Woodward, The Sequester and Conservative Thugs

Teton Range Spring wallpaper

Teton Range Spring wallpaper

 

For those who have been watching episodes of House of Cards you know that what started Francis Underwood’s ( Kevin Spacy) vendetta against the president was being passed over for Secretary of State. One of the first things he did was smear the Secretary designate with an old editorial. One the designate did not even write. He had some help from a reporter with a fictional Washington newspaper. It was fictional, and maybe a little simplistic, but a good illustration of how a chorus of sound bites can drive a story. The smear itself was e relatively insignificant. Much like the full time nonstop conservative smear machine. So it goes with Bob Woodward. Bob takes something, a tiny morsel of a sound bite. Then with the help of all the conservative blogs, far Right radio and Fox News make that sound bite sound like the Chicago mob-dictator-monsters at the White House have decided to wage a war on the freedom of the press ( ironic considering conservatives consider all news just a matter of opinion via the conservative media doctrine of Rupert Murdoch). Most of the time when these fake scandals occur regarding a Democrat, wait a minute, and the other shoe, the one that contains the truth, will drop. Bob Woodward, with the shrill echo of every drooling conservative, said that White House aide Gene Sperling threatened him with this frightening re-frame in an e-mail, “I think you will regret staking out that claim. ” It sounds make for a good soundbite to use. The very kind the Francis Underwoods of the Washington Beltway and the conservative media love. Though unlike the teevee, some of us do not and will not let soundbites be used unanswered by the Underwoods. Politico got a hold of Woodward’s e-mail exchange and in the context of the exchange that soundbite, that juicy gotcha goes down the toilet with the rest of conservative bile and lunacy, Bob Woodward Has Now Picked the Most and Least Important Fights With a POTUS

At this point, you’re asking, “Why is Conor telling us about this banal give-and-take between a reporter and a nameless aide?” Well, dear reader, on the basis of that email, Woodward is now running around claiming that he was being threatened by the White House. “I mean, it makes me very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters, you’re going to regret doing something that you believe in,” he told CNN. Elsewhere he added, “Suppose there’s a young reporter who’s only had a couple of years’ — or 10 years’ — experience and the White House is sending him an email saying, ‘You’re going to regret this. You know, tremble, tremble.”

[ ]…UPDATE: Politico says it has the allegedly threatening email, and it makes Woodward’s account of events look even more dubious.

White House aide Gene Sperling:

I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today. My bad. I do understand your problems with a couple of our statements in the fall — but feel on the other hand that you focus on a few specific trees that gives a very wrong perception of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here.

But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim. The idea that the sequester was to force both sides to go back to try at a big or grand barain with a mix of entitlements and revenues (even if there were serious disagreements on composition) was part of the DNA of the thing from the start. It was an accepted part of the understanding — from the start.

The rest at Politico, with what it says was Woodward’s response:

Gene: You do not ever have to apologize to me. You get wound up because you are making your points and you believe them. This is all part of a serious discussion. I for one welcome a little heat; there should more given the importance. I also welcome your personal advice. I am listening. I know you lived all this. My partial advantage is that I talked extensively with all involved.

Your move, Bob Woodward. Hint: Follow the drones. ( all emphasis mine)

So this is Woodward’s response to what he said on CNN was a serious threat against him as an upstanding member of the constitutionally protested press. We have seen confrontations between the press and people in the public eye – politicians, judges, celebrities and private citizens. The press gets a fair share of shouting matches, epitaphs, hurt feelings. It goes with the territory. Politicians get into heated exchanges with each other. Dick Cheney dropping the F-bomb with go down in infamy. Now we have Woodward, a Washington insider. Someone who has has been granted special access to presidents ever since those heady Watergate days. He has a new book to sell. He is churning up the waters as much as possible, not because his feelings were hurt, but because he is the MAN. He gets what he wants and whoever is in the White House is supposed to hand it all over with proper deference to someone who sees himself as the legendary Superman of journalism. I’m not saying Woodward and everything he has ever written is evil. I wish it were that simple. It is aggravating that he is capable of doing good work, yet, with age and living so many years in the Beltway bubble he has made the cliched mistake of beginning to see himself as the infallible legend. At that same Atlantic link Conor also gets into Woodwards very specific military tactics-foreign policy advice. Now we all know that if Woodward were being so bombastically arrogant against one specific aircraft carrier that Bob thought should be some place that Bush did not, the nutbars of the conservative media would be yelling for his head o a plate. I did find a conservative columnist at the yellow rag Daily Caller who writes, Bob Woodward trolled us (and we got played)

Make no mistake. This was no accident. As Politico reported last night,

“Woodward repeated the last sentence, making clear he saw it as a veiled threat. “ ‘You’ll regret.’ Come on,” he said. “I think if Obama himself saw the way they’re dealing with some of this, he would say, ‘Whoa, we don’t tell any reporter ‘you’re going to regret challenging us.’”

But today, things look different. P0litico has posted the exclusive email from Gene Sperling to Woodward. It begins, “I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today.”

(Frightening, I know!)

Sperling’s email eventually does say, “I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim.” But this is clearly not a veiled threat of retaliation, but rather a warning that the reporter was about to get the story wrong.

When Woodward tells of being warned he would “regret” challenging Obama, it sounds ominous. But if Politico’s reporting today is correct, it seems much more innocuous than that.

