Will the 1.3 million people stripped of unemployment benefits by Republican callousness get them restored this month? Doubtful, but Congressional Democrats are trying to make it happen, while the President is pitching in with repeated appeals for legislative action and a Tuesday event at the White House featuring people whose benefits were terminated.
This week the Senate will take up a bipartisan proposal by Senators Reed and Heller to restore and extend Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits for three months. Some Republicans have signaled a willingness to support such a measure, but only after offsetting the $6 billion cost of a three-month extension by slashing other spending they hate. Harry Reid has in turn described the idea of an offset as “foolishness” (a word many people automatically associate with Congress already). Meanwhile, Harvard economist Lawrence Katz has calculated that the expiration of unemployment benefits will cost the economy a billion dollars a week; naturally, there’s no word from the GOP about offsetting that.
The House of Representatives will get back to “business” Tuesday. So will cokehead Republican Congressman Trey Radel, who will make his first attempt to do his job since November. Radel is fresh off what he described as a “life-changing” 28 days in rehab and a return to regular church attendance. With those fig leaves firmly affixed, he released a statement about how eager he is to help his constituents fight the challenges of “the burdens of Obamacare, a jobless recovery, and a federal government that continues to spend more than it takes in.” He said nothing about the challenge of being represented by a dim, sanctimonious hypocrite, but they’re probably all used to that by now.
House Republicans will start the new year pretty much the same way they ended 2013: with an unhealthy obsession with the Affordable Care Act. This week’s follies include a bill requiring the government to inform consumers of any breach of their personal data on healthcare.gov (notwithstanding that such a breach has not occurred) and a bill requiring the administration to provide weekly public reports on user traffic and the functionality of the website. There is some method to this madness, though. If Obamacare is the success Republicans fear it will be, they can take some of the credit by crowing about their pointless legislative tinkering around the edges. And if it fails, they can tell the nation that they tried to polish the turd, but it was hopeless. How they would reconcile either stance with their loud and sweaty series of attempts to defund, cripple, undercut, end run or repeal the ACA, I have no idea. I suspect they don’t either. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 1/6/14
Will HHS Secretary Sebelius fall on her sword? Will Websitegate force Barack Obama from office? Will Republicans ever shut their damn mouths and concentrate, for once, on doing something positive, rather than devoting all their time and tons of public money to futile attempts at de-legitimizing this President? No, no, and hell no.
After initial refusals, followed by scheduling issues, it now appears that Secretary Sebelius will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday. Expect majority members on the Committee to grandstand vigorously, hoping to compile some tasty video clips they can use for next year’s reelection efforts when they try to convince their constituents to save them from having to go and earn an honest living for another two years.
Wednesday morning, the 29-member Conference Committee holds its first meeting on the budget. Can Democrats and Republicans agree on a way forward? Can anything actually get done? Well, one thing that might get done this week is the passage of a House resolution formally giving the President a wag of the finger for having the colossal temerity to suspend the debt ceiling until February 7. Laissez les bipartisan temps rouler! Continue reading Stormy Monday, 10/28/13
Have Republicans forgotten they were elected to govern? Not when it comes to money and power. Money, especially. It’s being used in South Carolina to raise support for Lindsay Graham, up for reelection next year, by touting an immigration solution that matches his work with the Senate bill introduced by the Gang of Eight. Now in committee, the bill is the object of scorn by Alabama’s Jeff Sessions. But Graham says he, “believes in it with all his heart.”
The same 501(c)(4) money supporting Graham opposes Vincent Sheheen, a Democratic candidate for governor, a moderate from an established political family, the kind of Democrat that once won easily in South Carolina, as Bill Clinton once did in Arkansas. A 30-second commercial opposes Sheheen by saying he wants South Carolina to be the only Southern state to accept Obamacare. The spot openly touts the region’s solidarity with regression.
Win or lose, Republicans have put buzz words in place. Now at the state level, voters hear the bell and respond. This is one reason why Republicans repeatedly raise Benghazi. It’s not only to tie Hillary Clinton to the incident, but to pound into it a connotation of failure, weaknesses and cowardice. Hence the angry testimony of State Department officers in a recent hearing which added nothing to what was known except more reports and confessions of anger.
The white men expressed their anger at being told troops would add to the confusion, especially when conditions were not clearly understood. The Republican purpose is to add anger and fear—to turn Benghazi into a brand like Obamacare. All one need do is hear the word, and a parade of negatives immediately comes to mind for the uninformed majority.
If Benghazi is in, military sexual assault is out. Silence reigns about a problem so severe that both males and females in a US uniform are more likely to be sexually assaulted than killed in combat. The Republican concern for mission-readiness and discipline so displayed when gays were allowed to serve openly does not extend to violence and force within inter-gender (and intra-gender) relationships.
