Monday, March 31, 2014

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon - Cauldron of Crazy Edition

(click to enlarge)

(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

Quote of the Day

"’s one of the key rules of lazy political journalism that Republicans are the heartland and by definition can’t be out of touch with it (rules dreamed up, by the way, mostly by people from the Eastern seaboard who went to private universities and haven’t the slightest idea in the world about the actual heartland). Only Democrats can be. That’s how it can come to pass that liberals and Democrats can be defending a law whose major provisions enjoy broad support, and a law that most Americans have come around to accepting as a part of life that they’ll learn to live with, and be called out of touch."  -- Michael Tomasky, in The Daily Beast, writing as the number of people signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act surges. (emphasis added).

Regardless of what the Rethuglican-wired Beltway media is peddling on "Obamacare," millions of people now have health insurance for the first time that doesn't disappear when they get sick, that doesn't deny them coverage due to a preexisting condition, and that they can afford.  As Tomasky points out in his article, the majority of the public doesn't want the law repealed, and favors the key policies of the law by a large margin.  Now, the Rethugs won't stop their attacks -- they still want to gut Medicare after almost 50 years -- but at some point the Beltway media might want to check outside their bubble.

On-Going Voter Suppression in Swing States

Republican governors in swing states Wisconsin and Ohio have recently signed legislation to suppress turnout by traditionally Democratic groups.  This follows efforts to introduce "voter id" laws similarly intended to suppress voting by the elderly, poor, minorities and students.  In Wisconsin and Ohio, both won twice by President Obama, here's the practical impact of those laws:
[March 27] Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed legislation eliminating early voting hours on weekends and nights, when it’s most convenient for many voters to go to the polls. When they took over state government in 2011, Wisconsin Republicans reduced the early voting period from three weeks to two weeks and only one weekend. Now they’ve eliminated weekend voting altogether. 
Over 250,000 Wisconsinites voted early in 2012, one in twelve overall voters. Cutting early voting has a clear partisan purpose: those who voted early voted for Obama 58 to 41 percent in Wisconsin in 2012, compared to his 51 to 48 percent margin on Election Day. Extended early voting hours were particularly critical with respect to high voter turnout in big cities like Milwaukee and Madison. “It’s just sad when a political party has so lost faith in its ideas that it’s pouring all of its energy into election mechanics,” said Wisconsin GOP State Senator Dale Schultz, a critic of the legislation. 
A month ago, Ohio passed legislation cutting early voting by a week, eliminating same-day voter registration and restricting the availability of absentee ballots while Secretary of State Jon Husted issued a directive doing away with early voting on weeknights and Sundays as well. 600,000 Ohioans, ten percent of the electorate, voted early in 2012. The cuts in Ohio, like Wisconsin, have a clear partisan and racial underpinning—in Cleveland, for example, African-Americans made up 56 percent of those who voted on weekends in 2008.  (our emphasis)
We're still living with the results of elections that have turned over Statehouses and legislatures to these anti-democratic forces, and thanks to Republican-engineering gerrymandering, will for some time to come.  Their ethos is pretty well summed up by Wisconsin Republican State Sen. Schultz, above (who passed up opportunities to switch parties years ago).  Their only focus in denying voting rights to millions of Americans?  We'll let BooMan play the hedgehog:
...maybe it's normal for a two-party system to develop in such a way that one party always benefits from higher turnout and one party always suffers. In such a system, the party that suffers will begin to doubt the worth of people's right to vote, since that right imperils their hold on power.  (our emphasis)
We know Democrats benefit from higher turnout, and Republicans fear it.  It should be clear by now to any sentient observer that's what's going on here.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Cartoon - Chris Christie Gets To The Bottom Of Things

(click to enlarge - heh heh)

We're far from "the bottom of things," of course.  Christie is on his innocent humble-bluster tour of teevee and Sheldon Adelson's "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire's Bitch."  A brief lull until the immunity deals start dropping.  (This cartoon lends itself to the "Where does the 800 pound gorilla sit?" joke chestnut, too.)

BONUS:  It looks like Gov. Krispykreme's pilgrimage to Sheldon Adelson's tuchas didn't go off without a hitch:  in remarks to the Rethuglican Jewish Coalition, Krispykreme referred to the West Bank as "occupied territories," a big no-no especially to the assembled audience and to the Israeli right wing.  Krispykreme later "apologized" for his gaffe to Adelson, who reportedly was "satisfied."


(Matt Davies, via

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Today's Dispatches From The Stupid Party - Creationist Edition

Recently, the legislature of the Cradle of Stupid Secession, South Carolina, was petitioned by an 8-year-old girl who noticed that her State didn't have an official State fossil.  She wrote to her Democratic State Representative to suggest a Columbian Wooly Mammoth fossil that was excavated locally back in the 18th Century. He thought it was a great idea, so he and a Democratic State Senator introduced bills in their respective chambers to make it happen.

That's when a couple of God-bothering Republican dimbulbs went into action.  We'll let Wonkette capture the Stupid:
State Sen. Kevin Bryant, a fundamentalist Christian who back in 2008 got big satirical larffs with a Facebook post saying “the difference between Obama and Osama is just a little B.S.,” added an amendment to include three verses from the Book of Genesis to explain that God made everything 6000 years ago, because no way did mammoths evolve or anything. Bryant explained that he had no intention of interfering or anything; fossils are nice and all, but “I just felt like it’d be a good thing to acknowledge the creator of the fossils.” 
And when the amendment was ruled out of order on procedural grounds, because it introduced a new topic, things got even stupider. Another member of the “science is lies from the pit of hell” caucus, Sen. Mike Fair, whose district includes Bob Jones University, placed a hold on the state fossil bill. Sen. Fair is such a committed opponent of children being poisoned by knowledge of evolution that the National Center for Science Education dedicated a webpage to documenting his attempts to block the teaching of science.
So we now have scientific proof that there's an 8-year-old girl in the Cradle of Stupid Secession that is more intelligent and better educated than at least two Republican elected officials.  Good to know.

