Thursday, February 28, 2013

February 28

Gene Lyons: The Fall Of The GOP True Believers


U.S. banks in 2012 post highest profits since '06 (Reuters)

Emily Stephenson reports that new data released by the FDIC shows 2012 was a very good year for finance, but they're worried about the effects of an economic slowdown caused by the sequester. What about the banks? Won't someone think of the banks?


That GOP civil war is getting nasty!

LaTourette, who retired from Congress in January and hopes his organization will be a key factor in 2014 Republican efforts, said in a statement, "The Club for Growth is a cancer that has attached itself to the Republican Party." LaTourette added, "The Club repeatedly backs candidates who espouse bizarre views on rape, incest, immigrants and even witchcraft. … The left wants to caricature the Republican Party as out-of-touch and extremist and the Club spends millions to help them do this."
A Club for Growth spokesman quickly shot back at LaTourette in an interview with TheDC.

"It's not surprising. He's a liberal," Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller said. "He's defending his fellow liberal RINOs. He's never met a bailout he didn't like. is designed exactly so voters are aware of the other Steve LaTourettes out there."


There's Karl Rove versus the Club for Growth, and the tea party versus Karl Rove, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal saying that the GOP must stop being the "stupid party," which it has no intention of doing. You have right-wing Republicans already tanking the GOP's chances of picking up the open Iowa Senate seat next year (ultra-nut Rep. Steve King will be unchallenged for the nomination), not to mention putting the Georgia one at risk by chasing the incumbent into retirement.

It's hard for these guys to focus on Democrats as long as they're beating the shit out of each other. All the while, changing demographics and social norms push them further into the margins. Remember, it wasn't just the Todd Akins and Richard Mourdocks who lost last year. The GOP establishment candidates all got their asses handed to them as well.

Yet they'll be fighting this internal war all the way through the 2014 election cycle, while we get to focus on sending House Speaker John Boehner back to the minority and making the NRA as radioactive as it deserves to be.

Best of all, the things that make Democrats more popular with mainstream voters also make them more popular with base liberals (like protecting Social Security). But the things that would make the GOP more competitive—like dropping social issues, compromising more, not hating brown people, and accepting the validity of science—are violently opposed by their base.

So they might as well fight each other, because they ain't gonna get far fighting for new votes.


Antonin Scalia shows once again what a vile creature he is

Antonin Scalia

Scalia, like other conservatives (on the Court and otherwise), thinks that efforts to enforce equal voting rights are somehow discriminatory against the majority race (i.e., whites, or otherwise those who didn't need the Voting Rights Act to have their voting rights protected). As Think Progress notes, his remark "raises concerns that his suspicion of the Act is rooted much more in racial resentment than in a general distrust of unanimous votes," the latter being an argument he has made in the past (as if somehow unanimous votes are, in and of themselves, suspicious and indeed illegitimate, which is remarkably stupid).

I'll leave it to others to dissect this contemptible man's legal views. I'd just add that if you don't know the difference between a right and an entitlement, if you don't understand the purpose of the Voting Rights Act and why it might still be necessary to protect voting rights from those out to strip them away, and if your judicial mind and worldview generally is clouded by self-regarding bitterness, you should have no place on the highest court in the land.


Big Hack Attack! - Rep. Keith Ellison tells-off Sean Hannity, who tries the angry black man gambit before cutting him off. (Raw Story)


"There were moments of joy and light but also moments that were not easy. There were moments, as there were throughout the history of the Church, when the seas were rough and the wind blew against us and it seemed that the Lord was sleeping. I took this step in the full knowledge of its gravity and rarity but with a profound serenity of spirit." -Benedict Palpatine, in today's farewell address.

I'm guessing that the lord was sleeping when Joey was working for Hitler and when he covered up all the rape of little children. What a vile pig.


U.S. stocks rose to a 5 year high today, and came very close to setting an all new record high.


Republican outreach

New Hampshire legislators are debating a bill that would "reduce simple assault from a misdemeanor crime to a violation-level offense in any case of "unprivileged physical contact" that "does not result in harm or injury."

