Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday Potpourri

Atrios is Feeling A Thrill Up My Leg
Politics is so dumb.

PIMA COUNTY, AZ (KOLD) - Senator John McCain's staffers announced Monday that Sarah Palin will join him in rallies in Tucson and Phoenix.
Sully: From The Annals Of Chutzpah
"I think this is part of a broader problem with the Obama administration. ... We saw it in Honduras. Where rather than monitoring the situation, they let a cowboy president try to act in an extra-constitutional way to violate a fundamental principle in the Constitution, all without having done their homework in advance," - Karl Rove, when asked about Obama's handling of the Biden-Netanyahu row.
Children ...
Obama portrait disappears in Oklahoma House March 15: Kent Jones reports to Rachel Maddow on the story of the repeated removal of President Barack Obama's picture from the wall of the Oklahoma House Chamber.

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Conservatives win battle in war on history March 15: Rachel Maddow reviews some of the changes approved for Texas schoolbooks to be more reflective of conservative history and values.

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QOTD, The Moar You Know:
For the first time in my life, I can understand how God’s sense of humor manifests itself in typhoid and cholera.
John Cole: Something For Nothing

This story pretty much sums up the state of affairs regarding everything in this country:

Mr. Hawkins’s answer to such problems will not please a lot of citizens. Like many of his counterparts in cities like Detroit, Cincinnati, Atlanta and elsewhere, his job is partly to persuade the public to accept higher water rates, so that the utility can replace more antiquated pipes.

“People pay more for their cellphones and cable television than for water,” said Mr. Hawkins, who before taking over Washington’s water system ran environmental groups and attended Princeton and Harvard, where he never thought he would end up running a sewer system.

“You can go a day without a phone or TV,” he added. “You can’t go a day without water.”

But in many cities, residents have protested loudly when asked to pay more for water and sewer services. In Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Sacramento — and before Mr. Hawkins arrived, Washington — proposed rate increases have been scaled back or canceled after virulent ratepayer dissent.

So when Mr. Hawkins confronted the upset crowd near Dupont Circle, he sensed an opportunity to explain why things needed to change. It was a snowy day, and while water from the broken pipe mixed with slush, he began cheerily explaining that the rupture was a symptom of a nationwide disease, according to people present.

Mr. Hawkins — who at 49 has the bubbling energy of a toddler and the physique of an aging professor — told the crowd that the average age of the city’s water pipes was 76, nearly four times that of the oldest city bus. With a smile, he described how old pipes have spilled untreated sewage into rivers near homes.

“I don’t care why these pipes aren’t working!” one of the residents yelled. “I pay $60 a month for water! I just want my toilet to flush! Why do I need to know how it works?”

I guess Norquist was wrong about one detail. The great conservative plan of the last four decades wasn’t to drown government in a bathtub, it was to drown all of us in feces and storm runoff.

That half trillion dollars plus we are spending on the military could probably come in handy. As could those tax cuts that fueled the awesome “growth” of the Bush era.

  • from the comments, Punchy:

    Somewhat related….you should see the fucking dustup in KC about the decision to pink-slip HALF of all their public schools next year. Parents, politicos, dumbasses all screaming bloody murder. But raise taxes to support the schools? HELL NO! The cognitive dissonance is palatable.

    In fact, there’s a serious effort underway to eliminate a surcharge/tax that brings a gazillion dollars to both STL and KC. If that passes, KC is so fucked they might as well have the whole city move to Galt’s Gulch.

Maddow talks with author Michael Lewis March 15: Bestselling author Michael Lewis talks with Rachel Maddow about the corrupt bond market and Wall Street schemes - the subject of his new book "The Big Short."

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Sargent: More Proof Liz Cheney Is Laughing In Critics’ Faces

As I’ve noted here already, there’s simply no reason to believe that Liz Cheney is even slightly chastened by the fact that conservative legal heavyweights are sternly condemning her ongoing smear of the “Al Qaeda Seven.”

Here’s more proof: Now Debra Burlingame, a top official with Liz Cheney’s group Keep America Safe, has taken to the pages of The Wall Street Journal with an extensive new Op ed piece amplifying this line.

Burlingame targets a new lawyer: Julie Tarver Mason of Paul Weiss in New York, an attorney who, like previous Cheney targets, represented Guantanamo detainees. Her transgression was apparently to give an Amnesty International brochure to a detainee — a brochure which supposedly contained “propaganda and misinformation” — getting her banned from Gitmo.

