Saturday Late Morning Reads

groucho reading newspaper

Good Morning!!

Last night I watched an old Marx Brothers movie–Monkey Business. It’s been years since I’ve watched one of their movies, and I’d forgotten how much fun it can be. Laughter really is the best medicine. Wouldn’t it be great if we could see a movie with the Marx Brothers making people like Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and David Gregory look like complete idiots?

Not that Republicans need Groucho, Chico, or Harpo to highlight their idiocy, as you can see from this story at TPM: CPAC Event On Racial Tolerance Turns To Chaos As ‘Disenfranchised’ Whites Arrive

The session, entitled “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?” was led by K. Carl Smith, a black conservative who mostly urged attendees to deflect racism charges by calling themselves “Frederick Douglass Republicans.”

Disruptions began when he started accusing Democrats of still being the party of the Confederacy — a common talking point on the right….Disruptions began when he started accusing Democrats of still being the party of the Confederacy — a common talking point on the right.

But “things really went off the rails” in the question and answer session.

Scott Terry of North Carolina, accompanied by a Confederate-flag-clad attendee, Matthew Heimbach, rose to say he took offense to the event’s take on slavery. (Heimbach founded the White Students Union at Towson University and is described as a “white nationalist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.)

“It seems to be that you’re reaching out to voters at the expense of young white Southern males,” Terry said, adding he “came to love my people and culture” who were “being systematically disenfranchised.”

Smith responded that Douglass forgave his slavemaster.

“For giving him shelter? And food?” Terry said.

At this point the event devolved into a mess of shouting.

It sounds just like a Marx Brothers movie, without the jokes. There’s much more at the link–you have to read it to believe it.

More on CPAC from Gay activist and talk radio host Michaelangelo Signorile: Brian Brown, NOM Leader, At CPAC: Prop 8 Challenge Is ‘Biggest Strategic Mistake’ of Gay Rights Movement

A day before GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio reversed his position and came out for marriage equality, Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), insisted conservatives are rallying against gay marriage and that “if the Republican Party abandons traditional marriage, there is no Republican Party.” He also predicted that California’s Proposition 8 will be upheld by the Supreme Court, which is hearing arguments on the case later this month, calling the decision by gay advocates to challenge Prop 8 “the biggest strategic mistake the supporters of same-sex marriage ever have made.”

“I think people are excited [about traditional marriage],” Brown said in an interview on my SiriusXM OutQ radio program, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., on Thursday. “[Florida Senator] Marco Rubio just stood up there and said, ‘Just because I’m for traditional marriage doesn’t make me a bigot.’ And everyone stood up and cheered. The grass roots of conservatism are absolutely united behind traditional marriage. Folks I’m seeing here are absolutely committed.”

You can listen to the whole interview at the HuffPo link.

marx bros reading1

I liked TBogg’s rude comment on Portman’s overnight conversion: Honey, I’m Homo.

If you think the rapidity with which a Republican politician, who was previously against equal rights for gays, suddenly switches sides once he discovers that Teh Ghey has invaded his happy All-American home is impressive, you should see how quickly they embrace abortion as a God-given right the moment their daughter announces that she has been knocked up.

By a black guy.

Jonathan Chait has a longer, more carefully reasoned discussion of Portman’s hypocrisy. Here’s the conclusion:

It’s pretty simple. Portman went along with his party’s opposition to gay marriage because it didn’t affect him. He thought about gay rights the way Paul Ryan thinks about health care. And he still obviously thinks about most issues the way Paul Ryan thinks about health care.

That Portman turns out to have a gay son is convenient for the gay-rights cause. But why should any of us come away from his conversion trusting that Portman is thinking on any issue about what’s good for all of us, rather than what’s good for himself and the people he knows?

Exactly.

As for Paul Ryan, he claims that “Democrats’ budget puts US on path ‘straight into debt crisis.’” From The Hill:

Ryan used the weekly GOP address to promote the budget plan bearing his name, saying it will benefit Americans worried about jobs and the cost of living, those trying to keep up with the cost of healthcare and younger workers hoping for a secure retirement. “And for taxpayers fed up with the status quo, we will cut wasteful spending,” he said….

Ryan took aim at President Obama and Senate Democrats, saying the tax increases in a proposal from Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) only “fuel more spending.”

“We know where this path leads—straight into a debt crisis, and along the way, fewer jobs, fewer opportunities, and less security,” Ryan said, painting a desperate image of rising interest rates and inflating debt payments.

“Our finances will collapse,” he warned. “You think this can’t happen here? Just look at Europe.”

harpo-gookie

WTF?! Europe’s problems are being exacerbated by austerity! Is this guy for real? Here’s what the Tax Policy Center has to say about Mr. Ryan’s “budget.”

House GOP Would Need $5.7 Trillion in Tax Hikes to Offset Ryan Rate Cuts

House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) fiscal plan promises to balance the federal budget in 10 years, make major cuts in income tax rates for both individuals and corporations, and raise the same amount of revenue as current law. If House Republicans want to do all three, they will have to eliminate trillions of dollars in popular tax preferences.

The Tax Policy Center estimates that cutting individual rates to 10 percent and 25 percent, repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax and the tax increases included in the Affordable Care Act, and cutting the corporate rate from 35 percent to 25 percent would add $5.7 trillion to the deficit over the next decade. Thus, if House Republicans want to cut these taxes and still collect the revenues they promise, they’d have to raise other taxes by $5.7 trillion.

The tax cuts described in Ryan’s budget would generate a huge windfall for high-income taxpayers. On average, households would get a cut of $3,000. But those in the top 0.1 percent of income, who make $3.3 million or more, would get a whopping $1.2 million on average–a 20 percent increase in their after-tax income.

By contrast, middle-income households would get an average tax cut of about $900. Those in the bottom 20 percent (who make $22,000 or less) would get $40 and one-third of them would get no tax cut at all.

Some important caveats here: TPC did not estimate the revenue effects of a Ryan tax proposal since the budget does not include an actual plan. Rather, it modeled generic tax cuts that follow the outline of what his budget describes. And because his plan does not identify any tax increases, TPC modeled only the tax cuts.

Some budget. Here’s Matthew O’Brien at The Atlantic: Paul Ryan’s $5.7 Trillion Magic Trick

I’m not really a fan of magic, but I’m even less of one when it’s politicians doing the tricks.

That’s why I’ve had some less-than-nice things to say about Paul Ryan’s latest budget. Like its previous iterations, it explicitly says how he wants to cut taxes, but says nothing about how he wants to pay for it. Instead, Ryan uses a magic asterisk. He merely waves his hand, and says he’ll cut enough tax expenditures to pay for all of his tax cuts. He just can’t tell us what any of these tax expenditures are. Not a single one.

This is some pretty expensive hand-waving….this magic asterisk is worth about $1 trillion more than before. Ryan keeps the same tax cuts he had last year, but he assumes these same cuts will raise an extra 0.5 percent of GDP in revenue. In other words, it’s the same magical budgeting we’ve come to know from Ryan — but now with even more magic!

It’s particularly magical for the top 1 percent of households. The chart below from the Tax Policy Center shows the percent change in after-tax incomes for each income group from Ryan’s tax cuts. That’s what comforting the comfortable looks like.

There’s much more (with charts) at the link.

Now here’s some good news–if it holds up: Federal Judge Finds National Security Letters Unconstitutional, Bans Them. From Wired:

Ultra-secret national security letters that come with a gag order on the recipient are an unconstitutional impingement on free speech, a federal judge in California ruled in a decision released Friday.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ordered the government to stop issuing so-called NSLs across the board, in a stunning defeat for the Obama administration’s surveillance practices. She also ordered the government to cease enforcing the gag provision in any other cases. However, she stayed her order for 90 days to give the government a chance to appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“We are very pleased that the Court recognized the fatal constitutional shortcomings of the NSL statute,” said Matt Zimmerman, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed a challenge to NSLs on behalf of an unknown telecom that received an NSL in 2011. “The government’s gags have truncated the public debate on these controversial surveillance tools. Our client looks forward to the day when it can publicly discuss its experience.”

The telecommunications company received the ultra-secret demand letter in 2011 from the FBI seeking information about a customer or customers. The company took the extraordinary and rare step of challenging the underlying authority of the National Security Letter, as well as the legitimacy of the gag order that came with it.

The national security letters are one of those holdovers from Bush that the Obama administration has defended in court. Please read the whole article if you have time–there’s a lot of good background info. Here’s the press release from the EFF. Who knows what will happen on appeal or if the case makes it to the Supreme Court, but this is very good news.

chico marx reading

Finally, we can look forward to some more insanity from the CPAC crowd today–Ted Cruz will be closing out the conference with his keynote speech–and before that there’ll be a whole assortment of mixed Republican nuts. From NPR:

It’s the last day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, which will culminate in a keynote address by up-and-coming Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. As NPR’s David Welna reports,

“Though he’s only been a senator since January, this will be the third year Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is addressing CPAC. This former Texas solicitor general and Tea Party favorite got top billing at the conference after aggressively questioning former GOP senator Chuck Hagel during Hagel’s confirmation hearing to be secretary of defense.”

Also scheduled to speak are Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Newt Gingrich, Rep. Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin. (CPAC has the full schedule on its website.)

Sorry this post is so late–I hope everyone hasn’t given up on me already. If anyone is out there, please share your recommended links in the comments. I look forward to clicking on them!

Have a great weekend!

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39 Comments on “Saturday Late Morning Reads”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    It was also asserted that Portman knew two years ago that his son was gay. But he still continued to disparage gay rights during last year’s run up to in the primaries thinking he may very will have been chosen as a vice presidential candidate and did not wish to “muddy the waters”.

    No profile in courage here.

    BTW: I am headed to the Boston area in a few hours. What is the latest forecast for snow? I’m driving alone.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I didn’t know that about Portman. I was kind of out of the loop yesterday–hanging out with my nephews playing video games and watching the Marx Brothers.

      I don’t think we’re supposed to get any snow until next week; it’s bright and sunny at the moment. There’s a big storm out in Colorado that is supposed to move across the upper Midwest sometime next week.

      Drive carefully one the Pike!

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    My all time favorite Marx Bros. scene was from “A Night at the Opera” where they all crowded into that stateroom onboard the ship as a sleeping Harpo was lifted from person to person as each new person came through the door.

    Gets me every time!

  3. ecocatwoman says:

    Talking about CPAC, I just got home from grocery shopping & turned on the TV. Nothing I wanted to watch on, so I wondered how long I could make it with CPAC on C-SPAN. I made it through Palin. Apparently she’s now a socialist (the resources belong to the people ala Chavez) & a populist (We the people, over & over again). There were scream worthy things said as well. So out trots some guy in a short sleeve shirt who starts railing that the Pope is meeting with VP Biden (who this guy calls Joe). He brings up Biden’s pro-choice, pro-same sex marriage beliefs & surmises that the Pope will be less than thrilled about meeting “this” catholic. He then moves on to Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (who he called Pelosi – no fkng misogyny there- right?) Loved the statement that he’s tired of politicians using their religion to promote their political agenda. HUH???? WTF????? Does that mean he’s tired of conservative Repugs? Of course not. Then he praises the next speaker ad nauseam. As the moment approached for her to come onto the stage I couldn’t get to the TV fast enough to turn it off. Of course it was the one & only (get back in your kitchen) Phyllis Schlafly. Way too much for me.

  4. This is Why Patrick Stewart is Your New Favorite Person | Care2 Causes

    Acclaimed actor Patrick Stewart has made an impassioned speech before UN delegates and women’s rights campaigners saying more must be done to tackle domestic violence against women.

    The actor, famed for his roles as Captain Picard in Star Trek: Next Generation, Professor X in X-Men, and his diverse stints in the theater, stood up before officials at the Diplomat Ballroom at the UN Hotel on International Women’s Rights Day and pounded the podium as he intoned:

    “One…two…three…four…five…six…seven…eight…nine. Every nine seconds in the United States a woman is assaulted or beaten.

    Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/patrick-stewart-men-need-to-help-stop-violence-against-women.html#ixzz2Nj5QC6Z1

  5. dakinikat says:

    I see the punditry finally jumped on Portman’s sudden conversion as being hypocritical instead of saintly. Gee, wonder or who what changed their minds?

  6. dakinikat says:

    The South still lies about the Civil War

    In an ongoing revisionist history effort, Southern schools and churches still pretend the war wasn’t about slavery.

    http://www.salon.com/2013/03/16/the_south_still_lies_about_the_civil_war/

    • janicen says:

      Oh sure, it’s always about states’ rights when it involves restricting people’s rights or freedom. Whenever I hear, and yes I have heard, people repeat that “states’ rights” bullshit I always ask, “States’ rights to do what?” Of course the answer is states’ rights to legalize slavery. Or states’ rights to restrict women’s healthcare. Or states’ rights to pollute. Or states’ rights to dismantle public education. It’s never about states’ rights to do something better for people.

