From the Columbia Tribune, Columbia, MO
JEFFERSON CITY – The House Appropriations – Education Committee cut deeply today into Gov. Jay Nixon’s proposals for public schools and higher education, slashing his planned increases by more than $200 million.
But committee Chairman Mike Lair, R-Chillicothe, found $8 to address a pressing problem. The money is to be used “for two rolls of high density aluminum to create headgear designed to deflect drone and/or black helicopter mind reading and control technology.”
On the summary sheet handed out to lawmakers, the money is slated for “tin foil hats” and was tied to an amendment removing language barring the state from accepting federal grants to implement Common Core standards for public schools.
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From the Las Vegas Sun:
Hardy also would oppose the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, a federal measure that would make it a crime for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on the employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity, adding that language to a list of federally protected classes. In 2011, Hardy voted against a similar law in Nevada; Horsford supported it.
“When we create classes, we create that same separation that we’re trying to unfold somehow,” he said. “By continuing to create these laws that are what I call segregation laws, it puts one class of a person over another. We are creating classes of people through these laws.”
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For the most part, mainstream media outlets have ignored the obvious coverage. They are, for once, just too responsible to get the job done.
I suppose that, in my heart, I have always known of that ageless quality within. I am too old to be young, but I'll never be too old to be immature. So it's time to take up the slack.
As January faded into February, the nation was fixated on record breaking cold. Some of us in St. Louis needed a laugh. We looked toward our neighbor to the East. Our willpower had been drained by a Missouri state legislature that votes to put up a statue of Rush Limbaugh (no, I'm not kidding). We turned our weary gaze to Illinois, the Land of Blagojevich. On February 1, I began to feel vindicated, my patience rewarded.
This was the headline in the Chicago Tribune:
|GOP governor candidate denies|
What kind of news organization could turn away from this sort of headline? It's true the Chicago Tribune provided the headline. But no followup of the central theme? No other publications going for a denial of allegations that no one knows about? Not even an article in the Onion?
The story itself was straightforward. It even made the headline make sense.
Dan Rutherford is a Republican running for Illinois Governor. He is not without executive experience. He currently serves as Illinois State Treasurer. And that is where the headline begins. An employee of the State Treasurer's office made some sort of complaint. Dan Rutherford knows what the complaint is and who it comes from. The attorney for the Illinois State Treasurer's office knows as well. The unknown employee knows what the complaint is. The unknown employee has an attorney. The attorney knows everything.
But outside of this group, nobody knows. Or at least they didn't know as February came to us.
So Dan Rutherford holds a press conference. He announces that a complaint has been made. He is angry about it. The allegations are false, completely false. In fact, he has ordered an investigation of the allegations which will prove that the allegations are false.
Reporters ask him what the false allegations are.
Uh . . . He won't say.
And there you have it. GOP governor candidate denies unknown allegations
Is that the best political headline, or what? Well, I thought so.
The complaint itself eventually became public. It involved sexual harassment.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, the investigation, the investigation Rutherford ordered, the investigation that would clear him, that investigation came in.
What was the result? Rutherford won't say. He says pending litigation is the reason. The employee has filed a federal suit and Rutherford says his high regard for courtroom ethics means he can't discuss the case except in court.
It makes for an even better headline.
Investigation about Previously
Unknown Allegations by Unknown
But no. The Chicago Sun Times decided to keep the story straight:
Are you kidding me?
If it had been a Democrat, you can bet Fox News would have known how to have some fun.
Florida's Alex Sink may be leading the way to a more aggressive Democratic approach:
From USA Today:
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Tom Petri says he is "distressed by the innuendo" that there is a conflict between his personal financial interests and his official actions in Washington so he took the unusual step on Sunday of asking the House Ethics Committee to investigate him.
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New Republican Ethic - May the Best Candidate Win (5:16) - Click for Podcast
For Original Text
Why Governor Christie Can Be Seen as Innocent (7:18) - Click for Podcast
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Jonathan Bernstein, writing for Bloomberg, has helpful advice for Hillary Clinton. She should ignore all the helpful advice she gets/a<>, especially from journalists.
