Jasper County Republican Party Pooh Bah Gets The Front Page Of The Joplin Globe

I don’t know what the original conception was relative to the story that appeared on Sunday’s front page of the Joplin Globe, but I do know that it came out as an advertisement for the Jasper County Republican Party and its efforts to get out the vote for Roy Blunt and Tom Schweich. 

It also read as a plea for volunteers from the ranks of uninspired Republicans to help out the party two days away from the election.

The headline of the story could have been:

Help! Local Republicans Looking For Volunteers! Sign Up Now! Hurry! Democrats May Win!

The story, though, had this headline:

Turnout worries GOP

With this subhead:

                                   With low number of voters 

                                   predicted at local polls,

                                   party ratcheting up efforts

And in the spirit of fairness, on this Jon Stewart sanity weekend, without further comment, I shall post the entire story, so readers can judge for themselves:

Jasper County Republicans are trying to ratchet up local voter turnout in the wake of predictions that only 20 percent of the county’s registered voters will show up at the polls on Tuesday.

Republicans need a high voter turnout locally to offset areas around Kansas City and St. Louis where Democrat voter turnout is expected to be high, said John Putnam, chairman of the Jasper County Republican Central Committee.

“The prediction they had for our voter turnout was the lowest in the state,” said Putnam, citing a report issued by the Missouri Secretary of State’s office earlier in the week, based on numbers of absentee ballots cast.

The office was predicting voter turnout statewide would average more than 51 percent.

Workers in the election division of the Jasper County clerk’s office now expect the local turnout will land between 30 and 35 percent, said Doris Moorehouse, a deputy clerk in the office.

She said the 20 percent level was based on numbers of absentee ballots cast earlier, but that those numbers have increased significantly since the report to the state.

“We’ve gotten a lot more absentee voters since then; now we’re up to 1,778. We’ve never been this busy in an off-year election,” she said at midmorning Friday.

The county had more than 7,000 absentee voters two years ago, she said, when voter turnout was 61.5 percent. Jasper County has 76,247 registered voters.

The same report that noted a 20 percent prediction for Jasper County forecast a 54 percent turnout in Jackson County and 55 percent in Cass County, both in the Kansas City area, and 47 percent in St. Louis city and 63 percent in St. Louis County. Among other counties in the region, turnouts are predicted at 45 percent in Newton County, 58 percent in Barton County, 52 percent in Vernon County, and 22 percent in McDonald County.

Putnam cited the results of earlier statewide elections when Jim Talent won the U.S. Senate race and Matt Blunt won the gubernatorial contest.

“In the cases where Republicans have won close statewide races, there has been a high voter turnout in Jasper and Newton counties, and a margin (of victory) for Republicans of about 70 percent,” he said. “It’s not an issue in the congressional race, but we’ll need that for Blunt and Schweich (Roy Blunt, GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, and Tom Schweich, for auditor),” he said.

Putnam said he also is concerned because Jasper County has only a single countywide race — the presiding commissioner race between John Bartosh, the GOP incumbent, and Timothy Teed, an independent candidate.

He said the committee is working to sign volunteers to work telephone banks, distribute literature and place candidate yard signs.

“Our volunteer numbers are lower, but it’s hard to compare,” he said. “In the presidential year you have people knocking down your door to volunteer; it’s always lower in the off-years.”

Jon Stewart’s Sanity Rally Misses The Point

The Jon Stewart rally, which reportedly dwarfed in attendance the Glenn Beck honorfest, was fairly entertaining (although at times it devolved into a grade-school presentation of its raison d’être) and for the most part politically neutral.  That was the problem with it, of course.  Stewart went out of his way to make both sides equally culpable for the mess that is Washington, D.C., these days.

This myth of moral equivalence is usually the preferred argument of those defending right-wing extremism—”the left does it too!—and it was a little off-putting to see and hear an obviously liberal-leaning Stewart try to put the blame on both sides. 

Not only has it been clear that Republicans in Congress have done little to help and a lot to hinder efforts by Democrats to fix the economy, a video montage Stewart ran containing snippets of extremism expressed by television talkers was more than a little unfair. There is about a thousand times more of that nonsense coming from the right as from the left, and much of the responses coming from the left were in reaction to right-wing hate-talk.

It’s like this: If someone wants to debate an issue, Stewart’s call for decency is good advice.  We all should be able to present our points without recourse to name-calling.  But when one side has resorted to referring to the President of the United States as a Kenyan-born racist socialist, who wants to deliberately destroy the country, or when someone, like Billy Long, says that liberals, “wish to do away with the moral center of our nation,” then the proper reaction to that stuff is not a pat on the back or, “Oh, that’s just concerned right-wingers expressing their angst.”  

No, the proper response to that kind of dook is to condemn it, and condemn it in the strongest possible terms. In fact, that’s what Stewart does on his show nearly every night.  It’s not uncivil to point out the lack of civility on the other side and there is no moral equivalence between an attacker and a defender.

And wasn’t it rich that calls from Stewart and others to stop shouting at each other and work together were preceded by confessions last week from top Republican leaders that their strategy to defeat Obama and gain power will be a continuation of the “no compromise” warfare of the last two years:

John Boehner: “This is not a time for compromise, and I can tell you that we will not compromise on our principles.”

Mike Pence: “What I’ve said is there will be no compromise on ending this era of runaway spending, deficits and debt. No compromise on repealing Obamacare lock, stock and barrel. No compromise on defending the broad mainstream values of the American people in the way we spend the people’s money at home and abroad. On issues that go straight to principle and straight to the concern the American people have on spending and taxes and values, there’ll be no compromise.”

Mitch McConnell: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” 

Now, President Obama and congressional Democrats need to understand that Republicans, especially if Tea Party candidates win big on Tuesday, mean it when they say they have abandoned the political art of compromise.  This isn’t just campaign rhetoric. 

And no amount of Jon Stewart-inspired reason and decency and sanity will be enough to put Republicans in the mood for an orgy of political deal-making, or even a flirtatious wink of agreement.

Because of the Republican Party’s failure to police itself, its failure to exercise adult supervision over its extremist candidates, there will a number of steroidal Obama-haters in their ranks, many of them with big mouths, who won’t take kindly to any notion of agreeing with Democrats about anything that matters.

Democrats need to understand that truth right now—and prepare a strategy to deal with it—before the real fighting starts next year.  Hopefully, there will be so many internecine battles within the GOP that Republican extremists won’t get far with efforts to impeach President Obama and shut down the government, but that is only a hope.

But it is a sane hope.

[Stewart photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images]

America Is Not A Center-Right Nation—Just Ask Tea Party Leaders

Joe Scarborough, of Morning Joe, often talks about how America is a “center-right” nation.  And he often talks about how Barack Obama should recognize that fact and govern that way.  Here is a typical example from the other day:

…he’s got some great opportunities, but he’s going to have to come to the middle. And if he comes to the middle where America is—not the middle as defined by left-wing bloggers and other people. If he comes to the middle where America is, he’ll be just fine.

Well, Scarborough is a conservative Republican, so it’s understandable how he might project his politics onto the whole country, but he uses polling to support his point. He claims, based on a Gallup poll, that 40% of the public think of themselves as conservatives and only 21% call themselves liberal.

But since most people aren’t political junkies, and since it’s hard for even junkies to accurately define what it means to be a liberal or a conservative, the simple truth is that it is impossible to say the country—in whole or in part—is this or that based on what people tell pollsters.

And even if it were the case that one could call the country this or that politically, what does that have to do with how President Obama–or any president–should govern the country?  Is that Scarborough’s definition of leadership?  To simply lead people where they are already going? 

Thankfully, the Founders didn’t feel that way or we all might be speaking London Cockney today.  And thankfully Harry Truman didn’t feel that way or we might still have an all-paleface military to match our all-paleface Tea Party.

The truth is that our ideological national identity cannot be defined by what people tell Gallup or any other polling group about their ideological preferences. Over time, what it means to be a conservative or liberal has changed and keeps changing, and people just don’t keep up with the changes. 

I can make a good case that, if anything, the country is more center-left than center-right, just by noting what people who call themselves conservatives believe about ideas that used to be thought of as liberal ideas.

