Gun-toting Alabama Rethuglican teabagger Dale "Sneaky Pete" Peterson, who ran unsuccessfully for Alabama Agriculture Commissioner in 2010, is mainly remembered for his belligerent campaign ad that year that featured him brandishing a rifle and talking tough about "thugs" and his political opponents.  The ad went viral as exhibit A to show the extremism of the Rethug/Stupid Party.

What's not as widely known about Sneaky Pete is that he tends to practice the "five-fingered discount" when shopping.  In October 2012,  he was arrested for shoplifting paper towels (!) and beer from a Walmart, but that apparently didn't teach him a lesson.  Police arrested Peterson yesterday for eating a can of cashews and then placing the empty can back on the shelf at a Sam's Club.  Sneaky Pete paid the $1,000 bond and was released. Just a reminder that not all nuts are in a can.

BONUS: Texas wingnut Rep. Louie "Screwy Louie" Gohmert is no fan of the Gummint.  He's always railing against gun regulations, environmental laws, and taxes on his plutocrat patrons.  Screwy Louie struck another blow against tyranny earlier this month when he refused to pay a parking ticket for illegally parking near the Lincoln Memorial in D.C., pulling the old "don't you know who I am?" routine to the Park Police.  Since his parking violation wasn't related to Congressional business (just a family dinner), he's on the hook to pay.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cartoon of the Day - Liberty and Justice Edition


(click to enlarge)


(Tom Toles, via gocomics.com)

The Stupid Party Will Stay Stupid

As we laugh at the Rethug's internecine warfare (see post below), we have to note, again,  that their "rebranding" effort is transparently phony.  For them to believe "it's not so much what you say as how you say it" shows once again that they are in deep denial about their toxic policies.  Here's Jon Stewart on the attempt by Rethugs to put tinsel on their dead tree (with Stewart's must-see "drunk Muppet" imitation of human/weasel hybrid Reince "Prepuce" Priebus).


Crapping Quote of the Day

"I kept my mouth shut for two years because, hey, I’m a party guy.  But you know what, at the end of the day, you say to yourself, they're dumping on you, they're crapping on your legacy, they’re giving you crap for stuff that they didn’t want to do in the first place — coalitions, expanding media, social media networks."  -- former Rethuglican National Committee Chairman Michael "Shizzle" Steele, referring to his successor, human/weasel hybrid Reince "Prepuce" Priebus yesterday on radio.   Given that the Rethuglican/Stupid Party has been crapping on the American people for many years, we say, "welcome to the latrine, Shizz!"

It was just last week that Shizzle referred to Prepuce as "numb nuts." It's not often, but we have to agree with Shizzle on that description.

Stubborn Mid-Week Song

Alternate rock group The Lumineers have a single, "Stubborn Love," that's been rising in the charts since it's release late last year.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Today's Dispatches From The Stupid Party

We return again to the Confederate State of Tennessee, where peckerwoods members of the Rethuglican/ New Confederate/ Stupid Party are paranoid ever-vigilant lest good Christian gummint be trampled on by Sharia law  Mooslims, whether with clean or dirty feet:
Sometimes a mop sink is just a mop sink.
Building managers and legislative staffers have sought to reassure some concerned [Republican] Tennessee lawmakers that recent renovations at the state Capitol did not install special facilities for Muslims to wash their feet before praying.
“I confirmed with the facility administrator for the State Capitol Complex that the floor-level sink installed in the men’s restroom outside the House Chamber is for housekeeping use,” Legislative Administration Director Connie Ridley wrote in an email. “It is, in layman’s terms, a mop sink.”
You can click here to see a picture of the foot purification font mop sink.  (To us, it looks more like a redneck bathtub.)

What the halal are they thinking?!

Department of Pot vs. Kettle

Today, the Supreme Court takes up the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, which bans same sex marriage.   Interestingly, Jean Podrasky, the lesbian cousin of Chief Justice John Roberts, will be sitting in the courtroom to hear arguments.

That drew the attention of obese pill-popper and hate radio figure Rush Limpballs, who attacked Ms. Podrasky  on his radio show yesterday, saying sarcastically that he couldn't question whether Ms. Podrasky was obese or alcoholic (stereotypes which Limpballs apparently assigns to lesbians) because that would be "mean."  Now when would Limpballs ever hold his tongue if he could say something "mean"?  And when was the last time Limpballs looked in the mirror (does he have a mirror?)?  Working on his fourth marriage, Limpballs is no expert on women -- straight or lesbian -- but that won't stop his hate speech.

(photo:  The cure for nymphomania)

Crazy Eyes' Woes Continue

Radical Minnesota loon Rep. Michele "Crazy Eyes" Bachmann has had a bad week or so.  Following her fact-challenged rant to the mouth breathers at CPAC -- which resulted in Crazy Eyes trying to outrun a CNN reporter determined to fact-check her statements -- now we have reports that she's under investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) for campaign financing violations during her ill-conceived run for President last year.  Among the issues reportedly being investigated are Crazy Eyes' role in improper transfers of campaign funds and "pay-to-play" payments to her campaign for access.  If the OCE finds evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Crazy Eyes, they will refer the cast to the House Ethics Committee for appropriate action.

Most far right-wingers believe that rules and regulations don't apply to them and are an intrusion by Big Gummint on their liberty.  Would it surprise anyone if that mentality permeated Crazy Eyes' campaign, and cultivated a climate of contempt for the law?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Headline of the Day - Income Inequality Edition

"Income Growth For Bottom 90 Percent Of Americans Averaged Just $59 Over 4 Decades"

And the top 10 percent, how did they do?  Their income rose $116,071 over the same period. Tell us again, who are the "makers" and who are the "takers?"

More Broken Media - Pundit Fail Edition

Surprise, surprise.  The same broken media (see posting below) that mindlessly bought into right-wing neo-con Iraq war fever has mindlessly bought into right-wing Very Serious Pundit deficit/ austerity chicanery.  Whooda thunkit?   Sic transit gloria America.

(click to enlarge)

(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

Our Broken Media, Cont'd.

