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Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R, ANOTHER PLANET) is the guy who thought he would be Boehner's replacement. Now, he admits the "Benghazi investigation" was nothing but a platform to attack Hillary Clinton, had nothing to do with finding the truth.

Courtesy of the Washington Post: 

House Republicans are in the midst of a coronation of California Congressman Kevin McCarthy as the next Speaker of the House. McCarthy's comments about the motives of the House select committee investigating the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, on Tuesday night, however, should give the party pause about whether he's totally ready for the big job.

Prodded repeatedly by conservative Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity to name an accomplishment for the Republican-led Congress, McCarthy seized on the Benghazi committee and its investigation into Hillary Clinton's role (or lack thereof) in the handling of the incident during her time as secretary of state. 

"Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?" McCarthy told Hannity. "But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she's untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought." 


And that my friends is how political careers blow right up in your face.

Of course it's not like this was really any secret.

But in order to represent Republicans in the House rule number one is "Don't tell the truth about our bullshit politically motivated investigations!"

Let's correct the bullshit spread by Republicans in today's "hearing" on Planned Parenthood

During today's Planned Parenthood witchhunt er, "Congressional hearing", Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah presented a very interesting (some might say "simplistic" and "unsourced & without context" chart which purported to "prove" that Planned Parenthood has supposedly, over the years, dramatically reduced how much non-abortion service they provide while simultaneously increasing the number of abortions that they perform:
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) stumbled near the start of a tense hearing on Tuesday when Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards told him to check his sources on a chart that he said showed a decrease in breast exams and an increase in abortions by the organization. 
Richards was testifying before the House Oversight Committee, which began investigating the organization after sting videos were released by an anti-abortion group that allegedly showed Planned Parenthood executives discussing the sale of fetal tissue. Earlier in the hearing, Richards was repeatedly interrupted by Chaffetz.
Chaffetz, who chairs the committee, at one point showed a slide that had one straight line heading downward and another straight line heading upward.
Here's Rep. Chaffetz's "chart":

You can't read the actual numbers from the blurry screen shot, but from the the handy "arrows", it's safe to assume that Chaffetz is suggesting that "cancer screenings and prevention services" have taken a nosedive over the years (?) while abortions have increased at an equally dramatic rate.
Judging from the rest of the exchange, this "evidence" was slapped onto the wall for the first time just seconds before Richards testified, and doesn't appear to have been provided to her, any of the other witnesses or, really, anyone else prior to the hearing:
"You created this slide. I have no idea what it is," Richards said. "Well, it is the reduction over the course of years — in pink, that's the reduction in the breast exams — and the red is the increase in the abortions," Chaffetz said. "That's what's going on in the organization."
...Richards said that she had not seen the slide before and that it "absolutely does not reflect what's happening at Planned Parenthood."
"You're going to deny that —" Chaffetz said.
"I'm going to deny this slide that you just showed me that no one has ever provided us before," she said. "We've provided you all the information about everything — all the services that Planned Parenthood provides. And it doesn't feel like we're trying to get to the truth here. You just showed me this."
Chaffetz claimed that the "numbers" (whatever they are) on the chart are directly from Planned Parenthood's "corporate reports", but Richards stated that...
"Excuse me," Richards said. "My lawyers have informed me that the source of this is Americans United for Life which is an anti-abortion group so I would check your source."
First of all, as Richards notes, slapping a chart on the wall with absolutely no advance notice, context or clear source for the content or claims is dirty pool (and sounds an awful lot like the infamous, grossly-edited videos which set off all of this nonsense in the first place).

According to the actual Planned Parenthood 2014 annual report, last year they performed 935,573 "cancer screenings and prevention" services while also performing 327,653 abortions over the course of the year.

According to their 2013 report, they performed 1,121,580 cancer screenings & prevention services that year, while performing 327,166 abortions.

Now, I have no idea what the starting point is for Chaffetz's chart, but assuming he meant year over year, he's technically correct:

--1,121,580 > 935,573 = a 16.6% reduction in cancer screenings/preventative services year over year.
--327,166 > 327,653 = a 0.15% incrrease in abortions year over year.

Wow! They performed 487 more abortions this year than last!

Then again, the population also went up from around 316.5 million to 319 million from 2013 - 2014, a 0.8% increase, so technically speaking, Planned Parenthood has reduced the number of abortions they've performed on a per capita basis! Mazel Tov!!

Now, there was a definite reduction in the number of cancer screenings, right? True. However, let's look at the other numbers:

--STI/STD Testing/Treatment: 4,469,308 >> 4,470,597
--Contraception: 3,724,558 >> 3,577,348
--Other Women's Health Services: 1,167,755 >> 1,147,467
—Other Services: 123,308 >> 132,795

Wow, look at that! Some went up, others went down! It's almost as though the number and type of medical services that people need changes from year to year! Astonishing!

In fact, it seems to me that given all the other stuff that Planned Parenthood does, it would be more reasonable to add the rest of the services up (since abortion is supposedly the only "bad" one they perform):

—2013 Report: 10,606,509 non-abortion services performed
—2014 Report: 10,262,780 non-abortion services performed


Of course, that's just over a 2 year period. Perhaps Chaffetz's chart goes back further. In fact, I'm quite certain that if you go back to 1915, you'd conclude that the number of abortions performed by Planned Parenthood has increased dramatically (kind of a given considering that the organization wasn't founded until 1916). Plus, of course, the U.S. population was a bit smaller back then...
Seriously, though, aside from the fact that abortion is a legal medical procedure (which therefore merits no more scrutiny or singling out than, say, pap smears or mammograms, as long as it's done legally and ethically), it occurs to me that there might be a completely unrelated reason for why the number of NON-abortion related services provided by Planned Parenthood has dropped off year over year:

Obamacare. of the main reasons many low-income folks go to Planned Parenthood (for services other than abortion) is because they're uninsured. Seeing how the ACA has brought decent healthcare coverage to over 17 million people over the past few years (over 5% of the total population), it's hardly surprising that visits to Planned Parenthood might have dropped off a bit.
This stunt by Chaffetz is the most idiotic moment in a travesty which grows more idiotic by the day. To that end, here's my own chart, inspired by Rep. Chaffetz...(like him, I've oversimplified it and failed to provide context for much of my "proof". Unlike him, I have included links to my own sources for one of the chart lines:

attribution: None Specified

In all seriousness, however, here's an actual corrected chart displaying the numbers I think Chaffetz was trying to (of course, what on earth any of this has to do with whether or not Planned Parenthood broke the law, which they didn't, I have no idea). Unlike Chaffetz's chart, everything here is to scale:

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Thanks to Old Left Good Left for providing this link to Chaffetz's original chart; it turns out that it starts in 2006.
Now, at first glance this does certainly appear to support Chaffetz's argument more strongly. Abortions did indeed hit 327K in 2013, and cancer screenings/prevention services were indeed down to 935K.

I'm going to assume, for the moment, that the 2006 figures (2 million cancer screenings, 290K abortions performed) are accurate as well.

Taken at face value, that would mean a 12.9% increase in abortions performed per year, and a 53.4% reduction in cancer screenings & prevention services.

HOWEVER, there's still some major problems with the "Americans United for Life" chart, some of which are obvious, some not so much:

Most obvious, of course: 327,000 is still only 1/3 as much as 935,000. It sure as hell isn't 3x as much, which this chart suggests.

Next: As noted above, the U.S. population increased from 298 million to 317 million between 2006 and 2013. That's a 6% increase, which obviously accounts for a good half of the increase all by itself.

OK, but what about the more "troubling" line--cancer screenings/prevention being slashed more than 50% over the 7 year period?

Well, Old Left Good Left in the comments pointed out something else which changed during that time period: The recommended frequency of cancer screenings has changed.