For instance, it’s no secret that conservatives abhor any hint of socialism, and frequently attack liberals for being socialists.  Yet, it’s obvious that you won’t find much support among conservatives these days for abolishing Social Security and Medicare.  And there is absolutely no doubt that those two programs represent the closest thing we have to socialism in America. They represent, to date, the crown jewels of liberalism.

And so it is that we have people who identify themselves as conservatives who often vigorously defend those socialistic programs and certainly won’t vote in droves for candidates who propose their demise.

Even Tea Party fanatics—the right wing of the right wing—won’t touch the socialistic programs.  Last night on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, a fascinating segment with four major Tea Party leaders revealed just how slippery the terms liberal and conservative are, as well as how unfocused the Tea Party movement is in general.  

Watch the following video clip and ask yourself just what the term “conservative” means, if uber-conservatives aren’t willing to acknowledge, not to mention abolish, socialism, as it is practiced in the United States:


It may be true that twice as many people call themselves conservative as call themselves liberal, but what that means is not as clear as people like Scarborough think.

As Lawrence O’Donnell demonstrated, when hard-core conservative activists either don’t see or don’t care that Social Security and Medicare are socialistic endeavors, then conservatism certainly doesn’t mean what it used to.

Springfield Paper Endorses The Mystery Man

Well, the Springfield News-Leader has “strongly” endorsed Billy Long.

The paper said:

Long promises to bring common sense to Washington.

Is that what you call Long’s “fed up” simplicity? Common sense?

And the paper noted the most salient fact about Long’s campaign:

His platform and public explanations of it during the primary and general campaigns have at times generated questions and claims of contradiction.

At times? And “claims” of contradiction? His move to get the endorsement of an anti-Social Security group called Conservative Congress was successful. They endorsed him. Why? I tried to find out from the group but they aren’t talking.

Here is Conservative Congress’ position on an issue that should be of utmost importance to voters here or anywhere:

Conservative Congress supports candidates who are committed to de-regulating and dismantling wasteful federal social agencies and programs. Specifically, Conservative Congress supports candidates who seek to dismantle the Department of Education and Social Security, by and through constructive reforms…

Conservative Congress endorsed Long because it believes he is “aligned with” their Issues Statement, from which the above language comes.

Yet Long has pretended he doesn’t know what the fuss is all about. He has denied knowing anything about it.

The News-Leader defends Long with this:

He’s new to this. He’s learning. He listens. He’s willing to modify his views.

Yes, that’s the point!  He is willing to modify his views, at least until after the election. He led Conservative Congress to believe one thing about his views on Social Security and he is leading 7th District voters to believe something else.

With this discrepancy in his position hanging out there, how can a reputable newspaper endorse him, “strongly” or otherwise?

A Steaming Blunt Refuses To Answer A Simple Question: Did He Know Her Or Not?

Although I don’t recall seeing anything about this story in the Joplin Globe or on our local “news” stations, some of you may know about the accusations—raised by the Democratic Party—that Roy Blunt employed a Nicaraguan woman by the name of Dora Narvaez, who, shall we say, wouldn’t survive the Arizona Test in terms of proving her U.S. citizenship.

The woman told the Kansas City Star that she worked for Blunt in 1990 for a period of six months, around the time she was seeking political asylum in the United States.  Blunt, who at the time was Missouri Secretary of State, had written a letter on her behalf to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, saying that,

Dora Narvaez has done some work for Roseann.

Roseann, of course, was Blunt’s first family-values wife.  But apparently when Blunt used the word “worked,” he didn’t mean it in the conventional sense.  When the story first came out, the Blunt campaign said that,

…the woman merely helped at some church events, and was never employed by the Blunts.

Last week, Blunt told the St. Louis Post Dispatch that he does not recall the woman at all:

Speaking to the Post-Dispatch editorial board today, Blunt said his family never had a “housekeeper,” though they did occasionally have someone, Blunt said, clean their home.

But Blunt said neither he, Roseann or their three children remember Narvaez filling that role.

“We often had somebody who would come in maybe twice a month,” Blunt said. “None of us remember her ever doing that.”

Blunt added: “I don’t know if I ever met the woman.”

So, yesterday KMBC’s Micheal Mahoney ask Blunt a simple question:

Did you know her or not?

An easy question, right?  “Did you know her or not?”

All Blunt had to do was say “yes” or “no” or “I don’t remember because I’ve remarried since then and I’ve made it a point to forget everything about my former family-values life.”

But here is how Blunt, who is steaming around the state on a last-minute tour, reacted:

Obviously, Mahoney hit a sore spot with his question.  And I suspect Blunt, like most Republican candidates these days, will be off-limits to reporters between now and next Tuesday.

And I also suspect that it won’t matter at all to most local voters (I predict: 65%+), who have consistently supported him through his family-values failures and his affection for lobbyists in general (like Big Tobacco) and in particular (like his second wife and other members of his family).  And, no, I’m not even going to bring up Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff.

Here is a video from the Missouri Democratic Party about the issue:.

 

More From The Christian Taliban

Yesterday it was a Christian school board member in Arkansas expressing his godly displeasure with homosexuality. Today, courtesy of Show Me Progress, we have this robocall from the Missouri House Republican Campaign Committee*:

Needless to say Courtney Cole’s ties to the pornography industry, gay or straight, likely goes something like this: Someone donated to her campaign who once did business with the son of a cousin of the uncle of the brother of a lawyer who once worked for a law firm that represented Bound & Gagged magazine in a dispute with a disgruntled employee.  Or something just as ridiculous.

And that, of course, makes her guilty of promoting pornography and therefore an enemy of our Christian State.

Uh-oh.  I just linked to a Wikipedia entry about a gay magazine. Oh, my God!

UPDATE: I forgot to mention the contribution from Christian soldier Rita Crowell, whose inspiring letters appear regularly in the Joplin Globe‘s Voices section.  Here is yesterday’s Talibanic assault on Democrats:

To vote for a Democratic Party candidate is to vote for the anti-God, anti-life and anti-family intrinsically evil Democratic Party’s platform.

_______________________________

*If you follow the link to the HRCC, you can watch Joplin’s Ron Richard tell us how proud he is of the HRCC. Presumably that includes the robocall.

Solid Christian Beliefs In Arkansas

“If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”

—Leviticus 20:13 NAB

About five hours southeast of Joplin is a little town called Pleasant Plains, Arkansas.

Pleasant Plains, a nice sounding little town, is home of the Midland Mustangs and the Midland School District.  And a man named Clint McCance is a member of the Midland School District Board of Directors. 

Mr. McCance claims to be a Christian.

The Midland School District issued this apology today:

The Midland School District, Board of Directors, administration, faculty, and staff do not support or condone the comments Mr. Clint McCance posted on his personal social networking page. Mr. McCance was not acting as an agent of the school board, but as a private citizen when this comment was posted. This post does not reflect the thoughts of the board or administration of the Midland School District.

So, what is all the fuss about?  What could school board member Mr. McCance have posted that necessitated an apology from the school district?

Here are some of his comments from Facebook (screenshots here) in which Mr. McCance was showing his displeasure over the initiative on Facebook encouraging folks to wear purple “in memory of the recent suicides due to gay abuse“:

Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers killed themselves. The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed thereselves because of their sin. REALLY PEOPLE.

In response to some criticism, McCance posted this:

…being a fag doesn’t give you the right to ruin the rest of our lives. If you get easily offended by being called a fag then dont tell anyone you are a fag. Keep that shit to yourself. I dont care how people decide to live their lives. They dont bother me if they keep it to thereselves. It pisses me off though that we make a special purple fag day for them. I like that fags cant procreate. I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other aids and die. If you arent against it, you might as well be for it.

He finished with a flourish:

I would disown my kids they were gay. They will not be welcome at my home or in my vicinity. I will absolutely run them off. Of course my kids will know better. My kids will have solid christian beliefs. See it infects everyone. 

Such solid Christian beliefs are not an aberration, sadly. They represent the thinking of many Bible believers around these parts and they certainly and accurately reflect a biblical view of homosexuality.

And as long as the Bible is taught as the infallible Word of God, there will always be plenty of Clint McCances.

Thanks For The Warning, KZRG Fans!

Everyone knows the Mushroom Theory: Keep ‘em in the dark and feed ‘em dook, and pretty soon you’ll have you some biggo mushrooms!

