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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

 
The right thinks Fox is being rude to the right

by digby

So, I read on my twitter feed that right wing talker Mark Levin said today that he's beginning to think that Fox News is harmful and I thought, "hey, maybe these guys really are wising up."

Not a chance:
Mark Levin ripped the Fox News ‘commentary’ that immediately followed the announcement today by Rick Santorum to run for president. Levin says candidates deserve a little respect when they announce for president, even if you disagree with them. But apparently that’s not what Santorum was getting from the crew of The Five, who Levin didn’t name but is obviously who he was referring to as Santorum announced in the 5pm hour. Levin pointed out that they essentially mocked Santorum and went on to say that he believes those who did the mocking would have likely done the same to Ronald Reagan when he announced.

Levin suggested that he believes Fox News has become harmful:

"I’m really starting to believe that some of these outlets that we have come to rely on are actually kinda harmful – kinda harmful."

I actually agree that it's rude for these guys to mock Santorum. (That's my job!) He's a legitimate candidate of the right who actually came in second on the last go. He deserves to be treated by right wingers, at least, with a little bit more respect, especially since their preferred candidates are best known for things like this:




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Everybody thinks they're a singing star

by digby


Sorry folks. If I had to hear this, you have to hear it. You'll never be quite the same:



h/t to Matt Taibbi
 
Here's your creeping Sharia

by digby

Via Huffington Post:

When Jennifer Smith's son brought home a permission slip for a sixth-grade pool party, she was surprised to read a stipulation: "All girls must wear a non-white t-shirt over their swimsuit."
And you'll notice the boys aren't allowed to wear speedos. I sure hope nobody allows their kids to watch the Olympics because they're going to get an eye full and lord only knows what bad thoughts they might have.



The mother (who wrote the comment there on the permission slip) complained and the school district said it was about not shaming girls who didn't have nice swimsuits, which was clearly nonsense because they wouldn't have mandates that they not be white unless they were worried about modesty. (No explanation for the speedo ban.)

They ended up making the t-shirt optional and none of the girls wore them. There were no reports of temptresses and lust-filled schoolboys being unable to control themselves at the pool party.

I suspect this sort of thing is becoming common again in a lot of places. Parents are upset by the sexuality they see in popular culture and want to keep their kids away from it. But this kind of thing goes exactly the wrong way. You can't repress sexuality you can only teach people to be responsible and decent about it. It always comes out somewhere. Look at the Duggar saga.

Speaking of the Duggar saga:
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, from TLC’s reality series “18 Kids and Counting,” are very serious about modest dressing, such much so that they’re fans of “Wholesomewear swimsuits.”



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Just blowing off some steam. Again.

by digby



A grotesque image recently made public by a Cook County judge shows two former Chicago police officers holding rifles and posing next to an unidentified black man, who is shown wearing fake deer antlers and sticking his tongue out, as if he had been hunted and killed.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Police Department requested that the racially charged photo, which shows former officers Timothy McDermott and Jerome Finnigan standing over the man, remain sealed in court documents. Judge Thomas Allen, however, denied the request in March, after police Supt. Garry McCarthy moved to fire McDermott. He has since been removed from the force, but appealed his dismissal earlier this year.

Via the Sun-Times:

Believed to have been taken in a West Side police station between 1999 and 2003, the Polaroid photo was given to the city by the feds in 2013 and resulted in McDermott, a clout-heavy cop, being fired last year by the police board in a 5-to-4 vote. The four dissenters said McDermott should only have been suspended. But a majority of the board wrote that “appearing to treat an African-American man not as a human being but as a hunted animal is disgraceful and shocks the conscience.” [...]

Federal prosecutors gave the photo to police investigators in 2013 about two years after Finnigan — the notorious other cop in the picture — was sentenced to 12 years in prison for leading a crew of rogue cops in robberies, home invasions and other crimes.


Remind you of anything?


That's what I immediately thought of. It seems that some people in our allegedly civilized culture like to torture and humiliate people by treating them like animals.  How odd.

The Chicago cops described the decision to take their picture as “spur of the moment.” Nobody knows who the man is. The officers say they released him without arresting him because he had no criminal record. Let's hope somebody identifies this man and proves that he was still alive after that incident. It's one very creepy image. Nice of the city (like the federal government with the torture pics) to try to keep it under wraps. For our own good dontcha know. These things tend to inflame the plebes.

I guess we're supposed to believe that this is yet another anomaly. Bad apples. Very rare.  nothing to worry about.  And the fact that nobody ever turned these guys in is just another coincidence.  It's not as if the culture requires that "good cops" cover up for "bad cops" or anything.

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Game on! Unleash the Pride!

by digby

So it looks like Rick Santorum has a new theme song for this cycle.  It's called "Take back America, unleash our pride."

Poor Rick. I'm pretty sure that when someone says "unleash our pride" in 2015, they think of this.


And that makes them think of this.

I'm sure these girls are very disappointed:

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The common sense sound of Bernie Sanders

by digby

Watching the right wing go looney tunes over Bernie Sanders is so much fun I'm beginning to enjoy politics again. They're so used to having their basic assumptions validated all the time that when somebody takes them on directly they get very agitated. Matt Bruenig at Demos points to one perfect instance:
Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said this:
If 99 percent of all the new income goes to the top 1 percent, you could triple it, it wouldn't matter much to the average middle class person. The whole size of the economy and the GDP doesn't matter if people continue to work longer hours for low wages and you have 45 million people living in poverty. You can't just continue growth for the sake of growth in a world in which we are struggling with climate change and all kinds of environmental problems. All right? You don't necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country.

Naturally, some media sorts exploded with self-satisfied criticism (I, II, III, among many others). Jim Tankersley's response at Wonkblog was typical:

The literal implication of that last sentence is that there some kind of a national trade-off between antiperspirant/Air Jordan variety and food for children. This makes sense if you believe that the government should be allocating the resources in the economy -- in this case, directing fewer of them to personal hygiene and footwear and more to child nutrition.

It makes less sense if you look at economic history.

Except of course, this is not at all what Sanders is arguing. While I don't expect the man on the street to necessarily catch Sanders' drift here, self-styled wonks should see it immediately.

Whenever someone argues that we should distribute the national income more evenly so as to reduce poverty and inequality (as Sanders does), the very first thing someone says in response is that doing so will reduce growth and innovation. Sanders is mocking this argument, saying he'd gladly cut poverty and inequality even if it meant a reduction in superficial product innovation.

If the company that determined there was big money to be made by innovatively telling teen boys that using a certain brand of deodorant would cause attractive women to have sex with them decided not to go through with creating Axe because taxes were too high, Bernie is saying he is OK with that. You might have less brands to choose from on the deodorant aisle, but on the plus side kids will get to eat.

Bernie is not arguing, contrary to what Tankersley suggests, that we spend too much buying deodorant. This should be pretty obvious as he didn't talk about the quantity of deodorant being consumed, but instead the dizzying (and socially useless) number of products in the deodorant category. The massive prizes our economic system pays out to someone who can capture deodorant market share with slick advertising may indeed incentivize them to innovate new branding strategies, but, Bernie amusingly asks, would cutting that incentive really be so bad?

This is the most substantive argument in the presidential campaign so far, and may be the most substantive argument uttered in electoral politics for a long while.
Contrary to Bruenig, I actually think the man on the street easily gets this. That there something wrong about  spending ridiculous sums on various brands of consumer items which are basically the same while allowing children to go hungry is a common sense observation. I hear people say it all the time. I've said it. It's not that anyone thinks the government should take over the market and ban all competition and innovation, it's that we think any society that can afford to provide such a vast array of similar consumer goods should also be able to take care of its children. That it doesn't is shameful.

Good for Bernie Sanders for saying this on the campaign trail. Maybe he'll even make it socially acceptable for politicians to talk like real people again without having to sound like a conqueror or a cowboy. There are a lot of real people in America who don't sound that way.

