Friday, December 20, 2013

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) I’ve stayed quiet about the whole Duck Dynasty thing because, frankly, it doesn’t interest me: a bunch of publicity-hungry morons willing to sell their souls for a shot at a TV show that’s watched by millions of other soulless morons who aren’t worth the very air they breathe holds little attraction for me. Less so that a loud-mouthed idiot said something to a magazine that should have come as no surprise (Hello! Redneck!) to anyone.

But now, the story has taken on a dimension that does intrigue me. It’s now come down to a twin-barrel argument, a power play on one hand and a “free speech” issue on the other.

Let me dismiss the easy one: one side or the other will blink. My guess is A&E will cancel the show outright, and the DD folks will sign a deal with CMT or some other redneck network that features yahoos whose last lines will usually be “Hold my beer, will ya?”

The free speech issue is a pretty easy one to dismantle too. Yes, Phil Robertson has every right to be as stupid, ignorant and pig-headed as he wants, and I support his right to be a total asshole.

I don’t have to pay for him to have a podium from which to speak, however. My cable (actually, dish) payment each month goes in part to funding his lifestyle, and feeding his ego. This is why A&E was right to suspend him: he will cost them money.

So if the rest of the Wyatt Family want to stomp off in protest, there’s the door. Use it. That’s a freedom I completely support.

2) Scott Brown is a hairy chested carpetbagger.

3) This could turn into a full-blown diplomatic crisis.

4) The scary part of this story is that people outside of Manhattan are now being forced to come to grips with this problem.

5) Following up my story from yesterday, Putin has freed another prisoner who’s time was well overdue.

6) “I’ll do everything I can to regain your trust…except resign

7) Well, that explains how those pictures of me ended up online…

8) Oh, Daily Caller…never change. Idiots.

9) Robots…it had to be robots…

10) Finally, for my friends who celebrate, please enjoy a monstrously great Christmas and I hope you can find peace in your day. For my friends who do not, enjoy the Peking duck!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Imma Guess the Olympics Has Claimed Another Victory

Now if we can only get Putin to change his mind about teh gheys:

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's parliament on Wednesday passed an amnesty bill that will likely apply to the 30-member crew of a Greenpeace ship detained after an Arctic protest, but it wasn't immediately clear if and when the activists would be allowed to leave the country.

The amnesty, which also would likely free the two jailed members of the Pussy Riot punk band, has been largely viewed as the Kremlin's attempt to soothe criticism of Russia's human rights records ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February. But opposition lawmakers argued it doesn't go nearly far enough and the complicated legislation appeared to leave many questions open.

The State Duma on Wednesday voted 446-0 in favor of the carefully tailored bill, which mostly applies to those who haven't committed violent crimes, first-time offenders, minors and women with small children. Lawmakers said they expect about 2,000 people to be released from jail.

I think it’s fair to speculate that Putin is trying to inoculate his administration ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi next year, as those tend to be a focus on the host nation’s politics, and to deflect some of the ugliness over not only the atrocious human rights record with respect to the LGBT community, but his slap in the face at America by allowing Edward Snowden asylum.

Of course, with Putin, there’s always another level to go to before you get the complete story:

Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to provide Ukraine with more than $15 billion in aid is much more than a show of support for embattled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. It is a political masterstroke that undermines the Ukrainian opposition and gives Russia more control over its neighbor than ever before.

And of course, all this happened ahead of the US announcement of their Sochi delegation. I like Obama’s strategy here: if he went or he sent an administration official, it would signal to the world that we don’t take Russia’s oppression seriously. By sending an undeniably world-famous pair of athletes in Billy Jean King – openly gay—and gold medal figure skater Brian Boitano – well, there are rumours… -- along with Caitlin Cahow and Janet Napolitano, we send a diverse and important team of representatives and while it’s a distinct snub, it’s hard to argue that Obama or Biden should go.

It’s sad that politics and sport have to commingle in this fashion, but it’s hard to segregate sports from politics in any circumstance but particularly when it comes to American Exceptionalism.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Red Light, Green Light, 1, 2, 3...

So it seems that the historic bi-partisan budget deal in the House last week – historic, in that it’s been years since we didn’t just pass a Continuing Resolution to fund the government –  is falling on enough deaf ears in the Senate to be a problem:

The prospect that the budget would clear the cloture hurdle brightened Monday, when three GOP senators -- Orrin Hatch of Utah, Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia -- announced that they would vote yes. A fourth, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, expressed his support on Sunday. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona also said they would vote in favor of cloture last week. 

But unlike in the House, where Speaker John Boehner aggressively battled conservative groups trying to kill the bill, GOP leaders in the Senate are signaling opposition, or at least resistance, to the package.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has not said which way he will vote Tuesday, but he is widely expected to oppose the measure. Similarly, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas announced his opposition Monday morning on his campaign's website -- a step his Senate office was unwilling to take. It was later deleted after reporters from The Associated Press asked for confirmation of a Cornyn quote that appeared on the Internet site

"Senator Cornyn opposes this budget deal because it breaks previously set spending caps and goes in the 'wrong direction' with regards to entitlement spending," according to the post. His Senate spokeswoman, Kate Martin, would only say that Cornyn would take "a close look" at the measure and is "concerned" that it reverses some of the spending cuts won in a hard-fought 2011 budget pact.

Interesting. It appears that hard-line conservatives in the Senate have drawn a line in the sand. The political implications of this are larger than the legislative implications (the bill overcomes any filibuster and becomes law, with minor amendments).

For one thing, the Republican nominee-apparent, Paul Ryan (by dint of running as the Veep candidate with Mitt Romney) was one of the driving forces behind this deal. The thinking on his part had to include a calculation of the national political implications of being out in front of a bi-partisan budget bill ahead of an election that will likely feature Chris Christie, who’s main attraction is his ability to bring Democrats on-board with his agenda.

A defeat of the bill would hamper Ryan in ways that can’t even begin to be described, well beyond the public embarrassment of the exercise. Ryan has effectively run up against the other part of the political equation here: the fact that the Teabaggers have threatened to primary Republicans by the bushel if they don’t genuflect more to the right wing of the party. Senators in red states can’t afford that, since many of them already will have a fight on their hands – you can gerrymander districts, but it’s hard to gerrymander an entire state – in the general election with the backlash from the government shutdown and the general perception that they aren’t working for us, but for special interests and their own grip on power.

A primary fight could devastate campaign coffers, particularly if the likes of Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers decide to get involved. This is not a guarantee, however. Adelson seemed frustrated with the 2012 results of his spending and the Kochs have already pined for what they have ignited.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell already faces a primary challenge ahead of his encounter with what appears to be an Alison Lundergan Grimes candidacy, who polls extremely well in her state and already has funding pouring into her campaign. He can’t afford this risk, but he also can’t afford to stand up against a bill the House Speaker pushed on him.

So right now, we’re watching an huge game of “Red Light Green Light” on Capitol Hill: Senators running up to mics, only to freeze right after they speak. A sound bite for the campaign, and a vote to move the country forward, however haltingly.