Friday, January 30, 2015

Say good night, Willard


Plus "TV Watch" note (see below)

No, I'm not going to give you a playable clip. If you really want to watch it, you can find it for yourself. But that's 3:34 of your life that you'll never get back.

by Ken

In case you haven't heard, Willard Romney has decided not to make a third run at the presidency, to the apparent surprise of "those who have spoken to Romney," who were persuaded that he would run since "he views the emerging GOP field of contenders as too weak to defeat likely Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton" and "believes he would be a better candidate after his experiences in 2012."

Now we have several pieces of business before once again saying, "Bye-bye," to Willard, starting with --

(You know, the one who says that "all the political metrics were right" for a 2016 Willard for Prexy run)

Dude, have you had your political metrics checked lately? Seriously, those things can get dull, go out of alignment, sometimes even get so worn that there's nothing for it but to duct-tape the suckers, which doesn't do wonders for their accuracy. Do yourself a favor and get those metrics into the shop for a check-up, even if they're out of warranty. Or maybe skip a step and buy a new set -- usually those things can't be repaired anyway.


How well do you know your Willard? Score one point for each correct answer and two points for each incorrect answer.

1. According to the Washington Post's Philip Rucker and Dan Balz ("Mitt Romney decides against running for president again in 2016"), "those who have spoken to Romney came away from the conversations believing he was likely to run again for several reasons." Which of the following is not one of those reasons?

(a) He views the emerging GOP field of contenders as too weak to defeat likely Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.
(b) He believes he would be a better candidate after his experiences in 2012.
(c) He sensed an opportunity to win.
(d) He has become addicted to crack cocaine.

ANSWER: (d) "Those who have spoken to Romney" haven't commented on his crack use.

2. Willard is said to have told friends that he wanted to be "a more authentic candidate" if he ran in 2016 than he was in 2008 or in 2012. What plans did he have to be "more authentic"?

(a) To have himself notarized.
(b) To wear his Mormon underwear on the outside.
(c) To blame everything on President Obama.
(d) To replace Andy Richter as Conan O'Brien's sidekick.

ANSWER: All of the above.

3. Which of the following did Willard not tell a Republican National Committee meeting in San Diego two weeks ago should be among the pillars for a 2016 GOP campaign?

(a) Dealing with wage stagnation.
(b) The middle class economic squeeze.
(c) Lifting people out of poverty.
(d) Arranging a fair price for the 1% to buy the part of the country they don't own yet.

ANSWER: (d) Willard doesn't believe in paying "a fair price"; he believes his people should get it for a "rock-bottom price."

4. Willard made his announcement today, a day before arriving in Washington for an important annual event. What is that event?

(a) The annual dinner of the exclusive Alfalfa Club, where he is being inducted as a new member.
(b) The announcement of a new plan to return the Washington Redskins to NFL playoff contention.
(c) The announcement of a new plan to fund the government until the next shutdown threat.
(d) The blossoming of the cherry trees. (What, they're not? Are you sure? But my crack staff people said . . .)

ANSWER: (a) The annual dinner of the Alfalfa Club. (No, I don't know what the Alfalfa Club is. Do you really want to know?)

5. Which of the following members of the Alfalfa Club will be seated at the head table along with Willard? (Choose all that apply.)

(a) All seven Bush family members who are members.
(b) Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
(c) Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
(d) Alfalfa from The Little Rascals.

ANSWER: (b) Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and (c) Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. None of the Bush family members will be attending. Carl Switzer, who played Alfalfa in The Little Rascals, was shot to death under still-disputed circumstances on the night of Jan. 21, 1959.

6. Which of the following is Willard most likely to do now that he has all that free time (and, presumably, cash) on his hands?

(a) Travel around the country like Johnny Appleseed, with a dog caged to the roof.
(b) Travel around the country like Johnny Appleseed, buying up businesses and putting people out of work.
(c) Travel around the country like Johnny Appleseed, buying fancy new homes. (Wasn't it Ben Franklin who said, "A man can never have enough fancy new homes"?)
(d) Travel around the country like Johnny Appleseed, denouncing economic inequality and ripping up trees to build McMansions.

ANSWER: Hasn't the man earned a little privacy?


TODAY 12:32 PM
The Borowitz Report


By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney told supporters on Friday that he was “incredibly relieved” to be able to keep the approximately five to ten residences he owns across the country.

“Having to talk about how much I care about ordinary Americans and so forth—I was game for that,” he said. “But having to sell all of those houses? That was going to be brutal.”

The 2012 Republican nominee said that he was especially glad he did not have to part with the car elevator in his eleven-thousand-square-foot mansion in La Jolla. “Come on, that thing is neat,” he said.


Well, it's all over now. I don't know that this odd 13-episode farewell season is the way I would ideally liked to have seen the show say good night, but I thought last night's final episode provided a pretty decent resting place. I'll probably want to say a little about the show and its departure, but first I want to watch the episode again. So, tomorrow maybe. Or maybe not. One never knows in such matters.

Labels: , ,

Bay Area homeless population on the rise during tech boom


During the 2014 holiday season, Margaret Cho was in San Francisco helping raise funds for youth services.

"It is a tragic mix-up when the United States spends $500,000 for every enemy soldier killed, and only $53 annually on the victims of poverty."
-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

by Denise Sullivan

If you're looking for extremes in income disparity, look no further than San Francisco.

The city that announced a $22 million operating surplus can seemingly not afford to house its lower- and middle-income residents or feed them.

"This provides us in city government with an opportunity to help working-class and middle-income families that are struggling," said Supervisor David Campos of the city's windfall in a December edition of the Chronicle. "I think that it's a conversation that should begin sooner rather than later."

Agreed, though the history of San Francisco's housing and homelessness story is complex, requiring a quick look back at the last 50 years and our waxing and waning attitudes between equality and tolerance, racism and outright cultural genocide, and back to inequity and apathy again.

San Francisco is historically the place people went when they weren't accepted elsewhere. If you were a freethinker or Beat, you went there. If you were a hippie/counterculturist, you went there. If you were gay or transgender, you went there. Likely you went because you weren't welcome where you came from or you were seeking to start your life adventure. But San Francisco is also the place of which James Baldwin said, "There is no distance between the facts of life in San Francisco and the facts of life in Birmingham," back in 1963 when he visited and heard of its segregated housing and lack of jobs for African Americans.

In this brief irreverent history, the '60s and '70s rolled on, Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone got shot for helping the meek, while Jim Jones killed them with Kool-Aid. In the face of such tragic loss, we mostly maintained our generosity of spirit. Accommodating as best we could the influx of mentally ill folks when Ronald Reagan's ill-conceived policies cut them loose, we were also designated a sanctuary city, a place where victims of civil wars, specifically Central Americans, were allowed to seek refuge without interference by immigration services. Mayors Dianne Feinstein, Art Agnos, Frank Jordan, Willie Brown and Gavin Newsom all had their ways of handling matters of housing these various at-risk and marginalized communities, some better than others (though Jordan's plan and platform, to send the homeless population packing, was the biggest moral disgrace).

Today, the problems of  housing our people look much different. In the annual San Francisco Homeless Count and Survey, according to the Coalition on Homelessness (CoH), almost half of the respondents claimed to be homeless for the first time, and the crisis is "mushrooming," says Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the CoH. In a worthy attempt to foster empathy, a new municipal-transit ad campaign underscores people's resident status. Estimates continue to put San Francisco's homeless population at over 6,000, but that isn't counting all families and youth, who traditionally go underreported. (The waiting list for public housing is over 10,000 households long.) Over two thirds of respondents to the survey reported a disability. The young comprise another hefty segment of the homeless population: whether they're among the 800-1,000 residing with family, or among the 3,000-plus served by Larkin Street Youth, they are not being served. During the 2014 holiday season, Margaret Cho came to town to raise much-needed funds for youth services with a series of street theater events. Some called it a publicity stunt, but I'd say it shone a much-needed spotlight on the disconnect between life among present-day new arrivals with jobs and those who also call San Francisco home but without  steady means of support, including shelter.

