The Watering Hole, Monday, July 15th: FFS, There is NO Scandal!

While visiting ThinkProgress the other day, I noticed on the sidebar a photo of President Obama, with the following emblazoned over it: ‘OBAMA APPROVAL PLUMMETS – Is the IRS Scandal The Final Straw?

I couldn’t help myself, I had to click on it, and ended up at the following petition, sponsored (somewhat to my surprise) by Citizens United:

irs

“Tell Attorney General Eric Holder To Appoint A Special Counsel To Investigate The IRS
Sign the Petition : 8,045 Signers So Far

Washington is embroiled in scandal and those at Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department cannot be trusted to conduct an independent investigation because there is a conflict of interest.

In a case this inflammatory – the politicization of the IRS – people serving at the pleasure of the President at the Department of Justice cannot be trusted to conduct an independent investigation because there is an inherent conflict of interest. How can you ask someone to fairly investigate their boss or others who work for their boss? The answer is you can’t.

The American people will not and should not stand for a political investigation into the politicization of the IRS. Please sign the below petition to tell Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a Special Counsel to get to the bottom of the IRS scandal. Make your voice heard!

Thank you for signing this petition, we will keep you informed on the developments related to the fiscal cliff and additional content from Citizens United and the Presidential Coalition.”

[For more on the "Presidential Coalition", here's what SourceWatch and OpenSecrets have on the group.]

For your reading pleasure, here’s a selection of some of the dumbass comments posted by signers of the petition:

Lucy B. from Philadelphia, PA writes:
This was implemented to make sure Obama’s reelection would be secure and his opposition (Conservatives) would be denied money to carry on a political fight.

Robert B. from Chesapeake, VA writes:
Enforce the law on these lawleess jerks!!

Shirley H. from Pearland, TX writes:
Mr. Holder you need to appoint a special counsel to investigate the IRS. You have proven yourself unreliable and dishonest. Someone else should have investigated Fast and Furious and Bengahzi. You need to be fired and charged with several crimes.
Take yourself and the DOJ out of IRS investigation.

Herb P. from Boulder City, NV writes:
Repeal the income tax; our economy was better before the income tax.

larry b. from West Palm Beach, FL writes:
Shut Down the irs!!!!
flat tax NOW!!!

Geraldine R. from Milwaukee, WI writes:
Eric Holder needs to be investigated too.

robert w. from Hilliard, FL writes:
for this and bengazzi

Jan M. from Overland Park, KS writes:
STRONG CASE FOR IMPEACHMENT IF YOU FOLLOW HIS PLAN TO DESTROY THE US!

Irv P. from Burbank, CA writes:
Your corruption breeds more corruption. It and you are putrid.

Everett S. from Darien, CT writes:
We want a AG that is fair , balanced and Just. Our nation needs and depends on this

[Note: I agree with this, but obviously, for reasons which are probably not the same as Everett's.]

Laine P. from Austin, TX writes:
There is nothing to say that the “thought police” will not use against anyone with a brain left after these five years of oppression.

Mike H. from Palm Beach Gardens, FL writes:
He won’t do this because it would lead right to the White House.

Dr. Jim C. from Young Harris, GA writes:
bho is anti-American and the most divisive public figure to ever live in this Great Nation.

John T. V. from Tamaqua, PA writes:
These Chicago thugs, are like satan, “MASTER OF ALL LIES AND DECEIT.”

Anne M. from Hyde Park, MA writes:
Dear AG E. Holder: Do your job. Or perhaps it was your idea to pull this off in the first place? In that case, resign, if you have a trace of honor. That being doubtful, then know that you are unacceptable as chief law-enforcement officer of this country, because you have violated the Constitution you swore to uphold. Since you have all my personal information already, I’ll simply sign my self: Anne, A Citizen

Calvin M. from Bristol, VA writes:
The IRS is to Political. It has shown time and time again that it is out of control and cannot be trusted.

Richard B. from Chicago, IL writes:
Impeach Obama and dump his socialist Obamacare witch is a big Federal scam we are all in BIG trouble if its not repealed

christopher S. from Morocco, IN writes:
Holder and Obama are both black racist crooks need to be tried , convicted and sent to prison

Caroline C. from Sioux City, IA writes:
We have a president with blood on his hands
from the babies who survive an abortion and blood on his hands from the Benghai attack. The IRS is another President’s problem with their misuse of taxpayers’ money!!!!

