Snipe Hunt

Sen. Richard Burr decided to use the Friday news dump to snipe at veterans groups for not automatically siding with the GOP in their jihad against VA Secretary Eric Shinsheki.  You remember him, don’t you – the guy that tried to tell the Bush administration that they were woefully unprepared for Iraq and got canned for it?  The GOP does, and once he was named VA Secretary, it was only a matter of time before the long knives came out.  Burr figured that the vets groups would join in the GOPTea dogpile, and when they didn’t, decided to spoil their weekend by spewing a squid cloud of hurt feelings and castigation:

“It became clear at the hearing that most of the other VSOs attending appear to be more interested in defending the status quo within VA, protecting their relationships within the agency, and securing their access to the Secretary and his inner circle. But to what end? What use is their access to senior VA staff, up to and including the Secretary, if they do not use their unprecedented access to a Cabinet Secretary to secure timely access to care for their membership? What hope is there for change within the VA if those closest to the agency don’t use that proximity for the good of veterans across our country?

I believe the national and local commanders of every VSO have the interests of their members at heart, and take seriously their commitment to their members and their organization. Unfortunately, I no longer believe that to be the case within the Washington executive staff of the VSOs that testified. Last week’s hearing made it clear to me that the staff has ignored the constant VA problems expressed by their members and is more interested in their own livelihoods and Washington connections than they are to the needs of their own members.

I fear that change within the VA will not be possible unless and until these organizations also reconsider their role as well as the nature of their relationship with VA.”

Bear in mind that the leadership that Burr is throwing rocks at is in DC and is well aware that the GOP loves some veterans, until they need something that costs taxpayer dollars, or until helping them gives doesn’t make President Obama look like the worst person in the universe.  The organizations singled out wasted no time in telling Burr to know his role:

The VFW:

“…will afford you the same amount of respect you showed for the Veterans of Foreign Wars by the monumental cheap-shot and posturing you’ve engaged in by enlisting in an absolutely disgusting ambush style of politics.

***

Senator, this is clearly one of the most dishonorable and grossly inappropriate acts that we’ve witnessed in more than forty years of involvement with the veteran community and breaches the standards of the United States Senate.

***

I suggest you compare the more than exorbitant number of days off you receive, including virtually the entire month of August…and certainly not a single five-day work week to the often time long, arduous hours they put forth every week of the year…We don’t act in grabbing a headline or securing an interview on cable news; our only agenda is to ensure that the veterans of this nation receive timely and adequate healthcare.  If you have issues I suggest you contact one of us directly.”

BOOM.

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Requiem For The FerengiMedia™

President Obama, last night:

“You’ll hear if you watch the nightly news or you read the newspapers that, well, there’s gridlock, Congress is broken, approval ratings for Congress are terrible. And there’s a tendency to say, a plague on both your houses. But the truth of the matter is that the problem in Congress is very specific. We have a group of folks in the Republican Party who have taken over who are so ideologically rigid, who are so committed to an economic theory that says if folks at the top do very well then everybody else is somehow going to do well; who deny the science of climate change; who don’t think making investments in early childhood education makes sense; who have repeatedly blocked raising a minimum wage so if you work full-time in this country you’re not living in poverty; who scoff at the notion that we might have a problem with women not getting paid for doing the same work that men are doing.
“They, so far, at least, have refused to budge on bipartisan legislation to fix our immigration system, despite the fact that every economist who’s looked at it says it’s going to improve our economy, cut our deficits, help spawn entrepreneurship, and alleviate great pain from millions of families all across the country. “So the problem…is not that the Democrats are overly ideological — because the truth of the matter is, is that the Democrats in Congress have consistently been willing to compromise and reach out to the other side. There are no radical proposals coming out from the left. When we talk about climate change, we talk about how do we incentivize through the market greater investment in clean energy. When we talk about immigration reform there’s no wild-eyed romanticism. We say we’re going to be tough on the borders, but let’s also make sure that the system works to allow families to stay together…

“When we talk about taxes we don’t say we’re going to have rates in the 70 percent or 90 percent when it comes to income like existed here 50, 60 years ago. We say let’s just make sure that those of us who have been incredibly blessed by this country are giving back to kids so that they’re getting a good start in life, so that they get early childhood education…Health care — we didn’t suddenly impose some wild, crazy system. All we said was let’s make sure everybody has insurance. And this made the other side go nuts — the simple idea that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, nobody should go bankrupt because somebody in their family gets sick, working within a private system.

So when you hear a false equivalence that somehow, well, Congress is just broken, it’s not true. What’s broken right now is a Republican Party that repeatedly says no to proven, time-tested strategies to grow the economy, create more jobs, ensure fairness, open up opportunity to all people.”

I can already hear Chuck Todd whining from here.

A Time To Stand

North Carolina’s legislative session starts today, and with it comes the near-certainty of even more destruction at the hands of the NeoConfederates in Raleigh.  Moral Mondays will also return:

As in 2013, the Moral Mondays will have a uniquely Southern tone, evoking the civil-rights movement of the 1960s. While the Rev. William Barber II, president of the state NAACP, has stressed the ecumenism of the protests—embracing Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and non-believers—they will nonetheless be steeped in the language and cadences of African-American Protestantism. This reflects a deliberate calculation to wrest the religious high ground away from conservatives.

We’re taking the Bible back from the extremists,” says the Rev. Curtis Gatewood, a state NAACP community organizer, who quotes from the Old Testament, Isaiah 1:10:

Woe to those who make unjust laws… to deprive the poor of their rights.”