Why? You ask. Because, according to state Rep. Mark Warden, some people like being abused.

"Some people could make the argument that a lot of people like being in abusive relationships. It's a love-hate relationship. It's very, very common for people to stick around with somebody they love who also abuses him or her," said Rep. Mark Warden, a Republican who represents Deering, Goffstown and Weare, during a meeting of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, according to a video provided by Granite State Progress, a liberal advocacy group.

According to the video, Warden added, "Is the solution to those kind of dysfunctional relationships going to be more government, another law? I'd say no. People are always free to leave."

The overwhelming majority of those who remain in abusive relationships do so because of the difficulty of leaving them. Passing a bill that would reduce the penalty for incidents of domestic violence only further increases the problem.

Unless I am reading this incorrectly, the bill would reduce penalties for assault as long as there are no visible bruises left behind. At least that seems to be the thinking of Rep. Frank Sapareto who introduced the bill because current law punishes assailants for "minor incidents where no harm was done."

We should consider the possibility that Mark Warden and Frank Sapareto are simply projecting elements of their own lives into the debate.


Old Men Yell at Clouds. City Council Votes to Remove Clouds


Steve King will probably be the Republican candidate for the open Senate seat in Iowa, after Tom Latham decided he didn't want to spend two years of his life being splattered by the bullshit that would emanate from Michele Bachmann's male doppelganger. Now that he has the nomination if he wants it, King is playing coy:

A potential Senate race remains an analytical decision first and then one that requires deep conviction. Such a decision includes, of course, my family and the best interests of Iowans and Americans. It is too big a decision to be rushed.

My analysis tells me that the best interests of Americans will be served by a homophobe, racist,dogfight supporting Teabagger candidate who likes to talk about rape and is hung up on Obama's middle name.


The Kansas Senate Judiciary Committeerecommended a bill yesterday that would effectively allow doctors to lie or withhold information about debilitating genetic conditions or birth defects in order to influence women's decisions about their pregnancies.

Kansas SB 142 provides blanket protection from "wrongful birth" lawsuits to doctors, with section 1(a) reading:

"No civil action may be commenced in any court for a claim of wrongful life or wrongful birth, and no damages may be recovered in any civil action for any physical condition of a minor that existed at the time of such minor's birth if the damages sought arise out of a claim that a person's action or omission contributed to such minor's mother not obtaining an abortion."

The Arizona State Senate passed a similar law in 2012, but that proposal contained a provisionabsent from the Kansas bill allowing wrongful birth suits in the event of "an intentional or grossly negligent act or omission."

The proposal was included as a provision in an omnibus anti-abortion bill last year, but was so controversial that it ending up being submitted as a standalone bill in this cycle, according to Kansas NOW lobbyist Elise Higgins. Despite Kansas's dismal reproductive rights record, Kansas legislators have already introduced over 90 pages of anti-choice legislation in 2013.


Texas Bill Would Dramatically Loosen Gun Training Requirements


Barring a last minute agreement, the automatic across-the-board spending cuts that were included in the Budget Control Act will go into effect on Friday, affecting everything from food safety inspections, to HIV testing kits, and domestic violence programs. On Monday, Immigration of Customs Enforcement even began releasing some 10,000 nonviolent detainees from Immigration Detention Centers, citing the looming budget cuts. "I'm supposed to have 34,000 detention beds for immigration," said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. "How do I pay for those?"

Republicans — who have remained silent on the cuts that would effect health care and education programs — immediately expressed outrage, arguing that the Obama administration was purposely releasing immigrants to scare the public. "This is very hard for me to believe that they can't find cuts elsewhere in their agency," House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said in an interview with CBS. "I frankly think this is outrageous. And I'm looking for more facts, but I can't believe that they can't find the kind of savings they need out of that department short of letting criminals go free."

The party finally found a cut it didn't like, even though all of the immigrants released were being held on non-violent, immigration-related offenses and are still being tracked by ICE.

Taxpayers are forking over roughly $5.1 billion to the private prison industry every year to pay for detention centers, which hold thousands of immigrants who have not been convicted on any crime.

