Thursday Reads: A Little Bit Of This, A Little Bit Of That

Boris Karloff reads with friend

Boris Karloff reads with friend

Good Morning!!

Now that Congressional Republicans have successfully shot down President Obama’s rumored first choice for Secretary of State–Susan Rice–they are working on nixing the president’s possible pick for Secretary of Defense, Republican Chuck Hagel. Aaron Blake at The Fix:

Former senator Chuck Hagel’s (R-Neb.) potential/likely nomination as Secretary of Defense looms this week amid a growing chorus of criticism over his past comments about Israel and his policy positions on issues including the defense budget.

It seems some are bent on defeating Hagel’s nomination before it can even become official — much as Republican senators did with potential Secretary of State pick Susan Rice just last week. In fact, the same GOP senators who scuttled the Rice pick are now expressing doubts about Hagel.

A battle over Hagel would be highly unusual — both because we just had one over Rice and because both senators nominated to Cabinet posts and Secretary of Defense nominees generally sail to confirmation.

Obama should have stuck with Rice and fought it out. Senate Republicans smell blood now. The only reason John Kerry may be approved for State is that Republicans fantasize that Massachusetts voters will repeat their past mistake of electing Scott Brown to fill an open Senate seat. This president is the worst negotiator ever. He really needs to get someone else to make deals for him. He just can’t accept the reality that Republicans hate his guts and will never give him a break, ever.

Meanwhile Rep. Darrell Issa must be drooling over the “scathing report” on the Benghazi attacks

Four State Department officials were removed from their posts on Wednesday after an independent panel criticized the “grossly inadequate” security at a diplomatic compound in Benghazi that was attacked on Sept. 11, leading to the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Eric Boswell, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, resigned. Charlene Lamb, the deputy assistant secretary responsible for embassy security, and another official in the diplomatic security office whom officials would not identify were relieved of their duties. So was Raymond Maxwell, a deputy assistant secretary who had responsibility for the North Africa region. The four officials, a State Department spokeswoman said, “have been placed on administrative leave pending further action.”

The report by the independent panel has criticized officials in State’s bureau for Diplomatic Security displaying a “lack of proactive leadership.” It also said that some in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs “showed a lack of ownership of Benghazi’s security issues.”

The report did not criticize more senior officials, including Patrick F. Kennedy, the under secretary for management, who has vigorously defended the State Department’s decision-making on Benghazi to the Congress and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

At a news conference at the State Department on Wednesday, Thomas R. Pickering, a former ambassador who led the independent review, said that most of the blame should fall on officials in the two bureaus.

But that isn’t going to stop Republicans from trying to hang the blame around Hillary Clinton’s neck.

Sen. Bob Corker, R- Tenn., slated to be the senior Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee in 2013, told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell Wednesday that Clinton “has to come before us. I think it’s imperative.” ‘

Corker and other members of Congress were given a classified briefing on the report and afterwards he insisted that Clinton must testify before she leaves her post and the Senate votes on confirmation of her successor.

The secretary was slated to attend briefings on the Hill this week but has been recovering from the flu and a concussion she suffered in a recent fainting episode.

Of course the right wing conspiracy nuts are accusing Clinton of faking her illness. And in the House:

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the unclassified version of the report “omits important information the public has a right to know. This includes details about the perpetrators of the attack in Libya as well as the less-than-noble reasons contributing to State Department decisions to deny security resources.”

He also said, “In light of the report, I am concerned that the carefully vetted testimony of senior State Department officials at the October hearing was part of an intentional effort to mislead the American people.”

Hey Darrell, have you hot-wired any cars or burned down any businesses lately?

While Pentagon officials struggle to figure out how to protect foreign outposts without using Blackwater-type hired guns, they are dealing with a worldwide Military day care abuse scandal.

The Defense Department has launched a worldwide investigation into hiring practices at military child-care centers after a criminal probe of employees at an Army base near the Pentagon sparked a review that found more than 30 staffers who officials say should have been barred from contact with children.

Two civilian employees at the Child Development Center at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall appeared in federal court Wednesday in Alexandria to face charges of assaulting 2-year-olds in their care.

The president immediately urged a thorough investigation and a “zero tolerance policy when it comes to protecting the children of service members from abuse.”

Two workers at the day-care center at the base known as Fort Myer were recorded by surveillance cameras dragging, pinching, kneeing and taunting toddlers, according to federal court records. The center is the military’s largest day-care center, with more than 400 children ranging from 6 weeks to 12 years old. It is used by Pentagon employees and other service members in the Washington area.

A personnel review at Fort Myer began in the fall after a parent complained about an allegedly abusive caregiver.

The inquiry turned up evidence that at least 31 staffers had potentially disqualifying factors in their records, including history of drug use and past allegations of assault, a U.S. official familiar with the investigation said. The staffers have been suspended.

“This is not just one or two or three people,” the official said Wednesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of an ongoing inquiry. “This is a severe lapse in the background checks system.”

