Joe And Mika Rehearsing For A New Show On Fox

Who knew that there was a travesty in America called “Trump University”? Wasn’t Donald Trump enough of a travesty himself without having to start a real estate school that promised to make little Trumps out of folks gullible enough to fork over $35,000?

The Attorney General of New York, Eric Schneiderman, sued the Fox and Friends regular contributor and NBC “reality” star on Saturday, asking for $40 million in damages to be paid as restitution to Trump’s, uh, “students.”

Schneiderman, as USA Today reported, accused Trump “of engaging in persistent fraud, illegal and deceptive conduct and violating federal consumer protection law.” And:

At the seminars, consumers were told about “Trump Elite” mentorships that cost $10,000 to $35,000. Students were promised individual instruction until they made their first deal. Schneiderman said participants were urged to extend the limit on their credit cards for real estate deals, but then used the credit to pay for the Trump Elite programs.

Now, many of us already knew that Donald Trump is a phony and a fraud—his birtherism is enough to convict him—but that some government entity is willing to go after him for hucksterism is beyond gratifying.

What has been disheartening though is what I witnessed this morning on TV.  Of course I expected Fox and Friends to allow Trump several minutes to defend himself, mostly as the hosts cheered on his efforts. And of course, as with everything else wrong in the country, this was President Obama’s fault, as Trump made the suggestion that Schneiderman met with Obama and, voilà , a lawsuit was born!

Here’s how a clearly flustered Trump expressed it on Twitter:

trump on lawsuit

“Same as IRS etc.” Yes, that little blurb was added to ensure Trump keeps the Obama haters on his side, which Fox and Friends happily are. But I was sorely disappointed to watch this morning a segment on Morning Joe which essentially did the same thing as Fox and Friends did: give Trump an unchallenged platform to defend himself and spew his latest Obama conspiracy. It truly was sickening.

It’s one thing for Fox “News” to enable Trump, an incorrigibly ignorant, cartoonishly biased, embarrassingly boastful buffoon. It’s another for MSNBC to do so. But then MSNBC’s Morning Joe is often a safe place for conservative nonsense, as another segment aptly demonstrated this morning.

Politico’s Mike Allen was on the program discussing Colin Powell’s rebuke of the Republican Party for its anti-voting initiatives, as well as an article written by David Nather (“Obama’s big voting rights gamble“) in which it is alleged that the administration, as any Democratic administration should do, is “ramping up its push on voting rights by way of a risky strategy — and pledging more tough moves to come.”

Joe Scarborough couldn’t help himself. He challenged Allen, and anyone else, to tell him what exactly was wrong with the efforts in North Carolina and Texas and elsewhere to require folks to simply have a picture ID to vote:

I’ve just been reading this and I’ve been reading news stories on it and makes it sound like we’re going back to Jim Crow laws, that there are going to be white people with bull whips whipping black people if they come to vote, and Bull Conner is there ready to release German Shepherds. Again I ask innocently, does North Carolina or Texas require anything more than a picture ID, that when somebody shows up to vote, that the person has a picture ID with them that proves they are who they say they are?

Scarborough, not getting the answer he wanted, went on:

I’m not being cute here. I’m reading all of these stories that talk about basically you’re putting a white hood over the governor of North Carolina, putting a white hood over the entire Texas legislature. Most Americans would think it’s not racist to ask somebody to just have a picture ID when they show up at the voting booth. But you read The New York Times and you read these other media outlets that again make politicians in North Carolina and Texas sound racist for just saying, “Hey, you’re going to need a picture ID to prove you are who you are.”

Now, we all know that Joe Scarborough is a conservative Republican. It’s not strange that he sees nothing wrong with requiring folks who want to vote to show some kind of ID at the polls. What is strange is that he completely ignored all of the other things associated with the latest Republican efforts to suppress the votes of minorities and young people, including the fact that many of those minorities and young people can’t get the required IDs easily, including the fact that Republicans are closing polling places in Democratic areas, and including the fact that they are shrinking the times for early voting. (Mike Allen did make a valiant attempt to half-educate him, but it fell on deaf ears.)

But while it’s not strange for a right-winger like Scarborough to defend Tea Party-inspired voter suppression, it is strange for Morning Joe’s alleged Democratic host to do so. Mika Brzezinski responded this way to Scarborough’s rant:

Okay. So, I think that this is a really healthy discussion that has been had out in the media in a completely one-sided way and your side of it is a fair argument and no one goes there because it’s not PC…It’s a very legitimate argument.

She said nothing about the fact that minorities and young people—largely Democratic constituencies—would be disproportionately affected by these Republican schemes. She said nothing about making it inconvenient for Democratic-leaning voters to vote because of the reduction in polling places in strategically located areas. She said nothing of shrinking the days of early voting and eliminating voting on the Sunday before the election, which Democratic-leaning voters tend to do because they happen to be working folks who need the convenience of early voting. She said nothing about how historically hard it was for black folks to get to vote in this country and how unconscionable it is for conservatives to make it much more difficult for them to exercise that hard-earned right. Nothing. Silence about all that from Mika Brzezinski.

And that is why, on this day at least, on this day when Donald Trump needed a place to rehab his image, on this day when the Republican Party needed a place to rehab its image as a vote suppressor, that is why parts of Morning Joe sounded like a rehearsal for a new show on Fox “News” Channel.

Here is the Morning Joe segment on voter ID laws, and if you watch at the end, you will see The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein shaking his head in disbelief and trying to get a word in. Didn’t happen:

And if you can stand it, here is the segment on the (NBC?) rehabilitation of Donald Trump:

I Can’t Think Of Anything That Better Demonstrates…Than Donald Trump

Last Wednesday, President Obama delivered a great speech to the Marines at Camp Pendleton in California. It was full of bravado—“We don’t get terrorized,” said the President—and, naturally, full of praise for the troops.

CNN and MSNBC covered Mr. Obama’s speech on Wednesday. But the Fox “News” Channel, the network where blondes and bravado meet to constantly (and ostensibly) celebrate our men and women in uniform, did not. Fox has a habit of ignoring the President’s speeches until its reactionary opinion makers have had a chance to comb through them in search of solecisms, socialism, and scandal.

What Fox did carry, as the President was finishing up his speech, was an interview with, uh, Donald Trump. Yes, as the President was telling the story of Captain Matthew Lampert—a Marine who lost both legs to an IED in Afghanistan, yet returned to his unit 18 months later—Fox’s Neil Cavuto was interviewing an ignorant birther buffoon who “stars” in his own “reality” TV show, if not his own reality.

I can’t think of anything that better demonstrates the hate-Obama-at-any-cost principle that guides Fox programming than ditching a presidential speech to the troops in favor of yet another talk with a decadent conspiracy nut.

That Fox interview was conducted a day after Trump played golf with the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, who enjoys both golf and golf-graft—the two played on Trump’s course and Trump reportedly has given $100,000 to a Boehner-related super PAC. At least this outing explains why Boehner can’t be bothered with negotiating with President Obama. The speaker has more important things to do.

I can’t think of anything that better demonstrates the sorry state of our politics than the most powerful Republican in the country slinking around the links with a Punchinello who pretends to run for president in order to stay relevant to right-wingers who somehow find his schtick interesting and enlightening, and to others who find it entertaining.

But that’s not all that is wrong with the right-wing these days. If you are so inclined, you can attend on Saturday—for only 49 bucks!—a “Family Leadership Summit” in Ames, Iowa, put on by a Christian group called The Family Leader. That group identifies itself this way:

The FAMiLY LEADER champions the principle that God is the ultimate leader of the family. Our goal at The FAMiLY LEADER is to honor and glorify God – not a political party, not a candidate, and not a program. The FAMiLY LEADER is a Christ-centered organization that leads with humility and service to strengthen and protect the family.

