Friday, February 28, 2014


It's generally agreed that religious rightists went too far when they starting pushing refusal-of-service laws. Salon's Brian Beutler:
The effort to apply the ... religious freedom argument to anti-gay measures in states across the country has encountered tremendous resistance, not just from liberals but from business leaders, statewide Republican elected officials, and GOP celebrities who, for different reasons, seem to get that stomping away from a growing majority of the population with a middle finger hoisted overhead isn't a smart thing to do.
The New York Times adds:
The decision by members of the Republican establishment to join gay activists in opposing the bill reflected the alarm the Arizona battle stirred among party leaders, who worried about identifying their party with polarizing social issues at a time when Republicans see the prospect of big gains in Congressional elections on economic issues.
So this effort is dead, right?

I doubt it. When do right-wingers ever concede defeat? They just keep relitigating fights forever, adjusting tactics as needed. Did they give up on fighting abortion when the Supreme Court reaffirmed abortion rights in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, just around the time anti-abortion extremists were alienating most of America with acts of violence? No. They just shifted gears, put the violent protesters at arms' length, and began trying to kill Roe with a thousand cuts rather than all at once.

I'm not saying they're going to win. They're highly unlikely to be as successful in fighting gay marriage as they are in fighting abortion, because heartland America now seems far less squeamish about homosexuality than about abortion. But they will keep fighting, because the right never lets anything go. They may never be more than a minor nuisance on this. But they will continue to be a nuisance.

From The Washington Post:
Conservative activists said Thursday that they will continue to press for additional legal protections for private businesses that deny service to gay men and lesbians, saying that a defeat in Arizona this week is only a minor setback and that religious-liberty legislation is the best way to stave off a rapid shift in favor of gay rights....

"The fight has to be over what the First Amendment is," said John C. Eastman, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, adding that his side needs to convince the public that conservatives are not trying to deny the rights of other Americans. "This is not somebody adhering to old Jim Crow lunch-counter discrimination. This is a fundamental dispute about what marriage means, and why it's important for society."
I know, I know -- it's just bluster. The GOP mainstream wants to step away from this fight. Right?

Except that, as the Times notes, this fight can't possibly go away:
Nelson Warfield, a conservative consultant ... said laws like the one vetoed in Arizona would certainly be embraced by some Republican presidential candidates in 2016 during the primaries, but would be toxic for a Republican candidate in a general election.

"You can bet your last dollar somebody will run on it for the nomination next time," he said, referring to the Republican presidential battle of 2016.
One or more candidates from the Cruz/Santorum/Huckabee wing of the party will make it impossible for mainstream candidates to shrug this issue off.

Oh, and even so-called establishment types have the vapors about so-called religious liberty issues. Here's Peggy Noonan:
The political-media complex is bravely coming down on florists with unfashionable views. On Twitter Thursday the freedom-fighter who tweets as @FriedrichHayek asked: "Can the government compel a Jewish baker to deliver a wedding cake on a Saturday? If not why not." Why not indeed. Because the truly tolerant give each other a little space? On an optimistic note, the Little Sisters of the Poor haven't been put out of business and patiently await their day in court.
That last reference is too Peggy's plucky heroines in the fight against the contraceptive mandate.

So right-wingers will find some way to press on with this. They'll probably go the court route on behalf of some baker allegedly crushed by the gay jackboot. We may defeat them, but they're never going to admit defeat.

Will this have any negative consequences for the GOP? Of course not:
Senate Republicans stopped Democrats from advancing a bill that would have expanded healthcare and education programs for veterans.

In a 56-41 vote Thursday, the motion to waive a budget point of order against the bill failed, as Democrats fell short of the 60 votes needed to overcome the Republican roadblock....
Even though the bill the GOP blocked was custom-tailored to win GOP votes?
... Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont brought forth a carefully crafted bill to provide $21 billion in new veterans benefits over the next decade. These included medical benefits, education benefits, and job-training. It contained 26 provisions that came from the Republican members of the Veterans Affairs Committee, which Sanders chairs. It was so wide-ranging that it contained a provision that would eliminate a rule prohibiting the Veterans Administration from covering in vitro fertilization on behalf of veterans whose wounds prevent them from conceiving a child in the usual manner. There was a time, and not so long ago, when both parties would fall all over themselves to help America's veterans. How many platitudes are we going to hear on the stump between now and November about America's Heroes and Our Wounded Warriors? This bill was a put up or shut up moment....

Only two Republicans were willing to vote with Sanders, and the bill died a procedural death.
Will there be consequences for the GOP? Nahhh. The GOP loves the troops. Everyone knows that because ... everyone knows that. It's a "fact" because we've been told for years that it's a fact. America believes that the GOP loves the troops because lots of Republicans appear on Fox News and Fox News has a lot more American-flag-and-eagle graphics than CNN or MSNBC. America believes that the GOP loves the troops because draft-dodgers Bush, Cheney, and Rove got misty-eyed about America as they sent lots of troops to die in two mismanaged wars. America believes that the GOP loves the troops because Ronald Reagan saluted a lot.

And so there was no possible risk to the Republican Party from this vote.

Yes, I know: the Republicans' excuse for the vote was that they wouldn't support the bill without being allowed to tack on additional Iran sanctions -- sanctions that would damage a fragile diplomatic process, and that even the American Legion thinks should have been kept out of the bill. Once upon a time, Washington politicians believed that politics stops at the water's edge. Politicizing diplomatic efforts in this way -- defying an opposition-party president and failing to present a united front to the world -- was deemed unpatriotic. But that's another thing Republicans can always get away with. They can do anything and never be charged with lack of patriotism. Patriotism is part of their brand too. We all know they're patriots because ... well, just because.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Yeah, I understand why everyone's chuckling at this:
Judson Phillips, president of Tea Party Nation, is a little upset about Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's decision last night to veto a bill that would have expanded the ability of business owners to discriminate against LGBT people and others.

"Tyranny is on the march," Phillips declares in a piece on the TPN website that he also emailed to members of the group....

Phillips then wonders if business owners will be forced to "create a cake for a homosexual wedding that has a giant phallic symbol on it," "create pastries for a homosexual wedding in the shape of genitallia [sic]," or "photograph a homosexual wedding where the participants decide they want to be nude or engage in sexual behavior." ...
But I'm struck by something else Phillips wrote in the same post -- something that tells us a lot about right-wingers' non-sexual delusions:
....Why is this bill so important and what did it mean for not only Arizona but America?

The issue can be boiled down to one word: Freedom.

A free man or woman controls their labor. A slave has no control over their labor. A free man or woman decides who they will work for and under what conditions. The slave cannot.
Teabaggers and other Rand-addled idiots seriously believe that, in the absence of liberal government intervention, all American workers would have absolute "control over their labor." I suspect they believe that in the reddest of states, workers actually do have full "control over their labor."

Do these folks know anyone who actually works for a living?

America is full of low-wage workers who never know from one week to the next how many hours they're going to work or to which shifts they're going to be assigned; employers don't care if employees can't arrange child care because of a sudden change of shift or can't get by on suddenly reduced hours -- those are the conditions of the job, take 'em or leave 'em.

If you work at Amazon, don't get used to the pace of labor, because you'll just be expected to speed up in the future. And Amazon will electronically monitor everything you do during your shift.

And if you work in the white-collar world, you're expected to be on call 24/7 via electronic devices, otherwise you're perceived as a slacker who never deserves a promotion.

Controlling one's own labor? That's a fairy tale for most workers. But for the deluded Randians, it's reality -- they don't even acknowledge that the huge power inequity between employers and employees, so they advance the ludicrous notion that we're equal partners in contracts freely entered into.