At around $164 per day per immigrant in detention, the centers are a huge burden on the U.S. economy and are home to multiple human rights violations.


Mississippi Republicans Would Prohibit Towns From Establishing A Minimum Wage



Hey, kids, looks like another candidate has tossed his asshat into the ring for our Legislative Shitmuffin of the Year contest! The newest contendah is New Hampshire state Rep. Mark Warden (R-Fuck This Guy), who was one of four members of an NH House committee to vote in favor of reducing the penalty for some cases of simple assault from a misdemeanor to a "violation-level offense." Speaking in support of the reduced penalty, Warden explained it's merely a matter ofaccommodating different lifestyle choices, you know, to be considerate of the wife-beaters. READ MORE »


Hi Lizzz! HIIIIIII! WE LOVE YOU!!!! Why? Well, in addition to the usual reasons, Ben Bernanke appeared in front of the Senate Banking Committee yesterday, and Elizabeth Warren basically asked him stuff like: Why is everything still so horrible, Ben? Why are you doing absolutely nothing to fix anything, Ben? Why are you just standing there with your dick in your hand while the banks crap all over the American people, Ben? If you love the banks so much, why don't you marry them, Ben?  READ MORE »

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

February 27

NRA President's Son Convicted Shooter - Temper plus gun equals road rage Link

NRA President's Wife Convicted - But at least she didn't use a gun... Link




Steve Benen reports that the Senate ended debate on Chuck Hagel's confirmation as Secretary of Defense, thus ending the GOP filibuster and all-but ensuring a confirmation that will likely come later today. Looking back at the dust, smoke, and debris, he notes that it's a little hard to explain what it was all about:

While we wait for Hagel's now-inevitable confirmation, I'mstill not altogether sure what Republicans were thinking when they launched his doomed crusade against Hagel in the first place. Indeed, other than allowing everyone to laugh at Republican media over the "Friends of Hamas" fiasco last week, what was the point of forcing delays?

What did GOP officials hope to accomplish? There were a few fundraising letters, McCain got to appear on a few more Sunday shows, but the strategy never seemed to come together for the right in any kind of coherent way. They saw President Obama nominate a Republican to his cabinet; it drove them batty; they launched a weak smear campaign; and the whole effort collapsed without much effort. Last week, several Republicans, on the verge of defeat, pleadedwith the White House to pull Hagel's nomination anyway, just because.

If there was a point to the GOP's anti-Hagel campaign, it hid well.

As near as I can tell, the main point was to get Lindsey Graham reelected. By getting all bent out of shape over crazy-assed conspiracy theories and Benghazi posturing, Lindsey was able to prove to the 'bagger base that he's just as stupid and gullible as they are. Apparently, that's what it takes to win a GOP primary in South Carolina these days — you have to be (or at least pretend to be) sufficiently insane and/or moronic. Like a monkey whooping in a monkey cage, Lindsey managed to get all the other monkeys whooping and excited too.

That's pretty much what I got out of the whole mess — and it's still not a very good explanation. But the Republican Party is a party gone mad , so looking for rational reasons to explain their fits and tantrums is probably a fool's errand.


Playing chicken with the defense hawks



Oh racist Republican jackass birthers, don't ever stop reminding the American people just which party is full of bigots and crackpots whose awful views aren't just tolerated but are openly welcomed.  Via Taegan Goddard:

Michigan state Sen. Tom Casperson (R) told a radio show he's not sure where Obama was born, according to Deadline Detroit.

Said Casperson: "I don't know because it seems like that issue was dropped immediately as far as the major media went. My gut tells me if it had been a different president, say George W. Bush, they'd have been digging into like there was no tomorrow and trying to get to the bottom of, which they never really tried to get to the bottom of."

That's because there's nothing to get to the bottom of, you moron.  The President was born in Hawaii, period.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is a racist clown, point blank.  Stop it.  It's the guy's second term already.  If you're still questioning his birthplace at this point after five years, there's really nothing left but good ol' racism to explain it.  End of line.