As that new e-mail ripples through the internets and sinks into the brain cavities of conservative bloggers like Breitbart and Drudge, the tide will likely turn to Woodward used us, we got played by the liberal media. So another day in which conservative ethics, or lack of, hangs them by their own petard. More here, Woodward’s Dubious Intimidation Claim Trumpeted By Right-Wing Echo Chamber. And this piece gets more into the lie that matters, the on going efforts by the far Right to blame President Obama for the sequester they voted for, Sequester Blame Game, Conservatives Ignore Obama’s Long-Standing Offer To Avert Sequestration With Revenue And Cuts

Fox News hosts cited a widely criticized Bob Woodward column to falsely claim President Obama’s proposal to avert looming government spending cuts — known as sequestration — “moved the goalposts” because it offsets some of the cuts with new revenue. In fact, the administration’s proposal to avert the sequestration has always included a balanced deficit reduction plan that included additional revenues.

…White House: “President Will Demand That The Committee Pursue A Balanced Deficit Reduction Package … With Revenue-Raising Tax Reform.” A 2011 fact sheet produced by the White House after an agreement to reduce deficits was first reached in mid-2011 described how the sequestration was intended as an “enforcement mechanism” to ensure deficit reduction of $1.2 trillion in the event that Congress failed to agree on a plan to reduce the deficit by at least an equivalent amount. The fact sheet makes clear that the president was committed to reducing the deficit in part by generating additional revenue. From the fact sheet’s section on the debt deal’s mechanics:
Enforcement mechanism established to force all parties – Republican and Democrat – to agree to balanced deficit reduction. If Committee fails, enforcement mechanism will trigger spending reductions beginning in 2013 – split 50/50 between domestic and defense spending. Enforcement protects Social Security, Medicare beneficiaries, and low-income programs from any cuts.

[…]

The Deal Sets the Stage for Balanced Deficit Reduction, Consistent with the President’s Values: The deal is designed to achieve balanced deficit reduction, consistent with the values the President articulated in his April Fiscal Framework. The discretionary savings are spread between both domestic and defense spending. And the President will demand that the Committee pursue a balanced deficit reduction package, where any entitlement reforms are coupled with revenue-raising tax reform that asks for the most fortunate Americans to sacrifice. [WhiteHouse.gov, via Business Insider, 7/31/11]

As others have already noted, note the key words – deficit reduction, balanced deficit reduction. There is no passage that says the sequester will consist entirely of spending cuts that will be decided by conservatives.

E.J. Dionne makes a good point. Let the voting began on the sequester. If conservatives have the votes they’ll get what they want. If not maybe Democrats can put together enough votes. But let the voting start. This is especially pointed at the Senate and Mad Turtle Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who has never been fond of democracy, Ending the permanent crisis

In the Senate, ditch the unconstitutional abuse of the filibuster and let a plan pass by simple-majority vote. Misuse of the filibuster is a central cause of Washington’s contorted policymaking. Let’s end the permanent budget crisis by governing ourselves though the majorities that every sane democracy uses.

The air of establishment Washington is filled with talk that Obama must “lead.” But Obama cannot force the House Republican majority to act if it doesn’t want to. He is (fortunately) not a dictator.

What Obama can do is expose the cause of this madness, which is the dysfunction of the Republican Party.

Journalists don’t like saying this because it sounds partisan. But the truth is the truth, whether it sounds partisan or not.

And a staunch conservative has succinctly explained why this problem really is a Republican problem. In an admirably candid interview Monday with Ezra Klein on MSNBC, Ben Domenech, a conservative blogger, said the new tea party Republicans in the House don’t want their leadership to sit down with Obama to talk because “they have their doubts about the ability of Republicans to negotiate any better situation.”

If Obama is the anti-Christ/Chicago thug/ the reincarnation of Stalin and Hitler rolled into one, why can’t he do something as simple as get Republicans to vote on legislation. One would think an all powerful dictator could stop Mitch from stopping any and all legislation and judicial appointments simply by putting his feet up on is desk and saying nah, don’t like that. That is not even one iota of an exaggeration. We just had an election, Republicans lost. The people decided what they wanted – Mitch and his posse are the ones acting like thugs.

Advertisements

Country Rail Fence Winter wallpaper – What Does Conservative Derangement Look Like

Country Rail Fence Winter wallpaper

Country Rail Fence Winter wallpaper

 

 Six Wacky Laws Conservatives Have Purposed This Month

4. Read Ayn Rand or stay in high school

The chairman of the education committee in Idaho’s Senate introduced a bill earlier this month that would make students read — and pass a test — on “Atlas Shrugged” as a requirement for a high school diploma.

Then he backed away from the bill, saying he was just trying to make a point. The senator, John Goedde, told the Idaho Spokesman-Review he was “sending a message to the State Board of Education, because he’s unhappy with its recent move to repeal a rule requiring two online courses to graduate from high school, and with its decision to back off on another planned rule regarding principal evaluations.”

Why that book? It “made my son a Republican,” he said, then adding, “well, he’s not a practicing Republican. But it certainly made him a conservative.”

I should find it amazing that conservatives love Rand. An unfortunate woman who ran some weird sex cult think tank and depended on Medicare during her senior years to get health care. Atlas Shrugged, which I have read, twice, is like a bad graphic novel without any kool illustrations.

Right Wing Rages Uncontrollably at Michelle Obama: “Someone Put a Bullet in That Fat Pig”

The right wing base is absolutely demented with dim-witted anger at Michelle Obama, ranting uncontrollably today at every single right wing website. They have a special hatred for the First Lady, so over the top it sometimes seems like a parody — but of course it isn’t.

I’ll just pick a few representative comments from two right wing sites. The references to “Star Wars” are their clever way of comparing Mrs. Obama to a Wookie. It’s one of their favorite racial slurs.

The proto-fascist web site Hot Air, run by proud America hater Michelle Malkin, the commenters write,

…Barf-o-Rama. And even in an updo the bangs make her look like Rick James.
…Hey skank, half the country hates you. Go away. Tired of having to windex my TV everytime you muck it up.