To them, all workers are perfectly free -- except when liberalism intervenes.

They're nuts.

I've never been on a snowmobile, but I do hike in the woods -- and if I were to see a moose on a trail at a distance, I'd just want it to go its way. I wouldn't want to harm it and I wouldn't want it to harm me. I'd give it a wide berth. I could see carrying a weapon, even a gun, to protect myself from animals on the trail, but I'd want to use the weapon only as an absolute last resort. Animals live there. I don't. I'm the interloper.

Joe the Plumber sees things differently, I guess. On his website, Joe for America, he's just posted a high-larious LiveLeak video of a snowmobiler killing a moose with a handgun:
***VIDEO*** Moose vs. Snowmobiler, Advantage Glock!

So you are out for a nice little putt on your sled and you are attacked by a moose... What do you do?

1. Cry like baby and hope for the best.
2. Call the game warden and wait for him to show up.
3. Pull out your Glock and kill the attacker.

Watch this to see the correct answer...
Notice there's no "4. Hang back and wait for the moose to go peacefully on its way." Because, as you'll see in the video, the snowmobiler stops and sees the moose minding its business maybe a hundred feet ahead on the snowmobile trail. After trying unsuccessfully to scare it off the trail by yelling, he approaches it in the snowmobile and has a standoff. At that point, the moose does leap up and attack the snowmobiler -- which, yeah, I'll admit seems pretty frightening -- but the snowmobiler pushes the moose off, and the moose retreats. The moose doesn't try to attack again. It walks away -- at which point the snowmobiler pulls out his Glock and fires five shots, felling the moose, as if out of pure spite. He then rides on. Yee-haw!

Am I wrong to see this as the right-wing worldview in a nutshell?

Greg Sargent sees risk for Republicans -- in fact, a possible "nightmare scenario" -- as a result of their decision to block consideration of immigration reform this year:
... Some say there's no urgency [for Republicans] to act because Latinos don't matter in the midterms and Republicans can always do reform in 2015, repairing relations in time for 2016.

But what if waiting until 2015 is actually worse for the GOP?

Here's an alternate reading: If the party tackles reform in 2015, it could get tied up in GOP presidential primary politics, pulling the GOP field to the right and leaving the eventual nominee saddled with extreme party rhetoric and positions on the issue, further alienating Latinos in the general election -- exactly as happened in 2012. So while it might be difficult for Republicans to get reform done this year, braving it might be better than waiting....

Consider the role of Ted Cruz, who is expected to run for president. He's already attacking the new GOP immigration principles as "amnesty." If Republicans try to pass reform in 2015, he'll have an opening to demagogue the heck out of the issue to appeal to a chunk of right wing GOP primary voters. He'll do all he can to turn the GOP primary process into an anti-amnesty sludge-fest.

Is that what Republicans want? ...
No, that's not what Republicans want -- which is why I think they're going to block any attempt to do immigration reform next year, too.

If there's an actual bill, all the establishment candidates will have to oppose it because, in the GOP primaries, "moderates" are allowed to support theoretical "comprehensive immigration reform," but every actual bill has to be denounced as "amnesty." So what's going to happen is that congressional Republicans will block reform again, allowing establishment Republican presidential candidates to make content-free, platitudinous promises on immigration -- when I am president, we will finally enact real comprehensive immigration reform -- not amnesty -- that puts border security first yadda yadda yadda. There'll be a "citizenship" crumb in there. Establishment candidates can just keep saying this, robotically, as hard-line candidates talk about border-sealing and drones and moats and whatever. That's much safer than having an actual bill with actual details out there, something every candidate would have to oppose.

The GOP establishment is going to hope that an establishment candidate will get the nomination and win a few Hispanic votes in the general election based on (a) not being Mitt Romney and (b) having uttered vague babble about reform. A real bill every primary candidate would be required to oppose would just thwart that plan. So expect more stonewalling next year.

In The Washington Monthly a few days ago, Curtis Gans -- who's been analyzing voting patterns since the 1960s -- argued that there could actually be a Democratic wave in the 2014 elections. If this is going to happen, Gans says, we'll see it coming based on three signs:
Despite current conventional wisdom, such an election is not only possible but probable, but only if three signals occur - if September polls, the polls taken when people are paying attention to the upcoming election, show a substantial improvement in Obama's approval rating and an equally substantial increase in public support of the Affordable Care Act, and if the economy does not relapse into recession.
Well, I know it's a long way from September, but unfortunately, those numbers right now are headed in the wrong direction:
Republicans are in a stronger position than Democrats for this year's midterm elections, benefiting from the support of self-described independents, even though the party itself is deeply divided and most Americans agree more with Democratic policy positions, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows.

... 42 percent say they will back Republicans in November, and 39 percent indicate that they will back Democrats....

There is a sense of foreboding in the public as well, with ... 57 percent indicating that they disapprove of Mr. Obama's handling of the economy....

One issue, though -- the Affordable Care Act -- seems to have solidified some opposition to Democrats....

Mr. Obama's approval rating is now at 41 percent, with 51 percent of Americans saying they disapprove of his performance, his worst standing in the past two years, with the exception of a CBS News survey last November in the midst of the troubled rollout of the new health care law. Such ratings amount to an early political alarm for Democrats on the ballot this year....
To be specific, Obama's approval/disapproval numbers are at 41%/51%, down from 46%/47% in the same poll in January. The numbers on his handling of the economy are at 38%/57%, down from 41%/53% in January. The percentage of respondents who think the health care law "needs to be repealed entirely" is at 42%, up from 34% in January.

Oh, and here's the frightening thing, not just for 2014, but for the future:
The independents in the poll -- a majority of whom were white or male or under age 45 -- continued to sour on President Obama's job performance.
Oh, great. We've all been thinking, "Yeah, there's a huge gender gap, especially when it comes to white men, but that's going to disappear when all those racist, homophobic old Fox viewers die off." Um, maybe not. The young are a lot less racist and homophobic, but independent in this poll disapprove of Obama by a 54%/36% margin, and disapprove of his handling of the economy 62%/31% (maybe because the under-45s are unemployed, broke, and indebted); 45% of them think the health care law should be repealed (though 49% think it should be improved).


What could turn this around for the Democrats? They could be pushing an increase in the minimum wage -- me, I'd like to see as many votes or a minimum wage increase in the Senate as there have been Obamacare repeal votes in the House -- but Harry Reid is holding back, because some Senate Democrats are idiots:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday delayed action on legislation raising the minimum wage, the centerpiece of the Democrats' 2014 agenda.

The Nevada Democrat made the surprising move amid escalating Democratic resistance in the wake of a Congressional Budget Office report released last week estimating that hiking the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could cost the equivalent of 500,000 jobs by late 2016.

... Of the 55 senators who caucus with the Democrats, only 32 have signed on as official co-sponsors of Sen. Tom Harkin's (D-Iowa) bill....

Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.), the chamber's most vulnerable incumbent, has said he does not support the legislation....

Other Democrats up for reelection who have not co-sponsored the Harkin measure include Sens. Mark Warner (Va.), Kay Hagan (N.C.) and Mary Landrieu (La.)....
Dear Democratic idiots: In the Times/CBS poll, a minimum wage increase to $10.10 is favored 65%/33%; it's favored by 62% of independents and even 42% of Republicans.