In police state news, two women in Texas are suing the Texas State Police for subjecting them to an “illegal roadside cavity search.”

A federal lawsuit filed by two Irving women claims that Texas State Troopers humiliated them by performing illegal cavity searches on the side of the road after a cigarette butt was thrown out of their car window.

State Trooper David Farrell called in a female trooper to perform cavity searches of Angel Dobbs, 38, and her 24-year-old niece, Ashley Dobbs, because he said that he smelled marijuana and the women were “acting weird,” attorney Scott Palmer told KTVT on Tuesday.

Angel Dobbs recalled that the female trooper, Kelley Helleson, asked for her permission to perform the search and then told her to “shut up and just listen.”

Unbelievable.

Dashcam video shows Helleson searching the anuses and vaginas of both women with the same latex gloves in full view of other passing cars.

“At this point, I’m in clear shock. I can’t even believe this is happening,” Angel Dobbs explained. Turns me around goes down into the front of my pants into my inner thigh and at which point she goes up with two fingers. I just look at her and say ‘oh my God, I’ve just been violated.’”

And then the trooper performed the same procedure on Ashley Dobbs without changing her gloves.

“She went down, then turned me around, and went down my front and then she actually dug,” Ashley Dobbs said. “I didn’t know what I could say, what I could do. I felt hopeless.”

Is it time for Texas to secede from the union and become part of Mexico (except for Austin, Ralph)? Nah, Mexico probably wouldn’t want to get involved.

The TSA is “Finally Investigating Cancer Risk of X-Ray Body Scanners” now that millions of Americans have been used as guinea pigs in the nation’s airports.

Following months of congressional pressure, the Transportation Security Administration has agreed to contract with the National Academy of Sciences to study the health effects of the agency’s X-ray body scanners. But it is unclear if the academy will conduct its own tests of the scanners or merely review previous studies.

The machines, known as backscatters, were installed in airports nationwide after the failed underwear bombing on Christmas Day 2009 to screen passengers for explosives and other nonmetallic weapons. But they have been criticized by some prominent scientists because they expose the public to a small amount of ionizing radiation, a form of energy that can cause cancer.

The scanners were the subject of a 2011 ProPublica series, which found that the TSA had glossed over the small cancer risk posed by even low doses of radiation. The stories also showed that the United States was almost alone in the world in X-raying passengers and that the Food and Drug Administration had gone against its own advisory panel, which recommended the agency set a federal safety standard for security X-rays.

The TSA maintains that the backscatters are safe and that they emit a low dose of X-rays equivalent to the radiation a passenger would receive in two minutes of flying at typical cruising altitude.

Winter has arrived in the Midwest: Outages in Iowa as season’s first blizzard starts journey in the Plains.

(CNN) — Tens of thousands of people lost power in Iowa on Thursday as the first major storm of the season swept in, bringing blizzards, high winds and severe thunderstorms to the central United States.

The storm prompted the National Weather Service to issue a blizzard warning for a huge swath of the Midwest stretching from eastern Colorado to Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan shoreline, including virtually all of Iowa.

The declaration warned of snow accumulations of up to 12 inches, complemented by 25- to 35-mph winds that will occasionally gust to 45 to 50 mph.

Oh goody.

The storm will race into western Illinois, the weather service said. Rain will quickly change to snow as the storm advances northeast, with the heaviest snow occurring overnight.

“Snow drifts several feet deep will be possible given the strong winds,” the blizzard warning states.
Wrapping around the blizzard warning on the north, south and east is a winter storm warning, which will be no picnic either. The winds won’t be quite as strong, but residents should expect a strong dose of rain, sleet and snow, with a few hail-packing thunderstorms thrown in for good measure.

Hmmm…what about my neck of the woods?

The “intense cyclone” will crawl across the Great Lakes region Thursday and slog into northern New England by Friday evening, the National Weather Service predicted.

Ugh…just what I needed.

I have three longer reads for you on the possible motivations behind mass shootings. I haven’t read any of these carefully yet, so I’m not sure if I’ll agree with the conclusions.

Scientific American is highlighting an article from 2007: Deadly Dreams: What Motivates School Shootings? The article focuses on the revenge fantasies of young shooters.

A Time article from July (written after the Aurora theater shootings) asks about “The Overwhelming Maleness of Mass Homicide.”

At Alternet: “What Is it About Men That They’re Committing These Horrible Massacres?”

I’ll be reading these articles after I publish this post. Let me know what you think.

Finally, Senators Diane Feinstein and John McCain are “condemning” the new movie about the killing of Osama bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty for falsely suggesting that torture led investigators to bin Laden’s hideout.

Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


Romney, GOP Appear to be Planning “October Surprise” on Libya . . . Will it Work?

The Romney campaign and the GOP appear to be rolling out an “October Surprise” in the leadup to to tomorrow night’s presidential debate.