During the run-up to the Iraq War, the vast majority of the mainstream media was carrying water for the  Bush Assministration, printing jingoistic editorials and "news" stories based on spoon fed "intelligence" provided to them by the Bushies.  With the exception of a few journalists (e.g., the McClatchy Newspapers' Jonathan Landay), there was a lot of flag waving and no skepticism.

Sadly for the American people, the same mainstream media that provided a convenient megaphone for the neocons after 9-11 are reluctant to explain and apologize for their journalistic malpractice.  Not surprisingly the formerly great Washington Post Kaplan Daily's neocon management is a glaring example.  They even went so far as to kill an op-ed piece by Greg Mitchell that was critical of the news media for being Bush Assministration stenographers instead of journalists.  The Kaplan Daily's transparently lame excuse was that Mitchell's article didn't provide "broader analytical points or insights" into the media's culpability.  Here's the estimable Charles Pierce's reaction in Esquire.com:
"'Broader analytical points or insights'? These are the people who publish Thiessen on torture, George Effing Will's experiments with climate-change denialism, and Michael Gerson on anything. These are people who will publish any prominent conservative who can find a crayon. Here's my broader analytical point -- everyone associated with The Washington Post editorial page -- and a lot of the executives on the news side, especially the ones that buried Walter Pincus's great work back on A13 -- are complicit in hundreds of thousands of deaths, and they should all have their heads shaved, the phrase "I fcked up the world" tattooed on their scalps, and sent off to work in the wards at Walter Reed until they collapse from exhaustion."
Exactly. Unfortunately, they're too busy complaining about not being invited to the President's private golfing outings or falsely accusing the President's staff of "intimidation" even after e-mails show that to be a lie. We deserve better.

(photo: The Kaplan Daily's editorial board won't be made a monkey of)

Teabaggers Boycott Fox "News" Over... Benghazi?

Here's your comedy read of the week from Wonkette, about the "boycott" a teabagger group is engaged in because Fox "News" isn't running Benghazi conspiracy porn 24/7.  Read the whole piece!
"Hell hath no fury like a pretend movement (which is really just a bunch of Republicans who like to play dress-up) scorned.

"It’s as if Fox News has completely abandoned its mission of pimping every gathering of three dudes waving misspelled signs inspired by the conspiracy theories hatched from Donald Trump’s hair. You done gone soft, Fox, and the teabaggers are as mad as hell and they’re not going to take it no more and they even made a website called BENGHAZIIIIII!!!!!! Truth, which has lots of quotes from Alice in Wonderland so you KNOW they mean business. Take THAT, Fox News — if that even is your real name, which it might not be, we don’t know, we need to see the long-form incorporation forms!"
Where, oh where, are these demented souls going to get their anger rush "news" now?  

(Image:  Uncle Sham)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Funnies


As the Rethuglicans in Congress continue to move the goal posts for the Dems on budget negotiations while refusing to budge one millimeter on new revenues (even unpopular tax loopholes for wealthy individuals and corporations),  they continue to expose their raison d'ĂȘtre:  tax breaks for their wealthy patrons at all costs, even when hurting the middle class with cuts to programs.

(click to enlarge)
Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution


















Tom Toles, Washington Post













Sunday Morning Reading - Rethuglicans "Estranged from America"

Pollster Andrew Kohut has a great analysis of the problems facing the Rethuglican/ New Confederate/ Stupid Party in today's once great Washington Post Kaplan Daily.  A few samples:
The Republican Party’s ratings now stand at a 20-year low, with just 33 percent of the public holding a favorable view of the party and 58 percent judging it unfavorably, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. Although the Democrats are better regarded (47 percent favorable and 46 percent unfavorable), the GOP’s problems are its own, not a mirror image of renewed Democratic strength.
Kohut goes on to identify three factors in the emergence of the far-right bloc that holds sway in the party:  the "Obama backlash" =cough=racism=cough=,  the changing face of America =cough=racism=cough= , and conservative media that serves as an echo chamber and only source of "news" for the base =cough=racist know-nothings=cough=.  Not surprising considering this far-right bloc is 92 percent white, mostly male, married, Protestant, well-off and over 50.  Kohut concludes:
I see little reason to believe that the staunch conservative bloc will wither away or splinter; it will remain a dominant force in the GOP and on the national stage. At the same time, however, I see no indication that its ideas about policy, governance and social issues will gain new adherents. They are far beyond the mainstream.
In other words, the Rethuglican/ New Conservative/ Stupid Party will exist only to frustrate the will of the majority of the American people for the forseeable future.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

"Tippy" Tapper's Dismal Ratings

Former ABC, now CNN talking "head" Jake "Tippy" Tapper saw ratings for his new show, "The Lead," on CNN plummet from the predecessor show "The Situation Room" (with Wolf "The Situation" Blitzer ? hee-hee).  Tippy is best known here for his inability to perceive "sister organization" Fox "News" as a propaganda arm of the Rethuglican/ New Confederate/ Stupid Party. *

Perhaps we were mispronouncing the name of Tippy's show;  rather than "lead" as in "the main point of the story", it's supposed to be "lead" as in "sinking like a lead balloon."
 
* Here's Jen Sorensen's take at the time, with names changed to protect the innocent idiots (click to enlarge):


The Three Rethuglican Fiscal Myths

Michael Tomasky outlines the three Rethuglican fiscal myths that the public needs to be aware of, starting with:
"... this canard that we have to balance the budget. Absurd. There is no reason to balance the budget. None. Ever. Oh, it’s nice if it happens—that is, if it happens as a result of an economy that’s shooting skyward like a bottle rocket, as Bill Clinton’s was. That’s something to feel good about. It was an astonishing accomplishment for Clinton, that he brought us into surplus for that brief golden age before George W. Bush and his advisers, those secret agents of world communism, started destroying American capitalism."
Wouldn't it be great if all Americans had to take a course in Keynesian economics?  ("See, folks, the U.S. Government budget is not like a family budget...")  Perhaps that would make it more difficult for the Rethuglican b.s. machine to function as well as it has over the past half-century.

