Friday, April 24, 2015

Last Call For Cruz Mess-ile

The Ted Cruz 2016 Campaign, in one tweet:

"Please give me money while I push for a Constitutional Amendment to stop you from marrying the person you love."

If this doesn't neatly sum up the last 15 years of Republican dogma, I don't know what else would.

The System Is Corrupt

In the small town of Kinloch, Missouri (which happens to be right next door to Ferguson) the city has a new Mayor, Betty McCray.

Or, Kinloch would have a new Mayor, except for the fact that the rest of the town's employees have apparently banded together to stop McCray from ever taking office, accusing her of voter fraud.

Betty McCray, Kinloch’s newly elected Mayor, arrived at City Hall on Thursday morning with an entourage and the intention to fire multiple city employees. 
But before she could enter the building, McCray was told she was the one who was out of job. 
In the parking lot, McCray was met by a half-dozen police officers and City Attorney James Robinson, who held a manila envelope under his arm containing articles of impeachment
“You can’t come in as mayor,” Robinson said. “You have been suspended.” 
McCray refused to take the envelope, saying, “You may be the attorney now, but I promise you, you won’t be later.” 
Robinson also told Alderman Eric Petty, an ally of McCray’s, that the board had drafted articles of impeachment against him. Petty, too, refused to accept them. 
“We won,” he said. “It’s time for them to move on.”

The reason?  A very shifty story about voter fraud in a town where actual registered voters maybe number in just the dozens.

According to documents obtained by the Post-Dispatch through a records request, the city has raised concerns to the St. Louis County Board of Elections and the Missouri Secretary of State about people being registered to vote in Kinloch who no longer live there. On April 2, the city gave the Election Board a list of 27 names of people who it claimed were illegally registered; many of those individual addresses were listed at city-owned apartments. 
McCray said that the concerns about people’s being illegally registered were “absurd.”
“It never came up until I ran for mayor,” she said, adding that people were still living at the addresses the city claims are empty. 
At least two of the apartments in question on Tuttle Street, where six people are registered to vote, according to the city, appeared this week to have been unoccupied for some time. Both were stripped of furniture and appliances. In one, a jar of pickles and two spent oxygen tanks sat amid other debris on the floor. 
Petty said the homes were vacant because the city began evicting people behind on rent shortly before the election because the tenants were supporters of McCray. 
But City Manager Justine Blue said that wasn’t true. The only people who the city is evicting still live in their apartments, she said. The city did file lawsuits to evict some residents, but that was on Thursday, court records show. Blue said those residents have yet to be formally served with eviction notices. 
“Besides, we would have no idea who would be supporting Ms. McCray,” Blue said.

This story is getting truly strange if you ask me.  Somebody's clearly guilty of massive fraud and laying, but I couldn't tell you who.

But here's a hint as to which side I believe is on point: When you have twenty cops for a town of 300 people and the new mayor decides to make fixing that her top priority?  Things will play out as evidenced above.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Eighteen more months of this, people. Eighteen more months.

Jeb Bush is eating like a caveman, and he has literally shrunk in size.

The former Florida governor, expected to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, is on the popular Paleo diet, which is based on what are believed to be the eating habits of the Paleolithic hunters and gatherers.

For Paleo practitioners, lean meat and fruits and vegetables are in and processed foods, dairy products and sugary delights are out.

For Bush, the results have been noticeable. Late last year he was something of a pudgy doughboy with a full face and soft jawline. Today the 6-foot, 4-inch-tall Bush sports a more chiseled look. His campaign-in-waiting would not say how much he had lost, but he looks to have shed 20 or 30 pounds.


(On the other hand, it is fair to see Jeb Bush treated like, say, Hillary Clinton by the jackasses in the press.)


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Last Call For Bigotry Today, Bigotry Tomorrow, Bigotry Forevah!

GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal takes to the pages of the NY Times to write an opinion piece on how Louisiana will never, ever, ever, ever, ever allow same-sex marriage, and shame on you for trying to make them accept it, you awful intolerant hatemongers in the corporate wing of the GOP!

