Sun, Sorta Surf, and Sacked Cats

I spent the vast majority of my day at Discovery Park. It’s ginormous. Put it like this – the Loop Trail is 2.8 miles, and they’re not factoring in the extra mile or two you’ll tramp if you scramble down to be a beach bum. ‘Tis one o’ my favorite places in the universe.

Here’s the view from the top o’ South Bluff:

That’s the Sound at low tide. Pretty, innit?

And here’s the view from the bottom o’ South Bluff:

South Bluff is one of the most interesting geological features I’ve ever gotten to touch. It’s layering looks a little like Jupiter. And it’s big. It’s sorta sand caught on its way to becoming rock. Fun to esplore.

Then you tramp down the beach, and you’ll come to the lighthouse:

I saw a baby seal near that lighthouse once. Today, no seal, but there was a crab:

Am I weird for thinking crabs are cute?

Someone built a little beach bungalow out of driftwood, where they could watch the breaking waves. Not that our waves are huge, but they still break:

There’s a lot more to Discovery, but we had to come home and let the cat out of the bag:


I just wish I’d caught her playing with the receipt she found in the bag. My cat is strange.

Yer Captain’s Got a Motivational Speech for Ye



I’ll take it as a personal affront if there is not a plethora of material. You don’t want a lawyer with delusions of being a pirate to be pissed at you.

Besides, it’s my birthday and, if it isn’t a good Carnival, I might cry. If there’s anything that you don’t want to see more than a pissed lawyer with delusions of being a pirate, its a lawyer with delusions of being a pirate crying.

He be right about that, me hearties. I think ye’d better get yer Elitist Bastardly links in to [email protected] as soon as possible. If ye’re any later than Friday night, a fate worse than drowning in an ocean o’ stupidity may befall us.

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

Yes, we’re very late today. That’s because I’ve been at Discovery Park, playing with sea critters and hiking my very legs off. When there are blue skies in Seattle, it’s best to enjoy them pronto.

See that? That’s blue sky, that is. I snapped that photo with a POS elderly digital camera, and it’s not been modified. That’s sky so blue it makes the treeline look fake.

Happily, the House set our feet on the first steps to maintaining those blue skies:

From the NYT:

“The House passed legislation on Friday intended to address global warming and transform the way the nation produces and uses energy.

The vote was the first time either house of Congress had approved a bill meant to curb the heat-trapping gases scientists have linked to climate change. The legislation, which passed despite deep divisions among Democrats, could lead to profound changes in many sectors of the economy, including electric power generation, agriculture, manufacturing and construction.

The bill’s passage, by 219 to 212, with 44 Democrats voting against it, also established a marker for the United States when international negotiations on a new climate change treaty begin later this year.

Huzzah! In fact, we even have a handful of Republicans to thank:

Despite promises that Republicans would rally against the bill, several members defected to support it, including Reps. Dave Reichart (R-WA), Mike Castle (R-DE), Mary Bono Mack, Mark Kirk (R-IL), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Chris Smith (R-NJ), and John McHugh (R-NY).

Smart Republicans, those. I think I know why Dave did it – people in the beautiful town of Bellevue, WA, like their earth global-warming free. And he had the good grace to work with my own beloved Jay Inslee to get the job done. I think running against Darcy Burner smacked some sense into the boy. (Speaking of Darcy Burner, she’s got a must-read post up at C&L, fyi.)

Now if only someone had smacked some sense into the rest o’ the Cons...

Listening to the House debate over the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) is a surprisingly frustrating experience. It’s probably better that most Americans don’t actually see these debates — it would undermine faith in our system of government.

At one point today, Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) noted, “It is very difficult to find common ground if the other side rejects the science of our times.” Truer words, never spoken.

Take, for example, Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.). Broun is perhaps best known for telling reporters late last year that he fears that President Obama may establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship on Americans. He added at the time that Obama reminds him of Hitler. Today, the Georgia Republican shared his thoughts on the environment.

“Scientists all over this world say that the idea of human induced global climate change is one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated out of the scientific community. It is a hoax. There is no scientific consensus…. And who’s going to be hurt most [by ACES] the poor, the people on limited income…the people who can least afford to have their energy taxes raised by MIT says $3,100 per family…. This bill must be defeated. We need to be good stewards of our environment, but this is not it, it’s a hoax!”

The “$3,100 per family” line has been debunked over and over again — the MIT scholar Broun cites has specifically tried to explain to Republican lawmakers that it’s completely bogus — but they just can’t seem to stop using it.

