B12 Solipsism

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Archive for the ‘GOP’ tag

Ted Cruz Isn’t Fit To Be President, Part 234,234

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God Is Ugly
God Is Ugly

If you had any doubts, Ted “Calgary” Cruz is not fit to be President of the US. At the very least, he should be required to read the U.S. Constitution at least once.

Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Friday that he believes anyone who wants to be president must fear God and pray daily.

Speaking at the National Religious Liberties Conference in Iowa, Cruz joined other GOP presidential candidates for a discussion about the persecution of Christians in the U.S. and around the world. After some very extreme, very weird comments about homosexuality, right-wing pastor Kevin Swanson introduced Cruz to the stage to ask him how important it was for candidates to submit to Jesus Christ as “the king of the President of the United States.”

“Any president who doesn’t begin every day on his knees isn’t fit to be commander-in-chief of this country,” responded Cruz.

Atheists are one of the most politically underrepresented groups in the U.S. According to the most recent Pew survey on religious affiliation, about 3 percent of Americans identify as atheist and 4 percent identify as “agnostic,” all part of the nearly 23 percent who say they’re “unaffiliated” with any particular religion. Despite those numbers, there are no openly atheist members of Congress, and only a handful of U.S. politicians who identify as unaffiliated, or who have chosen not to identify a specific religion.

(click here to continue reading Ted Cruz: An Atheist ‘Isn’t Fit To Be’ President.)

The video footage is here, if you have the stomach to listen to his smarmy voice…

Since Ted “Calgary” Cruz is supposed to be so smart, perhaps he just forgot what Article 6 actually says:

All debts contracted and engagements entered into, before the adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the US., shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

(click here to continue reading Article Six of the United States Constitution – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Somebody Please Tell This Machine I'm Not A Machine
Somebody Please Tell This Machine I’m Not A Machine

Maybe Cruz is just talking about oral sex? 

Written by Seth Anderson

November 9th, 2015 at 1:33 pm

GOP contenders demand greater deference at debates lest they cry on stage

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No Wrong
No Wrong…

Profiles in courage, 2015 edition…

The campaigns reached an early consensus on one issue, according to several operatives in the room: the secure standing of Fox News Channel. Any changes would be applied to debates after next week’s Fox Business Network debate. Among the reasons, according to one operative in the room, was that “people are afraid to make Roger [Ailes] mad,” a reference to the network’s chief.

(click here to continue reading GOP contenders demand greater control over crucial debates – The Washington Post.)

The whole faux controversy really makes me giggle. These 14 grifters jokers running for president of one of the most powerful nations in the world are so afraid of their ignorance being shown up by questions from corporate media talking heads that they whine, weep until they get their way. Their biggest proclaimed nemesis, Hillary Clinton, had to sit through an interrogation lasting 11 hours! With multiple people asking her tough, and often ridiculous questions often only tangentially related to Benghazi! She seemed to do ok, but contrast her 11 hours of testimony with the wails of thin-skinned divas like Donald Trump or Chris Christie who could barely last 2 hours of questions, spread out among the entire field!  Minus commercial breaks!

Several Republican presidential campaigns began mapping out new demands Sunday for greater control over the format and content of primary debates, which have attracted big audiences and become strategically critical for the 2016 cycle’s expansive field of contenders.
The effort was a response to long-simmering frustrations over the debates, the questions and in some cases the moderators, which boiled over this weekend when advisers from at least 11 campaigns met in the Washington suburbs to deliberate about how to regain sway over the process.

Your Choice
Your Choice

I’ve watched all the 2015 debates so far, both D and R, and the Democrats at least mostly answered the questions put forth. The Republicans for the most part ignore the question, and instead launch into their talking points, and start making stump speeches, pre-written, and memorized. Not really a debate at all, rather a jointly staged talking appearance.

In a meeting here Sunday evening following the fallout from last week’s CNBC debate — in which the campaigns blamed both the Republican National Committee and the television network for what they said was an unfair debate — representatives of most of the campaigns met to discuss how to exert more influence over the process.

They emerged with a modest list of demands, including opening and closing statements of at least 30 seconds; “parity and integrity” on questions, meaning that all candidates would receive similarly substantive questions; no so-called lightning rounds; and approval of any graphics that are aired during the debate.

The campaign representatives also moved to take the Republican National Committee out of the debate negotiating process, calling for the campaigns to negotiate directly with the TV networks over format, and to receive information about the rules and criteria at least 30 days before each debate.

Fox Business Network, the host of the next Republican debate, scheduled for Nov. 10 in Milwaukee, has already told the candidates they will not make opening statements, though they will be given more response time.

(click here to continue reading Republican Campaigns Meet in an Effort to Alter Debates – The New York Times.)