      • RalphB says:

        No excuse is needed to do something better for people. You only need ‘states rights’ as an excuse to screw some people over.

    • RalphB says:

      Every time I read one of these stories about growing up Southern, I almost feel blessed to have been raised in the place and time I was. Growing up in central Texas, I never was taught the Civil War wasn’t about slavery. I also was always taught the confederate cause was horrendous. Apparently that’s an exceptional thing and we’re all poorer if that’s so.

      • dakinikat says:

        I think us Okies understood that too. I had a rude awakening, however, when I moved to Louisiana and spent time in Mississippi. I found it unfathomable that Mississippi refuses to celebrate memorial day because it’s a Yankee holiday still. Everytime I go up towards Monroe, LA I can never figure out where all the black people are hiding but understand their need to do so. Don’t even get me started on my visits to Hattiesberg, MS.

    • RalphB says:

      That’s a bunch of goofy shit in that slide show :-)

    • RalphB says:

      I love the Marx Brothers! Made my day. Great post BB!

    • RalphB says:

      TP: CPAC Participant Defends Slavery At Minority Outreach Panel: It Gave ‘Food And Shelter’ To Blacks

      ThinkProgress spoke with Terry, who sported a Rick Santorum sticker and attended CPAC with a friend who wore a Confederate Flag-emblazoned t-shirt, about his views after the panel. Terry maintained that white people have been “systematically disenfranchised” by federal legislation.

      When asked by ThinkProgress if he’d accept a society where African-Americans were permanently subservient to whites, he said “I’d be fine with that.” He also claimed that African-Americans “should be allowed to vote in Africa,” and that “all the Tea Parties” were concerned with the same racial problems that he was.

      At one point, a woman challenged him on the Republican Party’s roots, to which Terry responded, “I didn’t know the legacy of the Republican Party included women correcting men in public.”

      He claimed to be a direct descendent of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

      More on the racist scumbaggery at CPAC.

    • RalphB says:

      I’m in moderation. Not sure why? :-)

    • NW Luna says:

      Yep, just as I guessed. Non-medically correct fetus dolls. They all look quite a few months older than they should be for their alleged stage of gestation.

  7. RalphB says:

    There apparently are no sane republicans left anymore. Even Jon Huntsman is an economic whack-a-loon. The party should just fold it’s tent and die already!

  8. Beata says:

    Great post, BB.

    Here’s my favorite scene from “Animal Crackers”:

  9. dakinikat says:

    Meet Ted Cruz-Second Amendment Hypocrite

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2013/03/16/meet-ted-cruz-second-amendment-hypocrite/

    Setting aside the fact that District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008) makes it crystal clear that there are, indeed, circumstances where it is constitutional to regulate guns, what is most remarkable is that Senator Cruz did, himself, make the case for regulating the very weapons Senator Feinstein seeks to ban in her proposed regulation.

    Cruz offered that defense in the amicus curiae brief he prepared for the Supreme Court in the Heller case—a brief the Senator tells us makes him quite the expert on the subject of the 2nd Amendment.

    whoa …

  10. RalphB says:

    TBogg on Princess Dumbass at CPAC: Talking Boob Talks About Boobs

  11. RalphB says:

    Raw Story: CPAC 2013: Angry and beaten right wingers offer wacky ideas in search for electoral victory

    Belatedly many have realised that is a major problem. Kay Rivoli, a singer known for her viral YouTube ditty Press 1 for English, even admitted as much. “We need to change on immigration reform,” she said.

    But on nearly everything else Rivoli was a font of optimism about conservatism’s political future. “We have to be a little more loud, a little more brazen,” she said, though it was hard to imagine such a thing. She then happily mused that somewhere in the giant CPAC hall a future conservative president was walking. “There’s a possibility,” she said.

    Not everyone sees it that way. Bill Nitze was wearing an 18th century costume, complete with Revolutionary War-style hat. He styled himself a conservative, keen on the constitution and a patriot. But, despite his elaborate dress, he was hardly a CPAC fanatic. “This group, in my view, is too associated with what I call the last stand of white Christian America,” he said. So who had Nitze voted for in 2012? “Obama,” he replied.