People in need gather at 16th and Mission Streets to collect items Margaret Cho and friends collected for them.

Bubbles ballooned and burst, the mortgage crisis hit here, and some folks survived the changes while others didn't; these are simply the wages of our system. Yet with this never-ending wave of tech workers who wish to reside in the urban space rather than in suburban Silicon Valley, its cities traditionally shunning affordable housing in favor of gleaming suburbia, we can unequivocally say that housing here is for the rich. If you are poor, you are expected to live outdoors -- that is, until you are evicted from that space too. Developers and the newly rich may buy units previously occupied by long-term tenants who've been evicted and live in them without reservation; they can snap up properties that have been foreclosed on -- often properties inherited by native-born sons and daughters trying desperately to hold on to their generational heritage -- and flip 'em. Titleholders in good standing electively cash out behind irrefusable offers, which is certainly their right to do, while the housing crisis continues unabated. But at what cost? People's lives are lost from exposure to the elements; others lose their souls by refusing to assist.

At present there are approximately 1,300 shelter beds, which roughly translates into about 5,000 people on the streets and in the parks nightly here. Housing and programs supplemented by money from the surplus budget, billionaire philanthropists, and the collection of taxes and other means could fix this injustice. But there remains resistance by the new power brokers and tech barons to become part of the solution; it doesn't fit their agenda.

Thankfully, there is an increasing awareness of the Bay Area's shameful housing crisis, and it's starting to get national attention, which just may be a beginning toward assistance -- from elsewhere. We have not been shown evidence nor a plan for what or how the 30,000 new units proposed and promised by Mayor Ed Lee are going to manifest, though his office just announced the creation of 138 units thanks to HUD. Lee's plan also includes implementation of the problematic Laura's Law, building of 500 more units, specifically for the homeless community, plus a shelter for homeless LGBT persons. That's great, but when? Just last night 54 more people were displaced, six injured and one died following a fire at their apartment building, prime Mission real estate, allegedly not fitted with proper fire alarms. It will be interesting to watch how the city will assist the people impacted most by the loss of their homes and businesses, meaning those who are just one paycheck or one four-alarm fire away from homelessness.

Denise Sullivan is an arts and culture journalist, commentator, and third-generation San Franciscan. She is co-founder of United Booksellers of San Francisco, a coalition of independent bookstores organized to support and sustain literary life there, and author of several books.

Labels: , , ,

Bibi Netanyahu does damage control with Harry Reid and others -- and Harry says hell yes, he's running for reelection


At his Washington home, recuperating Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday of his upcoming reelection, "I’m running, and that’s all I can say, okay?"

"There have been partisan recriminations in Washington and Israel over the speech, with accusations that Speaker John A. Boehner, who extended the invitation, and Mr. Netanyahu were exploiting the situation for political gain. Mr. Netanyahu faces voters on March 17 in a contest in which national security and Iran could be significant factors. Democrats in Congress have said Mr. Boehner is trying to undermine Mr. Obama and weaken his ability to govern, a charge that Mr. Boehner disputes."
-- from "Netanyahu Is Talking to Leading Democrats to
Little Effect So Far
," by Carl Hulse and Jeremy W. Peters

by Ken

House Speaker "Sunny John" Boehner and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have done themselves less political good than they reckoned with their scheme to bypass protocol and have Bibi speak to Congress on invitation of the speaker -- without, not just consultation with, but even a heads-up to, the White House. Bibi is known to have called severeal Capitol Hill Dems: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer, as the paper's Carl Hulse and Jeremy W. Peters report in "Netanyahu Is Talking to Leading Democrats to Little Effect So Far."

Senator Reid was full of information last night. In the course of that interview, Hulse reports in this morning's NYT "FirstDraft" e-mail, the senator had some emphatic news of his own regarding his decision whether to run for reelection next year. Hulse reports:
Will he or won’t he? That’s what people in political circles are asking about the re-election plans of Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, as he recuperates at his home in Washington from serious injuries suffered in an accident while exercising.

Given that he is 75 years old, has just undergone surgery to restore vision in one eye and has seen his party lose the Senate majority, some are betting that Mr. Reid will forego another difficult election in Nevada in the next year.

Well, he wants people to rest assured: He is running for re-election, and he cannot say it clearly enough.

“All I can say is what I keep saying, I’m running,” Mr. Reid said in an interview on Thursday at his Washington home. “I’m running. And that’s all I can say, O.K.? I’m just saying, I’m running.”

Despite his recent absence from the Capitol while tending to his health, Mr. Reid said that he had been deeply engaged in his party’s strategy during the new Congress’ first month and that Democrats were off to a strong start as they adjusted to their new role. And for those worried about his whereabouts, he intends to spend more time on Capitol Hill beginning next week.

We will have more from our interview with Mr. Reid later on Friday about both his recovery and how he has turned his home into a congressional office.


Here's how Hulse and Peters begin their report:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has been reaching out to leading Capitol Hill Democrats to try to ease criticism over his coming address to Congress, but has made little progress.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, said Thursday that Mr. Netanyahu had called him the previous afternoon to explain why the White House had been circumvented before he was invited to speak before Congress. The prime minister has also called Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, and Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the Senate’s No. 3 Democrat.

The calls came at a delicate time. Congress is split over whether to impose further sanctions on Iran as the United States and Tehran negotiate a possible freeze to its disputed nuclear program. President Obama has said any vote on sanctions would jeopardize the talks. Mr. Netanyahu, who is to address the issue in his congressional speech, and many pro-Israel lawmakers in Congress have urged a hard line.

Mr. Netanyahu’s office confirmed Thursday that he had called Democrats and “other friends” in Congress in recent days, and that he “reiterated that the survival of Israel is not a partisan issue.”

Mr. Reid, a strong supporter of Israel, said in an interview that he had had a candid conversation with Mr. Netanyahu. He said he had advised the prime minister that the speech, scheduled for March, had become such a problem that some Democratic senators had backed off their support of the quick imposition of new sanctions on Iran.

“It’s hurting you,” Mr. Reid said he told Mr. Netanyahu. “I said: ‘You have to understand this. I’m not telling you what to do or what not to do, but you have to understand the background here from my perspective.’ ”

“It would have been wrong for me to say, ‘Don’t come,’ ” said Mr. Reid, who is recovering at his home in Washington from a serious exercise accident he sustained Jan. 1. “I wouldn’t do that.”
Harry says he told Bibi "he believed Mr. Boehner had been out of bounds in offering the speaking invitation," and Nancy Pelosi says she warned him that the speech “could send the wrong message in terms of giving diplomacy a chance.”

Meanwhile, the tension over the politics of the event has cast a spotlight on Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Miami Beach native Ron Dermer, generally considered Bibi's closest adviser, who has strong ties to the U.S. right-wing political apparatus and is believed by White House advisers (notably Denis McDonough and Ben Rhodes) to have been actively fomenting opposition to the president in the U.S. According to the Hulse-Peters NYT report, "Mr. Dermer had worked with Mr. Boehner to arrange the speech without telling the White House."


"'Bibi's Brain' Comes to Washington" was the head on Ron Kampeas's December 2013 Politico report on Ron Dermer's installation as Israel's U.S. ambassador. The deck read: "Ron Dermer was a GOP operative. Now he's back as Israel's ambassador. Can he save this troubled relationship?"