Just from looking at comments, articles on blogging, statistics on link clicks and blog posts themselves there is a type of blog reader. Someone who reads a few politically oriented blogs but they are not very political or they lean Democrat, but have conservative positions on an issue. They come by a blog like this and think, wow I’m very harsh on conservatives. You have not reached the rotten stinking fetid bottom of political discourse until you visit the comment sections of conservative blogs and web sites.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell(R) signed a bill that forced women to be raped by the state government before they could make a decision about their own bodies. That would pretty much earn a lifetime rating of conservative, of sane smart observers. Eric Erickson – he of the threatening to kill people over dishwasher detergent, and comparing sensible regulation of the health insurance industry to Nazism, thinks McDonnell, thinks Virginians are stupid. Why does Eric, the shining example of deep thoughful analysis think McDonnell is a traitor to conservatism? Because of a small package of tax increases to finance a transportation bill – road building and infrastructure. When the cognitively deranged start pointing fingers at the cognitively incoherent, I can only think of CNN paying Eric a six-figure salary for political commentary. Conservatives may be right, America might be going to hell in hand basket – and they’re shoving that basket down with both feet.

Map of the United States including Louisiana 1818 – The Conservative Cult and The Deficit

 Map of the United States including Louisiana 1818

 Map of the United States including Louisiana 1818. The Louisiana Purchase was completed in 1803, but much of that territory had not yet become states.

The U.S. has a revenue problem. From 2000 to 2008 conservatives spent a lot of money on the national credit card. It has been the historic custom for the U.S. to pay for it’s wars as they occurred. Republicans decided not to. With this debt and the concurrent interests accruing, the economy went in the dumpster. That was caused by people who had assured us for years they knew what they were doing and did not need to be regulated. Going into 2009 with a new president, he and a Democratic Congress did stop the economy from hemorrhaging jobs and GDP. We bailed out the smart serious know-it-alls on Wall Street. They and corporate America recovered quickly. Frequently returning to the same profit margins they had before the recession. Suddenly the national deficit became this big ugly monster that must be killed before it eats the country. The U.S. even had the luxury of watching Europe experiment with austerity measures and see them fail. Most of the debt we have now is the result of the Bush tax cuts and the recession. That is just a fact. Like your average cult member, conservatives are not having anything to do with these facts. Cultists are like that. By definition a cultists is someone who is not going to let facts get in the way of the dogma they chant over and over again. The Cult of Conservatism does put a little spin on it’s chant in that it is partly composed of unadulterated idiocy and part malevolence. For example, here we have Bill Wilson, president of the far Right cult called Americans for Limited Government. The Non-Existent Spending Cuts Wrought By The ‘Devastating’ Sequester

According to Obama, the sequester would represent “a huge blow to middle-class families and our economy as a whole.” Obama’s White House has also referred to the sequester as “devastating,” saying its cuts would “imperil our economy, our national security (and) vital programs that middle class families depend on.”

Sounds frightening – but is it true? Of course not. According to The Wall Street Journal ”federal domestic discretionary spending soared by 84 percent with some agencies doubling and tripling their budgets” during Barack Obama’s first two years in office. In fact the sequester would scale back just one of every six dollars in discretionary spending increases since 2008 – hardly a “huge blow.” Also, discretionary spending in 2008 was already tremendously inflated – having increased by more than 60 percent over the previous eight years.

In other words this isn’t even really a cut – “devastating” or otherwise – it’s a modest growth rate reduction following years of unnecessary, embarrassing and unsustainable excesses.

Whenever a far Right cult member cherry picks a couple weird figures one’s radar should start blipping.

Spending first. In 1981, when Reagan took office, the federal government spent 22.2 percent of GDP. That figure dropped steadily for the next two decades, and by the year 2000 spending was down to 18.2 percent of GDP. Expenditures went up after that, but the Office of Management and Budget estimates that by 2017, spending will once again be 22.2 percent of GDP, exactly the same as it was 30 years ago. In other words, spending hasn’t gone up at all.

If you do nothing but watch the evening news or cable news you would never guess that Democrats have cut spending. Or that Democrats have historically been better mangers of the economy than “small” government conservatives. Taxes are lower now than they were under Saint Ronnie. Tax revenue was 19.6 percent of GDP when Reagan took office, and it’s projected to be 19.2 percent of GDP in 2017. maybe raising the overall tax rates .4% would not pay off the deficit, but it might help. The problem with that is the cultists have formed a circle of hysteria around multimillionaires and corporations ( many of whom use loopholes to avoid taxes completely). On the other hand conservative dogma does allow for raising taxes on the working poor and cutting benefits for seniors. There is a never ending echo that says we just can’t afford these benefits. Well, what can we as a nation afford – for seniors to go wotihout food and medicien. For children to be malnurtioned. We definite cannot afford to make Pete Peterson and his pals pay one more penny in taxes or make super profitable corporations pay a living wage. Peterson is the money behind a group called the Fix the Debt Campaign. You know how these wise and wonderful folks knew so much about economics and yet caused the economy to have it’s biggest collapse in 80 years. Well OK, they screwed that up, but they have the answer to our debt problem. Cause massive job losses, funnel billions to fellow cult members in the defense industry, and cut Medicare and Social Security. What is really cool for cultists is when they can get someone famous at an influential newspaper to write about how things could be worked out in a “bipartisan” way if only Democrats would give Pete, Bill Wilson and Republicans everything they want, Woodward Misses The Mark

For the past 18 hours Republicans have been giddily waving around a new article by Bob Woodward as a smoking gun that proves sequestration should be replaced with spending cuts and spending cuts only — and that President Obama once conceded the point.

Here’s the key section, which certainly carries that implication.

