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Thursday, July 02, 2015

 
Moral legitimacy

by digby

So Rick Perry is saying that Republicans lost "moral legitimacy" when it stopped caring about getting votes from black people. Yeah, whatever. Keep your (confederate) freak flag flying Governor.

I'll just point out that Rick Perry lost all moral legitimacy with the human race when he blithely signed more death warrants than any governor in history:
As someone who has personally signed off on killing 278 people, his enthusiasm for the death penalty is unparalleled. (That’s literally true, he’s signed more death warrants than anyone in American history.) He vetoed a bill to spare the mentally retarded and is all for killing juvenile offenders, which is a position that’s not even held by the conservative Roberts court. He’s the most likely governor to have knowingly executed an innocent man.
Texas has killed  527 people since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977. More than half of them were under Rick Perry's watch.

According to the ACLU, Texas also holds the highest number of DNA exonerations with 44 since 1994 (and 36 since 2001); this includes non-capital cases. Twelve people have been released from death row in Texas due to evidence of their wrongful conviction.

Also too: African Americans comprise only 12% of the population of Texas, but they comprise 39.8% of death row inmates.

There is some good news in all this, executions are down in Texas. Of course, Rick Perry is no longer the governor. Correlation isn't causation but correlation is good enough to tell Perry to shut up about "morality." He has no standing to even say the word.

But don't kid yourself. This is one of his big selling points with the faithful:





 
"One of the most dehumanizing things I've seen on Fox"

by digby

Don't watch this unless you feel like getting angry:



Vox explains:

Fox New's Bill O'Reilly on Monday ran a horrible segment in which he characterized homeless people in New York City's Penn Station as dangerous, playing into some of the worst stereotypes about the homeless — and got the underlying cause of the situation in Penn Station wrong.

They go on to explains that the story is total BS:

Beyond being what Media Matters's Carlos Maza called "one of the most dehumanizing things I've seen on Fox," the segment also misses what could be behind a recent rise of homeless people at the train station. O'Reilly argues this supposed increase — which is completely unproven, and appears to be based on Fox News staffers and some New Yorkers' personal observations — is due to relaxed law enforcement because of "uber-liberal" Mayor Bill de Blasio's policing policies. Not only is there absolutely no evidence to support this assertion, but there's a much more plausible explanation: The number of homeless people in New York City has been trending up for years.

There's more at the link. But it's beside the point. O'Reilly and his dickish minion just wanted to demean unfortunate people for the entertainment of their old, white male audience and blame liberals for it. That's their appeal.


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Don't blame the Donald. Blame the Speaker.

by digby

John Boehner is the houseboy for the Tea Party caucus and the result is Donald Trump soaring in popularity by being a rank bigot:

While Jeb Bush finally disagreed with Trump’s comments over the past weekend and former New York Governor George Pataki strongly criticized Trump, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) actually defended Trump during an appearance on Fox News. Meanwhile, the rest of the 2016 GOP field has stayed silent (and in Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) case, refused to respond to Trump-related questions yesterday). At the same time, some of the usual suspects like bombastic Rep. Steve King (R-IA) are rushing to Trump’s defense.

It’s important to realize that Trump’s comments and their implications for the already-tarnished GOP brand image could have been easily avoided. If Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and other Republican leaders had decided to stand up to the nativists in their midst and actually hold a vote on immigration reform last Congress, such a vote that would have passed the House with a majority of Democratic votes and a healthy complement of Republicans. If leadership had stepped up, the Republican Party would have a very different image on immigration and the contours of the 2016 race would be totally different.

The vacuum left by House Republican leadership was easily filled by the loud but not large nativist wing of the GOP. The House failed to allow votes on comprehensive immigration reform but has given nativist-in-chief Steve King multiple votes on denying relief and subjecting to deportation Dreamers and millions of immigrant families. Instead of standing up to Trump. the response to his racist remarks about Mexicans from leading contenders in the GOP primary has been late, tepid or, in Ted Cruz’s case, fawning.

I don't that the nativist faction of the GOP is all that small. If you look at the polling, there are millions of them:

In perhaps the most striking finding, some 63% of Republican voters view immigrants of all stripes as a “burden” who generally compete for jobs, housing, and health care. That’s almost a mirror image of Democrats, 62% of whom agreed with a statement that immigrants “strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents,” and independents, 57% of whom agreed immigrants “strengthen” America overall...

Pew’s numbers show the potential for an ugly fight on the issue, especially in a crowded GOP field where candidates will find it hard to stand out with conservatives. 42% of Republican respondents said they wanted legal immigration decreased versus 28% of independents and 27% of Democrats.

42% of Republicans want to reduce even legal immigration and 63% see immigrants as burdens who are stealing their jobs, houses and health care. That's nativism. And a hell of a lot of our fellow citizens believe it. Trump is singing their song.




 
Nobody puts troika in the corner

by digby


I wrote a little bit about austerity this morning for Salon:

The nation of Greece may be the cradle of democracy but these days it’s getting a harsh lesson in its limitations. Right now, streets are filled with protesters but there are no lines at ATMs because the banks are all closed. Everyone is waiting to see what’s going to happen when the people vote this week-end on a referendum that will decide, essentially, if the country is going to remain in the Euro and accept the ongoing edicts of “the troika” or if it’s going to “Grexit. (The troika is the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund which has been lending the the country money for the past five years on the condition that it engage in the metaphorical human sacrifice of its citizens.)
As you undoubtedly know by now, aside from being chosen to suffer for the sins of all the high flyers who caused the financial crisis, the Greeks also had the temerity to elect a leftist government with the express purpose of ending the austerity plan that has ruined their economy and thrown them into even deeper debt than they were in before. That, as Poppy Bush used to say, will not stand. Nobody puts Troika in the corner. The Greeks must pay and pay, not only for their economic folly but also for thinking they could get out of their proper punishment through democratic politics. Sure, those elections are nice and all but lets not forget who’s really in charge.
Paul Krugman’s column on Monday explained that all the hand-wringing over Greece’s “irresponsibility” is balderdash:
[Y]ou need to realize that most — not all, but most — of what you’ve heard about Greek profligacy and irresponsibility is false. Yes, the Greek government was spending beyond its means in the late 2000s. But since then it has repeatedly slashed spending and raised taxes. Government employment has fallen more than 25 percent, and pensions (which were indeed much too generous) have been cut sharply. If you add up all the austerity measures, they have been more than enough to eliminate the original deficit and turn it into a large surplus.
So why didn’t this happen? Because the Greek economy collapsed, largely as a result of those very austerity measures, dragging revenues down with it.
As Krugman has also been observing ever since the financial crisis hit, austerity for these people isn’t really about finance at all. It’s about morality, specifically the alleged “moral hazard” involved in allowing average people to “get away with” running up debt it cannot pay back. Interestingly, this moral hazard never applies to the wealthy businessmen who often make bets that don’t pay off. Bankruptcy, fresh starts, debt forgiveness are things best reserved for people who know how to use them.

