Stormy Monday, 4/14/14

StormyMondayYou’re no doubt delighted that your hardworking Congressional representatives have begun their desperately needed two-week break to recharge their batteries, get a little spring sun on their overwhelmingly white and male faces, and mull over “new” legislative ideas that haven’t a prayer of becoming law (which of course is, mostly, a good thing). On the brighter side, Virginia Democrat Jim Moran’s notion of adding a new housing stipend to Congressional remuneration appears to be a non-starter, so at least they’ll be lollygagging at their existing undeserved rate of pay.

Meanwhile, 2.4 million unemployed Americans will spend the same two weeks tearing their hair out over unpaid bills, wondering how they’re going to feed their kids, and continuing not to matter worth a damn to Republicans.

John Boehner kicked off his spring break today with a surprise visit to Afghanistan, accompanied by seven senior House Republicans. He’s expected to hug anyone in uniform he sees, lurch aimlessly around the streets of Kabul in search of happy hour, and top off the junket with a tear-stained tribute to whatever the hell it is American troops are supposed to be accomplishing there.

Following the Bureau of Land Management’s weekend return of 400 confiscated head of cattle back to deadbeat Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, the ludicrous confrontation between the government and Bundy’s creepy nitwit militia buddies appears to be over, at least until the BLM attempts to pursue other remedies against the scofflaw and the nitwits get all riled up again. Stay tuned.

Today and tomorrow in New York, China and the United States will hold talks on dealing with North Korea, followed by a third session in Washington on Thursday. While I have no expertise in international relations, it seems to me the two nations could do worse than shipping 400 head of cattle Kim Jong-un’s way for starters. It might at least buy a little time. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 4/14/14

Take Five (States’ Blights edition)

Take-FiveONE: The Classless of 2010

When this column was launched in December 2010, many now-notorious Republican governors weren’t even sworn in, but within months of taking their oaths of office they began appearing regularly here, lewd exemplars of the very worst of what their party breezily describes as “ideas.” Soon, maddeningly, it seemed as though they’d been around forever, like syphilis or Larry King.

The big story in American politics post-Dubya is not about President Obama or about Washington’s tawdry doings and even tawdrier non-doings; it’s about what’s happening in the 30 governors’ mansions currently occupied by Republicans and in the legislatures where their conservative running dogs frantically attempt to dismantle half a century of hard-won progress.

Republicans in DC have one arrow in their quiver – stubborn obstructionism – but their state-level colleagues have two: not only do they stall and subvert any and all efforts by Democrats to do much of anything, they actually manage to enshrine their own wretched ideas into law. Bad law. The freshman Republican governors of the “classless of 2010″ – along with their elder GOP peers – have had a larger impact on people’s lives than this or any President could ever hope to have, and that impact has been dire. At the state level, the Republican Party’s War on Damn Near Everyone has inflicted heavy casualties.

This year and next, 38 states will hold elections for governor, and the results will be every bit as important as the results of the 2014 House and Senate elections. Women’s rights, workers’ rights, voting rights, gay rights, all rights remain at risk as long as Republicans are allowed to control anything.

TWO: Rick-Rolled

Either Rick Perry has finally run out of ideas for screwing over Texas or he’s just setting his sights on screwing over something even bigger, like the entire country. Perry announced recently that he won’t seek another gubernatorial term, but there’s lots of in-progress screwing over to complete before he saddles up, rides off into the sunset, and leaves the whole shambling mess to his unfortunate successor.

Perry’s announcement was originally scheduled to be made in June but was delayed due to some of that aforementioned screwing over, in this case involving draconian restrictions on reproductive rights for women. Consistent with most legislation passed during Perry’s tenure, some of the ramifications of the bill can scarcely be guessed at now and the extent of the damage to the body politic can’t be fully assessed until the legislation has metastasized, but metastasize it surely will.

After state Senator Wendy Davis successfully filibustered SB 5, ol’ Rick just went right ahead and convened his darn self a special session of the Legislature and got the bill passed. He explained his determination simply, confirming yet again that the words “Rick Perry” and “simple” have an almost magnetic mutual attraction:

“Texas is a place where we defend life.”

