Month: July 2014

Fair Warning

Mitch McConnell

Heads up, the sky is falling!

Well, okay, no, actually it’s not. To the other, soon enough there will be plenty trying to convince you that it is. Or, as we learn from Annika McGinnis and David Lawder:

U.S. lawmakers expected that a promising budget deal reached after a government shutdown last year would herald a new normal for passing annual spending bills, moving Congress away from the crisis-driven approach and resulting economic jitters of recent years.

But the spending bills have been derailed in the Senate by election-year politics and a war over Republican amendments that range from thwarting curbs on power-plant carbon emissions to restoring potatoes to a government nutrition assistance program.

With a new fiscal year looming on Oct. 1, a stopgap funding measure of the type that has kept the federal government afloat in fits and starts for five years looks increasingly likely, along with the risk of another government shutdown.

Congress starts a five-week recess on Aug. 1 and has about 10 work days in September before lawmakers break for a month of campaigning for November congressional elections.

“Prospects don’t look good at the moment” for the 12 spending bills, said Senator Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee. “This is an election year and this is tough politics.”

We have been warned, let there be no question about that. So when the yelling begins in September, the appropriate question will be, “Why are you yelling?” And should anyone be so foolish as to ask why, we need only point them to Sen. Shelby (R-AL): “This is an election year and this is tough politics.”

So it goes, even if it’s something more to the rest of us.

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McGinniss, Annika and David Lawder. “Hope fades in Congress for drama-free funding of U.S. agencies”. Reuters. 13 July 2014.

One of Those Horrifying Ledes

Appetite for destruction.

Ouch.

A ten-year-old girl was allegedly raped by her neighbour on the diktat of a Panchayat chief in Bokaro district, the police said.

The 25-year-old rape accused allegedly dragged the girl to a nearby bush and raped her on the directive of Bhopal Pasi, the Panchayat chief of Swang Gulgulia Dhoura village in Bokaro district’s Gomia police station area, at a panchayat meeting on Tuesday evening.

Both the rape accused and Bhopal were arrested on Wednesday on the basis of the girl’s statement, Bokaro SP Jitendra Kumar Singh said.

The police also arrested the victim’s brother after the accused’s wife lodged a counter-complaint accusing him of molesting and assaulting her.

(DNA)

Right. We have no comment, as none is needed.

Right?

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Press Trust of India. “10-year-old girl raped on Panchayat chief’s directive in Jharkhand”. Daily News & Analysis. 9 July 2014.

One of Those Unsurprising Moments

Bob Beckel

So Alana Horowitz of The Huffington Post wants us to know:

Fox News host Bob Beckel used a racial slur in a rant about China on ‘The Five’ Thursday.

By … the … Goddess! How dare he!

“The Chinese are the single biggest threat to the national security of the U.S.,” he said. “They have been, they will be and they can wait, they’re very patient. Do you know what we just did? As usual, we bring them over here and we teach a bunch of Chinamen — er, Chinese people — how to do computers and then they go back to China and hack into us.”

The other ‘Five’ hosts gaped in disbelief.

“That is going to end up on ‘The Soup,'” Andrea Tantaros said.

Uh-huh. A brief note to Alana Horowitz: It’s FOX News.

To the one, it isn’t as if we have not learned to expect open bigotry from FOX News; to the other, well, yeah, as offenses go, “Chinamen” just ain’t that far up the list. That is to say, well, yeah, It’s FOX fucking News!

What more do we expect?

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Horowitz, Alana. “Bob Beckel Uses Racial Slur On Live Television”. The Huffington Post. 10 July 2014.

Just One of Those (Republican) Things

You know, from the outset we all learn that politicians lie. Still, though—

In Arkansas, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) is putting Rep. Tom Cotton’s (R-Ark.) support for the Ryan budget to good use, and polls suggest Pryor may have an edge in his re-election bid. In Montana, appointed Sen. John Walsh (D) has an uphill fight ahead of him, so he’s using Rep. Steve Daines’ (R-Mont.) vote for the Ryan plan against him.

Yeah, we feel that way, too, Congressman.In Louisiana, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) is using Rep. Bill Cassidy’s (R) support for the Ryan budget as a key part of her campaign, and in Kentucky, Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) launched her first critical ad of the cycle, hitting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) for having backed the Ryan budget, including its anti-Medicare provisions.

This week, McConnell’s campaign team offered a curious response to the criticism.

… McConnell’s 2011 vote was on a motion to proceed to consider the Ryan budget. The motion failed on a mostly party-line vote, so there was no Senate vote on the Ryan budget itself. The McConnell campaign said, “There is no way to speculate if [McConnell] would have voted for final passage without having debated amendments.”

Oh, I see. After having championed the Ryan budget, McConnell is now rolling out the “Who, me?” defense.

It’s deeply flawed for one big reason.

The Lundergan Grimes campaign unveiled a new web video this morning that shows McConnell on “Meet the Press,” specifically saying, “I voted for the Ryan budget.”

(Benen)

—one is hard pressed to find a way to describe the state of today’s Republican Party in anything but extraordinary terms.

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Benen, Steve. “Democrats aren’t done thanking Paul Ryan”. msnbc. 10 July 2014.

Image credit: Detail of image by Stephen Malley, 11 April 2014.

The Quidditch Revolution?

It’s one of those things I knew about, sort of. At least, you know, that it was happening. I didn’t really pay attention because, well, right.

Sean Pagoda, however, has given me reason to reconsider.

What sets quidditch apart from other sports is its two-minimum gender rule, established by the International Quidditch Association. The rule states that “each team must have at least two players in play who identify with a different gender than at least two other players. The gender that a player identifies with is considered to be that player’s gender.”

FireboltLook, to the one, it’s great to consider that an international athletic association is LGBTQ-aware.

To the other, though? Well, right. There’s an International Quiddich Association.

Yes, I was aware that there were adults running around on broomsticks, playing “Harry Potter”. And, yes, I really, really tried to not care. You know, whatever. But when quidditch is raised as a sociopolitical example, well, yes, at some point the inevitable question arises: “Wh-wha-what? Seriously? Quidditch?”

Sigh.

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Pagoda, Sean. “Brooms Up”. The Huffington Post. 7 July 2014.

A Quote: Justice in America

“Overnight, the cure has become the disease. Having explicitly promised that Hobby Lobby would go no further than Hobby Lobby, the court went back on its word, then skipped town for the summer.”

Dahlia Lithwick and Sonja West

A Moment From History

A Terrible Tragedy

A car is trapped underneath an overpass that collapsed while under construction in Belo Horizonte July 3, 2014. (Reuters/Ivan Alvarado)

“This is the incompetence of our authorities and our businesses. Because of the World Cup they sped everything up to finish faster. That’s why this tragedy has happened. They are not making things properly. Everyone is very angry.”

Leandro Brito

Andrew Cawthorne of Reuters brings the grim news:

An unfinished overpass collapsed in the Brazilian World Cup host city of Belo Horizonte on Thursday, killing at least one person and casting a shadow over a tournament that has suffered repeated construction accidents and delays.

The bridge, located about two miles (3 km) from the Mineirao Stadium where World Cup games are being played, collapsed as vehicles were passing on a busy road underneath.

Part of a passenger bus was crushed and another car was still trapped in the wreckage hours later.

Condolences, of course. But this tragic story will likely persist as emblematic of many Brazilians’ criticism of the effort to host the World Cup. Updates put the human toll at two dead, twenty-two injured.

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Cawthorne, Andrew. “Overpass collapses in World Cup city”. Reuters. 3 July 2014.

See also: Reuters. “Slideshow: Brazil overpass collapse”. 3 July 2014.

BBC News. “Brazil overpass collapses on bus in Belo Horizonte”. 3 July 2014.

Image credit: Detail of photograph by Ivan Alvardao (Reuters).

The Unfortunate State of Things

Jen Sorensen undertook the obvious point in the wake of the Supreme Court’s quixotic disaster otherwise known as Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. And, yes, she wins the race on style.

Still, though, a question arises. To the one, we are Americans, and everyone knows just how undignified it would be if people actually acted like those depicted in the cartoon. To the other, we are Americans, and everyone knows just how undignified it is to behave that way unless one is a patriot using a gun to menace locals in the name of the Second Amendment, or shouting at, threatening, and assaulting women.

Savage JusticeThe truth is that no matter how much Justice Scalia might need to be tomatosmacked upside the head, it would be inappropriate to actually start chucking table vegetables.

Meanwhile, the question arises, looms, persists: Then what does it take?

The explanation for this is simple enough under a general psychoanalysis of history: We judge women’s humanity as a reflection of manhood.

(more…)

A Disaster in Mississippi

Those with an ear to murmurings political could not help but hear the ruckus that stirred in recent months over in Mississippi. In a right-wing primary pitting a secessionist Tea Partier against an incumbent conservative Republican, the outcome was decided by black Democrats who turned out at incumbent Sen. That Cochran’s plea in order to reject the secessionist upstart Chris McDaniel.

But that is hardly the strangest historical nugget from the fierce contest that pushed into a runoff after neither candidate achieved the state’s fifty percent threshold. Nor would it be the part where the longtime Beltway figure Cochran tried to play up his folksy charm by recalling indecent liberties taken with farm animals when he was a child.

Mark Mayfield (l.) with Chris McDanielThe most bizarre aspect of the 2014 Mississippi Republican U.S. Senate Primary, far and away, was the break-in scandal. The short form is that somebody broke into a nursing home in order to photograph Cochran’s invalid wife, which pictures turned up in an outside interest’s anti-Cochran television spot.

Four were arrested in that caper, and questions still remain about what degree McDaniel’s campaign was aware of what was going on; their initial comments on the budding scandal at the time proved, well, inaccurate. Nobody has quite figured out what happened there.

But what has happened to the scandal since is that one of the arrested and accused, Mark Mayfield—an attorney and leader of a state Tea Party ogranization—ended his own life.

The family of Mississippi tea party leader Mark Mayfield, who committed suicide last week after facing charges for his alleged connection to the photographing of Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-Miss) wife, plans legal action against “anyone responsible” for his death, according to The Clarion Ledger.

Authorities arrested Mayfield and two other supporters of Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) on conspiracy charges earlier this year after a blogger allegedly took photographs of Cochran’s bedridden wife, Rose, at a nursing home where she suffers from progressive dementia. The photos were allegedly used for an anti-Cochran political video that was later taken down.

Mayfield’s relatives argue that Madison Police Department officers trespassed when they went to his Ridgeland home after he shot himself on Friday. They say Mayfield’s arrest was politically motivated by supporters of Cochran, who defeated McDaniel in a contentious primary runoff that the state senator has yet to concede.

“It’s the highest degree of abuse of power,” said Ridgeland Alderman Wesley Hamlin, Mayfield’s nephew.

(Bobic)

John Reeves, brother-in-law to the deceased, noted that the arrest cost Mayfield his career as a transactional lawyer: “On the day his picture was in the paper, all three banks called him and said, ‘Mark, you’re fired.’ That devastated him. He lost his business. He had to let his secretaries go.” While one can certainly empathize, there is also something of cynicism that rises in the context of an appeal to emotion; the family is also upset that Mayfield was accused at all, and also at the manner in which he was arrested: “They treated him like a criminal.”

(more…)