On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Mitt Romney in which he supposedly proposed “A new course for the Middle East.  Here’s the opening:

Disturbing developments are sweeping across the greater Middle East. In Syria, tens of thousands of innocent people have been slaughtered. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has come to power, and the country’s peace treaty with Israel hangs in the balance. In Libya, our ambassador was murdered in a terrorist attack. U.S. embassies throughout the region have been stormed in violent protests. And in Iran, the ayatollahs continue to move full tilt toward nuclear-weapons capability, all the while promising to annihilate Israel….

Yet amid this upheaval, our country seems to be at the mercy of events rather than shaping them. We’re not moving them in a direction that protects our people or our allies.

What follows is several paragraphs of criticism of President Obama’s policies as Romney interprets them. For example, Romney accuses the President of “allow[ing] or leadership to atrophy,” “misunderstanding our values,” and “thinks that weakness will win favor with our adversaries,” but provides no evidence for these claims.

The only “solutions” Romney puts forward are also vague. He argues that we must develop a “coherent strategy” of supporting our Middle Eastern allies and also “restore our credibility with Iran.” Based on Romney’s previous statements, he seems to be suggesting that somehow if he is President, the Iranians will be more terrified of him than weak, Carter-like Barack Obama.

It means placing no daylight between the United States and Israel. And it means using the full spectrum of our soft power to encourage liberty and opportunity for those who have for too long known only corruption and oppression. The dignity of work and the ability to steer the course of their lives are the best alternatives to extremism.

But this Middle East policy will be undermined unless we restore the three sinews of our influence: our economic strength, our military strength and the strength of our values. That will require a very different set of policies from those President Obama is pursuing.

Yesterday Craig Unger wrote that he had learned from an anonymous source that GOP operatives will

unleash a new two-pronged offensive that will attack Obama as weak on national security, and will be based, in part, on new intelligence information regarding the attacks in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens on Sept. 11.

The source, who has firsthand knowledge of private, high-level conversations in the Romney camp that took place in Washington, D.C., last week, said that at various times the GOP strategists referred to their new operation as the Jimmy Carter Strategy or the October Surprise.

He added that they planned to release what they hoped would be “a bombshell” that would make Libya and Obama’s foreign policy a major issue in the campaign. “My understanding is that they have come up with evidence that the Obama administration had positive intelligence that there was going to be a terrorist attack on the intelligence.”

The source described the Republicans as chortling with glee that the Obama administration “definitely had intel” about the attack before it happened. “Intelligence can be graded in different ways,” he added, “and sometimes A and B don’t get connected. But [the Romney campaign] will try to paint it to look like Obama had advance knowledge of the attack and is weak on terrorism.”

“Chortling with glee?” The apparent goal of all this GOP strategizing is to make Barack Obama look like Jimmy Carter circa 1980. Romney and Ryan have both been trying to do this for months, with little effect.

To be honest, I’m having a hard time taking all this too seriously, but today Reps. Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz of the House Committee on Oversight and Government claimed to have information to prove that:

Despite two explosions and dozens of other security threats, U.S. officials in Washington turned down repeated pleas from American diplomats in Libya to increase security at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi where the U.S. ambassador was killed…

In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton [read the full letter here (pdf), Chairman Darrell Issa and Rep. Jason Chaffetz of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee said their information came from “individuals with direct knowledge of events in Libya.”

Issa, R-Calif. and Chaffetz, R-Utah said the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans was the latest in a long line of attacks on Western diplomats and officials in Libya in the months before Sept. 11.

The letter listed 13 incidents, but Chaffetz said in an interview there were more than 50. Two of them involved explosive devices: a June 6 blast that blew a hole in the security perimeter. The explosion was described to the committee as “big enough for forty men to go through”; and an April 6 incident where two Libyans who were fired by a security contactor threw a small explosive device over the consulate fence.

“A number of people felt helpless in pushing back” against the decision not to increase security and “were pleading with them to reconsider,” Chaffetz said. He added that frustrated whistleblowers were so upset with the decision that they were anxious to speak with the committee.

Issa and Chaffetz will hold a hearing on the issue next Wednesday, October 10.

Just a side note: Jason Chaffetz is a convert to Mormonism who attend BYU and is a Romney surrogate.  He also spoke at the Republican Convention.

The Wall Street Journal fired another salvo today with another op-ed by Bret Stephens: Benghazi Was Obama’s 3 a.m. Call Here’s the concluding paragraph, which sums up the entire argument pretty well:

The U.S. ignores warnings of a parlous security situation in Benghazi. Nothing happens because nobody is really paying attention, especially in an election year, and because Libya is supposed to be a foreign-policy success. When something does happen, the administration’s concerns for the safety of Americans are subordinated to considerations of Libyan “sovereignty” and the need for “permission.” After the attack the administration blames a video, perhaps because it would be politically inconvenient to note that al Qaeda is far from defeated, and that we are no more popular under Mr. Obama than we were under George W. Bush. Denouncing the video also appeals to the administration’s reflexive habits of blaming America first. Once that story falls apart, it’s time to blame the intel munchkins and move on.

