Sunday, May 19, 2013
You have to say this for Barack Obama: When he fires somebody, it's fast, and it's brutal. Kind of like a drone strike.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on the other hand, has no such surgical precision. Just this past Friday, he said there was no way Nigel Wright, his chief of staff, did anything illegal by giving a glad-handing Tory Senator $90,000 to cover his inappropriately billed travel expenses. Nope, Nigel wasn't going anywhere.
Until today. Suddenly, poof — Nigel's gone.
Hmmm, resigning on a Sunday. With a press release. Did the PMO think no one would notice? But of course, the written statement did rush to declare that Harper was not "advise[d]" on what Nigel was doing with his checkbook. That, they want you to remember.
We cats think Stephen Harper has a rough week ahead of him. Because if Nigel thought he could spare his boss some grief by skedaddling today — well, let's just say Wright was wrong.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Yes, we know that the marriage equality fight in France has been riven with discord, but now it is the law of the land. And we'd like to think that freedom fighters like Rick Blaine would approve. So, let the destination weddings begin!
Is there anything more American than Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds with an umbrella? Singin' In The Rain is the iconic symbol of Yankee "pick-yourself-up-dust-yourself-off" ingenuity and spunk.
So why is the famous quitter from Alaska — not to mention the rest of the right-wing blogosphere — railing against umbrellas?
We'll tell you why: Because President Obama used one the other day.
What were we cats just saying about the Republicans jumping the shark? We're sorry, but getting sheltered from the rain is something that goes along with the office of President of the United States. It also comes with being the Queen of England, and Augusta golfers, and Winston Churchill.
We thought that the famous quitter from Alaska, hater of the "lame-stream media" that she is, would have instantly appreciated the fact that the President and the Turkish Prime Minister got umbrellas — while the press had to sit in the open, in the rain.
If this is not a perfect example of how over the top Republicans have gone, we cats don't know what is. Because this will continue to hamper the GOP in their anti-Obamaism, we cats PURR.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Let us cats lead us all into a chorus of appreciation for the notion of restraint.
Why? Because the political arena has had precious little of it lately. And that's where we see the Republican Party shooting itself in the foot.
"If the GOP base is driven into scandal hyperdrive," reports Greg Sargent in The Washington Post, "it 'will strengthen the party factions most dubious about any compromises with Obama,' while weakening the influence of Republicans 'who believe the party must reboot to restore its competitiveness for the White House.'"
Translation: Instead of Obama being crippled by "scandals," the Republicans could further be roiled, divided between the base and Beltway — not just about how to respond to today's events but going into 2014 and '16 as well.
We cats find this delicious. Even though AP and the IRS raise some serious concerns, the GOP is hobbled. Why? Because they've cried wolf too many times. You don't go totally over the top on birth certificates, healthcare reform, debt ceilings, abortion, climate change, sequesters, etc., without paying the price for it later.
If, in the early days of the Obama Administration, the Republicans had only conducted themselves with decorum — if they had accepted the President's social invitations, and agreed to work with him, and adhered to the old rules of Washington politesse (instead of outright accusing him of being a Marxist-Socialist-Kenyan bent on America's destruction) — they might have some credibility today.
But they didn't, and they don't.
Therefore, Louie Gohmert railing against Attorney General Eric Holder yesterday was nothing but a clown show. Gohmert has no dignity — unlike Tom Railsback, Elizabeth Holtzman or Peter Rodino in 1974.
Michele Bachmann using the "I" word is an immediate joke. Who would listen to Michele Bachmann?
Republicans established their nutcase credentials well before any of these juicy "scandal" opportunities came to light. If they had behaved like serious human beings in the past, maybe the world would listen to them today. But, sorry. They've blown it. We cats PURR.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Goodness gracious, but the Beltway gang is in full scandal mode. We cats are already bored with the Republicans and their gleeful hand-rubbing. Thankfully, we see a President who's cleaning house and calling a sideshow a sideshow. We've also noticed that he's getting a little gray — but then, he knew that was going to happen when he ran in the first place, right?
Which leads us to wonder: How gray is Stephen Harper these days?
