Friday, February 28, 2014

Rejecting Medicare Expansion


Saving peoples' lives?  "We can't afford it!" says Ashley Landis, South Carolina (of course) Policy Council:

A Case Study Of The Republican Mind


Let us introduce you to a dick fellow in the Arkansas legislature named Josh Miller.  Because he's a Republican, he knows there are two sets of rules:  one for him and one for "them:"
More than a decade ago, Arkansas Rep. Josh Miller (R) was in a catastrophic car accident that broke his neck and left him paralyzed. Medicare and Medicaid paid the $1 million bill for his hospitalization and rehabilitation. 
But this week, as the Arkansas legislature has debated continuing its privatized Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, Miller has remained steadfast in his opposition.
You know who the "them" are, we assume.  When asked what's the difference between his case and the thousands of Arkansans who need Medicaid, Miller responded:
The difference, he said, is that some of the 100,000 people who have gained coverage through Arkansas's Medicaid expansion don't work hard enough or just want access to the program so they can purchase and abuse prescription drugs.  (our emphasis)
Translation:  the lazy, the poor, the minorities, the "moochers," substance abusers.  Not deserving people like him:
The accident that paralyzed Miller occurred about 11 years ago, the Times reported. He was driving with a friend, alcohol was involved, but Miller said he couldn't remember who was driving.  (our emphasis)
 Selfish hypocrite.

Weekend Song


"Morning"  is a lovely song off Beck's first album in five years, "Morning Phase."  Have a nice beverage of your choosing, relax and enjoy.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Jon Stewart Deflates America's Best Known "Dick"


When former President Vice President Dick "The Dick" Cheney lashed out recently against proposed cuts of 5.9% in the Defense Department budget, including reductions in our active duty Army, perhaps he wasn't aware that something called videotape existed when he was Secretary of Defense under President George H.W. Bush.  Jon Stewart reminds him of that, and also that even with the cuts, the U.S. military budget is still larger than those of the next 13 countries combined.  Much like, as Stewart notes, The Dick is a bigger hypocrite than the next 13 hypocrites combined.  Especially satisfying is the fact that The Dick doesn't know that, in attacking food stamp recipients in his comments, he's attacking a large number of military families.  Enjoy the takedown.

Fighting Reported in Crimea - Ukraine


There are reports of fighting in Crimea between rival groups of pro-Russian and Ukrainian nationalist groups, with the pro-Russian faction seizing government buildings in the regional capital city of Simferopol.  Crimea is part of Ukraine, but hosts a major Russian naval base on the Black Sea city of Sevastopol, and thus is of strategic importance to Russia.  Russia is holding a massive military exercise beginning tomorrow, and is reported to be fortifying its base in Sevastapol with Russian troops.

Also, deposed Ukrainian leader and kleptocrat Viktor Yanukovich has apparently fled to Russia, where he is under the protection of Russia's mini-czar Vladimir Putin.  Yanukovich, who was removed from office several days ago by the Ukrainian Parliament, has become infamous for his lavish estate and lifestyle, while Ukraine has suffered through an economic recession.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Brewer Vetoes Homophobic Bill


Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer, facing an upwelling of opposition to a state bill that would allow businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians, today vetoed the proposed legislation.  Both of Arizona's Senators, Jeff Flake and John McCain, along with 2012 Republican Presidential nominee Willard Romney and business leaders in Arizona and across the nation have voiced opposition to Arizona Senate bill 1062, which was backed by local religious right wingers and by such American Taliban groups as Focus on the Family.

We've had our problems with Gov. Brewer in the past -- and certainly will in the future, given her right-wing policy positions -- but on this issue, she did the right thing.

BONUS:  Andy Borowitz' lol headline - ARIZONA GOVERNOR VETOES ANTI-GAY BILL: “LET’S FOCUS ON DISCRIMINATING AGAINST MEXICANS”

WWSRRD?


What Would St. Ronnie Reagan Do about the situation in the Ukraine?  Jon Stewart knows:

Lies and the Lying Liars*


As enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) reaches 4 million, there are signs that getting the uninsured to view it favorably, much less sign up, is proving a tough sell:
Fifty-six percent of those who identified as uninsured in a new poll conducted in February by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a research institution, had an unfavorable view of the health care reform law, compared to just 22 percent who said they view it favorably. The uninsured now see Obamacare less favorably than they did when the enrollment period began in October. As recently as September, more uninsured approved of the law than disapproved.  (our emphasis)
There's no question the bollixed rollout of Obamacare in October has contributed to the reluctance of many of the uninsured to take a closer look at how they would benefit from the coverage.  There are many other reasons individuals might mistrust health care reform or the government or whatever.  But the ceaseless, false drumbeat of the far right, magnified by its media outlets and often segued into the "mainstream media," has doubtless had a negative effect on public perception and, therefore, enrollment.

As the 2014 elections approach, Republicans are aiming to make Obamacare the main cudgel with which to beat vulnerable Democrats.  The Koch brothers' Americans for Plutocrat Prosperity have been aggressively running false ads around the country about "victims" of Obamacare:
Some eight months before the midterm elections, the airwaves are being flooded with the sad tales of Obamacare victims. The tales all fall into the same predictable rut. First, the poor victim steps forward to share his (or, more frequently, her) tale of deprivation. Then reporters discover the putative victim is either a non-victim, or possibly a beneficiary, of Obamacare. Then conservatives get angry.**
(**Conservatives like Byron York, who writes for the driveway-cluttering Washington Examiner, who want you to believe that fact-checking a Koch brothers lie story like cancer victim Julie Boonstra's amounts to attacking the victim -- please go f**k yourself, Mr. York.)

The Koch brothers' propagandists have gotten so desperate to find "stories" that they've even resorted to hiring actors and Republican activists to tell their lies  tales of faux woe.  So, tens of millions will be spent in a desperate campaign to discredit and derail a signal Obama Administration achievement, to fire up the sheeple in the Republican base for the off-year election, and to win back the Senate.   But in the process, remember one thing:  the bottom line is that they just don't want "those people" =cough= "The Moochers" =cough= from having health insurance.  Think of that for a moment.

For that reason, we can't think of viler people than the Koch brothers and their pants-on-fire ideological cave-mates.

Apparently, Harry Reid thinks the same way:








*Apologies to Sen. Al Franken.

Wait For It…Wait For It


Headline of the day from NY Magazine's Jonathan Chait:                                                                            
                     The Republican Health-Care Plan 
                  Is Almost Here, and Always Will Be

UPDATE:  A few Rethugs are grasping for a solution:  Georgia Gov. and Cracker Barrel Cicero Nathan "Raw" Deal wants to close emergency rooms to everyone without insurance.  "Death panels" anyone?