I also fault Democrats for not doing a better job of explaining why Washington is so dysfunctional. I know that Beltway insiders reach for the smelling salts every time a Democrat actually blames Republicans, but polls show that the public blames Republicans, so just say it, Democrats. Don't give mushy, rhetorically empty answers like this one, from Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes:
The Washington Post: You talked a lot about the partisan gridlock and dysfunction that you see in Washington. I know you were talking about Sen. McConnell and the congressional Republicans, but I'm wondering if you think President Obama shares any of that blame – if the environment in Washington is at all because of him or his approach or his policies, too.
Alison Lundergan Grimes: As we saw, especially with the filibuster reform, there is enough finger-pointing to go around for a lifetime with what has occurred in Washington, D.C. But Kentuckians are tired of the finger-pointing. They want somebody that actually comes up with a pathway forward as to how they're going to have faith again in the future of Kentucky and the promises of being an American and being able to grow the middle class. That's what our campaign is about. It's not the blame game and the finger-pointing that Mitch McConnell has become a master at. It's actually making sure that we're tackling the problems of the people of the state.
Are there any cliches she skipped? Why not point fingers at Republicans, Alison? You're running against a guy who said his top priority was making Obama a one-term president. And he's now regarded as a moderate Republican! Why are Democrats terrified of partisanship when there's no downside for Republican partisanship?


Yeah, I know. I'm supposed to be happy this morning. I'm supposed to be doing the Snoopy dance of joy because Jan Brewer vetoed that anti-gay bill. It's good news. But here's what I'm thinking:

The one thing I don't want to hear is that "Republicans really shot themselves in the foot again." No, they didn't. America will forget all about this by November -- hell, America will probably forget all about this by next week. Remember when last fall's government shutdown was going to doom Republicans in 2014? It's four months later and most of America forgot all about the shutdown three months ago. Or four.

Why? Because Republicans are better at sustaining anger than Democrats are; also, because Republicans generate and promulgate a hundred stories damaging to Democrats for every one Democrats generate. We had a few days of zone-flooding with this story, but Republicans keep the zone flooded much more of the time. When that changes, I'll stop being so gloomy about the prospects of Democrats.

And finally, we have to look at what Republicans have done in the Obama years as an embargo. The U.S. government places an embargo on Cuba or Iran in the hope that the economic hardship will put pressure on the government -- and that's precisely what Republicans have done in America, by blocking anything that will improve our economy. They want the public to turn against the president and his party. And it's working.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Breaking news:
Federal judge voids Texas' gay marriage ban, though he delays order from taking effect immediately

A federal judge in San Antonio ruled Wednesday that Texas' ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutionally deprives some citizens of due process and equal protection under the law by stigmatizing their relationships and treating them differently from opposite-sex couples....

Although [U.S. District Judge Orlando] Garcia issued a preliminary injunction against the state’s enforcing its 2003 law and 2005 constitutional amendment that limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, he stayed it from taking effect until his ruling can be reviewed on appeal.

Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for governor, is almost certain to appeal....
Yes -- and Abbott, who's sure to be the Republican candidate for governor, has already announced that he's appealing the ruling. Abbott has also said it's illegal under state law for local governments in Texas to offer domestic partner benefits, or to legally recognize same-sex marriages from other states; he's used the power of his office to fight localities on these issues.

Wendy Davis, who's expected to win the Democratic primary, supports gay marriage.

Texas polls on this issue aren't very encouraging. A Public Policy Polling survey from last July (PDF) found that only 34% of Texans favor legalizing same-sex marriage -- and gay marriage was opposed by blacks 65%-14% and by Hispanics 56%-32% in the PPP survey. A Texas Tribune/University of Texas poll in July found 40% support for legal gay marriage; a better result came in a January 2013 survey conducted for the Equality Texas Foundation: 47.9% supported marriage rights, 47.5% didn't.

I have to assume the real number is in the middle of that range, which means Texans are still not all that close to acceptance.

So does that mean Abbott's going to pound this issue from here till November? And how will that work out? Or will the national party tell him to dial it down? Well, it's Texas. I've got to assume that dialing it down will not be an option.

So you think Republicans are corporatists and relentless partisans? Silly you! Politico wants you to know that's not true at all anymore!
Republicans take on Wall Street

Republicans are proposing what was once unimaginable: raising taxes on big Wall Street banks.

Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp's Republican tax reform draft -- slated to be released Wednesday afternoon -- looks like it will reverse more than a decade of GOP orthodoxy on taxes by socking big banks with higher levies.

To call this development a sea change would be like calling the Grand Canyon a ditch.
Not that Politico is trying to be hyperbolic or anything.

And if that's not persuasive enough, here's another Politico story about how radical a change this is for the Republicans:
Republican tax writer borrows some Democratic ideas for revamp

House Republicans' top tax writer is set to offer something unthinkable in virtually any other context: a big new tax on the wealthy.

A proposal slated to be released this week by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp will include a special surcharge on the wealthy, according to documents obtained by POLITICO. The surtax and a new bank tax that lobbyists are widely expecting both sound like proposals Democrats have repeatedly offered in recent years....
Wowie zowie! This sure isn't the sort of thing I associate with the Republican Party! Maybe I ought to give the GOP a fresh look!

Except that, um, nobody in the Republican Party actually likes this bill -- which I learn from, er, yet another Politico story:
Republicans are remarkably consistent in their reaction to Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp's tax reform bill: they're glad he put something together, but are not interested in diving into the controversial details....

Asked if this bill was reflective of the House Republican position on tax reform, [Speaker John] Boehner said "you're getting a little ahead of yourself."

.. When pressed specifically on changes to the financial services industry, Boehner replied by saying "bla, bla, bla, bla."
(I imagine this was one of those walking-and-talking interviews in the halls of Congress, and "bla, bla, bla, bla" is the ambulatory version of sticking your fingers in your ears and saying, "La la la, I can't hear you.")

Many Republicans on the Financial Services Committee lashed out at the tax on banks, saying it's punitive and runs counter to GOP principles....

Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), a member of the Ways and Means Committee, said this bill has "a long way to go before it gets to the floor."

"Being a Northeast member...anything that impacts our financial services segment I'm concerned about and I want to make sure we get the policy right," he told POLITICO.
And even that "Republicans Take On Wall Street" story makes clear that the vast majority of the party actually has no intention whatsoever of "taking on Wall Street":
Financial Services Committee members like Reps. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) and Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) have been working behind the scenes, trying to stop what they dub a wrong-headed policy.

"I've got enormous respect for Dave Camp but I just disagree with taxing lending and that’s what this is," McHenry told POLITICO Tuesday evening. "Functionally, a tax on bank assets is a tax on lending. That's all there is to it. And if you're going to have an assessment quarterly, at a time when the American people are starved for capital, you’re taxing lending capital. So it runs counter to our economic needs."

Bachus, the former Financial Services Committee chairman, along with fellow Alabama GOP Rep. Bradley Byrne, went as far as to pen a private letter Tuesday to Camp saying their "view is that taxes such as the special bank tax once proposed by President Obama are highly detrimental to lending and capital formation and as such we oppose them."

The immediate impact for Wall Street is limited, since this tax plan is certain to go nowhere fast.
Ahhh, but we're assured that this plan that nearly everyone in the party hates is still a big deal:
Even if this efforts falls by the wayside, a new tax on big financial institutions will be a permanent fixture when the government is looking for fresh sources of revenue.

... it's now forever on the menu of options....

"This will be an eternal item that's always on the shelf for members that are trying to raise revenue for any one thing," said one D.C.-based banking lobbyist. "Because once it's in there, it's in there. It'll be used by both Republicans and Democrats going forward as a way to raise revenue regardless of what the offsets might be."
Nonsense. Republicans have no qualms about abandoning ideas they've proposed -- and not just abandoning them, but attacking anyone who proposes them in the future. Cap-and-trade? The basics of Romneycare/Obamacare? Right-wing concepts, now heresy on the right. This will be the same.

