Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

Karl Rove Is Tweetin’ Mad

Posted in Democrats, politics, Republicans by allisonkilkenny on March 11, 2009

oxyrushKarlRove: In the face of our enormous economic challenges, top WH aides decided to pee on Limbaugh’s leg. http://tinyurl.com/d8w6ad #TCOT #SGP

Um, Karl? The reason Dems are attacking Rush is because he’s the only so-called Coservative even offering the slightest hint of an ideology or plan for the future for his party.

The rest of the Repubs are throwing hissyfits over earmarks, and shrieking at the thought of biapartisanship. At least Rush is trying to lead the disenchanted masses. Granted, the direction is off a cliff, but still…

Make My Filibuster

Posted in Barack Obama, politics, Republicans by allisonkilkenny on March 2, 2009

David R. RePass

filibuster2PRESIDENT OBAMA has decided to spend his political capital now, pushing through an ambitious agenda of health care, education and energy reform. If the Democrats in the Senate want to help him accomplish his goals, they should work to eliminate one of the greatest threats facing effective governance — the phantom filibuster.

Most Americans think of the filibuster (if they think of it at all) through the lens of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” — a minority in the Senate deeply disagrees with a measure, takes to the floor and argues passionately round the clock to prevent it from passing. These filibusters are relatively rare because they take so much time and effort.

To reduce deadlock, in 1917 the Senate passed Rule 22, which made it possible for a supermajority — two-thirds of the chamber — to end a filibuster by voting for cloture. The two-thirds majority was later changed to three-fifths, or 60 of the current 100 senators.

In recent years, however, the Senate has become so averse to the filibuster that if fewer than 60 senators support a controversial measure, it usually won’t come up for discussion at all. The mere threat of a filibuster has become a filibuster, a phantom filibuster. Instead of needing a sufficient number of dedicated senators to hold the floor for many days and nights, all it takes to block movement on a bill is for 41 senators to raise their little fingers in opposition.

Historically, the filibuster was justified as a last-ditch defense of minority rights. Under this principle, an intense opposition should be able to protect itself from the tyranny of the majority. But today, the minority does not have to be intense at all. Its members have only to disagree with a measure to kill it. Essentially, the minority has veto power.

The phantom filibuster is clearly unconstitutional. The founders required a supermajority in only five situations: veto overrides and votes on treaties, constitutional amendments, convictions of impeached officials and expulsions of members of the House or Senate. The Constitution certainly does not call for a supermajority before debate on any controversial measure can begin.

And fixing the problem would not require any change in Senate rules. The phantom filibuster could be done away with overnight by the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid. All he needs to do is call the minority’s bluff by bringing a challenged measure to the floor and letting the debate begin.

Some argue that this procedure would mire the Senate in one filibuster after another. But avoiding delay by not bringing measures to the floor makes no sense. For fear of not getting much done, almost nothing is done at all. And what does get done is so compromised and toothless to make it filibuster-proof that it fails to solve problems.

Better to risk a filibuster — an event that, because of the great effort involved, would actually be rare — than to save time and accomplish little or nothing.

It also happens to make a great deal of political sense for the Democrats to force the Republicans to take the Senate floor and show voters that they oppose Mr. Obama’s initiatives. If the Republicans want to publicly block a popular president who is trying to resolve major problems, let them do it. And if the Republicans feel that the basic principles they believe in are worth standing up for, let them exercise their minority rights with an actual filibuster.

It is up to Mr. Reid. He can do away with the supermajority requirement for virtually all significant measures and return majority rule to the Senate. This is not to say that the Democrats should ride roughshod over the Republicans. Republicans should be included at all stages of the legislative process. However, with the daunting prospect of having to mount a real filibuster to demonstrate their opposition, Republicans may become much more willing to compromise.

David E. RePass is an emeritus professor of political science at the University of Connecticut.

VIDEO: Republican Elephant Gives Birth to Healthy Baby Boy

Posted in politics, Republicans by allisonkilkenny on March 1, 2009

2006-03-10dsepiawebThis is how bad things are in the Republican Party. The following 3-minute clip from 13-year-old Jonathan Krohn is considered the “highlight” of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC.) That’s right, this whining, vaguely condescending stump speech (complete with funny voices) from a child is the highlight of CPAC.

Don’t get me wrong, Jonathan has exceptional stage presence, and wrote a good speech about the so-called moral righteousness of the Republican party. I don’t really want to pick on Jonathan here. Who I really want to tear apart is the Republican party.

Really, guys? THIS is the best you can do? Things must be really bad over there in Republicanland if you’re putting all your Hope Eggs in the basket of a child, even though he is very brainwashed well-trained intelligent. You know he won’t be able to run for president for another twenty-two years, right?

