Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Republican-Who-Will-Never-Be-President Profile

Charles Pierce profiles one of the third (or fifth) tier potential Republican presidential candidates:
Carly Fiorina, who has failed spectacularly at business and even more spectacularly at politics, is now thinking of running for president based on her staggering career success. [snip]
I have heard of humble-bragging, but this is an entirely new tactic -- failure-bragging. At Hewlett-Packard, she nearly ran the company into Middle Earth, bragged about outsourcing jobs when she did it, and was generally so incompetent a manager that the company paid her millions of dollars to never darken its towels again. This is the record on which she is running for president. Also, no porn at work, or she's going to outsource the Department of Agriculture to a sweatshop in Bangladesh.
Fiorina's main utility for Republicans will be to appear on all the Serious News Shows to refute the notion that there's a Republican War on Women.  She'll be there to demonstrate that, when it came to outsourcing jobs at Hewlett-Packard, there was no discrimination:  you got a pink slip whether you were a man or a woman.

(Image:  "I'm going to run you into the ground, America, just like I did with Hewlett-Packard!")

Good To Know Who's Supporting The Bigots

As the backlash against Indiana's anti-LGBT law grows, there are some who have another opinion about the law:
Republican presidential hopefuls are lining up in defense of Indiana’s controversial “religious freedom” law, which critics warn will open the door to legal discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals by businesses in the state.
“I think Gov. [Mike] Pence has done the right thing,” former Florida governor and likely 2016 contender Jeb Bush said in a Monday interview. “I think once the facts are established, people aren’t going to see this as discriminatory at all.”
As a reason why such laws are necessary, Bush pointed to the case of a Washington state florist who was fined for refusing to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding.  (our emphasis)
The tell right there is Jebbie Bush's example of the florist who refused service to a same-sex couple.  ("But it's not about discrimination! =wink=wink= ")  "Moderate" Jebbie needs to brush up on the Indiana Republican talking points, which seek to obfuscate the potential for anti-LGBT discrimination as represented by the Washington State florist example.

Sen. Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio, Sen. "Tailgunner Ted" Cruz, Gov. Piyush "Bobby" Jindal, and Ben "On Meds?" Carson have also stated their support for the anti-LGBT law.  Koch employee of the year and vanquisher of ISIS labor unions Gov. Scott "Koch Head" Walker has effectively shrugged and run in the other direction when asked about his views (a man of many minds has no mind at all, it's said).

Let's make sure the American public remembers this shameful episode, and the response of Republican presidential bigots hopefuls, as November 2016 approaches.

BONUS:  As if any further proof were needed, this is how the anti-LGBT law is seen in reality by the good upstanding Christians knuckle-draggers.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Duckworth Announces For Senate In Illinois

Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Mark Kirk, putting the seat in more danger for the Rethuglicans in 2016. Duckworth, a double amputee combat veteran of the Iraq War, is also a retired lieutenant colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard.  Kirk, who is in his first term, has been a pretty reliable vote for the Republican / New Confederate / Stupid Party's policy of obstruction.  He was one of the signers of the infamous letter to Iran's leaders concerning talks on nuclear disarmament.  Having suffered a serious stroke in early 2012, Kirk has been making progress in his rehabilitation.

Duckworth ran a courageous race for her seat in 2012 against corrupt wingnut and deadbeat dad Joe "Joke" Walsh, who ran a slimy, cowardly campaign against her and lost.

Heeeerre's Trevor

Comedy Central has announced that the replacement for the irreplaceable Jon Stewart on The Daily Show will be South African-born comedian Trevor Noah.  Noah has appeared on The Daily Show a few times, but is not as well known as some of the regulars.

We're hoping he has -- or can develop -- Stewart's sense of comedic outrage at hacks in politics and the general culture alike, from the treatment of veterans and our environment, to right-wing politicians and their media allies.

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon: Cruz-ing To Victory

(click on image to enlarge)

(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Sermon

Under extraordinary pressure from business and other groups, Indiana's Republican Gov. Mike "Dense" Pence now says he's in favor of legislation  "clarifying" the recent anti-LGBT law that allows businesses to refuse service to LBGT people on the basis of "religious beliefs."  The catch, of course, is that he says it won't carve out an exception for LGBT people -- "not my agenda."

As the estimable John Fugelsang said on MSNBC
“You know, being gay is natural, hating gays is a lifestyle choice, and Mike Pence should be very very grateful there isn’t a law that prohibits businesses from serving fake Christian bigots."
UPDATE:  Dense apparently has no problem lying about what the law does, and comparing it to a law that then-State Senator Obama voted for in Illinois or the Federal law signed over 20 years ago by President Clinton.

UPDATE II:  One Republican lawmaker in Indiana expects to see "No Gays Allowed" signs in his state.  Well done, bigot.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

His Unlucky Number

New Hampshire's Grafton County Republican Committee came up with the idea for a fundraiser to auction ties donated by prospective Republican candidates in 2016 -- all eighteen (!) of them.  That didn't turn out to be such a great idea as far as short-fingered vulgarian and birther buffoon Donald "Rump" Trump:
"Real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump was among the 18 possible Republican White House hopefuls who contributed a tie to the auction.

But when the online auction ended at midnight on Saturday, the famously well-dressed Trump -- the one prospective candidate in the field who sells his own line of neckwear -- finished in a disappointing 13th place." (emphasis added)
The fact that he was beaten by such lightweights as nutcase bomb thrower John "Pornstache" Bolton and -- this is rich -- former Maryland Gov. Bob Erlich (who, what?) indicates that Rump's ego far outdistances his appeal, even to the hardcore base.

Willie Nelson: Cannabis Capitalist

One of America's (and progressives') most beloved artists, Willie Nelson, 81, has announced he's segueing from his long-time advocacy for marijuana legalization into a business venture:
... [W]e’re talking about why he puts on the [Heartbreaker Banquet fundraiser/ music] event every year. In the process, he lets slip that he has something else in the works: a new brand of weed, called, naturally, Willie’s Reserve. (our emphasis)
The venture will include not only Willie's special weed, but also branded bongs and stores in states where marijuana use is legal.  With the venture up and running, cannabis-infused Willie may, in the distant future, be able to offer fans a really special "weed".