Either I have an extraordinarily odd sense of humor, or Max's Dad conducts very funny rants. The two possibilities are not mutually exclusive. This time, Max's Dad takes on, in his own vicious way, the Wall Street Journal.
James Wigderson says he'll vote in a Republican primary against a terrible candidate, mainly to keep from having to later choose between Mr. Flawed and the Democrat. I suppose it would be sort of a conservative political Hobson's choice. Freeze to death or burn to death.
Last Of The Millenniums brings us poll results on what caused the collapse of the Roman Empire. It's a commentary of sorts that it took me a moment to recognize it as satire, and that I'm still not 100% sure.
Vincent at A wayfarer’s notes quotes a piece by the late poet and scholar, Laurence Binyon, and offers his own thoughts on the Bible as a literary contribution. For accuracy, I go to the various revised standards. But, as pure poetry, I can't get beyond reading and listening to renditions of the King James version.
- Infidel 753 brings us a thought-provoking French film on sexual role reversal. Starts with the seemingly fairly predictable, ends up serious. Worth a look. You'll probably get angry.
Before the President was killed, Robert F. Kennedy had earned a reputation for toughness. When John F. Kennedy encouraged Americans to work at physical fitness, it was his brother Bobby who responded with fifty mile hikes, his exhausted staff in tow.
But the tough image had not been developed on the hiking trail. Bobby Kennedy had, as counsel for the Senate Investigations Committee, then as President Kennedy's Attorney General, gone after underworld crime figures with a single mindedness that bordered on obsession. As one reputed crime lord under interrogation laughingly declined to answer questions during a public hearing, Kennedy interrupted with a comment: "I thought only little girls giggled, Mr. Giancana."
During his brother's political campaigns, Robert Kennedy alternately cajoled and bullied delegates and politicians. Some didn't like it.
Bobby's reputation went from tough to ruthless.
A few months after John F. Kennedy's murder, Bobby almost lost his remaining brother. Edward Kennedy was in a plane crash in mid-1964. He was dragged by the wreckage by another passenger, family friend Birch Bayh. Edward lapsed into unconsciousness. When medical people got him to the hospital, he had no pulse and almost no blood pressure. Doctors were barely able to save him.
He awoke a few days later to see brother Bobby hovering anxiously over him. His first words were reported to have been, "Is it true that you are ruthless?"
The reputation of ruthlessness followed Robert Kennedy. In 1968, polling came up with a startling finding. In the midst of a cold war with the Soviet Union, with periodic rioting and calls for law and order, the image seemed to be helping him with voters. This was not a bully, swinging at ordinary people. This was the fellow who pulled no punches with gangsters, the KKK, and politicians. Just the guy people might want to handle street crime, the one who could face down the Soviets.
I was thinking of the figure of hope from those decades ago as I read the newest exposé on Hillary Clinton. The papers of a close Hillary Clinton friend, who recently died, have been released. Apparently the scandalous revelations center mostly around the fact that she had unkind things to say about Monica Lewinsky in the mid-1990s. She is said to have felt a combination of betrayal, confusion, and self-blame.
Political antagonists and women who claimed relationships with her husband each received a measure of scorn and hostility.
The Washington Beacon headlines the story: The Hillary Papers with a sub-headline:
The conservative Patriot Post follows up: Should 'Ruthless' Clinton Be President?
Differing shades of conservatives join through books, blogs, pundits, and columnists. Hillary is ruthless.
Rand Paul is on a bit of a roll with a variation. Bill is a predator and Hillary is complicit. Matt Drudge and others carry the narrative forward.
If Hillary Clinton takes a shot at becoming a new President Clinton, perhaps it will work. After all, I have been wrong before.
I don't see it. While strong women have traditionally encountered a double standard, regarded as shrewish or unfeminine, that tradition is fading fast. Even back in the day, it was successfully challenged at times. Think Margaret Thatcher.
