Open Thread: Funny huh?

8022105556140532_yPt36V7F_cGood Evening

Early this morning something strange happened to me, it may have been a seizure, but I’m not sure. I went to the doctor and she is sending me to a neurologist but I have to tell you this…at the doctor’s office they had me get on a scale.

Damn…I ain’t too sure about the seizure but I am damn sure I had a heart attack when I read what my weight was on the scale.   (Actually, I really do think I had a seizure, guess we will find out for sure next month.)

Anyway, because of my brain crapping out on me today, I will just put up some links for you.

Be sure to read them and please post what you want in the comments.

South Dakota Legislature Approves ‘Women Can’t Think on Weekends’ Bill | Right Wing Watch

Constituents laugh at Republican’s ignorance of trans-vaginal ultrasounds | The Raw Story

FRC’s Tony Perkins: Democrats Aligned with ‘Jewish Lobby,’ ‘Enjoy the Money’ Coming from Jews | Right Wing Watch

Some Arkansas Legislators Do the Time Warp; Pass Most Extreme Abortion Bill In The Nation – ACLU Blog

This is an open thread.


Gene Sperling: “A mix of entitlements and revenues was part of the DNA” of the Sequester “from the start.”

Gene Sperling and Barack Obama

Gene Sperling and Barack Obama

I want to call attention to some rather startling statements in Gene Sperling’s e-mail to Bob Woodward, which I posted earlier. Please note the highlighted sections.

From Gene Sperling to Bob Woodward on Feb. 22, 2013

Bob:

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. Really. It was assumed by the Rs on the Supercommittee that came right after: it was assumed in the November-December 2012 negotiations. There may have been big disagreements over rates and ratios — but that it was supposed to be replaced by entitlements and revenues of some form is not controversial. (Indeed, the discretionary savings amount from the Boehner-Obama negotiations were locked in in BCA: the sequester was just designed to force all back to table on entitlements and revenues.)

I agree there are more than one side to our first disagreement, but again think this latter issue is diffferent. Not out to argue and argue on this latter point. Just my sincere advice. Your call obviously.

My apologies again for raising my voice on the call with you. Feel bad about that and truly apologize.

Gene

Really? Does anyone recall President Obama saying that at the time the sequester was proposed and voted on in 2011? Did President Obama discuss these plans for entitlement cuts during his campaign for re-election? I’ve always suspected he did plan cuts in Social Security, Medicare, but when did he publicly state this? I’ve done a somewhat cursory search, but I can’t find anything.

There is no mention of these agreed-upon cuts in the Wikipedia entry on the Budget Control Act of 2011. There no mention of “entitlement” cuts in this extensive article at The Bipartisan Policy Center. This analysis (pdf) notes that the Supercommittee was authorized to cut Social Security:

The “Super Committee” deficit reduction plan: BCA also creates a new, special joint committee of Congress charged with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction to avoid any potential sequestration. This “Super Committee” can cut spending (including Social Security and Medicare), raise revenue, or propose a combination of both. If the committee cannot agree on a plan, or Congress fails to approve it, automatic cuts of $1.2 trillion will be triggered through sequestration. To assist the Super Committee with its task, Congress also provided for an accelerated review of the Super Committee recommendations, provided that the Super Committee followed specific timelines, as outlined in the text.

But I think it was generally assumed that the Super Committee would not be able to agree on anything, and if they did that the Senate at least would not vote for Social Security cuts.

So now the truth has come out. Certainly no one from the White House has come rushing out to deny that cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are what is supposed to balance any new revenue. A few other bloggers have written about this.

Digby is always alert for any mentions of Obama’s seeming obsession with cutting Social Security, and she didn’t miss this one.

I don’t know that anyone’s ever admitted that in public before or that the president was completely, shall we say, honest when he ran for his second term about that specific definition of “a balanced approach”. I haven’t heard anyone say publicly that the sequester “deal” as far as the White House was concerned was to cut “entitlements” in exchange for new revenues. I wonder how many members of congress were aware of this “deal” when they voted for the sequester? The public certainly wasn’t.

I wish I could understand why it is so important to Barack Obama to cut these vital programs before he leaves office. It seems to be his obsession. But there you have it. It’s not just in the DNA of the sequester, it seems to be in the DNA of this White House.

In this sense, it seems that Sperling and Woodward–and by extension Obama–do “see eye to eye.”

At FDL, John Walker gets right to the point in his headline: Sperling: Obama Wanted Sequester to Force Democrats to Accept Entitlement Cuts.

The way Obama has handled basically every manufactured crisis from the debt ceiling, to the Bush tax cuts expiration, to the sequester has been about trying to force both Democrats and Republicans to embrace his version of a “grand bargain.” While it is clear this has been the driving force behind Obama’s decisions, if you pay close attention to his actions is is rare than an administration official will directly admit this. This is actually what I think it most interesting about the recently leaked email exchange between Bob Woodward and Gene Sperling up on Politico…..

Obama wants to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. Obama also wants to raise taxes, but he only wants to do these unpopular things if he can get bipartisan cover to destroy basic democratic accountability. If everyone is to blame than no one is to blame.

What has sometimes been viewed as incompetence on the part of Obama during negotiations is actually Obama trying to weaken Democrats’ hand to “force” them to accept entitlement cuts while being able to blame it on the mean Republicans.

That is why even now Obama isn’t calling for the sequester to be simply repealed or delayed. Obama still wants to use this manufactured crisis to force congressional Democrats to betray their base by adopting Social Security cuts and get Republicans to accept revenue increases.

Finally, thanks to JJ for sending me the link to this piece by Robert Kuttner at The American Prospect: Dear White House, You’ll Regret This.

