Tuesday Reads: Hostage Situation

WP-Hostage2

Good Morning!!

I hardly know where to begin this morning. The insanity that has gripped the nation’s capital is so extreme that some kind of intervention may be necessary.

Is it possible for the UN or the IMF to step in and explain to Tea Party Republicans why the full faith and credit of the United States government cannot be held hostage in an effort to overturn the results of two elections? Or perhaps they could explain to House Speaker John Boehner that his frantic efforts to hold onto his speakership could end with voters replacing him with a Democratic Speaker in 2014?

As depicted in the cartoon above, the Republican majority in the House is being held hostage by around 30-40 delusional Tea Party wingnuts and their putative leader–John Boehner has no clue how to deal with the hostage crisis. It’s a mystery to me why anyone would even want that job, but to Boehner the job is apparently more important than the nation’s–and the world’s–economic well-being. Holding onto his job is apparently so important to him that he is willing to look like a complete fool rather than stand up to a bunch of crazy people in his own party.

Meanwhile, the media pundits are getting a little more restless–realizing that we really could reach the debt limit on October 17 without the House voting on a “clean” continuing resolution or an increase in the government’s ability to borrow to pay its bills.

Normally, I wouldn’t link to the National Review, but yesterday they published a piece by Washington editor Robert Costa, who probably has a pretty good idea what insane caucus in the House is up to. Costa writes:

Speaker John Boehner may be trying to finalize a plan to raise the debt limit, but House conservatives are already skeptical of his efforts. In interviews, several of them tell me they’re unlikely to support any deal that may emerge.

Costa goes on to quote a few of the wackiest of the wackos (emphasis added):

“They may try to throw the kitchen sink at the debt limit, but I don’t think our conference will be amenable for settling for a collection of things after we’ve fought so hard,” says Representative Scott Garrett (R., N.J.). “If it doesn’t have a full delay or defund of Obamacare, I know I and many others will not be able to support whatever the leadership proposes. If it’s just a repeal of the medical-device tax, or chained CPI, that won’t be enough.”

Representative Paul Broun (R., Ga.) agrees, and says Boehner risks an internal rebellion if he decides to broker a compromise. “America is going to be destroyed by Obamacare, so whatever deal is put together must at least reschedule the implementation of Obamacare,” he says. “This law is going to destroy America and everything in America, and we need to stop it.”

“Stay the course, don’t give in on it, that’s what the people in my district are saying,” says Representative Ted Yoho (R., Fla.). “We did a town hall the other day, and 74 percent of people said, ‘don’t raise the debt ceiling.’”

This despite the fact that polls show their ideas are poison to the American public. These people are truly insane, and they believe they’re winning. Nothing will stop them except throwing them out of their jobs. Here are some other reactions to Costa’s piece.

David Atkins of Hallabaloo: Nothing less than Fort Sumter will do.

If you think this is insane–and it is–keep in mind that it’s only going to get worse from here.

Until Republicans are removed from control of all branches of government, the brinksmanship is going to get worse, and the demands are going to become more severe. The lunatics are running the asylum now, the revanchist movement is in full swing, and the Lost Cause is the name of the game.

Not even sequestration-level spending plus cutting Medicare and Social Security will do for these people–and that’s after losing an election. Try to picture where the Republican party was 30 years ago. Then 20 years ago. Then 10 years. Then today. Now picture 10 years from now. Anyone who thinks there’s going to be a retreat from the precipice is deluding themselves. If they lose in 2014, it will be because they didn’t hold firm against Obamacare. If they lose to Hillary in 2016, it will be because they didn’t shout loud enough about Benghazi.

If we don’t stop them somehow, the Tea Party crazies will try to refight the Civil War.

Josh Barro at Business Insider: Republicans Do Crazy Things Because They Have Crazy Beliefs. Barro responds to Georgia Rep Paul Broun’s claim that “America is going to be destroyed by Obamacare….This law is going to destroy America and everything in America, and we need to stop it.”

It’s one thing to oppose Obamacare. It’s quite another to believe it will “destroy America and everything in America.” As Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Avik Roy, a strong opponent of Obamacare, wrote last month:

The idea that we had a free-market health-care system before Obamacare, and a socialized one after, is completely and utterly incorrect. In 2010, before the passage of Obamacare, U.S.-government entities spent more per capita on health care than all but three other countries in the world. Obamacare adds to that spending by around 10 to 15 percent. Not good, to be sure, but not the whole kit and caboodle either.

The changes from Obamacare, good and bad, are marginal. It will not fundamentally change America….

But if you already believe something crazy — that Obamacare will destroy America — then it’s not additionally crazy to favor drastic, dangerous action to stop it.

Sarah Jones at Politicus USA: From Hostage Takers to Buffoons, House Republican Ineptitude Heads for Default.

Even a short term debt ceiling agreement is up in the air now. Not the actual debt ceiling limit, but a short term agreement. We can’t even do that now, if Robert Costa’s readings are accurate.

Costa tweeted, “One of my best House R sources thinks Boehner may, just may, be able to get votes for short-term DL ext, but even that is up in air” [....]

If you’re wondering how Republicans can be so out of it when the polls keep instructing them otherwise (as if the ONLY issue here is their own political survival, forget the people or this country), perhaps this level of utter cluelessness will be informative. When asked if the Republicans have their next move mapped out and if Boehner has any legislation drawn up regarding the debt ceiling, “Negatory,” Representative Pete Sessions replies. You see, it’s all about “messaging”. “We’re going to keep with our great, positive attitude and tell the president, ‘you’ve got to sit down and negotiate.’”

So, their great positive attitude involves tanking the economy and shutting down the government because they lost an election. Huh. Also: Only in Republican world is holding a gun to the country’s head before being willing to “talk” an act of good faith.

Republicans don’t understand this president very well at all, but then, we tend to project our own values onto others so this is understandable. They never should have threatened the country. They could have threatened anything but the American people and the democratic process, and this President wouldn’t have felt compelled to take a stand.

