Sunday, February 28, 2010

Where's his teleprompter?

Click image for full Nick Anderson/Houston Chronicle cartoon.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rare bipartisanship

Left and right should both be able to find this funny.

Click image for full John Branch/San Antonio Express-News cartoon.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Get a grip

The IOC is investigating Canada's gold-medal-winning women's hockey team for daring to have beer and cigars on the ice after they beat the U.S.

Grow up, get a grip, stop being such priggish puritans. Try to enjoy life.

The Canadian women earned their celebration. I didn't want them to win, but they did. Let them enjoy their party.

Update (3/1): Here's a send-up.

Lies and the lying liars

Krugman nails the Republicans. Again.

So what did we learn from the summit? What I took away was the arrogance that the success of things like the death-panel smear has obviously engendered in Republican politicians. At this point they obviously believe that they can blandly make utterly misleading assertions, saying things that can be easily refuted, and pay no price. And they may well be right.
Bullshit. It's what's for dinner.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

You'll get this camera

... off me when you pry it from my cold dead face.

Or when middle age sets in with a vengeance.

Sarah Palin does have a certain animal cunning. She probably knew she'd have to strike now to make any money off the popularity of her appearance.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Headless Thompson gunner

Fred Thompson, vacuous stentorian, deliberately and stupidly mistakes a statistical fact mentioned by Harry Reid for an inevitable cause:

In a posting on Twitter, Thompson wrote, "Reid: Jobless men = domestic abuse. Is he saying we should be worried about Mrs. Reid after the November elections?"
Republicans never let honesty get in the way of using bullshit to imitate a joke. Playing ignoramus is what they do.

Oh, and look, here he is using a teleprompter:

Probably making a gibe at President Obama for using a teleprompter...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Someday, son

Click image for full Bruce Beattie/Daytona Beach News-Journal cartoon.

Shut your liquidity trap

Click image for full Elena Steier cartoon.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Alexander Haig

When John Hinckley tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan, then-Secretary of State Al Haig, who died today, infamously announced to the White House press corps, "I am in control." Many of my fellow liberals pilloried him for this.

They were wrong. Worse, they had to know that they were wrong.

On that very day, it was clear to me from his remarks that he said what he said to reassure our friends and warn our adversaries that our government was not leaderless. That was indeed public service - and not a power grab - and he bore the scars from those attacks with honor like the soldier he was.

I didn't agree with his politics - though it looks pretty good compared to current Republicans - but I didn't question his basic understanding of and adherence to the Constitution - again, unlike current Republicans.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Raison debtre

It was clear from day one that the teabaggers were attempting a superficial rebranding of the same old conservative Republican bullshit. They had nothing new to offer but the recycling of an old and honorable name into the fetid fever swamp of their outrage.

They wanted all the same policies as Republicans. They just didn't want to share the blame for the failures of the Republicans. Sort like declaring bankruptcy and escaping debts...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

All that painful ass-kissing

Senators expect to have their asses kissed regularly. But Evan Bayh (DINO-Indiana) never expected it to sting so much. On his way out the door, CNN gives him a particularly tender-lipped smooch: "Is it too tough to be a centrist Democrat?"

We've had a 30-year lurch to the right. The allegedly socialist President of the United States is an ardent centrist. The so-called centrist Democrats are conservative. Conservative Republicans are flirting with authoritarianism. Hell, they're doing more than flirting. Look at their stands on the rule of law, torture, and surveillance. They're going steady with authoritarianism, if not they're already engaged.

Yet the problem identified by CNN is that we stinky liberals are just too hard on our centrists:

[Political analyst Jennifer Donahue] said it's simply becoming too difficult to be a centrist Democrat these days.

"You have so much pressure coming at the president from the left flank of the party and so much pressure embedded in Congress on the left," Donahue said. "I think he's frustrated. I think Democrats have to take a good, hard look at what they're doing to the centrists in their party and why. It's not a winning formula to push out the centrists, so why?"