This is a phony bill -- a Potemkin piece of legislation. The whole point of the exercise was to put something -- anything -- out there in an election year so Republicans could say, "See? We're not just the Party of No. We proposed a budget that simplifies the tax code and reduces rates" and so on, thus reaching at least a few swing voters. The additional benefit is that friendly news outlets will say, "Look how non-plutocratic and bipartisan the Republicans are being!" Politico was only too happy to oblige.

Rush Limbaugh tells us that True Americans are being betrayed, and not just by the usual Antichrists:
Right talk radio is turning its focus this week to Arizona's controversial bill that would allow business owners to deny service to gay and lesbian customers, and Rush Limbaugh is leading with the charge that Gov. Jan Brewer is being "bullied" into vetoing the measure "in order to advance the gay agenda." ...

"She's being bullied by the homosexual lobby in Arizona and elsewhere," he said. "She's being bullied by the nationwide drive-by media, she's being bullied by certain elements of corporate America in order to advance the gay agenda...."
(Emphasis added.)

Certain elements of corporate America? Actually, quite a few. Companies urging a veto of the bill include Apple, Intel, AT&T, Delta Air Lines, Yelp, PetSmart, American Airlines, and Marriott, not to mention Limbaugh's beloved NFL.

Remember how we used to be told years ago that the tea party movement was angry at big business as well as big government? Remember how, more recently, there's been a lot of discussion of the Chamber of Commerce's war against absolutist tea party types who are happy to shut down the government and cause government credit defaults in order to get their own way on taxes and spending?

Shouldn't this battle really be heating up now? After all, we know that there's really no point at which the tea party ends and the religious right begins. It's basically the same movement.

Where's the tea party/social conservative outrage against big business? Where are the boycotts? The threats to withdraw from the mega-economy and spend only on goods and services provided by small business people and family farmers?

I'm kidding, of course. Nothing like that is ever going to happen, any more than a wide-scale tea party/religious right rejection of the Republican Party is going to happen. It's not going to happen as a result of the Arizona situation, even though, as Politico notes, the GOP establishment wants the Arizona bill to die a quiet death:
As Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer weighs whether to sign a bill that would allow businesses to deny services to gay customers, top national Republicans just want the issue to go away.

... many Washington Republicans see it as a political loser, giving the left another cudgel to attack conservatives as intolerant while motivating liberals and younger voters ahead of the midterm elections....
So the party will pressure Brewer to veto the bill, she'll probably veto it -- and social conservatives will still vote GOP in November. Where are they going to go? You've heard about a lot of right-wing insurgents running for established Republicans' seats this year, but how many of those insurgents are running third-party? There's no sign that any of the crazies are moving in that direction. So there'll be primaries, and establishment Republicans will win most of them and insurgents will win a few, and then these fiercely independent voters, many of whom claim to loathe the GOP, will dutifully vote for whoever's in the R column. Because that's what they are, first, last, and always: Republicans.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


From Breitbart, via Fox Nation:

You know, if they weren't able take over houses of Congress, the federal judiciary, state legislatures, and governors' mansions from inside this ideological bubble, this would all seem kind of sad and pathetic.


Just as night follows day, we know that any move by the Obama administration away from maximum bellicosity will be immediately followed by Dick Cheney rising up out of his crypt and seeking out a friendly interviewer who'll let him troll the White House. What's a bit different this time is the specific nature of the trolling:
Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Monday night called the Pentagon budget proposal "absolutely dangerous."

Appearing on Fox News’s "Hannity," he said President Barack Obama "would rather spend the money on food stamps than he would on a strong military or support for our troops."
I haven't done a thorough search, but isn't this new for Cheney? Not the attack on Pentagon cuts -- that was easy to anticipate -- but the Gingrichesque food stamp line.

I wonder whose line it really was. I have no evidence to back this up, but I've long assumed that many conservatives go on Fox News not so much to express opinions as to have expressions of right-wing opinions carefully crafted for them. I'm sure they agree with what they say, but the one-liners can sound quite canned.

And I'm struck by the fact that this came a day after another right-wing attack that was obviously planned and scripted:
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal launched into a repeated assault on President Barack Obama's leadership in the shadow of the West Wing, in defiance of established bipartisan protocol. Speaking after a meeting of the [National Governors Association] at the White House, Jindal, the vice chair of the Republican Governors Association, said Obama is "waving a white flag" by focusing on executive actions with three years left in his term. "The Obama economy is now the minimum wage economy," Jindal added.
Food stamps? Minimum wage? Have Republicans concluded that Obamacare-IRS-Benghazi might not be the Democrat-killing trifecta they think it is? Are they changing the message somewhat? If so, they're going back to an old favorite -- that Democratic policies favor those people, the ones who either need public assistance or work jobs that pay no better than minimum wage.

On the surface, Jindal's message seems less toxic -- he accused Obama of creating an economy with too many inadequately remunerative jobs, he appeared to be saying that's a bad thing. But at the reptile-brain level, he knows his intended audience is linking Obama with Those People (even the ones whose own paychecks may be at the minimum-wage level).

Expect more of this in the months to come -- maybe more of this than even Obamacare-bashing.

There's an effort under way to bring 12 Years a Slave to high school classrooms:
The award-winning film 12 Years a Slave ... will be incorporated into public high school classrooms around the nation beginning in September 2014, according to a The National School Boards Association (NSBA) press release.

The NSBA is partnering with New Regency, Penguin Books, and the filmmakers to distribute copies of the acclaimed film, book, and study guide to America's public high schools....
So ... how's this going over at Free Republic? I'm sure you'll be shocked to learn that it's not going over well:
Nothing but victim status politics to further fuel the race baiters and hate crime industry.


white people fought and died to end slavery


I'm a bit skeptical about this story.

There were several hundred thousand free Black people living in the South when this guy was kidnapped in New York.

I mean, what was the legal mechanism that protected all those Southern free Blacks, but completely failed to protect this guy from New York?


I thought "Roots" was all that!
Oh well, a new generation to be indoctrinated into believing that white europeans in this country were the fascists of that time.

And we now have "core curriculum" to use as a vehicle for this indoctrination.


It was a river of white men’s blood that set the slaves free in America.

But that part of the story is "de-emphasized."


Leftist indoctrination, start them young on the white guilt.


... Saw a bit of a program last night on ID (Investigation Discovery?); this black guy was driving through Illinois & Indianna researching "sundown towns" (where blacks were supposed to be out of the town by sundown). From what I could gather, this was to ensure that northern states kicked into the racial grievance till as well. These were little rural places they visited; they used the low percentage of blacks there today to bolster their "grievance". The Klan couldn't have done a better job of removing blacks from mainstream America than today’s liberals do...


My son had to right a persuasion paper about a subject. Any subject. He wrote about how the Civil War was bad for the black slaves. I admired his gumption and thought "How is he going to show this?"

He actually did a really good job, and I learned a whole bunch. He got an A too. Publik Skool even!

Yes, slavery is bad, but.....


OMG - "right" should be "write". (I'm glad his mom proof-read his paper and not me!

(Scrawled in black paint on an old roof at my alm mater: "I kant even spel Enginer, and now I our won!")


Will it be mentioned that Republicans fought to end slavery while the Democrats fought to retain it?


Its just coincidence that from kindergarten to high school graduation is also twelve years. The irony will get stronger as Common Core takes hold. /S


I saw the movie.