Boehner Onion

It’s really getting to be a cliche to point out that reports of Republican behavior are for real and not from The Onion. But seriously, it’s hard to believe The Onion can keep finding ways to exaggerate these people’s insanity. Apparently there was “outrage” after this 2011 Onion story; but does it actually seem crazy two years later to claim that what the Republicans are trying to do is going to hurt–even kill–some children?

A few more comments on the hostage situation from various pundits:

Washington Post Editorial Board: The House GOP has nothing to show for its government shutdown.

WHAT HAVE House Republicans managed to accomplish in a week of government shutdown?

Damage the livelihood of millions of Americans? Check. Government secretaries, food-truck operators, cleaners who work in motels near national parks: They’re all hurting.

Waste billions of taxpayer dollars? Check. It costs a lot to shut agencies, Web sites and parks, and it will cost a lot to reopen them. Meanwhile, the House has voted to pay the salaries, eventually, of hundreds of thousands of employees whom it has ordered not to work. That’s an odd way to manage an enterprise.

Interfere with key government operations? Check. The National Transportation Safety Boardcan’t investigate an accident last weekend on Metro’s Red Line that claimed the life of a worker. That could make future accidents more likely. On the other side of the world, U.S. allies from Tokyo to Singapore are wondering whether they can rely on a nation whose president has to go AWOL from a key summit meeting in their region.

Rattle the markets, slow an economy in recovery, interrupt potentially lifesaving research at the National Institutes of Health? Check, check and check.

Derail the hated Obamacare? Ch . . . — oh, no, wait a minute.

Because it’s not really about “Obamacare.” It’s about making government itself completely dysfunctional. I keep thinking about Dakinikat’s post yesterday and the pieces she quoted by Jonathan Chait and The Economist. Have we really reached the point where the gridlock in DC is so bad that our form of government is in danger of collapse? And what can we do about it? In order to change our system of divided government, we would need to call a Constitutional Convention. Even if we could get to that point in this atmosphere, the final result could be a lot worse than what we have now. I really believe the only way to save our form of government is to somehow throw all the Tea Party Republicans out of it. Is that possible?

Alex Altman at Time: Boehner Holds Weaker Cards In High-Stakes Political Poker

President Barack Obama says he will not pay House Republicans a ransom in exchange for re-opening the government or raising the debt ceiling. House Speaker John Boehner insists he doesn’t have the votes to do either without any White House concessions.

Both men are bluffing. And while Obama’s play is a risky one, Boehner’s bluff is worse: it just doesn’t look very credible.

In a Sunday interview with ABC News, Boehner said the U.S. faced the specter of its first ever federal default if Obama didn’t cave to GOP demands. “There are not the votes in the House,” Boehner declared, to pass a so-called “clean” bill to reopen the government. “The votes are not in the House to pass a clean debt limit,” he added. “And the president is risking default by not having a conversation with us.”


These kinds of threats have worked for Boehner before,

But this is now a less credible threat. A few days before Boehner went on TV to talk tough about the threat of default, he was reportedly confiding to fellow Republicans that he would never allow it. Failure to hike the debt limit would unleash a chain of economic calamities, if not the first ever federal default. Boehner doesn’t want that to be his political epitaph.

To be sure, there are plenty of House Republicans who are willing, if not eager, to hold the line. But if the votes aren’t there for clean bills, that’s only because Boehner hasn’t allowed them to come forward. As Speaker, he and his leadership team control the floor. A clean bill to reopen the government, and a companion measure to lift the debt limit, would draw unanimous or near-unanimous support from the chamber’s 200 Democrats; all but five are on record supporting such a vote. Nearly two-dozen Republicans are also publicly on board. Some say the number is far higher. If Boehner let a clean funding bill hit the House floor, “it would probably get 300 votes,” New York Representative Peter King, a Republican who has been critical of the party’s shutdown strategy, told TIME last week.

Jamelle Bouie at The Daily Beast: Five Boehner Quotes—From One Interview—That Explain Everything.

To watch John Boehner speak Sunday—in a segment with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos—was to watch him issue talking points from another dimension, where legislative hostage-taking is routine and the American public is eager to threaten the full faith and credit of the United States. The interview was rife with dishonesty, but there were five statements—in particular—that stood out for their recklessness and/or brazen disregard for the truth.

I won’t excerpt any more from this one. You need to go read the whole thing–it’s not long.

In my opinion, it’s an open question whether the insanity of the Tea Party can be beaten. Certainly, our democratic Republic cannot survive much more of this. The best solution would be for the Democrats to really hold their ground this time and for President Obama to invoke the 14th Amendment and abolish the debt ceiling unilaterally. But do the Democrats and Obama have the guts to do it? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Now it’s your turn. What stories are grabbing your attention today? Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread.


Monday Reads

Red-Blue-intro

Good Morning!

I’ve made plans to go to Seattle next month again to stay with my dad and hope that I can also spend time looking for the possibility of a job since my daughter is joining a small ob/gyn practice about an hour north of Seattle.  It’s hard not to long for the safety of a blue state given what’s been going on recently and given the conversations that I have with people that safely dwell in the Faux News Reality of Welfare Queens,  Pedophile Gays, Scary Black People in Hoodies, and Invading Mexicans.  I’ve been in a long Facebook conversation trying to explain the Affordable Care Act details and why the exchanges are not “government-backed” insurance until I’m blue in the face.  No amount of numbers convinces them that all the jobs are not becoming part time.  I was just told I obviously don’t have common sense if I don’t see the Affordable Care Act as a giant give away to lazy poor people even though I’ve tried to explain that Medicaid still exists and it still is the plan for poor people.  There just exists this ever deepening divide between the realities of Red and Blue States.  Did Nixon’s Southern Strategy doom our Democracy?