Right-Wing Smear Mystery Deepens

The intrigue surrounding the Dominican prostitution smear of New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez is expanding to implicate the right-wing web site The Daily Caller, run by bow-tied B.S.-er  Tucker "Mothertucker" Carlson.  A prosecutor in the Dominican Republic is saying that the attorney representing the prostitutes that Menendez was accused of procuring said that he was offered money by someone claiming to represent The Daily Caller to plant the story.

Mothertucker, of course, is denying any involvement in the alleged payments.  If his outfit is proven to have been involved, it would fit the pattern of right-wing media organizations (Breitbart and James "G. Gordon Diddy" O'Keefe come to mind) that will lie and fabricate to bring political opponents down.  This time, however, the FBI is on the case for possible criminal violations, so stay tuned.

(photo:  Pee-Wee Herman called and he wants his bow tie back)

Headline of the Week

Commentary by "Senator Harry Reid", from The Onion, of course:

The Time For Watered-Down And Effectively Meaningless Gun Laws Is Now
COMMENTARY • Opinion • ISSUE 49•12 • Mar 20, 2013
By Senator Harry Reid (D-NV)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Weekend Twofer

We hope these usher in a beautiful weekend for you.  First, Scotland's own Belle and Sebastian released the lovely "Wrapped Up In Books" in 2004:



And now for something completely different... it's the great Darlene Love fronting for the Crystals, on the rollicking "He's Sure the Boy I Love."  Whoah-oh-oh-yeah!


Let Us "Prey"

Earlier this year, it was revealed that former head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Edinburgh, had been accused by several men of sexual misconduct, forcing O'Brien to resign as Archbishop in February and not participate in the selection of Pope Francis.  Now, one priest has come forward to allege that he had a long-term physical relationship with O'Brien, which only recently ended.  O'Brien had been one of the more vocal homophobic voices in the Church, once referring to homosexuality as a "grotesque subversion."

Aside from apparently not practicing what he preached, O'Brien's position as a "Prince of the Church" conferred moral authority on him, which he seems to have abused over a long period not only in his private life but in attempting to stigmatize gays and lesbians while living a secret life of his own.   If he's serious about cleaning up the sex abuse problem of the Church, Pope Francis needs to start at the top with his "Princes."

Ol' Crazy Eyes Is Back

Uber-wingnut loon Rep. Michele "Crazy Eyes" Bachmann has been somewhat low profile since narrowly winning reelection last November.  While her fact-free, off-the-wall statements in the past have given the profession of fact checking a big boost, she's generally stayed out of the spotlight.  Not anymore.

Wednesday's whopper that President Obama was living extravagantly -- burning through $1.4 billion  in chefs, dog walkers and other perks -- was immediately shot down even by the likes of Bill O'Liely on Fux.   When CNN's Dana Bash tried to question her about the false claim, Crazy Eyes refused to answer while hustling away from "40 Yard" Bash.  The video is priceless:



Then yesterday she claimed that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which celebrates 3 years as law tomorrow, would "literally" kill people, a statement that she declined to back up with facts not surprisingly.  On the contrary, the ACA will extend health coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and to 30 million uninsured Americans.  Crazy Eyes made the most recent effort to repeal the ACA on the first day of the new Congress back in January, a bill which not a single Rethug co-sponsored with her.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cartoon of the Day - Meeting Rethuglicans Half Way


(click to enlarge)


(Tom Toles, via gocomics.com)

The Rethuglican Makeover: More Lipstick on an Elephant

From Joshua Green at Bloomberg Businessweek on why the recent Rethuglican "autopsy" on what went wrong in the 2012 election ignores a key point regarding African American voters:
"...There are pages and pages of recommendations about hiring minority outreach directors, having a presence in black churches, rolling out black surrogates, and on and on. But the report says nothing—at least nothing that I saw—about the two biggest reasons why African Americans (and members of any minority group) might feel disrespected.

"The first is the systematic effort by Republicans across the country to impose voter-identification laws that would mainly serve to disenfranchise minority voters. (Anyone interested in learning more about this problem should read the symposium on voting rights in the latest issue of the journal Democracy.)

"The second is what many people regarded as the thinly veiled racism that lay at the root of the 'birther' attacks claiming President Obama is a Muslim born outside the United States. At one point, public opinion polls showed that more than half of Republicans believed these absurd and insulting claims—claims that were difficult to imagine being lodged against a white president (UPDATE: I stand corrected — white president Chester A. Arthur weathered a birther controversy over whether he was born in Canada.)"
Similarly, Hispanics won't forget the Rethuglicans' outright (and continuing) hostility to their presence in this country (see "self-deportation"), nor will the gay/ lesbian community forget the Rethuglicans outright (and continuing) hostility to their rights as citizens to marry, nor will women forget Rethuglicans' outright (and continuing) hostility to their reproductive rights and to programs that help support healthy families.  You can "outreach" all you want to these constituencies, but they see the effort for what it is: a sham.

House Rethugs Vote to End Medicare

Even though most Rethuglicans disowned wing nut Rep. Paul "Lyin'" Ryan's last two "budgets" which gutted social safety net programs and turned Medicare into a voucher system, they can't seem to resist touching the red hot iron.  Today, they voted almost unanimously (10 Rethugs backed away) for Lyin's Ayn Rand-inspired budget, 221 - 207, which would turn Medicare into a privatized voucher system that would be absolutely inadequate for most Americans' health care needs.

Kentucky Rethuglican Rep. Thomas Massie accidentally told the truth about the "budget" they passed when he said "we know it's a pretend vote."  More pretending from the Stupid Party.  That should help them in 2014.

Who Says We Don't Report Good News?!, Cont'd.

It was a little over a year ago that porcine pill-popper and Ayatollah of the Rethuglican/New Confederate Party Rush Limpballs launched a vicious, ugly attack on Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke for her support of contraceptives.  It caused an immediate backlash that saw dozens of advertisers flee Limpballs' hate radio program.

