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Water Cooler – Cross the Speaker? Loose Your District

6:02 pm in jerks by Bill Egnor

Rep. Jim Jordan

Rep. Jim Jordan by republicanconference (waving good bye to his career)

There is one thing that Republicans do better than Democrats by a margin a mile wide. It is at once the source of their disproportionate power and the reason that they can’t be trusted with government. That is enforce discipline. If Democrats could be one tenth as disciplined as the Republicans, the world would be a very different place.

What has me singing the praises (and dangers) of Republican inter-party discipline? Oh nothing much, just the saga of Jim Jordan.

Rep. Jordan is from Ohio, in fact his district runs along side Speak Boehner. If the GOP Rep’s name seems familiar to you, that is because he has been in the news this week. You see he was the guy who, after the Speaker announced his plan, ran right out to the press and said:

I am confident that that Speaker does not have 218 votes at this time”

Which could only be seen as undermining the Orange Man From Ohio. But it gets better; Jordan is the Chair of the Republican Study Committee, the ultra-right wing of the Republican House caucus. It was as staffer for this group that got caught having sent out e-mails to conservative groups asking them to whip against the bill.

This pretty much commits the ultimate sin among Republicans, disloyalty. And now Jordan is going to pay for that sin. The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that Ohio State Party Republicans are at once pissed off and pleased with these events. You see, Ohio lost to Congressional seats and after sticking to Dennis Kucinich, they still needed to cut up another district. Guess who just went to the front of the line?

You got it in one! Jim Jordan. Take a look at these to quotes from separate anonymous Republicans:

“Jim Jordan’s boneheadedness has kind of informed everybody’s thinking,” said one of the sources, both of whom spoke only on condition of anonymity. “The easiest option for everybody has presented itself.”

And

“He doesn’t know it, but he solved a problem for Republican line-drawers by (figuratively) standing up and saying, ‘I’m a jerk and I deserve to be punished,’ ” said one of the sources.

That is pretty cut and dried, even for unnamed sources. But what really made me laugh (okay, laugh more) was the Speakers statement about all of this:

“Jim Jordan and I may not always agree on strategy, but we are friends and allies, and the word retribution is not in my vocabulary,” Boehner said. “I look forward to continuing to serve with him in the U.S. House after the redistricting process in Ohio is complete.

Just one question, if retribution is not in Rep. Boehner’s vocabulary, did he have to look it up?
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Water Cooler – Club for Growth’s Chocola – Don’t Vote for Hybrid McConnell

5:28 pm in banality of evil, jerks by Bill Egnor

Count Chocula, what have they done to you!?

Count Chocula, what have they done to you!? by phil dokas

I’ve written a lot about the fact that Democrats have a hard row to hoe in the debt ceiling negotiation in that they don’t have rational actors to negotiation with. To be fair to the Republicans (and the gods know I hate to be fair to Republicans) it is not just the yahoos inside their caucus that are nuts, there are the outside groups as well.

 

It seems that the (Hair) Club for Growth is actually pushing Republicans to vote against the only plan that seems to have any chance a this point, the “Hybrid McConnell”. Now you all being rational and informed folks understand what that means, that’s right the Club for Growth is actually telling Republicans to hold out for a default.

Now, it seems to me that they have just abandoned their name, after all there will not be growth if we default on our debt, in fact there will be the opposite of it.

What they want instead is the crazed “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan, listen to what (H)CfG president Chris Chocola had to say today, from the article at TMP:

“Cut, Cap, and Balance will fix our fiscal mess. The McConnell-Reid plan does not,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola in a statement accompanying an alert that these votes will be counted on the group’s scorecard. “McConnell-Reid simply punts our budget problem further down the road and is everything that’s wrong with Washington. Congress has proven that they are unable to balance the budget without reform. Cut, Cap and Balance is the only plan that permanently handcuffs politicians from spending more money than they take in.”

Now Count Chocola is not just some random nut. He is the president of a group that has exactly no qualms about supporting far right candidates against sitting Republicans. It was their own Pat Toomey that ran Arlen Specter out of the Republican Party by being so far to his right as to make the so-called moderate Republican look like Noam Chomsky (sorry Noam).

When the Count speaks, Republicans tend to listen. After all it one thing for a bunch of dirty hippies to tell you what you should be doing, but when the guy who runs the group which has been instrumental in purging your party of any moderate voice tells you that if you vote rationally on an issue it will count against you on their score card, well you have to think twice if this is the issue you want to end your political career over.

Personally, this seems like the one. We have seen a slow break with Grover Norquist on raising revenues by some Republican Senators. Given that if we don’t raise the debt ceiling the consquences are going to be dire for everyone, this is probably the time to get a back bone.