It portrayed Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon negatively. Johnson was especially bad...ignorant, crude, racist. Nixon was shown as someone only interested in votes. showed democrats to be worse than republicans. And it wasn't too kind to the Black Panthers either.

But the ending ruined the movie.

The ending showed a lot of Obama 'O' symbols and everyone happy...not because a qualified black leader was elected, but because a black skin color was elected.

If shown in the classroom, students will get the impression the election of POTUS is some kind of reward, rather than choosing the best person to lead the country and serve the people.
I believe that last Freeper is thinking of The Butler (which the Breitbarniks and other right-wingers have criticized for historical inaccuracies), not 12 Years a Slave.

But hey, all those black movies look alike, don't they?

Monday, February 24, 2014


This is the sort of thing you do if you're right-wing and are incapable of shame:
Washington lobbyist Jack Burkman on Monday said he is preparing legislation that would ban gay athletes from joining the National Football League.

Burkman in a statement said he has garnered political support for the bill, though his statement didn't mention any specific lawmakers who are behind it.

"We are losing our decency as a nation," Burkman said in a statement. "Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?"
That would be the same Jack Burkman who in 2006 -- at a time when he was working as a lobbyist for the Family Research Council -- became Internet-famous for meeting two women at the Pride Parade and offering them money if they'd have sex with him. (The women recounted his proposition on MySpace, and their report was later picked up by Wonkette.) A year later, his name showed in the call records of "D.C. Madam" Deborah Jeane Palfrey:
Via Citizens for Legitimate Government:
The phone number for GOP political operative/conservative pundit, John (Jack) M. Burkman Jr. - Principal J.M. Burkman & Associates, Arlington, VA - appears in the database of phone records of the 'DC Madam.' From the phone logs: 2006-01-15 18:44 1.00
And also see this from a woman who was creeped out after a 2011 encounter with him on a D.C. street.

Burkman is also known for having seconded Ann Coulter's smears of 9/11 widows who sought more information about the attacks:
On MSNBC's Scarborough Country, Republican strategist Jack Burkman, echoing right-wing pundit Ann Coulter, whom he was defending, declared that "within hours of those [World Trade Center] towers going down," the wives of victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks "were ready to make money and exploit this tragedy!"

... Burkman demanded that people ask "some questions about these widows, these witches of New Brunswick," and wondered how long it took the widows to "hire[] PR agents" after the 9-11 attacks: "Did they wait two days? Did they wait a month?" Burkman then surmised that "I think it was done in the first week." Burkman then "challenge[d]" the 9-11 widows "to a debate" about the allegations, but suggested that the widows would decline "because they have a lot to hide" and "don't want the nation to see" their desire to "exploit this tragedy."
He also once made a remark on Fox Business Network that was so racist even former senator Al D'Amato thought it was over the line:
... Burkman said that the United States Postal Service employs unskilled Nigerians, and at one point said that "most of these guys working in the post office should be driving cabs." Former U.S. Senator Al D'Amato (R-NY) rebuked Burkman by stating, "You are a nasty racist. ... That's a bunch of bullshit. And you should be ashamed of yourself and have your mouth washed out. What the hell are you talking about?"
None of this, of course, has prevented Burkman from having the D.C. lobbying firm with the biggest client-list increase in 2013. Because that's our political culture.

Sahil Kapur of Talking Points Memo, anticipating that Republicans might have the mojo to win the Senate back from Democrats this year, writes about "Four Ways A Majority Leader McConnell Could Make Obama's Life Miserable."

Number 1 is by eliminating what's left of the filibuster altogether -- which I guess McConnell would do, though only to force President Obama to veto GOP-priority bills, because he's not going to have enough votes to override those vetoes. Also -- and this is more disturbing -- McConnell could, by a simple majority vote, enact a rules change that would mandate a Senate supermajority of, say, 67 votes to pass any future tax increase, ever, on anyone. This is the kind of thing that nearly destroyed California. It would lock in today's taxes on the wealthy as a ceiling for eternity. And I'm not sure a subsequent Democratic Senate could reverse it without a lot of public shaming from the GOP.

Number 2 on Kapur's list is "Resurrect Government Shutdowns And Hostage-Taking." Are Republicans really going to try this again -- "attach right-wing measures to government funding legislation and debt limit hikes, which they could pass out of Congress and dare Obama to veto"? I think they understand that it's a politically suicidal strategy -- but maybe not.

Number 3 is bottling up the process of confirming judges and other presidential appointees. Yes, I think that absolutely will happen.

And Number 4 is an orgy of investigations. Says Jim Manley, a former spokesman for Harry Reid: "It'll be Darrell Issa on steroids.... It'll be Benghazi, Benghazi Benghazi; IRS, IRS, IRS."

That's where this all starts to seem less terrifying. That's where I see the potential for massive overreach -- overreach that's glaringly obvious even to people who don't pay much attention to politics.

The investigation fever on the right is rooted in the belief that members of the Obama administration had to be acting with sinister motives. Right-wingers don't suspect that this may be true -- they're certain it's true, the way Holocaust deniers are certain Hitler didn't kill six million Jews and 9/11 truthers are certain that the Twin Towers weren't brought down by jihadists piloting hijacked planes. So if (as I assume) the most high-profile investigation is of Benghazi and the top target is Hillary Clinton, it's going to be rage vs. cool, wild speculation versus empirical reality. You know, like Darrell Issa's recent assertion that Clinton told Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to stand down, apparently just because she wanted Americans to die, the traitorous bitch. Clinton's approval rating has been at or around 60% for the past five years, despite a year-plus of this; I really don't think she's going to be derailed by show trials pursuing stuff right-wing crazies want to be true, regardless of empirical evidence.

Moreover, a general crazification of D.C. in the run-up to the 2016 election has the potential to make Republicans look like the lunatic obstructionist party again.

Or will it go the other way? Will Republicans hit pay dirt?

My impression is that they're good at laying waste to the social contract when they have absolute power, as they do in so many states right now. They're good at putting a stranglehold on positive changes Democrats want to make when they have some power, but not a lot. They're good at punching way, way down -- Shirley Sherrod, ACORN, the people trying to build the "Ground Zero mosque" -- when they have little power.

But they have trouble when they have considerable but not absolute power: they think they're the vanguard army storming the barricades, and they forget that their enemies have the power to fight back. Notice how Obama has beaten them on the debt ceiling. Notice how Hillary has emerged from more than a year of Benghazimania almost unscathed.

They overreach, and the public notices. I think that's what will happen again. Msybe not, but it seems likely.

I meant to write yesterday about this New York Times article,which describes how effective Scott Walker's nasty anti-union efforts have been in Wisconsin:
[Act 10] bars public-sector unions from bargaining over pensions, health coverage, safety, hours, sick leave or vacations. All they can negotiate is base pay, and even that is limited: any raises they win cannot exceed inflation....

Act 10 ... has generally required public employees to start contributing 6 percent of their pay toward their pensions and at least 12 percent of their health plan costs. For many employees, that meant a 12 percent pay cut; on top of that, many faced a multiyear pay freeze.

The law repealed a so-called fair-share requirement that all public employees represented by a union pay union fees, and many employees are opting out. At [AFSCME Local 1], most workers stopped paying dues and dropped their membership, ... because the law had squeezed their take-home pay and limited how much the union could help them....

Even the process of collecting dues is more cumbersome because the law bars government officials from deducting union dues from paychecks. Now unions must make individual arrangements with each member to collect dues.

"There are all sorts of brier patches in the law," Mr. Beil said.