The 261 folks executed on Perry’s watch might take umbrage at the statement, but them’s the breaks if you insist on being an evil-doer in a Rick-rolled state. Of course, restricting women’s rights isn’t the only thing the lame duck governor has on the docket. Almost immediately after the Supreme Court’s transparently political body blow to the Voting Rights Act, the Perry regime took pains to crow – uh, announce that it will enforce photo ID provisions, provisions previously halted by a federal court as discriminatory against minority voters.

In a line from his retirement announcement aimed at friends and supporters, Perry said:

In our time together, we have made the most of this unique opportunity to shape the future of Texas.

That they have, it’s true. And despite the relief millions of Texans will feel on seeing the east end of a westbound Rick Perry, they still have 18 more months to wait, heartsick, while he and his cronies continue to make the most of this unique opportunity. At which point those Texans will have a chance to start repairing the damage by electing a Democrat to replace him, and giving that Democrat a Legislature dominated by Democrats. Implausible? Maybe, but George Bush the Lesser being succeeded in Austin by someone even worse seemed implausible too, 12 years ago.

For a superb, though far from comprehensive, roundup of the damage Perry had done to Texas and Texans, go here.

THREE: Three of a Kind

Perry isn’t the only far-right gubernatorial goober to institutionalize rolling back women’s rights. In fact, the practice is spreading across state lines faster than this summer’s wildfires.

The execrable Scott Walker signed a bill recently that prevents a doctor from performing abortions unless said doctor has admitting privileges at a “local” hospital, and mandates – another Republican fave rave – that women seeking an abortion undergo the scarlet-letter indignity of a medically unnecessary ultrasound. Lawsuits filed by two Wisconsin abortion providers are pending. Continue reading Take Five (States’ Blights edition)

ROMNEY WINS OHIO

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced early this afternoon that he has certified the final vote tally from tomorrow’s Presidential election and that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is the winner of his state’s 18 electoral votes. Officials in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida are expected to follow suit as soon as Tuesday morning.

Reading from a prepared statement, Husted told reporters, “Because this may very well be the most important election in our nation’s history, I believe it would have been the height of irresponsibility to have waited until the last minute before certifying the vote. Ohioans’ voices deserve to be heard.”

When asked if his decision might be considered premature, the visibly irate Secretary shot back, “I didn’t hear any of you media types criticizing the head of FEMA for spending millions of dollars to deploy resources to the Northeast just because a couple of so-called scientists predicted a hurricane would strike there — even though everybody knows that most of those storms make landfall much farther south. My experts forecast that Gov. Romney will garner the majority of votes, so I acted accordingly. The good people of this state don’t pay me to sit on my hands; they pay me to do my job.” Continue reading BREAKING NEWS: ROMNEY WINS OHIO

Take Five (Miserable Bastards edition)

ONE: And your money back if the birth certificate turns out to be valid!

Last week Take Five presented “highlights” from the press conference announcing the results of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s cold case posse investigation into President Obama’s eligibility to hold the office he’s held for 38 months. A brief appearance at the press conference by Jerome Corsi puzzled me, since he added nothing material to the proceedings and actually spent most of his time talking about what a peach Andrew Breitbart was.

I’m frankly ashamed to say I completely missed the obvious. Jerome Corsi is a grifter, so what was he doing at the press conference? Why, grifting, of course. Only a tad more surprisingly, so was Mike Zullo, the posse’s lead investigator. Cinch up your hip waders! For only $9.99, you can buy the “book” the two have collaborated on:

Mike Zullo, a retired detective and volunteer Maricopa County Sheriff Posse member, is listed as the co-author of “A Question of Eligibility,” an e-book for sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The book is a copy of the investigation findings presented to the press on Thursday.

Zullo’s co-author is Jerome Corsi, a well-known political conspiracy writer who started the Swift-boat case against Sen. John Kerry.  More recently, Corsi, who writes for World Net Daily, has spent the last few years driving the birther movement.