UPDATE II:  The same could be said for Rethuglican "tax reform."  And "immigration reform."

Cartoon of the Day

 (click to enlarge)


There are troubling reports of large Russian military exercises scheduled to begin this Friday.  That Russian mini-czar Vladimir Putin is using the exercises to threaten the newly formed, EU-aligned government of Ukraine is a good bet.  The West (how's that for cold war terminology) needs to emphasize that  the Ukrainian people have our support for self-governance, without the interference of a threatening neighbor.  The Ukraine needs to reassure Putin that a free, EU-aligned Ukraine is not a threat to Russia, but a potential force for economic stability for both countries.

(cartoon, Tom Toles via Gocomics.com)

Mid-Week Birthday Song


Happy 32nd birthday to Nate Ruess, the lead singer of Fun., the multi-platinum indie pop recording artists who won Grammys for last year's Best New Artist and Song of the Year (for "We Are Young").  Here's their 2012 hit, "Carry On."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Wanker of the Week


Republican lobbyist/ strategist Jack Burkman is drafting legislation to ban gays from the National Football League.  Why?  Family values!
”We are losing our decency as a nation,” Burkman said in a statement. "Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?”
"We're losing our decency as a nation," he says.  A little background on this family values Republican might be in order:
Jack Burkman, the GOP strategist and conservative talking head who used to be seen on the cable news shows a lot more often before his MySpace sleazery was exposed, is also on the DC Madam’s phone list! 
And yes, that’s the same Jack Burkman who worked for James Dobson’s Family Research Council as a lobbyist for, you know, conservative family values.
If you're keeping score, for Burkman it's "Hos good, ho-mos bad!"

Because who ever heard of a gay man in the NFL?!

Pushback on Piyush Quote of the Day


”Here’s a guy who didn’t come to any of the meetings except this one today, and has the nerve to pull that stuff on everyone—ten feet from the West Wing.  He doesn’t pay his dues to the organization, he doesn’t come to the meetings of the organization, and then he wants to swing for the fences for obviously political reasons. I didn’t mind pushing back.”  -- Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, referring to Louisiana Rethuglican Gov. and wingnut lightweight Piyush "Bobby" Jindal, after Jindal's highly partisan remarks outside the White House after a bipartisan meeting with President Obama and other Governors.

Piyush / "Bobby" had that memorable performance as the Rethuglican spokesman following the President's first State of the Union address in 2009, where he glided out of a doorway with a silly smile on his face and proceeded to do an imitation of "Kenneth Parcell" from NBC's "30 Rock."


He's goofy enough to think his reactionary party will give him a look in 2016.   They'll give him a look alright, but not the one he wants.

Portrait of the Artist


News item:  Former (Vice) Preznit George "Dumbya" Bush will be exhibiting his "artwork" in April at his Presidential Library.  Here's a personal favorite of ours that captures his inquisitive mind at work:


Maybe the title should be, "Where's The Rest Of Me?", or "Washin' My Sins Away…Heh heh", or "Makin' Bubbles….Heh heh."

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Republican War On Women - They Came From Outer Space Edition


They've gone from "It's not a choice, it's a person" to "It's not a mother, it's a host."  Beam us down to Ol' Virginny:
A pregnant woman is just a “host” for a fetus, according to Virginia state Sen. Steve Martin. 
The Republican legislator representing Virginia’s 11th district made the comment in response to a Valentine’s Day card from a reproductive rights group calling on him to protect reproductive health options in the state. 
“I don’t expect to be in the room or will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive,” Martin wrote on Facebook. “However, once a child does exist in your womb, I’m not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child’s host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn’t want it.” 
Martin went on to call reproductive rights advocates “sick people.”  (our emphasis)
Is it appropriate, then, to think of the person who gave birth to Martin (hmmm... or is that Martian?) as a "host" rather than a "mother?"  How else to explain such an alien notion?

Pizzeria Picture of the Day



Arizona Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain, among others, have urged Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the legislation passed by her reactionary legislature on her desk that would allow businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians on "religious" grounds.  The clock is ticking for the Governor.

Also, if you're ever in Tucson, stop by Rocco's Little Chicago Pizzeria, home of the featured sign, and eat very well.

(photo:  Rocco's Little Chicago Pizzeria Facebook)

Livin' Large, Ukrainian Style


In a scene reminiscent of early '90s Russians viewing the luxury dachas and department stores reserved for Soviet apparatchiks but not the general public, the Ukrainian public is being admitted to the luxurious palace of deposed leader Viktor "Bling" Yanukovich.  The estate, which features a private zoo, spa and huge automobile collection, was opened to the Ukrainian public to demonstrate the level of corruption and entitlement attached to the deposed leader.

So while Ukraine suffered through an economic recession, Bling was livin' large at his estate outside of Kiev.  We suspect the people of Ukraine, once they've arrested the fugitive Bling, will consign him to far simpler quarters.

(photo:  Does a car elevator come with it?)

Does The ACA Cover Cutting Off Your Nose to Spite Your Face?


The Koch brothers' phony grassroots group "Americans for (Plutocrat) Prosperity" has spent the better part of the past three years trying to derail the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and to turn the reins of health care back over to the giant health insurance companies.  In a well-financed campaign targeting Senate and Congressional races, the Koch front group has unleashed ads that portray the "victims" of "Obamacare," who in every case are either ignorant of the ACA's features or are obstinately opposed to the law, even if it benefits them, because <cough cough  Muslim Commie Obama  cough cough > FREEDUMB!  Paul Krugman, writing in the New York Times, debunks the most egregious of the Koch-backed lies here.

It's the same problem that we saw in Tennessee, when a majority of auto workers voted not to be represented by the United Auto Workers at a new Volkswagen plant after being snowed by threats and false claims by Rethuglican politicians in the state (even after Volkswagen denied the Rethug lies).  Enough people were persuaded to vote against their own interests by the same powers that keep their wages and benefits as low as possible to boost profits:  that's the plutocrat's formula for keeping their power and position.

(photo:  Obama made me do it.)

Walker Dodges Questions About Email Release


Poor Gov. "Beam Me Up" Scottie Walker (Koch-WI).  He couldn't even catch a break from Chris Wallace on GOP-TV  Fox "News" yesterday (making us wonder if Roger "Jabba the Nut" Ailes has a stiffie for another contender -  Jeb "The Smart One" Bush?).  The trove of 27,000 staff emails recently released has shown some of those closest to him while he was Milwaukee County Executive were, um, small-bore racists.  And then there were the private email accounts:
WALLACE: Did you have your own private e-mail account?
WALKER: It’s one of those where I point out, the district attorney has reviewed every single one of these issues--
WALLACE: But sir, you’re not answering my question.
WALKER: No, because I’m not going to get into 27,000 different pieces of information. The bottom line is a Democrat who led the district attorney's office looked at all of this and decided not to charge anything other than the individuals you mentioned, who are people who worked for the county in the past who don't work for me today. I think that's pretty straightforward.
Followers of this blog will know that we've been tracking this weasel Scottie for some time.  It's bad enough that he's turning Wisconsin into a Koch brothers dystopia.  That he's likely running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 is just appalling.