That reminds us:  tune into "Cosmos" with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Sunday nights (check local U.S. listings).

(Image:  Does Bible-bangin' cause brain damage, or vice versa?)

#CancelColbert: What Jezebel Said

For anyone just catching up to the s**tstorm that billowed up from a recent Stephen Colbert segment (and subsequent misattributed Tweet) incorporating a racist Asian stereotype in mocking Washington NFL owner Li'l Danny Snyder's offensive, diversionary Native American foundation (you might still see the segment embedded here, unless Viacom has it pulled for copyright infringement), we think this piece by Erin Gloria Ryan  at Jezebel sums things up pretty well.  Here's the finale:
Good rule of thumb, just, for life in general: If Michelle Malkin is cheering you on, you are almost certainly doing something wrong. Malkin is a third rate conservative shock jock who isn't smart enough to be offensive in the ways she is trying to be. Michelle Malkin is to Ann Coulter what Drive Me Crazy is to Heathers. 
Malkin and her ilk are likely excited about the #CancelColbert hashtag because the show makes people who agree with her (but who, unlike Michelle Malkin, are important enough to warrant the show's attention) look like fools. The shitstorm has also successfully diverted attention from the issue that Colbert was trying to skewer in the first place, an issue with which many social conservatives vehemently ignore, or brush off, or dismiss: 
The fucking owner of a team called the goddamn WASHINGTON REDSKINS started a charity FOR NATIVE AMERICANS that uses the word 'REDSKIN' in the name of the charity and that is shitballing ridiculous. 
But instead of talking about that, we're talking about an out of context Tweet that people misattributed to a sketch that most people didn't even watch in its entirety before they decided an entire show's worth of people — writers, producers, editors, directors, camera operators, sound people, interns — should lose their jobs.
Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog pretty well expresses our feelings.  Bottom line: before you go DEFCON 1, take a breath, understand the origin of the Tweet, understand the context of the segment, and then focus on the real villains - not a character played by someone who is one of the good guys in the media.

Wingnut Terrorist Arrested in Texas

Since the Oklahoma City bombing in April, 1995, cases of homegrown right-wing violence have been on the rise.  So-called "sovereign citizens" groups,"patriot" groups, and other far-right organizations have been revitalized, particularly with the election (and re-election) of a black Democratic President, and progress on the immigration reform, health care reform, and marriage equality fronts.

Thursday, Federal agents arrested the latest of these loons in Texas after a months-long investigation.  Robert Talbot was charged with plotting to blow up Government buildings, robbing banks, and killing police officers, in addition to possessing explosive materials.  Talbot operates a Facebook page for the "American Insurgent Movement," according to reports, which contains a collection of rants against the Government, "libruls," etc., and which provides a link to tea bagger organizations and websites.  If convicted, Talbot faces up to 20 years in Federal prison (where he'd likely join a chapter of the Aryan Brotherhood).

Friday, March 28, 2014

Weekend Song

Happy belated birthday to Diana Ross of The Supremes, who turned 70 (!) on March 26.  Ms. Ross has, of course, enjoyed a long solo career continuing to this day.  The Supremes remain the top American vocal group in history, and here's one of their earliest, greatest hits, "Stop In The Name Of Love" from 1965.  Enjoy the weekend.

The Case of the Busted Truck Nutz

Here's a video that's been going viral the past few days with over 3 million views.  It shows some road rage by a Florida redneck who has been tailgating a woman.  She's been recording the jackass on her I-Phone, and when he passes her, he snarls and flips her the bird.  What happens then is priceless. (Watch full screen for greater enjoyment).

We should note that no one was hurt, and the driver fled the scene, but was later arrested by Florida State Troopers and charged with multiple traffic violations (leaving the scene of an accident, reckless driving, driving without a brain, etc.).

Cartoon of the Day

(click to enlarge)

The "investigation" of Bridgegate by New Jersey Gov. Chris "Krispykreme" Christie's own lawyer  unsurprisingly found him innocent -- after all, the key players in the scandal weren't even interviewed.  Nonetheless, it may cause continuing problems for the rotund Governor:  it dredges up personal, gratuitous information on a relationship between former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget "Bridge It" Kelly and former campaign manager Bill Stepien (two of the key players not interviewed).  It's clear that Krispykreme's allies want to damage the reputations of the people who are in the best position to know what his involvement was -- not only on the GW bridge closure, but on misappropriation of Hurricane Sandy funds and political extortion.

So, how would you feel if you were one of Christie's sacrificial lambs - more or less likely to cooperate with the State's and U.S. Attorney's investigations?

UPDATE:  Krispykreme pal and Chairman of the Port Authority David Samson has resigned from his position.  Samson is believed to be a key figure in the Bridgegate scandal, who thus far has escaped any real scrutiny.

UPDATE II:  How was the presser Krispykreme mouthpiece and "report" author Randy "Maestro" Mastro received (in which he smeared former Krispykreme aide Bridget Kelly)?  Ouch:
You know that you've failed when a Republican like Joseph Scarborough, host of the MSNBC show Morning Joe, says on his program that Randy Mastro, the so-called "independent" lawyer investigating Gov. Christie's bridge-closing scandal, sounded like Baghdad Bob at his press conference Thursday, and the political writer, Al Hunt -- also on the show -- said Mastro could have served as "Putin's lawyer." 
What will Christie do for his follow-up? One thing is for clear -- the woman in the George Washington Bridge scandal, Bridget Kelly, the sender of the traffic tie-up demand, is now in the crosshairs of the Mastro-led counterattack. 
Mastro's report, indeed, made a point of informing the public that Kelly had had an affair with another figure in the imbroglio, and suggested that this tryst, where Kelly was supposedly jilted, may have led her to send the incriminating email about shutting down the traffic lanes in Fort Lee. Not that that makes any sense. However, it looks like Mastro (on behalf of Christie) is going to make Kelly the "fall-guy" for the transgressive acts attributed to the Christie Administration. 
In the meantime, Kelly answered Mastro on Friday by having her lawyer issue a statement that she is ready to tell the truth about who was behind the bridge closing -- if she can get immunity from prosecution.  (our emphasis) 
Now let's see if either or both Kelly and Stepien cut a deal that allows the prosecutors to deep-fry Krispykreme.  Well played, Maestro!