The Family Leadership Summit, put on by a group that says it is a non-partisan, Christ-centered organization, features Republicans like Chuck Grassley, Steve King, and Rick Santorum, as well as fast-rising reactionary Ted Cruz from Texas.

Oh, yeah. I almost forgot. Highlighting the evening—the last speaker of the day—is that paragon of Christ-centered living, that champion of God-honoring and God-glorifying behavior, Donald Trump.

I can’t think of anything that better demonstrates how corrupt is American evangelicalism than inviting the thrice-married, gold-plated materialist-conspiracist to a “family leadership summit.” Jesus would be turning over in his grave, if he were still in there.

By the way. Trump is mad at NBC’s Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd. Why? Todd, almost alone among TV journalists, dared to say of Trump that he is “one of the dumbest voices in politics” and said of his appearance in Iowa:

In the “here we go again,” the sideshow that is Donald Trump, he’s apparently showing up for another PR stunt. The question is: Will he drag it out for three years before he finally announces that he’s not running for president so he doesn’t have to turn over all of his business paperwork?

Trump returned Todd’s “one of the dumbest voices in politics” insult and then suggested that Todd was just mad because ABC’s This Week has, unbelievably, booked Donald Trump. Yes, the once-reputable Sunday talk show is now a forum for a clown.

I can’t think of anything that better demonstrates the poor quality of journalism these days.

Farting Jesus

I spent the first 16 years of my life living with this picture of Jesus:

heinrich hofmann jesus

Heinrich Hofmann’s 1890 “Christ in Gethsemane” graced the wall of our living room (okay, okay, it was a somewhat murkier copy) for all the time I lived at home. I stared at it often.

Look at Jesus sitting there, earnestly and majestically looking to heaven, with heaven looking back and lighting up his noggin’. This is the image I had of Jesus almost the entire time I was an evangelical Christian, a quaint mixture of earthiness—the slightly unkempt hair and the scraggly beard—and godliness—he could command supernaturally-lit attention from on high.

This picture, using an ancient inconographic technique, tells us that despite the messed-up hair and the wayward beard, Jesus wasn’t really like you and me. He was holiness on steroids.

I couldn’t help wondering, though, as a kid, if Jesus did ordinary things, things like take a piss or, well, worse. And when I wondered those things I felt guilty thinking about them, what with that halo and all.

In any case, the Jesus that many of us came to “know” was in so many ways the Untouchable Savior, in the sense that we were told that he was one-of-a-kind, without sin and without blemish. Tempted? Yes. Just like us. But Jesus never failed the test. He passed every time. Every time. Who could really relate to that? Who could, in ways that we would call personal, really know someone like that?

In all the Sunday school lessons I sat through, and then later all the sermons I endured—a few I even preached—I never heard anyone go so far as to say that we should think about a farting Jesus.

But let’s face it. Jesus passed gas. If he didn’t, he wasn’t like any man I know (and some women, but they shall remain nameless).

Now, we don’t have to think that Jesus was such a man that would deliberately, just for laughs, spray his disciples with the vapors, but maybe he did. After one such episode, I can imagine the rowdy Peter exclaiming,

Oh my God, Jesus! You needeth prayer!

Or something like that.

If any of this makes you cringe, don’t blame me. I started thinking about all this again when I read a piece on CNN’s Belief Blog by a bona fide right-wing fundamentalist big shot from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. It was written by Johnnie Moore and titled, “Jesus was a dirty, dirty God,” and it began like this:

Jesus was a lot more like you than you think…

In order to make Jesus more you-like, Moore had the nerve to suggest to his “astounded colleagues” at Liberty that Jesus “might have even had dysentery on an occasion or two.” I know why his colleagues were stunned because I am sure there are lots of people who can’t imagine Jesus taking a dump, let alone having severe diarrhea.

He wrote,

It seems like an obvious statement if you believe that Jesus was “fully God” and “fully man” (as most evangelicals believe and call the Incarnation), but to some of us it seems in the least, inappropriate, and at the most, sacrilege, to imagine Jesus in this way. We might believe that God was also man, but we picture him with an ever-present halo over his head.

Yes, that’s pretty much the way I pictured Jesus, thanks to Heinrich Hofmann and essentially a fundamentalist upbringing. But Moore had more:

The real Jesus had dirt underneath his fingernails and calluses on his hands. He probably smelled badly from sweating profusely in the Judean sun on his long hikes to Jerusalem…

This dirty, sweaty Jesus is not the Jesus you meet in Sunday school, at least in the churches I attended. He’s been cleaned up for American consumption, and for American exploitation, ultimately for Republican-American exploitation. The Jesus of the evangelical right, which was once my Jesus, and the one who presumably endorses the GOP platform, is not a farting Jesus.

Oddly, in his portrayal of a gritty savior, Moore let this slip:

He was the teacher from a small town who knew and understood the economic insecurity that was common in the first century.

Ah. Economic insecurity. Jesus knew and understood that, says Moore. And thus it’s fair to ask, since economic insecurity is also common here in the twenty-first century, does Jesus still know and understand it?

Liberty University, the place where Johnnie Moore works—he is a “professor of religion and vice president”—invited Mitt Romney, a man no one would seriously argue understands economic insecurity, to speak at last year’s graduation, right in the middle of a presidential campaign, despite the fact that the theology taught at the university clearly excludes Mormonism from the ranks of Christianity. Why would the university welcome him to speak?

But more than that, why would a Jesus-loving, Bible-thumping Christian university invite Donald Trump to address their Jesus-loving, Bible-thumping students last September? In fact, why would any university worthy of the name invite him to speak on any topic?

But speak he did, after he was reportedly introduced by Jerry Falwell, Jr., as one of the “greatest visionaries of our time.” I’m sure that made both Trump and GOP Jesus very proud.

Trump did not disappoint. Toward the end of his speech he told the more than ten-thousand gathered youthful Jesus-worshipers:

Don’t let people take advantage. Get even. And you know, if nothing else, others will see that and they’re going to say, ‘You know, I’m going to let Jim Smith or Sarah Malone, I’m going to let them alone because they’re tough customers.

Get even.” You know, in a weird sort of way, Trump has stumbled upon a great truth. “Get even” is God’s message in the Book of Revelation. But I digress.

After Trump’s remarks were criticized by offended true believers, some of them students who actually believe Liberty University stands for something spiritual, who actually believe that Jesus stood for something other than revenge, Trump’s spokesman, Michael Cohen, told ABC News:

I conferred with Johnnie Moore at Liberty University and questioned whether Jesus would ‘get even.’ The answer is ‘he would & he did.’ Johnny explained that the Bible is filled with stories of God getting even with his enemies, Jesus got even with the Pharisees and Christians believe that Jesus even got even with Satan by rising from the dead. God is portrayed as giving grace, but he is also portrayed as one tough character – just as Trump stated.

So now we know what Johnnie Moore really meant by his “dirty Jesus” claim. Not only did Jesus have dirt under his fingernails; not only did Jesus take a messy poop now and then; not only did Jesus get mad at the money changers; he actually got even with his enemies and, well, he apparently was a lot like Donald Trump!

Thus, here in twenty-first century America, we can see why Mitt Romney and Donald Trump were invited to speak at a fundamentalist university in an election year. The kids had to be introduced to the Jesus who endorses predatory capitalism, who endorses revenge, who endorses the contemporary values of the Republican Party.

