“It all points to a culture of political intimidation. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that the culture of intimidation is simply confined to the Executive Branch. The Administration’s allies in the Senate are trying to intimidate their political opponents as well. What I’m talking about, is the persistent threat by the Majority to break the rules of the Senate in order to change the Rules of the Senate—in other words, to use the nuclear option—if they don’t get their way.
WASHINGTON — A Tennessee congressman who supports billion of dollars in cuts to the food stamp program is one of the largest recipients of federal farm subsides, according to new annual data released by a Washington environmental group.
Using Agriculture Department data, researchers at the Environmental Working Group found that Representative Stephen Fincher, a Republican and a farmer from Frog Jump, Tenn., collected nearly $3.5 million in subsidies from 1999 to 2012. The data is part of the research group’s online farm subsidy database from which the group issues a report each year.
In 2012 alone, the data shows, Mr. Fincher received about $70,000 in direct payments, money that is given to farmers and farmland owners, even if they do not grow crops. It is unclear how much Mr. Fincher received in crop insurance subsidies because the names of people receiving the subsidies are not public. The group said most of the agriculture subsidies go to the largest, most profitable farm operations in the country. These farmers have received $265 billion in direct payments and farm insurance subsidies since 1995, federal records show.
During debate on the farm bill in the House Agriculture Committee last week, Mr. Fincher was one of the biggest proponents of $20 billion in cuts to food stamps in the legislation. At times he quoted passages from the Bible in defending the cuts.
“We have to remember there is not a big printing press in Washington that continually prints money over and over,” Mr. Fincher said during the debate. “This is other people’s money that Washington is appropriating and spending.”
Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, said that Mr. Fincher was being hypocritical. “Not only is he advocating deep cuts to other people’s money while he is getting subsidies, he also voted to increase the subsidies that he benefits from,” Mr. Faber said.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Fincher did not respond to a request for comment.
Michele Bachmann was the muse for a new romance novel called Fires of Siberia, to be published June 1, about a fiery presidential candidate who tries to bone up on her foreign policy credentials only to get stuck in the wilderness with a sexy stranger. “Inspired by the life of Tea Party leader and Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Fires of Siberia is an old-fashioned bodice ripper romance that brings the heat for the 2013 summer beach reading season,” touts publisher Badlands Unlimited.
Badlands Unlimited is not your traditional romance novel publisher. It’s run by New York artist Paul Chan, and offers an eclectic mix of titles, from a collection of Saddam Hussein’s early speeches to a set of 1964 interviews with Marcel Duchamp, which includes audio files on iTunes. Badlands Unlimited’s website says it publishes ebooks “Because you can’t publish a .GIF on paper,” plus “reading an e-book on e-readers like the iPad or Kindle means you only have to use one hand to read, freeing your other hand to do whatever you please.” Or, in the fancier words of the Los Angeles Review of Books, “As a publishing outfit, they are blurring the distinctions between art press, curatorial experiment and publishing industry gambit, while putting out a series of works that are strange enough individually, but seem even stranger when grouped together under the same moniker.”
So Fires of Siberia might not be so much a sexy romance inspired by a plucky congresswoman as a political book in a funny format. The author, Tréy Sager, is a poet whose prior works include Dear Failures and O New York. That being said, the press release indicates the book follows romance novels’ classic formula (1. Bring a couple together, 2. Tear them apart, 3. Emotional justice). It says:
Presidential candidate Danielle Powers, full of firebrand pluck and red state sex appeal, has the country in a tizzy. But on an international tour to beef up her foreign policy experience, disaster ensues—her plane explodes over Siberia. Miraculously, Danielle survives, along with one other passenger—a mysterious stranger named Steadman Bass. Trapped in a wilderness of snow and ice, the two begin a journey that pushes Danielle to the brink. There she must confront her deepest self and choose between civilization and a wild, primitive ecstasy.
The Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in Virginia has called the Constitution’s original clause to count blacks as three-fifths of a person an “anti-slavery amendment.”
