Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cain Goes Splat! on Fox

Fox in box
Cain in box on Fox
Cain dips wick in fox, calls "bollocks" in box on Fox
Cain taking stock, may put lock on hearing vox populi
Fox knocks Cain, Cain hawks books
A pox on Cain, a pox on Fox!
Now, let's have a little talk about Tweedle Beetles...

TPM has a great recap of a devastating interview Cain gave to Fox's Neil Cavuto earlier today.  Best is the end exchange (my italics):
Neil: Finally, a week from now, do you think in your gut you will still be a candidate?

Cain: A week from now, I will have made a final decision.

Neil: In or out? 

Cain: A week from now, I will have made a decision. 

Neil: At least you didn't say 9-9-9. All right, always a pleasure. Thank you very much.

Another Reason Christie Will Never Be President

For taking decidedly un-Republican positions like this.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Out table is set for tonight's feast.  Later this afternoon, 17 members of our family will join the four of us to celebrate the finest American holiday of the year.  A day when we can sit down, reflect, and find the words or thoughts to express the thanks we feel for how wonderful life is.

Today, I am thankful for the timeless love and respect of my beautiful wife, Lisa, and the love, admiration, respect, commitment, and lust I feel for her; the love, humor, and daily craziness of my two gorgeous children, Max and Elijah; the closeness and constant support I get from all of my family; my job, which challenges me every day to step up my game and be more patient, humble, and committed; my friends, who inspire me, challenge me, and support me to be the man I always wanted to be; this blog, which for nearly four years has given me the outlet to express myself; my country, which is a never-ending source of inspiration; and God, the limitless source of everything.

To those who read this blog, whether consistently or only occasionally, may this Thanksgiving be the happiest, most fulfilling day of your year!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Quote of the Day

"I still can’t see a President Gingrich.   'People want substance!'  No, Newt.  They don’t know if they want Romney.  Currently, you’re the alternate."  Carl Prine, live-blogging tonight's Republican Primary Debate.

And Waterboarding is Just Like Floating on Your Back

Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly (who is apparently now a chemical expert) said Monday night on O'Reilly that the pepper spray used against demonstrators at the University of California at Davis last week was "a food product, essentially."  I'm sure it tastes delicious.

Actually, Professor/Dr. Megyn ('cuz in TV-land, we call all doctors by their first names, right?), this Scientific American blog piece is pretty clear: U.S. Pepper Spray is not a food product.  It is about 1,000 times hotter than a jalapeño pepper, and about 10-20 times hotter than the hottest of cooking peppers, the habanero.

Health hazards of pepper spray are highlighted in the piece like this:
Depending on brand, [pepper] spray may contain water, alcohols, or organic solvents as liquid carriers; and nitrogen, carbon dioxide, or halogenated hydrocarbons (such as Freon, tetrachloroethylene, and methylene chloride) as propellants to discharge the canister contents.(3) Inhalation of high doses of some of these chemicals can produce adverse cardiac, respiratory, and neurologic effects, including arrhythmias and sudden death.

But whooooooeeeeeeeeeey! It sure tastes good on my nachos!

This is a military grade weapon, NOT a food topping.  Whoops, gotta link to the classic SNL classic sketch about Shimmer Floor Wax:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Quote of the Day

"Conservatism is a mental illness." -- Blogger Bob Cesca, commenting on the latest in the Obama birther saga in New Hampshire.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Newt Not an Official Lobbyist

Sullivan profiles Newt's financial past by highlighting a couple of stories.  The take-away:
It's true to say that Gingrich never "lobbied" for the [Medicare Part D] bill. Lobbying is a distinctive career; you have to register to conduct it. Gingrich merely used his status as a conservative icon, with close ties to many House members and a well of respect with others, to advocate for policies. He was, at the same time, collecting money from the GSEs and the health care industry.
This is like Clinton claiming not to have inhaled.  He was a paid lobbyist even though he never registered.  He skirted the law.  "Oh," says Newt, "surely there are more important things to criticize than my 100% legal means to earn a living."  Ethics, dear Mr. Gin-Grinch.