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QOTD: Scott Walker vaginal probe edition

by digby

Letting the cat out of the bag:

Walker told Loesch that criticism he received about the ultrasound bill was merely an attack from the “gotcha” media, and that he was in fact just trying to provide women with “a cool thing.”

“The thing about that, the media tried to make that sound like that was a crazy idea,” he said. “Most people I talked to, whether they’re pro-life or not, I find people all the time that pull out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grandkids’ ultrasound and how excited they are, so that’s a lovely thing. I think about my sons are 19 and 20, we still have their first ultrasounds. It’s just a cool thing out there.”

“We just knew if we signed that law, if we provided the information that more people if they saw that unborn child would make a decision to protect and keep the life of that unborn child,” he said.
We knew that, of course.  But they don't usually admit that was the goal. Because sticking a probe into women for the sole purpose of coercing them doesn't really set well with a lot of them. Some people think that the government mandating such things is particularly distasteful. But Walker isn't too bright.

Update: Proud to say that California's having none of this crapola:

The California Assembly voted on Tuesday to enact a law that will require crisis pregnancy centers to stop actively misleading women.

AB 775, also known as the FACT Act, will make it more difficult for CPCs to use traditional tactics (such as straight-up lying) to prevent women from terminating their pregnancies, by requiring centers that do not have medical licenses to disclose that they do not have medical licenses. The law, which was passed by the Assembly in a 49-26 vote, also requires that licensed medical facilities alert clients to all options related to pregnancy, including abortion.

 
Have Democrats Pulled Too Far Left? 

by tristero

AMONG liberals, it’s almost universally assumed that of the two major parties, it’s the Republicans who have become more extreme over the years. That’s a self-flattering but false narrative.
No, it's not.

Not a single elected Democrat has called for secession, as Rick Perry did. Not a single elected Democrat defied the Supreme Court to the extent of sending in the National Guard and provoking an insane confrontation with the local police, as Jeb Bush did during Schiavo. Not a single elected Democrat is so anti-reality and anti-science that they believe that if women are "legitimately raped," they will be protected from pregnancy as Todd Akin did.

Oh, sure there are leftwing extremists. Somewhere. But in the Democratic Party? Holding office or positions of power? Puhleeeze.


Adding: An unspoken assumption in this article is that there is a dichotomy between right and left viewpoints. In US politics today, that is an absurdly false dichotomy. The actual dichotomy is between the crazies (i.e. national Republicans and their rich enablers) and the reality-based rest.

Oh do I ever have my disagreements with Democrats (I'm an Independent), but I never doubt their grip on reality. I cannot say the same about Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Michael Huckabee, and the rest of the clown club. It truly is hard to take seriously someone who doubts evolution, human-based climate change, elementary economic theory, or basic civil rights.<br>
 

Super-deluxe, Extra-special, Inc.

by Tom Sullivan

Avoiding responsibility is just what the corporate form was designed for, wasn't it? That's why corporations will always go to the mat to protect their special rights and privileges as super-citizens. Those include not to facing jail time for repeated criminal behavior. Petty crime? Three strikes and you're out. Corporate crime? Nobody's counting. Justice for corporate crime is a different ball game.

"Banks have been on a criminal wilding," Katrina vanden Heuvel writes, "allegedly laundering money for drug dealers, systematically defrauding homeowners on their mortgages, routinely committing perjury in courts and much more." Their companies pay fines, yet virtually no one in charge goes to jail. Isn't that special?

RJ Eskow ticks off a lengthy series of criminal behavior by large banking firms: Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS Financial Services. All repeat offenders:

In an expanded version of a survey we first reported on in 2012, an updated study on behalf of law firm Labaton Sucharow found a deep-seated culture of immoral behavior among bankers in the United States and Great Britain. And it found that the situation was getting worse, not better, noting “a marked decline in ethics” since the first study was conducted.
Two-thirds of voters surveyed believe the market is rigged by and for insiders. Eskow writes:

These voters are right – and they’re not alone. William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, spoke in 2013 of “deep-seated cultural and ethical failures” and “the apparent lack of respect for law, regulation and the public trust” in the culture of our biggest banks.

Dudley reached that conclusion in 2013, and the Labaton Sucharow study suggests that banker ethics have gotten worse since then.

Our banking system has a design problem, because its incentives are broken. Financialization is stifling the productive economy. And the systemic threat posed by our biggest banks has made them immune from real punishment.

Except, I would argue that the design problem is not isolated to banks. Corporate capitalism has metastasized. The banks have simply grown so big that their cancers are visible to the naked eye.

In London right now, an interactive play lets audience members have a go at making the choices corporate super-citizens usually get to make:

... In Zoe Svendsen’s play World Factory at the Young Vic, the audience becomes the cast. Sixteen teams sit around factory desks playing out a carefully constructed game that requires you to run a clothing factory in China. How to deal with a troublemaker? How to dupe the buyers from ethical retail brands? What to do about the ever-present problem of clients that do not pay? Because the choices are binary they are rarely palatable. But what shocked me – and has surprised the theatre – is the capacity of perfectly decent, liberal hipsters on London’s south bank to become ruthless capitalists when seated at the boardroom table.

It is not them. It is not just lax regulation or enforcement. It is the system. Paul Mason, economics editor of Channel 4 News, argues that capitalism is "a mode of regulation, not just of production." That is, it is an organized market system that merely looks spontaneous. Bank CEOs walk free after committing fraud on a global scale "because a company has limited liability status, created by parliament in 1855 after a political struggle." Because, I argue, we created corporations as privileged, jail-resistant, super-deluxe, extra-special citizens. That is the design problem. Why is it a surprise when they behave like spoiled children?

It is Philip Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment writ large: "What happens when you put good people in an evil place?" Put college students in a mock prison, assign some the role of prisoners and others the (privileged) role of guards, and within days the "guards became abusive and the prisoners began to show signs of extreme stress and anxiety." What happens when you put ordinary people in a corporate environment – not for days, but for years – privileged with limited liability and with the economic imperatives and incentives of the capitalist model? As Eskow says, "Crooked bankers aren’t born. They’re made."

Paul Mason writes:

Our fascination with market forces blinds us to the fact that capitalism – as a state of being – is a set of conditions created and maintained by states. Today it is beset by strategic problems: debt-ridden, with sub-par growth and low productivity, it cannot unleash the true potential of the info-tech revolution because it cannot imagine what to do with the millions who would lose their jobs.

Because metastasized corporate capitalism does not care about anyone or anything beyond "expected future profits." The Great Recession proved that. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is about to prove it again. It is not in need of better regulation or a software patch, but a new operating system.

Marx believed capitalism contained the seeds of its own destruction. Well about now, corporate capitalism is looking pretty seedy.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

 
Death penalty for thee but not for me

by digby

Oh my goodness, look at this:


This was from Jim Bob's 2002 Senate campaign website. He was running for office as his son Josh was molesting his sisters in their sleep.

You know the rest of the story. 

There's a part of me that would feel a little bit sorry for these people (and does feel very sorry for the girls in that family who have been raised to be brood mares)  except for the fact that they are such media whores. Live by the People Magazine cover, die by the People Magazine cover ...

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We know the intent of the Congress, now we'll find out the intent of the Court

by digby

The New York Times' Robert Pear went out and interviewed a bunch of people and found out that what has long been obvious to anyone with half a brain was true: the Obamacare suit before the Supreme Court is based on what amounts to a typo:
They are only four words in a 900-page law: “established by the state.”

But it is in the ambiguity of those four words in the Affordable Care Act that opponents found a path to challenge the law, all the way to the Supreme Court.

How those words became the most contentious part of President Obama’s signature domestic accomplishment has been a mystery. Who wrote them, and why? Were they really intended, as the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell claim, to make the tax subsidies in the law available only in states that established their own health insurance marketplaces, and not in the three dozen states with federal exchanges?

The answer, from interviews with more than two dozen Democrats and Republicans involved in writing the law, is that the words were a product of shifting politics and a sloppy merging of different versions. Some described the words as “inadvertent,” “inartful” or “a drafting error.” But none supported the contention of the plaintiffs.

