I finally got around to listening to President Obama’s speech on climate change, a most appropriate activity when there’s a tornado watch in one’s neighboring state. All-in-all, it was an okay speech, but, like a lot of Obama’s proposals, my reaction to it is one big “MEH”. There is some evidence that the president’s position, like his position on same-sex marriage, has evolved- he’s no longer talking about clean coal, except in rare cases:
Today, I’m calling for an end of public financing for new coal plants overseas—unless they deploy carbon-capture technologies, or there’s no other viable way for the poorest countries to generate electricity. And I urge other countries to join this effort.
Every once in a while, in the course of human events, a hero comes along, shrugs off insurmountable odds, speaks truth to power and prevails. Such events renew our faith in principles, truth and justice and allow our better angels to fly in the face of hypocrisy and corruption. Such an event occurred last night in Austin, Texas and the eyes of the nation were upon it.
Yesterday I wrote about Sen. Wendy Davis who planned to mount a filibuster in the Texas Senate in an effort to derail SB5, Texas Republicans’ most recent campaign in the War on Women. Sen Davis needed to speak on the senate floor for 13 hours to prevent a floor vote on the bill before the special session, called by Gov. Rick Perry to ram it through, timed out. Republicans control the Texas senate 2-to-1, so if the bill came to a vote, it would inevitably pass.
It’s not easy to mount a filibuster in the Texas senate. Senate rules require that the senator must stand by her/his seat and speak to the issue in hand only, without a break for bathroom, food, water. A strong majority can easily put an end to a filibuster by raising points of order and voting to sustain them—and it’s three strikes and you’re out. A devious majority can even put up two successful points of order and then allow the filibustering senator to struggle along, nearly to the end and then pounce.
That’s what happened last night. And with 15 minutes left for a roll call it looked like SB5 would pass but what Republicans weren’t counting on were the hundreds of Texans who packed the State House and gallery to #standwithwendy. And stand they did. Loudly.
If you’re anything like me you probably avoid any deep dives into political news coming out of The Loon Star State. Indeed, the original source of that advice to me was a Texan. But sometimes, “needs must when the devil drives” . . .
So it is that in today’s special edition of Mad Scientists of the Laboratories of Democracy, I’ll be doing a group profile because there’s a lot of madness in the Texas state legislature. The ladies above are the Republican contingent of the Texas Assembly who support the assault on Texan women’s right to choose an abortion.
The bill, touted by supporters as an effort to raise the standard of health care for women seeking an abortion, actually proposes wide-ranging restrictions that would effectively shut down most existing abortion clinics in Texas, making it difficult, if not impossible for Texans to obtain a safe, medically supervised abortion.
The bill would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, require doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, limit abortions to surgical centers and stipulate doctors must monitor even non-surgical abortions.
Because Texas’ population comes in at 26 million, the bill, if signed into law, would be the toughest anti-abortion law in the nation affecting the largest number of people. And a lot of those people are not pleased.
Well this should be interesting . . . while most of us are hoping for word that the US Supreme Court will uphold the Fourteenth Amendment and clear the way for gays to marry and enjoy the same legal benefits that currently accrue to heterosexual marriages, others are busily beating their plowshares into swords, girding their loins and making like a mighty army marching as to war.
Anticipating a Supreme Court decision on two gay marriage cases that could seriously rock the Casbah, a unit of Christian Soldiers, who have ironically dubbed themselves the Freedom Federation are threatening to stamp their feet, hold their breath and be otherwise really pissed off if SCOTUS finds in favor of marriage equality.
Freedom Federation turns out to be a rag-tag coalition of the usual suspects, anti-gay activists, designated hate groups, NOM [of course], Bill Donohue, leader of the one-man Catholic League, Ralph Reed, etc.
MOSCOW – June 23, 2013 – NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden left Hong Kong on an Aeroflot flight to Moscow. His ultimate destination is thought to be Venezuela by way of Havana. However, during Snowden’s Moscow stopover, he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who stole his laptop.
“He said he wanted to see my laptop, so I showed it to him in the airport lounge,” said Snowden. “Putin picked it up and said, ‘I could kill someone with this.’”
“I reached out to take it back, but his secret service guys surrounded him, and he walked out of the airport with my fucking laptop!” Snowden continued. “Son of a bitch!”
Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald did not immediately respond to a request for comments.
I have a little guilty pleasure that I’m about to admit to . . . whenever I’m feeling especially blue, down in the dumps as it were, I just google me up some fresh, hot Gohmert and a few belly laughs later? good to go!
Louie rarely disappoints because he’s one of those guys who was born totally without inhibition or a functioning bullshit filter, so whatever spontaneous surreal images or associations occur in Louie’s head, they come tumbling out, real time.
Today’s offering had to do with the most recent House of Representatives fiasco—non-passage of a Farm Bill that has been kicking around for three years now. US Farm bills are what is known in the trade as an omnibus bill—Congress-speak for a Pork Lovers Dream and, historically, Congress has little problem with larding ‘em up and letting ‘em rip.
Immigration reform has languished over the demands of the likes of Sen. John Cornyn-R YouGuessedItTexas that the border be90% absolutetalamentaly seeecured before any meaningful reform could take place. But now! A couple of, yes, Republican senators, Bob Corker, R-TN & John Hoeven, R-ND have come up with agreat new plan that will so totally erase the poison pill provision that Cornyn wants to slam in there to insure that immigration reform will never occur.
Let’s just double-down on the number of border patrol agents from about 20,000 to 40,000 and pretend that now we have 90% border security or whatever they want. PLUS we’ll build that fence another 350 miles to total 700 miles of a fence that absolutely cannot be climbed or gotten over, no. (Ahem, unless someone comes up with a great deal on, like, ladders and stuff.)
Have the Rethuggies really thought this through? They’re creating f’n jobs with this bill! Apparently they haven’t heard that gummint doesn’t create jobs. Oh, unless it’s for keepin’ brown people out there yonder where they belong, amirite?
Too bad, though, that this is really just a big nothingball. The House isn’t going to pass any kind of immigration reform bill no way no how. And Rethug outreach to minorities continues apace.
A few days ago, in Anne Laurie’s thread about Rand Paul’s tenuous belief in democracy, the topic turned to speculation about Baby Doc’s presidential aspirations. I said:
I have a hard time believing Baby Doc could get elected to any office that required appealing to voters who are not hardcore wingnuts and Papa Doc fans. It’s not that the electorate is particularly discerning. It’s just that Baby Doc comes across as such an arrogant, smarmy prick.
I was right about Paul being an arrogant, smarmy prick, but upon further reflection, I should have known better than to think that’s a disqualifying factor in a general election. An example is right under my nose here in Florida, where Rick Scott—a Voldemort lookalike and known crook who displays all the personal warmth and charm of an anaconda—was elected governor in 2010.
True, Scott won with less than 50% of the vote, and he needed $77 million of his personal fortune, a wind at his back gusted up by the rebranded Bush dead-ender “Tea Party” plus the apathy of Democrats dispirited by a real and perceived lack of pony production on the part of President Obama and the Democratic Congress. All of this broke Scott’s way.
Some might dismiss Scott’s election as just another example of Florida insanity, like face-eating zombies, airborne fish attacks and fatal roach-eating contests. Maybe, but I think Florida is a better microcosm for America than is generally acknowledged.
Florida has left-of-center coastal enclaves, heavily armed yahoos and religious fanatics in the interior, a growing immigrant population, simmering racial tensions, a politically powerful “Screw you, Jack, I’ve got mine!” elderly population and disaffected, jobless young folks who have been robbed of their future and birthright by nature-despoiling greed-heads.
Is this not America?
As for the future, Scott’s approval ratings have consistently been among the lowest of any governor in the US, and I used to believe that all the Democrats had to do to beat him handily next year was nominate someone capable of fogging a mirror. But the Florida Democratic Party (of which I am a proud member) is a hot mess, and fault lines are emerging that could result in yet another epic fail.
Those fault lines are reflected on this blog (stupid fucking firebagger! drone-loving obot!), and you’ll see them deepen nationally as 2016 approaches. Love him or not, President Obama is a gifted politician, but he’s won his last election.
Can anyone else bring our fractured coalition together—if only for one fucking day? We better hope so. Unless the rest of you want to live in a Hiaasen novel too.