Sufferin’ succotash, Arpaio must be furious! Or, um, not:

Corsi denied using the MCSO as a promotional tool to sell his books and theories…

Corsi said he informed Arpaio of his plans to sell the investigation’s findings six months ago, at the start of the investigation.

“He approved,” Corsi said, since neither he nor Zullo are paid members of the MCSO.

At least one county official isn’t so sanguine:

“I’m shocked to learn about this book,” said Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox.

Well, Ms. Wilcox, as I confessed above, I didn’t see the grifter aspect of this coming, but at least the only shock I experienced when I found out about it was in being reminded how naïve I am. Thanks for making me feel a bit better.

Here’s hoping the ongoing federal investigation of the sheriff’s misconduct in office leads to Arpaio himself no longer being a paid member of the MCSO. Now, there’s a press conference I’d love to see.

TWO: One Million Moms Circle the Drain

I also mentioned last week that I couldn’t wait to find out what One Million Moms would get all irate about next. Turns out I didn’t have to wait at all. Even as the organization (an appendage of the American Family Association) was busy calling for Toys ‘R’ Us to be boycotted for daring to sell the gay wedding edition of Life with Archie, they were also urging citizens to demand that Clorox pull its new Liquid Plumr ad.

Why would they want to do that? Over to you, Moms:

The commercial starts off with a woman in a supermarket daydreaming about what this new Liquid-Plumr product has to offer. She says, “Double impact,” twice as she reads the bottle. In her dream she is at home and answers the door to find a sexy plumber. The plumber is nice looking with huge biceps and a tight shirt. He says, “I’m here to snake your drain.” She says come on in and he walks upstairs. The doorbell rings again and it is a second sexy plumber. He says, “I’m here to flush your pipe.” She answers with an okay and while he walks on upstairs she lets out a squeal and moan while letting down her hair. Then she wakes up to reality to find the two men in the supermarket. She flirts by giving sexy eyes to the one man in the deli slicing meat and the other in produce holding two melons. These two men are the same as in her dream.

Pretty racy indeed. And there’s more:

It may be coincidence, but the man in produce is standing beside cucumbers with a price sign behind him reading 69 cents.

To summarize, an advertising agency hits on the not-at-all-novel idea to use sex (something most people enjoy) to promote a product that clears disgusting gunk out of clogged drains (something most people find revolting), and One Million Moms swoop in to spoil the fun. And rest assured they’re always soliciting new ideas for more fun to spoil:

NOTE: If you see a commercial or program which is offensive, email us the information. Many of you have done this, and it is very helpful.

THREE: Joehio

Speaking of clogged drains, Joe the Plumber (who is not a plumber and not really a Joe) finally has himself a vocation. Samuel Wurzelbacher is now the official Republican candidate in Ohio’s newly redrawn 9th Congressional District. He’ll be running, quite pointlessly, against Marcy Kaptur, who defeated Dennis Kucinich in the Democratic primary on Tuesday. That he’s headed for an electoral drubbing is almost a shame, since his winning the seat would be a vivid milestone on the drunken Republican march toward Idiocracy, although it sure as hell wouldn’t do the Ohio 9th or the United States House of Representatives any good.

“Joe” was pitted against Steve Kraus – an actual auctioneer and real estate agent, as opposed to someone who just calls himself Steve the Auctioneer and Real Estate Agent – who was significantly outspent and ultimately unable to find a sufficient number of rational Republicans in the district to stave off defeat.

So that’s one more Congressional race to watch closely. I’m hoping for a debate between Kaptur and Wurzelbacher; it would be fascinating to hear his thoughts about, for example, small business tax policy.

Apart from Wurzelbacher’s win and Kucinich’s loss, the most noteworthy Super Tuesday event in Ohio was the delightful primary defeat of Jean Schmidt, one of the nastiest human beings ever to plant buttocks on a Congressional seat. It’s an extremely overdue exit; her most storied career moment is already fading into history:

In November of 2005, she gained fame (and infamy) for her floor remarks attacking Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA), a Vietnam veteran who had recently called for an orderly U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. On the House floor, she declared in a message to Murtha, “that cowards cut and run, Marines never do.”

