Thursday, October 31, 2013

Last Call For The Austerity Monster Under The Kitchen Table

Tonight, keep in mind that the scariest story of Halloween is harsh, painful reality for millions of working-class and low-income Americans.  Starting tomorrow, Republican refusal to restore SNAP funding means 47 million of us will have even less to eat.  Bob Aiken of Feeding America:

In the last few weeks, the media has been ablaze with news of the government shutdown, the debt limit and health care reform. Missing from most public debate, however, is the cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits that will take place on November 1 and will affect every one of the more than 47 million Americans who depend on the program to help meet their basic nutritional needs. 
When the changes are implemented, everyone enrolled in the SNAP program will see their benefits cut. For example, a family of four that qualifies for the maximum monthly benefit will lose $36 a month -- that's a 5% reduction.

Sorry America, Republicans need that money for corporate welfare and subsidies for the energy giants. Feeding Americans? Not real high on Tea Party Jesus's to-do list.

Most families do not have enough to make it through the month already -- 90% of SNAP benefits are redeemed by the third week of the month and 58% of food bank clients currently receiving SNAP turn to food banks for help at least six months out of the year. 
The upcoming cuts will result in an increased need for food assistance at food pantries and soup kitchens across the nation when many are already stretched meeting sustained high need in the wake of the recession.

Healthy food is more expensive than super-processed industrial crap.  Sure, you can eat $1 cheeseburgers daily, but that's not exactly good for you.  Of course, the Republican argument is if you're on SNAP, you don't really get the choice, now do you?

In September, the House passed legislation cutting $40 billion in SNAP over the next 10 years, according to a Feeding America analysis. Together with this week's cuts, the pending legislation will result in a loss of nearly 3.4 billion meals for low-income Americans in 2014 alone, according to a Feeding America analysis. These are meals our most vulnerable citizens cannot afford to lose, and food banks and other charities simply cannot fill that gap.

"Hey waitaminute, are you saying Tea Party Jesus can't feed the poor, you godless commie?!?"  Yeah, that comes out to 72 meals a year for 47 million people going away if House Republicans get their way, but Republicans care about the poor.  If you eat less, maybe you scumbag poors will work harder, right?

Sometimes the monsters of Halloween are very real, and they stick around the morning after.  And the morning after that.  And on and on...

The Curious Kasich Of Ohio's Mystery Austerity

Ohio GOP Gov. John Kasich is shocked -- shocked I tell you! -- to discover that his own anti-choice, anti-growth, regressive sales-tax laden austerity budget is hurting poor people in the Buckeye State!

In his grand Statehouse office beneath a bust of Lincoln, Gov. John R. Kasich let loose on fellow Republicans in Washington.

I’m concerned about the fact there seems to be a war on the poor,” he said, sitting at the head of a burnished table as members of his cabinet lingered after a meeting. “That if you’re poor, somehow you’re shiftless and lazy.”

“You know what?” he said. “The very people who complain ought to ask their grandparents if they worked at the W.P.A."

If you're wondering if Kasich is suffering from amnesia or something, the very next sentence in the article explains everything:

Ever since Republicans in Congress shut down the federal government in an attempt to remove funding for President Obama’s health care law, Republican governors have been trying to distance themselves from Washington.

Well, no foolin', Joe.

To some Ohio analysts, those moves are a reaction to the humiliating defeat Mr. Kasich suffered in 2011 when voters in a statewide referendum overturned a law stripping public employees of bargaining rights. Before the vote, Mr. Kasich’s approval in this quintessential swing state plunged.

Now, as the governor’s image has softened, his poll numbers have improved heading into a re-election race next year against the likely Democratic nominee, Ed FitzGerald, the executive of Cuyahoga County.

He still angers many on the left; he signed a budget in June that cut revenues to local governments and mandates that women seeking an abortion listen to the fetal heartbeat. Democrats see his centrist swing as mere calculation, a prelude to a tough re-election fight.

This is someone who realized he had to get to the center and chose Medicaid as the issue,” said Danny Kanner, communications director of the Democratic Governors Association. “That doesn’t erase the first three years of his governorship when he pursued polices that rewarded the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.”

Ohio voters might want to remember that  Kasich is right:  there absolutely is a war on the poor in Ohio, and the leader of that war is none other than John Kasich himself.

The Ghosts 'N' Stuff Party

If you're wondering why glibertarians are so keen on guys like Rand Paul, Double G, and the Dudebro Defector, it's because they all kind of fit the same general profile of what a glibertarian is in a new survey.

Compared to the general population, libertarians are significantly more likely to be non-Hispanic white, male, and young. Nearly all libertarians are non-Hispanic whites (94%), more than two-thirds (68%) are men, and more than 6-in-10 (62%) are under the age of 50.

The party affiliation of libertarians skews significantly more Republican than Democratic. Close to half (45%) of libertarians identify as Republican, compared to only 5% who identify as Democrat. However, half of libertarians identify as politically independent (35%) or identify with a third political party (15%), including roughly 1-in-10 (8%) who identify with the Libertarian Party. Roughly 4-in-10 (39%) libertarians identify as part of the Tea Party movement, while 61% do not.

Libertarians are white, male, younger folks who identify with Republicans, and a healthy chunk are Tea Partiers.  I'm so very surprised by that, you know?  These are people whose economic views are strictly anti-government...

