Thursday, March 17, 2011

Doesn't look good

Video of what appears to be a low-level flyover of the stricken nuclear plan in Japan.  The damage is much more widespread and obvious than the photos we've been seeing, probably file photos and videos.

Dumb questions department

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R. TX), a man who is a walking argument for an IQ test for members of Congress, asked FBI director Robert Mueller, "How is your outreach going with Baptists or Catholics?"  Gohmert was trying to question the FBI's overtures to American Muslims, and by implication associate Muslims with violence, disloyalty, whatever.  Clever guy.

Unfortunately, Mueller blew the opportunity, replying lamely that the FBI's citizens academies involve "individuals  from a wide segment" of local communities.

What he should have said was, "Congressmen, we don't need outreach programs to those communities, because they haven't been stigmatized by bigots like you and your political allies."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

No flies on us

The world dithers while Muammar Khadaffi batters the Libyan people.  It's always easy to find reasons to do nothing.  (My favorite is the widely-heard observation that no-fly zones in Iraq and Yugoslavia were followed by more military action.  If that sounds like an attractive piece of reasoning, look up post hoc ergo propter hoc in your dictionary.)

Meanwhile the ever-shifting eye of the MSM has shifted to Japan.

But think of it this way:  If Khadaffi gets his way, more people will die in the Libyan revolt (in a nation of only six or six and one-half million) than in Japan from the earthquake and tsunami.  And probably the nuclear catastrophe, too.  

The difference is, we can do a lot to prevent slaughter in Libya.

NPR under attack

I see that the Rebuplicans in the House are going to vote on denying federal funds to NPR (and, I assume) CPB tomorrow.  If they succeed in this, and in getting the Senate to go along, we leftists will just have go get together and make up the difference.  Then we can turn NPR into the kind of liberal news and cultural outlet that the wingnuts have ways thought it is.

Friday, March 11, 2011


The House Homeland Security Committee, chaired by Rep. Peter King (R, Lon Guyland), began its hearings into the purported radicalization of American Muslims.  TONE is mightily tempted to dilate at length on the absence of hearings on the radicalization of the Rebuplican Party, but it seems more appropriate to remember the words of Joseph Welch to Joseph McCarthy at a similar juncture in our history:
Have you no sense of decency, sir?  At long last, have  you left no sense of decency?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

That sound you heard from Madison last night

was the door closing on Rebuplican hopes to recapture the White House next year.  (The sound was not too loud, because the GOPhers' chances were already slim to the vanishing point.)

I think it's safe to say that Americans don't like bullies.  And if there were any doubt to fair-minded people--who still hold the balance in this country--the Rebuplican steamroller of workers' rights in the Badger State put an end to them.  Not to mention any question about the party's respect for truth.  As a Wisconsinite told talkingpointsmemo:  
It's not just the budget bill needs a quorum -- the big issue is that *any* bill with fiscal implications is supposed to have a quorum in the Wisconsin state Senate. So there are two choices here:
1. Collective bargaining has fiscal implications, and so the bill will be blocked in the courts and ruled unconstitutional.
2. Collective bargaining DOES NOT have direct fiscal implications, and Gov. Walker has been lying this entire time by making the case that it's fiscally necessary.
So either the state R's just passed an illegal bill, or Walker has been lying this entire time and really is just interested in union-busting.
For another example of the Rebuplican respect for truth, see todays NYT.

The trouble with lies is that they catch up with you.  That's why David Mamet has one of his characters say to another in Glengarry Glenross:  "Always tell the truth--it's the easiest thing to remember."

Every day, more Americans come to realize that the GOP stands for three things:  1) Money; 2) Power; and 3) The power of money.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Sometimes there is progress

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has signed a bill--passed by both houses of the legislature--abolishing capital punishment.  He has also commuted the sentences of 15 men on death row.  This is a major step forward--a major state abolishing the death penalty through legislative, not court action.  

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Somebodies being dumb

Mitt Romney is going around the country trying to run away from his past.  Specifically, from his history as governor of Massachusetts.  More specifically, from the healthcare reform that he sponsored, which was one of the progenitors of the national reform that Congress passed in 2009.  

For a smart guy, the Mittster is being remarkably dumb.  The more he tries to avoid his history, the more his opponents will tag him with it; he'll have to spend more time defending himself than he would if he were straightforward.  (Those who followed Mitt's campaign in 2008 will recall that that was a feature of his effort then.  He has not learned from his history.)

Mitt would be smarter to take the opposite tack.  He should say, "The Massachusetts healthcare reform package was imperfect.  So is Obamacare [let him use the word; to digress, I think Democrats should take the name on as a badge of honor].  But it has many good features.  In today's world, everyone needs healthcare, and insurance is the way we pay for it.  No one except an insurance executive wants people to be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.   No one wants a cancer patient to be told that he can't get more treatment, because his insurance has a limit and that limit has been reached.  So, let's reform Obamacare, not repeal it.  And, you know, if you look at my home state of Massachusetts, almost everyone does have health insurance, the state has a lower unemployment rate than most, it did not suffer as much from the recession and it is coming out of the recession better than other comparable states.  The work we did in Massachusetts had a lot to do with that."