CNN Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger said Bayh "feels that he doesn't have much of a home in the Democratic party anymore."

"Just as much as we see the centrists in the Republican party shrinking, you also see the centrists in the Democratic party shrinking," she said. "I think these folks are looking for a home."

These are the centrists whose delays and threats scuttled health care reform. These are the centrists at whose insistence the stimulus was too small. These are the centrists who are so lily livered that they have consented to the continuation of Bushist policies regarding war and domestic surveillance. They're winning, but still their asses don't feel enough open-mouthed obeisance.

This country needs a lurch to the left. It's not going to get one, with or without Evan Bayh.

Now, of course, this seat in Indiana will switch from someone who opposes doing anything useful to someone who proposes doing things that are harmful. Unless 2010 is a truly awful year - and it could be - that won't matter.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Massachusetts budget information

This is the most favorable way to trend expenditures. By "most favorable", I mean best way to illustrate that spending has not changed dramatically.

Here are revenues, along with interpretive material that shows Massachusetts taxation in a relatively favorable light.

Then as farce

Bipartisanship is a partisan Republican tactic. We Democrats should give the same back to them. Real bipartisanship is a fool's errand. There's no one on the right who'll negotiate in good faith.

Click image for full Tom Oliphant cartoon.

Sleep of reason

... begets more gridlock. There are actually people who voted for Scott Brown in order to end gridlock, when he explicitly promised to make gridlock worse.

Click image for full Tom Toles/Washington Post cartoon.

Christian Founders

The New York Times asks, How Christian Were the Founders?

This is not a controversial question. The Founders were quite thoroughly Christian. A few, such as Jefferson and Franklin, were heretical - deists and free-thinkers. None of them were today's ridiculous rigid fundamentalists.

Still, by and large, they were Christians.

That's why it's even more remarkable that they intentionally built a clearly secular government (Constitution, Article VI):

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
A perfect opportunity to require Christianity, and they not only missed it, they slammed the door shut on anyone else deciding to require worship of Jesus.

Reason is not the force guiding the fundamentalists. Here's a piece of evidence:
[Cynthia Dunbar, assistant law professor at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University and member of the Texas board of education] began the lecture by discussing a national day of thanksgiving that Gen. George Washington called for after the defeat of the British at Saratoga in 1777 — showing, in her reckoning, a religious base in the thinking of the country’s founders. In developing a line of legal reasoning that the future lawyers in her class might use, she wove her way to two Supreme Court cases in the 1960s, in both of which the court ruled that prayer in public schools was unconstitutional. A student questioned the relevance of the 1777 event to the court rulings, because in 1777 the country did not yet have a Constitution. “And what did we have at that time?” Dunbar asked. Answer: “The Declaration of Independence.” She then discussed a legal practice called “incorporation by reference.” “When you have in one legal document reference to another, it pulls them together, so that they can’t be viewed as separate and distinct,” she said. “So you cannot read the Constitution distinct from the Declaration.” And the Declaration famously refers to a Creator and grounds itself in “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Therefore, she said, the religiosity of the founders is not only established and rooted in a foundational document but linked to the Constitution. From there she moved to “judicial construction and how you should go forward with that,” i.e., how these soon-to-be lawyers might work to overturn rulings like that against prayer in schools by using the founding documents.
The Times makes one of its usual soft demurrals from this obvious bullshit. I'm not that mushy. You want to incorporate by reference? First requirement: mention the document you're incorporating. The Constitution doesn't mention the Declaration.

The rest of Dunbar's reasoning is equally a thin tissue of bullshit. Thanksgiving after victory at Saratoga is completely outside of legal precedent. Would the fact that the Founders went (or didn't go) to Christian services be probative of anything in law? When assembled to codify the law, did the Founders incorporate their religious observances into the law? Uh, no. And it's a flat no that the Times' writer, Russell Shorto, should have been clear about.

The fundies' behavior tells me that the culture war is a long war. In the name of establishing a Christian caliphate in America, they are prepared to keep from all our children anything they disagree with.

