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Texas Senator Ted Cruz speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor in Maryland  February 26, 2015.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR4RBW7
He's feelin' it.
Wow, I so did not need to know that a "Christian rap group" has devoted one of its recent "songs" to supporting Ted Cruz:
Published Wednesday, “Set it on Fire” rhymes in support of a Reagan-style revolution led by the junior Texas senator.

“When power is concentrated centrally and federally/ it creates dependency that’s medically like leprosy.”

Please stop. And technically leprosy would be like things falling off the government, not—
“Collectivism, everyone’s a victim like the reds do,” the song goes. “And for our next president, we’re all in for Ted Cruz.”
Why are you not stopping. What kind of Christians are you?
“Just as many churches in Germany sang louder on Sunday mornings to drown out the sounds of wailing Jews in boxcars on the way to the concentration camps,” the group’s website’s “About” page says, “the majority of pulpits and pews in the American churches have been willfully ignoring the stench of blatant evil rising in this once godly nation.”
Ah. That kind.

Well, there you have it. Ted Cruz has clearly sown up the "people who like Christian rap and comparing things to Hitler" demographic.

Oh, right—no doubt some of you want the link to the song. Yeah, um, no. I don't want that on my conscience. The Politico link above has it, if you have only a few weeks to live and want to just end everything right the hell now.

Also, Ted Cruz couldn't "revolution" himself out of a paper bag, so unless your "revolution" consists of pointless grandstanding and shutdowns of the government for no achievable purpose—which it might—you might want to look for a revolutionary leader whose record of accomplishment consists of something more substantial than demanding everyone else in his party repeatedly shoot themselves in the feet.

President Obama used this week's video address to ask the Senate to quickly pass the USA Freedom Act, a revised but still controversial renewal of some of the now-expiring provisions of the Patriot Act.
Today, when investigating terrorist networks, our national security professionals can seek a court order to obtain certain business records.  Our law enforcement professionals can seek a roving wiretap to keep up with terrorists when they switch cell phones.  We can seek a wiretap on so-called lone wolves—suspected terrorists who may not be directly tied to a terrorist group.  These tools are not controversial.  Since 9/11, they have been renewed numerous times.  FBI Director James Comey says they are “essential” and that losing them would “severely” impact terrorism investigations.  But if Congress doesn’t act by tomorrow at midnight, these tools go away as well.

The USA Freedom Act also accomplishes something I called for a year and a half ago: it ends the bulk metadata program—the bulk collection of phone records—as it currently exists and puts in place new reforms.  The government will no longer hold these records; telephone providers will.  The Act also includes other changes to our surveillance laws—including more transparency—to help build confidence among the American people that your privacy and civil liberties are being protected.  But if Congress doesn’t act by midnight tomorrow, these reforms will be in jeopardy, too.

To read the transcript in full, check below the fold or visit the White House website.
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Repubican presidental candidate Ben Carson announces his candidacy in Detroit, Michigan May 4, 2015. Carson announced in television interviews on Sunday that he is running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination and is expected to hold a formal an
The news that Ben Carson will be continuing give paid speeches for fees of $40,000+ per appearance in spite of being a presidential candidate is, I have to say, unsurprising. While it's unusual, giving paid speeches is what Ben Carson does now. It's that or needlepoint, and Ben Carson is all out of needlepoint.

I do wonder if his famous ability to fit his foot in his mouth is going to complicate things, though:

Candidates who give paid speeches risk violating campaign finance laws, says Larry Noble, senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, a campaign finance legal advocacy group. When Carson now gives a paid speech, he cannot mention his candidacy or refer to his presidential campaign, because if he does so that would make the event a campaign speech from a legal perspective.
... and you're not allowed to give $40,000+ checks to a presidential candidate directly, because until the Roberts court gets around to nixing them there are still laws about that. So Ben Carson has to navigate each one of these speeches without mentioning his campaign once, and this is a fellow who's not known for navigating tricky ground in appearances without having to issue an apology a few days later.

So we'll see. Mind you, it's still possible that Carson isn't serious at all about running for president and is just doing that in order to milk his time in the lucrative conservative speaking circuit for a few dollars more. His campaign hasn't done much, but the fundraising? The fundraising has been going on for years.

I see we're still ignoring the Waco murders to focus on "cartoon contests."
You can draw your own conclusions as to why a bunch of fourth-tier patriots have decided that drawing pictures of Muhammad and showing them to Muslims is the very best way for them to show how much they love freedom. That's going to be their thing, though, so a group of freedom-fighting biker-yokels are converging today at the Arizona mosque that the two Texas cartoon-contest would-be terrorists worshipped at in order to shout and wave those pictures.
In a Facebook event for the contest, entitled “Freedom of Speech Rally Round II,” organizer Jon Ritzheimer wrote, “This is in response to the recent attack in Texas where 2 armed terrorist, with ties to ISIS, attempted Jihad.”
He also asks freedom-lovers to come armed. Not because they want to stir up trouble, just because.
“People are also encouraged to utilize there [sic] second amendment right at this event just incase [sic] our first amendment comes under the much anticipated attack.”
Helpful tip: You can leave out the "sic" when quoting the things that America's most freedom-loving patriots write. If we have to put a "sic" for every error of basic English that the Tea Party Red Dawn Patriot Brigades write on a sign or on Facebook wer gong to be heer awl dayh.

Despite all this, the protest is expected to be peaceful, though stupid. The mosque has asked their patrons to not interact with the group as usual (this is the second protest, not the first) and the police will be there to ensure that none of the Red Dawners get their guns and their crayons mixed up.

Head below the fold for more.

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A U. S. Army soldier mans a .50 caliber machine gun atop a HUMVEE to provide cover fire for fellow soldiers during a search for weapons caches and insurgent forces in a cemetery near An Najaf, Iraq, on Aug. 10, 2004.   DoD photo by Spc. Lester Colley, U.S
This has to be simple tribalism, right?
Going to war with Iraq was the wrong thing to do, American voters say 59 - 32 percent. Republicans support the 2003 decision 62 - 28 percent, while opposition is 78 - 16 percent among Democrats and 65 - 26 percent among independent voters.
That's from a Quinnipiac poll released just this week, and that's a gigantic gap. That the Iraq War still enjoys 60+ percent support among Republicans while Democrats and independent support is only 16 percent and 26 percent respectively only makes sense if (1) the two sides reside in different dimensions, each with a different set of facts or (2) since the Iraq War was a Republican "thing," the wide long swath of the Republican base will continue to think it was a good idea from now until hell freezes over out of simple spite. President Obama could never have gained Republican support for any similarly sized operation in Libya, unquestionably run by a dictator just as rotten and just as linked to terror; President Clinton was pilloried for a far smaller intervention in Eastern Europe meant to staunch what had moved from bloody war to genocide—he was only doing it to distract from his problems here at home, the critics wailed. A trillion dollars, uncountably many dead and a region writhing in the throes of war and terrorism, though, that continues to be a damn fine choice.

There is no doubt some of the Fox effect going on here. In embarrassingly large numbers, Republicans continue to believe that Iraq was involved with 9/11 or that weapons of mass destruction were in fact found, though both were proven false a long time ago; this lack of basic structural knowledge about their own supposed beliefs is endemic among Fox News viewers, thanks to a bevy of self-interested network hosts and guests themselves continuing to prop up such claims regardless of the evidence.

Still, that divide between the Republican base and everyone else is ... pathological. Call it the effects of yellow journalism or call it a stubbornness so strong that the base expects reality to warp itself to conform to them, call it whatever you like. It's nuts.

Figures of President Barack Obama with the word
'Divisive rhetoric', and so on.
Ya think.
A Pennsylvania newspaper has apologized for printing a Memorial Day letter to the editor that called for a "regime change" and the execution of President Obama. [...]

"The Daily Item apologizes for our failure to catch and remove the inappropriate paragraphs in the letter directed at President Obama," the editorial said. "We will strive to do better in the future." [...]

In the editorial apologizing for the letter, the Sunbury Daily Item notes that their "readers and critics have reacted in force, as they should have." Many of those critics no doubt were directed to the paper by Daily Kos user sfinx, whose story on the letter resulted in a flood of complaints to the paper.

The paper's explanation for how the letter slipped through the usual vetting process is, perhaps, instructive:

The straight forward reason the letter headlined “What is a Ramadi?” appeared is no bells went off when the editor handling the letter read it and placed it on the opinion page.

Nearly a decade of provocative and divisive rhetoric may have inured us to language that calls the president of the United States “the coward-in-chief” and the disrespectful use of the president’s first name. Both those elements are common to corners of the mediascape, having been uttered by commentators and candidates for president.

Fox News program discussing Iran deal. Chyron: 'OBAMA'S DEAL WITH THE DEVIL'
James Fallows:
Let me recommend for your weekend reading, or for your weekday reading if you’re seeing it then, a detailed study by Bruce Bartlett called “How Fox News Changed American Media and Political Dynamics.” You can download the 18-page PDF from this site of the Social Science Research Network. [...]

Bartlett’s accumulation of detail [shows] (a) that Fox’s core viewers are factually worse-informed than people who follow other sources, and even those who don’t follow news at all, and (b) that the mode of perpetual outrage that is Fox’s goal and effect has become a serious problem for the Republican party, in that it pushes its candidates to sound always-outraged themselves.

As Fallows says, none of this is particularly new news. But Bartlett collects past analysis on the phenomenon into one tidy package, and as a longstanding cog in the Republican machine he approaches the problem from the standpoint of someone who sees genuine damage being done to the cause. He approvingly cites Columbia University political scientist Lincoln Mitchell's 2012 election autopsy:
Fox has now become a problem for the Republican Party because it keeps a far right base mobilized and angry, making it hard for the party to move to the center or increase its appeal, as it must do to remain electorally competitive....One of the reasons Mitt Romney was so unable to pivot back to the center was due to the drumbeat at Fox, which contributed to forcing him to the right during the primary season. Even after the primary season, when Fox became a big supporter for Romney, the rift between official editorial position and the political feelings of Fox viewers and hosts was clear.

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2003Rumsfeld backtracks on WMD claims:

Before the war, Rumsfeld was so sure that Iraq had WMDs, that it disregarded CIA evidence to the contrary and formed his own little in-house intelligence agency to butress the claims.Now even he has to admit that perhaps he was wrong.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has suggested publicly for the first time that Iraq may have destroyed chemical and biological weapons before the war there, a possibility that senior U.S. officers in Iraq have raised in recent weeks.

Rumsfeld has repeatedly expressed optimism that it is just a matter of time, and of interviewing enough senior Iraqi scientists and former government officials, before military teams uncover the illicit arms that President George W. Bush cited as a major reason for attacking Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein's rule.

While Rumsfeld repeated that assertion Tuesday, he added, "It is also possible that they decided that they would destroy them prior to a conflict." Major General David Petraeus, commander of the army's 101st Airborne Division, now in northern Iraq, mentioned the same possibility two weeks ago.

Given that WMDs were the administration's primary justification for war (as it made Iraq a clear and imminent danger), is the realization that no WMDs existed mean that all the death in the conflict was for naught?How can Bush justify the death of 18-year-old Army private David Evans, who leaves behind his three-month-old son?

On Sunday and Monday seven other brave Americans, like Evans, were sacrificed at the altar of Bush's incompetence and political opportunism. And there is no end in sight. (We may have suffered four more losses today.)

Tweet of the Day
If billionaires are buying candidates, they should give them vanity names, like Foster's Pride, Sheldon's Tiny Dancer, or Kissing Koch.

On today's encore Kagro in the Morning show is our 5/29/14 episode. Greg Dworkin rounds up then news. More from Kinsley. Why he's wrong. EPA to regulate emissions by executive authority, and the likely fallout. Terry Lynn Land is terrible. McConnell fares no better. And could Andrew Cuomo be a test case for pulling Hillary left? Want to help Charles Gaba (aka Brainwrap) help MI? Gun news roundup: a public AR-15 whoopsie; WalMart #GunFAIL nearly took out a newborn infant; more bullets fly in Isla Vista. Conclusion of Andrew O'Hehir's "The empire strikes back," and the start of Eben Moglen's "Privacy under attack" set us up for some serious discussion of the national security state.

High Impact PostsTop CommentsThe Evening Blues

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Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks at a town hall meeting on topics ranging from education to U.S.-Israeli relations to business support in Tempe, Arizona May 14, 2015.  REUTERS/Deanna Dent - RTX1D077
Jeb Bush is a "total nerd" for Charles Murray.
ThinkProgress is the latest to review Charles Murray's new book. Yes, that Charles Murray. The one who wrote The Bell Curve and other pseudoscientific efforts supposing that white menfolk have better genes and are therefore superior to everyone else. The one Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush cited as one of his most-liked authors, and someone who "shaped" his views. If you haven't heard, his new book is a real piece of work.

Yes, we have bad news to report: Charles 'Bell Curve' Murray has lost faith in American democracy.

Murray admits that the kind of government he seeks, a libertarian fantasy where much of our nation’s regulatory and welfare state has been dismantled, is “beyond the reach of the electoral process and the legislative process.” He also thinks it beyond the branch of government that is appointed by elected officials. The Supreme Court, Murray claims, “destroyed” constitutional “limits on the federal government’s spending authority” when it upheld Social Security in 1937. Since then, the federal government has violated a “tacit compact” establishing that it would not “unilaterally impose a position on the moral disputes that divided America” (Murray traces the voiding of this compact to 1964, the year that Congress banned whites-only lunch counters).
Please note that Charles Murray continues to be Not Racist, according to his many Republican vouchers-for. The fellow who made his career arguing that white folks were genetically superior to black folks just happens to trace the fall of the republic back to that time when the courts said you couldn't bar black Americans from sitting in your restaurant.

Anyhoo, Murray has a plan to deal with this. His plan—and again, this may be why Jeb Bush likes the cut of this fellow's jib—is to give up on our current doomed government institutions and instead install a fourth branch, which will consist entirely of one fabulously wealthy American (cough, Mr. Koch, cough) ponying up the money to sue the government so often that it cripples government's ability to enforce those laws that Charles Murray that rich person doesn't like.

“The emergence of many billion-dollar-plus private fortunes over the last three decades,” Murray writes, “has enabled the private sector to take on ambitious national or even international tasks that formerly could be done only by nation-states.” Murray’s most ambitious proposal is a legal defense fund, which “could get started if just one wealthy American cared enough to contribute, say, a few hundred million dollars,” that would essentially give that wealthy American veto power over much of U.S. law. [...]

The federal government, Murray claims, cannot enforce the entirety of federal law “without voluntary public compliance.” Federal resources are limited, and only a small fraction of these limited resources have been directed towards enforcement. Thus, Murray argues, by simply refusing to comply with the law and contesting every enforcement action in court, regulated entities can effectively drain the government’s resources and prevent it from engaging in meaningful enforcement.

It's a bit like Ayn Rand's vision of wealthy Americans going Galt, but with more frivolous lawsuits. We have fabulously wealthy people these days, people so wealthy they could break not only our election systems but very the rule of law itself, if they tried; they should do that. Then we wouldn't have Social Security, or anti-pollution laws, or black Americans sitting at Charles Murray's precious damn lunch counter.

Jeb Bush's favorite author, everybody. He's not racist, but he does want rich people to rise up to single-handedly cripple the elected government's ability to enforce established law. You can see why he's got the ear of Republican presidential candidates.

Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich at debate during campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination
This is bad news for Rick Santorum
In the wake of a 2012 Republican campaign season that did not go off as planned, the anti-LGBT religious conservative group run by noted crackpot and birther Bob Vander Plaats is not planning to require conservative presidential candidates to sign an official Family Leader "Marriage Vow" pledging themselves to various tenets of Bob's personal religion. The 2012 version generated considerable controversy because among the planks candidates were asked to sign off on in addition to pledges to not commit adultery and-so-on were statements that Muslims were attempting to impose sharia law in the United States, that homosexuality is a "choice" and a public health risk, and that black American children were better off under slavery.

While presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum eagerly signed the pledge because of course they did, eventual actual nominee Mitt Romney declined, which peeved evangelicals greatly but probably helped Romney look not entirely insane. (An irritated Vander Plaats would go on to endorse Santorum, but not before making the rounds of other candidates in an apparent attempt, according to Republican insiders, to sell his endorsement for cash.

Alas, it looks like there will be no repeat of these shenanigans in 2016. The notion that American children were better off under slavery, etc., so damaged the "Marriage Vow" brand that they don't have the clout to demand candidates sign an updated version. Or, to put a better spin on it:

"One of the reasons why we are not doing it this time is that we saw it as more of a distraction" than as a benefit, Vander Plaats said. "We thought that there were other ways to do this. You know, our opponents want to pick apart things that we do. We want to make sure that the candidates are full-spectrum, pro-family conservatives."

As an alternative, The Family Leader is sponsoring a series of meetings with presidential candidates, Vander Plaats said. Included are four regional leadership forums, a family leadership summit in Ames in July, and a presidential forum in Des Moines in November.

So they won't be requiring candidates to put ink to paper because that didn't work out so well last time around, but they will be requiring candidates to run through a gauntlet of their own sponsored events in order to gain the important and still-coveted Family Leader approval. That should provide ample entertainment, and even more chances for the groveling candidates to humiliate themselves.
Two F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing aircraft ferry from Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma on May 22, 2013.
F-35 fighters over Texas. Because they were built there.
The Boston Globe went to Texas to find out why a large segment of the American population has gone insane, or more specifically, why they are convinced that a military training exercise named Jade Helm is in fact an Obama plot to take over Texas and put his enemies, by which we mean a scattered passel of rural Texas lunatics, into camps. For some reason.

The short and almost depressingly obvious answer is because Obama.

Interviews with residents of this community illuminate the distrust that has developed across deeply conservative America — fueled by anger at the White House and Congress and a sense among many that the federal government is no longer on the side of the people it is dedicated to serve.
Which, I suppose, is a given. If you're the sort of rube who is so hostile to the first black president that you're already willing to believe he's a secret Kenyan, or Muslim, or any of the other things that even sitting congressmen were willing to pipe up with then believing he's going to use his secret Muslim powers to brainwash the military into invading Texas is not much of a step. I wish, however, we put more emphasis on pointing out that people who believe these things are not "conservatives" or "patriots" or any of the other things they wish to be called. They're mostly just deeply stupid.
“What comes home in the conservative consciousness is: The government is hostile to me,” [Bastrop County GOP chair so-and-so] said. “And if he’s already unleashed the IRS on us, is it a big leap to think he’d unleash the military?”
Yes, actually, it is a very big leap—even if you have convinced yourself of the hostile and IRS parts, "and now the military is going to invade Texas" is indeed a leap. It speaks to the mind-set, though; this other fellow is my enemy. Therefore, he is conspiring against me and doing illegal things, and about to do not just illegal things but nation-shatteringly loopy things. Because I am freedomz, and he is not.

It's particularly interesting that this national conviction among conservatives that they are being terribly oppressed comes immediately after a period of wartime rhetoric in which non-conservatives were, literally, called traitors to the country; one change of presidents later and the Texas governor makes noises about his state leaving the country altogether if that same can-do-no-wrong government starts doing things he isn't fond of. These people don't do nuance. When they are in power they proclaim themselves the only true Americans; when they lose an election they are convinced it is precursor to America collapsing entirely.

Head below the fold for more on this story.

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Exxon Mobil CEO Rex W. Tillerson addresses reporters at a news conference at the conclusion of the Exxon Mobil Shareholders Meeting in Dallas, Texas May 27, 2009.  REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES BUSINESS) - RTXOO0T
'Gentlemen: To evil.'
ExxonMobil has a plan to deal with climate change. The plan is they're going to do whatever they want, and it sucks to be you.
The CEO of one of the world’s largest oil companies downplayed the effects of climate change at his company’s annual meeting Wednesday, telling shareholders his firm hadn’t invested in renewable energy because “We choose not to lose money on purpose.”

“Mankind has this enormous capacity to deal with adversity,” ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson told the meeting, pointing to technologies that can combat inclement weather “that may or may not be induced by climate change.”

Until Rex Tillerson sees a gadget that can prevent climate change by burning copious amounts of Exxon-provided oil, he ain't interested. It's up to the kids to adapt to not having a Florida, via technology and whatnot.

I do enjoy Exxon's continued commitment to being flat-out cartoon-villain evil. So much more refreshing than other energy companies' sporadic ad campaigns promising to maybe someday give a damn.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) formally announces his candidacy for president during an event in Louisville, Kentucky, April 7, 2015. Earlier on Tuesday, Paul initially announced his candidacy in a post on his website. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein - RTR4WET7
It looks like Rand Paul's campaign advisers have requested he dumb it down a few more notches, lest he be considered too highbrow for the sort of raving lunatics that tend to turn out to vote in the first Republican primaries. He'll be attaching himself to the edjucation is skary movement.
“I refuse to accept that our nation’s colleges will always remain bastions of left-wing extremism. I refuse to allow leftists to brainwash an entire generation of American students into hating our country and our free-market system,” Mr. Paul wrote in an email blasted out Tuesday on behalf of the Arlington-based Leadership Institute.

Mr. Paul goes on to write that he’s joining with the group “to help liberate our nation’s colleges and universities from the clutches of the left.”

Ah, the secret liberal conspiracy to be liberal at America's youth, teaching them arts and sciences and indoctrinating their young minds with all the secret liberalism that Maxwell's equations or a nuanced understanding of mitosis can impart. The notion that the nation's colleges and universities have been working toward imposing a sort of educational sharia has been in vogue since long before the current generation of Fox News watchers learned that "sharia" was a word, regularly propped up by one ideological nutcase or another who has convinced themselves that their own presented theories on why people with black skin are inferior or why James Madison would have thought such-and-such or why climate change is shut up have not been more widely accepted not because their work was shoddy or their "proofs" tendentious but because of a global liberal science-knowing conspiracy against them, personally, to keep these great conservative truths from being more widely known.

It plays well to the base, though. The idea that book-learners in their ivory towers think they're better than you, or even just the notion that someone who has devoted their entire adult lives to the particulars of one niche of human understanding probably knows more about that topic than you and your Innate Conservative Grasp of All Things can muster, grates horribly on a certain segment of the population. Anti-intellectualism is alive and very, very well in America today, and apparently Rand Paul has appointed himself its champion.

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