Now, Media Matters reports that advertisers are still avoiding Limpballs' rage fest. According to Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey in the Tom Taylor Newsletter,
"... there has been residual hangover on the talk side in terms of advertisers sitting out and not placing [ads with Limbaugh]...Clearly that's had an impact not only on our network business [at Cumulus Media Networks], but it's had an impact on some of the news talk stations that we own."
There's no reason anyone -- except perhaps gun manufacturers or the makers of OxyContin -- should ever advertise on such an extreme, hate-filled program.  Perhaps advertisers are finally taking stock of the downside of their association with Limpballs.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Who Says We Don't Report Good News?!

Looks like one of our local far-right wingnut outlets will no longer be providing mulch for our flower beds:

"Washington Examiner to cease 6- day- a- week publication;  87 employees laid off"

And, on the medical front, are you suffering from "103 degree fever," "chills and body aches," and "raging ear infection?"  If so, it may be the company you're keeping:
"Once again, the mystery illness known as “CPAC Plague” has hit many happy warriors hard, after last weekend’s CPAC 2013. It’s mysterious, but it’s real."
Bwahahahaha!  Oh, it's real all right, about the only real thing that happened at that crackpot Bubble Fest!  If the symptoms included "projectile vomiting" and "explosive diarrhea" it would be the perfect metaphor.

Profile In Cowardice

Senate Majority "Leader" Harry "Bending" Reid -- arguably the worst Senate leader ever --  announced yesterday that an assault weapons ban would not be part of gun control legislation coming out of the Senate.   Saying that he couldn't muster the 60 votes necessary to block a filibuster, Reid put a spotlight on not only the power of the National Rifle Rampage Association over the Senate, but also on his failure to reform the filibuster rule when he had a chance.  Sen. Diane Feinstein -- who should have Reid's job -- expressed disappointment at the decision not to include an outright ban on assault weapons and high capacity clips in the legislation.  Now, just three months after Newtown, universal background checks are also being described as "in limbo."  Here's the editorial in the New York Daily News (hardly a "progressive" paper):
"Mark this day — for it is the day that the United States Senate, cowed by the National Rifle Association, failed 20 murdered children. On Tuesday, the “world’s greatest deliberative body” turned tail and ran from a life-or-death fight. Having promised the American people a robust package of gun control measures that would keep machines of murder out of the hands of criminals and the deranged, the Senate disgracefully bowed to the gun lobby and buckled on the assault weapons ban."
What a disgrace to the memory of those children.

Mid-Week Nostalgia Song

Starting from this week in March 1956 for the next six weeks, Les Baxter's "The Poor People of Paris" was #1 on the Billboard charts.  This Hackwhacker heard the song constantly from his sick bed, due a case of the measles.  But it's always reminded us of spring, which arrives today.  Here's the song with a montage of magazine covers from the era.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Veteran's Voice Quote of the Day

"Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage."  -- an excerpt from a letter sent by paralyzed Iraq War veteran Tomas Young to Dumbya and Dick "The Dick" Cheney on the 10th anniversary of the invasion.  Young is in hospice care and is dying from his wounds.  His entire letter should be read on every broadcast, if only to counter the historic revisionism underway by the neocons who lied us into Iraq.

Cartoon of the Day

(click to enlarge)


It's the same situation with Latino voters and women:  make some superficial gestures but don't change the negative policies that have driven those voters away from your party.  At the same time, think that the superficial gestures will be enough to win those voters back.  Clueless.

BONUS:  Case in point, the House Rethuglican twitter account for outreach to Latinos is only in English.

(cartoon: Tom Toles, Washington Post)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Unhappy 10th Anniversary, Iraq War - and the Nixon Tie-In

This is the 10th anniversary of the start of the glorious neo-con Iraq war of choice, a war that cost this nation over 4,000 lives,  over 32,000 wounded,  and over $800 billion, costs we will continue to pay for years to come.  And then there are the staggering costs of the war to the Iraqi people.  The war's architects -- Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, etc. --  and the hallelujah chorus on the right and in the media have never been called to account in the manner they should have =cough = prison= cough= for the lives and treasure lost in this manufactured war;  after all, there were so many with blood on their hands and we are a nation looking forward, right?

So, what does Richard Nixon have to do with this (after all, he died years before, in 1994).  Well, what is now being reported of Nixon's role at a critical stage of the Vietnam War reminds us that these two Rethuglican presidents -- "patriots" Bush and Nixon -- would not let the truth, morality or the best interests of the United States interfere with their ambition:
"By the time of the election in November 1968, LBJ had evidence Nixon had sabotaged the Vietnam war peace talks - or, as he put it, that Nixon was guilty of treason and had "blood on his hands". [snip]


It begins in the summer of 1968. Nixon feared a breakthrough at the Paris Peace talks designed to find a negotiated settlement to the Vietnam war, and he knew this would derail his campaign.  He therefore set up a clandestine back-channel involving Anna Chennault, a senior campaign adviser.
At a July meeting in Nixon's New York apartment, the South Vietnamese ambassador was told Chennault represented Nixon and spoke for the campaign. If any message needed to be passed to the South Vietnamese president, Nguyen Van Thieu, it would come via Chennault.

In late October 1968 there were major concessions from Hanoi which promised to allow meaningful talks to get underway in Paris - concessions that would justify Johnson calling for a complete bombing halt of North Vietnam. This was exactly what Nixon feared.

 
Chennault was despatched to the South Vietnamese embassy with a clear message: the South Vietnamese government should withdraw from the talks, refuse to deal with Johnson, and if Nixon was elected, they would get a much better deal."
Which, of course, the South Vietnamese did.  So, as many as 22,000 Americans died in Vietnam following 1968 (including our cousin) because Nixon -- God damn him -- didn't want the peace talks to end the fighting before the election, because that might have led to Hubert Humphrey being elected.  And the war dragged on for another 5 years.

In summary, we have two "patriotic" Rethuglican presidents (are there any other kind?) who needlessly spilled the blood and treasure of the United States, and the people of Vietnam and Iraq, for ...what?