  • Nearly two-thirds (65%) of libertarians oppose increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.00 an hour, as do 57% of Americans who identify with the Tea Party. By contrast, 57% of Republicans overall and 61% of white evangelical Protestants support raising the minimum wage.
  • Nearly all (96%) libertarians have an unfavorable view of the 2010 health care law, compared to 83% of white evangelical Protestants, 78% of Tea Party members, and 89% of Republicans.
  • On the issue of passing tougher environmental laws, libertarians and Tea Party members are generally aligned in their strong opposition (73% and 74% oppose), while white evangelical Protestants and Republicans overall are also opposed but with less intensity (62% each opposed).

...except when it comes to telling women and minorities what they need to be doing.

  • Nearly 6-in-10 (57%) libertarians oppose making it more difficult for a woman to get an abortion, a proportion identical to the general population. By contrast, strong majorities of Republicans overall (58%), Americans affiliated with the Tea Party (58%), and white evangelical Protestants (68%) favor making it more difficult for a woman to get an abortion.
  • Seven-in-ten (70%) libertarians favor allowing doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to help terminally ill patients end their lives. Americans who identify with the Tea Party are closely divided on this question (49% favor, 51% oppose). By contrast, strong majorities of Republicans (58%) and white evangelical Protestants (70%) oppose this policy.
  • More than 7-in-10 (71%) libertarians favor legalizing marijuana. By contrast, approximately 6-in-10 Republicans (61%) and Tea Party members (59%), and nearly 7-in-10 (69%) white evangelical Protestants, oppose legalizing marijuana.
  • Unlike most other social issues, libertarians remain socially conservative on same-sex marriage. While a majority (59%) of libertarians oppose same-sex marriage, they are significantly less opposed than Republicans overall (67%) and than other conservative-leaning groups such as Tea Party members (73%) and white evangelical Protestants (80%).

Freedom to smoke weed, but screw women and same-sex couples.  Dudebros all the way down, our glibertarian friends.  They may call themselves libertarians, but they're really the party of ghosts:  moaning about the past all the time, white as a sheet, and completely transparent...and reliable conservative GOP votes.

StupidiNews, Halloween Edition!

 We've got your Halloween news, boos, and views this morning, folks!

And your frightening bonus, 8 political Halloween costumes for you last minute slackers.  

Have a good one, boils and ghouls!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Last Call For Team Cooch

Just how bad are things for the GOP in Virginia ahead of next Tuesday's gubernatorial election?  As Greg Sargent points out, it's somewhere between "horrific" and "Have Jeeves bring around the car, we're making a run for Switzerland."

With Democrat Terry McAuliffe taking a double digit lead in the Virginia gubernatorial contest, leading observers are increasingly looking at Virginia as an indicator of national political trends.

New Washington Post/SRBI polling in Virginia, which puts McAuliffe up 51-39, also demonstrates very clearly the dangers these trends pose to Republicans.

The crack Post polling team has produced a chart based on this poll that shows the GOP brand has collapsed among the very constituencies Republicans must improve their standing among in order to remain competitive in the future, both in Virginia and at the national level:

 Not a single one of those groups has an unfavorable opinion less than 69%, and it's 65% overall in a supposedly purple state.  You can put VA firmly in blue territory in 2016, I'm thinking.

Lindsey's Done Hucked Up


Looks like Sen. Graham must have gotten a really dismal post-shutdown internal primary poll going into his 2014 race, because he's suddenly gone all Rand Paul on things.

Indeed, Huckleberry Graham went on to say this weekend that he'll block every single Obama appointment until he gets ANSWERS ON BENGHAZI.


Perhaps even more disconcerting for Graham, who is staring at a GOP primary in 2014, is his steep drop among Republican voters in South Carolina. The latest survey from Winthrop showed 45 percent of Republican voters approving of Graham, compared with 40 percent who disapprove.

Those mediocre numbers represent a massive decline since February, when nearly 72 percent of GOP voters said they approved of Graham. In Winthrop's April survey, about 57 percent of Palmetto State Republicans approved of Graham.

Called it, 100%.  Like clockwork.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

If The Atlantic's resident "reasonable conservative" Conor Friedersdorf had actually been paying attention to the emo left, he'd have figured out that this actually logical statement:

Hillary Clinton is poised to be the candidate of continuity. Like Bush and Obama, she would govern as an executive-power extremist, is implicated in the civil-liberties transgressions of recent years, and would almost certainly seek to expand rather than rein in post-9/11 powers given to the national-security state.

...has nothing to do with Clinton's policies or logic or continuity and everything to do with the fact the emo left loves her because she's not Obama.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Last Call For The Rise Of The Emoprogs

Jerome Armstrong, one of the founders of old school netroots blog MyDD, argues that progressive blogs have failed:  failed to get the kind of control the tea party has over the GOP, failed to get a much more progressive America, and most importantly, failed to stop the rise of Obama, who Armstrong sees as the mortal foe to progressives.

I didn’t see Lieberman’s 2006 win in quite as pinnacle a light at the time, and it certainly wouldn’t have been, had we followed it up more often, and won.

Yet I certainly peg the crux of lost movement with the rise of Obama’s campaign. It was an awful place to be in with Clinton vs. Obama, in the 2008 primary. My basic impulse (after Edwards –who had the populist message– imploded) was, like many bloggers (not the masses), to go with Clinton because she at least showed signs of being accountable to the netroots movement, unlike Obama. He didn’t need the netroots for his message and candidate-movement, he had places like Politico to push out of, and was basically an identity-politics cult for many new to politics that flooded the blogs.

Armstrong goes on for some length in this general vein, viewing Obama as nothing more than a Wall Street puppet and arguing that Clinton, while not much better, would have at least elevated Armstrong and his ilk to the level of courtiers.

BooMan has an important piece setting Armstrong straight on where the Netroots went wrong.