If we - liberals and secularists like the Founders before us - don't fight back, we'll lose what they bequeathed us.


Click image for a grand unified theory of wingnuttia, by Rob Rogers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

If you have to explain it

Chuck Asay has a cartoon up that says not only is he an idiot, he's an asshole. No surprise there, I guess. After beating up President Obama for his completely ordinary use of a teleprompter (say, here), he now excuses Sarah Palin's palm pilot by comparing it to Obama's speech-making. So the teleprompter is suddenly o.k.? (No, are you kidding?)

Conservative pundits like Asay have to pretend to believe that Palin's inability to remember three points without notes (including a cross-out that suggests someone told her at the last minute that tax cuts are more popular than budget cuts) is actually more reasonable than Obama's use of a teleprompter for a full-length speech. Not just equally reasonable, because they want to be able to continue to flay Obama.

A double standard would at least be a standard. This is nothing better than IOKIYAR.

The teleprompter meme has got to be the stupidest conservative talking point ever. Anyone who has ever seen Barack Obama respond to uncanned questions can plainly see that he has mastered the material in a way that Ronald Reagan and Duhbya never did - and Palin just as plainly never will. (Dick Cheney, the most dangerous authoritarian to hold high office in my lifetime, did have mastery of his talking points, so maybe I should be careful what I wish for.)

Yet wingnut TV pundits look straight into their teleprompters and give their soundbites about Obama's reliance on ... the teleprompter. You'd think they think their audience is too stupid to know.

Shouldn't attempts at humor at least have to make sense?

Anyway, here's a better way to fight back:

Click image for full Steve Benson cartoon

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Another day, another Republican lie

It's what they do. Dana Perino (on Fox, natch) claims:

  • The shoe bomber in 2001 and the penis bomber in 2009 are "apples and oranges" even though both were goofball al Qaeda terrorists who smuggled explosives on board airplanes in their clothing, only to be subdued by passengers, Mirandized, and tried in civilian courts.
  • If only the Bushists had had their military tribunals set up, they would have tried the shoe bomber in one of them. They learned their lesson on José Padilla, never mind that he wound up back in a civilian court too, insane to boot.
If there's a more obvious case of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do, I'd like to hear about it, so I can call it bullshit, too.

Perino has a smooth pink complexion, blue eyes, and blond hair. She lies for a living. She's packaging - a spokesmodel. She and Fox are a perfect fit.

Update: Glenn Greenwald had another case of Republican bullshit yesterday. Don't you dare do as I did! says Michael Mukasey.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Legacy of impunity

Republicans lie. It's the only way they can continue to win elections, given that their programs center on beggaring their neighbors in favor of the wealthy and the corporations the wealthy control.

Today, as they have been for months, the lies are about Medicare.

Republicans are now posing as staunch defenders of a program they have hated ever since the days when Ronald Reagan warned that Medicare would destroy America’s freedom. Nor is it even the fact that, as House speaker, Mr. Gingrich personally tried to ram through deep cuts in Medicare...

[W]hat’s truly mind-boggling is this: Even as Republicans denounce modest proposals to rein in Medicare’s rising costs, they are, themselves, seeking to dismantle the whole program.
Tomorrow the lies will be about ... whatever subject the Republicans speak on.

Democrats have utterly and completely failed to make the case that no one can trust a single word the Republicans say. The Democrats need to say that Republicans are untrustworthy - and provide examples - every time they're within range of any microphone, no matter how large or small.

Instead, Democrats natter on politely, pretending that there is some deal possible with their adversaries, as if the Republicans would ever negotiate in good faith toward a responsible solution.

Republicans are in this for blood, and we play patty-cake. I'm sick of it. On the short ride home tonight, I imagined speaking up to John Kerry should he run into me at the Massachusetts Democratic Party convention this spring:
You can be my Senator and reform the filibuster, or you can be Richard Shelby's Senator and Tom Coburn's Senator and Jim DeMint's Senator. You can't be both.
Well, that was the most printable thing I imagined saying.

There are three possible reasons for the Democrats' failure to do to the word Republican what conservatives have done to the word liberal:
  • They don't understand the power of repetition.
  • They're too spineless to tell the truth.
  • They're afraid of the 30% of this country that believes things that in a normal world would get them labelled batshit insane, and they don't want to risk another civil war.
I lean to the second with a dollop of the first. The third is also true, but it's far too insightful. Besides, if they realized that we're in a slow motion slide to authoritarianism that could put them in jail, I think even they would man up and defend something, anything.

The only way to win for America's sake is to tell the truth. The teabaggers believe the lies they hear repeated so often. The truth repeated just as often would eventually win over many of them.

This in turn would push conservatives - and of course there are honest and truthful conservatives - back to the truth as something that matters. It would retire the current set of dishonest Republican propagandists, but it would replace them with people with whom compromise would be both possible and useful.

That'll be the day.

Don't bother to read this

It's in TAPPED. Atrios linked to it. It doesn't need my small propagation to gain an audience. But I just have to quote this, apropos of the Washington Post hiring yet another neocon torture apologist:

There's really no limit to what you can achieve in Washington as long as you leverage your efforts towards helping the powerful escape culpability for their wrongdoing. It's like the mob. You show loyalty to the right people, eventually you get made.
Liberal media. No amount of repetition can make that particular forkful of bullshit true, and yet Palindrones still think it forward and backward.

Don't say I didn't warn you!


A health insurer in California just raised rates on individual purchasers 30 to 39% and promised more hikes, oh, whenever they damn well please. Not our fault, says Anthem Blue Cross:

"We understand and strongly share our members' concerns over the rising cost of healthcare services and the corresponding adverse impact on insurance premiums," the company said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, the individual market premiums are merely the symptoms of a larger underlying problem in California's individual market -- rising healthcare costs."
Here's what they edited out of their PR:
Our industry's lobbyists and advertising, not to mention the subscribers we suckered into helping, beat back any reform at all. We don't think we have to worry in the least about the government helping you sick people.
Anthem is probably ticked that their profit is capped at 30% of revenue.

Update (2/13): h/t MoveOn

Wrong kind of crazy

Republicans don't embrace all kinds of conspiratorial crazy - not even Texas Republicans. Birther? No problem. Black helicopter paranoid? Come on in. Socialist takeover? You're our guy!

Truther? No way! That's nutty (true!), but more important, it makes a Republican look bad.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I grew up rooting for the underdog. This was part of my dad's teachings many a Sunday afternoon: If you don't have a strong prior loyalty, hope for egalitarianism. This, I thought, was a basic American value. Anyone can get ahead here. Pedigree is not destiny, not in America.

I didn't have a strong loyalty in Super Bowl XLIV (last holdout of Roman numerals!). Unlike much of the rest of the country, I don't despise Peyton Manning, and the Colts' departure in the dead of night from Baltimore hadn't left any of my nerves inflamed after all these years. But the Saints had been the Ain'ts for so long that, when the whistle blew, I took their side.

For this, I am derided as insufficiently capitalistic:

What happened to the days of pulling for organizations, teams, and players whom best demonstrate the virtues of team work and heart and will power? Who overcome the challenges of a determined opponent on the level playing field of competition? Of blood, sweat, and tears? I guess in our coddled, emasculated, socialist society any overt demonstration or celebration of these qualities is offensive, too Darwinian, too Randian, too capitalistic.
All I can say to that: Goddamned Tory courtier to power. Root for the Yankees all the time? I don't think so.

(h/t Alicublog)

Snowed on your watch, buddy

Click image for full Joel Pett/Lexington Herald-Leader cartoon.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Crib notes

Don't even think of not clicking this link to No More Mister Nice Blog.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Queen and Carrie

Maybe there's hope yet for our great and challenging experiment in democracy. Or maybe my third glass of cabernet is exposing my usually suppressed naive optimism...