 

Written by Seth Anderson

November 2nd, 2015 at 9:11 am

Posted in politics

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The Republican Agenda is Unpopular With The Majority of Americans

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Two-Headed Dog (Red Temple Prayer)
Two-Headed Dog (Red Temple Prayer)

There are two ways to look at the 2016 primary season:

When gloomy Republican Party leaders regrouped after President Obama’s 2012 re-election, they were intent on enhancing the party’s chances of winning back the White House. The result: new rules to head off a prolonged and divisive nomination fight, and to make certain the Republican standard-bearer is not pulled too far to the right before Election Day.

But as the sprawling class of 2016 Republican presidential candidates tumbled out of their chaotic second debate last week, it was increasingly clear that those rule changes — from limiting the number of debates to adjusting how delegates are allocated — had failed to bring to the nominating process the order and speed that party leaders had craved.

 

(click here to continue reading Party Rules to Streamline Race May Backfire for G.O.P. – The New York Times.)

Caught Perceiving The Idea
Caught Perceiving The Idea

There is the political equation analysis, a zero-sum game:

The prospect of a long and contentious nomination fight is only one reason for concern. The three-hour debate, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library near here, suggested that Republican leaders had yet to realize their hope of keeping primary contenders from moving far to the right, complicating a general election bid, as happened to Mitt Romney in 2012. The candidates staked out conservative positions on a variety of topics — immigration, abortion, same-sex marriage and vaccinations for children — that, if appealing in such early Republican states as Iowa and South Carolina, could prove problematic in a general election.

In the starkest sign of how unsettled the situation is, what once seemed unthinkable — that Mr. Trump could win the Republican nomination — is being treated by many within the Republican establishment as a serious possibility. And one reason his candidacy seems strong is a change by the party in hopes of ending the process earlier: making it possible for states to hold contests in which the winner receives all the delegates, rather than a share based on the vote, starting March 15, two weeks earlier than in the last cycle. Ten states have said they will do so.

If Mr. Trump draws one-third of the Republican primary vote, as recent polls suggest he will, that could be enough to win in a crowded field. After March 15, he could begin amassing all the delegates in a given state even if he carried it with only a third of the vote. And the later it gets, the harder it becomes for a lead in delegates to be overcome, with fewer state contests remaining in which trailing candidates can attempt comebacks.

Or there is another perspective: the Republican agenda for America is so toxic that they want to hide it from voters, because if voters realize what the Republican plan is, then nobody will vote for Republicans. In other words, once voters hear what the GOP nominees are saying, there is no way in hell a majority of non-mouth-breathing citizens will vote for the Republican candidate.

Conservative positions …could prove problematic in a general election. 

No shit.

Written by Seth Anderson

September 19th, 2015 at 8:24 pm

Posted in politics

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Those Who Despise The Constitution Should Not Remain In Office Nor Run For President

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Jesus Hoards
Jesus Hoards

You’ve probably heard about Kim Davis, an elected official in KY who has unilaterally claimed the extra right to decide which biblical injunctions people should follow, based on her interpretation of particular verses, and not others. Note that Kim Davis swore an oath to her god to uphold the Constitution, the same document that does not mention God. In other words, she is sinning when she breaks her oath. 

As Noah Feldman puts it:

Whom you swear the oath by is different from what you swear to do. Officials in the U.S. definitively don’t swear to uphold God’s law. They swear to uphold the Constitution, which never mentions God at all. And they swear to uphold laws enacted under the Constitution — which means laws that are in compliance with the establishment clause that prohibits any established or official religion.

That’s the main reason the framers didn’t include God in the oath of office. It would’ve contradicted the proposition in the Constitution that said no religious test would ever be required to hold office under the Constitution.

But by saying she won’t issue the marriage licenses while serving in office, Davis is also, if I may humbly say so, committing a sin: violating an oath she made before God to uphold the Constitution and laws of the U.S. The Constitution requires her to issue licenses for gay couples. Every moment she disobeys the Constitution, she is violating her oath. The Bible doesn’t look kindly on oath-breaking. The only way for her to emerge from the state of sin is to resign.

 

(click here to continue reading What the Oath of Office Means to a Kentucky Clerk – Bloomberg View.)

Wages of Sin and a Pink Caddy
Wages of Sin and a Pink Caddy

and as Andy Ostroy writes in his open letter to Kim Davis:

You have no inalienable rights here under the United States Constitution. In fact, the Constitution protects the very people you are discriminating against, not you. The Supreme Court has affirmed that fact, despite your ignorance, intolerance and ill-advised protestations.

We have laws in America which we all must abide by. We can’t arbitrarily decide which laws to follow and which ones to ignore. That’s called chaos. Let me ask you this, Kim: in a country founded on the principle of separation of church and state and religious pluralism, would any of the following situations be acceptable to you?:

-can an Orthodox Jew refuse to issue marriage licenses to reform and conservative Jews because, according to his religious belief, these are not “real Jews?”

-can a radical Mormon insist on issuing licenses to polygamists?

-can a devout Catholic county clerk refuse to issue you a marriage license after your next (4th) divorce because he believes that marriage is sacred and considers you a sinner?