So it was gratifying that she lost her primary to Brad Wenstrup, an Iraq veteran. Maybe with all her new free time she can go to Afghanistan; the Marines there could use some help. Continue reading Take Five (Miserable Bastards edition)

Take Five (If Pizzas Were Horses edition)

ONE: Someday his prince will come…

Having taken some time off after a painful cycling accident, I return, Van Winkley, to a dramatically changed world. Mere weeks from the beginning of primary season, the cloddish Newt Gingrich seems poised to lead the Republican field, while Herman Cain’s stock drops a little further every time he opens his mouth, and even further every time a woman does.

Cain’s alleged 13-year extramarital affair with Ginger White seems at last to have turned off one of his most ardent sycophants, Erick Erickson, who posted this at RedState on Tuesday:

This time, to his credit, Herman Cain told Wolf Blitzer he would wait until the story ran and all the facts were out there. It was a wise thing to do. But while Herman was on CNN saying that, his attorney issued his statement that all but admitted there’s a there there.

Herman Cain believed he could be President of the United States. For a time, I believed Herman Cain could be President of the United States. But I don’t know that much of Herman’s staff ever really thought he could. Too many never seemed in it to win it. They seemed in it to make some money off Herman’s run and a name for themselves. Well, they’ve sure made a name for themselves — “incompetent.”

Erickson’s bitterly elegiac tone stands in sad (and by “sad” I mean deep-down funny) contrast to his mash note – uh, I mean column, of November 10:

I still believe you can win the Republican nomination.

I still believe you can beat Barack Obama.

I still believe you can be one of the most inspiring Presidents since Ronald Reagan.

The Herman Cain I know would not and could not do what you are accused of.

Poor Erick might want to persuade the Herman Cain he knows to pursue the nomination, then, since the Herman Cain who is actually running appears to have a proclivity for sexual harassment, sexual assault, and adultery. In what passes for Erickson’s mind, though, the problem is somehow Cain’s staff. Actually, that’s not entirely surprising spin, since Erickson openly admits that he’s beholden to Cain:

I owe you a good bit of my present career in radio. You leaving opened the door for me.

Gee, Erick, when Cain slams the door on his candidacy, maybe you can take over his campaign! After all, you’re no more ignorant, unqualified and clueless than the rest of the field. Well, not much, anyway. But of course, you’re already a very busy guy. Your Cain-sparked career in radio, your irksome gig on CNN, and your roach-infested website all indicate that maybe the world I returned to this week is exactly the same one I left, absurd, inexplicable, unjust, random, outrageous, and endlessly entertaining.

TWO: Hermaneutics

Snark (mostly) aside, I share Erickson’s glumness about Cain’s fading fortunes. While his opponents offer all kinds of goofball quotes, cheeseball pandering and slimeball behavior of their own, nobody puts it all together and brings it like Herman Cain. Here’s a little tapas selection for you:

Chewing the fat with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Asked if he agrees with the president on Libya, Cain looks up and says, “OK, Libya.” He then pauses for a moment.

“President Obama supported the uprising, correct?” he asks, speaking carefully. “President Obama called for the removal of Qaddafi – just want to make sure we’re talking about the same thing before I say yes I agree, or no I didn’t agree. I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reason – nope, that’s a different one.”

Cain then pauses for about five seconds.

“I gotta go back and see – um, I got all this stuff twirling around in my head,” he says. “Specifically, what are you asking me. Did I agree or not disagree with Obama?”

Chewing the pizza with GQ:

Chris Heath: What can you tell about a man by the type of pizza that he likes?

Herman Cain: [repeats the question aloud, then pauses for a long moment] The more toppings a man has on his pizza, I believe the more manly he is.

Chris Heath: Why is that?

Herman Cain: Because the more manly man is not afraid of abundance. [laughs]

Devin Gordon: Is that purely a meat question?

Herman Cain: A manly man don’t want it piled high with vegetables! He would call that a sissy pizza.

Chewing the croqueta in Miami:

During a stop at the famous Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana, Cain drank a coffee and ate some croquetas.

“How do you say ‘delicious’ in Cuban?” he asked.