Queen Latifah, by the way, can sing "God Bless America" for me any time she wants to. She is a woman of immense talent, and she has made it big without being an anorexic, silicone hottie.

Strategically placed

Click image for full Nick Anderson/Houston Chronicle cartoon.

Don't think, Meat

Click image for full Clay Bennett/Chattanooga Times Free Press cartoon.

In the long run, we're all dead anyway

Click image for full Matt Davies/Journal News cartoon.

Free mock-it

Click image for full Mark Streeter/Savannah Morning News cartoon.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Spitting into the wind

In an age of hype, bullshit, and willed credulity toward incredible claims, some people resist, among them David Aaronovitch. I'm not sure there will be enough of us.

This is telling:

There are entire societies where the default position is to believe in conspiracy theories, like in Pakistan or Iran. There are very few people in the Pakistan military, for example, who don’t believe that Bush was behind 9/11.
Our culture has succeeded because it has been willing to grapple with the actual reality, rather than sinking into the temporary comfort of wishful thinking. I often doubt that it still is.

Oppose Social Security

The bald honest truth is that Republicans oppose Social Security. They dress up their opposition in various ways, but they're against the idea of government involvement in the welfare of people. It makes the citizenry to safe to work themselves to the bone on behalf of a corporation! That can't be good.

If you have the bad luck to make a mistake in choosing your parents, you had better be prepared for an old age of penury and suffering.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kill the filibuster

There's no custom that Republicans won't abuse if it advantages them:

President Obama is correct. There were 39 cloture votes last year, nine more than the combined total for 1949-1970.
The filibuster was built for extremity. The comity of the Senate was supposed to make the filibuster a little-used last resort. Extreme Republicans now view any legislation they disagree with as an extreme case.

CNN is technically correct with this:
Starting with the 92nd Congress (1971-72), cloture votes became more frequent. Part of that can be explained by the fact that the Senate changed the required majority in 1975, making it easier to induce cloture.
The change was from two thirds to a flat 60 votes.

But CNN's interpretation of the ease of voting cloture is backwards. Requiring a two thirds cloture vote makes the filibuster more powerful, so we're all counting the wrong thing.

We should be counting how many bills and amendments never got voted on because they couldn't muster a supermajority.

Pander with the best of them

Arlen Specter is now an ardent advocate for labor unions.

Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pennsylvania, fighting for his political life in Pennsylvania, kicked the session off with a question about the "trade imbalance" with China and how that hurts union workers.
Oh, bullshit. From RINO to DINO in one election cycle. Specter's stock in trade for years has been pandering. I don't think it'll work this time. What Pennsylvania gets may be much worse.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Originalist poser

Just how is it that the right-wing majority on the Supreme Court can grant the First Amendment to corporations, when the modern limited liability corporation wasn't even legal until decades after the ratification of the Bill of Rights?

Could it possibly be, as with federalism, states' rights, and especially Bush v. Gore, the right-wing activist judges who claim to be originalists are not really acting on principle at all?

I dare question the sincerity of Their High Honors the Supreme Justices! Off with me 'ead!

For anyone who thinks borking has bad connotations, check Robert Bork's further career as a rigid ideologue, willing to rationalize almost any extremity of wingnuttism (who knew that word would be in the Firefox spelling dictionary!). We Democrats and liberals should have borked Scalia, Thomas, and Alito too. The world would be a better place - and especially America would be better without ever having suffered the maladministration of Darth and Duhbya - if we has seen the importance of keeping the first two of those Republican ideologues off the court.

As for Scalito's objection to President Obama's criticism of the Court's predictable bullshit decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Alito knew the stakes, no matter how piously he may now deny it. Principle? The winner establishes principle, and they won, liberal bitches!

Corporation for Congress


“Until now,” Murray Hill Inc. said in a statement, “corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence peddling to achieve their goals in Washington. But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves.”
Next up, lobbying for a Supreme Court nomination.

(h/t metulj on KnoxViews)