Before the Koch brothers' his ambitions for higher office can be furthered, he would need to be reelected in 2014.  That's why it's extremely important that Mary Burke be elected Governor of Wisconsin.  Please consider making a donation, or if you're a Badger, volunteering for her campaign.  (h/t to P.E.C.)

Teapublican Values, Kansas Edition


Kansas' right-wing Rethuglican Senator Pat Roberts is one of those Senators being challenged from his right for not being sufficiently radical enough by tea baggers in his state.  Teapublican nut Dr. Milton "Morbid Milty" Wolf  is running against Roberts in the primary, and has some, uh, skeletons in his closet.  Morbid Milty's apologizing for putting photos of x-rays of his deceased patients on Facebook, among other things.  What a great guy.  Perhaps a class-action lawsuit for violation of doctor - patient privacy would be in order.

We can't imagine the likes of Morbid Milty making it through the Rethug primary, but those things have happened in that increasingly demented party (e.g. Tailgunner Ted Cruz, Christine "I'm Not A Witch" O'Donnell, Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin, etc., etc., etc.).  That he's even running shows that the Teapublican fringe / Rethug base has lost its mind.

(photo:  Not a mug shot….yet)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Today's Cartoon - Legalizing Discrimination in Arizona?


(click to enlarge)


(Steve Benson, Arizona Republic)

Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer has a bill on her desk (SB 1062) that would allow businesses in Arizona to discriminate against gay people based on the religious beliefs of the business owner.  To his credit, Republican Sen. Jeff Flake has called on Brewer to veto the bill.  She has five days to do so, otherwise the bill becomes law.  Now that Flake has given her some cover, let's hope she does the right thing (as she sometimes does).  After all, discrimination is discrimination regardless of any misguided "teachings" being used to justify it.

UPDATE:  Next up:  Rethugs in the Georgia House are pushing a nearly identical bill.  They're unfortunately not alone among Republican-led states, where it seems to be at the top of the agenda.

The Stimulus Success Story


The New York Times has a tough-to-beat editorial on the economic stimulus package passed by Democrats five years ago to stem the effects of the Republican recession that started in 2008.  Pardon us for the lengthy excerpt, but it is well worth it to get a full picture:
Of all the myths and falsehoods that Republicans have spread about President Obama, the most pernicious and long-lasting is that the $832 billion stimulus package did not work. Since 2009, Republican lawmakers have inextricably linked the words “failed” and “stimulus,” and last week, five years after passage of the Recovery Act, they dusted off their old playbook again. 
“The ‘stimulus’ has turned out to be a classic case of big promises and big spending with little results,” wrote Speaker John Boehner. “Five years and hundreds of billions of dollars later, millions of families are still asking, ‘where are the jobs?’” 
The stimulus could have done more good had it been bigger and more carefully constructed. But put simply, it prevented a second recession that could have turned into a depression. It created or saved an average of 1.6 million jobs a year for four years. (There are the jobs, Mr. Boehner.) It raised the nation’s economic output by 2 to 3 percent from 2009 to 2011. It prevented a significant increase in poverty — without it, 5.3 million additional people would have become poor in 2010. 
And yet Republicans were successful in discrediting the very idea that federal spending can boost the economy and raise employment. They made the argument that the stimulus was a failure not just to ensure that Mr. Obama would get no credit for the recovery that did occur, but to justify their obstruction of all further attempts at stimulus. 
So the American Jobs Act was killed, and so was the infrastructure bank and any number of other spending proposals that might have helped the country. The president’s plan to spend another $56 billion on job training, education and energy efficiency, to be unveiled in his budget next month, will almost certainly suffer a similar fate. 
This may be the singular tragedy of the Obama administration. Five years later, it is clear to all fair-minded economists that the stimulus did work, and that it did enormous good for the economy and for tens of millions of people. But because it fell short of its goals, and was roundly ridiculed by Republicans and inadequately defended by Democrats, who should have trumpeted its success, the president’s stimulus plan is now widely considered a stumble.  (our emphasis)
The editorial rightly puts some of the blame on cowering Democratic officeholders, many of whom went into a defensive crouch at the first volley from the right.  But, there's another culprit that bears a lot of the blame in making sure the lies propagated by Republicans gained currency:  the "mainstream media."  Had the media been doing its job (and not standing by as casual, fact-averse observers = cough = ChuckTodd = cough = ), "Mr. Tangerine Man" Boehner would not be able to get away with the transparent hypocrisy of asking "where are the jobs?"  But they didn't, and to the extent the stimulus is still being reported as a "he said, she said" controversy even today, they won't.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Police Blotter: Right-Wing Terrorist Mastermind Edition


Homeland Security warned us in 2009 that right wing extremism is on the rise–something we are seeing in recent conservative pushes to overthrow the government. The report stated, among other things, that  “Heightened interest in legislation for tighter firearms…may be invigorating rightwing extremist activity, specifically the white supremacist and militia movements,” as we have seen exemplified in a Tea Party attempt to construct an anti-Muslim death ray. 
Now, Three Georgia “Patriots” tried to buy pipe bombs and other explosives to aid in their effort to attack power grids, water treatment facilities, and other infrastructure. Brian Edward Cannon and Cory Robert Williamson appeared in court on Friday, and Terry Eugene Peace is due for his first appearance on Monday.
And how did the authorities catch on to these right-wing masterminds?
... [T]he three militia members chatted on Facebook about plans to launch guerrilla-style attacks on government facilities, according to the FBI.  [our emphasis]
Even though these three inept patriots buffoons got caught before they could do any harm, the threat from these groups is obviously real and should be taken very seriously by all of us.

UAW Appeals Volkswagen Union Vote

 Time for pushback:
After a narrow and devastating loss at the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant last week, the United Auto Workers union has asked the federal labor board to set aside the election results because of "a firestorm of interference" from outside groups and politicians, including Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn). 
The union submitted its appeal to the National Labor Relations Board on Friday, according to a UAW press release. Labor board officials will now have to consider whether the statements by lawmakers interfered enough to potentially sway votes and taint the election. The board could essentially order a do-over. 
In its 13-page appeal, the UAW said that "threats" made by Tennessee lawmakers were "clearly designed to influence the votes" of Volkswagen workers, who eventually voted 712-to-626 against UAW representation last week. The appeal cites Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R), state Senate Speaker Bo Watson (R) and Corker, among others.
Now, thanks to a 3-2 Democrat edge on the NLRB, maybe the UAW will get another chance to organize this plant (and get a needed foothold in the plantation South).