[T]he final deal reached between Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2011 included an agreement that there would be no tax increases in the sequester in exchange for what the president was insisting on: an agreement that the nation’s debt ceiling would be increased for 18 months, so Obama would not have to go through another such negotiation in 2012, when he was running for reelection.

So when the president asks that a substitute for the sequester include not just spending cuts but also new revenue, he is moving the goal posts. His call for a balanced approach is reasonable, and he makes a strong case that those in the top income brackets could and should pay more. But that was not the deal he made.

Woodward’s book about the debt limit crisis includes the fairly inconsequential detail that the idea of using sequestration (as opposed to other policy options) as an enforcement mechanism originated in the White House. Republicans, who voted for the Budget Control Act in overwhelming numbers, argue flimsily that this detail absolves them of all blame for the coming spending cuts, and have since tried to turn Woodward into a sort of grand arbiter of the debt limit fight.

But in this case Woodward is just dead wrong. Obama and Democrats have always insisted that a balanced mix of spending cuts and higher taxes replace sequestration.

So Democrats should be reasonable and let the the people whose economic theories have caused so much damage to the country, to have everything they ask for. You know, in the spirit of compromise.

What Is That Called When Conservative Pundits and Billionaires Intentionally Spread False Information

Black and White Harbor wallpaper

Black and White Harbor wallpaper

 

In the spirit of equal time, here is the latest opinion from the defacto head of the Republican Party and conservative movement. He is also a draft dodger( not a conscientious objector, he just did not want to possibly die fighting for his country), anal cyst sufferer, drug addict, man who had his maid doctor shop for illegal drugs and serial monogamists ( currently on wife #4) Mr. Rush Limbaugh, Limbaugh: “For The First Time In My Life I Am Ashamed Of My Country”. Limbaugh Complains Media, Politicians Are Insulting Americans’ Intelligence By Warning About Sequestration. Maybe he has some inside information that Congress, the President and every respectable economist in the country does not have. If so, why not produce some documentation. Limbaugh has made millions pontificating. He has plenty of spare time and resources. He could produce an annotated research paper that will make all the politicians and experts look silly. Though Limbaugh is not in the proof business. He is in the business of hysteria, paranoia, hubris, fetid fantasy, hype, hyperbole, unsubstantiated accusations, revisionist history, class warfare, racial discrimination, gender discrimination, homophobia… he is neck deep in bull, but most of all he is not in the business of honor, truth, facts, basic human decency or using his media influence to bring Americans together. He can be ashamed of America, he can be whatever. Though why should anyone care. 57 Terrible Consequences of the Sequester…1. Air Travel Disruption, 3. Slower Extreme-Weather Forecasts, 5. Pest-Infested Crops, 6. Nationwide Meat and Poultry Shortage, 12. Neglect for Mentally Ill, Homeless, and Substance Addicted, 14. 600,000 Women and Children Thrown Off WIC, 19. No Child Care for 30,000 Kids, No Head Start for 70,000, 24. Higher Risk of Terrorism, 27. Classified Information Vulnerable to Foreign Spies, 32. 1/3 Cutback in Pacific Naval Presence, 35. 46,000 Defense Jobs Could Be Lost, 47. 1,200 Fewer OSHA Inspections, Potential for More Workplace Deaths. Limbaugh is among a few others, including one of the political “analysts” at ABC’s Note Blog that thinks the sequester is not a big deal. Congress or the president could just snap their fingers and magically make the government run as usual. That is not the case. The government operates under a legal framework defined by Congress. This plays out most directly in authorizing payments such as Navy equipment and payroll. It works in somewhat the same way a business operates. It must pay day to day operating expenses or shut down. We also know it is a big deal because conservatives are trying to come up with a plan that makes them look less like the bad guys to the public, Republicans Coalesce Around Clever Plan To Make Looming Spending Cuts Much Less Draconian.

Per the conservative National Review: “In the face of poor alternatives, it is best to accept the new spending levels for 2013, including decreased defense spending, and to focus on ensuring that the slightly smaller pool of money is managed slightly more intelligently — by, for instance, giving agency managers discretion about where the cuts come from in the near term and using the appropriations process to allocate future cuts in the out-years.”

[ ]…The GOP proposal would give the executive branch more discretion over where to make those cuts for the remainder of the current fiscal year, which ends in September. After that date, congressional appropriators would make decisions about where the specific cuts would come from, while still adhering to the sequester’s new lower spending baseline.

The irony is that in the near term, the GOP’s proposed fix would delegate a great deal of authority to the executive branch — and thus to President Obama. And for the GOP that would come with the risk that the administration would target the cuts at GOP constituencies, which would undermine the political rationale for their own plan.

This is so cute. Republicans are going to give the president and the heads of various government agencies and divisions the authority to use their funding in the most efficient way. A power which they already have in some ways – like cutting back personnel or seeking better prices for supplies. Though writing stuff like that makes the NR and Karl Rove look like they’re being very serious; and should the sequester cuts go into effect Republicans can say they came up with this very clever non-plan. The Beltway media will report that the Republicans said they had a plan and then report the Democratic reaction. Just as the same media is loath to call Republicans liars when they lie, they’ll be loathe to call the Republican plan what it is, public relations cosmetics.

When you have millions or billions you can afford a recession, Will Pete Peterson’s Half a Billion Bucks Buy a New Recession?

Pete Peterson’s Mighty Wurlitzer

One major contribution comes from the money and monomania of Pete Peterson, a Wall Street billionaire who has committed about half a billion bucks rousing hysteria about deficits and debt. On Thursday, The Nation magazine and the Center for Media and Democracy are releasing an expose of Peterson and his latest front, the Fix the Debt coalition, with a new resource detailing the background at the center’s SourceWatch.org.

Ironically, Peterson never raised a murmur about the housing bubble or the Wall Street wilding or the global trade imbalances that eventually blew up the economy, led to the Great Recession.