I just find it bizarre to be lectured by a man who first came to my attention as Mark Warner's agent to the blogosphere. I like Mark Warner and think he is a good man and a decent senator. But I would never confuse him with a progressive. And then Jerome jumped on the Clinton bandwagon, which may have seemed like a solid career move, but it wasn't where most progressives were going. And then he bailed out to work on Gary Johnson's libertarian campaign for president, which was definitely a move out of the DLC camp, but a move that traded agreement on some issues like the Drug War and surveillance for disagreement about just about everything else in the progressive playbook.

I have never thought of Jerome as a progressive, and insofar as he immersed himself in the progressive backlash against Obama's presidency, which was led by Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald, I think he excommunicated himself from about 90% of progressives in this country.

It's telling that he still resents Barack Obama for not coming to him with his hat in his hand. 

And that's the real reason behind the emoprog rancor towards Obama:  he doesn't need them, because he plays a different game than the Clintons do.  Armstrong especially was in it for the money and the prestige, not for the advancement of progressive political goals.  Could we have done better than Obama, given our choices were Hillary and John Edwards?  I'm going to argue that at the time, no.  Clinton certainly knew how to play the game and gave rise to many of the attacks the right still uses against Obama today.  And Edwards?  We dodged a hail of bullets by not nominating him, his personal foibles would have given us President McCain and Vice President Moose Lady for sure.

But it's the fact that these same people refuse to give Obama credit for the progressive acts he does, or worse, take credit for "forcing" him into those acts.  They still believe they run the game, and they will never admit they don't. If they do, the game ends.

And I'm sick and tired of playing games with these fools.  I for one am glad the President ignores them.  They've earned that.

Rand Paul's War On Science

Sen. Rand Paul, hero of glibertarians everywhere, sure doesn't seem to mind massive new federal regulations when it comes to declaring science the enemy of humanity.

Tea party hero Rand Paul warned scientific advancements could lead to eugenics during a Monday visit at Liberty University, looking to boost the political fortunes of fellow Republican Ken Cuccinelli’s bid for governor.

During a visit to the Christian school founded by Jerry Falwell, Paul looked to energize conservative supporters by warning that genetic tests could identify those who are predisposed to be short, overweight or less intelligent so that they could be eliminated. With one week remaining before Election Day, Cuccinelli is hoping the joint appearance with the U.S. senator from Kentucky will encourage the far-right flank of his party to abandon third-party libertarian spoiler Robert Sarvis.

“In your lifetime, much of your potential - or lack thereof - can be known simply by swabbing the inside of your cheek,” Paul said to a packed sporting arena on Liberty’s campus. “Are we prepared to select out the imperfect among us?”

The GOP war on science has been going on for some time now, but Rand Paul is jumping on it as his new toy.  "You can't trust those scientists on global climate change or environmental issues or technology or anything, they're trying to kill you and your family!"

His dangerous neo-luddite nonsense is par for the course for the Republican party, and specifically the section of the tea party that rejects science as evil because it contradicts the teachings of a Christian God.  It's not like that particular battle is new in the history of humanity, but to see a sizable chunk of America continue to reject evolution for example in 2013 is depressing.

Of course the real reason for the GOP war on science is the fact that the overwhelming majority of scientists consider themselves liberal.  Keep that in mind when you ask why the Tea party is targeting them.

No More Shutdowns?

Once again, Mitch The Turtle is writing checks his shell can't cash.

Mitch McConnell isn’t going to have another government shutdown on his watch. 
The Kentucky Republican stood up over the weekend and said he wanted to address the “elephant in the room” at a fundraising retreat in Sea Island, Ga. Speaking before roughly 300 K Streeters and big donors, McConnell said Republicans will not come close to defaulting on the nation’s debts or shutting down the government early next year when stop-gap government funding and the debt ceiling are slated to be voted on again. 
His remarks echoed similar comments he made following the shutdown that it was “not conservative policy” and that he always believed “this strategy could not and would not work.” 
“He’s in fighting mode,” said one attendee of McConnell. “He didn’t get into specifics about what they are doing and how they are going to do it, but McConnell and (Texas Sen. John) Cornyn were particularly forceful.” 
The attendee said McConnell “said everything that needed to be said” to help tamp down growing concern among bundlers and donors over how the GOP continues to be paralyzed by anti-establishment members like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah). Neither lawmaker attended the event.

Considering McConnell and the GOP leadership did everything they could to encourage and then agree to the shutdown in the first place, why would anyone believe Mitch now?  If you believed it wasn't going to work, then why did you allow it to happen, Mitch?  If you actually had any clout over Ted Cruz or the Tea Party in the House, why didn't you use it to stop the shutdown earlier this month?

The answer is that this is a promise you can't keep, and Kentucky voters like me know it.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Last Call For Huckleberry Hounding

Looks like Sen. Graham must have gotten a really dismal post-shutdown internal primary poll going into his 2014 race, because he's suddenly gone all Rand Paul on things.

Amid the sense of gridlock that has become the norm in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is now threatening to block every single nomination from the Obama administration until he gets what he wants on Benghazi — again.

On Sunday evening, CBS’ 60 Minutes aired a new report on the attack in Benghazi, Libya that took place last year, examining the nature of the attack, which analysts are now calling pre-planned. This differs greatly from the early days and weeks after the attack, when members of the administration were still attempting to find out what went wrong and what led to the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

And sensing the opportunity to earn points with the lunatics he'll need to win his primary, Graham is now throwing a complete tantrum.

"So I am calling for a joint select committee. But for God’s sake, let the House have a select committee where you get three or four committees together to look at this situation as one unit rather than stove piping. And where are the survivors? 14 months later, Steve, the survivors, the people who survived the attack in Benghazi, have not been made available to the U.S. congress for oversight purposes. I’m going to block every appointment in the United States Senate until the survivors are being made available to the Congress. I’m tired of hearing from people on TV and reading about stuff in books."

