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He doesn't mention David Brooks, of course, but Paul Krugman clearly is directing his column today at his fellow Times man.

Brooks' column last Friday was a thinly disguised version of the right wing theme "We've tried spending money on cities and it didn't help/liberal policies have failed/it's really values."  The current rec'd diary by Egoberto shows how Chuck Todd tried to spread this, and how Martin O'Malley responded effectively.

Brooks' column on Friday echoed Todd.  It was classic Brooks -- dishonest figures accompanied by an attempt to wedge in some ill-defined comment about values.  And Brooks gets to repeat it, without debunking on PBS Newshour, NPR and every other place they let him get away with spouting lies.

You know that this theme has gone out from right wing central because you saw it everywhere, including on Bill Maher, where Dan ("I lost $10 billion dollars in cash in Iraq!") Senor wasted no time in turning Maher's first question about money wasted in Iraq into a non-response that somehow spouted the party line about all the money spent and the supposed failure of liberal urban policies.

Krugman began responding even before Brooks' Friday column in his own column on Friday, but more directly responded today, going up to the line, without naming Brooks:

It has been disheartening to see some commentators still writing as if poverty were simply a matter of values, as if the poor just mysteriously make bad choices and all would be well if they adopted middle-class values. Maybe, just maybe, that was a sustainable argument four decades ago, but at this point it should be obvious that middle-class values only flourish in an economy that offers middle-class jobs.
Brooks proudly states he doesn't read the comments to his columns.  I'll bet he doesn't read Krugman either.  The shrill one continues:
it’s also disheartening to see commentators still purveying another debunked myth, that we’ve spent vast sums fighting poverty to no avail (because of values, you see.)
In reality, federal spending on means-tested programs other than Medicaid has fluctuated between 1 and 2 percent of G.D.P. for decades, going up in recessions and down in recoveries. That’s not a lot of money — it’s far less than other advanced countries spend — and not all of it goes to families below the poverty line.
There is a growing cottage industry of Brooksologists, and the CEO is Driftglass, who has brought to light a growing archive of Brooks dishonesty, disguised right wing propaganda and as he calls "Strategic forgettery."  His piece on Friday, The Church of Lyin'tology, begins,
David Brooks decided International Worker's Day would be an excellent day to tell the world what really causes poverty (Spoiler:  According to Mr. Brooks, poverty has nothing to do with lack of money, or community investment, or jobs.  It's not deindustrialization or food deserts or shitty schools.  It's nothing to do with class or race or a war on drugs that long ago became a brand new way of ruining minority lives and communities.)
Driftglass then provides links to a cascade of Brooks debunking, ranging from Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly to Dean Baker at CEPR.  Baker writes:
In the United States it's considered fine to just make crap up when talking about the government, especially when it comes to programs for poor people. That is why Ronald Reagan ran around the country telling people about the welfare queen who drove up to the welfare office every month in her new Cadillac to pick up her check. Today, David Brooks does the welfare queen routine in his NYT column
The deference and respect given to Brooks needs constant debunking.  How many times have you seen his columns forwarded or posted to Facebook or Twitter (often by liberals) with the note:  "I usually disagree with David Brooks, but .  .  ."  These are usually his "philosophical" pieces -- which themselves often border on plagiarism.  He is not the "reasonable conservative," but the slick packager of noxious ideas dredged out of the worst of the Reagan archives.  Unlike us, Krugman can call it out, but not by name.

See Teacherken's earlier post on Krugman today.  

Discuss

The NY Times is reporting that three figures in the George Washington Bridge Scandal will be indicted today, including former Port Authority figures David Wildstein, Bill Baroni and Christie Aide Bridget Kelly.

Former PA Chair David Samson was not expected to be indicted today, but sources "believed that the indictment would not include Mr. Samson, but that an indictment involving the so-called “chairman’s flight” would come at a later date."  (That refers to the special commercial airline flights apparently scheduled to accommodate Samson's commute to his vacation home in the Carolinas.)

In the audacity and irony department, Governor Christie (or as I call him, The Tunnel Assassin) said this, speaking in Virginia:

”People in my business don’t trust the American people enough to tell them the truth,” Mr. Christie said. “I absolutely believe that not only should we, but we must.”
Poll

Chris Christie's Presidential Hopes:

47%72 votes
11%17 votes
3%5 votes
2%4 votes
13%21 votes
22%34 votes

| 153 votes | Vote | Results

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Via Ed Kilgore, I learned this today:

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday asked the State Guard to monitor a U.S. military training exercise dubbed “Jade Helm 15” amid Internet-fueled suspicions that the war simulation is really a hostile military takeover.