Ain't nobody got time for this, as they say.


The University of North Carolina took revenge against one of their students, a rape survivor, who reported on their failed administrative policies on sexual assault. After the initial report, she discussed her experience with The Daily Tarheel and as a result, the school is bringing her up on honor code violations. Officially, she is being charged with:

II.C.1.c. – Disruptive or intimidating behavior that willfully abuses, disparages, or otherwise interferes with another … so as to adversely affect their academic pursuits, opportunities for University employment, participation in University-sponsored extracurricular activities, or opportunities to benefit from other aspects of University Life.

That's right, she's being charged with abusing her rapist. It should be noted that she never named her assailant.


VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI will be known as "emeritus pope" in his retirement and will continue to wear a white cassock, the Vatican announced Tuesday, again fueling concerns about potential conflicts arising from having both a reigning and a retired pope.

But what about THE RED SHOES?!

"Lombardi also further described Benedict's final 48 hours as pope: On Tuesday, he was packing, arranging for documents to be sent to the various archives at the Vatican and separating out the personal papers he will take with him into retirement."

Must be his spank-bank. Or all the stuff that implicates him in the sex abuse and cover-up.



TPM: Bork: Nixon Offered Me SCOTUS Seat for Firing Archibald Cox


Five More States Consider 'Ag Gag' Laws To Silence Factory Farm Whistleblowers

GOP Senator Launches The Most Dishonest Attack Against Obamacare You've Ever Heard

What Happens If The Voting Rights Act Loses In The Supreme Court

Yes, she really said that. As CityPages' Aaron Rupar reports, the woman who the AP gave up on fact-checking because she "was so full of shit, the AP would've needed round-the-clock staff to check all the claims she made" said this in an interview yesterday at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia:

"If you are a conservative you can never get anything wrong. I was very proud of the fact that I didn't get anything wrong that I said during the course of the debates. I didn't get anything wrong and that's a huge arena." READ MORE »


Oh, hey, here's a new twist on an old story! You already know how having to pay for insurance coverage for birth control is a violation of an employer's sacred right to tell employees how to live, but a genius state Senator in Oklahoma, Clark Jolley (R-Not All That Jolly) has just placed himself in the race for Wonkette Legislative Shitmuffin of the Year by introducing yet another bill that that would allow employers to opt out of covering slut pills.

The opt-out isn't a new idea, but the justification is truly novel: Jolley says he introduced the bill at the request of a constituent, Dr. Dominic Pedulla, of Oklahoma City. Pedulla is a cardiologist, but bills himself as "a natural family planning medical consultant and women's health researcher" and contends that contraception "suppresses and disables" women's true nature:

"Part of their identity is the potential to be a mother," Pedulla said. "They are being asked to suppress and radically contradict part of their own identity, and if that wasn't bad enough, they are being asked to poison their bodies."

We know we are somewhat stepping on the line of regular commenter Callyson here, but, Oh, for fuck's sake. READ MORE »


High levels of a dangerous toxin found in bagged dog food on a grocery store shelf in Iowa have highlighted the prevalence of a problematic mold in last year's U.S. corn crop, as state and federal officials work on limiting the food safety concern. - reuters

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

February 26


Prosecutors: BP's Deepwater Horizon was 'The Well From Hell'

Fireboats work on Deepwater Horizon fire

The Guardian:

The man in charge of BP's ill-fated Deepwater Horizon rig warned his boss that staff were operating in "chaos, paranoia and insanity" just days before a fatal blowout killed 11 men and caused the worst oil spill in US history, a New Orleans court heard on Monday.

In opening arguments Michael Underhill, the lawyer representing the US Department of Justice, said BP knew it was drilling a "well from hell" but that its managers refused to deviate from a "course of corporate recklessness" that ultimately led to the fatal blowout at the Gulf of Mexico well.

The company was guilty of "willful misconduct," he said. It had calculated it needed $7bn (£4.6bn) to pay shareholders their dividend and put immense pressure on staff to save money and drill faster in order to reach that target, he said. "A safety corner cut a day saved was a $1m saved for BP," said Underhill.