Well, it’s true.  KZRG, a local, heavily promoted, right-wing talk radio station in Joplin, keeps local listeners in the dark, feeds ‘em full of dook, and guess what?  Pretty soon these things sprout up out of nowhere:

All over our fair city one can see these monuments to extremism, in front of businesses and homes. It’s as if the owners, who consented to the placement of these signs, are saying: “Only right-wing extremists are welcome here.”

Apparently, these KZRG-friendly outposts are proud of daytime talkers, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity. They are proud of late-night programs like Coast to Coast, a program that features not only lonely conspiracy nuts, but explores the demon-haunted world of pseudoscience.  In other words, Coast to Coast is a lot like daytime talk! 

I, for one, am thankful that my neighbors and local businesses have put up flags to warn me of approach.

And trust me, I will avoid them when I can.

A Glaring Omission In Joplin Globe Coverage Of The Long-Eckersley Race

So far, the Joplin Globe has ignored the controversial charges against Billy Long made by his opponent, Scott Eckersley, relative to a Springfield woman’s claims that Long attended after-hour parties at a Springfield restaurant that involved strippers and gambling and underage drinking. The woman also accused Long of making racial slurs and exhibiting homophobic and sexist behavior.

Last week, Eckersley released an ad featuring the woman, Jennifer Case, and her claims and has stood by it, despite denials from Long and the owner of the restaurant.

In a front page story in Monday’s Globe, 7th District hopefuls take race to homestretch, nary a mention of the controversy, even though the article contained other charges Eckersley has made against Long:

He contends that voters will see Long as too “extreme.” Eckersley has accused Long of being willing to “feed at the trough of the special interests” just as “career politicians” do.

He has assailed Long on issues that include Social Security and subsidies for agriculture. On the former, he has accused Long of supporting the dismantling of Social Security. On the latter, he has said Long wants to eliminate subsidies.

Why no mention of Eckersley’s ad and the woman’s claims? Why no questions for Eckersley about the paucity of corroborating evidence? Why no questions for Long about his association with the Springfield bar?  Beats me.  But Globe readers deserve to know what’s going on, since Eckersley has chosen to make the Springfield woman’s claims a campaign issue.

Springfield media has done some reporting on the charges. The Springfield News-Leader has made at least an attempt to investigate them* and here is a report from Springfield’s KSPR:

________________________________

*Today, the News-Leader published Eckersley’s objections to its original reporting on the story:

Eckersley called the previous day’s News-Leader article “an attack job.”

In a press release Monday, he said the News-Leader behaved unethically. The release said reporter Wes Johnson asked Case’s 18-year-old son, “Do you know how much trouble your mother is in?” and a photographer took pictures of Case after she asked him to stop. The release quotes her as saying she told reporters that she saw strippers with Long. On Friday, Case had answered no when a reporter asked whether she had ever seen Long with strippers in the room.

Long didn’t respond to the criticism at the forum until Eckersley mentioned that a Joplin news outlet had published Case’s story. Long pointed out that the news outlet was The Fuse Joplin, a blog.

News-Leader Executive Editor David Stoeffler said he reviewed a tape of the interview with Case, and “it was a professional interview” conducted at a local restaurant.

He said the photographer said Case did not ask him to stop taking pictures, that the hourlong tape contains no indication that she asked to end the interview or photographs and that she says three times that she didn’t see Long with strippers.

Stoeffler said Case’s son asked Johnson whether Case was in trouble. Johnson said Case was raising serious allegations, and Johnson’s job was to determine whether they are true.

Unless You’re A Tea Party Manly Man, Never Kick A Girl When She’s Down

In what can only be characterized as a symbolic moment in this campaign season, a man wearing a Rand Paul shirt stepped on a member of MoveOn.org last night in Lexington, Kentucky, site of the latest Jack Conway-Rand Paul debate. 

The manly Paul-man in the video put his foot on the woman on the ground in an act of Tea Party bravery.  This short video clip, more than anything I could write, demonstrates what life might be like in a world dominated by Tea Party libertarians:

In a news report, which can be found here, an anchor remarks, over a different video of the incident, that Lexington police are trying to determine if the man “stepped on her intentionally.” 

Yes, it just might be possible that the cowardly bastard was actually a good Samaritan chiropractor who was merely trying to realign her spine.

Crass Ass Conservatism: The Real Republican Pledge to America

Paul Krugman wrote yesterday in the New York Times about the failure of the Obama administration to propose a large enough stimulus plan to combat the financial crisis the administration underestimated.

While admitting that the Recovery Act made things better than they would have been—he estimated unemployment would be near 12% without it—Krugman called the stimulus a “political catastrophe.”  “Voters respond to facts,” he said, “not counterfactuals, and the perception is that the administration’s policies have failed.”

He also said this:

The tragedy here is that if voters do turn on Democrats, they will in effect be voting to make things even worse.

The resurgent Republicans have learned nothing from the economic crisis, except that doing everything they can to undermine Mr. Obama is a winning political strategy.

It appears that we won’t have to wait until next January to find out if Krugman is right.  This morning on Morning Joe, I heard Major Garrett point out that Republican Mitch McConnell admitted to National Journal magazine the following:

MCCONNELL: We need to be honest with the public. This election is about them, not us. And we need to treat this election as the first step in retaking the government. We need to say to everyone on Election Day, “Those of you who helped make this a good day, you need to go out and help us finish the job.”

NATIONAL JOURNAL: What’s the job?

MCCONNELL: The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

We have seen the de facto head of the Republican Party and conservative movement, Rush Limbaugh, in orgasmic anticipation, wish for the President of the United States to fail.

We have seen the de facto head of the Tea Party movement, Jim DeMint, say, with militaristic glee, that, “If we’re able to stop Obama…it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”

And now we see the Republican Minority Leader in the United States Senate, Mitch McConnell, admit to the world, with uncharacteristic honesty, that the “most important thing” on his plate for the next two years is to make sure Republicans gain power.

What more evidence does anyone need that it is not only dumb to put Republicans back in charge of the government, it is dangerous?

This is Republican patriotism, my friends. Crass ass conservatism.

[Krugman photo: Jessica Kourkounis—The New York Times]

The Allegations Against Billy Long And Why Journalism Matters

Some of you know that I posted a blog on October 12 (it was up only for a few hours) about Billy Long and some serious accusations made against him by a Springfield woman named Jennifer Case.  

Eli Yokley, who maintains a local website, had, without substantiation, posted a letter on October 10 written by Mrs. Case that contained the accusations.  The letter had been circulating for several weeks—someone had also sent me a copy—but had not previously been made public. 

The letter accused Billy Long of attending after-hour parties at a Springfield restaurant, Metropolitan Grill*, which involved strippers and gambling and underage drinking. It also accused Long of making racial slurs and exhibiting homophobic and sexist behavior. Mrs. Case said she was a server at the restaurant and claimed first-hand knowledge. 

Apparently, Mrs. Case had also sent the letter to the Springfield News-Leader in September. According to the News-Leader
The newspaper began investigating the claims immediately but was never able to verify them. Meanwhile, others interviewed offered contradictory information, so no story was published.

I had been in contact with Mrs. Case since September 15, when I first learned of her accusations in the form of comments on her Facebook page.  The blog I wrote on October 12, after Yokley published the letter and ran with the “story,” essentially was an account of my correspondence with Mrs. Case, seeking to get all the facts, before I wrote a word about her charges.

Here’s part of what I wrote on October 12:

As much as I don’t like Billy Long’s politics, as much as I would like to see him defeated, and as much as I may want to believe in the honesty and integrity of Jennifer Case, I also want to make sure that allegations about him are accurate. Which is why I never broke this story weeks ago. I simply couldn’t confirm it to my satisfaction. 

I was asked by the editor of the Joplin Globe to take down the October 12 blog because she felt that since the allegations had not been substantiated, it didn’t represent good journalism to reproduce them under the auspices of the newspaper.  I agreed to take it down. 

In that blog, I posted some of my correspondence with Mrs. Case, which essentially consisted of trying to get more information from her in order to corroborate her claims.  I also noted discrepancies in the claims she made to me and the claims she made in the letter posted by Yokley, including one involving “man trips” and strippers.
 