Disappearing Act


While the nation's governors gather in Washington, D.C. for three days of meetings and events, the chairman of the Rethuglican Governors Association, Gov. Chris "Krispykreme" Christie, is playing hide-and-seek.  He's ducked media availabilities, won't attend the White House dinner, and will be absent for a press conference sponsored by the organization he chairs.  His nickname should be "Waldo."

With more subpoenas flying over the BridgeGate scandal and the misuse of Sandy relief funds, the loudmouth Governor who used to crave the spotlight has been missing in action as he wonders who among his current and former gang might have that incriminating piece linking him to a State or Federal crime.  So for the time being, Krispykreme will be hard to find.

Today's Cartoon - Generic Republican Distancing Script


(click to enlarge)


(Darrin Bell, via gocomics.com)

Unfortunately for the New Confederate/ Republican/ Stupid Party, chicken hawk and faux patriot "Crap Pants Fever" Nugent represents that party's id.  As a D-list celebrity, he just happens to be in a position to have his vicious sentiments broadcast widely.  It's truth in politics, but it kinda hurts that Republican "rebranding" effort (whatever happened to that?).

Report: Ukrainian President Voted Out By Parliament


Amid reports this morning that Ukrainian President Yanukovich has fled Kiev for eastern Ukraine comes this:
Protesters seized the Kiev office of President Viktor Yanukovich on Saturday and the opposition demanded a new election be held by May, as the pro-Russian leader's grip on power rapidly eroded following bloodshed in the capital. 
Anti-government demonstrators entered Yanukovich's compound in the capital and were controlling the entrance, a Reuters reporter said at the scene. Security guards were present inside the building but were not trying to expel the protesters.
Reuters is also reporting that the Ukrainian parliament has voted to oust Yanukovich and set new elections for May 25.  Here's more.

UPDATE:  Read how the Yanukovich regime had paid shills in right wing media (Red State, Breitbart, Pajamas Media).

Friday, February 21, 2014

Weekend Kiev Song


In solidarity with our Ukrainian -- and Russian -- brothers and sisters in their struggle against repression, we would like to start the weekend with Moussorgsky's "The Great Gate of Kiev" from "Pictures at an Exhibition."  Peace.




Quote of the Day

"What does one say in the face of Pope Francis' call for a humbler church, for bishops who walk with their people, with his urging a poor church for the poor?  [Newark Archbishop John] Myers swims in his endless pool while the city of Newark drowns in poverty. Myers may present an excessive case of the priesthood of unaccountable privilege, but the case is not, though extreme, irrelevant. It is valuable in shedding light on the kind of accepted corruption that has infected the church for decades, manifest in the seemingly endless abuse and financial scandals, and that has drained the church of so much of its moral authority and credibility." -- an editorial in the National Catholic Reporter, condemning the right-wing Bishop of Bling's arrogant greed in constructing a $500,000 addition to his already large home.  This has become a big topic in the important New York City media market, so it should only be a matter of time before the Vatican weighs in.

Whip-Putin Cartoons of the Day

(click to enlarge)



The cowardly beatings of members of the performance art/ punk rock group Pussy Riot in Sochi on Wednesday has provided more evidence of the repressive culture that is Putin's Russia today.  Along with Putin's attempt to influence events in Ukraine to Russia's benefit, it forms a picture of a regime that isn't ready to join democratic nations by any stretch of the imagination.

(At least the intrepid jounamalists at NBC are having a jolly time.)

(cartoons: top,  Jack Ohman, bottom Tom Toles, via Gocomics.com)

Agreement Halts Violence in Ukraine


Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych has accepted an agreement with the opposition that has halted the violence in the country's capital of Kiev and unrest throughout the country.  The agreement forces Yanukovych to return to Ukraine's 2004 constitution, which would strip some powers from him, to hold elections before December of this year, and to form a coalition government in the next 10 days.  Negotiators from the European Union helped to broker the agreement.  Although Russia was involved in the negotiations, they have not signed the agreement.  The demonstrations have been ongoing since last November, but recently turned violent when Ukrainian security forces tried to clear demonstrators out of Kiev's central square.  Some 77 people have been killed in the past week of violence.

The demonstrations arose over Yanukovych's decision to move away from the European Union and establish close ties with Putin's Russia, a move widely unpopular with the public.  Putin had been urging Yanukovych to crack down on the demonstrations.  It remains to be seen how Putin will react to this setback in his delusions for a reconstituted Soviet Union Imperial Russia.

(photo:  Protesters gather in Kiev's Independence Square to celebrate agreement.  Brendan Hoffman, Getty Images)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

On The News Beat


It's safe to say, this is most quality work Brian Williams has ever done in the news business.  (Also, if Jimmy Fallon keeps this up on The Tonight Show, he'll be hard not to watch).

R.I.P. "Grand Bargain"


We won't be shedding any tears:
 President Obama will not include cuts to Social Security and other earned-benefit programs in his upcoming budget, the White House confirmed on Thursday. 
The cuts had been included in past proposals to lure Republicans into a so-called "grand bargain" that would raise taxes and cut spending with the goal of deficit reduction. The president faced fierce resistance to the cuts, and while Republicans liked the idea, they never agreed to pair the policy with higher taxes. 
The withdrawal of the offer from the budget is a recognition of the reality that a grand bargain is simply too unpopular on both sides of the aisle. The death of the grand bargain, first reported by the Associated Press on Thursday, comes as annual budget deficits have fallen from more than $1 trillion to less than $500 billion next year.
Finally, we're moving the goalposts back our way.

Lifestyles of the Rich, Catholic Church Edition


When people refer to the "Princes of the Catholic Church," they're referring to the Cardinals and Archbishops that occupy the top echelons.  But when we saw this article on the lavish addition to the home of Newark Archbishop John Myers,  it gives a whole new meaning to "prince."  Note that we said "addition" to the home; the current 4,500 square foot, $800,000 home already boasts five bedrooms, three baths, and a three car garage.  The 3,000 square foot addition will add an indoor pool, three fireplaces and an elevator at a cost of $500,000.

Normally, this would just be another eyebrow-raising example of what Pope Francis is trying to eliminate among his hierarchy.  But the $500,000 addition comes just two years after the archdiocese closed one of its schools for lack of funds.  It's hard to comprehend the cynical greed that motivates those that purportedly represent the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Good luck to the Pope.

