Stormy Monday, 5/27/13

If this week brings some blessed relief from IRS-gate, AP-gate and Benghazi-gate, it will probably be because  Salute-gate has crowded them out of the headlines. Republicans have presumably been availing themselves of the long weekend to decide whether the “incident” is proof that the President hates: a) the Marines, b) white people, c) America, or d) all of the above.

After a weekend visit to tornado-ravaged Oklahoma, the President will tour the Jersey Shore Tuesday to survey the progress of post-Sandy recovery measures with frenemy Chris Christie. It’s a fitting way to underscore National Hurricane Preparedness Week. Then he returns to a disaster area of a different sort, Washington DC, to confront whatever set of talking points the GOP will have settled on to express their dismay, disappointment, disgust and derision that the President went and spoiled the whole doggone War on Terror TM.

Who knew that the namby-pamby filibuster “reforms” the Senate implemented back in January wouldn’t change a damned thing? Everybody except Harry Reid, who last week suggested that he’s considering scrapping the cloture requirement entirely in order to speed up Senate confirmation of nominees. Fresh from a Memorial Day weekend filled with barbecue and regret, Reid and Mitch McConnell resume yelling at each other about the issue on Tuesday.

The same day, 115,000 employees at the IRS, HUD, OMB and the EPA return to work after an extended long weekend resulting from Friday’s sequester-related furlough, which applied to roughly five percent of the federal workforce. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 5/27/13

Stormy Monday, 5/6/13

Now that their nine-day recess is over, picture members of both houses of Congress returning to Washington refreshed, energetic, eager to tackle the nation’s woes, and ready to work in a genuinely bipartisan fashion for the good of their constituents. Now picture the exact opposite, which is what will happen this week as the 113th Congress resumes. Oh, and if you’re sick and tired of the phrase “debt ceiling,” you might want to go on recess yourself.

The House Homeland Security Committee begins hearings Thursday on the Boston Marathon bombings. The hearings will continue until House Republican leadership is satisfied that they’ve come up with a way to blame everything on President Obama.

Meanwhile, deceased suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s remains remain uninterred, while Graham Putnam and Mahoney Funeral Parlors continues its search for a cemetery to take them. Surviving suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s three public defenders, meanwhile, might be forced to take three-week furloughs before September 30, the close of the federal budget year, due to sequestration.

Jim Porter looks to become the NRA’s new president tomorrow, succeeding David Keene. Is Porter qualified, you ask? Well, a ThinkProgress item on Friday looked at a June 2012 speech Porter gave to the New York Rifle & Pistol Association, in which he referred to the Civil War as “the War of Northern Aggression,” described Barack Obama as a “fake president” and called Eric Holder “rabidly un-American.” Yes, Porter sounds like the perfect guy for the position. And don’t worry; NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre isn’t going anywhere. Nor will he ever shut the hell up. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 5/6/13

Stormy Monday, 4/29/13

By the time you read this, the sequestration-related air traffic controller furlough should be over, after Congress stoically incurred friction burns rushing through emergency legislation coincidentally allowing its members to withdraw expeditiously from DC for a well-deserved nine-day recess. Added egalitarian dividend: you, Mr. or Ms. JQ Public, will once again be able to get ripped off, inconvenienced, insulted and treated like a criminal at an airport near you. With luck, you’ll be able to depart before H7N9, China’s new and improved strain of life-threatening bird flu, arrives. Ah, normalcy.

If you survive all that, you can treat yourself to a Twinkie come July, when the sugary snack rises from the dead with a little help from non-union labor.

After determining that Paul Kevin Curtis was guilty of nothing more than being a fair-to-middling Elvis impersonator, authorities have now arrested James Everett Dutschke in connection with the ricin-contaminated letters sent to Judge Sadie Holland, Senator Roger Wicker and President Obama on April 8.

Dutschke, who has unsuccessfully run for political office twice – once as a Republican and once as a Democrat – also faces multiple counts of child molestation, but was out on bond, at least until his Saturday arrest. The FBI’s handling of the ricin case has drawn a lot of criticism. Have they finally got the right guy? Continue reading Stormy Monday, 4/29/13

Take Five (CPAC Up Your Troubles edition)

ONE: Middle Age Queasy

The Conservative Political Action Conference turns 40 this year, but don’t expect maturity from a gathering where the speakers include Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Artur Davis, Dick Morris, Wayne LaPierre, Rick Perry, Allen West and Donald Trump.