Bogus never stopped these freaks from spouting off lies, damned lies, and pure insanity. And, following their beloved leader Rush “Obama’s just like an African colonial despot!” Limbaugh’s lead (with a little help from his sidekick Glenn “Cap and Trade supporters are treasonous!” Beck), they’re on a rather bizarre autocrat meme. Here’s Rep. Gingrey playing off the “Cons are just like the poor Iranian protesters!” theme:

Last week, several Republican House members compared themselves to Iranian protesters, claiming that being in the minority in Congress was just like being violently oppressed in Iran. “I wonder if there isn’t more freedom on the streets of Tehran right now than we are seeing here,” said Rep. David Dreier (R-CA). Reps. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) and John Culberson (R-TX) made similar comparisons on Twitter.

Despite the online uproar that followed the egregious comparisons, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) went even further today. Complaining about the proposed rules for debate on clean energy legislation, Gingrey compared Democrats to the “forces of darkness” in Iran and North Korea:

GINGREY: Madam speaker, thank you. I rise in opposition to this rule and to the underlying legislation. I’m just not sure to which I’m more opposed. Americans are watching as from Iran to North Korea, the forces of darkness are attempting to silence the forces of democracy and freedom. The irony is on this day, the Democratic process and the nation’s economic freedom are under threat not by some rogue state, but in this very chamber in which we stand. Good people ma
y disagree on the impact or the merits of this bill. But no one can disagree with the fact that the speaker and her rules committee have silenced the opposition.

Um. I refer you to the previous item, in which the opposition blathered, babbled and made utter fools of themselves, only to receive applause from their “silenced” fellows. Also, a question: which Dem leader is it, exactly, who’s called for your execution if you continue to protest, Mr. Gingrey? What’s that? None? That disqualifies you from being just like poor oppressed Iranian protestors, who have been threatened with execution, not to mention shot in the streets. I would suggest you shut the fuck up now.

So should you, John McCain:

During an appearance on a local radio station in Phoenix, AZ this morning, a caller asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) when Republican leaders were going to emerge in Congress to “wake the American people up” to the “cap-and-tax” bill. “Why can’t we get the House members and the Senate members to just walk out on what the Democrats are doing?” the caller asked. In response, McCain said that the GOP lawmakers — particularly his House colleagues — have to stay and fight, even though they are working under Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) authoritarian rule:

McCAIN: We’re fighting every single day. You don’t want to leave the arena; you want to stay in it and fight. And I guarantee you we are using every parliamentary possibility we have and I have great sympathy for my friends in the House because it’s almost under an autocracy now with Speaker Pelosi.

Do you Cons want to live under an autocracy? Is that what would make you happy? Because you all seem to be fantasizing about it an awful lot. It’s not healthy.

While I’m handing out free advice to frothing insane Cons, I might as well throw some to not-Joe the Plumber. Joe, it’s probably not a good idea to do shit like this:

Americans for Prosperity, one of the wingnut welfare outfits behind the Great Teabagging, held an event in Wausau, Wisconsin yesterday, keynoted by the man who best personifies the Teabagging movement. [snip]

Wurzelbacher has a reputation for being a blunt, politically incorrect speaker. Referring to Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., more than once, Wurzelbacher asked, “Why hasn’t he been strung up?”

I’m not sure I’d use the term “politically incorrect” for calling for the lynching of a sitting US Senator. But don’t stop him, he’s rolling.

Just ask Sean Hannity’s old pal Hal Turner how well threatening federal officials works out.

There’s much more nutty goodness floating about the intertoobz tonight, but after several miles of hiking in the sunshine, I’m needing a bath. So I’ll just leave you with this gem:

We learned yesterday, by way of Rush Limbaugh, that Mark Sanford’s sex scandal was President Obama’s fault. If it weren’t for the administration’s economic policies, the argument goes, Sanford would have been more optimistic about the future, wouldn’t have cheated on his wife, and wouldn’t have secretly left the country to see his mistress.

Who can argue with air-tight logic like this?

Today, Limbaugh’s right-wing colleague, Michael Savage, takes this one step further. Obama didn’t just inspire Sanford to betray his family; the White House conspired to make this scandal happen in the first place.

“The fact is, Obama’s team is taking out potential [2012] rivals, one after another,” Savage argued. “Just last week, the media jumped on the story of Sen. John Ensign (R) of Nevada and his infidelity. He was considered to be a possible Republican presidential candidate in ’12. Now Sanford, who had similar ambitions, caught in a similar situation.