Saturday Reading - "Lesser-Evilism We Can Believe In"

Michael Tomasky writes on why it's vitally important that progressives support the Democratic Party nominee, whoever she is:
... With the Republican Party controlled by the radical right, a Republican presidency doesn't mean merely that you're going to have to see that distasteful reactionary with the cracker-ish accent on your TV screen for the next few years. It means that thousands of people are going to be making many thousands of deeply reactionary decisions, across all federal agencies and departments. This stuff doesn't make the front pages. It rarely makes the news at all. But it goes on, and it affects all of us every day: decisions about civil-rights and environmental enforcement, about the protection of public lands, about the ethical questions raised in scientific research, about the safety of consumer products (and now financial instruments, thanks to Elizabeth Warren), about which polluting or swindling corporations to investigate and with how much zeal… You get the picture.
When you think of the presidency in these terms, Hillary Clinton's various and real ideological impurities become less central, and the idea that the executive branch will be staffed either by people who think they ought to carry out the mission of the agency they work for, or by people who are scheming to subvert that mission, becomes pivotal. And this is why I say that no matter who the candidate is—no matter how deeply in hock to Wall Street, no matter how tepid her (ahem) inequality platform—the responsible person of the left must vote for the Democrat. Not strategically, but on principle. And not sometimes, or only in the states where it might truly matter. Everywhere, and every time.  (our emphasis)
After presenting examples of reactionary Republican "governance" and what it means when you have the Executive Branch salted with people who subscribe to anti-tax monomaniac Grover Norquist's philosophy of dismembering government to the point where you can "drown it in the bathtub," he addresses the Naderite purists on the left and the consequences of a "protest vote:"
This is what you're helping unleash on this country with your "protest vote." And something else I've noticed over the years: protest votes tend to be cast by people who don't have much skin in the game when it comes to the direct delivery of government services. That is, their own day-to-day lives won't really be affected much by which party controls the White House. But most people who are direct beneficiaries of government programs and services can't afford the luxury of being protest voters. Yes, millions of them vote Republican, because their guns (or whatever) are more important to them than their pay packet. But most poorer people still vote Democratic, and I can't imagine that you could have gone to, say, the corner of 145th Street and Lenox Avenue in early November of 2000 and found many Ralph Nader voters(our emphasis)
At this point in American politics, we would have to agree with Tomasky that it's not a question of a potential choice being between "the lesser of two evils";  the question is, which party will bring people into government who will enforce laws and regulations that protect and benefit average Americans, versus which party will bring people in to actively subvert those protections.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Weekend Hate Your Next Door Neighbor But Don't Forget To Say Grace Song

It seems this song by country music quartet Little Big Town has some talibangelist nitwits all riled up because of this: 
Alana Lynn, a morning co-host on country music station 104.3 FM in Boise, Idaho, was excited to play Little Big Town’s latest single for her listeners. “Girl Crush,” a powerful ballad about a woman envious of her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend, seemed destined to be a hit.
“I want to taste her lips, yeah cause they taste like you / I want to drown myself in a bottle of her perfume,” vocalist Karen Fairchild sings. “I want her long blond hair, I want her magic touch / Yeah cause maybe then, you’d want me just as much. . . I got a girl crush.”
Sure, it’s a provocative way to describe jealousy. But when Lynn played the song on the air, she didn’t anticipate that she would get furious phone calls and e-mails accusing “Girl Crush” of “promoting the gay agenda” and threats to boycott the station.
It must be challenging to go through life with a mind so simple that you can't discern a subtle conceit  like the one in "Girl Crush."  It must be, um, crushing to go through life with a mind so full of hate that you would respond to this song in the vicious way so many upright "Christians" apparently have. In light of this, and of Thursday's passage of the hate law in Indiana, we'd like to offer this as our Weekend Song (h/t brother Hackwhacker):

Indiana's Anti-LGBT Travesty

God-botherers and the cranks assembled together as the Indiana Republican Party strike another blow for freedumb tolerance ugly discrimination:
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) quietly signed legislation Thursday that could legalize discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act would allow any individual or corporation to cite its religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party. But many opponents of the bill, which included business leaders, argued that it could open the door to widespread discrimination. Business owners who don't want to serve same-sex couples, for example, could now have legal protections to discriminate.
"[Q]uietly signed legislation."  We don't doubt Pence and his fellow Republicans were trying to low-key this homophobic piece of malicious trash.  But the potential impact of "The Religious Freedom Restoration Act," perhaps one of the more Orwellian titles for a law that we've ever witnessed, is huge:
"These bills are often incredibly vague and light on details -- usually intentionally. In practice, most of these bills could empower any individual to sue the government to attempt to end enforcement of a non-discrimination law," wrote the LGBT equality group in a report. "The evangelical owner of a business providing a secular service can sue claiming that their personal faith empowers them to refuse to hire Jews, divorcees, or LGBT people. A landlord could claim the right to refuse to rent an apartment to a Muslim or a transgender person."

In a statement Thursday, HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said the Indiana General Assembly and Pence have sent a message saying, "as long as your religion tells you to, it’s ok to discriminate against people despite what the law says."
The NCAA, which holds it's Final Four college basketball tournament and is headquartered in Indianapolis, promised to "examine the implications of the bill," and corporate giant Salesforce is cancelling all programs in Indiana.  In addition, the Gen Con gaming convention is expected to change its venue from Indianapolis (it's the largest and most lucrative convention hosted by the city).

In the "good for them" category, among the groups and individuals expressing dismay over this retrograde legislation are the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) -- who could teach the Bible-bangers who pushed for this law a thing or three about the real meaning of Christ's teachings -- and, yes,  the Republican mayor of Indianapolis. 

Editorial boards are also weighing in, with the once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle saying the law is "embracing intolerance under the guise of protecting people of faith."  The Terre Haute (IN) Tribune Star called it a "disgusting discrimination law."  The Iowa State Daily called it "a step backward for civil rights."

This, we have to believe, is a temporary step backward for civil rights for LGBT people, who -- in 2015! --should not have to suffer discrimination because the warped "religious" views of an intolerant minority hold sway over the Republican/ New Confederate/ Stupid Party.

(Image: Indiana Republican Preacher Gov. Mike Pence - "Thou shalt be a bigoted ass.")

Reid Won't Run for Re-Election

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) has announced that he won't be running for reelection in 2016.  Reid, 75, would have faced a tough reelection in the swing state of Nevada, and was the prime target of big right-wing money from the Koch brothers and Sheldon "Smelly Shelly" Adelson.  Reid suffered a serious fall a few months ago, where he broke some ribs and bones in his face, causing damage to his right eye.  Reid's announcement will set off a scramble for his leadership position among his top lieutenants, including Sens. Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin.  In Nevada, former Democratic State Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto is considered to be a leading contender for the seat, if she so chooses.

Here's a picture from the signing ceremony for the Affordable Care Act on March 22, 2010, one of Harry Reid's most important legislative achievements:

BONUS: More on Harry Reid's lasting legacy.