In a merciful twist of fate, Juan Linz did not quite live to see his prophecy of the demise of American democracy borne out. Linz, the Spanish political scientist who died last week, argued that the presidential system, with its separate elections for legislature and chief executive, was inherently unstable. In a famous 1990 essay, Linz observed, “All such systems are based on dual democratic legitimacy: No democratic principle exists to resolve disputes between the executive and the legislature about which of the two actually represents the will of the people.” Presidential systems veered ultimately toward collapse everywhere they were tried, as legislators and executives vied for supremacy. There was only one notable exception: the United States of America.

Linz attributed our puzzling, anomalous stability to “the uniquely diffuse character of American political parties.” The Republicans had loads of moderates, and conservative whites in the South still clung to the Democratic Party. At the time he wrote that, the two parties were already sorting themselves into more ideologically pure versions, leaving us where we stand today: with one racially and economically polyglot party of center-left technocracy and one ethnically homogenous reactionary party. The latter is currently attempting to impose its program by threat upon the former. The events in Washington have given us a peek into the Linzian nightmare.

Traditionally, when American politics encountered the problem of divided government—when, say, Nixon and Eisenhower encountered Democratic Congresses, or Bill Clinton a Republican one—one of two things happened. Either both sides found enough incentives to work together despite their differences, or there was what we used to recognize as the only alternative: gridlock. Gridlock is what most of us expected after the last election produced a Democratic president and Republican House. Washington would drudge on; it would be hard to get anything done, but also hard to undo anything. Days after the election, John Boehner, no doubt anticipating things would carry on as always, said, “Obamacare is the law of the land.”

Instead, to the slowly unfolding horror of the Obama administration and even some segments of the Republican Party, the GOP decided that the alternative to finding common ground with the president did not have to be mere gridlock. It could force the president to enact its agenda.

It used to be that elections came with the usual majority rules ramifications.  This current group of Tea Party insurrectionists evidently has changed that equation.  The question now is what can we do about it?

And as the saying goes, elections have consequences. It’s how Democratic victories in the 1930s paved the way for Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, how Dem victories in the 1960s led to Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs, how Republican victories in the 1980s resulted in Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts, how Democratic majorities in 2006 and 2008 led to Obama’s health-care law, and how the GOP’s midterm wins in 2010 extracted spending-cut concessions from Obama the following year.

Yet what’s extraordinary about this current political fight is that Republicans are seeking another round of concessions — over the president’s signature domestic achievement — after losing the last election, which was viewed in part as a referendum on the health-care law.

“It’s as if Ted Cruz slept through the entire 2012 cycle,” a senior Democratic aide tells First Read. “It’s not like Obamacare, spending and debt weren’t major issues in 2012. They were central — and we won.”

Nevertheless, Cruz and House Republicans maintain that Obama and the Democrats must negotiate over the health-care law to re-open the federal government. And House Speaker John Boehnersays Democrats must negotiate to raise the debt ceiling. “The nation’s credit is at risk because of the administration’s refusal to sit down and have a conversation,” he told ABC News. “The votes are not in the House to pass a clean debt limit. And the president is risking default by not having a conversation with us.”

I found that Boehner comment about the lack of votes to be really strange given that he seems to think that the Democrats in the House and their votes do not matter.  What exactly is the conversation and why should the rest of the country have it when we thought we decided that about a year ago during the election?  Why is Boehner willing to weaponize the debt ceiling again?  (This is the same Jonathan Chait article I referenced above.)

The debt ceiling turns out to be unexploded ordnance lying around the American form of government. Only custom or moral compunction stops the opposition party from using it to nullify the president’s powers, or, for that matter, the president from using it to nullify Congress’s. (Obama could, theoretically, threaten to veto a debt ceiling hike unless Congress attaches it to the creation of single-payer health insurance.) To weaponize the debt ceiling, you must be willing to inflict harm on millions of innocent people. It is a shockingly powerful self-destruct button built into our very system of government, but only useful for the most ideologically hardened or borderline sociopathic. But it turns out to be the perfect tool for the contemporary GOP: a party large enough to control a chamber of Congress yet too small to win the presidency, and infused with a dangerous, millenarian combination of overheated Randian paranoia and fully justified fear of adverse demographic trends. The only thing that limits the debt ceiling’s potency at the moment is the widespread suspicion that Boehner is too old school, too lacking in the Leninist will to power that fires his newer co-partisans, to actually carry out his threat. (He has suggested as much to some colleagues in private.) Boehner himself is thus the one weak link in the House Republicans’ ability to carry out a kind of rolling coup against the Obama administration. Unfortunately, Boehner’s control of his chamber is tenuous enough that, like the ailing monarch of a crumbling regime, it’s impossible to strike an agreement with him in full security it will be carried out.

The standoff embroiling Washington represents far more than the specifics of the demands on the table, or even the prospect of economic calamity. It is an incipient constitutional crisis. Obama foolishly set the precedent in 2011 that he would let Congress jack him up for a debt-ceiling hike. He now has to crush the practice completely, lest it become ritualized. Obama not only must refuse to trade concessions for a debt-ceiling hike; he has to make it clear that he will endure default before he submits to ransom. To pay a ransom now, even a tiny one, would ensure an endless succession of debt-ceiling ransoms until, eventually, the two sides fail to agree on the correct size of the ransom and default follows.

This is a domestic Cuban Missile Crisis

Texas Demagogue and Senator Ted Cruz is already pushing the crisis forward. 

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Sunday said changes to President Obama’s signature healthcare law should be tied to a debt ceiling increase.

The Texas Republican said any deal on raising the nation’s borrowing authority should include some “significant structural” plans to reduce government spending, avoid new taxes and “look for ways to mitigate the harm from ObamaCare.”

“The debt ceiling historically has been among the best leverage that Congress has to rein in the executive,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Of the 55 times Congress has raised the debt limit, Cruz argued that 28 of those times Congress has attached “very stringent requirements,” many designed to reduce spending, including the 2011 sequestration plan.