In the letter she wrote, 
On several occasions, he and his friends would close down the grill after returning from Las Vegas and bring in strippers from a local strip club to entertain themselves. Nights like these involved gambling, strippers, and reports of inappropriate contact with staff and underage drinking by some staff. 

But on September 16, she wrote to me the following: 

The owner of Metro is Pat Duran…he contributes grately [sic] to the campaign as well as is present for their ‘man trips’ to Las Vegas where they get a private plane and take along local strippers. 

Now, that’s quite a discrepancy—the strippers came after the trip to Vegas or they brought them to Vegas on a private plane—unless she is talking about two completely different accusations, which apparently she isn’t.  It just didn’t set right with me at the time, nor does it now. 

I also expressed some frustration in my October 12 blog over the fact that after I pressed her for ways to substantiate her claims, I never heard from her again, despite repeated attempts.
 
I ended that blog with this:
Now that the story is out there, it is up to responsible reporters to get to the bottom of it, to do some investigating and find out if any or all of the accusations are true or whether they’re not.
 
Even Billy Long deserves his day in court, especially in the court of public opinion.

Well, it seems responsible reporters have done some investigating, triggered at least in part by the fact that Scott Eckersley, Long’s opponent, decided to release a campaign ad that featured Jennifer Case and her accusations against Mr. Long. 

First, here is the ad: 

 
Now, the journalism:
 
It turns out that the Springfield News-Leader discovered that Mrs. Case, formerly Jennifer Magill, was at one time the daughter-in-law of Dr. Scott Magill, chairman of the Missouri Republican Assembly. So, naturally, even though Mrs. Case has remarried, suspicions of revenge were raised, which Eckersley denied: 

“Not for a split second,” Eckersley replied. “She disclosed it real early on. It wasn’t her idea to go forward on a commercial. It was something she was willing to do because I felt compelled to get her story out.

 “It was really only when I finally got a letter — she wasn’t going to do anything else. She wasn’t trying to get back at anyone …

“She’s very much a reluctant public figure because she just doesn’t want this story to be about her. So outside of the fact I knew of it, I didn’t for a minute sense any motivation coming — even politically motivated motivation at all.”

It also turns out that Mrs. Case personally never saw Billy Long with strippers in the restaurant, nor did she personally witness him gambling.  The News-Leader reported that “Case said she heard about both later from other employees.”  Uh-oh.

It also turns out that a statement posted on Scott Eckersley’s website and signed by a man named Robert Bush, who said he was a cook at the restaurant, was at least partly false.  Here’s part of what Mr. Bush claimed on Eckersley site:
I was present for a “man night” as I was asked to work during that time.  As Jennifer described, there were strippers present at the “man night.” I witnessed them dancing on the bar…That night the typical “metro mafia” crowd was present–including Billy Long. 

The problem is that Mr. Bush told the News-Leader he didn’t actually witness the presence of Mr. Long:

Bush admitted he never actually saw Long at the event, but relied on later reports from others — whom he declined to identify — that Long had been there.

“I heard someone say he (Long) was supposed to show up,” Bush said. “I never saw him there.”

Uh-oh.

Here’s another uh-oh: 
Case told the News-Leader on Friday that she was a waitress at the Metropolitan Grill during a Republican fundraising event at the restaurant shortly after Barack Obama had been elected president.

She wrote: “At one point I recall Mr. Long saying, ‘We need to take back this country from the (n—–s) and women running it … that’s the problem in D.C.’ “

Although other staff were serving the group, Case couldn’t provide a name of any colleague who might have heard the statement Long allegedly made.

However she did say her former father-in-law, Dr. Scott Magill, was there and heard the remark.

Contacted Saturday, Magill sharply denied it.

“That is absolutely false,” Magill said.

“I have never heard Billy — in public or private — say anything like that or ever cast any aspersions that would indicate he had those views.” 

While it would be politically understandable that Mr. Magill might have some convenient amnesia regarding Long’s alleged racism, the following is hard to explain in the context of Mrs. Case’s charges:
Joe Sparks, a waiter for nearly two years at the restaurant, said Long comes in two or three times a week to eat.

“He has always been very polite,” said Sparks, who is black. “There have never been any issues at any time. Mr. Long has never treated me wrong or I would corroborate what she (Case) said.”

In itself, Joe Sparks’ statement obviously doesn’t let Billy Long off the hook. Sparks had only worked there two years.  But when you consider the fact that the News-Leader could not find anyone who would corroborate Mrs. Case’s charges against Billy Long, including the owners of the restaurants involved and several employees who worked there, then the burden falls back on Mrs. Case—and Scott Eckersley now—to substantiate her claims.
 
For his part, Billy Long has adamantly denied the accusations: 
In a statement Friday, Long said: “It is 100-percent false. It’s a flat out lie. Anyone who knows me knows that it is completely false. This is hurtful to me and my family. Character does matter in this race and Scott Eckersley has shown his by choosing to air a slanderous ad in a desperate bid to get elected.” 

Eckersley is not wavering:

Eckersley on Saturday said he has no intention of pulling the controversial ad, saying he believes what Case and Bush told him.

“The best evidence they provided is their testimony, their words,” he said.

“It’s strong evidence of a pure motivation and a real intent to tell the truth and get certain facts out there.”

As I have said, I had a chance to publish Mrs. Case’s accusations way back in September.  I chose not to for two reasons:  First, I didn’t want to smear Billy Long with charges I couldn’t substantiate, no matter what I thought about his politics.  Second, this blog is associated with the Joplin Globe, which has certain journalistic standards. A newspaper, if it is to retain its reputation as a reliable news source, cannot publish every accusation that comes in over the transom until it has been properly vetted. 

While Mrs. Case’s comments and her charges were juicy and potentially damaging to a candidate I obviously don’t want to see elected, as the News-Leader‘s work makes clear, those charges look a lot different when scrutinized. And journalists are supposed to be professional scrutinizers.
 
It may be that what Mrs. Case is saying is absolutely true. But as I was taught a long time ago, what is true and what you can prove is true are often two very different things. 
 
And as a lawyer, Scott Eckersley should know that fact of life better than most.
_____________________________

*

George Bush Is Back And Better Than Ever

“You’re not going to see me giving my opinions in the public arena, until I start selling my book.”

—George W. Bush, October 21, 2010

Our former president, fittingly, spoke before a finance trade association yesterday in Chicago. It was fitting because the appearance gave him a chance to tell us all how sorry he was for what his administration’s policies, with aid from a Republican-controlled Congress, did to all our finances.

Whoops!  My bad. He didn’t tell us how sorry he was about the economic disaster he presided over.  Nope. But he did tell us—well, not exactly “us” but the finance trade association—according to the Chicago Tribune, that,

his greatest failure in office was not passing Social Security reform.

Greatest failure?  Not passing Social Security reform?

Oh, my. On his watch our entire economy nearly came crashing down, and his greatest failure was not to privatize part of Social Security, which would have cost seniors dearly during the collapse?  Oh, my, my, my.

Mr. Bush did manage to mention the economic crisis:

Bush said he signed off on the bailout of major financial institutions because his economic advisers recommended he take action before the economy suffered even more.

I did not want to be a president overseeing a depression greater than the Great Depression,” he said.

Yes, that’s it.  It’s all about your legacy, Mr. President.  Bush said he “would like to be remembered as a guy who had a set of priorities and was willing to live by those priorities.”  That’s sort of like a guy who stole a car and wrecked it in the ditch remarking to the judge, “You have to admire my commitment to a life of crime, your honor.”

But perhaps most egregious of all, was this comment:

In terms of accomplishments, my biggest accomplishment is that I kept the country safe amid a real danger.

Let me get this straight: if you can discount the little incident on 9/11 that happened on Bush’s watch, if you can ignore the fact that while he was president, and despite prior warnings that neither he nor his administration took seriously, 3000 Americans became victims of terrorism, you can say he “kept the country safe.”  That’s quite an accomplishment, alright.

So, we are supposed to believe that despite presiding over the greatest economic decline since the Great Depression, and despite failing to prevent a terrorist attack that killed thousands and changed the way we all live, and despite starting a preemptive war with Iraq, none of that is comparable to George Bush’s failure to privatize Social Security?

Such is the mind of our former president.