(h/t Mr. Pierce)

"Denial" Isn't Just A River In Egypt

Failed Vice Presidential candidate and Ayn Rand apostle Rep. Paul "Lyin'" Ryan is claiming that the Dickensian 2014 budget he's proposing -- one that is nearly identical to the budget last year that was denounced by the conservative U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops -- is "what (the American people) want."  Well, we suppose if you're the Koch Brothers, Rump Trump or Smelly Sheldon Adelson and their tea bagger sheeple, it appeals to you;  everyone else, not so much.  For starters, it would slash Medicaid and Medicare spending and decimate aid to education, infrastructure, and research and development, those things that we need to grow the future economy.  Pure and simple, it's a "reverse Robin Hood" approach to priorities, one that would shovel enormous tax breaks to the very wealthy (i.e., Rethug contributors), while putting the burden of paying for Government on the backs of the working poor and middle class while cutting programs that they need (education grants, unemployment insurance, food stamps).

Lyin' has clearly forgotten who won the 2012 election with a mandate for a balanced approach to the budget, and which rejected the "makers and takers" worldview of Lyin' and his plutocrat running mate Lord Willard of Romney.

(image: Munster vs. monster)

Quote of the Day

The great Charles P. Pierce, reviewing yesterday's "news" programs, on Rethuglican/ New Confederate/ Stupid Party Chairman Reince Priebus' "plans to hammer out all the dents" he put in the Rethug brand, including "technology:"
I believe that many Republicans now feel their party's primary "technology issue" is that Reince Priebus has yet to stick a fork into a toaster.
We'd pay to see that, hey.  Meanwhile, the more things (don't) change, the more they stay the same.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Rump's "Yuuuge" Flop

With vulgarian comb-over king Donald "Rump" Trump, it's always about him and how "yuuuge" his projects and wealth are.  His appearance at the CPAC poo fest was supposed to be a big draw for the wing nuts in attendance, but true to form, most of Rump's speech was about how rich and great he was.  As Dan Amira's photo in New York Magazine illustrates, his audience of empty chairs wasn't impressed. (click on photo to enlarge)

To which we would only add, that's one YUUUGE flop.  Oh and, bwahahaha!

Turdblossom Towel-Snaps Winky

"If I did run for office and win, I'd serve out my term. I wouldn't leave office mid-term." -- failed political guru Karl "Turdblossom" Rove on Fux "News", referring to snowbilly grifter Sarah "Winky" Palin's sorry record of governing in Alaska. That remark followed days of shots at Turdblossom at CPAC, culminating in Winky's call for disregarding "campaign consultants." (Ed. note: Yeah, that worked well for Winky in 2008).

CPAC Roundup

The annual Nutfest Clown Show Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) wrapped up with snowbilly grifter and failed reality show C-list celeb Sarah "Winky" Palin speaking to her adoring, mouth-breathing fans.  Michael Moynihan has a nice summary of the CPAC goings on, with Palin as the standard-bearer for the bitter, dead- enders:
... Palin isn’t in the ideas business. She is, as loudly reaffirmed in her CPAC speech, a peddler of resentment, and a worldview of conservative victimology obsessively focused on the media gatekeepers and corrupt political consultants they see distorting a political message that, if not interfered with by liberal ideologues, would be embraced by most all Americans. It’s a common theme at CPAC: it’s not our ideas, it’s how the media distorts our ideas. Circling the conference center was a truck sponsored by the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group, displaying the message that the “liberal media” was “censoring the news.”
Yeah, "the liberal media" -- as if.  The Bubble in which these reactionaries live was also on display when Palin made an Obama teleprompter joke (so 2010!) while reading from a teleprompter...  There is no irony in The Bubble.

(Image:  "I don't think, therefore I am... a reactionary.")

Erin Go Bragh!


May the roads rise to meet you, may the wind be at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday Cartoon - Charming!


(click to enlarge)



Only the dimbulbs in the Beltway media/ cocktail circuit believed a little more schmoozing by President Obama would work on the radical Rethugs.

(Jim Morin, via gocomics.com)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Rethug War on the Middle Class


Yesterday, House Rethuglicans voted down a bill to increase the minimum wage from $7.25/hr. to $10.10/hr. by 2015. The vote was 233 to 184, with 6 nominal "Democrats" joining the unanimous Rethug bloc.What this means is that the Rethugs are willing to consign a growing number of Americans to poverty, while demanding tax cuts and tax loopholes for the very wealthy and the most profitable corporations. While the stock market surges to all-time highs, along with corporate profits, the prosperity isn't being shared by working and middle class Americans laboring on the edge of desperation.  The action of the House Rethuglicans has made it all that more precarious for those Americans.

Slavery Applauded At CPAC

As Think Progress reports, yesterday an audience member at a panel discussion called "Trump The Race Card" at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) poo fest rose up to defend slavery and segregation.  The bigot, Scott "Inbred" Terry of North Carolina, claimed that African-Americans had their basic needs met while enslaved:
“Blacks should be happy that the slave master gave them shelter, clothing, and food.”
Several audience members applauded his statement.  Session moderator,  Stepin Fetchit impersonator K. Carl Smith from a group calling themselves Hankerchief Heads Frederick Douglass Republicans, called the racial invective "racially insensitive" -- which would be like calling terminal cancer a mild illness -- but said that at the end of the panel discussion he explained the "message" of the Frederick Douglass Republicans to the bigot and that they parted "as friends."  We wonder what that message is, since it apparently appeals to white racists.  Maybe the two can get together for toasting marshmallows at the next cross burning.

BONUS:  Read all about "Frederick Douglass Republicans" right here (hee hee).

Friday, March 15, 2013

Today's Dispatches From The Stupid Party

So much stupid, so little time!  Our first stop today is "Romper Room"  "Fox and Friends," where the intrepid, faux-outraged trio has snagged an interview with a young, totally impartial lad named Dalton Glasscock (Damn it!  We can't improve on that.):

Fox & Friends hosted “high school student” Dalton Glasscock yesterday morning to tug at their Obama-hating viewers' heartstrings with the sad tale about how his spring break trip to Washington, D.C. was ruined by the cancellation of White House tours. But it’s more likely the cancellation actually made his trip, if not his year. What the “we report, you decide” network didn’t mention is that he’s a Republican activist who was also taking part in CPAC.
The Cock of Glass had his Rethuglican talking points down pat;  words were also placed in his mouth like worms from a mother bird by... um, birdbrain Steve "Deuce" Doocy.  Such stagecraft!  Also:  Waaaah!  White House tours cancelled!  Yawn - - people losing their jobs.