Quote of the Day

Daniel Larison from The American Conservative:
It is natural for activists and high-information voters to believe that their preferred policies will help their party win elections, and it is understandable that they interpret electoral defeats as punishments for following the wrong policies. ... It is part of a mentality that says that we can have it all, which is the same mentality responsible for overwhelming public support for entitlement programs combined with strong hostility to paying for them.

One thing I do agree on, even as a liberal: the government can't pay for absolutely everything unless the citizens agree to pay for it through taxes.  I will argue with anyone who thinks that we don't need a strong defense, or that we don't need social safety nets like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  We need them.  These are the pillars of our strength as a nation.  And the revenues we generate do not cover these pillars, so we have to borrow more and more every year to keep them going.  Eliminating the libertarian big three -- Education, Energy, and Transportation (see, Rick, even I can remember the third one) -- won't make a dent.  Slashing foreign aid down to zero won't do it either.  Eliminating all earmarks won't do it.  And even combined, they won't do it.  Only a fair, progressive form of taxation, combined with fiscal discipline and the balls to stick to it, will do it.  The reasons why tax revenues are so low compared to spending are numerous, but a major reason is that the middle class, who hold less than 20% of the nation's wealth, shoulder the greatest responsibility for providing revenue to the country.  They pay a greater share of their incomes in taxes than do the richest 1%, whose high-paid accountants and tax attorneys figure out ways for them to shield their incomes from the government.  If GE can get away with zero federal income tax, there's something wrong with the system.  And it's made worse by a lobbying effort by corporations to get their representatives to fight against any attempt to raise their taxes, or to create special loopholes for them to avoid paying taxes.

If we want to keep very popular programs fully funded, we need to stop saying, "Let someone else pay for them."  We all need to pay for them, but we need to reform the system that allows too many of the richest among us not to pay for them.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chinks in the GOP Armor, Cont.

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), leader of the Senate Republican Conference, said today:
This is about more than money, it's about whether the president and the Congress can competently govern ... We now have Republicans who have put revenues on the table [and] Democrats on the supercommittee who have put entitlements on the table. Both need to put more on the table and get a result, and we're here to support them.
Republicans are beginning to realize that they cannot possibly win an election in this economy with this many people really hurting by obstructing literally everything the president proposes.  If you're a Republican member of the most unpopular Congress in history, and a deal cannot be reached, and the eurozone blows up, and the economy slips into another global recession, wouldn't you want to say to your constituents that you did literally everything you could, including raising revenues, to protect the US economy from going down the drain again?  I mean, really, at what point does rhetoric about "not one dollar in revenues" become self-defeating?   At what point does "no compromise" jeopardize not only your re-election chances, but the country itself?  Do we really believe Republicans lack the sense of decency to step up when help is most needed?

Please don't think I'm suddenly a cheerleader for the GOP.  Their agreeing to revenue increases at this time is very likely a purely political move.  They are reading the tea leaves, and "Taxed Enough Already" doesn't begin to solve the problem.  What we are witnessing, little by little, is the obsolescence of the Tea Party movement as a serious engine for political and economic change in this country.

Chinks in the GOP Armor

TPM reports on a bi-partisan press conference today.  It seems some Republican lawmakers are actually OK with increasing revenues as part of an overall deficit reduction package.  Republican orthodoxy, of course, doesn't play that way, but it's refreshing to hear a Republican like ND Sen. Mike Crapo say this:
So the fact that you may have members standing here who have different ideas about how far they would personally like to go on taxes or how far they would personally like to go on entitlement reform does not mean that they are not ready to stand here and make the kinds of decisions that will help us as a nation to solve our fiscal crisis.

