Friday, July 25, 2014
House Republican Caucus: The Gang That Couldn’t Think Straight
Well, Speaker Boehner Sues the President is officially a thing now. The House Rules Committee, the gatekeeper for legislation and resolutions to get to a floor vote, ruled yesterday, along partisan lines, to allow it. Personally, I’m all for it because, lately, the GOP’s flair for far-fetched, stagy political tactics is the “gift that keeps on giving” for Democratic fund-raising.
And House Democrats certainly made the most of the amendment process, yesterday, to press that advantage. Nobody covered that quite as well as Rachel Maddow and David Corn, last night . . .
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Posted by Bette Noir on 07/25/14 at 12:36 PM
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Monday, June 23, 2014
Happy Chemtrails To You
Sometimes it’s just so hard to decide whether or not science is a friend or foe of mankind. For example, when science tells us that we are damaging our planet because we are greedy capitalists squandering resources like spoiled children? Totally Foe. But if science or pseudoscience can be tortured into supporting our weakness for magical-thinking and political chicanery, well then! better living through chemistry, yo!
So it is that when certain denizens of Arizona tired of puzzling over the mysteries of the Sedona Vortex, or searching the Superstition Mountains for the treasure of the Lost Dutchman Mine, they cast their eyes to the skies to scan for UFOs . . . and Chemtrails!
We are all used to seeing the condensation trails or “contrails” exhausted from jet airplane engines. Then, one fine day, someone with a lot of imagination and not enough to do made the startling discovery that contrails don’t disappear as fast as they used to back in the day. I suspect that, somewhere on theplanet, some specimen of Homo sapiens has dedicated him/herself to timing the vanishing point of contrails because . . . intellectual curiosity?
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Posted by Bette Noir on 06/23/14 at 01:42 PM
Friday, June 06, 2014
The Spy Who Smeared Me
Is there anything more pathetic than an 80 year old ex-CIA agent running his own home-based spy shop in San Diego? Maybe . . . maybe a professional journalist who takes the private spy seriously enough to write long pointless Exclusives! for Fox News based on the private spy’s “secret intel” alone.
The ex-spook, in this instance, is one Duane “Dewey” Clarridge who served in the CIA during the 1980s as a senior operations officer. Clarridge was indicted for lying to Congress during Iran-Contra hearings, but was pardoned by Poppy Bush during his trial.
Clarridge was forced to resign from the CIA but wasn’t quite ready to quit spying and contracted his expertise out. His story, needless to say, is interesting, in its own right, and anyone who wants to do a deep dive can find long form articles in The New York Times, here and here.
In my opinion, it is enough to say that Mark Mazzetti, of The Times, got it in one when he described Clarridge’s operation as “something of a cross between a Graham Greene novel and Mad Magazine’s “Spy vs. Spy.”
Clarridge communicates with his “field operatives” in Afghanistan and Pakistan—complete with code names like Willi and Waco—via email, then, poolside in San Diego, he compiles the info received into intelligence summaries that he peddles around to a network that includes such intelligence mavens as Oliver North, spy thriller novelist and frequent guest of Glenn Beck, Brad Thor, and, most recently, James Rosen of Fox News.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 06/06/14 at 03:40 PM
Sunday, June 01, 2014
Leave No Man Behind
Nothing makes Republicans madder than President Obama doing his job and succeeding. They’ve spent the last few weeks blowing up pseudo-scandals, like Macy’s parade balloons, that they hope to keep inflated through the summer.
Poor old Prosecutor Gowdy is still arm-wrestling with Judge Issa over witnesses and trying to get his “show horses” to finish reading Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies before the big trial.
And BOOM! along comes Obama saying I’ll see your Benghazi Special Investigation, your IRS and VA scandals and raise you a high-profile Imperial Presidency prisoner swap.
There! you want something to cry about? I’ll give you something to cry about.
But they’ll have to be smart to put points on the board with this one because no one really wants to hear any whining about a soldier’s homecoming . . . they’re not smart, though, are they?
Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) said in a statement that Obama is required by law to notify Congress 30 days before any terrorists are transferred from the U.S. facility. They said Obama also is required to explain how the threat posed by such terrorists has been substantially mitigated.
The top Republicans on the House and Senate armed-services committees cautioned that “we must carefully examine the means by which we secured [Bergdahl’s] freedom,” warning that the U.S. had effectively reneged on its policy not to negotiate with terrorists.
Which is a curious statement since the US has not designated the Taliban a terrorist organization. But, by now, we should be used to our Congresspersons playing fast and loose with facts.