THE debate over religious liberty in America presents conservatives and business leaders with a crucial choice. 
In Indiana and Arkansas, large corporations recently joined left-wing activists to bully elected officials into backing away from strong protections for religious liberty. It was disappointing to see conservative leaders so hastily retreat on legislation that would simply allow for an individual or business to claim a right to free exercise of religion in a court of law. 
Our country was founded on the principle of religious liberty, enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Why shouldn’t an individual or business have the right to cite, in a court proceeding, religious liberty as a reason for not participating in a same-sex marriage ceremony that violates a sincerely held religious belief? 
That is what Indiana and Arkansas sought to do. That political leaders in both states quickly cowered amid the shrieks of big business and the radical left should alarm us all. 
As the fight for religious liberty moves to Louisiana, I have a clear message for any corporation that contemplates bullying our state: Save your breath.

Louisianans will have the God-given right to hate some gay people, Goddammit.

I hold the view that has been the consensus in our country for over two centuries: that marriage is between one man and one woman. Polls indicate that the American consensus is changing — but like many other believers, I will not change my faith-driven view on this matter, even if it becomes a minority opinion.

A pluralistic and diverse society like ours can exist only if we all tolerate people who disagree with us. That’s why religious freedom laws matter — and why it is critical for conservatives and business leaders to unite in this debate.

Sure, we all have to tolerate people who disagree with us, except I'm the governor of this effing state and I'm going to sign this bill that makes my minority opinion into law. Tolerance, you see, is you dealing with discrimination and accepting it.


Breaking StupidiNews Roundup

Wow, busy afternoon.

Loretta Lynch has been confirmed by the US Senate to succeed Eric Holder as Attorney General.

The highly politicized five-month battle to choose President Barack Obama's next attorney general came to a close Thursday when the Senate finally voted to confirm Loretta Lynch. The 56-43 vote makes Lynch the first African-American female attorney general in U.S. history. 
But the delay of her nomination neared record-breaking proportions. Republicans leading the Senate refused to bring her nomination up for a vote until Democrats cut a deal on abortion language in an unrelated bill. That legislation passed Wednesday, setting up Thursday's vote and ending the latest partisan Washington standoff. 
Ten Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, joined Democrats. Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz was the only senator not to vote.

The Comcast-Time Warner merger deal looks to be dead in the water.

Comcast Corp. is planning to walk away from its proposed takeover of Time Warner Cable Inc., people with knowledge of the matter said, after regulators decided that the deal wouldn’t help consumers, making approval unlikely. 
A formal annoucement on the deal’s fate may come as soon as Friday, said one of the people, who asked not to be named discussing private information. 
This week, U.S. Federal Communications Commission staff joined lawyers at the Justice Department in opposing the planned $45.2 billion transaction.

And finally, former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus has been sentenced to probation and a $100,000 fine for disclosing classified information to his mistress.

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced David H. Petraeus, the highest-profile general from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to probation for disclosing classified information. He was also fined $100,000, which was $60,000 more than the government had recommended. 
The sentencing was the end of a leak investigation that embarrassed Mr. Petraeus and created bitter disputes inside the Justice Department about whether he was receiving too much leniency from Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr..

I'll have more on these stories this weekend, I'm sure.

Earth Dazed

Yesterday was Earth Day, and Gallup has released a poll on what Americans believe will be coming with the effects of climate change. Most Americans agree that the effects of climate change will happen in their lifetimes, a few believe the effects won’t be felt until future generations.

And then there are the paste eating blockheads conservative Republicans.

While a majority of fart-lighting Jackass reenactors conservative Republicans actually do believe the effects of climate change will affect humanity at some point, two in five are running around going “Well, actually…” while the evidence (and the super storms, rising sea levels, melting polar ice caps, public opinion and reams of data) drowns them.

Pretty solid evidence here that like most other issues in America, there’s a major partisan gap between people on the left and Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 watchers people on the right.

Happy Earth Day indeed.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Last Call For The Clinton Cash Con

We live in an era where you can just make up a scandal and then dare actual news outlets to go and prove your assertions, which you yourself don't have any solid evidence about.  That's the scam behind the latest News Corporation attack on Hillary Clinton.

"Clinton Cash", a book by former Breitbrat Peter Schweizer. designed to keep the 18 months of Campaign 2016 interesting and to keep the haters tuned into FOX News, will be hitting the shelves next month.  But FOX News and the NY Times have cut deals to investigate the book's unproven allegations before the rest of the vultures can strike.  It's literally a manufactured, slickly packaged, and baseless scandal.