So apparently until we have even more Benghazi hearings on top of the Benghazi hearings we've already had over the last year, Republicans will simply stop the government from working.   Let us know how that works out for you guys.  The best part?

Graham’s threat comes just as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) prepares a new wave of Obama administration nominees to be brought before the Senate. Even before the threat to hold all of these nominees was issued, Senate Democrats have been mulling the so-called “nuclear option” of allowing for votes to proceed with a majority 51 votes, ending the threat of the filibuster on certain types of votes.

Ironically enough, Graham recently chastised his colleagues for blocking an up or down vote on the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, calling it the “wrong” thing to do.

Yeah, that was before Graham became one of the top targets of the tea party.

Marco Rubio, Los Lucha-Dorkus

GOP Sen. Marco Rubio has ripped off his mask and -- surprise! --  he's against his own immigration plan now!

This Week In Village Idiocy

Florida Blue Cross/Blue Shield CEO Patrick Gehaghty sets the record straight on the "300,000 Floridians lost their BC/BS health insurance under Obamacare!" idiocy.

We’re not cutting people,” Geraghty said. “We’re actually transitioning people. What we’ve been doing is informing folks that their plan doesn’t meet the test of the essential health benefits; therefore, they have a choice of many options that we make available through the exchange. And, in fact, with subsidy, many people will be getting better plans at a lesser cost. This really is a transition. In fact, the 300,000 figure is the entire year. So it’s really 40,000 people for January 1, and we’re walking them through that transition.”

Surprise. 300,000 people, the vast majority who are going to get better coverage at a lower premium.  How horrible, as Nicole Belle explains over at Crooks & Liars.

Now, it's absolutely true that there will be a fraction of people who find that their costs have gone up, the specific number and amount is still up for debate. And if they don't qualify for subsidies, that will mean a higher out-of-pocket cost, at least in the short term. However, short-term partisan gains notwithstanding, the program will factor in long-term the inclusion of healthy, young people on the exchanges, which will help mitigate the ailing people who rushed for the initial coverage. Specifically, the re-insurance tax is being levied for the first three years is intended to help smooth that transition to allow for the long-term sustainability of the program.

But why would NBC News be interested in actually informing their viewers of the realities of the program when they can have their newscasters "sell" a misleading partisan argument instead?

Considering Republicans are lying about Social Security and Medicare "being broke" decades after they became American staples in order to force austerity cuts, is anyone surprised they are lying about the Affordable Care Act?


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Wild, Not So Wonderful West Virginia Voters

WaPo's Karen Tumulty argues that a toxic combination of corporate greed, crippling poverty, green energy and anti-Obama racism has turned blue West Virginia into the reddest of states.

Leaders in both parties say that what has happened to politics in West Virginia begins with what has happened to coal — an industry that employs about 32,000 in the state, fewer than half the number of jobs it provided in 1976. 
Although there always have been booms and busts, people “are convinced that President Obama wants to destroy the coal industry, and that’s what’s driving our politics,” said Raamie Barker, a top adviser to Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin
In purely economic terms, coal and the industries it feeds no longer dominate. Nor do the labor unions that gave the Democrats so much of their political muscle. In 1997, Weirton Steel was West Virginia’s largest private employer; every year since then, Wal-Mart has held that spot — as it does nationally. 
But coal has a grip on the state’s psyche and identity that cannot be quantified by economic statistics. Mining brought generations of strivers to the mountains, where they took on dirty, deadly work. By the 1970s, those were high-paying jobs; even today, with overtime, a miner can make six figures.

“You can’t hardly talk to anybody who doesn’t say, ‘My great-grandfather was a coal miner,’ ” said West Virginia Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette. “It’s not uncommon for anybody, anywhere to look back at a time when things were different and long for those days.” 
Kevin Richardson’s father has been a coal miner for 42 years — one tough and determined enough to have gone back into the ground after a double knee replacement. The younger Richardson, who lives in Glen Daniel, is a Wal-Mart manager. 
“Driving from my house, it used to be you would pass four coal mines. Now you pass one,” he said of his daily commute to the store. Richardson also has noticed that customers lately buy only essentials: “We feel the crunch of it. It’s cutting into everybody’s pay.”

Yes, the King Coal giants broke the unions and Wal-marted the state's economy to death.  But this is also a state that's 94% white.  Nobody in West Virginia ever accused Bush of trying to destroy West Virginia, even when his economic plan doubled the state's unemployment and under Obama, West Virginia is now doing better than the national average and has seen unemployment drop to around 6%.

But Obama is the bad guy in this picture.  Gosh, what's different about him compared to the other 43 Presidents?  Poppy Bush sure tanked the state's economy with unemployment reaching nearly 12% due to the recession he caused, Bush Junior tanked the state's economy again with the near depression he caused at the end of his term, but everyone is convinced Obama is trying to destroy the state, and by God they're going to vote for the people who exploited the hell out of them, destroyed their unions, and left them one of the poorest states in the nation.

Watch what happens when Hillary Clinton shows up here on her road to 2016.  Suddenly Democrats will be awesome again.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Daze Of Future Past

California Republican Jeff Denham has seen the future, and it's a future where he's no longer in Congress if he opposes immigration reform.