(cartoon:  Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Obamacare Enrollment Surges Past 6 Million

Astrid Riecken for the Washington Post

(People line up in Silver Spring, Maryland, to enroll in the State's ACA health insurance exchange.)

This is good, and somewhat expected, news:
(Reuters) - The White House said on Thursday that more than 6 million people have now signed up for private insurance plans under President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law known as Obamacare, reflecting a surge in enrollments days before the March 31 deadline. 
Ten days ago, the administration had pegged enrollment at more than 5 million people, and enlisted celebrities and top government officials to try to convince more uninsured people - particularly the young and healthy - to sign up. 
The last-minute boost has exceeded the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's estimate that 6 million people would sign up in the program's first year, down from earlier expectations of 7 million enrollees because of problems with websites used for shopping for insurance.
Over a million new enrollees in the past 10 days, the late surge comporting with Massachusetts' experience with Romneycare =snicker= enrollment history.  The 6 million does not include people who have enrolled in expanded Medicaid in many States.   Counting people queuing both on-line and in person to sign up, and with a time extension for enrollment under certain circumstances, it's quite possible ACA enrollments will hit the 7 million mark by mid-April.

Here in Maryland, as is being reported in other States, activity at Affordable Care Act web sites and walk-in locations is surging.  By the time the next open enrollment period is upon us (November), site bugs will mostly be a bad memory.

UPDATE:  The White House is engaging in a little Twitter humor at the expense of all the knuckledragging Republicans who mocked the early enrollment numbers.

Hobby Lobby: "Jesus Christ Superstore"

Jon Stewart and his crew let you know all you need to know about Hobby Lobby's legal beef with Obamacare (in two parts):

Part II:

Picture of the Day

President Obama and Pope Francis exchange gifts after their meeting in the Vatican earlier today.  Obama and the Pope have found common ground in their focus on income inequality and issues of poverty, but diverge on reproductive rights issues.

(photo:  G. Bouys, Associated Press)

Crazy Cuts

According to preliminary news reports, North Korea's boy tyrant and apprentice psychopath Kim Jong Un has decreed that male university students in his nation must wear their hair like his:  skin-close cut on the sides, and mop top parted in the middle. (Or not). Previously, men were allowed to choose from several state-approved hairstyles, which certainly cuts down on barber school instruction time.  (Maybe Kim doesn't realize that his hairstyle is known as the "Chinese smuggler hairstyle" given its resemblance to the way Chinese smugglers wore their hair in years past.)

We're thinking that those men in North Korea are hoping that their narcissistic leader doesn't decide to undergo gender reassignment surgery and require it for them.  That would be a cut too far.

(photo:  "They'll have what I'm having.")

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What's Going Right With Obamacare In Florida and Nationally

While the reactionaries continue to try to block uninsured Americans from getting affordable health insurance (see post below), their obstruction hasn't worked in at least one important State:
(AP) Florida's Republican leaders have fought the Affordable Care Act at every turn, banning navigators from county health departments, offering no state dollars to boost outreach efforts to 3.5 million uninsured and leading the fight to repeal the law. Yet the state has emerged as a tale of what went right with President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. 
More than 440,000 Florida residents had been enrolled through the federal marketplace through the end of February, putting Florida on pace to exceed the federal government's initial projections by the time enrollment closes March 31.
Meanwhile, the results of a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll might be a sign that Obamacare as a potent campaign issue for Republicans might turn out to be a bust:
Among the public overall, general opinion of the ACA moved in a more positive direction this month for the first time since November’s post-rollout negative shift in opinion. While unfavorable views of the law continue to outpace favorable ones, the gap between negative and positive views now stands at eight percentage points, down from 16 percentage points in January. Four years after the ACA’s passage, a little over half the public says they are tired of hearing the national debate over the law and want the country to focus more on other things, while four in ten say it’s important for the debate to continue. At the same time, six in ten want Congress to keep the law in place and either leave it as is or work to improve it, while three in ten would prefer to see it either repealed and replaced with a Republican alternative or repealed and not replaced. (our emphasis)
So, keep harping on it, reactionaries.  Keep sinking millions into those lying Koch brothers ads.  And, Democrats, you can declare success and agree that it's time to move on to issues like increasing the minimum wage, equal rights, immigration reform, and protecting a woman's right to reproductive choice.

Some Things To Keep Your Eye On

(click to enlarge)

While many of us are focused on the Obamacare contraception cases (Hobby Lobby and Conestoga) being argued in the Supreme Court, there's another case that's bubbled up to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that could cause serious problems for Obamacare and the health insurance markets, due to the extreme views of one judge:
On Tuesday, while most court-watchers were fixated on the high profile Hobby Lobby litigation, a panel of three judges just a few miles away heard a much more sweeping attempt to destroy the Affordable Care Act. Should this lawsuit succeed, however, much more will fall than a single contentious law. If it succeeds, it could completely destroy much of the health insurance market and throw millions of Americans’ health care into chaos — and at least one judge who heard the case, Judge Raymond Randolph, appears poised to make this chaos a reality. 
The plaintiff's argument (which was rejected twice already at the trial level) involves whether Congress intended subsidies for people to purchase health insurance to be limited to State-run exchanges, or applied to the Federally-run exchange as well.  It would take a perverse, ideological reading by a perverse, ideological judge to rule that subsidies only applied to State-run exchanges -- but, did we mention Judge Randolph was appointed by Republican President "Poppy" Bush?

In the meantime, Alec MacGillis has more on this case as well as other Obamacare-sabotaging cases currently working their way through the judicial system.