The civil trial began on Monday in courtroom 268 of the US district court in New Orleans after the apparent collapse of settlement talks over the weekend. This case is the first of two and will decide how this tragedy happened and who caused it to happen. A second will determine exactly how much oil was spilled. BP faces a potential fine of $17.6bn. The case will be decided by judge Carl Barbier.

"The tragedy of this case," said Underhill, is that it was caused by failures that "didn't even amount to pocket change." He told of problems that could've been solved with "as little as a 10-secondphone call" or "a 30-second walk down to the tool pusher."

An email showed the jawdropping depth of the negligence of Deepwater Horizon managers.

Underhill said the "extraordinary document … explains why 11 men needlessly lost their lives". On 17 April, [well team leader John] Guy told [operations manager David] Sims that BP's well site leaders "were at wits' end" and there was a "huge level of paranoia that was riding chaos". The well was proving impossible and they were "trying to make sense of all the insanity". "The operation is not going to succeed if we continue in this manner," he warned.

Sims responded that he had to go to dance practice in a few minutes. "I'll be back soon and we can talk. I'm dancing to the Village People," he wrote.

Just amazing. If the result weren't such a tremendous tragedy, this would all be comically absurd.


Texas GOP: We'll Punish You If You Don't Discriminate

Posted on February 25, 2013 at 7:00 pm by JM Ashby

I respect that you can't force everyone to agree with you and that there will always be a certain segment of society that will oppose social progress because it's part of their identity, but punishing others because they choose not to discriminate is a special brand of asinine.

Two Republican Texas lawmakers have filed bills that would cut funding for schools and universities that have policies supporting their LGBT students and staff.

Last fall, the Pflugerville School District announced it would be the first in Texas to offer domestic partner benefits to the same-sex partners of its teachers and staff. State Rep. Drew Springer (R) isn't happy about this, and has filed a bill (HB 1568) to cut 7.5 percent of a district's healthcare funding if it offers such benefits.

During his appearance on Meet the Press yesterday, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal implied that he doesn't believe the Republican party needs to support social equality, such as marriage equality, to win elections (so much for not being the "stupid party"), but I'm not convinced.

I don't believe any form of discrimination will be seen as socially acceptable or electable in the future outside of local elections where small pockets of voters can be pandered to directly. A point that Jon Hunstman articulated quite well in a column published last week.

But it's difficult to get people even to consider your reform ideas if they think, with good reason, you don't like or respect them. Building a winning coalition to tackle the looming fiscal and trust deficits will be impossible if we continue to alienate broad segments of the population. We must be happy warriors who refuse to tolerate those who want Hispanic votes but not Hispanic neighbors. We should applaud states that lead on reforming drug policy. And, consistent with the Republican Party's origins, we must demand equality under the law for all Americans.

The Republican party also needs to adopt reform ideas that aren't rubbish, a point which Huntsman does not concede, but doing so would be for naught if you continue to campaign on conservative identity politics that isolates voters.

Of course if you sidelined the social animosity, the proud stupidity, and failed economic policies, the Republican party wouldn't have much of an identity (or many members) left.


Nice Things And Why We Can't Have Them

Posted on February 25, 2013 at 3:30 pm by JM Ashby

The federal deficit has been reduced during every fiscal year since President Obama took office beginning with fiscal 2010, but you wouldn't know it if you asked the average American.

via Steve Benen

Deficit Poll

A 62% majority believe the deficit is getting bigger, 28% believe the deficit is staying roughly the same, and only 6% believe the deficit is shrinking.

In other words, in the midst of a major national debate over America's finances, 90% of Americans are wrong about the one basic detail that probably matters most in the conversation, while only 6% — 6%! — are correct.

There's a simple explanation for this — the traditional media has utterly failed at their job of informing the public. Because while they're complaining about being unable to accompany the president during his golf game with Tiger Woods, they're engaging in lazy journalism by accepting talking points at face value.

To do otherwise would just be liberal media bias, right? Maintaining access is a higher priority than being curious.