He even got Republicans Olympia Snowe and one of Mike Enzi's legal advisors on the record agreeing. Not that I think it will matter all that much. If the conservative majority wants to overturn Obamacare it will find a way to justify doing it, the easiest being to simply rule for the plaintiffs while saying that all the congress has to do if "fix it".  (It's not the Court's problem if the people don't want to fix Obamacare ...)

But who knows? This one's a nail biter.

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The most optimistic article you'll read all week

by digby

It's from Mike Konczal in The Nation:

I come to bury centrism, not to praise it. Discussions of the economy during the 2016 campaign will look very different from those of the past two elections, because centrism as an ideological force has collapsed.

An optical illusion has shielded centrism from critique. Centrists position themselves as anti-ideology, representing a responsible compromise between liberals and conservatives. The word conjures sobriety and restraint, caution and moderation—all of which sound compelling in uncertain economic times.

But institutionalized centrism is more than that: It's an elite group of thinkers and writers, popular in Washington, DC, and favorable to business leaders, who told a very specific story about what was happening during the Great Recession. They populate the opinion pages of The Washington Post and think tanks like the Bipartisan Policy Center, and they influenced officials like former Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag. Circa 2010, they argued for a "sensible" response to the Great Recession: reduce the deficit to fix the short-term jobs crisis, privatize Medicare, and focus on the long-term economy—since, they claimed, working Americans would eventually bounce back during the recovery. Democratic candidates took these positions seriously. Yet each element of the centrist story has turned out to be absolutely false. read on ...
He's absolutely right. I just wish I could be more sure that reality was going to guide us rather than habit of mind or stale ideology. And then there's no guarantee that centrism will be replaced with liberalism. It could go the other way. But no matter what, if centrism has taken a fatal hit it's a good thing in itself. It has a lot to answer for. Whether it ever will answer for its failures remains to be seen. Just look at the VSP zombies on foreign policy. Or the Wall Street whiz kids who nearly destroyed the global economy. They never seem to pay much of a price.

Still, this is an optimistic piece. We've been mired in this centrist fantasy for a very long time and it's finally starting to come apart. As Konczal says maybe now we have a shot at getting it right.


Read on ...
 
Now the bad news on the "L" word

by digby

Simon Maloy at Salon makes a good point about this recent polling on the word "liberal."  Yes, people are starting to feel comfortable calling themselves socially liberal but they are still unwilling to admit to being economically liberal:

This bears out in Gallup polling on economic issues. By a 39 to 19 percent margin, more Americans recognize themselves as “conservative” than “liberal” on economic issues. This wide disparity has been intact consistently since 1999. Among Democrats, too, only 33 percent will recognize their positions as “liberal,” compared to 45 percent who prefer “moderate.” Republicans, meanwhile, just can’t wait to let everyone know how conservative they are. Sixty-four percent of Republicans label themselves economic “conservatives,” compared to only 27 percent who go with “moderate.” You can understand the ring to it on a personal level. Describing yourself as “economically conservative” makes the pollster think that you’re an upstanding financial manager who dutifully balances your checkbook every month.

Think of all those rich people you know (or have heard say) they are social liberals and economic conservatives. It's quite common. In fact, I'd say that a good many of our Democratic party elites would describe themselves that way.

But as Maloy points out, it's kind of self-defeating for average folks to join them in that:

Liberal doesn’t need to be a naughty word when it comes to economic issues. Americans lopsidedly support quintessential “economically liberal” positions like protecting Social Security and Medicare, raising taxes on the wealthy, and maintaining discretionary spending programs for education, medical research, infrastructure, etc. People may conceive of these as “moderate” positions, and they may have once been. But now they are positions that are under withering assault from “economic conservatives.”

It may be a chicken or the egg situation, but this may explain why so many people are afraid to call themselves liberals:

You would never, ever catch President Obama — at least before he was a lame duck — going out there and describing the aforementioned positions as “liberal” ones, or himself as a “liberal.” He would describe his economics as “common sense,” “middle class,” or some other milquetoast phrase. He would go to great lengths, in fact, when accused — gasp! — of being a “liberal.” As long as Democratic standard-bearers refuse to describe these economically liberal positions as such, though, Republicans will continue using “liberal” as a caricature — and an effective one.

They are the ones who are supposed to "lead" at least in theory.

Clinton calls herself a progressive which is better than nothing. Bernie Sanders calls himself a democratic socialist which is actually the right term for what the modern left believes. Liberal is freighted with a bunch of baggage, some of which the left hates and some of which the right hates. But we have to call ourselves something and there's a part of me that loathes the fact that the right continues to be able to demonize the left by turning their identifiers into epithets so I stick with liberal. But the fact that we continue to have this discussion tells us the problem continues on some level. Someday it would be nice to see the shoe on the other foot.


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Campaigns for billionaires and celebrity kooks

by digby

I did a little trip down memory lane over at Salon today and wrote a piece about the 2012 debates and the trouble the RNC is going to have in this cycle despite their best efforts:

The Republican primary, however, was wildly entertaining. While it did feature the usual Republican presumptive front-runner anointed by the establishment because it was “his turn,” the rest of the field was a bizarre collection of odd ducks and opportunists: Newt Gingrich. Michele Bachmann. Rick Santorum. Herman Cain. (And if you consider too those figures who merely flirted with throwing their hats in the ring, the race also includes Donald Trump, who pouted like 12 year old over his ignominious roast at the White House Correspondence Dinner and marched out of the campaign in a huff.) While common sense might have dictated that the fringe candidates would exit the race early and without note, it was actually the so-called normal, moderate candidates, like Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman, who went down at the starting gate.
Tim Pawlenty had been that cycle’s inevitable Midwestern “reformer,” whom the political establishment always insists will be able to unite all the disparate factions of the GOP. This of course did not happen. Pawlenty spent a lot of early money trying to revamp his boring image and remake himself as a sexy GOP swashbuckler (as if that actually exists). Instead, he merely ended up making himself into a running joke, with his a string of bizarrely turgid videos and speeches, in which he inappropriately held forth, for example, about his “red hot smokin’ wife.”  He dropped out in August of 2011.
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman did make it through the early debates, but it was clear that he had made a strategic error of epic proportions. Huntsman had looked at the 2008 election and assumed that the country was moving away from the hardcore conservative politics of the past 30 years. He positioned himself as a thoughtful, bipartisan moderate — even joining the Obama administration as Ambassador to China. Oops! In truth, Huntsman could not have been more wrong in his analysis of the party’s mood. The GOP didn’t just fail to moderate in 2012; it actually doubled down on its extremist agenda. And poor Jon Huntsman ended up looking as appetizing to primary voters as a Hostess Ding Dong filled with tuna tartar. He barely made a ripple before he was gone.
But the rest of the gang of weirdos and flakes hung in there for months, providing the nation with a peek into the ideological soul of the Republican Party in a round of historically entertaining presidential primary debates filled with legendary gaffes and missteps.

It goes on. Lord, I enjoyed that GOP primary. And this one's likely to be pretty good too. But what this whole thing portends is a major shift in the way we pick presidential candidates and it's probably not going to be something that benefits democracy. Billionaires financing celebrity candidates for their own purposes isn't unprecedented --- Ronald Reagan was the original. It's probably not a good idea to institutionalize that model.

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It's working out fine for Mary Landrieu

by digby

Hey, it doesn't have quite the local prestige (plenty in DC though) but you can bet the money she's going to make is awe-inspiring.


Former Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is joining the Washington lobbying firm Van Ness Feldman, the firm will announce later Tuesday (May 26).

Landrieu said she will join Van Ness Feldman as a senior policy advisor, working closely with another recent hire, former Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., the former top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.

Former senators are barred from lobbying their former colleagues for two years after the end of their congressional careers. For Landrieu, that means she can't lobby colleagues until January, 2017. But she can lobby members of the executive branch, and is free to provide Van Ness Feldman clients with strategic advice. .