ThinkProgress obtained an advance copy of Clinton Cash, which will be released May 5. Schweizer makes clear that he does not intend to present a smoking gun, despite the media speculation. The book relies heavily on timing, stitching together the dates of donations to the Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton’s speaking fees with actions by the State Department. 
Schweizer explains he cannot prove the allegations, leaving that up to investigative journalists and possibly law enforcement. “Short of someone involved coming forward to give sworn testimony, we don’t know what might or might not have been said in private conversations, the exact nature of the transition, or why people in power make the decision they do,” he writes. Later, he concludes, “We cannot ultimately know what goes on in their minds and ultimately provide the links between the money they took and the benefits that subsequently accrued to themselves, their friends, and their associates.” 

Right there, the NY Times should have passed on it, but it didn't.

Though Schweizer is unable to provide direct evidence that State Department actions were influenced by Clinton Foundation donations, he does raise questions about unsavory donors and possible conflicts of interest, regardless of whether or not they dictated Clinton’s policy. 
The book alleges the Clinton Foundation has failed to disclose some of its donors, digging up Canadian tax records as evidence of a $2 million donation from the Fernwood Foundation that Schweizer says went unreported. He also says he found a $40,000 donation in the form of stocks from the Dattels Family Foundation that was listed on their website but not on the Clintons’ donor list.

Well, those are pretty specific allegations, so they should be easily proven or disproven, yes?

Another 18 months of this is going to be awesome.  Charles Pierce reminds us this stuff has a long, ugly history, and we're going to spend the next year plus getting very familiar with it.

Like A Kansas Tornado, Con't

The coming shortfall in Kansas's state budget is now official, and Gov. Brownback's tax cuts completely failed to create hundreds of millions in new revenue for the state as promised.  Now the plan to balance the state's budget will fall on the poor with a new hike in the state's sales tax.

"You've got policymakers at this point who are unable to embrace the fact that there was a mistake made," said Annie McKay, the executive director of the left-leaning Kansas Center for Economic Growth. The think tank in Topeka argues that the state's deficit can't be eliminated without reversing some of the income tax cuts Brownback made in 2012. 
Poor and working-class Kansans already carry a heavy burden under the state's tax system, compared to people of modest incomes in most other states. Among the fifth of the Kansas population with the lowest incomes, the average person pays 11.1 percent of what they make in state and local taxes, including sales taxes. Among the wealthiest one in every 100 Kansans, the average tax bill is just 3.6 percent of annual income, according to a recent report from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy

So the poorest Kansans have three times the tax burden as the wealthiest do, and that burden is about to be dramatically increased.

People who make less are more vulnerable to increases in sales and excises taxes, since they spend more of their money buying basic goods and services they need to get by. This is especially the case in Kansas, where food is subject to sales tax. Kansans can receive a tax rebate for their food purchases, but those who make nothing or too little, to owe income tax aren't eligible. The pay the sales tax on food in full. 
The defense of the plan to raise sales and excise taxes -- the sales tax would increase from 6.15 percent to 6.3 percent, under one proposal -- is that people should be taxed on what they spend, not what they make, so as not to penalize them for earning more but instead to encourage them to save and invest their money. 
"You're moving from taxing a productive activity to taxing a consumption activity," said Joseph Henchman of the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. "Most economists will say that it is good for economic growth." 
In practice, though, people who don't have much money can't save or invest it. They have to spend it to get along. The more you make, the smaller the fraction of your income you have to spend to cover the basics. And wealthier households, which spend more on luxuries and entertainment, can always give up some of their purchases and keep the money in the bank if they don't want to pay the higher rate. 
As a result, raising the sales tax equally for everyone means asking poorer households to pay significantly more, relative what they earn.

And remember, this is what Kansas voters cast their ballots for.  Or, at least the ones that bothered to vote did, anyway.  Austerity economics is failing miserably in Kansas, and in 2016, the GOP plan is to bring it to all 50 states.

Might want to start giving a damn, then.

They Make Great Pets

As Steve M reminds us, in a post-Citizens United world, presidential candidates now have public oligarch support. Got the cash? You too can own your own GOP 2016 hopeful, like Norman Braman.

Braman, a former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles football franchise, is poised to occupy the sugar-daddy role for [Marco] Rubio....