Any civilian organization facing year-on-year statistics for sexual assaults at the level of the military would be gravely criticized and shut down. Yet the focus of Congressional national security is on e-mails about Benghazi talking points, while the rampant, growing, out-of-control epidemic of military sexual assaults undermines military working order—widespread reports cite the difficulties of working with your rapist—and puts the nation’s security at risk. And brings home a lot of hurt.
Last year, 26,000 assaults were committed, by the military’s own score. The Air Force Chief of Staff discussed it in a Senate subcommittee hearing as the result of a “hook-up” culture. Yet the Air Force’s officer in charge of the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention was charged two weeks ago with groping an unknown woman in a Virginia parking lot, and was arrested by civilian authorities. Yesterday, the Army reported the arrest of an officer at Fort Hood, a Texas base, who was the Sexual Assault Prevention Office Coordinator. He is being held on multiple charges of abusive sexual misconduct.
Outrage? The tempest over revised talking points and e-mails also ignores three of the most important global developments in recent weeks: the factory fire in Bangladesh that left more than 1,100 workers dead, calling into question issues of global working conditions and safety; the massacres in Northern Nigerian villages by the Nigerian army; and the conviction of Guatemala’s former president and military dictator, 86-year-old Efrain Rios Montt on charges of genocide. Continue reading Hooking Up the Wrong Way
As I read the various articles, blogs, and political message boards discussing the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, I can’t help but be reminded of the brave men and women of the mainstream media, who – as the nation stood poised to launch on a misadventure of mammoth proportions and unimagined consequences – picked up their poms-poms and cheer-led a president and an administration that had already proven themselves to be incompetent decision-makers at best, and lying warmongers at worst.
Of course, we all now know the latter proved to be the case, beyond all reasonable doubt.
So I thought this would be an appropriate time to ask a few questions of our illustrious “news reporters/journalists”, with a view to getting some answers that might enlighten us all as to exactly what it is that causes once-aspiring truth-tellers to turn into people who will lie to their own countrymen in order to make a buck.
My questions are as follows:
When you find your vision completely obscured as though you are trapped in a narrow, dark tunnel, do you immediately realize that the sensation is caused by your head being, yet again, stuck firmly up your own ass? As a follow-up question: When your head is stuck up inside someone else’s ass, can you tell the difference between one asshole and another?
At what point in your career did you lose your ethics? Was it all at once, or was it due to a gradual wearing away of that part of you where your obligation to your profession and your loyalty to your fellow citizens also used to be?
Has the term “journalistic non-integrity” become part of the reporters’ lexicon, or do you pretend amongst yourselves that you still have integrity, all evidence to the contrary? Or have you simply changed the definition of the word “integrity” to now mean a lack thereof , in which case you can proudly boast that you are indeed – uh, full of it.
Does your paycheck include bonuses for things like (a) being a spineless shill for the corporations that own your network or sponsor your “news” programming, (b) perfecting the art of “going to commercial” when someone confronts you with the truth, (c) standing outside in a hurricane because your viewers are too fuckin’ stupid to know what a hurricane is without constant visual reminders each time one occurs?
Are fledgling on-air newscasters expected to be able to lie convincingly from their first day on the job? Or are occasional slip-ups, where actual facts might be inadvertently blurted out, overlooked due to whatever remaining vestiges of truth-telling they learned in journalism class having not been completely expunged – yet?
Do you ever experience a twinge of conscience when you look straight into the camera and lie to the American public? Or was your conscience surgically removed as part of the terms of your employment?
Did you ever want to grow up to be a conscientious news reporter? Or did you always want to grow up to be a professional propagandist who will say anything for money?
Can you pinpoint the day you decided to sell your soul for financial compensation? Do you celebrate the anniversary of that day each year by buying yourself something extravagant as a reminder of exactly why selling your soul was worth it? Continue reading Dear Alleged News Reporter/Journalist
ONE: “Ask the milkman, white with foam…”
Peter Bergman of Firesign Theatre and Radio Free Oz fame died two weeks ago. In his absence, this mortal coil has already grown a touch darker and a touch dumber.
Bergman and Firesign Theatre cohorts David Ossman, Phil Proctor and Phil Austin were at once free-associating tour guides on the lysergic journey from the era of the Love-In (a term coined by Bergman) to the era of Watergate and beyond, and meticulous craftsmen who used the sonic possibilities of radio and vinyl to create deeply resonant and almost unreasonably funny mind movies. Albums like How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You’re Not Anywhere at All are the high-water mark of countercultural comedy. They made sense of the world by insisting that it doesn’t make any sense, and perhaps needn’t.