Landrieu said the job will provide her with the "flexibility" to continue her work for the Walton Family Foundation, advocating on education issues, such as support for charter schools in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and nationally.,

Landrieu lost her bid for a 4th Senate term to then Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, in a Senate runoff election.

In taking the job at Van Ness Feldman, Landrieu, who ended her 18-year Senate career as chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is joining a long list of former lawmakers in the lobbying business. Among former Louisiana members now lobbying are former Rep. Bob Livingston, R-Metairie; former Sens. J. Bennett Johnston, D-La., and John Breaux, D-La., and former Reps. Billy Tauzin, R-Chackbay, Jimmy Hayes, R-Lafayette, Chris John D-Lafayette, and Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman.

I'm sure glad the poor dears all landed on their feet. It's not as if former member of congress and the Senate have any hopes of landing a job that doesn't reek of corruption. So really, this is the only thing they can do.

Oh, and by the way, their staffs all do the same thing. It's quite a little system they've got going.


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The march of folly picks up speed

by digby

Remember when certain Evuntheliberal New Republic writers panicked and decided that things were going so wrong in Iraq that we needed to reinstall Saddam Hussein? Good times. Well, get a load of this headline:


They used to at least have the decency to call it "American hegemony" and the "Pax Americana" and go on about democracy like they cared. In this article Kaplan explains that the Post WWI order in the region is falling apart because the strongmen have all been deposed, the US hasn't stepped up in the role as it should have (and the wogs are incapable of ruling themselves, of course.) So there's nothing left to do:

A new American president in 2017 may seek to reinstate Western imperial influence — calling it by another name, of course. But he or she will be constrained by the very collapse of central authority across the Middle East that began with the fall of Saddam Hussein and continued through the post-Arab Spring years. Strong Arab dictatorships across the region were convenient to American interests, since they provided a single address in each country for America to go to in the event of regional crises. But now there is much less of that. In several countries, there is simply no one in charge to whom we can bring our concerns. Chaos is not only a security and humanitarian problem, but a severe impediment to American power projection.

Thus, the near-term and perhaps middle-term future of the Middle East will likely be grim. The Sunni Islamic State will now fight Iran’s Shiite militias, just as Saddam’s Sunni Iraq fought Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s Shiite Iran in the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran War. That war, going on as long as it did, represented in part the deliberate decision of the Reagan administration not to intervene — another example of weak imperial authority, though a successful one, since it allowed Reagan to concentrate on Europe and help end the Cold War.

Back then it was states at war; now it is sub-states. Imperialism bestowed order, however retrograde it may have been. The challenge now is less to establish democracy than to reestablish order. For without order, there is no freedom for anyone.


Great. Look for the GOP candidates to start foaming at the mouth on the campaign trail. Which one do you suppose will adopt this as their manifesto?





 
Not a point of pride

by digby



 

Isn't that special?

by Tom Sullivan

Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals.

Query: If corporations can sue over loss of "expected future profits" they didn't earn, can people get food over loss of "expected future work"?

It has always seemed to me that people should be holding the corporate leash, not wearing the collar. "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master — that's all." Yet we seem ready to hand mega-corporations a new and improved leash.

TPP is a "sellout of democracy" by "well-intentioned, sophisticated, realistic people ... used to disregarding democracy when they want to accomplish something important," writes Duke law school's Jedediah Purdy at Huffington Post (emphasis mine):

From what we know of the TPP, it works as an economic policy straitjacket, locking its members into a shared set of market rules. It even brings in "investor-state dispute settlement" -- a fancy term for allowing foreign corporations to sue governments whose lawmaking interferes with their profits, outside the courts of law, in suits resolved by private arbitrators. All of that is fundamentally anti-democratic. It reverses the basic and proper relationship between a political community and its economy. But plenty of Americans are seeking just that reversal. Not all of them believe the market is perfect and magical; but they believe it works, more or less, and that democracy does not. They are more than half right that this democracy, "our democracy" (a phrase that's hard to say without irony), does not work. And that is the reality that makes their anti-democratic agreement so plausible.

I just said it in plain English. That extra-legal process violates not only democratic principles, but all the "Makers" and "personal responsibility" bullshit our corporate Brahmins spew to keep the rest of us in line — especially the poorest among us. But when you are that special, living your hypocrisy is just another of the perks.


Monday, May 25, 2015

 
The Courage to Make Others Suffer
by Batocchio

On the eve of war in Washington, journalists and others gathered at a cocktail party at the home of Philip Taubman, the Washington bureau chief of the New York Times. . . . Judy Miller was one of several Times reporters there, and she seemed excited. Another journalist present asked if she was planning to head over to Iraq to cover the invasion. Miller, according to the other guest, could barely contain herself. "Are you kidding?" she asked. "I've been waiting for this war for ten years. I wouldn't miss it for the world!"

Hubris, by Michael Isikoff and David Corn (via Jon Schwarz).

“I must say, I’m a little envious,” Bush said. “If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed.”

“It must be exciting for you . . . in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You’re really making history, and thanks,” Bush said.

– A 2008 videoconference between Bush and U.S. military and civilian personnel.

In a post-Sept. 11 world, I thought the prudent use of violence could be therapeutic.

Richard Cohen, looking back on the Iraq War in 2006.

There's a breed of pedigreed dolt endemic to Washington, D.C. They determine their opinions socially, not empirically; what "everybody knows" trumps facts any old day. Their notion of tough, hard-nosed realism invariably entails that other people should suffer, from the blithe imperialism that cheers on unnecessary wars to the 'sensible centrism' that insists that unnecessary cuts to the social safety net are absolutely imperative. (The occasional safely contrarian view offers some novelty and the gloss of independence without truly challenging the establishment framework.) They remain cheerfully cloistered from the effects of their pronouncements about what the less privileged should be doing (and should be having done to them).

Among this crowd, going to war – or rather, sending others to war – is not a matter of careful deliberation; it is a matter of fashion.

Supporting and opposing war are not automatically respectable and equally valid positions; requiring a high threshold for war is the position of basic sanity, akin to a doctor making sure that amputating a limb is actually necessary before proceeding. A truly unavoidable conflict can be argued for with evidence and reason. If instead a war advocate lies, or constantly shifts rationales, or routinely exaggerates and fear-mongers, or slanders the patriotism of skeptics, or seems eager for war… it's cause for grave concern. Human beings will die in a war; death cannot be undone. Inevitably, not only supposed villains will suffer. Someone who can't be bothered even to pretend to treat war with the appropriate weight should not be trusted.

With a new presidential election cycle starting, we've seen many politicians, pundits and supposed journalists make revisionist claims about how the Iraq War started. It's crucial to remember that it wasn't an honest mistake nor was the case for war honestly made. Fighting against memory hole efforts are Digby, Paul Krugman (one and two), James Fallows, Josh Marshall, Greg Sargent, driftglass (one, two and three), Steve Benen, David Corn, Duncan Black, Matt Taibbi, the Columbia Journalism Review and The Daily Show, Balloon Juice, and I'm sure many more I've missed. (It's worth noting that the revisionism started almost immediately, and generally went unchallenged.)

Some war advocates had reservations; far more were largely uncritical of the Bush administration's case for war. There was a disturbing (if sadly unsurprising) trend of treating war skeptics as unpatriotic or even traitors. The key problem with belligerently cheerleading war (at its worst, gleeful bullying), wasn't that such people were socially obnoxious, although they were – it's that they helped create a climate where authority wasn't questioned, and skepticism was pilloried. They increased the chances of an unnecessary war. They increased the chances of unnecessary death and destruction. Avoiding those consequences – requiring a high threshold for armed conflict – is the entire point of war skepticism. It's not a game. Likewise, the reason to point out that the Iraq War was sold dishonestly, and that war advocates were wrong (or dishonest), is not for social bragging rights, but to prevent unnecessary wars in the future.