And what better way of doing that than by introducing the kids to a couple of Republicans—both claiming to be Christians in good standing—who just happen to be very rich and who just happen to be unable to know or understand what Johnnie Moore said the biblical Jesus knew and understood: economic insecurity.

But the Republican-American Jesus knows nothing of that economic insecurity. He doesn’t sweat all that much, except at the gym. His fingernails are clean. There are no calluses on his hands. He is comfortable in board rooms and in corporate suites, the kinds of places where high-powered people meet to plan their next vulture capitalist adventure. He’s okay with folks who slander our black President as not being an American.

And when this Jesus farts, he often does so in bathrooms in buildings with TRUMP stamped all over them.

He too is a “dirty Jesus.” He just has a different kind of dirt on his hands.

Remarks And Asides

In terms of negotiations over the dreaded fiscal non-cliff, we have the following from my why-we-need-Nancy-at-the-table department:

MARTHA RADDATZ: Could you accept a deal that does not include tax rate increases for the wealthy? We’ve seen talk about a possible compromise that would leave rates the same, but cap deductions for high-income earners. Is that something that’s acceptable?

NANCY PELOSI: No.

_____________________________

The Washington Post’s The Fix summarized an important Republican’s appearance on Meet The Press:

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) suggests Obama might have known about the David Petraeus investigation before the election. But he acknowledged he doesn’t have any evidence.

The news here is that a Republican actually “acknowledged” there is no evidence for his belief. Usually, a Democrat has to point out that Republicans have no evidence for what they claim. So, perhaps, Republicans did learn something from the election.

_____________________________

Allen West, that freaky flat-topped Florida teapartier, talked his way into getting a recount of some votes in St. Lucie County. The result was that his opponent’s lead actually increased by 0.65%. Of course, West still won’t concede the election, presumably because he is more convinced than ever that there exists a conspiracy to keep him out of office.

Now, arithmetic is out to get him.

_____________________________

For reasons known only to his psychiatrist, Penn Jillette, of Penn & Teller fame, actually did a gig on The Celebrity Apprentice 2012, NBC’s vehicle for making a few bucks off Donald Trump’s stupidity. But Jillette can be forgiven for his lapse in judgment because he came up with a perfect description of Donald Trump’s hair:

…as I sat there for hours half listening to Donald carry on, it struck me exactly what his hair looked like. It looks like cotton candy made of piss.

Later in the article, which was sort of an accounting of his experience on the show, Jillette said this about the participants’ decision to appear with Trump:

We’ve chosen to make this whackjob, with the cotton candy piss hair and the birther shit, into someone we want to please.

If Jillette does nothing else noteworthy in his life, he can die a happy man for perfectly describing Donald Trump.

______________________________

As we witness our weirding weather, Reuters reported this yesterday:

All nations will suffer the effects of a warmer world, but it is the world’s poorest countries that will be hit hardest by food shortages, rising sea levels, cyclones and drought, the World Bank said in a report on climate change.

Now we know why Republicans don’t give a damn about global warming: it will hurt the poor more!

______________________________

I pick on my state neighbor, Oklahoma, a lot, mostly because it, and roughly two-thirds of the people who live there, deserve it. But come on Okies! If you are gonna violate the principle of separation of church and state, if you are gonna put down God’s word in granite, if you are gonna erect a monument to an Iron Age fantasy, then at least consult a dictionary:

OKLAHOMA CITY -A new monument at the Oklahoma State Capitol honoring the 10 Commandments was unveiled Thursday morning but Friday, the buzz was all about two mistakes carved into the granite stone.

In the commandment “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy” the word “Sabbath” was misspelled as “Sabbeth.” A second mistake was in the commandment “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant.” The word maidservant was spelled as “maidseruant,” replacing the “v” with a “u.”

_____________________________

Finally, I don’t have anything amusing to add—the guy has suffered enough, don’t you think?—to this photo of an Indiana man who actually had a Romney-Ryan logo tattooed on his temple. At least he spelled it correctly:

“I Cry Tears Of Blood”

Because it reveals so much about their character, I’m going to feature some of the comments made by conservatives after they were O-bombed last night.

First up is Ted Nugent, who said this spring that he would “either be dead or in jail this time next year,” if Obama were elected in November.  Well, it’s gonna be a long winter for Ted:

Subhuman varmint.” Didn’t Mittens go hunting for those once?

In any case, Ted obviously is a master of the English language and pithily captured for us the essence of Romney’s “47%” speech:

Pimps whores & welfare brats & their soulless supporters hav a president to destroy America

Obama destroying America—a constant theme before the election—seems to be  a popular post-election favorite among celebrity conservatives, if you can still call born-gain Christian Victoria Jackson, of Saturday Night Live fame, a celebrity:

I hate it when they turn on their own, don’t you? What would Jesus do after an election loss? I guess he’d be disgusted.

And who among us figured Donald Trump for a revolutionary buffoon? Not me, but:

Before any of you grab your Molotov cocktails and go huntin’ for the Founding Father who thunk up the electoral college, you should know that Trump has deleted these comments from his Twitter account.

That was a short revolution!

The New And Republican-Approved Jesus

Most of you know that I am a former evangelical Christian. But I still retain an interest in my former faith, particularly as I observe how it has been co-opted and corrupted by the Republican Party.

During this campaign season, conservative Christians have, via a special dispensation from their deity, amended the ninth commandment to read:

Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor, unless your neighbor is The Scary Negro In The White’s House.

With that dispensation, evangelicals are free to become full-fledged Mittenites, who, in order to rid the country of the only leadership it has known the past four years, can lie with impunity about Barack Obama, all in the name of God.

This new theological get-out-of-hell-free card is good for claiming the President is a Kenyan, a socialist who hates America, or, Allah forbid, a Muslim. It’s good for bad-mouthing the poor, the sick, and the elderly, all of those crippled by government dependence, as we discovered in that heartfelt “47%” speech.

And it’s especially good for those on the front lines of the Republican Party’s prosecution of its War on Women. Now that Billy Graham and the right-wing church have chosen to rock and roll in his Mormon bedchamber, Mitt Romney has his conservative Christian credentials in order and can lead the war.

He is free to rob women of their humanity, as he seeks to undermine their ability to make their own reproductive decisions, and as he endorses U.S. Senate candidates who would use big-government to force violated women to bear the children of their tormentors.

If the Romney-Ryan partnership is successful, if those they endorse make it to the Senate, women may long for the days of government-ordered vaginal probing, which when a Romney-influenced Supreme Court is finished, may seem like the good old days of Republican moderation.

Taking full advantage of GOP Jesus turning his Cayman-tanned face away from all that war-time prevarication going on out there, Christians, funded by the Romney campaign, have been engaging in last-minute lies like those found in the following script of a robocall that a voter in Fairfax, Virginia, received last Friday night:

Christians who are thinking about voting for Obama should remember what he said about people of faith: “They … cling to guns or religion.” And remember when Obama forced Christian organizations to provide insurance coverage that was contrary to their religious beliefs?

That’s the real Barack Obama. That’s the real threat to our religious freedom. Mitt Romney understands the importance of faith and family. That’s why so many leaders of the Christian community are supporting Romney.

They know we can’t underestimate the threat Barack Obama poses to our faith, our values, our freedom.

Yes, the real Barack Obama, as opposed to the one we have come to know, is quite the threat to faith, values, and freedom. Quite the threat alright. You can see it everywhere. Churches are being shut down, pastors being tossed in the hoosegow, priests being forced to seek adult entertainment with real adults. Yep, that Obama is the greatest enemy of faith we have ever seen.