-can an Atheist refuse to issue licenses to Christians because her religious belief is that organized religion is the root of all evil?

These situations are as absurdly unconstitutional as your attempt to deny gays their legal right to marry because of your personal religious beliefs. The irony is, as a thrice divorced “traditional marriage” proponent, you have degraded this institution more than any gay couple likely ever will. No one’s stood in the way of your choice to marry four times. How dare you prevent others from marrying?

(click here to continue reading An Open Letter to Kim Davis | Andy Ostroy.)

 Don't Ask Me To Believe In Too Many Things

Don’t Ask Me To Believe In Too Many Things

More troubling to me than Christian Taliban like Ms. Davis are the candidates for the GOP nomination who gnash their teeth at the US Constitution, and who would rather have their Evangelical Law supersede the American government. A variant of Sharia Law, but one that elevates right wing Christian precepts and theology above established jurisprudence. These radicals should lose their citizenship and be deported. Bomb throwers like Ted “Calgary” Cruz:

Today, judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny,” [Ted Cruz] said. “Today, for the first time ever, the government arrested a Christian woman for living according to her faith. . . . I stand with Kim Davis. Unequivocally.”

Tyranny? Our system of government gives the Supreme Court final say over constitutional matters, and, though Cruz doesn’t like it, the court ordered states to recognize same-sex marriages. In fact, the high court specifically declined to give relief to Davis, and the federal judge who ordered her jailed for contempt of court is a George W. Bush appointee and son of a former Republican senator.

Now Cruz, who took an oath of office to “support and defend the Constitution,” wants people to defy the Supreme Court’s authority? Who is the lawless one?

Cruz isn’t the only Republican candidate seeking the nation’s highest office while encouraging people to ignore its laws. Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, declared: “I thank God for Kim Davis, and I hope more Americans will stand with her.”

(click here to continue reading Lawbreaker Kim Davis and the lawless Ted Cruz – The Washington Post.)

These morons should be banned from running for president, at least under the auspices of a major party. Let them run as an independent on the Destroy the United States and All It Stands For Party. Hmm, maybe they already are…

These morons too:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, too, supported Davis, and Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) called her jailing “absurd” and said stands such as Davis’s are “an important part of the American way.” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said that “you have the freedom to practice religious beliefs out there. It’s a fundamental right.”

 Our system of government allows for freedom of speech, mostly, and freedom of religion, mostly, but if you are an official of the government, you have a clear obligation to support the system itself. You’ve taken an oath, remember? 

Here is the oath Kim Davis took:

“I, ….., do swear that I will well and truly discharge the duties of the office of ………….. County Circuit Court clerk, according to the best of my skill and judgment, making the due entries and records of all orders, judgments, decrees, opinions and proceedings of the court, and carefully filing and preserving in my office all books and papers which come to my possession by virtue of my office; and that I will not knowingly or willingly commit any malfeasance of office, and will faithfully execute the duties of my office without favor, affection or partiality, so help me God.”

and here is the Senator’s oath:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

(click here to continue reading 5 Briefing on Oath of Office.)

Sounds to me like Senator Cruz and his craven pals are breaking this oath, and thus should be impeached themselves, and barred from running for public office in the future…

Written by Seth Anderson

September 5th, 2015 at 9:35 am

The Trump Endgame is Disruption

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Washing the Trump
Washing the Trump off our shoes…

The truth is that presidential campaigns usually at this stage in the process are tedious affairs, filled with stump speeches that rarely change, and most sane people can safely ignore the process until the primary season actually begins. Donald Trump running as a candidate of the Trump Party1  has upended all that. I don’t see any plausible path for a Trump electoral college victory, thanks be Kant, but I’ll admit Trump has made the 2016 election more interesting. In a gapers block sort of way, but still, more interesting than having to wade through double speak from John Ellis Bush Bush2 and Carly Fiorina and the rest of the clown car.

Trump could change the race by stamping his image upon the Republicans in a way they cannot escape. Trump has made himself the symbol of racism against Latinos in the United States. He is absolute brand poison. Democrats are already airing television ads connecting other Republican candidates to Trump.

Another, more potent way Trump could determine the outcome of the race is by running a third-party candidacy. An independent Trump is the perfectly designed Republican-killer. He appeals to a constituency (white nativists) that forms a crucial component of the Republican base, but which bears almost no authentic support for the party’s anti-government domestic-policy agenda. He has the celebrity and money to sustain such a run. An independent Trump run would virtually eliminate any chance of Republican victory.

Republicans’ success requires the party to steer a course between these two outcomes — one damaging, the other ruinous. They must keep Trump within the party without allowing him to contaminate the party. Such an outcome is certainly possible. It will not be easy. More unnerving for Republican power brokers is the fact that the success of their project lies mainly in Trump’s hands. And what Trump is even trying to achieve is difficult to ascertain.