Break the Model, GOP

Bernstein is right about this:

There is no example of a major party in modern times coming even vaguely close to nominating someone without conventional credentials such as Bachmann or Prince Herman, or even a thrice-married, scandal-tarred former Speaker who has been out of office for over a decade and has ever-multiplying skeletons in his various closets. 

I'm sure Democrats would LOVE to see the GOP prove Bernstein wrong and nominate Bachmann, the Herminator, that third candidate I can't remember, or Newt.  Please, GOP, do it.  Just do it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Photo Card

So Happy Holidays Holiday
View the entire collection of cards.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cartoon of the Day

The schizophrenia of the right-wing media

RINO Alert

Seems that Grover Norquist's Pledge is finding some resistance among Republicans.  Some lawmakers actually want out of their pledge not to vote for tax increases or decreases in deductions.

The Americans for Tax Reform website shows that a total of 1,555 federal and state legislators and executives have signed the pledge, including Democrats Robert Andrew (NJ) and Senator Ben Nelson (NE).  Andrews signed the pledge in 1992, and complained to The Hill that "I'm married to Camille Andrews, not Grover Norquist. I promised her to be faithful until death do us part, and I mean it. I did not promise him to oppose tax increases until death do us part."

Norquist told The Hill that there are no time limits to the pledge, and that the pledges were to the constituents of the legislators, not to him or to his organization. 

Uh, Yeah Right. 

Let's see what happens when one of the pledge signers does not oppose the expiration of the Bush tax cuts next year.  It will be akin to publishing the pictures of deadbeat dads in local newpapers.

I think the results of the vote in Ohio were very scary to Republicans.  Between that vote, the OWS movement, and the efforts of progressives in Wisconsin to recall their governor and state legislators for stripping public employees' unions of collective bargaining rights, the GOP's no-compromise rigidity may have reached the breaking point.  We are going to see GOP lawmakers break ranks in the next year to vote for tax increases for the wealthiest 1% of Americans to help balance the budget and ease the debt.  It is the populist thing to do, and the GOP is nothing if not populist.

We'll see how ideological purity plays in the next year.  Like an out-of-tune violin, if you ask me.

Obama Beats 'Em All

The latest PPP polling results in Ohio:
Obama led Mitt Romney 50-41 on our poll. He was up 11 points on Herman Cain at 50-39, 13 on Newt Gingrich at 51-38, 14 on Ron Paul at 50-36, 14 on Michele Bachmann at 51-37 and a whooping 17 points on Rick Perry at 53-36. It used to be Sarah Palin's numbers that we compared to Barry Goldwater, but Perry's deficit would represent the largest Republican defeat in Ohio since 1964.

Notice who's surged just a bit?  Newt!  Missing from this poll as they are (at this time) completely inconsequential (but don't rule them out as the GOP searches for a Great White Hope): Santorum, Huntsman, and the rest.  Sad for Huntsman, as Andrew notes:
We've seen the polls showing a shift in Americans' views of inequality and their support of higher taxes for the wealthiest as part of a debt-reduction package. We've seen the accelerating moderation on marriage equality and marijuana. We've noticed the Tea Party's further alienation of minority voters, and now, with the Cain circus, possible intensification of the gender gap. We've noticed that increasing numbers of voters, including independents, regard the GOP as potentially sabotaging the economy purely in order to defeat Obama. Now we are seeing the effect of all this in actual elections. And the GOP primary campaign has also underlined just how marginal, ideological and inexperienced many of the presidential candidates are. A party that gives a motivational speaker ten times the support of a two-term governor of Utah, re-elected with 84 percent of the vote, with strong bipartisan credentials and an even stronger tax reform plan ... well, it's a party in free-fall that also doesn't understand that it is.

My emphasis.

As I've predicted numerous times on UYR, the Republican Party is headed for a schism that is being heralded by this free-fall.  The party will split in two, with one side appealing to (mostly) white ideological purists, theocons, and raving lunatic libertarians, while the other draws in the moderates who actually understand how the game is played and that there are quite a few Americans, who don't subscribe to their views, with whom they actually need to work.  Once that schism occurs, you'll see huge messes all over the country as the right wing fights for legitimacy.  It's actually a fight I can't wait to see.