So, a debt-ceiling increase should “respond to real harms coming from ObamaCare,” Cruz said.

Cruz said Republicans have leverage because of “so many nasty partisan jabs from Democrats” proving that “we’re winning the argument —Obamacare isn’t working.”

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew reiterated on Sunday that the federal government will run out of borrowing authority on Oct. 17.

And the world thinks we’ve completely lost it.00-02a-12-10-11-political-cartoons-tea-party  Here’s a taste of the German press as excerpted by Der Spiegel.

Munich’s national Süddeutsche Zeitung offers a slightly more depressing take, pointing blame at all sides. “What has already been apparent in America for a few years now is the self-destruction of one of the world’s oldest democracies. And the great tragedy here is that this work of destruction isn’t being wrought by enemies of democracy, greedy lobbyists or sinister major party donors. America’s democracy is bring broken by the very people who are supposed to be carry and preserve it: the voters, the parties and the politicians.”

The argument? The Republicans who have brought Washington to stillstand are repeatedly and democratically elected by voters and given a mandate to block. The parties themselves are fomenting an increasingly radicalized culture that deepens political, societal and geographic divisions in the country, argues the newspaper. And finally, there are few politicians in America who are willing or capable of thinking beyond their own electoral constituencies.

“At the moment, Washington is fighting over the budget and nobody knows if the county will still be solvent in three weeks,” the paper concludes. “What is clear, though, is that America is already politically bankrupt.”

The Brit magazine The Economist says that the US is ‘ungovernable’ and is demonstrating that our current situation is “no way to run a government”.

America enjoys the “exorbitant privilege” of printing the world’s reserve currency. Its government debt is considered a safe haven, which is why Uncle Sam can borrow so much, so cheaply. America will not lose these advantages overnight. But anything that undermines its creditworthiness—as the farce in Washington surely does—risks causing untold damage in the future. It is not just that America would have to pay more to borrow. The repercussions of an American default would be both global and unpredictable.

It would threaten financial markets. Since American Treasuries are very liquid and safe, they are widely used as collateral. They are more than 30% of the collateral that financial institutions such as investment banks use to borrow in the $2 trillion “tri-party repo” market, a source of overnight funding. A default could trigger demands by lenders for more or different collateral; that might cause a financial heart attack like the one prompted by the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. In short, even if Obamacare were as bad as tea-party types say it is (see Lexington), it would still be reckless to use the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip to repeal it, as some Republicans suggest.

What can be done? In the short term, House Republicans need to get their priorities straight. They should pass a clean budget resolution without trying to refight old battles over Obamacare. They should also vote to raise the debt ceiling (or better yet, abolish it). If Obamacare really does turn out to be a flop and Republicans win the presidency and the Senate in 2016, they can repeal it through the normal legislative process.

An FBI hostage negotiator has some hints on how to deal with petulant Tea Party bomb throwers.

red blue americans

So how did it get to this point? “Its fear-driven behavior,” says Voss. “They get angrier because they feel they’ve been defeated. People notice losses twice as much as they notice wins. It’s a sports metaphor you hear all the time: ‘I hate losing more than I like winning’…I think there’s a very strong sense of loss on their part over what they refer to as Obamacare and resentment over that is carried forward.”

But hostage negotiators aren’t the type to give up hope. “Ultimately, everybody wants success. And there are a lot of definitions of success,” Voss says. “Bottom line, they want to be made to look like they were effective and got things done for their side. So it’s a matter of refocusing on what’s in everybody’s best interests.”

He’s looking to the Obama White House to help start the reset: “I would ask them to start saying, ‘I understand that the people on the other side of the table have the best interests of the American people at heart.’ Simply recognize that. Everybody wants to do what’s best for the American public. Those sorts of statements repeated on a regular basis, it’s the start of dialogue. It’s not concession; it’s the beginning of dialogue.”

But the prison siege mentality Voss describes is exacerbated by an absence of strong calming leadership in the congressional GOP. “Those guys are sitting on the sidelines,” Voss says. “There are quite a few Republican politicians that I have a tremendous amount of respect for that are exceedingly silent these days.” He mentions House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers: “I’ve never heard anything out of Mike’s mouth that wasn’t really thoughtful and nuanced.”

Another possible constructive calming voice on the conservative caucus could be former President George W. Bush. “I think there’s a possibility that he would be somebody that you would talk to behind the scenes, and potentially an intermediary himself. I think he absolutely has the ability to be a stabilizing influence.”

But how to do you deal with the hyper-partisan congressional bomb-throwers? “Well it’s like a game of tic-tac-toe with the tantrum throwers,” Voss says. “In tic-tac-toe, if you’re going second, the best you can possibly do is tie—if you play the game. There’s a first-mover advantage. The minute you stop playing that game the first mover advantage goes away. So you don’t play their game at all. That’s the way you respond.”

So, the craziness continues and escalates.  If things come apart at the seams, I do not want to be stuck in Bobby Jindal’s Louisiana.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


One Less Clown in the Clown Car

republicancandidatesclowncarMichele Bachmann has announced her retirement.  She announced that this term–her fourth one–would be her last.  Who else but James Carville could put it like this?

Veteran Democratic strategist James Carville predicted on Wednesday that Republicans throughout the country would be “relieved” Rep. Michele Bachmann has decided to retire.

“Sad day,” Carville quipped on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” when host Joe Scarborough mentioned Bachmann’s retirement.

“It makes me so sad and you so happy, Joe,” Carville said later. “God closes one door for Michelle Bachmann and opens three to Louie Gohmert. Everybody in a political party feels some sense of: ‘God, why can’t these people just shut up?’ We have many of them in the Democratic party that I’m not going to name right now, but I do think there are a lot of Republicans that are going to be relieved that some of these fringe people decide to pursue a speaking career.”