James Gandolfini, the actor who created gangster Tony Soprano, died today. James and Tony were practically joined at the hip. Nobody could have brought the complex character of Tony Soprano to the screen as well as incredible actor James Gandolfini did. I was totally addicted to The Sopranos while it was on. Not that I related to any of the characters - it was more like watching an ant farm (except they were all scorpions) to see what would happen next. But something about Tony made it all more than that. Gandolfini projected a humanity into his character that was hard to ignore. And this despite the frequent times he was called on to either murder someone individually or assign it out to someone else.I’m not a psychologist so I don’t know exactly what quality in James Gandolfini that I reacted to that made me care about his character despite the obvious faults. But whatever it was makes me so sorry that he is gone. Guess if they’re really going to make a Soprano’s movie now it will have to be from the perspective that Tony did die in that diner. Bummer. RIP to a really great and hugely talented guy and sincere condolences to his family and friends who must be devastated now by this news.
No doubt about it: falling off a horse is as easy as falling off a horse. And no amount of fake Amerindian Juju can save you. In yesterday’s scene from the new Lone Ranger film, Johnny Depp played iron-jawed sidekick Tonto wearing pancake make-up, black leather chaps and a stuffed crow on top of his head…but none of that was enough to coax love and mercy from the skittish pinto he was navigating through the Western Plains.
This was the first news story I heard today. I didn’t find out until 5 PM that the Deppster not only survived the fall and the hoof-dance, but courageously appeared on Letterman later in the day (wearing a tasteful wardrobe selectton from the 80s’ TV series “Maude”) to review the miraculous circumstances of his surprisingly non-tragic undemise.
God bless and vaya con Dios, Johnny D. You were the best Hunter S. Thompson since the real one. I’m hoping against hope that the new Silver Bullet Express completely erases my memory of the last Lone Ranger movie from 1981…except for the part where Christopher Lloyd was his arch-foe Butch Cavendish.
Sen. Mike Lee, like many of his Senate colleagues, has a law degree. His is from Brigham Young and, apparently, Lee fancies himself to be something of a constitutional scholar. I say that because Mike Lee likes to pronounce things unconstitutional. Especially things like Obamacare.
Lee also appears to be quite the over-achiever. For example, whilst serving as the brand new senator from Utah, Lee has somehow managed to find the time to write two books (not one—count ‘em, two books) while also trying to learn the ropes of senator-ing.
If John McCain is any judge of the latter, Lee probably ought to stick to book-writing:
Don’t worry . . . this doctor is not a real representative, he just plays one at tea parties. Meet Dr. Michael Burgess, OB/Gyn, author* and US Representative (R-TX) from the Loon Star State. Dr Burgess has served in the House since 2002, chairing the Congressional Health Care caucus, of which he is the only official member, and serving in the House TEA Party Caucus.
Recently, Dr Burgess has grabbed our attention during the House Republicans’ most recent sortie in its War on Women, with his rather prurient, if unscientific, theory that male fetuses spend a good bit of time “spanking the monkey” while in the womb.
[*Burgess, Michael (2011). Doctor in the House: A Physician-Turned-Congressman Offers His Prescription for Scrapping Obamacare – and Saving America’s Medical System. Midpoint Trade Books. ISBN 978-1-936488-25-4. Retrieved 2011-11-16.]
Dr Burgess presented his theory during a House Rules committee debate on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions nationwide after 20 weeks of pregnancy:
“This is a subject that I do know something about,” Burgess said, citing his experience as an OB/GYN. “There is no question in my mind that a baby at 20-weeks after conception can feel pain. The fact of the matter is, I argue with the chairman because I thought the date was far too late. We should be setting this at 15-weeks, 16-weeks.”
“Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful,” he continued. “They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to think that they could feel pain?”
Driving home last night, I caught a track by cellist Calum Ingram on Paul Jones’s BBC Radio 2 Rhythm & Blues show, and was pretty blown away. This is a different song—an incendiary cover of Hendrix’s “Red House” on electric cello—see what you think.
Once upon a time, Jesse was one of the Youngbloods. Later, he became the official spokesperson for the emptiness and hopelessness of 4 AM. At times, he was rays of hope breaking through that 4 o’clock rain…at least when he wasn’t channeling the false sincerity of the concerned cockroach.
My brother loved this guy, so much so that he and I spent spent 5 summers tracking down hard-to-find vinyl pressings of Jesse’s work. At times, we were amply rewarded with treasure troves of inspired, lint-free musical genius like this.