Peterson, Nixon’s former Secretary of Commerce, says that he “has been wailing about this (debt and deficits) since 1980.”

Peterson made his billions on Wall Street, taking the private equity firm Blackstone Group public, after benefiting from the obscene “carried interest tax deduction” that allows hedge fund billionaires to pay lower tax rates than their chauffeurs. (His former partner, Stephen Schwartzman, famously labeled the effort to end this obscenity as a war, the equivalent of “when Hitler invaded Poland.”)

One of, what should be the down sides of living in a castle with a mote, is that people like Peterson start to believe the sound of their own echo. Paul Krugamn has two charts today that show what Peterson’s vision for America looks like. It is surprisingly European for the political movement that loves to hate on Europe, Paul De Grauwe and the Rehn of Terror

Most normal people listen to themselves. Sometimes we say things that are silly or stupid, and we laugh at ourselves and learn from the experience. Scientists might want to look into the possibility that conservatives are psychologically or genetically incapable of hearing the crazy venal stuff that comes out of their mouths, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX): Voters need ‘at least 50 rounds’ in magazines to take out drones

During Thursday interview on Freedom 107 radio, host Jeff Akin asked the Texas Republican how he felt about using unnamed aerial drones for domestic law enforcement.

“It’s pretty offensive to most of us,” Gohmert opined. “Most of us think if you’re going to use a drone and fly over our homes to analyze what’s going on in our backyard — not a lot of talk’s been given — but if you can fly over in the backyard, you can use all kinds of technology to see what’s happening inside the home as well. And I know there’s been a judge, and this former judge sure thinks you ought to have a warrant to do that kind of thing.”

“But I had somebody last week in Washington from either Georgia or Alabama that was saying, ‘Look, this goes back to we have got to have at least 50 rounds in our magazines because on average that’s about how many it takes to bring down a drone.’ I hope he was kidding, I don’t know for sure.”

So this week Gohmert and his conservative friends are on the same page as some other people we’re all familiar with, Al-Qaeda’s 22 tips on avoiding drones: hide under trees and camouflage cars . al-Qaeda has fully automatic weapons and rocket launchers, and they’re giving tips on avoidance. Gohmert voted to renew the most draconian infringement on our civil liberties, the Patriot Act. Renewed without amending the most grievous parts. So it is difficult to tell how much of what he says is just a dog whistle to his wacky supporters and how much is actual cognitive impairment.

The Smithsonian’s American History Museum has a great tribute up to Lena Horn, In tribute to Lena Horne (June 30, 1917–May 9, 2010)

Lena Horne was an American treasure, a cultural icon whose career achievements and social legacy challenged and transformed America’s notions about race and culture. A Renaissance woman, she lived and entertained during an era when women and “Negroes” were constrained by limited social roles, strict conventions, and public policies that separated genders and races.

But Ms. Horne was anything but conventional. She paid dearly for her originality.

They have more pictures and some sound recordings at the link.

Mountain Signs of Spring wallpaper

Mountain Signs of Spring wallpaper

Mountain Signs of Spring wallpaper

It takes maturity, courage and principles to take responsibility for one’s actions. So of course conservatives are trying to shift all the blame for the sequester on President Obama. It’s not that simple, More Republican Denial, the details are at the link, but this is all the takeaway one needs to counter the spin by the Republican noise machine. Romney tried to shift blame for the sequester back during his campaign. Mitt shares the common conservative tendency to leave out details. According to Politifact, Obama to blame for defense sequestration, says Romney ad

Other see the two parties as co-owners of sequestration, especially since Republicans in Congress voted for the law that set up its possibility. In the House, 174 Republicans and 95 Democrats voted for the law, while 66 Republicans and 95 Democrats opposed it. (Final tally: Passed 269-161.) In the Senate, 28 Republicans and 45 Democrats voted for it, while 19 Republicans and 6 Democrats opposed it. (Final tally: Passed 74-26)

“The logic that lays the blame for sequestration at Obama’s feet, because he negotiated the BCA with GOP leaders in Congress, could just as easily apply to those other negotiators, or, indeed, any member of Congress who voted for the BCA in August 2011,” said Christopher Preble, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. Preble favors reductions to the defense budget.

“I do not believe it accurate to refer to the cuts that will occur in both defense and non-defense discretionary spending under sequestration as ‘Obama’s cuts,’ ” he said.

Laura Peterson of Taxpayers for Common Sense also noted that sequestration results from a law passed in the usual manner. “I think the fact that Congress passed it means it is not a presidential mandate. It was a law that originated in Congress and was sent to the president’s desk,” she said.

 

Map of George Washington’s land at Mount Vernon – Brats in Congress, Whatever Democrats Are For, Conservatives Are Against

Map of George Washington’s land at Mount Vernon, Fairfax Coy., Virginia, as it was & as it is. Laid down from old maps made by G. Washington and from actual surveys. This map was published in 1859 by  W. Gillingham.

Silver-rimmed spactacles, worn by George Washington. Washington commenced to wear eye-glasses in the year 1778. This pair is said to have been used by him on the occasion of his reading his Newburg address. Presented by Captain Henry N. Marsh.

The Uniform worn by General George Washington when he resigned his commission at Annapolis. Dec. 23, 1783. (Smithsonian Institution).

And as the U.S. Archives explains, There is no such thing as Presidents Day. Or President’s Day.

“Before 1971, Washington’s Birthday was one of nine federal holidays celebrated on specific dates, which fell on different days of the week (the exception being Labor Day—the original Monday holiday).

Then came the tinkering of the Ninetieth Congress in 1968. Determined to create a uniform system of federal Monday holidays, Congress voted to shift three existing holidays to Mondays and expanded the number further by creating one new Monday holiday.Washington’s Birthday was uprooted from its fixed February 22 date and transplanted to the third Monday in February, followed by Memorial Day being relocated from the last day in May to the last Monday in May.

