Sam Stein

The Ted Cruz Show (The Devil Inside/Lede of the Week)

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, gestures while addressing the Sunshine Summit in Orlando, Fla., Friday Nov. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

“A leading Satanist group is trying to distance itself from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) after the presidential candidate was compared to Lucifer this week.”

Mark Hensch

This is your lede of the week.

This is also your Republican Party.

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The Value of Prayer in the Twenty-First Century

Detail of frame from Durarara!!!

It is a straightforward headline: “Politicians Can’t Pass Actual Laws to Stop Gun Violence, So They Tweet Prayerfully”. And HuffPo’s Sam Stein and Arthur Delaney deliver the goods.

All of which reminds the basic point: Prayer is something to do if you cannot or will not do anything more useful.

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A Congressional Fire Drill

Huang reflects on a mission barely accomplished. (Darker Than Black, ep. 14)

Bring your own analysis.

Roll Call has been busy trying to make heads and tails of House Republicans:

John T. Bennett: “Deputy Whip Tom Cole, R-Okla., and House Freedom Caucus founding member Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., did agree on two things. They both see Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as the leading candidate to take over as speaker. And they believe a government shutdown will be averted by a stopgap spending bill passed within the next few days.”

Emma Dumain: “Sources confirmed to CQ Roll Call Saturday afternoon that in the event Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., makes a play for majority leader, Conference Vice Chairwoman Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., would look to move up one slot.”

David Eldridge and Matt Fuller“House Speaker John A. Boehner has a word of warning, straight out of the Bible, for fellow Republicans: ‘Beware false prophets’.”

David Hawkings: “The trend of past three decades will surely make California’s Kevin McCarthy, or whoever ascends to the presiding officer’s chair, extremely wary about his career’s trajectory over the long term — even after this fall’s latest internal Republican revolution gets put to rest.”

Catching up with some of the details that might have slipped by unnoticed, we can turn to The Hill:

Jordain Carney: “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Friday that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was ‘unable to control’ his party and that his resignation could leave Republicans increasingly ‘out of touch.'”

Cristina Marcos: “Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) announced late Friday he will run for House majority whip, just hours after Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced his resignation.”

Mark Meckler: “Ding, dong … John Boehner is gone. Long live the tea party movement.”

Bradford Richardson: “‘Taking care of this leadership issue was a pretty selfless act that Speaker Boehner decided to make a little bit easier for everyone,’ Priebus said told host John Catsimatidis on AM 970 New York on Sunday. ‘I might imagine he would have been able to hang on, but the truth is he’s just not the type of guy to put up with it, so he just said, ‘Forget it, I’ll move on’.'”

And a check of the chatter:

Zoë Carpenter (The Nation): “ Let’s get one thing clear about John Boehner: His problem was not that his position on abortion was too liberal.”

Heather Cox Richardson (Salon): “Movement Conservatives just claimed the head of House Speaker John Boehner. His political death was the price of preventing a catastrophic government shutdown after Movement Conservatives in Congress tied the very survival of the United States government to their determination to defund Planned Parenthood. Movement Conservatives are gunning for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell next. We should be very afraid. Boehner and McConnell are not wild-eyed lefties. They are on the very far right of the American political spectrum: fervently pro-business, antiabortion, opposed to social welfare legislation. But they are old-school politicians who still have faith in the idea of American democracy.”

David Lawder (Reuters): “Thus far, a serious challenger to McCarthy has not emerged, though some Republican aides said that House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling is weighing a run. A Hensarling spokesman could not be reached for comment.”

Michael McAuliff, Laura Barron-Lopez, and Sam Stein (Huffington Post): “House Speaker John Boehner may be able to leave office on a high note after meeting the pope and potentially averting another government shutdown. But his abrupt departure has many on Capitol Hill fearing it will leave Congress an even worse, more gridlocked institution.

So … right. Good luck with all that. What makes the challenge seem so daunting, of course, is that everything will be obsolete by the time you get through it all. And there is a pervading notion of futility much akin to John Boehner’s speakership; that we might know what has happened, as well as what is expected to happen, does not mean it will happen. This is your House GOP. Enjoy the show. You know. As much as you can.

The Scott Walker Show (Sounds About Right)

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, 26 February 2015. Photo by H. Darr Beiser, USA Today.

Okay, so this is how we’re going to do it―

Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) affirmed on Sunday that he would not seek to end birthright citizenship as president, seemingly bringing to an end a days-long grapple for a definitive position on the issue.

“No,” said the Wisconsin Republican when asked if he was “seeking to repeal or alter the 14th Amendment,” during an interview with ABC’s “This Week.”

Walker’s position on the topic―which has moved from the fringes of the Republican Party to a mainstay of the campaign trail―has not so much evolved as jumped around in the past week ....

―with Sam Stein explaining the joke for Huffington Post, and you deciding whether or not you really want the detail, since it’s not actually funny, and, well, you know, we might also suggest simply nodding and saying, “Sounds about right”, would suffice.

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Stein, Sam. “Scott Walker Completes The Journey Back To Not Repealing The 14th Amendment”. The Huffington Post. 23 August 2015.

The Gay Fray

Sekirei-No2-bw

Notes from the Gay Fray:

Mark the date: 28 April 2015. (Reuters)

• Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore tells judges to defy federal law. (Huffington Post)

• Is marriage equality a sign of the End Times? (Huffington Post)

• GOP presidential dreamer Ben Carson does what he does best: Open mouth, insert foot. (msnbc)

• For an encore, Dr. Carson blames the press and says, “I’m not going to really talk about that issue anymore”. (Huffington Post)

Dan Savage. Why? Because. (Slog)

― While we’re on the subject, there is also the fallout, which is well worth the savagery. (Slog)

• And something almost interesting, a right-wing sensationalist named Shoebat arguing something about Daa’ish as a component of the gay agenda. Yes, really. (Right Wing Watch)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell

This paragraph from Sam Stein is either amusing or unsettling, depending on how one’s sense of humor is feeling today:

The Huffington Post asked the McConnell campaign that very question the day after the debate. We asked the campaign the same question twice more that day. Then, we posed the question to them seven more times over the subsequent nine days. We also called the campaign twice. The campaign never responded.

The story here is simple; a bit over two weeks ago, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell faced his Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes in the only debate of the Kentucky race for U.S. Senate. During the debate, Mr. McConnell called for the end of the PPACA. Except Kynect, the Kentucky health care exchange, has been quite successful, so the question arose whether the senior Kentucky senator would destroy that, too. “The website can continue,” McConnell explained.

Questions arose immediately as to what that statement actually meant in terms of practical function; without the rest of the ACA, Kynect would be generally useless, an advertising portal for a private market sector infamous for finding ways to renege on its contracts in order to increase its bottom line by refusing to fulfill its obligations. Without some detail to the other, this is what Sen. McConnell seems to have told Kentucky: You can have the damn website, but you’re screwed, anyway. Vote for me!

One might be tempted to think persistent questions from press and public pushed Team Mitch to find an answer. Split the difference; they found a punch line.

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Facebook: Ebola Dating Bulldog Mix

Sometimes things get lost in translation

It is easy enough to ridicule Facebook, but not all of it need be bitter reflection on what a horrible person Mark Zuckerberg is.

Really. Sometimes it’s just funny. Or stupid. Or funny because it’s stupid. Or something like that.

For once, this one was just funny for being one of those stupid mixups that happens in the software world, where quality control means you can never perform your job properly, but should at the very least make an effort to hide your incompetence.

Meanwhile, it is worth noting the actual artilce in question, from Sam Stein of Huffington Post:

Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said that a decade of stagnant spending has “slowed down” research on all items, including vaccinations for infectious diseases. As a result, he said, the international community has been left playing catch-up on a potentially avoidable humanitarian catastrophe.

“NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It’s not like we suddenly woke up and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,'” Collins told The Huffington Post on Friday. “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”

Make what excuses you will for congressional Republicans. And blame what Democrats you will for “compromising” and accepting these budget proposals. But remember, Republicans also want an Ebola Czar, but won’t confirm a qualified Surgeon General nominee.

Yes the perpetual Republican electoral campaign that has taken the place of actually governing while they are in office is an observable threat to human life.

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Stein, Sam. “Ebola Vaccine Would Likely Have Been Found By Now If Not For Budget Cuts: NIH Director”. The Huffington Post. 12 October 2014.

A Fairly Impressive (Republican) Wreck

Louisiana State Rep. Lenar Whitney (R-53)

“But never have I met any candidate quite as frightening or fact-averse as Louisiana state Rep. Lenar Whitney, 55, who visited my office last Wednesday. It’s tough to decide which party’s worst nightmare she would be.”

David Wasserman

It is not, by the logic of conventional wisdom, a good thing when the candidate actually frightens the Cook Political Report editor, but down Lou’siana way perhaps the Palin of the South and voters in Terrebonne Parish see it differently.

And let us be clear—”Palin of the South” is not an insult, regardless of however hilarious or horrifying or redundant others might find the phrase.

Sigh.

David Wasserman explains, for the Washington Post:

As a House analyst for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, I’ve personally interviewed over 300 congressional candidates over the course of seven years, both to get to know them and evaluate their chances of winning. I’ve been impressed by just as many Republicans as Democrats, and underwhelmed by equal numbers, too. Most are accustomed to tough questions.

But never have I met any candidate quite as frightening or fact-averse as Louisiana state Rep. Lenar Whitney, 55, who visited my office last Wednesday. It’s tough to decide which party’s worst nightmare she would be.

Then again, as bad reviews go, that one is pretty impressive.

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Your … ¿Tweet? … of the Day?

In truth, I haven’t any criteria for a Tweet of the Day, but, still:

Question: Do you really want to know what that means?

Still, though, Pfeiffer’s response is well pointed; given the nature and potentials of this (ahem!) “scandal”, it does not seem anything the White House would want to touch with a ten-foot pole, proverbial or otherwise.