These big money boyz just can't quit austerity. makes 'em feel good about themselves. And it's also an excellent con:

nd as Dave Johnson pointed out in this piece at Campaign for America’s Future, the Greek crisis is right out of the book “Confessions of an Economic Hitman”:
We are an elite group of men and women who utilize international financial organizations to foment conditions that make other nations subservient to the corporatocracy running our biggest corporations, our government, and our banks. Like our counterparts in the Mafia, EHMs provide favors. These take the form of loans to develop infrastructure – electric generating plants, highways, ports, airports, or industrial parks.
… Despite the fact that the money is returned almost immediately to corporations that are members of the corporatocracy (the creditor), the recipient country is required to pay it all back, principal plus interest. If an EHM is completely successful, the loans are so large that the debtor is forced to default on its payments after a few years. When this happens, then like the Mafia we demand our pound of flesh.

We'll see this week-end if the people of Greece are going to submit to any more of this. I hope they don't. It's now just a ritual torture for the entertainment of spectators.

.

 

Another day, another boondoggle

by Tom Sullivan

Stick a fork in it. Another of those public-private partnership deals is done. Investors are ready to bail:

Barely 10 years after paying the city $1.83 billion for the right to run the Chicago Skyway for 99 years, a Spanish-Australian group of investors has put the historic tollroad concession deal up for sale.

The Skyway concession company’s executives have informed Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration they’re trying to sell their interest in running and collecting tolls from the 7.8-mile-long road on Chicago’s South Side, city officials said Monday.

And right on schedule, too. I described how these go down in December:

US and state taxpayers are left paying off billions in debt to bondholders who have received amazing returns on their money, as much as 13 per cent, as virtually all - if not all - of these private P3 toll operators go bankrupt within 15 years of what is usually a five-plus decade contract.

A "staggering" number go bankrupt, Salzman continues.

Of course, no executive comes forward and says, "We're planning to go bankrupt," but an analysis of the data is shocking. There do not appear to be any American private toll firms still in operation under the same management 15 years after construction closed. The original toll firms seem consistently to have gone bankrupt or "zeroed their assets" and walked away, leaving taxpayers a highway now needing repair and having to pay off the bonds and absorb the loans and the depreciation.

Now, those are the P3 construction deals. The Skyway already existed. There is no indication of the Skyway partners' financial condition (or the roadway's physical condition). Let's just say that after Spanish-Australian consortium Cintra-Macquarie declared bankruptcy last fall on its 75-year concession to operate the Indiana Toll Road after only eight, they may be dumping the Skyway before it comes to that.

Meanwhile, Cintra has signed contracts on its project to widen I-77 north of Charlotte with high-occupancy toll lanes (HOT lanes). Called Thom's Tholl Road by critics, the project was championed by now U.S. Senator Thom Tillis over objections from local businesses and his own party's rank and file.

Local business leaders and politicians chartered a bus to Raleigh on Tuesday to lobby legislators to de-fund the project. State Sen. Jeff Tarte, a Cornelius Republican, has introduced legislation to do just that:

Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett was shocked to hear of the contract signing.

“It's the most arrogant and insulting piece of governance I've seen in my 18 years in politics,” Puckett said.

“The fact that five boards, all five boards that are affected by this, asked for a delay and it was not only delayed, but sped up. I think people fear the fact that the government is not listening to them,” Puckett said.

In Raleigh on Tuesday Puckett called the contract "a disaster" and said the state should get out of it as soon as possible.

Not only was the deal sped up, but somebody is erecting roadblocks to slowing it down:

The group waging a legal battle over the $650 million plan to add toll lanes on Interstate 77 claims an N.C. Senate proposal would “scare off” lawyers from representing citizens groups that oppose state road projects.

The provision, included in a bill outlining changes to statewide environmental regulations, would take away judges’ discretion in awarding attorney’s fees in lawsuits that challenge the state’s “transportation improvements.” Instead, law firms would be made to pay the state’s legal fees if they lose a civil suit.

Kurt Naas of Cornelius believes the legislation is aimed at his group's lawsuit:

“This is a direct aim at the WidenI77.org legal case and a gross abuse of legislative power by those elected to represent the public’s interests,” Naas said in a news release. “This proposed legislation is an intimidation tactic to hinder citizens from their right to due process of the law.”

Your name doesn't have to be Rorschach to see patterns here.


Wednesday, July 01, 2015

 
Rand on the run

by digby

Rand Paul doesn't know how to turn Mexican bashing and immigration into a states' rights issue so he runs away from it. He'd rather not talk about it because libertarianism doesn't have an answer and the GOP demands one.



Does this little event remind you of anything? It should. Here's Sam Seder on an earlier incident that is remarkably similar. It even had Steve King involved:




Poor Rand always seems to be on the run whenever anyone asks him about immigration...

Meanwhile, he did find the time time to speak privately to Cliven Bundy for 45 minutes yesterday. Seriously.


 
QOTD: department of wishful thinking

by digby

They hope this is true anyway:


“You can make the argument that hyperbolic rhetoric like this paints the rest of the field as much more moderate,” said Brian Walsh, a veteran Republican operative. “It’s harder in the long run to paint Republicans like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio as representative of the far right when that rhetorical space is being filled by someone like Donald Trump.”

Yeah. Except Republican primary voters seem to like him quite a bit:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and businessman Donald Trump top the list of GOP presidential contenders following their back-to-back campaign launches in mid-June, and are the only two Republican candidates holding double-digit support among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

I would just remind people that there is a strain in American politics that just loves really rich popular blowhard businessmen. It's the Ross Perot phenomenon. Perot wasn't as crude about Mexicans, but his message was very similar to Trump's. A lot of people like that.

*And remember, Trump doesn't need any donors... there is no way to discipline him.
 
Spying for whom?

by digby


Of course they did:
In a shocking revelation, the UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) today notified Amnesty International that UK government agencies had spied on the organization by intercepting, accessing and storing its communications.

In an email sent today, the Tribunal informed Amnesty International its 22 June ruling had mistakenly identified one of two NGOs which it found had been subjected to unlawful surveillance by the UK government. Today’s communication makes clear that it was actually Amnesty International Ltd, and not the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) that was spied on in addition to the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa.

The NGOs were among 10 organizations that launched a legal challenge against suspected unlawful mass surveillance of their work by the UK’s spy agencies.