When a new federal law was implemented in 1971, only two days separated Abraham Lincoln’s Friday birthday of February 12 from the Washington’s Birthday holiday that fell on February 15—the third Monday in February.

For advertisers, the Monday holiday change was the goose that laid the golden “promotional” egg. Using Labor Day marketing as a guide, three-day weekend sales were expanded to include the new Monday holidays. Once the “Uniform Monday Holiday Law” was implemented, it took just under a decade to build a head of national promotional sales steam.

 

 

Conservative bloggers will probably still call this shamnesty or some other supposedly clever name. If anything the President’s immigration proposal, besides resembling golden buy Marco Rubios’, is that the criteria to achieve citizenship are pretty high. And considering all the conservative talk of secession, one wonders if the average conservative zealot would go through this much effort to become a citizen, Marco Rubio is against administration’s Rubio-esque immigration plan

Under the proposal, any of the nation’s 11 million unauthorized immigrants could apply for a “Lawful Protective Immigrant” visa, provided they pass a criminal background check, provide biometric information and pay a set of fees. If approved for the visa, they would be allowed to live and work in the United States for four years before reapplying. They could leave the country for short periods of time, and apply to have their spouses and children covered by the same provisional legal status. Immigrants could be disqualified from the program if they were convicted of a crime that led to a prison term of one year, or several crimes that led to at least 90 days in jail.

With this visa, immigrants could then apply for legal citizenship within eight years as long as they learn English, pay back taxes, avoid criminal offenses and learn the “history and government of the United States.” And from there, of course, legal residents can apply for full citizenship.

As for enforcement, the proposal expands the E-Verify program for employers, and requires Homeland Security to collect regular data on the effectiveness of the program and its effect on the agricultural economy. It also calls for an expanded Border Control and adds 140 new immigration judges to process the flow of people who violate immigration laws.

No plan will please everyone. I can’t think of an issue that that does make conservative foam a littl at the mouth, but ethnocentrism has always been a hallmark of the far Right. Yet the biggest hurdle is the the height of the hurdles to citizenship, it is that this plan is a Democratic plan, or worse an Obama plan. Newt Gingrich has been known to occasionally blurt out the unvarnished truth about his side, this sums up the problem, Gingrich: Republicans Will Oppose Any Immigration Plan Backed By Obama Because They Hate Obama

“An Obama plan led and driven by Obama in this atmosphere with the level of hostility towards the president and the way he goads the hostility I think is very hard to imagine that bill, that his bill is going to pass the House,” Gingrich said. “I think that negotiated with a Senate immigration bill that has to have bipartisan support could actually get to the president’s desk.”

“Goad”? All President Obama has to do is make his usual civil and civic minded statement and the Right starts have seizures. If life is like high school one can imagine Obama at home, one of the most popular and respected kids in school, wondering to himself at the mean kids; their buttons are so easy to push. I say good morning and suddenly they’re against mornings. Back to Jamelle Bouie’s column for this sound bite from Rubio,

Despite these similarities, Rubio has come out against the administration’s proposal. “If actually proposed,” the senator said in a press release, “the President’s bill would be dead on arrival in Congress, leaving us with unsecured borders and a broken legal immigration system for years to come.” Rubio accuses the White House of “failing to secure our borders,” creating a “special pathway” for those who broke the law, and doing nothing to address the “future flow” of immigrants.

Right now, without reform, illegal immigration into the U.S. is at historic lows, so how can it be that our borders are somehow more insecure now than 10 years ago.

Now this is semi-historic, the broadcast media confronting a conservative and one f their wunderkins at that, ABC confronts Paul Ryan for praising sequester before using it to slam Obama

ABC News host Jonathan Karl on Sunday suggested that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was guilty of hypocrisy because he slammed President Barack Obama for the automatic spending cuts in the so-called sequester — even though congressman had personally praised it in the past.

“Don’t forget it was the president who proposed the sequester, it’s the president who designed the sequester,” Ryan told Karl, adding that he had concluded that Congress was not going to be able to avoid the automatic cuts because Democrats refused to accept Republicans’ proposal for “smarter cuts in other area of government.”

“Congressman, I’ve heard you say this, and this has been a talking point for Republicans for a long time,” Karl interrupted. “But let’s look at your own words, what you said right after the law putting this in place was passed in August of 2011. These are your words. You said, ‘What conservatives like me have been fighting for for years are statutory caps on spending, literally legal caps in law that says government agencies cannot spend over a set amount of money and if they breach that amount across the board sequester comes in to cut that spending. You can’t turn it out without a supermajority. We got that into law.’”

“Now, it sounds to me there like if you weren’t taking credit for the idea of the sequester, you were certainly suggesting it was a good idea,” Karl pointed out.

Republicans do this all the time. They agree to something. A few months pass and they pretend that never happened and what they are taking about how is tttotalllyyy different because…time has passed. Credit to Jonathan Karl for doing better than averge, but he should have nailed Ryan and House Republicans for voting twice to approve a Ryan budget with less cuts than Obama’s plan, that never approached balancing the budget in our life times. Though the Ryan plan, Ryan always being fearful of making millionaires pay even one more penny in taxes, gave senior citizens the shaft.

Another recent example of conservatives pretending that the things conservatives did or said in the past is some kind of never-land, Lindsey Graham: In letter, Hagel disavowed alleged Israel comment

“We will have a vote when we get back, and I am confident that Senator Hagel will probably have the votes necessary to be confirmed,” McCain said.