Such is the mind of the guilty.

It’s About Time NPR Fired Juan Williams

The buzz this morning on Morning Joe was over National Public Radio’s firing of Juan Williams.

The consensus was that NPR acted irresponsibly and with great political correctness over Williams’ comments to Bill O’Reilly regarding O’Reilly’s spat with a couple of The View girls over his statement that “Muslims killed us on 9/11.”  Billo had asked Williams what he thought about that statement, to which Williams replied,

I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.

Williams went on to try to explain to the hard-headed O’Reilly that it was dumb to blame all Muslims for the actions of a few extremists and it appeared that Williams, a regular on the Republican “News” Channel, was trying to “reason” with the unreasonable host.

Joe Scarborough, Pat Buchanan, and other Morning Joe regulars were beside themselves over NPR’s reaction, spouting the usual conservative line about political correctness and other nonsense and suggesting that NPR should hire him back.  They blamed left-wing bloggers (who, by the way, blog in their “underwear,” according to someone on the show) for starting the wave that ended in Juan Williams’ departure from NPR.

But while I agree that Williams’ comments in this case weren’t in themselves worthy of dismissal, the truth is that any regular listener to NPR, no matter one’s political affiliation, recognizes that NPR is merely protecting its brand of journalism, a brand that has behind it a steadfast commitment to the profession, as opposed to some of the stuff one witnesses on cable news channels day in and day out. 

Juan Williams, while still affiliated with NPR, decided to forsake his credibility as a journalist and associate himself with the mostly faux-journalism practiced on the Republican “News” Channel.  Good for him.  I’m sure he is paid well for his trouble.  NPR’s problem was that it didn’t fire Williams when he first made his move away from NPR’s brand.  NPR waited too long to cut him off and the exchange yesterday with O’Reilly was just a way to do something it should have done long ago.

Just recently, NPR issued a directive to its employees not to participate in Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” or Stephen Colbert’s “March to Keep Fear Alive.”  Participation in those events, which NPR will cover as a news outlet, would violate NPR’s Ethics Code.  Here are just two restrictions from the code:

1. NPR journalists may not run for office, endorse candidates or otherwise engage in politics. Since contributions to candidates are part of the public record, NPR journalists may not contribute to political campaigns, as doing so would call into question a journalist’s impartiality.

2. NPR journalists may not participate in marches and rallies involving causes or issues that NPR covers, nor should they sign petitions or otherwise lend their name to such causes, or contribute money to them.

The point is that journalism is a profession and journalists ought to act professionally.  News reporting should be as free from personal prejudice as possible, even if a reporter does have strong feelings about the issue on which he or she is reporting.  Prohibiting its employees from associating with the Stewart-Colbert rallies is an important example of NPR protecting its reputation as producing reliable journalism.

On the commentary side, NPR listeners, me included, who have listened to Juan Williams’ contributions to NPR  for years, were dismayed by his moonlighting at the Republican “News” Channel, particularly his association with Bill O’Reilly, where he has sometimes filled in for the blowhard.

In fact, in 2009, after Williams said some things about Michelle Obama that were right out of the right-wing nut playbook, NPR asked the Republican “News” Channel to stop identifying Williams as an “NPR news political analyst,”  even though many long-time NPR listeners believed, rightly, that he should have been fired for that appearance and those comments.

It’s been a long time coming, but NPR has finally done the right thing by getting rid of Juan Williams, who with every appearance on O’Reilly and other right-wing shows, tainted NPR’s brand name.  I know most conservatives believe NPR is a “liberal” news source, but then again those same conservatives think the Republican “News” Channel is “fair and balanced,” so it really doesn’t matter what they think. 

What matters is that NPR doesn’t succumb to the tendency these days of abandoning real journalism in favor of what passes for journalism today on cable “news” networks, particularly one that has an unapologetic and symbiotic relationship with the Republican Party.

The New Negrophobes

Way back in March, I wrote about the “Tea Parties and The Southern Strategy,” mostly quoting from an article written by Bob Cesca.  To give you the flavor of that piece, here is a sample:

________________________________________________________

Discussing the use of the N Word, Cesca reminds us of Lee Atwater—the Republican political guru of the 1980s—and the once-infamous but now increasingly respectable Southern Strategy.  Atwater had told on himself in a 1981 interview reported by Bob Herbert of the New York Times:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

Cesca comments:

From the beginning, with their witch doctor imagery, watermelon agitprop and Curious George effigies, the wingnut right has been dying to blurt out, as Lee Atwater famously said, “nigger, nigger, nigger!”

________________________________________________________

Last night, the sainted Rachel Maddow, whose show is always packed full of information, ran a long segment on the new birth of the Southern Strategy. She began with the Southern political shift from Democratic to Republican loyalties, which we saw happening first in the 1964 presidential election between Goldwater and Johnson. 

Here is a series of maps showing that shift:

 

As you can see, the shift of conservative loyalty was fairly dramatic. Goldwater’s appeal to Southern white conservatives, of course, was based on his opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and his failure to attract legions of black supporters and his “success” in attracting conservative whites sent a message to other Republicans, including Kevin Phillips, who was back then a Richard Nixon political strategist:

From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that… but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.

Maddow connects this old Southern Strategy with the new Southern Strategy, which is not just confined to the South and not just confined to the dynamics of white versus black. And although Maddow didn’t explore this idea in much depth, this new strategy involves at least partly a view of restoring the dominance of white culture, a culture allegedly threatened by the ascendance of a black man named Obama and the “invasion” of illegal immigrants from Mexico.

Now, I’m not saying that all of the Tea Party anger, or all of the angst over the state of the country, is due to a this defensive tribal posture, so don’t even get on that horse and ride. As I have said many times, there are legitimate concerns over our national debt and the long-term stability of our fiscal health. There is legitimate unease over unemployment and the uncertainty of near-term improvement.

But the fact that there doesn’t appear to be much that can’t be said about President Obama or his wife, the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any price paid on the right for the outrageous charges spewing from the mouths of people like Limbaugh and Beck and Hannity—all remain comfortably popular and comfortably rich—and the fact that Republican politicians all over the country have had moments that would have doomed them in any other election year, indicates something beyond agitation over the state of the economy, at least for an uncomfortably large slice of the electorate.

Just as one example, Carl Paladino, a multimillionaire, Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for governor of New York, trounced Rick Lazio in the GOP primary last month, even though shortly after Paladino entered the primary, some very nasty e-mails were released that Paladino had forwarded to his “friends.”  Some of those e-mails were blatantly racist, including one that featured a video of African tribesmen doing a traditional tribal dance. The video was titled, “Obama Inauguration Rehearsal.” 

Another featured this photograph:

Now, most people interested in politics know all that stuff about Paladino.  But what we sometimes forget is that even after these things were known—after the obviously racist e-mails had been made public knowledge—Paladino still received an astonishing 62% of the Republican vote in the primary.  He got more than 273,000 votes.  In New York.

So, although there is a lot of angst and anger out there, much of it about the economy, there’s no denying that part of that angst and anger has to do with something akin to, but beyond, the Negrophobia that Kevin Phillips talked about so long ago. There are some white folks in the land who not only don’t care a whit about whether Paladino sends racist e-mails, but find the fact that he does culturally comforting. 

And although I know that Republicans and tea partiers don’t like to hear any accusations about condoning the kind of bigotry we see on display these days, until someone in the Republican Party—the home of tea partiers—stands up and renounces those among them who traffic in the supposedly “fringe” politics of subtle and not-so-subtle racism, then those of us on my side will wonder just how fringe this stuff is.

[Original maps courtesy of Wikipedia]

Christine O’Donnell, Entertaining But Not Funny

If there were a Mount Rushmore of Tea Party Ignorance, surely we would find the likeness of Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell carved there, fashioned by Christian conservative chiselers, who not only defend her know-nothingness, but celebrate it.

Her performance during a debate with Chris Coons this morning at Delaware’s Widener School of Law (where she got some laughs) is just the latest example of why O’Donnell is so wildly popular among a disturbingly large slice of the electorate, among those who put more faith in Iron Age narratives than in 21st century science.

According to CBS News:

In a discussion over the whether or not public schools should be allowed to integrate religion-based ideas into science curricula, O’Donnell argued that local school districts should have the choice to teach intelligent design if they choose.