For unions, an especially troublesome provision requires an annual "recertification" vote for every local that hopes to retain the ability to bargain collectively, albeit only over base pay. To win, a union needs not just a majority of those who vote, but a majority of all eligible to vote -- a far steeper hurdle.

"The unions are fighting for their lives," said Charles E. Carlson, a consultant to Wisconsin's public employers for 40 years....
So unionized workers lose money (which they now blame on the unions themselves), and unions are weakened as well.

I read this back to back with last week's New Republic article about the crushing student loan debt faced by young college grads and how it's preventing those young people from forming households of their own, buying homes and cars, and generally participating in the consumer economy -- to the detriment of the economy as a whole. It's all a reminder that the rich, who are just fine with the economy as it is right now, apparently don't want the American middle class to be restored to health. The rich will just sell to the rich, and to the rising middle classes in countries like China and India. If the economy is full of teachers on food stamps and Ph.D.s working as baristas, with a permanent decline in workforce participation because employers won't employ more people even as they're sitting on piles of cash, that's just fine with the rich, probably forever. (Though they'll keep chipping away at those food stamps.)

Rich Republicans, in particular, really want to destroy unions in America -- and I mean completely destroy them. And they're on their way. The results in Wisconsin inspire other governors and legislatures to pass similar restraints on public-sector unions, as well as right-to-work laws that cover all unions. (This in addition to what just happened in that Volkswagen vote in Tennessee.)

And Scott Walker may be facing scandal, but his reelections polls just before that scandal broke showed him with a comfortable lead. So it's believed on the right that you can bust unions and get away with it.

One more thing: as Rachel Maddow has noted, the right thinks unions need to be destroyed because unions are the biggest source of Democratic Party funding. While all sorts of people are expecting the Republican Party to die because it doesn't appeal to immigrants or the young, it seems to me that it's the Democratic Party that could die first. Unions need to be saved, but it may be too late, and in the meantime, Democrats really need to look for a new funding stream, because the cash flowing to the GOP is increasingly without limit. (Pretty soon, the Roberts Court will almost certainly allow roll back limits on donations directly to campaigns -- Citizens United involved limits of donations to independent groups.)

And what BooMan says about young people's student debt struggles is also true with regard to the declining middle class:
Addressing this is the project for the left, and if the Democratic Party doesn't take the lead, then tremendous damage will be done to the party, and probably the left as a whole.

... if the left doesn't proactively address their concerns, there could be a reactionary response.
Right. Not only with the party be financially weakened by the crushing of unions, but a generation that never gets off the ground economically will turn away from progressivism, and older heartlanders who continue struggling fruitlessly to get into the middle class will forget that the Democratic Party ever stood for the interests of ordinary people.

At that point, ordinary people will be susceptible to a right-wing movement that blames economic woes on some scapegoat -- immigrants or gays or non-Christians or cultural elitists. Such a movement could be just be old-school divide-and-conquer conservatism or it could be out-and-out fascist. Long term, is it really crazy to worry about the latter if we have a political system that utterly fails to deliver for the vast majority of people for decades?

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Piers Morgan's CNN prime-time show has been canceled, and David Carr of The New York Times blames, among other things Morgan's advocacy of gun control:
While I may share his feelings about the need for additional strictures on guns, having grown up in the Midwest, I know that many people come by their guns honestly and hold onto them dearly for sincere reasons.

Mr. Morgan's approach to gun regulation was more akin to King George III, peering down his nose at the unruly colonies and wondering how to bring the savages to heel. He might have wanted to recall that part of the reason the right to bear arms is codified in the Constitution is that Britain was trying to disarm the citizenry at the time.
Even Morgan himself seems to believe this, according to Carr:
"I'm in danger of being the guy down at the end of the bar who is always going on about the same thing," he said. He added that he was sure there were plenty of people in the heartland angry "about this British guy telling them how to lead their lives and what they should do with their guns."
A few days ago, Variety's Rick Kissell suggested the same explanation for Morgan's ratings woes:
In the end, are guns what killed CNN's "Piers Morgan Live"?

The show, hosted by anti-gun crusader Morgan, continues to struggle in the Nielsens....

Morgan has long been an outspoken critic of U.S. gun laws, but the drumbeat has grown louder in the two years since George Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin....

There's no way to quantify how much of a factor the discussion of gun control on "Piers Morgan Live" has contributed to its ratings (which were never all that great to begin with), but the show's numbers have fallen more sharply since it became a frequent subject on the show....
Of course, there is a way to quantify that: compare Morgan's ratings before he became identified with gun controls with his ratings afterward. If you like, you can do that by poring over the ratings posts at TV Newser. You'll see that the Morgan show's ratings were awful all along, and were usually comparable to the awful ratings of CNN's other prime-time shows.

Morgan's show debuted on January 17, 2011. There was a bit of right-wing rage in November 2011 when Morgan criticized Sarah Palin for not contacting Mark Kelly after the shooting of his wife Gabby Giffords. But Morgan really began to be identified with gun control after the December 2012 massacre in Newton. So how were his ratings before these inflection points?

There's a good (if schadenfreudy) summary at, of all places, "Demo" in what follows refers to the 25-54 age demographic, the category of viewers most desirable to advertisers:
On [Morgan's] show number two, [Howard] Stern did indeed score a first place finish for Piers with 551,000 in demo, beating [Sean] Hannity (506,000) for the night. A good start, but the next few weeks would be a harbinger of things to come. Over the next 27 shows, Piers averaged just 228,000 in demo and that number was inflated by CNN's breaking news coverage of the Arab Spring during the month of February.

... During those first 27 shows, Piers came in 3rd or 4th place (out of 4 [cable news channels]) 20 times, or 74% of the time. A terrible start by any measure, but unfortunately for Piers and CNN, this would be as good as it gets. Over the next few years, Piers Morgan Tonight would be a consistent 3rd place finisher and whenever a decent made-for-TV trial landed on CNN Headline News, Piers was a guaranteed last place finish....

In late 2012, Piers had placed third (out of four) in 13 of 14 straight shows before tragedy struck – the Sandy Hook massacre. CNN's breaking news coverage helped lead Piers to another rare first place finish.

Between September 10th, 2012 and November 6th 2012 he placed third or last an astonishing 40 out of 45 times. His only first place finishes came the day Hurricane Sandy hit shore and on election night, which wasn't even him hosting the program, it was CNN's election coverage.

In 2011, another abysmal streak of distant 3rd and last place finishes (18 out of 20 shows) was stopped by the Tsunami in Japan, where CNN’s breaking news coverage lifted Piers to a 1st place on Friday March 11th....

The pattern is clear: very few Americans intentionally watch Piers Morgan....
And please note that CNN as a whole has been in a ratings trough lately: In January 2014, CNN had a quarter fewer viewers than in January 2013.

The gunners want another pelt. They're going to claim that they killed Morgan's show. They didn't. David Carr's other theory is that Morgan is simply too foreign for U.S. audiences:
Old hands in the television news business suggest that there are two things a presenter cannot have: an accent or a beard. Mr. Morgan is clean shaven and handsome enough, but there are tells in his speech -- the way he says the president's name for one thing (Ob-AA-ma) -- that suggest that he is not from around here.
That could be it -- or maybe it's just his personality. (Larry King, in his peculiar way, came off as a regular guy.) Or a combination of all this and maybe, to a small extent, the guns. But it's not just the guns. And I think the biggest problem is that he's on CNN. That's burden enough.