Or maybe make more trouble?

Labels: , , , , ,

Amid hubbub over the RNC trip to Israel in cahoots with American Family Association crackpots, AFA's super-crackpot Bryan Fischer is dumped


You know my sad history with non-YouTube video embedding. If the clip doesn't play, watch it onsite.

by Ken

Noah tipped me the other night to Rachel Maddow's report on weird doings growing out of the Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus's scheme to take a bunch of his people on an all-expenses paid trip to Israel -- with those expenses paid by the American Family Association, which sounds like just another right-wing propaganda outfit but, as we've had frequent occasion to note, is in fact one of the more incendiary hotbeds of American crackpottery, thanks in good part to one of the Right's more notorious crackpots, Bryan Fischer, who until Wednesday was the organization's director of issue analysis. At that point, however, he was suddenly and summarily relieved of any role as a spokesman for the AFA, though he remains a talk-show host for them.

(You'll recall that Bryan was a nominee for Noah's 2014 Crazyspeak of the Year Award -- and while he didn't cop the coveted award, but as Noah pointed out, when it comes to right-wing crazyspeak, all the nominees were winners.)

The timing is mysterious, in that Fischer hasn't said anything different from what he's been saying from time immemorial. It may just be coincidence that the separation occurred just as the RNC is having to answer questions about the Israel trip in cahoots with AFA, after Haaretz published a story about the trip, with Israelis voicing notable lack of enthusiasm for the aegis of the impending American Republican crusade to the Holy Land. (In the clip, Rachel talks to the reporter of the Haaretz story, Debra Nussbaum Cohen.)

Here is Steve Benen's MaddowBlog report.
The Rachel Maddow Show / The MaddowBlog
AFA ousts Bryan Fischer as group spokesperson

01/29/15 08:00 AM—UPDATED 01/29/15 04:30 PM

By Steve Benen

For those unfamiliar with Bryan Fischer, the religious right leader is practically a real-life caricature of an evangelical radical. Fischer, a prominent voice for the American Family Association for many years, makes ugly and ridiculous comments – about minority faiths, about gays, about Democrats, et al – on a nearly daily basis.

But going forward, Fischer will no longer make ugly and ridiculous comments in his capacity as a spokesperson for the AFA. Rachel reported on the show last night that the AFA has fired Bryan Fischer from his post:
“Fischer has been their director of issue analysis, the director of issue analysis for the American Family Association forever. He’s basically quoted everywhere for years now as the organization’s spokesman. […]

“The president of the American Family Association telling us tonight, that as of today, Bryan Fischer should no longer be described as the director of issue analysis for that group, he should not be quoted as a spokesman for the group. As of today, the American Family Association tells us that Bryan Fischer is, and I quote, ‘just a talk show host.’”
When “The Rachel Maddow Show” asked AFA President Don Wildmon what prompted Fischer’s ouster, Wildmon specifically referenced Fischer’s bizarre assertions connecting Nazis and homosexuality. Fischer, of course, originally made these remarks years ago, and has repeated related comments in the years since, but talking to us last night, Wildmon now says, “We reject that.”

As of last night, Fischer’s bio page on the AFA website has been removed.

The timing of this unexpected shakeup is probably not a coincidence: the American Family Association, despite years of right-wing extremism, is partnering with Reince Priebus and members of the Republican National Committee on a trip to Israel, which created an awkward dynamic. Why would the RNC team up with a group whose spokesperson says things like, “Counterfeit religions, alternative religions of Christianity have no right to the free exercise of religion”?

Nearly 100 RNC members are scheduled to participate in the AFA-sponsored Israel trip, which begins this weekend. It’s against this backdrop that, all of a sudden, Fischer is no longer the religious right group’s spokesperson.

Since our broadcast last night, Mediaite reported at 11:11 p.m. (ET), “For the sake of clarification, Fischer has been fired as a spokesperson and director of issues analysis, but is still a radio show host for the AFA.”

Around the same time, Fischer himself said on Twitter that his right-wing radio show will air today in its usual timeslot and on the same station.

We’ll have more on this as the story unfolds, but it seems at this point that the American Family Association has indeed fired Fischer as a spokesperson for the organization, but will keep him on as the host of an AFA-backed radio program. When AFA President Don Wildmon described Fisher as “just a talk show host,” the unstated subtext may have been “just our talk show host.”


And I'm not sure much will. Yes, there's an embarrassment here, but really, is the RNC (or its lustily reelected chairman, Reince Priebus) any stranger to embarrassment? If they have any brains they'll abort their Israel jaunt, or find a less toxic partner. But really, does anyone look to the RNC for smartness?

Or the AFA? So maybe, as Rachel notices in connection with "prophet" Cindy Jacbos and her embarrassing connection to GOP presidential hopeful Booby Jindal, some more Web pages will need to be disappeared. And here I have to suggest to Rachel that it doesn't matter whether they're scrubbed-clean removed, because Americans by and large just don't care about this stuff. Blow away the smoke from the smoking guns, and I'm not sure much of anything can even be said to happen.

That said, removing Bryan Fischer -- the man we see in Rachel's segment saying, "Counterfeit religions, alternative religions to Chritianity, have no First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion" -- from his AFA platform is a good thing. But even for the AFA this may be a gain. The organization hasn't suddenly become any less committed to the promulgation of ignorance and hate, but it becomes a tad less conspicuously egregious shorn of its most inflammatory mouthpiece.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Meet Capt. John Doswell, "a bona fide superhero"


Capt. John Doswell (photo by Mitch Waxman)

"If you wanted to know pretty much anything about New York Harbor, you could ask John. I will always regret not asking John more stuff. I thought I had more time."
-- from "Fair Winds, Captain John," Working Harbor Committee
blogger Mai Armstrong's remembrance of Capt. John Doswell

by Ken

With the arrival today of the February issue of On the Hip, the e-newsletter of the Working Harbor Committee of New York and New Jersey, which WHC Chair Rebecca Weisbrod leads off with a piece called "Moving Forward," indicating that WHC plans to do just that in the face of its enormous loss early this month, I had a second chance to read the lovely piece WHC's daily blogger Mai Armstrong wrote on the sad occasion of the death of the life force of WHC, its executive director, Capt. John Doswell. And one line popped out at me:
John Doswell was a bona fide superhero. He created beauty from decay, he restored life to stagnant waters, he built people into a community, where before there was none.
I never knew Captain John except to say hello to at WHC events, mostly boat trips of one sort or another on and around the harbor that had become the focus of his energies -- in particular the swell Hidden Harbor cruises that took so many New Yorkers and visitors to places around the harbor that most people who aren't professionally engaged in harbor activities didn't used to get to see.

Before a WHC event Captain John could usually be seen racing around, clipboard in hand, doing whatever had to be done to get the damned thing underway. Then once we were out on the open harbor, Captain John could usually be heard manning the microphone for the running commentary, which he orchestrated with guest speakers from various walks of life somehow bound into the life of the harbor -- pols, administrators, shipping-industry folk, etc.

I was always aware that I was seeing only the tip of the iceberg of Captain John's harbor-related activities, but it was always great to see him on the job, knowing that meant he was also doing all those other harbor-related things. And somehow, rereading Mai's remembrance, I thought "superhero" was on the money. I don't doubt that Captain John loved being at the center of that activity, but there was never any sense that that activity was about him. It was about the life of the harbor, which plays such an important role in the life of New York City and the surrounding metropolitan area, and also about the life of the people who make their livings from the harbor.