“After 18 months of litigation and all the denials and subterfuge that entailed, we now have confirmation that we were in fact subjected to UK government mass surveillance. It’s outrageous that what has been often presented as being the domain of despotic rulers has been occurring on British soil, by the British government,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

Why did they do it? Well, why not? After all, hardly anyone gives a shit about any of this. They can spy on whomever they choose on behalf of who knows what? After all, they're spying on multi-national corporations and who knows who that benefits? (They say they're spying on on "French" corporations, but my IRA is invested in all kinds of foreign stocks, including some of those same French companies ... I guess that makes me French too. You too maybe.) Anyway, it's unlikely to be workers in America or anywhere else, that's for sure. But somebody's benefiting. We just don't know who.

But again, nobody gives a shit. Nothing to see here, folks ...

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Jim Webb party of one

by digby

I don't know who he's trying to woo:

He could not easily attack Clinton from the left, as former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley (D) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have, although criminal justice reform provides one such opening. He has also argued that she would not aggressively take on big financial interests.

But Webb ended his appearance by saying that he was “very proud of having worked in the Reagan administration” as secretary of the Navy. He pointed out to reporters that conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer shared his view of the Confederate flag — that it shouldn’t be used as a political symbol but that good people fought on both sides. Democratic primary voters are unlikely to be impressed by those references.

Even if he wanted to come at them from the right, this isn't going to get the job done. There might be a few conservative/moderate Democratic primary voters who would be with him on deficit reduction or maybe NSA surveillance or something, but evoking Reagan and the confederate flag (not to mention Krauthamer!) is like saying he's for segregation and imperialism.

Maybe he thinks there are enough semi-sane Republicans out there that might switch. But they aren't defending the confederate flag either.

I think he may be the only voter in the country with his particular set of values.

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Filibuster split

by digby

The filibuster is fundamentally illiberal. But it's also useful. And the Republicans just don't know what to do about it:

An internal divide is sharpening among Republican presidential candidates over whether to eliminate the Senate's 60-vote threshold in order to fight Obamacare if they win the White House.

On Tuesday, Carly Fiorina and former Texas Governor Rick Perry told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt they would support using the "Reid Rule"—otherwise known as the "nuclear option"—to scrap the filibuster in order to try and repeal the Affordable Care Act.

"I would," Fiorina said. "And in this case, while I would be very reluctant to do so, the truth is that’s how this thing was passed in the first place." She added, "Obamacare is a tangled web that is becoming worse, clearly, day by day."

"I don’t have a problem at all with breaking the filibuster."

Perry also answered in the affirmative.

"I'm for using the Reid Rule on—to break the filibuster," he said, explaining that he wants to get rid of it both to repeal Obamacare and to confirm Supreme Court justices with a simple majority vote. "I support using the Reid Rule to appoint these Constitutional conservatives as well. So I don’t have a problem at all with breaking the filibuster."

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has said he'd "certainly consider" the idea; Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said he would "absolutely" support it.

On the other side of the divide, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has rejected the proposition even if it paves the way for repealing Obamacare, arguing that "ending the legislative filibuster would ultimately undermine conservative principles." On his side are Tea Party groups Club For Growth, Senate Conservatives Fund and Heritage Action, who want to preserve the legislative tool for blocking legislation in the future.

Basically this comes down to whether or not you think it's more important to block the other side from doing things you hate or removing all obstacles to doing what you love. It makes some sense that presidential candidates would be in favor of getting rid of it because if they win, they will want to pass legislation. After all, if a Democrat is in the White House that won't happen anyway.

I think this split shows that the conservative groups are aware that they are unlikely to win the presidency and see their role in the future to be obstruction. Nothing they want will get through if a Democrat is in the White House --- and they know that's the likely outcome. They want to preserve their ability to filibuster just in case there are some coattails and Democrats take back the Senate. And hey, they might just want to filibuster a Republican majority too --- they aren't exactly what you'd call team players these days.

It's likely they are going to hold the House regardless so they can probably stop anything anyway. But with the Tea Party being such unreliable allies on issues like trade, groups like Club for Growth probably would like to have another check. And the Tea Party/Heritage action folks are all about obstruction (also known as hostage taking/political terrorism) as their preferred weapon, Cruz being their primary practitioner. They just want to be able to do it, period.

Democrats have the same split, it's just not as acute. Many Senators don't want to get rid of the filibuster because they're afraid of a GOP president and a GOP congressional majority --- and for good reason. But it's purely instrumental for them, they haven't ever used obstruction as a tactic for its own sake. At this point the country looks as though it's going to be splitting the power between the two parties for a while. But if it's close enough to steal it, you know the Republicans will do it. They've proved that already ...

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The Great Whitebread Hope slips in Iowa

by digby

I have always maintained that Walker is overvalued:
In an election season where there will likely be at least 16 Republican candidates, the survey reveals numerous contenders bunched behind Walker, whose support in the poll has dropped to 18 percent from 21 percent in May and 25 percent in February.

Jockeying for second place are billionaire Donald Trump and retired surgeon Ben Carson, tied at 10 percent; Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas, tied at 9 percent; former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, at 8 percent; and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, at 7 percent.

He may still pull it off. Wisconsin and Iowa are neighbors and share the same media market. But I have never thought it was quite the slam dunk everyone else did.

But jeez, look at the rest of the  field. Carson and Trump followed by Paul and Cruz. Walker's not exactly a moderate and he's been going more and more wingnut as the pressure increases and the rest are certifiable loons. Yet, together they are the favorites of a large majority of Iowa Republicans. This is what they want.


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The Roberts Court is not "just right"

by digby

I have a piece in Salon this morning about the curious polling results that show half of Democrats think this Supreme Court is "just right".  And those findings were the same before the decisions last week. Conservatives, certainly don't agree:

As one might imagine, the conservatives are up in arms. Even a death penalty affirmation and Justice Scalia’s inane ranting about applesauce wasn’t enough to soothe them. According to CNN’s post-decision polling, the right is very upset with this “lefty” court. That’s right. They believe this court is way too liberal. Here’s how it breaks down by party:
Republicans are most apt in the new poll to say the Court’s ideology is too far to the left: 69% see the Court as too liberal. That’s up from 2012, when 59% of Republicans called it too liberal.
Nearly 70 percent of Republicans see this court as too liberal. And this can be attributed to the Chief Justice’s unwillingness to strike down a law that allows people to buy affordable health care and Justice Kennedy’s belief that marriage is so great that everyone ought to be able to do it. That used to be called “compassionate conservatism” and “family values,” but those seems to be out of fashion.
Still, it’s not all that surprising that Republicans would think the court is too liberal. They have been indoctrinated in that idea for half a century and for many it’s just a reflexive belief devoid of any substance. “Unelected judges!” is right up there with “tort reform” for mindless right-wing rallying cries. (And as I’ve written here before, their judicial philosophy is anything but consistent.) But what in the world is going on with the Democrats?
Among Democrats, 34% now say they see the Court as too conservative and 15% too liberal, 49% say the Court is about right. In 2012, just 6% of Democrats described the Court as too liberal, but the share calling it too conservative was about the same at 35%.
I could understand why Democrats would have warm feelings toward John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy after last week. They both not only voted the right way, at least on Obamacare, they also wrote opinions last week in ways that are very satisfying and carry some legal heft going into the future. But half of Democrats thought the court was just right even before those opinions. How can this be? This is the court that has brought us Hobby Lobby and Citizens United and tore the guts out of the Voting Rights Act.