Tributes and reminiscences have been plentiful since the news of Bergman’s death broke, but I found what I think is an apposite epitaph by following a link on the official Firesign Theatre website:
Why does a dead man need shoes? It is most difficult to answer this question rationally…
TWO: Oil Dirty Bastard
It’s common knowledge that Senator James Inhofe is a gigantic hosepail, yet he still feels compelled to prove it again and again. In a radio appearance last week, Inhofe reprised his stale climate change riffs for the umpteenth time:
… God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.
If that remark doesn’t make a damned bit of sense to you, don’t worry. It’s because that remark doesn’t make a damned bit of sense, period.
Without ever having offered a shred of credible evidence, Inhofe has long maintained that the environmental activists he so despises are driven by avarice:
As I said on the Senate floor on July 28, 2003, “much of the debate over global warming is predicated on fear, rather than science.” I called the threat of catastrophic global warming the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” a statement that, to put it mildly, was not viewed kindly by environmental extremists and their elitist organizations. I also pointed out, in a lengthy committee report, that those same environmental extremists exploit the issue for fundraising purposes, raking in millions of dollars, even using federal taxpayer dollars to finance their campaigns.
Inhofe upped the ludicrousness about this last Thursday, insisting to Rachel Maddow that “big oil” is a myth and that environmentalists pushing their views on human-induced climate change have outspent energy companies by almost two to one:
“So you think that the environmental groups have more money they spend on this issue [climate change] than the entire energy industry?” a skeptical Maddow asked.
“Absolutely,” Inhofe replied confidently. “You get the MoveOn.org, the George Soros, the Michael Moores, all the Hollywood elites and all your good friends out there. Yeah, they sure do.”
These are especially risible allegations when set against the findings of environmental organization Oil Change International, which calculates that Inhofe has taken $1,287,950 in contributions from oil, gas and coal companies since 1999.
The Senator’s vast lack of expertise about the environment is matched only by his impressively cherry-picked knowledge of the Bible:
I would say that the other Scripture that I use quite frequently on this subject is Romans 1:25, ‘They give up the truth about God for a lie and they worship God’s creation instead of God, who will be praised forever.’ In other words, they are trying to say we should worship the creation. We were reminded back in Romans that this was going to happen and sure enough it’s happening.
No danger of Inhofe ever worshipping God’s creation, at least. He actually seems to despise it, given his eagerness to allow Big Oil and other corporate entities to befoul it free of any government hindrance. And he just doesn’t quit. Inhofe is currently sponsoring S.482, a bill that would:
… amend the Clean Air Act to prohibit the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from promulgating any regulation concerning, taking action relating to, or taking into consideration the emission of a greenhouse gas to address climate change, and for other purposes.
If only he could take some of that $1,287,950 and invest in a complete version of the Bible, but the James Inhofes of the world are nothing if not adroit at avoiding inconvenient truths. Courtesy of Christian Ecology, then, here are a few verses the Senator’s own private Good Book appears to be missing:
Lev. 25:23-24. The land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. Throughout the country that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land.
Ezekiel 34:17-18. As for you, my flock… Is it not enough for you to feed on good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet?
Jer. 2:7. I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and you made my inheritance detestable.
Revelation 11:18. The nations were angry and your wrath has come. The time has come for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great – and for destroying those who destroy the earth.
THREE: The Zoo Story
Monday marked nine years since our illegal invasion of Iraq, but one of the great heroes of those dire events in 2003 missed the anniversary by a couple of weeks. Lawrence Anthony, founder of conservationist group The Earth Organization, died on March 2 at the age of 61.
Paralleling the Bush Misadministration’s willful failure to safeguard Iraq’s museums and antiquities in the lawless aftermath of the invasion, animals in the Baghdad zoo were ignored, and were soon killed, stolen or left to starve. Lawrence Anthony found this intolerable: Continue reading Take Five (Shoes for the Dead edition)
ONE: Gaffe Riot
As his campaign careens toward Iowa, Rick Perry continues to astound audiences with his comprehensive knowledge of nothing and his uncanny inability to open his mouth without saying something ridiculous. As Perry staggers, stumbles, slips, skates and slides, gaffe by gaffe, from presumptive nominee to predictable punch line, it’s increasingly nerve-wracking to hear the gears grinding in his head whenever he speaks.
The candidate ended November by pleading with a young crowd in New Hampshire to vote for him next year if they will be at least 21, apparently ceding the 18-20 demographic to his rivals without a fight. He also asked that they cast their votes on November 12, 2012, a bold but ill-advised strategy, since that will be six days after the election.