UPDATE:  This might explain Archbishop Myers' cynical greed.

(Photo:  The Archbishop's humble abode, Google maps, via NJ.com)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Republicans Keep Big Government Out Of ... Huh, What?


Gov. Scott Walker: Chris Christie of the Midwest?


We always have a laugh any time we hear "run for president" in the same sentence as Wisconsin suds head Gov. Scott Walker (Koch-WI).  If this grifter didn't have Koch brothers money as ballast, he would have floated away long ago.

Nevertheless, there has been a development in the "How much of a clueless asswhistle is Scott Walker?" story.  The buzz is about 25,000 previously court-sealed emails from a former staffer for Walker when he was running for Governor as the Milwaukee County Executive:
The e-mails and other previously sealed court documents showed that there was nearly daily coordination between Walker, public employees in Walker’s county executive’s office and his campaign team in the run-up to his 2010 election as governor. The probe focused on Walker’s time as Milwaukee County executive before his 2010 election as governor and led to convictions of six former aides and allies.

Two of Walker’s aides from that time were convicted of criminal offenses for co-mingling county and political business and Walker’s level of knowledge of those activities has long been a question.

The new documents show that it was Walker himself who directed that his county staff and campaign aides hold a daily conference call to coordinate strategy. Walker also routinely used a campaign email account to email county staffers also using private email addresses, a strategy prosecutors have said was used to shield political business from public release.
As Ed Kilgore sums up:
So by the time Scott Walker became county executive and was looking for higher office, the pitfalls involved in letting your publicly paid staff do campaign work were extremely well known. Whether they show criminal activity by Walker or not, those thousands of emails are embarrassing, and a living warning to potential supporters of a Walker presidential run that he may not run the tightest ship.
Run, Scotty, run!

UPDATE:  Charles Pierce has some bits of racist, nasty stuff from Walker's staff emails (in other words, the usual Republican slurs).

Rethug Rebranding: Wango Tango Edition


By now, we're used to third-rate former headbanger Ted "Crap My Pants" Nugent's racist and deranged outbursts, largely directed at President Obama, resulting in visits from the U.S. Secret Service.  For someone who's "patriotism" only extends as far as his cowardly ass, one would think former druggie Crap My Pants (who was also known for his preference for underage girls) would be avoided by the self-righteous, God-bothering Rethuglicans.  One would be wrong.

Rethuglican/New Confederate Party candidate for Governor of Texas, current Attorney General Greg "A Butt" Abbotthas welcomed Crap My Pants on the campaign trail.  A recent event in Denton, TX showed that Crap My Pants is a good draw among the teabagger crowd, who have a terminal case of Obama Derangement Syndrome in addition to hypocrisy.

So, wang dang sweet poontang, "conservative" Bible-bangers of Tex-ass.  You're being taken by a pickled-brain, draft-dodging, sexual predator in a camo hat.  And by one Greg Abbott.

Mid-Week Heartbeat Song


We're celebrating the great Smokey Robinson's 74th birthday today, with one of his beautiful songs, "One Heartbeat."  Robinson, whose awards include Grammys, the National Medal of Arts, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is a singer-songwriter-record executive who helped elevate the Motown sound to the international stage.



Ongoing Bloodshed in Ukraine


There is escalating violence in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, between the pro-Russian regime and Ukrainians who want closer ties with the European Union.  At least two dozen people have been killed in clashes in the heart of the capital, which resembles a war zone of burning tires, barricades, and Molotov cocktails.  Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych is threatening increased violence against the protesters who have been occupying Kiev's central Maidan (Independence) Square since November.  Russia's would-be czar Vladimir Putin is lending his vocal support to the Ukrainian government, after providing billions in aid to their faltering economy to pull it into Russia's orbit.

The European Union is weighing sanctions against the Ukrainian government, and the U.S. has called on Yanukovych to exercise restraint and negotiate with the demonstrators.  However, it appears that more extreme violence by the government is near, as the regime views the demonstrations as a coup against it.

(photo: Associated Press)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Putin Has Pussy Riot Members Detained


For those of you who like bullshit with your borscht:
This morning, Maria Alekhina and Nadezdha Tolokonnikova, two member of the protest group Pussy Riot, were sitting in a McDonalds in Sochi when "around fifty" plainclothes police officers arrested them "for robbery," according to their Twitter feeds. They were out of prison for a little less than two months, just enough for the world to feel slightly better about attending the gangster Olympics. And now the facade from Russia's Potemkin human rights has been abruptly pulled away. If Putin's plan with the Sochi Olympics was to mock democratic values, to show that everyone in the West can be played for suckers, and to demonstrate our hypocrisy to the rest of the world, he has completely succeeded.
After questioning, the two were released without charges being filed. Let's hope this causes much more trouble for Czar Vladimir than for these two courageous women.

UPDATE:  Russian security goons broke up an impromptu performance by Pussy Riot in Sochi by pepper spraying and lashing the group's members with whips.  (Remember this when you tune in to NBC's "nothing to see here, move along" coverage of the Olympics).  From now on, "Cossacks" will be synonymous to "cowards."

(Photo:  Maria, left, and Nadezdha)

Genius Is As Genius Does


There are a couple of favorite hobby horses the Teapublicans will try to ride in the upcoming 2014 mid-term elections.  We can count on fact-free attacks on the Affordable Care Act and President Obama's Constitutional use of executive orders to circumvent the Rethug obstructionists in Congress.  Let's see, what else?

Ah……Benghazi, Benghazi!, BENGHAZI!! That's the ticket!

House Teapublican and America's own Inspector Clouseau, Rep. Darryl "Grand Theft Auto" Issa, wants to whip that dead horse even more, despite well-researched studies that undermine key Rethuglican charges, and the fact that, among the top issues for voters -- even Rethuglican ones -- it's nowhere to be found.  So please, Rethugs, listen to the sage advice of Grand Theft Auto and make the Benghazi, Benghazi!, BENGHAZI!! turd your centerpiece issue this year. Pleeeaase!

After Gov's Feewings Hurt, Worker Fired


Right-wing North Carolina Rethuglican Gov. Pat "McCrock" McCrory (R- Duke Energy) was shopping at a gourmet food store last Sunday when a store employee argued with him and told him "thanks for nothing" for his reactionary policies that hurt middle income and low wage people.  His widdle feewings hurt, McCrock and his security detail bravely complained to the store owner, who then fired the employee.

The Gov and his Teapublican brethren are all for the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, except when someone that disagrees with them exercises those rights.  Not surprisingly, McCrock has been supportive of voter suppression  laws in North Carolina, because who wants uppity little food store employees to have a say in their government anyway?