In the mean time, the strange concoction of evangelicalism and Republicanism and Mormonism and Catholicism and anti-Obamanism means that conservative Christianity in America will never be the same. Conservative Bible-toters have traded in the Jesus who said that God had anointed him to “bring good news to the poor.” That Jesus didn’t look good standing next to Mitt Romney and Donald Trump.

And gone from their midst is the Jesus who condemned lying and slander and who talked about how hard it was for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. That Jesus, the one who told rich folks who desire a home with God to think about a camel going through a needle’s eye, is long gone.

Today’s evangelicals worship a Jesus who has an affection for vulture capitalism. They worship a Jesus who condones the slandering of Barack Obama, himself a Christian. They worship a Jesus who has endorsed a Republican candidate whose one discernible and consistent principle is that he will say anything, absolutely anything, to become president. And he, in the name of GOP Jesus, will bear false witness without so much as a pin-prick of conscience.

Time will tell whether this new and Republican-approved Jesus can drag Mitt Romney across the finish line. But we don’t have to wait to see what this crony-capitalist Jesus, this corrupt, Obama-hating savior, has done to evangelical and conservative Christianity in America.

As I said, it will never be the same.

Trump Finally—Finally—Gets Put In His Place: On The Receiving End Of A Teabagger’s Offer (Not For The Kiddies)

Although some in the media take Donald Trump seriously, and by some I mostly mean Fox “News” (although NBC, which employs the buffoon, often takes him seriously, too), Stephen Colbert, the cleverest man on television, does not.

Colbert gives Trump and his latest racist-inspired offer the treatment they deserve:

Urgent Care

When Mittens gets hurt, he can always go to Fox “News” for some first aid.

Today, nurse Neil Cavuto tended to his wounds, giving him some aid and comfort and whispering at least one sweet thought in his ear, in the form of this amazing suggestion he made to him during the interview:

CAVUTO: …when you and your running mate, Paul Ryan, talked about reforming Medicare and trying to contain its growth, uh, oddly enough when you were on that theme, it was helping you in Florida, a state rich in Medicare beneficiaries and Social Security beneficiaries, so talking tough on these issues doesn’t necessarily hurt you with the group that benefits from them. So, maybe you presuppose, prematurely, that this group is gonna say no.

Does it matter what Romney said in response to that?

I wish Cavuto had asked Romney why it is that a large number of folks he suggests are freeloaders living off the government do so in the comfort of red states:

The bottom line of the urgent care interview was the following, which Romney said at the end, a declaration meant to assure conservatives that he stands by what he said to those fat cats in Florida:

This is a message I’m carrying day in and day out. And will carry over the coming months…

Cavuto did ask a question that reveals something about Mittens’ judgement:

CAVUTO: Donald Trump had said that you have nothing to apologize for. In an interview on the Today show he said, “They have to get tougher,” referring to your campaign, “or they’re gonna lose this campaign.” What do you think of that?

ROMNEY: I always appreciate his counsel, and, uh, you know I think, uh, this focuses, uh, a great deal of attention on whether or not we’re gonna have a government that becomes larger…

Only a Fox broadcaster would bring up the buffoon Donald Trump as a source of campaign advice, and only a really strange, and unserious, presidential candidate would say he “always” appreciates the buffoon’s advice.

Bronco Billy And The Convention Circus

I guess Donald Trump wasn’t available.

But they got the next best thing.

I don’t know who the Republican genius was that thought it would be a good idea to have Clint Eastwood address the convention in prime time, but, as a Democrat, I’d like to personally thank him or her.

Unfortunately, by now the Republicans have offered their thanks to the genius by giving him or her a much less dignified, but certainly much more challenging, job: getting the chili sauce stains out of Newt Gingrich’s shirt, after that disappointed Romney surrogate got a little sloppy last night while pulling an all-you-can-eat all-nighter at the Golden Corral in Tampa.

That’s how Newt drowns his sorrows, and Republicans had reason to be especially sorrowful, after they quickly figured out that this year’s Republican National Convention will now be remembered, fittingly, as the night Clint Eastwood gave his greatest performance, at least in terms of representing today’s GOP.

His utter disrespect for President Obama, though cringe-inducing for most normal folks, was quite enjoyable for those lucky enough to be in the house for such buffoonery. The only thing that could have topped it would have been a Cheech and Chong routine performed by Donald Trump and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, with that zany Republican duo smoking dope, talking trash about Obama’s phony birth certificate, and doing an updated Obama-version of  “Basketball Jones.”

Our own Ozark Billy Long was in attendance and said this about Eastwood’s performance:

The crowd ate it up. They loved Clint Eastwood and loved his speech and my tip off was when all the liberals, including David Axelrod, was one of the first to chime in on Twitter, and, uh, some of the media folks down here started tweetin’ about how terrible it was, how egregious it was, and I thought, well, if we’ve ticked those people off, he probably did what he was suppose to do out there…talkin’ to the president, who wasn’t there, I thought that that was pretty entertaining…

And thus I leave you with that wonderful assessment from my congressman, our representative from Missouri’s 7th District. I am damned proud to be from such a place that would put such a man in Washington, D.C.

Aren’t you?

An Inspired Idea For Putting “A Human Face” On Mittens

A regular commenter, John McNight, recently offered Republicans a brilliant idea:

The upcoming Republican National Convention plans to reintroduce Mitt Romney to America; an effort will be made to put a human face on the nominee. I hope this staged endeavor features Mitt, Hank Williams Jr. and Donald Trump lounging around a cracker barrel, cracking ‘birther’ jokes with Sheriff Arpaio. After the laughter has died down they can then display genuine sadness that America has an illegal alien in the Oval Office. Even though drinking whiskey is against Mitt’s religious beliefs — as are releasing income tax documents — maybe he’ll send the Tennessee delegation into a flag waving frenzy when accepting Hank’s offer to take a pull. It’s too bad Sarah Palin won’t be in attendance. Having her jump over the old country store stage set on a red, white and blue motorcycle would undoubtedly set off a thunderous chorus of USA! USA!

My response:

John,

Now that I think about it, what better way to “put a human face” on Mittens than, “A Relaxing Evening With Three Rednecks,” featuring a conspiracy-drunk fake billionaire from New York City, a washed-up country singer from Nashville nicknamed after a ventriloquist dummy, and a fascistic xenophobe-with-a-badge from Phoenix? That undoubtedly classy presentation of a real cross-section of Republican America would be one that Democratic convention planners could only hope to top.

As for Sarah Palin, there is a good reason she won’t be part of the act in Tampa and thus will not be jumping over “the old country store stage set” on a patriotically dressed hog, her Arctic-warming cleavage presented with all the on-air tastefulness of a Fox “News” “info-babe.”

The resulting erotic commotion among the Viagra-needy “sock monkey-waving social conservatives” (nice phrase you came up with, by the way; have you ever thought of blogging?) in attendance would be too much for local security to contain, what with SKIN Tampa—the city’s “only upscale Full Nude Ultra Lounge” and “home of the $10 lap dance“—a mere five minutes from the convention center. A thunderous herd of hopped-up, manly Palinistas seeking less wholesome titillating entertainment is not part of the contingency plans of Tampa’s finest, I’m sure.

And speaking of SKIN Tampa, the laissez-faire entrepreneurial spirit, so much celebrated by the Republican Party, is alive and well in Florida. Not letting an obvious profit opportunity pass it by, SKIN Tampa has an unassailable bidness strategy. It is offering:

FREE transportation and complimentary VIP for RNC Attendees and Press

How many times, do you suppose, that Bible-totin’, social conservative good ol’ boys get a chance to play VIP for a night, uh, for a night or three, in the presence of butt-nekkid small bidness gals as they freely advertise their best God-given assets?