(Cartoon:  Matt Davies, via

Quote of the Day

"Just because Russia has a deep history with Ukraine does not mean it should be able to dictate Ukraine’s future. No amount of propaganda can make right something that the world knows is wrong.”  -- President Obama, speaking earlier today in Brussels.  Obama also announced the bolstering of NATO forces in Eastern Europe, and warned Russia about further military encroachments.  Earlier this week, the major economic powers indefinitely suspended Russia from the G-8 group and cancelled the economic summit later this year in Sochi.

Mid-Week Breakup Song

Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay's lead singer/pianist Chris Martin have announced their breakup after 10 years of marriage and two children.  Here's Martin singing "Trouble" off Coldplay's first album.

Also, don't be hatin'.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

"Who Needs Facts?"

As Walter Pincus says, "Not these guys."  Permit us to quote at length:
[Rand] Paul (R-Ky.) told the primarily student audience that “if you own a cellphone, you are under surveillance.” It quickly became clear who he was talking about. 
“NSA believes that equal protection means that Americans can be spied upon equally, even Congress,” Paul said. 
He made no distinction between the foreign collection program — known as the 702 program, which could involve listening to phone calls or reading e-mails overseas — and the domestic 215 program, the collection of U.S.-based telephone metadata, which does not involve listening to calls. 
In no case did Paul mention that the predicate for searching those domestic records is a link to an overseas phone related to a suspected terrorist source, or that overseas, a relationship to collecting foreign intelligence is the requirement.
Who's another liar Pincus calls out?
On CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said one response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s move into Crimea could be to “reconsider putting our missile defense system back into the Czech Republic and Poland, as we once planned. And as you recall, we pulled that out as a gift to Russia.” 
President Obama in September 2009 did change the George W. Bush administration’s plan for a missile defense system against Iran to be located in Poland and the Czech Republic. He replaced it with a better and earlier-deployed system now being installed in Poland and Romania. 
The Czechs, who were to get an X-band radar, decided that they did not want a lesser radar, as proposed in the Obama system. The Romanians replaced them and will host radar and missile interceptors, the first to be operational in 2015. 
Interceptors in Poland will be deployed starting in 2018 under the Obama plan, about the same time as under the Bush plan, but they will be larger and faster, and there will be more than the 10 contemplated by Bush.  
All this has hardly been a secret. On March 18, Vice President Biden announced in Poland that the missile defense system was on track with the 2018 initial operational date. 
In fact, in September 2009, then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates wrote in a New York Times op-ed that under the earlier plan, which he as Bush’s defense secretary had proposed in 2006, “there would have been no missile-defense system able to protect against Iranian missiles until at least 2017 — and likely much later” because of initial delays in getting the Polish and Czech legislatures to agree to host the system. 
Gates described Obama’s system as “far more effective” than what he’d recommended to the Bush administration.  (our emphasis)
It should come as no surprise to readers of this blog that we believe Republican politicians have a serious allergy to facts and the truth (a.k.a., "reality").   They, and their credulous base, sift out the facts they don't like, twist truth, and proceed at great harm to our nation.  But, as Pincus quotes Aldous Huxley, "Facts don't cease to exist because they are ignored."

Unfortunately, the damage is done regardless.

Would Doc Holliday Be OK?

Jon Stewart had a segment on "The Daily Show" last night that covered the nomination battle over Dr. Vivek Murthy, a Harvard medical instructor and medical technology entrepreneur, to be the next Surgeon General.  In short, Murthy's nomination is facing intense opposition from NRA-beholden Senators who found Murthy's past statements about gun safety as a public health issue a reason to go to battle stations.  Here's the clip:

Cartoonist Jan Sorenson cuts to the chase: why not let The Craziest Man On Earth select the Surgeon General (and why stop with that position?).

(click to enlarge)

Li'l Danny's Latest Caper

While we're on the subject of mogul money, we noticed that Washington's highly unpopular football team owner (and Republican contributor) Daniel "Li'l Danny" Snyder has announced the creation of a foundation to support activities benefiting Native Americans.  Facing mounting criticism of the "Redskins" name as racist, including a recent decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that the term "Redskins" was derogatory, Li'l Danny sprang into action (after several years) and has so far supplied such items as winter coats, athletic shoes and a back hoe to some tribes.  Pardon our cynicism, but this looks like a case of trying to buy off the jury.

In his letter to fans announcing the bribe foundation, Li'l Danny said:
"As a team, we have honored them through our words and on the field, but now we will honor them through our actions."
"We have honored them through our words…."   The "word" at the heart of the controversy, of course, is the derogatory team name which Li'l Danny has aggressively and stubbornly refused to consider changing, and that's not honoring Native Americans, even the ones he's trying to buy off.

Meanwhile, Li'l Danny isn't fooling Native Americans.  Ray Halbritter, Representative of the Oneida Indian Nation, had a wonderful response to Li'l Danny's gambit:
“We’re glad that after a decade of owning the Washington team, Mr. Snyder is finally interested in Native American heritage, and we are hopeful that when his team finally stands on the right side of history and changes its name, he will honor the commitments to Native Americans that he is making.” 
“We are also hopeful that in his new initiative to honor Native Americans’ struggle, Mr. Snyder makes sure people do not forget that he and his predecessor George Preston Marshall, a famous segregationist, have made our people’s lives so much more difficult by using a racial slur as the Washington team’s name.”
(image: "How do you like me now,, Original Americans?")

Gaming The System

Rethuglican sugar daddy and casino mogul Shelly "Smelly"Adelson gambled about $92 million on the 2012 elections and lost when most of his right-wing candidates were defeated.  So sad.