Spencer Ackerman pushes back by pointing out that the pamphlet contains no compromising information. And Ben Smith notes that the military ultimately let the lawyer back in at any rate. But put the substance aside for a sec. The point is that the criticism is doing zippo.

There’s been an assumption on the part of some journalists that there’s a kind of tipping point at which all the criticism will suddenly cause Liz and her cohorts to blush deep red, come face to face with the indecency of their attacks, and retreat back into the Cheney lair.

But that’s founded on a misunderstanding of what she and her crew are trying to do here. They don’t care a whit about stogy old establishment conservatives and their legalistic handwringing. That just plays into Liz’s hands, generating more and more free media coverage for a line of attack that by any measure is far outside the mainstream.

Rather, the Cheney crew’s intended audience is the Limbaugh/Palin/Beck mob. As long as their attacks are resonating approvingly on talk radio and in the conservative blogosphere — as they continue to do — the Cheney clan will keep right on keeping on. As this WSJ Op ed shows us yet again.

Roth (TPM): Clarence Thomas's Wife Teams With Federalist Society Exec On New Conservative Lobby Group

The new conservative advocacy group launched by Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has close ties to Washington's powerful conservative legal community.

As the Los Angeles Times reported over the weekend, Virginia Thomas recently created Liberty Central, a new lobbying group that seeks to tap into the grassroots energy unleashed by the Tea Party movement.

But Thomas will have help from some Republican players with a rather more inside-the-Beltway profile. Leonard Leo, a top official with the Federalist Society, is a director of the new group, according to business records kept by the state of Virginia, and reviewed by TPMmuckraker.

In a 1995 speech to the Federalist Society, Clarence Thomas, a member of the society, described Leo as "my good friend." A prominent conservative legal scholar and activist, Leo played a key role in successfully shepherding the Supreme Court nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito through the Senate confirmation process.

Neither Virginia Thomas nor Leonard Leo responded to TPMmuckraker's requests for comment.

It is not illegal for a judge's spouse to engage in political activity. During the 1990s, Virginia Thomas served as a top aide to Majority Leader Dick Armey. In that role, she helped quarterback the aggressive GOP effort to use congressional investigations to stymie the Clinton administration, and in 1996 prepared an "assault book," listing a slew of Clinton administration "scandals" for GOP House members to capitalize on in the upcoming election. And as the LA Times notes, while at the conservative Heritage Foundation in 2000, she helped recruit staff for the incoming Bush administration, even as Clarence Thomas was hearing Bush v. Gore, in which he ultimately ruled in Bush's favor. At the time, Virginia Thomas denied that a conflict of interest existed, saying "we have our separate professional lives."

During a panel discussion at CPAC last month, Virginia Thomas suggested that her decision to launch Liberty Group was prompted in part by the recent grassroots conservative activism. "I adore all the new citizen patriots who are rising up across this country," said Thomas. "I have felt called to the front lines with you, with my fellow citizens, to preserve what made America great." She appears to have had the idea for the group in mind since at least last fall.

Virginia Thomas told the LA Times that Liberty Central plans to issue score cards for members of Congress, and to be involved in the November election, but declined to be specific. Thanks to the Supreme Court's recent 5-4 ruling in the Citizens United case, in which Clarence Thomas voted with the majority, Liberty Central can use corporate money to run ads advocating the election or defeat of candidates.

C&L: Michele Bachmann Ups the Crazy With Her Rhetoric on the Health Care Bill
Michele Bachmann makes Ed Schultz's Psycho Talk segment for her latest round of crazy on the health care bill this week.

From The Uptake: Rep. Bachmann : "Some have called President Obama the first Post-American President.":

Mar 13 2010 : MN 06 Rep. Michele Bachmann speaks at her "Kill the Bill" Rally, to stop the Health Care Bill, on the St. Paul Minnesota State Capital steps. She compares Obama to Chavez, calls the Health Care Bill illegitimate, says you don't have to follow illegitimate bills.

"In their bill they have the IRS enforciing the Health Care Bill", said Bachmann. "We're not going to pay their taxes..." "We don't have to follow a bill that isn't law."

And from Think Progress: Bachmann: Americans ‘Have Standing To Sue’ If House Uses Self-Executing Rule To Pass Health Care:

Last week, Politico reported that House Democrats had discussed the possibility of avoiding a direct vote on Senate health care bill by using a “self-executing rule,” which would call for the Senate bill to be automatically attached to reconciliation legislation if the House votes to pass a package of fixes being negotiated between the two chambers.