You'll never see this on American websites, but the Prime Minister of Canada is having a little scandal of his own. It seems that Mike Duffy, a rotund Conservative Senator, improperly claimed reimbursement from the government for expenses incurred while he was — whoops — on a political trip. When he was caught and asked to pay the money back — about $90,000 CDN — Duffy's bank account came up a tad short. So Harper's chief of staff, Nigel Wright, wrote him a personal check.
Gosh. There are so many things wrong with that, we cats can't imagine why a politico with even semi-firing synapses would think it would be okay. "This looks and smells like a cash payout from the Prime Minister's Office," said NDP MP Charlie Angus, hitting the nail square on the head. "This is as about as serious as it gets."
L'Affaire Duffy is still unfolding, but in the meantime, here are some Tory take-aways:
Watch what we do, not what we say. Harper's Conservative Party, ironically enough, blazed their way to victory back in 2006 by exploiting a Liberal scandal.
We're just a chip off the old Republican block. In Harper World, being in power means you can do whatever you want. Sort of like when Karl Rove outed that CIA agent.
Shades of Transvaginal Bob. Harper's team is trying to claim that Wright's check to Duffy was just a personal gift, no big deal. If that doesn't remind us of Bob McDonnell and the shady friend who bankrolled his daughter's wedding, we don't know what does. We cats HISS.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Musings On Minnesota: Maybe 50 States Will Approve Gay Marriage Before Global Warming Destroys Us All
This is so great: The marriage equality bandwagon rolls on. With Governor Mark Dayton's signature, the Land of 10,000 Lakes just became the 12th state in the country to say, geez, yah, let's treat everyone the same, no matter whom they love.
And it's a party! As reported by The New York Times, "Thousands of Minnesotans gathered and cheered in 90-degree weather [as] Mr. Dayton, a Democrat, praised the choices of state lawmakers as changing the course of history...."
Wait — what? Why is Minnesota having 90-degree weather in mid-May? They're practically in Winnipeg!
Let's hope we can solve climate change and survive to celebrate the expanding freedoms enjoyed by our friends in the LGBT community. In the meantime, though, although he lived in another era, we really do think that Minnesota's most famous son, Hubert Humphrey — a storied champion of civil rights — is smiling somewhere.
Disgusted at the IRS? We cats are. Not because we think anything evil has been going on, but because they're dumb. And because we're seeing more maddening fallout from one of the most horrendous Supreme Court decisions ever made: Citizens United.
Yep, you can thank Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy for this one. Here's a quick refresher: These fine gentlemen (note our scratchy tongues planted firmly in our furry cheeks) overturned two lower-court decisions and said it was okay for the conservative group Citizens United to fund an overtly political film — a hissyfitty screed against a certain Presidential candidate. (That candidate was, of course, Hillary Clinton. You can't make this stuff up.)
Earlier rulings had gone the other way because as an ostensibly grassroots education and advocacy organization, Citizens United was forbidden from engaging in activities meant to influence elections. But thanks to the Supremes, it was now not only possible for Citizens United to do as it pleased, it meant that any crazy nutbag political group could form and spend zillions as a "charity" — with little or no transparency or accountability. Think Koch, think Rove — and oodles of other groups looking to evade tax laws and shelter the names of their donors.
As a result, in early 2010 the IRS was inundated with applications from organizations clamoring for tax exemption. Many of them were inspired with hatred and fury for Barack Obama and (at the time) healthcare reform, and had the words "tea party" in their names.
Call us cats apologists, call us naive, call us liberal losers — but we wonder why it would be inappropriate for the IRS to give special attention to organizations that take their names from a famous anti-tax demonstration. Just sayin'.
But, never mind. Our biggest beef with the agency is that — surprise! — they suck at vetting and oversight. In this ridiculous post-Citizens United world, with everyone engaging in everything you can imagine and in an orgy of political secrecy, the IRS should have put the brakes on everybody — everybody — applying for tax exemption.
(Oh, and note to Acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller: It's best to avoid that Reaganesque "mistakes were made" crap. Your use of passive tense in this matter is contemptible and lame.)
UPDATE: Well, you wouldn't know it from the IRS website, but Mr. "Mistakes Were Made" is history. It's interesting to us cats that while most headlines on this side of the Atlantic gingerly describe it as Miller "being asked to resign," our friends in the UK immediately got it right: "Obama Fires IRA Acting Chief." Jolly good.