There are two broad possibilities that explain Trump’s campaign. The first is that he has no real plan. His presidential run is the extension of his broader public persona — a bid for attention and to carry out grudges. Trump is running to spite the reporters and pundits who predicted he would never actually enter the race. Or perhaps he started out trying to grab attention, and simply kept going. Or he actually wants to be president in some vague way, and believes or hopes the force of his personality will carry him through. Or he just hates Jeb Bush a lot — one “Trump associate” told the Washington Post that Trump “has two goals: One, to be elected president, and two, to have Jeb not be president” — and would drop out of the race if Scott Walker or Marco Rubio supplants Bush.

(click here to continue reading What Is the Trump Endgame? — NYMag.)

Fox News and its allies have created the Trump monster, and now it is ravaging their carefully crafted Potemkin villages of Tea Party supporters and rage-fiends. I guffaw. I guffaw nearly to the point of tears…

Footnotes:
  1. and sometimes as a Republican, depending []
  2. Jeb! is a strange name to give oneself – the John Ellis shortening I get, but why put your surname into your nickname? []

Written by Seth Anderson

August 31st, 2015 at 8:20 am

Posted in politics

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Politics and the Fuzzy Middle

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Not A Simple Binary Choice

 

As part of an interesting and long discussion of politics and tech nerds by David Roberts, he makes this historic point:

In postwar, mid-20th-century America, there was a period of substantial bipartisanship, and it powerfully shaped the way political and economic elites think about US politics. The popular picture of how politics works — reaching across the aisle, twisting arms, building coalitions behind common-sense policy — has clung to America’s self-conception long after the underlying structural features that enabled bipartisanship fundamentally shifted.

What enabled bipartisanship was, to simplify matters, the existence of socially liberal Republicans in the Northeast and Democrats in the South who were fiscally conservative and virulently racist. Ideologically heterogeneous parties meant that transactional, cross-party coalitions were relatively easy to come by.

Over the past several decades, the parties have polarized, i.e., sorted themselves ideologically (that’s what the GOP’s “Southern strategy” was about). Racist conservative Democrats became Republicans and social liberals became Democrats. The process has now all but completed: The rightmost national Democrat is now to the left of the leftmost national Republican.

Crucially, however, the process of polarization has been asymmetrical. While almost all liberals have become Democrats and almost all conservatives have become Republicans, far more Republicans self-identify as conservative than Democrats do as liberal, and consequently the GOP has moved much further right than the Democratic Party has left.

Conservative whites, freaked out by hippies in the ’60s, blacks in the ’70s, communists in the ’80s, Clintons in the ’90s, Muslims in the ’00s, and Obama more recently, are now more or less permanently freaked out, gripped by a sense of “aggrieved entitlement,” convinced that they are “losing their country.” (If only someone would come along and promise to make it great again!)

As the GOP has grown more demographically and ideologically homogeneous, it has become, in the memorable words of congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein, “a resurgent outlier: ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; un-persuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

As the ongoing Republican primary is revealing in gruesome detail, asymmetrical polarization seems a long way from burning itself out.

(click here to continue reading Tech nerds are smart. But they can’t seem to get their heads around politics. – Vox.)

The political center does not exist – in any real sense – and our constitution empowers the rural minority to have an oversized say in deciding policy.  

 No Corporate Welfare for The Ricketts

Also, this:

Third, in practical coalitional politics, the “center” will tend to be shaped not by rational thinking but by money and power. If there is any space left for bipartisanship in US politics, it is around measures that benefit corporate elites.

The right-wing base has a coherent position on climate change: It’s a hoax, so we shouldn’t do anything about it. The left-wing base has a coherent position: It’s happening, so we should do something about it. The “centrist” position, shared by conservative Democrats and the few remaining moderate Republicans, is that it’s happening but we shouldn’t do anything about it. That’s not centrist in any meaningful ideological sense; instead, like most areas of overlap between the parties, it is corporatist.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 30th, 2015 at 9:27 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Ted Cruz launches Guam ground game as consultant is sent to tiny island | US news | The Guardian

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Sunset on Guam
(photo by Yuki Yaginuma, used under Creative Commons license. )

Can someone punch this Dennis Lennox guy in the face, and tell him to pass it along to Ted “Calgary” Cruz?
Earlier today…

The Cruz campaign has dispatched political consultant Dennis Lennox to Guam to organize in advance of that island’s GOP caucuses. The decision to send Lennox, a former county drain commissioner in his native Michigan, to Guam represents the most zealous outreach of any presidential campaign to the US island territory located nearly 8,000 miles from Washington DC, in bid to scoop up nine delegates from US island territory

Via:
Ted Cruz launches Guam ground game as consultant is sent to tiny island | US news | The Guardian
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Written by eggplant

August 17th, 2015 at 1:11 pm

Posted in Links

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T – The New York Times

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Chortle At Joker’s Boner

Earlier today…

If people consistently make logically incoherent, ignorant arguments, the duty of a commentator is to say just that — not to mislead readers by pretending that they’re actually serious and making sense. You shouldn’t make gratuitous insults — I have never, to my knowledge, declared that someone’s mother was a hamster and his father smelt of elderberries. But stupid/ignorant is as stupid/ignorant does, and influence changes nothing. Where I’ve been getting pushback lately is in my pronouncements that the whole Republican field is talking nonsense on economic policy. That’s a terrible thing to say, I’m told. But what if it’s true? And of course it is.

