Thursday, June 18, 2009

Your Daily Wingnuts

Kleefeld (TPM): Twitter Users Heckle Hoekstra En Masse

Earlier today, Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) put up this astonishing post on Twitter, likening the oppression of the Iranian people to the plight of House Republicans:

Iranian twitter activity similar to what we did in House last year when Republicans were shut down in the House.

In the hours since, the Twitter community has responded -- with massive heckling. Here's just a small sample of some of the best ones:

ArjunJaikumar @petehoekstra i spilled some lukewarm coffee on myself just now, which is somewhat analogous to being boiled in oil
chrisbaskind @petehoekstra My neighbor stopped me to talk today. Now I know what it is like to be questioned by the Basij!
luckbfern @petehoekstra I stand in solidarity with the oppressed rich white men of Repub Party in the House. #GOPfail Allah Akbar!
aciolino @petehoekstra Today I poked my finger on a hanger. Now I know what all those aborted babies go through.
ceedub7 @petehoekstra I got a splinter in my hand today. Felt just like Jesus getting nailed to the cross.
netw3rk @petehoekstra Someone walked in on me while I was in the bathroom. Reminded me of Pearl Harbor.
MattOrtega Walked out onto Constitution Ave in D.C. and was almost hit by a taxi. Reminded me of Tienanmen Square.
tharodge @petehoekstra maybe now is a good time to reconsider whether you are ready for national politics?
TahirDuckett @petehoekstra ran through the sprinklers this morning, claimed solidarity with victims of Hurricane Katrina
paganmist @petehoekstra Had to move all my stuff to a new office w/o a corner view. Now i know what the Trail of Tears was like. #GOPfail

John Cole: Forrest Shrub

Bush weighs in on Gitmo:

“The way I decided to address the problem was twofold: One, use every technique and tool within the law to bring terrorists to justice before they strike again,” he said, adding that the country needs to stay on offense, not defense. On Guantanamo, which while in office Mr. Bush said he wanted to close, the former president was diplomatic.

“I told you I’m not going to criticize my successor,” he said. “I’ll just tell you that there are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don’t believe that persuasion isn’t going to work. Therapy isn’t going to cause terrorists to change their mind.”

I, for one, am really glad Obama dropped his plan to send all of these guys to therapy instead of trying them for alleged crimes. Nice double negative, btw, Bush.

John Cole: The Mess at Justice


Two months after prosecutors abandoned the criminal conviction of former senator Ted Stevens, the Justice Department unit that polices public corruption remains in chaos, coping with newly discovered evidence that threatens to undermine other cases while department leaders struggle to reshuffle the ranks.

William Welch and Brenda Morris, senior managers in the department’s Public Integrity Section who supervised the case against the Alaska Republican, have been moved into other roles following the transfer this month of two of their subordinates, who worked on lengthy investigations of Alaskan influence peddling, according to four sources.

At the same time, document-sharing lapses that provoked the Stevens turnaround are also affecting other bribery prosecutions in the state, prompting authorities to take the extraordinary step of releasing two Alaska lawmakers from prison late last week. A new team of government lawyers and FBI agents is reviewing thousands of pages of evidence, trying to assuage the concerns of judges and fielding complaints from defense attorneys.

There is not one part of the government that is not a smoking ash heap after the last eight years.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) sure does love her conspiracy theories.

In February, Bachmann explained her belief that President Obama is orchestrating an elaborate scheme involving the Census Bureau. As she sees it, the White House will use the 2010 census to redraw congressional lines to keep Democrats in power indefinitely. The argument was obviously crazy, but the Minnesota Republican seemed quite excited about it.

This week, we learn that Bachmann's census-related conspiracy theory has evolved, and now includes ACORN.

Outspoken Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann says she's so worried that information from next year's national census will be abused that she will not fill out anything more than the number of people in her household.

In an interview Wednesday with The Washington Times' "America's Morning News," the Minnesota Republican said the questions have become "very intricate, very personal" and that she feared ACORN, the community organizing group that came under fire for its voter registration efforts last year, would be part of the U.S. Census Bureau's door-to-door information collection efforts.

Bachmann added, "I know for my family, the only question we will be answering is how many people are in our home. We won't be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn't require any information beyond that."

First, Bachmann's creative legal thinking notwithstanding, it's illegal to refuse to answer census questions. It's generally not a good idea for sitting members of Congress to boast in advance about law-breaking.

Second, ACORN has applied to help recruit census workers, but has not yet been chosen to take on any specific role. Should ACORN play a role in the process, it's not clear what Bachmann thinks these workers would do with census data, but the lawmaker said the very possibility is "very concerning."

