Remember Bin Laden And Dance, Dance, Dance

All weekend, and again today, the talk is about tomorrow’s one-year anniversary of the demise of Obama bin Laden.

But Republicans are incensed that last Friday the Obama campaign released a web video—a web video, mind you—featuring President Clinton saying—surprise, surprise—nice things about Obama’s decision to send the terrorist bastard to the bottom of the sea.

The ball-buster was at the end when this question is posed:

Which path would Mitt Romney have taken?

That is a question worth asking because of Mittens’ remarks in 2007 that it wasn’t worth “moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.”  John McCain found it in his politically duplicitous heart to criticize Romney at the time, but that was then and this is now. These days McCain is bad-mouthing Obama, claiming he is “doing a shameless end-zone dance to help himself get elected.

Well, after years of watching Republicans slander Democrats as being weak abroad, it is about time we danced and spiked the ball after our guy sent bin Laden snorkeling without a snorkel.

But more important, the Obama web video also featured a quote from a Reuter’s article from 2007:

Mitt Romney criticized Barack Obama for vowing to strike al-Qaeda targets inside Pakistan if necessary.

Whoops! Mittens shouldn’t have done that. Makes him look weak. And it is certainly fair game for the Obama team to point out that Romney couldn’t have been more wrong.

And that, of course, is what has Republicans, and their cable “news” channel friends, so theatrically indignant.

The truth of the matter is that it is more than okay for Democrats to point out their successes, even if it pisses off the entire Obama-hating world. And the reason it is okay is because the other side would be quick to point out Democratic failures. Just imagine what kind of campaign commercials we would be seeing from Romney, should the mission to get bin Laden have failed.

Some of us still remember Operation Eagle Claw.

That was the name given to the failed attempt in April of 1980 to rescue the 52 Americans held hostage in Iran by a mob of revolutionaries who had stormed our embassy in Teheran.  That failed mission, and the fact the hostages would not be coming home before Election Day, figured greatly in President Jimmy Carter’s loss to Ronald Reagan.

Anyone think that the Reagan campaign in 1980 simply ignored the botched mission? Anyone think that Republicans simply refused to go there? Refused to be divisive about a national failure? Or criticize Jimmy Carter for failed leadership?

Of course not. The campaign time and again emphasized Carter’s alleged foreign policy and leadership weaknesses.

Here’s the text of an ad that aired in 1980:

Do you really think Iranian terrorists would have taken Americans hostage, if Ronald Reagan were president?

Do you really think the Russians would have invaded Afghanistan, if Ronald Reagan were president?

Do you really think third-rate military dictators would laugh at America and burn our flag in contempt, if Ronald Reagan were president?

Isn’t it about time we had the strong new leadership Ronald Reagan would provide as president. Isn’t it about time America had a president whose judgment we can trust?

Nothing subtle about that.

In an ad aired just before election day, and “paid for and authorized by the Reagan Bush Committee,” a somber narrator read the following text:

In a copyrighted story in the New York Times on October 27th, William Safire wrote: “The smoothest of Iran’s diplomatic criminals was shown on American television this weekend, warning American voters that they had better not elect Ronald Reagan. Ayatollah Khomeini and his men prefer a weak and manageable U.S. president, and have decided to do everything in their power to determine our election result.”

Here’s another ad that aired that campaign season:

MALE NARRATOR: Very slowly, a step at a time, the hope for world peace erodes. Slowly, we once slid into Korea, slowly, into Vietnam. And now, the Persian Gulf beckons.

Jimmy Carter’s weak, indecisive leadership has vacillated before events in Angola, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan. Jimmy Carter still doesn’t know that it takes strong leadership to keep the peace. Weak leadership will lose it.

REAGAN: Of all the objectives we seek, first and foremost is the establishment of lasting world peace. We know only too well that war comes not when the forces of freedom are strong. It is when they are weak that tyrants are tempted…

Jimmy Carter’s weak, indecisive leadership…” Hmm.

The Republicans in 1980 even used Ted Kennedy in an ad against Carter. Kennedy ran against him in the Democratic primary and hurt him by saying things like this:

EDWARD KENNEDY: I say it’s time to say: No more American hostages. No more high interest rates. No more high inflation, and no more Jimmy Carter.

MALE NARRATOR: The time is now for strong leadership. Reagan for President.

“Strong leadership” is always worth emphasizing. It’s just that Republicans aren’t used to our guys emphasizing it. And it is just too damned bad that Republicans are upset that Obama’s team is showing American voters that this election year Democrats aren’t going to sit back and let Republicans smear them once again as foreign policy and military weaklings.

Goodbye, Joplin Globe

The problem with newspapers isn’t the quality of their journalism but the weakness of their business model. It’s ironic that readership of newspaper content in print and online is at an all-time high while the revenues of the US industry are at a 60-year low. We should be focused not on preserving newspapers but on preserving journalism.”

—Paul Gillin, of Newspaper Death Watch

 should tell you that the Joplin Globe has given me the left foot of fellowship.

The beer money I was earning for writing this blog affiliated with the paper proved too much for its finances to bear.* Man, these are hard times when a newspaper the size of the Globe can’t afford to pay a pittance for quality commentary!  Maybe if John McCain had been president, the economy would have blossomed such that the paper could afford my meager wages. Damn, maybe I should have voted for McCain, but the Joplin Globe told me not to.

In any case, as grateful as I am to have had the conservative Globe’s blessing as a liberal blogger, I am now untethered from of our local newspaper, which means that if this blog continues it will do so as a labor of love.  For now, I plan to keep writing through the November election. I began this endeavor just after Obama took office in 2009, and I want to keep at it at least until voters have their say on his presidency.

And besides that, I have some scores to settle with a couple of (now former) conservative Globe bloggers, which I will hopefully get to in time.

As for changes, the only thing I can foresee now is that I won’t be so concerned about profanity. Regular readers who don’t appreciate cursing and coarse talk are now forewarned that I will no longer censor some of the language that most people—even religious people!—use  in everyday life.

I once audited a class out at the local ultra-conservative Christian college where a very capable Greek teacher held an enlightening discussion about profanity. He (unwittingly) convinced me that we make way too much of such words, and give them too much power over us.

William F. Buckley, whose writings I have read with great care and enthusiasm (as a conservative) and with great care and dismay (as a liberal), sometimes used words that stuffy folks considered profane and sacrilegious. He defended such use on the grounds that some words perform a function peculiar to those words and that a writer ought to use all of the resources of the language. On that I still agree with Buckley.

Finally, this would be a good time to thank all of the faithful readers of this blog. The readership has grown steadily since I moved to WordPress in September of 2009, and I appreciate your time and attention.

______________________________

*Most of the Globe blogs were on WordPress and thus readers could avoid going to the Joplin Globe website to read them. And since most readers bookmarked my site and did not go through the Globe (only about 3% of the traffic came from the link on its site), the paper’s management likely reasoned that they weren’t benefiting from my readership. The most obvious solution for the paper, if it wants to be a complete player in the digital age, would be to develop its own blogging platform.

Missouri And The Minimum Wage

There is a ballot initiative underway in Missouri that—if voters approve—would raise our state’s minimum wage to $8.25 an hour in 2013, as well as provide an annual cost of living adjustment in the following years.

On Thursday a judge rejected claims that the summary written by the secretary of state to explain the initiative to voters was faulty:

“We think it’s good news. We’re one step closer to making sure that the will of Missouri voters is being respected and we all get a chance to vote on this,” said Lara Granich, director of Missouri Jobs with Justice, which is backing the initiative.

Just why is this push to raise the minimum wage important? Take a look at the following, courtesy of Remapping Debate:

As you can see, and as Remapping Debate points out, the federal minimum wage “is significantly less in real terms” than in 1968. There are no provisions in the law that would allow the minimum wage to keep up with inflation and thus the purchasing power of those wage earners erodes over time.

Speaking of purchasing power, Remapping Debate also provided a comparison of the “family poverty threshold” between 1968 and 2011. It ain’t pretty:

The above green gap—which represents the shortfall between the earnings of someone working minimum wage and trying to support a family of four at the poverty threshold—is not something to be proud of, but at least it is better than it was in 2007:

Although there is no chance that a Tea Party Congress will raise the minimum wage at the federal level, Missourians can take matters into their own hands, should the ballot initiative succeed.