On to Idaho,  land of spuds and duds, where clearly someone was at the Aryan Nation Youth meeting and not in class when the Civil Rights Movement was being discussed in high school:

The No. 3 Republican leader in the Idaho House says he made a "slight mistake" when he described Rosa Parks as a champion of states' rights.
"One little lady got tired of the federal government telling her what to do," Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane of Nampa said during Wednesday's debate on Gov. Butch Otter's bill establishing a state-run health insurance exchange. "I've reached that point, Mr. Speaker, that I'm tired of giving in to the federal government."
That's exactly what Rosa Parks stood for, shoulder to shoulder with George Wallace, Strom Thurmond and Ross Barnett!  Also:  Gov. Butch Otter?!   Would that make him part of the weasel family?

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2013/03/15/2492347/top-idaho-lawmaker-botches-civil.html#storylink=cpy

Weekend Twofer

We have an easy/ breezy international (well, at least bi-national) offering today, starting with Dawes, an LA-based group that's going to be touring with Bob Dylan this year.  This is "A Little Bit of Everything:"




This is Dutch pop/jazz musician Wouter Hamel  performing "Breezy" (h/t P.E.C.).  Hope your weekend is equally breezy and bright.


A Budget That Billionaires Would Love

(click image to enlarge)

We've been referring to the 2014 budget proposal offered by tea bagger favorite Rep. Paul "Lyin'" Ryan as a "reverse-Robin Hood" scheme.  Thanks to Steve Benen at the MaddowBlog, here's visual proof that the after-tax income of the very wealthiest Americans would see huge increases, while people in the bottom 80% would see very little.  One would think that trickle down economics had been completely discredited over the last 30 years, but one would be wrong, since Lyin's budget is treated in the Beltway bubble by Very Serious People as tough, but credible.

BONUS:  Josh Barro at Bloomberg tells us why it's "Paul Ryan vs. the Middle Class."

BONUS II:  Noam Scheiber tells us why the media may finally be onto Paul Ryan.

The Demagoguery Continues

Joe McCarthy and Ted Cruz
Gun control legislation is being debated in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, and yesterday there was a sharp confrontation between Chairman Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and the radical new demagogue Sen. Ted "Joe McCarthy, Jr." Cruz (Wacko Bird-TX) over whether the Second Amendment was absolute or not.  After Joe Jr. smugly tried to insist that, unlike other Amendments to the Constitution, somehow the Second Amendment couldn't be limited, Feinstein and Sens. Schumer (D-NY) and Whitehouse (D-RI) jumped on Joe Jr.'s idiotic position.

Joe Jr. isn't stupid;  he's an Ivy League-educated graduate of Harvard Law School.  He is craven and very ambitious, and very comfortably panders to the most reactionary, ignorant elements of his party.  Recently, though, he's even drawn criticism from other right-wingers like Arizona's Sen. John McNasty and South Carolina's Sen. Huckleberry Graham for smearing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel during his nomination hearings.  He's even to the right of Rep. Paul "Lyin'" Ryan, whom he criticized for not going far enough in his reverse-Robin Hood budget.

Joe Jr. isn't your everyday Rethuglican politician, he's a different, far more disturbing type.  A demagogue who won't hesitate to smear, lie, insinuate in order to advance his career....like another Rethug from decades past.

(image:  Separated at birth?)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cartoon of the Day - Rethuglican Budget Gruel


(click to enlarge)


Here's what Lyin' Ryan's budget would do and what it is.

(Clay Bennett, via gocomics.com)

Here's What Moving the Goal Posts Really Means, Mr. Woodward

After weeks of hand-wringing, pearl-clutching and whining in the Beltway media that, gee, if that mean ol' President Obama would just be nice to those Republicans, maybe he'd get something done   Well, the President has now met with Senate and House Rethugs, and we await the positive results this "charm offensive" has ushered in. . . . . in three --  two -- one.

Talk about "moving the goal posts!" We're guessing the Beltway media's next meme will be, gee, if the President would just be nice to those Republicans, and give them what they're asking for, and be nice to the press, maybe he'd get something done! 

Wing Nut Pep Rally Begins

Wing nuts of all varieties -- Talibangelists, secessionists, birthers, starve-the-poor-feed-the-rich, etc. -- have descended on the Washington, DC area today for their annual group grope that they call the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).    There are booths there from every far right group, like the National Rifle Shoot Up A School Association, Tea Party Patriots, and the John Birch Society.

As the Rethuglican/New Confederate/Stupid Party pretends to rebrand itself, the CPAC crowd remains defiantly reactionary and openly backward-looking.  Just look at the losers who are invited to speak:  Snowbilly grifter Sarah "Winky" Palin, Donald "Rump" Trump, former Rep. Allen "Commie Counter" West, and former Sen. Jim "Demented" DeMint.  The Rethuglican Attorney General for Virginia, Ken "Cooch" Cuccinelli will be expounding on women's issues as he waves a transvaginal probe in the air, as Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum explains why America needs to be a theocracy, not a democracy.

Each year during the CPAC-fest, there come all kinds of extreme, out-of-touch sound bites from the speakers or attendees, and this year should be no different.  You could even replay them from the past 4 years or so, and you'd be hard pressed to see a difference.  Increasingly, America sees that this "movement" has no solutions, just slogans.

Quote of the Day

"I felt an obligation in a way to release it.  I felt an obligation for all the people that can't afford to be there.  You shouldn't have to be able to afford $50,000 to hear what the candidate actually thinks."  -- Scott Prouty, on The Ed Show last night, who taped the infamous "47%" comments by clueless plutocrat Willard "Corporations Are People" Romney that altered the momentum of the 2012 Presidential race.  Willard was being himself at that private fundraiser, talking to a group of fellow one-percenters in the language that they appreciate.  His unwitting self-exposure was one of the great moments in recent American politics.