It is very appropriate that the Republicans are now turning to a wunderkind as their messianic leader. They already tried an old, white dude, a woman, and not one (but TWO!) men of color, and nothing has reversed the course of their party’s renegade locomotive from speeding toward that cliff. It’s almost like their ideology of deregulation and fucking the poor is, like, not working or something.

Quick, THROW THE KID UP THERE! I’M THINKING! WHY AM I THINKING?! Put him in a little suit!!!

Watching Jonathan do his thing up there, I couldn’t help but feel deeply satisfied. It was like someone had ripped open William Kristol, Rush Limbaugh, or Newt Gingrich, and the screaming, petulant child that lives inside streaked out. The Republican party has finally become a living metaphor of itself: a lost, little boy, who thinks he’s a cowboy, and who really believes a society can be built upon an ideology of selfishness.

I saw Jonathan’s CPAC debut as more than a pageant. I felt like I was watching the Republican elephant give birth to the culmination of all its years of irresponsibility, greed, immorality, and pathetic tough-guy grandstanding.

Here he is, Republicans. Your new, baby boy:
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VIDEO: Bobby Jindal: Chronically Stupid

Posted in politics, Republicans by allisonkilkenny on February 28, 2009

Update (May 6, 2009): Amity Shlaes linked to this article in her most recent Bloomberg.org article. I respond to her accusations that bloggers are afraid to debate here.bobby-jindal-blog.jpg

Note from Allison: The stupidity just keeps rolling in, and I’m loving it.

Talking Points Memo

Well, it just gets better and better. As you know, we’ve been tracking the debunking of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s tall tale about being right there on the front lines fighting government bureaucracy with Sherif Harry Lee while the boat rescues were still taking place in the aftermath of Katrina. Well, today, the New Orleans Times-Picayune has a gentle but pretty clear run-down of what happened.

In so many words, in Jindal’s speech Tuesday night he said he was there and part of the story as it unfolded — Sherif Lee was trying to mobilize civilian boats for roof-rescues and government bureaucrats wouldn’t let them head out without proof of insurance and registration. Lee put his foot down and dared the bureaucrats to come arrest him. And when Jindal put his foot down too Lee said they should come arrest Jindal too.

Only, Jindal’s staff now admits that that actually didn’t happen. Instead of being there and being part of the story, Jindal’s reps now admit that days later Jindal overheard Lee telling the story to someone else. And Jindal retold the story he’d been told while inserting himself into it as part of the story.

It’s not really any different from a lot of tall tales we’ve probably all heard at one point or another when someone takes a fun story they’ve heard and retells it making themselves one of the central characters.

Now, Jindal’s reps are still in high dudgeon over this, saying Jindal was totally on the level, claiming some mix of it not making any difference whether Jindal made up his role in the story or not or that what Jindal actually said was never meant to imply that he was part of the story rather than someone who heard about it later. But that’s pretty preposterous if you look at what Jindal actually said.

But now there’s this. TPM Reader EA just flagged this youtube video that appears to show Jindal telling the same story last year, only with even more embroidery about his own part in the drama ..

Watch the video here

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Because It Needs Repeating.

Posted in politics, Republicans by allisonkilkenny on February 27, 2009

Soooo…this really happened.

"I speak Jive!"

"I speak Jive!"

After a long day at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele gave a speech asserting that the party is “alive and well.”

Although he emphasized that the conservative movement must become a revolution and transform America, he conceded that the party had made mistakes: “We know the past, we know we did wrong. My bad. But we go forward in appreciation of the values that brought us to this point.”

According to CNN, Steele was then praised by Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

As Steele concluded his remarks, Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann — the event’s moderator — told Steele he was “da man.”

“Michael Steele! You be da man! You be da man,” she said.

###

In related news

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Bobby Jindal’s Weird Past

Posted in politics, Republicans by allisonkilkenny on February 26, 2009

Max Blumenthal 

Alex Brandon / AP Photo

Alex Brandon / AP Photo

Did you know about the exorcism? The name that came from The Brady Bunch? Those and other surprising facts about one of America’s fastest rising young politicians.

Last night, on the evening of President Barack Obama’s first major speech, the Republicans put forward Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal as the face of the opposition, tapping him to deliver their response. As a 37-year-old Indian-American Rhodes Scholar, the first-term governor presented a deliberate visual counterpoint to Obama. His folksy speech last evening is meeting with mixed reviews. But with GOP politicians already jockeying for the 2012 primary, Jindal is emerging as a top contender.