Monday, November 7, 2011

It Will Be Obama vs. Romney

Pivoting off this Matt Steinglass piece in The Economist, it's hard to deny the electoral non-appeal of non-politicians as candidates for president.  The only successful non-politician in the past 100 years was Eisenhower, and he was elected to end a war, not rescue an economy.  In fact, his warnings on the connections between government and industry are proving spot-on. 

This basically means that Herman Cain, the current GOP frontrunner, is more and more looking like toast as time goes on.  If today's allegations of sexual misconduct stick for any length of time -- and it's becoming more and more difficult for Cain to brush them off like so many dandruff flakes -- it'll be the politician, Romney (and NOT Rick Perry) who rises to the top of the very low GOP heap.  And while Romney currently looks good head to head against Obama, time will show (as will the very clever and resourceful Obama campaign team) that everything Romney is proposing has already been proven not to work.

What's the definition of insanity again? 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Our Republican-led House, Hard at Work

This is the substance of what Boehner's House is working on: a debate over commemorating a coin for baseball.  Legislation reaffirming that "In God We Trust" is our motto.  As President Obama says, "That's not putting people back to work.

Andrew on Inequality

The Daily Beast offers an almost-daily video feature called "Ask Andrew Anything."  Today's installment asks Andrew, "What are your thoughts on inequality?"  His money quote:
I think there comes a point at which a certain level of inequality is inherently destabilizing to a political system, and I think we may even have passed that point.  And, therefore, I do not regard doubling down on indifference to inequality as appropriate at this moment. In fact, I think that some pragmatic balancing back, towards the middle of the last century [for example], is a perfectly appropriate position to take as a conservative.

When the last 30 years has produced the greatest distance between the richest one percent and the middle class, when the average CEO makes more than 300 times than the average worker he employs, when our own Congress and Senate, as a percentage of the wealth distribution in this country, can only provide 36 out of 535 seats (6.72%) to the bottom 80% of people in this country, then it's no wonder that Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are popping up all over the nation (with outcomes that are both peaceful and violent).  And while there are opinions on both sides (all sides, really) as to why this inequality has happened, it's impractical for anyone in any socio-economic stratum simply to shrug his shoulders and remain indifferent.  It is true that we are approaching (or may even have reached) the state of oligarchy in this country.  It is even more certain that we have reached a state of plutocracy.  And yet, I see otherwise middle class people, friends of mine on Facebook, extol the evils of a teacher's union that wants to preserve its standard of living while the Republican legislators, on white horses, just want to preserve as much state money for everyone as it can.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Get On Board the Crazy Train

In defending Jon Huntsman against criticism as to why he's not doing better in the polls, Andrew Sullivan sums the GOP up in two devastating paragraphs:
The GOP is a religious and cultural force dominated by evangelicals, and fixated on total rejection of establishment or liberal ideas. Huntsman has acknowledged climate change, alone among the candidates. He has backed civil unions for gays, alone among the candidates. These two positions, in my view, all but dismissed him from the race from the get-go. His radical tax reform ideas are therefore ignored in favor of Herman Cain's. His energy policy is trumped by Perry's desire to turn the entire US into Texas (because Texas is about the only place he barely understands). And he worked for Barack Obama in China and speaks fluent Mandarin (not that I can tell whether he's fluent but he gives a good impression of it on TV). These are all culturally anathema to what the GOP now is.

When you realize this intelligent and capable two-term governor from the rock-ribbed Republican state of Utah, with deep domestic and foreign policy experience, has one tenth of the support of a pizza guy who emerged from motivational speaking and talk radio, and who admits he knows nothing about foreign policy and has never held elective office in his life ... well, you have the core reality of today's Ailes-led, resentment-fueled GOP.

This, dear readers, THIS is why the Republicans will lose in 2012.  Once they embrace reality -- and at some point, they will at the risk of losing relevance -- a guy like Huntsman, who is intelligent, conservative, and sensible in the way Obama is intelligent, progressive, and sensible, can find a home in the GOP.  I fear, however, that it will take a schism in the GOP church over gays and abortion (witness Amendment 26 in Mississippi, which seeks to confer "personhood" status on a fertilized embryo) to create a real political party that can offer reality-based alternatives to the Democratic agenda.

Glenn Greenwald Has a New Book

It's called With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful and can be found on Amazon.  In it, he apparently takes a lot of time to deconstruct the worst foreign policy failure in American history, that being the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  It turns out the CIA had some very major information on one of the 9/11 team that, had it been passed onto other intelligence agencies in the federal government, could have prevented the attacks.  Sullivan highlights an excerpt from an interview between Harper's Scott Horton and Ali Soufan, who is a former government top interrogator for al Qaeda:
Q: The major still-unanswered question from 9/11 may be this: Why did the CIA keep information about Khalid Al-Mihdhar — the 9/11 team member who was identified before the attacks as having a U.S. visa and tracked into the United States — secret from the FBI and other law enforcement agencies? Clearly this information could have been used to stop the 9/11 plot, yet CIA officials lied about it repeatedly, and have never been held to account either for their failure to inform or their lies. Do you have an answer?

A: Sadly no.

To date we’ve never been told why the information wasn’t passed to the team investigating the USS Cole attack, the State Department, or the Immigration and Naturalization Service, nor why he wasn’t put on a no-fly list, all of which were required under U.S. law. The 9/11 Commission Report noted that “Mihdhar had been the weak link in al Qaeda’s operational planning, a mistake KSM [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] realized could endanger the entire plan,” and listed the failure to place Mihdhar on a watchlist and notify the FBI that he had a U.S. visa as one of the mistakes that could have prevented 9/11. The CIA’s inspector general came to the same conclusion, and recommended that an “accountability board review the performance of the CTC chiefs.” But this never happened, and most of the inspector general’s report is classified.

On September 12, 2001, in Sanaa, Yemen, I was handed a file by the CIA that contained information our team investigating the USS Cole bombing had explicitly requested — on three occasions in writing from the director of the FBI to the CIA: in November 2000, April 2001, and June 2001 — concerning Al Qaeda operatives and meetings, which the CIA had said it didn’t have. It turned out the agency had had information on the 9/11 planning summit in Malaysia, and on Al Qaeda operatives we were looking for in Yemen (who had actually been in the U.S. and among the hijackers), among other intelligence that they were legally obligated to share, but hadn’t.

Ten years after 9/11, we don’t have an answer to your question.

For any American to think, "This is water under the bridge," or "Why are we continuing to dwell on the past?" he is a willing accomplice to the crimes of the government.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Peek Inside the GOP Cocoon

From Andrew Sullivan comes the Quote For the Day, a snippet of a Washington Post blog by GOP operative Ed Rogers.  Rogers worked on White House staff for both the Reagan and Bush41 administrations.
Even though Cain won’t be the nominee, his candidacy tells us a lot about the psychology of GOP activists. Our team wants someone authentic, creative, fresh, bold and likeable. And we don’t have much tolerance for too many facts or too much information. In politics, a bumper sticker always beats an essay. Cain’s 9-9-9 is a bumper sticker; Romney’s economic plan is an essay. Perry’s rationale for giving the children of undocumented workers in-state college tuition rates is an essay. No hand-outs for illegal aliens is an effective bumper sticker.
Still, if I had to bet today, I would bet on Obama to win reelection. In American politics, what is supposed to happen tends to happen.

My emphasis.

Oh, what the hell does he know, right?

Talking Out of His Ass Again

Herman Cain gets it wrong on Planned Parenthood.  At some point, perhaps if he wins in Iowa or South Carolina, some reporter is actually going to hold his feet to the fire.