For instance, in 2007, the "annual mammogram" recommendation was apparently changed to:
**May 2007 - Present: Women at high risk based on certain factors should get an MRI and a mammogram every year. This includes women with about a 20% or greater risk using risk assessment tools based mainly on family history, women who had radiation therapy to the chest when they were between the ages of 10 and 30 years, and women who either have or who are at high risk for mutations in certain genes that greatly increase their breast cancer risk.
In 2012, pap smears (to check for cervical cancer), which had been recommended every 1-3 years depending on age/etc; in 2012 this changed to every 3-5 years, and so on. All of these factors could have made a significant reduction in unnecessary screenings and so forth.

Unfortunately, I don't know the number of additional services performed (STD checks, contraception, etc.) for 2006, though it's safe to assume that the total number of non-abortion services at the time was similar to the 30:1 ratio that you see in 2012 and 2013.

Since I don't know what that total was, however, I'm forced to limit myself to the 2 million cancer screening figure...and I also can't specifically account for the changes in screening recommendations due to them being spread out over several years in different categories.

However, even without any of that, the accurate chart still looks dramatically different from Chaffetz's:

UPDATE x2: ARRRGH!! (sigh) OK, it turns out was already all over Chaffetz's stupid chart as well...and they have managed to track down the total 2006 Planned Parenthood numbers:
So it's not true, as the chart implies, that Planned Parenthood has been performing more abortions while drastically cutting back the provision of other services. The overall number of non-abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood barely changed at all, going from 10.29 million in 2006 to 10.26 million in 2013.
That brings me back to the original version of the corrected graph, which now looks like this:

Originally posted to Brainwrap on Tue Sep 29, 2015 at 05:35 PM EDT.

Also republished by This Week in the War on Women.

President Obama kicks the shit out of Cheney, Putin, Trump, and the Republican Party in his speech at the UN

President Obama laid out his comprehensive foreign policy ideology while hammering a diverse group of critics that ranged from Dick Cheney to Vladimir Putin, to Donald Trump.

Obama used Bush/Cheney’s failed Iraq war to illustrate the old and incorrect way of thinking, “No matter how powerful our military, how strong our economy, we understand the United States cannot solve the world’s problems alone. In Iraq, the United States learned the hard lesson that even hundreds of thousands of brave, effective troops, trillions of dollars from our Treasury, cannot by itself impose stability on a foreign land. Unless we work with other nations under the mantle of international norms and principles and law that offer legitimacy to our efforts, we will not succeed. And unless we work together to defeat the ideas that drive different communities in a country like Iraq into conflict, any order that our militaries can impose will be temporary.”

The President mocked Putin and the Republicans in this country who cheerlead for him, “Now, within Russia, state-controlled media may describe these events as an example of a resurgent Russia — a view shared, by the way, by a number of U.S. politicians and commentators who have always been deeply skeptical of Russia, and seem to be convinced a new Cold War is, in fact, upon us. And yet, look at the results. The Ukrainian people are more interested than ever in aligning with Europe instead of Russia. Sanctions have led to capital flight, a contracting economy, a fallen ruble, and the emigration of more educated Russians.”

President Obama accused Donald Trump and the Republican Party of exploiting and manipulating people’s fears, “The increasing skepticism of our international order can also be found in the most advanced democracies. We see greater polarization, more frequent gridlock; movements on the far right, and sometimes the left, that insist on stopping the trade that binds our fates to other nations, calling for the building of walls to keep out immigrants. Most ominously, we see the fears of ordinary people being exploited through appeals to sectarianism, or tribalism, or racism, or anti-Semitism; appeals to a glorious past before the body politic was infected by those who look different or worship God differently; a politics of us versus them.”

The critics of the President who claim that he does not have a foreign policy vision need to watch this speech. President Obama’s foreign policy places diplomacy and international cooperation first.
The one element that Putin, Trump, and Cheney all have in common is that their policies are exploiting fears, acting alone, and rejecting cooperation. Trump’s idea of building a wall along the Southern border is a unilateral action that plays on the conservative fear of immigrants. Cheney’s entire foreign policy worldview is based on ignoring diplomacy and imposing US will through military strength alone. Putin wants to be the great Russian strongman who imposes his will without negotiation.

Obama is suggesting that the United States should lead, but not bully. The President has embraced the path to peace and global stability that doesn’t come from the barrel of a gun. The military option should be a last resort, not a first option.

Disagreement is not the same as absence. Republicans don’t like it, but President Obama has a successful foreign policy.

Missouri is SEVENTH state to find no illegal activity at Planned Parenthood. Of course, facts won't stop the rightwing loons.

A number of states have launched investigations into Planned Parenthood after the release of the Center for Medical Progress’s blatantly deceptive videos, including Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and South Dakota, and so far every state has completely vindicated the women’s health organization of any and all wrongdoing.

Today Missouri joins this growing list of states, as Attorney General Chris Koster’s office announces they have found absolutely no evidence Planned Parenthood is illegally selling fetal tissue.
An investigation in Missouri found no evidence that Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis clinic mishandled fetal tissue or engaged in unlawful activity, Attorney General Chris Koster’s office said on Monday.
Koster’s office had launched an investigation after an anti-abortion group released videos over the summer alleging that Planned Parenthood in other states illegally sold fetal tissue.
“The evidence reviewed by my investigators supports Planned Parenthood’s representation that fetal tissue is handled in accordance with Missouri law,” Koster said in a news release. “We have discovered no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis facility is selling fetal tissue.”
How much more money will the Republican Party waste on “investigations” prompted by a bogus religious right smear attack?  Likely they'll spend lots and lots -- just as they are wasting money on Benghazi and just like they wasted money of Whitewater.

We have met the enemy and he is the Republican Party -- GOP now controlled by extreme radicals

It is time to get very afraid: Extremists, authoritarians now run the GOP — 

and no one can stop them

Boehner and McConnell weren't conservative enough for them. Nor Eric Cantor. Right-wing purists won't stop here

Movement Conservatives just claimed the head of House Speaker John Boehner. His political death was the price of preventing a catastrophic government shutdown after Movement Conservatives in Congress tied the very survival of the United States government to their determination to defund Planned Parenthood. Movement Conservatives are gunning for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell next. We should be very afraid. Boehner and McConnell are not wild-eyed lefties. They are on the very far right of the American political spectrum: fervently pro-business, antiabortion, opposed to social welfare legislation. But they are old-school politicians who still have faith in the idea of American democracy.

Movement Conservatives do not. They want to blow up the government and remake America according to their own radical ideology.

Since the 1950s, Movement Conservatives have set out to destroy the form of federal government that came out of the New Deal. After the Great Crash and the ensuing Depression, most Americans believed that the government must regulate business and protect labor in order to create a stable, prosperous society. But businessmen hated the very same New Deal regulations most Americans liked. The captains of industry believed that government meddling in their affairs would disrupt economic laws. This would cripple their enterprises and, in turn, cripple the American economy. But the New Deal consensus was enormously popular, and actually made for a stable economy in which most Americans enjoyed security. Business interests could not fight this consensus on the merits, or they would continue to lose.

In 1951, a young William F. Buckley, Jr., came up with a blueprint for destroying the American consensus. Rational argument was a losing strategy, Buckley wrote in “God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of ‘Academic Freedom.’” If voters were presented with facts, said Buckley, they would choose government regulation. So a new breed of Movement Conservative leaders must start from the premise that what Buckley called “individualism”—that is, an economy in which individual action was untouched by the state—was as sacrosanct as the Ten Commandments. Buckley gave this same untouchable status to Christianity, another fundamental that could not be questioned. People could quibble about the details of society based on an unregulated economy and Christianity, he allowed, but those bedrock principles could not be compromised. Individualism and Christianity were under attack, he insisted, from New Deal apologists and secular thinkers who had wormed their way into all levels of government and education. The secular New Dealers, Buckley claimed, threatened America’s very survival.