Help For The Post Office

For those of you interested in the continued existence of the Postal Service, Sen. Bernie Sanders—who is trying desperately to save the agency from the folly of its leadership and from some Republicans who want to essentially kill it off and sell the remains to the private sector—appeared on The Ed Show last night, after the Senate voted to pass a bill that only partially addresses USPS’s problems:

Akin And Blunt Embarrass Missouri

Ah, to live in Missouri.

First, there’s one of our state’s zaniest Republicans, Rep. Todd Akin, who is trying to become Claire McCaskill’s replacement as U.S. Senator. (By the way, as The Washington Post reported, “Independent conservative groups have already spent more than $3 million on television and radio ads” against McCaskill.)

Akin had the distinct pleasure of being the butt of a joke by the President of the United States involving the issue of increased interest rates for student loans. From HuffPo:

“I’m always interested in how folks talk about this issue,” he said. “You’ve got one member of Congress who compared student loans — I’m not kidding here — to a stage three cancer of socialism.”

Obama tried to repeat the phrase but broke up laughing.

“I don’t know where to start? What do you mean? What are you talking about? Come on!” he implored, eliciting loud applause. “Just when you think you’ve heard it all in Washington, somebody comes up with a new way to go off the deep end.”

Yes, it’s true.  Todd Akin, who has been endorsed by Michele Bachmann and Iowa’s goofy representative, Steve King,  did say this:

America has got the equivalent of the stage three cancer of socialism because the federal government is tampering in all kinds of stuff it has no business tampering in.

Now, Akin isn’t the only Missouri politician making news about student loans. Roy Blunt, who is Mitt Romney’s front man in Congress, told a whopper about the Affordable Care Act and the interest rates charged to students taking out loans. He told Andrea Mitchell:

Why is that rate as high as it is? Because it was one of he pay-fors in the President’s health care plan. If the health care plan goes away, as the court very well might decide, there’s no longer an argument about this loan rate because it was used to take money from students and pay for health care, and largely health care for people who aren’t students.

Of course this is a complete lie. The law that lowered interest rates (from 6.8% to 3.4%) was signed by President Bush in 2007 and it is set to expire on July 1 of this year, which is what the current fuss is all about.

Some people think Blunt got that law confused with the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which was attached to the ACA. That Act cut the bankers out of the student loan loop (which pissed off Republicans bigtime), thereby saving the government tons of money that Democrats then reinvested in low- and middle-income students via grants. (Presumably, that is what Todd Akin meant by “stage three cancer of socialism“!)

In any case, confused or not, what Blunt did was stand in front of a television camera and tell a falsehood—without immediate challenge from Andrea Mitchell. Thankfully, though, The Ed Show exposed Blunt’s tall tale later that night in the following segment:

“With How Little Wisdom The World Is Governed”

Fourteen months ago I wrote the following, in a piece titled, “While We Were Away, Republicans Were Trying to Kill The Economy:

Since the fall of 2008, there has emerged two diametrically opposed approaches to solving our (and the world’s) economic predicament:

(1) Stimulate the economy through government (deficit) spending until consumer demand picks up sufficiently to sustain a strong recovery

(2) Drastically cut government spending because deficits are a drag on the economy

Democrats, of course, have tried to pursue (against strong Republican opposition) the former and Republicans, including now the party’s candidate for president, have aggressively pursued the latter.

Thankfully, early in 2009, the Democrats prevailed with a mild (relatively mild, it turned out) stimulus program that has led to Ben Bernanke talking up today (cautiously, modestly) the Fed’s latest growth forecast for 2012 (now up to a range of 2.4 to 2.9%) and projected unemployment down to 7.8-8% at the end of the year. Not fabulous, but better than the 700,000+ jobs we were losing when Obama took office. And the current 25 straight months of private-sector job growth ain’t nuttin’.

The Democrats success with the stimulus (oh, how that galls conservatives when they hear those words, but they must watch as the American recovery continues) can be compared to what has happened in Europe, which pursued a Republicanesque austerity philosophy.

From Henry Blodget of the Business Insider:

The “austerity” idea, you’ll remember, was that the continents’ huge debt and deficit problem had ushered in a “crisis of confidence” and that, once business-people saw that governments were serious about debt reduction, they’d get confident and start spending again.

That hasn’t worked.

Instead, spending cuts have led to cuts in GDP which has led to greater deficits and the need for more spending cuts. And so on.

Paul Krugman chimes in about the “big fat failure” of the European austerity policy:

It’s important to understand that what we’re seeing isn’t a failure of orthodox economics. Standard economics in this case — that is, economics based on what the profession has learned these past three generations, and for that matter on most textbooks — was the Keynesian position. The austerity thing was just invented out of thin air and a few dubious historical examples to serve the prejudices of the elite.

And now the results are in: Keynesians have been completely right, Austerians utterly wrong — at vast human cost.

But no one I know of thinks that these “results” will convince Republicans here in America to suddenly rush to the confessional and admit there are flaws in their cut-spending-balance-the-budget-deregulate prescription for short-term salvation. Not gonna happen, as Krugman points out:

Nobody ever admits that they were wrong, and Austerian ideas clearly have an emotional and political appeal that is resilient to any and all evidence.

Do you not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?

[See here for the origin of that wonderful admonition.]

Etch-A-Romney

Mittens declared ultimate victory last night in New Hampshire, proving that having plenty of money to carve up your opponents in television commercials and having a willingness to radically alter your beliefs—then pretend they have been your beliefs all along!—is all that is necessary to dupe folks eager to throw Obama out of the White’s House.

This speech was the first in what will be a long series of attempts to re-sketch Romney and make him more attractive to folks who don’t tote placards or guns at Tea Party rallies.

Puke-worthy in his speech was his “simple message” to “heartbroken” single moms, gas-poor seniors, and “the mom and dad who never thought they’d be on food stamps.”  That message was,

Hold on a little longer. A better America begins tonight.

Yeah, hold on until the Romney-Ryan budget lifts you up, up, and away!

Mittens will “unite every American who knows in their heart that we can do better!” That means those of us—about half the country— who would rather put a peg through our pupil than vote for him, are S.O.L.! That’s some unity.

Romney also claimed that Obama “will run a campaign of diversions, distractions, and distortions.” Now considering that The Etch Man just finished running a campaign of diversions, distractions, and distortions, and considering that he will have to continue to divert, distract, and distort in order to sell his always-evolving self to the electorate, that is quite a compliment.

And Mittens, who brought the world Romneycare, offered Obama another huge compliment when he gave him credit for the eventual end of  American capitalism:

With Obamacare fully installed, government will come to control half the economy, and we will have effectively ceased to be a free enterprise society.

What? No more Bain Capital? What in Kolob’s name are we gonna do? What will the vultures eat?

Perhaps my favorite passage in the speech was this one, which I look forward to beholding:

In the America I see, character and choices matter. And education, hard work, and living within our means are valued and rewarded. And poverty will be defeated, not with a government check, but with respect and achievement that is taught by parents, learned in school, and practiced in the workplace.

Now, I know right-wingers like to talk about the grandiosity of Barack Obama, what with his slowing the oceans’ rise (promise kept, by the way!) and his attempt to heal the planet (Big O’s still working on that one), but he ain’t never said he could defeat poverty. Heck, Jesus couldn’t even do that! If I thought Mittens could end poverty, I wouldn’t walk, I’d run to the polls in November to symbolically touch the hem of his holy garment!

But he did get something right in the speech:

Today, the hill before us is a little steep but we have always been a nation of big steppers.

Yes, yes. Folks like Romney have been big steppin’ all over the rest of us for years, and the magical thing about these big steppers is that they can get about half of the folks crushed under their big steppin’ heels to crawl out and vote for them! That’s some voodoo!

Toward the end of his speech, Mr. Etch hit a theme that was both offensive and effective, in terms of penetrating deep into the souls of his pale-faced supporters:

We’ll stop the days of apologizing for success at home and never again apologize for America abroad.

There was a time – not so long ago – when each of us could walk a little taller and stand a little straighter because we had a gift that no one else in the world shared. We were Americans. That meant something different to each of us but it meant something special to all of us. We knew it without question. And so did the world.

Those days are coming back. That’s our destiny.