You can view the videos from the show here.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pope Francis I

We wish the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, well as he assumes the Papacy as Pope Francis I.  He has some extensive doctrinal and temporal stable-cleaning ahead of him, if that's where he's led by his conscience (we hope it is, but we're skeptical).  Here's a thumbnail summary of the new Pope, via "Washington Monthly:"
"[H]e’s an Argentinian of Italian ethnic background (which must have been useful to his ambitions), considered 'unwaveringly orthodox' on the hot-button sexual issues (though he has also been conspicuously charitable towards AIDS sufferers), and although personally abstemious and sympathetic to the social needs of the poor, has also been a conservative influence on his own Society of Jesus, which he now represents as their first Pope. He’s the first non-European Pope in about twelve centuries, and the first Pope ever from a place that was not at some point part of the Roman Empire. He’s also 76 years old, and reportedly finished a fairly strong second in the enclave that elected Benedict XVI."
If the description bears out, it's no surprise as far as the conservative orthodoxy (he was, after all, elevated to Cardinal by Pope John Paul II).  No one was expecting a Pope John XXIII, since there are really no Cardinals to the left of Torquemada anymore thanks to John Paul II and Benedict.

(Photo:  Pope Francis I - Getty Images)

Picture of the Day

Twenty-six cyclists from Newtown, CT were welcomed yesterday to the Capitol by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) after their 400 mile trip from Newtown.  They were joined by a cycling team from Virginia Tech.  The trip was meant to promote meaningful legislation to reduce gun violence.  Each of the 26 cyclists represented one of the 26 victims of the December, 2012 mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Here is more info on the Team 26 effort.

Mid-Week Safe and Sound Song

Holding at #11 on Billboard's Alternative Rock chart is "Safe and Sound" by the LA-based duo Capital Cities.  Have a safe and sound Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"Made You Think Nixon Might Be Innocent"

A very interesting take by Tanner Colby on once great Washington Post Kaplan Daily associate editor, Nixon-slayer and sequester expert Bob Woodward, using the writer's experience with Wired, Woodward's biography of the late comedian John Belushi:
"When Wired came out, many of Belushi’s friends and family denounced it as biased and riddled with factual errors. 'Exploitative, pulp trash,' in the words of Dan Aykroyd. Wired was so wrong, Belushi’s manager said, it made you think Nixon might be innocent." (our emphasis)
Tanner shows how Woodward's book on Belushi was riddled with errors, events taken out of context and just plain misrepresentations.  It makes it easier to see that Woodward's recent ax-grinding behavior and looseness with the facts was not an aberration.  As Colby concludes,
"The simple truth of Wired is that Bob Woodward, deploying all of the talent and resources for which he is famous, produced something that is a failure as journalism. And when you imagine Woodward using the same approach to cover secret meetings about drone strikes and the budget sequester and other issues of vital national importance, well, you have to stop and shudder."
After l'affaire Sperling, when his e-mail exchange was exposed for all to judge on the merits, we have to wonder why this entitled meathead is still the object of fawning by the Beltway media.  (Oh, wait, they're entitled meatheads, too!)

Lyin' Ryan On Truth Serum?

As we noted below, Rep. Paul "Lyin'" Ryan (R-Galt's Gulch) rolled out his Dickensian budget a couple of days ago, and has been spending his time since explaining why it's not a cruel, reverse Robin Hood plan that was rejected by the voters. In his press conference today, Lyin' inadvertently blurted out the truth behind his budget numbers as they relate to the Affordable Care Act:
"This to us is something that we're not going to give up on, because we're not going to give up on destroying the health care system for the American people."
Heh heh heh. You can see the video of Lyin's moment of honesty here.

Rope-A-Pope Week

For those who will enjoy the Papal sweepstakes this week, here's a handy guide to the "top contenders," who despite differences in nationality, race and age all seem to have been elevated to the College of Cardinals by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI or Pope John Paul II.  In other words, they'll be traditionalist and conservative.  Best known to Americans are Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston.   Dolan's elevation to the papacy would be a bad signal to victims of pedophile priests, to whom Dolan offered payments to leave the priesthood while serving as Archbishop of Milwaukee.  Sadly, that approach is probably widely accepted in the current Church hierarchy, which has treated the sexual abuse problem not as crimes, but as something to be hushed up with payoffs.  Dolan's also transparently political, making no secret of his approval of Rethuglican views towards women's health issues and same-sex marriage.

The prospects for a Pope that will clean up the financial and criminal corruption in the Church aren't particularly good.  What's more likely is a Pope that will go on the attack against Church critics (including nuns who are fighting for social justice) and avoid doing anything other than cosmetic reforms, as Church membership declines along with confidence in its leadership and relevancy.

BONUS:  We have late-breaking Catholic Church gay sauna news right here!  How convenient!
"A day ahead of the papal conclave, faces at the scandal-struck Vatican were even redder than usual after it emerged that the Holy See had purchased a €23 million (£21 million) share of a Rome apartment block that houses Europe’s biggest gay sauna."
"It's raining Cardinals, Hallelujah!"

Uh, You Lost The Election, Remember?

Failed Vice Presidential candidate and tea bagger hero Rep. Paul "Lyin'" Ryan (R-Galt's Gulch), who chairs the House Budget Committee, released his budget for FY 2014 and it's merely a re-hash of all of the bad ideas that the voters rejected in the 2012 elections.   Lyin', who is oddly regarded by the Beltway media as a serious budget wonk, put together a budget that won't get a single Democratic vote in the Senate (and possibly not an overwhelming number of Rethug votes, considering how it treats Medicare).  The premise of his budget is to pile tax cuts on the wealthy and cut programs for the middle class and poor, while repealing the Affordable Care Act, something that Fux "News" Sunday's Chris Wallace said to Lyin's face, is "not going to happen."

So once again he's presented a partisan, ideological budget that will only pass the House by virtue of the tea bagger caucus pushing it,  with no bipartisan support or chance of passage in the Senate.  He's forgotten that he and Lord Mittens lost the election just  four months ago, an election which both sides said would represent a clear choice over our country's direction.  They made that choice, and Lyin' should respect it.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Two Years Ago Today

On March 11, 2011, a catastrophic earthquake struck off the northeast coast of Japan, causing a huge tsunami that devastated communities along the coast, and caused the failure of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the most serious commercial nuclear event in decades.