In the same year Buckley wrote “God and Man at Yale,” Eric Hoffer, a former San Francisco dockworker-turned-philosopher, examined the nature of authoritarian government. Having watched the rise of both fascism and communism, the former San Francisco dockworker thought those who wrung their hands over the ascent of a charismatic leader like Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin were missing the point. There could be no leader without a mass movement, Hoffer argued.

His observations about how revolutionary leaders created followers were so compelling that when Dwight Eisenhower became president, he urged everyone to read Hoffer’s book, “The True Believer.” Eisenhower worried deeply about the rise of authoritarian governments. He worried about fascism, communism and religious extremism overseas, but he was also deeply concerned at the rise of Movement Conservatism in America. That movement looked dangerously like the ones Hoffer described. In the years since, Movement Conservatives have continued to follow Hoffer’s script.

Mass movements ultimately need a disaffected population, Hoffer said, people who are either economically or culturally dispossessed. Those isolated individuals need to feel part of something bigger than themselves. They need to believe they can regain their previous relevance. Properly primed, such followers will throw themselves behind a leader who promises to return them to power.
In the early stages of a mass movement, “men of words,” as Hoffer called them, primed the pump for revolution by discrediting the current order of society. They encouraged followers to despise the present as a terrible declension from a glorious past. Then came the men of action—political leaders. As society destabilized, these new leaders created an artificial reality that made their discontented followers feel like they were part of something bigger than them, a movement to save society, a movement so important it was worth sacrificing themselves for it. The easiest way to unify followers was with hate. Leaders of such a movement identified a villain. These villains were usually the weakest members of society, making them easy to attack. And each attack on these new “enemies” fed contempt for them. Followers of a movement made more and more outrageous claims about those they demonized. Eventually those villains became so dehumanized that movement members would kill them, believing such atrocities were vital to reclaiming a glorious future for their nation. At this stage, followers were immune to facts or logic. Indeed, arguing with them only entrenched them in their beliefs, because the sign of a true believer’s faith was that it stood firm in the face of overwhelming opposition.

Eisenhower noted that early Movement Conservatives seemed to fit the pattern Hoffer’s work identified. In Eisenhower’s day, Movement Conservative leaders from William F. Buckley Jr. to Robert Welsh, who began the John Birch Society from his position at the Education Committee of the National Association of Manufacturers, harped on the idea that Communists had taken over the American government and were selling it out to an international cabal. Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy took that war into popular media. He claimed the need to defend individualism and Christianity from the secret plots of godless Communists in the government.

McCarthy began the process of creating an enemy that Movement Conservative followers could hate. His outrageous accusations divided American citizens into good and evil. Buckley and his brother-in-law, L. Brent Bozell, expanded this theme, dividing Americans into “Conservatives” like McCarthy and themselves, who were trying to save the nation, and “Liberals” who wanted to destroy it. Their Liberals were all those who endorsed the New Deal consensus. Although New Deal supporters made up the vast majority of Americans, Buckley and Bozell announced that these traitors must be purged from the country. Instead, the nation must return to its glory days with a new “orthodoxy” of strict individualism and Christianity. Bipartisanship, progressivism and national unity were all a dangerous assault on what they claimed were America’s traditional values.

In the 1960s, Movement Conservatives created a cast of villains. The Brown v. Board decision in 1954 and President Eisenhower’s use of troops to desegregate Little Rock Central High School in 1957 enabled Movement Conservatives to resurrect old white fears that government activism was simply a way to funnel white tax dollars to African-Americans. Black people threatened America by forcing the government to redistribute wealth, thus inserting communism into the very fabric of the country. In 1968, Nixon made this Movement Conservative argument part of the established Republican Party when he resorted to the Southern Strategy. He expanded the villains’ list, too: he added to it grasping women, all minorities, and anti-war activists in the streets. They were all trying to destroy America.

Nixon’s people were purposely vague in their accusations—the administration’s favorite straw man was the murky “they” of “they say.” That unspecified “they” allowed Nixon’s people to preserve the illusion that they were describing facts. But President Ronald Reagan unhinged the rhetoric of Movement Conservatism even further from reality. He told folksy stories about Welfare Queens who stole tax dollars and hardworking individuals threatened by “a little intellectual elite in a far-distant Capitol.” When journalists fact-checked Reagan, he accused them of bias and rallied supporters against the “Liberal media.” And it played. In 1987, his administration ended the Fairness Doctrine that had required media to present facts and a wide range of opinions. This enabled Movement Conservatives to spew their worldview on talk radio and later television, railing against lazy blacks, women, minorities, workers and “Liberals,” all of whom were destroying America and holding the country back from regaining its former glory. And the more Movement Conservatives attacked, the more they weakened their enemies, and the more they despised them. Just as Hoffer had predicted.
By the time of the George W. Bush administration, Movement Conservatives controlled the Republican Party, and they abandoned reality in favor of their simple story line. A member of the Bush administration famously noted to journalist Ron Suskind that “the reality-based” view of the world was obsolete. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” this senior adviser to the president told Suskind. “When we act, we create our own reality.”

That is exactly what today’s Movement Conservatives are doing. After the last Republican debate, astonished observers noted that many of the candidates’ assertions were flat-out lies. The New York Times editorial board mused: “It felt at times as if the speakers were no longer living in a fact-based world.” But the lies are not random. They tell followers that America has fallen apart because enemies— minorities, women and liberals– have poisoned the government. Only a Movement Conservative leader can purge the nation of that poison and return America to its former greatness. Donald Trump, who currently commands a significant lead, is the salesman who puts it most clearly. He tells his followers that “the world is a mess.” He promises to work outside the old order and replace it with something new and wonderful. He tells them a story in which Christianity is under siege, President Obama is a foreigner, and that immigrants—who actually commit crimes at lower rates than native-born Americans– are criminals. He refused to contradict a follower who announced that Muslims are a problem that we must “get rid of.” And he promises to “Make America Great Again.”

But Trump is not an outlier. Jeb! says that black people vote for Democrats to get “free stuff.” Mike Huckabee insists that the United States is criminalizing Christianity. Bobby Jindal promises to “fire” Congress. Ted Cruz hints that President Obama is a Muslim and warns that no Muslim should be president. All of the candidates demonize undocumented immigrants.

And Carly Fiorina makes the outrageous claim, on national television, that political opponents murder babies to harvest and sell their brains. Think about that.

The fantasy world of Movement Conservatives is no longer fringe talk. The leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination embrace it. They are playing to a chorus of true believers, and they are preaching what that choir wants to hear. They are following the same pattern Eric Hoffer identified as the path to authoritarianism. Last week, 43 percent of Republicans polled said they could imagine a scenario in which they would back a military coup. This week, Movement Conservatives in Congress knocked off a conservative speaker because he refused to sacrifice the American government to their demands.

We should be very frightened indeed. If we are not careful, John Boehner’s will not be the only head on the block.

Lifelong Republican Larry Wilkerson gives conservative audience a history lesson: The coming breakup of the United States

Lawrence Wilkerson gave a most prescient speech on the demise of the United States Empire. He gave the speech in the belly of the very Republican Conservative town, Kingwood, Texas, a suburb of Houston. Having a Lawrence Wilkerson, a devout Republican, justifiably admonish his Party plethora of bad acts was shocking to many Republicans in the audience.

The entire speech is well worth listening to. It gives us reason to engage in the body politic immediately in order to take control from our burgeoning Oligarchy.
The speech covered National Security, Climate Change, Interminable War, Debt, Immigration, Inequality, racism, and much more. The speech is striking in its honesty. It is likely poignant to Republicans who have bought into rationalization of the intransigence of the Republican Party.

 Wilkerson is a retired U.S. Army colonel, long-time chief of staff to General and Secretary of State  Colin Powell.