Graham called Hagel “one of the most unqualified, radical choices for secretary of defense in a very long time.” But he nonetheless expressed openness to letting the Senate proceed to a vote on his confirmation, saying he gives Obama “great discretion.”

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said there isn’t any reason for Republicans to hold up up Hagel’s confirmation.

“It’s a grave concern,” McDonough said on ABC News’ “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” “If you look at Chuck Hagel, decorated war veteran himself, war hero. Republican senator. Somebody who over the course of the last many years, either as a Republican senator or as the chairman of the president’s Intelligence Advisory Board, I’ve worked with very closely. This guy has one thing in mind, how do we protect the country.

Radical? Graham and Mccain betrayed the nation’s trust when they promulgated Iraq war lies,

In the 2003 lead-up to the Iraq War, McCain and Graham made appearances on Sunday talks shows such as Meet the Press, Fox News Sunday, and Face the Nation where they made the case that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and would not hesitate to use them.

“He is lying, Tim, when he says he doesn’t have weapons of mass destruction,” Lindsay Graham said on Meet the Press on March 2, 2003. “For 12 years now, we’ve been playing this game, trying to get this man to part with his weapons of mass destruction.”

Later, responding to a question from then-host Tim Russert about reports Saddam was destroying certain missiles to comply with the United Nations, Graham emphasized intelligence showing presence of chemical weapons.

…McCain, in a Feb. 16, 2003, appearance on Face the Nation, also made the case for the war based on intelligence showing weapons of mass destruction, even responding to a question that the CIA might not have been straightforward with weapons information as “a very reckless charge.”

“There’s not a doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein would give a weapon of mass destruction to a terrorist organization,” McCain said. He added, “They have common cause in trying to destroy the United States of America.”

McCain then said that should the United States decide to go in alone, the war would end quickly because of the weak Iraqi army, with the possibilities of Iraq firing a chemical weapon at Israel.

Both of these “radical” should be shoveling out the local animal shelter for their past treachery, not deciding who should be the nest secretary of defense. They both knew that that there was none, zero, nada evidence that Saddam had WMDs of any kind. Which is also the subject of a new documentary based on David Corn and Michael Isikoff book, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War .

Winter Woods Snow wallpaper – Is The Ascendancy of Moderate Liberalism Making Republicans Dumber

Winter Woods Snow wallpaper

Winter Woods Snow wallpaper

 

 

As much as I appreciate a clever observation, I do prefer governance that moves things along in the best interests of the country. Since we’re not going to get the good governance, now, or when the Senate comes back from recess, me and everyone else will have to settle for the clever observation, Explaining the Farce of the Hagel Hearings

It’s easy to shake your head and laugh at the incredible things said by some of the nincompoops who occupy the GOP’s backbench in Congress, whether it’s Louie Gohmert ranting about “terror babies,” or Paul Broun (an actual doctor, for whose patients I fear) saying “All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell,” or any of a thousand things Michele Bachmann has said over the years. But as we laugh, we know these people don’t shape policy, so the damage they can do is limited. Not that the rest of the Republicans on Capitol Hill are a bunch of geniuses or anything, but most of those who have that golden combination of crazy and stupid are pretty far down in the pecking order.

But looking forward to the next four years, you have to wonder if Barack Obama is, through little fault of his own, making the entire Republican party dumber with each passing day. Fred Kaplan, a thoughtful journalist who reports on military affairs for Slate, watched Chuck Hagel’s confirmation hearings and can’t contain his disgust at how little the Republican senators serving on the Armed Services Committee seem to understand about things related to the armed services:

Not to sound like a Golden Age nostalgic, but there once was a time when the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee prided themselves on having an understanding of military matters. They disagreed in their conclusions and sometimes their premises. But most of them worked to educate themselves, at least to the point where they could debate the issues, or ask questions of a general without coming off like complete idiots. The sad thing about this new crop of senators—especially on the Republican side—is they don’t even try to learn anything; they don’t care if they look like complete idiots, in part because their core constituents don’t care if they do either.

Normal people, people who are just a little crazy as most of us are, are not show your ass like baboons crazy. Conservatives see no down side to showing their ass because the conservative base rewards such behavior. It would never occur to them that they lost two major election elections because, among other things, voters had a choice between the level headed black guy and the crazies, and decided that lunacy was not the best course for the country. While many conservative get down on one knee every time Dick Cheney releases a statement to Fox News to give thanks, the current stars of the conservative movement – Paul Broun, Ted Nugent and Ted Cruz are worshiped because their vision for the USA is to abandon everything in the Constitution except their bizarre interpretation of the 2nd Amenedment. I’m not a science fiction writer so I can’t really do that vision poetic justice – one where there is no 1st Amendment protections for freedom of religious conscience, only protection f far Right and corporate speech. No right to petition for grievances, a country where tea baggers can parade with racist signs, but occupiers can’t protest the injustices and greed of Wall Street. A place where a clump of cells has more legal protection than grown women. A conservative America where the 4th Amendment interferes with delivering instance justice. An unregulated America where citizens are thrown into private prisons for profit, while billionaires get away with poisoning working families. If you stand for economic and legal justice you’ll have the please of being branded an anti-Christ Marxist by the Broun-Cruz-Nugent crowd. Do they understand that by saying that anyone who stands up for good, for decency, for ethics is a Marxist, rather than the loyal opposition, they are giving Marxism an undeserved good name.