Lucy B. from Philadelphia, PA [again] writes:
ABSOLUTLY! IRS apologized after his reelection was secured by eliminating his feared opposition the Tea Party which he marginalized used sexually divisive terms that great grandmothers didn’t even understand. And he has no respect for the RULE OF LAW.

Jo Ann C. from Jacksonville, FL writes:
For years, honest folks were afraid of the IRS…most with good reason as an audit by them put anyone in fear…even when they had done nothing wrong! Now it is our President who puts fear in us by all the things he has done and plans to do. He acts more like a Dictator than a President! I pray to God daily for the safety and security of our USA. I hope he is impeached and removed from office in order to save the America we know and love. I am an 80 year old woman and hope and pray for our Country…whomever reads this, please forward if you are like minded. Thanks

LEONARD C. from Glendale, AZ writes:
guilty as charged.this is a no brainer for a blind man.hang them for treason. god bless america.sent them all to kenya.

Now, I’m no fan of Eric Holder and his so-called “Department of ‘Justice'”, but this IRS “scandal” bullshit is just that, BULLSHIT. Yet Citizens United (spit) is still using it to incite and bilk the ignorant.

Well, since I can’t put all of the ignorant comments that I found into this post, I’ll leave you with this final winner:

susan D. from Latrobe, PA writes:
I have never seen so much corruption ever ;they just keep doing IT and getting away with everything ;that is so not right come on Gongress do your job ;fire holden @ Obama ;and Hiliray Clinton to . .there are many corruped people in the white house it is shocking .And they are trying so hard to make Balck and White such a bad rachal thing it is terbble ;i have no probelm with black people at all ;there all the same colour is not an issue it is the GOVERNMENT THAT IS THE ISSUE .

This is our Open Thread. Have at it!

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, July 10, 2013: The Handwriting on the Wall

47% of this country will not vote for Republicans. Or so Mitt Romney said behind closed doors when speaking to his wealthy benefactors. Yet Republicans are hell-bent on alienating even more of the country, attacking women’s rights, attacking immigrants, attacking minorities, attacking everyone who is not white and rich.

Why? Don’t they see the handwriting on the wall?

Yes. The do see it. And they ignore it. And rightfully so.

They are taking full advantage of the power they have to gerrymander districts and to restrict the ability of anyone who might vote against them to cast a vote. And they’ll succeed, thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling striking out portions of the Voting Rights Act. Republicans wasted no time pushing for the very restrictions they were prevented from implementing these past 40 years. They will ram them through, just as they have rammed through new ways to legislate women’s uteruses.

Tea Party Republicans in the House signaled they are willing to hold the country in economic hostage – again – if they don’t get their way and privatize Medicare, Social Security, gut food stamps, etc.

They do all this because they firmly believe they will get re-elected. And they most likely will, no matter how many people disagree with them. Because they get to choose who votes.

The Republican efforts to “eliminate voter fraud” is itself the greatest fraud on voters – their restrictions, if successful, will allow a shrinking minority to continue to wreck havoc on the rest of this once-great country.

The only way to combat their tactics is to educate the masses to do whatever it takes to jump through the Republican-made hoops to get registered to vote, and to vote.

If we don’t, if we cannot affect change at the ballot box, what is happening in Egypt and Syria will happen here. And that is the handwriting on the wall.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 24th, 2013: The Silence of the Dems

Pretty much every single day, Republicans do or say things that make us either laugh at their foolishness or gasp at their political machinations. On the one hand, we hear idiots like Michele Bachmann spout ‘history’ that she pulled out of her ass, or the ignorance of misogynists such as Trent Franks and Michael Burgess, or just about anything out of the mouth of Steve King. On the other hand, Republican governors and congresspersons are busily doing ALEC’s bidding, continuing and escalating their war on women’s reproductive rights, joined by the supposed “jobs, jobs, jobs”-focused Republican-controlled House. It would seem to be easy enough to just sit back and watch the Republican party descend into oblivion.

Yet, while some of their utterances can be amusing, the Republicans’ overall strategy of limiting citizens’ rights, particularly women and minorities, along with their disdain and antagonism towards the poor among us, is deadly serious. But what are the Democrats doing to stop them, or at least to draw the country’s attention to the medieval legislation being proposed and passed by the Republican governors? I, for one, am sick of the “State’s Rights” BS by which Republican governors and Congressmen swear. President Obama has talked about their divisiveness, and a few of the more left-leaning Democratic Senators have as well, but where are the majority of the Democrats?