A Republican congressman from a heavily Hispanic district is breaking ranks from his party to join Democrats in an eleventh-hour push for a broad immigration overhaul before the end of the year. 
Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) plans to sign on as the lone GOP member with 185 Democrats to co-sponsor a plan that would give millions of unauthorized immigrants the chance to attain citizenship. 
A handful of House Republicans have expressed support for citizenship legislation similar to the bipartisan bill that passed the Senate over the summer. But Denham is taking the additional — and politically provocative — step of locking arms with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and other Democrats trying to neutralize opposition from House conservatives and shake up a polarized immigration debate. 
“I’m the first Republican,” he said in an interview. “I expect more to come on board.”
With fewer than 20 working days left in the year and Congress focused largely on high-stakes budget negotiations, some House Republicans have argued in recent days that they won’t have time to debate immigration this year. Asked in a Bloomberg TV interview over the weekend if a broad immigration overhaul stood a chance of passing in the coming weeks, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said flatly, “No.” 
Denham’s announcement comes as Democrats and immigrant advocates are trying to force House Speaker John A. Boehner’s (R-Ohio) hand on the issue. Key to their strategy is a new compromise bill designed to lure away enough centrist GOP members that the speaker would feel compelled to allow a vote of the full chamber — just as he did to end the government shutdown and avoid a financial default. 
If Boehner were to refuse to allow an immigration vote, Democrats say, they could blame him and Republicans for blocking a “bipartisan” bill on the campaign trail next year .

It's going to be bad enough for the GOP with the shutdown, but the shutdown plus killing immigration yet again will finish off enough purple district Republicans that the Dems take back the House, and they're not going down with Ted Cruz and company.  So by all means, GOP "purists", primary people like Denham with rabid, racist, anti-immigrant lunatics and we'll happily turn those purple districts blue for you.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Ezra Klein pegs the "lack of self-awareness" meter:

Now if only he would stop freaking out about Obamacare, because Jon Cohn's chart there really is solid evidence that more people (many, many more people) will sign up for insurance at as we get closer to the deadline.

Sadly, Ezra just can't help himself.

Le sigh, le moan.

Master Villain, Meet Reality

Sometimes police work is a grueling, painstaking, and dangerous battle against some truly frightening criminals who are ruthless and have nearly unlimited resources.  Of course, sometimes police work is just waiting for complete morons to Darwin themselves right into prison time, too.

Allen Wayne Densen Morgan, a 29-year-old veteran from Munford, Ala. entered a guilty plea in federal court Thursday for attempting to hire Ku Klux Klansmen to murder his neighbor. According to court documents, Morgan told an undercover FBI agent he wanted to see his neighbor "hung from a tree like he is an animal" and "his dick cut off" over accusations that the man, a convicted sex offender, had raped his wife. 
An affidavit given by FBI Special Agent Cornelius Harris Jr. in support of a criminal complaint filed Aug. 26 explains that Morgan believed his neighbor, Clifford Maurice Mosley, raped his wife earlier that month. Records show that Mosley, who is African American, was arrested in 2008 for sexual abuse, a fact Morgan was aware of. Harris wrote that Morgan told an undercover FBI agent he responded to the alleged rape by attempting to "force a confrontation" with Mosley on Aug. 22 by firing "multiple rounds of ammunition" at Mosley on the street outside their homes. 
"Mosley fled on foot as Morgan fired several shots in the ground beside him in an effort to intimidate him," explained Harris. "Morgan assessed that Mosley must be guilty of the rape of his wife because Mosley never tried to defend himself by standing his ground or offering to reason with Morgan." 
Shortly after this incident, Harris said an undercover FBI agent who identified himself as a Klansman called Morgan in order to "verify his desire to murder" Mosley. According to the complaint, during that conversation, Morgan described the shooting incident and said he would meet with the agent on Aug. 25 to arrange payment. The undercover agent claimed he was "en route to Tennessee to pick up a partner to take care of this matter for Morgan." 
"Morgan advised that he and his family are supportive of the plan to murder Clifford Maurice Mosley," Harris wrote, adding that Morgan said his father-in-law and mother-in-law wanted "to dynamite the entire block."

Sometimes I just don't know how humanity has made it this far without wiping ourselves off the face of the earth.  We may yet still do that, frankly.  Hell, we're probably in the process of doing that right now.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Last Call For The Race To The Bottom

Buncombe County, NC GOP precinct chair Don Yelton is a painful reminder of what I left behind when I left NC for good seven years ago.  Despite being the home of Asheville, pretty much the most liberal city in the state (and where I went to college), Buncombe County Republicans are pretty horrific, and Aasiv Mandvi's candid interview with Yelton from The Daily Show Wednesday night is breathtaking only if you didn't grow up a minority in small town western NC.

Yelton basically explains exactly what the intent of North Carolina's ridiculous new Voter ID law is:  to keep minorities from voting for Democrats, period.

There is some good news, however:  Yelton has been canned so fast he's considering a stint as a jar of preserves.

Buncombe GOP Chairman Henry Mitchell said Don Yelton officially stepped down from his position Thursday.

In a segment that aired Wednesday night, Yelton blasted "lazy black people that wants the government to give them everything," one of a slew of racially inflammatory comments he made in the interview.

Mitchell called the remarks "offensive, uniformed and unacceptable of any member within the Republican Party."

"Let me make it very clear, Mr. Yelton's comments do not reflect the belief or feelings of Buncombe Republicans, nor do they mirror any core principle that our party is founded upon," Mitchell said in a press release. "This mentality will not be supported or propagated within our party."

I got news for you, Henry.  Nobody outside the Buncombe County GOP believes for a millisecond that "this mentality will not be supported and propagated within your party" when your side has spent the last six years telling us how awful a black President would be, is, and always will be, and has made a cottage industry of being the Last Bastion Of White Male Privilege In America.  When your side makes laws designed to disenfranchise people so that you can win elections, then you lose any moral high ground you think you have. 