Another aspect of conservatism that while tiresome from a long time bloggers’s point of view, can be interesting as well, is the conservative base’s perception that they and the Conservative movement are some brand of populism. Whether it is Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Florida Criminal in-Chief Rick Scott or conservative radio pundits, they are all captives of crony corporatism. The Grand Old Jurassic Party

The Republican Party is a presidential election away from extinction. If it can’t win the 2016 contest, and unless it has bolstered its congressional presence beyond the benefits of gerrymandered redistricting—which is to say not only retaking the Senate but polling more votes than the opposition nationally—the party will die. It will die not for reasons of “branding” or marketing or electoral cosmetics but because the party is at odds with the inevitable American trajectory in the direction of liberty, and with its own nature; paradoxically the party of Abraham Lincoln, which once saved the Union and which gives such passionate lip service to constitutionality, has come to embody the values of the Confederacy in its hostility to constitutional federalism and the civil bonds that the founding document codifies. The Republican Party will vanish not because of what its says but because of what it believes, not because of how it presents itself but because of who it is when it thinks no one is looking.

I remember reading similar columns in 2009, only to see the tea party – the nation taking it’s first steps out of a calamitous economic meltdown, an unpaid for three trillion dollar war based on lies, the most morally corrupt administration since Andrew Jackson win the 2014 mid-terms because of unhinged anti-immigrant fever and a story book of evil myths about health care reform. Conservatives can hang on for years as the do as much damage as possible movement. They haven’t had an actual idea – one that would work anyway- ironically since health care reform.

Sometime in the last 30 years, however, the party became a flack to corporate culture at the expense of either freedom or individualism, and as the country grows more economically oligarchic, the Republican Party that best reflects that oligarchy loses political credibility with the public.

What the current party shares in its collective psychosis with the party of the ’60s is its yearning for martyrdom. If it’s true that what hold on power the GOP still has lies in congressional districts more and more resembling outliers—a power that will die off as figuratively as the constituents of those districts die off literally—it’s also true that many in the party are gripped by the death wish that thrills all martyrs and leaves them moist for self-annihilation.

Obama’s ‘Preschool for All’ Plan is a Handout to Lazy Toddlers

And of course, President Obama only supports pre-school for all so that he can breed a bunch of l’il Obamabots who will support him in 15 years, which might make sense in a world where President Obama can run for president again in 2036, but which is — spoiler alert! – not the world we live in:

VARNEY: Look what the president is doing here, it’s a repeat performance of his campaign, which is you raise taxes on the rich and you offer all kinds of free stuff to people who will vote for you in the future. Free preschool education for 4-year-olds, it’s free, here it is. Hand out the goodies.

Varney has a lot in common with a toddler, without the innocence of course. He is right that people follow certain political courses of action because, we hope anyway, they act in their own rational self interests. Conservatives vote for conservative and their point of view because of the corporate nanny state. This is where a disproportionate amount of the nation’s GDP goes into the pockets of people who the hardest thing they’ll do all day is walk to the executive washroom. Top 1% Got 93% of Income Growth as Rich-Poor Gap Widened .And $21 million payday for Goldman Sachs CEO. And Facebook Paid No Corporate Income Tax Last Year, After Making More Than $1 Billion In Profits. While Varney and I differ in our politics the differences between us are far more fundamental. He believes in a reality fabricated from the pocket lent of the Koch brothers.

Lots of coverage of the Russian meteor, but maybe some of you missed this great satellite photo, Satellite Sees Russian Meteor Explosion from Space

The meteor which exploded over the Urals of central Russia was seen by Meteosat-9, at the edge of the satellite view. Hundreds of people were reportedly injured as the meteor’s massive sonic boom caused widespread damage. Image taken Feb. 15, 2013, 3:15 UTC. CREDIT: EUMETSAT

And a reminder that there are conservatives everywhere, Despite advances in scientific knowledge, many of us still want random events and misfortunes to have a deeper significance

Like all random events and misfortunes, we want these things to mean something. The Russian fringe politician, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, rushed to the microphones to claim that the shower of stones that broke windows with their sonic boom, injuring 400 people, was a dastardly test of a new American weapon.

Dorner case shows folly of arming oneself to combat government

In one recent column, I reprinted some words from a guy who wrote several years ago: “Guns are not for hunting. When will you people figure that out? Guns are for hunting down politicians when they steal your rights away through tyranny. Hello!…

“You can’t protect your freedom when the government has more guns than the people.”

[ ]…”When that redistributionist Marxist [deleted] Obama decides to take away decent people’s homes and businesses and give them to the black criminal gangbangers, the garbage illegal aliens [deleted] and the rest of the low information welfare/food stamp crowd who voted for him, we who have our guns can meet them at the door, loaded and ready.”

And there are many like Bryan, who asked: “What if the German Jews had been well armed” against Hitler?

My answer: They would have been slaughtered by the Nazi Panzer divisions.

The French and Poles were well armed. How’d that work out?

But, insisted Tom, “throughout world history, superior armies with superior fire power have been defeated by well-motivated forces with little more than small arms.”

OK, enough. Suffice that too many people think that private citizens should be sufficiently armed to take on not only the local police, but the Army, the Navy, the Marines and even the Air Force.

They hang onto the words in the 2nd Amendment about the people’s right to bear arms “being necessary to the security of a free state,” but ignore the part about the militia being “well regulated.”

Remember the recent wacky outbursts from Tactical Response CEO James Yeager who threatened to ‘Start Killing People’ if the govmint started doing crazy stuff like better background checks or banning the kinds of assault weapons used in Newtown. Does he really think that if the LAPD came for him he’d fight it out and win. Remember Timothy McViegh and Terry Nichols, the conservative anti-government bombers of Oklahoma City. When the govmint came for them that was the end of the stort despite their military training, guns and bombs. Or remember conservative religious zelaot David Koresh and the Branch Davidans. Conservatives blame all deaths on the FBI, but Koresh stared the fire that burned all those children to death. maybe the government could have handled things better, but at the end of the day when the govmint comes for you, all the ammo and high powered weaponry in the world will not save you. Life is not the movies. If state police or federal officials want to question or arrest you, start a legal fund, not a shoot out.