UPDATE, WEDNESDAY, 2/26: This is what I'm talking about:
February cable ratings are in -- Piers Morgan may be out at CNN, but what about the rest of the network's primetime, which looked none too good for the month, all losing around half their audience compared to same month last year? CNN's Anderson Cooper at 8 PM dropped 47% February to February in overall audience to average 421,000 viewers, and 46% in the news demo to 127,000 viewers for the month, according to Nielsen. In his defense, Cooper's lead-in, Erin Burnett Outfront, dropped 39% to post an average of 293,000 viewers in February -- CNN's smallest monthly haul in the timeslot in more than two decades -- and slipped 32% in the news demo to 100,000 viewers. Morgan's getting scrubbed from 9 PM at CNN because, for instance, he logged 347,000 viewers for the month -- down 46% -- and 100,000 demo viewers -- down 38%.
So there's nothing special about Morgan's crummy ratings -- this is an across-the-board problem for CNN, a problem that affects hosts who don't take highly visible stands against U.S. gun laws.

This Florida case seems like a golden opportunity for some good old-fashioned right-wing legislation from the bench, which will also be a reminder that even "job creators" are second to gun fanatics in the wingnut pecking order:
Bank manager, fired after carrying gun into work, files suit

Ivette Ros grew up in a house where her father kept guns. For her, it was a natural step to get a concealed weapons permit and then to carry a 9 mm handgun.

The 37-year-old Tampa resident is a single mother of three children and said she carries the gun for safety....

Her employer didn't feel the same way. Carrying the gun got her fired, she said.

Ros has filed a lawsuit in circuit court against Wells Fargo Bank, which she said fired her last year from her job as manager at the bank's Oldsmar branch. Her lawsuit says the firing violated her constitutional right to carry arms and asks for monetary damages and attorney fees....

Ros said she sometimes left the handgun in her locked vehicle. Other times, though, she carried it into work concealed under her clothes or in her purse....

... she was fired for violating the bank's ban on employees carrying weapons into the building.

"I am within my constitutional right," Ros said....
Florida is already one of the many states where employers can't prevent you from keeping a gun in your car in the company parking lot, even though the company parking lot is private property, something you might have imagined right-wingers consider sacrosanct.

Is there the slightest possibility that a Republican-appointed judge at any level of our court system would side with Wells Fargo on this, in the current climate? The gun issue, after all, is the most reliable solidarity-builder and turnout-generator for the GOP, which, I assume, is why the Koch brothers think supporting Stand Your Ground laws is so important a part of their campaign to avoid taxes and regulations. So expect the Gunshine State to enshrine another gun "right" soon, with more undoubtedly to follow.


UPDATE: At Hot Air, Jazz Shaw, linking to this post, writes:
Of course, one of the best arguments in terms of hoping that Ms. Ros prevails is that it just drives the gun grabbers insane.
This is how the gunners think: anything that pisses us off is good. It doesn't matter if it's an absurdly reckless thing to do to society -- if it makes us howl, they're for it.

Thus, Stand Your Ground. Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and Chad Oulson are dead because most of the right thinks about guns and gun laws the way Shaw does.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Maureen Dowd thinks America joined Cult of Christie because Barack SpockBambi was too much of a metrosexual girlyman:
... You can blame Obama for the Christie tulip craze. The president has been so wan, he confused people into thinking that bluster was clarity. In a climate with no leadership, the bully looks like a man. If you've only been drinking water, Red Bull tastes like whiskey.

Obama's ethereal insipidity made Christie's meaty pugilism attractive; Obama's insistence on the cerebral made voters long for the visceral, even the gracelessly visceral.

George W. Bush was the Decider who engaged in thoughtless action. So America veered toward Obama, who engaged in thoughtful inaction. Then they careered toward Christie, another practitioner of thoughtless action.

When all you have is leading from behind, there's a place in your heart for in-your-face.
Was America ever actually attracted to "Christie's meaty pugilism"? I'm looking at Polling Report's collection of Christie polls, and back when he was known primarily as a big lug with anger management issues, in 2011, here were his numbers:
* CBS, 9/28-10/2/11: favorable 14%, unfavorable 15%
* Quinnipiac, 9/27-10/3/11: favorable 23%, unfavorable 17%
* Gallup, 3/25-27/11: favorable 27%, unfavorable 22%
* ABC/Washington Post, 9/29-10/2/11: should run for president 42%, shouldn't run 34%
* Fox News, 9/25-27, 2011: should run for president 32%, shouldn't run 39%
Sorry, that's not a groundswell; the public had decidedly mixed feelings about Christie. His favorable ratings got into the 40s and 50s much later, after he stopped being known primarily for being an angry lout and started being known for his response to Sandy -- Obama outreach included.

The politician whose approval numbers are consistently in the 50s and 60s is Dowd's nemesis Hillary Clinton. Is Dowd going to ascribe to "meaty pugilism" and "bluster"?

And no, I have no idea what the hell "If you've only been drinking water, Red Bull tastes like whiskey" means. But I guess it's just another way for Dowd tocall a non-macho Democrat a big fag.

Sean Hannity's boss apparently doesn't agree with Hannity that New York is a totalitarian left-wing hellscape from which all True Conservatives should flee immediately if they know what's good for them:
The media mogul Rupert Murdoch has paid more than $57 million for the top four flours of One Madison, a steel and glass luxury condominium tower in downtown Manhattan, according to people briefed on the sale.

Mr. Murdoch recently became a bachelor after he and his former wife, Wendi Deng, divorced last November, ending 14 years of marriage. As part of the divorce settlement, he signed over to Ms. Deng a triplex penthouse at 834 Fifth Avenue, which he bought for $44 million in 2005....

Mr. Murdoch's new apartment will be on the 57th through 60th floors of One Madison, a building near Madison Square Park. The owner of the building, Related Companies, said in a statement announcing the sale -- without naming Mr. Murdoch as the buyer -- that the apartment encompassed more than 10,000 square feet....

The Fifth Avenue apartment, which had been previously owned by a Rockefeller, had strong sentimental value for him, Mr. Murdoch has told friends, as he had coveted it since he first arrived in New York decades ago....
(Sentimental value! That's so touching, in a Scrooge McDuck sort of way.)

But is this a wise choice for Murdoch? Isn't Sean Hannity right? Isn't New York State becoming intolerable for right-wingers, now that Governor Cuomo has said that "extreme conservatives" aren't welcome here? (Cuomo said, of course, that far-rightists are unlikely to win elections in the state, but it's what conservatives feel Cuomo said that really matters.) And isn't Mayor de Blasio turning the city into a place where the 99% get their vengeance against the 1% by refusing to plow their streets for, like, hours?

Oh well, I guess Murdoch has decided he's man enough to tough it out in an encampment in the belly of the beast:

It's a brutal life he's chosen for himself, but Murdoch's a tough old Aussie, so I think he just might survive.

Friday, February 21, 2014


Ted Nugent issued a non-apology today:
Conservative activist and rocker Ted Nugent apologized Friday for using the term "subhuman mongrel" to describe President Barack Obama.

"I do apologize -- not necessarily to the President -- but on behalf of much better men than myself," he said in an interview with conservative radio host Ben Ferguson....
An actual kinda-sorta apology to the president was eventually dragged out of him:
Later on in the interview -- after some people on Twitter argued Nugent's comments weren't a real apology -- Ferguson asked Nugent if he was directly apologizing to the President for the comments.

"Yes," Nugent replied.
That's insincere, obviously -- though it's amazing he's had to go this far. In the past he's apologized for aggressively offering to have sex with a male CBS reporter and a female producer after the reporter asked him a question he didn't like, and he once apologized for violating federal hunting laws, but this is the first time, as far as I know, that he's ever apologized for one of his drive-by political comments. Something has changed if the press finally decided to call him on one of these bits of invective.