Read on to see some of the reasons why this disconnect has happened. I found that it's not as simple a question as it may seem --- and it's actually fairly complicated. And daunting. Liberals will continue to win a few even with this court simply because the conservatives are swinging for the fences and striking out some of the time. But overall, this court is moving us right and very quickly, particularly on issues that favor business and big money,  and it won't be easy to swing it back.

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How should we then rule?

by Tom Sullivan

For a sub-sect of Christians, it is an attack on "religious liberty" when they can no longer tell equally free Americans how they can and cannot live. As Yul Brynner said, playing Moses, their god "IS God." The Big G, the top dog, the Big Kahuna. Freedom of religion in America is fine, and all, so long as other, lesser faiths understand whose god IS God.

Fear of losing that top-dog status is behind the insistence by conservative Christians that America was founded as a Christian nation. White fear of having to share power with former slaves was behind decades of Jim Crow and KKK terror. Thus, it is "erasing white history and white culture" to take down a flag flown as a constant reminder of just whose race is boss.

"Religious liberty" has become the catchphrase for people who find their ability to lord it over their neighbors eroded by America extending freedoms they enjoy to "lesser thans" whom they fear. The Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges to extend the blessings of legal recognition of marriage to same-sex couples has them freaking out. The American Spectator calls the ruling "the Dred Scotting of religious liberty."

It's as peculiar a conception of liberty as it is a peculiar definition of persecution. Especially for a group so flush with cash and influence. Talking Points Memo reports on the Hobby Lobby Bible museum planned for just off the Mall in Washington. Among other things, it will be there as a staging area for lobbying efforts and marches by the Christian right:

The museum will be a living, breathing testament to how American evangelicalism can at once claim it is under siege from secularists, the LGBT rights movement, or feminism—yet also boast of acquiring a prime private perch, strategically located at the nation’s epicenter of law and politics, and nestled among its iconic public monuments. If you ask its creators, it’s meant to protect American Christianity from persecution. But it may be the most strident example yet of how that expression of religion, which in many ways is running counter to trends in American public opinion, continues to flex its political—and financial—muscle.

The founders of the Museum of the Bible are the Green family, the owners of the arts and crafts store chain Hobby Lobby, whose litigation against the federal government over contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act turned their franchise into a new ambassador for the overt expressions of Christianity in public spaces—including workplaces, museums, and even the nation’s courtrooms.

How it is any of an employer's business how employees spend the compensation they’ve earned and, in a contractual arrangement, the employer agreed to pay? Well, when you feel employees are lessers, not equals, and your god IS God, it all makes sense. George W. Bush wanted to give people a tax cut from the Clinton surplus because it was "your money." For outfits like Hobby Lobby, your compensation (cash and benefits) is not really your money if it's paid from their accounts. It's still their money, and an infringement on their "religious liberty" not to be able to control how equally free employees choose to spend it.

We're still waiting for the religious liberty people to get incensed over the string of recent suspicious fires at African-American churches in the South. The count is up to seven.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

 
Yes there is a red and blue America

by digby

Barack was wrong about that:



A more complete analysis shows that being male, low-income, less well educated, Southern, white and Republican are related to reporting a lower level of offense at the Confederate flag. In contrast, being younger, non-Southern, Democrat and white are associated with reporting a lower level of offense at the gay pride flag.

And that explains:

... the initial hesitation of Republican presidential candidates to support removing the Confederate battle flag from the capitol grounds in South Carolina. Only once nine people were murdered during Bible study in a prominent Charleston AME church did the candidates respond to national public opinion, which is strongly weighted against the flag, and call for its removal.

Hey you can't really blame them too much. It wasn't all that long ago that many liberals' favorite candidate was campaigning by saying that he wanted the guys with confederate flags on their trucks to vote for him too. Indeed, it took until an African American ran for president that the Democrats stopped furiously strategizing how to get back those confederate men. For a long time they seemed to be the Holy Grail to every national politician.


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Can Real Americans be terrorists?

by digby

Gawker caught this from terrorist hating (well, except for those nice Irish boys in the IRA) Congressman Peter King:

On ABC’s This Week Sunday, King explained that since jihadis have killed a terrifying total of 28 people in the USA since 9/11, and non-jihadi terror attacks have killed a negligible 48, radical Islam is definitely the far greater threat:

Every murder is horrible … There is no comparison between these white supremacists and an internationally coordinated movement which, if the attacks were not stopped, we could have thousands and thousands of deaths.

King was frankly disgusted by the comparison, because come on, people, everyone knows Muslims are far scarier than rightwing guys with large weapons caches and their own weird dreams of inflicting mass casualties:

“Everything should be investigated, everything should be stopped,” King said. “But to compare these deranged white supremacists with an organized international terrorist movement, that’s The New York Times at its worst.”

Obviously. Because Islamic terrorists are organized and want to kill us all — in increments of 28 per decade, more if possible — while white supremacists are by definition deranged lone nuts who have no organizational ties whatsoever, and more importantly, speako the English.

The people who were killed in the Boston bombing are waaaay more dead than those who were killed in the Charleston massacre. That's just a fact.

This also flies in the face of what every terrorist "expert" has been telling us about the threat in America --- "lone wolf" attacks. They aren't invading and they aren't staging massive attacks like 9/11. The threat is from some loser who reads something on the internet and builds a bomb or shoots someone. That's a terrible thing but it's no more threatening than Dylann Roof and his personal jihad.

Peter King is showing his little white slip and it isn't pretty.


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No this Supreme Court is not "just right"

by digby


Polling on the Court's decisions last week is interesting

Democrats are more apt to say they back the ruling on the 2010 health care law sometimes referred to as Obamacare -- 79% back it -- than they are to support the same-sex marriage decision, of which 70% favor. Among Republicans, 54% said they oppose the ruling on health care, while 59% oppose the ruling on same-sex marriage, not a statistically-significant difference. Among independents, 63% support each ruling.

The 37% of Americans who say they see the Court as too liberal is the highest share to say so in CNN polling dating back to 1993. Fewer, 20%, say they feel the Court is too conservative and 40% see it as about right.

In a CNN/ORC poll in 2012, just after the Court issued its first ruling upholding part of the health care law, 30% said they felt the Court was too liberal, 22% that it was too conservative.

Republicans are most apt in the new poll to say the Court's ideology is too far to the left: 69% see the Court as too liberal. That's up from 2012, when 59% of Republicans called it too liberal.

Among Democrats, 34% now say they see the Court as too conservative and 15% too liberal, 49% say the Court is about right. In 2012, just 6% of Democrats described the Court as too liberal, but the share calling it too conservative was about the same at 35%.

Anthony Kennedy and John Roberts aren't 100% batshit insane in every single case but that doesn't mean the court isn't waaaay too conservative. It's anything but "just about right."

Wake up Democrats.

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Oh, what's the point

by digby

The next time some right wing gun nut starts handwringing about how anti-gun proliferation activists don't care about "black on black" crime show them this:


With all that "black on black" crime you'd think they'd want to all arm themselves to the teeth.

Of course, they also know that they are already likely to get shot by police whether they have a gun or not so they may figure it's not a good option all the way around.

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Electro-shock for fun and profit

by digby

There is so much wrong with this I don't even know where to start:

For the price of a $5 raffle ticket, Van Meter is offering its residents a change to use a police taser on a city official.

City hall is selling the tickets as part of a public safety fundraiser. The raffle winner will get the chance to taser or spare City Administrator Jake Anderson or Councilman Bob Lacy at the Van Meter Fire Association Street Dance July 18.

"I volunteered to be tased," Anderson said.

A police officer will assist with the tasing, with the proceeds going to help the department purchase a second squad car, add speed radar and possibly expand its six-member part-time and reserve force.

Anderson said the idea came up during a meeting with police about funding.

"The joke was sort of, yeah, let's tase the administrators. They make all the friends," Anderson said. "I was like, yeah, that's funny. Do you think you could raise some money?"

Lacy volunteered to add a little competition, and Anderson was glad.

"I didn't want there to be a 100 percent chance I'd be tased," he said.

Anderson said he's never been tased before, adding, "I imagine it will hurt."

Police Chief Bill Daggart, a former Waukee officer, admitted he's never been tased either. But he hopes to purchase tasers for Van Meter's department once they've raised the $5,000 to $10,000 desired to expand the force.

"A taser reduces suspect-officer physical confrontations immensely," Daggart said.

The police department is also raffling gift cards for Sportsman's Warehouse valued at prices equal to a number of firearms, including a Ruger AR556 Patrol Rifle.

Daggart said the desire to expand the force isn't the result of any crime increase in the town of roughly 1,100 residents. Van Meter is hoping to attract a data storage industry from companies such as Microsoft or Facebook.

Though the city has a patch of land suitable for that industry, those companies often require specific response times from police and fire services.

"It's not a crime issue as much as it is a growth issue, "Daggart said. "It's a way we can compete with Omaha and West Des Moines."

A poster created by the police department that advertises the raffle reads, "It is taser time!!!" adding that citizens can "vote to taser Jake or Bob." The bottom of the poster reads, "Don't tase me bro!!!!!"

And for 50 bucks, you can waterboard the mayor! Fun!!!!

I sure hope the public officials get a full cardiac work-up and take some strong downers and pin killers before they submit because tasering can kill you if you get too "excited". Or have an underlying condition. Or they shoot you full of electricity in the chest. Or you fall and hit your head or knock out your teeth when your muscles all seize up and you fall to the ground.

Best take some precautions. Unfortunately, the people who get tasered for mouthing off or failing to submit to an order quite quickly enough don't have a chance to get a medical evaluation before they are shot through with electricity, but that's their tough luck.


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The Christian right at war with itself

by digby

I wrote about that at Salon this morning. It could portend yet another fault line in the GOP coalition:

As Scott Eric Kaufman reported on this site, Ted Cruz went on the “Today” show yesterday and laid out his belief that the real victims of discrimination in this country are evangelical protestants, because the Supreme Court is unrepresentative of “flyover country” and the people who live there. The justices are a bunch of east coast Catholics and Jews, you see, and they just don’t have any respect for Real Americans. Cruz thinks all that untrammeled Catholic and Jewish power needs to be stopped. “There are no protestants, no evangelicals, on the Court,” he said. “They think our views are parochial and don’t deserve to be respected. What a crazy system to have the most important issues of our day decided by unelected lawyers.”

Oddly, this comment echoes Justice Scalia’s unhinged rant in his Obergefell dissent which Cruz turns back on Scalia himself. Scalia wrote:
“[T]o allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation.”
You’ll notice that when the justice said that the Court was out of touch because it was composed of a bunch of Ivy league-educated elites (like Ted Cruz, by the way) he didn’t say anything about evangelicals and protestants. He is, after all, a very famous Catholic who prides himself on his social conservatism. It’s unlikely that he meant to implicate his own religion in that “otherness.”
If Cruz is speaking for anyone but himself, this marks an interesting shift in the religious right and one that could be consequential. The alliance between conservative Catholics and evangelical Christians has been one of the most fruitful political collaborations in our history. And it was, for all of its pursuit of noxious public policy, a rather weird demonstration of American progress.

Read on. The history of this partnership is pretty interesting and the fraying of it right now has very little to do with theology and everything to do with politics.


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Them boys ain't goin' gentle into that good Knight

by Tom Sullivan

You knew it was coming as soon as calls to remove Confederate battle flags caught fire across the South starting in Columbia, SC:

The Ku Klux Klan has been approved to hold a protest rally at the Statehouse next month against removing the Confederate battle flag, with the group calling accused mass murderer Dylann Roof a “young warrior.”

The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan applied for the permit last week to hold a rally for 100 to 200 people on July 18 on the north side of the Statehouse.

If you are holding your breath for Fox News' Griff Jenkins to cover the Klan rally live just to remind us all that racism is dead and only racists and race baiters say otherwise, don't.

Actually, this Klan group hails from North Carolina:

Calling itself the “Largest Klan in America,” the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan are based in Pelham, N.C., according to the group’s website.

A man identifying himself as the “great titan” of the N.C. chapter of the Loyal White Knights left a message with The State saying his group is holding the demonstration because “to us they are erasing white history and white culture right out of the history books. That’s why they want to take that flag down.”

Violent insurrection ending in what Southerners in other circumstances call an ass whuppin' (followed by decades of Jim Crow, domestic terrorism, and thousands of lynchings) is the heritage some here are most proud of and remember with Confederate battle flags. Of 400 years of history on these shores, the 4 years of violent treason are the ones by which some Southerners still define themselves. This makes them a very special breed of 1%-er. As John Fugelsang put it in the video I linked to the other day, it is "a heritage of quitting America because you want to start your own country to keep people as pets."

South Carolina state senator Paul Thurmond (yes, son of the famous Dixiecrat/Republican) spoke to WBUR in Boston about his speech outlining his decision to support removing the flag from the state capital grounds. Thurmond thinks it is the right thing to do. It is "a symbol of hatred that needs to be brought down.” Thurmond is worried about his safety.

The boys were out over the weekend celebrating their heritage with Confederate flags flown from the backs of their pickup trucks. At my SC hotel last night, a guy just finishing fixing a flat on his truck stuck a Confederate flag onto the left rear, as in this picture a friend shot in Marion, NC.

A reporter in Asheville spoke with an eighteen year-old kid doing the same:

We were talking about the reaction he's gotten flying the battle flag, and Billingsley said it's been overwhelmingly positive — lots of honks, thumbs-up, and more than 600 likes on a Facebook page.

"I've only had one negative, and it was a colored looking at me," Billingsley said. "He made it look racist, but it's really him being racist by judging me for flying it."

Congratulations, Fox News. Mission accomplished. Mr. "I know you are, but what am I?" is America's future.

Thurmond is probably right to worry about his safety, judging by the driving prowess the Southern Pride faction showed over the weekend in Dalton, GA:


Monday, June 29, 2015

 
You're all weak, I tell you, weak!

by digby

So NBC dumped Trump (the Miss Universe pageant anyway --- he'd already resigned from Apprentice) because of his Ann Coulter inspired "Mexicans are rapists" comments. Here's his response:
As of today, Donald J. Trump is no longer affiliated with NBC. Mr. Trump stands by his statements on illegal immigration, which are accurate. NBC is weak, and like everybody else is trying to be politically correct--- that is why our country is in serious trouble.

"We must have strong borders and not let illegal immigrants enter the United States. As has been stated continuously in the press, people are pouring across our borders unabated. Public reports routinely state great amounts of crime are being committed by illegal immigrants. This must be stopped and it must be stopped now. Long ago I told NBC that I would not being doing The Apprentice because I am running for President in order to Make our Country Great Again.

"If NBC is so weak and so foolish to not understand the serious illegal immigration problem in the United States, coupled with the horrendous and unfair trade deals we are making with Mexico, then their contract violating closure of Miss Universe/Miss USA will be determined in court. Furthermore, they will stand behind lying Brian Williams, but won't stand behind people that tell it like it is, as unpleasant as that may be."

I don't often agree with Allahpundit, but we're on the same page with this one:

Not only will Trump pay no price with populists for having long associated with a network as reviled on the right as NBC, he’ll actually get a bump in the polls now that they’ve declared him persona non grata. Everyone wins — NBC gets bouquets from SJWs for cutting him loose, Trump gets to revel in being the media’s new public enemy number one, and the media itself gets a sweet little gotcha to pester the other candidates with this week. The only loser, as usual, is the Republican voter.

Exit question: Odds that Trump will actually be leading the GOP field by the time of the first debate in early August? I’d say 50/50.

He upped it to 60-40 after Trump's statement came out.

I'm not sure the Republican voters think they are losers though. They seem to like this stuff.

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Thank you daddy

by digby

Here's the most insincere, paternalistic commentary you will see all day from none other than Rick Perry responding to the Supreme Court refusing to force women's clinics in Texas to close pending ongoing litigation:



Seriously, because he's "worried" about their health. So he thinks they should go to back alley butchers and bleed to death instead.

This whole line is such blatant bullshit I can't believe they don't burst into laughter whenever they try to sell it. He's saying what men have been telling women for millennia: you can believe me or you can believe your lying eyes. (It's for your own good. Now get in there and make my dinner.)

Grrrr.

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Amid all the progress we are still barbarians

by digby

Ian Millhiser on today's death penalty decision authored by a real sick piece of work by the name of Samuel Alito:

At oral arguments, Alito was openly contemptuous of the work of death penalty opponents — many of whom work for companies that manufacture drugs that various states would like to use in their execution protocols. The reason why Oklahoma was in court seeking the ability to use a painkiller of questionable reliability in its executions is because many drug companies have refused to sell their products to states if those states intend to use them to kill a human being. During arguments in this case, Alito labeled this effort a “guerrilla war against the death penalty.”

As a legal matter, it is not at all clear why the actions of drug companies have any relevance whatsoever to a constitutional challenge to the death penalty. Drug companies are private actors, not government actors, so they are free to sell or not to sell whatever they choose so long as they comply with the law. Alito’s opinion, however, effectively punishes these drug companies for their opposition to the death penalty by holding that, should the companies continue to make their more reliable drug unavailable, then executions will just move forward with less reliable painkillers.

They key paragraph in Alito’s opinion is a declaration that, no matter what happens, there must always be a way to execute inmates:

Our decisions in this area have been animated in part by the recognition that because it is settled that capital punishment is constitutional, “[i]t necessarily follows that there must be a [constitutional] means of carrying it out.” And because some risk of pain is inherent in any method of execution, we have held that the Constitution does not require the avoidance of all risk of pain. After all, while most humans wish to die a painless death, many do not have that good fortune. Holding that the Eighth Amendment demands the elimination of essentially all risk of pain would effectively outlaw the death penalty altogether.

Ordinarily, lawsuits claiming that a particular method of punishment is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual limit their focus to a narrow question — whether the specific method used by the state is cruel and unusual or not. With this one paragraph, Alito turns that analysis on its head. Now, there must always be a method of execution available to the state. And if the only method available inflicts cruel and unusual amounts of pain on an inmate, that’s not the Court’s problem.

As a final blow to anti-death penalty advocates, Alito effectively drafts them into the task of determining how their clients should be killed. Alito reaches his conclusion, at least in part, “based on petitioners’ failure to satisfy their burden of establishing that any risk of harm was substantial when compared to a known and available alternative method of execution.” In other words, a lawyer challenging a particular method of execution must name another, alternative method that can be used instead. Needless to say, this places attorneys who have an obligation to represent the interests of their client in a serious ethical bind.

We have a court majority that literally says that the death penalty is inviolate and it doesn't matter how it's done as long as it is done. Not only that it's up to the lawyers who handle death penalty cases to pick which method they want the state to use to kill their clients. It's so sick I can't wrap my mind around it.

I'm going to guess that the only hope for this lies in some application of "religious liberty" in the future in which anyone who isn't a total cretin, from the corporate reps to the lawyers to the public officials, will claim that it violates their religious beliefs to participate in the premeditated killing of a human being who is in custody and presents no threat to them.

And even that probably won't work on the blood-thirsty Alito. But maybe some other willing executioners will be persuaded.

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Casting out Coulter

by digby


I wrote about the weird career of Ann Coulter at Salon today:

Ten years ago, Ann Coulter was featured on the cover of Time magazine with an article entitled “Ms. Right.” At the time she was a very big presence in the political media but the article pushed her into the realm of popular culture; thus, she became more than just a political bomb thrower. She’d always had the looks and the confidence, and now she had the imprimatur of the mainstream media. Coulter became a full-fledged star.

The article caused a tremendous stir. After all, Coulter was among the most flamboyant of the newer, edgier breed of right-wing provocateurs. In 2000, she had won the Media Research Center-presented “Conservative Journalist of the Year” award, and the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute gave her its annual conservative leadership award “for her unfailing dedication to truth, freedom and conservative values and for being an exemplar, in word and deed, of what a true leader is.” It seemed as if she and her incendiary polemics were everywhere, from daily personal appearances on television, her weekly newspaper columns and a series of books that were extremely popular among right-wingers.

From 1998 to 2005, when the magazine cover appeared, she had published a series of books — “High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton,” “Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right,” “Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism,” and a collection of her columns, called “How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must): The World According to Ann Coulter” — all of which were very successful. The theme of these books is obvious from the titles. She was famous for her cleverness in hating and baiting liberals. And in those heady days of conservative apotheosis, with sex scandals, stolen elections, terrorist attacks, unnecessary wars and liberalism on the run as never before, Coulter was the most deliciously vicious of all the haters. Among her famous quotes of the era were:
  • The “backbone of the Democratic Party” is a “typical fat, implacable welfare recipient.”
  • “My libertarian friends are probably getting a little upset now but I think that’s because they never appreciate the benefits of local fascism.”
  • “If you don’t hate Clinton and the people who labored to keep him in office, you don’t love your country.”
  • “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity”
  • “Congress could pass a law tomorrow requiring that all aliens from Arabic countries leave… We should require passports to fly domestically. Passports can be forged, but they can also be checked with the home country in case of any suspicious-looking swarthy males.”
And one of her most memorable (to me at least) was this one:
“We need to execute people like John Walker [Lindh] in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too. Otherwise, they will turn out to be outright traitors,”
Coulter later clarified what she meant;
“When I said we should ‘execute’ John Walker Lindh, I mis-spoke. What I meant to say was ‘We should burn John Walker Lindh alive and televise it on prime-time network TV’. My apologies for any misunderstanding that might have occurred.”
If that reminds you of certain fundamentalists operating today in the Middle East, you wouldn’t be alone.


It goes on to discuss the fact that she has fallen from grace in recent years ...




 
Now *this* is brave

by digby

Right wingers (and some others) are always claiming that Islam is to blame for all the violence in the middle east and elsewhere. And, to be sure, many of these terrorists and extremists think they are following some pre-modern religious instruction. But this is really about human beings, regardless of their religion. And here you see the reality of it played out on that bloody beach in Tunisia:
Images obtained by Sky News showed gunman Seifeddine Rezgui shortly after he began shooting, walking through the surf at Sousse with a Kalashnikov rifle at his side.

Some have been critical of the men shown standing on the beach behind the gunman, described as “horrified onlookers” by the Mail Online, with one commentator saying: “I count nine men standing or walking behind him why didn’t they all attack him?”

But John Yeoman, who was on holiday with his wife at a neighbouring resort when the shooting began, tweeted: “Those in the background formed a human shield to protect another hotel. they are not watching they saved many lives.”

When they flew into Manchester to be repatriated, Mr Yeoman's wife met another holidaymaker who had been on the beach during the shootings.

This man told her that he and his girlfriend were on the beach on Friday when the attack started. A hotel chef came running towards them, telling them to run for their lives.

“He was the one who told them that the line of people they could see ahead of them were staff from the hotel,” Mrs Yeoman said.

“He said to this couple that they were telling the gunman ‘you’ll have to get past us and we’re Muslims’. Obviously I don’t know the exact words but that was pretty much what they were saying.

“They’d actually made a human barricade – ‘you’re not going to get past us, you’ll have to kill us.’"

She said when she then saw the picture in media reports, it seemed obvious that the photographer had captured the moment described by the other holidaymaker.

Mrs Yeoman said the extreme bravery of the staff “makes you have a little more faith in humanity” and disproves any suggestion that Muslims are all violent extremists.

“Everyone seems to think ‘it’s the Muslims, it’s the Muslims’, but it is not, it is not their way,” she said. “There are no words to express how grateful we are to them [the staff].”

Another Briton, Ian Symes, wrote to Mr Yeoman: “I’m with you - was on beach at Palm marina - whilst we were running to hide, hotel staff were running out to help, very brave.”

Now the gun nuts would say they should have all been armed and run out onto the beach spraying bullets. And maybe they would have succeeded in bringing the guy down before he had a chance to hit so many people. Or maybe not. Maybe they would have hit some people themselves. Or each other. More guns, more bullets.

But one thing we do know is that this guy had a gun and regardless of whether or not others had been armed, his determination to kill people meant that some number of people would be killed. Gun proliferation advocates are fine with that. They believe guns are wonderful tools and toys at best and at worst just part of nature, something that exists and which we must embrace lest someone else use them against us. Some of the rest of us think that such lethal weapons are a man-made catastrophe.

But regardless of all that, I think we should all be able to agree that those who formed a human shield to stop that homicidal maniac are indeed very, very brave.

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QOTD: Cruz

by digby

He's very upset:

“The Court injected itself into politics...what a crazy system to have the most important issues of our day decided by unelected lawyers.”

He has a point:

Back in late 2000, Ted Cruz found himself with one of the hottest tickets in town.

As a former clerk to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, Mr. Cruz, a junior aide on George W. Bush’s presidential campaign, had scored a seat inside the Supreme Court for the oral arguments in Bush v. Gore, which would decide the election.

That was completely different, of course.


The problem now is that evangelicals and protestants are being discriminated against because there aren't any of them on the court. It's just a bunch of Jews and Catholics and you know how they are.

There was a time not so long ago that the conservative evangelicals happily allowed the conservative Catholic intelligentsia carry their water for them. After all, there was a long tradition of intellectual religious thought in the Catholic Church that made for good conservative legal cred and so they pushed Alito, Scalia, Roberts, Kennedy and Thomas to the court with the understanding that they would be good on their issues.

Now they feel there is something "different" about them and that the court is just too full of all these big city Catholic and Jewish lawyers. Evangelicals are now victims of discrimination.

You knew that was going to happen, right?

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The Fast Track Battle is not the TPP War

by Gaius Publius


"This is your captain speaking. Do not abandon ship."


It would be easy to be deflated after the recent loss of the Fast Track battle. Our 2008 Democratic hero and Corporatist in Chief has managed to shove a Fast Track bill down congressional throats — which were, I must say, mainly eager recipients.

But the battle is not the war, as explained above, and it's always true that if you fail to fight to the end, you will always lose. On the other hand, this is what sometimes happens when you do play hard to the end:


On the last play of the game, Auburn returned a missed field goal 100 yards to upset number one Alabama 34-28 in the 2013 Iron Bowl.


There's no way they win if the Auburn players are checked out during that field goal attempt.

Meteor Blades, keeper of the progressive flame at Daily Kos these days, has this to say (my emphasis throughout):
Some progressives threw up their hands Tuesday after the Senate voted for closing debate on fast-track trade legislation. It's all over, they said: The nearly completed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is certain to pass now.

Not so fast.

Although the Senate will undoubtedly approve fast-track legislation today—the trade promotion authority bill only needs 51 votes—the despair and talk of surrender on the TPP shouldn't be on anyone's agenda. Certainly, it's true that blocking that agreement will be exceedingly tough. But it is by no means impossible.
As evidence, he quotes George Zornick in The Nation, who lists a number of reasons to be optimistic that TPP could fail, especially in the House. Here's the schedule and the possibilities:
Sometime in the late summer or early fall, the Obama administration will finally release the full TPP text, after the president signs it. After 90 days, Congress can vote on it.

Without question, fast track makes the TPP much more likely to pass. No amendments can gum up the process or chase off support, and we already can easily see there are 50 votes in the Senate based on the fast-track votes. But the House remains no sure thing for the TPP. Fast track twice passed by only two votes.

When the TPP actually comes out, there will be some really ugly details that are likely to enrage liberals and solidify opposition among Democrats. For months the White House has been dodging some criticisms of the TPP by stressing that the text isn’t final, but that will no longer be an option.

The unknown details of the TPP, incidentally, are what Hillary Clinton cites for not yet having an official position on the trade deal. If the Democrat base gets truly riled up when the details do come out, she may end up opposing the deal. This would give cover for every congressional Democrat to do the same.

Members of the House will also be in the thick of their reelection campaign this fall, and increased progressive activism and actual primary challengers will no doubt make a TPP vote even harder. ...
Again, there's more at the link.

At the risk of overdoing the sports metaphors, the only way to win is to play. And the only way to play is — block to the whistle, tackle to the ground, play to the end of the game. This game is not over.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here. My TPP archive here.)

GP



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Great balls of jello

by Tom Sullivan

Frank Rich takes aim at the gutlessness of the GOP's 2016 presidential hopefuls:

Say this about the Old Confederacy: At least its leaders had the courage of their own bad convictions. Today’s neo-Confederate GOP politicians, vying for primary votes in Dixie 150 years after Appomattox, proved themselves to be laughable cowards. Confronted with the simplest of questions – should a state capitol display a flag that stands for slavery, racism, and treason? – they hedged (all of them), spouted gibberish (Ted Cruz), or went into hiding (Rand Paul). If they’d been the Rebel generals in the Civil War, it would have been over in a week.

This was, Rich writes, "the second time in three months we’ve seen GOP presidential contenders unwilling to stand up to the unreconstructed bigots still infesting their party’s base." In April, they had caved or hedged over “religious freedom” bills passed to sanction discrimination against gay families. They then retreated faster than Lee at Gettysburg after civil rights groups and the NCAA condemned Indiana's version, and influential CEOs objected to the states dissing their customers.

Seems like only yesterday that Gov. Bobby Jindal and his legislative tigers were lying down like the Siegfried and Roy cats before the once enfant terrible, Grover Norquist. They wrote asking his and Americans for Tax Reform's permission to sorta kinda raise state taxes after Republican economic dogma had driven Louisiana's balance sheet (like Kansas' before it) deep into the red.*

But boy howdy, whichever of these bowls of jello survives being a debate contestant on the RNC's "Who Wants To Be The Next War President," you can be sure we will be treated to months of tough-sounding ads telling us that only he (it will be a he) has the balls to protect Uh-murca from the jihadis' long, curved knives.

* Meanwhile in Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton's Democratic leadership led the state to the top of CNBC's list of best states for business in 2015.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

 
Service cats

by digby


They have a job to do and they do it well:

Like the characters played by the actor who inspired his name, Pacino was no scaredy cat. The brown tabby had prowled the streets of Los Angeles, a drifter scraping for his next meal.

After the cat was turned in at an L.A. County animal services shelter, there was little hope that Pacino would be adopted. He was too distrustful, too fierce, too mean.

Then Melya Kaplan came along, looking for a cat with grit, street smarts and attitude.

Several hours after the customers and merchants have gone home and the lights are dim, the cats start their patrol in the Los Angeles Flower Market June 25, 2015. The Working Cats program is using unsocialized "feral" cats in a program to keep rodents away from the market.

The Working Cats program is using community cats in a program to rid the Los Angeles Flower Market of rodents. The cats dont kill the rodents they manage to repel them by their scent.
The 10-pound, 6-ounce cat would become the nighttime warden at the Original L.A. Flower Market, making sure rodents and other vermin didn't get out of hand. He's part of a group of tough cats recruited by an animal rights nonprofit to find homes in places that could use their hard-scrabble qualities. Along with another cat named DeNiro, Pacino would prowl the Italian side of the flower market. Of course.

"Mother Nature doesn't make mistakes," said Kaplan, executive director of Voice for the Animals. "We probably just haven't found a purpose for it yet."

As part of the Working Cats program, street cats like Pacino are rescued from animal shelters and sent to locations ranging from police stations, like the LAPD's Wilshire and Foothill divisions, to private homes, businesses and schools. Over the years, the program has placed about 500 cats in nearly 50 locations.

Kaplan, a frequent customer of the market, developed the program in 1999 when Carl Jones, a market employee, told her about the rats in the workplace. Exterminators would spray the warehouse with poison, but the vermin remained. Every so often, a customer would spot a pair of beady eyes hidden in the row of flowers.

"Anytime you heard a customer scream, you generally knew the rats were to blame. And then I had to stop what I was doing and go chase the little thing away," said Jones, who has worked at the market for 15 years. "It definitely wasn't the highlight of my job."

Scott Yamabe, executive vice president of the Original L.A Flower Market, said the facility had battled rats since the beginning of the 20th century. All kinds of things were tried to get rid of the rats, but the results were always the same: nibbled-on flowers.

"The rodents even chewed through the wooden refrigerator doors where we kept the flowers," said Yamabe. "Those rats were too smart. We really needed help."

About 15 years ago, Kaplan made a proposition to Yamabe. She would deliver three cats to the flower market to get rid of the rats. And if they could not take care of the rodents, she would take them back.

The market currently has 15 cats, and Jones and Yamabe said they do not see any rats.

Kaplan attributes the program's success to the simple fact that adding a predator to an environment will scare away its prey. Once rodents smell a cat on the prowl, they go somewhere else, she said.

"It's not anything new. People used to have barn cats or church cats to keep out rodents," Kaplan said. "We just brought [it] to the city, and it seems to be really working."

There are no rats where I live, that's for sure:

 



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