[Gene Sperling's] e-mail is pure confirmation that Obama’s position, dating back to at least 2011, has been to try to trade cuts in Social Security and Medicare for new revenues. It confirms that Sperling and his boss have been channeling the likes of Robert Rubin, Pete Peterson, the corporate-sponsored Fix the Debt campaign, et al., who have been promoting exactly this grand bargain. Sperling confirms that the sequester was designed to force exactly such a dismal deal.

But even worse, writes Kuttner, is what the e-mail demonstrations about Sperling’s–and Obama’s–pathetic negotiating skills.

The Woodward-Sperling exchange is far more interesting for what it reveals about Sperling/Obama’s propensity for giving ground on core issues and getting almost nothing in return. I supposed we should be grateful that Sperling is only wrecking the economy, the Democrats, Social Security, and Medicare—and not negotiating nukes with the Ayatollah.

I’ve said ever since I read The Audacity of Hope back in 2007 that Obama wanted to cut Social Security. Actually, he made it clear in the book that he wanted to privatize it, but he must have realized that wasn’t going to happen. It’s time for those of us who care about these issues to start screaming bloody murder again. We need to get on this ASAP. So tell your friends and call your Congress critters.

The floor is open for discussion.


Thursday: Bob Woodward’s Non-Scoop, and Some Interesting Long Reads

coffee break

Good Morning!!

Poor Bob Woodward! The only way he can get attention nowadays is by whining and crying and generally creating a tempest in a teapot.

Yesterday Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen posted one of their patented “Behind the Curtain” pieces: Woodward at War, in which they dramatically revealed the inside story of Woodward’s little spat with the White House. This is the sort of story only the Villagers really care about, but when they care about something, they insist on forcing their opinions about it on the rest of us. It was the subject of the first hour of Morning Joe for yesterday and today, and the focus of countless media reports and blog posts throughout the day yesterday. Woodward must be in heaven with all this attention. From Politico:

Bob Woodward called a senior White House official last week to tell him that in a piece in that weekend’s Washington Post, he was going to question President Barack Obama’s account of how sequestration came about — and got a major-league brushback. The Obama aide “yelled at me for about a half-hour,” Woodward told us in an hourlong interview yesterday around the Georgetown dining room table where so many generations of Washington’s powerful have spilled their secrets.

Digging into one of his famous folders, Woodward said the tirade was followed by a page-long email from the aide, one of the four or five administration officials most closely involved in the fiscal negotiations with the Hill. “I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today,” the official typed. “You’re focusing on a few specific trees that give a very wrong impression of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here. … I think you will regret staking out that claim.”

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.’”

bob_cat

Horrors! “I think you will regret staking out that claim” is a “major league brushback?” Either Nixon and his men were quite a bit wimpier than we all thought, or Woodward is a lot touchier now than he was in the Watergate days.

In an update, Vandehei and Allen revealed that the White House adviser who supposedly yelled at Woodward over the phone and then “threatened” him was Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council. This morning they published the actual e-mails between Sperling and Woodward. Frankly, I was underwhelmed. Follow me below the fold to read them.
Read the rest of this entry »


Early Morning Open Thread: The Voting Rights Act

President Lyndon Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act, 1965

President Lyndon Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act, 1965

Lyndon Johnson: Voting Rights Act Address

Delivered March 15, 1965, Washington, D.C.

I speak tonight for the dignity of man and the destiny of democracy.

I urge every member of both parties—Americans of all religions and of all colors—from every section of this country—to join me in that cause.

At times history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama.

There is no Negro problem. There is no southern problem. There is no northern problem. There is only an American problem.

And we are met here tonight as Americans—not as Democrats or Republicans—we are met here as Americans to solve that problem.

This was the first nation in the history of the world to be founded with a purpose. The great phrases of that purpose still sound in every American heart, north and south: “All men are created equal” — “Government by consent of the governed” — “Give me liberty or give me death.”…

Those words are a promise to every citizen that he shall share in the dignity of man. This dignity cannot be found in man’s possessions. It cannot be found in his power or in his position. It really rests on his right to be treated as a man equal in opportunity to all others. It says that he shall share in freedom, he shall choose his leaders, educate his children, provide for his family according to his ability and his merits as a human being….

Many of the issues of civil rights are very complex and most difficult. But about this there can and should be no argument. Every American citizen must have an equal right to vote. There is no reason which can excuse the denial of that right. There is no duty which weighs more heavily on us than the duty we have to ensure that right.

Yet the harsh fact is that in many places in this country men and women are kept from voting simply because they are Negroes….

Experience has clearly shown that the existing process of law cannot overcome systematic and ingenious discrimination. No law that we now have on the books—and I have helped to put three of them there—can ensure the right to vote when local officials are determined to deny it.

In such a case our duty must be clear to all of us. The Constitution says that no person shall be kept from voting because of his race or his color. We have all sworn an oath before God to support and to defend that Constitution.

We must now act in obedience to that oath.

Wednesday I will send to Congress a law designed to eliminate illegal barriers to the right to vote….

To those who seek to avoid action by their National Government in their home communities—who want to and who seek to maintain purely local control over elections—the answer is simple. Open your polling places to all your people. Allow men and women to register and vote whatever the color of their skin. Extend the rights of citizenship to every citizen of this land. There is no constitutional issue here. The command of the Constitution is plain. There is no moral issue. It is wrong—deadly wrong—to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country. There is no issue of States rights or National rights. There is only the struggle for human rights.

I have not the slightest doubt what will be your answer….

But even if we pass this bill, the battle will not be over. What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and State of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life.

Their cause must be our cause too, because it is not just Negroes but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome….

This great, rich, restless country can offer opportunity and education and hope to all—all black and white, all North and South, sharecropper and city dweller. These are the enemies—poverty, ignorance, disease—they are our enemies, not our fellow man, not our neighbor. And these enemies too—poverty, disease, and ignorance—we shall overcome.

Montgomery Advertiser, February 26, 2013: Has South changed enough to end Voting Rights Act?

Lyndon Johnson had been a southern U.S. Senator from Texas.

He had fought all civil rights legislation with as zealous an effort as the other bloc of southern senators. This southern bloc of U.S. Senators totally controlled the Senate through their seniority and prowess. They were a formidable coalition. However, Lyndon had now become a national politician. He had ascended to the presidency at the death of John Kennedy and aspired to win the brass ring on his own in 1964.

When Lyndon Johnson set his sights on something nothing or nobody better get in his way. Whatever it took or by whatever means necessary, Lyndon Johnson was determined to win.

Johnson called George Wallace to the White House to meet with him. Wallace was cocky and full of vim and vinegar. At barely 5’8” he was like a bantam rooster. Although he was used to being the cock of the walk, it did not take long for the tall, tough, crude, intimidating Johnson to put Wallace in his place.

Johnson scowled at Wallace and told him he was nothing more than a redneck, tin horn demagogue and he could shout segregation and racist jargon as much as he wanted but it was not going to make a bit of difference. Johnson went on to say that by the end of the year he was going to pass a civil rights bill and sign it. He told Wallace that Strom Thurmond and his allies could filibuster all they wanted but at the end of the day it was going to be the law of the land and it was going to propel Johnson to victory in 1964. Wallace came back to Alabama with his hat in hand. He knew Johnson meant business.

The bill passed and Johnson signed it. Being a southerner Lyndon Johnson knew the ramifications when he signed the Civil Rights Act. He looked up and said, I have just signed the South over to the Republican Party. His words were prophetic….

In 1965, Johnson set his sights on a higher goal and passed the Voting Rights Act. He took aim at the Deep South and bestowed his renowned retribution extraction in Section 4B and Section 5. It requires that those five states and certain regions that voted for Goldwater must have any changes to their voting laws or procedures approved by the U.S. Justice Department.

Voting Rights Act Signing (1)


Scientifically Correct Spiderman and Judge looks like a pundit…

122596_600Good Evening

I was shocked earlier today, when I read the news reports of what was coming out of the mouths of SCOTUS.

Then, while reading some other articles quoting what Obama had previously said about the Voting Rights case currently going before the Supreme Court…I was shocked again.

Check this out…This is the first article/commentary I read this morning. Scalia: Voting Rights Act Is ‘Perpetuation Of Racial Entitlement’

There were audible gasps in the Supreme Court’s lawyers’ lounge, where audio of the oral argument is pumped in for members of the Supreme Court bar, when Justice Antonin Scalia offered his assessment of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. He called it a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”

The comment came as part of a larger riff on a comment Scalia made the last time the landmark voting law was before the justices. Noting the fact that the Voting Rights Act reauthorization passed 98-0 when it was before the Senate in 2006, Scalia claimed four years ago that this unopposed vote actually undermines the law: “The Israeli supreme court, the Sanhedrin, used to have a rule that if the death penalty was pronounced unanimously, it was invalid, because there must be something wrong there.”

That was an unusual comment when it was made, but Scalia’s expansion on it today raises concerns that his suspicion of the Act is rooted much more in racial resentment than in a general distrust of unanimous votes. Scalia noted when the Voting Rights Act was first enacted in 1965, it passed over 19 dissenters. In subsequent reauthorizations, the number of dissenters diminished, until it passed the Senate without dissent seven years ago. Scalia’s comments suggested that this occurred, not because of a growing national consensus that racial disenfranchisement is unacceptable, but because lawmakers are too afraid to be tarred as racists. His inflammatory claim that the Voting Rights Act is a “perpetuation of racial entitlement” came close to the end of a long statement on why he found a landmark law preventing race discrimination in voting to be suspicious.

It should be noted that even one of Scalia’s fellow justices felt the need to call out his remark. Justice Sotomayor asked the attorney challenging the Voting Right Act whether he thought voting rights are a racial entitlement as soon as he took the podium for rebuttal.

I knew Scalia was an ass…but what the hell is he doing making statements like this…statements that sound like something one of the talking heads at Fox News would say.

And when I saw that, I began to dig into the Voting Right Act, and what Obama had to say about the case. This was the second article/commentary I read about this subject: Supreme Court justices hint at striking Voting Rights Act provision

Even before Wednesday’s oral arguments, there were signs that Section 5 might be in trouble. The Supreme Court expressed “serious misgivings” about the provision in a 2009 case, saying the requirements intruded into an area that has traditionally belonged to state and local governments.

The court avoided a broad ruling on constitutional grounds in that case, but its decision to take up the issue again four years later was seen as a strong indication that those misgivings had grown.

President Obama also seemed to signal last week that a loss at the Supreme Court was possible, if not likely. Obama said in a local television interview last week that losing Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act would not cause people to lose their right to vote.

“People will still have the same rights not to be discriminated against when it comes to voting,” Obama said. “You just won’t have this mechanism, this tool, that allows you to kind of stay ahead of certain practices.”

Say…What the fuck? Obama, a black man, does not seem to be too concerned over the Supremes fucking with Section 5?

Here’s the SCOTUSblog’s take on today’s courtroom events:

From the Shelby County argument : SCOTUSblog

Afternoon round-up: Shelby County v. Holder : SCOTUSblog

Argument recap: Voting law in peril — maybe : SCOTUSblog

Post-argument commentary: Voting rights are an American entitlement : SCOTUSblog

You can read the court transcript here: 12-96.exe – 12-96.pdf

Newspapers and MSM news outlets had their usual reporting of the hearing today:

Conservative Justices Voice Skepticism on Voting Law – NYTimes.com

US supreme court leans towards striking part of Voting Rights Act | Law | guardian.co.uk

I could not find any mention on CNN, as I said…usual reporting.

I also could not find a comment from Fox News, again the usual reporting, since Scalia was pushing their usual talking points.

But the blogging world went nuts over Scalia…and the rest of the Courts comments today.

Charlie Pierce:  Daily Politics Blog – Charles P. Pierce -Posts about “voting rights hearings”- Esquire

Charlie has a lot to say, he wrote a bunch of post during the day as events unfolded. But here is what he had to say about Scalia: A Little More From The Chambers – Esquire

It’s become clear that Antonin (Short Time) Scalia’s “racial entitlement” is going to be the primary noise-bite out of the Supreme Court today. It doesn’t matter that whatever point Scalia was making was completely incoherent. By what possible standard is Section V of the Voting Rights Act a “racial entitlement”? Who, precisely, is being entitled? And to what? The Voting Rights Act does not confer a government benefit to any one race or another. It merely makes sure that the rights guaranteed under the 15th Amendment are not finagled with out in certain parts of the country that have proven, through history, as being deft at said finagling. The reason that African Americans have been the primary beneficiaries of this law is the simple fact that they were its primary victims. The Voting Rights Act doesn’t privilege their votes over any others. It just guarantees that they can be cast, and that they will be counted. But Scalia doesn’t care at this point whether he makes sense. He’s just interested in throwing whatever rocks through whatever windows he can find. He called it a “racial entitlement” because putting those two words together in any context is bound to cause a reaction. He’s one step away from calling Rush from behind the bench.

From LGF: Chief Justice Roberts Seems to Believe the South Has No Special Problem With Racism – Little Green Footballs

Here goes the Republican Party’s latest serious attempt to get rid of that troublesome Voting Rights Act that they’ve hated with a special vitriol ever since it was enacted: Voting Rights Act Takes a Beating in the Supreme Court.

The right wing justices are sounding a lot like right wing bloggers.

From Raw Story:  Protests mark Supreme Court’s hearing of challenges to Voting Rights Act | The Raw Story

From the Grio: Voting rights law gets Supreme Court challenge | theGrio

From American Prospect: Today in Magical Beliefs about Racism

Despite the wide flexibility of Section 5—and the extent to which some areas are more likely to violate voting rights than others—conservatives have attacked this provision as “onerous,” “unfair,” and tantamount to reverse discrimination. Conservative members of the Court also followed this line of thinking. Justice Antonin Scalia described the provision as a “perpetuation of racial entitlement”—as if it’s unreasonable to apply extra scrutiny to states that subjugated or disenfranchised their black populations for more than 180 years—and Chief Justice John Roberts asked whether it’s “the government’s submission that the citizens in the South are more racist than the citizens in the North?”

 Two things. First, I remain baffled by the view that racial discrimination—much less inequality—has dissolved in the nearly 50 years since Congress passed the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act. Yes, we’ve largely overcome overt discrimination, but more subtle forms still exist. Beyond that, it’s important to note—as Ed Kilgore does at the Washington Monthly—that Jim Crow is still within living memory for millions of Americans. Indeed, the baby boomers—including the large majority of our lawmakers—were children when Emmett Till was murdered, and teenagers when George Wallace promised to defend segregation in perpetuity.

Please read the rest of this post, as well as all the ones I link to today. They are too good to pass up.

From TPM: ‘Perpetuation Of Racial Entitlement’: Scalia Attacks Congress Over Voting Rights Act | TPMDC

And from Shakesville, the best one of the lot: Shakesville: Reminder: Antonin Scalia is a Racist Asshole

Antonin Scalia argued today that a key provision of the Voting Rights Act is a “racial entitlement.”

He further argued that the increasing popularity of the Act (reauthorized by the Senate in 2006 by a vote of 98-0) reflected the rising fear of being called racist, not a rising general consensus that limiting voting rights by race is a proundly undemocratic and shitty thing to do.

One question: if the fear of being *called* a racist is so intimidating that people will stop *doing* racist things, then exactly how often do we need to call Antonin Scalia a HUGE fucking racist before he changes his ways?

(Answer: Cannot compute at this time. We’re going to have to invent some entirely new math, Isaac Newton style, because Scalia’s racist assholery is truly beyond the measurement of our current science.)

I find all this disturbing, especially when you think about the recent decision from the Census Bureau to stop using the word Negro.

Census Bureau To Stop Use Of Word Negro In Surveys

U.S. Dropping Use Of ‘Negro’ On Census Surveys

After more than a century, the Census Bureau is dropping its use of the word “Negro” to describe black Americans in surveys.Instead of the term that came into use during the Jim Crow era of racial segregation, census forms will use the more modern labels “black” or “African-American”.The change will take effect next year when the Census Bureau distributes its annual American Community Survey to more than 3.5 million U.S. households, Nicholas Jones, chief of the bureau’s racial statistics branch, said in an interview.He pointed to months of public feedback and census research that concluded few black Americans still identify with being Negro and many view the term as “offensive and outdated.”

“This is a reflection of changing times, changing vocabularies and changing understandings of what race means in this country,” said Matthew Snipp, a sociology professor at Stanford University, who writes frequently on race and ethnicity. “For younger African-Americans, the term ‘Negro’ harkens back to the era when African-Americans were second-class citizens in this country.”

First used in the census in 1900, “Negro” became the most common way of referring to black Americans through most of the early 20th century, during a time of racial inequality and segregation. “Negro” itself had taken the place of “colored.” Starting with the 1960s civil rights movement, black activists began to reject the “Negro” label and came to identify themselves as black or African-American.

What did Scalia call the Voting Rights Act again?  A “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”

Yeah…riiiight.

Let’s end this with a funny story.

Scientifically Accurate Spider-Man Video | Geekosystem

Earlier this week we looked at a paper that examined the physics behind the train stop scene in Spider-Man 2 that put a little science before our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, but that clearly wasn’t enough for the people at Fox’s Animation Domination High Def. They went a few steps further to create Scientifically Accurate Spider-Man to give us a look a what a real man/spider hybrid would look like, and it isn’t pretty. It’s also not safe for work, unless your work is writing about weirdly graphic Spider-Man parody cartoons. Then you’re probably fine.

There’s a lot of things about Spider-Man that don’t make scientific sense that we just kind of accept because the alternative is too bizarre. One example is that spiders don’t shoot webs from their wrists, they shoot them from the general vicinity of their butts. Those little hairs Spidey uses to climb walls? They’d be all over his body, not just his hands and feet.

Basically, if your genes were mutated with spider DNA you would turn into a monster, not a superhero.

Enjoy that cartoon!
My computer’s battery is almost dead, you can think of this as an open thread.
**Just a few more links on the subject via Google News**

In Depth

Wall Street Journal  – ‎35 minutes ago‎
WASHINGTON—Majority conservatives on the Supreme Court criticized one of the pillars of 1960s civil-rights legislation, suggesting the Voting Rights Act had outlived its relevance and was imposing undue burdens on states whose practices are subject to
NBCNews.com (blog)  – ‎48 minutes ago‎
The law that requires states with a history of discrimination to get federal approval before changing how they conduct elections has been used to block strict voter ID laws. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether or not the law is outdated, and the
Houston Chronicle  – ‎22 minutes ago‎
Justice Stephen Breyer: “This isn’t a question of rewriting the statute. This is a question of renewing a statute that by and large has worked. if you have a statute that sunsets, you might say: ‘I don’t want it to sunset if it’s worked, as long as the problem is still
San Francisco Chronicle  – ‎1 hour ago‎
(Updates with Scalia quotes under Better Not Vote subheadline.) Feb. 27 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. Supreme Court cast doubt on the fate of the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1965 law that opened the polls to millions of Southern black people, in a fast-paced

Opinion

Washington Post  – ‎2 hours ago‎
“THIS IS NOT the kind of a question you can leave to Congress,” Justice Antonin Scalia pronounced during a Supreme Court argument Wednesday. The subject was the Voting Rights Act, one of the most successful pieces of civil rights legislation in U.S.
NorthJersey.com  – ‎2 hours ago‎
Myrna Perez is senior counsel in the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. Lucy Zhou is a research associate in the Democracy Program. FOR GENERATIONS, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been
USA TODAY  – ‎22 hours ago‎
Section 5 is unconstitutional: Opposing view. Luther Strange10:06p.m. EST February 26, 2013. The children of today’s Alabama are not racist, and neither is their government. oppose022613. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (Photo: Dave Martin, AP)
USA TODAY  – ‎22 hours ago‎
Times have changed, but bias at the polls remains. ourview022613. President Johnson shake hands with Martin Luther King after signing the Voting Rights Act in 1965. (Photo: Yoichi R. Okamoto, LBJ Library)
Washington Post  – ‎Feb 26, 2013‎
THE 1965 VOTING RIGHTS ACT remains one of this country’s foremost accomplishments. Constitutional amendments following the Civil War barred states and localities from abridging the right to vote on the basis of race, yet for the better part of a century,

President Obama Is Driving The Village Pundits Insane!

bob_cat

Wow. The Village pundits are so wound up over the “sequester” these days that I hate to think what’s going to happen over the weekend when the automatic budget cuts have taken effect. Will there be weeping and wailing instead of dancing at Disco Dave’s place? Will Bob Schieffer have to talk David Ignatius off a ledge? Will Dana Millbank freak out and require hospitalization? Will Bob Woodward’s hair catch fire? Will Major Garrett spontaneously combust?

Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like the temper tantrums the Village pundits have been throwing over the past week or two; and now that they are finally realizing that they’re not going to get the White House and Congress to agree to replace the “sequester” with Simpson Bowles 2.0, they’ve begun to scream and stamp their feet. I’m afraid one of them may throw himself to the floor and have a kicking and shrieking tantrum soon.

First up, Bob Woodward. Last Friday, the poor, frustrated stuffed shirt published a hectoring op-ed in the Washington Post in which he assigned full blame for the “sequester” to President Obama. As evidence, Woodward misleadingly sourced his own book on last year’s debt limit fight. He was rounding mocked on numerous liberal websites, and that must have really gotten his dander up.

Today Woodward appeared on Morning Joe and upped the ante. Mediaite reports:

Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward’s ongoing war of words with President Barack Obama’s White House escalated on Wednesday when Woodward took to the set of MSNBC’s Morning Joe to slam the president’s handling of the sequester fight. Woodward said that the president has displayed a “kind of madness” in his decision to make those cuts as painful and deleterious to the nation’s war fighting capability as possible….

He then turned to the sequester: “I think peoples’ heads are about to explode about all of this, you know, what the hell is going on here,” Woodward said. “I’m not sure the White House understands exactly what happened in all of these negotiations at the end of 2011 with the sequester and the super committee, because they were really on the sidelines.”

Woodward slammed Obama’s decision to announce that sequester cuts would force an American aircraft carrier to not deploy to the Persian Gulf.

“Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting there and saying ‘Oh, by the way, I can’t do this because of some budget document’?”

Watch it:

h/t to TPM and to RalphB for the catch!

Ignatius

Woodward’s pompous WaPo colleague David Ignatius also strongly disapproves of President Obama’s failure to make what Ignatius thinks is the obviously correct choice:

We have a political system that is the equivalent of a drunk driver. The primary culprits are the House Republicans. They are so intoxicated with their own ideology that they are ready to drive the nation’s car off the road. I don’t know if the sequestration that’s set to begin Friday will produce a little crisis or a big one; the sad fact is that the Republicans don’t know, either, yet they’re still willing to put the country at risk to make a political point.

At least Ignatius admits the Republicans are mostly to blame for the crisis. But…

I’m no fan of the way President Obama has handled the fiscal crisis. As I’ve written often, he needs to provide the presidential leadership that guides Congress and the country toward fiscal stability. In my analogy, he should take the steering wheel firmly in hand and drive the car toward the destination where most maps show we need to be heading: namely, a balanced program of cuts in Social Security and Medicare and modest increases in revenue.

Why is it always Social Security and Medicare that these guys want to cut? Surely there has to be a better way to deal with the noncrisis than to starve granny and then refuse her health care when she’s dying in the street?

Dana Millbank in drag

Dana Millbank in drag

Last Tuesday Dan Millbank, also of the WaPo, stated his demand that Simpson-Bowles be enacted right now!

On Tuesday morning, as President Obama and House Republicans were abandoning hope of reaching a compromise to avoid across-the-board spending cuts on March 1, the indefatigable duo of Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson made one more attempt to float a bipartisan compromise. They were literally shouted down.

Seconds after Bowles and Simpson were introduced at a breakfast forum hosted by Politico, hecklers in the audience began to interrupt: “Pay your share of taxes! Stop cutting jobs! Stop cutting Medicare and Medicaid!”

“Wait your turn,” pleaded the moderator, Politico’s Mike Allen, as the half-dozen demonstrators were gradually removed.

Good grief! How shocking that the peons would dare to demand that the Villagers “sacrifice” instead of resigning themselves to “feel the pain” so that the Villagers and their wealthy friends aren’t inconvenienced!

These politicians aren’t “serious,” Millbank tut tuts, claiming that “neither [Obama nor Boehner] is offering anything close to a workable plan.”

I’ve left the best (or worst, depending on your point of view) for last. Major Garrett’s bizarre and incomprehensible (to me anyway) op-ed in the National Journal: Tennessee Williams Offers Window Into the Mendacity That Defines the Sequester.

Major Garrett disapproves

Major Garrett disapproves

According to Garrett, the way to understand the “sequester” is to listen to Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The problem is “mendacity,” which is a fancy word for lying.

How can anyone look upon the sequester with anything but revulsion and venom — the kind of smoldering rage that spills out of Big Daddy Pollitt (played by Burl Ives in the 1958 movie) when he begins to peel back the slippery layers of deception that defined his seemingly respectable Mississippi Delta life. Big Daddy’s life and all those who spin around it are reduced, as if by the centripetal force of fakery, into one word: mendacity.

Williams was not speaking for the South or plantation owners, but everyone who can kid themselves into believing something that simply isn’t true. Acid drips from Big Daddy’s sweet-sounding and recurrent question: “Wouldn’t it be funny if that was true?” After listening to all the varied finger-pointing and blame-shifting on our latest budget crisis, I will from now substitute the word “mendacity” for “sequester.”

Ooooookaaaay….

Encapsulated within the confines of a tortured Mississippi family, Tennessee Williams captured in the 1950s a bit of the writhing, frustrating, and at times grotesque antics of modern American budget mendacity. In his immortal Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Big Daddy Pollitt and his son Brick — a high school football hero turned town drunk — argue over Brick’s refusal to see the consequences of his drinking, how his indolence breeds chaos in the lives of others. Earlier, Brick speaks mournfully of mendacity — the lies of his young life.

Big Daddy: “But it’s always there in the mornin’, ain’t it—the truth? And it’s here right now. You’re just feeling sorry for yourself; that’s all it is — self-pity.… Life ain’t no damn football game. Life ain’t just a buncha high spots. You’re a 30-year-old kid. Soon you’ll be a 50-year-old kid, pretendin’ you’re hearin’ cheers when there ain’t any. Dreamin’ and drinkin’ your life away. Heroes in the real world live 24 hours a day, not just two hours in a game. Mendacity, you won’t … you won’t live with mendacity but you’re an expert at it. The truth is pain and sweat and payin’ bills.”

Big Daddy and Brick

Big Daddy and Brick

Garrett doesn’t mention that Brick’s drinking and “indolence” stems from clinical depression triggered by denial of his homosexuality, but maybe Garrett doesn’t know that. But we now know how what Garrett believes is the solution to the financial noncrisis:

Our mendacities now are about dollars and cents. We hate ourselves, at some level, for being unable to produce enough to pay our bills. Our politics invites us to dream our life away. But the sequester and the fiscal cliff and the debt/default drama fractiously and dramatically remind us of our limits. We are frustrated. We don’t want to live with mendacity. But, sadly, we’ve become experts at it.

The truth is pain and sweat and payin’ bills.

Except that American does pay its bills and will continue to do so unless the Republicans refuse to raise the debt ceiling. And yes, as Garrett writes, most American families pay their bills too. But just like the federal government, most American families go into debt in order to buy a house or a car. Only the very richest among us can pay cash for those items. Like the government, families borrow and then pay the loans back with interest.

If anyone can figure out what else Garrett is trying to say, I’d be glad to hear it. Frankly, I think he’s lost his mind, and so have the rest of these Village idiots. I’m going to be fascinated to watch what happens to them over the next few days as their Simpson-Bowles fantasies crash and burn.


Wednesday Reads: Sinkholes and Chris Christie

Good $(KGrHqEOKnIE44R2dbwLBOWl4kko9w~~_35Morning

It was a busy day for me yesterday, and as usual, I am late to catch up…because of this I am writing the post this morning in a fog. So if any of the links below are repeats, I am sorry.

Yesterday Boston Boomer wrote about the court battle as BP Goes on Trial over 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Well, there were also some new developments in that other environmental disaster in Louisiana known as the Assumption Parish Sinkhole. Increased seismic activity halts work at giant Louisiana sinkhole

Officials say they have put a hold on all work directly connected to the giant Louisiana sinkhole in Assumption Parish due to increased seismic activity.

The seismic monitoring in the past 24 hours turned up what appears to be an increase in the underground movement of fluids in the area of the failed Oxy 3 cavern.

Just like in the past, officials say the underground movement is also likely connected to trees falling into the sinkhole and an increase in hydrocarbon odors.

Analysts say even though there appears to be no additional significant threat to the general area, until the underground activity slows down again, operations directly on the sinkhole have been suspended.

The main sinkhole has reached more than 800 feet in diameter and the western wall continues to collapse.

Two weeks ago, officials reported about 5,000 square feet fell in on the southwest side of the sinkhole, officials call this sloughing.

The Texas Brine people say this is part of the stabilization process. I don’t know about the technical aspects of the whole thing…but as the BP trial gets underway, Assumption Parish residents turn to lawmakers, seeking buyouts of property near sinkhole

Frustrated Assumption Parish residents displaced by a massive sinkhole that has swallowed 9 acres of land near their homes asked lawmakers Tuesday to assist them in getting buyouts of their property.

People who packed a hearing of the Senate and House natural resources and environment committees described 200 days of disruption and uncertainty since an August evacuation order of 150 homes.

They talked of children moved from schools and scared of their own houses, retirement dreams upended and families struggling to pay two mortgages while they decide what to do with their future and with their now nearly-worthless property.

“This has taken too damn long and people need to be bought out. They can’t go back,” said Henry Dupre, an Assumption Parish police juror.

Dakinikat has written repeatedly about Jindal’s record in recent weeks, this op/ed from The Advocate focuses on his response to the big ass hole in Jindal’s backyard…Inside Report: Sinkhole critics: O, Governor, where art thou?

For months now, a vocal group of activists and residents has found fault with Gov. Bobby Jindal over his absence from the scene of the Bayou Corne sinkhole.

Why, they ask, has he not made the commonly seen leadership visit to a disaster area that, while brief, boosts morale and provides hope?

Sinkhole activist John Achee Jr., a regular critic of Jindal and state government’s handling of the sinkhole and salt dome regulation, leveled this complaint again during a Feb. 19 joint hearing of the House and Senate committees on Natural Resources.

He called Jindal’s absence “disheartening” and “very concerning.”

“This to me is unacceptable and cannot or should not be tolerated,” said Achee, a polarizing figure himself over his criticisms of Jindal and state and parish government.

In response, Jindal’s press office provided its answer, quoting the governor as saying he receives regular updates and that state agencies have put out abundant resources in response to the sinkhole under his orders.

No matter how many times your subordinates send them, though, news releases will never be the same as a handshake, a pat on the back and encouraging words directly from the governor.

This perceived inattention has given Jindal’s critics a useful symbol for the way, they say, state government has inadequately responded to the Assumption Parish disaster and regulated salt dome operators.

The absence has also fit neatly into the narrative of an insulated governor with eyes on Washington 2016 and not Louisiana 2013.

But these complaints, it seems, could be neutralized for most with one helicopter ride to the command post in Bayou Corne.

So why not?

Jindal’s press office did not respond to requests for comment.

It seems to me Jindal’s non-existent response should be no surprise to anyone who reads our blog regularly, but I don’t think a helicopter fly over is going to help things. That Op/Ed is written by David Mitchell, maybe Kat can fill us in on what she thinks about this other mark against her governor. When I see the horror stories out of Louisiana, it makes me feel my hell pit of Banjoland is a cakewalk.

Since we started this post on one GOP Gov with eyes on the White House, let us look at another governor who fancies himself as a possible candidate in 2016.   Chris Christie Medicaid Plan To Offer Coverage To Poor New Jersey Residents

Christie, a potential 2016 presidential contender who is up for reelection this year, defied conservative opponents of Obamacare by embracing one of its key components when he announced his plan to the Democratic-controlled state legislature in Trenton. So far, more than a dozen Republican governors, including Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Rick Perry of Texas, have declared their opposition to the Medicaid expansion.

“After considerable discussion and research, I have decided to participate in Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. While we already have one of the most expansive and generous Medicaid programs in the nation, including the second highest eligibility rate for children, we have an opportunity to ensure that an even greater number of New Jerseyans who are at or near the poverty line will have access to critical health services beginning in January of 2014,” Christie said.

Expanding Medicaid in New Jersey would provide new health care coverage to an estimated 291,000 people through 2022, according to an analysis released by the Urban Institute and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in November. New Jersey would spend an additional $1.5 billion and receive $15.4 billion from the federal government to finance the expansion during that time period, the report predicted.

Even the folks at Hot Air are complaining about the big man from the Garden State. You can Google this next link, I just don’t have the energy to deal with trolls today.  CPAC source: Christie wasn’t invited this year because he has a “limited future” in the GOP; Update: Sandy relief and Medicaid? « Hot Air

Hard to argue with that assessment today of all days, but … Mitt Romney’s also been invited this year. The future doesn’t get any more limited than that.

Also, since when is one’s prospects in the GOP a litmus test for whether you’re CPAC-worthy or not? Every time someone objects to GOPround’s exclusion, the rejoinder inevitably comes that it’s the “Conservative Political Action Conference,” not the “Republican Political Action Conference.” Okay, in that case, who cares about Christie’s future in the GOP? Either his ideas are conservative enough or they aren’t.

Verdict: They aren’t.

I think all those CPAC members are still pissed with Christie’s little sitcom, or after-school special, Barack and the Fat Man.

Guess Fox News hasn’t gotten the memo: Same Day Christie Embraces Obamacare, Fox’s Eric Bolling Tells Conservatives He’s Their 2016 Savior

Bolling advised his fellow Republicans that they must embrace Christie as the future leader of their party.

The Five hosts noted that Bill O’Reilly told Fox’s audience on Monday that the GOP needs a leader who can articulate a conservative message and “fight back” against the press in order to move the country to the right.

Andrea Tantaros warned that the GOP has a big challenge in the effort to “fight back dependency.” She said that the future political battles Republicans will have to wage will become harder as the populace becomes more comfortable with government-backed programs that ensure financial security.

“I hate all this,” Bolling said of infighting within the GOP about the future direction of the party. “They need to get together and form one party that has a big tent for everyone; whether you’re gay, straight, black, white, male, female.”

“Bill O’Reilly’s right,” added Bolling . “You need someone who’s charismatic. He’s got to be a leader. And, this one: the way O’Reilly puts it, ‘fight back the media jackals.’ That’s Christie.”

Bolling continued to make the case for Christie as the natural leader of the Republican Party moving into the next election cycle. However, he anticipated that the party’s conservative wing will have problems embracing Christie due to the unorthodox positions on issues like global warming and gun control.

I could make a comment about how anyone would have problems “embracing” Chris Christie, but since my ass is just slightly smaller than his, I won’t.

Okay, because I’m writing this post on the quick, here are a few other stories in link dump fashion. Let’s stick with US news, shall we?

From Colorado….Threats to Dem Rep: ‘I Hope Someone Giffords Your Ass With A Gun’

Franklin Sain, a 42-year-old Colorado Springs man, was arrested last Friday for threatening Colorado lawmaker Rep. Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora) over gun control legislation that she is currently sponsoring and that recently passed in the state House.

Franklin Sain is accused of threatening Fields and her daughter using racial and sexual slurs.

Fields told KOA Radio that she does not know Sain, and said “All I know is the kinds of things that he said were very inappropriate, and they’re alarming, and they were very intimidating.”

[...]

There are many misspelled words and incorrect grammar usage in the messages, and they appear as written in the affidavit, along with censoring of offensive words.

According to an affidavit, one of the letters alleged to have been written by the Colorado Springs man reads, “Rhonda Fields, mother of [Field's daughter]. Death to both.” The letter goes on to say “There will be blood! I’m coming for you, N—– B—-.”

In one of the emails, Sain allegedly wrote, “hopefully somebody Gifords [sic] your asses with a gun.”

The following is one of seven emails police say Sain sent to Fields:

“THANKS N—– C—! You really think passing nay more laws will stop gun violence? You and that other N—– OBAMA are living in fantasy land. Chicago and DC have the most strict gun laws in the nation and more people die from gun violence than anywhere. You f—ing c—s are pathetic excuse for civil servants. Hell, n—–s love shooting themselves with GATS, isn’t that what your people call it. What you have done here is creater [sic] criminals out of law abiding citizens, and put yourself out of a job. You politicians have no idea what you are even doing anyway, do you know how long it takes some to change a magazine, less than a second, so what if some with experience decides to flip out and bring their gun in with 5 or so 10 round magazines, they can do the same amount of damage. Limiting magazine sizes is stupididty, [sic] and will not work…”

Then the most unhinged of Sain’s messages also refers to Field’s daughter:

Rhonda Fields, N—– C—, Mother of —–, Death to Both, All N—– Back to Africa, F— you, F— Your Laws, I Keep my 30 Round Magazines, There Will Be Blood!, I’m Coming For You, N—– B—-

Sain told police that he didn’t mean to threaten Fields, and regrets the language he used. He has no prior record, and is the chief operating officer at SofTec Solutions in Englewood, Colorado, where he does consulting work for the government and private organizations

House Speaker Mark Ferrandino and two other Democratic Reps also received similar threatening messages.

WTF? That is all I can say.

Latest news out of South Carolina: One student dead after South Carolina university shooting

A 19-year-old student died following a shooting on Tuesday at a residence hall of a South Carolina university near the resort area of Myrtle Beach, and authorities were searching for a gunman, university officials said.

Meanwhile in Connecticut: 2 Missing Children, Grandmother Found Dead in Conn.

And over in Illinois, Robin Kelly wins Illinois Democratic primary on gun control.

The headlines for California: Slayings of 2 officers in Santa Cruz mark ‘darkest day,’ chief says

This last link is written with Georgia in mind, but it deals with immigration news hitting most states: Feds free illegal immigrants in Georgia, other states

Y’all have a great day, and let us know what you are reading and blogging and thinking about today.