Today's GOP: Riding the short bus and licking the windows . . . and now they want to drive the bus

First, a word of explanation.  Not everyone is familiar with the expression "riding the short bus."  Frankly, it is an unkind and derogatory expression.  As most of us know, school systems accommodate special needs students, many of whom must have special transportation -- special school buses.  Because these special buses carry only a few students, they are much shorter than normal school buses -- hence, "the short bus."  Because the students who ride the short bus are "special needs students," the term "riding the short bus" has come to describe a person or a group of people who are . . . let's say, who are a bit slower than the rest of us . . . intellectually challenged as it were. "Licking the windows" -- occasionally one of the special needs kids has strange habits, such as licking the windows.

Today's GOP is like a group of kids riding the short bus and licking the windows . . . but now they think they can drive the bus.

Here is thoughtful commentary about how John Boehner's resignation is a result of the dingbats, loons, wackadoodles, Klansmen, Jesus freaks, gunnuts, and other crazy people who now make up the GOP and it's creature, the Tea Party.

*Peter King: Boehner exit means 'the crazies have taken over the party' ("I think whoever runs for speaker should make it clear that he's not going to give in to these people...The time for appeasement is over.")

*Boehner didn't have a prayer ("...for most of his speakership, he could not be that leader, because his caucus constantly tugged him toward extremism and implacability. He kept his title, but he lost any ability to lead. Finally, he had enough.")

*Boehner's tenure defined by missed chances and internal revolts

*Mr. Boehner's resignation is a political cop-out ("... a speaker's primary responsibility is to the nation, not the House. And what the nation needs is a Congress willing to make compromises in the national interest - compromises that Mr. Boehner may have favored but rarely had the stomach to promote." Bingo.)

*The GOP civil war infects 2016 ("The internal struggle that helped doom Boehner now bleeds into the presidential race." Now? It's been doing that a looong time.)

*The Revolution Devours Its Own ("John Boehner was brought down by the same conservative forces he once courted." Yep, the Tea Party monster devoured him.)

*John Boehner was really bad at his job. Now things are about to get epically worse ("The right was never controllable. Boehner's enduring shame will be having not reached across the aisle to govern." Yep.)

For a more direct commentary, read Juanita Jean's Beauty Shop's take on the resignation.

“Look, we’ve screwed this Republican Party thing up royally.  The long path from Richard Nixon’s Silent Majority, through Ronald Reagan’s Moral Majority, to George Bush’s Gerrymandered Majority has led us here,” well-known political has-been Boehner said.  “We took every crank, Jeebus freak, moron, nutjob, racist, sexist and ammosexual and told them that actually their pathologies were patriotism, just so that they would vote for us and against their economic self-interest.”

“Who knew that if you empowered the delinquents on the short-bus, eventually they were going to want to drive it,” well-known weeper Boehner said, a wistful tear in his eye.  “The experiment has escaped the laboratory.”

No wonder Republicans are focussing on Planned Parenthood

Why is the GOP so fixated on the phony Planned Parenthood videos?  Because they don't want anyone to notice this:

The world’s largest economy (the U.S.) expanded more than previously forecast in the second quarter, boosted by gains in consumer spending and construction that may help the U.S. withstand a global slowdown.
Gross domestic product rose at a 3.9 percent annualized rate, compared with a prior estimate of 3.7 percent, Commerce Department figures showed Friday in Washington.

Excerpts from Boehner's resignation speech

Here for you Tea Partiers are the relevant portions of Boehner's resignation speech.

“Look, we’ve screwed this Republican Party thing up royally. The long path from Richard Nixon’s Silent Majority, through Ronald Reagan’s Moral Majority, to George Bush’s Gerrymandered Majority has led us here,” well-known political has-been Boehner said. “We took every crank, Jesus freak, moron, nutjob, racist, sexist and ammosexual and told them that actually their pathologies were patriotism, just so that they would vote for us and against their economic self-interest.”

“Who knew that if you empowered the delinquents on the short-bus, eventually they were going to want to drive it,” well-known weeper Boehner said, a wistful tear in his eye. “The experiment has escaped the laboratory.”

And here's the rest of the speech.

Rightwing, Tea Party heads exploding as Fortune 500 companies pledge to go with 100% renewable energy

Courtesy of Reneweconomy: 

Fortune 500-listed companies Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, NIKE, Inc, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, Steelcase, Voya Financial, and Walmart have pledged to source 100 per cent of their electricity from renewable energy. 

The pledges are part of the “RE100” global campaign by non-profit groups, The Climate Group and Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), which encourages companies to commit to 100 per cent renewable energy. 

CEO of The Climate Group, Mark Kenber, said: “Research shows that the most ambitious companies have seen a 27 per cent return on their low carbon investments – no wonder new names keep joining RE100. 

“Lowering risk, protecting against price rises, saving millions and boosting brand is what shaping a low carbon economy is all about,” Kenber said. 

“Today these companies are signalling loud and clear to COP21 negotiators that forward-thinking businesses back renewables and want to see a strong climate deal in Paris.” 

The private sector is key to reducing global carbon emissions as it accounts for more than half of the world’s electricity consumption.

Some of the companies have target dates as far out as 2050, but others are shooting for faster turnarounds at around 2020 or even 2015.

Meanwhile, Tea Partiers continue to rave and rail against "Agenda 21" and "Smart Growth" as well as shrieking in favor of offshore drilling --  while the smart people start moving into renewable energy.

Once again, Jeb! proves that he is, without a doubt, the dumbest of the Bush clan

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) said he disagrees with Pope Francis' call to fight climate change and thinks the Pope should not delve into the issue because he "is not a scientist."

IN FACT:  Pope Francis holds a degree in chemistry from the Argentine Escuela T├ęcnica Industrial No. 12*.  Jeb! graduated from the Univ of Texas with a degree in Latin American studies.

Planned Parenthood wil testify before Congress; the pieces of shit who made the phony videos plead the Fifth

Congressional "investigators" are finally going to allow Planned Parenthood to testify at a hearing about those bogus videos and whether or not the organization sells baby parts. That hearing of the House Oversight Committee—led by and featuring several members of the bunch trying to defund Planned Parenthood—is scheduled for the day before government funding runs out and the government might shut down.

Democratic members are demanding that David Daleiden, the man behind the video operation, is also called to testify at the Sept. 29 hearing. If he isn't, they say in a letter to Chairman Jason Chaffetz today that they will call him to their own minority hearing. They say the hearing in the Oversight Committee, which includes several members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, is part of the "broader power struggle to unseat House Speaker John Boehner, led by an extreme wing of the Republican Party that is using this issue to force a government shutdown unless the Speaker bows to their demands." […]
"We strongly oppose this biased, one-sided attack against Planned Parenthood that disregards the questionable activities of Mr. Daleiden merely to help the House Freedom Caucus shut down the government and potentially oust Speaker Boehner—all while jeopardizing healthcare services for millions of women across the country," they wrote.
The timing of the hearing is pretty suspect, another indication that this band of Republicans is dead-set on forcing this confrontation with Boehner and on having a shutdown. As to whether they'll also invite Daleiden to testify, well, that doesn't seem likely. Given that the videos have proven to be bullpucky by various outside experts, Daleiden's best bet is to just clam up about the whole thing. In fact, that exactly has been his strategy. House Republicans might indulge him in that, but a federal judge is having none of it.
Judge William Orrick said in a hearing that the Center for Medical Progress must comply with the court’s requests for documents, escalating the weeks-long legal battle over the secret videos. The organization's founder, David Daleiden, had previously told the court that the group planned to invoke the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The National Abortion Federation is suing over what it says is CMP's illegal secret recording of various providers. They are asking the judge to block the release of any more videos, citing the increasing threats of violence to providers and to officials of biomedical research companies using fetal tissue.

Donald Trump is only a symptom -- the Republican Party is the disease

Republican presidential candidate and loony cartoony narcissist Donald Trump has been dominating the media and the polls for the past three months. The degree of obsession exhibited by the press is unprecedented as they rush to cover every scrap of data related to Trump and broadcast all of his public events live as if they were actually newsworthy. The environment surrounding the GOP campaign has devolved into a freak show featuring overt bigotry and stupefying ignorance.

