Stormy Monday, 6/9/14

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

StormyMondayWith every lurid allegation and wheezing harrumph over Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and the circumstances of his captivity and release being debunked, Republicans are left to stand around looking not just damn foolish, but hypocritical and heartless. That’s not a novelty, of course; they’ve been doing it pretty much forever. Sgt. Berhdahl is simply the latest excuse for GOP poutrage spun out of whole cloth. On the brighter side, at least Republicans are spending so much time hyperventilating about him that they’ve hardly had time to keep grinding the stubs of their ax handles over Benghazi, the IRS, Syria, and whatever other pseudo-scandals have slipped my mind at the moment. Small mercies. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel testifies on the Bergdahl release before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.

Any remaining unexploded Republican heads will probably explode today as direct talks begin in Geneva between officials of the US and Iran, as efforts continue to reach a final deal on Iran’s nuclear program by July. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns leads the US delegation.

The results of an internal audit on the VA’s hospital scheduling issues were released this morning. The details were heartbreaking and infuriating. Over 57,000 vets have been awaiting initial appointments for more than 90 days, and 64,000 enrollees over the past decade have never got an appointment. Also today, the House Veterans Affairs Committee hears testimony from the office of the VA’s Inspector General and representatives from the GAO. Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson has vowed swift reform.

Hillary Clinton, who says in an interview with Diane Sawyer airing tonight that she won’t announce her presidential plans until 2015, is kicking off a national book tour this week, during which she’ll be asked by every local media figure and every autograph-seeking fan at every stop in every city whether she intends to run in ’16. She’ll also be campaigning for a variety of Democrats, each of whom will ask her whether she intends to run in ’16.

The President kicks off the week with an expansion of the “Pay As You Earn” program and other executive modifications to student loans, while urging Congress to take legislative action. Presumably, he won’t be holding his breath about the latter. The President hosts a Monday event at the White House, with Dr. Jill Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan in attendance.

On Tuesday, the focus on education cost and quality continues with the “President’s first-ever Tumblr Q&A” at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. The event will be moderated by Tumblr founder David Karp. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 6/9/14

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Stormy Monday, 7/8/13

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

If you don’t feel like doing something interesting with your Monday, like clipping your toenails or trying to teach your goldfish to roll over, watch for Rick Perry’s announcement about his “exciting future plans.” Will he declare his intention to run for a fourth term as Texas Governor? Or has he finally remembered the third federal government department he wants to shut down, clearing the way for another presidential run in 2016?

With none other than George Walker Bush urging Congress to get comprehensive immigration reform done, I now have to reassess my own enthusiasm for it. And don’t even get me started on the macabre irony of Bush uttering the words: “It’s very important to fix a broken system…”

Foreshadowing the probable fate of the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” bill, Rep. Michael McCaul claimed in an interview this morning that Americans “don’t want a comprehensive bill like what we saw with Obamacare.” How he knows this, he didn’t say. Maybe he’ll explain it after he and his House Republican colleagues get together behind closed doors midweek to discuss how they’re going to derail reform.

Speaking of Obamacare, if you’re in Virginia or Ohio, watch for this week’s rollout of new TV ads (funded by the infamous America-hating Brothers Koch) designed to convince you that it sucks. The ads will later appear in other states. If the campaign is successful, watch for future Koch-financed commercials aimed at making you doubt and/or despise kittens, electricity and oxygen.

Secretary of State John Kerry returns to Israel later in the week to continue efforts to broker direct talks between that nation and the Palestinians. After last week’s flap about the State Department first denying then later admitting that Kerry spent time aboard his yacht in Nantucket as Egypt’s government was being overthrown, the Secretary no doubt craves the peace and tranquility that have always been hallmarks of the Middle East. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 7/8/13

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Stormy Monday, 6/3/13

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Tuesday, more IRS crap hits the fan with the release of a watchdog’s report that fingers the agency for, among other things, spending $49 million on employee conferences over the past three years. Some of the expenses have already been described by Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel as “inappropriate” (like $60,000 for two training videos, one of which was a Star Trek parody featuring a large, taxpayer-funded mock-up of the bridge of the Enterprise, and the other showing IRS employees learning how to do the Cupid Shuffle).

House of Representatives Thug-in-Residence Darrell Issa has announced a Thursday hearing on the watchdog report. This will follow two more IRS-related House hearings this week, an Appropriations Committee hearing Monday, at which Werfel will testify, and a Ways and Means Committee hearing on Tuesday, where Teabaggers will complain publicly about how dreadfully unfair it was for the IRS to scrutinize them simply because they loudly hate the government, hate paying taxes, and hate democracy.

After a Wednesday stop in Charlotte on his continuing “Middle-Class Jobs & Opportunity Tour,” the President will attend some California fundraising events for Congressional Democrats before meeting Friday with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for a brief summit at Sunnylands, the Rancho Mirage home of the late Walter Annenberg. This comes mere days after the State Department called on China to end persecution of Tiananmen Square dissidents and “fully account for those killed, detained or missing,” an exhortation that prompted China’s foreign ministry to accuse the United States of “interfering in China’s internal affairs.”

No information has been released about summit menus, but after a few hours discussing trade, human rights and North Korea, let’s hope the hungry leaders avoid tucking into a ham or other pork product from Smithfield; the company’s food safety record is so dreadful that Smithfield was just bought up by the even more dreadful Chinese conglomerate Shuanghui International. Hold the clenbuterol.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule this week on Fisher v. University of Texas, a decision that could have a significant impact on the future of affirmative action. Elena Kagan has recused herself, increasing the odds that the Supreme Court’s conservative faction will find against the school’s minority admissions policy. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 6/3/13

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+