“This is politics at its worst, brought to us by the worst administration, the meanest administration, the most closed administration, the most incompetent administration in American history.”

As Steve Benen notes, it’s pretty impressive that such an incompetent administration could make not one, but two, prominent Cons run out and get caught with their pants around their ankles in the space of a week. That “stimulus package” must have been some pretty potent stuff, eh?

When the Dems pass healthcare reform, I think they need to include a few trillion dollars for restoring the Cons’ mental health. It’s obviously getting much, much worse under their current insurance.

Tears for Strangers

You know, the last thing I expected was a little jolt when I found out Michael Jackson died. I wasn’t a fan, didn’t like his music, and certainly didn’t like the man. But I can’t deny that it felt like there was suddenly a strange empty space in the world. A rather small one for me, huge for others. News of his death actually came close to crashing cell phone networks everywhere as people called or texted each other the news. A friend of a friend cried for three hours.

We get awfully close to people we don’t know.

Psychologists occasionally try to explain our tears for strangers. I didn’t find many research papers in my desultory search through the intertoobz, but found some quotes in various and sundry articles relating to other celeb deaths that attempt to shed some light:

Attempting to explain the phenomenon, clinical psychologist Fiona Cathcart says it is partly down to today’s less community-minded society.

“People overtake hearses these days,” she says, the point being that in modern communities, neighbours do not invest time in getting to know each other.

Instead, it is the rich and famous; the faces on television and in celebrity-focused magazines that command our attention.

“We know more about the details of their lives. The clothes they wear, their ambitions, where they last went on holiday than we do of the family next door.”

Yes, but, the same kind of mourning goes on in tight-knit communities, too. My old neighborhood in Flagstaff was about as intimate as it gets, positively incestuous at times, and yet we still chocked up at the deaths of strangers. Having friends I knew like family didn’t keep me from getting seriously emotionally involved with even fictional people. So we’re going to have to do better than “It’s because we’re all strangers” pap. Anyone else?

“People want to be close to major events, no matter how tragic,” said Stuart Fischoff, senior editor of the Journal of Media Psychology. “They want to feel like they are participating. They want to create that memory of ‘I was there when.’ People say, ‘I’m a fan and this is how I show my concern for him.'”

Eh. Don’t know about your mileage, but that doesn’t resonate for me. Some people I know are like that. Others are just about the opposite. And that doesn’t explain why a really good author can leave you sobbing your poor little heart out over somebody who never actually existed.

Part of it’s the knowing. Get to know somebody well enough, even if it’s not a two-way street, and you start to care. We can’t help that – we’re human. And whether it’s a celebrity or a great character, those people we’ve come to know give us something in turn for the time we bestow on them. They entertain us, sometimes enlighten us; they keep us company, help us dream, let us experience worlds we’re otherwise excluded from. We develop something of a relationship that has real meaning. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of symbols, or history – I may not even like Michael Jackson, but I did the Moonwalk with everyone else, and he was a part of my childhood. It’s tough to see pieces of your past go.

Sometimes, the tears come from what we know we’ll miss out on. Take Carl Sagan, whose death still chokes me up at times. He was a brilliant science popularizer whose books and teevee programs many of us adored, so is it any wonder we miss him? What else could he have done, had he not died so soon?

Some shrinks think it’s mostly the “could’a happened to any of us” factor, too:

Dr Oliver James, whose book Britain on the Couch examines psychological changes in the nation’s character since the 1950s, says Diana’s troubled life in some ways mirrored the difficult experiences of normal people.

Sure. And we want to see them succeed, survive and flourish, because that offers us some vicarious comfort. Not to mention, we were pulling for them. We really did care.

I know some people question that – can you really care for a stranger? Of course you can. Not in the same way you’d care for family or close friends, usually, but it’s a genuine caring nonetheless. Humans are like that.

And in some cases, perhaps, it’s a coping mechanism, a chance to get it right the second time, or practice for the inevitable:

Mourning the death of a celebrity retriggers suppressed feelings of loss for an actual loved one, said professor Sherri McCarthy, a psychologist and a grief counselor at Northern Arizona University.

“People are vulnerable because these events retrigger memories of losing someone else. If an individual has unresolved, suppressed feeling of grief they may use this opportunity to express those feelings. If a child didn’t grieve a parent properly, they can displace that grief on someone in the media.”

Probably all of the above speculations have some grain of truth, to varied degrees for varied people. But as a writer and a human being, I do think this is the paramount factor:

As Arthur Koestler put it: “Statistics don’t bleed; it is the detail which counts.”

The more detail we have, the more we’re able to care: the more we care, the more those strangers’ deaths affect us. Think of Neda, who’s become the symbol of Iran’s brutal repression of political dissenters. Others have been killed just as gruesomely - at least 25 are dead - but she’s the one who stands out. And part of that is because of the detail. The graphic images of her death, the few details of her young life, combine to turn statistics into a person we find it easy to care about, a memory we can rally round, an inspiration.

And the people who have inspired us deserve a tear or two whether or not we’ve ever had them over for tea, don’t you think?

But No, Really, Private’s Better than Public!

Because, you know, private insurers take such better care of us than the government ever could!

The health insurance industry maximizes their profits by delivering as little care as they can legally get away with, or for that matter, illegally.
Health insurers have forced consumers to pay billions of dollars in medical bills that the insurers themselves should have paid, according to a report released yesterday by the staff of the Senate Commerce Committee.

The report was part of a multi-pronged assault on the credibility of private insurers by Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.). It came at a time when Rockefeller, President Obama and others are seeking to offer a public alternative to private health plans as part of broad health-care reform legislation. Health insurers are doing everything they can to block the public option.

At a committee hearing yesterday, three health-care specialists testified that insurers go to great lengths to avoid responsibility for sick people, use deliberately incomprehensible documents to mislead consumers about their benefits, and sell “junk” policies that do not cover needed care. Rockefeller said he was exploring “why consumers get such a raw deal from their insurance companies.”

The star witness at the hearing was a former public relations executive for major health insurers whose testimony boiled down to this: Don’t trust the insurers.

Wendell Potter is the name of the star witness, a former VP for corporate communications at insurance giant Cigna. His testimony was devastating, as he offered a step-by-step tour into how the insurance industry works to increase their profits. This is the system that Republicans and conservative Democrats want to hold a monopoly over your health care, in a forced market where you have to sign up with them.

What drove Potter from the health insurance business was, well, the health insurance business. The industry, Potter says, is driven by “two key figures: earnings per share and the medical-loss ratio, or medical-benefit ratio, as the industry now terms it. That is the ratio between what the company actually pays out in claims and what it has left over to cover sales, marketing, underwriting and other administrative expenses and, of course, profits.”

Think about that term for a moment: The industry literally has a term for how much money it “loses” paying for health care.

The best way to drive down “medical-loss,” explains Potter, is to stop insuring unhealthy people. You won’t, after all, have to spend very much of a healthy person’s dollar on medical care because he or she won’t need much medical care. And the insurance industry accomplishes this through two main policies. “One is policy rescission,” says Potter. “They look carefully to see if a sick policyholder may have omitted a minor illness, a pre-existing condition, when applying for coverage, and then they use that as justification to cancel the policy, even if the enrollee has never missed a premium payment.” [...]

Potter also emphasized the practice known as “purging.” This is where insurers rid themselves of unprofitable accounts by slapping them with “intentionally unrealistic rate increases.” One famous example came when Cigna decided to drive the Entertainment Industry Group Insurance Trust in California and New Jersey off of its books. It hit them with a rate increase that would have left some family plans costing more than $44,000 a year, and it gave them three months to come up with the cash.

The insurers simply follow the profit motive. Under the current system, there is no profit in offering people care, only denying them it. And so competition in the marketplace, or more to the point competition on Wall Street to increase share price (because most insurance markets in this country are limited), depends on coming up with new and exciting ways to either deny care or off-load costs onto customers.

Tell you what, Cons and Con-like Dems. We’ll be happy to leave a public option off the table – as long as health care reform includes a lawyer, prosecutor and prison provided gratis for every American. I wouldn’t mind private insurance a bit as long as I could submit their bullshit paperwork to my lawyer, have him refer them for prosecution when they fuck me over, and see them stuffed in prison afterward.

No? Public option it is, then.

Someone tell me again why our infinitely intelligent overlords took single-payer off the table…

A Little More Tarnish for the Bush Legacy

I do believe that at the end of the day, the Bush regime will go down in American history as the most corrupt, dirty, rotten and downright disgusting administration ever. They’re already the biggest bunch of scoundrels seen on our national stage, and the revelations just keep coming:

In an important new article from Murray Waas, writing at The Hill, we have at long last fresh news on the Rick Renzi corruption case in Arizona, and it turns out that officials in the Bush Administration improperly leaked out information compromising the investigation of Renzi, and did so for sheer political gain immediately prior to the 2006 elections.

In the fall of 2006, one day after the Justice Department granted permission to a U.S. attorney to place a wiretap on a Republican congressman suspected of corruption, existence of the investigation was leaked to the press — not only compromising the sensitive criminal probe but tipping the lawmaker off to the wiretap.

Career federal law enforcement officials who worked directly on a probe of former Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) said they believe that word of the investigation was leaked by senior Bush administration political appointees in the Justice Department in an improper and perhaps illegal effort to affect the outcome of an election.

At the time of the leak, Renzi was locked in a razor-thin bid for reelection and unconfirmed reports of a criminal probe could have become politically damaging. The leaked stories — appearing 10 days before the election — falsely suggested that the investigation of Renzi was in its initial stages and unlikely to lead to criminal charges.

As you will recall, Renzi’s indictment (or lack thereof at the time) was a critical prong in the greater US Attorney firing scandal, specifically as to Arizona US Attorney Paul Charlton.

Read the rest of Bmaz’s article, and you’ll see this image in a whole new light:

Friends buy you birthday cake. Bush White House friends shield you from embarrassing corruption investigations and possible prosecution, then buy you a birthday cake while a city drowns.

We have a long way to go in scrubbing away the taint of that regime.

Food Safety Fail

Ladies and gentlemen, I present Exhibit A in the case for stricter food safety regulations and oversight:

Question: Do the folks who own Orca Distribution West, Inc. and Setton Pistachios – do they let their own children eat the shit they sell?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning people not to eat California Prime Produce- or Orange County Orchards-brand pistachios.

FDA officials said Orca Distribution West Inc. of Anaheim, Calif., received and repackaged pistachios recalled by Setton Pistachios of Terra Bella Inc. Setton had recalled all of its pistachios because of possible salmonella contamination that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections.

This kind of thing makes me feel positively medieval. If I wasn’t a kind, liberal soul who believes the sins of the father shouldn’t be visited upon the children, I’d call for a law requiring such products to be served to the CEOs’ families. That might possibly make them think twice before serving poison to the public.

Then again, threats to progeny haven’t stopped many opportunistic bastards. Perhaps we should try naked self-interest and serve the perpetrators up a feast of their own fruits instead.

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

Michele Bachmann passed batshit insane a long time ago, and yet somehow she keeps getting crazier:

Last week, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), solidifying her well-deserved reputation for madness, insisted she will refuse to cooperate with the 2010 census. This happens to be illegal, but the Minnesota Republican has an elaborate conspiracy theory to bolster her position.

Today, Bachmann appeared on Fox News to defend this, and came up with a new argument: “If we look at American history, between 1942 and 1947, the data that was collected by the Census Bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations at the request of President Roosevelt, and that’s how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps.”

Bachmann added, “I’m not saying that that’s what the administration is planning to do, but I am saying that private personal information that was given to the Census Bureau in the 1940s was used against Americans to round them up, in a violation of their constitutional rights, and put the Japanese in internment camps.”

When Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, who’d been bashing ACORN with Bachmann to this point, noted that members of Congress probably shouldn’t deliberately ignore federal law, Bachmann added, “I’m just not comfortable with the way this census is being handled,” in part because Americans are “compelled” to answer the census.

Well, yes, Michele, they are – and have been for centuries now. This is a fact a lawmaker may want to try to wrap their head around. It shouldn’t be that hard, considering your head’s already rather twisty.

Speaking of twisty, the GOP’s apparently planning an all-out assault on Nancy Pelosi over her “CIA lied to me” remarks:

The pollster for the House GOP leadership has conducted a poll to determine the effectiveness of one of the GOP’s leading attacks on Nancy Pelosi — that she wasn’t being truthful when she claimed the CIA lied to her about torture.
The poll, which I obtained from a source, found that it may be working. People believe that the CIA didn’t mislead Pelosi by a wide margin, 49%-27%.

The poll — which was conducted by longtime House GOP pollster David Winston — is interesting because it suggests that Republicans remain committed to this line of attack and are eager to gauge whether it’s effective in hopes of keeping it going.

It doesn’t look like the poll asked the all-important follow-up question: “Do you give a shit?” I wish them all the best with that pathetic line of attack.

In other “pathetic lines of attack” news, Cons are still on about Sotomayor’s supposed activist-judge qualities, so much so they’re making up their minds against her before her confirmation hearings:

Yesterday in a speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) “became at least the third Republican” to announce that he will vote against Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court:

Mr. President, judges do not make law, and under no circumstance should they be under the impression that they do. Judge Sotomayor sees judges as lawmakers — as both umpire and player. [...]

I wonder how Alexander Hamilton would respond. I think he would wholly disagree with that interpretation. Unfortunately, Judge Sotomayor’s writings and statements lead me to believe she is a proponent — a clear proponent — of an activist judiciary. I cannot support her nomination. I will vote “no” when it comes before the full Senate.

Sammy earns full suck-up-to-the-rabidly-stupid-base points, but he and his fellow already-decideds have just opened themselves up to yet more hypocrisy. To wit:

During the confirmation hearings for Samuel Alito in 2006, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) lamented to the judge that there were “those who have already decided to vote against your nomination and are looking for some reason to do so.”

This genius statement was, of course, made before any Dem had announced any intention not to vote for Alito. And so I’m sure we can rely on him to chide his fellow Republicans for jumping to conclusions, right?

Right?

Why am I hearing crickets?

Also in hypocrisy news, it turns out that Cons’ love for the CBO only goes so far:

Back in January, the Congressional Budget Office issued a preliminary assessment of the administration’s stimulus package. It was only a partial look at an out-of-date proposal, but it bolstered Republicans’ criticism, so the GOP ran with the misleading numbers. Soon after, a more complete CBO report was issued, it bolstered the Democrats’ case, and all of a sudden, Republicans’ love and respect for the CBO disappeared.

We’re seeing the exact same scenario play out again.
Last week, the Congressional Budget Office scored an incomplete Democratic health care proposal, issuing an unhelpful analysis with little practical value. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) not only accepted the CBO numbers as gospel, but called the analysis “the turning point in the healthcare debate.”

This week, the CBO ran the numbers on the Democratic cap-and-trade, and in the process, discredited the Republican talking points on the proposal. Cantor’s fickle love for the CBO, predictably, faded quickly.

“Today, now we are reading the reports that have come out this week that CBO has now reduced its cost estimate to say that it is only $160 that families will be impacted by the cap and trade bill. I think that now CBO has now entered the realm of losing its credibility.”

Um, congressman? If you believe the CBO when it tells you what you want to hear, and reject it when it delivers bad news, it’s not the Congressional Budget Office that’s “losing credibility.”

Not that Cantor had any left to lose, o’ course.

Finally, we have a hint that the Cons in Congress are preaching to a very small choir indeed:

Okay, so it may be too early to call this a trend. But it’s increasingly obvious that the GOP Congressional leadership is at risk of being at odds with even Republican rank and file voters on key issues.

Case in point: Cap-and-trade. New poll numbers from The Washington Post show that there’s strong support across the board for a cap-and-trade approach to curbing greenhouse gas emissions. While this approach is currently opposed by Republican leaders, a surprising 60% of liberal and moderate Republicans favor it.

Health care? Check. This week’s New York Times poll found that even 50% of Republicans back a public insurance option as part of health care reform, a position strongly opposed by GOP leaders.

Even Republican strategists acknowledge this problem. David Hill, who has polled for Republican candidates for years, wrote yesterday that on health care, there is a “dangerous gap between the opinions of Republicans in Congress and Republican followers.”

But, of course, that just means that 50-60% of Republican followers aren’t real Americans, right? It couldn’t possibly mean that the Cons in Congress are representing only Looneyville, rather than a broad Republican base.

It’ll be interesting to see just how many voters they end up with there at the end. I have a feeling we won’t need very many numbers to represent the total…

Feds Express a Decided Interest in Sean Hannity’s Pal Hal

Quick, my darlings, to the wayback machine! Remember this bit o’ drama last January?

We’re already aware that the white-supremacist crowd is already creating a higher level of security concerns surrounding Barack Obama’s inauguration.

So somehow it probably figures that Sean Hannity’s old pal Hal Turner would be out there leading the parade of nutcases making threats around the events.

According to Mark Potok at the SPLC, Turner has gone public this week with his threats:

On Friday, neo-Nazi threatmeister Hal Turner, amplifying on an earlier posting suggesting that it would be a good thing to use an unmanned drone carrying explosives to attack the crowds, said a mass murder of those attending the festivities “would be a public service.” “I won’t say what may happen Tuesday but I will say this,” Turner wrote on his blog. “After Tuesday, the name Hal Turner may live in infamy. Let it be known that I saw what was necessary and decided to do what had to be done. I make no apology to those affected or their families.”

Earlier, on Jan. 11, Turner had posted photos to his blog, under the headline “My Inauguration Dream,” of a small, unmanned drone, an electronic guidance system and sticks of dynamite as he laid out one method of attack. He also discussed the possibility of sending up balloons filled with helium and a “payload” and fitted with fuses that would explode the balloons over the crowds. And he displayed a grainy video that purported to show that method being tested. “Too far fetched?” Turner asks of a possible balloon attack. “It got tested and it worked! … Watch the video and imagine what payload, other than the index cards taped to the outside of the test balloons, might be substituted? HMMMMMM. Might be something messy? Something contagious? Something deadly? Ahhhh, such possibilities!” Then, last Thursday, he posted an update, saying: “All the assets that need to be in-place for next week are now in-place; deep within the security perimeter. Everything is a ‘go.’ We have crossed the Rubicon; let history judge us well.”

Hal, you poor silly shit. You’re too much of an assclown to pull of your dreams of wholesale death and destruction, and you made a ginormous ass of yourself blustering threats you couldn’t follow through on. But hey, congratulations – if it was just attention you were seeking, boy, you sure got it:

Today, FBI agents went to the New Jersey home of white supremacist blogger/radio host Hal Turner and arrested him “on a federal complaint filed in Chicago alleging that he made internet postings threatening to assault and murder three federal appeals court judges in Chicago in retaliation for their recent ruling upholding handgun bans in Chicago and a suburb,” according to a statement released by the Justice Department. A summary of Turner’s dangerous tirade against the judges:

Internet postings on June 2 and 3 proclaimed “outrage” over the June 2, 2009, handgun decision by Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook and Judges Richard Posner and William Bauer, of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, further stating, among other things: “Let me be the first to say this plainly: These Judges deserve to be killed.” The postings included photographs, phone numbers, work address and room numbers of these judges, along with a photo of the building in which they work and a map of its location.

Turner’s posts also “referred to the murder of the mother and husband of Chicago-based federal Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow in February 2005,” saying, “Apparently, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court didn’t get the hint after those killings. It appears another lesson is needed.” In the Justice Department statement, U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald — who announced the charges — said, “We take threats to federal judges very seriously. Period.”

Oh, yes, they do, Hal – yes, they do. And they’ll probably want words about your Inauguration Day threats, too – forms a pattern of escalating murderous ideations, y’see.

It’s okay, Hal. I’m sure you’ll only get a few years, considering all you’ve done so far is make terroristic threats. And I’ll betcha your old pal Hannity’ll be happy to come visit you in prison. No, really. I mean, he hasn’t got a reputation to defend, and the Faux News audience is so far gone they’ll probably rally round you like a martyr.

I mean, a right wing dumbfuck enough to say this about Sanford’s little dereliction of duty…

The two silliest defensive responses from before he fessed up:

“It is refreshing that Mark Sanford is secure enough in himself and the people of South Carolina that he does not view himself as an indispensable man.” (Erick Erickson)

And:

“Are [Cassie] and I married to the only real men left in the entire freakin’ country? Do we only want Momma’s boys or Daddy’s girls in the White House from here on out? Teddy Roosevelt is doing backflips in his grave right now: apparently no one is allowed to go on a writing retreat, take a road trip, or hike, hunt, or fish if they have any political ambitions at all. Unbelievable.” (Little Miss Attila)

…is certainly dumbfuck enough to make excuses for you. They’ll probably write you in prison and everything.

Hell, you get enough of a following going, you might even get the Charlie Manson treatment. How would you like being seen as someone so likely to incite murder and mayhem that you have to be locked up for life, eh? That’s fame, that is.

Couldn’t have happened to a better racist asshole, I’d say.

Another Sanctimonious Sinner

The Mark Sanford Mystery is solved. Turns out he wasn’t hiking, he was humping:

Boy, somehow you could just see this coming when people started asking where Gov. Mark Sanford had disappeared to:

COLUMBIA, S.C. – During a Wednesday news conference at his office in Columbia, Gov. Mark Sanford admitted to having an extramarital affair — information that surfaced after his recent, secret trip to Argentina.

The married father of four emotionally apologized to his wife and staff, saying, “I’ve let down a lot of people.”

Sanford said he met the woman almost eight years ago, but “about a year ago, it sparked into something more than that.”

The governor said his wife and family have known about it for the past five months.

He also announced that he was resigning as chairman of the Republican Governors’ Association.

Earlier, the South Carolina governor told a newspaper he was in South America, not hiking the Appalachian Trail as his staff had told the public to explain his sudden absence. He said he “wanted to do something exotic” to unwind after losing a fight over federal stimulus money.