More On Walker's "Dark Money" Problem

Last Tuesday, we commented on the unfolding "dark money" problem that faces Wisconsin Governor and Koch Industries' employee of the year Scott "Koch Head" Walker.  Investigative reporter Michael Isikoff revealed the connections between big Koch Head donors like home improvement magnate John Menard, Jr. and favorable legislation and other pay-to-play schemes.  Isikoff's investigation has also revealed a sweetheart relationship between Koch Head and a "advocacy group," ironically called Watchdog.org, whose Wisconsin Reporter affiliate routinely defends Koch Head against charges of corruption.  Watchdog.org's parent company has received 95% of its funding in years past from the conservative Donors Group.  It's an intentionally complicated web of interactions and political payoffs, made more opaque by the notorious Citizens United case which opened the floodgates of plutocrat money into politics.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

CNN/ ORC Poll: More Americans Trust Obama On Major Issues

From the latest CNN/ ORC poll (March 13-15):
Direct diplomatic negotiations with Iran are broadly popular, 68% favor them, while 29% oppose them. That support cuts across party lines, with 77% of Democrats, 65% of Republicans and 64% of independents in favor of diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran in an attempt to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. [snip]
Americans have greater confidence in President Barack Obama than the Republicans in Congress in dealing with major issues, whether those are domestic or related to foreign policy. Just about half said they have faith in Obama on major issues and major foreign policy issues, while 4-in-10 have greater confidence in the GOP. About 1-in-10 say they trust neither side on the big issues.
And most were not happy with the stunt pulled by freshly-minted teabagger Republican Sen. Tom "Ear to Ear" Cotton (a.k.a., "the Metternich of the Ozarks" h/t Charlie Pierce), who convinced 46 of his fellow Republican traitors dimwits in the Senate to sign a letter to the mullahs in Iran saying any agreement on Iran's nuclear program that President Obama negotiated wouldn't last beyond his administration:
All told, 49% of Americans say the letter went too far, while 39% think it was an appropriate response to the way negotiations over Iran's nuclear program were going. Opinions on the letter were divided along partisan lines, with 67% of Democrats saying it went too far while 52% of Republicans called it appropriate. Among independents, 47% thought it went too far, 42% that it was appropriate.
You can fool some of the people... (we call them "Republicans").

Cartoon Three-fer - Tailgunner Ted's Excellent Launch

The editorial cartoonists are having fun with Texas talibangelist and Galileo reincarnated Sen. "Tailgunner Ted" Cruz's "imagine" campaign launch and simultaneous plan to sign-up for Obamacare.

(click on images to enlarge)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

(Steve Benson, via gocomics.com)

(Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle)

UPDATE:  Humorous (can there be any other kind) takes on Cruz from The Onion and Andy Borowitz.

Talibangelists Say "No" to J.E.B.

Key members of the evangelical right-wing are considering uniting behind one Rethuglican candidate who will hold the line on marriage equality, immigration, and women's reproductive rights, in order to stop plutocrat favorite and House of Bush candidate John Ellis ("J.E.B.") Bush from getting the nomination inn 2016.  Names mentioned as a unifying candidate for the talibangelists are Sen. Ted "Tailgunner Ted" Cruz, Gov. Piyush "Bobby" Jindal, Mike "Hucksterbee" Huckabee, and Rick "Oops" Perry, none of whom would be actually viable in a general election.  This "strategy" reflects the bizarre notion on the far-right that previous losing Rethug candidates for President weren't "conservative enough", when in fact the right-wing positions they ran on were broadly unpopular, from marriage equality to women's reproductive rights.  But we say, have at it and may the best woman win.

The Income Inequality Republicans Are Really Concerned About

As we noted the other day, the House Crackpot Caucus Republican "slumlord" budget proposal for 2016 (essentially the "compromise" passed yesterday) manifested the party's commitment to tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations and blasting a hole in the social safety net for low- and middle-income Americans, a plan that would continue to grow the gap between, as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Galt's Gulch) would put it, the "makers" and "takers."

But there is an income inequality issue Republicans are concerned about.  Consider the plight of  Oklahoma entrepreneur Terry Neese, a Dumbya bundler in 2000 and a major Republican contributor in 2012:
This year, no potential White House contender has called — not even Bush’s brother, Jeb. As of early Wednesday, the only contacts she had received were e-mails from staffers for two other likely candidates; both went to her spam folder.
“They are only going to people who are multi-multimillionaires and billionaires and raising big money first,” said Neese, who founded a successful employment agency.
“Most of the people I talk to are kind of rolling their eyes and saying, ‘You know, we just don’t count anymore.’ ”
It’s the lament of the rich who are not quite rich enough for 2016.
Yes, it must be heartbreaking not to be grifted stroked by the various Republican hopefuls up to this point, just because you're only a lousy millionaire!  It's all because of those billionaire Republican contributors =cough= Kochs Menard Adelson =cough= that are millionaire-shaming you!

That's income inequality, Republican-style, for you!

BONUS:  As if on cue, far-right Republican Tory George "Quill Pen" Will tells us why income inequality is good for us.  Smug, incorrigible wanker.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

President Obama's Remarks On The Fifth Anniversary Of The Affordable Care Act

In which he rightfully shares credit for the success of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") and sticks it to the saboteurs, liars, sociopaths and nitwits who compose the Republican/ New Confederate/ Stupid Party.  More, please!

Their Cheatin' Hearts

News that Israel was gathering intelligence on the multi-lateral talks in Geneva to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon wasn't particularly surprising, deceitful as it was.  Friendly governments gather intelligence on each others' activities, that's nothing new.  What is obnoxious and unacceptable is when that government feeds intelligence -- no doubt cherry-picked -- to the U.S.'s disloyal opposition in an attempt to undermine the anti-nuke talks and the foreign and national security policy of the U.S.

Oh, and Weeper of the House and Bibi "Bomb Bomb" Netanyahu's personal valet John "Mr. Tangerine Man" Boehner says he's shocked, shocked! that gambling's going on here  Israel was spying.

Today's Cartoon - Republican Presidential Inaugural?

(click on image to enlarge)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

It doesn't really matter which of the growing multitude of potential Republican candidates for president it could (but won't) be, they all have loon in their bloodstream.

Wisconsin Median Household Incomes Have Declined Most Since 2000

Koch brothers Menard employee of the year Gov. Scott "This Space Available For Rent" Walker (R-Dystopia) has a record as Governor of Wisconsin Dystopia, one that we're sure he will be proud to run away from on:
Wisconsin ranks worst among the 50 states in terms of a shrinking middle class, with real median household incomes here falling 14.7 percent since 2000, according to a new report.
The Pew Charitable Trust report showed Wisconsin with the largest decline in the percentage of families considered "middle class," or those earning between 67 and 200 percent of their state’s median income.
In 2000, 54.6 percent of Wisconsin families fell into the middle class category but that has fallen to 48.9 percent in 2013, according to U.S. Census figures compiled by Pew.
All other states showed some decline but none as great as Wisconsin’s 5.7 percent figure.
Since 2000, three out of the last four governors of Wisconsin were Republicans (Tommy Thompson, Scott McCallum and, for the last 5 ugly years, Walker).  Not only has his assault on labor unions, his undermining of environmental protections, and his tax breaks for plutocrat Republican patrons not stopped Walker's political rise, it's been part of his pitch to the mouth-breathers in the Republican base.  Now we can see the actual results.

Mid-Week Birthday Song

Today, "Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin celebrates her 73rd birthday.  Her legendary career has spanned some 50 years, with 18 Grammys and dozens of top ten hits, including 21 number one R&B singles, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom award.  Here's her first number one hit, the soulful "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)."

