Day: 2015.03.17

The Obvious Point

Detail of 'Mary Death' by Matt Tarpley, 17 March 2015.

Do you really need a punch line, or can you figure this one out yourself?

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Tarpley, Matt. “Going on an Adventure”. Mary Death. 17 March 2015.

A Brief Note on Misogyny (ReGrBl Pinup Edition)

Detail of illustration via ReGrBl, 17 March 2015.

Many thanks to the folks at ReGrBl; you have a fine story going on. I will not be continuing to follow it. Really, it’s the hateful regard for women that shows up to ruin pretty much any excuse for a holiday that does it. The pinup girl is a time-honored tradition, though not so ancient as the need to treat women as if their only purpose in the world is to sexually stimulate others.

And the thing is that while the actual ReGrBl story is fun, following along is starting to feel like taking part in a toxic community experience; it’s not something I enjoy being part of. And let me be clear, this isn’t some feeling that I might be taking part in something wrong; this is straightforward revulsion. I’ve tried cracking jokes in order to look past it, but no, in the end it isn’t a question of whether or not one is participating in someone else’s misogyny; rather, it is a question of how long one intends to turn a blind eye to bigotry.

Good luck. Thank you. Good-bye.

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Image note: Detail of pinup girl illustration via ReGrBl, 17 March 2015.

Not Shocking

U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL18) speaks to reporters in this undated photograph.  (Seth Perlman/AP)

So … it didn’t play in Peoria?

Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock resigned Tuesday, less than 12 hours after POLITICO raised questions about tens of thousands of dollars in mileage reimbursements he received for his personal vehicle.

(Sherman, Palmer, and Bresnahan)

It really is a strange scandal, beginning in the most banal of fashions when questions arose about the Peoria Republican’s office decor styled after Downton Abbey.

Over the course of about a month and a half, Mr. Schock has seen his prestige plummet from that of a rising, charismatic star in the Republican firmament to a laughingstock hounded into resignation by his own apparent inability to exercise even a modicum of basic ethical restraint.

It does occur to wonder at the nature of ethical scandals in Congress. After all, if Charlie Rangel can manage to find an excuse for failing to pay property taxes, one would expect his colleagues to figure out the problem with behaving in that crass manner that writes personal expenses to the business account.

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Image note: U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL18) speaks with reporters in this undated photograph. (Seth Perlman/AP)

Sherman, Jake, Anna Palmer, and John Bresnahan. “Aaron Schock resigns after new questions about mileage expenses”. Politico. 17 March 2015.

Terris, Ben. “He’s got a ‘Downton Abbey’-inspired office, but Rep. Aaron Schock won’t talk about it.”

Ransom Governance

Mitch McConnell

When Loretta Lynch, nominee to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Republican majority seemed less interested in her record as an attorney and more focused on complaining about the man who would be her predecessor. And this, of course, after Republican efforts during the last session to block her nomination. Yesterday, things took a turn for the strange―

Yesterday, the GOP strategy became clearer. McConnell seems to have kept things vague because he intended to break his word.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says there’ll be no vote to confirm Loretta Lynch as attorney general until Republicans and Democrats resolve a dispute over a human trafficking bill.

“If they want to have time to turn to the attorney general,” then “we have to finish the human trafficking bill,” McConnell said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The Majority Leader added that he “had hoped” to allow the Senate to vote on Lynch, whose nomination has, by most measures, already waited longer than any other A.G. nomination in American history, but Lynch “will be put off again” unless Democrats agree to pass the human-trafficking bill that stalled last week.

McConnell went on to say, “We have to finish the human trafficking bill. The Loretta Lynch nomination comes next.”

Benen - GOP Ransom NoteJust so we’re clear, there’s no procedural concern or rule that must be followed. McConnell could bring Lynch’s 128-day wait to an end this morning, and by all appearances, she’d have the votes necessary to be confirmed.

(Benen)

―which, admittedly, sounds about par for the course in terms of Republican governance. The point here is the same as it has always been, to govern by ransom. The underlying argument here is that Republicans refuse to undertake their basic obligations unless they are given extra rewards. Give them treats, or the nation will suffer.

Benen noted yesterday:

And what of the human-trafficking bill? That was a bipartisan proposal, set to clear the chamber 100 to 0, but Republicans quietly added an anti-abortion provision and neglected to mention it to the Democratic co-sponsors. Dems, feeling betrayed and opposing the add-on, have decided to withdraw their support for the bill until the GOP majority takes the provision out.

Riders have always been notorious, but of late Republicans have taken this practice to odius extremes.α

As Benen reports today, the White House has sounded off on the Majority Leader’s stupidity:

From the White House podium, press secretary Josh Earnest is usually pretty circumspect in his criticisms of lawmakers. Yesterday, however, President Obama’s spokesperson was far less guarded – the Senate Republicans’ handling of Loretta Lynch’s Attorney General nomination, and their willingness to connect this to an unrelated human-trafficking bill, was just too much for Earnest.

“You’ve got to hand it to Republicans, that they’ve taken even a measure as common sense as [combating human trafficking] and turned it into a partisan controversy.

“That is not a reflection of a flaw in the bill. It’s a reflection of inept leadership”....

.... For his part, McConnell told reporters yesterday that the previous Senate Democratic majority could have voted on Lynch during last year’s lame-duck session, but they didn’t, delaying the vote until the new Congress. McConnell “failed to point out that that delay was at his request,” the president’s spokesperson reminded reporters yesterday.

And as hard as it seems to believe, this sort of dishonesty and irresponsibility is apparently what our Republican-voting neighbors want. But, you know, just like Sen. Embry, it’s not their faults.

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α Consider, for example, Kentucky―what? Kentucky? imagine that!―where Adam Beam reported on an episode in which a group of high school students managed to get a bill into serious consideration before the state house. The bill would have allowed student committees to participate in the screening of candidates for superintendent, and appeared to be on its way to easy passage. Then state Sen. C.B. Embry (R-KY06) tacked on an amendment demanding schools discriminate against transgender students. Another amendment would empower religious supremacism and discrimination. The bill is now left in limbo because the Kentucky House is wary of what happens next. As to Sen. Embry? “It’s not my fault,” he explained. And why would it be? He’s just a Republican, and they are never at fault for their own actions, and thus should never be held accountable.

Benen, Steve. “McConnell subjects Lynch to ransom-based governing”. msnbc. 16 March 2015.

—————. “White House takes aim at GOP’s ‘inept leadership'”. msnbc. 17 March 2015.

Beam, Adam. “Kentucky students get hard lesson in politics from lawmakers”. Boulder Daily Camera. 11 March 2015.

The Latest #GOP47 Absurdity

U.S. Senate letterhead, from "An Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran", authored by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), and released 9 March 2015, in an attempt to scuttle P5+1 negotiations and foster war with Iran.

As the #GOP47 themselves run out of excuses for their attempt to sink P5+1 negotiations in hopes of fostering a war with Iran, the conservative press will, naturally, attempt to step up to fill the silence.

Deroy Murdock of National Review burnishes his conservative credentials―as if contributing to FOX News and declaring his patriotic pride in torture wasn’t enough―trying to provide an astoundingly immature defense for the #GOP47:

National ReviewBefore U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and 46 of his GOP colleagues are frog-marched to the gallows and hanged for treason, one vital point of confusion must be cleared up. Say what you will about the Republicans’ open letter “to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” The Cotton/GOP letter regarding Tehran’s atom-bomb talks with Obama was not sent to the ayatollahs. Had Cotton & Co. actually delivered their communiqué to Iran’s mullahs — perhaps via a Swiss diplomatic pouch or something even more cloak and dagger — their critics would be on less swampy ground in calling them “traitors,” as the New York Daily News screamed.

Either through befuddlement or deceit, many of the Republicans’ detractors have echoed this gross inaccuracy.

This is a unique defense, to be certain, at least among professionals. Resorting to the, “Well, the #GOP47 didn’t actually do anything”, is the kind of useless pedantry we can get from internet discussion boards and news site comment threads.

But yes, that is Deroy Murdock’s defense of the #GOP47: The #GOP47 didn’t actually ‘send’ the letter.

(more…)