Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Welcome To The World, Little One

Born very early this morning, sweet little granddaughter Viviana Michelle.

Words are inadequate.  She'll be forever young to her new, ecstatic grandfather.

"May the good Lord be with you
Down every road you roam
And may sunshine and happiness
surround you when you're far from home
And may you grow to be proud
Dignified and true
And do unto others
As you'd have done to you
Be courageous and be brave
And in my heart you'll always stay
Forever Young, Forever Young
Forever Young, Forever Young"

I only hope we can leave it a better world for you.

Skating Close to Sedition

Crackpot narcissist from the far-right fever swamps Sen. Ted "Tailgunner Ted" Cruz is reading some weird new meaning into the Second Amendment:
"The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution isn't for just protecting hunting rights, and it's not only to safeguard your right to target practice. It is a Constitutional right to protect your children, your family, your home, our lives, and to serve as the ultimate check against governmental tyranny…" (emphasis added)
"Tyranny," as defined by Tailgunner Ted, is anything his nutty followers don't agree with that the majority of voters have approved.

Granted this is a fundraising e-mail sent by Tailgunner Ted to his batsh#t crazy followers, but suggesting that there will come a time when his followers could use their weapons to overthrow the lawfully elected government hovers around the legal definition of sedition without actually nailing it.  As a Princeton/Harvard educated lawyer, the cynical Tailgunner Ted knows that the "keep and bear arms" element of the Second Amendment was meant by the Founders to provide for the defense of the new nation by its citizens, as organized in State militias, not as a means to revolt against the government they had created.  But this plays with the crazies in the Rethug base, who imagine imposing their own totalitarian, theocratic tyranny on the majority by force.

(photo:  Next stop, a Federal building?)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Turning Point for Same-Sex Marriage?

Some 30 minutes ago, the Supreme Court began to hear arguments in what is a landmark case over marriage equality.  Obergefell v. Hodges combines four suits into one that will determine whether same-sex marriages must be allowed in all States, and whether same-sex marriages in one State will be recognized in other States.

The Court is expected to rule in June, and all eyes are on Justice Anthony Kennedy who has provided the fifth "swing" vote on key decisions (most notoriously on the Citizens United power-to-plutocrats decision).  Kennedy provided the critical vote in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act two years ago, so he's generally believed to rule favorably on allowing same-sex marriages in all 50 states.  Time will tell.

Riots Erupt In Baltimore

Following the funeral of 25 year-old Freddie Gray, the Baltimore man who suffered a fatal spinal cord injury in police custody, violence erupted as gangs of mostly young men rampaged in neighborhoods of Baltimore, setting buildings on fire and trashing cars.  Gray's family had called for a day of calm and reflection, but by mid-afternoon police were confronting angry groups of stone and brick-throwing youth on the streets.  By late afternoon, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had requested the National Guard as the Governor  declared a state of emergency.  Critics of the mayor argued that the police gave the rioters too much leeway as they looted and in some cases burned buildings in neighborhoods that could ill afford their loss.  Supporters argued that damage would have been much worse if the police had been unleashed on the fluid, fast-moving mobs.

Ironically, Loretta Lynch had just been sworn in as Attorney General that morning.  The dangerous situation in Baltimore will be the first item on her plate, starting with getting long-awaited answers on the killing of Freddie Gray.

(photo:  Getty Images)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Devastation and Need In Nepal

The scenes of devastation in Nepal following Saturday's 7.9 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks are heartbreaking.  The death count has risen to over 3,500 with more discoveries coming as rubble is excavated and as teams get into more remote areas cut off by tons of falling rock on mountain roads.  Tens of thousands are homeless, fleeing the area or camping in open spaces with little to their names.  Relief shipments are attempting to reach Nepal, but the Kathmandu airport is clogged and unable to handle the increased traffic.

Several sites designated by the UN as world historic landmarks have been totally destroyed, as seen in these "before and after" pictures.

Relief contributions can be sent to UNICEFUSA, OXFAM, and the World Food Programme, among other organizations.

(photo:  People of Kathmandu dig out in search of survivors.  AP photo)

Bruised By Cruz

Who would have thought that several days ago, two wealthy gay hotel moguls in New York City would host a fundraiser for gay-bashing right-winger Sen. Ted "Tailgunner Ted" Cruz, who has never hidden his vehement opposition to same-sex marriage and rights for gays in general?  (A charitable explanation might be that they thought they were inviting Tom Cruise. Snap!)

Now, the pair is desperately backtracking from their implicit support of Tailgunner Ted, after facing cancelled business and a growing boycott of their enterprises.  Claiming ignorance and naivety, one of the duo, Ian Reisner, posted a profuse apology on his Facebook page saying he didn't understand Tailgunner Ted's position on gay rights.  His partner later echoed him by saying it was a terrible mistake.

It's hard to imagine two apparently intelligent and socially active adults being unaware of some basic political positions held by the outspokenly radical right-winger from Texas before inviting him to their fundraiser.  It's believable that they didn't comprehend the ensuing backlash, but please, any Republican candidate they would have invited would have a bad record on gay rights, especially Tailgunner Ted.  Have they lined up Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum for the next soirée?

Follow The Money Cartoons of the Day

(click to enlarge)

(cartoons: top, Clay Jones, via, bottom, Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

As we noted below, the political media is obsessed with a sketchy hit job on Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, which suggests unsubstantiated quid pro quo dealings with foreign governments.  Meanwhile, real quid pro quo transactions are being conducted through "auditions" of Rethug candidates by multi-billionaire donors like the industrial mega-polluting Koch brothers and gambling mogul Sheldon "Smelly Shelly" Adelson.  Guess which one is the major story of the day?

The Latest Losing Republican/ Media Meme: "Hillary's Untrustworthy!"

"It's out there!"

Working hand-in-hand, the Republican/ New Confederate/ Stupid Party and their eager minions in the media are busy flogging the latest nasty meme regarding Hillary Clinton:  she's untrustworthy!  Failed CEO, Senate candidate and person- who- will- never- be- President Carly "Snarly" Fiorina was the latest to use the meme in remarks to a megachurch full of Republican hayshakers in Waukee, Iowa:
Hillary Clinton cannot be president of the United States because she is not trustworthy.
Fiorina, on the other hand, can be trusted to do for America what she did for Hewlett-Packard.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince "Prepuce" Priebus, the "Emptiest suit in America" (h/t Charles Pierce), also has tried, in a characteristically less-than-effective attack, this time on "Face the Nation:"
Priebus:... [I]f you look at the facts of the scandal that surrounds her, you look at the facts of the recent polling -- where a majority of people in battleground states say that she is untrustworthy -- when you look at the fact she has 100 percent name recognition --

Schieffer: A majority --

Priebus: -- majority of the people polled in Colorado, Virginia, Iowa, Florida, said she is untrustworthy.
Umm... yeah.  If you go to that link, you'll find Priebus called out on the claim.  Oh, and by the way, Hillary Clinton is still kicking the ass of every one of the Republican Clown Car candidates.  That's the real poll.

But, see?  It's now "out there" for what passes as the nonpartisan political press to run into the ground.  So, not to be outdone in Hillary-bashing, in his "The Monday Fix," the ever-reliable Chris "The Lizard" Cillizza, (ass)crack political tout for the once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle, who amplified his "Worst Week in Washington" award Sunday by today highlighting one of the few jabs at Hillary Clinton from the White House Correspondents' Association dinner (by comedian Cecily Strong):
Our relationship [with Israel] will be better in the next administration, just as soon as Israel makes a generous donation to the Clinton Foundation.
... (yukyuk) then tells us (via Aaron Blake and Hunter Schwarz) that the "best thing that happened to Republicans" last week was (no link):
The "Clinton Cash" story got more serious [ed. note: only to the voices in your head]... These stories are complex and there's no proven quid pro quo, but they reinforce emerging questions about Clinton's trustworthiness..."
That's a pretty good example of how right-wing bullshit gets loose in the American political bloodstream.  First, Cillizza's paper makes a deal with the right-wing hack that produced "Clinton Cash," then it puts its "journalists" on the non-existent trail of the non-evidence, promoting the bullshit all the while,  then saying, gee, now that it's "out there," we're duty bound as "journalists" to cycle it over and over until we're given the next meme from the right-wing bullshit machine.

The endless auditioning by Republican candidates by billionaires Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers and others?  Nothing to see there, move along!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

President Shoots, Scores At White House Correspondents' Association Dinner

At last night's annual spectacle of Beltway media types, politicians, actors and moguls known as the White House Correspondents' Association dinner (or as some of us would call it, the "We Have A Club And You're Not In It" dinner), President Obama had a few zingers, one of which was directed at CNN:
... Obama noted that Cecily Strong, the evening’s entertainer, impersonates a CNN anchor on “Saturday Night Live.”
Which is surprising,” he said, “because the only people impersonating journalists on CNN are the journalists on CNN.”
The jab could easily have worked if you substituted almost any print or media news operation for "CNN," of course (=cough= once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle =cough=).

Keegan-Michael Key of Key and Peale makes an appearance as "Luther," the President's "Anger Translator."  The stony expressions of some in the audience (=cough= old white guys =cough=) speak volumes about the media's self-righteousness and lack of self-awareness.

Here's the full 22 minute video of President Obama's remarks (with additional zingers directed at Weeper of the House John "Mr. Tangerine Man" Boehner, Michele Bachmann, the Koch brothers, the Clown Car of Republican hopefuls, Dick "The Dick" Cheney, and Hillary Clinton among many others):

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Republican Crime Blotter: Methissippi Edition

He seems nice:
(AP) An aide to Republican Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi has been charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine after federal agents raided his home.
Fred W. Pagan, an office administrator for Cochran, was arrested Thursday.
Court papers said Customs and Border Protection officers found a package on April 9 in Cincinnati, Ohio, that contained 1.1 kilograms of the drug known as GBL. The package was bound for Pagan’s home address.
GBL has similar effects to alcohol, but also can used in a compound commonly known as a date rape drug.
The documents said Pagan allegedly said he planned to distribute the drugs “in exchange for sexual favors.”

Department of "So What Else Is New?"

News item: it appears that right-wing operative Peter Schweizer, who sold the "exclusive" rights to his "Clinton Cash" smear job on Hillary Clinton to the New York Times and Washington Post, was also involved in the smearing of Shirley Sherrod years ago, and defended the hate monger Andrew Breitbart's slimy hit job on the one-time Agriculture Department employee who was falsely alleged to have discriminated against white farmers.

As more and more independent investigators are examining the points in the "Clinton Cash" story, they're coming to the conclusion that there's innuendo, badly sourced claims and smoke and little more. That hasn't stopped parts of the malicious Beltway media from publicizing the false claims, all in an effort to cripple her candidacy from the outset, and to signal that any false claim or Rethug opposition research is fair game and welcome in their columns and broadcasts.

(photo:  Poo-flinging at its finest)

Legislation We Can Support

The other day, über wingnut Rep. Steve "Cantaloupe Calves" King (Bigot-IA) introduced legislation to thwart the growing trend of courts overturning laws banning same-sex marriage.  (You'll recall that King, in addition to his homophobia, is an outspoken extremist when it comes to immigration and an anti-Semite when it comes to progressive Jewish Americans). When King introduced his aforementioned legislation, the idiotic "Restrain the Judges on Marriage Act of 2015," openly gay Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) fired back with his own tongue-in-cheek legislation, the "Restrain Steve King from Legislating Act." In a statement accompanying the bill, Rep. Polis said:
"For too long, Steve King has overstepped his constitutionally nonexistent judicial authority. Mr. King has perverted the Constitution to create rights to things such as discrimination, bullying, and disparate treatment. These efforts to enshrine these appalling values as constitutional rights were not envisioned by the voters, or by King’s colleagues who must currently try to restrain his attempts to single-handedly rewrite the nation’s founding principles on a bill-by-bill basis."
 Well said, Congressman Polis.  If it were only possible….