The Miami businessman, Braman’s friends say, is considering spending anywhere from $10 million to $25 million -- and possibly even more -- on Rubio’s behalf, a cash stake that could potentially alter the course of the Republican race by enabling the Florida senator to wage a protracted fight for the nomination.

Or Robert Mercer.

Robert Mercer, a Wall Street hedge-fund magnate ... who started at I.B.M. and made his fortune using computer patterns to outsmart the stock market, emerged this week as a key early bankroller of Mr. Cruz’s surprisingly fast campaign start. He is believed to be the main donor behind a network of four “super PACs” supporting Mr. Cruz that reported raising $31 million just a few weeks into his campaign.

Or the Koch brothers, who are wisely making it known who they back, but are saving their money for the general election and not the primary.

On Monday, at a fund-raising event in Manhattan for the New York State Republican Party, David Koch told donors that he and his brother, who oversee one of the biggest private political organizations in the country, believed that Mr. Walker would be the Republican nominee....

Two people who attended the event said they heard Mr. Koch go even further, indicating that Mr. Walker should be the Republican nominee.

... Mr. Koch’s remark left little doubt among attendees of where his heart is, and could effectively end one of the most closely watched contests in the “invisible primary,” a period where candidates crisscross the country seeking not the support of voters but the blessing of their party’s biggest donors and fund-raisers.

As Steve says:

So (even though a Koch spokesman denied this report) here were the Kochs declaring Walker their boy without promising a dime to him -- but because they have so much money they could give him, he's owned.

And if he falters in the primaries, others will line up to be owned by the Kochs, even though they'll know that the Kochs would have preferred to own someone else.

Hey, I guess you could call this the Ownership Society. 

We live in an era where billionaires are openly doing battle for America by purchasing the White House, and it's 100% legal.  The Kochs have bought Scott Walker, and they will get what they want from him.

Republicans often rail about undocumented immigrants. But Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, an expected GOP presidential candidate, took it a step further Monday by sounding some critical notes about the number of those who immigrate to the U.S. legally.

"In terms of legal immigration, how we need to approach that going forward is saying -- the next president and the next Congress need to make decisions about a legal immigration system that’s based on, first and foremost, on protecting American workers and American wages. Because the more I’ve talked to folks, I’ve talked to [Alabama Sen. Jeff] Sessions and others out there -- but it is a fundamentally lost issue by many in elected positions today -- is what is this doing for American workers looking for jobs, what is this doing to wages. And we need to have that be at the forefront of our discussion going forward," Walker said in an interview with Glenn Beck, according to Breitbart News.

The Kochs want a nationalist, protectionist candidate. and Scott Walker has become that candidate, now far, far to the right of the rest of the GOP pack on immigration.

What the voters want is now 100% irrelevant.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Last Call For The Real Racists In Michigan

Just pointing out the fact this Michigan couple has a noose and Confederate flags hanging from the trees in their yard makes me a racist, or something.

A suburban Detroit business owner and his wife who hung Confederate flags and nooses on their property insist that anyone who sees the actions as racist is “stupid.” 
“I am not a racist,” Robert Tomanovich, owner of Robert’s Discount Tree Service in Livonia, Mich., told the Daily News Monday night. 
“I know black guys, I have black friends. We’re all laughing at this stupidity. Do you know how many white guys were hung back in the day? This isn’t racist. But all of a sudden it’s out of control.” 
Tomanovich , 55,made local headlines when WXYZ reported last Friday that Confederate flags and a noose were hanging outside two of his properties, one of which he uses for his tree-cutting business. The noose hung from a tree small enough for a child to scale. 
The decorations have no connection to the racist history of the Confederacy, said his wife Lindy, rushing to his defense.

Boy, sure is a terrible time we live in when people get upset over stuff like a noose hanging from a tree.  Besides, all those slave lynchings and hangings? White guys died too or something, so what's the big deal?

It's not racist cause he said so, guys.  CASE CLOSED.

Johnny Volcano's Revenge

Sen. John McCain has finally reached the stage in his life where he completely blames his failure to win the White House in 2008 on Barack Obama, and that he's just out of damns to give when it comes to making up niceties and excuses for his foul behavior towards the man who beat him.

Sen. John McCain has an explanation for Obama administration appointees whose confirmation votes are languishing in the GOP-led Senate: It’s payback for Democrats using the so-called nuclear option to push through scores of nominations in the previous Congress.