What's "very concerning"? Only Bachmann knows for sure.

Anonymous Liberal: Palin = Fail

Via Mudflats, this is the person who was almost Vice President:

Hannity: …The price of oil is going up again. It’s not quite at $140 a barrel, but it’s on its way up to $70 and $80…

Palin: Yeah, well and I thank God it’s not at $140. You know people say, “Hey, Alaska! 85% of your state budget is based on the price of a barrel of oil. Aren’t you glad the price is going up?” I say, “No!” The fewer dollars that the state of Alaska government has, the fewer dollars we spend. And that’s good for our families and for the private sector.
This may be the stupidest thing I've ever heard a politician say, and it so beautifully illustrates the level of Republican intellectual decay that Palin represents. You can see what's going on here. She's memorized the talking point (government spending = bad) but doesn't understand the argument underlying it. She knows the punchline but not the joke.

Republican dogma holds that government spending is bad because, in order to pay for it, you have to raise taxes, and it's generally better and more productive to leave that money in private hands. In other words, even Republicans don't believe that government revenue itself is bad; their issue is with the source of revenue, which is almost always taxation.

But the question that Palin was asked had nothing to do with taxation. If the price of oil goes up, Alaska gets a revenue windfall. Palin could simply pass that extra money directly to the people of Alaska. That's the equivalent of a tax cut for everyone in her state.

By Palin's logic, Alaska should drastically cut back on the production of oil in the state. After all, 85% of the state's revenue comes from oil production and revenue is bad. The fewer dollars the state has, the fewer it will spend and that's apparently "good for our families and good for the private sector."

Remember, this is the person John McCain selected to be Vice President of the United States.


The Washington Post ran a Style-section piece on Sen. John Ensign's (R-Nev.) adulterous affair, largely dismissing its significance. The headline says this is "no affair to remember," because it doesn't match up to the salacious details of other recent political sex scandals (Craig, Foley, Spitzer, Edwards, Vitter).

The piece quotes an expert from a D.C. crisis management firm, calling the controversy "really vanilla."

At first blush, that sounds plausible. Hypocritical politician promotes "sanctity of marriage," then cheats on spouse with former aide. Hardly unprecedented stuff.

But there are still a few unresolved angles to this story.

The son of the couple at the center of the sex scandal that has engulfed Sen. John Ensign was being paid by National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2008 at the same time his mother was having an affair with the Nevada Republican.

Both Doug and Cynthia Hampton were already working in senior positions for Ensign when their son Brandon Hampton was hired to do "research policy consulting" for the NRSC in March 2008.

The younger Hampton, 19, was paid $5,400 before he left the Ensign office in August last year, Federal Election Commission records show.

The bi-weekly payments to the 19-year-old employee ended when the affair ended.

There's also the matter of whether Ensign came forward to disclose the extra-marital relationship because he faced possible blackmail threats from his former mistress' husband. That's questionable, too.

David Kurtz added, "The closer you look at the John Ensign love triangle, the stranger it becomes.... It's a very tangled web."

"Really vanilla" is not the first phrase that comes to mind.

Yglesias: Holding Up Koh and Johnsen

Marc Ambinder reports that there will be no recess appointments for Dawn Johnsen or Harold Koh:

The true culprits, though, are Republicans, who refuse to allow the Democratic majority to pass the nominees through the Senate by unanimous consent, which would require 50 votes. Non-unanimous consent implies a full debate, which Republicans intend to use to reduce the policy-making energy of the Democratic majority. If the Democrats bring a controversial nominee to the floor, Republicans will filibuster, knowing that there aren’t 60 aye votes. That would eat up precious legislative time.

I continue to be a little bit astonished by how little attention the political establishment is giving to the implications of the routinization of a 60-vote supermajority requirement for all Senate business. This is a very new “tradition” in American governance, it goes against everyone’s common understanding of how democratic procedures are supposed to work, and there’s very little reason to believe that the results will be beneficial in the long run. The fact that the Democrats currently hold 58-59 Senate seats is, I think, to some extent clouding people’s thinking about this. It’s quite rare for either party to have a majority that large. And the implication of the currently evolving norm is that a new president with a 54 or 55 copartisans in the Senate could find himself completely unable to confirm vast numbers of subcabinet nominees, rendering the country essentially ungovernable.

