Republicans hammer defense nominee Chuck Hagel

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-01-2013-05-2008


Republican Chuck Hagel, President Obama's choice for defense secretary, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican senators hammered former GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel at his confirmation hearing Thursday on issues ranging from Israel and Iran to his support for a group that advocates the elimination of nuclear weapons. But with most Democrats in his corner, an unflustered Hagel seems headed for approval as defense secretary.

Biden: New gun controls won’t likely end shootings

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-01-2013-05-2008


First Read: Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged that new gun laws would not “fundamentally alter” the likelihood of another mass shooting, though he insisted there has been a “sea change” in American views on guns in the wake of Newtown.

Congress sends Obama bill to raise debt ceiling

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-01-2013-05-2008


FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, file photo, the dome of the Capitol is reflected in a skylight of the Capitol Visitor's Center in Washington. The Senate Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, took up must-do legislation to permit the government to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars more to meet its obligations, putting off one Washington showdown even as others loom in coming weeks. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress passed must-do legislation Thursday to permit the government to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars more to meet its obligations, averting a first-ever government default that had loomed as early as mid-February.

Senate approves debt limit extension, sends to Obama

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-01-2013-05-2008


First Read: The Senate approved a three-month suspension of the debt limit on Thursday, sending it to the White House for President Barack Obama’s likely signature.

The conservative bubble and the immigration debate

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-01-2013-05-2008


I know this has made the rounds quite a bit, but I still laugh every time I read it:

Scarborough recalled just how wrong Republicans, and many mainstream pundits, had been about the outcome of the election. He, too, he said, fell for the conventional wisdom in the final weeks, that Mitt Romney was riding a wave of momentum, with his big campaign crowds as ultimate proof. His source for this judgment? “[Uber-pundit] Mark Halperin called me and said, ‘I’ve never seen anything like it!’”

If we ever needed more evidence that Halperin is a moron, this removes all doubt. I mean, at the time reporters covering the campaign were reporting things like this:

Enthusiastic crowd, but hard not to notice the rows of empty seats at the back of this Romney rally in Virginia Beach. #2012
@sppeoples via web

Steady stream of people leaving Romney rally in the middle of his speech. Maybe it’s the cold, but energy level low in Ohio. #2012
@sppeoples via web

Throw in Romney’s consistent deficits in battleground polling, and it’s hard to see how Halperin could’ve been so gushing. Halperin had really never seen anything like this? Didn’t he pay attention to the McCain campaign in 2008?

But this is the right-wing movement we’re talking about, so Halperin’s fact-bereft deceits didn’t stay with him. He shared them with Joe Scarborough, supposed smart conservative. And did Scarborough ask for empirical data to support Halperin’s enthusiastic delusions? Of course not! They’re conservatives! Facts are too liberal.

So instead, Scarborough parroted Halperin’s predictions that Romney would win based on Halperin’s shitty and selective memory of what he’d seen. And it wasn’t just him, but the entire conservative movement. And remember, they weren’t echoing a guy with a track record of being right, but one who has consistently proven to be full of shit. I mean, remember when he argued that McCain’s “I don’t know how many houses I own” gaffe was a bad thing for Obama campaign?

You’d think conservatives would learn their lesson and be less willing to disregard data that contradicts their worldview, but that won’t happen anytime soon. Look at the debates over global climate change, or guns, or—as we’ll see below the fold—even their future prospects if they continue standing in the way of immigration reform.

Hagel and U.S. as ‘world’s bully’ — in context

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-01-2013-05-2008


Former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel got into a back and forth with freshman Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, over remarks Hagel made during an appearance on a call-in talk show on Al Jazeera.

Old Reagan home to be demolished in secret Obama plot, probably

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-01-2013-05-2008


President Obama with Nancy Reagan

The plot thickens …

This is one of those things that seems a little too artsy, on the part of the universe, to really be believed: A Chicago apartment building that Ronald Reagan once lived in, as a very young tot, is slated for demolition. It’s going to become a parking lot for the University of Chicago Medical Center, which is ironic because Reagan was pretty into paving things over, himself, and probably would be just fine with it.

Okay, so here’s where the artsy part comes in. According to the latest righty theories, this probably has something to do with Obama, and with the university hating Ronald Reagan, and almost certainly something to do with Rahm Emanuel. I mean, how could it not?

While the university is planning to kill Reagan’s home, University of Chicago is also aggressively lobbying to be the site of President Barack Obama’s presidential library. […]

First Lady Michelle Obama and the president’s close advisor Valerie Jarrett are former top executives of the University of Chicago Medical Center. President Obama was a lecturer at the law school for twelve years. And let’s not forget, Obama’s Hyde Park home is here too.

This is still Chicago. Barack Obama’s Chicago. Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago.

It is safe to say that Democrats don’t want any reminders of a Republican president named Reagan and his glory days a stone’s throw from a future Obama Presidential Library.

Better to raze the building now, than later. But do they have the right to erase Ronald Reagan from Chicago history?

Wow. Okay, I really have no particular opinion on whether this particular building should or should not be a shrine to Saint Ronald Reagan, the plucky lil’ president whose every policy has now been discarded by his own admirers because, c’mon, the guy was so liberal he was practically a communist. Imagining that Rahm Emanuel, Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett are all in a plot to bulldoze the building in order to erase the memory of toddler Reagan, however—now that’s old-school, 1990s conspiracy stuff.

I give Darrell Issa two, three weeks tops before he schedules a committee hearing on this one.

NRA’s opposition to universal background check shows just how unreasonable it plans to be

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-01-2013-05-2008


The federal government estimates that as much as 40 percent of gun sales nationwide are between private parties. These require no federal background check. Just released from prison after finishing a sentence for second-degree murder? Or for a rape at gun point? Or for assault and battery? No problem. Just show up at a gun show with the cash and walk away with a wheelbarrow full of ammo and firearms.