I might add that Captain John seemed to draw good people to him. It was via WHC events and events of the like-minded Newtown Creek Alliance that I first got to hang out with Mai herself (a real sweetheart) and that tireless Man About the Harbor and Man About Astoria, Mitch Waxman, whose multifarious exploits have been chronicled in this space on a number of occasions.

I realize that the workings of New York's Working Harbor Committee will likely fall well outside the normal concerns of most DWT readers. I'm hoping, though, that some readers, at least, will be well served by this belated glimpse of a special guy -- as Mai says in her remembrance "the guy who made things happen," and a real superhero. Fair winds indeed, Captain John!

Fair Winds, Captain John

by Mai Armstrong

Captain John W. Doswell, our captain, our North Star, our guiding light passed away on Friday 2 January, 2015 and the WHC family and the whole waterfront community has been reeling from the news.

I have barely parsed the news of his passing and am now faced with this daunting task of writing a eulogy befitting of my friend. So many things to say about Capt. John…where to start?

John Doswell was a bona fide superhero. He created beauty from decay, he restored life to stagnant waters, he built people into a community, where before there was none.

You could always find John working. The man never stopped doing. There were piles of documents neatly stacked in the “dungeon” – the basement office from where Capt. John would steer the constant stream of waterfront projects, events, educational programs, working harbor tours and more. With that wry smile of his, he worked tirelessly on, even when he discovered he was ill.

John was so passionate about the ‘6th boro’ he dedicated the last decade of his career to our waterfront. He founded Friends of Hudson River Park, and Pier 84 is what it is today because of him. He was an integral member of many illustrious waterfront organizations and committees – North River Historic Ship Society, Community Board 4, Save Our Ships New York and the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, to name a few.

He was one of the original group of friends who bought the Fireboat John J. Harvey, and helped to restore her to working glory. He was onboard the fireboat, pumping water onto Ground Zero on 9/11 and he was onboard (with a flask of hot chocolate under his arm) safeguarding her during Hurricane Sandy.

But for me, he was the ‘guy who made things happen’. As executive director of the Working Harbor Committee, John would orchestrate the most amazing extravaganzas. 22 years of Tug Boat Races, international ship visits (including a 16th century replica of a Spanish Galleon), OpSail 2012, where part of the challenge was to find berthing for dozens of vessels from around the world.

Only one man could make it all happen. Doswell.

John would narrate every single harbor tour, enthralling boat-loads of passengers with details about the workings of our magnificent harbor, peppered with stories of lighthouse keepers and fireworks disasters. The thought of never hearing his ‘fireworks story’ again as we approach Erie Basin, makes me immeasurably sad.

If you wanted to know pretty much anything about New York Harbor, you could ask John. I will always regret not asking John more stuff. I thought I had more time.

But beneath all the hustle and bustle stood this really great man. Smart, funny and sincere, John was a kind, loving and supportive husband, father and friend.

His love and passion for the waterfront paled in comparison to his love for his daughter Jhoneen and his life-partner wife Jean. In perfect sync, they were always together, whether working to save a historic ship from scrap or traveling together to exotic seas. Their love and respect for each other so evident and beautiful.

John, always gracious, welcomed everyone with open arms and an open heart. He never spoke an unkind word about anyone, or lost his temper, that I know of. His positivity permeated everything he did.

Every obstacle was a challenge we could overcome, every set back merely a springboard to success, in every dark cloud he would see only the silver lining.

We have lost a great teacher. We have lost a great leader. We have lost a great man…

Fair winds, Captain John.


You weren't at Senator Vitter's do last night? You missed some swell eats


by Ken

I realize that this post comes a day late. I'm sure you're thinking that if only you'd known, and if you'd been in the D.C. area and had a hankering for some Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen fried chicken, you could have whipped out your checkbook and for a mere $1000 and enjoyed not just your chicken and sides (and your biscuit, and maybe some of that iced tea or lemonade) but also the company of both of Louisiana's U.S. senators.

Alas, Philip Bump's "Fix"-post ("David Vitter’s $1,000-a-head Popeye’s fundraiser could buy you A LOT of fast-food chicken") only went out at 1:51 yesterday afternoon, and I probably didn't get to it right away, and I surely didn't appreciate the urgency.
On Wednesday night, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) will host his state's new junior senator, Bill Cassidy (R), at a fundraiser benefitting Vitter's gubernatorial run this year. The invitation trumpets an unusual aspect of the event: It will be catered by Popeye's, the fast-food chicken franchise that trumpets its Louisiana roots and which, apparently, does catering.
"Apparently does catering"? Apparently? Did you look at your own link, Philip? They do catering "from our kitchen to YOUR table" and it's "perfect for parties, tailgating, reunions and more!" They have ready-listed "meal recommendations" for serving 20, 30, 50, 75, or 100.

And can you put a price on the opportunity to say a Louisiana howdy, not just to our old pal Sen. Dave "Diapers" Vitter but to Louisiana's brand-new senator, Bill Cassidy, the fellow who defeated Mary Landrieu. (I know we do a lot of whining hereabouts about "lesser of two evils" ballot choices, and Mary Landrieu was a pretty horrible senator. Still, repeat that phrase "Sen. Bill Cassidy" a few times and see if ol' Mary doesn't begin to look a little better.) Actually, I guess you can put a price on that opportunity: $1000.

Since according to Philip's lead, it was "a fundraiser benefitting Vitter's gubernatorial run this year," suggesting that the haul wasn't being split between the senators, I guess your $1000 would only have bought a tiny chunk of the governor-to-be. (Aren't you glad to know that there's talent like this waiting in the wings to slide into incumbent Gov. Booby Jindal's chair?) If you want to buy a piece of Senator Cassidy, you'll have to wait till he does a fund-raiser. I guess last night his people were building up their Rolodex.

As Philip notes, the choice of Popeyes for the catering, in addition to highlighting this great Louisiana delicacy, looked to be "a smart move for the fundraisers . . . cut[ting] down on overhead," reserving more of your $1000 for Diapers Dave's run at the governorship.

Philip decided to do some checking, and for some reason called a Popeyes in Louisiana ("just west of New Orleans, a few blocks from the Mississippi River") rather than one in the D.C. area,  where the food would actually have been purchased, "to see exactly how much their meals cost."
The manager that we spoke with gave us costs for some of the most popular items: $6.41 for the two-piece meal; $7.06 for the chicken tenders. She pitched the onion rings, which not all stores have and not all make fresh daily (small, $2; large, $3.80). She ran through the available sides: gravy on potatoes, Cajun rice, corn, green beans -- all $1.95, unless you get the meal.
For some reason Philip is really hung up on that $1000 price tag, though it seems like a pretty standard amount for a D.C. fund-raiser, and it's almost a bargain compared with the "Louisiana Bayou Weekend and Alligator Hunt," with Senator Vitter as "special guest," thrown back in September 2013 by the Fund for Louisiana's Future, a super PAC whose "goal was to support Vitter and his views." That was a cool $5000.

In any case, Philip got the curious idea of seeing how much Popeyes eats you could buy for $1000. I can't think why. If they had been serving more normal fund-raiser fare -- say, plates of banquet-style rubber chicken or roast beef, would he have tried to find out how much of that stuff you can buy for $1000? Surely the point about the $1000 is how much you net once you allow for the cost of the food plus all your other event costs. And, as we've established, keeping the food cost low should have meant more was left for the gubernatorial campaign after all the costs were paid.