You lose, sir.  In more ways than one.

Young And Home Free

Meanwhile America has hit a new record:  the number of schoolkids in the US who are homeless has now reached nearly 1.2 million.

During the 2011-12 school year, there were 1,168,354 homeless students enrolled in preschool or K-12, a 10 percent increase over the previous year. A total of 55.5 million students were enrolled in preschool or K-12 that year, meaning nearly 2 percent of all students were homeless.

According to First Focus, a children’s advocacy organization, “the number of homeless children in public schools has increased 72 percent since the beginning of the recession.” The states with the largest increase in student homelessness include North Dakota (212 percent), Maine (58 percent), and North Carolina (53 percent).

It’s important to note that the number of homeless students in the United States doesn’t capture the full extent of youth homelessness. Many young homeless people are infants, weren’t properly identified as homeless by the survey, or have dropped out (or been kicked out) of school.

The last factor is particularly true for LGBT youth, who represent a disproportionate share of homeless youth. According to a new report from the Center for American Progress, factors like family rejection, bullying, and poor performance in school forces many LGBT youth onto the streets.

But clearly the answer is more cuts to schools, more cuts to affordable housing programs, more cuts to food stamps, more cuts to government workers, more cuts, more cuts, more cuts.  Oh, and refusal to expand Medicaid coverage.  It's what Jesus would do, right?

The Real Obamacare News

Republicans are relentlessly attacking the Affordable Care Act over the website (and the critics include more than a few liberals who should know better) but it's all an effort to hide the fact that the law is saving American taxpayers billions in lower premiums.  The Center for American Progress:

The Affordable Care Act is already working: Intense price competition among health plans in the marketplaces for individuals has lowered premiums below projected levels. As a result of these lower premiums, the federal government will save about $190 billion over the next 10 years, according to our estimates. These savings will boost the health law’s amount of deficit reduction by 174 percent and represent about 40 percent of the health care savings proposed by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform—commonly known as the Simpson-Bowles commission—in 2010. 
Moreover, we estimate that lower premiums will lower the number of uninsured even further, by an additional 700,000 people, even as the number of individuals who receive tax credits will decline because insurance is more affordable. 
In short, the Affordable Care Act is working even better than expected, producing more coverage for much less money.

But how can that be?!?   It's a failure because lawmakers are all top-end web portal system architects and they say so!

In an analysis of plans offered in the marketplaces, the McKinsey Center for U.S. Health System Reform found that new entrants into the market make up 26 percent of all insurers. These new entrants are introducing competitive pressures into the individual market. The McKinsey analysis found that new entrants tend to price their plans lower than the median premiums in their market. 
Moreover, in a preliminary analysis of plans offered in 18 areas, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that premiums are lower than CBO’s projected premiums in 15 of those areas. 
In March 2012, CBO projected an average family premium for the second-lowest-cost silver plan in 2016. This projection is equivalent to an average individual premium in 2014 of $4,700 (see sidebar). The actual average premium for the second-lowest-cost silver plan in 2014 turned out to be $3,936—16 percent lower than projected.

But 404 Healthcare Not Found error on the website LOL and stuff!  But horror stories!  But nobody can sign up!'s all smoke and mirrors designed to take away from the fact this law is working better than intended overall.

Now why would you suppose web glitches would be the only news you're hearing daily about Obamacare?


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Last Call For The War Of Nawthun Aggression

As I noted Sunday, Mississippi GOP Sen. Thad Cochran is now being targeted for political obliteration by the Tea Party for not sending the government into default.  It turns out his Tea Party primary challenger Chris McDaniel really is as awful as the things that the phrase "Mississippi Tea Party primary challenger" bring to mind.

Chris McDaniel is taking the "GOP Civil War" to a new level. Two months ago, the tea party-backed Mississippi Senate candidate addressed a neo-Confederate conference and costume ball hosted by a group that promotes the work of present-day secessionists and contends the wrong side won the "war of southern independence." Other speakers at the event included a historian who believes Lincoln was a Marxist and Ryan Walters, a PhD candidate who worked on McDaniel's first political campaign and wrote recently that the "controversy" over President Barack Obama's birth certificate "hasn't really been solved."

And that's just for starters.  MoJo's Tim Murphy is all over this slimebag's long and rich history of being a neo-Cofederate assclown:

With their endorsements of McDaniel, the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Club for Growth have shown just how far they are willing to go in terms of embracing the far right to prosecute their war for the soul of the party. In August, McDaniel addressed a neo-Confederate conference in Laurel, Miss., near his hometown of Ellisville. A local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), the Jones County Rosin Heels, hosted the two-day event, which the group described in invitations as a "Southern Heritage Conference" for "politically incorrect folks." Attendees were advised to dress in "Confederate uniforms and antebellum ball gowns or wee kilties." McDaniel's appearance at the Rosin Heels heritage conference was not a one-off occurrence; weeks earlier he was the keynote speaker at a separate event in Jackson.

The Rosin Heels does more than regret the outcome of the Civil War. Its monthly newsletter routinely features articles and essays advocating for present-day secession. Its August newsletter highlighted the seven-year-old "Burlington Declaration" from the First North American Secession Convention, which stated that the right of secession was a "[truth] of natural law and the human experience." (While it did not advcoate for specific secession movement, the proclamation affirmed the right of the conference'svarious attendees to do so.) In September, the newsletter included an essay on secession from the League of the South, lamenting the loss of southern independence at the hands of the "plutocracy and proletariat of the world." A note from the editor stated that "we are living in the times that Jefferson Davis predicted would one day come," in which the conflicts that presaged the Civil War would flare up again. The June issue compared Obama's policies to the ravages of Reconstruction: "Our people have had to put up with for the last FIFTEEN DECADES!!!"