The request comes a day after more than 200 people packed a meeting in rural Bastrop County and questioned a U.S. Army commander about whether the government was planning to confiscate guns or implement martial law. Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape said “conspiracy theorists” and “fear mongers” had been in a frenzy.

(from the AP)

(See also Eyesbright's diary on this earlier.)

Paraphrasing the now immortal words of Barney Frank: On what planet do they spend most of their time?  I guess the planet of Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, the NRA, Breitbart, et al. where, as Kilgore notes:

they keep telling people the purpose of the Second Amendment is to let them stockpile guns in case they need to resist “tyranny,” even as you are describing the president of the United States as a would-be tyrant leading an administration that is systematically robbing people of freedom and conspiring with “looters” and “moochers” to repeal the Constitution.
In other Texas News today, Hunter informs us that Rep. Bill Flores managed to link gay marriage to the Baltimore Riots.

Look, I'm just an elitist, coastal, urban member of the Democrat Party and I suppose I just don't understand "gun culture."  I may have even entertained thoughts at times that some people in Texas "bitterly cling" to guns and religion.

But a Governor sending the National Guard to "monitor" a Federal military exercise?

Peak wingnut will never be reached.

Discuss

The Reviews are in!   And the consensus (from the right) is that President Obama's hilarious routine at the White House Correspondent's Dinner proves at last that he is .   .   .   .  .  

An Angry Black Man!

Via Nancy Le Tourneau at Horizons we learn from Byron York at The Examiner that:

there's no doubt that Obama, by incorporating comedian Keegan-Michael Key into his act, went public with the anger — specifically, the black anger — that has become part of the general conversation about Obama's time in office...

in his second term, Obama is finally free to air his resentments.

John Hindraker (not deterred by being victimized by the Harry Reid hoax) writes in a post titled: "Our mean-spirited President Cuts Loose:"
the President's line about Dick Cheney being the worst president of his lifetime "wasn't humor, it was political aggression."
Erick, son of Erick, weighs in:
If only President Obama weren’t black, maybe he would realize that people don’t dislike him because he is black, they dislike him because he is a self-absorbed ass.
To summarize,

Byron York sees the President using Key/Luther's "Anger Translator" as showing how angry he really is.  (Irony is gasping for air just outside of The Examiner's Offices.)

Hindraker sees Obama's joking about Dick Cheney as the "worst President" as mean-spirited, but has no problem with Cheney's dead serious accusation about the President.   (In this case, Irony is hiding inside Hindraker's head without him knowing it.)

And Erickson thinks Obama's race prevents him from realizing he's an "ass."  Nothing racial about that at all.

Who said there are no funny right wing comedians?

Discuss

Marco Rubio is Catholic, but most weeks he also attends a Protestant Megachurch in Miami:  "On most Saturday nights, we still attend services at Christ Fellowship, especially if Pastor Rick [Blackwood] is preaching the sermon," the candidate wrote in his book, American Son. (h/t Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog, based on reporting by Bruce Wilson at Twocare.)

So what does Pastor Rick preach about?  Well, for one thing, he's a creationist:

The scientific method actually teaches that the Bible is science because it is based on observable evidence, and that evolution is actually blind faith because it is not based on observable evidence. Let me say that again. Evolution is not based on observable evidence. Creation is based on observable evidence.
And who could it be that tempts people to turn from creationism to evolution?  Could it be .. . ?   Could it be .  .  .Satan???
Here is my proposition for you, and this is what I want you to get: Evolution is fundamentally an attack by Satan on the glory of God ... Satan’s goal is to steal credit for the creation away from God, and than to assign that credit to evolution.

.   .   .  

God said, “I created all of that to declare my glory to you. The universe declares my glory.” But Satan says “No, No. The universe does not declare the glory of God. The universe declares the glory of evolution. God did not make you. Evolution made you.

(or as Reverend Wright might put it: God Damn the Theory of Evolution!)

Marco is not quite as certain as Pastor Rick, but only because he lacks the proper academic credentials.  As we know, when asked how old the earth is, Senator Rubio demurred:

I’m not a scientist, man. .  .   .   I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all.
Are all welcome to work  at Christ Fellowship?  Well, you've got to take this pledge to have a job there:
“I hereby certify that I am a Christian, not a practicing homosexual in accordance with scriptures (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, I Corinthians 6:9-10, I Timothy 1:10)”
This is big, folks.*  Just like Rev. Wright was hung around Obama, We'll soon be watching endless loops of "the worst of Reverend Rick" 24/7 on the networks.  Rubio will have to make a big speech about all of this, explaining that he respectfully disagrees with the Reverend about evolution being the work of Satan.  Will he throw Rev. Rick under the bus? his grandmother under a train? His Uncle under a swamp buggy?

I'm not much of a betting person, but for some reason I don't think any of that will happen.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

*I realize Reverend Rick's views will help Rubio in GOP primaries (just as Rev. Wright helped Obama win the nomination based on the radical left wing religious base of the Democratic Party).  But the general electorate might want this information sooner rather than later.

Discuss

At least that's what the Bridge and Tunnel Assailant's speech today about "Entitlements" appears to indicate.  It looks like even he has finally realized what Greg Dworkin and David Waldman told us more than a year ago on Daily Kos radio: For President, Chris Christie is toast.

According to excerpts obtained by The Wall Street Journal, Christie is proposing cutting Social Security benefits to seniors who make more than $80,000 a year and also eliminate benefits for those making $200,000 or more.

He will also call on raising the national retirement age from 67 to 69.

So another Republican ignores Ike's advice:
Should any political party attempt to abolish social security unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group of course that believes you can do these things. Among them are a few other Texas oil millionaires and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.
Christie is many things, all negative, but (at least on one level), he's not stupid.  Advocating social security cuts is not even the best red meat for the right wing base, which revels in demonizing programs limited to the poor, the immigrant and the "blahs" more than Soocial Security and Medicare.  But it is choice porterhouse for Wall St. and Christie is going to have to pay those mounting legal fees somehow after he can't use NJ State funds anymore.

His proposals are horrible on the merits.  It is a terrible idea to means test social security.  It already is means tested, but more cutting at the top will make it just another program for "them," leaving it susceptible to those who demonize non-rich people getting what they deem "free stuff."  It also is being cut as we speak by the increase of the retirement age to 67 -- a cut that is costing boomers huge amounts already.

So Gov, just hope that the banker you interview with is not a commuter from New Jersey to Wall Street.

Poll

Chris Christie:

3%2 votes
4%3 votes
0%0 votes
8%5 votes
83%51 votes

| 61 votes | Vote | Results

Discuss

The answer, of course, is an emphatic "No," and it's OK that you're smiling too.  "Revel" in this case is the bankrupt Atlantic City Casino project that Christie pushed as his legacy, but has descended into bankruptcy.  I wrote last September in Christie's Fall: Mall Stall by Football and That's Not All about the failure of Revel and Xanadu:

The flop is the Revel Casino, into which Christie poured $216 million in tax breaks, but was closed last month after two bankruptcy filings.  The other project is "American Dream," Christie's plan to turn the failed Meadowlands Mall "Xanadu," into a "Mall of America" type Gargantua, featuring shops, restaurants, an indoor ski slope (!), a Ferris wheel and 35 Pinkberries (ok -- I made the last one up).
With his Bridge and Tunnel disasters (and I believe the latter to be a much greater sin), the ARC of Christie's Moral Universe appears finally to be bending toward various kinds of justice, including the various investigations reported on yesterday, and new developments in the Revel boondogle, chronicled here by Charlie Pierce in The Passion of Big Chicken: The Money Pit.

The Revel, "once predicted to be an Atlantic City game-changer and now standing tall, dark, and empty in the unpredictable hands of [new owner Glenn] Straub, a maverick Florida businessman and polo player" now must tap "into power at the nearby Showboat, another empty former casino. ACR, whose only customer was Revel, had been under court order to keep the casino's lights on while it was bankrupt." reported

Pierce summarizes:

"One bankrupt casino is mooching electricity from another bankrupt casino."

A fitting legacy for "Tunnel-cide" Perp.

No.  Not wrong to "Revel" at all.

Discuss

"F&#$k this President s$@t" was how former Governor Chris Christie began his news conference today in which he announced that in a multiparty deal:

Sen. Bob Menendez will step down and Christie will simultaneously:
Appoint himself as NJ Senator.

Resign as Governor.

Appoint David Samson as ad hoc, pro tem Governor pro hac vice.

Make three nominations for head of the Port Authority: David Wildstein, Bill Baroni and a corrupt politician to be named later.  

"Look," he said on the boardwalk at Atlantic City, "I've accomplished everything I set out to do as Governor.  I killed the ARC Tunnel, sentencing NY and NJ to years of pollution, traffic nightmares and potential disaster under the Hudson.  (Oh, and don't forget tens of thousands of Tunnel jobs lost.)  I bottled up Sandy Aid and used it for political purposes. I got a low-ball settlement with Exxon to bail me out of budget problems.  I reneged on pension promises.  I engineered a massive Bridge tie-up.  (Get it? Engineered?)."

"My work here is done."

He continued, "Not to mention I'm also sick and tired of trying to please Bible thumping idiots in cornfields in the middle of nowhere.  (Isn't it great that I can say that now?)"

"I have utmost faith in General Samson as Governor.  He brings to the job the same level of venality and indifference I was able to implement over the last six years of my term.  I am confident the General can maintain the same level of favoritism and neglect of the public trust New Jerseyans have gotten used to since 2009.  The General will, of course, remain with his firm, Wolf Samson, while Governor "

"As Senator, I hope to expand my program of malfeasance and venom nationally."

"Questions?"

A sixtyish woman carrying a marble notebook began, "I am a teacher -----"

Christie interrupted "“I am tired of you people. What do you want?(1)  Next!"

An aide handed Christie an ice cream cone and he took the next question from an adorable 8 year old girl:

"Um, Governor, today in school  --- "

Christie interrupted: "You're a real big shot shootin' your mouth off! Keep walkin' away! Keep walkin' away! Slurp.(2)  Next!"

An environmental activist began, "About Sandy aid ---

Christie interrupted, "Sit down and shut up.(3) Next!"

Finally, Christie announced that his first act as Senator will be to introduce a resolution abolishing the practice of Senatorial Courtesy, commenting "F&$k those guys."

**********

(1) Somers Point, NJ Nov. 2013.

(2) Seaside Heights NJ Boardwalk, July 5, 2012

(3) Belmar, NJ, 10/28/14.

Continue Reading

Send this to anyone who claims that there is no difference between the parties:

Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of Wisconsin Voter ID Law

Also send it to anyone who thinks Selma is only a portrait of history.

Also send it to anyone who may have forgotten what Dr. King died for.

This is the same Supreme Court that did accept for review the farcical King v. Burwell case and ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby.

Richard Posner, a conservative Judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said the Wisconsin Voter ID law is “a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters.”   For example, although the law accepts some student ID's it doesn't accept those from the University of Wisconsin campuses.

The law was modified to add Tribal ID's and passports, but according to Politifact:

Even in its new form, Wisconsin’s law is one of the most restrictive, based on our research on acceptable IDs and voting procedures for those without IDs. We got information on new voter ID laws around the country from state election offices, and the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Two states pop up as contenders with Wisconsin for the title of "most restrictive."

One, Texas, which like Wisconsin passed a photo ID law in May 2011, now appears to be more restrictive, said University Wisconsin-Madison political scientist David Canon. Texas outlaws student IDs.

But Texas allows a concealed carry firearms permit as proof of identification, which Wisconsin does not. And Texas allows six days to supply missing photo ID after an election compared with three days in Wisconsin.

"They are very similar," Keesha Gaskins, a lawyer with the Brennan Center for Justice, a voting rights advocacy group that is critical of photo ID provisions, said of the Wisconsin and Texas laws.

The arc of the moral universe just hit a detour on its way to justice.  

Join or contribute to the Brennan Center to help get it back on track.
 

Discuss

Fri Mar 20, 2015 at 08:36 PM PDT

Maher: The "Cuban Excuse"

by Bethesda 1971

So Bill Maher has a panel that includes failed Senate candidate Jack Kingston, failed Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn and bizarre Mary Matalin- wannabe "Republican consultant" Mercedes Schlapp, (who would have a great future on Fox if she'd just dye her hair blonde).

Early on, Kingston and Schlapp are unleashing the usual perverse history of the Middle East --  "Obama abandoned Iraq to Isis,"  "We need to bomb them!"  "Boots on the ground should be on the table!"  Maher points out how everything we've done has empowered Iran.  They are about to say "Bomb them too," when Maher changes the subject to Ted Cruz.

He tells the "Ted Cruz scares a three year old by shouting 'The World is on Fire'" story, patiently recites statistics on unemployment/ the market/ GDP growth etc. now compared with 2009 and asks "When are the Republicans going to start acknowledging reality?"

Kingston and Schlapp spout the usual talking points they've rehearsed like "Ten million unemployed," and then go into the latest up is down Republican spin -- "What about inequality?" Maher is convulsed in laughter, and Quinn asks Kingston whether he supports raising the minimum wage and funding community colleges.  (the first useful contribution Quinn made all night).  Kingston says "We must unleash the private sector,"  (like the Kraken? the Hounds?  the Weasel?).

Then Schlapp starts to make excuses for Ted Cruz scaring the three year old, including "I'm Cuban like Cruz, and we have fiery tempers."  Maher is again convulsed in laughter, while calling "The Cuban Excuse" a racist comment.  Only Gerald Posner, the slightly weird buy who wrote a book about the Vatican, disagrees with that.

Maher can be an idiot at times, but he finally has learned enough facts to answer the ludicrous Republican comments, or just laugh at them, and that way expose their absurdity.  That's something.

Discuss

Those of us who follow the NY Times Op-Ed pages know that substance-less mean girl Maureen Dowd has lost her Wednesday column gig and is relegated to once a week to spew bile against the Clintons, Obama et al.  (Yes, she does go after Republicans too, but that does nothing to excuse her vicious, groundless and emasculating jabs at Pres. Obama, Al Gore, John Kerry et al.)

Well, fear not, those of you who want to read almost the same stuff on Wednesday.  Frank Bruni has replaced Dowd and he's off to a fast start today with a Dowd-esque column about Hillary.

Bruni is an eloquent spokesman on gay issues, but when he goes beyond that, he's a Beltway CW hack of the worst kind.

(Bruni is infamous for his sycophantic 2000 Bush reporting -- e.g., praising him in the Times after the first debate, but then admitting in a post-election book that he thought Bush was terrible in that debate.)

See if you can tell the difference between Bruni and Dowd from these quotes:

It wasn’t secrecy that motivated her. It was purse space and pinkie strain.

The conversation — incredibly — has returned to Rose Law Firm records lost and found, to the pricey privilege of the Lincoln Bedroom, to Whitewater.

She’s going to have a primary, all right, but it will be a contest against her own worst impulses, default defensiveness and prickly sense of insult when pressed for explanations. From what I saw Tuesday, victory is uncertain.

(They're all Bruni.)

No, Frank -- you're the ones bringing back the phony scandals from the '90s.  Did she bring up the Rose Law firm?

The media view the Clintons as their own clay mold -- to be shaped how they want her to be shaped, in this case abasing herself more in her apology and losing "attitude," while giving them more and more material they can feed to the GOP to smear her.

If I were her I'd give them as little as possible.

Discuss

Jon Stewart is a hero and truth teller who will be missed.  Last week, he seemed to be turning yet another corner of "I don't give a shit" territory when for the first time, he railed against not Fox or Limbaugh but the right generally -- showing how they use the same tactics over and over again.  How deceptive it is.  How poisonous it is to the national dialogue.  I thought, "OK, Jon is going out with a bang, widening the scope of his scorn and devastating take-downs to the broader infection that's corroding the country."

But tonight, he seemed to be going in the other direction.  I get it, Jon.  To retain credibility, you have to go after both sides, at least sometimes.

But you equated Nancy Pelosi's visit with Assad in 2007 with the Cotton-47 idiots letter.  Yes, Dems then who were supporting her are now going after the 47, and Republicans who went after Pelosi are not defending the 47.

But it's not the same at all.  Pelosi's trip did not come near the actions of Cotton et al. (on the heels of the Netanyahu visit) to directly and dangerously undermine a specific foreign policy of the President.

Both Siderism has corrupted the process -- legitimizing the crazy on the other side with false equivalence.

Stewart's brilliance has been a fantastic light shining on the dark soul of the right.  He should recognize when it's not "both sides."

Discuss
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