UPDATE:  Charlotte's Democratic mayor to the rescue?

(photo:  "Guess I won that argument, didn't I?")

Monday, February 17, 2014

Today's Depressing Poll


Am we Americans is dumb?
Americans are enthusiastic about the promise of science but lack basic knowledge of it, with one in four unaware that the Earth revolves around the Sun, said a poll out Friday. 
The survey included more than 2,200 people in the United States and was conducted by the National Science Foundation. 
Nine questions about physical and biological science were on the quiz, and the average score -- 6.5 correct -- was barely a passing grade. 
Just 74 percent of respondents knew that the Earth revolved around the Sun, according to the results released at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago. 
Fewer than half (48 percent) knew that human beings evolved from earlier species of animals.
Wonder why this is?

Copernicus and Darwin are rotating in their graves slowly, slowly...   Sic transit gloria, America.

UPDATE:  Am we dumber than others? As the NSF report states (p. 7-4),
Levels of factual knowledge in the United States are comparable to those in Europe and are generally higher than levels in countries in other parts of the world.
Very comforting.

UPDATE II:  For President's Day yesterday, Jimmy Kimmel sent a crew out on Hollywood Blvd. to get reactions on "today's death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt."  Hilarity, and stupidity, ensues.

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon


(click to enlarge)



Billionaire plutocrats like Tom Perkins (see our post on February 14) are drawing ridiculous and desperate analogies between broad public support for reducing income inequality and the Holocaust.  The true danger to our democracy is the concentration of enormous wealth in the hands of a relative few, who then use that wealth to purchase politicians and policies that further enrich them and to suppress middle class counter-action through voter suppression and union busting.  A political system that is awash in the money of tycoons will produce outcomes that further erode the middle and working class in this country.

(cartoon: Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

Bridgegate: Another Christie Crony Connection


This brings us "Up" to date with the latest in Republican Gov. Chris "Krispycreme" Christie's Bridgegate scandal, including information linking Christie crony and Port Authority Police Lt. Thomas  "Chip" Michaels (and family) with the bridge lane closures and the effort by Christie's minions to blame it on the Democratic mayor of Ft. Lee. It's a long (14 minutes) piece, but hang in there:

The Republican War On Women: Bringing It All Home


We saw a thought-provoking piece by Ana Marie Cox that, rather than the usual misogynist Republican flapdoodle we cite in this space, we thought we should highlight.  In it, Cox argues that the next front in the "war on women" must be to look beyond the Limbaughs and Akins to the conservative men (and women) who hear that term and disassociate from it based on their personal experiences:
I don’t think there’s any amount of data that can dissuade those who reject “the war on women” based on their positive personal relationships with women. It is actually a scientific fact that scientific facts carry little weight against life experience. 
So we have to confront the semi-conscientious objectors to of the war on women. We have to ask them to expand their personal experience. We have to make further personal experience available to them. We have to ask them to think not about their own feelings about the women they already know, but to look more closely at the lives of the women all around them. What are the struggles of the woman who teaches your kids, who does your accounting, who makes your espresso, who delivers your mail, who rings up your groceries?
Thinking beyond their own experiences would be a challenge for this subset of the population because it would require empathizing with others. Not impossible, but a challenge.  (Caveat: We don't believe that progressives have a monopoly on compassion or the ability to empathize with others, because they don't.  But read on.)   Last year, Sean McElwee had an article on the "empathy gap," wherein he identifies a certain Republican saint's views on poverty and the role of government:
Most social phenomenons can't be pegged to a single event. But the Republican Party's shift from empathy to disgust and from viewing government as a force for good to a necessary evil, although developing for a long time, is aptly summarized in two lines from Ronald Reagan's "A Time for Choosing" speech. The great orator said, "Each year the need grows greater; the program grows greater. We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well that was probably true. They were all on a diet. But now we're told that 9.3 million families in this country are poverty-stricken on the basis of earning less than 3,000 dollars a year." (our emphasis)
That's the past 50 years of generic, right-wing/ Randian/ plutocrat id pretty neatly wrapped up.  That's the challenge in bringing the issues negatively impacting women "home" to those in this part of the political spectrum.  It has to change one mind at a time.  But, if it changes any minds, it's worth the effort.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Republican Medieval Thinking On Climate Change


It was Denial Day in the swamplands of the far right today:

Here's George "Quill Pen" Will on (where else?) "Fox News Sunday," wherein he gives the game away:
Fox News contributor George Will on Sunday argued that climate change was a hoax because the world had also gotten warmer during the Middle Ages. [snip]
I’m one of those who are called deniers,” Will admitted. “Of course the climate is changing, it’s always changing. That’s what gave us the medieval warm period. That’s what gave us — subsequent to that for centuries — the Little Ice Age. Of course it’s changing.” 
Will said that the only question was “how much wealth are we going to forego creating” by trying to stop the climate from changing? (our emphasis)
To Will and all the other fact-averse and corporate-funded deniers the bottom line is "how much wealth are we going to forego creating."  That's it right there.  That's what matters most to them.  Not what happens to the planet.  Not what happens to future generations.  Not species extinction.  No.  It's "how much is coming out of my/ corporate pocket?"

It was not much better over at "Press the Meat" with Dancin' Dave Gregory, where Bill "The Science Guy" Nye "debated" wingnut Republican Rep. Marsha "How Many Holes In" Blackburn (Tea-TN). Here's the gist of Blackburn's argument:
“What we have to do is look at the information we get from climate scientists, and as you said, there is not agreement around the fact of exactly what is causing this,” Blackburn opined
To which Nye responded:
“I encourage the congresswoman to really look at the facts. You are a leader. We need you to change things, not deny what’s happening.” 
For why that won't be happening, see post below.

Sunday Reading - Reactions, Anyone?


Here are a few items worth reading today, both bearing on how reactionary right-wing politics are playing out.

First, Steven Perlstein on the recent attempt by the United Auto Workers to unionize a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee, and the fierce push-back by Republicans and fellow 19th Century thinkers:
The success of this [business friendly] model stoked a rising standard of living across much of the Southeast that has become more cosmopolitan and better educated. Yet despite this business-friendly environment, incomes in the region still lag those of the North and West, while unemployment rates in many states are higher than the national average. And those once-grateful and -docile workers are beginning to notice — even in right-to-work states such as Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina, where union membership grew by 19 percent or more last year — the fastest rates in the country.  
The political and economic melodrama playing out in Chattanooga has revealed that a bit of the old plantation mentality lives on among Southern business and political elites. In the faster-growing and more prosperous regional economies of the North and West, companies are trying to boost performance by increasing employee engagement and empowerment, not suppressing it. Their business strategies are based not on assuring a steady supply of cheap labor but on increasing the number of highly paid and highly skilled workers. Rather than trying to nullify federal labor law and crush what remains of the much-diminished union movement, these companies, like VW, are looking at new models of workplace cooperation and collaboration.  (our emphasis)
Perlstein's piece gives a pretty good overview of the hypocrisy (shocking!) of these right-wingers, but somehow fails to mention why unions (and the UAW in particular) drive the crackpots into a frothing frenzy: labor unions are a pillar of the Democratic Party. So, they'll do whatever they can to forestall, weaken or rollback union incursions into their "plantation."  It's a good read, regardless.

Next up is a piece by Fareed Zakaria, which only could have been written by someone who has just awakened from a 5-year long coma:
I have been described as a centrist. And I freely admit to believing that neither side of the political spectrum has a monopoly on wisdom or virtue. But sometimes, reality points firmly in one direction. Watching the machinations in Washington over the past two weeks, it is now impossible to talk about how both political parties are to blame for the country’s gridlock.
Zakaria notes the cynical/ fearful maneuvering on the immigration reform bill and fingers the party guilty of gridlock (fasten your seat belts!):
And yet it couldn’t get past the central problem in Washington today: the extreme and obstructionist faction within the Republican Party. 
Welcome at long last to reality, Fareed!

Speaking of reality, here's an excellent article by Kim Messick about the struggle in the Republican Party between the "modernists" and the "libertarian fabulists:"
Its virulent alienation from modern life is the foundational fact about the American Right. (It can be argued, of course, that this kind of animus is at the heart of right-wing movements generally.) Once we see this, we can understand both its paranoia and its sense of victimization — as well as its stridency and shrillness. We can also understand its tortured relationship with the “reality-based community” — with the idea that beliefs should be checked against facts, not facts against beliefs. The Right reverses the epistemic order of modern thought: it deduces reality from theory, not theory from reality. Its ontology is as faith-based as its social policy, and has to be. [snip]
Under the influence of the Tea Party and its allies in the media, the Republican Party no longer seeks to govern with caution and realism. It seeks to bring back a lost world. This has created a politics in which policy disputes are simply proxy fights in a much deeper, more fundamental campaign: a war of worldviews. Is it any wonder that the present Congress is on track to be the least productive in the history of the nation? To collaborate constructively, parties must regard each other as legitimate actors within a political system whose structural principles they generally endorse (or at least accept). This condition is not satisfied when one party, under the influence of a revolutionary faction, recoils from basic features of that system. In such cases it will consider those who operate (and cooperate) within the system to be dupes (at best) or traitors (at worst). Constructive collaboration becomes impossible, and politics unravels into paranoia, paralysis and suspicion. Sound familiar?  
Why, yes.  Yes it does.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Open Season On Loud Music


(click to enlarge)


The trial of Michael Dunn for the killing of 17 year-old Jordan Davis is with a Florida jury.  If convicted of first degree murder, Dunn will face a life sentence.

Dunn shot and killed Davis because Davis, who was sitting in an adjacent car, was playing the music "too loud," according to Dunn.  Three other African-American youths besides Davis were in the car, but were not hit.  They were also not armed, as Dunn initially alleged.  After firing 10 rounds (three of them as Davis' car was driving away) and killing Davis, the cold-blooded Dunn drove off to a hotel with his fiancĂ©, ordered a pizza, walked his dog and drove two hours home the following day, not reporting the shooting to police.

UPDATE:  Dunn is found guilty on three counts of attempted murder and shooting at a vehicle;  a mistrial was declared on the first degree murder charge.  To be continued….

Here's Wonkette's summary of the verdict:
The jury in the Michael Dunn case — the man in Florida who fired 10 shots at a car full of teenagers because they were black he was “scared” of their loud music, before heading back to his hotel, ordering a pizza, and declining to phone up the police — has come back with guilty verdicts for four charges of shooting a gun and attempted murder (the teenagers he did not succeed in killing), and a hung jury on murder in the first degree (the boy he did). This means they also deadlocked on lesser included charges, such as manslaughter — meaning at least one person on the jury agreed that Michael Dunn was reasonably scared for his life while shooting 10 bullets at a car speeding away, and with no return fire. 
 Jordan Davis would have been 19 tomorrow

(cartoon: S. Carlson, via Gocomics.com)

Quote of the Day


"The problem with Christie isn’t merely that he is a bully. It’s that his political career is built on a rotten foundation. Christie owes his rise to some of the most toxic forces in his state—powerful bosses who ensure that his vow to clean up New Jersey will never come to pass. He has allowed them to escape scrutiny, rewarded them for their support, and punished their enemies. All along, even as it looked like Christie was attacking the machine, he was really just mastering it." --  Alec MacGillis, in The New Republic.  The article explores in depth how New Jersey Gov. and failed staff manager  Chris "Krispykreme' Christie constructed a political machine in New Jersey by punishing enemies and rewarding loyalists beginning when he was the U.S. attorney supposedly fighting corruption in the state.  Fascinating read.

Today's Cartoon - Immigration Reform


(click to enlarge)


(Walt Handelsman, The New Orleans Advocate, via gocomics.com)

As cynical/ frightened House Republicans hope to forestall immigration reform until after the 2014 mid-term elections, calls are increasing for Democrats to use a discharge petition to force a vote on the bipartisan Senate immigration bill.  As has been noted, the Republican caucus is more delusional than irrational, which means pushing the issue hard and hammering them on the overwhelming public support for reform is a possible way of getting their caucus to break and for reform to get a vote this year.

Rump Hits Speed Bump in NH

We turn from arrogant, clueless plutocrat Tom Perkins to another arrogant, clueless plutocrat, Donald "Rump" Trump, who is once again claiming that he's thinking of running for public office.  A couple of weeks ago, he said he'd condescend to run on the Rethuglican / Stupid Party ticket for Governor of New York, only if the state party cleared the way for him by not holding a primary (so much for the competitive spirit).

Now, Rump has made an appearance in New Hampshire to get the rubes murmuring about a Presidential run in 2016.  Reporter McKay Coppins admits to regretting the wasted time covering Rump in what turned out to be a fizzle of an appearance for the hereditary plutocrat.  After more than a decade of Rump's tap dance with politics, it seems even the wingers aren't buying the schtick anymore.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Tom Perkins' Modest Proposal


"The Tom Perkins system is: You don't get to vote unless you pay a dollar of taxes.  But what I really think is, it should be like a corporation. You pay a million dollars in taxes, you get a million votes. How's that?" -- so sayeth ossified plutocrat Tom "I've Got A Killer Yacht!" Perkins yesterday in San Francisco.  Perkins later indicated he was just trying to be outrageous (score!), but coming from the clueless dip who seriously likened progressives' focus on income inequality to the Nazi's Kristallnacht, we're not convinced he wouldn't prefer a political system that was run just like that.  Hey, lead the way, Citizens United !