All of this should be completely obvious, but among the political class, it isn't. Far too many war advocates then and now treat such decisions as an issue of status and face, an abstract, intellectual game or "a low-stakes cocktail party argument" (to borrow a phrase from Jamelle Bouie). A few former war advocates have learned something profound, but for most of them, a true self-accounting would be too painful (and deep reflection has never been their nature anyway). Cloistered dolts rarely suffer for their careless decisions. And for many advocates, whether delusional or coldly clear-eyed, war was and is profitable. In Greek and Shakespearean tragedies, the instigator often suffers the effects of his own hubris, and it can lead to reflection, redemption, or at least recognition – for the audience if not the character. In politics and warmongering, hubris characteristically entails that someone else pay the costs.

(For more, see a 2013 post, "The Dogs of War.")


 
Grifter wedding goes wrong

by digby


The next time you see John McCain or any other Republican talking about "judgment" and responsibility, think about this:
The eleventh hour cancellation of Bristol Palin's Memorial Day Weekend wedding left mom Sarah with little alternative but to go ahead with the already planned reception - although significantly her daughter chose not to attend.

The bizarre set of circumstances mean't that while the former vice presidential candidate hung out with her daughter's ex-fiance and ex-Marine [and medal of honor recipient] Dakota Meyer and his family in Kentucky, Bristol made a very public showing of her non-attendance by posting a series of photos of her enjoying a 'weekend getaway' back in Alaska with her best friend who is an exotic model.

Sarah Palin had taken to Facebook last Monday to reveal that her 24-year-old daughter would not be marrying Meyer as previously planned just days after accusations emerged that the 26-year-old Marine had covered up a 'secret wife' he had married at 19 and then legally divorced.

Despite the cancellation, the former vice presidential candidate confirmed a celebration would still be held on May 23 and both families would be gathering for a barbecue at Meyer's Kentucky farm.

'This Kentucky farm is a beautiful setting for our friends and families to gather in celebration of life itself this Memorial Day weekend,' wrote Palin.

'Nothing is more precious to us than family, faith and America's freedom.'

But the 'celebration of life' appears to have quite heated at one point as this photograph showing Sarah Palin raising her finger in what appears to be a heated exchange with the man who was supposed to have become her son-in-law.

Days earlier Meyer had put out his own statement on Facebook page around the same time as the elder Palin and bearing striking similarities to her message, suggesting a concerted public relations offensive.

But if both sides were supposed to be maintaining a united front someone forgot to tell Bristol

She was absent from the 'celebration of life' in Kentucky and instead spent the weekend posting photos of her enjoying a 'getaway weekend' back home in Atlanta.

Sarah Palin makes a big issue of her family's supposed belief in traditional Christian family values, but after the embarassment of a cancelled wedding Bristol's choice of friend for her trip - 'exotic model and video vixen' Marina Lupas - was the last thing the family's tarnished image needed.

Lupas aggressively markets herself as an 'exotic model' on the internet, and her public photos leave little doubt about what she means. She and Bristol are long time friends and they spent the weekend enjoying the outdoors and driving an RV.

Photos from the family barbecue in Kentucky suggest Bristol didn't miss much with only about 100 people showing up.

Although in attendance was Fox News correspondent Rick Leventhal who tweeted photos of himself with both Palin and Meyer.
She would have been one heart attack away from running the world.




 
Will we ever know?

by digby

I was just cruising through my archives looking for something and came upon this story from the New York Times:

Report on 9/11 Suggests a Role by Saudi Spies
By JAMES RISEN and DAVID JOHNSTON
Published: August 2, 2003

WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 — The classified part of a Congressional report on the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, says that two Saudi citizens who had at least indirect links with two hijackers were probably Saudi intelligence agents and may have reported to Saudi government officials, according to people who have seen the report.

These findings, according to several people who have read the report, help to explain why the classified part of the report has become so politically charged, causing strains between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Senior Saudi officials have denied any links between their government and the attacks and have asked that the section be declassified, but President Bush has refused.

People familiar with the report and who spoke on condition of not being named said that the two Saudi citizens, Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Bassnan, operated in a complex web of financial relationships with officials of the Saudi government. The sections that focus on them draw connections between the two men, two hijackers, and Saudi officials.

The report urges further investigation of the two men and their contacts with the hijackers, because of unresolved questions about their relationship and whether they had any involvement in the 9/11 plot.

The edited 28-page section of the report, produced by a joint panel of the House and Senate intelligence committees, also says that a Muslim cleric in San Diego was a central figure in a support network that aided the same two hijackers. Most connections drawn in the report between the men, Saudi intelligence and the attacks are circumstantial, several people who have read the report said.

The unclassified parts of the report also suggest a connection between Mr. al-Bayoumi and Saudi intelligence. The report says that "one of the F.B.I.'s best sources in San Diego informed the F.B.I. that he thought that al-Bayoumi must be an intelligence officer." The report also says that "despite the fact that he was a student, al-Bayoumi had access to seemingly unlimited funding from Saudi Arabia."

I know you knew this already. I just thought it was worth mentioning again since poor old former Senator Bob Graham is still trying to get those pages declassified more than a decade later.

You simply cannot take what the government says about our policies in the Middle East at face value. It operates on a different level. But again, you knew that.

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Headline 'O the Day: Feature not bug edition

by digby



I have written for a long time that the fact that the public sector helped build the black middle class over the past four decades is one of the main reasons the right wing hates it so much.  I've heard the racist talk for years when I've stood in line at the DMV and the Post Office or overhearing conversations about "the problem with teachers." (You don't hear it as much about cops and firefighters, but all you have to do is look at the lawsuits against "quotas" to know it exists.)  These people consider government work largely a "welfare program" and resent the fact that public employees have good benefits and decent salaries because they are undeserving. And by "undeserving" they mean black. 

Racism isn't the only explanation for the right's hostility to public sector jobs. But it underlies much of conservatism's ongoing loathing for government which many of them see as catering to the lazy, undeserving poor (even those who work for a living!).  If the government benefits African Americans in some way, regardless of whether it also benefits whites, some people are against it. 

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Bernie who?

by digby

Honest to God ...



Meanwhile I'm sure they'll continue to tell their audience about Ben Carson's every utterance. Because he represents Real America.

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It only took one lobster eating surfer dude ...

by digby

My piece for Salon this morning ...

Imagine making it so that banks can collect extra fees from mothers with small children who are trying to feed them on less than four hundred dollars a month. How cruel do you have to be to think that making them only carry 20 dollars cash will somehow teach them a lesson?

But this is what’s happening in states governed by miserly Republicans who are determined to wring every last dime out of people who have nothing and give it to people who have more than they can spend in a lifetime. In Scott Walker’s Wisconsin, for instance, they are making long lists of prohibited foods for those who use SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs.) The list of other prohibited purchases includes “herbs, spices, or seasonings,” all nuts, red and yellow potatoes, smoothies, spaghetti sauce, “soups, salsas, ketchup,” sauerkraut, pickles, dried beans sold in bulk, and white or albacore tuna.

They were particularly adamant that nobody on the program be allowed to eat shellfish, lobster in particular, which seems odd considering that it’s Wisconsin and the lobster catch there is decidedly small. (In fact, it’s non-existent.) I’m sure you’ll be surprised to learn that this lobster hysteria stemmed from a Fox News documentary which seems to have been the catalyst for these crackdowns on foodie welfare cheats. Media Matters reported on it back in 2013:

Prior to its August 9 airing, Fox News hyped the special, “The Great Food Stamp Binge,” on Fox News Insider, FoxNews.com, and several of its daytime shows. Each preview focused on Jason Greenslate, a freeloading surfer who Fox correspondent John Roberts interviewed in Southern California. FoxNews.com described Greenslate at length in an article that teased the “new documentary”:

“The Fox News Reporting documentary profiles, among others, a California surfer and aspiring musician named Jason Greenslate. Greenslate shows how he supports his beach-bum lifestyle with food stamps, while dismissing the idea of holding down a regular, steady job.

“‘It’s not that I don’t want a job, I don’t want a boss. I don’t want someone telling me what to do. I’m gonna live my own life,’ Greenslate tells Fox News’ John Roberts. ‘This is the way I want to live. And I don’t really see anything changing. I got the card. It’s $200. That’s it.’”