But it’s not just Republican schemes that the Democrats need to decry: where are they on President Obama’s illegal (in my mind) drone program, or the NSA spying, or the continuation of the ill-begotten PATRIOT Act? While dinosaurs like Diane Feinstein and Chuck Schumer seem perfectly comfortable with spying on Americans, and denounce whistleblowers as traitors, where are the other Democrats speaking up for our rights as citizens? Where are the Democrats when it comes to the apparently untouchable big corporations, banks, etc.?

Since talk of the next round of elections started the moment the general election in November was over, it seems that most liberal pundits are focusing more on the self-destruction of the Republicans than on what potential Democratic candidates will offer as an alternative. Democrats need to start now to distinguish themselves from the Republicans on issues, and they’re going to need to speak loudly and carry a big stick. They cannot simply rely on pointing at Republicans and laughing from the sidelines. The time for them to speak up is now!

This is our Open Thread. What do you have to say today?

The Watering Hole- Saturday, April 6, 2013: Republican Lies: Smaller Government

If there’s one phrase that makes me cringe when I hear it from Republicans it’s “smaller government.” It’s been so overused and so misused that I really have no idea what they mean by it. To what does “the size of government” refer? Is it how much money the government spends? Under the George W. Bush Administration, our government spent more than it ever had before, yet I never heard Republicans complaining about deficits or the debt. Is it how many federal agencies there are? Under the Bush Administration, that also grew with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. I’ve never been a fan of the term “homeland security.” Maybe because it’s too close to “Motherland” or “Fatherland,” terms we don’t feel comfortable using in this country. Is it how many employees the federal government has on its payroll? Well, with the federalization of all airport security screeners and the expansion of our military and mercenary forces, that also increased under the Bush Administration. So where were the Republicans to complain about the “size of government” growing under the last Republican president? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if George W. Bush really were the last Republican president? But I digress.

People argue over who is responsible for the federal spending, and because Washington budget politics are a scam that’s almost impossible for the average American to decipher and detect, there’s little point in trying to assign blame. You hear Members of Congress talking about “cuts” in federal spending. But did you know that when they refer to a “cut,” what they’re really referring to is a decrease in the amount of money by which they previously planned to increase spending? In other words, Program A has a budget of $100 billion. The budget passed the previous year calls for increasing this year’s spending on Program A to $104 billion. But after fighting about how much the government is spending, they agree to rein in this spending and change that to only $103 billion. They’re still increasing spending by $3 billion, or 3% in this case, but as far as Washington lawmakers are concerned, this counts as “cutting” spending by $1 billion. They’re still going to spend more than they did before, but since they’re not going to spend as much as they intended to spend, they pat themselves on the back and claim they reduced federal spending. That’s something both parties do when it suits their argument. The thing is they know this is disingenuous, so both parties lie about “cuts” in federal spending. But I digress.

Where Republicans prove they don’t mind expanding government is by their intrusion into the personal lives of females. Despite the continued, if somewhat eroded, affirmation of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court, Republican legislatures across the nation continue to pass laws intended to eliminate the possibility of any abortion taking place within their borders. And even though Mississippi thinks it will have banned all abortions within its borders, the only thing they’ll have banned is safe abortion. Abortions have been going on since long before the safe methods used today were developed, and if abortion is outlawed again, it will continue to happen. It just won’t be safe. But perhaps even more insidious than the outright banning of abortion is the deliberate misrepresentation of facts mandated by law to scare women into not pursuing an abortion. In Kansas, doctors must now tell women that the risk of breast cancer is increased by having an abortion. It simply is not true. It’s bad enough Republicans lie about so many things (have I mentioned I once wrote a song parody about just that?), but now they want other people to lie to advance their warped and baseless belief system. Not to mention unconstitutional. No matter how much they hate it, it is settled law that a woman has the right to have an abortion in the first trimester of her pregnancy without any interference from the the government. Yet they continue to defy it, knowing that they’ll lose in the end. It’s almost pathological. Not just the lying, but the pointless pursuit of an unachievable goal. But I digress.