Perkins, you should also know, is a member of the board of directors for turd pirate Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., and was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in France when his yacht was involved in a collision with a smaller boat that resulted in a French doctor's death.  So, he may be part of the 1 percent, but he's 100 percent asshole.

Republicans Try To Intimidate Tennessee Workers


Workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, are voting today on whether to unionize, and there's a lot of intimidation taking place (but it's not coming from the company):
Republicans like to say that they want to get government off the back of business. Evidently that maxim fails to apply when a business isn’t anti-union enough. [snip] 
But the lead anti-union crusader has been U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the former mayor of Chattanooga. In addition to lambasting the UAW, Corker has said – in contradiction to the company’s public announcements – that Volkswagen will reward workers with a new product to build if they decide not to unionize. "I've had conversations today and based on those am assured that should the workers vote against the UAW, Volkswagen will announce in the coming weeks that it will manufacture its new mid-size SUV here in Chattanooga," said Corker. As Reuters reported, labor law experts believe Corker’s statement could very well be an illegal attempt to intimidate workers. 
All in all, this is a lot of GOP meddling with a private business. "In my 20 years on the hill, I've never seen such a massive intrusion into the affairs of a private company," said Tennessee Democratic state Rep. Craig Fitzhugh. Indeed, usually it's Republicans decrying any attempt by government to regulate the unionization process. So what on Earth is going on? 
Well, a plant unionized by the UAW in Tennessee could potentially deal a blow to the right-wing narrative that anti-union companies in so-called “right to work” states are better for economic growth and job creation by providing a real-time counterpoint. If unions make inroads into foreign-owned auto plants in the South, the right-wing effort to claim that unions are something that ails business will be undermined.  (our emphasis)
That would be "moderate" Republican Sen. Bob "Bob" Corker.  If a company engaged in the same effort to influence the election as Corker, it would be a violation of labor law.  If there is a legal avenue available to hold Corker to account for his outrageous interference in a union election, by all means let's get that underway.  Because if Corker can get away with this, other extremist Republicans will try to intimidate workers and companies in the same manner.

Obviously, what this also demonstrates is that many European companies are far more enlightened than their American counterparts (although the UAW has reasonably good working relations with Detroit automakers), and certainly more enlightened that the reactionary Republicans holding sway in statehouses and Congress.  Good on Volkswagen.

BONUS:  Michael Tomasky adds more:
[University of Washington labor historian Michael] Honey says he believes that Corker and other pols “are probably violating the Wagner Act.” That 1935 law set the basic conditions under which a union election can take place, later amended in 1947’s Taft-Hartley. It’s not completely clear whether local politicians, rather than management, can be found guilty of violating the labor law in such a way that a new election must be ordered. But I devoutly hope that if the workers vote no, Obama’s National Labor Relations Board orders a new election.

UPDATE:  Looks like the intimidation worked. Now it's up to the National Labor Relations Board to certify the results;  let's hope they order a new election, given the Republican-led intimidation.

Happy Valentine's Day


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mensch Of The Month: Dale Hansen


Sports anchor Dale Hansen of Dallas' ABC affiliate WFAA speaks out about Michael Sam and the National Football League:



Now, that's a real "man's man."

Sen. Rand Paul Hires Ken Cuccinelli, Now Has A Fool For A Lawyer


There's no honor among thieves plagiarists:
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been caught using purloined passages in several of his speeches. Now the aspiring presidential candidate stands accused of filing a lawsuit stolen from its author. 
Since December, the libertarian lawmaker, a tea party favorite, had been working with former Reagan administration lawyer Bruce Fein to draft a class-action suit seeking to have the National Security Agency’s surveillance of telephone data declared unconstitutional; the two men appeared together as early as last June to denounce the NSA’s activities. 
But when Paul filed his suit at the U.S. District Court in Washington on Wednesday morning, Fein’s name had been replaced with that of Ken Cuccinelli, the failed Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia who until last month had been the state’s attorney general. Cuccinelli has never argued a case in that courthouse, and he isn’t even a member of the D.C. bar (he also filed a motion Wednesday seeking an exception to allow him to argue this case in D.C.). But he is, like Paul, a tea party darling. 
Fein, who has not been paid in full for his legal work by Paul’s political action committee, was furious that he had been omitted from the filing he wrote. “I am aghast and shocked by Ken Cuccinelli’s behavior and his absolute knowledge that this entire complaint was the work product, intellectual property and legal genius of Bruce Fein,” Mattie Fein, his ex-wife and spokeswoman, told me Wednesday. “Ken Cuccinelli stole the suit,” she said, adding that Paul, who “already has one plagiarism issue, now has a lawyer who just takes another lawyer’s work product.”
Bruce Fein, who has a reputation to uphold, should just walk away from these ethically-challenged dimbulbs and consider this a lucky break.

UPDATE:  Looks like Fein isn't interested in his reputation so much.

(Photo:  Sen. Aqua Buddha and Transvaginal Probe Cooch)

Snow Dazed


The winter storm that clobbered the Southeast, causing massive power outages from ice accumulation, has moved up the Atlantic seaboard, dumping a foot of snow in many areas of the Mid Atlantic region. The immediate Washington, D.C. area will get a foot of snow and more, with areas to the west getting from 14 to 16 inches, making it the largest snow event since 2010's "Snowmageddon" dumped more than 2 feet of snow in successive storms.

Here are some preliminary pics from (top to bottom) Fairfax, VA, Germantown, MD, and Washington, D.C., where the Federal Government, county governments and school systems are closed.

Carol Lopez, WJLA
WJLA



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

3.3 Million Have Signed Up Under the ACA


The Department of Health and Human Services' latest report on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) indicates that 3.3 million have signed up thus far through the Federal and state health insurance exchanges.  That brings the percentage of people without health insurance to a five-year low of 16 percent.

Opponents of the ACA, or "Obamacare" as they call it, are busy finding anecdotal cases of people having problems not finding health insurance, often due to being misinformed or stubborn (recall the flawed example offered by Rethuglican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers in her dishonest rebuttal to the State of the Union).  As the Rethugs spin their tales on "Obamacare" implementation running up to the 2014 mid-terms, expect more anecdotes -- distorted or made up -- to be publicized and soon debunked. They can't claim they were helpful in getting 3.3 million Americans, and counting, health insurance for the first time.

"You Are Blocking All The Light"


Jon Stewart on how the dimwit media trivializes a state visit: