Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Israeli Defense Forces Chief: Iran Nuclear Deal "Hysteria" Was Manufactured

Gosh.  It appears Bibi "Bomb Bomb" Netanyahu, AIPAC and Republicans manufactured "hysteria" over the Iran nuclear deal.  Who would've thunk:
Benny Gantz was Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces from 2011 until he was succeeded by Gadi Eizenkot this February. He spoke on Friday at the AIPAC-aligned Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He said that he thought a better deal could have been negotiated but nonetheless saw the deal as an important "achievement" in preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon for at least 10 or 15 years. Here are the exact quotes from the JTA ...

“I do agree a better deal could have been reached,” one that more extensively restricted uranium enrichment, Benny Gantz said Friday of the sanctions relief for a nuclear restrictions deal reached in July between Iran and six major powers.
“But I see the half-full part of the glass,” he said. “I see the achievement of keeping the Iranians, 10-15 years into the future, postponing their having a nuclear capability at the right price.”
He also criticized the "hysteria" over the deal and said that the greatest threat to Israel's future comes not from Iran but from internal divisions within Israeli society.
We would offer that a more specific "greatest threat to Israel's future" is the continuance in power of one Bibi "Bomb Bomb" Netanyahu.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: "The Pope Met The Dope" * (Updated)

As the glow from Pope Francis' visit last week to the United States lingers, here's a little reminder that even he can be snookered by a hypocritical, phony martyr:
After doubts were raised about a claim from Kim Davis' legal team that Pope Francis and the Kentucky clerk met secretly during his visit to the U.S., the Vatican confirmed to The New York Times the meeting did indeed happen.
Hoo-boy, that glow sure disappeared fast!

We don't live in a theocracy (yet).  Her job is to obey the law and issue marriage licenses, not to make moral judgements and discriminate based on those judgements.  She's free to do the latter on her own, non- taxpayer- funded time. 

We'd love to know the identity of the  Republican "church official" who arranged this meeting.  Likely a dead- ender from the Obamacare contraception wars.  Only the most reactionary bead- fondler would think this would be a good idea.  It certainly does the Pope and his glacially- evolving Church no good to be connected with this bigot and the persons who arranged this confab.

"Who am I to judge" indeed.  Awful, awful.

BONUS:  Michaelangelo Signorile on the Pope's cowardly coddling of a bigot.

BONUS II:  Charles Pierce has some significant background on the events here.

*h/t Huffington Post

Great Moments in Republican Rhetoric, "Snarly's" Admission

Serial fabricator and icy job killer Carly "Snarly" Fiorina had this to say at a town hall meeting in Oklahoma yesterday:
"Somebody once asked me, 'What's the difference between business and politics?' And here's the difference: Politics is a fact-free zone. People just say things." (emphasis added)
It's good that Snarly has publicly acknowledged her campaign strategy. Remember that she and her party believe that Government should only exist to protect and promote corporate interests, and that Government service is not an honorable calling.  So in campaigning for a Government position, any fact-free statement -- read lie -- can be used because that's the accepted norm.  Very revealing statement, but hardly surprising.

Republican Family Values: Spending Time With The Family Edition

Another self-righteous tea bagging Rethuglican politician has been caught in a sex-related scandal.  Indiana House Majority Leader Jud "Dud" McMillin resigned following the emergence of a sex tape that was sent along with a text message from his phone.  In his resignation letter, Dud actually said that he wanted to …. wait for it….spend more time with his family. Bwahahaha. We're sure his wife would like to spend some time with him, probably in a locked room with a baseball bat in her hands.

Dud's tale is that his phone was stolen in Canada for 24 hours, and he asked everyone to disregard anything they might have received (you know, like sexytime stuff) because it was probably sent by a Canadian perv or something something yadda yadda.  As with so many other Rethuglican hypocrites, Dud has a long record of Bible thumping in politics, most recently pushing the "religious objection" bill that would allow businesses to deny service to same sex couples, and promoting drug testing for people on public assistance (but not state legislators). That's today's right-wing Republican / New Confederate / Stupid Party for you.

UPDATE:  According to reports, the sex video showed Dud and his Canadian "girlfriend", and was sent to everyone on his contact list. Karma bites.

More Evidence Of The "Talent" In The Republican Field

Just for sh*ts and giggles, let's take a look at some of the recent back- and- forth among contenders for the highest office in the land (and part of a "well-qualified," "talented" field of Republicans).  First, let's hear from frontrunner Donald "Rump" Trump:

Sen. "Ayn" Rand Paul, your response, sir?
"I'll tell you this, I think we'll be around just as long as Trump, or longer," Paul said.  [snip]
 "I'm thinking, how did we get the race for the most important office in the free world to sink to such depths, and how could anyone in my party think that this clown is fit to be president?"   (our emphasis)
And in a preemptive strike against Trump mini-me Sen. "Tailgunner Ted" Cruz (Nihilist-TX), "Ayn" Rand had this analysis (with which we wouldn't quibble):
"Ted has chosen to make this really personal and call people dishonest in leadership and call them names, which really goes against the decorum and also against the rules of the Senate, and as a consequence, he can’t get anything done legislatively," Paul told Kilmeade. "He’s pretty much done for and stifled, and it's really because of personal relationships, or lack of personal relationships, and it is a problem."  (our emphasis)
Of course, "Tailgunner Ted's" numbers rise when the knuckle- draggers in the base see him as a truth- telling outsider (which he is neither), so it's not really a problem for "Tailgunner Ted."

But to build on "Ayn" Rand's point, how could anyone think that these clowns (and the rest of them in the Republican clown car bus) is fit to be president?

Republican Leader Admits Benghazi!!! Hearings A Political Attack To Weaken Hillary Clinton

Speaker- in- waiting Rep. Kevin "I'm Not A Pod Person!" McCarthy (R-CA) is already showing signs that he may be a source of unintended honesty.  Here's dimbulb McCarthy yesterday blurting out the real reason for the endless Benghazi!!! "investigations:"
“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable right? But we put together a Benghazi Special Committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping," McCarthy said. "Why? Cause she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen.”
The response from Hillary Clinton's press secretary:

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking member of the Benghazi!!! committee, had this to say:
“This stunning concession from Rep. McCarthy reveals the truth that Republicans never dared admit in public:  the core Republican goal in establishing the Benghazi Committee was always to damage Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and never to conduct an even-handed search for the facts.  It is shameful that Republicans have used this tragedy and the deaths of our fellow Americans for political gain.  Republicans have blatantly abused their authority in Congress by spending more than $4.5 million in taxpayer funds to pay for a political campaign against Hillary Clinton.”
Only fools (and the Clinton- hating Beltway media) would view the "investigation" as a straight- forward seeking of the truth.  Now that McCarthy has publicly acknowledged what every sentient person knows already, it's going to be even harder to treat this as anything but the charade it is.  But count on the media to continue to look for ways to abet the Republican nihilists.

Mid-Week Birthday Song

Happy birthday to soulful pop singer Johnny Mathis, who turns 80 (!) today.  Mathis has sold some 350 million albums worldwide, making him the third best selling artist of the 20th century. His smooth jazz-influenced vocals propelled him to the top of the charts in the '50s and '60s, and he was awarded a Lifetime Grammy award for his numerous achievements.  Among his mega-hits was "It's Not For Me To Say," which is our birthday salute to him today.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"Republican Role Models Gone Wrong"

Bill Maher on the unfortunate habit of Republicans latching onto, um, flawed role models:

Wanker Of The Day

Beady-eyed extremist and common Republican bully Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Nut-UT).

UPDATEEven pro-life wingers are embarrassed by the "freak show" Chaffetz and Co. put on.

The Monster Inside "Snarly"

As her poll numbers move upward, icy cold job destroyer Carly "Snarly" Fiorina sees her opening to become the Rethuglican frontrunner, and she'll do anything to get there, including engaging in outrageous demagoguery that makes narcissist Donald "Rump" Trump look rational.  Snarly has made several network appearances where her demonstrably false accusations against Planned Parenthood have been questioned, yet she defiantly pushes back. Her bogus "secretary to CEO" and "modest middle class upbringing" biography has been exposed, yet remains a staple of her stump speech. Some of the people that know her personal side describe her as "calculating" and "manipulative."

However, now that she's gaining steam, she's also gaining some limited scrutiny (although most of the broken political media seem smitten with her). While she was CEO of HP, her company arranged an illegal sale of printers to Iran, violating the U.S. trade embargo.  Snarly claims she had no knowledge of the sale and, when pressed, Snarly has stated that the Securities and Exchange Commission "cleared" her after an investigation -- an "investigation" which never occurred.  In other words, she lied.

Snarly also understands that the rabid Rethug base likes a belligerent, jingoistic leader (thus their love/hate feelings toward Putin), so Snarly's not beneath making up stuff to bolster her tough image.  Her spouting of military nonsense in the second debate (build up the Sixth Fleet, add umpty ump battalions here and there, etc.) was meant to convey some serious national security cred.  Now, she's telling a tall tale about an encounter with Putin when she was HP's CEO, which turned out to be an apparently polite conversation in a green room before a speech in which she complimented Putin.  In other words, she lied.

There's a voracious monster inside of Snarly that will do and say positively anything to get to the next rung on the ladder.  Better we learn more about it now than later.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy Wrestles With English Language, Loses

Dana Milbank lets us in on a secret:  likely next Speaker of the House Rep. Kevin "I'm Not a Pod Person!" McCarthy (R-Californington) might not be the brightest bulb in the House Republican chandelier (and, hoo-boy, there's not much wattage there to begin with):
“I have visited Poland, Hungria, Estonia,” he said, and also “visited in our, uh, the allies in the Arab Gulf.”
He has, furthermore, been informed that we “live on the greatest nation that’s ever been on the face of the Earth.”
McCarthy called for “an effective politically strategy to match the military strategy,” and he lamented that “we have isolated Israel while bolding places like Iran.” He blamed President Obama’s White House for “putting us in tough decisions for the future,” but he voiced hope that a “safe zone would create a stem the flow of refugees.
And he scolded the Department of Veterans Affairs for failing to assist returning servicemen “who fought to the death in Ramadi.”
McCarthy’s difficulties were particularly alarming, both because he was mostly reading from a text and because he’s about to enter a very public glare in which his every word, or attempted word, will be analyzed. With the death of Yogi Berra, the new speaker may become the most famous mis-speaker in America. But in a sense, it may not matter what he says, because his colleagues won’t be listening to him anyway.  (our emphasis)
We wishes him good.

(Photo:  Rep. McCarthy, appropriate leader for the Stupid Party.)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon: Paranoia Strikes Deep

(click to enlarge)

(cartoon: Tom Tomorrow, via DailyKos)

Republican Values: Drop Coin In Slot Edition

Republican State Sen. John "Shakedown" Schickel of Kentucky doesn't mind letting you know that he believes it's his right under the First Amendment to accept cash and other gifts from lobbyists while on the job, and he's working to change Kentucky's state ethics laws to allow that.  Give Shakedown points for his version of minimum wage legislation for politicians.  What he's suggesting be above board is what normally goes on below board in state legislatures and the U.S. Capitol (recall the true story of Weeper of the House John "Mr. Tangerine Man" Boehner passing out checks from the tobacco lobby on the floor of the House back in the '90s).

Shakedown's story goes to the core of the century-old Rethuglican view of Government as existing primarily for the protection of business interests, whether it's in the form of corporate tax policy or cutting regulations that protect the public or promote competition.  Naturally, his logic probably goes, a lawmaker doing the bidding of his benefactors, almost as an employee would, should receive compensation from them, be it campaign contributions or outright payments and gifts.  To paraphrase a quote attributed to (among others) Winston Churchill, he's already established what he is, he's just haggling over the price.

America Will Continue To Pay A Price Thanks To Radical Republicans

American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Norm Ornstein writes in The Atlantic about the forces that led to John "Mr. Tangerine Man" Boehner's ouster as Speaker:
... Since 1994, when Newt Gingrich led his party tribe from 40 years of wandering in the desert of the minority to the promised land of House majority, Republicans have become more stridently anti-government and anti-Washington. They have also, when in the majority, become less interested in trying to find policy solutions across party lines. Their desire to act like a parliamentary majority, maintaining rigid discipline and working only internally, became known as the “Hastert Rule” under Gingrich’s successor.
Perfect party discipline continued when Republicans, in the minority, faced Barack Obama in his first two years—unity that translated into reflexive opposition to everything Obama wanted to do. It was part of a broader strategy to delegitimize Obama and Democrats; to cultivate anger and unhappiness as Gingrich had done in 1994 in the midterm elections in 2010; and to seize back majority status, undo the Obama program, and cut government dramatically.
Ornstein goes on to describe the predictable frustrations of this bunch of radical ideologues, and the prospects for Boehner's successor (spoiler alert:  bad to worse).  Continuing to be spurred on by a base that gets its civics lessons from numbnut AM hate radio and Fox "News," and protected in safely gerrymandered seats, the nihilist Republicans' fever isn't likely to break in the foreseeable future.  Good read, though.

BONUS:  Paul Krugman on a party gone mad.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Quote Of The Day - To Be Taken Seriously

"Take demagogues seriously. Voters love them. And they're only a joke until they win." - Rick Perlstein, in an excellent article focused on St. Ronnie of Hollywood and Donald "Rump" Trump, that also applies to most of the mini- demagogues Rump's sharing the Republican clown car bus with.

Sunday Cartoons - Transition Time?

(click on images to enlarge)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

(Steve Benson, Arizona Republic)

The prospect of transition in the Roman Catholic Church looks promising under Pope Francis;  the prospect in the increasingly far-right House Republican loony bin caucus and the party at large, not so much.

Saudis Behaving Badly

The horrific stampede during the hajj in Saudi Arabia last week took the lives of over 700 pilgrims to Mecca.  But when it came time to assess responsibility, the government of Saudi Arabia's response was to blame it on "some pilgrims with African nationalities."  However, eyewitnesses report that the stampede was triggered by the closing of two routes to air-conditioned tents so as to allow "V.I.P. cars to pass." This from a country with one of the world's worst human rights records.

Closer to home, Saudi prince Majed Abdulaziz Al-Saud was arrested by Los Angeles police for allegedly forcing a woman to perform a sex act at his 22,000 square foot Beverly Hills mansion last week.  They are also looking into claims that another four women were raped by the 28 year-old prince.  He's due to appear before a judge on October 19, assuming he doesn't flee to avoid prosecution (recall that the Saudi royal family has a history of taking care of their elites).  Then there was this story last spring about a friend of the Saudi royals who was accused of date rape in Utah (!) and tried to flee the country after someone had posted $100,000 bail for him.

Saudi royalty remains unfazed by these matters, and will flaunt their oil wealth whenever and wherever they please.  Last summer, it was a public beach on the French Riviera that they closed for the private enjoyment of King Salman and 1,000 in his retinue.  So, for the next few weeks while the King's entourage stayed at a massive villa above the beach, that beach was closed to the public.  When you have friends / servants in high places, oil money talks.

(photo:  "Pucker up Mr. President.")

Fiorina: She "Really Was That Bad"

A good read by financier Steve Rattner in the New York Times, reviewing the business credentials of "Snarly" Carly Fiorina, which is, after all, what she's running on:
In 2009, Portfolio magazine ranked her the 19th worst C.E.O. of all time and described her as a “consummate self-promoter” who was “busy pontificating on the lecture circuit and posing for magazine covers while her company floundered.” (That sounds like good preparation for running for president.) [snip]
In a recent essay, Mrs. Fiorina noted that many other successful business leaders — Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney and Michael Bloomberg — were all fired at one point in their careers.
The difference, however, is that all four went on to achieve remarkable business success; Mrs. Fiorina has not held a full-time private sector job since she left H.P. in 2005 — perhaps because no one sought her services.
I certainly recognize that corporate accomplishments are not a prerequisite for a government perch. Indeed, many chief executives fail when they move from the command-and-control business environment to Washington, where consensus-building is a necessity.
However, the lack of public service or sustained business success makes Mrs. Fiorina unqualified for the nation’s highest office.
Rattner briefly mentions Snarly's only other foray into politics, her disastrous (for her) Senate race against Barbara Boxer in the very Republican year of 2010.  (We do have one enduring memory of that race:  her amateurish, risible "demon sheep" ad.)  

Let's pause to remember the only reason she's standing on the stage:  the Republican good ol' boys need to have her there to attack Hillary Clinton without the charge of sexism being raised, a role this "consummate self- promoter" is only too happy to play.

BONUS:  Drew Harwell and Danielle Paquette have a front- page article in the once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle on "Fiorina's Divisive Legacy," that punctures her lies about her tenure at Hewlett-Packard with the testimony of those who worked closely with her, as well as with those damning metrics of success/ failure.

BONUS II:  The once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle editorial board also lashes Snarly's "falsehoods" and "blithe ignorance."   Now watch her rise in the Republican polls.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Trump v. Rubio: Showdown In The Sandbox

Fire up the popcorn machine!

"He's a kid. He has no right — I mean, frankly, he was very disloyal to Bush," Trump said. "Bush was his mentor. And everyone said he'd never run because Bush was his mentor. Well, the fact that Bush was his mentor didn't stop this young guy who is overly ambitious from wanting to run. Now Bush looks foolish and he looks like he's a very disloyal guy, frankly."
Earlier in the day, during a "Morning Joe" interview, Trump also mocked Rubio for perspiring during last week's presidential debate.
"I'm looking at guys like Marco Rubio, who has the worst voting record in the United States Senate. And [he's a] young guy — although he sweats more than any young person I've ever seen in my life," Trump said. "I've never seen a guy down water like he downs water. They bring it in in buckets for this guy."
"He had a really bad debate performance last week," Rubio told Kentucky Sports Radio, according to BuzzFeed. "He's not well informed on the issues. He really never talks about issues and can't have more than a 10-second soundbite on any key issue. And I think he's kind of been exposed a little bit over the last seven days, and he's a very touchy and insecure guy and so that's how he reacts, and people can see through it."
We call it a draw so far.  More, please!
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump drew boos from a heavily supportive conservative crowd on Friday after going after opponent and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
"You have this clown Marco Rubio," he said at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., before being interrupted by the crowd.  (our emphasis)
Ball's in your court, "Glug Glug!"

(Photo:  Trump and Rubio - life-size)

The Undistinuished Tenure Of John Boehner

Regardless of some of the "hail fellow well met" expressions of regret at the departure of John "Mr. Tangerine Man" Boehner, Alex Pareene offers a pretty good epitaph on Boehner's Speakership.  Here are some excerpts:
It was not a distinguished tenure. His meager accomplishments came in spite of himself and to the great consternation of his Republican colleagues. He pinballed from one pathetic humiliation, usually at the hands of his own caucus, to the next. The only reason Boehner remained speaker for as long as he did—to his eternal regret, it is clear—is because his bitterest opponents were too stupid to figure out how to oust him, and his likeliest replacements never wanted the job.  [snip]

So Boehner kept his job, and Congress staggered haplessly into the next crisis.

Because he was dealing with a Congressional caucus increasingly made up of ideologues and idiots, and because he was occasionally forced to betray conservatives in order to stave off catastrophes, moderate pundits occasionally speak, with some fondness, about John Boehner as a man who tried his best to keep his unruly conservative colleagues from doing too much damage.

There is no particular reason to feel any sympathy for the man.

John Boehner was and is an unprincipled ward-heeler who simply couldn’t weather the transition of the Republican Party from a corporatist party with a sizable conservative base to a purely conservative party. Boehner came to power when the priorities of the House Republican caucus were driven by what was effectively straight-up bribery, and his power came from his close ties to industry lobbies. This is the guy, as we all ought to be regularly reminded, who passed out checks from tobacco companies on the floor of the House

But for a man frequently derided as lacking in backbone, he has stuck to his one overarching principle: Each one of his major legislative compromises as speaker
—and even from before he was speaker, like when then-Minority Leader Boehner tearfully begged his Republican colleagues to vote for the 2008 bank bailout—represented Boehner defying the conservative base to act in the interests of the Republican donor class.

The current conservative movement’s frothing, apocalyptic style of politics is the natural result of 30-plus years of resentment-stoking by that same donor class. The monied interests that happily indulged the hysteria of the initial Obama backlash now worry that Jeb Bush can’t beat Donald Trump. Eric Cantor, once Boehner’s likely replacement, and a genuine conservative to his very core, was voted out of office by party activists. It’s long past time for Boehner to get the hell out of Washington and settle into the plush industry “consulting” gig that surely awaits him. 
(our emphasis)
And as the Republican/ New Confederate/ Stupid Party descends further into existential chaos, the Republican wing of the Beltway Kool Kidz continue in their search for the smoking email.

Quote Of The Day

I think it signals the crazies have taken over the party, taken over to the party that you can remove a speaker of the House who’s second in line to be president, a constitutional officer in the middle of his term with no allegations of impropriety, a person who’s honest and doing his job. This has never happened before in our country."  --  Menswear critic and I.R.A. bag man Rep. Peter "Burger" King (R-NY) yesterday on the announced resignation of Weeper of the House John "Mr. Tangerine Man" Boehner.  One phrase we'd take issue with is that Boehner was "doing his job."  Oh, and "the crazies" took over your party a long time before yesterday.

BONUS:  Martin Longman (BooMan) says shed no tears for the Weeper of the House.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Weekend Music Twofer

Life in Film is an indie rock group from East London in the United Kingdom.  This is a song from their recent album "Here It Comes" called "Full Circle."  In addition, for no particular reason, we're also featuring a song from the Beatles' 1964 "Hard Days Night" album, "Things We Said Today."  Hope you enjoy.

Common Home Quote of the Day

From Pope Francis' address to the United Nations General Assembly this morning:
"First, it must be stated that a true 'right of the environment' does exist, for two reasons. First, because we human beings are part of the environment. We live in communion with it, since the environment itself entails ethical limits which human activity must acknowledge and respect. Man, for all his remarkable gifts, which 'are signs of a uniqueness which transcends the spheres of physics and biology', is at the same time a part of these spheres. He possesses a body shaped by physical, chemical and biological elements, and can only survive and develop if the ecological environment is favourable. Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity. Second, because every creature, particularly a living creature, has an intrinsic value, in its existence, its life, its beauty and its interdependence with other creatures. We Christians, together with the other monotheistic religions, believe that the universe is the fruit of a loving decision by the Creator, who permits man respectfully to use creation for the good of his fellow men and for the glory of the Creator; he is not authorized to abuse it, much less to destroy it. In all religions, the environment is a fundamental good. (emphasis added)
This is perhaps the best statement to counter the right-wing's refrain that the Pope shouldn't speak about climate change since it's not a religious issue.  The Pope has framed it as a moral issue, tied to Christianity's belief in the Creation as the deity's work.  He's simply shining a light on their greed and disregard for the fragile Earth that they wish to plunder for profit, and they don't like it.

Exit Weeping, Stage Right

Weeper of the House John "Mr. Tangerine Man" Boehner will be stepping down from his position as Speaker and leave the House of Representatives at the end of October, according to Republican leaders in the House.  Under mounting pressure from the radical right wing members that comprise the majority of his caucus to shut down the Government over funding of Planned Parenthood, the Weeper has apparently decided another pointless Government shutdown was not his cup of Tang.  It will be entertaining to see how far right the next Speaker chosen by rabid, tea bagging House Rethugs will be.

BONUS:  Lots of funny tweets out there, but this is a favorite so far:

BONUS II:  Mr. Tangerine Man leaves office reflecting the lack of respect he and fellow Rethugs have for public service.  A hearty zip-a-dee-doo-dah, to you too.

J.E.B.! Lets His Inner Willard Out

Fading in the polls, House of Bush legacy John Ellis "J.E.B.!" Bush looks like his memory is fading, too.  Three years isn't so distant that someone can't remember plutocrat fumbler Willard "Mittens" Romney's infamous 47% statement, which included mentioning that a lot of people  << cough Blacks  cough >> relied on the Gummint for "free stuff."  Here's witless J.E.B.! yesterday in South Carolina, specifically on the question of attracting African-American voters:
"Our message is one of hope and aspiration. It isn't one of division and get in line and we'll take care of you with free stuff."
So, surprise!, J.E.B.! shares the same offensive image of African-Americans as unmotivated and lazy that Mittens and the entire Rethuglican / New Confederate / Stupid party have:  They're just getting "free stuff" and that's why they vote Democratic.  We'll give them a "message of hope and aspiration" because all they need is motivation, not food or a roof over their heads or a quality education."

Yeah, that'll sell to African-Americans.

UPDATE:  Singer John Legend tweeted the proper response (h/t No More Mister Nice Blog):

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Who Were Those People Pope Francis Kept Referring To?

Most people (yours truly included) were at best vaguely familiar with two American Catholics Pope Francis singled out in his address to Congress earlier today (the other two Americans he mentioned are familiar to us all -- Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr.).  Here's Charles P. Pierce introducing us to the other two:  Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton:
But it was the other two names, Day and Thomas Merton, whom the pope used as an example of the prayerful life and the wish for peace,  that got heads turning. Merton was a monk whose writings were the bulwark of liberal Catholicism from the 1950's until his accidental death in 1968, and Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker movement, was a genuine radical, an avatar of progressive Catholicism for decades. Day was a devout pacifist and a ferocious advocate for social justice, who once took on the inexcusable Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York when Spellman used seminarians as strike-breakers against the archdiocese's grave-diggers.
(How radical was she? William F. Buckley, whose Catholicism stopped at the Council of Trent, once derided her as slovenly, dangerous, and not a Catholic. Dorothy Day is now a candidate for sainthood. WFB is, ah, not.)
Commendable and very revealing choices.  

Today's Cartoons - Exorcising Republican Demons?

(click on images to enlarge)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

(Tom Toles, once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle)

Morning Reading - "A Pope Who Leans Left"

Harold Meyerson has today's morning reading, where he reminds the right-wingers whose sudden antipathy to the head of the Roman Catholic Church that they may be taking issue with a certain carpenter as well:
The Wall Street Journal laments his overt embrace of the “progressive political agenda of income redistribution.” My Post colleague George F. Will writes that, “Americans cannot simultaneously honor him and celebrate their nation’s premises.”

It’s not clear, however, whether the Journal and Will’s argument is with the pope or with the Christianity of the saint whose name he took, or even more fundamentally, with the Nazareth carpenter whom Christians believe was the son of God[snip]
Suppose, for instance, that the pope elects, in his address to Congress, to repeat one of that carpenter’s most famous quotes: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
Based on past performance, can we expect some Republican congressman to leap to his feet and shout, “You lie,” or Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. to shake his head in dissent? Both occurrences greeted addresses to Congress by President Obama, speeches that were nowhere remotely as inflammatory as those in a recent papal encyclical, much less the Sermon on the Mount.  [our emphasis]
Meyerson goes on to illustrate how -- in addressing capitalism, worker rights, human dignity and poverty -- Pope Francis is following the teachings of "the Nazareth carpenter" as well as that of Popes going back to Leo XIII in the 19th Century,  the main difference being Francis is "walking the walk."  At the same time, he's de-emphasizing the socio- political issues beloved by the right. As such, he's of course infuriating the knuckle draggers:
These conservatives lament that Francis has de-emphasized the church’s traditional fear and loathing of women and sex. How a church governed by male celibates should have come to view its areas of core competency as gender relations and reproduction is a good question. By returning to the kind of issues that St. Francis and the Nazarene focused on — stewardship of the Earth, championing of the have-nots — Francis has been a great disappointment to those Catholics nostalgic for the spirit, if not the letter, of the Inquisition.
A pope infused by the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi and Jesus poses a threat to the current economic order. Conservatives are right to fear and despise him, as they would be right to fear and despise his role models. The final scene of George Bernard Shaw’s play “Saint Joan” places Joan of Arc in a dream sequence in which all her persecutors, once she’s safely dead and canonized, praise her and acknowledge her sainthood. When she asks them if she should return to Earth and live again, however, they answer with fear, loathing and a resounding “no.” That, in essence, is the conservatives’ response to Pope Francis, and to the spirit and faith he embodies.  [our emphasis]
The Pope is about to address Congress as we post this.  We await what he has to say, and how it's received.

UPDATE:  Here's the text of the remarks Pope Francis made to Congress.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

D.C. Welcomes Pope Francis

In his remarks at his welcoming ceremony at the White House today, Pope Francis made a strong appeal to the U.S. and world community to heed the signs of global climate change and to take steps to ensure that future generations had a sustainable future:
"Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution,” the pope said during his brief speech at the White House. “Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment of history."
Later, at St. Matthew's Cathedral, speaking to U.S. bishops, the Pope addressed immigration urging his bishops to continue their welcoming of immigrants, saying, "Do not be afraid to welcome them ... I am certain that, as so often in the past, these people will enrich America and its church."

Tomorrow, the Pope addresses a joint session of Congress whose Rethuglican majority is increasingly at odds with him over the issues of climate change, income inequality and immigration.  We'll see if his remarks are received with respect by the more reactionary members, who will see anything he says through their partisan lens.

UPDATE:  Wingnuts vent their anger at the Pope for differing from their political ideology.  Again, they see everything through their partisan lens…which pokes out of their belly buttons.

UPDATE II:   Wankers, wankers and more wankers, circling the drain of history.

(photo: The Pope giving the "thumbs up" to crowds along Constitution Avenue in D.C.  J. Scalzo, European Pressphoto Agency)

Mid-Week Bright Song

California-based indie group Echosmith is a family enterprise of sorts:  the group consists of the four Sierota siblings, three boys with sister Sydney singing lead vocals.  They had a double platinum hit with "Cool Kids" in 2014, and released their second top 40 hit, "Bright", earlier this year.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Photos Of The Day - The Pope Arrives In America

Pope Francis arrives at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, DC, is warmly greeted by President and Mrs. Obama, and departs not in a limousine, or an SUV, or the Popemobile, but in a humble, fuel-efficient Fiat 500.  (OK, we'll admit it - we're big fans of the Pope.)

(Photo: Saul Loeb via Getty Images)

(Photo: Saul Loeb via Getty Images)


(Photo: San Diego Union)

Scottie Walks Tweet of the Day

Government Shutdown Republicans: Same Cast, Same Script

Bloomberg's Sahil Kapur reminds us that the same nihilist Republican cranks and opportunists who shut down the federal government in 2013 over Obamacare are now using the same discredited script to try to block funding for Planned Parenthood:
Republicans who want to shut the down the federal government rather than provide $500 million in funding to Planned Parenthood insist that their party won't be punished for having the courage of its anti-abortion convictions.
They say the millions of Americans inconvenienced by the closing of national parks and delays of services (not to mentioned missed paychecks for federal workers) won't blame Republicans for refusing to pass a federal funding bill that contains money for the women's health care services provider. Instead, the theory goes, voters will blame the Democratic president, who plans to veto the bill if it doesn't include money for Planned Parenthood.
And, once again, how did that genius theory work for them in 2013?
In the end, Republican lost the fight. Not just because they had to cave and pass a bill that continued funding for Obamacare, but because they took the political hit for it: 81 percent of Americans disapproved of the shutdown, and the public blamed Republicans by a 53 percent to 39 percent margin, according to a Washington Post/ABC poll taken at the time. Nine days into the shutdown, Gallup found that the GOP's approval rating had sunk to an all-time low. Democrats' approval dipped more modestly.
The cast of crackpots characters remains the same:  the grandstanding uber-cynic Sen. "Tailgunner Ted" Cruz, "establishment" flavor of the week Sen. Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio, Sen. "Ayn" Rand Paul (hovering around 4 percent in the polls), and unteachable House crazies like Rep. Jim "Air Head" Jordan (R-OH).  Of course, Cruz, Rubio and Paul are simply in this doomed fight to score points with the base voters who are itching for another confrontation with Obummer and the Demoncrats, to hell with gummint!  This is pure posturing and, to an extent, whistling past the graveyard, since all were around to see how this blame-the-President strategy has blown up on them with the general public over and over again.  But now, they're in a "Lord of the Flies" primary, and the votes up for grabs are those cast by the most low-information, angry yahoos -- and they want their share of those votes.  But, unlike 2013, which led up to an off-year election, shenanigans pulled this year are leading up to a presidential election, with greater attention and turnout implications.

If they follow the script and succeed in shutting down government over Planned Parenthood funding (something a whopping 71 percent of the American people don't want), the reviews are going to be harsh... again.

President Obama: No Contradiction Between Caring About Police Safety And Reform

Here's an excerpt from President Obama's speech to the Congressional Black Caucus on Saturday, in which he makes it quite clear that caring for the safety of police officers and criminal justice reform is not an either/ or proposition, but a both/ and proposition (h/t Crooks and Liars):

Nice, deserved swipe at GOP-TV Fox "News" for its on-going campaign of calumny, implying the President doesn't care about the lives of police officers.

Pope Roger And His Church Of Republican Crazy

Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog points to the source of the unrestrained ignorance and bigotry spewing out of Republican candidates' mouths, and why, contrary to the fervid fantasy of the "mainstream media," it's not some recent, unexpected phenomenon:
The Republican Party has a pope. His name is Roger Ailes. He's the guy who gave us the "Ground Zero mosque" controversy. He's the guy who gave Donald Trump a regular platform to hold forth on politics starting in 2011, when Trump was fixated on President Obama's birth certificate and, implicitly, his true allegiance to Islam. He's the guy who allows rabid Islamophobe Pam Geller to make regular appearances on Fox.  [snip]
Perhaps, according to the men [NY Times' Jonathan] Martin quotes, Roger Ailes is a "warlord" because he's not an elected officeholder, Cabinet member, or party official. But in that case, the GOP has been turning its leadership responsibilities over to "warlords" for a generation: Drudge, Coulter, Limbaugh, Breitbart and his heirs.
A simpler explanation: these people are the hierarchy of the GOP. They're the cardinals. Ailes is the pope. What we're seeing now isn't what the GOP has temporarily become in the absence of a leader -- it's what the GOP is today under the well-established, stable leadership of Pope Roger.
As we watch in disgust at the continuing demonization by Republicans of Muslims, Hispanics, Asians, non-heterosexuals, liberals, government, Planned Parenthood, Pope Francis himself, etc., we agree with Steve's assessment that the media isn't going to recognize what has been trending for 40 years or more:  that the un-American ugliness isn't an aberration, but an integral part of the Republican Party's DNA, encouraged and sanctified by "Pope Roger" and his "cardinals."

BONUS:  More from Steve M. on the radicalism of the Republican base.

(Image:  "Pope" Roger Ailes, a.k.a., Jabba the Nut.)

Cartoon of the Day

(click to enlarge)

Rethuglican candidates for President are confident that their party's base will swallow any easily disproved statement, from immigration policy to the President's citizenship and religion, to Planned Parenthood.  One of the observations about the Rethugs after their 2012 defeat was that they lived in a fact-free bubble of their own making, and it's only gotten worse.  This summer, it was narcissistic buffoon Donald "Rump" Trump, now it's the up-and-coming job killer Carly "Snarly" Fiorina spouting the nonsense and falsehoods.  That seems to be the winning formula for attracting the Rethug base.

(cartoon:  Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Report: Scott "Koch Head" Walker Exiting Republican Clown Bus

According to a report in the New York Times, Koch brothers puppet Gov. Scott "Koch Head" Walker (R-Kochland) is going to drop out of the race for the Republican/ New Confederate/ Stupid Party nomination:
Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin has concluded he no longer has a path to the Republican presidential nomination and plans to drop out of the 2016 campaign, according to three Republicans familiar with his decision, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Mr. Walker called a news conference in Madison at 6 p.m. Eastern time.  (our emphasis)
It's been a meteoric rise and fall for the Cipher from Chippewa Falls.  As the polls indicated, the more Walker's shallowness was exposed, the more he waffled, the more he showed he was waay over his head, the faster he plummeted.  If the reports are true (and we'll know very soon), Walker and his band of nihilists will now be free to slouch back to Madison and resume abusing the citizens and what's left of the good government of Wisconsin.  At best, it's a win/ lose.

UPDATE:  Here's AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka:

UPDATE IIHere's Koch Head urging other non-viable candidates to clear some space for an alternative to "Rump" Trump (which will be taken by "Rump" as other Republicans not treating him well... more fallout to come):
"I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same so the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current frontrunner," Walker added.

If Gordon Gekko's* Turd Came Alive...

…it would be former hedge fund manager and soulless s.o.b. Martin "Screw You" Shkreli, who decided it would be a good idea to create Turing Pharmaceuticals and acquire the rights to Daraprim, a drug used for treating toxoplasmosis in AIDS patients and others with compromised immune systems.  He also thought it would be a good idea to raise the per pill price of the drug from $13.50 to $750, a 5,500% increase.  Each pill has a reported cost of $1 to manufacture.

The 32 year old poster boy for rapacious greed has a history of acquiring long-existing pharmaceuticals and raising their prices.  But is he in the least bit chastened by the exposure of his greed?   “It really doesn’t make sense to get any criticism for this,” Screw You explained.  Actually, it would make more sense if there were a windfall profits / predatory business practices law that he could be tried and convicted under.
*for the cinematically challenged, he's this guy.

Is Carly Fiorina A Pathological Liar, Or Just A Common One?

As we previously noted, Republican who- will- never- be- President star of the moment "Snarly" Carly Fiorina has been caught in another lie, but continues to double-down:
At last week’s Republican debate, Carly Fiorina described a Planned Parenthood video showing “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’”

There is no such video. It does not exist. This pesky detail has since touched off a striking series of events.
Among those events was this recent exchange with no less than Chris Wallace on GOP-TV Fox "News:"
WALLACE: First of all, do you acknowledge what every fact checker has found, that as horrific as that scene is, it was only described on the video by someone who claimed to have seen it? There is no actual footage of the incident that you just mentioned? 
FIORINA: No, I don’t accept that at all. I’ve seen the footage. And I find it amazing, actually, that all these supposed fact-checkers in the mainstream media claim this doesn’t exist. They’re trying to attack the authenticity of the videotape.  (our emphasis)
That's right - every fact checker rated Snarly's statement as a figment of her imagination at best, or as we would characterize it,  a lie. We've noted this is becoming something of a habit for Snarly.  But since the knuckle- draggers she's appealing to don't particularly want to be confused by facts that they don't agree with (and the media rarely calls these jamokes in real time), there is little downside to lying your ass off if you're a Republican running for office.  In fact, if you can turn it around and blame the "mainstream media" after you've been caught in a blatant lie, you've "won the morning!"

But we'd like to leave you with the Zen Twitter stylings of front-runner Donald "Rump" Trump, who continues to be bearish on Snarly:

Now, that's what we call the truth, Snarly.

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon - Stumped By Trump

(click on image to enlarge)

(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

Yes, "It's all fun and games until the crazy man ends up in the Oval Office."  Or any of the other eleventy billion Republicans running for President, for that matter.

BONUS:  Digby has a good read on "Rump" Trump and the media.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Scott Walker To Join "Kiddie Table" Soon

[Musical accompaniment to this post]

The always slim-to-none presidential hopes of Koch brothers puppet Gov. Scott "Koch Head" Walker (R-Kochland) seem to be running on fumes, according to a new CNN/ORC poll taken after the recent Republican clown car bus "debate:"
Five other candidates received less than one-half of 1 percentage point support: former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former New York Gov. George Pataki and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Walker's collapse is especially stark.

Celebrated by conservatives -- in the party's base and its donor class alike -- for his union-busting efforts in Wisconsin, Walker at one point led the field in the key early voting state of Iowa.

His support had already dropped to 5% in a CNN/ORC poll in early September, but the bottom appears to have fallen out completely since then -- with a second flat debate performance coming after criticism of his disparate answers on issues like birthright citizenship.  (our emphasis)
So, the Metternich of Menasha is now in the "junior varsity" "kiddie table" crowd.  Seems appropriate.

Time to find a new horse('s ass) to waste your money on, Kochs!

Carson's Religious Test

In the wake of narcissist vulgarian Donald "Rump" Trump's acceptance of a wingnut follower's rabid Islamophobia last week, it was only a matter of time before Rump's companion in nuttiness Dr. Ben "Off Meds?" Carson weighed in on the proper place of American Muslims.  Here's the Conzitushunal expert himself weighing in on whether he thinks a Muslim should be allowed to be President:
"I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that."
Aside from the fact that Article VI of the Constitution expressly says "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States," it's richly ironic that a man whose ancestors were denied basic human rights, including the right to vote or hold office, would voice such a bigoted and ignorant opinion about another minority.

The Pope And His Detractors

(click on image to enlarge)

(Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle)

With the impending visit of Pope Francis to the United States this week, there's a new poll out showing the Pope is wildly popular with both Catholics and non-Catholics;  his church, not so much:
Pope Francis is adored by American Catholics and non-Catholics, who have embraced his optimism, humility and more inclusive tone. But as the 78-year-old pontiff arrives in the United States for his first visit, the public’s view of the Catholic Church is not nearly as favorable, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. [snip]
The pope’s activism on social, economic and environmental issues is supported by a wide swath of Catholics and non-Catholics, with just 14 percent of Americans wishing he would be less active on those issues. Thirty percent of Catholics wish he would be more active on those issues, while more than half think Francis should continue as he has been. Just over half of non-Catholics are comfortable with his current level of outspokenness.
The poll also found limited discomfort about Francis’s speech Thursday before a joint meeting of Congress, the first for any pope. Two-thirds of Catholics said it was appropriate for him to address social, economic and environmental issues before lawmakers, as did nearly 6 in 10 among the public overall(our emphasis)
 Immune to the Pope's charms are paleo-reactionaries like Republican cafeteria Catholic Rep. Paul Gosar (Fossil-AZ), who will boycott the Pope's address to Congress, and plutocrats' best friend columnist George "Quill" Will, whose tiny Tory fists are clenched in unholy rage against the Pontiff's messages of social and economic justice, and saving the planet:
Pope Francis embodies sanctity but comes trailing clouds of sanctimony. With a convert’s indiscriminate zeal, he embraces ideas impeccably fashionable, demonstrably false and deeply reactionary. They would devastate the poor on whose behalf he purports to speak — if his policy prescriptions were not as implausible as his social diagnoses are shrill. 
Wow.  We might maybe give half a s**t about what "Quill" Will had to say about "sanctimony" had he, say, addressed the previous two conservative Pontiffs turning a largely blind eye to the pedophile crisis in the Church.  Or if "Quill" Will himself didn't absolutely reek of the sanctimony he falsely pins on Pope Francis (Will is, of course, a climate-change denier with ties to the fossil fuel industry; and an "independent journalist" who secretly helped St. Ronnie of Hollywood prepare for debates;  his second wife now works for Gov. Scott "Koch Head" Walker -- nice fellah).

Will, of course, is not alone in his Pope-rage.  Right-wing squealers from "Oxycontin" Rush Limbaugh to dullard pols like Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum have criticized the Pope's refreshing new emphasis on issues that matter to people and the Earth.  Watching the tiny heads of these awful people explode is part of the pleasure in having Pope Francis speak out, knowing the vast majority of the public embraces him.

BONUS:  Charles P. Pierce rips Will a new one.

Latino Victory Project Promoting Voter Registration

This new 30-second spot by the Latino Victory Project is a shot across the nativist Republican bow.  The real measure will be taken in the trenches of Latino voter registration and turnout.  Let's hope -- and work -- for that outcome.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

"…except for that one little time."

Clueless plutocrat John Ellis "J.E.B.!" Bush might want to avoid combining the "he kept us safe" slogan and pictures of  brother Dumbya atop the rubble of 9-11.  Just a thought.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Weekend Musical Rainbow

"Arco Iris" (or "Rainbow") is the title of this lovely traditional song from Peru, performed by the indigenous group Nazca.  May your weekend be full of rainbows.

Great Moments In Republican Rhetoric, Ethnic Cleansing Edition

Yesterday's rally and Q&A session featuring birther narcissist Donald "Rump" Trump and a deranged audience in New Hampshire produced this ugly moment with a fan of his:
Lunatic in the audience: "We have a problem in this country. It's called Muslims. You know our current president is one. You know he's not even an American. Anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That's my question: When can we get rid of them?"

Rump's answer: "We're going to be looking at a lot of different things. You know, a lot of people are saying that and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening. We're going to be looking at that and many other things."  (emphasis added)
Rump's refusal to respond to the debunked -- but, among Rethuglicans, widely held -- belief that President Obama is a Muslim foreign national is par for the Rump course.  But the new element is the proto-genocidal comment that we should "get rid of" American Muslims. At a time when the Rethug base views rounding up and transporting over 11 million undocumented Hispanic immigrants as perfectly acceptable, this new call for ethnic cleansing of a religious minority from a deranged Rump supporter and Rump's pandering to him should deeply offend any decent person.

Republican Crime Blotter - Mac Attack (UPDATED)

It appears not only does Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio (Tea-FL) have a bellicose foreign policy approach, but someone working for him must think the jaw of an "Ayn" Rand Paul campaign official is ISIS:
A top official for Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s presidential campaign said Friday he was punched in the face by a man working for rival Sen. Marco Rubio at a bar on Mackinac Island, where Republicans are gathered this weekend for a leadership conference.
Grand Rapids consultant John Yob, who is Paul’s national political director, said early Friday he was assaulted in a Mackinac Island bar by a man he and a witness identified as working for Rubio.
“He literally physically assaulted me by punching me in the face,” Yob wrote in a Facebook post. “The state police are looking for him. I have it on video, from multiple angles. This will play out in the national media in the next few hours.”  [snip
Brandon Hall, a conservative blogger from Grand Haven, said Friday he witnessed Yob being punched at Horn’s Gaslight Bar, a popular Mackinac Island watering hole.
“As I was sitting at the bar talking to someone at Horn’s in Mackinac Island Thursday night, I witnessed (the man) suddenly, out of nowhere, approach one of Rand Paul’s advisers, John Yob — unprovoked — and try to hit him,” Hall wrote on his West Michigan Politics blog. “(He) missed a full on shot but still struck Yob’s in the face with a powerful blow near the jaw.”
Who would this (presumably inebriated) Rubio brawler be?

Yes, Rich Beeson, Glug Glug's national campaign manager. He seems like a nice, normal person.  The whole Republican/ New Confederate/ Stupid Party seems like nice, normal people, too.

Postscript:  We hear from the Mackinac police chief Barney Fife Brett Riccinto and Wonkette sums up the entire episode:
"It wasn’t a brawl,” Mackinac Island police chief Brett Riccinto told the Guardian on Friday. “If anything, it was a shove. Literally, it was a shove. This thing has been blown way, way, way out of proportion.”
“Grow up, you withering pansies,” he did not add. Anyway, you boys play nice, because you’ve both got faces only your mothers could refrain from punching. And always remember what you learned in self-defense class: Use your keys as a weapon, and don’t ever be ashamed of calling your moms for help.