Personal Reflections on Politics and Priorities


The Statue of Freedom atop the U.S. Capitol building.

Let us speak of love and life and the beauty of this Universe.

What? Oh. Right. Sorry.

Look, to the one it seems really simple; to the other, we all have people in our lives who will, when they don’t like the obvious implication of an obvious fact, chuff and puff and stutter: “Wh-wha-what? What are you talking about? What does that even mean?” The thing about this behavior is that except for the fact of contention, these people in our lives know damn well what we’re talking about, and if there is any confusion about what it means, they’re certainly tipping their hand by going from zero to attack in zero-point-two-one-seven-three seconds. You know that common tease, “Struck a nerve, there”?

Sometimes it seems tragic: Perceived competitive pressures can seem so permeating in and of the perspectives subscribing to or advocating its processes and outcomes as to inhibit normal, healthy social function. More accessibly: Capitalism escalates mental health risk factors. Or, more generally: People who believe in or advocate the dog eat dog rat race can fall into it so deeply that their social faculties degrade into dysfunction.

And sometimes we think, “Huh? But you knew what this meant yesterday. And you even believed it last week!”

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Quote of the Day: Benen on Republicans and the Ten Commandments


The Ten Commandments

The larger point is that some conservatives are so eager to have government extend official support to their religious beliefs that they’re willing to argue that their sacred texts have no religious value at all. It’s ironic, in a way – it’s tempting to think opponents of religion would want to strip sacred texts of their spiritual significance. Here we have the opposite.

Steve Benen

Yes, it comes to this.

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Benen, Steve. “This Week in God, 8.23.14”. msnbc. 23 August 2014.

The Appearance of … Well, Something


George Washington BridgeIs it fair to say that by the time the key players lawyer up, as such, we can start taking what should have been the silliest political conspiracy theory of the year seriously?

Even worse … well, the transition from silly to serious seems nearly obligatory, doesn’t it?

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Graham Cracked?


Lindsey Graham is looking out for the ladies.

The editorial comment, the punch line, is actually the important part. No, really:

If memory serves, Republicans went into the 2012 elections working on restricting contraception; cutting off Planned Parenthood; requiring medically-unnecessary ultrasounds; fighting equal-pay laws; and making some deeply unfortunate comments about rape. Graham and his allies apparently believe Republicans can go into the 2014 elections saying, “We learned a valuable lesson losing the last round of elections, so we’ve decided to do more of the same.”

Indeed, this will be all the more pronounced when GOP lawmakers have no other legislative accomplishments about which they can boast. I can hear the speeches now, “Sure, we failed to pass any meaningful bills, but don’t worry – when we weren’t shutting down the governing, we spent some time on culture-war legislation we knew in advance wouldn’t pass.”

(Benen)

Sure, it’s a bit sarcastic, and definitely bears a partisan tang, but that can all fall away in the sense that this really is a possibility as we look ahead to the 2014 midterm.

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Advice and Extortion


RandPaulEyes

He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.

United States Constitution, II.2

Sometimes it feels like fantasy: “These are dark times, there is no denying . . . .”

Never mind.

It would be wrong to call JeeYeon Park’s CNBC report—

Equities briefly pared their gains after Senator Rand Paul threatened to put Janet Yellen’s Fed chair nomination on hold this week, according to sources close to Paul.

Paul is insisting on a vote on his Fed transparency bill, and has informed Senate leadership of his intentions, according to the source.

Meanwhile, a Senate Democratic aide told CNBC that the ability of Paul to single-handedly block the nomination “should not be overstated” as Paul would need 40 other senators to join him to cut off a motion to end debate and bring the nomination to the floor. Although hearings have not yet been scheduled, the aide said the leadership at this point is confident the nomination will succeed.

—little noticed, as the markets noticed and reacted, causing other people to notice—

Sen. Rand Paul is getting a lot of attention this morning for his threat to hold up the nomination of Janet L. Yellen to head the Federal Reserve, but he may have very little leverage to stop her confirmation.