Kansas Republicans aren’t the only ones who think the government needs to get more involved with our personal lives. In North Carolina, Republicans want couples seeking divorce to wait twice as long, two years, before they can get their divorce finalized. And they have to attend classes and counseling sessions intended to save the marriage, no matter how futile the effort. This followed their attempt to override the First Amendment and introduce a bill “intended to allow county officials to open their meetings with a prayer to Jesus.” The bill was so broadly written that it even declared that states had the right to establish an official religion. Article VI of the Constitution clearly states

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

so you’d think people taking an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States would read it once in a while. But I digress.

No matter what Republicans say tot he contrary, they do not believe in “smaller government” of any kind, at any level. They want to deny women their reproductive freedom rights, and they want you to become a Christian, no matter what your religious beliefs, or beliefs about Religion, are. They want to deny people the right to marry the one person they love. And it somehow all ends up being a discussion on bestiality. But I digress.

This is our daily open thread. I apologize for its lateness, but I digress. Feel free to discuss anything you want. I’m not a Republican.

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 18th, 2013: Ezra, Budgets, and Photographic Wonders

I’m hoping to hear that Ezra Klein will be taking over the “UP with Chris Hayes” weekend show. Ezra has his own wonky way of explaining things so that a topic which would normally make one glaze over becomes understandable and interesting. His ‘I can explain blank in 20 seconds or less (sic)’ bit is something that I now look forward to when he subs for one of the other MSNBC regulars. Ezra’s writing is just as eloquent as his speaking: here’s an excerpt from one of his recent WP posts regarding the Paul Ryan budget proposal (once again called “The Path to Prosperity”):

“Ryan’s budget is intended to do nothing less than fundamentally transform the relationship between Americans and their government. That, and not deficit reduction, is its real point, as it has been Ryan’s real point throughout his career”.

Speaking of budgets, both Bill Maher and Chris Hayes recently brought up the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s Budget Proposal, which previously hadn’t had much mention anywhere. That fact is surprising to me, as the CPC’s budget is one that every liberal would support. Matthew Yglesias has a good article about it in Slate; here’s the pdf of what the CPC calls the “Back to Work Budget.” For the rest of the budget options: you can check out the official White House budget page here; the Senate Democrats’ budget, prepared by Patty Murray, can be reviewed here.

In the meantime, on a local level, the Brewster School District (which all of Wayne’s family attended), despite a budget increase (to be paid for by a school tax increase), is cutting staff, programs, etc., partly due to the loss of stimulus funding, the effect of sequestration, and unfunded State mandates. Too bad that the only budget proposal from Congress which really invests in education is the CPC’s.

Enough about budgets…time to look at some spectacular photos, brought to you by The Weather Channel: first, a slideshow of unusual landscapes by photographer Marsel Van Oosten; then photographer Martin Rietz captures volcanic lightning in this group of photos.

This is our Open Thread. What’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 11th, 2013: From Morons to Marvels

Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis., has been in the news a lot lately, in part for having been one of the select few Republicans who were invited to the recent dinner meeting with President Obama. In an appearance yesterday on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Senator Johnson stated,

“If we’re going to really get to an agreement, this is a good step…You have to start meeting with people. You have to start developing relationships. You’ve got to spend a fair amount of time figuring out what we agree on first.”

[Especially when the Republican "leaders" won't tell their flock the truth about what the President has offered, and the flock and the media are too dumb or brainwashed to lift a couple of fingers and check whitehouse.gov!]

The same “This Week” appearance also saw Paul Krugman, in his inimitable manner, school Senator Johnson on the Social Security program.

Prior to that, in the debate over authorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Senator Johnson was one of a group of “…Republicans [who] have objected to new provisions in the law, including one allowing tribal courts for the first time to prosecute men who aren’t American Indians when they’re accused of abusing an American Indian woman on a reservation. . .”, according to ThinkProgress, which also quotes Senator Johnson as saying:

“the Senate has approved a piece of legislation that sounds nice, but which is fatally flawed. By including an unconstitutional expansion of tribal authority and introducing a bill before the Congressional Budget Office could review it to estimate its cost, Senate Democrats made it impossible for me to support a bill covering an issue I would like to address.”

Coincidentally and fortuitously (or not), when searching for a link on a completely different topic, I ran across this one about Ron Johnson from 2010. It includes a video of Johnson, demonstrating the average conservative’s love of fetuses but not actual children, while “…testifying against the Wisconsin Child Victims Act, which would have eliminated the statute of limitation on lawsuits brought by victims of abuse by priests against the Catholic Church.