McDaniel is "just proud of his heritage and grateful for it, and that's the reason we wanted him to come in and speak a couple of times," says George Jaynes, a member of the Rosin Heels and the newsletter's editor, who confirmed that McDaniel had attended the events. "We're mainly here to remember the Confederate soldier, our Confederates beliefs, our culture, our civilization. We're here to remember their good names upheld them to tell the truth and to give the facts of the war whether it falls on our side or the other. We're here to tell the truth—that's what the SCV's about and that's the kind of speaker we bring in."

 And this outstanding example of a festering, pus-filled boil on the ass of humanity is most likely going to end up Mississippi's next junior senator.  So please, tell me again how the GOP doesn't have a race problem, and I'll tell you why 98% of African-American voters don't vote for Republicans.

Keep up that big tent effort, guys!

The Coming Left Turn At Albuquerque

With same-sex marriage now the law of the land in New Jersey, the battle to bring America kicking and screaming into equality one state at a time moves to New Mexico's Supreme Court.

The highest court in New Mexico is set to take up a case on Wednesday that gay rights activists hope will soon make New Mexico the 15th state to recognize same-sex marriages.
At issue is the same basic question arising in a growing number of courts across the country: Do gay men and lesbians enjoy a constitutional right to marry?

Such litigation has taken on increased momentum following the US Supreme Court’s decision in June invalidating a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Although the DOMA decision did not address the more fundamental constitutional issue, gay rights advocates are seizing on language from the decision to lay the ground work for a series of constitutional showdowns in both federal and state courts across the country.

On Wednesday, that campaign arrives at the New Mexico Supreme Court, where the court’s five justices will be asked to determine whether the state constitution requires recognition of same-sex marriages statewide.

“The plaintiffs have asked us to apply fundamental principles of constitutional law,” Albuquerque lawyer Peter Kierst, working with the ACLU of New Mexico, told reporters in a briefing.

“When the state creates a benefit it must make the benefit available to all equally,” he said. “Similar people must be treated similarly.”

New Mexico is the only state that hasn't weighed in one way or the other with any laws, referendums, or constitutional amendments either banning or allowing same-sex marriage, so this is a rather big case.  The plaintiffs are arguing that the SCOTUS decision on DOMA in June means that New Mexico has to weigh in on the affirmative here, given that the state hasn't taken a position yet.  We'll see what the court has to say, but I'm betting the state's nickname as Land of Enchantment will take on a very special meaning and soon.

Great Expectations

Steve M. notes that Rasmussen's latest Virginia gubernatorial poll finds Democrat Terry McAuliffe with a huge 17-point lead (double the lead seen in other recent polls) over GOP Tea Party favorite Ken "Your Cooch" Cuccinelli, and wonders if Rasmussen isn't inflating the numbers on purpose.

Maybe this race really is turning into a blowout -- but I have to wonder whether Rasmussen, seeing that McAuliffe is solidly but not overwhelmingly ahead, is exaggerating the Democrat's lead in the hope that a single-digit McAuliffe victory will now be interpreted as McAuliffe falling short of expectations. 
I don't have to remind you that Republicans sneeringly discounted the 2012 polls that showed President Obama leading, claimed that these polls were skewed, then cooked up a lot of excuses for the Obama victory -- Dick Morris said it was because of Sandy, Karl Rove said it was an act of voter suppression for Obama to say negative things about his opponent.In any case, Republicans didn't accept that Obama really won.

The creative interpretation of electoral results by Republicans continues -- Cory Booker, we're told, kinda-sorta lost his Senate race in New Jersey because his victory margin over Steve Lonegan was in the low double digits, and now Lonegan says the government shutdown, which he supported, cost him the election.

The fact that this makes sense to me, and that I wouldn't put it past Rasmussen to do this, sums up everything you need to know about the organization's accuracy and partisanship.  After all, this is the joint that has decided that the only thing that matters with Obama's approval ratings is not the totals (latest numbers have him up 50-49%) but the percentage of people with strong opinions about him:

The latest figures include 25% of all likely voters who Strongly Approve of the way Obama is performing as president and 38% who Strongly Disapprove. This gives him a Presidential Approval Index rating of -13.

So yes, Rasmussen goes out of their way to make Democrats look as bad as possible as they've been pulling this "Presidential Approval Index" crap for years now.  Should McAuliffe not win by 17, as with Booker, Republicans will then say that the failure of a blowout is proof that the shutdown really isn't hurting them, and that they are performing far better than expected.  The real story, by the way, is the fact that Obama's approval numbers have been hanging around the 45-50% mark since the 2010 election.

There's a reason I call Rasmussen's entirely invented number the "Obama Derangement Index".


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Last Call For NatSecWonk

If you're going to go on Twitter and relentlessly criticize the White House on national security issues, make sure you're not working for the White House's national security team when you do it.

A White House national security official was fired last week after being caught as the mystery Tweeter who has been tormenting the foreign policy community with insulting comments and revealing internal Obama administration information for over two years.

Jofi Joseph, a director in the non-proliferation section of the National Security Staff at the White House, has been surreptitiously tweeting under the moniker @natsecwonk, a Twitter feed famous inside Washington policy circles since it began in February, 2011 until it was shut down last week. Two administration officials confirmed that the mystery tweeter was Joseph, who has also worked at the State Department and on Capitol Hill for Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Joe Biden. Until recently, he was part of the administration's team working on negotiations with Iran.