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sen. Ted Cruz To Partake Of Some Of That Sweet, Sweet Obamacare (Until He Repeals Every Word Of It)

Could we imagine a hypocritical fraud running for President?  Yes we can!
Ted Cruz, one of the loudest critics of Obamacare, will soon be using it for health insurance coverage.

"We will presumably go on the exchange and sign up for health care and we're in the process of transitioning over to do that," Cruz, a Republican candidate for president, told The Des Moines Register Tuesday.

Cruz's wife, Heidi, is going on an unpaid leave of absence from her job at Goldman Sachs to join Cruz full time on the campaign trail, Cruz told the Register.
Also, lest it slip by anyone, "Cruz's wife, Heidi, is going on an unpaid leave of absence from her job at Goldman Sachs..." The same Goldman Sachs "Tailgunner Ted" just slammed for "crony capitalism?" 

If only Obamacare covered head-from-ass extraction procedures.

UPDATE:  Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog has more details and caveats.

Scott Walker's (Latest) Dark Money Scandal

Investigative reporter Mike Isikoff has been looking into the "dark money" that has gone to Koch brothers employee of the year Gov. Scott "Koch Head" Walker (R-Kochland) and has found someone competing with the Koch's for Walker's attention (h/t Charles Pierce):
John Menard Jr. is widely known as the richest man in Wisconsin. A tough-minded, staunchly conservative 75-year-old billionaire, he owns a highly profitable chain of hardware stores throughout the Midwest. He’s also famously publicity-shy — rarely speaking in public or giving interviews.
So a little more than three years ago, when Menard wanted to back Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — and help advance his pro-business agenda — he found the perfect way to do so without attracting any attention: He wrote more than $1.5 million in checks to a pro-Walker political advocacy group that pledged to keep its donors secret, three sources directly familiar with the transactions told Yahoo News.
Menard’s previously unreported six-figure contributions to the Wisconsin Club for Growth — a group that spent heavily to defend Walker during a bitter 2012 recall election — seem to have paid off for the businessman and his company. In the past two years, Menard’s company has been awarded up to $1.8 million in special tax credits from a state economic development corporation that Walker chairs, according to state records.
And in his five years in office, Walker’s appointees have sharply scaled back enforcement actions by the state Department of Natural Resources — a top Menard priority. The agency had repeatedly clashed with Menard and his company under previous governors over citations for violating state environmental laws and had levied a $1.7 million fine against Menard personally, as well as his company, for illegally dumping hazardous wastes.
It's long but very interesting reading.  Isikoff has a reputation as a dogged pursuer, so we can only hope he will be on Scotty like white on rice.

Menard is, to say the least, a piece of shit work.  He's a throwback to the Ebeneezer Scrooge School of Management and has few moral scruples in his private life (kind of like the perfect plutocrat Republican and, therefore, a perfect bedfellow for Walker).

(Image:  Watch out, Kochs!  Scott loves him some other plutocrats, too!)

Billions In Hospital Costs Avoided Under ACA

A report from the Department of Health and Human Services indicates that hospitals have seen their costs reduced by some $7.4 billion last year as a result of formerly uninsured people having health insurance for the first time or having coverage under expanded Medicaid, under the Affordable Care Act.  The use of emergency room facilities for primary care by uninsured patients ("uncompensated care") dropped significantly, resulting in cost savings.  With more than 16 million people now covered under the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. is seeing the lowest rate of uninsured in approximately 40 years.

The Republicans want you to know:  it's Obama's fault.

From The Sports Desk

Notice that the basketball on this dunk on by Wisconsin star Sam Dekker went through the hoop twice.  It not only didn't count as 4 points, it didn't count at all:  Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan had called timeout seconds before the play.  Wisconsin ended up winning Sunday's game against Oregon.

Everyone's Having A Hard Time Imagining A President Ted Cruz

Following "Captain Courageous" Sen. "Tailgunner Ted" Cruz's (Texas Tea) announcement that he would seek the Republican nomination for president (in a speech in which he asked the "Liberty" University audience to "imagine" any number of dystopian futurescapes), the punditocracy is giving him an "E" for "extremist."   Daily Kos has a  good summary of the editorial comments here.

Bloomberg has a great counterpoint to the narcissist Cruz claiming to be a "courageous conservative:"
A courageous conservative would dare to tell the Republican Party that the U.S. economy needs the 11 million immigrants who are here illegally, and many more besides; that they aren't going to be deported, and that it would tank the economy if they were; and that it is long past time for Republicans to put forward a comprehensive plan to fix the immigration system. Cruz, the son of a Cuban immigrant, has the background to make this argument, as other conservatives have done. Apparently he lacks the guts.  
A courageous conservative wouldn't be afraid to tell Republican voters that the scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates that human activity is contributing to climate change, which is creating serious economic risks, and that ignoring this danger isn't "conservative." Many Republicans are beginning to face this reality, but no thanks to Cruz. He's adopted the party’s new talking point of calling anyone who favors action on climate change an “alarmist.”  
A courageous conservative wouldn't be content to attack Obamacare, but would be brave enough to say what should replace it. Rather than say that the budget should be balanced in 10 years, the brave conservative would say exactly how this should happen, without resorting to gimmicks. A courageous conservative would dispel the myth that the Common Core education standards are an attempt to create a national curriculum, or that the Second Amendment precludes smarter policies to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and other dangerous people. Cruz doesn't dare. 
Jon Stewart also weighed in on Cruz's announcement, including a peculiar grift appeal we noted yesterday:
So let me clarify this a little bit. Students at Liberty University were required to attend a partisan political speech where a small-government conservative who had just promised he would respect privacy rights, told them if they cared about freedom, text your information to a mysterious address that collects your cell phone number for undisclosed purposes.
Demagogues aren't noted for their logic or consistency, as we hope further focus on "Tailgunner Ted" will prove.  But he will serve a useful purpose in that he will likely force the other clowns in the clown car to shift further right to avoid being outflanked with the frothing base.  As perhaps the best representative of the Republican id, Cruz will be out there with his and his party's Crazy for all to see.

BONUS:  Rupert "Aaargh" Murdoch's Wall Street Urinal Journal imagines Cruz getting his ass kicked by Hillary Clinton.  Bwahahahaha.

BONUS II:  Then there's this bouquet from the right-wing National Review's Charles Cook, via TPM:
"….to my skeptical ears, there is always a touch of condescension in the pitch — a small whiff of superciliousness that gives one the unlovely impression that Ted Cruz believes his listeners to be a little bit dim."
 Indeed.  Tailgunner Ted has something there.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Price of Liberty….

...seems to be $10, which was the fine that students at "Liberty" University faced if they skipped flaming wingnut Sen. Ted "Tailgunner Ted" Cruz's announcement for the Rethug nomination earlier today.  As Steve Benen points out in the linked article, the name "Liberty" University is an Orwellian twist, given the tight restrictions placed on students, including films and books that are not allowed to be viewed or read, clothing rules which require the co-eds to look like they stepped out of the 1950s, and no alcohol or tobacco consumption -- but concealed firearms, with a permit, are OK.  Maybe their school motto should borrow from Patrick Henry:  "Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Freedom!"  Or give us a break.