The coveted keynote slot will provide a generous 33 minutes for Cruz to prevaricate, obfuscate, fabricate, fulminate and regurgitate. Organizers have allotted the second and third longest slots to Palin and Trump, respectively, though why Palin needs 16 minutes and Trump 14 to recite “me, me, glorious me” is a mystery only slightly less mysterious than either of them being invited to begin with. I suppose The Donald and The Sarah deserve grudging credit for realizing that Fitzgerald’s dictum about American lives having no second acts is irrelevant now that first acts can simply be prolonged indefinitely.

Over and above her CPAC gig, Palin manages to keep busy just being Palin. She devoted at least part of Monday to crafting a tweet celebrating the overturning of New York City’s ban on sodas larger than 16 ounces:

Victory in NYC for liberty-loving soda drinkers. To politicians with too much time on their hands we say: Govt, stay out of my refrigerator!

Yes, because nothing says “liberty” like 17 ounces of carbonated water, HFCS, artificial color, artificial flavors and caffeine. But it’s not all freewheeling Twittery for Palin; her latest higher calling is nothing less than saving Christmas:

The former Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaska governor has a deal with HarperCollins for “A Happy Holiday IS a Merry Christmas,” scheduled for November.

HarperCollins announced Monday that the book will criticize the “over-commercialism” and “homogenization” of Christmas and call for a renewed emphasis on the religious importance.

Wow! Only 48 years after A Charlie Brown Christmas definitively addressed the very same issues. And Palin’s so versatile that she even wrote the first review of the not-yet-written book:

“This will be a fun, festive, thought provoking book, which will encourage all to see what is possible when we unite in defense of our faith and ignore the politically correct Scrooges who would rather take Christ out of Christmas.”

That’s what cutting edge is all about, Charlie Brown. You betcha. As for Trump, he’s taking his cues from none other than Charlie Brown doppelganger Newt Gingrich, who last Friday tweeted his brainstorm to save White House tours recently suspended under sequestration:

Donald trump should offer to pay for the white house tours. He can afford it and it would show who cares more for American students

This was followed two minutes later by:

Trump and president obsma both golf but trump doesn’t charge the taxpayers $920,000 for a golf weekend in florida.

Yeah, damn that obsma anyway! Two minutes later, Gingrich found some more meat on that bone:

If trump offers to pay for the White House tours what will President Obama’s excuse for punishing visiting school children be?

Trump was nonplussed about all this until he joined Fox and Friends by phone on Monday:

“I think it’s so nice of Newt to suggest that,” the media mogul said, adding that Gingrich and his wife are members of his club in Washington. “But it sounds reasonable to me. Why not?”

Gingrich is also speaking at CPAC, so he and Trump have a readymade opportunity to discuss the idea in detail, assuming the Gaylord National Hotel has a room large enough to accommodate both their egos simultaneously.

TWO: In Through the Out Door

CPAC drew criticism recently for barring GOProud, an action that prompted the Log Cabin Republicans to withdraw from the event in solidarity. The groups have now gained some exceptionally unsavory company: notorious Islamophobe Pamela Geller.

Geller devoted a recent appearance with Christian radio host Janet Mefferd to throwing a tantrum about the CPAC snub:

… I’ve always held events there even though I wasn’t warmly welcomed because of the influence of what can only be described as Muslim Brotherhood facilitators or operatives like Suhail Khan and Grover Norquist… This year I could not get an event, I was banned…

What are they doing at CPAC? Essentially they are enforcing the Sharia. Under the Sharia, the blasphemy laws, you cannot say, you cannot offend, you cannot criticize and you cannot insult Islam. That is effectively what they’re doing, they are enforcing the Sharia.