From SKIN Tampa‘s website, you can see how much thought went into attracting patriotic teavangelicals:

My guess is that the jacked-up SUV in the picture above will spend a lot of time shuttling male folks hanging around the Elect Peter Kinder tent, or, when it is up and running, “curious” guys trolling near Dick Morris’ Free Pedicure booth.

Duane

Of Course We Know You Were Born and Raised Here Because You’re As Pure And White As The Wind-Driven Snow!

If you ever wondered why Mitt Romney won’t swat away that pesky dung fly named Donald Trump, now you know. Romney said today:

No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised!

Yippy! Now it is official: Mitt Romney has finally become ONE OF THEM.

And the crowd erupted in orgasmic delight.

Romney For Rent

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

—Jesus

esterday, as I wrote about Mitt Romney and Donald Trump, I made a somewhat reluctant distinction between Romney the (“detestable”) politician and Romney the man.

I can no longer do that.

On a day when Romney and Trump were raising money together in Las Vegas, on a very special day when Romney finally found himself the Republican nominee, we find that the Romney campaign did this:

Now, because campaigns are nothing if they are not a series of scripted events, with little left to chance, it is impossible not to believe that Mr. Romney’s timing in releasing his birth certificate was designed to validate, in the minds of those possessed by intense hatred for Barack Hussein Obama, Donald Trump’s birther lunacy.

There just isn’t any question about it. Mitt Romney has endorsed Trump’s race-bating conspiracy about Obama’s legitimacy as our president.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. The Romney endorsement of Trump’s racist delusion was intended to be a bit more subtle than simply saying it straight:

Get that illegitimate nigga out of the White’s House.

But to those distracted and disturbed Obama-haters out there who Romney is trying to reach—remember he said, “I need to get 50.1% or more and I’m appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people“—he got his message across: he is endorsing their derangement.

Let the record show that I don’t believe for a moment that Romney, the good Mormon he is, believes he is actually selling his soul by doing this and other ungodly things—like, say, lying beyond political norms—in his quest to become president.

I believe that deep down, way down under all the years of political shellac that has been applied to make him attractive to the various constituencies he needs, Romney thinks he is not selling his soul but merely pawning it.

He will, he believes, go get it back some day. After he has served his two terms, after he has finally retired with all his money and his place in history, he will repent of his un-Christian, un-Mormon behavior and go to that mephistophelian pawnbroker and get his soul out of hock.

But perhaps Mephistopheles will have the last word:

Vainly he’ll seek refreshment, anguish-tost,
And were he not the devil’s by his bond,
Yet must his soul infallibly be lost!

Romney’s One Principle

You know, I find Mitt Romney a most detestable politician, whatever are his personal qualities. And I find Donald Trump to be, as I have related many times, a cretinous buffoon who continues to hold, for reasons I cannot comprehend, a grievous grip on a segment of the Republican Party that either fears him or worships him, or both.

So, because I find both men abominable as public figures, it’s not surprising that I am gnashing-my-teeth annoyed by what Romney told reporters:

(CNN) – Mitt Romney said Monday he wasn’t concerned about Donald Trump’s commitment to the “birther” conspiracy, one day before the GOP presidential candidate hosts a fund-raiser alongside the celebrity business magnate.

Asked on his charter plane whether Trump’s questioning of President Barack Obama’s birthplace gave him pause, Romney simply said he was grateful for all his supporters.

“You know, I don’t agree with all the people who support me and my guess is they don’t all agree with everything I believe in,” Romney said. “But I need to get 50.1% or more and I’m appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.”

Now, we have here a situation in which a man, who on Tuesday in Las Vegas may wear sacred skivvies to a high-priced campaign fundraiser with Trump and Newt Gingrich, has admitted to the world that he will keep the company of anyone, so long as it might bring him a vote or two.

Romney’s entire political life has been organized around that one principle, which is why, throughout his various campaigns, his position has traveled from one end of an issue to the other, in search of that moment’s electorate. And which is why there are still more than a few conservatives out there who simply don’t trust him.

But for me the issue goes deeper. There is something stunningly insensitive about the way Mitt Romney conducts himself, beyond the simple political reluctance to not offend even the tiniest pocket of voters. When given a chance to publicly correct Rush Limbaugh for calling a Georgetown student a “slut” and a “prostitute,” Romney said with cowardice aforethought:

I’ll just say this, which is, it’s not the language I would have used.

Apparently there is a nicer, more Mormon way of calling a girl a whore.

Earlier this month a supporter prefaced a question to Romney with the suggestion that Mr. Obama “should be tried for treason,” a comment that provoked not even the slightest moral twitch in Mitt’s Mormon flesh.

So, given what we have seen, who would expect Romney to paddle away from Donald Trump?

Yet, if Trump were selling, say, radical Islam instead of his asinine birther conspiracy, would Mitt Romney and his campaign sell chances—three bucks a pop—to have dinner with him? Well, no, and that is the point: Romney just doesn’t find Trump’s creepy fascination with birther fanaticism all that creepy. He’s “appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people,” he told us.

Except that Donald Trump is not “good people.” Nobody can be who is trying to do to President Obama what Donald Trump is trying to do to him. Through his promotion of birtherism and his assertion that Obama wasn’t good enough to get into Harvard Law School on his own merits, Trump is using racism in a wretched attempt to stigmatize the President, to do to him what was done to the black man at the time of our founding: regard him as a being “of an inferior order,” who has “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

That’s it, you see. Our black president, sitting in the White’s House, has no rights which palefaced people like Donald Trump—and now by extension, Mitt Romney—are bound to respect.

It is a sad state of contemporary American politics that we find the soon-to-be head of the Republican Party sharing a campaign bed with such a man as Donald Trump, cuddling up with his conspiracies.

But given who Mitt Romney is as a politician—and I am beginning to think who he is as a man—it by now surprises no one.

Vicki Hartzler Is Out Of This World

If you drive about 20 miles north of Joplin you will enter what has become another world.

That world is Missouri’s 4th Congressional District. I call it another world partly because it is represented by that otherworldly congresswoman, Republican Vicki Hartzler.

The Sedalia Democrat reported that at a town hall last week Hartzler got all Trumpy on us:

“What do you think about Obama’s birth certificate being called a forgery?” asked a man who identified himself as an Army veteran.

“You know I have a lot of doubts about all that,” she said. “I don’t understand why he didn’t show that right away.”

When asked to clarify her doubts during press availability after the event, Hartzler said: “I have doubts that it is really his real birth certificate, and I think a lot of Americans do, but they claim it is, so we are just going to go with that.”

Hartzler declined to say whether she believes Obama is a U.S. citizen, calling the issue “irrelevant” and said people should “focus attention on his specific policies and not his birth certificate.”

What should we make of such folly?

Is it really the congresswoman’s fault that some sad soul at her town hall ask her about Obama’s birth certificate and she felt compelled to keep his hope alive that Obama is not a citizen? In fact, trying to walk back her comments, her press secretary told Politico,

this issue has been raised by many 4th District citizens with whom she has spoken.

Many?  How many? And, now, how many more will feel free to flaunt their ignorance and make fools of themselves because Hartzler has given them a license to do so? Here is what Hartzler actually said, after she was asked about the legitimacy of Obama’s birth certificate:

I have a lot of doubts about all that, I haven’t seen it. I’m kind of, I’m just at the same place you are on that. You read this, you read that…But I don’t understand why he didn’t show that right away. I mean, if someone asked for my birth certificate, I’d get my baby book and hand it out and say ‘Here it is.’

I suppose it never occurred to Ms. Hartzler that no one would ever ask her about her birth certificate, since she looks the part of an American citizen. Here, look at her:

She looks like a real American, right?  Would Donald Trump or Sheriff Joe Arpaio ever question the legitimacy of her birth certificate? In fact, Arpaio said he appreciated Hartzler’s “having the courage to speak out about the legitimacy of the Obama Birth Certificate released by the White House.”

The creepy sheriff actually thinks the certificate is a “computer-generated forgery” and whoever pulled off this incredibly foresighted crime should be “brought to justice.”  He is now calling for a congressional hearing “to address the facts in this matter.”

Of course that is the point: there are no “facts” that will satisfy the appetite of deluded Obama-haters. These people are not interested in facts. They have been presented the facts and have found that the facts inconveniently contradict their claim that Obama is a non-white foreigner sitting in the White’s House.

Sadly, Hartzler will not likely pay the slightest price for her birther foolishness. She will probably not lose a single vote for failing to educate one of her constituents and for revealing her utter ignorance. She in fact may come out ahead for plopping more conspiracy slop in the mind-troughs of some delusional folks in the 4th District.

As I said, it is another world.

A Party Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest—And Landed

Yes, dear reader, Republicans are all gathering in the booby hatch.

It’s not enough that a number of right-wingers are sticking their theological probes into women’s private parts and personal decisions. Oh, no. They want a more comprehensive big-guvmint theocracy than that.

Our own Roy Blunt attached an anti-worker, anti-woman, anti-contraceptive amendment  to the gazillion-dollar highway bill, for God’s sake, and if you can come up with a relationship between contraceptives and highways—the rubbers meet the roads, maybe?—then you go to the head of the line.

The amendment was barely defeated 51-48, with three Democratic defections (all boys, don’t ya know). Never mind that 80% of Democrats and 63% of the public—those who live in the real world with birth control—support President Obama’s requirement that insurers have to cover the cost of contraceptives.

Mittens, who was against the amendment when he was first asked about it, consulted his political team and the decisive and shrewd bidnessman soon found out that he was on the wrong side of reactionary politics—so, he abruptly changed his decisive and shrewd bidnessman’s mind.  That, my friends, is why we need a decisive and shrewd bidnessman in the White’s House.

But there is more cuckooism to explore:

(Reuters) – A federal judge in Montana who used official court email to circulate a racist joke about President Barack Obama has acknowledged the indiscretion and initiated a misconduct complaint against himself, court officials said on Thursday.

In case you missed it, here is the email in question from the Bush-appointed, federal—federal!—judge who has a life-time appointment:

Normally I don’t send or forward a lot of these, but even by my standards, it was a bit touching. I want all of my friends to feel what I felt when I read this. Hope it touches your heart like it did mine.

A little boy said to his mother; “Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?” His mother replied, “Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!’”

Wolf, wolf.

The judge, Richard Cebull, said he only sent out the email “because it’s anti-Obama.” Anything and everything goes when you are an Obama-hater.

Then there is 79-year-old Obama-hating Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is under investigation by the Justice Department and a federal grand jury for racial profiling and abuse of power. Arpaio, Phoenix’s finest fanatic, is tired of Donald Trump getting all the cuckoo press, so he announced on Thursday that his crack investigators have discovered that Mr. Obama’s long-form birth certificate may be a fraud, a fake, sort of like The Donald himself.

No word in yet on whether decisive and shrewd bidnessman Romney—who, according to Arpaio, has contacted him in the past, presumably seeking an endorsement—has changed his mind on the President’s citizenship, but stay tuned.

Finally, there is Rush Limbaugh—again. The 61-year-old Republican spokesman went a step further this time, after previously calling 30-year-old Congressional witness Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute:

So, Miss Fluke and the rest of you feminazis. Here’s the deal. If we’re going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.

Perhaps he can watch those videos with all of his Republican friends, those not courageous enough to even whisper a word of criticism of their conservative leader but who have plenty of moral guts to tell women to submit to their transvaginal probes.

Conservatism and Low IQ

Whatever one thinks of the study referenced below, one has to admire the choice to illustrate the point:

As for the substance of the study, here is the abstract:

________________________

Abstract

Despite their important implications for interpersonal behaviors and relations, cognitive abilities have been largely ignored as explanations of prejudice. We proposed and tested mediation models in which lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of right-wing ideologies (social conservatism, right-wing authoritarianism) and low levels of contact with out-groups. In an analysis of two large-scale, nationally representative United Kingdom data sets (N = 15,874), we found that lower general intelligence (g) in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via conservative ideology. A secondary analysis of a U.S. data set confirmed a predictive effect of poor abstract-reasoning skills on antihomosexual prejudice, a relation partially mediated by both authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact. All analyses controlled for education and socioeconomic status. Our results suggest that cognitive abilities play a critical, albeit underappreciated, role in prejudice. Consequently, we recommend a heightened focus on cognitive ability in research on prejudice and a better integration of cognitive ability into prejudice models.

_______________________

Gordon Hodson, one of the authors of the study, was quoted in a Live Science article:

Hodson was quick to note that the despite the link found between low intelligence and social conservatism, the researchers aren’t implying that all liberals are brilliant and all conservatives stupid. The research is a study of averages over large groups, he said.

“There are multiple examples of very bright conservatives and not-so-bright liberals, and many examples of very principled conservatives and very intolerant liberals,” Hodson said.

All of this reminds me of the controversy surrounding The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray. The book asserted that cognitive ability can be expressed in a meaningful single number (g) and that it is substantially, though not completely, the result of genetics.

The book also argued that IQ tests accurately measure this ability and that those tests can be designed to eliminate bias. That led to controversy because the authors asserted that racial differences in IQ were real (blacks, for instance, tend to score lower on IQ tests than whites) and like all differences in IQ involves an important genetic component (so they argued).

Now, there was a raging debate after the publication of The Bell Curve and the author’s analysis was found to be wanting by many critics. Right now all I can offer is that I distrust such studies.  We don’t yet know enough about how the brain works to pronounce with confidence the relationship between “intelligence” (the definition of which is also problematic) and performance on IQ tests or the adoption of a set of beliefs.

But I do think there is validity in the idea that low intelligence folks tend to prefer black and white explanations of an otherwise complicated reality, and that would apply to people on the left and right as far as I can tell. (But some intelligent folks prefer the black and white explanations presumably because of the emotional comfort involved, so go figure.)

But I do like the idea that Donald Trump is the poster child for the alleged link between low intelligence and racism and conservative beliefs.

Help For The Confused

Here are a couple of graphics from MSNBC this morning:

Now, Mitt Romney has repeatedly said that Mr. Obama has made the economy or the recession “worse.”  But  he has also said that he didn’t say that the President has made the economy worse. But he has also said the economy is actually getting better.  Mitt is all things to all confused people.

But even confused people can look at the graphics above and begin to understand that the strategy underlying Romney’s campaign for president is, well, as weird and creepy as creep-in-chief Donald Trump’s hair.

Speaking of which, I thought it was altogether fitting when Mr. Trump endorsed Romney and when Romney enthusiastically accepted his endorsement. Someone has to sew up the creep demographic in America and I prefer Trump take all of the suspense out of it now, so Obama can start working on confused Americans.

Today’s job report is a good start.

Two Of A Kind

Newt Gingrich, “the godfather of gridlock,” as David Axelrod calls him, appeared this morning with the god-awful godfather of gasconade, Donald Trump.

As might be expected, the event attracted a lot of media attention, which, of course, is the point.

These two extravagant self-promoters seized the moment to, well, promote themselves. That’s what they do, and admittedly they are good at it. Gingrich tried to use the meeting to rehab his recent remarks on child labor. He said he asked Trump to help him get poor kids “into the world of work” by establishing “at least ten apprenticeships” for kids from the poorest schools in New York.