UPDATE:  As the Silver Spring Bureau Chief notes in the comments, Tailgunner's grift began immediately.

UPDATE II:  Looks like not all the students forced to attend were buying what Tailgunner Ted was selling. "Imagine" that.

Today's Cartoon And Reading - The Republican Budget "Tell"

(Tom Toles, once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle)

How can you tell Republicans are lying when they talk about easing income inequality?  Their lips are moving (heh - rimshot).

As noted the other day, the House Crackpot Caucus Republican produced a "slumlord budget" that promotes a plutocratic dystopia of winners (the 1 per centers) and losers (the rest of us), using "magical asterisks" and blatant dishonesty (surprise!) in  the process.

Today, E.J. Dionne, Jr., shows how Republicans are pushing policies and budget priorities that exacerbate income inequality rather than ease it:
The wholesale assault on efforts to provide lower-income Americans with health insurance is the clearest sign that Republicans don’t want to deal with inequality. The inability to get health insurance is one of the biggest burdens on low-income families, particularly those working for low wages and few or no benefits. 
Obamacare has helped 16.4 million Americans get health insurance. Where would they turn? And Republicans would compound the damage: The Senate proposes cutting an additional $400 billion from Medicaid over a decade, the House more than double that. Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes that on other low-income programs, the Senate budget cuts even more than the House’s. The vagueness of these plans makes it hard to tally how much damage would be done to food stamps, Pell Grants for low-income college students and the like, but Greenstein estimates that about two-thirds of the cuts in both plans come “from programs for the less fortunate, thereby exacerbating poverty and inequality.” 
Greenstein concludes that under such proposals — here’s hoping President Obama is relentless in blocking them — “ours would be a coarser and less humane nation with higher levels of poverty and inequality, less opportunity” and an “inadequately prepared” workforce.  
The "tell" in all of this budget smoke and mirrors is what Republicans would do to affordable health care and other programs for low- and middle-class Americans if given the chance.  It's been there for all to see not just in this year's Republican budget proposals, but ever since St. Ronnie of Hollywood and his acolytes took over the party with their promises of "trickle down" prosperity, busting unions, shrinking government, tax cuts for the wealthy and "pain-free" cuts to social programs.  Every single one of the putative Republican candidates for president continue to bow down at the altar of this smiling sociopath, the former corporate pitchman.  They're not even trying hard to hide their true goals;  they know they won't be challenged by the "mainstream media," and they continue to hope that there are enough plutocrat bucks, gullible voters and fellow sociopaths* out there to keep them in power until they can finish America the job.

*UPDATE:  And let's not forget Supreme Court-abetted voter suppression.

The Wacko Bird Takes Off

Kenyan Canadian-born uber wingnut Sen. Ted "Tailgunner Ted" Cruz has announced his bid for the 2016 Republican nomination in a Twitter message followed by a video released early this morning.  Later today, Tailgunner Ted will appear at Jerry Falwell's monument to ignorance and intolerance, Liberty University, before a captive audience (indeed, attendance is mandatory for all students) to fling his far-right monkey poo.

The freshman Texas senator, whose main claim to fame is his mindless and destructive obstruction of Government, seeks to head the Government he's tried to shut down on several occasions.  That has drawn the ire of crusty neocons like Sen. John McAngry (R-Dang Fence), who referred to Tailgunner Ted as a "wacko bird," and the concern of corporate Rethugs who just want to keep the corporate tax loophole grift going.  Tailgunner Ted's tactics and rhetoric harken back to the Joseph McCarthy era of witch hunts and outrageous slander against political opponents.

With his support among Rethuglican voters languishing under 5%, we don't give Tailgunner Ted much of a chance with the likes of Dr. Ben "On Meds?" Carson, Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum and Gov. Piyush "Bobby" Jindal competing with him for the love of the party's tinfoil hat base.  Nevertheless, we welcome Tailgunner Ted's overt extremism as a billboard for today's Rethuglican/New Confederate/Stupid Party, and hope he goes long into the nomination sweepstakes before flopping.

BONUS:  California Gov. Jerry Brown is having none of Tailgunner Ted's climate change denialism, calling him "unfit to be running" for office.

(photo: AP/Jim Cole)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Sermon

Today's sermon is provided by the always thoughtful and humorous tBogg, who has some poignant wisdom from his past to share, and observes:
"I don’t know, and you don’t know, and nobody knows except God. If He exists. And He ain’t talking. At least not to me."

King and Oy*

Rabid wingnut and future inmate of a mental ward Rep. Steve "Cantaloupe Calves" King (Bigot-IA) was recently musing how Jewish Americans could possibly be Democrats, since they didn't form an "amen chorus" with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi "Bomb Bomb" Netanyahu on his recent campaign stop visit to the U.S.:  
"Here's what I don't understand, I don't understand how Jews in America can be Democrats first and Jewish second and support Israel along the line of just following their President."
Leaving aside the fact that there's so MUCH that King doesn't understand,  he certainly can't seem to differentiate support for the ruling Likud Party in Israel and solidarity with Israel itself (which was originally established on a socialist model).  It's the same cultish, neo-Fascist mindset that Rethugs use to differentiate themselves ("real 'Muricans") from the rest ("moochers," minorities, etc.).  Even more fundamentally, King is ignorant of Jewish Americans' long tradition of supporting progressive causes from organized labor to civil rights, and defending the underdog -- since they, too, suffered as a minority over the centuries from zealots like King.  That Jewish tradition stands in stark contrast to the belligerent, intolerant and reactionary views of the nasty bigot from Iowa.
* Apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Sewer Rat

Deep in the sewers of the far right dwells a sleazy, dishonest provocateur by the name of James "G. Gordon Diddy" O'Keefe.  In the past, he's been caught posing as a "pimp" to smear the ACORN organization, attempting to bug the offices of Senator Mary Landrieu, selective tape editing to smear National Public Radio, and trying to get a female CNN reporter into a compromising position. Now, O'Keefe has been exposed by one of his former lieutenants for trying to infiltrate a march against police tactics used against Eric Gardner in New York City and trying to turn the march violent.  Better still, there is e-mail and other evidence to support the allegations. What makes O'Keefe's actions particularly despicable is that he wanted one of his operatives to play the role of a violent demonstrator and to incite other demonstrators to attack police at the march.

The former lieutenant has lawyered-up, indicating that there may be serious charges contemplated for O'Keefe.  One can only hope that he gets nailed with felony incitement to riot and whatever other credible felony charges they can make stick.  Then, he can take his"pimp" costume to prison, where we know it's bound to go over big.