But beyond that there is this meme that you are going to hear a lot of over the next week, namely that politicians have proved they can’t be trusted to curb spending so we need to in the words of Count Chocola “handcuff them permanently”. I don’t know about you but this would make me pretty mad if I were serving in the Congress.
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Wall St. Journal Columnist Bashes Food Stamp Program, Just for Fun

5:48 am in jerks by Bill Egnor

Food Stamps

Food Stamps by NCReedplayer


There is a concept in business that you should manage exceptions not manage to the exceptions. Basically it means that if you have a couple of minor problems with a process you should deal with the people making the problems rather than make a policy that is so restrictive that, while preventing this problem, encumbers everyone who is involved in the process so shackled that it reduces output, innovation and efficiency.

When it comes to public policy, Republicans can’t seem to grasp this idea. There is a good example of this in Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal. James Bovard is a “Pox on both your houses” libertarian who likes to point out problems without viable solutions.

Yesterday he took to his roost at the WSJ and cawed out a column about the abuses of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which used to be called Food Stamps. Mr. Bovard gives several examples of abuse and fraud in the program that currently helps 44 million Americans feed themselves.

He makes the argument that the Obama Administration’s decision not to spend a lot of time and money on fraud enforcement is a major problem. Or more correctly he just complains. Here is part of what he had to say:

The Obama administration is far more enthusiastic about boosting food-stamp enrollment than about preventing fraud. Thanks in part to vigorous federally funded campaigns by nonprofit groups, the government’s AmericaCorps service program, and other organizations urging people to accept government handouts, the number of food-stamp recipients has soared to 44 million from 26 million in 2007, and costs have more than doubled to $77 billion from $33 billion.

The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service now has only 40 inspectors to oversee almost 200,000 merchants that accept food stamps nationwide. The Government Accountability Office reported last summer that retailers who traffic illegally in food stamps by redeeming stamps for cash or alcohol or other prohibited items “are less likely to face criminal penalties or prosecution” than in earlier years.

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Sen. Kent Conrad Joins The Republican Hostage Takers

5:35 am in jerks by Bill Egnor

Kent Conrad - Caricature

Kent Conrad - Caricature by DonkeyHotey


What the Hell is Sen. Kent Conrad smoking? And why it is that he won’t share (c’mon, Senator, don’t bogart that doobie!)? In today’s Washington Post Sen. Conrad enables the hostage taking of the Republican Party by saying that he does not think that the two trillion in budget cuts that the Administration is talking about is enough.

Worse, the Senior Dufus from North Dakota is actually tying these cuts to the Republican threat of not raising our debt ceiling. But don’t take my word for, here is a quote:

Conrad said he would agree to raise the debt limit for no longer than six months without a more serious effort to reduce future borrowing. And he told reporters that he is recruiting like-minded senators to “send a very clear message that some of us are not going to vote for a long-term extension of the debt limit unless there is a credible plan” to reduce borrowing.

This is not the first time that that Conserva-Dem has tried to hijack the raising of the debt limit ceiling. He was instrumental when we had a 59 seat majority in the Senate for holding up the last round of debt ceiling increase. At the time he rounded up 12 Senators and insisted on the creation of the Simpson Bowels Cat Food Commission as the price for their votes.

What makes me nuts about this whole thing is that it has no basis in economic reality. Yes our debt is high, we have been in the worst economic downturn (major recession plus an anemic recovery) that the nation has seen in 80 years, pretty much the life time of the majority of the nation, this tends to lead to higher debt.
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Rank Bigot Pandering: John McCain Claims Wallow Fire Started By Informal Immigrants

5:31 am in jerks by Bill Egnor

John McCain - Caricature

John McCain - Caricature by DonkeyHotey

It is more than a little sad to see what has become of the so-called “reasonable” Republicans in the days of the Teahadists. Way back in the 2008 campaign Sen. John McCain (cloud-yeller, AZ) was on of the folks who was telling his party and the Right wing talkers that they should not be bashing immigrants.

He was a key supporter of the 2007 comprehensive immigration reform bill along with Sen. John Kerry. But now that he has had to pander his way through re-election to the Senate it seems that Sen. McCain is finding informal immigrant bashing to be a fine field to plow.

This weekend, after touring the Wallow fire (which has burned more than ½ million acres in Arizona) Sen. McCain held a press conference where he claimed:

There is substantial evidence that some of these fires are caused by people who have crossed our border illegally,”

Snip

They have set fires because they signal others, they have set fires to keep warm, and they have set fires in order to divert law enforcement agents and agencies from them,” McCain said. “The answer to that part of the problem is to get a secure border.”

McCain did not provide any evidence to support his claim, however.

The last part is, of course, the most important. While the Forrest Service says that this fire stared from human sources there is nothing other than supposition connecting the Wallow fire in any fashion with informal immigrants. Now if one wants to be charitable you could accept that the fact that there are illegal boarder crossings in AZ and these folks might set a fire to keep warm or what ever and then it might get out of control.

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Sen. McConnell Is Afraid, He Wants KY Terror Suspects Transferred To Guantanamo Bay

5:42 am in jerks by Bill Egnor

The Kentucky Crying Turtle, Mitch McConnell

The Kentucky Crying Turtle, Mitch McConnell by DonkeyHotey

There are a lot of problems without the United States military tribunal system. Not the least of which is that we have set a separate track for some prosecutions when it comes to terrorism and terrorism related crimes. This leads to a confusion of effort but also risks the expansion of our gulag in Cuba.

Take the example of two men who were arrested in Kentucky. Waad Alwan and Mohanad Hammadi, two Iraqi men arrested in May on charges of trying to send Stinger missiles and other weapons to Al Qaeda related insurgents in Iraq. Both men were part of the refugee program that has allowed 56,000 Iraqi’s into the United States.

Mr. Alwan was, apparently, an insurgent himself who came to the U.S. with the intention of getting out of Iraq, where he was wanted, and gaining a U.S. passport which would allow him a much greater freedom of travel world wide.

He had been under investigation by the FBI since sometime in 2009. The details are sketchy but he had been working with an FBI informant who gave him weapons to ship to Iraq with the express intent of attacking Americans there.

All of this is pretty standard for anti-terror cases but it is when we get people like Sen. Mitch “Box-Turtle” McConnell involved that we see the perils of our “two track” justice system in regards to terrorism. The Senate Minority Leader is loudly saying that he wants the two men transferred from Federal custody to Guantanamo Bay.

Here is part of what he said, from the Courier-Journal article:

In a Senate floor speech, McConnell said he wanted to “get these men out of Kentucky.”

“Send them to Guantanamo where they belong,” the Kentucky Republican said. “Get these terrorists out of the civilian (court) system — and out of our backyards. And give them the justice they deserve.”

There are a lot of problems that that single sentence. First off it is hard to understand how a court system that is designed to let evidence that would never see the light of day in Article III courts be admissible is going to be any kind justice. (continued…)
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Straight Privilege – Second Lesbian Blogger Outed As Man

4:50 am in jerks by Bill Egnor

Gay Pride New York 2008 / 20080629.10D.49816 / SML

Gay Pride New York 2008 / 20080629.10D.49816 / SML by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML

Okay, short, and not so sweet. In less than a week two supposedly gay women have turned out to be middle aged white men. This is tragic for a lot of reasons. I can understand the fun and power of writing as someone else, hell for three years I wrote in the voice a talking dog so I do get it. The thing is if you are a guy, stop freaking writing as a woman and especially as a gay woman.

Yes, straight men, we all get it. You like the idea of gay women (though I’ve always found it strange that so many men would be interested in women who are not interested in their, ahem, plumbing), really everyone knows that. However even if your desire is to bring a spot light to LGTB issues, doing it under the guise of a gay woman is not the right thing to do.

Tom McMasters, who was blogging as “A Gay Girl in Damascus”, was trying to bring light to the issues of Syria and the gay community. It seems that Bill Graber, the editor and publisher of Lez Get Real is also not a bad guy (with the exception of his penchant for pretending to be a gay woman) and claims that he took the name Paula Brooks because he was afraid when he started the blog that no one would take him seriously as a man talking about lesbian issues.

He has a point that it would be harder to gain traction as someone who is naturally outside the niche that he wanted to blog about, but that does not mean he has to be perpetrate a hoax against all his contributors and readers. Good writing and good caring advocacy trump identity over time.

I am not gay, but I write about issues of gender and sexual identity discrimination all the time. I don’t (except for the three years that I hid from my very conservative company that I was a blogger) feel the need to be anyone but myself.
I recognize that I don’t have the same insight that people living with these issues do, but at the same time I have friends and family and acquaintances that are gay. I’ve worked and lived with them my whole life and as such I am not going to just stand by while people make their life harder over who they are sexually attracted too. Read the rest of this entry →

Robert Sameulson Tells Lies, Lies, Lies About Ryan’s Medicare Ending Budget

5:32 am in banality of evil, jerks by Bill Egnor

Paul Ryan - Caricature

Paul Ryan - Caricature by DonkeyHotey, on Flickr

It is Monday so what do I find in my in-box but another tightly coiled steaming pile of conservative idiocy by Robert Samuelson. It is a real drag to write about him because there really are no snappy pejoratives to describe him that don’t insult the people or item one compares him to. So I am not going to try that today, I am just going to call it straight, Robert Samuelson is a partisan liar.

His entire column is filled with half-truths, false comparisons and blatant lies. Let’s break it down. He starts out by trying to co-opt the “Ending Medicare as we know it” meme that not only Democrats but just about any person that can read and reason understands is the outcome of the Ryan budget. But then Robby ups the ante he says:

It is only a slight exaggeration to say that unless we end Medicare “as we know it,” America “as we know it” will end.

This is, not to put too fine a point on it, a lie. There is no chance that our taking care of the elderly has to end America as we know it. Well, unless you have been so brainwashed by the conservative movement that you are still living in the 1880’s idea of what America is. You know, white, rich and a bunch of basically peasants that are just there to turn the wheels of industry and take the crumbs the Robber Barons deign to leave behind. Then it might be end to that America, which the rest of us left behind long ago.

He then conflates health care spending for government programs (which do include the VA, but he doesn’t mention it since he wants to kill Medicare and Medicaid) and private health care spending. He says:

Uncontrolled health spending isn’t simply crowding out other government programs; it’s also dampening overall living standards. Health economists Michael Chernew, Richard Hirth and David Cutler recently reported that higher health costs consumed 35.7 percent of the increase in per capita income from 1999 to 2007. They also project, that under reasonable assumptions, it could absorb half or more of the gain between now and 2083.

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Water Cooler – NRCC Tries to Suppress A Commercial, Cable Station Says: No

4:23 pm in banality of evil, jerks by Bill Egnor

Well there is as bad as we generally perceive traditional media, there is a little bit of bright news in this area this week. The National Republican Congressional Committee, the group that works on getting Republican Representatives elected and re-elected, sent a letter to the local Comcast provider in Boston, insisting that they remove the Progressive Change Campaign Committees commercial, which hammered Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH) for his vote in favor of the Ryan Budget and its ending of Medicare as we know it.

Here is the commercial in question.

For those who don’t get video very well here is what the woman says

As a social worker here in the north country, I’ve spent my life helping people with disabilities. Now, I have a disability,” the woman in the ad says. “If I didn’t have Medicare, doctors’ bills could wipe me out — and put a burden on my five kids. When Congressman Charlie Bass voted to end Medicare, that was an attack on New Hampshire families just like mine.”

The NRCC claimed that it was a false ad, in that it the Ryan budget does not end Medicare. This is spurious on its face. If I take away your car and give you a two wheeled rider propelled vehicle (a bicycle) and call it a car, you still don’t have anything close to what you had. This is what the Republicans have been trying to do for weeks. Make it seem like they are not going to be ending one of the most popular programs in the history of the nation and replace it with something only vaguely the same.

Greg Sargent broke this on Friday. He had a copy of the entire letter, which you can find at this link, but here is the money paragraph:

The Budget Resolution as approved by the U.S. House of Representatives does NOT end Medicare. In fact, the Budget Resolution makes no changes at all to Medicare for current or near retirees, as none of the Medicare-related provisions in the Budget Resolution would even take effect until 2022.2 This fact makes the Advertisement especially misleading, as the woman featured in the Advertisement is a current Medicare beneficiary, and would not have her Medicare benefits ended, or even changed in any way, under the Budget Resolution.

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Palin Bus Fueled By PAC Donations

5:40 am in jerks by Bill Egnor

Wheeled School Bus - Right Front

Wheeled School Bus - Right Front by Bill Ward's Brickpile

There are a lot of people who don’t like politicians. Or they say they don’t like them, since it seems that a lot of the population of our nation don’t actually know any politicians in a meaningful way. I grew up around them, so the idea of hating them seems a little bit like self loathing. Still there are times when the actions of high profile pols stain everyone in the business of government with a black mark.

That is where we are in regards to Sarah Palin. As trashy and unselfconscious as she is I don’t have problems with her being controversial to get more attention. That is part of the nature of politics, but this bus tour of hers is going to be one of those times where people see on politician doing something really distasteful and put it on the all of them.

You Sister Sarah is on vacation and her Political Action Committee are paying for it. That’s right all the bills for the bus, the driver, food and anything else is being footed by not by the Palin’s but by the donors who hope that she will run or support candidates or some such.

Just to rub salt in the wound, it is all completely legal. You see SaraPAC is what is called a “unconnected PAC” which means while it is a still a political action committee it is not associated with a campaign and does not have the restrictions on what it can spend money on. If the erstwhile half-term Governor wants to buy out the gift shop at the Statue of Liberty, then she can do it on the SarahPAC credit card.
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