There are several thoughts going through my  mind.  First, maybe she wants to try to go the Palin route and make some money.  She may be a religious nutter, but she did say fewer stupid things in her presidential debates.  She at least his some facts at hand and could make a go of it at Fox.  Second, she is under investigation for irregularities in her campaign finances and aids have said she had a weird relationship with one of her advisers.  Given she is married to an obviously gay man, she may have been ripe for all kinds of things we don’t know about yet that could come out. The FBI is investigating her.

A recent study by PolitiFact found that she was one of the most dishonest politicians inside the Beltway. That’ s even though she stopped at nothing to call President Obama all manner of names. Of course, Republicans have so much nerve that a dishonest GOP pol would never admit he or she is dishonest.  That reminds me of her intro to “Lying Ass B*tch” on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” I think Quest Love was on to something then…..

Representative Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota Republican who made an ill-fated run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, announced Wednesday that she would not seek a fifth term in Congress next year.

She made the announcement just six months after being re-elected in what was her most challenging campaign since she was first elected to Congress nine years ago. Her announcement also comes as her former presidential campaign faces inquiries into its fund-raising activities.

“I have decided next year I will not seek a fifth congressional term,” she said in a video on her campaign Web site. “This decision was not impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign or my former presidential staff,” she added. … In her congressional race last year, Mrs. Bachmann won re-election by just 4,200 votes, beating the hotelier Jim Graves, who was greatly outspent. Mr. Graves recently announced that he would seek the seat again.

Michele Bachmann also added:  “[T]he law limits anyone from serving as president of the United States for more than eight years. bachmann cartoonAnd in my opinion, well, eight years is also long enough for any individual to serve as a representative for a specific congressional district.” Sorry, but she’s not just stepping aside because she believes she should only serve eight years in Congress. She may have decided to cut and run a week after reports that thw FBI is probing her campaign finances.

The FBI probe would undoubtedly play out in an election.  Minnesota is an unbelievably squeaky clean state and really hates any kind of improprieties.

The FBI is scheduling interviews related to allegations of financial impropriety in Rep. Michele Bachmann’s 2012 campaign.

An attorney for Andy Parrish, the Minnesota Republican’s former chief of staff, confirmed that he will be interviewed by the FBI next week. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that two other former Bachmann staffers have also been contacted.

Peter Waldron, who served as Bachmann’s national field coordinator in Iowa, has filed a Federal Elections Commission complaint alleging that the lawmaker’s campaign improperly used leadership PAC funds to pay presidential campaign staff — including national political director Guy Short — and concealed payments to state Sen. Kent Sorenson. Waldron would not confirm or deny that he had been contacted by the FBI.

We haven’t been exactly kind to Bachmann here even though she is a woman in politics.  But, any one with her agenda is a friend to no woman. Her outspoken hatred of gays, her race-baiting, and just general creepiness when it comes to crack pot religious beliefs puts her in the “not to be taken seriously” category.  I am personally glad that both Palin and Bachmann will fade into no where.  You hate to have bad role models for girls being given face time on national air waves.  Plus, when they fight for policies that so obviously hurt women, they become the most effective tools of injustice.  I really hate that too.  Anyway,  it’s garbage day tomorrow.  Nice to see that some of the trash has been taken out early.


Sunday Reads: Fetuses are not people, my friend…and other irritating hypocrisies.

[Pulp magazine]: Weird Tales -- March 1934, Volume 23, Number 3.. Indianapolis, Indiana: Popular Fiction Publishing Company. 1934. Magazine. Cover by Margaret Brundage.

[Pulp magazine]: Weird Tales — March 1934, Volume 23, Number 3.. Indianapolis, Indiana: Popular Fiction Publishing Company. 1934. Magazine. Cover by Margaret Brundage.

Good Morning

Earlier this week we saw one hypocrisy after another. 

Can someone explain this to me?

How can a fetus…at seven months, a viable seven months mind you, not be a person? But…the clump of cells being aborted by a woman, who is executing her own right to choose, which is legal mind you…thanks to the Supreme Court….how can that clump of cells be a “child.”

I will tell you how, money…that is how fetuses are not people my friends!

Just take a look at some of these articles from this week alone.  Emphasis mine…

Anti-Abortion Protest Of 40th Roe V. Wade Anniversary Draws Thousands

Among the speakers at Friday’s rally was Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and staunch abortion opponent who last year unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination.

He recalled the love and support the country showed for his young daughter, Bella, who was born with a serious genetic condition and whose illness led him to take some time off from the campaign trail. He cited his daughter’s life — “she is joyful, she is sweet, she is all about love” — as a reason to discourage abortion even in instances when women are told that it would be “better” for their unborn children to have one.

“We all know that death is never better — never better. Really what it’s about is saying is it would be easier for us, not better for her,” he said. “And I’m here to tell you … Bella is better for us and we are better because of Bella.”

He said the anti-abortion cause was made up of people who every day advocate for their position outside abortion clinics and at crisis pregnancy centers.

This movement is not a bunch of moralizers standing on their mountaintop preaching what is right,” Santorum said.

One demonstrator, Mark Fedarko, 44, of Cleveland, said he regularly stands outside of abortion clinics in hopes of discouraging women from going inside.

There’s God’s law and man’s law,” he said. But I follow God’s law first. Like it says right here, thou shall not kill. That’s the end of the story. We need to protect these children.”

Ah…children. We must protect the children!

John Boehner: Ending Abortion Is ‘One Of Our Most Fundamental Goals This Year’

Addressing the crowd at the National Mall via video broadcast, Boehner said it’s time for anti-abortion activisits to “commit ourselves to doing everything we can to protect the sanctity of life.” Step one, he said, is making permanent the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal dollars from being used to pay for abortions except in cases of rape or incest.

“For the new Congress, that means bringing together a bipartisan pro-life majority and getting to work,” Boehner said. “In accordance with the will of the people, we will again work to pass the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, formally codifying the Hyde Amendment.”

Boehner said he will make it a national priority to “help make abortion a relic of the past.”

“Let that be one of our most fundamental goals this year,” he said.

Yes….a fundamental goal…protect the sanctity of life.

But wait a moment: A Fetus Is Not a Person if it Costs us Money, Says Catholic Church

You know how the Catholic Church is always going on and on … and  on and freakin’  on … about the sanctity of life and also a bunch of vague concepts about liberty ‘n stuff? We can’t have abortion because every sperm is sacred. We can’t have insurance coverage for women’s health care because  something about Taco Bell and freedom. We can’t even  fund cancer screening because apparently Jesus was cool with women dying of undetected breast cancer.

And all of this—all of it—goes back to the Church’s insistence that life begins with your very first hell-worthy dirty thought and must be protected at all costs, despite all consequences, including, of course, the consequence of dead women, whose lives are not nearly as valuable as the “life” of an unborn fetus. In just the past year, the Church has called upon its faithful followers to march, to starve themselves, to go to jail, to even take up arms—all to protect those fetuses. No exceptions. None. Not if the fetus is already dead inside the womb. Not if the fetus is going to kill the actual living woman carrying it. No goddamned exceptions EVER.

Well, except for one: when it’s going to cost the Church money.

Turns out, when a man sues a Catholic hospital for malpractice because his wife and the twins she was carrying inside her died when she turned up in the emergency room and her doctor never bothered to answer a page—well, things get a little tricky. Yes, the Catholic hospital adheres to the strict Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church, as set forth by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. And yes, those directives include the claim that “[t]he Church’s defense of life encompasses the unborn” and a mandate to uphold “the sanctity of life ‘from the moment of conception until death.’” But come  on. That obviously does not apply when Catholic Health Initiatives, the Church-affiliated organization that runs the Church-affiliated St. Thomas More Hospital where a young woman and her two unborn fetuses died, is the lead defendant in a lawsuit.

What? I just read a bunch of news articles that says we must save the sanctity of life, these unborn children, from being aborted, and now the church argues a wrongful death court case because fetuses aren’t people?

In malpractice case, Catholic hospital argues fetuses aren’t people

Catholic Health’s lawyers effectively turned the Church directives on their head. Catholic organizations have for decades fought to change federal and state laws that fail to protect “unborn persons,” and Catholic Health’s lawyers in this case had the chance to set precedent bolstering anti-abortion legal arguments. Instead, they are arguing state law protects doctors from liability concerning unborn fetuses on grounds that those fetuses are not persons with legal rights.

As Jason Langley, an attorney with Denver-based Kennedy Childs, argued in one of the briefs he filed for the defense, the court “should not overturn the long-standing rule in Colorado that the term ‘person,’ as is used in the Wrongful Death Act, encompasses only individuals born alive. Colorado state courts define ‘person’ under the Act to include only those born alive. Therefore Plaintiffs cannot maintain wrongful death claims based on two unborn fetuses.”

And get this, the Catholic hospital won the argument.  Catholic hospital chain beats malpractice suit by saying fetuses aren’t people

Catholic Health Initiatives is a non-profit conglomerate organization that owns roughly 170 health care facilities in 17 states, with national assets totaling around $15 billion.

Catholic hospitals purportedly base their ethical practices on the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church, which were authored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. These guidelines state that, “Catholic health care ministry witnesses to the sanctity of life ‘from the moment of conception until death. The Church’s defense of life encompasses the unborn.”

Catholic Health Initiatives’ promotional literature states that its mission is to “nurture the healing ministry of the Church” and be guided by “fidelity to the Gospel.” The chain’s refusal to dispense contraceptives, perform abortions or to offer end-of-life services has placed it at odds in business deals attempting to acquire secularly governed hospitals in the past.

Practicing what that “good book” tells ya to is one hell of a money maker, eh? Fucking assholes!  The hypocrisy of this story against the backdrop of the anti-abortion protesters in DC makes me want to drop kick a priest, bishop, nun or a frothy….orange politician!

Hey, but in New Mexico…fetuses aren’t people either…they are considered evidence. New Mexico Bill Would Send Rape Victims to Jail for Aborting ‘Evidence’

If you thought the so-called “rape caucus” was fading away, there’s new evidence — and we mean evidence — that some Republicans are still going to make a lot of people upset with what they see as legitimate concerns about rape. New Mexico State Rep. Cathrynn Brown has now introduced a bill that, if she has her way, ultimately could see rape victims charged with felony and three years in prison if they fail to carry their pregnancies to term.

Brown’s argument is that fetuses are evidence of sexual assault, and “tampering with evidence” is a third-degree felony. Here’s a key part of the actual bill, in case this stuff still seems unbelievable to you.

This story was updated by the way…

It appears that Brown has figured out that no one really liked her bill and that her bill, as it was stated, was rather unclear. The state representative apparently is submitting a substitute bill, the New Mexico Telegram reports. Brown said:

House Bill 206 was never intended to punish or criminalize rape victims … Its intent is solely to deter rape and cases of incest. The rapist—not the victim—would be charged with tampering of evidence. I am submitting a substitute draft to make the intent of the legislation abundantly clear.

So, what (we think) Brown, a pro-life Republican, means is that she’s trying to punish rapists who try and cover their tracks by getting their victims to have abortions. Which is a lot different than the bill she first introduced, which stated that any person “procuring” an abortion should be punished for “tampering.”

It still is a fucked up way to handle something like rape…I mean, if a woman is raped and gets an abortion…is tampering with evidence just another charge filed against the rapist? Yeah…like it is so damn easy to bring a rapist to prosecution.

Like proposed laws throughout the country, these legislators are taking things too far…remember the one in Georgia that made miscarriages a crime? Just because Obama won, and all those idiots who made ridiculous statements about rape lost their bid to go to Washington, doesn’t mean we have heard the last of the war drums from the christian right’s fight against women.