But the National Rifle Association says we don’t need no stinking background checks. All right, that wasn’t quite the way Wayne LaPierre explained it in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday. But close enough. The million-dollar-a-year executive vice president of the NRA told the senators: “My problem with background checks is you’re never going to get criminals to go through universal background checks.”

Malarkey. And LaPierre knows it’s malarkey. But that never stopped him from repeating ludicrous claims when the NRA was riding high.

In fact, according to the FBI, its National Instant Criminal Background Check System has kept 700,000 ineligible Americans from buying firearms from licensed dealers over the past decade. Some felons obviously do try to buy guns from licensed dealers. The number of denials would no doubt have been higher had some states, egged on by the NRA, not withheld gun-related criminal and mental illness data from the feds.

In California, which has the strictest state-level gun-control laws in the nation, 600,000 guns were sold in 2011. About one percent of people who tried to buy guns from a licensed dealer were rejected when background checks were run on them. That means some 6,000 people who tried to buy guns were barred because of felony convictions or mental health adjudications. And you can be certain many others did not even try to buy a gun over the counter.

How many lives did this save? How many other violent crimes did it prevent? Unknown. But it would take a lot of dishonest juggling to claim that the number was zero.

(Continue reading below the fold.)

Midday open thread

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-01-2013-05-2008


  • Today’s comic is YOU are a computer criminal! by Ruben Bolling:
    Comic - YOU are a computer criminal!
  • Hot science talk:

    Neuroinformaticians from Radboud University Nijmegen provide a mathematical model for efficient communication in relationships. Love affair dynamics can look like a sinus wave: a smooth repetitive oscillation of highs and lows.

  • Do you have a green thumb and a willingness to walk on the not-entirely-legal side? Here’s a job for you:

    Wanted: A green thumb with extensive knowledge of the black, or at least gray, market.

    As Washington state tries to figure out how to regulate its newly legal marijuana, officials are hiring an adviser on all things weed: how it’s best grown, dried, tested, labeled, packaged and cooked into brownies.

  • Have you seen this mouse?
  • Aw. Sad:

    George Zimmerman is running out of money to pay for his legal defense, his lawyers say on a website set up to solicit donations.

  • Uh … what?

    Montana State Rep. Jerry O’Neil (R) is sponsoring a bill to allow defendants to “bargain with the court” to receive “corporal punishment in lieu of incarceration.”

  • I’m no camper, but I’m pretty sure manly man camping does not involve craft cocktails:

    The Wilderness Collective is a company that specializes in curating artisanal manliness by coordinating expeditions that invite robust young gentlebros “to find out what [they] are made of; to be measured by the wilderness.” For $2,500 ($3,500 with bike rental), you can “reclaim masculinity through adventure.” Included in the cost is a videographer on-hand to record the masculine rebirth for sick Facebook videos. […]

    And once camp is broken, out come the “craft cocktails and artisan food.”

    We were dead tired but our headlights guided the way through these twists and turns all the way through to this second camp. and when we showed up the craft cocktails and the Artisan food and there were such welcome friends under this endless starry sky.

  • Eleanor Roosevelt’s love letters are breathtakingly beautiful.
  • On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, we had Greg Dworkin on yesterday’s Senate hearing and Newtown’s town hall, plus the “controversy” over whether or not 12/14 parents were heckled. The crazy stories keep pouring in, too. Did you know dropping your gun in the bathroom is the new hotness? Also: state nullification of federal gun laws, and how to build better gun policy. Then, spending cuts vs. growth, and the looming sequestration.

Stephen Lynch enters Democratic primary in Massachusetts Senate special election

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-01-2013-05-2008


Stephen Lynch’s introductory video

Well, blargh. After hemming and hawing and even contradicting published reports saying he’d run for Senate, conservative Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch finally launched his campaign in the special election to succeed John Kerry. And Lynch’s preferred campaign message is exactly as chip-on-the-shoulder as you’d expect. Indeed, seeing as he begins the race way behind in the polls against fellow Rep. Ed Markey, Lynch’s only hope is to go negative. He’s off to a fast start:

“It will be an uphill fight for me, but the fight is worth fighting. Shame on us to allow someone to clear the field, box out all the other candidates, and buy the election,” said Lynch, in an apparent reference to Markey….

Lynch says Markey is an “insulated person” after 38 years in Congress.
@mlevenson via Twitter for iPhone

“People don’t like the Democratic establishment… And I think that helps me,” lynch says.
@mlevenson via Twitter for iPhone

Lynch says Markey backed by “the Washington crowd” and won’t “shake things up.”
@mlevenson via Twitter for iPhone

In addition to attacking Markey, Lynch undoubtedly will try to run to his right. Here’s the first taste:

Lynch says Brown “appealed to a certain group that I might appeal to as well.”
@mlevenson via Twitter for iPhone

Never mind that Elizabeth Warren handily beat Scott Brown without trying to clone his most cloying attributes, as Lynch would prefer to do. In any event, the person Lynch is appealing to most right now is Brown himself, since the Republican former senator has to be licking his chops at the prospect of a nasty primary between the two Democrats. Brown still hasn’t announced a decision, but surely this development can only make his entry more likely.

So what should Markey do now? Fortunately, he has two advantages: He’s got a lot more money than Lynch, and he’s got a terrific progressive profile. (For the progressive case against Lynch, see BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski.) I don’t think Markey has to go negative. Rather, he can and should tout his credentials loudly in order to lock down the liberal vote, which still constitutes the majority of the primary electorate, despite what Lynch may believe. Lynch of course will have his union allies, but in a statewide primary like this, there are lots of votes out there for Markey to unearth.

Oh, and put up your freakin’ website already. That would help.