The View From Nowhere, which says we should let viewers decide what the truth is rather than report the truth, is poisonous to the electorate.


Lacking Self-Awareness, John McCain Accuses Someone of Being Unqualified

Posted on February 25, 2013 at 2:00 pm by JM Ashby

Two weeks ago Senator John McCain said he would not join the filibuster of Chuck Hagel's confirmation as Secretary of Defense, but on the following day he broke his pledge and joined the Republican party's filibuster anyway.

Fast forward to yesterday, and McCain predicted that Hagel would be confirmed, but signaled that he may not vote for him because he believes Hagel is unqualified.

(Reuters) – Republican Senator John McCain on Sunday said his former colleague Chuck Hagel was not qualified to be U.S. defense secretary but the Senate would likely vote on his nomination rather than hold it up with procedural hurdles. [...]

"I do not believe that Chuck Hagel, who is a friend of mine, is qualified to be secretary of defense," McCain of Arizona said on CNN's "State of the Union" show.

John McCain have have chosen to selectively black out his memory of selecting Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate in 2008, but we haven't. And until McCain apologizes for Palin, any attempt to accuse someone else of being unqualified should be met with mockery.


Courtesy of Alternet:

A new analysis of 56 mass shootings across America since 2009 finds women and family members are the most frequent victims, and that the shooter almost always acquired his guns legally, in cases where the gunsource is known. 

"In at least 32 of the cases (57 percent), the shooter killed a current or former spouse or intimate partner or other family member, and at least eight of those shooters had a prior domestic violence charge," the Mayors Against Illegal Guns report on mass shootings said, suggesting that the problem of gun violence is far more related to violence against women in homes than rampages in public settings such as schools and theaters. 

The study also found that in the cases where the source of the guns was known, almost all were acquired legally: only two examples were given of mass killings with a stolen or illegal gun. That finding runs counter to the gun lobby's oft-cited rhetoric that only criminals abuse guns. 

"We had sufficient evidence to judge whether the shooter was a prohibited gun possessor in 42 of the 56 incidents," the report said, referring to laws barring ex-felons, mentally ill people, drug addicts and other categories of people from owning guns. "Of those 42 incidents, 15 (36 percent) involved a prohibited possessor and 27 (64 percent) did not."

You know personally I already knew this to be true but it is good to see it backed up with data.

Now the only question is can we get it out to the public at large, and help to change the debate that has for too long been shaped by theNRA and other 2nd Amendment fetishists?


Courtesy of Raw Story:

 A 4-year-old boy in Houston died early Sunday morning after finding his father's handgun and shooting himself in the stomach. 


Most Mass Shootings Target Women and Families; Study Finds Men With Legal Guns Are to Blame




What wingnuts find so utterly galling is that -- not only are the Obamas back in the White House for another four years -- they're immensely popular people. Which is why, much to wingers like Monica's chagrin, they tend to be invited to "national events."

But beyond the obvious correlation between "millions of Americans really liking you" and "getting invited to stuff" is the precedent for appearing at the Oscars set by Ronald Reagan in 1981 and Laura Bush in 2002.

But, you know, IOKIYAR.


Build a Better Vocabulary! - A man in Colorado, FRANKLIN GLENN SAIN, was arrested after threatening "to Giffords both of your asses with guns" to some lawmakers. (TPM)


Snowballs in Hell - Republican Rep. WALTER JONES of North Carolina said Saturday that former Vice President DICK CHENEY would likely end up in hell because of his role in the Iraq war:

"I have no malice towards Lamar, I have respect for him," Jones remarked. "But that again is the problem. Congress will not hold anyone to blame. Lyndon Johnson's probably rotting in hell right now because of the Vietnam War, and he probably needs to move over for Dick Cheney."

And I thought I'd see snowballs in Hell before a Republican would denounce BLAM-BLAM. (Raw Story)


The Obama administration and Democrats are sitting awfully pretty this week. This is the week that Republicans will explode, no matter what happens. Pass the popcorn.


Indiana GOP Scales Back Ultrasound Bill To Include Just One Transvaginal Probe