Called the Tohoku earthquake, it was the 5th most powerful earthquake ever recorded, and claimed the lives of 15,881 people, with 2,668 people still missing.  It was also the most costly natural disaster, with an estimated $235 billion in damages.

The resilient and brave people of Japan pulled together and have made progress in the recovery efforts. Assistance from other countries flowed into Japan in view of the tremendous losses.  Given the sheer magnitude of the disaster, much recovery and rebuilding remains to be done, but a good start has been made.

(photo:  from Mainichi Shimbun/Reuters.  Miyako City waterfront as the tsunami hits)

Cartoon of the Day - A History of the Sequestration

(click to enlarge)


(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

Krugman on "Dwindling Deficit Disorder"

It's a disorder rampant on the editorial pages of the once great Washington Post Kaplan Daily and on Sunday talk shows:
"For three years and more, policy debate in Washington has been dominated by warnings about the dangers of budget deficits. A few lonely economists have tried from the beginning to point out that this fixation is all wrong, that deficit spending is actually appropriate in a depressed economy. But even though the deficit scolds have been wrong about everything so far — where are the soaring interest rates we were promised? — protests that we are having the wrong conversation have consistently fallen on deaf ears.

"What’s really remarkable at this point, however, is the persistence of the deficit fixation in the face of rapidly changing facts. People still talk as if the deficit were exploding, as if the United States budget were on an unsustainable path; in fact, the deficit is falling more rapidly than it has for generations, it is already down to sustainable levels, and it is too small given the state of the economy."  (our emphasis)
The whole article is, of course, worth reading -- and remembering the next time you hear a charlatan (=cough=Pete Peterson=cough=) earnestly entreating us to "fix the debt."

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Photo of the Day

(click to enlarge)

 photo by Emmanuel Coupe

A photo of frozen methane gas bubbles as they reach the icy surface of Abraham Lake in Western Canada.  

(h/t MaddowBlog)

Sunday Funnies

Last night, President Obama attended the Gridiron Dinner in Washington, an annual occasion attended by Washington elites at which the powerful poke fun at themselves...usually. The President had a good routine, which brought laughter and applause from the crowd. A sampling of his jokes:
"As you may have heard, Bob [Woodward] invited Gene [Sperling] over to his place. And Bob says he actually thinks that I should make it too. And I might take him up on the offer. I mean, nothing says 'not a threat' like showing up at somebody’s house with guys with machine guns."

"Of course, maintaining credibility in this cynical atmosphere is harder than ever — incredibly challenging. My administration recently put out a photo of me skeet shooting and even that wasn’t enough for some people. Next week, we’re releasing a photo of me clinging to religion."

"With all these new faces, it’s hard to keep track of who is in, who is out. And I know it’s difficult for you guys as reporters. But I can offer you an easy way of remembering the new team. If [Texas Sen.] Ted Cruz calls somebody a communist, then you know they’re in my cabinet."
You can read the rest of the President's remarks here.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Today In Gun Nuttery

South Dakota's Rethuglican Governor  Dennis "The Menace" Daugaard has signed a bill authorizing teachers to carry guns in class.  Not surprisingly, the bill was strongly lobbied by the National Rifle Shoot Up Your School Association, who have been pushing more guns everywhere as a solution to gun violence.  What these wing nuts don't seem to get is that it's not "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," it's that the vast majority of Americans don't want bad guys to have guns in the first place.  Let's be clear:  bad guys having guns is OK with the gun lobby, as witness their opposition to any universal background checks, including at gun shows.

Meanwhile in decent America, 26 cyclists, calling themselves "Team 26" and representing each of the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary,  are traveling from Newtown, CT to Washington, DC from March 9 - 12 to draw attention to the need for stricter gun laws.   They'll be stopping for several rallies along the way, and will be joined in College Park, MD by a cycling team from Virginia Tech as they approach Washington.

Saturday Morning Reading - Austerity Fail (Again)

Here's Paul Krugman on the enormous success abject failure of British Conservative PM David Cameron's austerity policies in the past 4 years.  Is it possible the always- behind- the- curve "mainstream media" is picking up on such indicators?  We're noticing a slight wiggle in the Beltway Conventional Wisdom (though not especially on the editorial page of the once great Washington Post Kaplan Daily), indicating that maybe,  just maybe austerity (in the form of sequestration and deficit hawking/Grand Bargaining) might not be the tonic for the economy that the Rethug-wired CW has heretofore been pushing.  But it still remains a delivered fact for much of the Georgetown salon crowd that we have to get that gummint spending under control!  Keynes who?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Rethuglican War on Women - Credit Where Credit's Not Due Dept.

Those re-branding Rethugs are at it again!  Now a number of Rethugs who voted against the recently-signed Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization are celebrating its passage or claiming they voted for it, when they only voted for the watered-down Rethug version that failed.  Here's just one such charlatan -- teatard favorite Rep. Steve "Turkey A La" King (Stupid Party-IA), via TPM:
“I supported this legislation because I know how important it is to empower women in difficult situations,” King said. “If a woman is at risk, she should know that she has a place to turn for support and assistance. I supported VAWA in 2005, 2012, and today I voted in support of the House version to see that victims of domestic violence and sexual assault have access to the resources and protection when they need it the most.”

What King didn’t mention is that he voted against House passage of VAWA. Instead he voted for a more modest Republican substitute, which failed. Had his final vote carried the day, VAWA would remain expired and its reauthorization in limbo today.
Also busy covering his tracks is Sen. John "All Hat and No Cattle" Cornyn (Stupid Party-TX):
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) was among those celebrating President Barack Obama signing the Violence Against Women Act into law on Thursday. Except he voted against the bill -- and tried to gloss over that fact even as he praised one of the law's provisions.
Not that we ever expected these paragons of virtue to be honest about their efforts to derail or water down VAWA.  But to engage in such transparent dishonesty, in an effort to appear as though they supported VAWA's reauthorization, when they did not, is a new low even for these cheeseballs.  Just more "lipstick on an elephant."