Meanwhile, the administration and the Senate leadership seems to be shockingly ineffective in bringing attention to this. Consider especially the case of Johnsen, who’s apparently being filibustered on the grounds that she’s pro-choice. How is it that Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both pro-choice Senators from a pro-choice state that voted for the Democratic Presidential nominee in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008 feel they can participate in this obstruction with impunity?

    It's always fascinating to watch center-right Democrats take a firm stand in support of Republican obstructionism.

    A bipartisan group of House members is demanding that special budget rules allowing Democrats to pass healthcare legislation by a simple-majority vote be taken off the table.

    Democratic leaders have signaled they are open to using reconciliation to force President Obama's signature domestic issue through the Senate along party lines if need be.

    The House group says that is not acceptable.

    "Reconciliation is not an option for health care reform," read a news release sent out Thursday morning by Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper (Tenn.), a member of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition. "By rule, any bill that passes under reconciliation cannot make the changes needed to reform the American health care system," the release read. "Working together is the only option."

    This, oddly enough, positions the Blue Dog Democrats to the right of former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), who said Senate Dems can certainly pass health care reform through the reconciliation process. He told radio host Bill Bennett on Tuesday, "[Reconciliation is] legal, it's ethical, you can do it. And it has been suggested and accepted by the administration, pretty directly that if it came down to it, they're going to drive this thing through a 50-vote door. And if they do that...they can pass whatever they want to."

    But Blue Dogs and House Republicans disagree. The majority party can pass reform, they say, but it's paramount to protect the right of Republicans to demand supermajorities and block the legislation, even if it enjoys the support of a majority of the House, a majority of the Senate, a majority of the public, and the president.

    Matt Yglesias, on an unrelated point, noted this morning: "I continue to be a little bit astonished by how little attention the political establishment is giving to the implications of the routinization of a 60-vote supermajority requirement for all Senate business. This is a very new 'tradition' in American governance, it goes against everyone's common understanding of how democratic procedures are supposed to work, and there's very little reason to believe that the results will be beneficial in the long run."

    Quite right. The American system of government has was never supposed to work this way, and wasn't designed to force 60-vote minimums on everything of significance. At some point fairly recently, without a word of debate or discussion, the political world simply accepted as fact the idea that a small and shrinking Senate minority can require supermajorities for every piece of legislation. It quickly became something everyone simply "knows," despite the fact that this is a fairly radical departure from historic legislative procedure.

    And now, Blue Dogs and House Republicans are adamant that Senate Democrats take the one procedure that can guarantee an up-or-down vote on health care reform off the table. Incredible.


Rep. Bill Posey, a conservative Republican congressman from Florida, is perhaps best known for his efforts to require presidential candidates to present a valid birth certificate before seeking national office. It was, of course, legislation driven entirely by ridiculous attacks on President Obama. (Posey is also rumored to be the illegitimate grandson of an alligator, but that's another matter.)

In the three months since Posey unveiled his Birther-inspired legislation, most of the House Republican caucus, filled with some very right-wing members, kept its distance from his proposal. Dave Weigel reports today, however, that Posey has found four new co-sponsors for his silly idea -- Reps. John Carter (R-Texas), John Culberson (R-Texas), Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), John Campbell (R-Calif.) -- and explains how he's found new allies on his little crusade.

"I was talking to Neugebauer about it, and my good friend John Culberson was listening to the conversation and so Randy said, 'Yeah, I told my staff I wanted to sign up on that already.' And having heard the conversation, Culberson says, 'Yeah, sign me up.' And the judge (Carter) was sitting in the next row listening to the conversation and he said, 'By God, sign me up!' So you know, we might start getting a little bit of steam here pretty soon," he reported.

"I didn't strong arm these people," Posey explained. "I haven't begged anybody to sign on this thing, I haven't asked anybody, really. The people that come up and slap me on the back and say, "Good luck to you!' I say, 'Hey, there's room for you on here!' And of course, they start doing the moonwalk, you know? 'Oh no, no, no, congressman!' he laughed. "But you know, times change and time wounds all heels."

One unhinged lawmaker finds other unhinged lawmakers, and the original unhinged lawmakers suddenly seems pretty pleased with himself.

What's more, Posey added that he's spoken to "high-ranking members" of the House Judiciary Committee about the chances of the president "being removed from office."

And to think no one takes this clown seriously. Imagine that.

Posey added that he's tempted to appear on "The Rachel Maddow Show" to discuss his little endeavor, but he doesn't want to "give her the ratings."

Yeah, I'm sure Rachel's heartbroken that the crazed right-wing Birther, who's even too embarrassing for most of the House Republican caucus, won't be around for sweeps. A bitter disappointment, to be sure.

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