Forget the lie about Obama apologizing abroad and focus on the subtext of his ending message, the message that Etch-A-Romney will bring to Americans:

America isn’t “special” to President Obama. He is a stranger among us, an interloper who doesn’t deserve to live in the White’s House.

More Falsehoods About Social Security And Medicare

By now everyone has heard the news:

WASHINGTON – The Medicare and Social Security trust funds are both on “unsustainable paths” — as they have been for years — and will be exhausted by 2024 and 2033, respectively, a trustee report released Monday said.

And by now maybe you have heard the misinformation.

Joe Scarborough said this morning that Social Security will be “bankrupt” three years earlier than projected last year and it will just keep ratcheting up until it will be no time until it is gone. “It’s going down,” he said. In fact, here was the graphic on the screen as the panel discussed the issue:

Social Security benefits to be depleted by 2033.” What tommyrot that is. Benefits, far from being depleted, will continue long after 2033, even if nothing is done.

But first, let’s look at Medicare. As the USA Today story noted:

The trustees have predicted the depletion of the Medicare Trust Fund every year since they first began issuing reports in 1970, and they ultimately extend the deadlines out a few more years.

Yes, look at this from the Congressional Research Service:

As you can see, since such reports have been created, the projections of insolvency have been fairly imminent. Consider this from Sarah Kliff at Wonkblog:

…the trust fund doesn’t really decide Medicare’s fate. Instead, it’s an accounting term. When we talk about the Medicare Trust Fund, we’re pretty much referring to where our payroll taxes to finance the insurance program get stored. If the Trust Fund runs out, that means it can no longer cover everything it’s supposed to pay for. But Congress could — and, many think, would — make up the difference by borrowing, cutting spending elsewhere and using the savings to plug the hole, or finding new sources of revenue.

“The fund is a fiscally neutral element in the goods and services of Medicare finances,” Theodore Marmor, Spencer Martin and Jonathan Oberlander wrote in one article on the topic. “Congress can change the taxes that finance Medicare if it has the will. Likewise, it can change the benefits and reimbursements of the program.”

So, you can easily see that Medicare won’t be “bankrupt” in 2024, even though there is a definite problem with its financing that has to be soon addressed (apart from just shifting the cost on to future seniors, as the Romney-Ryan budget plan does*).

Likewise, Social Security is not now bankrupt and won’t be in 2033. Why? It is simple, as John Harvey at Forbes pointed out:

It is a logical impossibility for Social Security to go bankrupt.

Here’s how the Social Security Administration explains it:

The current Social Security system works like this: when you work, you pay taxes into Social Security. The tax money is used to pay benefits to:

  • People who already have retired;
  • People who are disabled;
  • Survivors of workers who have died; and
  • Dependents of beneficiaries.

The money you pay in taxes is not held in a personal account for you to use when you get benefits. Your taxes are being used right now to pay people who now are getting benefits. Any unused money goes to the Social Security trust funds, not a personal account with your name on it.

Because wage growth has been slow, and because the economy hasn’t exactly been great, money going into the trust funds has slowed down, but Social Security is not—not—paying out more in benefits than it is bringing in. Payroll taxes, along with interest from the special issue Treasury bonds the program holds, plus taxes on Social Security benefits paid by high-income taxpayers, all add up to an increase in the Social Security surplus.

Get that? The program’s surplus is still growing.

But even though Joe Scarborough got it wrong about Social Security and bankruptcy, he did get something right. He said the program’s future finances could be fixed in about twenty minutes.

One way of doing that—without cutting benefits—would be to eliminate the Social Security tax cap, which is currently set at $110,100. Eliminating the cap would mean that those who make more than that (about 6% of wage-earners) would then have to pay Social Security taxes on all their wages. Just this simple move would guarantee payment of full benefits for at least 75 years.

So, although we will hear a lot of Republicans talking about the demise of the two most important social stabilizers we have, using trust fund projections as tools to severely weaken, if not destroy, our safety net, the truth is that the future of both programs can be fixed without dramatically altering their nature, if there is the political will to do so.

And it is up to voters to impregnate the Republican Party with that will.

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* Sadly, Willie Geist, a fixture on “liberal” MSNBC from 4:30am until 8:00am, defended the GOP budget plan and Paul Ryan, saying,

He doesn’t do this because he likes throwing old people out on the street; he’s trying to make it solvent. He’s trying to save it in the long term…he’s trying to do something big…

Willie, of course, will never have to worry about surviving his old age on reduced Social Security benefits or worry about how he is supposed to come up with the thousands upon thousands of dollars to get health care when he is too old for television.

Lou Dobbs and Bill O’Reilly Are Nazi Pigs

Lou Dobbs and Bill O’Reilly are fascists. No, they are fascist pigs. No, no, no, they are depraved fascist pigs. In short, they are Nazis.

Since I am using the same logic they employed in the following clip, in which they declared Robert Reich a communist, I dare anyone to contradict me:

McCaskill: Her Opponents Want To “Turn Out The Lights On The Federal Government And Go Home”

I saw Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill on Saturday in Springfield. She seemed to be quite enthusiastic about taking the fight to Republicans this fall. She said some nice things about the stimulus plan passed in 2009, which saved many jobs and helped cover state budget shortfalls, including here in Missouri. It was good to hear her not run away from the major achievement of Democrats, in terms of helping turn around the economy.

She also talked about her potential opponents in the upcoming election. Since there has yet to be a Republican primary, there are three of them, extremists one and all.

Today, on Hardball with Chris Matthews, she talked about her politics, her opponents’ politics, and the Senate race: 

McCASKILL: The Senate has done its best work around the table of compromise. And compromise happens because of moderates. And many of your listeners may not want to hear this, but honestly, if we don’t have moderates, we’re not going to get things done on behalf of the American people.

I am, in this campaign, going to talk to a lot of Missourians–I’m going to cover the state like a blanket, I’m not going to get very much sleep–and I’m going to proudly tell them that I’m part of a moderate middle that believes compromise is a value that we need to cherish in this democracy. If we’re just at opposite ends of the room screaming at each other, we’re never going to solve the hard problems.

And that’s why I think moderation is important, and believe me the folks running against me, I mean they are so extreme, they make some of these people that are in the house look like moderates. They are very, very extreme folks.

MATTHEWS: Are the Tea Party folks still running the party out there?

McCASKILL: Yes. By and large. In fact I think that some of the moderate Republicans tried to get somebody else to run against me. They all took a pass. And so we have three people running that are all fighting over whether or not they’re the Tea Party-endorsed candidate. One of them got one Tea Party endorsement and the other two said, “Well, that’s not the real Tea Party, we have the Tea Party endorsement.”  So, this is all about fighting for the far right-wing base of the Republican Party. That’s who’s going to get the nomination in my state, and so Missourians are going to have a really clear choice: Somebody who’s moderate and believes in compromise, or somebody who believes we need to turn out the lights on the federal government and go home.

Now, as a liberal, I’m not exactly glad to hear that Senator McCaskill is proud to be a moderate. And I certainly object to her saying that “compromise happens because of moderates.” It actually doesn’t. Compromise happens because folks on each side of an issue decide to meet in the middle to get things done. By her reckoning, if you are already in the middle, then you most certainly aren’t compromising, right?

In any case, she does have it right about the candidates running against her:

Todd Akin, a congressman representing the western ‘burbs of St. Louis, is a certifiably unhinged Obama-hater.

John Brunner is a bidnessman who thinks that qualifies him to run the world (I think the family bidness makes deodorant and nail polish remover and, oh yeah, Germ-X).  His right-wing kookiness bona fides: he once was the state chairman of Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaign.

Sarah Steelman (who I think will win) gives me another opportunity to play the priceless interview she did with Ozark Billy Long, my brilliant congressman. The interview speaks for itself, but as I said when I first posted it, it is a case of the blind leading the blind:

Here is McCaskill’s complete appearance on Monday’s Hardball:

Obama The Dog-Eater

In order to deflect criticism over Mittens putting his dog Seamus on the top of his Chevy wagon during a family vacation, the right-wing has had some real fun over a passage in Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father.

Just last week the right-wing freak Bill Cunningham constructed a question for Mittens that feigned disgust over Mittens’ dog controversy but managed to get in a swipe at Obama:

Now it’s come out that Barack Hussein Obama, who was then Barry Soetoro, ate dogs. When he was in Indonesia, literally, he ate dogs. And I’m thinkin’ to myself that is this the level of the campaign we’re gonna have? … It hasn’t broken yet big time nationally about the President, when he was known as Barry Soetoro, eating dogs in Indonesia…

Get it? The President ate dogs! Wow!

As far as I can tell, the Obama-ate-dog story was pushed anew last week by The Daily Caller, a website founded by right-winger Tucker Carlson. The author of that piece cited the passage from Obama’s book and then confessed to his motivation:

Hey, whatever you have to tell yourself, libs. Say what you want about Romney, but at least he only put a dog on the roof of his car, not the roof of his mouth. And whenever you bring up the one, we’re going to bring up the other.

It’s no fun when we push back, is it? That’s why it’s so much fun.

Fun, fun, fun!

No doubt, if you have been paying attention to the right-wing hateosphere, you have heard all of the sarcastic comments and the attempt to portray Obama as a creepy dog-eater. Such a portrayal, it is hoped, will counter the concerns of dog-lovers, who find Romney’s ill-treatment of Seamus shameful and, more important, revealing.

But of course the story of Mittens and Seamus happened when Mittens was a grown man. And the story of Obama eating dog meat happened when Obama was young—really young. And we only know about it because in Dreams from My Father—first published in 1995!Obama was describing his life in Indonesia with his stepfather. Here is the passage quoted by The Daily Caller:

With Lolo, I learned how to eat small green chill peppers raw with dinner (plenty of rice), and, away from the dinner table, I was introduced to dog meat (tough), snake meat (tougher), and roasted grasshopper (crunchy). Like many Indonesians, Lolo followed a brand of Islam that could make room for the remnants of more ancient animist and Hindu faiths. He explained that a man took on the powers of whatever he ate: One day soon, he promised, he would bring home a piece of tiger meat for us to share.

For most Americans, that passage, standing on its own, doesn’t sound too appealing. But I am going to set it in its entire context, hoping against hope that a few Ugly-American Americans out there will appreciate Mr. Obama’s background and life experience and how valuable they might be as president of the world’s only superpower.

The passage came early in his book in a chapter titled, “Origins.” In that chapter he introduced Lolo Soetoro, whom his mother had met at the University of Hawaii. He described how his mother sat him down and told him “that Lolo had proposed and wanted us to move with him to a faraway place.” That place, of course, was Indonesia. Just after arriving there, the young Barry was introduced to the culture via a man killing a chicken in front of him. “The boy should know where his dinner is coming from,” Obama quoted his stepfather.

At some point, Barry got into a fight with an older boy down the road, who got the best of him, and the next day Lolo decided to teach Barry how to fight: “The first thing to remember is how to protect yourself,” Lolo said. It is here where I will begin the section that includes the passage about eating dog meat:

I raised my arms, throwing soft jabs at Lolo’s palm, glancing up at him every so often and realizing how familiar his face had become after our years together, as familiar as the earth on which we stood. It had taken me less than six months to learn Indonesia’s language, its customs, and its legends. I had survived chicken pox, measles, and the sting of my teachers’ bamboo switches. The children of farmers, servants, and low-level bureaucrats had become my best friends, and together we ran the streets morning and night, hustling odd jobs, catching crickets, battling swift kites with razor-sharp lines—the loser watched his kite soar off with the wind, and knew that somewhere other children had formed a long wobbly train, their heads toward the sky, waiting for their prize to land. With Lolo, I learned how to eat small green chill peppers raw with dinner (plenty of rice), and, away from the dinner table, I was introduced to dog meat (tough), snake meat (tougher), and roasted grasshopper (crunchy). Like many Indonesians, Lolo followed a brand of Islam that could make room for the remnants of more ancient animist and Hindu faiths. He explained that a man took on the powers of whatever he ate: One day soon, he promised, he would bring home a piece of tiger meat for us to share.

That’s how things were, one long adventure, the bounty of a young boy’s life. In letters to my grandparents, I would faithfully record many of these events, confident that more civilizing packages of chocolate and peanut butter would surely follow. But not everything made its way into my letters; some things I found too difficult to explain. I didn’t tell Toot and Gramps about the face of the man who had come to our door one day with a gaping hole where his nose should have been: the whistling sound he made as he asked my mother for food. Nor did I mention the time that one of my friends told me in the middle of recess that his baby brother had died the night before of an evil spirit brought in by the wind—the terror that danced in my friend’s eyes for the briefest of moments before he let out a strange laugh and punched my arm and broke off into a breathless run. There was the empty look on the faces of farmers the year the rains never came, the stoop in their shoulders as they wandered barefoot through their barren, cracked fields, bending over every so often to crumble earth between their fingers; and their desperation the following year when the rains lasted for over a month, swelling the river and fields until the streets gushed with water and swept as high as my waist and families scrambled to rescue their goats and their hens even as chunks of their huts washed away.

The world was violent, I was learning, unpredictable and often cruel…

I realize that setting the passage about dog meat in its context sort of takes the “fun” out of it, but people should understand that we have a president who knows in his bones something much deeper about the world than Mitt Romney will ever know.

A Winning Argument For Democrats

A very astute commenter, Maureen Holland from Whatever Works blog, posted the following remarks related to a recent piece I posted, Social Security and Journalism’s Failure to Inform“:

Duane, I think Dem’s huge failure at messaging is almost as much to blame as a corporate owned media that’s too lazy to even get it right.

Today’s big issue (and what will be a giant campaign issue) is the matter of income distribution. I think all the Dems, from the Prez on down, use the wrong argument. They talk about ‘rich people’ and ‘fairness’. Those words don’t win them any votes. What they SHOULD be talking about is the danger to our country, to our stability, to our future. They should be talking about the abundant lessons of history.  They should be talking about how loss of income mobility is a recipe for a failed country. They should be right out there – in everyone’s faces – about how this threatens us.

While liberals agree on the moral aspects, that’s not what makes the argument in media or the electorate.

To which I replied:

Moe,

I couldn’t agree more. My main argument over the last three years on this blog is the one you are making. Apart from the moral issue of fairness or the philosophical issue of societal justice, there is the pragmatic issue of survivability.  Will our country endure as an island of stability and prosperity in the world, if we continue to ignore the (increasing) inequalities that exist among us?

The point is that we (Democrats and the like-minded) have to save capitalism (a proven engine of general prosperity when regulated) from the capitalist extremists among us.  I think the argument framed that way is a winner even among some Republicans, and certainly a clear winner among independents.

Somewhat surprisingly, even Saturday’s Joplin Globe editorial—this coming from a mostly conservative newspaper—acknowledges the problem (the editorial was republished from the Mankato Free Press):

Cheers to the American public for increasingly recognizing that the yawning gap between the wealthiest and the rest of the country is dangerous and unsustainable.

In a new Washington POST/ABC poll, which was mostly gauging Americans’ feelings about presidential candidates, this question was asked:

“What do you think is the bigger problem in this country: unfairness in the economy that favors the wealthy or over-regulation of the free market that interferes with growth and prosperity?”

By a solid 52-37, respondents chose the “unfairness that favors the wealthy” answer.

The Census Bureau reports that income inequality has risen 18 percent since 1967. It climbed every year between 1998 and 2006 before dropping the following year and has been rising since.

Many critics chided the Occupy Wall Street movement as an aimless endeavor with ill-defined goals. But the movement taps into Americans’ unease with too much wealth in too few hands.

Whatever political rhetoric flies, Americans have an innate practical sense about when the pendulum has shifted too far.

“Lying Isn’t A Sin, It’s A Business Plan”

I have suggested that Mittens is a pathological prevaricator: “He lies when it would be so much easier not to.” But Lawrence O’Donnell in his “Rewrite” segment on Thursday night explains that there may be a method to the madness of Mitt’s mendacity:

What’s Wrong With The Country

As we wait for Mitt Romney to condemn Ted Nugent…

In the following two-minute clip, we can see what is wrong with the right-wing in this country, and by extension what is wrong with the country.  In 2007, before Barack Obama was the Democratic nominee, Ted Nugent held up a couple of machine guns and screamed at a concert:

Obama, he’s a piece of sh*t. I told him to suck on my machine gun! … I was in New York, I said, ‘Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch!'”

In the clip, from Hannity and Colmes on Fox, you will not only see and hear Nugent’s unhinged, NRA-poisoned rant, but you will see and hear unhinged, Obama-hating commentary from the disgusting Sean Hannity, who said he liked Nugent and that he was a friend of his.

As I said, this is quite revealing of just what ails us as a country and how much damage Fox “News” has done and is doing to us:

Social Security And Journalism’s Failure To Inform

Journalists are supposed to inform us.

What one means by “inform” is, I suppose, in the news consumer’s mind, but the point is that anyone who regularly partakes of American journalism should at least understand the basics of any given issue in the news.

Alas, that is not the case. Journalism, and journalists, are letting us down.

As just one example, Trudy Lieberman of Columbia Journalism Review points out the gross deficiencies in media coverage of “the Social Security debate”:

For nearly three years CJR has observed that much of the press has reported only one side of this story using “facts” that are misleading or flat-out wrong while ignoring others. Whatever the reason—ideology, poor understanding of how the program works, gullibility, or plain old reportorial laziness—news outlets have given the public a skewed picture of the financial health of this hugely important program, which is the sole source of retirement funds for millions of Americans and will continue to be for decades to come.

Lieberman points out that Social Security, while “not in perfect financial health,” is nevertheless a tweak or two away from extended solvency, a fact which has not “been discussed much in the press.” The reason it hasn’t, Lieberman suggests, is “because it doesn’t fit into the doom-and-gloom narrative that has proved politically expedient to tell.”

The result of this misreporting or underreporting or non-reporting is that people—many of them young people—are losing their faith in Social Security, which plays right into the hands of right-wingers, who have always hated it:

“The elite press repeatedly quotes the commentary of the devoted opponents of social insurance retirement programs,” says Yale professor emeritus Theodore Marmor. “But they appear unaware of how they are supporting a strategic attack on social insurance that has been going on for years.”

Singled out for bad reporting and bad journalism is The Washington Post’s Lori Montgomery, the once-respectable paper’s budget correspondent. Montgomery pushes a narrative that fits nicely in with the narrative pushed by conservatives in the Republican Party: in order to come to grips with our financial problems, federal social programs—including Social Security—have to be sliced. There is a “surprisingly broad consensus” for that view, Montgomery’s reporting insists.

The Post’s Robert Samuelson is also specifically cited as pushing the “popular message” that Social Security is a welfare program that “is slowly and inexorably crowding out the rest of government.”  Other journalist at other outlets have done the same thing, which leads Lieberman to surmise:

With that kind of news reporting, young people…can be forgiven for misunderstanding the concept of social insurance and believing Social Security is almost dead. Over the decades since the passage of Social Security in 1935, the media have used the term “social insurance” less and less, which of course keeps people in the dark about what it really is. In 1930, The Washington PostThe New York Times, and the Chicago Tribune together published nearly eighty articles with the words “social insurance” in the headline. In 1990, there were at most two—one in the Times and one in the Post. By then the Cato Institute and other conservative think tanks were well on their way to changing the media’s narrative and description of Social Security. The program was no long to be described as social insurance, but as an investment that fell short of what people could achieve on their own by saving and managing their payroll tax contributions. It was not a good deal for younger workers.

Lieberman tells us how the right-wing Heritage Foundation has “systematically” attacked “the country’s most popular social program” by deliberately using a “Leninist” strategy, including “guerrilla warfare against both the current Social Security system and the coalition that supports it.” Part of that guerilla warfare involves gaining “the support of key individuals in the media as well as to win over vital constituencies for political reform.”

Sadly and disturbingly, not only have individuals in the media been won over, many Democrats have been compromised, too:

The media haven’t reported much about how the nuts and bolts of proposals to fix Social Security would affect ordinary people, but they’ve done a super job of showing how Social Security’s opponents have brought one of the biggest segments around to their way of thinking—Congressional Democrats, including the second ranking member of the Senate, Dick Durbin, who is often the media’s go-to guy for the progressive perspective. It’s kind of a validation of Cato’s manifesto…

“We used to have Democrats speaking out (in support of the program) which we don’t have today, “ says Eric Kingson, co-director of the advocacy group Social Security Works.

Well, I still hear some Democrats speaking out, but I admit their voices are not as loud and aren’t heard as often as they used to be. And part of the reason for that is because journalists have largely bought into the Social-Security-is-dying propaganda and are failing to inform the public as to what is really going on.

Thankfully, one outstanding journalist, Trudy Lieberman, is trying to do something about it.

Get The Plunger!

Just how far down the crapper has Missouri’s Republican-dominated state legislature gone? A couple of items in Wednesday’s Joplin Globe give us some idea:

A bill that proposes allowing school districts to sell advertising on school buses has passed the Missouri House and has been referred to the Education Committee of the state Senate.

You see, here in Missouri we have a problem. The state is not following the law, in terms of funding Missouri schools. So, rather than raise any kind of tax (our cigarette tax—a mere 17 cents a pack!—is the lowest in the country) to help with the funding problem, we would rather sell some ads!

Maybe in St. Louis, the schools could sell ads to Verlin’s Bar and Grill, which was Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder’s favorite strip bar—and the main reason he is not running to be the real governor of Missouri. The bar certainly needs to get the word out that is has moved:

This Soulard establishment recently relocated to Vandeventer, but never fear, the ladies behind the bar are as scantily clad (read: not wearing pants) as ever. It’s a destination bar for dudes…With dollar longnecks, Saturdays are a sure bet. And keep your eyes peeled for Missouri politicians: A little birdie told us they like the view at Verlin’s, too.

That ad ought to be easy to explain to the kids!

Come to think of it, since our Lt. Gov. is seeking another term, perhaps he could put up a campaign ad next to the Verlin’s ad. Imagine seeing the following on the side of your kid’s school bus:

The idea is growing on me.

The second item that gives us a clue as to how far down the toilet our legislature has gone is this one:

The Missouri House endorsed legislation Tuesday that would make it a crime for undercover activists to produce videos portraying poor conditions at livestock farms or other agricultural facilities.

Get that? Small-government Republicans (with some Democratic help, for God’s sake!) are hell-bent on creating a brand new crime: reporting on the sometimes deplorable conditions along our food chain! Can’t have that!

More:

The Missouri legislation would apply to a wide variety of agricultural entities, including livestock and poultry farms, processing facilities, markets, exhibitions or even the vehicles used to transport the animals. It also would apply to fields of crops, orchards, greenhouses, gardens, grain elevators, barns, warehouses or any other land or buildings that are part of a commercial crop enterprise.

This breathtakingly un-American law—called an “ag-gag” law—should raise the hackles of anyone in Missouri who may want to know the whole story about how food gets to our tables, or anyone who thinks the government ought to be supporting more food-industry transparency not less.

As About.com pointed out, Republican-controlled Kansas—gasp!—was the first to enact such a law (there are now other states that have them), and here is a brief description of what’s wrong with them generally:

These bills are troubling not only to animal protection activists, but also to those concerned with food safety, labor issues, free speech, and freedom of the press. The bills would apply equally to journalists, activists and employees. By prohibiting any type of undercover recordings, a farm’s own employees would be prohibited from attempting to record food safety violations, labor violations, sexual harassment incidents or other illegal activity.

What is there to hide that would make industry lobbyists press Republicans for such a law? Ah, just shut up and eat!

What’s next? How about a law to shut down journalism altogether? Get all those reporters out of the state capitol! Mustn’t see what’s going on in there! No more uncomfortable facts in the newspaper or on television. No more nasty scandals for politicians to worry about.

Maybe Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder would support that idea:

Romney Gets Ted Nugent’s Love

I’ll tell you this right now: If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year…We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November. Any questions?”

—Ted Nugent

 originally wrote a piece Tuesday night on Ted Nugent, who has said some nasty things about Barack Obama, and Mitt Romney, who has sought the endorsement of Ted Nugent.  But I had to scrap the piece after I saw Lawrence O’Donnell’s segment last night on the Last Word:

That segment just about covers it all, except for this: It happened that I first heard about Nugent’s nauseating narrative—which is the subject of a Secret Service inquiry—just before I heard a report on (accused) terrorist and mass murderer and right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik’s appearance and statement at his trial in Oslo, Norway.  I quickly noted a few similarities between him and Nugent.

Breivik, who is charged with massacring 77 people—most of them were kids at a political youth camp—said he killed them in order to defend Norway against immigration and multiculturalism.

Among other things, he said this as part of his mostly incoherent testimony:

I don’t recognize Norwegian courts because you get your mandate from the Norwegian political parties who support multiculturalism…

Multiculturalism is evil? Hmm. Where have I heard that before? Oh, yeah. Ted Nugent wrote a piece for The Washington Times, titled:

NUGENT: Multicultural rot in the melting pot

The commentary began:

Europeans are finally awakening from their self-imposed Rumpelstiltskin deep slumber to discover that multiculturalism is actually cultural rot and is ripping their countries apart.

Well, Anders Behring Breivik is one European who is definitely awake to Nugent’s anti-multiculturalism. And Breivik, as reported by The Telegraph, had a target for his anti-multiculturalism violence:

Breivik has admitted to the attacks, claiming they were necessary to protect Norway from being taken over by Muslims, but has rejected criminal guilt. He claims he targeted the government headquarters in Oslo and the youth camp to strike against the left-leaning political forces he blames for allowing immigration in Norway.

Taken over by Muslims“? Hmm. Where have I heard that before? Oh, yeah. Ted Nugent again:

The brain-dead politically correct facade of multiculturalism was primarily for the benefit of Muslims, and you know it…

Well, I don’t know whether “we” know it, but I suspect Anders Behring Breivik knows it.

Breivik told the court:

Anyone could do what I did.

Oh, not anyone. It takes a special kind of person to be a right-wing mass murderer. But it also takes a special kind of person to say things like Ted Nugent has said.

He called Democratic leader Debbie Wasserman-Schultz a “brain-dead, soulless, heartless, idiot,” and he called former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi a “sub-human scoundrel.”  He has previously referred to Obama as a “piece of sh*t,” and Hillary Clinton as a “toxic c**t.”

Watch the following and then wonder how far Nugent’s rhetoric is from the rhetoric of Anders Behring Breivik:

And what has the endorsement-seeking Mittens said in terms of a rebuke of Ted Nugent? Not a damn thing.

Not-a-damn-thing.

As someone remarked yesterday, if Romney didn’t have the desire or the guts to stand up to Rush Limbaugh, after he hurled three days worth of insults at a female student, it isn’t likely he will take on Nugent with much gusto.

Remarks And Asides

Mittens and his mate say that even though poor old Seamus loved the ride, they won’t ever put another dog on top of their car, at least so long as there is a campaign to run (reminds me of Romney’s weird admission: “I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake. I can’t have illegals“).

Now, if we can only get them to be so kind to the poor, working moms, and Medicare recipients.

______________________

Jon Walker at Firedoglake.com makes the point that states—particularly Republican-controlled states—are dragging their feet on creating insurance exchanges as part of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act:

This whole problem could have been avoided if Democrats had gone with a national exchange like in the original House bill; but instead, Democrats foolishly insisted on going with the Senate’s idiotic approach of using a state-based exchange. It is likely that several states will not be ready to implement the law in 2014 forcing the federal government to step in to try to fill the voids.

Of course if voters put Republicans back in charge next year, we won’t have to worry about all those state-size voids in 2014 or any year thereafter.

_______________________

Despite overwhelming public support for the idea, the Buffett Rule went down on Monday even though it won a majority of Senate votes. Explain that to your bright-eyed kids as you simultaneously tell them about our wonderful and “democratic” political system.

_______________________

From the Why-Obama-Is-Not-A-Wild-Eyed-Liberal file:

The Obama administration on Wednesday decided not to move forward with an executive order prohibiting workplace discrimination among federal contractors that is a top priority for the LGBT community.

Now, from the Wild-Eyed-Liberals-Overreact-To-A-Bad-Obama-Decision file:

This is a truly pathetic time for Obama to start showing some executive restraint… I hope the LGBT community and the broad progressive community appreciate the full irony of this decision. Obama officially thinks it is appropriate to use his executive power to buy a drone from a government contractor and use that drone to execute you without trial, but he won’t use his executive power to tell that same contractor they can’t fire you for being gay.

No doubt there is some juicy irony in this misguided decision, but have these good liberals taken a look at the alternative lately? Huh?

_________________________

Speaking of irony, leave it to Fox “News” host Chris Wallace to at least attempt to properly place in context the near-lie told by the Romney campaign about the job losses among women just after Obama took office in January of 2009 (Wallace’s attempt was only a half-hearted one, it turns out).

Wallace mildly challenged senior Romney adviser Ed Gillespie on the grossly incomplete claim that 92% of job losses under Obama were jobs held by women. CBS’s Bob Scheiffer and ABC’s George Stephanopoulos simply tossed the claim out there (Stephanopoulos did it twice!) like it was legitimate.

Sadly, Stephanopoulos, a former Clintonite who tries like hell to make conservatives appreciate him, has been at this stuff a long time. He asked Obama a Sean Hannity-generated question about Bill Ayers in the 2008 debate, but still the right-wing will show him no love.

_________________________

Yet another conservative constitutional scholar has sided with Obama on the constitutional legitimacy of the Affordable Care Act and has done so on traditionally conservative grounds:

I recognize that many persons believe the health mandate is very bad legislative policy. But the appropriate judicial response to such a complaint has long been clear. The Court was admirably forthright about the point in its ruling in Munn v. Illinois in 1876: “For protection against abuses by the Legislature, the people must resort to the polls, not the courts.”

We will soon find out who the true conservatives on the court are.

_________________________

Finally, the alleged cheapskate Secret Service agents involved in the scandal over hookers at the Pley Club in Cartagena, Colombia, ought to be ashamed of themselves. If you are out to have “a little fun and flesh” (as The New York Daily News put it) and all that is said about you is, “They had huge egos,” then you are a real loser.

Work, Dignity, And Republican Cynicism

Since I am still fuming over the cynical use of stay-at-home moms to cover a multitude of Republican sins against women, here’s a 10-minute segment on the Romney’s shamefulness (featuring the wonderful Connie Schultz, who happens to be married to my favorite U.S. Senator, Sherrod Brown of Ohio):

The Real Romneys

If you want to know exactly what the Romneys—Mitt and Ann—are all about, nothing says it better than the following, which was “overheard by NBC’s Garret Haake,” an embedded reporter with the Romney campaign. The event was a fundraiser in Florida and this selection is from First Read:

*** Giddy over the Rosen flap: At the fundraiser, Haake adds, both Romney and his wife Ann remained absolutely giddy about last week’s Hilary Rosen flap. “It was my early birthday present for someone to be critical of me as a mother, and that was really a defining moment, and I loved it,” Ann Romney said. The candidate went further, calling the episode a “gift” that allowed his campaign to show contrast with Democrats in the general election’s first week. But while Romney said last week that “all moms are working moms,” that doesn’t apply to mothers who are welfare recipients, the Boston Globe says. Romney said at a Jan. 4 campaign stop in Manchester, N.H.: “Even if you have a child two years of age, you need to go to work,” Romney describing his position as Massachusetts governor. “And people said, ‘Well that’s heartless,’ and I said ‘No, no, I’m willing to spend more giving daycare to allow those parents to go back to work. It’ll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.’”

Ann Romney: “It was my early birthday present for someone to be critical of me as a mother, and that was really a defining moment, and I loved it.”

Mitt Romney: “Even if you have a child two years of age, you need to go to work… I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.”

Ann Romney looks a lot different today than she did last week, doesn’t she? As far as I’m concerned, she owes Hilary Rosen and the country and apology for her brazen exploitation of an important issue.

And the idea that in Mitt Romney’s reckoning a mother on welfare needs “to have the dignity of work,” and Ann Romney, rich beyond most people’s dreams, doesn’t need to go to work—presumably because money can buy her all the “dignity” she needs—sickens me to the core.

The GOP’s Preteen Philosophy: “Cut Taxes, Regardless Of The Question”

Suppose a man published a very popular and profitable how-to book on the best way to manage a company. And suppose that man and his ideas were actually used to manage a real company. Then suppose that the company the man and his ideas were responsible for managing ended up going bankrupt and had to be bailed out.

Now suppose that same man who ran the company into bankruptcy published another, second book on how to manage a company. A weary reader would rightly be skeptical of such a man and his new book. After all, he failed the first time, why should anyone listen to him now? Why would anyone buy his book?

It may be that a weary reader could be persuaded to purchase the latest book on the possibility and hope that the man’s second offering was chock-full of wisdom from his first experience, that he had learned what he did wrong and where his philosophy went off track.  Perhaps, one might trust, the author had a new and improved strategy to run a company.

But what if the man’s second book was a reprint of the first book! What if the new book had no new insights, no new strategies? Nothing but the same old ideas that failed when put into practice the first time.  A publisher would be foolish to publish such a man’s book and a reader would be foolish to purchase it or to follow its advice, right?

But we all know such a man and such a publisher. The only question is, what will the weary reader do?

It’s no surprise that the man in this scenario, Grover Norquist, still sits on the de facto board of directors of the publisher, the Republican Party. But it is one of the marvels of modern American life that Norquist—who like a jealous spouse monitors the no-tax pledges that almost all Republican federal (and a disturbing number of state) office holders have made—still  manages to command respect for his discredited ideas, ideas that have failed and failed miserably.

On Sunday I saw Norquist on C-SPAN promoting his latest book (co-authored with John R. Lott, Jr.) titled, Debacle: Obama’s War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now To Regain Our Future.  This program was shown more than once on the network.

Norquist’s arguments against Obama amounted to the same old stuff, as did his prescription to solve our troubles. Want to guess what a couple components of his “regain our future” program was? Yep. Tax cuts and less regulation.  You know, the same flapdoodle that George W. Bush pushed as a candidate in 2000 and made reality as President Bush.

Obama and, more important, the country are still living with the unfortunate legacy of tax cuts and turn-your-head regulation that Grover Norquist and others championed during the 80s, 90s, and 00s. And they are still trying to sell the same ideas today. In fact, Mitt Romney is the newest member of Norquist’s sales department.

I did a search for Norquist on C-SPAN. Guess what? He has appeared there at least 132 times since 1992 (not counting repeats), including 14 times last year and 4 times so far this year (again, not counting repeat broadcasts).

When I was listening to a younger Grover Norquist talk his creepy tax talk on C-SPAN, I heard him say creepy things like this (from July of 2001):

All tax cuts are good tax cuts. Even bad tax cuts are good tax cuts…

A year ago the Bush campaign said, “The economy’s doing very well, it’s time to cut taxes.” Then the economy slowed last year. They said, “The economy’s slowing, it’s time to cut taxes.” Which is sort of a Jeopardy game where the answers are always the same: Cut taxes, regardless of the question.

That kind of fanaticism, akin to religious devotion, has been in the brain of Norquist for a long time. As Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes put it in a piece:

Norquist claims he got the idea to brand the Republican Party as the party that would never raise your taxes, when he was just 12 years old and volunteering for the Nixon campaign. He says it came to him one day while he was riding home on the school bus.

Twelve years old? On a school bus?

For all the rhetoric we have heard and will hear this election year, the election comes down to this: Should we once again turn the country over to a party that is essentially controlled by an anti-government zealot whose preteen fantasies serve as its guiding economic and political philosophy?

That I even have to ask that question—after all the evidence of tax-cutting and non-regulating failure—is itself a sad commentary on the state of the American electorate.

Doublethink

He who controls the present controls the past, he who controls the past controls the future.”

—George Orwell, 1984

h, the aftermath.

After succumbing to the Mittens Money Machine, Rick Santorum is beginning to get his mind right:

The Santorum campaign’s website has been wiped clean of all content directly critical of the now de-facto Republican nominee.

No more “Obamneycare.” No more, “Here is a guy who is the ultimate flip-flopper.” No more he-was-for-the-mandate-before-he-was-against-it. No more “Taxachusetts.” No more “Etch-A-Sketch candidate.” No more, “Do you really believe this country wants to elect a Wall Street financier as the president of the United States.”

In good Orwellian fashion, if you search Santorum’s site for the skinny on Mittens, now you get this:

But that’s not as strange—or funny depending on your perspective—as this:

Newt Gingrich rents donor list to raise cash

Desperate times in the Newt Gingrich camp have called for desperate measures.

Scrambling to dig himself out of a $4.5 million hole, the former House speaker has resorted to renting his presidential campaign’s most valuable asset – its donor list – for as much as $26,000-a-pop.

Let me see: Newt is still an active candidate, but he is pimping out his donors for dough? Is nothing sacred with this guy? If I were Callista, I’d sleep with one eye open.

But even that’s not as strange—or, again, funny depending on your perspective—as this

Gingrich Unloads on FOX News in Private Meeting

During a meeting with 18 Delaware Tea Party leaders here on Wednesday, Newt Gingrich lambasted FOX News Channel, accusing the cable network of having been in the tank for Mitt Romney from the beginning of the Republican presidential fight. An employee himself of the news outlet as recently as last year, he also cited former colleagues for attacking him out of what he characterized as personal jealousy.

“I think FOX has been for Romney all the way through,” Gingrich said during the private meeting — to which RealClearPolitics was granted access — at Wesley College. “In our experience, Callista and I both believe CNN is less biased than FOX this year. We are more likely to get neutral coverage out of CNN than we are of FOX, and we’re more likely to get distortion out of FOX. That’s just a fact.”

Now, first of all, what does all that say about CNN?  If Newt Gingrich finds the network a comfortable place to bed down and do the nasty, then everything I think about CNN slowly becoming Fox-lite appears to be true.

But secondly, Newt has had no problem with Fox being in the tank for Republicans generally; it is just when the network embraces particular non-Newt Republicans that it loses its credibility with him.

The story continues:

Gingrich did not pull his punches in accusing Rupert Murdoch — the chairman and CEO of News Corp., FOX News’ parent company — of pushing for Romney behind the scenes.

“I assume it’s because Murdoch at some point [who] said, ‘I want Romney,’ and so ‘fair and balanced’ became ‘Romney,’ ” Gingrich said. “And there’s no question that Fox had a lot to do with stopping my campaign because such a high percentage of our base watches FOX.”

You see? Fox “News” can bash Obama and the Democrats most of the broadcast day and it is “fair and balanced.” But when the network (allegedly) started playing grab-ass with Mittens, Newt felt compelled to sanitize the history books.

But Media Matters was watching Fox (that’s its job) during June 1 of last year and January 22 of this. Guess what? Ding! Ding! Ding! In terms of airtime, Newt was the winner:

As The Atlantic’s John Hudson pointed out in January, the Fox “News” prime-time lineup was on more than friendly terms with Gingrich, particularly Sean Hannity, who several times made goo-goo eyes at Newt on TV and gave him reach-arounds on the radio.

In any case, my favorite part of Newt’s rant was this:

The Republican Party is a managerial party that doesn’t like to fight, doesn’t like to read books. This is why the Tea Party was so horrifying. Tea Partiers were actually learning about the Declaration of Independence. They wanted to talk about the Federalist Papers. It was weird. They could be golfing.

The GOP doesn’t like to read books but the Tea Party does? Hmm.

Here’s a good definition of “doublethink“:

The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.

Allen West And Mittens: “Dissociated From Reality”

Leave it to Barney Frank to perfectly characterize the recent McCarthyesque remarks of Allen West, Republican congressman from Florida.  West had this exchange at a town hall event:

Questioner: What percentage of the American legislature do you think are card-carrying Marxists or International Socialists?

Allen West: It’s a good question. I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party…It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Barney Frank told The Huffington Post:

Not even Joe McCarthy would have said anything so stupid and dissociated from reality. It’s an indication of the significant deterioration of the Republican Party as a responsible entity that an ignorant, mean guy like Allen West is considered one of their stars.

Stupid” and “dissociated from reality” is just about right. And Frank is certainly right that today’s GOP is not your father’s GOP.

Or, for that matter, Mitt Romney’s father’s GOP. Despite his reputation for gaffe-making, does anyone believe that George Romney would have said this:

There’s been some talk about a war on women. The real war on women has been waged by the Obama administration’s failure on the economy. Do you know what percentage of job losses during the Obama years of have been casualties of women losing jobs as opposed to men? Do you know how many women, what percent of the job losses were women? 92.3 percent of the job losses during the Obama years have been women who’ve lost those jobs.

That was not a Romney family gaffe. It was pure deception. Mittens made that statement on Wednesday as a way of improving his miserable standing among women voters. And in a way, it is sort of sad that a man who will be the Republican candidate for president has to resort to such dishonest tactics. Doing so is, well, if not technically “stupid,” at least “dissociated from reality.”