In addition, how is it that a Congress that has been one of the most shamefully ineffectual, abysmal flops in the history of American governance can get all snippy about being sidelined when something real needs to happen? If these people had to operate for one week in their beloved free market they’d be toast. All of them.
Perhaps, if Congress hadn’t been so anxious to stymie the president’s pledge to close Guantanamo and had been more inclined to provide those Gitmo prisoners with anything like due process they wouldn’t have still been been moldering away there to use in a swap.
And, about that 30 day notification law? It was attached to last year’s defense bill to prevent Obama from moving on Guantanamo closure. When he signed that defense bill last year, Obama said that “other provisions of the bill on military programs were too important to jeopardize” by vetoing it outright. Instead, Obama signed the defense bill but also issued a signing statement contending that the notification requirement was an unconstitutional infringement on his powers as commander in chief and that he therefore could override it.
And he did. Imagine that, a politician who means what he says.
The White House said it moved as quickly as possible given the opportunity that arose to secure Bergdahl’s release. Citing “these unique and exigent circumstances,” the White House said a decision was made to go ahead with the transfer despite the legal requirement of 30 days advance notice to Congress “due to a near-term opportunity to save Sergeant Bergdahl’s life.”
The administration determined that given these unique and exigent circumstances, such a transfer should go forward notwithstanding the notice requirement.
Especially since the alternative was to go hat-in-hand to the same Congress that already shut down Bergdahl’s release once, in 2012.
As Raw Story reports:
In addition to using congressional oversight, special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman was told by Republican leadership that negotiating an exchange of Sgt. Bergdahl that involved detainees from Guantanamo Bay would be the president’s “Willie Horton moment.”
Does it get any more cynical than that?
Of course, Obama’s action in this case is not without precedent. In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan faced a similar dilemma - seven Americans held hostage by Iranians in Lebanon. Ronald Reagan felt that, as president, “he had the duty to bring those Americans home.” He decided that giving Iran 1500 missiles was a fair trade. I’d say Obama did a much better deal trading five Taliban members and saving the missiles for another time.
Taliban is not al Qaeda. Taliban is not designated a terrorist organization by the US. Neither are these people being repatriated, they have been handed over to the Qatari government, an American ally in the region.
Meanwhile, while admitting they celebrate Bergdahl’s release, McKeon and Inhofe warned that the exchange “may have consequences for the rest of our forces and all Americans.”
“Our terrorist adversaries now have a strong incentive to capture Americans. That incentive will put our forces in Afghanistan and around the world at even greater risk,” they said.
If Congress would like to discuss presidential actions that “put our forces . . . around the world at even greater risk,” perhaps the time is right for a thorough investigation of the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq . . . ? Or their cavalier abandonment of said Wounded Warriors when their medical care requires more funding than our parsimonious Congress is willing to dole out?
Posted by Bette Noir on 06/01/14 at 11:40 AM
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Game of Drones: Paranoid Patriots About To Scare Themselves To Death
What happens when you put a bunch of unemployed conspiracy theorists, low-info vigilantes and well-armed paranoiacs out in the desert sun to dry-roast for a couple of weeks?
SHIT! happens! that’s what.
The Fantasy Justice League members that have #occupiedcowtown this month to protect Cliven Bundy’s inalienable right to suck the government teat dry, are starting to show obvious signs of PTSD following the anticlimactic Battle of Bundy Ranch.
The Battle itself took place a few weeks ago, without a shot being fired, but militia-types from all over these great United States were having so much fun on maneuvers, using soldier lingo and walkie-talkies, that they decided to hang out with the Bundy family indefinitely, to make sure that Bunkerville, NV is rendered safe for democracy.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 04/29/14 at 12:29 PM
Monday, April 21, 2014
Meet The Press Hosts Panel of Dicks To Discuss Presidential Low-T
David Brooks must be pining for his lost youth now that he’s a newly-single balding, middle-aged guy tending toward paunch. That’s the only good explanation for the sophomoric little round-robin that took place on Meet the Press yesterday, during which Brooks questioned President Obama’s testosterone levels, while the rest of the bobbleheads nodded and grinned:
Basically since Yalta we’ve had an assumption that borders are basically going to be borders, and once that comes into question, if in Ukraine or in Crimea or anywhere else, then all over the world … all bets are off . . .
… And let’s face it, Obama, whether deservedly or not, does have a — I’ll say it crudely — but a manhood problem in the Middle East. Is he tough enough to stand up to somebody like Assad or somebody like Putin? I think a lot of the rap is unfair, but certainly in the Middle East there is an assumption that he’s not tough enough.
How insipid is that? Let me count the ways . . .