During his time tweeting under the @natsecwonk name, Joseph openly criticized the policies of his White House bosses and often insulted their intellect and appearance. At different times, he insulted or criticized several top White House and State Department officials, including former National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, Secretary of State John Kerry, and many many others.

Now as @natsecwonk, Joseph was brutal towards the GOP as well, but as any real national security wonk would know,  there's no such thing as completely covering your tracks if you continue to use the same modus operandi for two years.  If you're going to go after the people who employ you, eventually, they're going to notice.

Check out Daily Beast's record of some of @natsecwonk's most...interesting...tweets, too.  There's a lesson to be learned here.

Apparently Denial Is A River In New Jersey

Because failed US Senate candidate and GOP nutjob Steve Lonegan is now blaming the GOP shutdown he wanted for his loss to Cory Booker last week.

"There is no doubt in my mind or in the minds of any of my campaign staff that the shutdown cost me the election," Lonegan said in an interview with the New Jersey Star-Ledger on Monday. "If I had known it was going to happen and that it was going to be handled so badly in Washington, I wouldn't have run for Senate."

Lonegan supported the shutdown while he was running for Senate.

Booker was long expected to clinch the nomination and win the Senate seat. Lonegan trailed in most polling of the race, even before the shutdown.

It's one thing to lie to the universe and blame a position you supported for your loss.  It's another thing entirely to do it on something as asinine as a government shutdown in a state like New Jersey.  This guy isn't competent enough to run a leaf blower.  He's going to find out the hard way that he won't get any Chris Christie style passes from the NJ GOP or the press on this one.

Making A Moose Of A Website

President Obama vowed on Monday to see the problems with the website fixed as soon as possible.

Obama’s new pitch is the health care law itself is “working just fine.” It just has a balky website that needs to be fixed — and will be fixed, he said. 
“Nobody is madder than me about the fact that the website isn’t working as well as it should, which means it’s going to get fixed,” Obama said. 
Much of Obama’s pitch centered on the guts of the law, rather than its online front door. He said there was no “sugarcoating” the tech problems, but he predicted that people will be patient in order to access health care they wouldn’t otherwise get. 
“The essence of the law, the health insurance that’s available to people is working just fine,” Obama said. “The problem has been that the website that’s supposed to make it easy to apply for insurance hasn’t been working. The website has been too slow, people have been getting stuck during the application process.” 
Obama said he has called for a “tech surge” to get running up to speed. He again advertised the government’s toll-free phone number as a way people can sign up while does not function as promised.

This is a measured, responsible solution to what have been legitimate problems with the website.

This however is not.

Sarah Palin says the glitches in the online rollout of the Affordable Care Act are a feature, not a bug. 
The former half-term Alaska governor and failed vice presidential candidate suggested Sunday in a column that design flaws were intentionally implemented to make the system more difficult to use and drive Americans to accept a government fix. 
President Barack Obama admitted Monday that the site needed to be overhauled and announced a “tech surge” to make those repairs, but Palin said the eventual fix would be a Canadian-style socialized health care system.

“These unusable Obamacare websites make a reasonable person wonder how this administration could have made such a colossal bungle of the rollout when they are, after all, the same savvy experts who had the most sophisticated and precise campaign websites ever built,” Palin writes. “They could pinpoint voters down to a city block, but they messed up a website that cost the government over $200 million more than it cost Apple to develop the first iPhone. Purposeful?”

This is why Sarah Palin is not Vice-President, and Barack Obama is President.  As somebody who actually works in IT for a living, I can safely say Sarah Palin knows even less about high-end web solutions that are designed to handle hundreds of thousands of people than she does politics.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Last Call For NRA Brian

Oliver Willis argues that Montana Dem Gov. Brian Schweitzer's extremist pro-NRA, pro-coal stance disqualifies him from higher office in the modern Democratic party, and he's correct.

First of all, Schweitzer courted the NRA for an endorsement. He didn’t just come out in favor of gun rights aimed at hunters and sportsmen as many other Democrats in red states and in national races have (including President Obama) but he actively courted the most extreme of the “mainstream” gun groups in America, the NRA. The group that is in part financed by the gun manufacturers and who has stood against nearly every sensible gun law for the past 20 years or more.
When he obtained that endorsement, Schweitzer didn’t just note it on his website or send out a press release. He appeared at an event with Wayne LaPierre and touted the video on his Youtube page.
Remember, the NRA opposed the weak post-Sandy Hook background checks – something that Republicans like Pat Toomey and John McCain voted for, as did red state Democrats like Mary Landrieu
For a long time I’ve been an advocate of a wider tent within the Democratic Party, and I don’t want them to become purge central like today’s GOP, but you also need to stand for things.

Sadly, yet another deadly school shooting occurred today, this time in Nevada.  The alleged shooter, a student, used a handgun stolen from his parents to shoot and kill a teacher and wounded 2 other students. Given Schweitzer's pro-NRA record, there's no place for him in national office.  And if that wasn't bad enough, his pro-coal record is just as bad:

Schweitzer is also a proponent of fake clean coal technology and other sketchy energy concerns. He asked Montana officials to claim they “support the use of coal money for the completion of your project/projects.” In a profile, 60 Minutes described him as “Montana’s Coal Cowboy.” 
Schweitzer has also backed the Keystone XL pipeline, and described opponents of it as “jackasses.” I’m far from an environmental purist, but especially post-BP shouldn’t we think again and again about tying ourselves to fossil fuels and to the environmental impact that errors in the world of fossil fuels create?

Just as I would have serious doubts supporting any of Kentucky's NRA-loving King Coal Dems for national office for the same reasons, I can't support Schweitzer for President.  Oliver's right:  you've got to stand for something, and YAY GUNS isn't it.

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