Mitt won't say that, of course.  He doesn't have the guts to go against the Rebuplican tide.  And he's probably right that the message I have outlined will not get him the nomination.  But the one he is trying to peddle won't, either, and if by some mischance he is nominated, he'll go down to ignominious defeat against President Obama.  

Oh, and the Rebuplicans are being dumb in their refusal to recognize the need for real reform of the nation's healthcare system.  As in their refusal to recognize reality in so many other forms.  Don't be misled by the mid-term elections:  Americans are waking up to the intellectual bankruptcy of what used to be the Grand Old Party.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

A new motto for the GOP


(See following post for one example.)

Is this the same guy?

As I recall from 2008, Mike Huckabee was a very conservative but decent guy, characterized by good humor and a tolerant attitude. He sure has changed. I'd guess that the presidential bug has really dug deep in him, but maybe this is what comes from too much time hanging around the toxic precincts of Fix Schmooze.

You probably saw this story: Huckabee was asked by a "conservative radio host," Steve Malzberg, about President Obama's background. (Republicans have not paid so much attention to a president's upbringing since Abe Lincoln, "the Railsplitter.") Malzberg, whose grasp of facts is at best shaky, said, " How come we don’t have a health record, we don’t have a college record, we don’t have a birth certificate — why, Mr. Obama, did you spend millions of dollars in courts all over this country to defend against having to present a birth certificate?"

None of those assertions is true, but Huckabee didn't bother to correct his host, or to enhance the radio audience's understanding. Instead he wandered off: I would love to know more. What I know is troubling enough," he began. Then he said, If you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau Revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather.”

That statement, too, is devoid of facts. Mr. Obama did not grow up in Kenya; he did not set foot in that country until he was 26, and then on a short visit. He did not grow up with his father, whom he met only twice after the man left the President's mother when Mr. Obama was a baby. Clearly, he did not hear tales of the Mau Mau at his father's or grandfather's knees.

One of the things notable about this story is Huckabee's amazing ignorance of American history; I mean the guy is a conservative who achieved high office and is seeking an even higher office. But the former governor seems to think there is something essentially different about stories of British imperialists persecuting freedom-loving fathers and grandfathers in Africa from the stories we hear as children, about British imperialists persecuting our forefathers. (Coincidentally, today is the anniversary of the Boston Massacre.)

When it was pointed out that Mr. Huckabee had engaged in fiction, his spokesman, Hogan Gidley, the executive director of the former governor's PAC, said that Huckabee "simply misspoke," and that “he meant to say the president grew up in Indonesia."

Now, that makes sense. It's so easy to confuse a nation in Africa characterized by high plains, large mountains and people with a pastoral background with one strung through Asia on more than 1,000 islands. And who of us has not mistaken the Serengeti Plain for Borneo? Or British overlords with the Dutch?

What really gets to me is the utter contempt for the American people that Huckabee shows. "Simply misspoke?" Huh? At least he could have asserted that he spoke in ignorance--although that is highly unlikely as well; too much thought must have gone into the comment about Kenya and the Mau Mau movement (the leader of which, Jomo Kenyatta, became the first president of an independent Kenya). The fact is that Mr. Huckabee lied (that is, he told a knowing and intentional untruth), and that he tried to cover it up with another lie.

Sadly for the party that gave us Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Eisenhower, this incident is now par for the course for today's Rebuplicans. They have become the Party of Ignorance.

Friday, March 04, 2011


Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as President (for the first time), 150 years ago today.

FDR was inaugurated for the first time 78 years ago today.*

They still live in our hearts.

*The date of inauguration was changed to January 20th during FDR's first term.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The big lie

Guess how much Wisconsin taxpayers are paying for state workers' pensions.

You're wrong. Unless you guessed $00.00. That's right, the Badger State's taxpayers don't pay any part of the pensions. The workers do, because their pensions come out of deferred compensation--that is, money that's owed to them as wages, but that they have elected (through their collective bargaining agreements) to defer and put into the pension system.

It is true that taxpayers would have to make up shortfalls if the projections of payouts fall short (i.e. retired workers live too long). But that is the product of short-sighted public officials who made overly-optimistic projections to make the deal seem sweeter to employees. (The plans are defined-benefit plans; if Gov. Walker really wants to save money down the road, he should negotiate with public workers so that new contracts, or perhaps newly-hired workers, go into less generous defined-contribution plans. But then again, saving money isn't what he's really about.)

You can read the details here, from, and a further commentary here, from, of all places.