“From the insiders I’m talking to, Jindal’s in the top three, right next to [Sarah] Palin and [Mitt] Romney. He’s the rock star of the Republican Party right now,” says Jeff Crouere, the former executive director of the Louisiana GOP and host of daily political talk show Ringside Politics.

“Whenever I concentrated long enough to begin prayer, I felt some type of physical force distracting me,” Jindal reflected. “It was as if something was pushing down on my chest, making it very hard for me to breathe…”

But as the country gets acquainted with the Bayou’s boy wonder, the stranger details of Jindal’s religious or personal background remain largely unknown, even among the Republican grassroots. How many Americans know that Jindal boasted of participating in an exorcism that purged the spirit of Satan from a college girlfriend? So far, Jindal’s tale of “beating a demon” remains behind the subscription wall of New Oxford Review, an obscure Catholic magazine; only a few major blogs have seized on the story.

Born in Baton Rouge in 1971, Jindal rarely visited his parents’ homeland. His birth name was Piyush Jindal. When he was four years old, Piyush changed his name to “Bobby” after becoming mesmerized by an episode of The Brady Bunch. Jindal laterwrote that he began considering converting to Catholicism during high school after “being touched by the love and simplicity of a Christian girl who dreamt of becoming a Supreme Court justice so she could stop her country from ‘killing unborn babies.’” After watching a short black-and-white film on the crucifixion of Christ, Jindal claimed he “realized that if the Gospel stories were true, if Christ really was the son of God, it was arrogant of me to reject Him and question the gift of salvation.”

Jindal’s Hindu parents were non-plussed. “My parents have never truly accepted my conversion and still see my faith as a negative that overshadows my accomplishments,” he wrote. “They were hurt and felt I was rejecting them by accepting Christianity… I long for the day when my parents understand, respect and possibly accept my faith. For now I am satisfied that they accept me.” (In a subsequent interview with Little India, Jindal claimed his parents were “very supportive. They felt like it was important that I was embracing God.”)

During his years at Brown University, Jindal pursued his Catholic faith with unbridled zeal. Jindal became emotionally involved with a classmate named Susan who had overcome skin cancer and struggled to cope with the suicide of a close friend. Jindal reflected in an article for a Catholic magazine (called “Beating a Demon: Physical Dimensions of Spiritual Warfare”) that “sulfuric” scents hovered over Susan everywhere she went. In the middle of a prayer meeting, Jindal claimed that Susan collapsed and began convulsing on the floor. His prayer partners gathered together on the floor, holding hands and shouting, “Satan, I command you to leave this woman!”

While under the supposed control of satanic demons, Susan lashed out at Jindal and his friends. “Whenever I concentrated long enough to begin prayer, I felt some type of physical force distracting me,” Jindal reflected. “It was as if something was pushing down on my chest, making it very hard for me to breathe… I began to think that the demon would only attack me if I tried to pray or fight back; thus, I resigned myself to leaving it alone in an attempt to find peace for myself.”

Toward the conclusion of what Jindal called “the tremendous battle between the Susan we knew and loved and some strange and evil force,” Jindal and his friends forced Susan to read passages from the Bible. “She choked on certain passages and could not finish the sentence ‘Jesus is Lord.’ Over and over, she repeated “Jesus is L..L..LL,” often ending in profanities,” Jindal wrote. Finally, evil gave way to the light. “Just as suddenly as she went into the trance, Susan suddenly reappeared and claimed ‘Jesus is Lord.’ With an almost comical smile, Susan then looked up as if awakening from a deep sleep and asked, ‘Has something happened?’”

During the 2006 gubernatorial campaign, the campaign of Jindal’s Democratic opponent, incumbent Gov. Kathleen Blanco, attempted to inject his religious views into the race by running an ad promoting a website called JindalonReligion.com, which featured his essay about participating in an exorcism. However, Jindal immediately fired back, denouncing the commercial as an assault on his faith and on the deeply religious culture of Louisiana. “Jindal turned that one around and tried to play the victim before [the Democrats] could get any traction,” Crouere told me. “Then the Blanco campaign just backed off”

Though Crouere is a Republican, he harbors strong doubts about Jindal. To him, the young governor is still too green for the national stage. “I just find it odd that the GOP seems to have as its savior a guy who has been in Congress for three years and governor for one year,” Crouere said. “The same criticism that was leveled against Obama for being untested could easily be leveled against Jindal.”

Because Obama entered the presidential campaign without an extensive political track record, the video histrionics of his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah “God Damn America” Wright, remained unexposed until the middle of the Democratic primary. Could similar exposure of Jindal’s tales of “spiritual warfare” complicate his ascendancy as well? “The Louisiana Democrats don’t really have their act together, and weren’t able to get the word out,” Crouere remarked. “I still don’t think a lot of people are aware of the nature of Jindal’s religious background.”

Max Blumenthal is a senior writer for The Daily Beast and writing fellow at The Nation Institute, whose book, Republican Gomorrah (Basic/Nation Books), is due this spring. Contact him at maxblumenthal3000@yahoo.com.

Discuss.

Posted in politics, Republicans by allisonkilkenny on February 17, 2009

The Contraception Freakout

Posted in politics, Republicans, women's rights by allisonkilkenny on January 26, 2009

American Prospect

originalI’ve never bought the idea that opposition to abortion is solely about controlling women’s bodies. I’ve just known too many people who were genuinely sincere in their religious beliefs that abortion is wrong. But I’ve seen little evidence that conservatives’ hostility to contraception, to methods that prevent unwanted pregnancies and therefore abortions, from taking place, could be anything else. Steve Benen writes, via Elana Schor, that Republicans are opposed to money in the stimulus bill that would help state governments assist low-income women in getting contraception coverage:

What’s being proposed is an expansion in the number of states that can use Medicaid money, with a federal match, to help low-income women prevent unwanted pregnancies. Of the 26 states that already have Medicaid waivers for family planning, eight are led by Republican governors (AL, FL, MS, SC, CA, LA, MN and RI — a ninth, MO, had a GOP governor until this past November). If this policy is truly a taxpayer gift to “the abortion industry,” as John Boehner and House Republicans claim, where are the GOP governors promising to end the program in their states? 

Additionally, the process of obtaining a waiver for Medicaid family-planning coverage is extremely cumbersome. A letter written by Wisconsin health regulators in 2007 noted that some states have had to wait for as long as two years before their request was approved. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that eliminating the waiver requirement would save states $400 million over 10 years.

Beyond the fact that this policy would save the government money in the long run (a finding from the same office that didn’t produce that report on the stimulus), are Republicans really arguing that unwanted pregnancies don’t result in a significant financial burden for families that are already struggling in an economy that’s likely to get worse? What’s the moral justification for denying them the choice of preventing pregnancies they don’t want? That having sex should be predicated on yearly income?

— A. Serwer
 


“I won” — Barack Obama

Posted in Barack Obama, Democrats, Economy, politics, Republicans by allisonkilkenny on January 23, 2009

Good for him.

Talking Points Memo posted a story about Chuck Todd (the poor man’s Tim Russert) wringing his hands over the lack of bipartisan results in the stimulus bill currently sitting in committee.

We’re sitting here watching Robert Gibbs’ White House briefing. And there is a long string of questions about whether Obama can really working in a bipartisan manner if no Republicans are saying nice things about the stimulus bill or voting for the mark-ups out of committee. And Chuck Todd just asked whether Obama would veto a stimulus bill that came to his desk that hadn’t gotten Republican support.

That would be quite a moment.

And Obama’s response to more spineless, moderate Democrat whining?  

Politico

President Obama listened to Republican gripes about his stimulus package during a meeting with congressional leaders Friday morning – but he also left no doubt about who’s in charge of these negotiations. “I won,” Obama noted matter-of-factly, according to sources familiar with the conversation.  

Well, knock me over with a fucking feather. Was that tough talk from a Democrat? More, please.

Jeb Bush: GOP Should Set Up “Shadow Government”

Posted in Republicans by allisonkilkenny on December 2, 2008

Jeb Bush
Jeb Bush

Via ThinkProgress, in an interview with NewsMax, President Bush’s brother Jeb says the Republican party should not cave to a Democratic majority. Rather, they should set up a “shadow government” to provide a counter-agenda.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush tells Newsmax that the GOP must broaden its appeal to avoid becoming “the old white-guy party,” and recommends that Republicans create a “shadow government” to engage Democrats on important issues as the incoming Obama administration seeks to enact its agenda.
In a wide-ranging interview with Newsmax, the popular former governor and younger brother of President George W. Bush said the 2008 election was neither “transformational” nor a landslide. For example, he noted that Barack Obama’s significant fundraising advantage over John McCain played a key role in Democratic success this year.

Bush urged Republicans not to abandon their core conservative principles in favor of a “Democratic-lite” agenda. Still, the GOP does need to do some real soul-searching, he said.

“If you take the [last] two election cycles, there’s real cause for concern, no question about it,” he said.

There is good news for Republicans, Bush said: The United States remains “basically a center-right country.” He cited President-elect Barack Obama’s stance on taxes as an example.

The party should establish a loyal opposition and “organize ourselves in the form of a shadow government” that would address key issues, providing the public with “a loftier debate about policy” rather than mere partisanship.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE
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