The Kentucky Republican is seeking a vote on his Federal Reserve transparency legislation as part of considering the Yellen nomination. The announcement came in a YouTube video posted Thursday by the Campaign for Liberty, a nonprofit affiliated with Paul’s father, former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.

Legislation to require an audit of the Federal Reserve has had bipartisan support in the past when pushed by both Pauls, but it has faced no shortage of opposition and roadblocks.

“Sen. Rand Paul will be demanding a vote on audit the Fed in the Senate when they consider the new Fed nominee,” John Tate, the chairman of Campaign for Liberty, said in the video.

However, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., could decide to ignore Paul’s request by moving to limit debate on Yellen’s nomination by filing cloture. If Reid gets 60 votes, there’s no need to make a deal with Paul or anyone else. Yellen appears to already have enough support to overcome a filibuster, unless Republicans and some sympathetic Democrats decide to back his quest for a vote on the audit bill.

“Right now, the Senate is preparing to debate and confirm the new Obama nominee to chair the Federal Reserve,” Paul said. “I say vote no on a new Fed chairman without a vote on my audit the Fed bill. This will be the fight of our lives.”

—and now we have an issue.

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Fetus Dolls and Candy


Right.Um … how about we just check in with Katie J. M. Baker of Jezebel?

A box of fake fetuses.Want a squishy toy fetus with your corn dog? If you’re visiting the North Dakota State Fair, you’re in luck! Last weekend, local anti-choice advocates slipped soft fetal models into kids’ candy bags without parental permission during the fair’s gigantic parade. “I don’t know exactly where I stand on abortion,” one mother told Jezebel, “but I believe in my rights as a parent.”The North Dakota State Fair boasts a bevy of attractions, including performances by Tim McGraw and Creedence Clearwater Revisited. But Minot Right to Life spent the weekend giving away creepy little fetuses to kids without asking parents’ permission first. “It was really disturbing watching children run around with them,” one recalled. A federal judge recently temporarily blocked enforcement of the state’s highly unconstitutional six-week abortion ban; perhaps appealing to elementary schoolers’ interests is the group’s Plan B?The Precious One” fetal models are manufactured by Heritage House, a “pro-life supply store,” for $1.50 a pop — cheaper if you buy in bulk. “Its beautiful detail, softness and weight can really move hearts and change minds!” the website promises. A customer service representative told Jezebel that the models are most often given to pregnant women at “pregnancy centers” and kids at school presentations. The customer reviews on the site (it’s like Yelp for fetus-lovers instead of foodies) further imply that the doll-like figures are great for kids. “Children especially like to hold them,” one satisfied customer wrote. “No other item that we hand out has the amazing effect that these fetal models have — instant attachment to the unborn!” said another. “So many times, we hear, ‘Awwwww! That’s adorable!’ Or we just see a girl’s tears begin to form and fall.”

Point number one: You know how we hear conservatives complain, from time to time, about how we need to just let children be children, and thus never teach them that gay people or birth control exist? So … er … yeah. This doesn’t fall under that rubric?Point number two:

Devyn Nelson, Executive Director of North Dakota Right to Life, said he hadn’t been contacted by organizers and claimed that the booth ran out of “Precious Ones” because there was such a high demand for the mini fetuses. “Kids like them, but adults like them too,” he said. “They have nothing to do with abortion. You don’t have to bring abortion up at all.”

Uh-huh. Right. Makes perfect sense.Just sayin’. Continue reading

The Drowning Game


“Yes, we’re only half-way through the calendar year—or, roughly one-fourth of the way through the current Congress—but federal lawmakers are already behind the last Congress’ pace, and it was the worst in modern times.”

Steve Benen

Conservative Wet DreamWhat we’re essentially dealing with is a means of rendering government weak enough to drown it in a bathtub; simply make it so incompetent that it cannot lift its head out of the water. After all, that would require House approval, and the Republican majority certainly isn’t in an approving mood.