Tactics from two decades back are unlikely to work more effectively now than they worked then. Attempts to view the former First Lady, the former Senator from New York, the former Secretary of State, as insufficiently dainty in her reactions to sexual scandals seems unlikely to work.
Karl Rove who, during the Bush administration, targeted a CIA operative. He was saved from blowing her cover only by the fact that another Bush appointee got there first. It does not seem possible that Rove would hold back on ethical grounds. When he warns Rand Paul that his attacks on Hillary Clinton will backfire, my imagination tell me he is sincere.
When General David Petraeus, who headed the CIA, describes her as "extraordinarily resolute, determined, and controlled" under pressure, he is referring to her demeanor as the Benghazi attack unfolded.
It's what you might expect from someone whose reputation has gone, at times, to a point midway between tough and ruthless, with occasional lurches to the ruthless side of the fence.
Ruthless. Just what the country needs.
From A.V. Club
Following the simple and easy-to-use building instructions imprinted on the back of their ideological boxes, Fox News has constructed another controversy out of a work of children’s entertainment—this time The Lego Movie. Like its past outrages over The Muppets and The Lorax, the network has lashed out at the film for attempting to indoctrinate the naïve with simpleminded messages about capitalism, only for the wrong team, blasting a movie based on a global, multibillion-dollar toy manufacturer—and the reinvigoration of its branding through movie-generated merchandising—as being “anti-business.”
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Richard Hasen is a law professor, which is akin to the Grand Canyon being a hole in the ground. It is and he is, but there is more to it. He is a Chancellor's Professor. Fewer than 1 professor out of 30 ever makes it to that position. You have to show academic accomplishment that goes way beyond the norm, and you have to show every sign that the trajectory of your path will continue upward.
It's not hard to see why he got to that position. He began early, clerking for a member of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th circuit. A Court of Appeals is a step away from the Supreme Court. Not a bad start. He co-founded a distinguished legal review, the Election Law Journal. He writes prolifically. He specializes in election law.
Lately, he has been writing about Republican attempts to suppress voting. Now, the attack is on early voting. Working people with less than flexible employment schedules, especially minorities, tend to take advantage of early voting. Early voters generally vote more Democratic. So Republicans want to keep them from voting.
But Richard Hasen detects a philosophical underpinning that can be found both in action and in rhetoric. Republicans argue that they improve democracy by allowing fewer people to vote. This used to be the open secret of voter restrictions. Now it is becoming more overt, an actual stated goal.
There is a growing rationale, an important bit of reasoning, behind that goal. It involves the purpose of voting.
Democrats, in general, see voting as taking power from the elites and giving it to those being governed. In recent tradition, this has been a shared goal across party lines. Not always, of course. We can look to the voting denial part of Jim Crow laws to see a time that wasn't true. But in more recent years, pretty much everyone saw voting as giving power to as many people as possible.
Even during the voter suppression efforts by Republicans, conservatives gave lip service to the right to vote. They didn't want to keep legitimate voters from participating in elections. They just wanted to prevent voter fraud. If non-citizens voted, or if eligible citizens voted more than once, it would weaken the very basis of democracy.
This was a nearly transparent subterfuge. Voter fraud was such a rarity that it was less than a single percent of a single percent of a fraction of a percent of the total vote. Other forms of election stealing, not involving individual voters, have always been safer and more effective. And not everyone had photo identification.
When Republicans went to moving polling stations to hard-to-get-to places, restricting hours, reducing the number of voting machines, and voter purges that were so thorough they removed wholesale numbers of clearly legitimate voters, it was harder to see their activities as anything other than a way to erect roadblocks.
Even though it was clear what Republicans were up to, they always kept up the polite fiction that keeping legitimate voters from casting ballots was the farthest thing from their minds.
But Richard Hasen sees rhetoric catching up with reality.
The purpose of voting for many Republicans is not to distribute the power of government to citizens of the Republic. It is to elect the best people. Hasen sees the debate about early voting as an extension of a more general election ethic.