Jake Tapper also helped out by trying to get White House spokesman Jay Carney to comment on the charges from Issa and Chaffetz. Here’s the response:

Carney said that “embassy security is a matter that is in the purview of the State Department,” and noted that “Secretary Clinton instituted an accountability review that is underway as we speak” while the investigation of the attack itself is being conducted by the FBI.

The press secretary said that “from the moment our facility was attacked” the president has been focused on providing security to all diplomatic posts “and bringing the killers to justice.”
About the list of security issues, Carney said it was a “known fact that Libya is in transition” and that in the eastern part of Libya in particular there are militant groups and “a great number of armed individuals and militias.”

So I guess we can expect Romney to attack President Obama on the Libya issue during tomorrow night’s debate, no doubt accompanied by the famous Romney smirk. Obama should be prepared though, since the “October Surprise” has been so clearly spelled out by multiple media sources.

Is there more to it? Will it work? I kind of doubt it, because it’s clear from the polls that Romney has already destroyed his credibility with voters. But I could be wrong.

What do you think?


Sunday Reads: The Goat Man Cometh

Vintage Ad, for what I don’t know…

Good morning…

The last few days have been emotionally exhausting.  I feel the need to avoid any links to the killings in Aurora today. In fact, I have just a few serious links for you this morning, the rest is just fluff.

Can you believe it has been a year:  Norway remembers Utoeya and Oslo victims, one year on

I can’t link to any other articles about the Norway massacre…it is just too upsetting right now.

The fighting in Syria has moved on to Aleppo: Syrian Troops, Rebels Clash in Aleppo

Syrian government troops clashed with rebels for a second straight day in the northern city of Aleppo, as the intensifying conflict sent thousands of civilians from across the war-torn nation pouring into neighboring Lebanon and Iraq.

Activists described the fighting in Aleppo as some of the fiercest to date in Syria’s commercial hub and largest population center. The city has remained largely loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and had been spared the daily bloodshed that has plagued other areas.

And one more serious link before we get to the “humorous” stuff.  Did you all hear about this one? Murdoch Quits News Corp Subsidiary Boards

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has stepped down as director of several subsidiary boards within his troubled News Corporation conglomerate, ahead of a planned company split.

A corporate statement said Murdoch stepped down as director of NI Group (formerly News International), Times Newspaper Holdings and News Corporation Investments. It linked the move to a recent announcement that the $53 billion media empire would separate its publishing and its media and entertainment businesses into two publicly traded companies.

Speculation has intensified in the last year that News Corporation could seek to sell its embattled British newspapers, in response to a phone hacking operation allegedly approved by senior editors at the now-defunct News of the World tabloid.

I wonder if the Koch Brothers would be interested?

Now, this first link is a serious story, and is not from The Onion. ‘Goat Man’ Spotted In Mountains Of Northern Utah (VIDEO)

Goat Man
A man spotted dressed in a goat suit among a herd of wild goats in the mountains of northern Utah has wildlife officials worried he could be in danger as hunting season approaches.

Phil Douglass of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said Friday the person is doing nothing illegal, but he worries the so-called “goat man” is unaware of the dangers.

“My very first concern is the person doesn’t understand the risks,” Douglass said. “Who’s to say what could happen.”

Sorry, but I have to do this…Bwaaaahhhhh.

Douglass said a man hiking Sunday along Ben Lomond peak in the mountains above Ogden, about 40 miles north of Salt Lake City, spotted the person dressed like a goat among a herd of real goats. The person provided some blurry photographs to Douglass, who said they did not appear to have been altered.

Wildlife officials now just want to talk to the man so that he is aware of the dangers. There’s no telling what his intentions are, Douglass said, but it is believed he could just be an extreme wildlife enthusiast.

“People do some pretty out there things in the name of enjoying wildlife. But I’ve never had a report like this,” Douglass said. “There’s a saying we have among biologists – You don’t go far enough, you don’t get the data. You go too far, you don’t go home. The same is true with some wildlife enthusiasts.”

Douglass said 60 permits will be issued for goat hunting season in that area, which begins in September. He worries the goat man might be accidentally shot or could be attacked by a real goat.

And what about the guy who took the pictures?

Coty Creighton, 33, spotted the goat man Sunday during his hike. He said he came across the herd, but noticed something odd about one goat that was trailing behind the rest.

[…]

The man appeared to be acting like a goat while wearing the crudely made costume, which had fake horns and a cloth mask with cut-out eye holes, Creighton said.

“I thought, `What is this guy doing?’ ” Creighton said. “He was actually on his hands and knees. He was climbing over rocks and bushes and pretty rough terrain on a steep hillside.”

Creighton said the man occasionally pulled up his mask, apparently trying to navigate the rocky terrain. The man then appeared to spot Creighton.

“He just stopped in his tracks and froze,” he said.

Creighton moved down the mountain and hid behind a tree, then began snapping photographs.

The goat man then put his mask back on, Creighton said, got back down on his hands and knees and scurried to catch up with the herd.

“We were the only ones around for miles,” Creighton said. “It was real creepy.”