I told ’em: ‘You jam them through, it’s going to be a long time before I approve of them,’” McCain said, recounting what he told Democrats after they changed the rules in 2013 and confirmed dozens of lifetime judicial appointments and several high-profile Cabinet nominees. “It’s affected me as chairman of the Armed Services Committee.”

McCain did help shepherd Defense Secretary Ash Carter through confirmation — the only Cabinet nominee approved by the GOP Senate. Since then, the Arizona Republican has refused to move 10 civilian nominations that have landed in his committee.

And none of them are going anywhere, either.  It's just petty revenge now, that's all he lives for.

McCain is far from the only one, however.

There are 18 nominations waiting for a vote on the Senate floor — including Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be attorney general — and more than 130 idling in committees. So far, though, only McCain has admitted to deliberately stymieing President Barack Obama’s picks. But even as the GOP Senate Judiciary Committee moves at a pace similar to that of last year’s Democratic Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has done little to bring up nominations for a vote by the full Senate. 
That has Democrats accusing Republicans of slow-walking the nominations amid lingering anger over the nuclear option. 
“It’s appalling,” groused Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Senate Democrat. “I mean, how many times are they just going to throw logs on the process of government? I mean, even district court judges, for lord’s sake.” 
The pace of action on confirmations stands in contrast to legislative action, where Republicans have considered more than 100 amendments this year and passed a budget, and are hoping to soon push through major trade and foreign policy bills.

And voters won't punish the GOP at all.  They haven't in the past.  Why would they now?  Even if a Democrat wins the White House, at best the Dems will have a small Senate majority, and the GOP will still have a huge House majority.  In 2018, the Dems will have to defend the Senate again, and unless the GOP makes the same mistakes as they did in 2012, they'll get the Senate back too.

But all this?  Of course it's mean ol' Obama's fault.

West Of The Abyss

You may have heard about this scathing deconstruction of Cornel West in TNR by Michael Eric Dyson over the weekend, but really everything you need to know about Dyson, West, and the entire black academic cottage industry of OBAMA FAILED BLACK PEOPLE can be summed up in the piece's second paragraph:

Cornel West’s rage against President Barack Obama evokes that kind of venom. He has accused Obama of political minstrelsy, calling him a “Rockefeller Republican in blackface”; taunted him as a “brown-faced Clinton”; and derided him as a “neoliberal opportunist.” In 2011, West and I were both speakers at a black newspaper conference in Chicago. During a private conversation, West asked how I escaped being dubbed an “Obama hater” when I was just as critical of the president as he was. I shared my three-part formula for discussing Obama before black audiences: Start with love for the man and pride in his epic achievement; focus on the unprecedented acrimony he faces as the nation’s first black executive; and target his missteps and failures. No matter how vehemently I disagree with Obama, I respect him as a man wrestling with an incredibly difficult opportunity to shape history. West looked into my eyes, sighed, and said: “Well, I guess that’s the difference between me and you. I don’t respect the brother at all.”

And that's where the game of black political academia is right now in 2015, the "I hate Obama but I respect him" crowd versus the I hate Obama and don't respect him" crowd.  No group has turned on Obama faster than these puffed-up pinheads, and no group is more aware of the complete expiration of their mild at best relevance to current politics on January 20, 2017.

Both of these men, along with Tavis Smiley and Melissa Harris-Perry and a whole host of other black thought leaders on campuses across the country, have made a fortune on "If only President Obama would listen to me, black America wouldn't be in this mess."

But the grifters, man they have to grift, and West has gone so far down the Obama Derangement Syndrome rabbit hole that he's even an embarrassment to the rest of the grifters, enough so that instead of making the fight always about Obama and his failures, Dyson breaks that cardinal rule and makes it about West.

The rest of the piece is Dyson just absolutely wrecking West, and deservedly so.  It's been a long time coming as well, a 10,000 word disassembly of the last ten years of West's numerous academic sins that only could be delivered by the man he once mentored, and not just the sins against President Obama.

But the whole time Dyson has one foot in the same abyss that claimed West's career and Dyson can't see it. in a very real way it kind of proves the point that the rest of us have figured out: we're really going to miss Barack Obama as President when he's gone.

West and Dyson will too, of course, but for a whole other batch of reasons.
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