It’s not all polarization

Republicans are obstructing pretty much every executive branch appointment they can.  Why?  Because Obama wants to appoint a bunch of wild-eyed liberals?  Polarization?  No.  Just because they can.  And they are not particularly interested in the proper functioning of government.  Love this bit from Drum:

The point of filibustering everything and everyone has never been just to prevent a few objectionable candidates from being confirmed. It’s been to tie up Senate floor time and disrupt even the routine functioning of a federal government that’s under Democratic control. Even with filibuster reform they can still do that, so why should they stop now? A broken government is nothing but good news for Republicans.

Bernstein says in another post today that he’s tired of hearing about political polarization. It’s not really anything new, after all. That’s true enough, and this is a good example. It’s not a case of polarization, it’s just a straightforward case of assholery. There’s no principle or ideology behind this, they’re merely causing dysfunction for the sake of causing dysfunction. Welcome to the modern GOP.

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Photo of the day

Apparently there was a huge water main break at UCLA that flooded much of the campus.  Totally soaking the famous court at Pauley Pavilion among other places.  Nice photo gallery from the LA Times:

Water main break near UCLA

Water main break near UCLA

The Palin channel

I must admit, I almost never pay attention when I hear “Sarah Palin.”  My brain automatically knows that what follows is just absurdity.  Thus, I was only vaguely aware that Palin was starting her own internet channel.  But I did quite enjoy Ian Crouch’s take on it.  Good stuff.

This is the real purpose of the Sarah Palin Channel, which is simply a new, digital act in an ongoing passion play, with Katie Couric in the role of Pontius Pilate and Palin in the self-appointed role of martyr on the cross, paying for the sins of everyone who’s ever pretended to read more newspapers than they actually do.

Depressing and (sadly) unsurprising criminal justice news

Via the Post:

Nearly every criminal case reviewed by the FBI and the Justice Department as part of a massive investigation started in 2012 of problems at the FBI lab has included flawed forensic testimony from the agency, government officials said.

The findings troubled the bureau, and it stopped the review of convictions last August. Case reviews resumed this month at the order of the Justice Department, the officials said.

U.S. officials began the inquiry after The Washington Post reported two years ago that flawed forensic evidence involving microscopic hair matches might have led to the convictions of hundreds of potentially innocent people. Most of those defendants never were told of the problems in their cases.

The inquiry includes 2,600 convictions and 45 death-row cases from the 1980s and 1990s in which the FBI’s hair and fiber unit reported a match to a crime-scene sample before DNA testing of hair became common. The FBI had reviewed about 160 cases before it stopped, officials said.

The investigation resumed after the Justice Department’s inspector generalexcoriated the department and the FBI for unacceptable delays and inadequate investigation in a separate inquiry from the mid-1990s. The inspector general found in that probe that three defendants were executed and a fourth died on death row in the five years it took officials to reexamine 60 death-row convictions that were potentially tainted by agent misconduct, mostly involving the same FBI hair and fiber analysis unit now under scrutiny.

The number of innocent people in this country who surely have been convicted due to sloppy and misguided and forensic “science” is just mind-boggling.

It’s good to be a conservative Republican until your rural hospital closes

I read a front-section story in the N&O yesterday about a small-town NC politician who walked all the way to DC to protest losing his town’s hospital.  I either didn’t read closely enough or it wasn’t in there, but apparently he’s also quite the conservative Republican.  He earned himself a column from Dana Milbank, though:

A week after Gibbs’s death [a 48 year-old heart attack victim who survived about an hour but the closest hospital was more than an hour away], O’Neal began a 15-day, 273-mile walk to Washington to draw attention to the outrage in Belhaven, which he blames on the combination of an “immoral” hospital operator and the failure of Republican leaders in his state to accept the new Medicaid funding the hospital needed to stay afloat…

What makes the mayor’s journey all the more compelling is he’s a white Southerner and a Republican officeholder who has conservative views on abortion, taxes, guns — “you name it,” he told me. But ideology and party loyalty have limits. “I’m a pretty conservative guy, but this is a matter of people dying,” he said.

Republicans nationwide have abandoned any consideration of offering an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, figuring that their complaints about President Obama’s selective implementation of the law, and lingering unease about the legislation itself, will be enough to motivate conservative voters in November. But as O’Neal points out, this political calculation has a moral flaw.

“If the  governor and the legislature don’t want to accept Medicaid expansion, they need to come up with another program to assure that rural hospitals don’t close,” the 45-year-old mayor said. Otherwise, he continued, “they’re allowing people to die to prove a point. That is wrong, and I’m not going to be a party to that.”

O’Neal is no fan of Obamacare, but during his journey, he sent a letter to Obama asking for a meeting. “I am a conservative Republican and I understand some of the suspicions political leaders in my party have,” he wrote. “But those concerns do not trump the need to maintain health services in struggling communities. Rural citizens dying should not be soldiers of the South’s defiance to the new health care law.”

Cognitive dissonance much?  Give me  a break.  You know what you call propping up economically unsustainable hospitals in rural areas just so people don’t die?  Socialism!!  Oh, it’s great to be a conservative Republican when it’s all those “other” people getting welfare, food stamps, etc.,  but when your white, rural community loses its economically un-viable hospital, well, damnit, the government better fix it!  Also, you know what you call the Medicaid expansion?  Obamacare.  And lastly, it’s not fair at all to single out NC Republicans for refusing the Medicaid expansion.  Republicans have similarly placed ideology above human life and health in 23 other states as well.  Can’t have those damn free-loaders getting medical care other than showing up near death in the ER, can we?

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