More often than not the blame for this is laid at the feet of Trump, whose own bigotry and ignorance are displayed prominently every time he opens his mouth. But that is somewhat unfair. While Trump is certainly responsible for some of the most memorably ludicrous moments of the campaign, the fact that his hateful idiocy has caught on with a significant faction of the Republican electorate isn’t his fault. Trump’s support isn’t coming from the back seat of his limo. There are actual voters lining up to align themselves with his noxious brand and without them he would be an asterisk in the polls.

A real world illustration of this occurred this week when Trump failed to rebuke a questioner who maligned Muslims and cast doubt on President Obama’s faith and citizenship. The press properly reported Trump’s response, but then portrayed it as if it were peculiar to him. The fact is that a majority of his supporters believe the very same things. That questioner was not an aberration (or a liberal plant as some wingnuts have been alleging). He is a typical representative of Trump’s base and the GOP’s as well.

Trump is not creating the bigotry that is so evident on the right. He is exploiting it, he is benefiting from it and, in the worst instances, he is fanning it. But it was there long before he began his campaign, and it will persist after he inevitably flames out. Whoever the Republican nominee is, he or she will be leading a party that still harbors the prejudices that we are seeing today. If anything, Trump’s campaign is serving a purpose by bringing these views into the light.

However, these tendencies on the part of conservatives are not reserved for the Trump contingent. A new poll by CNN shows that Carly Fiorina has jumped to second place following the CNN debate. What is significant in that is that her boost was the result of her telling the biggest lie of the whole debate. She said that she had seen video showing Planned Parenthood harvesting body parts from an aborted fetus with a beating heart and kicking legs. However, numerous independent journalists who watched all twelve hours of the videos she referenced reported that no such video exists.

Nevertheless, her demonstrable lie has thrust her into the upper tier of Republican candidates. This is more proof that the GOP electorate is not only bigoted and ignorant, but they also have no respect for the truth.

There are plenty of other examples of this behavior. Mike Huckebee falsely asserted that Planned Parenthood was caught selling baby body parts for profit. Scott Walker thinks his confrontation with union members in Wisconsin is equivalent to doing battle with ISIS. Ben Carson just today said that he doesn’t believe that Muslims should ever be considered for president. Jeb Bush actually said that using big words makes the world more dangerous.

Ignorance and bigotry? They are the indicators of a Republican Party deeply infected with a disease that is making the nation sick. The Republican candidates are simply the opportunistic symptoms taking advantage of a weakened immune system. So the next time you see Trump, or any other GOP nut case, say something stupid or offensive, remember that they are saying it to fellow Republicans who feel exactly the same way.

Let's cut through the crap: Republicans, Tea Partiers, "conservatives" HATE AMERICA

To this day I still find it shocking that Republicans took great pride in their decision to deliberately sabotage the government! They broadcasted it shamelessly, stating their primary goal was – not to govern, but – to make President Obama a one-term president!

Theirs was an audacious goal and an even more audacious dereliction of the duties attached to their jobs, and Republicans have continued to play the ‘Block-the-President’ game since 2009 with painful repercussions for civilians and veterans alike. The fact they have been able to get away with deliberately hurting actual citizens for so long, even after the majority of Americans gave the Obama-Admin a second term, is scary. In addition, watching them in action it is hard not to conclude that the media have played a major role in encouraging the Republican leadership to dismiss the result of both elections. The MSM have done so, IMO, by not highlighting, en masse, GOP malfeasance when it occurred, and not calling out the fact that Republicans have a tendency to routinely ignore results that don’t go their way.

“If democracy means anything it means that, if you are outvoted, you accept the results and prepare for the next election. Republicans are refusing to do that. It shows contempt for the democratic process.” ~Thomas Friedman – NYTimes

The Republicans’ persistent obstruction has been the only issue on which GOP politicians have been consistent, and unfortunately no one (other than the president, and an odd media voice here and there) have challenged them consistently re this blatant disrespect to the American people. For over six years Republicans have loudly stated they would not do their jobs; and they not only haven’t done so, they have faithfully, religiously, and gleefully stood in the path of others attempting to do theirs. They have tried blackmail tactics re budgets, engineered one government shutdown (and are muttering about another), and have attempted dozens of repeals of the same law] all while collecting a handsome salary! Nowhere has evidence been found that Republicans have once considered the impact of their non-participation in governing on average Americans who may be suffering through difficult financial times. In fact, they actually celebrated their decision to shut down the government in 2013!!! 

This is unconscionable behavior – behavior that Republicans have been able to perpetuate to their advantage over the years! Tell me, why is there no mechanism in place to curb this type of bad faith governing? That the nation has to suffer through deliberate and destructive tactics for years until the next election shows a weakness in the system that ought to be addressed, don’t you think? Americans young and old – veterans, food stamp recipients, underpaid women and others – all have been caught in the trenches of the GOP war against one man – the president of the USA! There is little doubt that the Republican Party’s total focus on thwarting any recovery President Obama tries to accomplish has hurt this nation in so many ways we will need decades to recover.

The Kansas experiment in GOP trickle-down economics continues to fail as the state bleeds jobs

Republicans have it all in Kansas. A governor who is a firm believer in small government policies and tax cuts for business owners, a legislative body which is filled with a super-majority of largely conservative Republicans and an electorate who was willing to see the experiment through.

By all accounts, Sam Brownback had offered Kansans a Republican Utopia: a free hand to govern in a Republican way to grow the state. Praised by his peers and out of staters - including presidential candidates like Chris Christie who stopped in Kansas during the 2014 campaign - Brownback offered a fully conservative laboratory.

The Sun is Shining in Kansas - And Don't Let Anyone Tell you Different! was Sam Brownback's campaign slogan.

The Kansas Department of Labor Report for August tells us that too many Kansans don't need to be told any different; far too many of them received pink slips that leave them wondering first hand where the booming Kansas economy went.

In a report issued by Kansas Department of Labor, the news is stark for Kansas:
Since last month, Kansas declined by 2,000 seasonally adjusted private sector jobs, or 0.2 percent. The state lost 3,000 seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs, or 0.2 percent since July 2015.
This comes on top of roughly 5,100 in job losses in the July cycle.  But what happened?  Why has Utopia not materialized in Kansas? During the 2014 election cycle, Rex Sinquefield, prominent Republican donor, praised Sam Brownback's efforts:
“Kansas has three great things going for it,” he said. “First of all, it has a great governor. Secondly, it has a great tax policy. Thirdly, and most important, Missouri has an idiot for a governor.” 
The GOP megadonor, who rarely grants interviews or speaks publicly, vowed to continue his battle to slash taxes in the Show-Me State.
“We’re going to try in Missouri” to eliminate the income tax, Sinquefield said. But “we have to get a new governor.”
Rex Sinquefield's belief that Kansas is far better positioned than Missouri is currently not backed up by the numbers; as Missouri has gained 30,800 jobs according to the Missouri Department of Labor in comparison to Kansas year over year result of roughly 1,000 new jobs.

But is Kansas the kind of hot investment for business leaders that Sinquefield, Kochs, and others have contended it would be? Have Kansas tax rates generated new jobs?

Koch Industries, a significant benefactor of the new tax strategy in Kansas, currently direct employs 3,558  Kansans according to their report. Despite significant tax benefits to their Kansas-based corporation designed to make Kansas more attractive as a employer, the multi-billion dollar company hasn't found it incentive enough to help Sam Brownback's tax plan look effective. In short: the expected jobs that would "trickle down" are failing to materialize, adding only 332 jobs in the last two years.

Kansans who were busy waiting on the sunshine now find themselves hoping that the trickle down turns into a downpour and that the promised boom of jobs comes to fruition.

For the moment, though, many Kansans would just appreciate a firm forecast for the future, as the continued loss of an economically viable future in Kansas is leaving many residents wondering if the sun is shining somewhere else.

Bernie Sanders goes to Liberty University, rips the veil of hypocrisy off the "christian right" in their own home

In an amazing speech, Sen. Bernie Sanders went to Liberty University this morning and gave right-wing evangelicals a dose of progressive faith, and tore apart the hypocrisy of supposedly faith-based Republicans defending immoral economic policies.

Sanders explained why he agreed to speak at Liberty, “I came here today because I believe that it is important for those with different views in our country to engage in civil discourse – not just to shout at each other or make fun of each other. It is very easy for those in politics to talk to those who agree with us. I do that every day. It is harder, but not less important, to try to communicate with those who do not agree with us and see where, if possible, we can find common ground and, in other words, to reach out of our zone of comfort.”

Later Sen. Sanders turned the Republican support of inequality on its moral ear:

Let me be very frank. I understand that issues such as abortion and gay marriage are very important to you and that we disagree on those issues. I get that. But let me respectfully suggest that there are other issues out there that are of enormous consequence to our country and the world and that maybe, just maybe, we don’t disagree on them. And maybe, just maybe, we can work together in trying to resolve them.

It would, I think, be hard for anyone in this room to make the case that the United States today is a just society or anything close to a just society. In America today, there is massive injustice in terms of income and wealth inequality. Injustice is rampant.

There is no justice when the top one-tenth of 1 percent own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. There is no justice when all over this country people are working longer hours for lower wages, while 58 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent.

There is no justice when, in recent years, we have seen a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires while, at the same time, the United States has the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world. Twenty percent of all children – and 40 percent of African-American children – now live in poverty.

There is no justice when, in a rigged economy, the 15 wealthiest people in this country in the last two years saw their wealth increase by $170 billion. That is more wealth, acquired in a two-year period, than is owned by the bottom 130 million Americans.

There is no justice when low-income and working-class mothers are forced to be separated from their new babies one or two weeks after giving birth because they must go back to work to sustain their family and because the United States is the only major country on earth that does not provide paid family and medical leave.

There is no justice when thousands of people in this country die each year because they don’t have health insurance and don’t get to a doctor when they should.

Republicans don’t have an exclusive on morality, justice, and faith. Sen. Sanders called out the Republican hypocrites who warp the Bible to defend income inequality. Sen. Sanders was brilliant. He turned the Republicans’ moral argument in defense of the billionaires against them.

Bernie Sanders made the inequality and poverty in the United States a moral issue. His argument was compelling. He discussed the immorality of the right’s economic policies. To progressive Christians, how some Republicans have warped religion to defend policies that harm millions of Americans in need is a matter of outrage.

Sen. Sanders said that the poor and the wretched had a right to go to a doctor when they are sick. Sanders said, “Money and wealth should serve the people. The people should not serve money and wealth.”

Sanders struck at the heart of a basic ideological hypocrisy, and in the process found some common ground with the students at Liberty University.

Okay -- I'm just going to post the first sentence of this newspaper article and let you read the rest if you wish.

WACO, Texas — Officers searching a woman after a traffic stop found a fully loaded pistol in her vagina, Waco police said.

. . . 

Comment:  Well, after all, this IS Texas.

Let's review the GOP's To-Do list and check off the items they have completed

Here's the GOP's "To-Do" list.  Let's see how many they have accomplished.

1. Make Obama a one term president. No.

2. Repeal and replace Obamacare. No.

3. Stop marriage equality.  No.

4. Strike down Obama's executive action on immigration.  No.

5. Stop income equality. No.

 6. Stop relations with Cuba.  No.

7. Pass the Keystone pipeline.  No.

8. Shut down the government. No.

9. Impeach Obama. No.

10. Reject the Iran nuclear deal. No .

Can anyone spell FAIL???

The only remedy is to rid this nation of Republicans, Teabaggers, and conservatives in general.

With Senator Maria Cantwell becoming the 42nd Senate Democrat to come out in favor of the nuclear deal agreed to between Iran and the P5+1, President Obama not only has a veto-proof majority in the Senate and House, but also a bloc which can filibuster the bill of disapproval from even coming to a vote. In chess this is known as “checkmate”. The GOP has no moves left.
Except, of course, this is the GOP.

“Checkmate,” says Pres. Obama.

“Checkmate?” asks some elephantine GOPer. “Look, over there!” And then he proceeds to turn over the game board.

This is essentially what the GOP House has decided to do. The vote of disapproval was slated to be considered on September 11. That vote has now been put on hold due to a revolt among the hard right Teabaggers in the GOP House caucus, who for some reason don’t want to be forced to vote for a measure which Pres. Obama will swat away as he did famously to that fly years ago. So, as always, they’re revolting:
House Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers have post­poned a pro­ced­ur­al vote ad­van­cing a res­ol­u­tion dis­ap­prov­ing of the Ir­an deal fol­low­ing a testy Wed­nes­day morn­ing con­fer­ence meet­ing and a po­ten­tial re­volt from their own rank and file.
Some mem­bers were threat­en­ing to vote against a rule, ori­gin­ally set for a vote Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, that would al­low the res­ol­u­tion of dis­ap­prov­al to come to the floor later this week. They want lead­er­ship to first bring up a res­ol­u­tion from Rep. Peter Roskam that states the Ir­an res­ol­u­tion can­not be voted on un­til the White House trans­mits to Con­gress the con­tents of bi­lat­er­al agree­ments between Ir­an and the In­ter­na­tion­al Atom­ic En­ergy Agency.
“We’re go­ing to have an­oth­er con­fer­ence later on today,” Re­pub­lic­an Con­fer­ence Chair­wo­man Cathy Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers said, ex­it­ing a meet­ing of top GOP lead­ers. “We’re go­ing to present a new strategy.”
And what is this “new strategy”?
Al­though noth­ing will be fi­nal­ized un­til after Re­pub­lic­ans meet at 4 p.m., House GOP lead­ers are con­sid­er­ing a three-pronged ap­proach to settle the con­cerns of their rest­less mem­bers. In ad­di­tion to Roskam’s meas­ure, or something like it, that as­serts the ad­min­is­tra­tion hasn’t sent Con­gress all the in­form­a­tion, lead­ers also want to vote on a meas­ure ban­ning the ad­min­is­tra­tion from lift­ing sanc­tions and change the planned vote on a res­ol­u­tion of dis­ap­prov­al in­to an up-or-down vote on ap­prov­al. It’s not clear any of this would make any sub­stant­ive dif­fer­ence, as Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers have said they will not bring any of it to their cham­ber’s floor and Demo­crats have shown no in­dic­a­tion of back­ing away from the ad­min­is­tra­tion, mean­ing Obama still has the votes to sus­tain a veto (al­though if a res­ol­u­tion of ap­prov­al fails the House, Obama would not even have to veto any­thing).
Let this last sentence sink in. “It’s not clear any of this would make any sub­stant­ive dif­fer­ence, as Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers have said they will not bring any of it to their cham­ber’s floor and Demo­crats have shown no in­dic­a­tion of back­ing away from the ad­min­is­tra­tion, mean­ing Obama still has the votes to sus­tain a veto (al­though if a res­ol­u­tion of ap­prov­al fails the House, Obama would not even have to veto any­thing).”

History’s most incompetent Speaker of the House, John Boehner, is caving into his dead-enders. But by caving in, he possibly gives the President the greatest victory he could possibly have, that of not having to veto anything, nor having to rely on a Democratic filibuster. The inanity is truly breathtaking.

Once again, Pres. Obama has outmaneuvered his opposition, an opposition which thought it had him right where it wanted him. And its response is not merely to rewrite the agreed-upon rules, but to possibly do it in such a way that, like Elmer Fudd, they wind up shooting themselves in the face, while the President happily munches on his arugula. It would be hilarious if it weren’t so distressing that the world’s greatest democracy and most powerful state has a national legislature which has taken ineptitude to stratospheric heights. The Very Important People always ask: “Why can’t Obama just work with the GOP?” To which the obvious reply is: “Oh, they’re there to work?”

The anti-deal stalwarts are having the Mother of All Hissy Fits. And if they have to express that by giving the President an unmitigated victory in the belief that it’s actually a stinging rebuke, by God, that’s what they’ll do!

And this, dear readers, is why YOU VOTE EVERY GODDAMNED TIME, and vote for people with a (D) by their names. Not because Democrats are perfect. Not because Democrats are paragons of virtue. But because Democrats are not batshit insane, and actually are well versed in the art of governing. And, most of the time, will pass legislation which is actually pretty good, and perfects the Union that bit more.

More of the Very Important People believe the fever will break once Barack Obama leaves the White House. They obviously haven’t been paying attention. Yes, Pres. Obama has tied the GOP up in a Gordian knot. But the illness is now deeply rooted. A President Clinton or President Biden will receive the same welcome from our brethren on the other side of the aisle. The disease is too far gone. The right consists of mindless zombies, hankering for liberal flesh. The only remedy is to vote them back into the ground, where they can’t do anyone any harm. Then maybe we can get some real work done.

GODDAM COPS ARE OUT OF CONTROL!!! Tennis star James Blake, minding his own business, smiling, is slammed to the ground, beat up, cuffed -- because he is black.

Retired black tennis star James Blake, in an NYPD double-fault, was slammed to a Manhattan sidewalk and handcuffed by a white cop in a brutal case of mistaken identity.

The 35-year-old Blake, once ranked No. 4 in the world, suffered a cut to his left elbow and bruises to his left leg as five cops eventually held him for 15 minutes Wednesday outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

“It was definitely scary and definitely crazy,” Blake told the Daily News. “In my mind there’s probably a race factor involved, but no matter what there’s no reason for anybody to do that to anybody.”

Blake said none of the white cops identified themselves, including the officer who charged straight at the Harvard-educated athlete and bounced him off the E. 42nd St. concrete around noon.

FUCKING COPS ARE OUT OF CONTROL.   No badge, no uniform, just jumped Blake, beat the shit out of him, then disappeared.  Let's hope he sues the living shit out of NYC.

Well, that was a bust

We receive PILES of catalogs, none of which we have ordered.  Today -- 8 September -- there were SEVENTEEN catalogs in our mailbox.

In an attempt to find a way to cancel catalogs, I discovered an organization named Catalog Choice.  Their website is  They say for you to set up an account, select from their list of 8,000 catalogs, and they'll notify the catalog company to take your name off their mailing lists.

However, it doesn't work that way.  I set up an account and entered three catalogs.  In each case, their website replied that I must send a separate email to the catalog company.  Hell, I can do that myself.  So, I cancelled my Catalog Choice account.  Why do I want to enter information in one website, then, go to my email account and send an email to the company whose catalog I want to cancel?

After reading their description of how they work, I thought all I had to do was set up an account and enter the catalogs I no longer want to receive.  Doesn't work that way.  Their advertising is misleading.

Here is the advertisement from their website:

How it Works

CatalogChoice Mail Preference Service is the easiest and most
effective way to stop unwanted mail.

1. You receive unwanted mail.

Unwanted catalogs, coupons and credit card offers, donation requests, and other junk mail arrive daily and clutter your home or office.
Companies you know mail you because you have done business with them. But many companies send you mail because they bought your information from a data broker — who sells your information to any company looking to market to you.

2. Report it to us.

You can simply log in to create a free account and register your opt-outs online. Just search for the company, and submit the opt—out. For phone books, enter your zip code, and we will show you the directories delivered in your area.

3. We'll take it from there.

We act on your behalf to protect your consumer rights and get your opt-outs processed. You can keep track of your opt-outs, and if you receive the mail again, we will follow up.
We work with over 8,000 companies — and the largest data brokers — to honor your choices and protect your privacy. We have processed over 25 million opt-outs by over 1.7 million account holders.
 They make it sound so simple when, in fact, it's not.  What they don't tell you is you end up having to email the catalog company yourself.

Today's pop quiz

Kim Davis and the Religious Right's Perpetual Culture War

The basic outline of this drama could have been predicted (and was predicted) months ago - someone objects to same-sex couples marrying; in their business or government position they refuse to issue marriage licenses or otherwise serve same-sex couples. A minor media brushfire occurs, a right wing legal organization leaps into the fray and throws gasoline on the fire.  A court orders the person to issue said marriage licenses or provide said services.  Person refuses, and on the advice of the legal organization starts talking about religious freedom.  Court orders person to do their job.  Person refuses.  Right wing legal organization gives bad advice, hoping to create a martyr.  Person goes to jail for contempt of court.  The Religious Right goes up in flames.

The specific details were always up for grabs - there's no reason it had to be Rowan County, Kentucky rather than Mobile, Alabama or Twin Falls, Idaho.  The objector could have been a man not a woman, a judge not a county clerk or the owner of a business.  That the objector would adhere to a form fundamentalist Christianity was a given, although the specific form doesn't make much difference (Davis belongs to an Apostolic Christian Church). The actual nature of the objection could easily have been a cut and paste job - we were always going to hear screeching about religious freedom and how this poor person is being oppressed. Even the specifics of the punishment are largely unimportant - whether it was jail time or fines or an order to comply with nondiscrimination laws, the reaction was always going to be the same.  Even the comparisons to Rosa Parks were inevitable as the religious right tries to coopt the luster of the Civil Rights movement.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis helpfully stepped into the fray. Her refusal to issue any and all marriage licenses, especially to same-sex couples, put her in the middle of the fight the religious right has wanted for the longest time.

Davis used all the buzzwords - religious freedom, conscience, even God's authority. She was going to be exactly the right test case. Kim Davis initially looked like a great candidate for martyrdom. A devout County Clerk standing on principal being forced by "the culture" to act against her religious conscience.

The right's narrative of persecution has been written and refined over years. In this narrative, a secular, degenerate culture is out to persecute the devout, to force them to give up their faith in order to function in society. It's an appealing narrative to a Christian sub-culture keenly aware of the biblical warning to be "in the world not of the world." For those of us not steeped in the fundamentalist Christian subculture (portrayed largely sympathetically in the film Saved!) with its focus on sexual purity and moral certainty, that narrative seems bizarrely at odds with reality. '

Over the years, the religious right has successfully created a network of interlocking organizations and self proclaimed experts whose purpose is to advocate for the right's pet causes. Notice that in almost any culture war controversy, there's an organization dedicated to the cause, with a stable of experts ready to go before news cameras with a host of easy to repeat talking points. Whether the issue is home schooling, abstinence only sexuality education, creationism, gay marriage, or teen pregnancy, there is an organization and expert ready to tackle the cause. Floating around these single issue organizations are legal groups, such as the Liberty Counsel or the Pacific Justice Institute, who provide attorneys and legal resources for individuals and organizations. Then there are the larger organizations which tackle many issues (the Family Research Council is a good example). At the local level, there are a host of grassroots organizations and churches. These various organizations work in tandem to produce activists, speakers, conferences and controversies. It's worth pointing out that many culture war dustups would be resolved quickly were it not for the activities of these organizations.

It's no accident these organizations exist. When fundamentalist Christians (who make up about a quarter of the US population) venture outside the Christians sub culture, the experience is jarring. They walk away from mainstream organizations with the belief that these organizations are hopelessly in the thrall of liberal bias. The evolution of the right's various organizations and institutions was in response to that perception. People don't send their kids to Liberty University because they Lynchburg, VA - they send them to keep them safe from "liberal indoctrination" at other colleges and universities.