Those who vote a few days earlier will not hear the entire election debate. They will be less informed. They will make rash decisions. They will vote whenever they feel like it. These are all actual objections to early voting.
Hasen points to some notable voices carrying forward the argument into previously forbidden territory. Voting ought to be harder. The ignorant should be discouraged from voting. The ignorant, the rash, the uninformed, the ill-prepared, the unqualified are defined by result. They are those who vote the wrong way.
I don't think my view is at all unusual among Democrats. I suspect many, if not all, Republicans still join in. I'm willing to put my ideas, and my candidates, to the test in periodic elections. If we lose, I'm okay with waiting until the next election to try again.
I want the best people to win. More than that, much more than that, I want the winners to win in a fair and democratic vote.
Some Republicans are increasingly vocal in pursuing a very different objective, one focused on result more than process. They also want the best people to win.
Whatever it takes.
From the New York Times:
DODGE CITY, Kan. — It is hard to find anyone who has seen Senator Pat Roberts here at the redbrick house on a golf course that his voter registration lists as his home. Across town at the Inn Pancake House on Wyatt Earp Boulevard, breakfast regulars say the Republican senator is a virtual stranger.
“He calls it home,” said Jerald Miller, a retiree. “But I’ve been here since ’77, and I’ve only seen him twice.”
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Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey has gone on a sort of press defense. In fairness we should consider what he says as true unless proven otherwise.
On August 13, 2013, Chris Christie's Deputy Chief of Staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, sent a very short email message to David Wildstein at the Port Authority. It concerned lanes entering the busiest bridge in the world:
Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.
Let's stress that Governor Christie, Bridget Anne Kelly's boss, knew nothing about that message, and that he would not have known what it meant.
David Wildstein knew, though. He answered with an even shorter message.
If the Governor had eavesdropped on that exchange, he still would have had no idea at all what they had in mind. "Time for some traffic problems" followed by "Got it" might lead a reasonable person to imagine that this was part of a plan that had been kicked around for a while, but Governor Christie had no part in the kicking.
Governor Christie was Bridget Anne Kelly's boss, but not David Wildstein's boss. He might as well have been, though. Wildstein had gone to Chris Christie's high school back in the day. His position at the Port Authority had been especially created for him at the insistence of the Christie administration.
But Governor Chris Christie knew nothing about the messages. He knew nothing of any plan. He was too busy campaigning for reelection against his Democratic opponent, Barbara Buono to have time for any curiosity. Everyone knew Christie would win against Barbara Buono. Christie knew it. Voters knew it. I suspect all of Barbara Buono's friends and relatives knew it. Maybe Barbara Buono knew it as well, not being Mitt Romney. Chris Christie would win, Barbara Buono would lose.
That Christie would win was for sure. Barbara Buono had no chance. The question was whether Christie would win so overwhelmingly the Republican Party would make him President in 2016. Republicans hate Hillary Clinton. Not as much as they loath Barack Obama, of course. She's not from, you know, Kenya. But she does generate hate. So maybe they could go for Governor Christie as the anti-Clinton candidate. That would be if he could win by enough in New Jersey.
So Governor Christie wanted to beat Barbara Buono by so much, Republicans would promote him from Governor Christie to President Christie.
David Wildstein told people at the Port Authority to close lanes from Fort Lee onto the George Washington Bridge, the only bridge going over the Hudson River for miles. That was what the Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee was about. Wildstein ordered workers not to notify the police of the lane closures. He told them it was part of a traffic study.
We should be clear here that Governor Christie knew nothing of any of this.
In the first week of September, 2013, commuters waiting to go onto the busiest bridge in the world waited longer than they expected. The wait went to hours. Many hours.
Of course commuters were late to work. Very late. Summer vacation had just ended. Children on buses were on the way to the first day of the school year. The kids were trapped on those school buses for hours. Many teachers were not in the classrooms anyway, being themselves trapped for hours. Ambulances were delayed getting to injured people. In one case, the crew abandoned their emergency vehicle and ran on foot to the medical emergency. In another case, the ambulance carrying a heart attack victim, Florence Genova who lived in Fort Lee, got caught up in the jam. She died shortly after she got to the hospital.