On Friday, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) attacked the proposal as “breathtakingly unconstitutional,” telling right-wing Minnesota radio host Chris Baker that “it would destroy Article I, Section 7, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution.” “No one’s ever seen anything like this before,” said Bachmann.

When Baker suggested that someone should be “arrested” if a “self-executing rule” is used, Bachmann declared that the parliamentary procedure would give every American “standing to sue against this bill”.

Sully: The Current Vatican's Death Throes, Ctd

A reader writes:

As a young boy I attended a Catholic elementary school. In the confessional I struggled with my sexual urges and same-sex attractions. When I asked my priest why this was happening to me, I was told that God gives all of us challenges in life and this was my cross to bear. The path to salvation for boys like me, was to pledge my life to God by becoming a celibate priest. He recommended that I attend a pre-seminary for my high school education.

I attended Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago for my freshman year. Struggling with same sex attractions, I was thrust into an all-male environment. As part of our physical education, we took swimming lessons in the school’s pool where none of us wore swimsuits. The coach told us that it was against school policy. The pool was barely large enough for a class of 40 boys to fit. Can you imagine a school today putting 40 naked boys in a pool?

Even at the age of 14 I realized that the church’s stance on celibacy was either a lie or insane. When I raised that question with my confessor, he suggested that maybe I didn’t have the true calling. Wisely, I dropped out and enrolled in public school the following year.

The point is, the Catholic Church targeted young gay boys as potential priests. The policy of recruiting 14-year-old boys stunted the young boy’s psycho-sexual development, and now they are shocked when adult priests behave like they are 14 year old boys. They deserve all the criticism.

J.D. Hayworth, the congressman-turned-right-wing-radio-host taking on Sen. John McCain in a GOP Senate primary, isn't exactly the kind of guy to celebrate diversity. But it's his approach to reality that deserves special attention.

A couple of days ago, Hayworth said during a radio interview, "[T]he Massachusetts Supreme Court, when it started this move toward same-sex marriage, actually defined marriage -- now get this -- it defined marriage as simply, 'the establishment of intimacy.'" He went on to argue that such an approach would allow humans to marry horses.

There's all kinds of things wrong with this, but if you look at the Massachusetts Supreme Court, there are no references to "the establishment of intimacy" as a standard for anything. The words simply aren't there. Hayworth made up the quote.

Last night, Rachel Maddow asked Hayworth to explain his bizarre remarks. The exchange was quite illustrative. (via Alex Koppelman)

For those of you who can't watch clips from your work computers, Maddow tried to explain that she looked for evidence to support Hayworth's claim, and couldn't find any. "Well, that's fine," Hayworth said. "You and I can have a disagreement about that."

"Well, it either is true or it isn't," Rachel responded. "It's empirical."

Hayworth, perhaps unaware of what "empirical" means, replied, "OK. OK. I appreciate the fact that we have a disagreement on that."

And this is why conversations with conservatives never seem to go well. Reality is an inconvenient detail that can be twisted, manipulated, and frequently ignored.

In a normal, sensible debate, one side might make a provocative claim. The other side can challenge the claim, and provide evidence. If it's proven false, the first side moves on to some other claim. Lather, rinse, repeat.

But that's not how Republicans work. They make claims that aren't true, and after being corrected, either repeat those claims again anyway, pretend the matter is subjective, or both.

It's genuinely painful to listen to clowns for whom reality is meaningless.

  • from the comments:

    It's genuinely painful to listen to clowns for whom reality is meaningless.

    What's even more painful, and is in fact scary, is the large number of people who swallow this line of talk and absolutely believe it. I have relatives who will believe the MA Supreme Court defines marriage the way JD Hayworth says it does.

    Posted by: Lifelong Dem on March 16, 2010 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

    Like being flogged with a 2X4 made out of fossilized horse shit

    You want genuinely painful Steve?
    I'll give you a full steaming pile in one sentence:

    We live in a country where people who believe in talking snakes can get elected by questioning
    and promising to obstruct the overwhelming scientific evidence that lies behind global warming.

    How is that for a genuinely painful?
    I believe there is an internet phrase that captures the hurt here: "We are so fucked..."

    Posted by: koreyel on March 16, 2010 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

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