I know that you have heard me say this before, but one area where we could get some folks who will give women a fighting chance against these PLUB dumb asses, is to put more left-minded judges to work in the federal courts.  For example, take the recent decision that came down this week too, Court rules Obama recess appointments unconstitutional

A federal appeals court, dealing a defeat to President Obama, has sharply limited the chief executive’s power to bypass the Senate and to make temporary “recess” appointments to fill vacant slots in government agencies.

The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, in a 3-0 ruling,  said the president can make recess appointments only when the Senate has formally adjourned between sessions of Congress, not when lawmakers leave Washington for a brief break.

The White House is expected to appeal to the Supreme Court, but look at this…from Susie Madrak: Judge Who Ruled Against Recess Appointments Is A Wingnut

Just thought I’d point out the long-time wingnuttery and judicial activism of D.C. District Judge David Sentelle, the Reagan-appointee circuit judge and Jesse Helms protegee — the man who appointed Kenneth Starr — who just invalidated Obama’s NLRB appointments, thus kicking off a whole potential mess o’legal chaos!

The D.C. district is second only to the Supreme Court in its importance, and of course it has three (soon to be four) vacancies, which Republicans refuse to allow Obama to fill.

Susie points to this post from Daily Kos back in 2010:

This Daily Kos post from 2010 sums it up pretty well:

Sentelle.jpg

Back to Sentelle, the lead judge of this circuit court, and a reminder that this is someone who, when he gets a chance, puts his right wing, authoritarian political beliefs over and above the principle of justice. Is it any wonder that the reason he became a judge is that he was appointed by Ronald Reagan, a man who also whenever he got a chance, also put his own right wing, authoritarian political beliefs over and above the principle of justice.

This is, for example, the same partisan hack who voted to overturn the convictions of Oliver North and John Poindexter, for their Iran Contra crimes.

This is, for example, the same partisan hack who appointed his fellow partisan hack Kenneth Starr for his witchhunt of the Clintons.

This is, for example, the same partisan hack who enthusiastically supported the “Military Commissions Act” and its destruction of habeas corpus for enemy combatants; if you are David Sentelle and the government accuses you of a crime, you are guilty until you can prove innocence, rather than the other way around, and the government can throw up all sorts of roadblocks to prove your innocence. Unless, of course, you are someone like Ollie North. Then, of course, your innocence is fully presumed.

The man has no business wearing a judge’s robe, and is a disgrace to our supposed rule of law.

Emphasis Susie’s…

Another opinion on this decision from the LG&M’s blog: Neoconfederate Judges Rule NLRB Recess Appointments Unconstitutional – Lawyers, Guns & Money

Oh, great. The opinion is an atrocity, classic “hack originalism for dummies,” relying heavily on the fact that recess appointments during nominal sessions of the Senate are a relatively recent phenomenon (although there’s precedent going back to 1867, and “[t]he last five Presidents have all made appointments during intrasession recesses of fourteen days or fewer”), without considering that the Senate systematically refusing to consider presidential nominees is also a contemporary phenomenon.

Read the rest of that post at the link.

Obama needs to put his “stamp” on those federal district court justices.

Here is one article that I saved away when I read it originally earlier this month, from Charlie Savage: Obama Lags on Filling Seats in the Judiciary

President Obama is set to end his term with dozens fewer lower-court appointments than both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush achieved in their first four years, and probably with less of a lasting ideological imprint on the judiciary than many liberals had hoped for and conservatives had feared.

Multimedia

Mr. Obama’s record stems in part from a decision at the start of his presidency to make judicial nominations a lower political priority, according to documents and interviews with more than a dozen current and former administration officials and with court watchers from across the political spectrum. Senate Republicans also played a role, ratcheting up partisan warfare over judges that has been escalating for the past generation by delaying even uncontroversial picks who would have been quickly approved in the past.

But a good portion of Mr. Obama’s judicial record stems from a deliberate strategy. While Mr. Bush quickly nominated a slate of appeals court judges early in his first year — including several outspoken conservatives — Mr. Obama moved more slowly and sought relatively moderate jurists who he hoped would not provoke culture wars that distracted attention from his ambitious legislative agenda.

“The White House in that first year did not want to nominate candidates who would generate rancorous disputes over social issues that would further polarize the Senate,” said Gregory B. Craig, Mr. Obama’s first White House counsel. “We were looking for mainstream, noncontroversial candidates to nominate.”

Noncontroversial? Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Like everything else we hear out of Obama’s mouth….but that is another topic for another post.

You can read another article on Obama’s weak-ass attention to the Judicial appointments from Robert Kuttner, published last year: The Courts: How Obama Dropped the Ball

In his novel King of the Jews, Leslie Epstein sets his story in the wartime ghetto of Lodz, Poland, where the Gestapo ruled through an appointed council of Jewish elders. Epstein, researching the book, tracked down the gallows humor of the time. In one such joke, told by a character in the novel, two Jews are facing a firing squad. The commandant asks if they would like blindfolds.  One of the condemned whispers to the other, “Don’t make trouble.”

“Don’t make trouble” could have been the credo of the first year of the Obama Administration. The White House calculated that if the president just extended the hand of conciliation to the Republicans, the opposition would reciprocate and together they would change the tone in Washington. This was the policy on everything from the stimulus to health reform to judicial nominations. It didn’t work out so well.

Now, spurred by the tailwind of a re-election victory and the realization that public opinion is on his side, President Obama has displayed a new toughness in his budget battle. He has declared that he won’t negotiate against himself, and the strategy is working. But the White House is still stuck in don’t-make-trouble mode on the crucial issue of judicial appointments, where the pace of nominations is only now catching up with that of Obama’s predecessors and the strategy for avoiding partisan confrontation gives Republicans something close to a veto over who is nominated.

I will leave you to read those two articles in full…and now, I give you the rest of the day’s reads in link dump fashion.

Hey Kat, Jindal is not the only one fucking things up: Sam Brownback’s Kansas is a Resort Town for “Makers”

Much like Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, Governor Sam Brownback is busy turning Kansas into a right-wing paradise, with low wages, few public services, and reactionary social policy. Since 2010, when conservative Republicans—including Brownback—took full control of the state, Kansas has passed strict new anti-abortion laws as well as large cuts to education and mental health care services. And last year, Brownback signed a bill that cuts state income taxes by roughly $3.7 billion over five years, and collapses the state’s current three-bracket tax system into two brackets: 4.9 percent and 3 percent.

That tax cut took effect this month, and as the New York Timesreports, it’s the largest reduction in Kansas history. It’s also only the beginning; this week, Kansas Republicans introduced a bill that would pare taxes further, and eventually eliminate the state’s individual income tax.

As with Jindal’s proposal in Louisiana, this would deprive the state of needed revenue; existing tax cuts are already expected cost nearly $850 million in the coming year. Additional cuts will balloon those costs, and force further reductions to state services.

Now an update from Newtown, Sandy Hook probe to extend until summer, prosecutor says … WTF? I really would love to know if I am the only one who finds it strange that we still know less about Adam Lanza then we do about all those other mass shooters since Sandy Hook.

Stephen King has an essay available on Kindle: Guns (Kindle Single): Stephen King: Amazon.com: Kindle Store

In a pulls-no-punches essay intended to provoke rational discussion, Stephen King sets down his thoughts about gun violence in America. Anger and grief in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School are palpable in this urgent piece of writing, but no less remarkable are King’s keen thoughtfulness and composure as he explores the contours of the gun-control issue and constructs his argument for what can and should be done.

King’s earnings from the sale of this essay will go the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Check it out! It is only $0.99.

Here is an article from a couple of weeks ago: LIZ JONES FASHION THERAPY: As plus-size sales soar, our columnist meets the models making a big impact on the high street.  Nice to see real sized women models getting noticed.

In Romania, Stray Dogs Are Better at Crossing the Street Than People.

Traffic police in Romania are fed up with pedestrians’ blatant disregard for designated crosswalks, opting to instead dash across busy streets at their own, oftentimes fatal, detriment. In an effort to raise awareness of this sheer idiocy, traffic police have released a series of TV ads highlighting the citizens that understand the function of those big white lines painted on the pavement are for: Stray dogs.

Semida Duriga, the director of Romania’s Next Advertising agency, created and launched the ads upon learning the unsettling statistics regarding the number of careless pedestrians killed or grievously injured when hit by oncoming motor vehicles. According to the chief of Romania’s traffic police, Lucian Dinita, roughly 360 of these collisions were fatal while another 1,200 required intense medical attention.

Unlike humans and their all-encompassing drive to reach the taco truck across the street regardless of the consequences, Romania’s stray dog population heeds the importance of traversing crosswalks and understands that the green light applies to cars and not living organisms. This uncanny level of canine adroitness is what inspired Duriga to film these dogs from various Romanian cities in action for the ads.

I am not sure if that is a compliment to the dogs or not?

Okay, here is a link to a scientific study, this one is about Socially isolated rats are more vulnerable to addiction, report researchers.

And another article on findings from a recent study, this one dealing with Household chores: Gender equality’s final frontier.

Let’s finish up with a link to an article about 3-D printers. Seriously, I thought this was a load of shit, but it isn’t…it is for real! Dutch architect to build house with 3D printer

A handout computer generated image shows a house designed by Dutch architecture practice Universe Architecture on Jan. 14, 2013. Photo via AFP.

A Dutch architect has designed a house “with no beginning or end” to be built using the world’s largest 3D printer, harnessing technology that may one day be used to print houses on the moon.

Can you believe it?

Well, this is a real long post…hope to see you all in the comments. Have a great day and share your thoughts with us!


Ooooo, just what we need…

raise itGood evening…

Many of you may have already seen a transcript of Obama’s inaugural address. If you haven’t, I have a bunch of links for you to check out…It is various thoughts from different people and you may find it interesting. (I realize there was an earlier post on the speech, but these are different links.)

President Obama’s Second Inaugural Address [w/ video] | Angry Black Lady Chronicles

The Volokh Conspiracy » Jefferson Lives!

Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall | emptywheel

Obama’s Startling Second Inaugural – James Fallows – The Atlantic

3 Words Of Advice For Obama From Regular Americans

The Tuskegee Airmen Define Patriotism

Pictures: Bill & Hillary Clinton at the Inauguration « Still4Hill

GOP Lawmakers Tweet Nothing But Nice Words For Obama On Inauguration Day | Mediaite

Another shooting, this one could have been even worse, if the killer was not talked out of carrying out his plan.

New Mexico man allegedly killed by son was prison minister, friend says

New Mexico Teenager Is Charged With Killing His Family

New Mexico teen accused of killing family wanted to kill more, police say

Meanwhile, on the red planet… Study: Mars could have held watery underground oases for life

Mars McLaughlin Crater

This image of Mars’ McLaughlin Crater shows evidence of layers of clay and carbonate, signs of the presence of water. (University of Arizona/JPL / January 21, 2013)

And one last link, ‘Adventurous human woman’ wanted to give birth to Neanderthal man by Harvard professor

They’re usually thought of as a brutish, primitive species.

So what woman would want to give birth to a Neanderthal baby?

Yet this incredible scenario is the plan of one of the world’s leading geneticists, who is seeking a volunteer to help bring man’s long-extinct close relative back to life.

Professor George Church of Harvard Medical School believes he can reconstruct Neanderthal DNA and resurrect the species which became extinct 33,000 years ago.

His scheme is reminiscent of Jurassic Park but, while in the film dinosaurs were created in a laboratory, Professor Church’s ambitious plan requires a human volunteer.

He said his analysis of Neanderthal genetic code using samples from bones is complete enough to reconstruct their DNA.

He said: ‘Now I need an adventurous female human.

‘It depends on a hell of a lot of things, but I think it can be done.’

Want a laugh, check out the comments….
This is an open thread.