The reality can be found here and here and here. But Jordan Weissmann of The Atlantic summed it up nicely:

The Romney campaign is counting job losses that occurred literally the day Obama took office, which is a bit like blaming the fire fighter for not traveling back in time to stop the fire. It also ignores the fact that, before women started losing work en masse, millions of men had already been handed pink slips. Between December 2007 and January 2009, about 3.3 million men lost their jobs, versus 1.2 million women. Was President Bush waging a war on Y chromosomes? Hardly. That’s just the natural pattern of a recession. Male dominated fields like construction and manufacturing are more sensitive to the ups and downs of the economy, so when times get tough, their jobs tend to disappear faster, and in larger numbers. Women, who are concentrated in fields like healthcare, government, and education, tend to feel the pain less severely.

Weissmann makes an additional point, a point that Democrats should make to women at every campaign stop:

Romney should be careful with his talking point. All those women who lost work? About two-thirds of them were laid off from government jobs. And a lot of them lived in states governed by Republicans.

It is no secret that state and local government employment has been shrinking. And it is no secret that women make up a disproportionate part of that work force. Weissmann offered this graph:

The Taxed-Enough-Already Republican Party has argued for smaller government, and smaller government means fewer government employees, and fewer government employees means greater job losses among women.

From January 2009 to March of 2012, there was a net job loss of 740,000, most of which (683,000) were jobs held by women (this is the basis for the Romney near-lie). But of those 683,000 lost jobs, most of them were lost in the public sector.

Here’s Weissmann’s pie chart:

Now, given that Romney is convincingly running as a small-government teapartier, he should applaud these job losses, at least 64% of them. But as Weissmann points out, there is more to it. Here is another pie chart:

You can see that most of the job losses—at least 72%—occurred in states that have been under Tea Party control since 2010. And yet Mittens incredibly blames Obama for it!  And one must keep in mind that these job losses at the state and local level happened despite the fact that Obama’s stimulus plan kept some states from laying off even more workers.

So, Romney’s deceitful play for a bigger chunk of the female vote will, if Democrats can make the case effectively, backfire on him. Just like Allen West’s attempt to become a hero of McCarthyite Republicans has made a fool out of him.

A Collective Hallucination

A collective hallucination is a sensory hallucination induced by the power of suggestion to a group of people. It generally occurs in heightened emotional situations, especially among the religiously devoted.”

The Skeptic’s Dictionary

ow that conservative evangelicals have lost their favorite Catholic, Rick Santorum, who was essentially crushed by Mittens’ money-guzzling campaign bus, the logical question becomes: will the right-wing evangelical movement ever fully embrace their Mormon champion?

That question was posed today to a leader of the movement to bring Christian sharia—complete with transvaginal probes—into your life, Tony Perkins, president of the Dobsonian Family Research Council.  If anyone would know what contemporary right-winging Bible thumpers are thinking, he would.

But before we get to the question he was asked and his answer, let’s look at Perkins. He was born and raised just about half an hour west of Tulsa, the epicenter of cocksure Midwestern evangelicalism.   He ended up in Baton Rouge where he won a seat in the state legislature and where he began his sharia crusade.  Here’s how Right Wing Watch characterized his earlier career in politics:

Perkin’s Louisiana legislative background includes:

  • author of legislation requiring public schools to install filtering software.
  • author of American History Preservation Act, which “prevents censorship of America’s Christian heritage in Louisiana public schools.”
  • authored legislation providing “a daily time of silent prayer in Louisiana public schools.”
  • author of the first Covenant Marriage Law.

In 1998, Perkins founded the Louisiana Family Forum due to his concern for “increasing influence of the homosexual community on public policy issues.”

So, you can see why the Family Research Council—a Christian sharia lobbying group—hired Perkins to be its president.  And if you bother to check into it, you can also see why the Southern Poverty Law Center famously labeled the FRC as an anti-gay hate group.  The short of it is that Perkins has, among other things, promoted the idea that gay men are a threat to children. Taliban, anyone?

In any case, Luke Russert on MSNBC asked Perkins if conservative evangelicals would embrace Romney or “stay home.” The Christianly Perkins, bearing false witness, said this:

No, I don’t think they’re gonna stay home. That’s not the question. I mean, you have the backdrop of Barack Obama, which clearly when you look at his policies—not theoretical but practical—that he has imposed upon this nation, both socially and economically, that is an anathema to social conservative voters, so they’re gonna vote for Mitt Romney. There’s not a question there.

The question is the level of enthusiasm and intensity. It’s turnout…will people be voting in great numbers for Mitt Romney, will they be working for him…that’s going to be the key in terms of who’s going to win this next election.

Now, that’s not exactly a Hallelujah Chorus endorsement of Mittens, but it suggests how most conservative Christians will likely approach the polls in November: with a Bible, a nose clip, and an I-hate-Obama-more-than-I-hate-the-Mormon-cultist determination.

But I want to return to what Perkins said about a fellow Christian:

…you have the backdrop of Barack Obama, which clearly when you look at his policies—not theoretical but practical—that he has imposed upon this nation, both socially and economically, that is an anathema to social conservative voters…

Obama “imposed” his policies on the country?  Imposed? That word was no accident. Perkins didn’t just misspeak.  He meant to suggest that Obama is forcing his will on the American people. He meant  to use that word because it reinforces the arch narrative about the President that conservatives never tire of pushing. Try something: type in “Obama is a dictator” into your search engine. See?

Here is one example that comes up:

THE MAN IS A DICTATOR’: BECK BLASTS OBAMA’S MOVE TO CIRCUMVENT CONGRESS 

Think that is just an extremist website pushing that headline? Nope. The Blaze is now mainstream conservative journalism.

Another mainstreamer, Rush Limbaugh, routinely uses the loaded term “regime” to describe the Obama administration. Sometimes he calls it “The Lawless Obama Regime” for spice. Here is a gem from that monologue:

Folks, it is clearly lawless. If you regard the Constitution as law, this is lawless behavior by an out-of-control, rogue executive. This is what happens in banana republics, tinhorn dictatorships.

Sean Hannity regularly—and without complaint from conservative Christians—refers to the President as “The Anointed One,” a term for the Messiah. Hannity defends himself (and misses the point) by saying that he “respects the office of the president,” but that those nasty liberals called Bush bad names, too.

Dick Morris, a very regular contributor to Fox “News,” published a video under the title,

Obama Assumes Dictatorial Powers

Introducing that video he said,

In this video commentary, I discuss how, in a March 16th Executive Order, Obama asserts his power to socialize America, even in peacetime!

What can explain this hysteria? I never much believed in the explanatory power of the term “collective hallucination,” but what else explains a movement that far and wide believes the President of the United States, whether he be a foreigner or a marginal American, whether he be a Muslim or a nominal Christian, is a despotic socialist with a Messiah complex?

It’s For Retirement!

I am not fond of Oklahoma, a place where abnormally conservative right-wingers can feel right at home, but you have to sort of admire a state where even the (alleged) criminals aren’t normal.

About 50 miles southwest of Joplin we find:

VINITA – A Craig County drug task force serving a search warrant late Monday seized about $277,000 in cash from the home of a 73-year-old woman, Craig County Sheriff Jimmie Sooter said.

Darlene Mayes was booked into the county jail about 11:45 p.m. on complaints that included possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and maintaining a dwelling where drugs are.

“She didn’t say much,” Sooter said of Mayes, a retired Department of Human Services worker. “She said the money was hers, that it was for retirement. Of course, once we got into it, it was pretty obvious it wasn’t hers.”

The task force served the warrant at a residence about six miles east of Vinita on U.S. 60, Sooter said. Recovered from the home were four pounds of marijuana, two pistols and $221,550 in cash found in a sack with the drugs, Sooter said. Another $53,020 was located in the back seat of a vehicle, and Mayes also had a substantial amount of cash on her person, the sheriff said.

The task force, made up of members of the Sheriff’s Office, Vinita Police Department and Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, had been gathering information for a search warrant for about five months, Sooter said.

Mayes had no criminal history, he said.

Apparently, and somewhat rationally, Mrs. Mayes was socking away some extra cash in case Mittens and the GOP-Ryan budget plan get the nod in November.

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