In an April 28, 2011 statement while he was a Senate candidate, conservative minister and lawyer E.W. Jackson held up the three-fifths clause as an “anti-slavery” measure. The context of his statement was to attack President Obama after a pastor at a church service he attended referred to the three-fifths clause as a historical marker of racism.
“Rev. [Charles Wallace] Smith must not have understood the 3/5ths clause was an anti-slavery amendment. Its purpose was to limit the voting power of slave holding states,” Jackson, an African-American, said in his statement.
An atheist state lawmaker tasked with delivering the opening prayer for this afternoon’s session of the House of Representatives asked that people not bow their heads.
Democratic Representative Juan Mendez, of Tempe, instead spoke about his “secular humanist tradition” and even quoted author Carl Sagan.
“Most prayers in this room begin with a request to bow your heads,” Mendez said. “I would like to ask that you not bow your heads. I would like to ask that you take a moment to look around the room at all of the men and women here, in this moment, sharing together this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people in our state.”
There’s a link to a video of Mendez’s statement at the link above.
Today, Sen. Steve Smith tried to undo whatever horrible consequences were going to befall Arizona for this transgression:
An atheist lawmaker’s decision to give the daily prayer at the Arizona House of Representatives triggered a do-over from a Christian lawmaker who said the previous day’s prayer didn’t pass muster.
Republican Rep. Steve Smith on Wednesday said the prayer offered by Democratic Rep. Juan Mendez of Tempe at the beginning of the previous day’s floor session wasn’t a prayer at all. So he asked other members to join him in a second daily prayer in “repentance,” and about half the 60-member body did so. Both the Arizona House and Senate begin their sessions with a prayer and a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
“When there’s a time set aside to pray and to pledge, if you are a non-believer, don’t ask for time to pray,” said Smith, of Maricopa. “If you don’t love this nation and want to pledge to it, don’t say I want to lead this body in the pledge, and stand up there and say, ‘you know what, instead of pledging, I love England’ and (sit) down.
“That’s not a pledge, and that wasn’t a prayer, it’s that simple,” Smith said.
Which then had its own backlash:
Rep. Jamescita Peshlakai, who represents a northern Arizona district on the Navajo reservation, did take offense. She said Smith’s criticism of another member’s faith, or lack of it, was wrong.
“I want to remind the House and my colleagues and everybody here that several of us here are not Christianized. I’m a traditional Navajo, so I stand here every day and participate in prayers,” even without personally embracing them, said Peshlakai, D-Cameron. “This is the United States, this is America, and we all represent different people … and you need to respect that. Your God is no more powerful than my God. We all come from the same creator.”
Those last two excerpts come from this article. Worth a click to read the rest.
Here’s what the Arizona Senate did after Smith’s double prayer:
A little religion could soon go a long way in avoiding unpopular government mandates.
The Arizona Senate passed a trio of bills Wednesday that seek to lower property taxes for religious institutions and make it easier for some people to sue over the First Amendment, much to the chagrin of civil liberties and secular groups who claim Arizona lawmakers are violating the U.S. Constitution by favoring the faithful over non-believers.
The Republican majority passed the bills amid opposition from Democratic lawmakers and with little debate. The legislation was backed by the powerful Center for Arizona Policy, which wields significant influence over conservative lawmakers in the Legislature.
Opponents of the measures argue religious institutions shouldn’t receive special privileges not afforded to all Arizonans. They claim the bills seek to legalize discrimination and to stall the ongoing battle to extend equal rights to gay and secular communities.
I hope those bills don’t have a prayer.
Pope Francis rocked some religious and atheist minds today when he declared that everyone was redeemed through Jesus, including atheists.
During his homily at Wednesday Mass in Rome, Francis emphasized the importance of “doing good” as a principle that unites all humanity, and a “culture of encounter” to support peace.
Using scripture from the Gospel of Mark, Pope Francis explained how upset Jesus’ disciples were that someone outside their group was doing good, according to a report from Vatican Radio.
“They complain,” the Pope said in his homily, because they say, “If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” And Jesus corrects them: “Do not hinder him, he says, let him do good.” The disciples, Pope Francis explains, “were a little intolerant,” closed off by the idea of possessing the truth, convinced that “those who do not have the truth, cannot do good.” “This was wrong … Jesus broadens the horizon.” Pope Francis said, “The root of this possibility of doing good – that we all have – is in creation”
To which I’ll add this as my personal comment on the topic:
Not only is it a Green Company, It’s a successful Green Company.
Cue the wing nut outrage.
In an extraordinary admission, Attorney General Eric Holder has told Congress that U.S. drone strikes since 2009 have killed four Americans — three of whom were “not specifically targeted.”
For all the effort that the Obama administration has gone to in asserting that its drones only kill the people that the administration intends to kill, Holder wrote in a letter today to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) that Samir Khan, 16-year-old Abdulrahman Awlaki and Jude Kenan Mohammad were “not specifically targeted by the United States.” The fourth American to die in a drone strike since 2009 was Abdulrahman’s father Anwar Awlaki, a radical propagandist whom the U.S. killed in Yemen in 2011.
The five-page letter, obtained and published by Charlie Savage of The New York Times, does not explain the circumstances that led to the unintentional killings of Khan, Mohammad and the younger Awlaki. Holder does not apologize for the killings, nor explain whether their deaths resulted from errant targeting, mistaken identity or another circumstance.
But after acknowledging that the administration did “not specifically targe[t]” those three Americans, Holder defended killing Americans the administration believes to be members of al-Qaida without due process, a constitutionally questionable proposition.
Chairman and Rush Limbaugh as Director of Communications.”
In comes John McCain, Obama’s newest ally, along with Susan Collins to chide the actions of the conservative senators as bizarre and unprecedented. He’s right. It is unprecedented for new members of the Senate to take a leadership role in defending the country from the bipartisan statism that he has propagated so fervently over the past two decades.
It’s about time we send some reinforcements to our guys. We’re going to have solid opportunities in red state like Alaska, Kentucky, Louisiana, South Carolina, Arkansas, Montana, Nebraska, and South Dakota - just to name a few. There are already some solid prospects on the horizon. The real question is if the professional conservatives are going to blithely ignore another primary cycle and let McCain and his ilk destroy the party.
It’s from last week; I should’ve paged it then.
After the previous essay on Benghazi, I got a bunch of email.
The gist of which is best summed up as:
Okay, Benghazi, fine, whatever. Fine. But what about the IRS thing? Huh, what about that? How are you going to defend your boy Obozo on that, huh? Huh? It’s Obumer’s Watergate, Man, he’s going down! Impeachment! Impeachment!
The IRS scandal.
You mean the IRS scandal where not one, not a single one, of the targeted conservative groups requesting 501(c)3 or (c)4 designations were denied tax exempt status despite being engaged in blatantly political activities in direct violation of the intent of the tax code? You mean the IRS scandal where not one of the targeted organizations were denied their rights as citizens of the United States or, in point of fact, were not harmed in any way? You mean the IRS scandal where no actual laws were broken? Where there was no actual cover up? And where the IRS itself found the problem and corrected it and then reported it to the American people?
You mean that “scandal?”
Folks, there’s a scandal here alright, starting with the one where hysterical conspiracy mongering conservatives in Congress will now use this non-issue as yet another excuse for obstructionism, yet another excuse to beat their fleshy chests in a pity party of make-believe persecution while managing to avoid doing any of the actual work they supposedly get paid for.
* And I only say “Semi-Nothingburger” because there’s an couple interesting aspects about the situation that should be looked into: profiling and keywords due to volume (had how to do that without overmuch bias), an understaffed and underfunded agency, and other stuff.
I wonder… What aspects of the situation, from a rational standpoint, can other Lizardim add?