Okay, why do I get that scene from Woody Allen’s Everything you wanted to know about sex, but where afraid to ask? You know the one, with the sheep named Daisy?

Now that you have that image in your minds, lets move on to other things.

Take a look at this quick post: Darrell Issa Wants to Name Part of the Ocean After Ronald Reagan | Angry Black Lady Chronicles

This is downright asinine:

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is floating legislation that would name most U.S. coastal waters after former President Ronald Reagan.

Issa reintroduced his bill Wednesday to rename the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which generally extends from three miles to 200 miles offshore, as the Ronald Wilson Reagan Exclusive Economic Zone.

~snip~

Under the proposal, references to the EEZ in U.S. laws, regulations, maps and other documents would carry Reagan’s name.

The key word here is “reintroduced.” This is not the first time that Issa has tried to name the ocean after Reagan. Apparently, Issa has introduced similar bills in the past. I’d congratulate him on his persistence if he weren’t such a douchebag.

I swear, you would think this Reagan Zone news sounds like it should also be an Onion piece, but it isn’t. Why not name that big floating plastic trash island in the Pacific the Issa Zone, because Issa is just about as full of crap as that pile of garbage, also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

HowStuffWorks: “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch”

Scientists find hundredfold increase in plastic trash in Pacific Ocean since 1970s

Okay, before I get to the cartoons, just a reminder. A couple of day’s after we lost Andy Griffith, we lost another fantastic actor. Ernest Borgnine, 1917-2012

TCM Remembers Ernest Borgnine Thursday, July 26

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will remember the life and career of actor Ernest Borgnine on Thursday, July 26. Borgnine passed away Sunday, July 8th at the age of 95. TCM’s 24-hour memorial tribute is set to begin at 6 a.m. (ET) with Borgnine’s performance in The Catered Affair (1956). The tribute will include such essential Ernest Borgnine films as The Dirty Dozen (1967), From Here to Eternity (1953), and Bad Day at Black Rock (1955). Borgnine’s Academy Award-winning role as Marty (1955) will air at 9 p.m. (ET) and there will be two showings of Private Screenings: Ernest Borgnine (2009) as the actor sits down for a lively one-on-one talk with TCM host Robert Osborne. The following is a complete schedule (all times Eastern):

6:00 a.m. – The Catered Affair
8:00 a.m. – The Legend of Lylah Clare
10:30 a.m. – Pay or Die
12:30 p.m. – Torpedo Run
2:30 p.m. – Ice Station Zebra
5:15 p.m. – The Dirty Dozen
8:00 p.m. – Private Screenings: Ernest Borgnine
9:00 p.m. – Marty
10:45 p.m. – From Here to Eternity
1:00 a.m. – The Wild Bunch
3:30 a.m. – Bad Day at Black Rock
5:00 a.m. – Private Screenings: Ernest Borgnine

There is a very good article about Borgnine at that link, please give it read.

I will end today’s reads with a few cartoons:

Steve Benson on Creators.com – A Syndicate Of Talent

Chris Britt on Creators.com – A Syndicate Of Talent

I don’t know about you all, but I feel like I could hide in my room all day long…  Enjoy your Sunday, hopefully everyone can relax and take it easy today.


Thursday Reads: Holder Witchhunt, SCOTUS and Health Care, Colorado Wildfires, and Mocking Mitt

UPDATE: Supreme Court upholds Affordable Care Act, Including Individual Mandate!

Good Morning!!

Since today is going to be a mostly serious news day, I’ll begin with a silly story. A new survey by the National Geographic Channel found that 65% of Americans think President Obama is more qualified to handle an invasion from outer space than Mitt Romney.

And lest you are tempted to dismiss this poll as pure silliness, the study also found that 36 percent of Americans think UFOs exist, while another 48 percent aren’t sure. Which means that at least some of the respondents judging the presidential candidates’ alien-fighting abilities may see it as a plausible scenario. (According to the poll, 79 percent also say the federal government has been hiding information about UFOs from the public – which may actually say more about the public’s overall distrust of government than its views on aliens.)

UFO = Unidentified Flying Object. Of course UFOs exist. Haven’t we all seen things in the sky that we didn’t recognize? Whether these objects are of extraterrestrial origin would have been a better question. Now the ones who want to “befriend” a visiting alien–those people have got to be looney tunes. But this story isn’t as silly as I originally thought, since it’s obviously just an ad for the National Geographic Channel.

And now the real news. Today will be a big day for politics junkies. Will the House go through their idiotic plan to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress? Will Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy decide to vote to keep the current Supreme Court from going down in history as a laughingstock?

Eric Holder Witchhunt

On the Holder issue, I think the House probably will call the vote, especially since some Democrats are planning to vote for the contempt resolution because they’re scared of the NRA.

Cognitively challenged Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown today called on Holder to resign.

“He can’t effectively serve the president,” Brown said last night on “NightSide” with Dan Rea — in a one-man debate after Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren chose to sit the event out.