The next day, he told Fox News about his preparations for the New Hampshire caucuses, but New Hampshire, of course, has a primary, and I suspect Rick Perry won’t be cleaning up in it, not least because he’s too busy preparing for non-existent caucuses.
Easing into December, the candidate criticized the Supreme Court’s “eight unelected and frankly unaccountable judges” and referred to one of them as “Montemayor” in an interview with the long-suffering editorial board at the Des Moines Register.
For further reading, The Daily Beast has helpfully catalogued some of Perry’s most noteworthy gaffes. They don’t list them all, of course – very few sites have that much server capacity – but it’s instructive to review the list and reflect on the notion that Perry was initially considered the savior of his party’s sweaty quest to take back the White House.
Perry discussed his penchant for pratfalls with the Fox and Friends team in some detail:
“Look, I’m a human being; I’m going to make some mistakes from time to time in my remarks… but here’s how I look at these issues, generally speaking, over the course of my 10-plus years of being the governor of the state of Texas: When someone doesn’t want to talk about the substantive issues, when they don’t want to talk about the flat tax that I’ve laid out, when they don’t want to talk about a major overhaul of Washington, D.C., like going to a part-time Congress, which most of the states operate very well with, they want to find some little error that you made and go talk about that.”
What Perry doesn’t appreciate is that proposals like a flat tax and a part-time Congress are, in and of themselves, intellectual gaffes of the meanest order. Hell, even a lot of Republicans find these ideas ineffably silly, which is why they turned their lonely eyes first to Herman “I never met a woman I didn’t like” Cain, and, when that didn’t work out, to the enormous sentient gasbag that calls itself Newt Gingrich.
Perry’s best bet would be to pack his bags and return to Austin right now. After almost 17 years of being governed by George Walker Bush and Rick Perry, Texans are a little more forgiving of gaffes, verbal, intellectual and otherwise, than most Americans. Or at least more resigned to their inevitability.
TWO: Dumb, Dumber and Marginally Less Dumb
Last March Chris Matthews said something stupid. And of course he’s said thousands of stupid things since, but the March comment is in the news again because it led someone else to say something even more stupid.
Matthews had this to say about Newt Gingrich just before the former Speaker put a toe in the water for the GOP nomination:
“He looks like a car bomber, he looks like a car bomber … he looks like a car bomber,” Matthews said, interjecting when Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page suggested Gingrich might just have the stuff to win the Republican nomination.
Matthews continued: “He’s got that crazy Mephistophelian grin of his. He looks like he loves torturing. Look at the guy. This is not the face of a president.”
Uh… yeah. This inanity resurfaced Thursday when Mark Steyn, guest hosting on Fox News, aired the Matthews clip and asked Brent Bozell for a comment. Bozell was all too happy to oblige:
“How long do you think Sean Hannity’s show would last if four times in one sentence, he made a comment about, say, the President of the United States, and said that he looked like a skinny, ghetto crackhead?” Bozell wondered. “Which, by the way, you might want to say that Barack Obama does.”
Uh… yeah. You might also want to say that Bozell has the intellect of a horse tick, but you won’t, because you’re a smarter and better person than Brent Bozell. So is Mark Steyn, just barely, although he gamely tried to out-stupid Bozell by offering his own remarkably odd portrait of Gingrich:
… a “big, cuddly, slightly older Winnie the Pooh.”
Uh… yeah. Ten days to Iowa, folks. It’s only going to get worse from here…
THREE: “Pout, damned snot!”
Well, now those Republicans have gone and done it. They’ve driven Donald Trump right out of the party! The Republican turned Democrat turned Republican turned independent this week:
… he did so because he is “disgusted” with the way Republicans are handling matters in Washington, including the recent payroll tax cut deal. But the move also sets Trump up for a potential third-party run for president…
Trump has sought to reach out to the group, Americans Elect, an online, independent presidential nominating organization that has already made it on the ballot in several states, including California.
“Couple Donald Trump’s name recognition with his extraordinary wealth and Americans Elect truly becomes a viable force in determining who the next president will be,” Trump’s top political adviser Michael Cohen told ABC News.