Apparently, his misspoke. What he meant to tell the State was that he “wanted to do someone exotic.”

The inimitable Digby sums it up:

OK, a few things. First, powerful men thinking they’re invulnerable? Go figure. These things are actually not widespread; despite the anecdotal evidence, a small percentage of politicians have affairs on their spouses. But to the extent that they are, they are internal matters between these people and their families. Nobody really knows what goes on in someone else’s marriage, and I really don’t care about my representatives’ faithfulness. In fact, none of us should. But where this breaks down is when these sanctimonious “family values” types want to police personal behavior of their constituents when they cannot keep it in their pants themselves.

That’s the usual disclaimer. But this Sanford case is much, much different. He left his state, in fact he left the country, for seven days without telling anybody. Setting aside the fact that going to Argentina to “say goodbye” for seven days doesn’t make any kind of sense, and if he got away with this I’m sure there would be additional hikes on the Appalachian trail, so to speak, in the future, leaving the country with no proper explanation is a severe dereliction of duty. He apparently lied to his own staff, lied to the Lieutenant Governor, and left his state in the lurch, despite the unpredictability of events (aren’t we in hurricane season?). That’s probably a firing offense. If I was a South Carolinian, it would be to me, regardless of party.

He lied to his staff. He skipped out on his official duties for a week-long “goodbye” fuck. And as if that weren’t enough, he’s the kind of sanctimonious shithead who relentlessly played the family values card:

While serving as a U.S. congressman, Sanford was incredibly critical of his colleagues’ marital misdeeds, including the affairs of former congressman Bob Livingston and President Bill Clinton:

“The bottom line, though, is I am sure there will be a lot of legalistic explanations pointing out that the president lied under oath. His situation was not under oath. The bottom line, though, is he still lied. He lied under a different oath, and that is the oath to his wife. So it’s got to be taken very, very seriously.” [Sanford on Livingston, CNN, 12/18/98]

We ought to ask questions…rather than circle the wagons for one of our tribe.” [Sanford on how the GOP reacts to affairs, New York Post, 12/20/98]

“I think it would be much better for the country and for him personally (to resign). I come from the business side. If you had a chairman or president in the business world facing these allegations, he’d be gone.” [Sanford on Clinton, The Post and Courier, 9/12/98]

The issue of lying is probably the biggest harm, if you will, to the system of Democratic government, representatives government, because it undermines trust. And if you undermine trust in our system, you undermine everything.” [Sanford on Clinton, CNN, 2/16/99]

And yet the only thing he’s resigned is his position as the head of the Republican Governors’ Association. He still thinks he gets to play governor, unlike all those other cheating bastards he tried to run out of office.

Reap as you sow, asshole.

So, how does Faux News react to the utterly shocking news that one of their Republican darlings is a lying, cheating, fuckwit? Why, they brand him a Democrat, o’ course:

Sanford-D_f3174.JPG

I think it’s just automatic now. When a high-profile Republican gets into trouble, Fox News steps in to mislead their sheep viewers by labeling them as Democrats.

Here’s a short list of Fox’s chyron hackery:

John McCain – Democrat
Joe Lieberman – Democrat
Arlen Spector – Democrat (when he was still a Republican!)
Mark Foley – Democrat

Media Matters also caught Fox listing a Democratic strategist as Bush’s head of FEMA — because his name happened to be Michael Brown. Oh, and we can’t forget the time they announced Rep. William Jefferson’s indictment using footage of Congressman John Conyers. They apologized to their audience, but never to Conyers personally.

I’m sure it was just an oversight, just like all the rest…riiiight. Have I missed any?

Utterly fucking pathetic, just like the fucktard governor they’re trying to distance their precious party from. Dumbshits.

But it’s not just Sanford’s “do as I say, not as I do” hypocritical moralizing, or his utter dereliction of
duty so he could get his dick wet in South America, or his pathetic lies, that make him such a contemptible little shit. As Steve Benen points out, he already was a contemptible little shit:

I’d be remiss if I neglected to add that while sex scandals are always going to generate public interest, the significance of Mark Sanford’s efforts to screw over his own constituents with his neo-Hooverite economic policies is almost certainly more offensive than anything he had going on in his private life.

At least now South Carolinians may have a chance at obtaining a governor worth having.

Oh, and all you GOPers currently screaming “Off with his head!” – two questions:

1. Where’s your outrage over John Ensign’s affair?

and

2. What tune will you sing when we discover your dicks swinging in the breeze?