Going at Holder on the eve of an expected contempt of Congress vote tomorrow, Brown said, “For the best interest of the country, I think he should step down and resign. He’s lost the confidence of the American people. Certainly he’s lost the confidence of Congress. He misled Congress. They have a right to know.”

That quote is from the ultra-conservative Boston Herald, so I’ll interpret for you. The “debate” referred to in the article was an appearance on a conservative radio talk show that Brown proposed as an alternative to the public debate that would have been sponsored by U. Mass. Boston and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute.

The announcement came shortly after representatives of Vicki Kennedy said she would not agree to Brown’s demand that she remain neutral in the race, in exchange for the senator’s participation in a late September debate she had proposed be hosted by the University of Massachusetts Boston and Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.

Barnett had said Monday that Brown would participate only if Kennedy, president of the board at the Kennedy Institute, not endorse in the race and that MSNBC not be the broadcast sponsor of the debate.

Instead of “debating” with Scott Brown on a rinky-dink local conservative radio talk show, Elizabeth Warren appeared on Rachel Maddow’s national cable show last night.

Scott Brown and Darrell Issa are both complete idiots, IMNSHO.


The SCOTUS Decision on Health Care

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that the Roberts and Kennedy will both vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act. I think, based on what they did with Arizona’s immigration law, that Roberts and Kennedy will also vote to uphold “Obamacare.”

When this happens, Antonin Scalia may freak out completely and embarrass himself even more than he did after the Arizona decision. And then perhaps his friends and colleagues will sit him down and suggest that he retire and get his own radio talk show.

At Slate, Judge Richard Posner harshly criticized Scalia’s behavior as political.

The nation is in the midst of a hard-fought presidential election campaign; the outcome is in doubt. Illegal immigration is a campaign issue. It wouldn’t surprise me if Justice Scalia’s opinion were quoted in campaign ads.

Would Chief Justice Roberts be proud of his Court if that happened?

House progressives say they will introduce a single-payer plan if the law is struck down.

The last thing House progressives want is for the Supreme Court to strike down President Barack Obama’s health care law. But if the high court rules Thursday that some or all of the law is unconstitutional, progressives are ready to renew their push for the model of health care they wanted all along: the single-payer option.

“It’s easy to see it’s a good idea,” Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told The Huffington Post. “It’s the cheapest way to cover everybody.”

Ellison said all 75 members of the caucus have already signed onto a bill by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) to create a single-payer, publicly financed, privately delivered universal health care program. The proposal would essentially build on and expand Medicare, under which all Americans would be guaranteed access to health care regardless of an ability to pay or pre-existing health conditions.

Now, now. We don’t want to give Scalia a conniption fit, do we? He would be more likely to agree with libertarian economics blogger Tyler Cowan who thinks the wealthy naturally will have better health care and poor people should just die if they can’t afford health insurance.

A rejection of health care egalitarianism, namely a recognition that the wealthy will purchase more and better health care than the poor. Trying to equalize health care consumption hurts the poor, since most feasible policies to do this take away cash from the poor, either directly or through the operation of tax incidence. We need to accept the principle that sometimes poor people will die just because they are poor. Some of you don’t like the sound of that, but we already let the wealthy enjoy all sorts of other goods — most importantly status — which lengthen their lives and which the poor enjoy to a much lesser degree. We shouldn’t screw up our health care institutions by being determined to fight inegalitarian principles for one very select set of factors which determine health care outcomes.

The health care decision should come out around 10AM, and I’ll update this post when the news breaks.


Mitt Romney Report

I know everyone is just dying to know what Mitt Romney is up to. Well yesterday he had quite a hissy fit about the Washington Post article on how he pioneered outsourcing when he was at Bain Capital. He actually sent some of his representatives to the Post to demand a retraction! As you might imagine, the Post wasn’t intimidated.

Good grief! They even gave a Power Point presentation! What a bunch of crybabies. And on Hardball today, Howard Fineman reported that Romney campaign staffers complained to him that Obama has been running lots of negative ads against Romney. Hey Mitt, politics ain’t beanbag.

From today’s Washington Post: Mitt Romney shifts focus from Post article on Bain to health-care law.

On the eve of the Supreme Court decision on President Obama’s health-care law, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney predicted Wednesday that “they’re not sleeping real well at the White House tonight.”

He said that the court’s decision is a constitutional one, but that “one thing we already know, however, we already know it’s bad policy and it’s gotta go.”

Romney’s comments marked a shift in focus after several days in which his campaign sought to deflect attacks from the Obama campaign over the role that Bain Capital, his former firm, played in the overseas outsourcing trend that accelerated in the 1990s.

Obama, Vice President Biden and top campaign operatives have seized on a Washington Post article published Friday that said Bain Capital invested in companies that specialized in moving work overseas. The Obama team released tough ads in the swing states of Iowa, Ohio and Virginia on the subject.

Romney tried to “work the refs,” but he forgot that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Now he’s irritated the Washington Post. Not real smart, Mitt. Yesterday, even Rush Limbaugh dissed the Republican candidate.