Okay, as a palate-cleanser, I believe that there’s something for everyone in these photo slideshows from The Weather Channel.

For all of us who love space science and/or who have experienced various types of mind-enhancement, here’s (now think Muppets “Pigs in Space” voice) “Light Trails from Space.”

Staying in space for the moment, the Comet Pan-STARRS is in the ‘hood, and should start to be visible to the naked eye tomorrow. The chart shown in this article indicates where the large comet can be located (in the western sky at sunset) over the next two weeks or so.

Last from TWC (and getting back to ‘trails’…you’ll see): unusual (and occasionally claustrophobia-inducing) tunnels are highlighted in this feature. Although the first tunnel shown only has the one photo – see below – the rest of them have some amazing shots. Tunnel #18, Shanghai’s Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, described as “senseless, yet fabulous“, could likely induce trails even for persons who have never seen trails before. A youtube video of the entire ride is linked to under the description of the Shanghai tunnel, but I haven’t had the chance to watch it yet. Who’s gonna go first? :)

Enjoy!

Ukraine "Tunnel of Love"

Ukraine “Tunnel of Love”

This is our Open thread – what topic would you like to discuss?

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 25th, 2013: Who The Fuck is Ted Cruz?

I’ve been wondering just who the fuck this junior Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, thinks he is. I know, everyone’s been comparing him to the late Senator Joseph McCarthy, due to his disrespectful and appalling attempt to besmirch former Senator Chuck Hagel’s reputation.

The Wikipedia bio of Cruz immediately provides some clues:

Cruz served as a law clerk to William Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the United States, and J. Michael Luttig of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Cruz was the first Hispanic ever to clerk for a Chief Justice of the United States.

In the landmark case of District of Columbia v. Heller, Cruz assembled a coalition of thirty-one states in defense of the principle that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms. Cruz also presented oral argument for the amici states in the companion case to Heller before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

In addition to his victory in Heller, Cruz has successfully defended the Ten Commandments monument on the Texas State Capitol grounds, the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools and the 2003 Texas redistricting plan.

Cruz also successfully defended, in Medellin v. Texas, the State of Texas against an attempt by the International Court of Justice to re-open the criminal convictions of 51 murderers on death row throughout the United States.

Cruz was endorsed by David Barton, founder and president of WallBuilders; the Club for Growth, a conservative political action committee; Erick Erickson, editor of prominent conservative blog RedState; the FreedomWorks for America super PAC; Princeton University professor Robert P. George; nationally syndicated radio host Mark Levin; former Attorney General Edwin Meese; Tea Party Express; Young Conservatives of Texas; and U.S. Senators Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Pat Toomey. He has also been endorsed by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, Michigan Congressman Justin Amash, and former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum.

Now there’s an all-star lineup of right-wing idealogues (shudder.)

Jane Mayer provides more information in her piece in the New Yorker:

Two and a half years ago, Cruz gave a stem-winder of a speech at a Fourth of July weekend political rally in Austin, Texas, in which he accused the Harvard Law School of harboring a dozen Communists on its faculty when he studied there…Cruz made the accusation while speaking to a rapt ballroom audience during a luncheon at a conference called “Defending the American Dream,” sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, a non-profit political organization founded and funded in part by the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch. Cruz greeted the audience jovially, but soon launched an impassioned attack on President Obama, whom he described as “the most radical” President “ever to occupy the Oval Office.”…He then went on to assert that Obama, who attended Harvard Law School four years ahead of him, “would have made a perfect president of Harvard Law School.” The reason, said Cruz, was that, “There were fewer declared Republicans in the faculty when we were there than Communists! There was one Republican. But there were twelve who would say they were Marxists who believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government.”

In a follow-up article, Jane Mayer discusses the response from Cruz’s spokeswoman (who actually responded in an interview with The Blaze-I provided the link if you want to hold your nose and dive in, the comments are psycho, too.)

And a couple of articles from Politicus.com provide some slightly more tongue-in-cheek descriptions Cruz’s recent spotlight-hogging performances.

Unfortunately, Senator Cruz has the backing of some people with deep pockets and too much power. Maybe that’s why he seems to feel that he can say anything, regardless of the truth, with little impunity. So far, the only good thing Cruz has done is to make John McCain and Lindsey Graham look almost honorable.

This is our Open thread, what’s on your minds?