Friday, April 24, 2015

Scott Walker And A Tale Of Two States


Koch brothers-endorsed employee Gov. Scott "Koch Head" Walker (R-Kochland) was politicking in neighboring Minnesota today... you know, the state with the growing economy, not the state with the groaning economy:
In 2010, both Wisconsin and Minnesota faced similar budget woes and a worrisome economic future amid a national recession. Both are also Midwest states, deeply invested in manufacturing and agricultural economic drivers. The only difference was that Minnesotans elected DFL Gov. Mark Dayton to turn Minnesota around, while Wisconsinites chose Scott Walker to lead their state’s recovery.
Only one governor was successful.
And he isn't the one wearing Koch Head's socks. Do go on:
In Minnesota, Dayton turned a $5 billion budget deficit into a more than $1 billion budget surplus in just one term. By raising taxes on the wealthiest earners, Minnesota is now in a position to invest more resources into the state’s schools and infrastructure.
In Wisconsin, Walker was unable to take his state out of the red and is still facing a $2 billion budget deficit. Walker made the decision to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires, while slashing programs and refusing investments at the expense of middle-class families and Wisconsin’s financial well-being.
In Minnesota, Dayton has moved forward Democratic policies like increasing the minimum wage, expanding Medicaid and investing in the middle class, and now we are seeing one of the most business-friendly states in the country. Just this year, Forbes ranked Minnesota as the ninth best state for business, seventh in economic climate and second in quality of life.
In Wisconsin, Walker opposed a minimum-wage increase and equal-pay legislation, rejected federal funds to expand Medicaid, and attacked Wisconsin workers with right-to-work and anti-collective-​bargaining policies. As a result, the cost of doing business in Wisconsin is higher than the national average, and median household income is thousands less than in Minnesota.  [snip]
The reality is, Walker can travel around Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, but his failed tenure as governor will forever be his shadow.
So please, Gov. Walker, while you are in Minnesota today, take note of a thriving economy. Our neighbors to the east could use the help.
Welcome to Minnesota, Koch Head!  Oofta!

Weekend Perfect Music

Born 98 years ago tomorrow, the incomparable vocalist Ella Fitzgerald was an American cultural icon known for her perfect pitch and locution.  She crossed musical genres, from swing to bebop to jazz to popular music.  It's hard for us to imagine someone could have as pure a vocal instrument as Ms. Fitzgerald, but here's just one, gorgeous piece of evidence.  It's her 1950 recording of a song we love and have previously featured, the Gershwin classic "Someone To Watch Over Me."

The Death of Freddie Gray

For the fifth day, hundreds of protesters in Baltimore are taking to the streets to demand answers to why Freddie Gray died after his arrest by Baltimore police almost two weeks ago.  Gray suffered a severed spinal cord after a hard takedown by several police officers.

The latest attempt to get the media and the public off the track is the odd theory advanced by the police union that Gray's spinal injury occurred when he was riding without a seat belt in the police van. Riiight. That runs counter to witnesses and video of the arrest, which indicate that Gray was dragged to the van, his legs and feet limp, by police (see photo).  One witness said he saw a police officer thrust his knee on Gray's neck before he was lifted and dragged to the van screaming.

Baltimore's African-American mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called the death "unacceptable," and is pushing for a thorough and swift investigation.  We'd say the odds were good that it was a knee and not a unbelted ride that severed Freddie Gray's spinal cord.

The Dems' Question Quote of the Day

"Democrats must keep their eyes on the prize. 'Who cares more about increasing the wages of working Americans?' is a debate question the Republicans can never win. The Democrats have to make sure the election is about that question." -- (emphasis added) Michael Tomasky, explaining in detail how this will be a winning argument for Dems -- if they'll only run on it in 2016. The ballooning gap between the shrinking middle class and the economic elites since 1979 is something that threatens our democracy.  Rethuglicans know who pulls their strings: plutocrat money is already polluting the political process through massive infusions of dark money, which buys deceitful political ads and armies of political hacks and lobbyists to maintain the status quo.

Hot Spot

The Yellowstone region has long been known for its geothermal activity, and is the site of one of the world's largest super volcanoes.  Now, geoscientists have discovered a vast underground magma (molten rock) chamber many miles deep under Yellowstone, so vast that its magma would fill the Grand Canyon 11 times over.  The last enormous eruption was 640,000 years ago. While scientist are not concerned about an eruption in the foreseeable future (it would eject 1,000 times more material into the atmosphere than Mt. St. Helens did), they have been studying the Yellowstone caldera closely for many years.

(photo:  The Yellowstone caldera. Reuters)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Lynch Confirmed As Attorney General

After months of Rethuglican hostage-taking on unrelated legislative matters, Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch was confirmed this afternoon by a 56 to 43 vote in the Senate.  Lynch becomes the first African-American woman to be Attorney General.  Lynch has had a distinguished record as a tough U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, where she successfully prosecuted racketeers and terrorists.  The Harvard-educated Lynch was acknowledged by many on the Republican side to be eminently qualified for the position, despite the fact that they blocked her confirmation.

Gunga Dim's False Bravado

Now that the Republican Governors of Arkansas and Indiana have grudgingly backed away (of now) from overt discrimination laws aimed at the LGBT community in their states, who will rally to the cause of bigotry and raise their tattered banner?  Who did you say?  Piyush "Bobby" Jindal?  The failed Governor of Louisiana, amateur exorcist and cross between 30 Rock's Kenneth and Howdy Doody?  That Piyush "Bobby" Jindal?

In a New York Times op-ed today, "Bobby" wants us to know that he'll put his size 6 shoe down and stop big business and the gays from destroying bigots' right to discriminate religious freedom through same-sex marriage and businesses that deny service to LGBT people.  Here's "Bobby's" challenge:
"As the fight for religious liberty moves to Louisiana, I have a clear message for any corporation that contemplates bullying our state: Save your breath."
"Bobby" doesn't get that, depending on where you go in this country, and if you were just plain Piyush Jindal, you might get denied service or worse by your own political soul mates, who could find your Hindu ancestry offensive to their "religious freedom."  Here's hoping that he remains stubborn, right up until the time that major businesses, the Rethug donor class, and the public make him eat his words.