Colorado Wildfires (and More Mitt)

The wildfires in Colorado are really getting out of control.

Firefighters struggled on Wednesday to beat back a fiercely aggressive wildfire raging at the edge of Colorado Springs that has forced at least 35,000 people from their homes and was nipping at the edges of the U.S. Air Force Academy.

The so-called Waldo Canyon Fire, fanned by gusting winds, has gutted an unknown number of homes on the wooded fringes of Colorado’s second-most populous city and prompted more evacuations as flames roared out of control for a fifth day.

President Barack Obama plans to pay a visit to the area on Friday to view the damage, the White House said.

The blaze flared Tuesday night with sudden ferocity and quickly overran fire containment lines, invading the northwestern corner of the city. But officials have declined to characterize the extent of property damage there….

The blaze left an orange hue over Colorado Springs, and a smoky haze hung in the air, so thick in places that the giant, roiling pall of smoke that continued to billow into the sky over the city was obscured from the ground.

Local TV station channel 9 news provides a summary of fires in many different locations. It’s really shocking how widespread they are. Yesterday the fires threatened the Air Force Academy, and many residents there were evacuated.

Voters who live in Colorado and other states where there are disasters like fires, mudslides, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods, should be aware that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney opposes federal disaster relief and would probably eliminate FEMA if he were elected. He thinks natural disasters should be handled by individual states. From one of the debates last year:

Here’s a transcript:

KING: Governor Romney? You’ve been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I’ve been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it’s the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we’re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?

ROMNEY: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better. Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut — we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we’re doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we’re doing that we don’t have to do? And those things we’ve got to stop doing, because we’re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we’re taking in. We cannot…

KING: Including disaster relief, though?

ROMNEY: We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.

Because “our kids” will have a great future if they go through an earthquake or other horrible disaster and there’s no federal help for the state they live in to recover. Brilliant!

That’s about it for me. I’ll just leave you with this bit of good news: Eric Cantor may be in trouble

New polling from Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, one of the more reliably conservative districts in the country, shows surprising vulnerabilities for Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, especially on the issue of women’s health.

In the poll from from Harrison Hickman obtained exclusively by ThinkProgress, voters say they would support a pro-choice candidate over a candidate who is pro-life by an unexpectedly large margin, 68 percent to 23 percent. The finding comes after intense media coverage of efforts by state Republicans to mandate transvaginal ultrasounds prior to obtaining an abortion, a procedure described by critics as “state-sponsored rape.” The resulting backlash from women in Virginia forced Governor Bob McDonnell (R) and his allies at the statehouse to moderate their efforts.

Eric Cantor has a 100% rating from the National Right To Life Committee.

AND

asked about Cantor specifically, voters disapprove of his handling of government spending, health care and reigning in the budget deficit, three key issues that Cantor and House Republicans have campaigned heavily on since 2008.

While Cantor is not among Republicans who are considered at risk by political prognosticators, 43 percent of voters would replace Cantor compared to just 41 percent who would reelect him.

So…..what’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Saturday Morning Reads

Good Morning!

This is going be short and sweet because it’s been a long week for me. Yesterday the Washington Post published a highly cited story about Mitt Romney as a “pioneer” in the outsourcing of American jobs.

During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

While economists debate whether the massive outsourcing of American jobs over the last generation was inevitable, Romney in recent months has lamented the toll it’s taken on the U.S. economy. He has repeatedly pledged he would protect American employment by getting tough on China.

“They’ve been able to put American businesses out of business and kill American jobs,” he told workers at a Toledo fence factory in February. “If I’m president of the United States, that’s going to end.”

Really? I strongly suggest you read this story–it’s long and detailed with plenty of specific examples of Romney’s involvement in shipping jobs overseas.

In his speech to Latino officeholders this afternoon, President Obama used the WaPo article to hammer Romney. In comparison to Romney’s appearance before the group yesterday, Obama received a much more enthusiastic reception with more and longer applause.

Meanwhile one of Mitt Romney’s campaign co-chairs undercut the candidate’s campaign of confuse and befuddle and came right out and told the truth to the Daily Telegraph: Mitt Romney ‘likely to scrap Barack Obama’s immigration order’

Ray Walser, the co-chairman of Mr Romney’s Latin American Working Group, also said Mr Obama’s administration had been “fairly tough” on measures to counter illegal migration and that unlawful crossings of the Mexican border had declined, appearing to contradict the Republican candidate’s own comments on the subject.

Mr Romney has repeatedly declined to say what, if elected president in November, he would do about Mr Obama’s move to offer work permits to law-abiding undocumented migrants aged 30 or under.

The Romney campaign later claimed that Walser has no knowledge of the campaign’s policy decisions. The why is he co-chair of the Latin America working group? Looks like Romney is having some surrogate trouble now.

The LA Times interviewed Stephen Mansfield, the author of a new book “The Mormonizing of America” in order to get Mansfield’s take on Romney and his religion.

Q) …[H]ow do you think Romney’s faith has shaped his politics and the way he might lead?