These days, he's vetting Rethuglican Presidential hopefuls, who have come to his Las Vegas casino to speak the right words and engage in some tuchas kissing.  Smelly's efforts in 2012, when he backed Poot Gingrich in the primaries, were largely seen to be counterproductive by extending the Rethug primaries.  Now, he's looking for more electable candidates who will also do his bidding once in office.   We wish him the same luck he had the last time.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Neil deGrasse Tyson - Stoned, Just Like Jelly Roll (Not Really)

This is a clip of astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson ("Cosmos") discussing Sir Isaac Newton, slowed to 85 percent.  (For background, including Tyson's disclaimer that he "had nothing to do with it"), go here (h/t Raw Story).   Enjoy this "stoner" version of Neil deGrasse Tyson:

Lifestyles of the Rich, Catholic Church Edition

You'll recall the Catholic Archbishop of Newark who has a taste for high living, and who was constructing a dream home courtesy of his fleeced flock.  Today, we're learning of another "Prince of the Church" who's living like a real prince in the Atlanta area:  Archbishop Wilton Gregory has taken a bequest from the estate of a wealthy parishioner and has bought a $2.2 million, 6,196 square foot mansion.  The archdiocese also purchased another $2.2 million estate (that was Gregory's home in the past) for a rectory.  Parishioners are unhappy that the needs of the poor were not the Archbishop's top priority.  Indeed.

It's baffling why these eminences of the Church haven't heeded Pope Francis' decree that they live simpler, less extravagant lives.  Perhaps instead of loading up on bling and big houses, they need to turn their attention not only to their leader's directions, but to Matthew 19:24:
"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 

Today's Cartoon - More On (Moron?) Republican Millennial Outreach

(click to enlarge)

Yeah.  They're hep to the young 'uns vibrations.

(Brian McFadden, via

Headline of the Day

Chris Christie update: Lawyer hired by Christie to investigate Christie clears Christie

Who would have expected that outcome?  More on the sham "investigation" here.

The Right's Latest Hobby Horse

Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, a case in which a for-profit corporation is using religious beliefs to challenge the provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires heath insurers to offer contraceptive care.  Legal analysts have pointed out that Hobby Lobby itself can't hold religious beliefs as a corporate entity, and that it simply reflects the views of its owners.  Others note that if the law's provision were to be struck down, it would open the law (and potentially other laws) to challenges based on religious "beliefs" -- bogus or not -- that could impact employees' civil rights.

The far right won't stop probing the Affordable Care Act in an attempt to sabotage it and to return to the health insurance system that was gamed to maximize the insurance companies' profits and not to provide cost coverage to Americans in need of health care.

BONUS:  Walter Dellinger has an op/ed on the case, making the argument (as in Griswold) that there's an issue of equality of access to effective family planning techniques involved, concluding:
Selectively denying insurance coverage for contraceptive methods an employer considers sinful effectively makes the employer a party to a woman’s medical consultations. An understanding of the importance of access to the full range of contraception options should lead the court to reject claims of religious entitlement that so greatly burden the interests of others.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Self-Involved "Republican Millennial" Gets Pwned

Watch how this Republican National Committee actor "Republican Millennial hipster" is pwned by John Oliver's crew at "Last Week Tonight."  First, here's self-involved "Republican Millennial Scott 'Dork' Greenberg" (own that cue card, Scott!) :

And... scene!

Yeah, if you're a Republican Millennial, it's because you're a politically myopic doofus.  Now, let the pwning begin:

Matt Drudge Is Now Officially A Moocher

Right-wing media nitwit manure-spreader Matt "Sludge" Drudge would like us to know not "getting covered" is all about "liberty":

While it would be utterly no surprise if Drudge is lying, his false bravado reveals something more to the point, as Karoli over at C & L puts it:
The mandate penalty isn't a "liberty tax." It's a small contribution to the Matt Drudge and Followers Moochers' Fund to help defray the costs for those people who decide they're just going to be a burden on the rest of us and not hold up their individual responsibility to get covered.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

"Democrats Need To Start Out-Luntzing Republicans"

In his "New Rules," Bill Maher suggests that Democrats emulate Republican "truth abuser" "wordsmith" Frank "Dunce" Luntz (via C&L):

Obama Derangement Syndrome, Malaysian Airliner Edition

(click to enlarge)

Believe us, the Fuxers are giving it their all when it comes to tying the mysterious disappearance of Malaysian flight 370 to President Obama.  For example, Fux's master poo-flinger Bill O'Liely wants us to think of (you guessed it) Benghazi BENGHAZI!  BENGHAZI!! when we're watching reports of the search efforts.  The Fux enterprise is beyond parody at this point, with its naked boosterism of Rethuglican talking points and its deceitful coverage of the Obama Administration and Dems in general.  Sadly, Obama Derangement Syndrome isn't covered under the Affordable Care Act, so we'll just have to watch their illness continue.

BONUS:   Another example of the crackpottery from Fox "News'" contributors.

(cartoon:  Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press, via

Friday, March 21, 2014

Creationists Demand Equal Time on "Cosmos"

Haha no:
Danny Faulkner of Answers In Genesis and the Creation Museum appeared on The Janet Mefferd Show yesterday to criticize Cosmos for not providing airtime for Creationism adherents. When Mefferd asked if Cosmos will “ever give a Creationist any time,” Faulkner responded by lamenting that “Creationists aren’t even on the radar screen for them, they wouldn’t even consider us plausible at all.” 
Nor would most sane people consider them "plausible."  But we think "Cosmos" host Neil deGrasse Tyson previously addressed Dim Danny's point when he said"Bullshit!"  “You don’t talk about the spherical Earth with NASA, and then say let’s give equal time to the flat Earthers.  Plus, science is not there for you to cherry pick.”

Simple Gifts of Spring Weekend Song

This will be our first, long-awaited Spring weekend following a grueling winter, and here in the Mid-Atlantic states, it promises to be truly Spring-like.  What better way to celebrate than with Aaron Copland's "Simple Gifts" from "Appalachian Spring."   Some of you may recognize the tune, especially the final, dramatic 30 seconds, because it served as the theme music for "CBS Reports," a long-running jewel of investigative television journalism.  (Which makes us think, inevitably, of the groundbreaking 1960 "CBS Reports" documentary from the great Edward R. Murrow, "Harvest of Shame."  If you have never seen this watershed report on migrant workers, you owe it to yourself to do so right now.  Then you can shed a tear for what real, courageous journalism used to be, versus the craven "both sides do it" product we see so much of today.)