Still, Philip did the math. He asked the Louisiana Popeyes manager he spoke to "how she'd spend $1,000" at her establishement, and "she figured she'd do $500 of each of the two most popular meals," which would have looked something like this:

Of course, as Philip notes, "that's not the catered rate . . . just the rate if you actually went into that store in Louisiana and dropped $1,000 at the register (don't try this, for the manager's sake). He adds: "If you're curious, it's 70,600 calories, 3,788 grams of fat, and 234,120 milligrams of sodium, just for the chicken." Well, yes, that would be the nutritional information if you ate all of the chicken. I guess that would be one way of getting your $1000 worth, if you don't place much value on rubbing elbows with Senators Vitters and Cassidy, or supporting the former's race for governor. In that case attending a fund-raiser for the purpose seems like a curious choice.

Still, Philip is determined to find "another context" for the $1000 price, and seeing as how he's done the math, we might as well follow along:
Louisiana doesn't have its own minimum wage law, so it's subject to the federal minimum wage. Assuming Popeye's employees make that $7.25 an hour, the $1,000 price tag for tonight's event would cost one of the people making the food about 138 hours of salary -- three-and-a-half weeks.

Or put another way: It's 1/37th of the median household income in Orleans Parish in 2013 -- meaning that the price tag for the fundraiser is about 9.8 days of income.
Yes, um, okay. I think we can probably agree that not many folks back in Orleans Parish planned to make the trip to D.C. for the fund-raiser last night, or for that matter would have shelled out the $1000 if the do had been held back home. I guess I'm just not following this, so let me just ask one last question --


Online, Popeyes has coupons customized to the customer's most convenient store location, and I'm sure no one would think less of Senator Vitter if he couponned to trim the costs for last night's do. On the contrary, who wouldn't admire his frugality? (If there's a limit to how many coupons you can use per order, his staff could have broken it into a couple of hundred orders, or however many were needed.) The senator might have saved enough to pay for an extra hooker session or two.

Labels: , ,

So this is what confirmation hearings are going to look like in the new Thug Senate


Dana Milbank says: "The case against [AG nominee Loretta] Lynch deflated faster than if the New England Patriots had run the hearing."

by Ken

So now we've actually seen what the confirmation process is going to look like in a Senate under the control of thugs and mental defectives. I guess it's about what any reasonably informed person would have expected; it's just more revolting to actually witness. And this is a case where most of the loonies, actually noticing how exposed they were, tried to back off.

To start with a bit fo reality check, here's some of what Dana Milbank has to say in his Washington Post column today:
GOP case against Loretta Lynch falls apart

By Dana Milbank

Loretta Lynch had them at Jim Crow.

Senate Republicans had delayed confirmation hearings for President Obama’s attorney general nominee until they took control of Congress — giving them a chance to use the nomination to protest Obama’s immigration policy and other actions by Obama and the outgoing attorney general, Eric Holder.

But those who figured they could take out their frustrations on Lynch had misjudged her: The nominee has a long and impressive résumé as a no-nonsense prosecutor, and she managed at Wednesday’s hearing to be both assertive and anodyne in her testimony, expert in the law but opaque about controversial legal matters. As important, Lynch, with the help of committee Democrats, painted an unassailable biography: This daughter of a fourth-generation minister and a segregation-fighting mother from the South would be the first African American woman to be the nation’s top law enforcement official.

The case against Lynch deflated faster than if the New England Patriots had run the hearing.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) toned down his prepared statement as he read it. “I, for one, need to be persuaded that she will be an independent attorney general,” he read, but he then departed from the text and added, “I have no reason to believe at this point she won’t be.” He read a long list of complaints about the administration’s actions but then ad-libbed, “As far as I know, Ms. Lynch has nothing to do with the Department of Justice problems that I just outlined.” . . .


. . . by popping in a presumably automatic link, to a November post she wrote called "Let the new Senate confirm Loretta Lynch. " Since the only factoid she could process in the skuu space traditionally occupied by a brain is IT'S ALL OBAMA'S FAULT, she puked up this:
[I]t seems President Obama would rather start an unnecessary fight than get his way and get along with Republicans. A case in point is his attorney general nominee, Loretta Lynch. . . . Barring any surprise revelation, one strongly suspects she will win confirmation in the new Senate. (Republicans have much bigger fish to fry than getting into a standoff over a female, African American nominee.)

But Obama won't wait, it seems. He would rather jam her through with Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in charge than treat the new Senate with a modicum of respect. . . .

Confirmation hearings serve other legitimate purposes aside from approving nominees. . . .


It's to set the stage for a spectacle like yesterday's SJC confirmation hearing, to allow hysterical, IQ-free thugs to wallow in their own psychotic, imbecilic filth.

Giving the new Senate every imaginable benefit of the doubt, "a modicum of respect" is by conservative estimate a million billion quadrillion times more respect than this tub of human waste could ever dream of laying claim to.

Labels: , , ,

Michael Moore offers right-wing noisemakers a crash course in what it means to really support U.S. servicepeople


-- from Michael Moore's Facebook page [click to enlarge]

by Ken

I've been paying as little attention as I could decently get away with to American Sniper, and so I'm coming late to the brouhaha caused by Michael Moore's forceful expression of disapproval. Since the American Right has now sunk to a level of cretinousness and pathological dishonesty surpassed only by its loudmouth savagery, and since Michael Moore is one of their perennial bugbears anyway, this seems to have produced one of those famous Right-Wing Noise Machine psychotic breaks, all centered, naturally, on the person of Michael Moore.

I'm grateful to Daily Kos's Intheknow for getting me up to speed on the subject ("Michael Moore disses Fox News and Right Wing Critics in the best way"), including a link to a Raw Story account of Grade A Fox Noise craziness.

So Michael M stands accused of (gasp) not supporting the troops, about as heinous a charge as can be leveled against an American. Of course there's a teeny-tiny irony here, in that the brain-dead right-wing savages leading the assault are almost to a creature low-life lying doodybags who have spent every second of their verminous existences doing nothing to support the troops except run their filthy mouths off. These are people who, after all, cheered their putrid guts out when the Bush-Cheney-Rummy gang sent American troops into a pointless war in Iraq without basic protective equipment to be killed and maimed -- and then when they came home, as the right-wing war-mongers always do, turned their backs on them.

Michael M, fortunately, isn't one to sit and suffer psychotic lying imbeciles gladly, especially not when they pollute matters that really matter to him -- of which, as it happens, supporting the troops happens to be one. And he fired back on his Facebook page. And, God bless him, he didn't just fight back on the ground that, unlike his attackers, he actually supports both active-duty servicepeople and veterans in a whole range of ways that he's never had occasion to talk about publicly. He pounded the politically tougher but crucial point that he has consistently supported the troops by fighting having them put pointlessly in harm's way.

Here's just the start of the list Michael offers of what he does to support the troops:
** I have an aggressive affirmative action policy specifically to hire Iraq and Afghanistan veterans at my film production company, my movie theaters in Michigan and my film festival. I have asked other businesses in my town (and nationwide) to join with me on this.…/michael-moore-asks-business…. A vet was an editor on my films "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "Sicko" and a vet (who served in both Iraq AND Afghanistan) is the projectionist at my flagship theater in Michigan (to name a few).

** I also ask people to post a sign I designed and have made available: "I Shop Where Vets Work". Here's my policy and the poster: (Can someone at Fox News send me your posted affirmative action program to hire Iraq and Afghanistan vets?)

** Since I opened my movie theaters in northern Michigan, this has been my admission policy: "Admission to all movies at my theaters is FREE, 365 days of the year, for ALL active duty military and their families."

** I allow local veterans support groups to use my theater to meet for PTSD issues, I host quarterly PTSD summits, and I've hosted a conference to start a jobs movement for vets in our town.