Via:
R-E-S-P-E-C-T – The New York Times
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Written by eggplant

August 15th, 2015 at 10:35 am

Posted in Links

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Trump Is The Face of the Base of The Base Culture

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Autumnal Waste
Autumnal Waste

This paragraph by Paul Krugman made me laugh:

Joe Weisenthal asked me why Donald Trump is riding so high in the polls; as he said, my answer was subtle and nuanced.

But seriously, why is anyone surprised? Year after year the GOP base has been fed fantasies about death panels, senior figures have flirted with birtherism and routinely peddled conspiracy theories whenever good news arrives about health reform or the economy, a centrist president has been portrayed as a socialist who hates America, sitting governors have deferred to craziness over military exercises. Oh, and the unemployed have been blamed for their own plight, food stamp recipients and the disabled portrayed as malingerers. Then along comes Trump, who embodies the base’s values, its intellectual outlook, its deep lack of empathy for the unfortunate. And up goes the cry: “Don’t base voters realize that he’s not a serious figure?”

(click here to continue reading The Face of the Base – The New York Times.)

Donald Trump is the bloviating embodiment of the Tea Party, and all those who supported it for their own nefarious ends. I’m laughing, I just hope I won’t be crying in November, 2016…

Written by Seth Anderson

July 28th, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Posted in politics

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Regulatory Reform As A Cover for Corporations to Skirt Laws

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Will Obama have to resort to veto pen finally, now that Harry Reid is no longer blocking ridiculous GOP bills from getting passed? I guess we’ll soon see. And the real test will be on the non-sexy things, like regulatory reform.

Please  Vote 

Obama Has Only Vetoed 2 Bills. That’s About to Change—Thanks to Democrats | Mother Jones: “Regulatory reform: By far the least sexy of the topics that might be forced on Obama, changes to how the government writes its rules could pose the biggest trouble for the president. Unlike finance, environmental rules, or health care reform, it’s an obscure topic unlikely to garner an outpouring of public outcry. These are changes portrayed as making government more sensible and business-friendly, always a favorite image to project by moderate Democrats who still cling to Bill Clinton’s mantra of deconstructing Big Government, yet they could stymie efforts to write rules for those specific policy areas.

Changes to how the government writes rules ‘seem both kind of technical and innocent, because they talk about things like cost-benefit analysis, or increasing judicial review, or more economic requirements to help small business’ says Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. ‘Things that don’t sound threatening and maybe even ease tensions with constituents who don’t really like the idea of red tape and have this idea that if we change it at the federal level lots would be easier at home.’ But in essence, these rules just offer cover for big business to delay the laws that they don’t want to comply with—continuing to set their own rules and skating by for years after the public thinks they’ve already been kept in check.

Last week, the House passed the Regulatory Accountability Act, a bill that would force all agencies to conduct a cost-benefit analysis for each rule. This process tends to favor business interests over consumers. The bill would also make it easier for judges to toss aside rules and force agencies to hold lengthy public hearings for each rule they consider. Past iterations of this bill have received support from Senate moderates like Florida’s Bill Nelson, Maine’s King, and West Virginia’s Manchin.

That group of 10 to 15 Democrats willing to break from the rest of the party aren’t hiding their plans. ‘If Republicans want a minimum of six or more Democrats to work with them,’ Manchin said earlier this month, ‘and they’re sincere about policy and good policy moving forward, they’re definitely going to reach out, and I’ve reached out to them.'”

(Via http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/barack-obama-veto-moderate-senate-democrats)

Written by Seth Anderson

January 20th, 2015 at 10:43 am

Posted in Business,politics

Tagged with , ,

How Brownback Is Relying On Obamacare To Close Kansas’ Huge Budget Hole

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Don't Fool With Fools Who'll Run Away
Don’t Fool With Fools Who’ll Run Away.

Oh, Kansas, you so crazy – you elected this clown twice!

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) is calling all hands on deck to fix his state’s huge self-imposed budget crisis, which nearly cost him re-election this year, and the staunch conservative is now receiving an assist from an unlikely source: Obamacare.

The state’s well-documented budget troubles came after Brownback’s dramatic reductions in taxes since taking office in 2011. With its revenue drying up and cash reserves depleted, Kansas is staring at a $280 million hole in its $6.4 billion FY 2015 budget, which ends in June.

Brownback offered his proposal for closing that hole last week, a mixture of spending cuts and transferring funds from other parts of the budget to fill it. And second biggest of those transfers is $55 million in revenue from a Medicaid drug rebate program that was bolstered under the Affordable Care Act.