Also joining GOProud and the Log Cabin Republicans, albeit voluntarily, is MSNBC’s resident purveyor of flapdoodle, SE Cupp. She recently tendered her regrets, publicly:

“… as a proponent of gay rights, CPAC’s decision to sideline GOProud and Log Cabin Republicans makes me increasingly uncomfortable… It seems like we’re hardly in a position to be marginalizing any kinds of conservatives, let alone ones who have been so courageous in the face of adversity… until the conference stops shaming some of its most valuable advocates, it’s unfortunately not an event I can take part in.​”

Cupp’s calmly reasoned position prompted a fretful rant from Mr. Unreason himself, Joseph Farah. Sensing the black helicopters of tolerance hovering over his pinched and pusillanimous reality, WND’s founding father lamented:

This little brouhaha with Cupp comes at the same time dozens of Republicans – including top advisers to former President George W. Bush, four former governors and two members of Congress – have signed a legal brief arguing in favor of same-sex marriage…

Farah went on to shake a querulous finger at Meg Whitman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Richard Hanna, Stephen Hadley, Carlos Gutierrez, James Comey, David Stockman and Deborah Pryce, noted conservatives all. Or not:

What do all these people have in common?

They are not conservatives.

Ah. Good to know, I guess. Farah finished with a flourish of hyperbole worthy of a pilled-up teenager posting on a message board at 4:00 AM:

The Conservative Political Action Conference is for conservatives – not for people who seek to undermine the Judeo-Christian basis of Western civilization with one of the most radical ideas considered since child sacrifice.

Keep it unreal, Joe.

THREE: Hot Air Apparent

CPAC 2013 will also feature John Ellis “Jeb” Bush, who recently stuck his head up out of the ground to find out whether he would see Mitt Romney’s shadow. Bush is ostensibly in the public eye these days because he’s hawking a new book, Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution, but of course what he’s really hawking is the idea that the GOP will be desperate enough to nominate him in 2016. To that end, Bush has been appearing on various talk shows, casually trying to convince conservatives of his viability with a string of inane observations. Continue reading Take Five (CPAC Up Your Troubles edition)

Freedom's Noble Name

Karl Marx would either laugh or be terribly perplexed by what has been wrought from his dialectic. With all of their bluster, the GOP has now stood Marx on his head. Against every assessment of his philosophy, the progress that comes from the clash of opposing forces has come to a standstill, especially in the states, and on jobs and wages. And states are the place where workers have the best knowledge of taxes, services, economic development, wages and power.

And despite wage stagnation, unemployment, low saving rates and other family income issues hiding in plain sight, workers seem unable to unite. Online, support for raising the minimum wage to nine dollars is overwhelming. Yet the expected firestorm of legislative action, lobby days, public rallies, organizing and bill writing at the state level is almost non-existent.

Democrats are missing a chance to take advantage of a winning bi-partisan opportunity, one in which personal interest and motivations meld perfectly with good public policy. One in which plenty of research and previous experience refutes the knee-jerk resistance that Republicans offer, as they never offer a single measure that advances workers’ income. Real inroads into the Republican base in red states is possible. The growing income gap, the direct refusal of Republicans to consider raising the minimum wage while focused on deficits and cutting spending leaves them exposed. Democrats, Carpe diem!

Robert Reich, President Clinton’s former Labor Secretary, makes two telling points. One, there’s plenty of capital available to pay higher wages; it’s being used by businesses to buy or take over other corporations or to make giant buybacks of their own stock. Both increase shareholder value. Two, total private worker compensation is now 57% of GDP, the lowest it’s been since Eisenhower.

Neither of the two uses of capital stimulates the economy or produces jobs, but they add market value to the balance sheet. The balance sheet is the writ of GOP economy policy. They will smother the idea of increasing the minimum wage, and other progressive policies on tax breaks and physical and social investments, by allowing sequestration to take place, literally smashing the recovery. We will lose 750,000 jobs this year. It will affect services from air traffic control to meals on wheels.The Army reports layoffs of 250,000 workers by year’s end.

The narrative for putting blame on Obama has started; Paul Ryan calls Boehner’s claim of getting 98% of what he wanted the result of President Obama seeking “partisan advantage.” Mr. “98%” Boehner now calls it “the President’s sequester.” Continue reading Freedom’s Noble Name