That’s right. I’d say helping ten kids ought to do the job. We can expect a steep decline in poverty rates now that Gingrich and Trump have figured out what the problem is and how to fix it.

Gingrich said:

We had a great conversation about it. I’m a big fan of his. He was in our last movie, “The City Upon a Hill.” Did a great job.

Now, you have to admit that it is fairly creative to use ten poor New York kids to rehab your image and promote a movie you have for sale, all in a couple of minutes work.  There aren’t too many folks who can do that kind of stuff with a straight face.

As an aside, Newt also mentioned that he intends to run “as the paycheck candidate.” Good for him, but that’s even better for Democrats. That will help them remind voters of all those paychecks Newt got from Freddie Mac, just before the financial crisis put millions of Americans out of work.

And the paycheck candidate also took a lot of paychecks from Big Pharma, as he shamelessly shilled for the GOP’s prescription drug entitlement, Medicare Part D, that was, and remains, funded through deficit spending.

The paycheck candidate also cashed paychecks from the ethanol industry, as this tireless defender of free markets argued for subsidizing it with taxpayers’ money—but not current taxpayers’ money. That bill, like many Republican ventures over the last thirty years, will be paid by “our children and grandchildren,” as conservatives are wont to say when discussing Democrat-inspired spending.

So, yes, by all means, Newt, please run as the paycheck candidate.

As for Trump, he did not disappoint today. About Newt’s “ten apprenticeships” idea he said:

I thought it was a great idea. We call it apprenticeship, and we all know about The Apprentice. We’re gonna be picking 10 young, wonderful children and we’re gonna make them “apprenti.” We’re gonna have a little fun with it and I think it’s gonna be something that is really going to prove results.

Yep, The Ugly American thinks it would be “fun” to pick out ten poor kids to help him promote his NBC “reality” television gig and possibly attract a few more viewers, those who don’t mind squandering an hour of their lives watching a man pretend to be a billionaire.

Those lucky kids.

It’s Official: The Republican Party Is A Joke!

From HuffPo:

Newsmax and Donald Trump were conceived in the mind of a very strange and cruel creator and it is only fitting that the Republican Party’s devolution include a stop at a debate moderated by a fool and a crazy-uncle “news” outlet.

Here is a secretly taped rehearsal of the event (in case you can’t tell, Donald Trump is in the elephant suit):

A Snogging They Will Go

Remember when Donald Trump told us he has “a great relationship with the blacks“? 

Herman Cain, surging GOP candidate, will go to New York today to do what apparently he thinks he is obliged to do as a Republican Party presidential hopeful: snog Donald Trump’s rump.

Never mind what it says about Cain or the current field of candidates that most of them feel they need the blessing of the American Buffoon. They have other problems besides tastelessness. 

Collectively, the field is so unsatisfying to its fan base that the fanatics are clamoring for a relatively unpopular Republican governor of a northeastern state—who has repeatedly said he is not willing or able to become their champion—to rescue them from having to choose a defective nominee.

But, of course, Chris Christie, should he suddenly acknowledge that he is ready to become president, will have his flaws, too.  To the rabble that populate GOP primaries, some of Christie’s positions—take his embrace of Muslims, for instance—will likely disqualify him, as the truth trickles out.

So, what to do?  It has become painfully obvious that one of the consequences of the extremist takeover of the Republican Party is that the extremists, being extreme, are very hard to please.  But the way the frenzied zealots have characterized the country‘s problems may, in fact, be the problem.

Let’s think about it.

                                              Before the inauguration of the Scary Negro in 2009, remember the spike in gun purchases?  The spike has turned into a trend: According to the FBI, the criminal background checks necessary to secure gun ownership have set records each year of Obama’s tenure.  This year the checks may pass 15 million. Joshua Green of Bloomberg Business Week tells us an interesting fact about firearm manufacturer Ruger:

Since Obama’s inauguration the company’s stock price has risen more than 400 percent, making it a better investment than gold, which is up 113 percent.

Green continued:

Analysts anticipated a brief jump in firearm sales after the election as many gun owners, fearful that a new Democratic President would move to ban assault weapons, fortified their home arsenals. “Initially, what spiked were the tactical rifles, the stuff Rambo might use,” says [stock analyst Jim] Barrett. As a result, 2009 was “a blockbuster year.”

Now, if that isn’t bad enough for those of us who don’t want to live the life of Rambo, Green goes beyond the Obama-induced paranoia of gun-toters and mentions a couple of theories advanced by gun dealers and analysts to explain such behavior:

One is that hardcore gun enthusiasts fear the lousy economy will set off a crime wave. Another is that political upheaval over the federal debt may lead to riots like those in Greece and London.

That theory squares very well with what we have heard from the right-wing since Obama took up residence in the White’s House. The message on the lips of nearly every conservative pundit or politician is that America is going to hell in an Obama-woven handbasket. The slightly more radical among them roar incessantly with the charge that we have elected an America-hating non-American, who wants to destroy the country by spending us into bankruptcy and ruin.

How many times have you heard a conservative pundit or politician tell us that we are going the way of Greece?  How many times have they said that our economic cliff—and, thus, the “political upheaval” that goes with it—is just ahead? And Obama has the pedal to the metal.

The truth is that the extremists in the Republican Party have constructed a view of things so unAmericanly dismal and so cataclysmic and unsolvable that there is no candidate heavyweight big enough to meet the challenge.  But more immediately troubling for GOP candidates is the reality that no one in the field has a completely rabble-pleasing résumé.

Every candidate is viewed with some level of suspicion, some amount of distrust, some tittle of antipathy. That’s what happens when extremists take over a political party, when the world itself becomes a dark conspiracy.  No one can keep the faith, no one can be the champion.

Which leads us back to Herman Cain and his butt-sweat slurp-fest in New York today.  Donald Trump, proudly a part of the Tea Party, has repeatedly and insanely claimed President Obama is not an American citizen, that because of Obama the world “laughs at us” and “this country is going to hell.” America is no longer great, is essentially Trump’s message.

Yet, instead of calling out this codswallop, Herman Cain will celebrate it today and demonstrate that the problems in the Republican Party run much deeper than just a paucity of political candidates worthy of endorsement by extremists.

For all its patriotic pretensions, for all its talk of American exceptionalism, the party has lost faith in America, has lost its American soul.

A Champion Of The Middle Class

You know, I confess that there are times—say, when I listened last night to a fool like Donald Trump or a lying scoundrel like Jim DeMint on Fox “News”—that following politics these days, at least for a committed liberal, is very difficult, mostly frustrating, and sometimes throw-in-the-towel ugly.

But then I listen to someone like Elizabeth Warren, who has decided to run against “Wall Street’s Favorite Congressman” Scott Brown in Massachusetts for Ted Kennedy’s old senate seat, and I get new life.

Ms. Warren—who has earned the title of Saint Elizabeth—fought for the creation of the all-important Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  Fortunately, she won that all-important fight for that all-important federal agency, and the reason I know it was all-important was because Republicans fought so hard—and they’re still fighting—to kill it.

In any case, St. Elizabeth appeared on St. Rachel’s show last night and I present part of that segment to you to demonstrate what a genuine public-spirited person sounds like, a public-spirited person who is willing to fight for the public. And as you listen I ask you to imagine what would happen to the quality of our governance if people like Elizabeth Warren comprised a majority in Congress:

Mitt’s Magic Jobs Plan

I just heard Mitt Romney share with the world his jobs plan.  Even if you didn’t hear it, you have heard it.

You’ve heard it all before.

Here, more or less, is what his ear-tiring plan distills to:

  1. Kill Obamneycare.
  2. Deregulate.
  3. Cut taxes.
  4. Drill, baby, drill.
  5. Cut discretionary spending (only).
  6. Send Donald Trump abroad to talk nasty to those cheating Chinamen.
  7. Slap labor unions around.

If we allow him to do all those things and more, says Mitt, like a voodoo miracle, the economy will suddenly grow by 4% a year, produce 11.5 million jobs, and, perhaps most important, Rick Perry will go back to Texas a beaten cowboy.

Good luck with at least one of those, Mitt.

Barack Obama “Is No American,” Says A Guest Columnist For The Joplin Globe

Many readers of The Erstwhile Conservative are from places that the Joplin Globe, our local paper with which this blog is associated, doesn’t reach—unless, of course, one were to subscribe to the electronic version.

So, purely as a public service to those readers who don’t have the distinct pleasure of reading the Opinion Page of the Globe, I will give you a taste of what you are missing.

Today’s contribution is from someone named Mark D. Edmondson, who is featured—with a photo and everything—prominently on page 9A as a “Guest columnist,” who “lives in Neosho.” Mr. Edmondson has graced the Globe pages before, most notably a little more than a year ago, when he accused President Obama of being an enemy who wants to “destroy” America. He said at that time,

No one poses a greater threat to America and to our way of life than the man who currently occupies the Oval Office… All one needs to do is look at the people with whom Obama has surrounded himself. They are among the most radical people on Earth who have no great love for this country.

Well, that was last year. And Mr. Edmondson hasn’t much mellowed, despite the America-destroying enemy’s gracious and well-received presidential visit to Joplin about a month ago. Edmondson opened his latest offering with this:

Barack Obama may have been born in Hawaii, but he is no American.

Now, I don’t know why the Joplin Globe brass believes such malevolent moonshine—asserting that the President of the United States is not an American—is worthy of print. Perhaps there is an institutional fondness for provocation, or perhaps the brass agrees with the sentiment expressed, or perhaps Donald Trump owns stock in the company that owns the newspaper, or, my hope against hope, the brass is cleverly exposing the bigotry of a local writer under the guise of promoting it.

I don’t know.

But given all the vitriol that has surrounded President Obama’s tenure, particularly around the phony and embarrassing issue of his birthplace, I would think that our local newspaper would exercise a little restraint and not publish such tommyrot, even for grins and giggles.

In any case, I would be amiss by not at least letting you in on a little more of Edmondson’s sniping that followed the above remark, such sniping as regularly appears in the Globe courtesy of local letter-writers and columnists.

As he continues implementing his leftist agenda to “fundamentally transform America,” our beloved nation is sinking deeper into decline.

The dark cloud of socialism appeared over Washington, D.C., the day Obama first took office. Its inevitable spread to every region of America proved faster than the recent Gulf Oil spill, threatening the basic tenets of liberty and free market enterprise the country has traditionally stood for.

Seventy percent of Americans now say we are headed in the wrong direction. No doubt many of those who think this way rue the moment they marked their ballot for the man who has purposely driven this nation to the brink of economic collapse.

As Obama continues his brutal campaign of cutting America down to size, he does so in a way that our one-time adversaries and fiercest overseas competitors would have greatly admired.

None of this needs any further comment, except to say to those who don’t have the pleasure of routinely encountering such tripe on the opinion pages of the Joplin Globe: please pray for me.

The Ugly American Bows Out With Another Lie

Right to the end of his phony flirtation with running for president, Donald Trump pretended he was still the popular choice among Republican voters. 

But that was likely never true and it certainly was not true when Trump made his predictable exit from 2012 politics today.  His support had evaporated even among a rather extreme primary electorate, a large number of whom seem to prefer the strangest, if not dumbest, of candidates.

The extent to which anyone ever took Trump’s potential candidacy seriously was largely a result of sizing up the current Republican presidential candidates, a group even hard-core Republicans find, well, inadequate.  As for me, I would say, repulsive.  I mean, Newt Gingrich?  Come on.

Here’s hopefully the last lie Donald Trump will tell this campaign season:

I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election.

Strong conviction“?  If his cartoonish candidacy proved anything, it proved that Donald Trump has no strong convictions about much of anything.  Except maybe that he’d better not give up his well-paying job with NBC, a job he obviously needs.

And, unfortunately, NBC will apparently keep him on another year, that network having shown a willingness to tolerate one of the most negative personalities in American popular culture.  The good news is that I never have to hear from him again, as I will never turn on NBC and watch him do whatever it is he does.

He’s Proud To Be An Okie From Manhattan

I don’t think I’ve ever quoted Ed Shultz on this blog, and some of you aren’t going to completely understand today’s offering, but here it goes:

Last night Shultz said something about the birther issue that may strike some folks as odd:

The President of the United States has had to put up with this honky-tonk conversation in the media for too long.

What a brilliant description of the goings-on regarding, among other things, the racist-infected doubts about President Obama’s birthplace, his college experiences, and essentially his love for his country.

“Honky-tonk” can be defined simply as, “a cheap, noisy bar or dance hall,” but in my (considerable) experience, there is a certain ethos that prevails in the kinds of bars I have known as honky-tonks. In terms of the politics of the patrons, they were, and remain, very conservative institutions.

Let me put it this way:  Honky-tonks aren’t the kind of places in which one would expect to find Barack Hussein Obama bellied-up to the bar.

While part of the etymology of the term honky-tonk is a little cloudy—”tonk” may refer to the brand name, Ernest A. Tonk, on the upright piano used in the old Tin Pan Alley bars—here is how Wikipedia describes the “honky” portion of the term:

The term honky was, as a term for whites, derived from bohunk and hunky. In the early 1900s, these were derogatory terms for Bohemian, Hungarian, and Polish immigrants. According to Robert Hendrickson, author of the Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, black workers in Chicago meatpacking plants picked up the term from white workers and began applying it indiscriminately to all whites. “Father of the Blues” W.C. Handy wrote of “Negroes and hunkies” in his autobiography.

Wikipedia further notes that, “honky tonk eventually became associated mainly with lower-class bars catering to men.”  The piano was replaced, for the honky-tonks I frequented, by a juke box, a juke box mostly loaded with country music. 

And the politics was, well, you can imagine.  Mostly uninformed, bigoted noise, spouted by people who don’t know what they don’t know, many of them I could politely call reactionaries, but because I’m still aggressively saddened about the events yesterday, I will call them classic rednecks.

Okay, so you get what Ed Schultz was trying to say. Which led me to thinking about Donald Trump, who I have called an Ugly American. I think a better description of him would be a Manhattan redneck.

Yes, a redneck from Manhattan.  They exist. And Donald Trump is their hero.  In fact, he’s a hero of rednecks everywhere.

I like this definition of the term redneck from the Urban Dictionary:

A glorious absence of sophistication (Part time or full time)

For the record, Donald Trump is “full-time.”

In his press conference yesterday, Donald Trump said,

I am so proud of myself because I’ve accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish.

It’s as if Trump was in a honky-tonk in 1964 Meridian, Mississippi, bragging to his buddies, “I showed that uppity negro. That’ll teach him to wink at a white woman.

And there on the bar stool next to Trump was his honky-tonk angel, Sarah Palin, egging him on:

Media, admit it, Trump forced the issue.

Which reminds me of an old Conway Twitty honky-tonk song, sort of Donald Trump’s plea to the world:

So tell me if you think it’s over,

And I’ll leave it up to you how it ends. 

‘Cause if you don’t want the love I can give you, 

Well, there’s a honky-tonk angel who’ll take me back in.

Makes me want to pop the top on another can.

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