The short version then is this: Obamacare is helping Kansas address its fiscal crisis — even if Brownback’s administration seems loath to admit it.

(click here to continue reading How Brownback Is Relying On O-Care To Close Kansas’ Huge Budget Hole.)

I'm With Stupid
I’m With Stupid

No worries, Kansas will turn into Somalia soon enough, Governor Brownback has 4 more years of wrecking the state’s economy to prove Republican talking points about economics are faith-based. As long as you don’t live in Kansas, or near Kansas, or have any dealings with Kansas, or live in the same country as Kansas, you should be ok…

Two years ago Kansas embarked on a remarkable fiscal experiment: It sharply slashed income taxes without any clear idea of what would replace the lost revenue. Sam Brownback, the governor, proposed the legislation — in percentage terms, the largest tax cut in one year any state has ever enacted — in close consultation with the economist Arthur Laffer. And Mr. Brownback predicted that the cuts would jump-start an economic boom — “Look out, Texas,” he proclaimed.

But Kansas isn’t booming — in fact, its economy is lagging both neighboring states and America as a whole. Meanwhile, the state’s budget has plunged deep into deficit, provoking a Moody’s downgrade of its debt.

There’s an important lesson here — but it’s not what you think. Yes, the Kansas debacle shows that tax cuts don’t have magical powers, but we already knew that. The real lesson from Kansas is the enduring power of bad ideas, as long as those ideas serve the interests of the right people.

Why, after all, should anyone believe at this late date in supply-side economics, which claims that tax cuts boost the economy so much that they largely if not entirely pay for themselves? The doctrine crashed and burned two decades ago, when just about everyone on the right — after claiming, speciously, that the economy’s performance under Ronald Reagan validated their doctrine — went on to predict that Bill Clinton’s tax hike on the wealthy would cause a recession if not an outright depression. What actually happened was a spectacular economic expansion.

(click here to continue reading Charlatans, Cranks and Kansas – NYTimes.com.)

Puzzle of Puzzles
Puzzle of Puzzles

and as long as the morons in Washington don’t follow Brownback’s lead:

Remember, as far as Brownback is concerned, he has a popular mandate from the Kansas electorate. He ruined the state’s finances, won a second term, and sees no need to change course. So, predictably, he’s keeping the tax breaks that didn’t work and slashing public investments even deeper, since this is entirely consistent with the agenda endorsed by voters.  

Shortly after the election, Brownback’s budget director said the administration “has no intention of revisiting the state’s tax policy.” Of course not. Why would failure need to be revisited?  

Postscript: Two years ago, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said of Brownback’s radical economic experiment, “This is exactly the sort of thing we want to do here, in Washington.” Something to keep in mind.

(click here to continue reading Brownback scrambles to clean up his mess | MSNBC.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 15th, 2014 at 9:47 am

Posted in politics

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Energy Firms in Secretive Alliance With Republican Attorneys General

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The Dark Doesn't Hide It
The Dark Doesn’t Hide It.

Here are real world consequences of removing all vestiges of restraint of corporate purchase of elected officials, only partially hidden corruption. We are getting the best politicians money can buy, in other words, with the obvious point being it isn’t our money, but corporate dollars that have all the buying power.

The letter to the Environmental Protection Agency from Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma carried a blunt accusation: Federal regulators were grossly overestimating the amount of air pollution caused by energy companies drilling new natural gas wells in his state.

But Mr. Pruitt left out one critical point. The three-page letter was written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of Oklahoma’s biggest oil and gas companies, and was delivered to him by Devon’s chief of lobbying.

The email exchange from October 2011, obtained through an open-records request, offers a hint of the unprecedented, secretive alliance that Mr. Pruitt and other Republican attorneys general have formed with some of the nation’s top energy producers to push back against the Obama regulatory agenda, an investigation by The New York Times has found.

Attorneys general in at least a dozen states are working with energy companies and other corporate interests, which in turn are providing them with record amounts of money for their political campaigns, including at least $16 million this year.

(click here to continue reading Energy Firms in Secretive Alliance With Attorneys General – NYTimes.com.)

Cheap for corporations, $16,000,000 isn’t very much when gutting environmental law is the end result. Remember your high school history books and how indignant the outrage was when discussing the Teapot Dome Scandal? Well, this is a gazillion or two times worse…

Unconventional Solutions
Unconventional Solutions…

Here’s a brief refresher of the Teapot Dome Scandal via Wikipedia:

In the early 20th century, the U.S. Navy largely converted from coal to oil fuel. To ensure the Navy would always have enough fuel available, several oil-producing areas were designated as Naval Oil Reserves by President Taft. In 1921, President Harding issued an executive order that transferred control of Teapot Dome Oil Field in Natrona County, Wyoming, and the Elk Hills and Buena Vista Oil Fields in Kern County, California from the Navy Department to the Department of the Interior. This was not implemented until 1922, when Interior Secretary Fall persuaded Navy Secretary Edwin C. Denby to transfer control.

Later in 1922, Albert Fall leased the oil production rights at Teapot Dome to Harry F. Sinclair of Mammoth Oil, a subsidiary of Sinclair Oil Corporation. He also leased the Elk Hills reserve to Edward L. Doheny of Pan American Petroleum and Transport Company. Both leases were issued without competitive bidding. This manner of leasing was legal under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920.

The lease terms were very favorable to the oil companies, which secretly made Fall a rich man. Fall had received a no-interest loan from Doheny of $100,000 (about $1.32 million today) in November 1921. He received other gifts from Doheny and Sinclair totaling about $404,000 (about $5.34 million today). It was this money changing hands that was illegal, not the leases. Fall attempted to keep his actions secret, but the sudden improvement in his standard of living prompted speculation.

(click here to continue reading Teapot Dome scandal – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Discarded Cautions
Discarded Cautions.

Sound familiar? Except in this case, the public isn’t outraged, or even well informed that elected officials are getting paid off in such a brazen manner. 

Out of public view, corporate representatives and attorneys general are coordinating legal strategy and other efforts to fight federal regulations, according to a review of thousands of emails and court documents and dozens of interviews.

“When you use a public office, pretty shamelessly, to vouch for a private party with substantial financial interest without the disclosure of the true authorship, that is a dangerous practice,” said David B. Frohnmayer, a Republican who served a decade as attorney general in Oregon. “The puppeteer behind the stage is pulling strings, and you can’t see. I don’t like that. And when it is exposed, it makes you feel used.”

For Mr. Pruitt, the benefits have been clear. Lobbyists and company officials have been notably solicitous, helping him raise his profile as president for two years of the Republican Attorneys General Association, a post he used to help start what he and allies called the Rule of Law campaign, which was intended to push back against Washington.

(click here to continue reading Energy Firms in Secretive Alliance With Attorneys General – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 7th, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Rudy Giuliani Uses Ferguson To Take His Race Baiting To Whole New Level

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crime plus 8 mailbox
crime plus 8 

Rudy Giuliani is in the class of professional Trolls On Television that I try to ignore, along with his fellow grifters like Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, et al. The odds of any of these losers ever winning a plurality of delegates in a presidential election is extremely slim, in fact, the odds of any of them winning a majority of voters in any state is implausible, and yet they have made careers for themselves appearing on television news programs, spewing bile regarding the political topic du jour.

All that said, Rudy “Nine-Eleven” Giuliani’s latest garbage is disgusting:

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been on a tear since Sunday, turning himself into a B storyline as he offers what you might call unvarnished takes on race and crime in America amid the tension in Ferguson, Mo. It started with a “Meet The Press” panel, when he told a black panelist that white police officers wouldn’t be in black communities if “you weren’t killing each other.”

And he hasn’t let up while a grand jury has decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in Michael Brown’s shooting and heated protests have followed.

Giuliani isn’t a stranger to racially charged rhetoric, dating back to his time as mayor, but these recent comments were striking even to one of Giuliani’s biographers who was quite familiar with the former mayor’s past rhetoric on these issues.

“Some of this stuff has struck me as a little over-the-top even for him,” Andrew Kirtzman, a former journalist and now a vice president at Global Strategy Group, who wrote a 2001 book about Giuliani, said in a phone interview. “But this is the man who when asked what he had done for the black community in New York, back in the 90s, he said, ‘Well, they’re still alive to begin with.'”

“I used to look at our crime reduction, and the reason we reduced homicide by 65 percent is because we reduced it in the black community,” [Giuliani] said. “Because there is virtually no homicide in the white community.”

(click here to continue reading Rudy Giuliani Uses Ferguson To Take His Race Baiting To Whole New Level.)

Uh, yeah, virtually no homicide in the white community. I went to the FBI’s website, and at random, picked the year 2000 to look at homicide statistics, a year when Giuliani was still Mayor of NYC. I’m not asserting that 2000 was or was not a typical year, but, what a surprise, plenty of incidents of white on white crime.

 

FBI Homicide Statistics by Race 2000

FBI Homicide Statistics by Race 2000

So when Giuliani bloviates:

“When the president was talking last night about training the police, of course, the police should be trained,” he said. “He also should have spent 15 minutes on training the [black] community to stop killing each other. In numbers that are incredible — incredible — 93 percent of blacks are shot by other blacks. They are killing each other. And the racial arsonists, who enjoyed last night, this was their day of glory.”

he’s just talking out of his ass. 85% of the reported homicides of whites were committed by other whites, btw. Does that mean the president should lecture the white community to stop killing each other too?

Written by Seth Anderson

November 29th, 2014 at 10:50 am

Posted in politics

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Bill to Restrict NSA Data Collection Blocked by Senate Republicans

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Nokia AT&T phone
Relic of a simpler time. 

So the Senate Republicans blocked legislation ((S.2685: Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring Act of 2014)) that could theoretically protect us from government overreach. What a surprise!

 Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked a sweeping overhaul of the once-secret National Security Agency program that collects records of Americans’ phone calls in bulk.

But Tuesday’s vote only put off a debate over security and personal liberties until next year. While a Republican-controlled Senate is less likely to go along with the kinds of reforms that were in the bill, which sponsors had named the U.S.A. Freedom Act, the debate could further expose rifts between the party’s interventionist and more libertarian-leaning wings.

Under the bill, which grew out of the disclosures in June 2013 by Edward J. Snowden, the former intelligence contractor, the N.S.A. would have gotten out of the business of collecting Americans’ phone records. Instead, most of the records would have stayed in the hands of the phone companies, which would not have been required to hold them any longer than they already do for normal business purposes, which in some cases is 18 months.

The N.S.A., Mr. Snowden revealed, was systematically collecting such telephone metadata …from major American phone companies. The program began after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, based on an assertion of unilateral executive power by President George W. Bush. In 2006, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had secretly brought the program under its authority and started issuing orders under the Patriot Act to the companies for their records.

The proposed legislation would still have allowed analysts to perform so-called contact chaining in which they trace a suspect’s network of acquaintances, but they would been required to use a new kind of court order to swiftly obtain only those records that were linked, up to two layers away, to a suspect — even when held by different phone companies.

(click here to continue reading Bill to Restrict N.S.A. Data Collection Blocked in Vote by Senate Republicans – NYTimes.com.)

For all their chants about eliminating Big Gov’ment, Senator Mitch McConnell and his team secretly love expansion of federal reach. For the GOP: expanding government surveillance is good, controlling women’s uteruses is better, expanding defense contractors weaponry program is best. The only kind of government programs the GOP doesn’t like are things like SNAP, EPA, and so on. You know, the stuff that might actually help someone.

Also of note: Senator Rand Paul, Mr. Libertarian himself, voted no on this bill. Wonder how his acolytes will spin it? Especially since Senators Ted “Calgary” Cruz, Dean Heller, Mike Lee and Lisa Murkowski all voted yes…

Transformers 3 Soldier extra
Soldier making NSA tracked call

From Bloomberg Businessweek, the tech industry was pushing for this bill:

The bill was an attempt to force spy agencies to collect only information sought through a court order and exclude the use of broad searches like by ZIP codes. A coalition of Internet and technology companies, which include Google Inc. and Twitter Inc., supported the Senate bill while saying the Republican-backed House version passed in May would still allow bulk collection of Internet user data.

U.S. Internet and technology companies say they’ve already lost contracts with foreign governments over the issue. Forrester Research Inc. estimates the backlash against NSA spying could cost as much as $180 billion in lost business. Facebook Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc.  are among the companies pushing for limits.

Americans learned of the spying in June 2013 when Snowden, a former NSA contractor revealed a program under which the U.S. uses court orders to compel companies to turn over data about their users. Documents divulged by Snowden also uncovered NSA hacking of fiber-optic cables abroad and installation of surveillance tools into routers, servers and other network equipment.

(click here to continue reading Senate Blocks Vote on Curbing NSA’s Bulk Data Collection Program – Businessweek.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 19th, 2014 at 9:49 am

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The Center Ring at the Republican Circus Will Be Televised

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Bozo The Clown
GOP The Clown Party, as seen on TV

This would make me weep, if I wasn’t laughing so hard…

The hottest competition in Washington this week is among House Republicans vying for a seat on the Benghazi kangaroo court, also known as the Select House Committee to Inflate a Tragedy Into a Scandal. Half the House has asked to “serve” on the committee, which is understandable since it’s the perfect opportunity to avoid any real work while waving frantically to right-wing voters stomping their feet in the grandstand.

They won’t pass a serious jobs bill, or raise the minimum wage, or reform immigration, but House Republicans think they can earn their pay for the rest of the year by exposing nonexistent malfeasance on the part of the Obama administration. On Thursday, they voted to create a committee to spend “such sums as may be necessary” to conduct an investigation of the 2012 attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The day before, they voted to hold in contempt Lois Lerner, the former Internal Revenue Service official whom they would love to blame for the administration’s crackdown on conservative groups, if only they could prove there was a crackdown, which they can’t, because there wasn’t.

Both actions stem from the same impulse: a need to rouse the most fervent anti-Obama wing of the party and keep it angry enough to deliver its donations and votes to Republicans in the November elections.

(click here to continue reading Center Ring at the Republican Circus – NYTimes.com.)

The rebranding of the Republican Party is complete, mandating the wearing of clown shoes at all times…

For instance:

Similarly, the Justice Department should not press Ms. Lerner’s contempt citation before a grand jury. She invoked her Fifth Amendment rights at a hearing last year and refused to testify, but Republicans claim, without foundation, that she waived those rights by first proclaiming her innocence. Her refusal, they said, was contemptuous of Congress. Little nuisances like constitutional rights or basic facts can’t be allowed to stand in the way when House Republicans need to whip up their party’s fury.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 9th, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Posted in politics

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