** I have raised tens of thousands of dollars through my website for groups that help veterans and wounded warriors:…/20140829053240/http://fa…/soldiers/

** In the early years of the war I made all my books and DVDs available free of charge to all service members through
(A later point notes that his books "were the #1 requested books by troops" via BooksForSoldiers.)

Here are a few more:
** I will NOT do business with vendors who don't have a policy to hire vets.

** I regularly post blogs from troops and I show and support many movies about what they've gone through in the past 12 years at my theaters.

** My movie, "Fahrenheit 9/11" - #1 selling/#1 rental on all military base PXs

** When my father passed away this year, in lieu of flowers I asked that donations by made in my dad's name to the veterans group, Veterans for Peace. Enough money was raised so that the Vietnam Vets chapter could build a home in Vietnam for a family still suffering from the effects of Agent Orange. It's being dedicated in my dad's name.
And then there's an interesting one concerning American Sniper itself:
** I am currently showing "American Sniper" at my theater that I helped restore and that I program and help run in Manistee, MI. Not because I like it, but because, unlike the other side, I'm not a censor. I trust smart people and people of good heart will know what to do. You can't have a conversation about what Clint Eastwood is up to if you haven't seen what it is he's up to. And regardless where u are on the political spectrum, you'll see that every character in Clint's film comes out dead or permanently damaged. This ain't no John Wayne rah-rah pablum. Eastwood made maybe the greatest western ever - "Unforgiven" - but now it's sad seeing him talking to an empty chair on a stage or making an Iraq movie that Rolling Stone this week called, "too dumb to bother criticizing."
And finally Michael says (again, click to enlarge):

If you think I'm going to try to top that, you're wrong.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

No, everything is far from all right between "Big Bill" de Blasio and "Boy Andrew" Cuomo


-- cover by Bruce McCall: "Moving Day" [Click to enlarge]

"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."
-- Sun-tzu

"There's no goniff like a left-wing goniff."
-- Calvin Trillin repertory kibbitzer Harold the Committed

by Ken

Since this is a New York story, I thought it would be a good time to present the February 2 New Yorker cover commemorating the magazine's historic decamping from Times Square to Manhattan's nether regions and the new World Trade Center tower. (We eavesdropped recently on cartoon editor Bob Mankoff's grapplings with the great relocation.)

And we should note that the stately moving procession depicted by great New Yorker artist-writer could not have happened during the Great Storm Traffic 'n' Transit Ban, which has become even more controversial since the portion of the storm that wound up striking the Big Apple turned out to be so much less than the direst weather prognostications had prepared us for. And as I was noting last night, it seems to be Mayor Bill de Blasio rather than Gov. Andrew Cuomo taking the heat for the 11pm Monday transit total shutdown, even though that decision clearly came from the governor. (The MTA, which operates nearly all the transit facilities in the metropolitan area, is a state agency.)

Now we learn that "Big Bill" de B not only had no input into the transit-shutdown decision, but his people got a whopping 15 minutes' notice of the announcement being made by "Boy Andrew" C.

It's not exactly news that Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio aren't best buds, and perhaps not that hard to understand. For one thing, NYS governors and NYC mayors never get along, and the difficulties are often worse, not better, when they're of the same parety. Then, Boy Andrew and Big Bill are wildly difficult sorts of political animals. While we may question the legitimacy of the mayor's progressive credentials, it's probably enough for the governor that he even claims them -- enough, that is, for him to hate the guy. Boy Andrew's approach to government is rather unapologetically "Let's all get along," where the "us" refers to him and the big-money interests.

Still, I don't know that it was generally known just how bad relations between the mayor and the governor are.

During the blanket pre-storm and then actual-storm coverage, it was noted occasionally that the two never appeared together. This might have been attributed to their busy storm-preparedness schedules, but there really didn't seem to be much indication that they or their people were even in especially close contact. It wasn't till the meteorological storm had passed us that we learned about the other storm brewing.
DNAinfo New York
Mayor Got 15 Minutes Notice of Cuomo's Subway Shutdown for Snow

By Jeff Mays and Trevor Kapp

Snow falling on subway tracks as seen from the Gates Avenue J/Z platform on Jan. 26, 2015, as a snowstorm headed for New York City.

MIDTOWN — Mayor Bill de Blasio got just a 15-minute head's up that the governor planned to announce the subway would be completely shut down because of a storm meteorologists predicted would dump 2 feet of snow on the city, an unprecedented snow-related move.

The news came despite Gov. Andrew Cuomo's assurances Monday that his office was "totally coordinated" with the mayor, and was the latest indication that the leaders may not be on the same page.

"We did not get a lot of advance notice," de Blasio said Tuesday at a City Hall press conference.

Cuomo announced about 4:45 p.m. Monday that the subway would stop operating at 11 p.m. The governor and his aides said the move would help protect subway equipment and allow service to be restored more quickly.

City Hall sources say they learned of the plan just 15 minutes beforehand.

City and state officials had been saying throughout the day that subway service would be ramped down in the evening in order to store trains on the express tracks underground. But they had stopped short of suggesting a full subway closure.

Cuomo's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The admission by de Blasio only spurred more questions about a rift between he and Cuomo.

The governor handed de Blasio a defeat over charter school expansion last year and, more recently, Cuomo was said to be considering stepping into the increasingly nasty feud between the mayor and the police unions.

De Blasio, however, did step up to support Cuomo's lieutenant governor candidate Kathy Hochul when polls showed a tighter-than-expected race. Cuomo also recently supported extending mayoral control of schools and agreed to continue funding one of de Blasio's signature initiatives of pre-K expansion.

The two leaders did not appear together publicly before or after the storm, which dropped about 10 inches of snow in the city, falling far short of the 2 feet that meteorologists had predicted.

On Tuesday, de Blasio appeared on CNN and held an afternoon City Hall press conference.

Cuomo held two press conferences Tuesday, one in Midtown and another with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who was highly complimentary of the governor.

Both Cuomo and de Blasio said they had no regrets over shutting down public transportation and enacting a road travel ban.

"To me it was a no-brainer. We had to take precautions to keep people safe," said de Blasio.

"Weather forecasters do the best they can and we respond to the best information we have," Cuomo said Tuesday morning as he lifted road travel restrictions.

goniff. (Yiddish) A thief or dishonest person or scoundrel (often used as a general term of abuse) -- The Free Dictionary
The last time I tried to research my recollection of the exact origin of the above Calvin Trillin quote, for a post called "When a left-leaning crook leaves progressive charities teetering on the brink, we have to help," it was December 30, 2008, and the left-leaning goniff smiling out at readers was none other than Bernie Madoff, whose then-crumbled empire had included, it turned out, donations that seemed wildly generous to any number of progressive charities and enterprises that were devastated by the loss of what,in real-world terms, weren't all that regal sums. I came up short in my research, so I'm going to continue going with my recollection that the source of the quote, from among Trillin's circle of legendary kibbitzers, was the unreconstructed Old Leftie Harold the Committed (aka Hal the C).

Perhaps it's a bit fanciful to conjure an Italian-American goniff, and I suppose I can be questioned for imputing left-wingedness to Boy Andrew. But remember how in the last gubernatorial election it became important to Boy Andrew to preempt the left-wing vote, in his drive to run up an attention-getting reelection margin with a view to the 2016 presidential sweepstakes. So I like to think that even the hard-to-satisfy Hal the C might accept him as at least an honorary left-wing goniff.

As to the famous Sun-tzu friends-and-enemies quote, it may be that Boy Andrew hasn't heard it, 'cause he doesn't seem to much care to have his friend-or-enemy Big Bill anywhere near him.