Another email exchange, also involving David Wildstein, was gleeful. An unknown participant in the closing of the lanes emailed Wildstein. Is it wrong that I'm smiling. Wildstein answered No.
The same person emailed I feel badly about the kids. I guess and Wildstein reminded the unknown conspirator of the upcoming election: They are the children of Buono voters.
It must be stressed that Governor Christie knew nothing of the closing of the lanes. He knew nothing of the gloating email messages.
The traffic tie up went for four days. The Port Authority is run jointly by New York and New Jersey. New York authorities insisted the traffic block be ended. Leaks about their concerns appeared in the press. On the New Jersey side, Christie loyalists were furious. Not about the traffic hardships. They were angry about the news leaks and New York interference with the lane closures.
Initially, the Governor denied knowing of the traffic tie up until it was over. As details of the conspiracy surfaced, several Christie people were fired or quit, including David Wildstein and Bridget Anne Kelly.
In the famous press conference in which the Governor explained that he didn't know about the traffic tie up until it was all over, he also explained that he didn't know David Wildstein all that well. Back in high school, student Christie was a rock star athlete, widely known and admired, while Wildstein was a nobody doing whatever he was doing.
Wildstein wants immunity from prosecution for what he did. He released a lot of the emails that pretty much prove there was a conspiracy. His lawyer says Wildstein knows about solid evidence the Governor lied, that Christie knew what was going on during the traffic tie up.
Later the Governor clarified. He hadn't lied. Of course he knew of the traffic delays. They were in all the papers. He did not know about the conspiracy was all.
Later on, Governor Christie's office sent a message out detailing how bad Wildstein was. They said a lot of what he did, day to day, at work was considered unproductive. They said he had sued the school board while he was a high school student. His social studies teacher had said he was deceptive in some unspecified way when he was 16.
The letter generated some mirth. people made fun of it. But it was not written by Christie. It was sent by someone who was "familiar with the situation." Christie knew nothing of the letter.
The Governor did not know that his deputy chief of staff was engaged in a plan to cause traffic problems.
The Governor did not know that his representative at the Port Authority was administering the plan.
The Governor barely knew of David Wildstein's existence.
The Governor did not know there were traffic issues beyond what was usual.
The Governor did not know of those gloating emails to and from his staff.
The Governor did not know of the messages that were part of the conspiracy.
The Governor did not know about the conspiracy.
The Governor did not know David Wildstein in high school.
The Governor did not know about the letter from his staff about Wildstein.
It now appears that funds from the federal government for desperate victims of Hurricane Sandy were being used to reward or threaten those victims for the officials they elected.
But we can trust that the Governor did not know about that either.
We now have an understanding of Governor Christie's innocence. He did not know.
We also have an idea of the governing philosophy followed by his administration.
Hear no evil. See no evil. And evil.
News Corpse notes the self-review engaged by Bill O'Reilly after his interview with the President of the United States. O'Reilly suggests that the interview will "go down in journalistic history" because of the interviewing skills he exhibited. News Corpse helps document O'Reilly's awesomeness with an analysis of the percent of the interview Bill devoted to instructing President Obama on how to run the country. What a guy!
James Wigderson watches the great debate on creationism between Bill Nye the science guy vs Ken Ham the Biblical literalist. I suspect James reflects the view of most mainstream Christians decidedly favoring Bill Nye and science.
A sympathetic fellow Republican says of House Speaker John Boehner's troubles that even Jesus would be unable to achieve a cooperative Republican caucus. Rumproast is inspired to speculate on just what Jesus would do as Speaker of the House.
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite reports on a fellow in California charged with assault for threatening with a gun a girl scout selling cookies. He is pleading not guilty. Does California have a Stand-Your-Ground provision?
- Max's Dad is genuinely saddened by the loss of everyone's favorite actor.
Here comes another CBO report, followed by a Republican effort to make the report say something it doesn't say.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says a lot of people who were not able to get insurance can get it now. Millions of older folks who are not yet 65 but want to retire have been clinging to jobs with health benefits because they need to for insurance. They or a spouse either have preexisting conditions, so they needed insurance from work, or they haven't been able to afford insurance, so they needed insurance from work.
Bottom line is: People needed insurance that they could only get from work.
Obamacare outlaws insurance companies from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions. Obamacare makes insurance more affordable. So a lot of people who want to retire can, you know, retire.
That means a couple of million people will decide not to work.
Many want to retire, but not all. Some are second income earners with a working spouse, and they want to be full time family care givers. Some have second jobs who don't want to work more than full time. That's 2 million more jobs available to someone else, someone out of work, someone who needs that job.
Good news, right?
Here's the Fox News headline:
|ObamaCare could lead to loss|
|of nearly 2.3 million US jobs,|
Haven't we gone through this sort of dishonesty before?
A little over three years ago, the Congressional Budget Office came out with an initial projection. Their estimate then was that up to 800,000 people would be released from having to work, most of them people wanting to retire. The reason? Well, same reason as now. From that report:
Changes to the insurance market, including provisions that prohibit insurers from denying coverage to people because of preexisting conditions and that restrict how much prices can vary with an individual’s age or health status, will increase the appeal of health insurance plans offered outside the workplace for older workers. As a result, some older workers will choose to retire earlier than they otherwise would.
Let's see. People who don't need to work, except to get insurance, are suddenly able to get insurance. So they can retire. Good news, right? But even back then, there was an effort to breitbart the report. This was how the Weekly Standard relayed the wonderful news:
|CBO Director Says Obamacare Would Reduce|
|Employment by 800,000 Workers|
This week was a repeat of three years ago. Mainstream news outlets first were taken in by conservatives. But then, they actually read the CBO report and listened to Congressional testimony. This has been like groundhog day.
Fox News found themselves in a sort of weird hybrid of spin. They stuck to their original falsehood that the CBO was projecting a loss of more than 2 million jobs. But they combined it with a new and contradictory distortion that, yes, people would drop out of the workforce but it would be because Obamacare had made then lazy. Why work if you can get everything for free?
Here's how one Fox interview begins:
Top story right now, that's this report on the true cost of Obamacare. It's growing yet again. The cost is 2.3 million jobs lost over the next decade. And that's just the beginning. Art Laffer was President Reagan's economic advisor with us back now in Nashville Tennessee. Art, good morning to you.
Professor Laffer is widely credited as the author of Republican Supply Side Economics. He summarizes the new read on the CBO report. You see it isn't actually that jobs are being lost. But it also doesn't seem to be what the CBO report actually says, either: that older workers who want to retire, second income earners, and 2nd job holders can now actually leave their jobs and still afford health insurance. What is it then?
Arthur Laffer educates his audience.
These people are trapped in their jobs cause they have to get income to provide for their families and not pursue their dreams. So let's give everyone full income so no-one will have to work and we can all proceed with our dreams. And then we'll live happily ever after. I mean, it's such la-la-land stuff. I've never heard such nonsense in my life.
- Professor Arthur Laffer, on Fox News, February 5, 2014
So another CBO report becomes a conservative Rorschach test.
For normal folks, affordable health insurance provides ordinary people a degree of health freedom. They can move from one job to another. A parent with a working spouse can become a stay at home, presumably with the congratulations of cultural conservatives. Someone who works a second job just to get the insurance can now work a forty-plus hour week. Some folks can even retire early, if they have the means. All this will open jobs for people who need them.
For those conservatives educated by Fox News and a thousand blog sites, the CBO report says something completely different from the words on each page. They receive a message from an alternate reality. Obamacare is costing 2 million jobs, forcing people out of work. That force away from work comes by offering all of us a full time income for not working.
I mean, it's such la-la-land stuff. I've never heard such nonsense in my life.
Except, of course, in the conservative press.