Liberty Counsel has been wandering the countryside looking for a case. The religious right wants this fight, they've been dreaming about it; they wanted to provoke this fight because they are convinced they will win. The Liberty Counsel may well be using Kim Davis, but, by all appearances, she wants to be used. Right wing commentators have probably had their articles written for months and were just waiting to add the specifics - the location and the name of the latest "martyr" to the cause.
It's not entirely an aside, but with the intervention of Liberty Counsel, the Rowan County attorney could probably have worked with Kim Davis and worked out a compromise. (I.e. her assistants are willing to issue the licenses, Davis could have authorized them to issue the licenses, the county attorney could have signed off on the legality of it and badda bing badda boom and it's all done.)
The Saga of Kim Davis, Marty to the Gaystapo, was going well  . . . Right up until stories of her checkered past began coming out - then she looked to all the world like a hypocrite. Rather than prim and proper, she appears dowdy and judgmental. By then, it was too late - Liberty Counsel was committed, so the fight had to go forward. Davis has proven unsatisfactory as a symbol of the right's oppression at the hands of liberals. The outrage has felt entirely too manufactured. Eventually, Davis' case will disappear beneath the waves, largely ignored and forgotten, like Terry Schiavo who was a cause celebre for a time but which backfired on the right and which has been mostly forgotten except by the most dedicated devotees.

The second Kim Davis' saga resolves itself, the right will move on to a new front. They'll intensify their attacks on Planned Parenthood, or find some school somewhere that told kids to not organize prayer rallies in the lunchroom or some school that is examining the possibility of comprehensive sexuality education. Although none of those activities ever fully stop, the merry go round of "high drama" keeps highlighting one issue or another.

It's crucial that we on the left not underestimate the religious right. The lofty Jesus and God rhetoric, the gauzy, saccharine talk of family, the pleas for modesty and chastity, the endless moralizing, and the claims (both hysterical and not) of persecution, hide a toxic, deadly anger at the contemporary world. It's not just gays getting married, it's wanton women not getting their just deserts (damn contraception anyway!), it's disobedient kids not getting beaten with sticks; it's a whole world refusing to obey the moral rules of the right and getting away with it.

In Republican Gomorrah, Max Blumenthal described the way in which the religious right's "culture of personal crisis" drives the devout into conservative politics. Divorce, infidelity, teen pregnancy, and general personal instability afflict religiously conservative communities in higher rates than the rest of American society - and are experienced as far more traumatic than in the rest of our society. As many writers have pointed out, it's no accident that Josh Duggar has a lifetime history of sexual misconduct and abuse.

The saga of Kim Davis cannot be understood separate from the larger context of the heavily politicized religious right and its perpetual culture war. The interlocking network of organizations, schools, activists and issues produced Kim Davis.

The machinery of the religious right will shift gears, find another fight and keep on waging perpetual culture war. Our fundamentalist brothers and sisters are at war with the culture. Fundamentalism, in its most basic form, has always been grounded in the passionate rejection of modernity in all its forms. The religious right is angry - angrier than they've been in a long, long time. The same dynamics that are leading many conservatives to support Donald Trump are driving the anger in fundamentalist communities. Fundamentalist believers have given countless hours to support Republican candidates. They've knocked on doors, made phone calls, and faithfully voted in every election.  Despite that, since the 1992 election, every victory has turned to ashes, and every loss has been compounded. The despised Bill Clinton not only won re-election, he survived impeachment and ended his term more popular than any other president in the history of such polling. George W. Bush ran on an orthodox religious right campaign (he even branded himself a "compassionate conservative" which conformed to the right's vision of itself). His term ended in disaster. Then the hated Barack Obama won and then won re-election. And now the even more hated and despised Hilary Clinton seems favored to win the Presidency. Despite controlling Congress, Republicans haven't delivered on their promises to the religious right.

It's one thing to lose; it's another thing to win and feel betrayed. The religious right is a seething mass of anger, ready to strike out at anyone. Kim Davis, and others like her, wants the fight. The organizations that make up the formal infrastructure of the religious right want the fight. They're tired of relying on unreliable politicians. They're convinced they'll win and after decades of doing the work for others, they're ready to do it themselves. Fired by fundamentalist faith, and a deep sense of their own righteousness, the Kim Davises of the world are ready to go out and pick fights. And they're ready to win or lose - losing is a win in the eyes of heaven and winning is an act of claiming the culture for God.

Wisconsin GOP has a major attack of The Stupid

Republican Wisconsin legislators have introduced a bill that would ban the use of fetal tissue in medical research. Officials at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a leader in stem cell research, are obviously very worried about this push. If successful, the bill would decimate research at the institution, and its potential impacts are likely not fully understood by the legislators leading this latest anti-intellectual charge.

The success of this medical research could have far-reaching implications for untold millions of Americans. For example, my mother-in-law had dementia in her final days. My wife and I have often said that we lost her twice: Once when she was diagnosed with the disease, and again when she died.

Research being done at the University of Wisconsin could prevent dementia in the future, and save a child from having to watch a parent's mental decline. If Republicans are successful in banning the use of fetal tissue there, that research will simply move to another university in another state, where anti-intellectual laws like this are not in place.

The scientists conducting the research, their grad students, grant money, and any profits from patents on medical discoveries will leave the state as well. Way to go, Wisconsin GOP.

Sarah Palin opens her mouth -- more Tea Party, GOP, conservative stupid shit pours out

Let's pause for a moment and consider the deep-seated, blatant, bone-deep ignorance and stupidity that marks the Tea Party, the GOP, and conservatives in general.  Here's the latest example, courtesy of Palin's Facebook page:

Think about it - what the heck are we even doing "negotiating" with an evil regime hellbent on destruction? The whole premise of this thing is wrong. It's a long haul to D.C. for the rally but well worth it to take a stand against this asinine deal the President caved on. Our sworn enemy proclaiming, "Allah Akbar, death to America and death to Israel" still holds American hostages, boasts of using the $150 billion dollars we just freed up for them for nefarious uses, and laughs all the way to the banks of the Persian Gulf and beyond. Washington will hear the voices of "We The People" unified against this insanity. I look forward to joining Mr. Trump, Sen. Cruz, Mark Levin and other fed up patriots to rally the troops for America. 

- Sarah Palin

Okay I don't know what "troops" Palin thinks she is rallying but if the past is any indication they will likely be overweight 60 year-olds, holding misspelled placards, and driving around in personal mobility scooters.

By the way Palin, Cruz, and Trump are all too late to stop anything as the President already has the votes to clinch the deal.

Besides even Colin Powell said it was "a pretty good deal."

You remember Colin Powell don't you Sarah? He was the Secretary of State under George W. Bush.

This is essentially a group of losers getting together to throw a pity party and trying to drum up some attention for themselves.

Okay -- enough of that -- let's examine just how goddam stupid is this position adopted by Palin, Cruz, Trump, Tea Partiers, and the GOP.

Sarah says:

Think about it - what the heck are we even doing "negotiating" with an evil regime hellbent on destruction?

Okay, Sarah, I thought about it and this is what I came up with.

-- Iran does not have a nuclear weapon; they are years away from developing one and this agreement will back off that date another decade or more.
-- Iran does not have intercontinental missiles.  Yes, they have medium-range missiles but we know about those and monitor them.
-- Since the 1950's, the Soviets and now the Russians have enough nuclear weapons mounted on enough missiles to wipe out much of the US.  Yet, EVERY U.S. ADMINISTRATION since the early days of WW II has negotiated with the Russians.  We negotiated arms limitation treaties, arms reduction treaties, missile defense treaties, and the like.  If we can negotiate with those who Ronald Reagan termed "The Evil Empire," we can negotiate with Iran.

This episode does nothing to damage the Obama administration's foreign policy achievements.  Instead, all Palin, Cruz, Trump, Tea Partiers, and the GOP are doing is demonstrating their ignorance of how foreign policy and national security policy are conducted.

ATTENTION "CONSERVATIVES:" Here's a very inconvenient fact for you

The unemployment rate today under President Obama is lower than at any point under Reagan. 

What did you say?