When asked point blank by Coons if she believed in evolution, however, O’Donnell reiterated that her personal beliefs were not germane.  “What I think about the theory of evolution is irrelevant,” she emphasized, adding later that the school of thought was “not a fact but a theory.”

Everyone knows by now that O’Donnell confessed years ago on Bill Maher’s show that she really does believe, “Evolution is a myth.”  When she was ridiculed for that comment, she blurted out:

Why aren’t monkeys still evolving into humans?

Now, this is all very funny in a funny sort of way.  But when you think about it, it isn’t so funny.

There are millions upon millions of Americans who believe evolution is “only” a “theory” or, worse, a “myth.

And some may say, so what?  If these folks want to believe such nonsense, it’s a free country.  Nobody’s hurt by it.

But these folks don’t just confine their beliefs to themselves.  They often want to make them public policy, as the ongoing fight over textbooks in Texas make clear. As David Waters commented about the Texas board of education on washingtonpost.com:

Remember, this is the government body that opened its May session with a Christian prayer on behalf of “a Christian land governed by Christian principles,” a prayer made “in the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

When earnest evangelical Christians like O’Donnell say, “local school districts should have the choice to teach intelligent design if they choose,” they are really saying that religious views should be taught as scientific ones.  And their basis for such statements is not a misplaced faith in the Constitution’s alleged preference for local governance, but a misplaced faith in the Bible as a guide to all human thought, especially ideas about how we came to be.

In our times, such thoughts are not just part of harmlessly quaint and curious belief systems. If allowed to proliferate without challenge, they wouldn’t just lead to a paralysis in understanding our true origins, but they would lead to a larger cultural paralysis that could jeopardize advances in medicine and technology and other fruits of scientific inquiry.

That’s why Christine O’Donnell’s doomed campaign to become 1/100th of 1/2 of 1/3 of the federal government, although entertaining, isn’t all that funny.  There are still many more Christine O’Donnells out there who need to be defeated.

Omen VI: The Obamanation

Millions of dittoheads listen to Rush Limbaugh every single day.

And despite efforts by Republicans to downplay Limbaugh’s importance to the Republican Party, what he says on a daily basis makes it into blogs, water cooler conversations, and frequently into mainstream media.

It’s been a while since I have mentioned Limbaugh, so I thought I would check in on him and see if his pathological hatred of Barack Obama had found a nice plateau on which to rest.

Nope.

Yesterday, he showed this picture to his dittocam subscribers:

The picture was taken from the Drudge Report site, a frequent source of Limbaugh’s material. Here’s what Rush told his listeners about this picture and others posted by Drudge:

I’ve got too many things to do here, but, folks, these pictures, they look demonic.  And I don’t say this lightly.  There are a couple pictures, and the eyes, I’m not saying anything here, but just look.  It is strange that these pictures would be released…It’s very, very, very strange.  An American president has never had facial expressions like this.

Later he said,

I have never seen a picture of an American president look like that…I mean, I feel like I’m watching The Omen: 666 and all that. This is weird, weird, weird, stuff.

Now, some of you may think that Rush is just making a stupid joke here.  No, no, no.  He is, no doubt, making a stupid joke, but he is also playing on the fears of his fearful audience, particularly those Christians who really do think President Obama represents something like the anti-Christ of scripture.

Just three weeks ago, after President Obama related why he was personally attracted to Christianity, Limbaugh made ignorant comments about Christian theology, which also included this political analysis:

The reason why this is important is there’s an effort by the left to say that Jesus was a socialist, and they are using this to turn many evangelical people into global-warming people. We are the stewards of the planet and so forth. There’s an ongoing effort here to corrupt Christianity.

As a former but long-time devotee of Limbaugh, I can tell you that Limbaugh often play$ to the paranoia of his audience, and there is no greater mass paranoia out there than that generated by the idea, rooted in the Bible, that the Devil is out to get us all.

And Barack Obama, with those demon eyes, just may be The Evil One.

Roy Blunt: Call Him The Fireman

After Endorsing Roy Blunt, Is Scott Eckersley Next For The Joplin Globe?

 

I know Joplin Globe readers were absolutely shocked when they opened their Sunday papers and discovered that the Globe had endorsed Roy Blunt for U.S. Senator.

I mean, a Republican-tilting newspaper going all-in on behalf of a local Republican legislator?  Who could have guessed that?

Touting Blunt’s “experience,” (no mention of his proximity to the scandal surrounding Tom DeLay or convicted felon Jack Abramoff, of course), and the need for such experience “because today’s problems urgently need solutions, and the raging, partisan fires in Congress show no signs of dying down,” the Globe notes,

Locally, he is most known for everything he has brought back to his district. We can point to several projects in the area that would not have happened without Blunt’s work.

Careful readers will note the incongruence between the Globe‘s suggestion that Fireman Roy can use his considerable political experience to put out the “raging, partisan fires,” and Blunt’s considerable political experience in putting out nasty, partisan, campaign ads against Robin Carnahan and Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi. 

The Fireman told the Globe‘s editorial board that he would put down his 5-gallon can of gas after the election and grab a fire hose after he gets his Senate desk.  Well, the editorial endorsement actually put it this way:

Blunt said he has two goals: To get elected on Nov. 2 and to open the doors of compromise on Nov. 3. For him to keep the latter goal if elected, he’ll need to retain his representative roots and break outside his party’s reputation of being “the party of no” — and work for real bipartisan compromise.

Huh?  Does anyone really think that Roy Blunt, newly elected, will buck his party and hold hands with Senate Democrats on anything? 

The Globe wonders out loud about Blunt’s future behavior:

If elected, will he be more like the vote-rallying, compromising representative that got bills passed? Or will he become the same kind of senator that squashed the House’s work?

If the Globe‘s real desire is for someone to come in and put out the “raging, partisan fires,” why endorse a candidate who will only add numerical strength to Republican arsonists?

If the paper believes “today’s problems urgently need solutions,” why endorse a candidate whose election will increase the strength of a political party that has stood by and done absolutely nothing the last 21 months?

In any case, there is at least a silver lining to this otherwise dark endorsement cloud. By supporting Roy Blunt, primarily on the strength of his ability to bring home the pork to Southwest Missouri and his alleged desire to compromise after the election, the Globe cannot now endorse 7th District Republican candidate Billy Long—who opposes earmarks and farm subsidies and other government largess, and who has clearly suggested he is not going to Washington, D.C., to compromise with anyone with a “D” by his or her name.

I guess that means either the paper won’t endorse a candidate, or it will endorse the other Republican in the race, Scott Eckersley.

Thank God And Lindsey Graham America Is A Center-Right Nation

As the Republican Party quickly slides down the slippery slope of extremism, it’s not easy to find a moderate among them. Some people consider Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) such a moderate, and he was trying his best on Face the Nation yesterday to act all moderate-ish, as he warned Tea Party Republicans not to be so much like, well, Tea Party Republicans:

The American public is in the right-center of the road. They’re not in the right ditch or the left ditch. So, our Tea Party friends have done us a favor, but if we talk about doing away with Social Security, as part of our agenda, then we’re gonna lose the public.

The public is in the middle of the road, right of center…But if you get too far right or too far left, you’re gonna lose the American people.

Now, consider what Graham is saying here.  He claims that America is a “center-right” country, a claim made all the time by those on the right.  But then he claims that those center-right folks will reject Republicans, if they attempt to abolish Social Security, a New Deal program created by the left-wing of the Democratic Party.

I suppose in some strange way it’s okay to say America is a center-right, conservative nation, if by that one means that Americans seek to conserve massive, but effective liberal programs.  That’s the kind of conservatism even Democrats can support.  It’s nice to know that programs like Social Security and presumably Medicare are “right of center.”  Hallelujah!  Our side is winning!

But there’s still miles to go before we sleep.  As long as “moderate” Republicans like Lindsey Graham unashamedly spout nonsense like the following, there is plenty of work to do:

…most Democrats in swing states are running against Nancy Pelosi and against the Obama takeover of most of society, so this is a rejection of an overreach of governing from the left ditch.

Takeover of most of society“?  At least he didn’t call the President an anti-colonialist Kenyan Muslim Marxist, which, I suppose, does make him a moderate Republican these days.