Smoke and Mirrors Cartoon of the Day

(click to enlarge)

We've noted in recent posts that the right wing and their friends in the media are focused like a death ray on the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, hoping to damage her sufficiently with the public in order to allow the surviving clown from their 2016 clown car to walk into the White House.  Little of the sludge being disseminated by the wingnut Wurlitzer is challenged by many in the Beltway media, partially from laziness, partially from the horse race mentality that they approach politics with, and partially from their dislike for the Clintons who refuse to kiss up to them.

UPDATE: Leading off this morning, as expected, is the once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle.  Here's Charlie Pierce's take.

UPDATE II:  Also, as expected, the New York Effing Times has its blockbuster bullshit "reportage."

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

The Republican War On Women - Bible Banger Edition

Today's installment of the Republican War on Women is brought to us by white male (and "Christian" minister) Republican Rep. "Tiny" Tim Walberg (Talibangelist-MI), courtesy of Dana Milbank:
Michigan Republican Tim Walberg was a Christian minister before winning election to Congress in 2010 — and he hasn’t entirely changed jobs.
In a rare Tuesday-night committee meeting at which House Republicans advanced a bill curtailing reproductive rights, Walberg took the even rarer step of lecturing his colleagues on Scripture.

“It is clearly taught by Jesus the Christ himself,” Walberg preached to members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, “for those of us who believe in him — and I understand and I accept the fact that there are those who don’t — but he said render unto Caesar what’s Caesar’s and God what’s God’s, and I think that’s an important consideration for us on this committee tonight.”
The bill referred to would strike down the District of Columbia's Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act, which would keep employers (but not religious and political groups) in D.C. from discriminating against workers based on their reproductive decisions (for example, prohibiting a business from firing a woman who has an abortion, uses birth control, or has fertility treatments).  As Milbank reports, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) responded by reproaching Walberg for claiming to represent the teachings of Jesus:
“I studied for the Roman Catholic ministry,” he responded. “But I certainly don’t think that it is my job to propound the dogma of my church as a member of Congress.”
The bill, which passed the Republican-led committee, has no chance of being enacted.  As Milbank notes:
The main thing Republicans are achieving is inviting Democrats to revive their “war on women” allegations.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day 2015

(The Florida Everglades; photo via Huffington Post)

As President Obama visits the Florida Everglades on Earth Day 2015 to underline the dangers of global climate change, a certain subset of the population is in denial (and that's not the river in Egypt):
While notable majorities of all other political party/ideology groups say the effects of global warming will happen within their lifetime, fewer than four in 10 conservative Republicans (37%) agree, a sign of that political identity's strident skepticism on this issue.
Conservative Republicans not only decisively reject the notion that the effects of global warming will happen in this lifetime -- a position in sharp contrast to all other political identities -- but another 40% say global warming will never happen. This is significantly higher than the percentages of moderate/liberal Republicans (16%), non-leaning independents (14%), conservative/moderate Democrats (5%) and liberal Democrats (3%) who say the same.
"Skepticism" is one thing;  stubborn, ideologically-based resistance to facts and science is another.  Happy Earth Day 2015.

UPDATE I:  Leave it to Koch-endorsed employee Gov. Scott "Koch Head" Walker to mark the date appropriately.

UPDATE II:   The huge international banking house HSBC is warning its clients about investments in the fossil industry, saying investments there may become "economically non-viable."

Here's What's The Matter With Kansas, Cont.

The increasingly Galtian Republican "paradise" of Kansas, under the "leadership" of recently re-elected (WTF is wrong with you people?!) pea-brain ideologue Gov. Sam "Brownshirt" Brownback, has already made a reputation for itself as a nasty place to live for a low-income person. But, if you're wealthy, Republicans will always be looking out for you:
Wealthier Kansans are paying much less in taxes after Republican Gov. Sam Brownback overhauled the state's income tax a few years ago. Brownback and other Republican officials hoped that more generous policies would stimulate the economy, bringing more revenue into the state's coffers and making up the difference on the bottom line.
It didn't work. Kansas's economy has kept expanding at more or less same plodding pace as the rest of the country. And now, according to official estimates released Monday, the state will have at least a $143 million budget shortfall in 2016, and likely more. Lawmakers are looking for a way to plug the hole.
You think the Republicans would think about maybe rolling back the tax cuts for the wealthy to "plug the hole" they blew in the State's budget?  Dream on:
[I]n a legislature that last week barred welfare recipients from using their benefits to go swimming or watch movies, the proposals that look most likely to succeed are sales and excise taxes that would be paid disproportionately by Kansas's poor and working class[our emphasis]
Any other ideas for how to "plug the hole," Republicans, while simultaneously sticking it to another  "Democratic constituency?"
Six school districts in Kansas will close early this year, following budget cuts signed in March by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.
Two school districts, Concordia Unified School District and Twin Valley Unified School District, announced earlier this month that they would end the year early because they lacked the funds to keep the schools open. This week, four more districts confirmed they would also shorten their calendars, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.
This Republican agenda of starving education and shredding the social safety net while using "trickle down" voodoo economics as a fig leaf to further enrich the rich is in their DNA.  You can see it in Wisconsin, where Koch-endorsed employee Gov. Scott "Koch Head" Walker is slashing education funding while cutting taxes (and skipping debt payments) and giving $200 million in tax breaks to a multi-millionaire sport franchise owner for a new stadium. You can see it pretty much everywhere where Republicans control state government.  And you'll see it if they ever control the Federal government.

(Photo:  Gov. Brownshirt - "Eh!  Who needs education!?  Not the Republican base!")

Frothy Mix Quote of the Day

"We have now the secular church that is being imposed on this country and anybody that defects is subject to persecution and prosecution. That is a very serious threat to liberty in America.” -- Homophobe theocrat Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum, complaining about the secular church of "gubmint" interfering with his fellow talibangelists in hating on discriminating against LGBT people.  Poor, persecuted talibangelists. Next thing you know the gubmint will want to take away their white sheets and hoods.

(gif: hat tip to Mock Paper Scissors)

Mid-Week Song

Fun's lead singer Nate Ruess has a new solo album coming out in June.  He recently released this single from that upcoming album.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Our Broken Media, Cont'd.

This year and most of 2016 we will be deluged with smear ads that will attempt to reverse any gains by Democratic candidates, most prominently Hillary Clinton.  It's already begun, with the right-wing Wurlitzer churning out Rethuglican talking points and op-eds about the pseudo "scandals" of Benghazi, Benghazi! BENGHAZI!! and Clinton's private e-mail account. Huge sums of "dark" plutocrat money will be spent in those efforts, but when you can get a lazy, malicious press to pass the smears on for free, you've saved yourself some significant loot.

Introducing "Clinton Cash," a swift boat-style book by right-wing think tank hack Peter Schweizer, that purports to "expose" financial dealings involving the Clintons and foreign governments through the Clinton Global Initiative.  Not surprisingly, Schweizer is also the former editor-at-large at the far-right Breitbart News, an organization whose sole purpose is smearing progressives, and president of the official-sounding "Government Accountability Institute," which is a cog in the well-funded lie manufacturing conglomerate of right-wing think tanks, opposition research boiler rooms, and political action committees.

What makes this story so repellent is that the New York Times and the Washington Post have joined the Fux Network is signing up for "exclusives" from the book, eliminating the need for wingnut money to be spent hawking it.  They really need to draw salaries from the Republican National Committee for their exemplary stenography.

BONUS:  Charles P. Pierce weighs in on the "arrangement" between Schweizer and our two leading newspapers.

Morning Read -- Marco Rubio's "Cultivated Ignorance Of History"

Please take a moment or two to read Michael Brendan Dougherty on "foreign policy expert" Sen. Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio (Weak Tea-FL).  Here's a sample:
Rubio concluded, "The reason Obama hasn't put in place a military strategy to defeat ISIS is because he doesn't want to upset Iran."
I don't know how to say this respectfully. But this is dumber than a brick in a tumble-dryer: a clanging, dangerous error. Iran is one of the principal enemies of ISIS. It didn't even need to be persuaded to join the fight. It sees ISIS as another manifestation of the kind of Sunni extremism that threatens Iran's regional allies: Bashar al-Assad in Syria and the Shia-friendly government in Baghdad. If we really wanted to stick it to Iran, we'd be arming Islamic State fighters and providing "devastating air support" to them.
And given the record of Republican hawks over the last two decades, I wouldn't be surprised if a future Rubio administration ends up doing just that, through a mixture of hubris, democratizing enthusiasm, and sheer stupidity — just as the Bush administration cheered on democratic elections that empowered Hezbollah, and a war that led to a destabilized Iraq where Sunni extremism now flourishes. Bush was not alone: Other GOP hawks cheered on revolutions and civil wars that led not to liberal democracies, but terrorism, extremism, and anarchy.
Rubio has a reputation for foreign policy expertise because he chooses to talk about foreign policy often, promises large budgets to the Pentagon, and mostly pronounces the words correctly. Rubio's foreign policy consists of babyish moralizing, a cultivated ignorance of history, and a deliberate blindness to consequences. This is the same "foreign policy expertise" that led to a misbegotten war in Iraq and empowered Sunni insurgencies across the Middle East.  (our emphasis)

This empty suit is considered to be in the "top tier" of the Republican clown car presidential candidates by what passes for our political media horse race analysts.  As Dougherty notes, Glug Glug's reputation is based on not much more than the ability to stand in front of a microphone gulping water and yapping to a bunch of credulous stenographers in the media who know less than Glug Glug about history and world politics.  For someone positioning himself as a leader for the future (pause for laughter), Glug Glug's foreign policy, such as it is, is indistinguishable from that of the Cold Warriors and neo-cons of the past, from John Foster Dulles, through St. Ronnie of Hollywood, to George "Dumbya" Bush and Dick "The Dick" Cheney.  It would take more electrons than we have time for to demonstrate how damaging that reactionary world-view has been to America, but Iraq should suffice as the most vivid, recent template for Republican bumble-f**kery.

But, he's a Serious Contender.  A Seriously Dangerous Contender.

BONUS:  Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog has more.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Koch Brothers Supporting Walker; In Other News, Dog Bites Man

They've made it official:  the Koch brothers are supporting their loyal employee, Gov. Scott "Kochhead" Walker (R-Kochland):
Charles G. and David H. Koch, the influential and big-spending conservative donors, have a favorite in the race for the Republican nomination: Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.
On Monday, at a fund-raising event in Manhattan for the New York State Republican Party, David Koch told donors that he and his brother, who oversee one of the biggest private political organizations in the country, believed that Mr. Walker was the Republican Party’s best hope for recapturing the White House.
“We will support whoever the candidate is,” said Mr. Koch, according to two people who attended the event. “But it should be Scott Walker.”
Will wonders never cease?

BONUS:  Remember when Kochhead thought he was talking by phone to David Koch, when it was actually a prank caller?  We remember.

BONUS II:  The always-amusing Andy Borowitz: "Kochs Defend Purchase Of Scott Walker."

Celebrating Cannabis

If, in walking around your community today, you detect a pungent, herbal-like smell, it may be someone celebrating "4/20 Day," the annual celebration of marijuana users on April 20.  Ryan Grimm has a lengthy article on the origins of "4/20," going back some 45 years to a group of stoners in San Rafael, California taking a weed break after their high school athletic practice at 4:20 in the afternoon.

Public attitudes have shifted on the use of weed, and several states have licensed private distributors for people to purchase personal quantities. President Obama has signaled that  he supports the legalization of medical marijuana.  NORML, the marijuana legalization advocacy group, has a useful map of the U.S. showing where States stand on the spectrum.   As luck would have it, long-time connoisseurs of the magic herb, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard want everyone to know that they have a new song called, "It's All Going To Pot," which may be the new legalization anthem by the time the next 4/20 day rolls around.

Clown Car Cartoon of the Day

(click to enlarge)

The clowns were all out in force in New Hampshire this weekend, trying to sell themselves as plausible candidates for President.  The sure losers -- Carly "Snarly" Fiorina, Piyush "Bobby" Jindal, Donald "Rump" Trump, and more -- along with those that the press is touting as "serious" -- John Ellis "J.E.B." Bush, "Ayn" Rand Paul, and Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio, among others.  Even Southern belle Lindsey "Huckleberry Butchmeup" Graham is "91 percent" sure he's running.

There are apparently 19 -- 19!! -- potential candidates so far on the Rethug side, which  makes for a crowded clown car.  We're hoping for many more, if only to drain Rethug contributors' wallets a bit more before the primaries and general election.

(cartoon:  Stuart Carlson, via

MoDo's Unhealthy Obsession

When the New York Times' waspish op-ed hack Maureen "MoDo" Dowd spits out an opinion piece, it's mostly a study in tortured, suppressed rage and what psychologists call "projection," and it's most often about the Clintons.  (Not that she spares President Obama, typically referring to him in condescending, "feminized" terms and engaging in amateur pop psychology.  Small wonder the President has "contempt" for her.)

MoDo's latest foray on the subject of Hillary Clinton is a classic in obsessive, mean girl projection, as Media Matters explains.  She, along with other members of the Beltway village, have never forgiven the Clintons for not kissing up to them during the Clinton Presidency, attending Sally Quinn's cocktail parties and salons where juicy gossip was shared.  President Obama is apparently guilty of the same failure to stroke their egos.

As Clinton's good poll numbers hold (see below), expect much more of the bitter, petty slights thrown at Clinton from MoDo.  It's all about MoDo's envy, resentment and grievance, and it's not pretty.

BONUS:  The Onion gives us a mid-90s era ranter that is every bit MoDo's equal. (h/t Silver Spring Bureau Chief Brian)

Clinton Routing Potential Republican Candidates

With the usual caveats that the only poll that matters is 19 months away, this has to be bad news for the occupants of the Republican candidate clown car:
In general, Republicans see Bush as the best possible candidate to match up against the Democratic nominee in 2016, but in hypothetical general election matchups against Clinton, Bush trails by a large margin, as do each of the other seven Republicans tested.
Marco Rubio fares best against the former first lady, trailing Clinton by 14 points, 55% to 41%. Bush trails Clinton by 17 points, 56% to 39%. Christie and Paul fall 19 points behind Clinton, each putting up 39% to Clinton's 58%. Huckabee, Walker, Carson and Cruz each trail Clinton by more than 20 points.  (our emphasis)
The closest margin is 14 percent.  Wow.  (Can't resist musical editorial.)

Of course, as we note below, the Republican smear machine is just getting ginned up.  Numbers like these only ensure that the attacks will be desperate, loud, long and especially scurrilous.  But they're dealing with someone who's used to getting smeared by the far right, and who knows how to throw a punch with the best of them.

BONUSA reminder of the "competition." And here's how Beltway Horse Race Wanker Demeritus Mark Halperin breathlessly rates them.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Ready For Hillary ... Smearing

Now that Hillary Clinton has officially announced her candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination "coronation" for President, the Republican/ New Confederate/ Stupid Party has a new target for its lies, smears and hair- on- fire rhetoric:
[T]heir national party has already put itself on a footing for a general-election battle with Clinton — ignoring her lesser-known Democratic rivals and reviving Clinton scandals and pseudoscandals old and new.
Reince Priebus, the combative chairman of the Republican National Committee, is leading the blitz. In recent days, the RNC has launched its “Stop Hillary” initiative with a Web ad that raises questions about foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation and her use of a private e-mail account at the State Department.
Clinton critics in the conservative movement have also been active. Books, films and social-media campaigns are all in the works, set to be unleashed in the coming months.
"Unleash the hounds, Reince Priebus!" (the "emptiest suit in America" -- h/t Charles Pierce).  Yes, we're quite sure that we will get more Benghazi! Benghazi!! BENGHAZI!!!  and email-gate conspiracies re-warmed-over and served to us, as well as "shocking" "new" "revelations (!)" =cough= old chestnuts =cough= about the Clinton Foundation, or Huma Abedin, or who killed Col. Mustard in the kitchen with a rolling pin.  All scurrilous memes to be aided and abetted by the Clinton-hating media.  Some "coronation."

We can also be quite sure that Republicans might be (barely) smart enough to temper their sexist tirades and soft-pedal their War on Women policies, so as not to stimulate the female and progressive vote for Hillary (Republican blind squirrel Kathleen Parker counsels that today).  But, even if they use female surrogates like business- and politics-failure Carly "Snarly" Fiorina to catapult their smears, women voters know which party will fight for them and is on the side of equal pay for equal work, women's reproductive rights, and all the other issues vital to them, and it ain't the Republican/ New Confederate/ Stupid Party.

BONUSSteve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog gives us some examples of the comedy stylings of self-certified ophthalmologist Sen. "Ayn" Rand Paul (Dudebro-Catskills), whose family has no baggage, no sir!

Walker's Nasty Slap At Seniors, Disabled

Wisconsin Governor, and future senior vice president at Koch Industries, Scott "Koch Head" Walker may have stepped in it with his new budget for the state.  According to reports, the Rethug Presidential aspirant wants to make major cuts in programs for the elderly and the disabled, something that even hardcore right-wingers are nervous about backing.  This is the same budget that proposed some $220 million in plutocrat welfare for a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks' owners, and $300 million in cuts to the University of Wisconsin system's budget.

Since he was first elected Governor in 2010, Koch Head has been on a scorched earth mission to bust public employee unions, give favors to the wealthiest Wisconsinites and major corporate allies, and to cause real damage to Wisconsin's environment.  As a consequence of his and the state's preceding Rethug Governors' mismanagement, Wisconsin has seen the greatest decline in median household income of any state, nearly 15% since 2000.  It should be a phenomenon that this nasty, retrograde failure hasn't been exposed and laughed off the political stage by now, but the other occupants of the 2016 clown car don't look much better and our broken media loves a good horse race.

(photo:  At least he's got his finger on the problem.)

Twenty Years Ago In Oklahoma City

Twenty years ago, April 19, 1995, two right-wing, anti-government domestic terrorists did this:

That's what was left of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK, after a two ton fuel-and-fertilizer explosive was detonated by Timothy McVeigh and his accomplice Terry Nichols, killing 168 innocent people, some of them children at the building's day care center.  McVeigh was subsequently executed for the crime and Nichols was sentenced to multiple life terms.

Today, there's a 20th anniversary memorial event scheduled at the site where the building once stood.  Among the speakers will be former President Bill Clinton, who was serving his first term in office when the attack occurred.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Is Rethug War on "Obamacare" Lost?

Could the Republican attempt to destroy the Affordable Care Act be over with?  That's the gist of this article in the Los Angeles Times, which notes that Rethug politicians are nervous about eliminating affordable health insurance under the Act from some 20 million Americans.  After leveling the most outrageous and false charges against "Obamacare" over the past five years, the Rethugs are actually adopting some of the Act's provisions in their own half-hearted, transparently insincere "plans."  Moveover, with the Supreme Court considering a lawsuit that would deny tax benefits to people in states with ACA-sponsored State Exchanges, some Rethugs are actually considering supporting legislation to clarify the statutory language in question.  A number of red states are implementing expanded Medicaid under the ACA's provisions, and a number of Rethug politicians have been hearing from constituents who are happy with their new health coverage.

After a botched roll-out of the Federal ACA website, the subsequent implementation has been successful beyond expectations, with health insurance costs leveling off and fewer uninsured Americans.  Try as they might to convince their low-information, angry base that they'll uproot "Obamacare" at the first opportunity, the evidence is that they are increasingly resigned to letting health insurance reform alone for now.

Scary Tweet of the Day

From the master of horror:

Friday, April 17, 2015

Weekend Change Song

We're going back 20 years for your weekend musical interlude today.  It's a song from British alt rock group Pulp, which enjoyed its greatest success during the mid-90's Britpop revival, along with such bands as Oasis and Blur.  Here's 1995's "Something Changed." (h/t San Francisco Bureau Chief Shauna)

This Cracker's Toast

A New Jersey businessman is learning that adopting the themes of the Klan and neo-Nazis might be bad for business.  In March, deli owner Jim "Jimbo" Boggess put a sign in his window saying "Celebrate your white heritage in March, White History Month."  That celebration must have left out a lot of his customers, who ceased to patronize the deli, and now Boggess has to close his business. In an attempt to get some sweet welfare charity from like-minded bigots real 'Mericans, he opened a GoFundMe account, but it hasn't kept the pastrami from going bad.

Moral of the story:  if your business caters to a diverse clientele, it's not smart "bidness" to flaunt your white supremacy attitude.  Oh, and "white history month" is 11 months of the year, Jimbo, no need to single out March.

"A Man Rotten To His Very Core"

For the past 6 plus years, former (Vice) President and unwavering liar Dick "The Dick" Cheney has been playing the role of the gutter snipe in trashing everything about President Obama, who spent years trying to clean up the mess that The Dick and his band of neocons left behind.  Jon Stewart, for one, is having none of the sniping, and he took apart the malevolent and sinister former Vice President last night over the mess he created in Iraq and Iran, not to mention his Halliburton dealings.  Watch:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

It's Still Not Over In Indiana

Hoosier bigot!?
Republicans in the Indiana House have turned aside an attempt to extend protections for gays and lesbians under the state's nondiscrimination laws in response to the uproar over the new religious objections law.
The proposal called for adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the Indiana civil rights law covering education, employment and housing.
Republican leaders say there isn't enough time left in the legislative session to tackle such a policy change, and GOP members backed a ruling Tuesday that the proposal didn't meet House rules for consideration.
Of course, it's never really over for the Republican/ New Confederate/ Stupid Party;  for God's sake, they're still fighting the Civil War (nullification!), the New Deal and Great Society ("reform" Social Security and Medicare!).  They'll fight LGBT nondiscrimination laws as long as they have breath.

Tweet Of The Week

Rubio: The "Fresh Young Face" On The Republican Voodoo Economics Zombie

(click on image to enlarge)

(Tom Toles, once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle)

Matt O'Brien provides a perspective on Sen. Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio's simple-minded, reactionary "voodoo economics" agenda at Wonkblog (worth an extended quote):
Marco Rubio's toughest political opponent may be math.
That's because his economic agenda has a simple arithmetic problem. He wants to balance the budget—in fact, he wants to amend the Constitution to make that mandatory—but at the same time he wants to cut taxes by $4 trillion or so, increase defense spending, and keep antipoverty spending where it is. That doesn't leave a lot of places to find savings. There probably aren't any in non-defense discretionary spending—things like roads and research—when it's already at a 40-year low. So you'd have to get them all by cutting Social Security and Medicare, and cutting them now. Rubio, though, only wants to "reform" entitlements for future seniors, not current ones. And that leaves you with big, fat deficits for a good, long while.

This is the same problem Republicans have had for 35 years now. That's how long they've been running on deficit-financed tax cuts and fiscal responsibility. So Rubio, who's trying to portray himself as a new kind of Republican, is seizing on the only thing that makes that combination work: saying tax cuts will pay for themselves. Specifically, he's said that the way to balance the budget is with "dynamic economic growth," which, of course, his tax cuts are supposed to provide. That's saying you can eat your cake and have it too, because eating it will make more of it appear. But anyone who remembers the big deficits that came after Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush's big tax cuts knows that's not the case. Indeed, former Bush adviser Greg Mankiw knew this himself, calling people who said otherwise little more than "charlatans and cranks."

But that hasn't stopped the usual supply-side suspects, like the right-leaning Tax Foundation, from claiming that Rubio's trillions of dollars of tax cuts would, after nine years of bigger deficits, actually make tax revenues go up after that by supercharging growth so much. If this sounds like wishful thinking masquerading as actual analysis, well, you're in touch with empirical reality. "This would not pass muster," economist Laurence Kotlikoff told the New York Times's Josh Barro, "as an undergraduate model at a top university."  (our emphasis)
Of course, Glug Glug isn't alone;  every one of his Republican presidential rivals (and the party in general) subscribes to this "wishful thinking masquerading as actual analysis."

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Blind Squirrel Quote of the Day

Because even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while:
"The people who are not going to vote on Hillary Clinton based on e-mails are already not going to vote for her based on her email, which is about three people." (emphasis added) -- Master purveyor of Beltway Village conventional wisdom Cokie "Okey Dokie" Roberts on MSNBC's "Morning Joke."
This pseudo-scandal -- along with Benghazi, Benghazi!, BENGHAZI!! -- only plays to those voters who won't vote for Clinton in any lifetime.  The majority of Americans?  They'll shrug and ask what it has to do with them.

Buyer's Remorse, Teabagger Style

Right wing blogger and man with his own gravitational field James "Super Size Me" Webb is having buyer's remorse after voting Republican for the last 32 years.  A Tea Party "patriot," Webb was one of those Americans who couldn't afford health insurance, especially as someone with a pre-existing condition of morbid obesity.  With the Affordable Care Act, Webb (who was going to wait for Medicare some 15 years down the road) is now covered, but is scared that if the Rethugs win in 2016, the "Obamacare" that he depends on now will be taken away.  A classic conservative low-information voter, Webb realizes that his party has been playing fast and loose with the lives of people like him, and is mulling over voting (as he puts it) with the "Democrat Party" in 2016.  Better late than never,  but why does it take a personal crisis for some of these wingers to wake up to reality and learn something?

A Burrito And The Real Candidate Of Yesterday

Jon Stewart on the continuing media obsession with the trivial as the 2016 campaign begins:

This is going to be an awful year and a half for politics, judging by the insipid media coverage so far. Of course, there was this brief, substantive focus on Sen. Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio (Weak Tea-FL) from CNN's Jake "Tippy" Tapper:
“You are casting yourself as a candidate of a new generation, but there is an issue where you are very out of step with younger voters — even younger Republican voters,” Tapper told Rubio. “According to a Pew poll, 61 percent of Republican voters under the age of 30, I believe, support same-sex marriage. On that issue, same-sex marriage, senator, you’re the candidate of yesterday.”  (our emphasis)
That's exactly the kind of "yesterday" position Glug Glug and his fellow reactionary clowns Republican candidates espouse, along with (to pick a few) climate change denial and "trickle down" economics.  Wouldn't want to share that knowledge on a regular basis though, would we "mainstream media," not when we can hear about burritos!

Republican Tax Breaks: "So Much For So Few"

As Americans well know, today is the deadline for filing tax returns.  (By the way, anyone reading this who has had delays in getting assistance or having questions answered by the Internal Revenue Service should read this.)  Death and taxes, the Great Levelers -- or not so much if the bill endorsed by media-designated genius wonk Rep. Paul "Lyin'" Ryan (Galt's Gulch-WI) gets enacted (spoiler alert:  it won't).  Here's frequent blind squirrel Dana Milbank:
Give credit to Republicans in Congress.
They’ve discovered, belatedly, that income inequality is a problem, and they’re no longer proposing to give tax breaks to the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. Now they are proposing to give tax breaks to the wealthiest two-tenths of 1 percent of Americans.
On Tuesday afternoon, the House Rules Committee took up H.R. 1105, the “Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015,” with plans to bring it to a vote on the chamber floor Wednesday — Tax Day. It is an extraordinarily candid expression of the majority’s priorities: A tax cut costing the treasury $269 billion over a decade that would exclusively benefit individuals with wealth of more than $5.4 million and couples with wealth of more than $10.9 million.
That’s a tax break for only the 5,500 wealthiest households in the country each year, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. Of those, the 318 wealthiest estates each year — those worth $50 million or more — would see an average windfall of $20 million each, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. (our emphasis)
As the op/ed goes on to explain, the Republican talking points that the "death tax" (or as normal people call it, "estate tax") represents double taxation and a "devastating" hit on small businesses and family farms are, as one should expect, preposterously bogus. Meanwhile, they would be opening the Treasury for an average windfall of $20 million for each of the 5,500 wealthiest households, the shortfall largely coming from cuts to programs for the middle class and poor (Medicaid, food stamps, etc.).  In other words, your typical discredited trickle-down, makers vs. takers Republican philosophy untethered from, and antagonistic toward, the real world.

(Image:  Buff Bro' Ryan, still pumping out the tax breaks for the ultra-rich.)

Mid-Week Twofer Songs

Pianist Dave Brubeck was one of jazz music's biggest stars from the early 1950s to the 1990s.  His quartet included jazz icons Paul Desmond on sax, Joe Morello on drums and the quartet's only surviving member, Eugene Wright, on bass.  Here's "Three To Get Ready" from his quartet's groundbreaking 1959 album, "Time Out."

Sadly, R & B singer Percy Sledge died yesterday at age 74.  His 1966 number 1 hit, "When A Man Loves A Woman," was covered by many other singers, including Michael Bolton, who won a Grammy for his version.  R.I.P.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Krispykreme Touches Third Rail, Survival Doubtful

Jabba the Hutt doppelgänger Gov. Chris "Krispykreme" Christie (R- Angryville) must be feeling his chances diminishing in the Rethuglican clown car derby, what with imminent Federal indictments stemming from his pay-to-play governance of New Jersey and with other candidates sucking the oxygen (and campaign contributions) from him.  It must also sting that almost 70% of the people of New Jersey (who know him best) don't think he'd make a good President.  So what's Krispykreme do to grab some attention, get that old mojo back?   He's proposing the most severe cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- cuts even more punitive than other Rethuglican proposals for entitlement "reform."  That should go over well with seniors, who vote in higher percentages than other demographic groups.  Also, with Krispykreme's poor record on his state's economy,  beside his useful tools in the press, who's taking his public policy positions seriously these days?