Of course he’s only doing this to save face after being snubbed by all but two GOP candidates (Santorum and Gingrich) when it was announced that he would moderate a debate on December 27. Trump being Trump, he would never admit to having been made to look foolish, so he loudly made himself look even more foolish from behind this elaborate smokescreen:
“The Republican Party candidates are very concerned that sometime after the final episode of The Apprentice, on May 20th, when the equal time provisions are no longer applicable to me, I will announce my candidacy for President of the United States as an Independent and that, unless I conclusively agree not to run as an Independent, they will not agree to attend or be a part of the Newsmax debate scheduled for December 27, 2011. It is very important to me that the right Republican candidate be chosen to defeat the failed and very destructive Obama Administration, but if that Republican, in my opinion, is not the right candidate, I am not willing to give up my right to run as an Independent candidate. Therefore, so that there is no conflict of interest within the Republican Party, I have decided not to be the moderator of the Newsmax debate. The American people are embarrassed by the gridlock currently taking place in Washington. I must leave all of my options open because, above all else, we must make America great again!
So now Trump has to continue the possible independent candidacy charade, at least until he can figure out some other way to keep his name in the headlines. That’ll take about a week, I reckon. Continue reading Take Five (Uh… Yeah edition)
ONE: Fox News Announces Appalachian Trail Correspondent!
Thinking (mistakenly) that putting Sarah Palin and Donald Trump on its payroll was insufficiently ridiculous, Fox News has now tapped disgraced former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford to do political commentary in the run-up to the next election. At long last, viewers who crave irrelevant, ill-informed right wing bloviating delivered by an ethics-challenged hypocrite won’t have to waste their time waiting for Bill Bennett to pop up on CNN.
If you missed the whole thing, or if, like me, you simply enjoy wallowing in the sordid details one more time, AP’s report on the hiring includes a concise summary of Sanford’s downfall:
… the father of four admitted to being in Argentina with a woman he later called his soul mate.
The international affair destroyed his marriage, which ended in divorce, and derailed his once-promising political career, which had included talk of presidential aspirations.
Sanford faced impeachment hearings in 2009 after the state ethics commission looked into his use of state planes, campaign cash and first-class travel stemming from the affair. The GOP-dominated House issued a formal rebuke but did not impeach Sanford, who paid $74,000 in ethics fines and reimbursed the state for the investigation and for travel and personal expenses.
But Sanford, a former congressman, remained well-regarded in conservative circles.
Cheated on his wife, lied to her and to his constituents about the affair, misused state aircraft, travel money and campaign money, racked up large ethics fines… of course he remains well-regarded in conservative circles.
TWO: “… the right of the people to keep and bear armadillos shall not be infringed.”
But 24-hour news networks can’t hold a candle to stations like Dallas-Fort Worth’s KDFW, a Fox not-News affiliate. You want to catch a story like this, you keep an ear to the ground:
A man used a frozen armadillo to attack a 57-year old Pleasant Grove woman, Dallas police said…
According to investigators, the altercation occurred when the suspect was selling the carcass to the victim, who planned to eat the animal.
The pair apparently began arguing over the price of the item when the man twice threw the armadillo at the woman.
The animal first struck the woman in the leg and then in her chest.
An adult nine-banded armadillo – the most common species in Texas – typically weighs 12 to 22 pounds, according to the species’ Wikipedia page, so roadkill dodgeball of this kind probably hurts like the devil.
I’m left a bit puzzled why someone would buy frozen armadillo in a state where the fresh variety can be found moseying down the nearest blacktop. Guess I’ll have to add this to the long list of things I don’t understand about Texas, somewhere after the entries for Rick Perry and Kinky Friedman.
THREE: Relax. If one of you clowns wins, you can just invade again from scratch.
Mere months shy of nine years after the Bush mis-Administration’s illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, President Obama recently announced that the last US troops will be withdrawn by December 31. Predictably, Republican presidential wannabes strenuously object:
It was an “astonishing failure” that risked all the gains made “through the blood and sacrifice” of thousands of Americans, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he was “deeply concerned” that Obama had put “political expediency ahead of sound military and security judgment.” Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) cited it as another example of the president’s foreign policy weakness, and Jon Huntsman, Obama’s former ambassador to China, called it a “mistake.”
Herman Cain let stand his assessment of last weekend, in which he announced that withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan were “a dumb thing to do.”
Does anyone here believe that in the next of an endless series of Republican “debates” a moderator or audience questioner or protestor in the back of the hall or freakin’ someone will ask this raft of boobs how they reconcile their stupid remarks with the fact that George Bush the Lesser – who started the so-called Iraq War on an Oedipal whim, goaded on droolingly by his avaricious, oil-addled, self-appointed Veep – approved in November 2008 a Status Of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government which stipulated that US troops would be withdrawn by, um, December 31, 2011?
No, I don’t believe it either. Continue reading Take Five (Shining City on a Hill edition)
Somehow President Barack Hussein Obama managed to:
(1) make an announcement we can believe, and (2) did it without benefit of an aircraft carrier as a stage with (3) US . . . → Read More: Eight Years to the Day after Mission Accomplished