A) I think that there’s no question it’s shaped what you might call his worldview or his system of ethics, what he believes about the Constitution, what he believes about abortion, what he believes about American history — I think all that grows organically out of his Mormonism. I think that his leadership is a product of his training and his gifts, but he does lead out of a sense of it being part of him qualifying, being found worthy, him passing the test of this life — that’s standard Mormon theology.

Q) We are said to be living in this “Mormon Moment,” but a new Gallup poll shows that American attitudes about Mormons haven’t really changed for decades. Nearly one in five Americans say they won’t vote for a Mormon for president. How big a barrier is that to Romney and would a Romney presidency be a game-changer in terms of Mormon acceptance?

….

Q) Would Romney be better off talking about it?

A) If I was king of his campaign, I’d have folks out there talking about it for the campaign, unofficially, but I’d keep the candidate away from it. I’m not sure I’d want Romney talking about temple garments and gods on other planets and Joseph Smith. But I wouldn’t mind having an articulate representative in the field, defending Mr. Romney’s Mormonism in the campaign. And if I don’t see that happen after the convention, I’m going to wonder how much they’re aware in Romney headquarters how much this is an issue in the culture.

At The Daily Beast, here’s an interesting article by Daniel Klaidman on the Holder Witchhunt over “Fast and Furious.” Klaidman said that House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa demanded a “scap” from the Justice Department as a last ditch effort to avoid going nuclear with a contempt citation.

for Issa, a partisan warrior who has called Holder a “liar” and the Obama administration one of “the most corrupt” in history, there was always the risk of overreach. When he started to go down the road toward a contempt citation, the House Republican leadership began to show signs of nervousness. Some thought Issa needed to leave himself an escape route. In recent weeks he and his staff began negotiating with DOJ, looking for a way to head off the looming confrontation.

During a phone call last week with a senior Justice official, Issa’s chief investigative counsel, Stephen Castor, broached a possible settlement. As the conversation began, according to two sources familiar with the conversation, Castor asked the official where things stood on “accountability.” By that, Castor meant would any heads roll at Justice. Castor mentioned Lanny Breuer, the head of the department’s Criminal Division, whom Republicans had been gunning for because of his knowledge of gun-walking techniques that had been used during the Bush administration. (Their theory was that Breuer should have taken aggressive steps to ensure that such measures were not repeated in future operations.) According to these sources, Castor said that if Breuer resigned, they could head off the looming constitutional clash.

But the Justice official, Steven Reich, an associate deputy attorney general involved in the Fast and Furious negotiations with Congress, rejected the offer, calling it a “non-starter.”

Still, Castor’s gambit was seen by DOJ officials as evidence that Issa was more interested in drawing blood than getting to the truth.

The Massachusetts Democratic Party managed to get some embarrassing video of Senator Scott Brown making a very strange remark about being in “secret meetings with kings and queens and prime ministers.”

The comments on WTKK-FM were roundly mocked by Democrats. Brown, in making them, was pushing back against critics who say his campaign has not been focused on serious issues, pointing out that he ran a radio ad about military base closings. He also said he was working on substantive issues on a daily basis, some that involve royalty.

“Each and every day that I’ve been a United States senator, I’ve been discussing issues, meeting on issues, in secret meetings and with kings and queens and prime ministers and business leaders and military leaders, talking, voting, working on issues every single day,” he said on the Jim Braude and Margery Eagan [talk radio] Show.

At first his campaign said he “misspoke,” but The Boston Globe learned that Brown had made similar statements at least five times.

That’s got to be at least as weird as thinking you have Native American blood because your parents told you so. It probably won’t get as much play as the attacks on Elizabeth Warren though.

In Philadelphia, yesterday Monsignor William Lynn became the first member of the Catholic clergy to be convicted for covering up child sexual abuse by priests.

A Philadelphia priest was convicted Friday (June 22) of one count of child endangerment, becoming the first cleric in the Catholic Church’s long-running clergy abuse scandal to be tried and found guilty of shielding molesters.

Monsignor William Lynn, 61, was acquitted of conspiracy and a second endangerment charge after a three-month trial that had seemed on the verge of a hung jury two days earlier….

The jurors said they were deadlocked on attempted rape and endangerment charges against Lynn’s codefendant, the Rev. James J. Brennan.

Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina declared a mistrial on the Brennan charges, which means prosecutors could decide to try him again.

Lynn, who was head of priest personnel in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for 12 years, was charged with recommending that Brennan and another priest, Edward Avery, be allowed to live or work in parishes in the 1990s despite indications that they might abuse children.

Avery pleaded guilty before the trial to sexually assaulting a 10-year-old altar boy in 1999 and is serving 2-1/2 to 5 years in state prison.

Finally, if you haven’t read the NYT series on Chris Christie and New Jersey’s privatized halfway houses from hell, be sure to check it out. Looks like Christie won’t be getting that VP nod after all.

Have a great Saturday, and please share what you’re reading and blogging about today.