With Thom Tillis beating back a TeaPublican challenge for the right to face Sen. Kay Hagan in November, the siren song of “moderate” will be floated to see if anyone other than the Nice Polite Republican crowd is stupid enough to bite.  There’s been a lot of damage done here since McCrory’s statehouse win, but in a state that counts the likes of Virgina Foxx, Patrick McHenry, and Renee Ellmers among its footsoldiers and the thoroughly detestable Art Pope as the moneyman, the phrase “stop hitting yourself” isn’t metaphorical.  There is evidence, however, that the true nature of the GOP is reaching a wider audience:

Likewise, the NAACP has pushed into traditionally conservative regions of North Carolina—including Mitchell County in the Appalachian Mountains, where an overwhelmingly white crowd packed an Episcopal church last fall to listen to Barber’s message and interrupt with the occasional “amen.”

It is unbelievable,” Gatewood says of these allies in places like Mitchell County. “They’re exemplifying enthusiasm that’s moving faster than some of our traditional NAACP leaders. When you’re coming against teachers, [people in conservative strongholds] have got relatives who are teachers. When you’re coming against people who are unemployed, some of them lost jobs at no fault of their own.”

In employing a scorched-earth policy against their enemies, the GOP has created even more adversaries – people who can see the harm GOP policies cause because they are being directly affected by (and better informed about) them.  If that pattern continues and expands, we stand a chance of setting the state back on its rightful path.

UPDATE: This from Bendal at Balloon Juice:

...they passed a 2 year budget last year so this year is supposed to only be about ‘tweaking’ the budget to adjust things. Not this time.

As a result of their disastrous cutting of corporate income taxes and the tax rate on the very rich last year, NC is now $450 million short of projected revenue. We have a mandated balance budget; they have to do one of two things; raise taxes or cut spending to balance the budget. They could dip into ‘unspent revenue’ or the rainy day fund to fill the hole, but since they just replenished the RDF last year I wonder if they’ll deplete it so soon. In addition, there’s a $150 million Medicaid hole that has to be filled, and the governor wants to give teachers and state employees a pittance of a pay raise (it’s an election year after all). A 1% pay raise for state employees equals $300 million more that they don’t have, so we’re now up to around $900 million if the legislature agrees to the pay raises (they won’t though).

What’s left to cut? Not a whole lot; education and social programs will be slashed further, and some legislators are talking about cutting the corporate tax rate even MORE, which won’t change anything this year but will make things much worse next year, when we’re expected to have a $200+ million deficit again. This is exactly what our conservative legislators want, though; they talked last year about “starving state government” and no doubt are sharpening their knives already.

If you want to have a state left at all, you need to vote.

Quivering Rage Heap Flambé

Jon Stewart takes on Boko Haram, the Nigerian government, and Rush Limbaugh:

Perfect.

Whatchu Talking ‘Bout, Tillis?

Specifically, he’s paying homage to an old classic, “Let’s You and Them Fight!”:

There is so much fail packed into this vid it’s hard to pick a starting point.  Let’s start with the point that this is the so-called “Establishment” GOP candidate – probably because he declined to actually wear a hood during this appearance.  Make no mistake about it, he’s every bit the raging lunatic the GOPTea Party loves – just tones it down enough for public consumption (perfect for those who think that Cliven and Sterling are beyond the pale only because of their coarseness, and also totebaggers searching for that ever elusive “moderate” Republican).

Next, let’s look at this bit of foolishness (emphasis mine):

What we have to do is find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance … We have to show respect for that woman who has cerebral palsy and had no choice, in her condition, that needs help and that we should help. And we need to get those folks to look down at these people who choose to get into a condition that makes them dependent on the government and say at some point, “You’re on your own. We may end up taking care of those babies, but we’re not going to take care of you.” And we’ve got to start having that serious discussion.

OK, so he wants to show respect to someone who is “obviously” disabled – neatly forgetting that a great many Americans suffer from disabilities that aren’t visible to the naked eye – are people who use benefits in public to be interrogated to see if they’re “worthy?”  Second, encouraging certain of the citizenry to look down on others is a GOP staple, and in the long run benefits neither those looking down nor those being looked down upon – it’s all crabs all the way down at that point.  Of course, when you’re the one holding the pot, you can even brag to the crabs that you’re doing the boiling – and the GOP voters will likely chip in for the butter.

There’s only one way Tillis and others like him are going to be beat – and that’s by a candidate that will run on the ACA instead of running away from it.  Kay Hagan, speaking at the Burwell confirmation hearing:

While Republican senators mostly went through the motions with their anti-Obamacare talking points or outright endorsed Burwell as Kathleen Sebelius’s replacement, Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) used her time to trumpet the benefits of Medicaid expansion — and emphasize the downside of not expanding.

Left unsaid, but strongly implied, was that her opponent, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, who locked up the GOP nomination earlier this week, had been instrumental in stopping the state from expanding Medicaid under the law.

“Last year in North Carolina, our state legislature and governor decided against expanding the state’s Medicaid program,” Hagan said as she started her questioning, “and as a result, about 500,000 people who would have qualified for coverage through Medicaid are not now able to do so.”

“These are some of the most vulnerable in our society,” she said, “who will continue to seek care in emergency rooms and then will leave chronic conditions unmanaged, which we know is detrimental to their health and the economy.”

There are many in the state that have been shocked and appalled at what McCrory, Pope, and company have done to the state since the 2012 election; if enough of these voters get behind Hagan, she stands a good chance of winning reelection.  But she can only win if she stays on her current course – should she start playing Blue Dog, she will lose.  She can win without the bigots, but she won’t win without the rest of us.