So maybe -- maybe -- he won't be endorsing candidates anymore. But I doubt we'll be rid of him. He may be shunned by the political press for a few weeks or months, but he'll be back before we know it, probably yammering about guns. And eventually the memory of this moment is going to fade.

Remember two years ago, when Rush Limbaugh's Sandra Fluke harangues seemed to backfire on him? He lost sponsors. He even issued an apology (though it was for using two words to describe Fluke, and not for the 53 attacks on her over a period of days). Notice he's still around? Notice he's still a leading conservative voice, and still a wingnut media star?

Nugent will retain a significant portion of his previous influence, too. You just can't get rid of the SOBs.

Here's David Brooks today, conceding a critique of contemporary capitalism while working his way through a column telling us that capitalism is wonderful, albeit possibly in need of improvements to make it even more wonderful:
This economy produces very valuable companies with very few employees. Meanwhile, the majority of workers are not seeing income gains commensurate with their productivity levels.

This puts a strain on the essential compact that you can earn your success. As Joel Kotkin has argued, the middle class is being proletarianized, and the uneducated class is being left behind.
You might think Brooks is leading up to an acknowledgment that this problem requires a liberal or left-centrist remedy. If so, you're quite naive. Literally four paragraphs later, Brooks writes this:
Republicans need to declare a truce on the social safety net. They need to assure the country that the net will always be there for the truly needy. Then they need to point out that it is the web of middle-class entitlements, even the home mortgage deduction, that really threaten benefits to the poor.
Ponder that for a second. David Brooks has just told us that the economic status of middle-class people is declining. However, he knows that his ideology requires him to reject any economic-redistribution ideas that take so much as a dime from the rich. So he tells us that middle-class tax benefits like the mortgage interest deduction have to be reconsidered, even though that deduction benefits a group he told us four paragraphs earlier is on the verge of becoming a proletariat.

Doublethink. Pure doublethink. And his fans, including the liberal and centrist ones, probably won't even notice.

Nobody's ever confused the guy who gave us "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" with Bob Dylan or Phil Ochs, much less Allen Ginsberg or Jack Kerouac -- but when Ted Nugent senses injustice, he can write angry protest poetry with the best of them. People have been criticizing him for calling the president a "subhuman mongrel," and you'd think a guy as tough as Nugent thinks he is would just let that criticism roll off his back -- but it hurts, man! It's causing Nugent existential pain!

So he's taken to the modern-day equivalent of an Eisenhower-era coffeehouse -- Twitter -- and posted his own beat poem of outrage, consisting of every Fox News talking point of the last five years, each one linked to a phrase that, when repeated, is incantatory in its power and early-Dylanesque in its rage. Cats and kitties, dig it:

Here's how you have to imagine this being read:

Nugent's poem ... it's almost Joycean. Some would argue that his repeated failure to put a space in the conjoined word "offensivethan" is a lazy rageoholic's failure to cut and paste properly. But say it out loud -- of-fen-SI-ve-than. It's wordplay worthy of Finnegans Wake, an evocation of the Leviathan, a word it almost vaguely sounds like. And "Obamaswatch" in the last line? That's clearly a reference to the Swatch watches of the now departed Golden Age of Reagan.

Yeah, this is deep. I hope you squares can handle it.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


The right is ginning up another large-scale freakout with the potential to go mainstream, and it seems to be based on -- I know this will shock you -- a misreading (to use a charitable term) of what a government agency is doing. This freakout isn't just happening on the fringe: a right-leaning FCC commissioner, Ajit Pai, took to the Wall Street Journal editorial page to denounce the nonexistent threat to freedom. Howie Kurtz, who still has credibility in the Beltway, is howling about this for Fox News.

... everyone should agree on this: The government has no place pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.

Unfortunately, the Federal Communications Commission, where I am a commissioner, does not agree. Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its "Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs," or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.

The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about "the process by which stories are selected" and how often stations cover "critical information needs," along with "perceived station bias" and "perceived responsiveness to underserved populations."
The title of this Big Brother-ish effort by the Federal Communications Commission sounds innocuous enough: "Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs." But it's a Trojan horse that puts federal officials in the newsroom, precisely where they shouldn’t be....

Perceived station bias? Are you kidding me? Government bureaucrats are going to decide whether a newsroom is being fair?

Keep in mind that the commission has the power to renew or reject broadcast television licenses. During Watergate, Richard Nixon's FCC challenged two TV licenses of stations owned by the Washington Post. So mere information gathering can become a little more serious, given that enormous clout.
Oh, and National Review hears "echoes of the IRS in the FCC snooping scandal."

It doesn't matter what the truth is: every right-winger in America will now believe, for all time, that the evil Obama administration set out to control and censor the news. That story is metastasizing on the right, which means it's going to bleed out to the middle, even as Democrats, liberals, and other reasonable people stand around stupidly, not realizing what's been inadvertently unleashed, and only now dimly grasping that some pushback is needed.

Right Wing Watch's Kyle Mantyla has the real story of what's going on, which is both innocuous and rather boring:
No, The FCC Is Not Going To Be Stationing Monitors In Local Newsrooms

... As luck would have it, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler recently sent a letter to the chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee explaining that the right-wing fear-mongering over this study is totally overblown and inaccurate, as the FCC "has no intention of regulating political or other speech of journalists or broadcasters."

As Wheeler explained, the FCC has a legal obligation to identify "market entry barriers for entrepreneurs and other small businesses in the provision and ownership of telecommunications services and information services" and make a report to Congress. The study in question aims to identify the "access/barriers to [Critical Information Needs] in diverse American communities" within "FCC regulated markets."
As the letter (PDF) makes clear, this is an effort to fulfill obligations in existing telecommunications law. You got a problem? Change the law. And similar studies have been done in the past.

Try not to fall asleep reading the excerpt from the letter posted below

This is not unprecedented. The heart-pounding bestseller FCC Econometric Analysis of Potential Discrimination Utilization Ratios for Minority- and Women-Owned Companies in FCC Wireless Spectrum Auctions, for instance, was published in 2000 (PDF) and was prepared by the totalitarian Maoists at the accounting firm of Ernst & Young.

The study attempts to assess how "Critical Information Needs" are being met by media outlets. A media consumer survey in the study (PDF) gives a sense of what that means:
You wake up to find several inches of snow on the ground. You need to know whether your child's school has been cancelled or delayed, and whether the roads are clear enough for you to get to work. Where would you find this information?
a) Internet, Site/s: _______________________
b) Radio, Station/s: _______________________
c) TV, Station/s: _______________________
d) Local newspaper/s, Name/s: _______________________
e) Social Circle/Individual/s: ________________________
f) Another Resource: _______________________
g) None of the above

While riding the bus home from downtown, you noticed that there were many law enforcement personnel at your stop. They had guns drawn and the dogs were looking around sniffing the trash cans. How would you go about finding out what was going on and what they may have been looking for? ...

You noticed a strange leak at the gas station. After watching it for a while, you tell the gas attendant. The attendant only speaks Spanish and you do not but you do not think that the building is safe. What resources will you use to find out if there is a safety issue? ...
And so on. The FCC wants to know how people learn about such meat-and-potatoes issues. This is not about turning every media outlet into The Rachel Maddow Show. But that's what you'll be told is happening, by many, many loud voices in the near future.


UPDATE: The right gets another kill. Fox News reports:
The Federal Communications Commission announced Friday that it was putting on hold a controversial study of American newsrooms, after complaints from Republican lawmakers and media groups that the project was too intrusive.
Baby cries, mama buys.