 Hallelujah! 

Where Have A Lot Of The Jobs Gone? Just Ask The U.S. Chamber of Commerce

If the following story doesn’t outrage you, then you need to get your piss meter fixed. 

During the opening segment on last night’s Rachel Maddow Show, St. Rachel played a short clip of Chamber of Commerce honcho Tom Donohue extolling the virtues of outsourcing American jobs to other countries:

There are legitimate values in outsourcing, not only jobs but work.*

During the segment, Rachel played an ad running against Robin Carnahan, paid for by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The ad essentially connected Carnahan to the loss of 120,000 jobs in Missouri, to which Maddow said:

Missouri lost 120,000 jobs. Take a guess where those jobs went. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.  That’s right. More than 102,000 people who live in Missouri lost their jobs because Missouri companies decided they would rather fire Americans and instead have people in other countries do that work. Chamber of Commerce is all for it! Remember, according to them outsourcing is good!

As I said, watch the whole segment and your piss meter should spike:

____________________________

*For a lame defense of his views on outsourcing, from 2007, look here.

Remarks And Asides

Howard Fineman reports that Christine O’Donnell, Delaware’s answer to a very strange question, is irked at Republican bigwigs for not sending her more moolah to continue her crusade against reality.  Neither the National Republican Senatorial Committee nor the Rove-ish undercover funders want to waste resources financing a campaign that even Don Quixote would abandon.

But the real interesting thing about her pleas for more dough is that we found out that Sean Hannity is her pocket-sized bitch:

Specifically, according to two top GOP insiders, she said at a strategy meeting with DC types last week: “I’ve got Sean Hannity in my back pocket, and I can go on his show and raise money by attacking you guys.”

Finally, Ms. O’Donnell has said something with which we can all agree.

____________________________________

Tea Party candidate for governor of New York, Carl Paladino, said this week,

We must stop pandering to the pornographers and the perverts, who seek to target our children and destroy their lives.

Unfortunately for him, he said this after he had scattered a number of e-mails around that are not suitable for review via a blog connected to a family newspaper.  However, WNYMedia can direct you to them, if you want to see examples of how pornographers and perverts and Republican gubernatorial candidates are targeting our children and destroying their lives:

If you are just being introduced to Carl Paladino through various TV or radio stories or the 1,000 published stories on his love for hot, hardcore, barely legal pornography, we’d like to welcome you.  You’ve got a lot of catching up to do! 

If you’re here to learn more about the salacious and offensive emails he admitted to sending out to his friends, follow this link.  Or, this new one with new and improved Carl approved images from sites like FistFlush.com and TeachMyAss.com

If you want to see more coverage from WNYMedia writers about the Paladino campaign, then follow this link.  This post is particularly interesting.  So is this one.

_____________________________________

Someone in Jerry Brown’s campaign for governor referred to his opponent, Meg Whitman, as a “whore.” Then the California president of the National Organization for Women qualified the term a bit by saying that Whitman was a “political whore.”  Okay, then. That’s better.  Now I understand. But Democrats really should stop calling Republicans names.  I mean, after all, Republicans never call the anti-colonialist Kenyan Marxist Muslim racist Barack Hussein Obama names do they?

_____________________________________

Kudos to Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar, who walked off The View in protest of The Flatulator, Bill O’Reilly, passing gas on the set.  The man has no manners.  It’s one thing to let a little poop smoke slip out while you’re at home, but when you’re someone’s guest you really should try to hold it in.

Most people didn’t notice that pretty little Republican Elisabeth Hasselbeck didn’t mind the stink.  In fact, she joined in with a butt bomb of her own, something nice girls don’t do on television. Here is Lawrence O’Donnell giving her a little advice on broadcast etiquette:

_____________________________________

 

The Kochtopus

It’s time for a lengthy look at what’s happening to our country.

According to the New Yorker, The Koch brothers, David and Charles,

are lifelong libertarians and have quietly given more than a hundred million dollars to right-wing causes… The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation.

Also,

In Washington, [David] Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular.

Okay. So, tell us more. Who are the Koch brothers? 

With his brother Charles, who is seventy-four, David Koch owns virtually all of Koch Industries, a conglomerate, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, whose annual revenues are estimated to be a hundred billion dollars. The company has grown spectacularly since their father, Fred, died, in 1967, and the brothers took charge. The Kochs operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control some four thousand miles of pipeline. Koch Industries owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra, among other products. Forbes ranks it as the second-largest private company in the country, after Cargill, and its consistent profitability has made David and Charles Koch—who, years ago, bought out two other brothers—among the richest men in America. Their combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars is exceeded only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

And,

…Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said, “The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.”

Okay.  So, what does it mean that two rich brothers, whose father was an enthusiastic supporter of the conspiratorial John Birch Society, are libertarians and have “small-government” views?

These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.

Part of the Kochtopus is an organization called Americans for Prosperity, an allegedly “grassroots” Tea Partyish organization, which David Koch started in 2004.  Now, the group describes itself this way:

AFP is an organization of grassroots leaders who engage citizens in the name of limited government and free markets on the local, state and federal levels. The grassroots activists of AFP advocate for public policies that champion the principles of entrepreneurship and fiscal and regulatory restraint.

Also,

The heart and soul of AFP and AFP Foundation are our citizen activists. They organize events, write letters to the editor, and petition their lawmakers to uphold freedom and prosperity.  Americans for Prosperity and Americans for Prosperity Foundation have more than 1,500,000 activists, in all 50 states, and 31 state chapters and affiliates. More than 80,000 Americans in all 50 states have made a financial contribution to AFP or AFP Foundation.

There’s no mention of David Koch on the AFP website, but there is on the AFP Foundation site:

David Koch is the executive vice president and a member of the board of directors for Koch Industries, Inc., based in Wichita, Kansas. He helped found Americans For Prosperity, and also serves on the board of directors for the Reason Foundation and the CATO Institute. David was the Libertarian Party candidate for vice president of the United States in 1980.

So, is Americans for Prosperity a grassroots organization?  I’ll let David Axelrod explain it, from the New Yorker article:

What they don’t say is that, in part, this is a grassroots citizens’ movement brought to you by a bunch of oil billionaires.

I think that’s a fair statement, although “bunch” might be stretching it in these tough economic times.

But even though AFP, started with Koch money, is obviously part of the Tea Party movement, do the Kochs consider themselves teapartiers?

In April, 2009, Melissa Cohlmia, a company spokesperson, denied that the Kochs had direct links to the Tea Party, saying that Americans for Prosperity is “an independent organization and Koch companies do not in any way direct their activities.” Later, she issued a statement: “No funding has been provided by Koch companies, the Koch foundations, or Charles Koch or David Koch specifically to support the tea parties.” David Koch told New York, “I’ve never been to a tea-party event. No one representing the tea party has ever even approached me.”

The New Yorker does a good job of refuting that notion, including this:

Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist and a historian, who once worked at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a Dallas-based think tank that the Kochs fund, said, “The problem with the whole libertarian movement is that it’s been all chiefs and no Indians. There haven’t been any actual people, like voters, who give a crap about it. So the problem for the Kochs has been trying to create a movement.” With the emergence of the Tea Party, he said, “everyone suddenly sees that for the first time there are Indians out there—people who can provide real ideological power.” The Kochs, he said, are “trying to shape and control and channel the populist uprising into their own policies.”

And this:

A Republican campaign consultant who has done research on behalf of Charles and David Koch said of the Tea Party, “The Koch brothers gave the money that founded it. It’s like they put the seeds in the ground. Then the rainstorm comes, and the frogs come out of the mud—and they’re our candidates!”

And this:

The Republican campaign consultant said of the family’s political activities, “To call them under the radar is an understatement. They are underground!” Another former Koch adviser said, “They’re smart. This right-wing, redneck stuff works for them. They see this as a way to get things done without getting dirty themselves.” Rob Stein, a Democratic political strategist who has studied the conservative movement’s finances, said that the Kochs are “at the epicenter of the anti-Obama movement. But it’s not just about Obama. They would have done the same to Hillary Clinton. They did the same with Bill Clinton. They are out to destroy progressivism.”

