If you think it's too early to think about the next presidential race, take note: This teabaggy-funded ad calling Virginia Governor (and probable 2016 Republican presidential candidate) Bob McDonnell a tax-raising piece of shit is already on the air in Iowa.
This is, of course, bad news for Republicans. If they're going to have to appease both the hyper-conservative wing of the party in 2016 while also trying to court women and minorities, they're gonna have a bad time.
It looks like Jeb Bush's opinions on immigration are starting a battle between Jeb Bush and some guy named Jeb Bush. ThinkProgress says:
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) told MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Tuesday that he would support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants “if you can craft that in law where you can have a path to citizenship where there isn’t an incentive for people to come illegally” — a position that puts him at odds with his new book, out today from Simon & Schuster.
In Immigration Wars, co-authored with immigration lawyer Clint Bolick, Bush agues that denying a path to citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrations is “absolutely vital to the integrity of our immigration system that actions have consequences.” Those who enter the country illegally, Bush contends, should “start the process to earn permanent legal residency” after pleading guilty to breaking the law and paying “applicable fines or perform community service.” But they should not have access to “the cherished fruits of citizenship”
The poor bastard Romneyed too early! Everybody knows you don't Romney until after you've won a bunch of states in the Republican primary. Then, once you're the candidate, you switch your position to something that sounds a little more reasonable. Let's see how Jeb handles this one. Maybe he'll go Full Romney and talk up his severely conservative views in the next couple of weeks.
The $85 billion in automatic federal spending cuts that began last week will make a superficial scratch in corporate profits (only about 1 percent), the New York Times reports this morning, but the cuts are expected to cost about 700,000 American jobs. This is good news for Republicans. The so-called sequestration more or less just keeps the United States on the same path we've been on—the path of the GOP's agenda. It's a path that lifted the stock market near record highs last week, and now the country's largest corporations, despite a recession that devastated workers and persists in the form of high unemployment, are scooping up their largest profits in decades:
As a percentage of national income, corporate profits stood at 14.2 percent in the third quarter of 2012, the largest share at any time since 1950, while the portion of income that went to employees was 61.7 percent, near its lowest point since 1966. In recent years, the shift has accelerated during the slow recovery that followed the financial crisis and ensuing recession of 2008 and 2009, said Dean Maki, chief United States economist at Barclays.
Corporate earnings have risen at an annualized rate of 20.1 percent since the end of 2008, he said, but disposable income inched ahead by 1.4 percent annually over the same period, after adjusting for inflation.
“There hasn’t been a period in the last 50 years where these trends have been so pronounced,” Mr. Maki said.
The GOP needs the sequestration. Republicans can no longer mobilize their base by opposing gay marriage, by thwarting attempts to protect women, or by using immigrants as their whipping boy—at least, not like they used to with a national audience—so the party is ostensibly united around fiscal austerity. But that's not what this is about. In the hearts of their leaders, theirs is the party of corporate profits and neutering the power of workers, particularly the poorest workers, and now they hatch two birds with one egg. And all they had to do is do what they do best: nothing.
Andrew swooned, but Charles Pierce isn't the least bit impressed by the pro-equality amicus brief that has now been signed more than one hundred "prominent Republicans," as every news report describes them. Among the signers: Jon Huntsman, Christine Todd Whitman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Meg Whitman, William Weld, David A. Stockman, and James B. Comey. Says Pierce:
Seriously, is there one person on that list of serious influence in the Republican party, and it's not Huntsman, god knows, who is a person of serious influence only in the Republican party that exists in the heads of the people in various green rooms. Bill Weld, god love him, has been out of public life since 1996 and Jane Swift wasn't a "well-known" Republican in Massachusetts even when she was governor. Christine Todd Whitman is an influential Republican? Since when? You might as well be talking about William Seward.
But the coverage of the brief is more interesting than the brief itself because it is another item in the continuing attempt by the elite political media to find a sane Republican party out there somewhere, struggling to be born. Jon Huntsman changes his mind on marriage equality! Chris Christie is Not Invited to CPAC! (Of course, a real sign of Republican reform would be if influential Republicans en masse decided to reject invitations to share the podium with the likes of Allen West.) The Very Fact Of Marco Rubio! The ringworm in the whole business is to be found deep in the bowels of the Times story, right after they summon up the shade of Jane Swift.
"...suggests that once Republicans are out of public life they feel freer to speak out against the party's official platform, which calls for amending the Constitution to define marriage as "the union of one man and one woman."
No duh, as the kidz say. You can support marriage equality as a Republican as long as you're not presently running for office as a Republican, which rather mitigates against your being able to change the nature of a political party, the putative job of which is to elect people to office in order to carry out certain policies.
As Nathan mentioned in GMN, with oral arguments coming up next month, an interesting "friend of the court" brief arrives:
Dozens of prominent Republicans — including top advisers to former President George W. Bush, four former governors and two members of Congress — have signed a legal brief arguing that gay people have a constitutional right to marry, a position that amounts to a direct challenge to Speaker John A. Boehner and reflects the civil war in the party since the November election.
Normally these briefs don't matter that much. But the publisher of Scotusblog tells the New York Times that this one “has the potential to break through and make a real difference.”
The Oregon House of Representatives has given a big thumbs-up to the Columbia River Crossing bridge, the proposed and intensely controversial new Interstate 5 bridge connecting Oregon to Washington.
Earlier today, lawmakers voted 45-11 to approve HB 2800, a bill that would allow the sale of $450 million in bonds (to be matched by the state of Washington) for the CRC. The highway project is meant to replace two very old I-5 bridges that, yes, won’t hold up in a major earthquake and really need to be replaced. But $450 million is only a fraction of the $3.4 billion the project is expected to need, and approving state funding probably won’t be the end of this story.
If you’ve followed the winding and sometimes dramatic tale of the CRC, you know the project has been plagued with many problems—including fights over how to fund the damn thing, over light rail, over how many lanes the bridge should have, whether the initial design was too ostentatious, and, my personal favorite, the possibility that the current design (which looks like it was rendered by a humorless Soviet), is not actually tall enough for commercial ships to pass under.
Which is perhaps why a statement put out by the Office of the House Speaker announcing the passage of HB 2800, doesn’t once mention the CRC by name. Instead it touts the bill, and the bridge it enables, as a way to “spur job growth.” Like consultants maybe?
The bill is expected to go to the Senate as soon as early next month.
The Portland Business Alliance is asking Salem for permission to return to the bad old days of Portland's judiciary-rejected sit-lie law—an unconstitutional ordinance that banned otherwise law-abiding people from sitting and lying down or generally not-shopping on the city's sidewalks.
A bill introduced under the auspices of the House Judiciary Committee earlier this week would make it so state protections on free speech wouldn't pre-empt cities' right to limit how sidewalks are used. Judge Stephen Bushong, when he cast down sit-lie in 2009, said at the time that a local ban on conduct permitted under state law would run afoul of the Oregon Constitution.
"I ruled that [the sit-lie law] is preempted by state law," says Bushong. "It prohibits conduct permitted by state law, and that's not permitted under article 11, section two of our Oregon Constitution."
Normally, business groups like the PBA love the concept of pre-emption. It's how they keep progressive majorities in places like Multnomah County from passing things like cigarette taxes and real estate transfer taxes and local sales taxes and on and on. But after nearly three years of a slow burn over failing to sweep our sidewalks of people they claim keep suburban shoppers from dropping coin at downtown stores, suddenly, in this one case, pre-emption has become a terrible burden preventing a righteous amount of urban cleansing.
Nothing in the criminal or general law of the state, other than a limitation by express provision, shall be construed to preempt a city's authority to control or regulate, through a civil municipal ordinance or administrative regulation, the use of the sidewalks within the city.
Just in time for this week's story on a bill by State Senator Ginny Burdick that would ban high-capacity ammo clips in Oregon—complete with quotes from Burdick calling it "good policy," the Portland Democrat has been told it won't be happening this legislative session.
The Oregonian reported today that Burdick's bill on ammo will join another bill seeking a state assault weapon ban in legislative committee limbo. Read the story in here.
House Judiciary Chairman Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, who is another key figure in the gun-control debate, said he doesn't plan to take up Burdick's legislation or another bill in the House that would bar the sale of semi-automatic military-style rifles often known as assault weapons.
"I personally think that the high-capacity magazines and semi-automatic weapon issues need to be done at the federal level," said Prozanski.
Burdick does have other gun control bills that are moving forward, including a bill banning people with concealed handgun permits from bringing guns onto school grounds. The O's story also says some other gun legislation is still on track, including bills that would strengthen existing background check requirements, ban guns in the Capitol, and require people doing live-fire training to obtain a concealed handgun permit.
I've left a message with Burdick seeking comment and will update if and when I hear back.
President Obama on Tuesday painted a dire picture of federal government operations across the United States should automatic budget cuts hit on March 1: F.B.I. agents furloughed, criminals released, flights delayed, teachers and police officers laid off and parents frantic to find a place for children locked out of day care centers.
However! As Reuters and others have pointed out, these scary outcomes won't all fall on Americans' heads at once. (Less like a "meat cleaver," as Reuters puts it, and more like a "rolling" blackout of government services.)
Which definitely means Congressional leaders should keep sitting on their hands and let the sequester go ahead and happen!
Over the weekend, the New Republic published a great long essay about the history of the Republican Party and white people. It also explains why the Republican Party isn't about to get any less white. You should go read the whole thing.
If you haven't already heard, Karl Rove is preparing to drum the Teabaggers out of the Republican Party.
The resulting battle would pit two well-funded factions of the conservative base against one another in a set of expensive primaries that could drain resources, produce weakened nominees and set back the GOP’s chances to retake the Senate and protect its House majority. And it would further complicate already tricky efforts to carefully reposition the GOP on hot-button issues like immigration, gun control and fiscal policy.
The way I see it, Democrats win either way: If Rove wins, moderates might be able to join the Republican Party again, which means Democrats in Congress might be able to coerce some of them to their side on certain votes. If the Tea Party wins, the Republican Party will keep getting more and more unreasonable until nobody in their right mind would vote for them. But who should I bet on?
It shouldn't be much of a surprise to regular readers, really, that I'm enjoying the hell out of Netflix's House of Cards. It's a political show about the ugly business of Washington DC, starring (and, in a weird, Shakespearean way, hosted by) a duplicitous snake, a politician's politician. What's more, the first two episodes are directed by David Fincher, and the rest of the series takes its cool design sense from Fincher's toolbox. So you have an unsentimental story about politics at its absolute worst, with a great visual sense, strong female characters, and a very interesting power dynamic between the protagonist and his wife. I couldn't look away if I tried.
I don't think I'd be able to critique House of Cards because I'm such a fan of it. Sure, the politics is a little dumbed down—that's fiction at work—and the dialogue can be a little on-the-nose. But the reporters and politicians in House of Cards are all fascinating characters, and the series, whose first season has just been released in one huge lump, is such a great exercise in plot. I haven't seen the British TV series or read the novels that House of Cards is adapted from, but I can still tell that this is a brilliant adaptation; it feels wholly American. I can't imagine what the British version is like, because it's so inextricably tied to the American political system.
My favorite thing about House of Cards is that it feels like the anti-West Wing. Don't get me wrong—I loved The West Wing* for its optimism and love of wonky policy chatter. But Kevin Spacey's Francis Underwood feels like the flip side of President Jed Bartlet, and it the reality of Washington D.C. falls almost exactly between the smarmy Machiavellian plots of House of Cards and the shining hope of The West Wing. In Wing, laws are passed because they're for the greater good. In Cards, they're passed to advance a personal agenda. There's a little bit of truth to both, and if you blend the two shows together, the lights and darks combine to form what could be considered a realistic portrait.
* Well, to be clear: I love the first three seasons and the final season of The West Wing. Everything else is barely watchable television.
Last week GOP party strategists met at a former slave plantation in Williamsburg, Virginia, to work on their "outreach to minority communities." While at the slave plantation the new head of the National Republican Congressional Committee pledged to "avoid the rhetorical missteps that have undermined its support among minority groups."
Yesterday the former executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party watched the Superbowl:
So sayeth Lamar Alexander, Republican Senator of Tennessee:
As The Jed Report at DailyKos notes, "To repeat, those words came from the lips of a United States Senator. A Republican United States Senator, to be precise. Supposedly, he's one of the brightest bulbs in the Senate Republican conference. The first President Bush thought he was so smart that he appointed him to be Secretary of Education for the entire nation."
And as Sherman Alexie—celebrated author—Tweeted, "Blaming video games for gun violence is like blaming Monopoly for insider trading and slum lords."
Did you miss the inauguration on Monday? NOT TO WORRY! The geniuses at Bad Lip Reading recorded it for you on their DVR, and now you can see and hear what Barack Obama (with a special bad lip reading of Beyonce's "Star Spangled Banner") really said. President Obama? You are so right. "Romance is deception!"
I don't know whether I should be totally outraged or I should be sending this Republican legislator a thank-you note:
A Republican lawmaker in New Mexico introduced a bill on Wednesday that would legally require victims of rape to carry their pregnancies to term in order to use the fetus as evidence for a sexual assault trial. House Bill 206, introduced by state Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R), would charge a rape victim who ended her pregnancy with a third-degree felony for "tampering with evidence."
“Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime," the bill says.
Third-degree felonies in New Mexico carry a sentence of up to three years in prison.
Yesterday, Blogtown readers said they would hugely prefer a President Hillary Clinton to a President Joe Biden.
But then—noting that President Obama got to where he is after only one term in the Senate—another interesting choice emerged: President Clinton or President Warren?
So, another round of early voting:
Clearly it's not too early to be discussing this:
Biden's private swearing-in ceremony on Sunday was attended by recently elected New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, someone who would be a potent ally in the state's first-in-the-nation primary. Attendees at a Sunday afternoon reception at the vice president's residence at the Naval Observatory said they noticed a lot of party activists from early voting states like New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina.
So, let us begin the early voting:
Hat tips to Mattyrab for capturing and Gawker for making a GIF out of the most awesome moment from today's inauguration, Michelle Obama's eyes nearly rolling out of her head after hearing what is most assuredly incredibly stupid words dribbling from House Speaker John Boehner's stupid mouth.
NOW IT'S UP TO YOU TO CAPTION IT! What's being said in the GIF above? Put your best guess in the comments below!
Who would have seen it coming that the accessory choices of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia would be the subject of more attention than Michelle's Reed Krakoff inauguration dress? Lo and behold, the Twitters are atwitter about this:
It is probably some weird academic/judge-y/Skulls and Crossbones type shit, but nobody can seem to say for sure. Other theories include "Olympic beret," some kind of shout-out to Renaissance painters/Vatican palace guards, or "Inquisition headgear." Whatever the case, it will probably have a Twitter account of its own by the end of the day.
That was the first time a gay bar was name checked during a presidential inaugural speech, right? Can I get a fact check here?
... and it is to somehow get Joe Biden, Vice President of the United States, to record the audiobook version of The President of Vice, the Onion's just-released Kindle single and a "scandalous memoir" charting how "Diamond" Joe Biden became the "ultimate wingman to the leader of the free world." The first few lines:
Hombre, you've just done Uncle Joe a real solid buying this book. I ain't the kind of guy who forgets his debts. Next time we meet there's a tallboy of ice cold Beast on me. And if you're a lady, I know a few tricks to repay you with interest, if you catch my drift.
Look, I'm not gonna lie to you guys: Uncle Joe's on easy street with his job as Vice President, but he's writing this book because he needs the scratch. And I mean really needs the scratch. See, I got myself into a little bit of trouble with some guys I had a little business arrangement with, a couple of bookies named Taz and Jorge. A small matter of an unpaid gambling debt on a prizefight or two.
Ah. Literature! The A.V. Club says Diamond Joe's doing a Reddit AMA this afternoon too, so there you go. Happy Diamond Joe Day, everybody.
See, this is how the political game is played. President Barack Obama proposes more sweeping gun control regulations, and the NRA ends up giving ground on the notion of closing the "gun show loophole":
The president of the National Rifle Association (NRA) on Thursday said that the organization was “generally supportive” of strong background checks on firearm purchasers.
“We want to see the proposal, but as a general proposition, the NRA has been very supportive of doing background checks on purchasers through the instant system and secondly of adding the potentially violently mentally ill to the database,” said NRA chief David Keene in an interview with “CBS This Morning.”
There had been whispers just a few days ago, that President Obama would not seek to reinstate the ban on assault weapons. Had he not, no doubt the NRA would be sounding less conciliatory on mandatory background checks for all gun purchases—a proposal a new CBS poll shows that 92 percent of Americans support.
The assault weapons ban will no doubt be a tough fight in Congress, but thanks in part to its inclusion in the president's proposal, closing the gun show loophole appears all but done. Politics!
The LA Times has this riveting article today about a case in Alaska, where conservatives formed a right-wing terrorist organization that wanted to kill judges and other government workers. The gruff, hard-talking military surplus store owner in their midst helped the FBI bust the crew before any part of their plan took place.
At the head of the militia was Schaeffer Cox, a young politico who was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison. The only question now is whether the military surplus seller, Bill Fulton, will be played by Robert Duvall, Christoph Waltz, or William H. Macy in the movie version of his life.
From the LA Times:
In another life, William Fulton was "Drop Zone Bill," a bounty hunter who ran a military surplus store in Anchorage. You need a tactical vest? A bayonet that would clip neatly onto an M-4? Bill Fulton was your man.
"We do bad things to bad people," his company jackets said. ...
Fulton and the other FBI informant, former drug runner J.R. Olson, offered the FBI an inside look at a group that seemed to be moving from right-wing, antigovernment rants — perfectly legal under the 1st Amendment — to something more dangerous. Cox had been boasting that his militia planned to set up common-law courts that would try people under principles they saw as more faithful to the U.S. Constitution. Those found guilty of serious offenses could be hanged or sold into slavery.
As someone who is terrified of guns, I am totally in favor of Gun Appreciation Day. In fact, I think every day should be Gun Appreciation Day.
But appreciating guns is the opposite of telling Obama "Hands Off My Guns!"—as the current Gun Appreciation Day aims to do. Appreciating guns should mean appreciating the way they're designed and the way they can easily blow the head off of someone you love.
This Thanksgiving, I shot a gun for the first time in my life. I spent Thanksgiving at my boyfriend's family's house and as sort of a rite-of-passage-bonding-ritual and an intentional step to overcome my repulsion to firearms, I asked my boyfriend's dad to take me out to the shooting range. Now here is a man who appreciates his guns. Before we went out to the range, my boyfriend's dad sat me down at the kitchen table and brought out the rifle he received for his eighth birthday and now stores unloaded in a gun safe. With breakfast cleared, he launched into a lengthy gun workshop that centered on one thing: safety. By the time we went out to the range, far away from all other humans, I knew how each piece of the gun worked and how they can be so effectively deadly. After shooting his rifle (turns out I'm a pretty good shot, by the way), I had a deeper appreciation for the danger guns present.
If gun-rights advocates are serious about appreciating guns, they should be against a laissez-faire approach to their ownership. They should understand that the only people who should have guns are people who are extremely devoted to storing, caring for, and using their guns in the utmost safest way possible. That means supporting regulations on who can buy guns and how they can be carried. Gun Appreciation Day should be a day for gun owners to rally in favor of background checks, mandatory waiting periods, and gun registration procedures at least as serious as those for owning a car. The "hands off!" approach will only continue our current epidemic of tragedy.
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