SCHEDULE NOTE: Next post tomorrow at 7am PT/10am ET

Labels: , , ,

Buffoon Watch: Steve King's Greatest Hits


He can't be for real, can he? Alas, all too real.

by Noah

There are two Steve Kings of at least some renown in our society. One is Stephen King, the world-famous writer of horror. The other is Rep. Steven King of Iowa. He is a monster for real.

Rep. Steven King has a special talent for articulating what the Republican Party stands for. That talent has led to his prominence in the party. Tim Moran, a former Iowa GOP State Central Committee member thinks King should run for senator, saying the Republican Party might find it ". . . refreshing to have Steve King at the top of a ticket to drive the message and definition of the party."


This past weekend Representative King was the cohost of the so-called Iowa Freedom Summit, aka Buffoon-o-Rama 2015, designed to kick off the 2016 Republican presidential primary season. Most of the usual suspects were there, including "The Donald" and his hair Sarah Palin with her special talent for speaking complete gibberish,  and neo-fascist Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Mittens Romney and John Ellis "Jeb" Bush chose not to attend, presumably to try to convince us that they are not as buffoonish as the other participants.

But King was in his self-proclaimed glory, acting as a combination ten-ring master of ceremonies and smarmy game show host. He even made sure to have his name emblazoned on the front of the podium as if it was the seal of the president of the United States. If you read the following selections from King's ever-expanding list of greatest hits, you will see that when it comes to heading up a confab of buffoons, Representative Steve is at the top of his class and a perfect choice. The following is just a small, but I think representative, sample of Steven King's Greatest Hits. There is so much more, and no doubt there will be so much more to come.


Do you like dogfighting and cockfighting? If you are of the Michael Vick persuasion and enjoy throwing animals in a pit and watching the blood squirt, Representative King is your man! He has led the fights in Congress to block legislation that would crack down on such barbarism. During discussions of the 2012 farm bill, it was King who led the fight against an amendment that would make it a crime for an adult to attend or to bring a child to a dogfight or cockfight. In 2007 he had opposed House bill H.R.137, which made it a felony to transport animals or cockfighting implements across state lines for the purpose of fighting.

King is one of the few lawmakers of either party who opposed including pets in disaster planning. He also voted against the 111th Congress's H.R.80, a bill written to prohibit interstate and foreign commerce in primates for the pet trade.

There's a whole lot more where this type of thing came from, but you get the picture. Basically, if something protects an animal somewhere, Representative King is against it, even more so than some members of his own party.


In 2003, Sioux City (Iowa) Judge Jeffrey Neary granted two lesbians a divorce. King's response was:
Unicorns, leprechauns, gay marriages in Iowa; these are all things you will never find because they just don't exist. But perhaps Judge Neary would grant divorces to unicorns and leprechauns too.
Same-sex marriage became legal in Iowa six years later, in 2009. Like his party, Representative King is a man of no vision.


King is clearly his party's leader on anti-immigration matters. One of his most famous statements about immigration -- and there are many of them -- is what is known as "the cantaloupe comment." Referring to immigrant children coming across our borders, he said:
For every one who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.

King has also compared Mexican immigrants, documented and undocumented alike, to dogs:
You want a good bird dog? You want one that's going to be aggressive? [P]ick the one that's the friskiest . . . not the one that's over there sleeping in the corner. . .&nbsp. You get the pick of the litter.
We already know about what Representative King thinks of dogs. I suspect such a man would like to set up "Mexican fighting pits" that would be just like cockfights and dogfights. Maybe they'll have that at the 2016 Republican Convention and Hatefest.


King has called climate change " more of a religion than a science."  He has repeatedly demonstrated his contempt for science and his complete lack of understanding of the issue. He is not even smarter than a fifth grader. Perhaps his arrogance about the subject is best pointed out by this quote: "I spent a lot of my life cold. It felt pretty good to get warmed up."


King is a key player in the Republican anti-contraception movement. He has made a lot of noise objecting to the idea that Obamacare could cover birth control for women as a free preventive service without a copay. Says he:
Well, if you applied that preventative medicine universally, what you end up with is you've prevented a generation. Preventing babies from being born is not medicine. That's not constructive to our culture and our civilization. If we let our birth rate get down below replacement rate, we're a dying civilization.

This statement is a classic example of an extremist using extremist thinking. Dying civilization? Hardly. As it is now, the U.S. population is 312 million people, and it's on course to reach 439 million by 2050. To turn that pace into a dying civilization would require a staggering amount of contraception use, an amount way, way beyond what the Obamacare provision would realistically lead to.

As far as I'm concerned, the best solution to the population problem, at least in this country, would be for Republicans to immediately stop procreating. It would solve a lot of other problems too!


As I indicated, the above barely scratches the surface of Representative King and what a perfect one-person embodiment of the Republican Party philosophy he is. You can click on the DWT "Steve King" label below for some of our favorites. Then here are a couple of suggestions for further reading:

• "Steve King: Gays Wouldn't Face Discrimination If They Didn't 'Wear Their Sexuality On Their Sleeve'" (HuffPost Politics, December 2010)

and especially:

• "Right-Wing Demands Obama Fire Kevin Jennings for Helping Gay Teens Not Kill Themselves" (Julie Farby, HuffPost Politics, March 2010, updated May 2011)

SCHEDULE NOTE: Next post at 7pm PT/10pm ET

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Why shouldn't America have the best danged gov't the Koch Bros. and their billionaire buds can buy us?


Plus "Smelly Shelly" Silver update (see below)

Chucky Koch, the brains of the Koch Bros. (little bro Davy, whom we see below, would be more like the sexy front guy), is seen here in 2012 in his office in Wichita.

"In 2014, Democrats made a concerted effort to make the Kochs into bogeymen. Then-Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) routinely used Senate floor speeches to castigate them. Democratic groups ran TV and radio ads tying the Kochs to GOP candidates and presenting them as polluters and job outsourcers who were out of touch with the middle class.

" 'The oil billionaire Koch brothers are showering millions on Thom Tillis like he's one of the family,' said an ad from the Democratic-aligned Patriot Majority USA.

"But Tillis is now a U.S. senator from North Carolina, part of a wave of Republican wins that cost the Democrats their majority. . . .

"Most voters don't know who the Kochs are. Sixty-four percent of voters said they had no opinion or a neutral impression of them, according to an NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll conducted about a month before the November midterms. But among those who did, attitudes were overwhelmingly negative."

by Ken

By now you've no doubt heard the exciting news that "the wealthy industrialist Koch brothers" are drawing up plans for dumping upwards of $1 billion of right-wing cash into the largely secret network they've concocted in Election 2016. (The actual figure announced is $889 million, but you just know the right-wing billionaires participating were counting on casual journalistic round-up to make themselves look like bigger deals at a cut-rate price.)

Luckily we already have the sworn opinion of Supreme Court Justice "Slow Anthony" Kennedy that this won't corrupt the election, and I'm pretty sure there's some rule that says he can't say it if it isn't true. The Scalia Rule, maybe? Of course the Supremes' hands would be tied anyways, seeing as how this is merely upwards of $1 billion worth of free speech. (Sounds like pretty expensive speech to me, but never mind.)

Still, can you believe that those gosh-darned Democrats are trying to make a federal case of it? They must really hate America. Naturally it's just politics, those America-hating Dems going after all those right-wing billionaires exercising their pricey "free" speech. You'll probably be relieved to know that they aren't any more likely to succeed with their scare tactics now than they did in the past. We've got a couple of Washington Post political reporters here to reassure us on that count. (Links onsite.)
Democrats see new chance to attack Kochs after $1 billion spending announcement

Americans for Prosperity Foundation Chairman David Koch speaks in Orlando, Florida in 2013.

By Sean Sullivan and Anne Gearan

Forget Jeb, Rand and Ted. For Democrats, it’s all about Charles and David.

The announcement this week that the vast political network backed by the wealthy industrialist Koch brothers aims to spend nearly $1 billion on the 2016 elections has reignited Democratic hopes of casting the brothers as electoral villains and linking them closely to Republican candidates.

It’s a campaign strategy that yielded little success for the party in 2014, a banner year for the GOP. But Democratic officials and operatives say they are hopeful that their anti-Koch message will have more potency in a presidential election year.

Groups supporting potential Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, as well as the House and Senate Democratic campaign arms, plan to single out the Kochs in their advertising and fundraising efforts.

“I think the Koch brothers dumping a billion dollars on the elections is definitely something the American people are interested in learning about,” said Rep. Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

He said the DCCC plans to mention the brothers in online fundraising efforts. The DCCC raised $70 million in the last election cycle.

David Brock, founder of the pro-Clinton American Bridge political action committee, said his group will be retooling a 2014 war-room operation called “Real Koch Facts,” which he acknowledged did not achieve big results. The project aims to educate potential voters about what Democrats say is the Kochs’ largely hidden agenda and to attempt to shame recipients of Koch money.

Said Peter Kauffmann, a spokesman for the pro-Clinton Priorities USA Action super PAC: “Will Priorities USA Action talk about the Koch brothers’ attempt at a hostile takeover of the government of the United States? Stay tuned.”

But former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who ran for president in 2012, compared Democratic attacks against the Kochs to failed GOP efforts to tar Democrats for receiving support from organized labor.

“The fact is we never got anywhere trying to explain to the country all of the extra advantage they got, for example, from labor unions,” Gingrich said. “It’s too indirect an argument.”

The Koch-backed network’s plan to spend $889 million on the 2016 elections was announced Monday at a Rancho Mirage, Calif., event hosted by Freedom Partners, a tax-exempt organization that serves as the nerve center of the political operation supported by the brothers and several hundred other conservative donors. Not all of the money will be put toward shaping elections; it will cover advertising and policy work as well as education and academic research, among other things. Much of the spending will be cloaked in secrecy.

James Davis, a Freedom Partners spokesman, said in an e-mail: “Democrats’ past attempts to divide America by demonizing job creators didn’t work too well. We remain focused on advancing free-market principles.”

In 2014, Democrats made a concerted effort to make the Kochs into bogeymen. Then-Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) routinely used Senate floor speeches to castigate them. Democratic groups ran TV and radio ads tying the Kochs to GOP candidates and presenting them as polluters and job outsourcers who were out of touch with the middle class.

“The oil billionaire Koch brothers are showering millions on Thom Tillis like he’s one of the family,” said an ad from the Democratic-aligned Patriot Majority USA.

But Tillis is now a U.S. senator from North Carolina, part of a wave of Republican wins that cost the Democrats their majority.

“It clearly didn’t work in 2014,” said Darrell West, vice president and director of governance studies at the center-left Brookings Institution. “That election was a disaster for Democrats. It seems to me they need to recalibrate the message.”

He said Democrats would need to tie their anti-Koch rhetoric to “substantive issues in a way that resonates with voters.”

Most voters don’t know who the Kochs are. Sixty-four percent of voters said they had no opinion or a neutral impression of them, according to an NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll conducted about a month before the November midterms. But among those who did, attitudes were overwhelmingly negative.

“The Koch brothers are not going to be a household name overnight, but our goal of making them a political liability for the people they are funding will continue,” Brock said.

The newly announced spending goal is unlikely to affect Clinton’s plans to begin her formal campaign in early April, strategists said. The goal is for her to raise an impressive total for the fundraising quarter that begins April 1.

But the early flurry of activity could apply pressure on mega-donors such as billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, a former Republican and staunch gun-control advocate who has donated mostly to Democratic candidates. The two were among the biggest givers in 2014.

Adviser Chris Lehane said Steyer will be looking at “where he can have the biggest impact” in 2016.

Like many Democrats, Lehane subscribes to the view that an anti-Kochs attack strategy could work better in 2016 than it did in 2014. “There will be a better voter pool, the Senate states will be more blue states than red states, and the media interest will be even bigger,” he said.

Campaign finance reform advocates also say the Koch-backed spending plan is a fresh opportunity to push for revamping laws that allow well-funded independent groups to dominate elections, often without revealing their donors.

“There is just no matching this amount of wealth directed in this way,” said Rep. David E. Price (D-N.C.), who introduced a bill this week that would create a matching system for small donations and seek to limit the influence of super PACs. “Of course, nobody should have to match it. We should have a system that keeps spending within reasonable limits.”

But Price acknowledged that it would be difficult to pass such reforms in a Republican-controlled Congress. In the meantime, he said, raising the Kochs as an electoral issue isn’t a bad idea.

“I think in some cases it does work to dramatize the issue and make it more real,” Price said.

Matea Gold and Scott Clement contributed to this report.
Yeah, I bet the Kochs and all the other right-wing billionaires are really scared.


Note that I've updated my post yesterday about indicted NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver with the announcement by Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle of Rochester that "on Monday, there will be a vacancy in the office of speaker," and an election to choose the new speaker will follow on February 10.

SCHEDULE NOTE: Next post at 3pm PT/6pm ET

Labels: , , , ,

"She hears the voices no one else hears"


DOONESBURY by G. B. Trudeau (Jan. 18)

[Click to enlarge]

by Gaius Publius

I wanted to point out this nice Mike Lux piece, at Huffington Post and elsewhere, because it makes an important point. It's also an obvious point, but the obvious often goes unnoticed. The buzz and eager interest in an Elizabeth Warren presidency is not about Warren herself. It's about what she offers at this historical moment.

Lux (my emphasis):
It seems like just about everyone these days is talking about Elizabeth Warren. I saw Jay Leno- not a very political guy or especially progressive- the other day on Bill Maher's show, talking about how shocked he was that Elizabeth Warren was only 18 months younger than Hillary because of how vital and energetic she seemed.

A focus group of swing voters, who traditionally don't follow politics very closely, in Colorado a couple of weeks back were disdainful of the politicians they had heard of like Jeb Bush and Hillary who were likely running for president, but loved what they were hearing about Elizabeth Warren.

The Sunday Doonesbury this weekend was a plea to "run, Lizzie, run" because "she hears the voices no one else hears". The Washington Post print addition on Sunday had a front page article whose headline asked "What does Elizabeth Warren want?"

Why is a first-term Senator in the minority party, a wonky college professor who had never held elective office before 2013, a woman who insists to everyone who asks that she is not running for president, striking such a chord in American politics right now? ... I think the chord she strikes has at least as much to do with the moment we are in as to who she is. I think most Americans in both parties have come to believe that government is too bought off by big money special interests to care about them anymore.

That is so refreshing to voters and activists alike, and it is turning Elizabeth into an icon that people respond to. ... She calls "Charge!" on a nomination fight for a position that no one has ever heard of, or a legislative fight that they weren't even aware of, and people answer the call because they trust her- they know in their hearts that she is fighting for them.
That "nomination fight" was over Wall Street insider Antonio Weiss for under-secretary of Treasury, and was covered in a number of venues, including here.

Lux goes on to detail the history of the Warren phenomenon, and lists her implied economic agenda. It's a good read and well worth your time. But I want to return to the headline quote from Doonesbury:
"She hears the voices no one else hears."
No one but us voters, that is, red-striped or blue; the many; the ignored. What does this tell us? That we need to be finding more Elizabeth Warrens, not just the one; and we need to be doing it now — just in case the first is not available.


Cross-posted with permission from Digby's Hullabaloo

Labels: , , ,