As promised, “The Great Food Stamp Binge” labeled Greenslate “the new face of food stamps,” devoting two full segments to his lifestyle in a shameless attempt to characterize SNAP recipients as freeloaders.

Yes, he was shown eating lobster on screen. Since Fox News viewers are the most misinformed people in the universe (well, America anyway) and elected Republicans seem to be among Fox News’ most ardent fans, it stands to reason that some California surfer hippie refusing to work would inflame them so much that they couldn’t see past it. Fox even had staffers deliver copies of the documentary to members of congress prior to a vote on cutting food stamps, just to make sure that hippie didn’t go unnoticed by even one Republican. You can bet it’s made the rounds of all the state houses as well.

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Asking for it

by digby

Ok, this is very creepy.  It's about a document from Bill Gothard's home schooling cult that tells people like the Duggars how to deal with sexual abuse:
The document describes a situation in which social workers visited a home and informed the parents that their oldest son had sexually abused younger members of his family.

According to the document, the boy repented for what he had done and was later asked to answer a list of questions in writing to shed more insight on what happened.

The questions included asking what factors had contributed to his sin, what could have been done to prevent it, and what factors “in the home contributed to immodesty and temptation.”

“The information he gives is so helpful that every parent should read it and diligently apply the lessons that this family learned the hard way,” the document states.

The most striking part of the document comes when the boy seems to blame his actions on the lack of “modesty” in his home, especially when it came to his young sisters.

The boy wrote that modesty was a “factor” in his actions because it “was not at the level is should have been in my family.”

“It was not uncommon for my younger sibling to come out of their baths naked or with a towel,” he wrote.

He also said his younger sisters acted inappropriately when they wore dresses, saying they “did not behave in them as they should.”

He then said his sisters didn’t realize what they were doing to him because they didn’t realize their “own nakedness,” and it wasn’t taught properly to them. He seems to blame this on his mother, who he says didn’t see the human body as a big deal because she is a nurse.

The boy said he spoke with his mother who had “no idea” how “visual” men are sexually compared to women. He said changes have since been made in his home.

“This was not a major reason for the offending, but it allowed my little sister to be open to what I made her do,” he wrote.

He then wrote, “A different lifestyle, with more modesty, might have prevented what happened.”
The document then provides guidelines as to how to prevent this type of situation. These include “[insisting] on modesty at all times” and “[not allowing] boys to change diapers.”

There was this as well:
The document suggests that a victim of sexual abuse is damaging themselves by being “bitter” about what happened.

It also seems to imply the victim should be feeling guilt about what happened. The reasons for this guilt may be “disobedience” or “not reporting it,” it states.

In addition, the document reference there is a potential for “moral vaccination.”
That term is described in an article by Recovering Grace:

Moral vaccination” seems to reference a concept Gothard shared in seminars and conferences in the 1980s, when he told the story of a woman who struggled with unwanted sexual thoughts and eventually was raped. In the anecdote, Gothard described the rape and the woman’s subsequent aversion to sexuality as inoculation against lust.

I think we can all agree that this throwback attitude should have been left in the caves. But then you stop to think about it and see that there are many people, not just the Duggar Quiverful types for whom this attitude still subconsciously informs their views about women and assault. The right sees sexual assault as a false narrative in which women are pretending to be victims when they were actually active participants in the act in one way or another. (Those little girls who were "immodest" in their dresses for instance.) And if women are assaulted they likely put themselves into a situation they shouldn't have been in in the first place and must take some responsibility for what happened to them.

That's Bill Gothard's gothic patriarchal culture. It's also our culture.

Update: Because he cares about the victims, this Republican politician wants the chief of police fired for releasing Josh Duggar's arrest report. Uh huh.


Update II: That Buzzfeed story I linked at the beginning should have included some acknowledgement to Kathryn Joyce for her book Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement
and Sarah Posner who has written reams about Gothard as well. You really should read up on this if you haven't.
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"Bring 'em on"

by digby



The original Arlington West memorial, Santa Barbara, California; the USS Ronald Reagan is in the background



With all the bellicose talk coming from the right these days, it appears we are on the cusp of forgetting. We shouldn't do that.




 

Damned dirty hippies

by Tom Sullivan

The sun is just up and I put out the flag. It is Memorial Day again. There will be a ceremony downtown later to honor America's war dead. Some in Washington are clamoring to send more Americans to join them.

We have seen stories lately that Memorial Day originated in 1865 with freed slaves in Charleston, SC. They took it upon themselves to give a proper burial to hundreds of Union soldiers from a prison camp at the Washington Race Course and Jockey Club who had been buried in a mass grave. Whether that event was the inspiration for the national holiday established in 1868 is conjecture. According to Yale historian David W. Blight, the “Martyrs of the Race Course” have since been moved to the National Cemetery at Beaufort, South Carolina. The track is now a park adjacent to the Citadel military college.

I was on the Isle of Palms a few miles east of there on October 7, 2002, watching, the night George W. Bush gave the televised speech in Cincinnati. He threw everything but the kitchen sink at Saddam Hussein in an effort to convince the American people we needed to go to war against Iraq (as the White House had already decided). The well-orchestrated, Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld propaganda effort has been much in the news lately. A decade later, Americans have largely concluded, knowing what we know now, that we, the Bush administration, and a cheerleading national press were misled by bad intelligence.

No, we weren't. David Corn put it plainly last week: "George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, & Co. were not misled by lousy intelligence; they used lousy intelligence to mislead the public."

Matt Taibbi mocked the "bad intelligence" argument last week, "It was obvious even back then, to anyone who made the faintest effort to look at the situation honestly, that the invasion was doomed, wrong, and a joke." What's more:

Do people not remember this stuff? George Bush got on television on October 7th, 2002 and told the entire country that Saddam Hussein was thinking of using "unmanned aerial vehicles" for "missions targeting the United States."

Only a handful of news outlets at the time, most of them tiny Internet sites, bothered to point out that such "UAVs" had a range of about 300 miles, while Iraq was 6,000 miles from New York.

What was the plan – Iraqi frogmen swimming poison-filled drones onto Block Island?

It was nuts. It was nuts at the time. What Bush's "intelligence" lacked in quality he had made up for in quantity. That was obvious. If he had anything solid, he would not have recited a laundry list of conjecture. The intelligence wasn't just bad. It was a joke. Anyone with a scrap of remove could see it, as Taibbi says. Yet most of the country went along, including our watchdog press. Taibbi concludes:

Now a lot of these same people are green-lighting stories about how wrong Jeb Bush is for not admitting to what is at last obvious, "knowing what we know now." But forget what we know now. We knew then, but we're just not admitting it.

For the record, I wrote this to my senators and congressman from that Isle of Palms kitchen the day after the Bush speech in 2002:

Senator,

“Facing clear evidence of peril,” George W. Bush last night recalled President Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis. I lived through the Cuban missile crisis, Senator. Those were real missiles, only 90 miles away, and not weapons we worried might be developed, might be intended for us.

Clear evidence of peril? I grew up and lived most of my life under the threat of nuclear annihilation on thirty-minute notice from hundreds of Soviet nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles. We knew – unequivocally – that the Soviets had the bombs and the delivery systems, and that their ICBMs were aimed right at us. This country has never faced a more imminent and direct threat.

Against this backdrop the President would have us shaking in our shoes and supporting immediate preemptive war against a dictator and tyrant who might – if he has a death wish in development, too – threaten the United States from halfway round the world using crop dusters armed with mustard gas?

This is Bush’s “significant threat”? So why do Iraq’s immediate neighbors Saudi Arabia and Turkey – both defended by our military – not support Mr. Bush on this? On Larry King Live last night Sen. John McCain observed that the worst-case scenario from Iraq is Hussein launching a chemical or biological attack against Israel, not against us. Israel faced something like this already. And if Hussein tried it again, the Israelis – if unfettered – would reduce him to a greasy patch, and we would help them do it.

Bush keeps trying unsuccessfully to tie Iraq to 9/11 to gain support for his jihad. Again last night, he was unsuccessful. His reasoning as to why we should act immediately against Iraq? “We’ve experienced the horror of September the 11th.” “Saddam Hussein's regime gleefully celebrated the terrorist attacks on America.” Because there are bad people out there who don’t like us, and Saddam Hussein is one of them. (And he keeps bad company.) He might be tempted someday to commit illegal acts of violence against us, so we are justified in committing illegal acts of violence against him first. Shoot at anything that goes bump in the night… and ask questions later.

A brilliant foreign policy. It makes me nostalgic for the good old days of 1962.

Let’s let the U.N. authorize legal military action, if it will, before Bush straps on his six guns and sets off on a lynching party. Do not support this Texas vigilante’s putsch.

Damned dirty hippie.

Observe Memorial Day without so much saber rattling, okay?


Sunday, May 24, 2015

 
Bipartisanship at last

by digby

I have always said that the only way to achieve bipartisanship in the modern era is for President Obama to enlist the Democrats to pass the conservative's agenda unchanged and without compromise. It would especially good if he could twist some liberals' arms to get it done so the Villagers would see it as legitimately mainstream.

Looks like we might see this in action at long last:
House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and GOP leaders have turned to some unlikely allies to rally support for a key trade bill: Tea-Party conservatives, including some prominent names from the raucous House Freedom Caucus.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) recently tapped Rep. Tom McClintock to give the weekly GOP address, in which the conservative Californian declared: “Trade means prosperity.”

At the monthly “Conversations with Conservatives” event, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) informed his colleagues he’s an unequivocal “yes” on granting President Obama so-called “fast-track” trade powers.

And both McClintock and Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) huddled with reporters in a leadership office last week to talk up the virtues of legislation to help pass Obama’s trade agenda.

Salmon, typically a source of heartburn for leadership, denounced some of the conservative “Pat Buchananites” he runs with as “protectionists.” Those who warn Obama can’t be trusted on trade are making a weak argument, he said, because Congress has given Republican presidents the same authority.

Finally, Salmon pointedly challenged critics who’ve complained about the secrecy of the process to head down to a classified briefing room in the Capitol’s basement to read details of a major 12-nation trade deal, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“I’ve read every jot and tittle … 123 pages,” Salmon told reporters during the press briefing, while seated next to House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the No. 4 leader. “To go out there and rail against it when you haven’t even looked at it is insane.”

Salmon, who chairs the Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, didn’t stop there. In a closed-door GOP conference meeting the following morning, he was the first one to step to the open microphone, making an impassioned plea in support of fast track and the trade deal as Ryan looked on.

“I can't believe Republicans — the party of free trade — are coming out against this,” Salmon told his colleagues, according to sources in the room.

There are just as many House conservatives who have their doubts about handing President Obama broader trade powers, referred to in Washington parlance as Trade Promotion Authority or TPA.

But the aggressive lobbying effort by these conservative lawmakers is seen as a positive sign for TPA following weeks of chatter that the bill was on life support in the lower chamber.

“I’m as conservative as any of them. Salmon’s a great spokesman, I’m a great spokesman. McClintock’s a great spokesman. That’s the reason I think we’re gonna see it pass,” said Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas), a member of Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s GOP vote-counting team who’s bullish that TPA will be sent to Obama’s desk. “I think it looks good.”

After clearing several tough procedural hurdles, the fast-track bill is slated to pass out of the Senate this weekend. But the House won’t take up the measure until early June, after the chamber returns from its weeklong Memorial Day recess.

TPA specifically would give Obama the ability to send trade pacts to Congress for fast-track approval, meaning lawmakers could cast an up-or-down vote but not amend the agreement.

Scalise’s whip team won’t disclose how many of the 245 possible GOP votes they’ve locked up so far. But one leadership ally, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), told The Hill the target is roughly 190 Republican votes and 30 Democratic votes.

“Every week, we’re starting to move in the right direction and pick up a lot of these members we normally don’t get for big initiatives,” said a GOP aide who is familiar with the TPA whip count. “Even if there is opposition from the Tea Party/Freedom Caucus side, it has been relatively muted.”

Part of the reason there hasn’t been more organized, vocal conservative opposition to the trade bill is because Republicans typically are big boosters of free-trade, open-market principles. So for many GOP critics, coming out against the trade legislation has been a tricky endeavor.

“I’m a free trade guy,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a Freedom Caucus member, said before explaining that he’s still “undecided” on TPA as he works to add trade-preference language for Israel back into the bill.

While Freedom Reps. John Fleming (R-La.) and Dave Brat (R-Va.) are firmly opposed to TPA, other members — including Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Reps. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), Ken Buck (R-Colo.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.) — say they are “leaning no.”

“I have supported all previous trade agreements we voted on in the House. I will support future trade agreements ... but TPA is a process bill and I want to have a good grasp of the process before I would support it,” Amash told The Hill. “I am a ‘lean no’ because I don’t have enough information about the process, but I am not a firm no.”

The split among conservatives is a good omen for Ryan and GOP leaders, who likely wouldn’t be able to move the bill if there was united Tea-Party opposition in the conference.

Yes, many of these are the same "populist"  Tea Partyers who pretend to be antagonistic toward big business.

Yes, as I said, as long as the president agrees to pass a conservative agenda he will be able to claim some "bipartisan" achievements. I'm sure there will be much celebrating in Washington if he can get this one done. The hippies really hate it ---

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Yes, our police torture citizens who are in the midst of medical emergencies

by digby



David Washington crashed into a car and a street sign after having a medical emergency, but the officers just assumed he was disobeying orders. They tasered him, blasted a long shot of pepper spray directly in his eyes and when he fell out of the car they let it run over his foot. And then the cop asked the sick citizen if he understood why he had to be sprayed.

I've been writing about this for years. They torture people who cannot respond. They don't bother to even try to ascertain if there might be something wrong. They do it to deaf people and people who are having epileptic seizures. Obviously, they do it to people who are mentally ill and not a danger to anyone all the time. They do it at will and rarely does anyone care.

If there wasn't a body cam recording this, they would have said he was like a raging Giant, threatening them menacingly and they had no choice but to subdue him by whatever means they could.

And think about this. They are at the scene of an accident. How could possibly not have been concerned that the man was injured? The lack of common sense is staggering.

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Chart 'O the Day "L" word edition

by digby

Kevin Drum:
Here's a fascinating tidbit of research. A pair of grad students surveyed 2,000 state legislators and asked them what they thought their constituents believed on several hot button issues. They then compared the results to actual estimates from each district derived from national surveys.

The chart on the right is typical of what they found: Everyone—both liberal and conservative legislators—thought their districts were more conservative than they really were. For example, in districts where 60 percent of the constituents supported universal health care, liberal legislators estimated the number at about 50 percent. Conservative legislators were even further off: they estimated the number at about 35 percent.

Here's the chart:


Kevin wonders why this is so and speculates that it's the Fox effect as well as the hard right nature of the modern GOP.

I think that's true.  But I would also guess that the mainstream media continuously saying "this is a conservative country" as if it's self-evident has an effect too.


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First they came for the Clintons and I did nothing ...


by digby



Uh huh:
Roger Eugene Ailes (born May 15, 1940) is president of Fox News Channel, and chairman of the Fox Television Stations Group. Ailes was a media consultant for Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush and for Rudy Giuliani’s first mayoral campaign (1989)...

Days after the 9/11 attacks, Ailes gave President George W. Bush political advice indicating that the American public would be patient as long as they were convinced that Bush was using the harshest measures possible. The correspondence was revealed in Bob Woodward's book Bush At War.
But, you know, he's fair and balanced so it's all good.

Speaking of Ailes you have to read this amazing interview in The Hollywood Reporter if you missed it a couple of weeks ago. There's a ton of fascinating stuff in there but in keeping with the topic of this post:
As the country enters a presidential campaign season with dynastic implications, Ailes has a dilemma: How much oxygen does he give the fringe GOP candidates who could torment likely frontrunner Jeb Bush and potentially aid Hillary Clinton in the process. It's not a question he answers directly. "I just don't think I should weigh in on it, even in the press because people will think, 'Well, that's the way he's making the network go.' But it looks like Hillary is going to do whatever she wants," he says, "and the press is going to vote for her."

Asked if he thinks Ted Cruz, the intransigent Texas tea party candidate, has a chance of securing the GOP nomination, Ailes deflects: "Listen, we elected Warren G. Harding. Anybody has a chance. You don't know who you're going to be running against. If the other guy falls on his rear end, you could win."

It's not as if he's hiding his agenda. In fact, it's blithely assumed by the reporter and everyone else that he's trying to help the Republican get elected. He makes no bones about it and any sentient being who watches Fox can see it.

And that's perfectly fine. But Stephanopoulos, who also worked as a political operative and retired from that profession just five years after Ailes (about 20 years ago) is a whore because he gave some money to Clinton's charity.

This has to be the most hypocritical right wing scandal to date. And it may just backfire. These smug jerks are going after Villagers by name now.

On the other hand ... never mind ...

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So everyone just noticed that Marco Rubio looks good on paper?

by digby

Apparently.  This article in the New York Times has everyone all atwitter. Apparently everyone just noticed that Republicans need to attract at least a few Hispanics and that the Great Whitebread hope Scott Walker is unlikely to be that guy (and not just because he's an obvious boob but because he's actually come out against legal immigration.)

Anyway, I'll just take this moment to reprise my Salon piece from months ago about why Rubio makes the most sense.

Recognizing his obvious presidential timber after he boldly led Senate Republicans to hold hands and jump over a cliff in his very first weeks in the Senate, the Arkansas GOP introduced a bill this week which would change existing law to allow Tom Cotton to run for the office in 2020. One might ask why they would wait so long for his leadership  — and for all we know, the draft Cotton movement is already afoot for 2016 — but perhaps they recognize that it might be better if he has more than a couple of months of experience before he takes the reins of the most powerful government on earth. (It’s possible that they also recognize it’s going to take a while before people have forgotten that he boldly led Senate Republicans over a cliff in his very first weeks in office …)
But the urge for a fresh face among GOP strategists is palpable. After all, if they plan to run against Hillary the ancient mariner who’s been around politics since we were all sending notes to each other via post office, they have to have someone besides Jeb Bush who, if you squint your eyes when he comes on TV, looks and sounds an awful like Poppy, who’s been around since they were all sending notes via pony express. There’s a groundhog day aspect to the upcoming presidential race for a lot of reasons and while it may seem that Hillary Clinton is the one stands to lose the most from that, it remains a fact that she would be the first woman nominee of a major political party in our country’s history and you just don’t get any fresher than that. The Republicans, on the other hand, have a major problem with virtually every member of the US electorate except older white conservatives.
There are a lot of old white conservatives, to be sure. But not enough to win a national election. As I wrote in this piece from a couple of weeks ago, Republican pollsters and strategists have crunched the numbers and they realize that in order to win they have to do substantially better with Hispanics and other minorities than George W. Bush did in 2000. It’s possible that some of them believe that means Jeb is a logical choice to re-capture some of that Bush magic (although anyone who’s seen him on the stump would be hard pressed to believe that “magic” is a word that springs to mind.) Moreover, while he can certainly deploy his Mexican American wife and his children to speak for his openmindedness about immigration, the fact that the kids are grown and in office themselves will only show him to be just another older white, male politician. Jeb isn’t young. He is eligible for Social Security this year. Jeb Bush as the voice of the new generation of Republicans doesn’t exactly have the ring of authenticity to it.
And that brings us to Marco Rubio. The beltway wags have dubbed this current period in the presidential cycle the “donor primary” with the GOP candidates all rushing to kiss the rings of the big money boyz in the party. It’s widely assumed that Jeb Bush is their guy. (After all, brother Dubya may have screwed up the world in flamboyant fashion but he damned sure got those tax cuts for the rich passed first thing.) And for reasons that continue to be obscure, a lot of pundits think Scott Walker is a formidable force despite the fact that he can hardly go a day without saying something that further proves he’s anything but. And yet, for all the talk about these two being the billionaires’ favorite toys, it was Rubio who made the big splash at the Koch Summit a few weeks back.
The Koch brothers’ conservative network is still debating whether it will spend any of its massive $889 million budget in the Republican presidential primaries, but the prospect of choosing a GOP nominee loomed over the network’s just-concluded donor conference in the California desert. In an informal straw poll of some conference donors, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida came out ahead of four other would-be GOP presidential candidates who had been invited, according to an attendee familiar with the results. The poll was conducted by Frank Luntz, a veteran GOP pollster, during a break-out session of the conference, which wrapped up Tuesday after a long weekend of presentations and discussions at the Ritz-Carlton in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
The Koch network isn’t the only game in town, of course, but it’s certainly the biggest player. And they liked the Senator from Florida very much. Why? Because they want to win. And Rubio, as rough around the edges as he certainly is, is the one hopeful they can conceivably contrast with an older, white woman as a “first” of equal importance. He’s young, he’s Hispanic and he’s good looking. He’s the anti-Hillary whom they believe might be able to siphon off enough of those Latinos who are going to be necessary to get the GOP over the line.
Up until now the beltway handicappers have barely mentioned him. But he’s starting to make his move. National Review reports that the buzz is starting:
Jeb Bush’s announcement in December launched both a fundraising juggernaut and an aggressive hiring spree, and Scott Walker’s speech in Iowa the following month lifted Walker to the top of national polls. But a little more than a month later, says the operative, “The Jeb boom is over and people are having second thoughts about Walker.”
The beneficiary in terms of buzz is Marco Rubio, who now has many of the party’s top donors looking at him in a way they weren’t even a month ago. Though Rubio hasn’t made as much noise as his competitors as the 2016 campaign has gotten underway in earnest, his knowledgeable presentations and obvious political talent are nonetheless turning heads or, at least, enough of them. Rubio hasn’t made a big splash, neither building a “shock and awe” campaign like Bush nor delivering a marquee speech like Walker (who afterward seemed almost to be caught off guard by his rapid ascent). Instead, Rubio appears to be gambling on the idea that, in what is sure to be a long primary with a crowded field, a slow-and-steady approach will prevail.
The piece goes on to note that Florida billionaire Norman Braman announced that he is prepared to give Rubio substantial backing and that at the “American Enterprise Institute’s annual donor retreat in Sea Island, Ga., one attendee says Rubio got rave reviews from a crowd that included several billionaires.” He is likewise making a good impression on the intellectual wing of the party (which says more about the intellectual wing of the party than it does about him.)
It’s a long way to the Republican convention next year and speculation about the outcome is little more than a parlor game at this point. But Rubio is the potential nominee who makes the most sense on paper and it seems that a number of billionaires are willing to wager some of what amounts to tip money for them (and a vast fortune for the rest of us) on his campaign. If he can figure out the difference between ISIS and Iran before he has to debate someone who knows the answer, he could be the one they are waiting for.

And, by the way, he also is an Adelson favorite. Just saying:

Mega-donor Sheldon Adelson is smitten:
In recent weeks, Adelson, who spent $100 million on the 2012 campaign and could easily match that figure in 2016, has told friends that he views the Florida senator, whose hawkish defense views and unwavering support for Israel align with his own, as a fresh face who is “the future of the Republican Party.” He has also said that Rubio’s Cuban heritage and youth would give the party a strong opportunity to expand its brand and win the White House…
Since entering the Senate in 2011, Rubio has met privately with the mogul on a half-dozen occasions. In recent months, he‘s been calling Adelson about once every two weeks, providing him with meticulous updates on his nascent campaign. During a recent trip to New York City, Rubio took time out of his busy schedule to speak by phone with the megadonor.
Rubio really is a GOP dreamboat, isn’t he? He even calls when he’s on the road!

I have no idea if he will win, obviously. This is all parlor game bullshit. but I find it amusing that it's taken this long for people to recognize Rubio's play and see that he is the best they can do.



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