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Posted by Bette Noir on 04/21/14 at 08:19 AM
Friday, April 04, 2014
Modern conservatism in the US is predicated on a bizarre, ongoing inversion of reality. Item: an addled B-movie actor explodes the national debt and is lionized as a champion of small government. A cowardly, none-too-bright male cheerleader from a patrician clan is packaged and sold as a brush-clearin,’ neo-Churchillian cowpoke.
The party that bankrupted the country through ruinous, pointless warmongering and Wall Street wilding markets itself as the fiscally responsible foreign policy grownups. The party that allows a gun manufacturer flak organization to intimidate it into allowing terrorists and the floridly crazy to purchase unlimited semiautomatic weapons bills itself as tough on crime. Etc.
So it shouldn’t be surprising that conservatives’ perception of their ongoing defeat in the culture wars is exactly the opposite of reality on every level too. But that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh at the ahistorical ranting. Cue the Powertools, lamenting the resignation of erstwhile Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich:
So the liberals claim another scalp. This is something new in our history, as far as I know. Until now, private citizens could hold whatever political beliefs they wanted, and support political causes as they chose.
Ever heard of the McCarthy hearings? Where a wingnut senator persecuted private citizens and destroyed their livelihoods because of their political beliefs? See, when the party of free markets decides to regulate political beliefs, it does so via the government.
What happened to Eich is a free market phenomenon. You can make the argument that the companies and developers who balked at the prospect of working with a CEO who thinks gays are icky should have given Eich a chance. But the companies and developers are independent agents who are free to vote with their feet because freedom.
Over at Heritage.org, they’ve discovered the power of government policy in leading social change:
Policy should prohibit the government from discriminating against any individual or group, whether nonprofit or for-profit, based on their beliefs that marriage is the union of a man and woman or that sexual relations are reserved for marriage. Policy should prohibit the government from discriminating in tax policy, employment, licensing, accreditation, or contracting against such groups and individuals.
Okay, so you guys were for prohibiting the government from discriminating against same sex couples in tax policy, employment, licensing, accreditation or contracting, right? Nope.
Once again, the self-proclaimed anti-nanny state crusaders and champions of free markets are revealed as sniveling hypocrites. Hoocoodanode?
[X-posted at Balloon Juice]
Posted by Betty Cracker on 04/04/14 at 07:31 AM
Wednesday, April 02, 2014
SCOTUS Shows Love for the Rainmakers and Buckrakers
In the home of the brave, free speech comes with a price tag, as the Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 (No! Really?) decision in the McCutcheon v. FEC case, which basically gives rich folks the license to print ballots.
Maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but here’s the deal—if putting your money where your mouth is, is a form of free speech, then some animals on this farm are obviously more equal than others, if laws that try to keep the rich from drowning out the voices of the not-so-much are seen as onerously violating the rights of the people who can afford to pay for this here microphone and mean to use it.
It kind of says, if you can’t afford to pay for the good sound system, you might as well shut up.
There was some dancing around in that decision about whether campaign financing was about quid pro quo—look, I get it. The decision for letting our politicians be bought outright was centered on not making it for each trick they turn out, but letting them perform on a retainer basis. And that’s sweet, but let’s call it what it is. And let’s not pretend that our transactional political system isn’t about quid pro quo because the paymasters don’t give direction when our little dears can figure out what they are supposed to do to please Daddy without all that much direction.
Now, there might be an antidote to the influence of money in the form of a critical, tough, independent media who can cut through the “talk” of money and see to it that “bullshit” hits the road. A lot of our mainstream media might not necessarily recognize that cutting through the bull is their job, though. That’s kind of why I see blogging as important. Maybe this cosa nostra can strike a little bit back at the pezzanovantes that want to make peasants out of us. But otherwise, I encourage everybody to vote the fuck out of the GOP, because, let’s be honest, they are the most boughten and paidest-for. I’m all for kicking the Koch-machine—how’bout you?
(X-Posted at Strangely Blogged.)
Posted by Vixen Strangely on 04/02/14 at 10:08 PM
Hobby Lobby’s Deeply Held Investment Convictions
“Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions.… something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one,” Hobby Lobby founder David Green, in an article for USA Today.
Well, at least since Day One 2012, when Obamacare compelled businesses to include emergency contraception in employee health care plans and David Green, owner of Hobby Lobby, decided to sue the government over that requirement.
Before that, Hobby Lobby’s employee health care plan covered both Plan B and Ella which their brief, filed with the US Supreme Court, describes as “products that can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus,” which the Greens consider abortion.
Scientist’s refute that statement based on how the drugs actually work—to prevent fertilization, in the first place—nevertheless, it is the Green’s “deeply held religious belief” that the scientists are wrong and that they, the Greens, channeling their God, are right.
Now, some cynics might label the Green’s position somewhat politically-influenced and a whole lot hypocritical. Evidently, the deeply held religious beliefs at the heart of their case struck them rather late in the game—a la Saul on the road to Damascus—knocking them off their ass, when President Obama commanded them to continue doing what they were doing.
But, oh dear, bless their hearts, that’s only the beginning . . .
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Posted by Bette Noir on 04/02/14 at 10:16 AM
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Think They’d Settle For a Cage Fight?
One thing that’s truly exceptional about Americans is their firm belief that this is their planet and they make the sun shine and the rain fall on it. If something good happens on Earth? Americans had a hand in it. If something bad happens on Earth? Americans will fix it, tout de suite. Got problems? send America “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore” and we’ll whip ‘em into shape.
And, after running The Greatest Show On Earth for over 200 years now, Americans are the world’s go-to experts on every topic under the sun, because . . . we say so. And the First Amendment guarantees that we get to say just about anything with authority and it must be respected.
So. If we don’t believe in evolution or climate change or bad things happening in American History, well, goshdangit, it doesn’t exist. And, to make sure it keeps on not existing, we’ll change the textbooks so our chilluns ain’t infected by bad ideas. And this is possible because, in America, a scientist has no more say than Sarah Palin. We’re a democracy, don’t you know?
What is it about the democratization of ignorance that some folks find so intoxicating?
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Posted by Bette Noir on 03/19/14 at 10:44 AM
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Lose, Reince, Repeat
I have to hand it to Reince Priebus, the guy is no quitter.
Despite the fact that his party’s candidates turned the 2012 presidential campaign into an internationally acclaimed political farce and handily lost an election that they believed they had in the bag, Reince was undaunted. The RNC chairman spent his entire post-election Christmas vacation pounding out 100 pages of extreme makeover ideas for the GOP, some of which were pretty good ones. Ultimately, all of them were cavalierly dismissed or completely ignored by the rank and file.
So that was one year down the tubes. Now we’re heading into mid-term elections which, if current GOP trends prevail, will surely prove to be a farcical free-for-all in search of America’s Biggest Extremist. Karoli over at Crooks and Liars has astutely observed the usual Republican establishment’s pre-election jitters surfacing already:
It must be an election year, because there’s no other reason for wingers who never do anything about their crazies to react to the backlash over Austin Ruse’s statement that “liberal professors should just be taken out and shot.
We’re bound to see more such organizational hand-wringing before November but, let’s face it, Reince doesn’t really have a prayer of keeping that many congressional races sane, so that’ll be another year shot.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 03/16/14 at 12:14 PM
Thursday, March 06, 2014
Bad News, Poors! Paul Ryan Wants to Take Away Free Lunch at Schools!
So you will be free to once again lurve your children. Speaking at CPAC he opined:
He then told an anecdote he said was relayed to him by Eloise Anderson, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) Department of Children and Families secretary.
“She once met a young boy from a very poor family, and every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program,” Ryan said.
“He told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch, one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids,” he continued. “He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him. This is what the left does not understand.”
Yes we libs think having kids get a free hot lunch at school (not to mention breakfast) is the height of parental neglect and lack of caring. And not, you know, maybe lack of food and neat brown bags in the house.
Why does Paul Ryan hate the Poors he’s trying to save so much?
Posted by marindenver on 03/06/14 at 03:03 PM
Friday, February 28, 2014
Noonan Haz A Sad, Channels Ophelia
Apparently Peggy Noonan took to her fainting couch recently, suffering from a touch of SAD, and found herself scribbling away and projecting her depression on all of America. I tend to avoid conservative propaganda outlets, such as Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, mainly because of their insalubrious effect on my blood pressure.
But this communique from the inimitable Nooners exploded across my desktop like a multi-car accident and I just had to become a gaper.
She had me by the first sentence, which reads:
The constant mischief of the progressive left is hurting the nation’s morale.
A bold premise but deftly supported by citing those experts on the American psyche—Gallup, of Gallup polls. Gallup found, in December, that a record number of Americans, 72% to be exact, feel that big government is a bigger threat to the future than big business and big labor.
This probably came as no surprise to the good folks of Gallup because so it has been, every single time that they have asked that question since the first time, in 1965. Indeed, Noonan, herself, points out that this is a fairly predictable data point.
None of these numbers are new, exactly, as they reflect long-term trends.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 02/28/14 at 04:24 PM
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Not the Least, and Not the Last
Yesterday marked some new changes in the battle of LGBT equality, with AZ Gov.Jan Brewer vetoing Senate bill 1062, finding that there was no evidence that people of faith were being unduly burdened and that allowing this bill to become law would have unintended consequences, and with a federal judge ruling the Texas gay marriage ban unconstitutional.
It’s not unalloyed good news, because although I am optimistic (just see my last blog entry) I was not found in a cabbage patch nor was I raised on sunshine and good vibes. The response of some social conservatives definitely reminds me that nothing is over—if anything, the desire of a handful of retrograde culture warriors to wrap themselves in the mantle of faith and claim special privilege as a marginalized group seems to have grown. It’s what you might call a smaller, but more motivated group. Look at it this way, if it’s right that the SCOTUS Windsor ruling has literally made all further argument on gay marriage moot, what the hell is Brian Brown gonna do now? Get a real job? Even Fox News might stop inviting Tony Perkins on, and everyone knows Bryan Fischer is worried that if folks are freely getting gay-married…well, he’s on his own thing and I think he’s more scared of turning into a vulva than turning gay, but my point is, that rear-guard money is catch as catch can and they gotta hustle now. So they will hustle.
The thing with prejudice is, the people with it like to feel justified. Of course they are fine upstanding better people. They wouldn’t even have the prejudices they do if they weren’t! This “religious freedom” gambit seemed like a nice way to co-opt the language of the persecuted to sound like maybe they were the ones all victimized and wronged by liberal fascism. Which is the very worst kind of fascism because of the PBS programming and organic produce, not to mention the whole meaningful chats about “tone”. But the problem is political correctness, don’t you know.
Conservatism won at least one argument with me. I hate political correctness. I will call these professional victims and family values pimps what they are. And for what it’s worth, if they want to talk about respecting religion, I have some reservations about your garden-variety haters deciding it’s totally okay to rip out pages of Leviticus and use them as a fig leaf to cover up their rage-boners over any class of people…being treated totally the same as anyone else.
But here is something to ponder that I don’t think conservatives are taking into account:
This kissing of theocratic ass is costing them—let’s talk about CPAC.
I love CPAC. I pretend I’m appalled because I’m a proper liberal with all the right credentials but as theater? I was a choir geek in high school—I love theater! And who doesn’t like to watch a hot mess of theater sometimes? But anyway, CPAC has engendered drama because they could never let GOProud in the fold. They were out, and never in. The sucking up around the edges to try and pacify the theocrat powers that be apparently cheesed Chris Barron off enough to quit them, hard enough. Is he not a conservative and a brother?
Nope. Moving on, CPAC isn’t having any with atheists either. Wow. If “none of the above” is a big religious choice of the millennial generation, aren’t they making a big mistake right here? Especially given that 1/3 of millennials left religion specifically over how gay people are treated by their faith?
This wedge issue that used to be good for the GOP circa 2004, is not a great issue about now. But if they think they look spiffy in albatross, who am I to try and stop them? You go, GOP-ers! Wrap yourself in the flag and the Bible and take all of your guns at once and….
I dunno. Write a very serious letter to editor of the Washington Times. If they have one. I guess.
(X-Posted at Strangely Blogged)
Posted by Vixen Strangely on 02/27/14 at 11:51 PM
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Jesus Loves Me?
Well, Brothers and Sisters, it’s Sunday in this Exceptionally Christian Nation, so what better time to talk a little about what the Lord has in store for us these days?
First up, this guy, God’s right hand in Texas, the one and only Tom DeLay—
wants to remind us all that, on the fifth or sixth day [not sure which], God wrote the US Constitution. That collection of bewigged displaced plutocrats, Masons, Free-Thinkers and Humanists, aka the Founding Fathers, were merely channeling God [King James Version] and his ambitious plans for a “shining city on a hill” to rule his creation, Earth, forever and ever, Amen!
In a recent radio meet-up with Pastor Hagee, the Younger, The Hammer patiently explained why America the Beautiful is such a hot mess, lately.
It’s because we:
stopped realizing that God created this nation, that He wrote the Constitution, that it’s based on Biblical principles…
In retrospect, Brother DeLay believes that the religious right blew it when they:
. . . allowed those that don’t believe in those things to keep pushing us and pushing us and pushing us away from the government instead of standing up and being unashamedly a follower of Jesus Christ and fighting for our values in our society.
But, fear not, “oh ye of little faith:”
I really feel now, Pastor Matt, that the Lord has heard us, and I see the Holy Spirit moving, and I pray every day for an awakening in this country, and I think it’s coming, and people have been praying for many, many years, seeking the face of God, and it’s coming.
As Juanita Jean, astutely points out, it is highly likely that Brother Tom is “hitting the sauce” again . . .
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Posted by Bette Noir on 02/23/14 at 12:22 PM