Oh, sorry.  Enjoy your Spring weekend!

Ukraine - Russia Developments

Events are moving swiftly in the situation between the Russian Federation and Ukraine:
  • Ukraine and the European Union signed an agreement creating stronger economic ties and signaling support for further economic sanctions against Russia as required.
  • Russian autocrat Vladimir "The Invader" Putin signed the annexation of Crimea, making it (in Russia's eyes) part of the Russian Federation.  While he claimed that additional moves against Ukraine's sovereignty were not anticipated, Europe and the U.S. are carefully watching Russian troop movements across the eastern border of Ukraine.  
President Obama also announced sanctions against a key Russian bank's assets and against several in Putin's inner circle.

BONUS:  Anne Applebaum has an op/ed about how we've been focused on the wrong narrative in thinking about Russia and the West:
For the first time, many are beginning to understand that the narrative is wrong: Russia is not a flawed Western power. Russia is an anti-Western power with a different, darker vision of global politics.

Crude Quote of the Day

"In their recent report The Billionaires’ Carbon Bomb about the Koch Brothers and the Keystone XL pipeline, the International Forum on Globalization (IFG) contends that Koch Exploration Canada, the Koch Industries subsidiary that buys and sells land for energy development, could profit by up to $100 billion with the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. While this number is up for debate, it is clearly not a losing investment. "  --  Ari Phillips for  (emphasis added).  Koch Industries, through a Canadian subsidiary, holds leases on some 1.1 million acres of northern Alberta tar sands property.  It's not surprising that the fossil fuel-friendly Republican Party is a partner with the likes of Koch Industries in making sure the Keystone XL pipeline is constructed, so that the Koch's tar sands oil makes its way to refineries, some of which may also be owned by Koch Industries.  The Kochs, in turn, reward the Rethugs with generous contributions and with "independent" PAC activities aimed at undermining Democratic policies and politicians, not to mention something called the Federal Government.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Today's Cartoons - Our Broken Media, Cont.

(click to enlarge)

Then again, he may be watching CNN.

(Jim Morin, The Miami Herald)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Endorsements Aren't Always What They're Cracked Up To Be

"Vince Gray is a leader with a solid crack record."  --  former (?) crack addict and D.C. mayor Marion Barry endorsing scandal-plagued incumbent mayor Vincent Gray for reelection yesterday.  He caught himself and corrected "Track record."  Too late!

(Image:  Marion Barry has a solid crack record, too.)

Our Broken Media, Cont'd.

The mysterious disappearance of Malaysian flight 370 nearly two weeks ago has experts struggling for explanations, although it's clear that deliberate human intervention was involved in turning off the plane's transponder and other electronic signaling systems.  Focus is now on an area in the southern Indian Ocean, where some suspicious debris has been spotted by satellite.

While the coverage has been mostly restrained and credible, there's always an outlier.  Introducing CNN's Don "You Bought A" Lemon, who has run out of information and is resorting to Twitter twat messages, throwing "supernatural theories" out for discussion.  His latest howler was wondering if a "black hole" opened up and drew the airplane in.  Holy Neil deGrasse Tyson, man!  If you have no clue what a black hole is, and the fact that it would consume more than just the plane, keep that hole on your face closed.  New guidance for CNN anchors: better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.

BONUS:  CNN gets the Andy Borowitz treatment.

The Chickenhawk's Call To Arms

Neocon hack and chickenhawk extraordinaire Bill "Wee Willie" Kristol hasn't stopped pushing for war somewhere -- the Middle East, anywhere -- for more than a decade.  His ardent cheerleading for Dumbya and Dick's disastrous war in Iraq is a matter of record, one which he defends and tries to justify to this day.  Discredited as he is, Wee Willie knows he's not the best messenger for the neocon, let's-start-a-war faction, so he's casting around for a political pony to ride on.  His pick seems to be Rep. Tom Cotton, who is running against Sen. Mark Pryor in Arkansas.  So what's Wee Willie looking for?  As he wrote in Monday's edition of his rag The Weekly Standard:
“A war-weary public can be awakened and rallied. Indeed, events are right now doing the awakening. All that’s needed is the rallying. And the turnaround can be fast."
Sounds like Wee Willie is looking for a political frontman for one of his manufactured military adventures (i.e., "events").  In the run up to the Iraq War, Wee Willie didn't have to look far for frontmen:  (Vice) President Dick "The Dick" Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, and the whole PNAC crowd were there with him.  But that was then;  the public has rendered its verdict on the neocon agenda with regard to the Iraq War, and Wee Willie's side came up short.

BONUS:  It's worth reading what Charles P. Pierce has to say about this turd-squeezer.

(photo:  "Mmm…is that crow?")

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mid-Week Living Years Song

Twenty-five years ago this week, British rock group Mike + the Mechanics had a beautiful ballad that reached number one on the charts, "The Living Years."  The song's basically about not ironing out differences with a loved one while that person is still alive.  (By the way, "Mike" is Mike Rutherford, a founding member of the British supergroup Genesis).
Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late when we die
To admit we don't see eye to eye

Now, On The Goober Channel...

Half-term governor and snowbilly grifter Sarah "Winky" Palin talked someone into giving her another show, on some cable channel no one's ever heard of, so that she can wave her arms and tell us how 'Merican she is, and how you don't need to know anything to be smart and conservative.  "Amazing America With Sarah Palin" won't be amazing, we're certain of that, because, well….Winky's involved.  Even while the vast majority of Americans view her as a joke politically, there are those low-information, angry Rethug voters who delude themselves into thinking she's going to run some day.  She won't, and the reason she won't is that she's making too much grift from the goobers who like to hear her reactionary / know nothing / nativist-racist message on the Fux Channel, and now on the goober channel.

The Most Laughable Headline You'll See Today

From (unfortunately) HuffPo:

Joe Scarborough Responds To 2016 Fever

Fever?  Fever?!  The only fever we're observing is in the mind of the headline writer.  Now, we know Arianna Huffington is a frequenter of the Morning Joke, but this takes slurping to a new level.

(BTW, as we noted, Scar isn't really interested in running for President, and now has said so;  he's mostly interested in selling his latest book.  But rubes being rubes, and political writers being some of the biggest rubes of all, this is what you get.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Today's Cartoon - Republican Obama Narratives

(click to enlarge)

(Kevin Kallaugher, Baltimore Sun)

The Republican War On Women: Just Negotiate, Wimmen!

Wow, this is rich. Texas' Rethuglican Party Chair Beth Cubriel thinks that the key to closing the gender pay gap is that women should learn to be "better negotiators."  After opposing the equal-pay-for-equal-work landmark Lilly Ledbetter Act, Rethuglicans are hard pressed to come up with answers to the pay gap that working women are all too familiar with.  For political optics, they've given up on the "women should be at home, not at work competing with men" idiocy, so they're reaching for "negotiating" skills as a remedy, as if that helps mitigate the general problem.  Maybe "negotiations" have worked in Ms. Cubriel's career (and we won't go there), but it's not an answer.

UPDATE:  Also, some Republican women think women are "too busy" to be concerned with equal pay issues.

UPDATE II:  And others think all that equality talk makes them look like "whiners."

Crime In Crimea, Cont'd.

Russian autocrat Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin signed a preliminary treaty making the Russian Federation's plan to annex Ukraine's Crimea closer to reality.  Putin defied U.S. and European Union threats to impose sanctions and to isolate Russia, delivering a hostile, nationalistic speech to Russian legislators and officials.  In his speech, he claims to have no further designs on Ukrainian territory, but as we've just seen, he used the imaginary "oppression" of ethnic Russians in Ukraine's territory as a pretext to invade.  He's exhibiting every sign of overcompensation for Russia's historic inferiority complex.

Perhaps he believes Russia's Sochi Olympics fanfare was the world's acquiescence to Russia's right to grab territory in its immediate neighborhood.  Perhaps he believes his oil and gas reserves, and the EU's dependence on them, will eventually convince the Europeans to cave to his plans for expansion.  Clearly, as German Chancellor Merkel indicated, he's not in touch with reality, particularly if he thinks he's going to reconstitute a Russian Empire.  Vice President Biden is in eastern Europe to consult with nervous allies and to signal support for the Ukrainian people and government.  That may not be enough at this point.

BONUS:  We came across this article from BBC, which reports that Russia tried unsuccessfully to enlist China during the U.S.'s financial crisis in 2008 to sell off Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae securities in order to deepen the financial crisis on Wall Street.  Surprised, given recent events?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Big Bang & Inflation Theories, Multiverses Confirmed?

Reaching back across 13.8 billion years to the first sliver of cosmic time with telescopes at the South Pole, a team of astronomers led by John M. Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics detected ripples in the fabric of space-time — so-called gravitational waves — the signature of a universe being wrenched violently apart when it was roughly a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second old. They are the long-sought smoking-gun evidence of inflation, proof, Dr. Kovac and his colleagues say, that Dr. [Alan] Guth was correct. 
Inflation has been the workhorse of cosmology for 35 years, though many, including Dr. Guth, wondered whether it could ever be proved. 
If corroborated, Dr. Kovac’s work will stand as a landmark in science comparable to the recent discovery of dark energy pushing the universe apart, or of the Big Bang itself. It would open vast realms of time and space and energy to science and speculation. 
Confirming inflation would mean that the universe we see, extending 14 billion light-years in space with its hundreds of billions of galaxies, is only an infinitesimal patch in a larger cosmos whose extent, architecture and fate are unknowable. Moreover, beyond our own universe there might be an endless number of other universes bubbling into frothy eternity, like a pot of pasta water boiling over.  (our emphasis)

The Democrats' Potential Turnout Problem

David Plouffe is saying, based in part on the results of the recent special election in Florida, that the Democrats have a "turnout issue" that could spell disaster in the mid-terms.  As we noted, the Democrat in that race did little to get Democrats enthused enough to go to the polls, hence losing by less than 2 percent of the vote.

Steve Benen has a prescription we would endorse:
I’m no campaign strategist, but it seems to me Democrats could probably put together some kind of “Four for 2014” platform, telling voters they’ll pass four popular bills – immigration, minimum-wage increase, infrastructure jobs, and veterans benefits, all of which failed due to GOP opposition – if the electorate takes power away from Republicans.  
If the goal is to create an incentive for Dems to show up, maybe the party should give them a reason?   (our emphasis)
Dammit, stop always reacting from a defensive crouch and go on offense.  Don't apologize for Obamacare, hail its successes.  Stress the economic and justice issues Benen lists above.  Get yourselves together and stay on message.

We're not campaign strategists, either, but we think (like Benen and others) that if the party gives Democrats a reason to show up, they will.

UPDATE:  Eugene Robinson agrees.

UPDATE II:  Driftglass, too.

We're Not Going To Scarborough's Fair

For a number of years now, MSNBC's morning bloviator Joe "Squint" Scarborough has been surrounding himself with political and media sycophants on his show to plug their campaign, a book or just themselves, and to "amen" most of what Squint says.  As a result, his head's grown, so it's not a surprise that Squint was in New Hampshire signing copies of his new book and playing coy about running for the Republican nomination for President in 2016.  Yes, seriously.

Of course, even if he pretended to run, Squint knows he wouldn't make it out of the first couple of primaries given his RINO status among the mouth breathing, raging voting base of his party.  But Squint needs to sell books, so let the speculation continue.  For a party that's as dysfunctional as the Rethuglican/New Confederate/Stupid Party, he's as credible as fellow celebrity Donald "Rump" Trump.

(pictured: Squint and his TV wife, Mika the Model.  Photo by Miller Mobly, The Hollywood Reporter)

Republicans' Latest Obamacare Repeal/ Replace Sham

With an eye to the mid-term elections, Republican leaders are constructing a Potemkin village health care "repeal/ replace" alternative to Obamacare:
House Republican leaders are adopting an agreed-upon conservative approach to fixing the nation’s health-care system, in part to draw an election-year contrast with President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. 
The plan includes an expansion of high-risk insurance pools, promotion of health savings accounts and inducements for small businesses to purchase coverage together.
High-risk pools?  That's what would become of guaranteeing health insurance for people with existing conditions.  Health savings accounts?  Not that again.  Inducements for small business ... meaning more tax breaks?  Will any of this exist after the mid-term elections?  Of course not.  The Republican/ New Confederate/ Stupid Party has no interest in this issue beyond it's use as a prod to get their credulous, raging base to the polls, and swaying enough swing voters into thinking the Republicans have serious "ideas."  This captures the sham in a (yes, of course, pun intended!) nut- shell:

(click to enlarge)

(Tom Toles, once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle)

BONUS:  In the meantime, they continue with the Big Lies.

BONUS II:  Yep.  They got nothing.

St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day.  It's good to be Irish (even if only one-eighth)!  Erin go bragh!

BONUS: And because we can't get enough Irish music on St. Patrick's Day, here's a traditional fiddle and pipe tune courtesy of the lovely Corrs ladies, with their brother on piano.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Across The Universe

Here are a few excerpted "cosmic" numbers from Michael West, Director of the Maria Mitchell Observatory (which segues into a reminder for those of us in the U.S. to watch Neil deGrasse Tyson's "Cosmos" tonight at 9 p.m. EDT - check local listings):
8.5 million: The number of people who watched the premiere Sunday of “Cosmos: A Space­time Odyssey” on Fox and affiliated networks. 
13.3 million: The number of people who watched the premiere of “Resurrection,” ABC’s new drama about loved ones mysteriously returning from the dead, which aired at the same time.  
17.9 million: The number of people who watched CBS’s sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” last week. [snip]  
100 billion: The estimated number of human beings who have ever lived on Earth. 
400 billion: The estimated number of stars in our Milky Way galaxy. 
38 percent: The share of atoms in the human body that are heavier than hydrogen and hence were made inside stars. [snip] 
3.5 percent: The amount of funding for NASA compared with that of the U.S. military in President Obama’s proposed 2015 budget. 
7.3 billion: Dollar amount in the president’s proposed 2015 budget for the National Science Foundation, which funds research in astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics, physics and other sciences. 
12.9 billion: The cost in dollars of the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, christened in November. 
26 percent: The share of American adults who think that the sun revolves around the Earth, according to a February study by the National Science Foundation.
We're very small in all of this, and our ignorance only makes us smaller.

Sunday (Not So) Funnies

(click to enlarge)

Today's pre-ordained "referendum" in Crimea is potentially Russian mini-czar Vladimir Putin's first bite out of Ukraine, which he sees as within the Russian "sphere of influence," if not an actual part of Russia itself.

Dangerous days are ahead as the West decides how to deal with what has become a rogue state in Europe, and as Putin calculates the cost/benefits of his aggressive, expansionist policies.

UPDATE:  The Japan Times reports:
The Ukrainian and Russian Defence ministries have agreed on a truce in Crimea until March 21, Ukraine’s acting defence minister said Sunday. 
“An agreement has been reached with (Russia’s) Black Sea Fleet and the Russian Defence Ministry on a truce in Crimea until March 21,” Ihor Tenyukh told journalists on the sidelines of a cabinet meeting. “No measures will be taken against our military facilities in Crimea during that time. Our military sites are therefore proceeding with a replenishment of reserves.”
UPDATE II:  No surprise - exit polls showing big vote in favor of re-joining Russia.  Also - Stalin voted back into power with 99.9%.  Putin sure knows how to stage run an election!

(cartoon:  Tom Toles via

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Putin Pandering: It's Not Just For Right-Wingers

Unfortunately, not all the admirers of Russian mini-czar/ authoritarian Vladimir "Rootin' Tootin'" Putin are failed Republican presidential candidates and other right-wing pond life.  As Jon Chait notes, there are some on the left, too.  That's not what any of us should be about.  Shame on them.

(Photo:  Definitely not a photoshop of Putin, Hero of Authoritarians Everywhere.)

Picture of the Day

In Moscow, tens of thousands of courageous Russians demonstrated today in opposition to the Russian occupation of Crimea and its aggressive position toward Ukraine.  Tomorrow, people in Crimea will hold an illegal "referendum" that is expected to give Russia an excuse to steal it from Ukraine.  The demonstrations will have no impact on Russia's mini-czar, former KGB colonel Vladimir Putin, who is flouting international sanctions and who seems delusional after the Sochi Winter Olympics that he's the "Emperor of the World."

(photo:  Dmitry Serebryakov, Agence France Press)

Missy's Mash Up's Elias Isquith has a good article on Senate Minority Leader and human-turtle hybrid Mitch "Missy" McConnell's struggle to retain his Senate seat in Kentucky, with teabaggers running their own radical candidate in the Rethuglican primary and a Democratic Party united behind Kentucky's Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.  Here's an excerpt from Isquith's piece:
"….it will be poetic justice if McConnell’s sunk by the same government dysfunction and far-right counterrevolution he worked so diligently to create. It won’t be nearly as satisfying as watching him at CPAC, pretending to know how to use a rifle, a goofy grin spread across his face. But it’ll give me something to remember him by — besides the shattered and smoldering ruins of the federal government of the United States."
Even more than challengers and policy, Missy's political demise might come about from his inept persona and campaign:  he's a one-man self-parody machine.  His campaign released a 2 ½ minute video -- with no words -- that has now (thanks to Jon Stewart) become a viral phenomenon, with people adding their own soundtracks.  Thanks, Missy, and keep the hits coming!