While he waited in vain for a Cuban-speaking person to enlighten him, he discussed the shocking way he’s treated:

“I’m often criticized … criticized about the fact that I don’t know this and I don’t know that, and I don’t know that and I don’t know this,” he told the crowd.

Chewing Henry Kissinger’s war criminal ass:

Accomplished and controversial former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is known as a practitioner of realpolitik, but GOP contender Herman Cain says his offer to give him his old job back was a nothing more than a real joke.

“Dr. Kissinger turned my offer down to be [S]ecretary of [S]tate…”

When asked by reporters later Tuesday if he had really offered Kissinger a job, Cain denied it and said he was only kidding.”

Oh, and Cain’s campaign manager, Mark “Butt Man” Block enjoyed that confab too:

After the Kissinger meeting, Cain’s campaign manager Mark Block told the National Review that Kissinger complimented a web video in which Block is seen smoking a cigarette. The ad became a viral internet sensation.

“Halfway through Mr. Cain’s conversation, Doctor Kissinger turns and points to me and says, ‘That smoking thing you did was brilliant.’ I sat there thinking, Dr. Henry Kissinger just said something I did was brilliant,” Block said. “We all got a good chuckle.”

And despite my bruised ribs, I got a good chuckle myself when I ran across this item:

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is now being protected by the U.S. Secret Service…

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, in consultations with congressional leaders, authorized Secret Service protection for Cain at the request of his campaign, the agency’s spokesman Ed Donovan said…

The Washington Post quoted Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon as saying the protection was requested after the newspaper’s report Thursday detailing physical skirmishes involving journalists covering the campaign…

Cain is the first Republican in the 2012 presidential race to receive Secret Service protection.

Just how the Secret Service goes about protecting a candidate from his own mouth, I do not know, but of course they’re called “secret” for a reason. Continue reading Take Five (If Pizzas Were Horses edition)

Take Five (Careful What You Wish For edition)

ONE: The Cain Scrutiny

A funny thing keeps happening on the way to the Republican nomination. Each successive frontrunner swoons in popularity as soon as the blogosphere, joined a little belatedly by the establishment media, subject him or her to more than superficial attention.

Herman Cain, the current favorite according to some polls, is now receiving that sort of scrutiny. His acolytes would have America embrace him as refreshing, unscripted, real, genuine – you know, pretty much everything Republican candidates never are – yet the longer he stands in the spotlight the more apparent it becomes that he’s a flibbertigibbet, politically naïve and uninformed on the issues, with a weakness for some of the worst ideas his party has ever proposed, which is to say some really, really, really bad ideas.

A very partial rundown follows of some of the most bare-assed preposterous things Herman Cain has said just in the past couple of weeks. My apologies in advance.

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain argued that racism is not a professional barrier for African-Americans on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday.

His answer came in response to a question in which host Candy Crowley suggested that Cain, who grew up poor and black, had been the benefit of some luck and was superimposing his success on his entire race.

“Luck is where preparation meets opportunity,” Cain responded. “I don’t believe racism in this country holds anybody back in a big way.”

Very inspirational, Mr. Cain. A lot of minority kids will be giddy to hear that the substandard educational “preparation” they’re receiving will actually equip them well for the dizzying amount of “opportunity” awaiting them in a world where (with “luck”) they’ll get to be governed by Republicans.

And unless he’s the one playing it, Cain decries what he calls the “race card” vehemently. Here’s Cain on October 3:

Speaking outside Trump Tower today, Herman Cain dismissed the idea that he was trying to paint Rick Perry as a racist by having called Perry “insensitive” yesterday when asked about the “[N-word]head” rock on property Perry had leased.

“All I said was the mere fact that that word was there was ‘insensitive.’” Cain responded. “That’s not playing the race card. I am not attacking Gov. Perry. Some people in the media want to attack him. I’m done with that issue!”

“I really don’t care about that word,” Cain added. “They painted over it. End of story! I accept Gov. Perry’s response on that.”

Actually, what Cain had described as “insensitive” was quite clear from his original statement of the day before, which the candidate had apparently forgotten:

“My reaction is, that’s just very insensitive,” Cain told Fox. “[There] isn’t a more vile, negative word than the N-word, and for him to leave it there as long as he did, before I hear that they finally painted over it, is just plain insensitive to a lot of black people in this country.”

Wow! Cain’s even quicker on a turnaround than George Bush the Lesser, who said in December of 2001:

We’re going to get [bin Laden]. Dead or alive, it doesn’t matter to me.

But by the following March was saying this:

Well, as I say, we haven’t heard much from him… again, I don’t know where he is. I – I’ll repeat what I said.  I truly am not that concerned about him.

But Herman Cain knows when to hold ‘em, and far be it from me to tell him when to fold ‘em:

Back in July, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain told Fox News that the “race card is now a joke, because a lot of American people have figured it out.” It’s a sentiment he’s repeated frequently, arguing that Democrats cry racism to paper over President Obama’s faults.

Yet Cain frequently invokes race on the campaign trail, far more often than Obama did during his first campaign for the White House.

Cain seems downright obsessed with cards of all sorts:

He contended that those protesting against banks were merely jealous of wealthy Americans, or those with financially lucrative jobs, and lambasted them for playing the “victim card.”

“Part of it is jealousy,” he said. “I stand by that. And here’s why I don’t have a lot of patience with that. My parents, they never played the victim card. My parents never said, ‘We hope that the rich people lose something so we can get something.’ No, my dad’s idea was, ‘I want to work hard enough so I can buy a Cadillac – not take somebody else’s.’

There’ll be time enough for counting when the dealing’s done, as it were. Cain has also been busy building bridges to the gay community:

“How can you say that being gay is a choice?” the question came in from Twitter on [Lawrence] O’Donnell’s show. “Did you choose to be straight?”

Cain had just come off a bruising discussion with O’Donnell about whether he sat out of the civil rights movement while in college. So Cain’s answer was brusque.

“There will always be a difference of opinion,” he said. “Like I told Joy Behar, she has her opinion, I have my opinion. It’s a difference of opinion. Next question, please.”

On the brighter side, at least Cain didn’t accuse the questioner of playing the gay card, though I’ll bet he wanted to.

It wasn’t all straw-man politics this week, however. Cain got to talk about serious “policy” proposals, like his so-called “9-9-9 Plan”:

… which would slash taxes on the wealthy, drive up deficits to the worst point since World War II, and force low-income Americans to pay a massive nine times their current tax rate. In an interview this morning with CNN’s Candy Crowley, Cain even said food and clothing would not be exempt from the 9 percent national sales tax he would put in place if elected president. Indeed, he said it would be “fair” for a poor person to pay as much in sales taxes as Crowley does…

Presently, the bottom quintile of earners pays about 2 percent of their income in federal taxes. Under Cain’s plan, their taxes would increase all the way up to 18 percent.

Taxing poor people’s food is considered so beyond the pale that even the Tea Party group FreedomWorks assumed that the final version of Cain’s tax plan would exempt food from the sales tax.”

Michele Bachmann, another former frontrunner desperately seeking to rekindle some sparks under her campaign, smote the “9-9-9 Plan” in Tuesday night’s GOP debate:

I would have to say the 9-9-9 plan isn’t a jobs plan, it is a tax plan…  And one thing I would say is, when you take the 9-9-9 plan and you turn it upside down, I think the devil’s in the details.

Get thee behind her, Herman Cain! Continue reading Take Five (Careful What You Wish For edition)

Take Five (Tainted Love edition)

ONE: “I put that * on everything!”

Tyson Fresh – uh, make that “Fresh” – Meats recently recalled 131,300 pounds of ground beef after E. Coli contamination sickened four children in Butler County, Ohio. The meat had also been shipped to stores in 15 other states. As has been widely noted but still cannot be stressed enough, Butler County is part of Ohio’s 8th Congressional district, which happens to be represented by John Boehner.

You might recall that Speaker Boehner’s crew of thugs, thieves and throwbacks in the House majority turned their fearsome deficit-fighting death ray on FDA and USDA funding back in June.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), a longtime hawk on food safety issues, once again blasted Republicans for seeking cuts to federal food safety programs…

“This latest recall should serve as a wake-up call for Speaker Boehner, and all Republicans, that food safety is an issue that affects all Americans, and we must take action,” said DeLauro.

With all due respect, ma’am, I believe the problem isn’t that House Republicans need waking up. Quite the contrary, in fact. If they were asleep, the pace at which they’re ruining the nation would slow considerably.

DeLauro pointed to the Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations bill the House passed in June that would cut food safety funding at both USDA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, by 3.4 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

As my brilliant spouse recently suggested, maybe the solution here – and one that Republicans would probably eat up – is to let the market decide. Here’s how it might work:  You walk into your neighborhood supermarket to buy, say, some ground beef. Or cantaloupes. Or turkey. Or lettuce.

You see two bins side by side, one marked “Government Inspected” and the other marked “Feelin’ Lucky?” The latter bin’s contents are maybe a penny cheaper per pound than the inspected stuff, since the company that produced it saved perhaps three or four cents a pound on those pesky regulatory compliance costs that began stifling the spirit of free enterprise the very moment that Kenyan guy snuck into the White House through the servants’ entrance.

So take your pick, Mr. or Ms. Consumer, but if you’re going to opt for the non-inspected product, you might have to wait your turn behind a gaggle of hungry Republicans. They just can’t get their fill, even though they’re most assuredly already completely full of it.

TWO: Only God can make a tree. I have no idea who made Republicans.

Despite their evident hatred for a lot of things  (food safety, as noted above, emission controls, financial oversight, tax breaks for the poor and middle class, etc.) House Republicans seem to have nothing against national forests; they just wish there weren’t so many trees in them:

A century-old federal program that compensates counties straddling huge tracts of nontaxable national forests has expired, and House Republicans are using its reauthorization to push for opening the land to more logging and mining…

House Republicans, led by Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, are using the reauthorization to push two of the issues that have dominated their agenda this year: cutting federal spending and rolling back environmental regulation.

Among other things, they would set minimum requirements on timber sales and annual revenue for each national forest. They also want to speed up environmental reviews of logging, grazing, drilling and mining, blaming the reviews for hindering projects on federal lands.

The USDA, however, is opposed to this:

Harris Sherman, undersecretary with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the agency, has warned that Republicans’ proposals “would do more harm than good” by increasing logging and mining on protected lands, reducing recreational opportunities and inviting more lawsuits.

Keep spouting those baseless accusations, Mr. Sherman, and House Republicans might have no choice but to slash the USDA’s funding. Oh, wait… Continue reading Take Five (Tainted Love edition)

Take Five (Various Disasters edition)

ONE: Optics… Ur Doin’ It Wrong

Shrewdly sensing that a recession-weary electorate loves nothing more than mindlessly ostentatious displays of wealth, Mitt Romney has decided to tear down his $12 million La Jolla home and replace it with a new house four times larger.

The Romneys bought the house three years ago, apparently based on Mitt’s unstoppable hankering for the sound of waves:

“I wanted to be where I could hear the waves. As a boy, we spent summers on Lake Huron and I could hear the crashing waves at night. It was one of my favorite things in the world. Being near the water and the waves was something I very badly wanted to experience again.”

Just like being a failed presidential candidate again, I guess. After his last waste of time, money and energy on a presidential run, Romney divested himself of several properties:

Romney and his wife, Ann, sold for $3.5 million the 6,500-square-foot colonial home in Belmont, Mass., where they raised their sons. They also sold a 9,500-square-foot home at the Deer Valley ski resort near Park City, Utah, for close to its $5.25 million asking price, according to a 2010 Associated Press report.

The couple still maintain a vacation home along Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, as well as a townhouse outside Boston that they consider their primary residence.

So after all that downsizing, why the sudden upsizing?

A Romney campaign official confirmed… the Romneys want to “enlarge their two-bedroom home because with five married sons and 16 grandchildren it is inadequate for their needs. Construction will not begin until the permits have been obtained and the campaign is finished.”

If only they had realized that they have five married sons and 16 grandchildren before they got rid of all that real estate, they could have saved themselves millions. Continue reading Take Five (Various Disasters edition)