Note: I am not a high-ranking United States elected official, so unlike Darrell Issa referring to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, it is perfectly fine for me to blatantly call Darrell Issa a liar.
It hasn’t even been two weeks since Rep. Darrell Issa (R – Lying Liartown) got Washington tongues awagging by going on CNN’s “State of the Nation” and telling Candy Crowley that White Press Secretary Jay Carney is a “paid liar” who is not being truthful about the IRS scandal. For one thing, it’s just not done. And, for another, given Issa’s checkered history with the truth, it took some cojones.
While the “paid liar” line was notable in a gossipy DC way, the more significant portion of the interview came when Crowley questioned Issa’s use of cherry-picked transcripts to support his contention that the order to “target conservatives” came from the White House. She first noted, and got him to admit, that what had been released thus far was definitely not a smoking gun to bolster his claim. But don’t worry, said Issa, the proof is there and “these transcripts will all be made public.” Then you’ll all see what lying liars there are in the White House!
Naturally, some of us have started to wonder where those transcripts are and why they haven’t been forth-coming. So when Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, appeared this week on Crowley’s show claiming that the case is closed and citing portions of those same as-yet-unreleased transcripts, she was understandably skeptical. When will we see these transcripts? To which Cummings responded that if Issa doesn’t release the full transcripts within the week, he will do so himself.
Well, yee-haw! We might just get to the bottom of this. But wait.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Tuesday said it would be “reckless” to release full transcripts of interviews with IRS staffers, after the panel’s top Democrat threatened to do so this week. [The Hill]
So when Darrell Issa promises to do something it’s just words, not to be taken seriously (are you listening CA-49 constituents?) And, of course, if a Democrat vows to fulfill that same promise that’s just reckless! Or, if you prefer the translation: Darrell Issa went on national television with a story he wants to be true but can’t prove, so he made things up and promised evidence that doesn’t exist and will never be produced — and he just got called on his bullshit, for all the good that will do any of us.
To be fair, Issa came up with what he apparently believes to be a plausible rationale:
The California Republican also said he feared a full account would tip off involved parties to investigators’ moves.
“The transcript could be used by future witnesses and their attorneys to prepare answers to likely questions, and to devise testimony consistent with the narrative that previous witnesses presented to Committee investigators,” the Oversight chairman said. [The Hill]
Got that? Releasing partial, cherry-picked excerpts from transcripts is good, but releasing the full transcripts would be tipping his hand. (Or so we are to believe.) Poppycock, I say. But even were I to credit this explanation, what are we to make of Issa’s previous promise of full disclosure? Perhaps Cummings puts it best:
“Chairman Issa changes his mind so fast that even when I agree him, we’re not on the same page,” Cummings said. “I fully support responsible oversight, but cherry picking transcript excerpts to fuel partisan and unsubstantiated claims is not a credible or effective way to investigate.”
And the Darrell Issa Circus of Fail plays on…
There has been a tremendous amount of attention lately to the epidemic of sexual assault in our nation’s military. (Rightfully and finally!) The Senate is even trying to do something about it. Or at least some of them are. For instance, Sen. Kirsten Gilibrand ”offered a measure that would give military prosecutors rather than commanders the power to decide which sexual assault crimes to try, with the goal of increasing the number of people who report crimes without fear of retaliation.” A more progressive approach would have both military and civilian oversight, but even Gilibrand’s moderate measure was too much for Sen. Carl Levin.
Mr. Levin, Democrat of Michigan, said he would replace Ms. Gillibrand’s measure — which has 27 co-sponsors, including four Republicans — with one that would require a senior military officer to review decisions by commanders who decline to prosecute sexual assault cases. Although Mr. Levin’s measure would change the current system, it would keep prosecution of sexual assault cases within the chain of command, as the military wants. [NYT]
Ah, well, if it’s what the military wants… Here’s the thing, though: Tailhook took place over 20 years ago. The military and their system of prosecution within the chain of command has had over 20 years to change the culture and pursue justice. And they’ve failed miserably. So forgive me if I don’t really have any confidence that they can get it right this time. Do we give them another 20 years and check back?
Although the move by Levin is infuriating, it is not at all unexpected. Why, just earlier this month, his committee held a hearing to look into the issue of military sexual assault. Guess how many victims testified before the committee — go ahead, guess! Answer: 0. zero. zilch. zip. nada. Not a single one. To make matters worse, of the people who did testify, the deck was clearly stacked: witnesses opposed to reform outnumbered supporters 18 to 2. The bulk of those witnesses were from the military, which unsurprisingly is resistant to any checks on or diminishment of their authority.
So, as my headline asks, what the hell is wrong with Carl Levin? The easy answer is that he has strong ties to the armed forces. But it’s deeper than that. Levin is also one of the few Democrats who essentially blocked efforts for filibuster reform. He simply backs the status quo. Unfortunately, in this case backing the status quo shows a gross insensitivity to the realities of our women in uniform. (Not to mention the very bad optics of pitting himself against a bill to pursue justice for rape and reform the culture of sexual violence in the military sponsored by one of the few women in the Senate.)
Levin is not running for reelection, so there’s that. But we can’t wait until there’s a new chair of the Armed Services Committee — the moment to act is now, while the topic is headline news. Maybe, just maybe, Levin can still be persuaded to do the right thing. Who knows? Stranger things have happened. Take a minute and pick up the phone to let Levin know this is unacceptable. Credo Action even has a handy page with phone numbers and a sample script, find it here. If nothing else, you’ll at least get the vent.
The stories of these ricin letter attacks are strange, aren’t they? First, during the same week as the Boston bombing, we had the spectacle of an Elvis-impersonator being arrested for sending three letters to President Obama, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker, and a Mississippi judge. In the end, all the right-wing’s excitement that a registered Democrat was behind the attack was dashed when we learned he was actually framed by a Republican — a former GOP candidate for office (and child molester), no less.
Now, just weeks later, we have an arrest in a second round of ricin letters, this time sent to New York Mayor Bloomberg, his gun safety organization “Mayors Against Illegal Guns”, and President Obama. No Elvis impersonator this time, but we do have an “actress” who every headline writer in the country is calling the “Walking Dead Actress”. In reality, she’s more a would-be actress and model who has secured a few bit parts with shows filming in her home state of Texas. Turns out, she seems to have been trying to frame her own husband for the attack.
I don’t know quite what to say about the new trend in framing your family, friends and enemies by producing a deadly toxin with no antidote and mailing to it public officials. It seems not very well thought-through, but whatever. Since the arrest of Shannon Rogers Guess Richardson, many on the right have been 1) breathing a sigh of relief, and 2) screaming “Aha! Now you liberals have to admit it wasn’t some crazy gun nut!”
I won’t attempt to speculate on Ms. Guess Richardson’s political motives, if there are any. Chances are, since she’s in Texas, if she is registered, she’s probably a Republican. We’ll see. It doesn’t now appear that Guess Richardson is ideologically motivated. Again, we shall see as more info comes out. But for those relieved that it’s not some “gun nut”, I would just submit the following:
Maybe she’s a gun nut, and maybe she’s not. It probably depends on your definition of “gun nut”. But I’m not quite ready to let gun culture off the hook on this one.
It has been pointed out to me that I failed to post a notice on the blog that I would be on vacation the last week or so. I meant to do so — really! At any rate, I will not be back to posting regularly until Monday. But! To make it up to you, dear readers, I’m posting my super-special recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bran Muffins! (Maybe they need a snazzier name – post suggestions below).
I’ve developed these very carefully and think they are about as perfect as can be. They’re very healthy, packed with fiber, anti-oxidants, and heart-healthy fats. They’re also mighty tasty. The recipe makes 3 dozen at a time, which I know sounds like a lot, but if your family is like mine, they’ll be gone before you know it. They take well to freezing, and I highly recommend doing so. This is for two reasons: 1) you can dole them out from the freezer each day & prevent them from disappearing overnight; and 2) with a big batch, I find the tops tend to get gummy after a while stored at room temperature.
Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bran Muffins
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 4 1/2 cups old fashioned, large flake oats
- 3 cups oat bran (can use wheat bran if you like)
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar or Splenda brown sugar blend
- 2 Tb + 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 Tb +1 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- 3 eggs or 1 cup liquid egg substitute
- 1 cup milk (can use almond milk for fewer calories & sugar, but will get less protein, too – your call)
- 1 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 3 Tb vanilla
- 4 1/2 cups mashed, very ripe banana (approx. 9, depending on size)
- 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350°. Place muffin liners in pans and mist insides with canola spray.
- Mix dry ingredients (flour through walnuts) together in large bowl.
- In separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients (eggs through banana).
- Add wet ingredients to dry. Mix until just combined. Do not over-stir.
- Fold in chocolate chips.
- Pour 1/3 cup batter into each muffin cup.
- Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Cool in pans, on wire racks for 5 minutes before removing from pans.
- Remove and cool completely.
- For storage, wrap each cooled muffin in plastic wrap, and place muffins in gallon-size zip-lock freezer bags. Store for up to 4 weeks.
Enjoy! And I’ll see you back here next week.
Today in idiotic state-level elected officials, we turn our attention to one Representative “Angry Ed” Orcutt (R-Natch) of Kalama, WA. Rep. Orcutt is the ranking Republican on the Washington state house transportation committee. He is the same Washington pol who previously asserted that bicycles pollute worse than cars. (Yes, he’s very good at the “science” thingy.) This week, he’s very concerned about all the people who want to (wrongly) use the collapse of an I-5 bridge over the Skagit River to call for more transportation and infrastructure spending.
Many sharing Orcutt’s views point to the fact that the bridge collapsed after being struck by a truck carrying an over-height load. (As if we should just accept major interstate highway bridges crumbling due to traffic accidents. It’s not like we’re talking about a tanker truck striking the bridge and exploding in a ball of flame, although I would like to think we build bridges to withstand even that.) But Rep. Orcutt goes even further, arguing that it’s not even like the entire bridge fell down! In an email, Orcutt wrote:
[I]t is clear that the reason for the collapse was due to a collision with the super structure of the bridge — not a lack of structural integrity of the bridge. The bridge would indeed be standing today had the truck’s load NOT rammed the super structure of the bridge. In fact, 11 of the 12 sections of the bridge are still standing. [The Stranger]
(Yes, he’s very good at the “logic” thingy.) So just quit the bellyaching about transportation funding — that bridge was fine. It was just a freak accident and nothing we should concern ourselves about elsewhere. But, as The Stranger points out, “The problem is, 92 percent of a bridge isn’t a bridge. And as a result, an I-5 corridor missing just 8 percent of one span is no longer a corridor.”
Mitch McConnell’s operation went hard and heavy against “Hollywood liberal” Ashley Judd when she was mulling a run against him. We should probably expect more of the same treatment for any potential challenger going forward. Polling continues to suggest that dissuading any competition looks to be Mitch’s best hope of hanging on to his seat. This is in deep red Kentucky, mind you, and there’ s bad news for Mitch against another unannounced Democratic candidate:
A new Public Policy Polling survey of Kentucky finds Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes tied in a hypothetical match up at 45%. McConnell’s early positive advertising has done nothing to improve his prospects for reelection and in fact this is the actually the weakest position PPP has found him in yet. In April we found him leading Grimes by 4 points and in December he had a 7 point advantage over her. [PPP]
You see, with an approval rating hovering in the 30′s, McConnell is the least popular senator in the country. Besides dirty tricks from his campaign staff targeting an unannounced Judd two years before the election, McConnell’s response has been to position himself as a roadblock for Democratic policy. Thing is, polling shows it’s his Republican policy positions that may just do him in:
There are strong indications within the poll results that McConnell’s record on key issues will give him trouble getting reelected. 50% of voters say they’re less likely to cast their ballots for him because of his support for cuts to Social Security and Medicare, compared to only 23% who consider that a positive. And 48% say McConnell’s opposition to increasing the minimum wage makes them less likely to vote for him, while just 27% say more likely. [PPP]
What can Mitch do? The kind of high-profile campaign he ran against Judd probably won’t happen, as Graves just doesn’t lend herself to the fund-raising potential of an elite Hollyweird liberal unafraid to publicly call herself a feminist. Still, McConnell has to be looking over his shoulder and sweating bullets. That goes a long way to explaining the ad ‘Team Mitch’ released today, which seeks to exploit the IRS scandal. Unfortunately, it’s also full of lies and deception…
“I think that the leader of the free world and his advisers have better things to do than to dig through other people’s tax returns,” McConnell says in the video, apparently working under the assumption that voters in Kentucky are easily fooled into believing nonsense. (The president never dug through anyone’s tax returns, and doesn’t appear to have had anything to do with the IRS’s tax-exempt office in Cincinnati.)
But it’s the message in the closing seconds that arguably matters most: as the video ends, and viewers see the words “Intimidation. Retaliation. Secretive” on screen, we hear the president say, “We’re going to punish our enemies and reward our friends.”
And that’s a problem, not because Obama said something outrageous, but because McConnell is taking the president wildly out of context in order to mislead the public.
[Steve Benen - Maddow Blog]
That’s some pretty weak sauce for a weak candidate. By demagoguing rather than working to make government functional again, McConnell continues to feed voters’ perception that he’s part of the problem. And that continues to be a big problem for Mitch.