(photo:  "G. Gordon Diddy" rocks his pre-incarceration look)

All You Need To Know About Republicans In One Anecdote

A civics lesson took an unexpected turn for a group of New Hampshire fourth-graders when a lawmaker brought the abortion debate into their effort to name a state raptor. 
The students from Lincoln H. Akerman School in Hampton Falls worked during class and on their own time to craft a bill to make the red-tailed hawk the official state raptor. They got a sponsor for it, got the bill through a House of Representatives committee and then watched from the House gallery last week to see if it would pass. 
Rep. Warren Groen, R-Rochester, rose to speak on the measure, which was defeated. 
"It grasps them with its talons and then uses its razor-sharp beak to rip its victims to shreds, to basically tear it apart limb by limb, and I guess the shame about making this a state bird is it would serve as a much better mascot for Planned Parenthood," Groen said.  (our emphasis)
Other dicks lawmakers (not identified by party, but you know...) made jokes about the bill in front of the students:
Other lawmakers joked that they were representing a constituent named "The Big Chicken" or ridiculed the bill as silly, saying the state would next be naming an official hot dog. Those comments affected the students more than the Planned Parenthood comment, Deblois said. 
"Obviously, they were disappointed that their bill didn't pass, but it was just the manner in which they say the bill was debated, when they saw people stand up and say these just appalling things," Deblois said. "That (the abortion reference) was probably less than the gentlemen who stood up and made jokes. That was almost more upsetting to them because they understood those references. 'Why didn't they take us seriously? Why were people laughing?'"
Saying (and doing) appalling things is what Republicans do;  they're sociopaths.  Would you conduct yourself in this manner?  Would you make a connection like the one Groen made?  Or would you have the decency to not bring up a highly-charged political issue as a non sequitur in discussing a harmless bill sponsored by a class of fourth-graders as they're sitting in the gallery watching you?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Weekend Birthday Homages

Tomorrow is Johann Sebastian Bach's birthday (he'd be 330 - but he doesn't look a day over 250).  In honor of this seminal genius, we're featuring one of his best known works, the lovely "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring."

Of course, Bach's influence has been felt through the ages.  As a small example, several years ago, we featured this song that, as an homage to Bach, includes a few bars of "Jesu..." in the guitar break (at 1:16).  It's the beautiful, Gene Clark-composed "She Don't Care About Time."  It's now our homage to Bach and The Byrds.

Enjoy the music and your weekend.

"Trillion Dollar Fraudsters"

Here's today's must read.  Paul Krugman discusses the recently unveiled House Republican budget as yet another in a long, fraudulent tradition (these are lengthy excerpts, but the op/ed has much more, so please read it in its entirety):
By now it’s a Republican Party tradition: Every year the party produces a budget that allegedly slashes deficits, but which turns out to contain a trillion-dollar “magic asterisk” — a line that promises huge spending cuts and/or revenue increases, but without explaining where the money is supposed to come from. 
But the just-released budgets from the House and Senate majorities break new ground. Each contains not one but two trillion-dollar magic asterisks: one on spending, one on revenue. And that’s actually an understatement. If either budget were to become law, it would leave the federal government several trillion dollars deeper in debt than claimed, and that’s just in the first decade. 
You might be tempted to shrug this off, since these budgets will not, in fact, become law. Or you might say that this is what all politicians do. But it isn’t. The modern G.O.P.’s raw fiscal dishonesty is something new in American politics. And that’s telling us something important about what has happened to half of our political spectrum. (our emphasis)
(Spoiler alert:  Republicans are social Darwinist plutocrat pawns.)  Krugman then briefly explores what the effect of this magical budget would be:
... Think about what these budgets would do if you ignore the mysterious trillions in unspecified spending cuts and revenue enhancements. What you’re left with is huge transfers of income from the poor and the working class, who would see severe benefit cuts, to the rich, who would see big tax cuts. And the simplest way to understand these budgets is surely to suppose that they are intended to do what they would, in fact, actually do: make the rich richer and ordinary families poorer.
(Spoiler alert:  Republicans respond "Class warfare!  Class warfare!") Krugman concludes:
Look, I know that it’s hard to keep up the outrage after so many years of fiscal fraudulence. But please try. We’re looking at an enormous, destructive con job, and you should be very, very angry. 
The core Republican belief - as expressed so succinctly by its 2012 standard bearer Willard "Millionaire Mitt" Romney - is that there are makers/ worthy "Real (white, well-to-do) Americans" and then there are the takers/ the "47 percent" mooching off "the system," (i.e., the "welfare state").  It shows up in this and every other Republican-spawned budget, "opportunity society" policy scam, faux concern expressed for income inequality, and in the plutocrat-funded efforts (=cough= Koch brothers = cough=) to crush labor unions.  The fraudulence is always there, but never treated as the con job that it is.  If only we had a fourth estate that was interested in the truth (yes, there is such an objective thing) and not on "buzz," or who's up or down, or manufactured "it's out there" scandals, or the ever-popular "both sides do it."

BONUS:  Too bad there's not an honest budget the media can ignore focus on.

Vid Of The Day

Jon Stewart absolutely nailed the dumpster fire that's called Fux "News" last night.  Fux's coverage of the separate Justice Department reports over Michael Brown's shooting and subsequent protests (24/7) and on racial animus in the Ferguson Police Department (nada) showed their glaring bias, as did their continual pushing of the phony Benghazi Benghazi BENGHAZI!! smear, only to be silent on the Rethug-controlled House Intelligence Committee report that cleared Susan Rice, Secretary Clinton and the Obama Administration of any wrongdoing.  Great to see Stewart's angry passion in this clip.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Is The Mustache of Understanding Off His Meds Again?

Having married the heiress to a real estate fortune, Tom "Mustache of Understanding" Friedman doesn't really need his op-ed position at the New York Times.  He could retire to his $10 million mansion in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and play house husband, and after cheerleading for the Iraq War and his frequent "out of the box" / out of his mind articles, many wish he'd do just that.

The Mustache's latest foray into sophomore dorm room-style bull slinging is on display in yesterday's New York Times, where he actually wonders whether the U.S. should arm ISIS as a counter to Iran:
"Now I despise ISIS as much as anyone, but let me just toss out a different question: Should we be arming ISIS? Or let me ask that differently: Why are we, for the third time since 9/11, fighting a war on behalf of Iran?"
"On behalf of Iran?" Really?  Some background:  war #1 in Afghanistan was a strike against the Sunni al-Qaeda attackers in their Taliban-provided safe haven, and war #2 was cooked up against Iraq -- an enemy of both Iran and notably Israel -- using false intelligence and at the insistence of the neocon / Likudnik bloc, who remembered Iraq's missile attacks from the first Gulf War.  To suggest that "war" #3 is being fought against ISIS on behalf of Iran is flaky to say the least.  For us to arm ISIS is even nuttier,not to mention deadly for the potential victims of ISIS throughout the Middle East.  But then, the Mustache knows those potential victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, so what's the big deal?

(photo:  Ponder on, oh great Mustache of Understanding, ponder on.)

How The Republican Party Was Built - Indulging One Lunatic At A Time

Charles P. Pierce is in rare form today, as he reacts to the rantings of a Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum questioner at a recent "summit" in the Home of American Sedition, South Cackalacky Carolina.  The transcript is via Nick Field at the PA Politics blog.  First, here's the lady nutball's comment/ question:
Why is the Congress rolling over and letting this Communist dictator [Obama] destroy my country? Y'all know what he is and I know what he is. I want him out of the White House; he's not a citizen; he could have been removed a long time ago...Ted [Cruz?] told me I've got to wait for the next election. I don't think the country will be around for the next election. Obama tried to blow up a nuke in Charleston a few months ago! And the three admirals, and generals. He has totally destroyed our military. He's fired all the generals and all the admirals that said they wouldn't fire on the American people.
Hoo-boy. Needless to say, Santorum avoided telling the lady she needed professional help, instead saying essentially, "Don't blame me, I'm not in Washington any more."  Now here's Charles' response:
This is the party that modern conservatism has built, brick by brick, one indulged lunatic at a time, over the past 60 years. I leave the details to Rick Perlstein, but there is no question that this was a conscious choice made over time by one of the only two political parties that we have allowed ourselves. It began with the decision to side with the remnants of American apartheid. It continued with the decision to ally itself with the most virulently retrograde elements of American Protestantism. It was energized by the tragic historical truth that this stuff is an effective means of gaining political power. The thinking became more and more magical. The rhetoric became more and more unhinged. The willingness of the Republican party to tolerate an almost limitless amount of sheer public lunacy has led us to this moment, where the only answer Santorum dares give to a woman who believes the president intended to nuke an American city was to say that he wasn't in Washington at the time. 
There is no Republican middle any more. Pundits go searching for it and never return. Their bleached bones are found two years later in a ditch surrounding an Iowa cornfield, or their entrails are discovered hanging from a pine tree in northern New Hampshire as a warning to anyone else who dares undertake the quest. Just over the past few days, we have seen two alleged Republican "moderates" take positions that, a decade ago, would have marked them as fringe nuisances.
Progressives have long noted, to little avail, what Charles is saying here:  there's been no counterbalance to the mad rush the Republican Party has made to the ultra-right in recent decades. The Jacob Javits, Nelson Rockefeller, Charles Percy, Clifford Case, Ed Brooke brand of Republicanism has been dead and gone for two generations (thanks, St. Ronnie of Hollywood!). There's been a slow but steady migration out of the party by people who no longer want to be associated with the ever-stranger nuttery (as high-profile examples, Colin Powell, Arlen Specter, Charlie Crist, James Jeffords).  The void has been filled by generation after generation of "indulged lunatics" of the sort listed above, all the while tolerated embraced by the Republican Party in its quest for political power, and by the spineless "mainstream media" in its quest to never question or offend the cherished hobgoblins of a subscriber or viewer.  With Citizens United opening the floodgates for right-wing plutocrat mega-bucks, we can be assured there will always be a party that's a haven for such "indulged lunatics" (thanks, "Justice" Kennedy!).

I Was Homeless, And You Drenched Me

News item:  St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco installed a watering system last year to discourage homeless people from sleeping near its doorways.  The watering system (which is now being removed by order of the City of San Francisco in violation of codes) sprayed water on loiterers for more than a minute every 30-60 minutes every night. The Archdiocese's leaders were apparently unfamiliar with this and other similar texts in something called the "New Testament":
"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me."
Perhaps a call from Pope Francis would be instructive.

Morning Reading - Giving "Winning Ugly" A Bad Name

We don't intend to dwell much longer on the impacts of the recent Israeli elections;  those impacts will play out in the months and years ahead, and not (in our view) in a way that enhances the security or prosperity of Israel.  Two op/eds in today's once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle are likely all that needs to be said at this point.

First, E.J. Dionne, Jr., on what Bibi "Bomb Bomb" Netanyahu's victory means as far as the formerly bipartisan policy on the two-state solution:
Liberal friends of Israel are not going to abandon their commitment to the survival of a democratic Jewish state because of one extremely troubling election campaign. Yet neither will they give up on the idea that recognizing the right of Palestinians to their own state — a view advanced by George W. Bush no less than by Barack Obama — is in the interest both of justice and, over the long run, of Israel itself. 
Netanyahu has played fast and loose not only with those loyalties but also with the moral commitments of a large share of his own people. He will not easily live down the way he chose to win.  (our emphasis)
Harold Meyerson writes about Netanyahu's "fear and loathing" campaign and its echoes of Republican race-baiting and voter suppression:
Until the final days of the Israeli campaign, there were leaders of parties to Likud’s right — Avigdor Lieberman, Naftali Bennett — who, when it came to their pronouncements on Palestinians, clearly out-race-baited Netanyahu. But in a closing rush, Bibi — henceforth, the Jewish George Wallace — closed the gap. His success in wooing the fearful and the bigoted to Likud was such that all the other far-right parties saw their results drop from their previous levels. Netanyahu’s apprehensions about high levels of Arab voting echoed not only such old-guard segregationists as Wallace but also our present-day Republican Party. The GOP’s war on minority voting, waged through voter ID laws and other obstacles to expanding the franchise, could offer Netanyahu lessons in winnowing the electorate in future contests. Perhaps Likud and the Republicans can open an Institute for the Prevention of Dark-Skinned People Voting. [snip] 
It’s hard to think of a campaign that has done so much damage, or brought such disgrace upon the victor, as Netanyahu’s. He’s given “winning ugly” a bad name. (our emphasis)
It's always good to remember: right-wingers share the same paranoid tribalism and ugly prejudice no matter where they live.  The stakes in this election were great, as will be the fallout.

Get Hillary Cartoon of the Day

(click to enlarge)

As we noted yesterday, a new poll shows former Secretary of State Clinton holding double digit leads over all of her Republican opponents, which means that their all-out puffery (aided by the "mainstream" media) on email-ghazi has come to nothing.  However, rather than discourage them, you can expect an ever-intensifying campaign to "get Hillary" using any faux scandal or "controversy" that they can sell to low-information voters via a compliant media.

(cartoon:  Jim Morin, Miami Herald, via Gocomics.com)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Today's Dispatches From The Stupid Party: Less Education, More Stupid, More Republicans!

Well, this is one way to ensure that you're going to continue to have a stupid base for your Republican / New Confederate / Stupid Party. We've noted before, but it bears repeating:
This week, Wisconsin kicked off a series of hearings on Governor Scott Walker’s proposed budget, which would slash about $300 million from the University of Wisconsin system over two years, funnel hundreds of millions to build a pro-basketball stadium, and cut deeply from funds for health care, food stamps and public media. 
College campuses across the state are already preparing for the worst. 
Funding at UW-Rock County would be stripped back to levels not seen since 1998, and the school’s dean has said faculty layoffs are almost certain. The situation appears even more dire at UW-Eau Claire, where administrators have offered buyouts to a record 325 faculty and staff members — about a quarter of the campus’ employees. These so-called “go away packages” have been offered to nearly half of the school’s political science department. UW-Stevens Point reports they will eliminate several entire majors, even for students currently enrolled in them. 
And it’s not just higher education feeling the pain. 
Public primary schools across Wisconsin will lose about $127 million in education aid next year, largely by scrapping a special $150 per-student fund that Wisconsin school districts received over the past two years.  (our emphasis)
Beyond the goal of strangling education because "a stupid voter is a Republican voter," the obvious target of these mindless cuts is teachers unions in Wisconsin, which were in the forefront of efforts to recall Gov. "Koch Head." But it's not just Wisconsin that sees education as it's nemesis:
Residents of Illinois are organizing against Governor Bruce Rauner’s proposal to cut nearly $400 million from the University of Illinois — taking the colleges back to the funding levels they had in the 1950s even though the student population is three times bigger today. (our emphasis)
And it's not just South Wisconsin Illinois:
Meanwhile, students in Louisiana will hold a budget forum on Wednesday to voice concerns about Governor Bobby Jindal’s proposed $200 million in cuts to Louisiana State University. 
The deep cuts are part of the Governor’s attempt to fill a more than $1.6 billion budget hole. Though lawmakers on both sides in the aisle in the state have pleaded with the Governor to consider ending some of the state’s massive tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy, he has largely refused to do so.  (our emphasis)
In our increasingly competitive economic and technological global environment, it's beyond ... what's the word?... stupid to make such draconian cuts to public education.  It's downright criminal.  If given the chance, we're certain Walker and Jindal would love to do to the United States what they're doing to their own benighted states.

Mid-Week Think Free Song

Contemporary jazz fusion pianist Brian Culbertson (whom we featured a year ago) recorded a live album on his 20th anniversary tour last year.  Here's a upbeat cut from that album, "Think Free."  Enjoy thinking free.

They're Not Laying A Glove On Hillary Clinton

With the usual caveats (... mumble mumble election far away... mumble mumble... hasn't announced yet), the Republican/ media efforts to bring Hillary Clinton down a peg or two are still in the "FAIL" category:
... In the [CNN/ORC] poll's head-to-head match-ups, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul comes the closest to Clinton, but her 11-point lead over him, 54 percent to 43 percent, isn't what you'd call razor thin. 
After Paul, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio trails Clinton by a mere 13 points, 55 to 42, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is one more point back, drawing 41 percent to Clinton's steady 55 percent, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie all poll 15 points behind Clinton, 55 to 40. Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson also polls at 40 percent, but Clinton gains an extra point on him, rising to 56 percent.
That's right:  the closest margin is 11 points!  As far as her "favorables/ unfavorables" compared to Republican candidates, it's pretty much the same ass-kicking story.  And this poll was taken last week, in the midst of the mediagasm over Clinton's State Department emails.

So expect the right-wing noise machine and "mainstream media" to re-double their efforts on "email-ghazi!!" and other phantasms that inhabit their lizard brains.

John Ellis "J.E.B." Bush Doesn't Want A Federal Minimum Wage

Millionaire son and grandson of millionaires John Ellis "J.E.B." Bush had something to say yesterday about the federal minimum wage:
“We need to leave it to the private sector,” Bush said. “I think state minimum wages are fine. The federal government shouldn’t be doing this.”
The "smart Bush" made his remarks yesterday to a collection of yahoos in South Cackalacky Carolina. Bush's race to the bottom approach on wages is perfectly in line with the right-wing social Darwinist ethos, which includes "right to work (for less)" laws that have popped (pooped?) out in a number of Republican-led states, the latest of which was signed in Wisconsin by Koch brothers employee of the year Gov. Scott "Koch Head" Walker (R-Kochland), who also doesn't want to raise the minimum wage.

At the same time, these grifters want people to believe they're concerned about income inequality, which raising the minimum wage would address directly. Why?  Not for philosophical reasons, of course:
- 75 percent of Americans support raising the federal minimum wage to $12.50 by 2020
That's right.  As usual Republicans are on the wrong side of public opinion and want to fudge their positions as much as possible. (This is a Hart Research Associates poll, but similar results have been seen by Pew Research and others.)

This is Bush the "moderate conservative" that the "mainstream media" is so desperate to sell to us, when he's same old reactionary Republican in the same old reactionary Republican party that gave us the "slumlord budget" the other day.  Nice try, though.

The Cloud Over Bibi "Bomb Bomb" Netanyahu's Apparent Victory

It seems the last-minute demagoguery saved Israeli Prime Minister and Republican Senator from West Jerusalem, the odious Bibi "Bomb Bomb" Netanyahu's tuchas:
Benjamin Netanyahu was poised to return to power. But there was a cloud over his apparent turnaround, the result of an increasingly shrill campaign that raised questions about his ability to heal Israel’s internal wounds or better its standing in the world. 
He said there would be no Palestinian state under his watch. 
He railed against Israeli Arabs — because they had gone out to vote. 
From the capitals of Europe, to Washington, to the West Bank, to the streets of Israel, even while his critics said Mr. Netanyahu had reaffirmed his reputation as a cynical, calculating politician, it appeared that his approach succeeded in drawing votes from other right-leaning parties. 
But along the way he angered the president of the United States with a speech to Congress and infuriated European leaders eager to see the peace process move ahead to create a Palestinian state.
Proving the United States doesn't have a monopoly on Nixonian politicians or on intemperate, foolish voters.  Please refer to Galatians 6: 7-9.

BONUS:  Jonathan Alter says it all: "Netanyahu wins, Israel loses":
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu won a big election Tuesday, but he won ugly by staking out a new position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is likely to harm his nation in the months ahead.  
A reckoning is coming—faster than expected—for Netanyahu, his Likud Party and maybe even for the State of Israel itself.
BONUS II:  Bibi Bomb Bomb sent this message out on election day: "Right-wing rule is in danger. Arab voters are streaming in huge quantities to the polling stations." Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic has this to say about Bibi Bomb Bomb's demagoguery (emphasis added):
"In the past, I imagined him fitting in with the fiscally conservative, rhetorically responsible, socially tolerant, foreign-policy hawkish wing of the [Republican] party. What I didn't fully understand was just how much of Lee Atwater he had in him. Atwater, you'll remember, was the South Carolina Republican operative who was one of the prime innovators of racial dog-whistling, an approach used by a good number of Republicans to instill fear in white voters."

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Aaron Schock, Fabulous "Downton Abbey" Republican Congressman Resigning

He gone (effective March 31).

To spend more time with his fabulous! abs?  Or on his pursuit of swag?  Or on his "personal photographer?"  To be the set designer for "Downton Abbey?" Ah, the burdens of a hypocritical, grifty Republican ex-Congressman!

(Photo:  Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Griftytown).  Fabulous!)

UPDATE:  (via Wonkette) Or perhaps even join the cast of Downton Abbey (click on image to enlarge):