Interestingly, the Koch’s John Bircher father, Fred Koch, had some beliefs that don’t sound all that different from some of the stuff that comes from tea partiers today:

In a self-published broadside, Koch claimed that “the Communists have infiltrated both the Democrat and Republican Parties.” He wrote admiringly of Benito Mussolini’s suppression of Communists in Italy, and disparagingly of the American civil-rights movement. “The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America,” he warned. Welfare was a secret plot to attract rural blacks to cities, where they would foment “a vicious race war.” In a 1963 speech that prefigures the Tea Party’s talk of a secret socialist plot, Koch predicted that Communists would “infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the President is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us.”

And according to the New Yorker, “David Koch recalled that his father also indoctrinated the boys politically“:

“He was constantly speaking to us children about what was wrong with government,” he told Brian Doherty, an editor of the libertarian magazine Reason, and the author of “Radicals for Capitalism,” a 2007 history of the libertarian movement. “It’s something I grew up with—a fundamental point of view that big government was bad, and imposition of government controls on our lives and economic fortunes was not good.”

During the 1980 presidential campaign in which David Koch ran as the Libertarian Party vice-presidential candidate, those anti-government views were prevalent. The New Yorker explained that the party platform,

called for the abolition of the F.B.I. and the C.I.A., as well as of federal regulatory agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Energy. The Party wanted to end Social Security, minimum-wage laws, gun control, and all personal and corporate income taxes; it proposed the legalization of prostitution, recreational drugs, and suicide. Government should be reduced to only one function: the protection of individual rights. William F. Buckley, Jr., a more traditional conservative, called the movement “Anarcho-Totalitarianism.”

Needless to say, those views weren’t all that popular in 1980.  The Libertarians received 1% of the vote (almost 12% in Alaska).

But those views and ideas live on in the Koch-funded Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation—where popular right-wing radio and television hosts get a lot of their talking points and whose scholars regularly appear on the Republican “News” Channel and other networks.

The Kochs also started another think tank in Arlington, Virginia, at George Mason University, the Mercatus Center, which Democratic strategist Rob Stein calls, “ground zero for deregulation policy in Washington.”  The Wall Street Journal called the center, “the most important think tank you’ve never heard of.”

Realizing that in order to disseminate their ideas more broadly, the Kochs began yet another group in 1984, Citizens for a Sound Economy. On board that effort was a man named Matt Kibbe, who we know today as the president of Freedom Works, a prominent Tea Party group.  In fact, Citizens for a Sound Economy split into two groups in 2004: Freedom Works and….Americans for Prosperity.

Amazing.  Both Freedom Works and Americans for Prosperity have been busy making many earnest people think they are part of a grassroots movement, even though the truth is that they are really pawns in a scheme funded by billionaires to change the rules of the game in their favor.*

The New Yorker article is a long read, full of many more examples of the Koch brothers’ influence on our politics. But it’s well worth reading, if you want to understand how one wealthy family can have such a profound effect on how Americans think. 

And now that the Citizens United case has completely opened the doors to people like the Koch brothers, and now that the Republican Party has withdrawn its previous support for at least transparency in our politics, there is little to stop them from using their money—through groups like Americans for Prosperity—to further erode average people’s faith in our political system and our government, a government that has kept many of those people from the harm that the the Kochtopus philosophy would surely bring to them.

Here is a short video that connects the Koch brothers to the “grassroots” Tea Party movement:

_______________________________

*For a Missouri connection, here is a paragraph from the St. Louis Activist Hub blog:

“The Post-Dispatch wrote an excellent editorial last week documenting the astroturf activities of Carl Bearden, the former director of Missouri’s Americans for Prosperity and someone who played a crucial role in starting the St. Louis tea party. Bearden organized a rally outside of Senator McCaskill’s office where the tea party falsely claimed that someone from McCaskill’s office “gave them the finger” (in fact, it was someone from an adjoining office who was upset that the tea party was banging on their windows). McCaskill, in typical weak-kneed Democrat fashion, apologized anyway and agreed with Bearden to hold a meeting that was covered by Fox News and largely kicked off the tea party’s summer of angry, obnoxious, town halls. So Bearden played a crucial role in a pivotal “birthing” moment for the St. Louis tea party, and likely played a big role in turnout efforts for their other events. He also organized some of the original tea party events in other parts of Missouri.”

Here is the link to a video of Carl Bearden’s address to the Joplin Tea Party earlier this year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx6OV5FrqMw

Republicans Kill Good Government For Power

Sam Stein at HuffPo wrote today about the GOP hypocrisy on the issue of transparency in campaign financing.

Pointing out that even Republicans used to favor full disclosure of campaign contributions—they essentially used full disclosure as a shield against much stronger campaign finance laws—Stein quoted a familiar player:

House Minority Leader John Boehner, in an appearance on “Meet the Press” in February 2007, said that the political process “ought to have full disclosure, full disclosure of all of the money that we raise and how it is spent. And I think that sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

Apparently, these days Boehner and other Republicans prefer the infectious darkness, having abandoned any pretense they are interested in good government or interested in restoring integrity to our electoral system.

Republicans are only interested, for now at least, in gaining back political power.

The DISCLOSE Act, which passed the House, failed by one filibuster-busting vote in the Senate.  The proposed campaign-finance legislation would have, in Stein’s words,

required groups that spend on the political process to disclose their donors and put their names on the ads they run. It also went a bit further, forbidding 501(c)(4) organizations from using corporate money on their ads. And in an effort to disarm the gun lobby’s opposition, the law was amended to exempt large national organizations like the NRA from disclosure requirements.

Republicans, of course, found reasons to oppose the measure, including the two provisions above, but here is the real reason:

“We went from 48 out of 54 Republican Senators to zero,” said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21. “There are other provisions in the Disclose Act which people have hung their hat on as a reason for opposing it. But it is my view that Senator McConnell’s main internal argument against this was the absence of disclosure will benefit us politically in the 2010 elections and no one should do anything to disturb our chances… I think the opposition here flowed from hard partisan politics. There is no other rationale.”

Democrats have long argued for a publicly financed campaign system, a system that would help restore public confidence in the process, and certainly would free up legislators from having to raise tons of money and from the temptation of exchanging votes for cash. 

But after the Citizens United decision, which opened the door for unlimited corporate giving, the hope of truly reforming the system is all but gone.  The DISCLOSE Act probably represented the best that could be done, given the Supreme Court’s democracy-debilitating decision rendered by an activist conservative majority.

And today Republicans are enjoying the fruits of their years of labor to put activist conservative justices on the high court, those fruits coming in the form of campaign donations from unknown millionaires and billionaires, whose desire to support Republicans has nothing to do with our national well-being but everything to do with their own.

Ron Paul And A Quick Lesson About The Tea Party

Lawrence O’Donnell is a unique interviewer, although you would need to see him do it a few times before you would know what I mean. 

Last night on The Last Word, during an interview with Libertarian-Republican-Tea Partier Ron Paul, he had a strange exchange with him regarding Medicare, and by strange I mean strange in the way Paul danced around the question, “You would abolish Medicare, wouldn’t you?” 

Paul just couldn’t bring himself to say the words, but it is clear what he wants to do.  As outspoken as Paul has been in his career, why couldn’t he bring himself to say the words, “I want to abolish Medicare“?  Of course, we all know why.

And O’Donnell ask him about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Paul’s comment that,

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not improve race relations or enhance freedom.

Even better than the job Rachel Maddow did on Rand Paul, O’Donnell hammered him on this point, as Ron Paul attempted, à la Glenn Beck, to turn Martin Luther King into a Libertarian.  It was Ron Paul’s worst performance on television, and it demonstrated that when challenged, libertarians—at least those who want to stay in office—have a problem explaining themselves.

At one point, O’Donnell says to him:

Congressman, let’s not try to pretend libertarianism is what changed segregation in this country.  It was activist liberal government that changed segregation in this country, otherwise it would still be with us.  It took activist liberal Washington government in the Civil Rights Act to end that segregation that you properly decry.

Paul called O’Donnell “discourteous” at the end, as if politicians shouldn’t be held accountable for their views, particularly the extremist views of Libertarians.

Watch a few minutes of the interview, which I have clipped beginning with the Medicare discussion:

Billy Long’s Alleged Bad Behavior

When you write a political blog you hear things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 641 other followers

%d bloggers like this: