Remarks And Asides, Republican “Reform” Edition

“It’s not morally right to starve children,” says Tim Straus, a Springfield, Mo., businessman who is critical of Ozark Billy Long’s vote to cut $20 billion out of the food stamp program.

Now, If you have to tell Republican legislators that they shouldn’t be starving children, I submit the GOP, in its tenth month of reform agony, is irreparable.

______________________________

Speaking of trying to repair the Republican Party, Newt Gingrich, who is responsible for much of the brokenness of the party that needs fixing, has offered some more advice—will the advice ever end on how to rehabilitate Republicans?—on just what it is that the party should do: come up with something to replace the Affordable Care Act:

I would bet for most of you, you go home in the next two weeks while your members of Congress are home and you look at them in the eye and you say, ‘What is your positive replacement for ObamaCare?’ and they will have zero answer…

Oh, but they do have an answer, Newt. It is found in Billy Long’s vote to cut food stamps and in the newest Republican effort in the House to cut food stamps even more. If you starve the children, then they won’t grow up to need health care at all! Voilà!

______________________________

Someone should tell the Tea Party in Tennessee that Republicans need to do more than, as Newt put it, be “negative” and “vicious” and “tear down” their opponents.

Tea Party zealots have asked Senator Lamar Alexander to retire “with dignity” before they expose him to Tennessee voters as the champion of “compromise and bipartisanship.” Yep, a man who has a 72% rating from the reactionary American Conservative Union and a 90% rating from the equally reactionary Americans for Tax Reform is not fit to be a Republican anymore because of all that compromisin’!

I don’t think these fanatics are listening to you, Newt!

_______________________________

And speaking of fanatics, no party that has as its head a man like Reince Priebus is either capable of reforming itself or worth reforming. I remind you that when Republicans were going through all this “reform” talk in January of this year, I wrote a piece appropriately titled, “To Hell With The Republican Party.”  In that piece I said my piece about Reince Priebus, which because I find him so appalling, I want to say it again:

Someone explain to me why a political party that supposedly wants to reform itself would put one of its most disgusting leaders of all time back on top. Oh, let me remind you of what this slimy bastard said while the tragedy in Benghazi was still warm:

reince priebus

If there were a God who gave a damn about this world, Reince Priebus would be putting out fires in hell about now. But instead, the creep has been put back in charge of the Republican Party, which may amount to the same job.

There, now I feel better.

_________________________________

And again speaking of Republican fanatics, yet another congressman is calling for a shutdown of the government in order to defund ObamaCare. This comes as a conservative polling outfit—a brother of The Heritage Foundation—defund obamacareis urging Republicans to shut ‘er down because the public would not necessarily put all the blame on the GOP:

This poll demonstrates that the Left cannot win the argument on either the policy front or the political front.  Americans – including 57 percent of independents in ten critical congressional districts – favor defunding Obamacare.  House Republicans should be much more concerned with the fallout of failing to defund Obamacare than with the imaginary fallout of doing so.

The country is waiting to see whether the extremist Tea Party clowns are running the GOP rodeo, or whether the GOP rodeo has become nothing but clown acts.

____________________________

Finally, speaking of clown acts:

GOP lawmaker invites rodeo clown who mocked Obama to Texas

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) invited the rodeo clown who sparked controversy by donning a mask of President Obama at the Missouri State Fair to preform in Texas, his office said Wednesday.

Stockman, one of the most clownish members of Congress himself, said,

I’m sure any rodeo in Texas would be proud to have [the] performers.

That just about says it all about Congressman Stockman, Texas, and the unreformable Republican Party.

“The Hounds Of Racism” Are Howling

As right-wingers begin to think the unthinkable, that Barack Hussein Obama just might serve another four years, we can expect the nastiness to escalate.

From The Washington Post:

RICHMOND — Virginia Republican Party officials on Tuesday ordered their Mecklenburg County affiliate to remove photos portraying President Obama as a witch doctor, a caveman and a thug from its Facebook page.

No racism there, right? The local GOP chairman initially refused to take down the photos, but I noticed today the Facebook page is dead. Defiant racists aren’t what they used to be, I suppose.

We’ve all seen the witch doctor photo, and here are the other two mentioned:

Classy stuff. But that’s just some rednecks in rural Virgina, so Republicans don’t want us to worry about it. It doesn’t reflect the party’s views about Mr. Obama, they say.

Okay. But maybe this does, from the lips of Romney surrogate Newt Gingrich:

He happens to be a partial, part-time president. He really is a lot like the substitute referees in the sense that he’s not a real president. I mean, he doesn’t do any of the things president do; he doesn’t worry about any of the things president’s do…he’s a false president…

Hmm. Not only is that disrespectful, but it sort of sounds like the old Georgian is calling our first African-American president a loafer. But that was on Tuesday. On Wednesday John Sununu, another Romney surrogate, clarified it for us, which I present from Fox “News”:

There. That’s better. The scary socialist Negro is lazy to boot!

As I always do in these cases, I will highlight with a box Romney’s response to such less-than-subtle racially-charged remarks uttered by his surrogates:

Oh, I forgot Romney fashions himself as a “No Apology” kind of guy.

In any case, I offer you an excellent observation by Geoffrey Dunn about how a lot of this dark stuff started with Sarah Palin:

when Palin accused then-candidate Obama of “palling around with terrorists” and of not being “a man who sees America as you see America,” she unleashed the hounds of racism in this country and in the Republican Party. She became the first serious candidate for national office since George Wallace to give both body and voice to the vulgarities of American right-wing talk radio and the pernicious racism that fuels it.

The “hounds of racism” are running quite free these days, and apparently Mitt Romney, who has had problems with dogs in the past, either can’t or doesn’t want to put them back in the kennel of shame where they belong.

In fact, Romney has often sounded like a hound himself, talking about “free stuff,” as in if you want free stuff “vote for the other guy.” And along those lines, I noticed today that Rush Limbaugh was playing a tape over and over—and over—of some hysterically sounding black woman yelling something about a phone. Immediately, I knew where to turn, since Matt Drudge is the source for a lot of Limbaugh’s material. Sure enough:

As I followed the link, I found a YouTube video recorded at a “Romney Event” near Cleveland, which had only 317 views when I watched:

Now, Limbaugh, who is one of those white-angst howling hounds unleashed by Sarah Palin, started talking about “Obama phones” and a website dedicated to telling folks like the woman above how to get their “free phones.”  Of course this plays into all the themes advanced by Republicans against our pigmented president: socialist, giver-of-free-stuff, all-around champion of the “permanent under class,” in Limbaugh’s phrase.

And that permanent under class, in the minds of a lot of Republican voters, looks like the woman above. That’s the point of those photos on that Virginia GOP website; that’s the point of Gingrich’s and Sununu’s comments; that’s the point of Drudge and Limbaugh promoting heavily that weird video.

In order to win, Romney has to get as many nervous whites to vote for him as he can, since he has lost any hope of getting much support from folks of color. That’s why he doesn’t say anything to shut down the obvious appeals to white angst by his official and unofficial surrogates.

That woman and her free “Obama phone” is just one more example for worried whites to consider in November, as conservatives see it. It turns out, though, that Obama had nothing to do with the free phones provided to low-income folks. The earliest version of the program was signed into law by, uh, Ronald Reagan!

But that fact won’t stop folks like Limbaugh, who said today that the phenomenon of people voting for Obama “is not about hard work.”

Go talk to the cell phone lady,” he said.

Tough Love Is For The Other Guy

Paul Ryan said Saturday morning to a gathering of pale-faced Republican geezers in Florida,

Our solution to preserve, protect, and save Medicare will not affect your benefits.

Yesterday I posted a piece on how Republicans, in order to sell their plan to radically revamp Medicare, are appealing to the selfishness of current seniors, hoping those seniors won’t begin to wonder how long young folks will keep paying for benefits those young people will never get.

A retired local conservative commenter, who is living on a military pension, responded to my piece with this:

…cutting military retirement benefits is coming, like it or not by anyone. But you would not do it I hope for those that have planned their lives and are living on such benefits today.

Same with Medicare. People have planned their lives for that program and need it to live as planned.

The idea here is that “I’ve got mine” and it is too bad if folks in the future have to take less, but they should keep paying for “mine.” Nothing could better illustrate what I was trying to say in the piece I wrote than that conservative’s comment.

Another commenter on the piece characterized the conservative’s thoughts this way:

Being a silver-haired geezer myself, I can see that they want to do the same thing to Medicare and Social Security that has been done to the educational system. Hey, WE got our valuable college degrees for peanuts and earned the big bucks during our peak years, but now we realize it wasn’t fair, and so YOU are going to have to suck it up, kid. And don’t come begging at grandpa’s door, because I now believe in tough love!

Amen. Tough love, if you will notice, is almost always directed at someone else.  When Paul Ryan, for instance, had the chance to practice some tough love during the Bush administration and demand that the expanded drug benefit or the two wars be paid for, he made the decision to defer the tough love until later, which happened to be when a Democrat was in the White’s House.

And Ryan’s tough love was in full force when he opposed Obama’s stimulus plan to help start the economic recovery, even though he later sent letters requesting some of the money so his constituents wouldn’t have to suffer from his tough love. (And then, taking lessons from Romney, he lied about doing so.)

But our local conservative commenter, again a man who lives on an inflation-protected military pension that he earned from his years of service, wasn’t finished with his own tough love campaign. He wrote:

The GOP has said economic processes MUST CHANGE today because our national wants far exceed our national resources.

Here is my response to that comment:

What you call our national wants are actually national needs, unless you think we don’t need the social stability that Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid provide, or unless you believe we can stop funding the Defense Department.

But even if you consider those things “wants,” you are still wrong in claiming that those wants exceed our national resources. In fact they don’t. We have plenty of national resources, as we are very wealthy.

What we have is a political party, which you almost always support, that has designated most of our national economic resources as untouchable, except when it comes to the military.

And they have decided that the uneven distribution of income in America is not to be feared but to be embraced, as it will somehow inspire the have-nots to work harder so they too can someday send their excess dough to the Cayman Islands for some much needed rest.

The truth is that conservatives controlling the GOP today do not value the stability that comes from social programs, programs they routinely disparage openly and without apology.

For instance, Mr. Obama has been falsely called “the food stamp president” by Newt Gingrich, as if providing food stamps to folks who need them in bad times is worthy of condemnation. It turns out that George W. Bush was actually the food stamp president and God bless him for it. It was the least he could do for helping screw up the economy, which made food stamps such a necessity for many folks.

And you know what your conservative intellectual hero-columnist Charles Krauthammer recently wrote about Bush? He denigrated him for his,

philosophically undisciplined, idiosyncratically free-spending “compassionate conservatism.”

You see, for ideologues like Krauthammer, compassion has no place in conservatism, a point I am happy to make every day.

People like Gingrich and Krauthammer and Rush Limbaugh and a horde of Republican politicians often refer to an “entitlement society,” as if people—they want you to think it is mostly black people—who receive government help aspire to do nothing more than lie around the house and get fat on food purchased with money stolen from taxing “job creators.” That is what the Romney ads falsely claiming that Obama waived the work requirement for welfare benefits is all about.

You see, these folks have always hated the social safety net because most of them have never needed it or have arrived at a place where they know they never will. In one way or another, they’ve got theirs and to hell with everyone else.

And it is that sentiment that serves as the subtext of the Ryan-Romney campaign and that will be what voters affirm or reject in November.

Newt Versus Newt Versus Romney

First, this headline from Newsmax:

 Now, the new Obama ad:

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.

How Obama Will Sell Out The Country

I suggested yesterday (Obama’s Planning On Selling Out the Country…) that someone on Fox’s evening lineup would question the “intelligence and patriotism” of Obama and that someone might wonder “what else is Barack Obama not telling us he’ll do after he’s elected.”

Sean Hannity did not disappoint last night. He played Obama’s “private” conversation with Dmitry Medvedev:

OBAMA: This is my last election, and after my election I’ll have more flexibility.

MEDVEDEV: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir [Putin].

Now, everyone knows that the term “more flexibility” means “more flexibility to screw the American people who just elected me,” right? And if you didn’t know that, then you did after Sean’s guest, Newt Gingrich, explained it all:

Well, it raises two questions. The first is, what other countries has he had this conversation with and who else has he said—to the Iranians to the North Koreans, to a variety of places—you know, give me a little time, give me some space, let me get reelected and then I’ll sell out.

And the second is, my interpretation of an American president telling a Russian president about our missile defense clearly indicates he’s going to sell out our defense system as soon as he gets reelected, which would fit his whole policy of weakness and appeasement…

He’s a hard-line left-winger…none of this is a surprise. The question is does the United States want to reelect a president with the worst economic record since the Great Depression, the highest deficits in American history, the rising cost of gasoline, a weak foreign policy, and he really wants to destroy the American defense system. That’s essentially what Obama-ism is.

Those aren’t the words of some obscure know-nothing in the bowels of movement conservatism. Those are the words of a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, who once was considered by many to be a viable contender in the GOP presidential primary.

And if that wasn’t enough entertainment for one night, the opening act for Gingrich was the toesucker himself, Dick Morris.

Hannity had played a Santorum ad the theme of which was: If we reelect Obama, the world will grow dark and the birds and Mitt Romney will stop singing. Asked to comment on the ad, the toesucker said it “understated” how bad things will be, should voters put Obama back in the White’s House.

He then outlined Obama’s second term for the lucky viewers, which I will quote at length because one has to plumb the depths of this Mariana Trench delusion to fully appreciate it:

First of all, I believe he’ll proceed to a single-payer system on health care.  I think Obamacare was just an intermediate step in his mind.  And if he’s reelected, particularly if he has a Democratic Congress, he will eliminate the private health insurance industry and all insurance will be from the government and it will all be according to one plan.

Secondly, I think that he will completely reverse the initiatives of the Bush 43 administration in opening vast new forms of oil drilling in the U.S., and will eliminate this incredible opportunity we have to dominate the global oil markets and put the terrorists out of business.

But thirdly, I think that his big focus will be to make the United States a vassal state to a globalist entity. I think that the G20 and the IMF will acquire sovereignty over our economy. I think that he will sign the international criminal treaty—Criminal Court treaty—that would oblige the United States to get U.N. approval, which is to say Russian and Chinese approval, before going to war.

I think he’ll sign—I write about all this in my book coming up in two months called “Screwed”—I think he’ll sign the Rights of the Child treaty, which would create a legal basis for suing to increase foreign aid to poor countries.

I think that he’ll sign the Gun Control treaty…I think that he’ll sign the global ban on small arms—back door arms control in the United States. I think he’ll sign away our royalties for offshore oil drilling by going along with the law of the sea treaty. I think that he’ll ban U.S. weapons in outer space, which will eliminate an anti-missile capability fiasco…

But the most important thing I didn’t get to: He’s gonna transform America into two countries. A small number of people who pay taxes and a large number of people don’t work and are dependent upon the government to create a permanent leftist, socialist base in the United States.

As you can see, Mr. Obama will have his hands full in his second term, as selling out America is no easy task.

And by the way, don’t forget to pick up a copy of Dick Morris’ book in a couple of months.

Proper Anti-Colonialism On This St. Patrick’s Day

Long before Newt Gingrich and Dinesh D’Souza alerted us to the not-so-stunning-even-if-it-were-true possibility that Barack Obama possesses an “anti-colonial worldview,” there was an Irish musician, Tommy Makem, who wrote a lovely ballad about the British colonization of Ireland and the militant resistance of the Irish to that colonization.

I saw a YouTube video of a performance of the song today on Moe Holland’s blog, Whatever Works, (posted for her father on this St. Patrick’s Day). I am also posting the song, Four Green Fields, along with the lyrics below.

Keep in mind that the four green fields are the four Irish provinces and the “strangers” that “came and tried to take them” were the colonialists, toward whom, according to Gingrich and D’Souza, no one is supposed to hold any ill feelings.

What did I have, said the fine old woman
What did I have, this proud old woman did say
I had four green fields, each one was a jewel
But strangers came and tried to take them from me
I had fine strong sons, who fought to save my jewels
They fought and they died, and that was my grief said she

Long time ago, said the fine old woman
Long time ago, this proud old woman did say
There was war and death, plundering and pillage
My children starved, by mountain, valley and sea
And their wailing cries, they shook the very heavens
My four green fields ran red with their blood, said she

What have I now, said the fine old woman
What have I now, this proud old woman did say
I have four green fields, one of them’s in bondage
In stranger’s hands, that tried to take it from me
But my sons had sons, as brave as were their fathers
My fourth green field will bloom once again said she

The Road To Oligarchy

Oligarchy…is a form of social organization in which political power is primarily held by a wealthy elite, who comprise a small minority of the population, and who use this power primarily to serve their own class interests.”

Wikipedia

Wanna know why the Supreme Court, controlled now by Republican conservatives, ruled the way it did in Citizens United?  Looky:

And that doesn’t even count the $38 million that Super PACs supporting Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry raised.

How about this headline from The New York Times:

Of course Romney received millions from folks in the financial industry— those are his peeps. But he also got $300,000 from a “Texas construction magnate”; he got $1 million from yet another Koch bro, William; he got more than $200,000 from members of the Walmart/Walton clan; he got $500,000 from “a wealthy home builder.”

That’s a pretty good cross section of America, don’t you think?

No? Oh. Okay. Let’s tell the truth then: The oligarchs are winning. They are trying to purchase our democracy, and, really, if they stick together, it won’t cost them all that much.

Especially considering the payoff at the end.

And don’t believe the bulldooky about how union donations offset the advantage. Even if they did, which they don’t, that money comes from thousands upon thousands of working folks who know about hedge apples and hedgerows but not a damn thing about hedge funds or hiding money in tropical locations or in Swiss banks.

The golden road to oligarchy is paved by people who need people like Mitt Romney, who undoubtedly understands the very different world these folks live in, and who can represent their very special interests.

Romney’s win in Florida demonstrates the essence of his campaign. The big win was bought and paid for my moneyed interests who can rain down cash when and where it is needed most.

I heard Rep. Connie Mack, who wants to be Senator Connie Mack, speaking for Mitt Romney this morning on MSNBC. Incredibly, he said this:

We want a candidate who knows how jobs are created, who knows how this economy works, who has been in the real world, who has had successes, that’s who we’re looking for and people in the state of Florida spoke loudly tonight that that is the message they reacted to.

We all know that the people reacted mostly to all of the negative, anti-Gingrich ads that Romney’s wealthy donors funded through a Super PAC. That’s what we know. But that’s not all we know. We know that to say that Romney “has been in the real world” is to redefine the world that most of us live in.

Romney’s real world is not the world where a person gets up in the morning, goes to work, works hard all day, comes home and tries to forget that he or she is only a pink slip away from disaster, that pink slip sometimes generated by “vulture capitalists” like Romney who work hard to profit from dismantling companies not building them.

This morning Joe Scarborough was critical of what he called “those crazy Newt Gingrich Bain Capital attacks brought to you by Michael Moore.” Evangelical extremist Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (a tentacle of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family), agreed with Scarborough and added:

Why are we beating people up over things we support?

Now, I have been an evangelical and I think I understand the evangelical mind a bit, but for a leading evangelical to enthusiastically support the kinds of things Bain Capital did is to promote a gospel with which I am not familiar.

It seems to me that if Bain Capital and Mitt Romney had had a table in the “den of thieves” that was the courtyard of the Temple in Jerusalem in Jesus’ day, the Savior would have given them the left foot of fellowship.  After all, by cleansing the temple Jesus was essentially condemning those who were exploiting the less fortunate.

But in our day, a prominent evangelical is on television defending predatory capitalism. That simple fact tells us how far we have come down the road to oligarchy.

Yep, the oligarchs are winning. And now they would have us believe Jesus is on their payroll.

Good Riddance

I thought I would just share with you some notes I took while dutifully, if painfully, watching the CNN GOP debate last night:

____________________

The thing opens with NFL football seriousness, what with the music and the introduction of the candidates. I am thinking there is going to be a Stealth Bomber flyover.

I note there are three or four black folks in the audience. Perhaps a debate record for the GOP.

I couldn’t tell if Newt was booed when he came on the scene or whether it was Newwwwwt‘s. But I am convinced he enjoys it no matter what.

Oh, my God. I have to revise my count: there are three African-American kids in the choir singing the national anthem. Three out of twelve. Now, we are definitely talking a record here. The GOP is the party of inclusion!

I notice Newt is not singing along. Neither is Ron Paul.  Man, if the President Who Was Born In Kenya did that, he would really get the business on Fox News later tonight and all day tomorrow.  But at least Newt has his hand over his chest. That’s a good patriotic sign, or else the too-spicy tamales on the Mexican buffet backstage are getting to him.

When Rick Santorum introduces himself it strikes me how much he would look like Pee-wee Herman, if he only had a bow tie. Where’s George Will when you need him?

The debate gets going:

In response to a question about his calling Mitt “the most anti-immigrant candidate” in an ad, Newt says we have to be “realistic in our indignation.” I’m not immediately sure what that means, but I know Newt has never done it.

Wolf Blitzer, the amiable moderator, won’t let Newt escape and he is forced to admit that he does indeed think Mitt is “the most anti-immigrant candidate.”  This is where Mittens begins his attack, using what I will call gentlemanly aggression, and Newt is shrinking before my eyes. And I never thought I would ever put Newt and “shrinking” in the same sentence.

That’s inexcusable!” Mitt says. And then he drops a Marco Rubio on him, saying Rubio also believes the ad was “inexcusable and inflammatory and inappropriate.” Wow! A Triple Adjective Takedown! I haven’t seen one of those in a while!  But Mitt really wounds Newt with this:

Mr. Speaker, I’m not anti-immigrant. My father was born in Mexico. My wife’s father was born in Wales. They came to this country. The idea that I’m anti-immigrant is repulsive.

Then Mittens says,

I think you should recognize that having differences of opinions on issues does not justify labeling people with highly charged epithets.

Oh, my. If Newt can’t label people with highly charged epithets, he won’t be able to say another word the rest of the campaign.

Next, Wolf turns to Mitt’s ad about Gingrich calling Spanish “the language of the ghetto.”  And here we find out why Mitt Romney will have a lot of problems going up against Big O. Mitt says he hasn’t seen the ad. And then asks,

Did he say that?

Moments later he adds,

I doubt that’s my ad, but we’ll take a look and find out. There are a bunch of ads out there that are being organized by other people.

Dammit Mitt! This is bleeping CNN! They’ve hired fact checkers for this special night! You can’t get away with that stuff.  Sure enough, Wolf comes back later and says:

We did double-check, just now, Governor, that ad that we talked about, where I quoted you as saying that Speaker Gingrich called Spanish “the language of the ghetto” — we just double-checked. It was one of your ads. It’s running here in Florida in — on the radio. And at the end you say, “I’m Mitt Romney and I approved this ad.”

Oops!

But Mitt soon rehabs himself. Blitzer asks Newt about Romney’s personal finances, and Newt, trying his old shtick, tells Wolf he has asked a “nonsense question.”  But the crowd isn’t tearing the place down and Wolf refuses to be detoured (this is his finest moment; later he will degrade himself and ask about the candidates’ wives, a typical cutesy CNN question) and confronts Newt with reality:

BLITZER: But, Mr. Speaker, you made an issue of this, this week, when you said that, “He lives in a world of Swiss bank and Cayman Island bank accounts.” I didn’t say that. You did.

GINGRICH: I did. And I’m perfectly happy to say that on an interview on some TV show. But this is a national debate, where you have a chance to get the four of us to talk about a whole range of issues.

BLITZER: But if you make a serious accusation against Governor Romney like that, you need to explain that.

GINGRICH: I simply suggested –

(BOOING)

GINGRICH: You want to try again? I mean –

And this is where Romney triumphs. Not content to let the slimy little Newt get off that easy, he says,

Wouldn’t it be nice if people didn’t make accusations somewhere else that they weren’t willing to defend here?

Damn, Mittens is now on fire! And Newt is forced to respond, which he did, weakly:

GINGRICH: OK. All right.

Given that standard, Mitt, I did say I thought it was unusual. And I don’t know of any American president who has had a Swiss bank account. I’d be glad for you to explain that sort of thing.

Which, of course, Mitt does, unconvincingly. But the damage to Newt is done.  He asks for a “two-way truce.”

Game over.

Just a few more notes on the night (I will deal with Santorum’s critique of Romneycare in another post; it was fantastic):

I am feeling sorry for the woman who asks what she is supposed to do about being unemployed for the first time in 10 years and “unable to afford health care benefits.”  Sadly, she gets a lecture on conservative economics from all the candidates, which, no doubt, helped cause her to be unemployed and without insurance in the first place. Newt even says this in response to her question:

We need to have a program which would start with, frankly, repealing Obamacare, repealing Dodd-Frank, repealing Sarbanes-Oxley.

You gotta love that compassionate conservatism.

And I feel sorry for a man who identified himself as a Palestinian-American Republican. I immediately wonder how someone could be a Republican and a Palestinian-American, given the right’s attitude toward the Palestinians, but then I also wonder how someone could be a gay Republican. Go figure. The man asks this:

How would a Republican administration help bring peace to Palestine and Israel when most candidates barely recognize the existence of Palestine or its people? …I’m here to tell you we do exist.

I can guess what is coming: It’s Obama’s fault!  Romney says that,

This president threw – I think he threw Israel under the bus with regards to defining the ’67 borders as a starting point of negotiations. I think he disrespected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

If Mitt keeps repeating this lie enough, perhaps Politifact will eventually rate it as “true.” Who knows. But this is one of many lies about Obama on the night.

_______________________

Truth-challenged Mitt Romney will win the nomination, and the sooner the better. I don’t think I can watch another one of these debates, especially since Newt has decided not to stick anymore firecrackers in Mitt’s skivvies and watch him squirm.

And even though Newt did manage in his closing to drop a couple of references to food stamps and gave a nod to Saul Alinsky, it appears the fight has been knocked out of him this night by Mitt and earlier in the day by the Republican establishment—including a weird tag team of Bob Dole and the disturbing Ann Coulter.

And as much as I’d like to see him get the nomination and thus lose the general election, as a good American, I say good riddance.

Heart Specialists

In 2010, Dinesh D’Souza wrote a book, widely praised and quoted by conservatives, titled, The Roots of Obama’s Rage.  On Amazon.com you can see this official description of the book:

The Roots of Obama’s Rage reveals Obama for who he really is: a man driven by the anti-colonial ideology of his father and the first American president to actually seek to reduce America’s strength, influence, and standard of living. Controversial and compelling, The Roots of Obama’s Rage is poised to be the one book that truly defines Obama and his presidency. 

Newt Gingrich, who is the current frontrunner for the GOP nomination, actually added a blurb to D’Souza’s book:

“Stunning…the most profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack Obama.” —NEWT GINGRICH

Now, let’s get this straight. D’Souza and Gingrich aren’t saying they just have policy differences with the President . They are saying Barack Obama is actively seeking “to reduce America’s strength, influence, and standard of living.”  In other words, Mr. Obama is working against his country’s interests. His heart is not with America.

In case this idea wasn’t clear enough to the right-wing Obama-haters, Human Events offered some help by adapting part of D’Souza’s book and presented it under the title,

All of which brings us to last night’s excellent State of the Union speech. I present to you a selection of short statements uttered by the President Who Hates America:

We can do this.  I know we can, because we’ve done it before.

What’s at stake aren’t Democratic values or Republican values, but American values.  And we have to reclaim them.

The state of our Union is getting stronger.

America is more productive.

We don’t begrudge financial success in this country.  We admire it.

I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed:  That government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more.

…when we act together, there’s nothing the United States of America can’t achieve.

…tyranny is no match for liberty…

We’ve made it clear that America is a Pacific power…

America is back. Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

Each time I look at that flag, I’m reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those 50 stars and those 13 stripes.  No one built this country on their own.  This nation is great because we built it together.  This nation is great because we worked as a team.  This nation is great because we get each other’s backs.  And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard.  As long as we are joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, and our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.

A mere 83 words into his response speech, the Man Who Republicans Wish Would Have Run For President, Mitch Daniels, said this:

On these evenings, presidents naturally seek to find the sunny side of our national condition. But when President Obama claims that the state of our union is anything but grave, he must know in his heart that this is not true.

It’s strange to me how Republicans always seem to know what is in Barack Obama’s heart.

Remarks And Asides

I’m not going to mention Mitt Romney’s tax returns or his enormous wealth or the fact that he is making Albert Pujols money without driving in a single run. I think the unemployed candidate has suffered enough. I mean, he’s already had to close his Swiss bank account, for God’s sake.

And now that we know he is a stockholder in Fannie and Freddie, he’ll have hell to pay from Freddie’s one-time lobbyist influence peddler historian lover Newt Gingrich.

___________________________

I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more. I don’t think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes,” said Mitt during last night’s debate.

No siree! Mitt’s not going to give and extra dollar to the country he loves, as some of it might end up supporting the troops, who will be expected to give the last full measure of devotion so Mitt can look tough when he gets in the White’s House.

____________________________

Also during the debate, Mitt revealed his extraordinary clever and evolving immigration plan—those non-law-abiding folks will simply engage in “self-deportation.” Next up, Mitt’s plan to curb crime: Elect him president and folks will simply stumble down to the Mayberry jail, like a bunch of civic-minded Otis Campbells, and lock themselves up! Why didn’t Obama think of that one!

____________________________

Stand-up comedian and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich complained about not having the crowd into his performance last night on NBC. He said he won’t do any more shows unless the audience is allowed to boo and cheer at all the wrong times.

____________________________

Naturally, Newt blamed the media for stepping on his shtick:

We’re going to serve notice on future debates. The media doesn’t control free speech. People ought to be allowed to applaud if they want to.

The media doesn’t control free speech“? Is Newt calling for a government takeover of the press? If he starts with Fox, I’m all in!

_____________________________

Oliver Stone, moviemaker and conspiracy peddler, has said he would support Ron Paul over President Obama. Makes perfect sense to me.

_____________________________

This is what R.E.S.P.E.C.T. means to some members of the Republican Party:

Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., said on Monday he is boycotting President Obama’s State of the Union address.

In a tersely worded statement released by his office, Lamborn said he decided instead “to pass” on attending the speech on Tuesday night, though he will watch it on television and participate in a live chat hosted by Heritage Action for America.

“Congressman Lamborn does not support the policies of Barack Obama,” the statement said.

The statement also said:

Congressman Lamborn respects the President personally, and the office of the President.

I’m sure Mr. Obama will miss Mr. Lamborn, whoever he is.

_______________________________

Speaking of a lack of respect, Rick Santorum’s has a new excuse for not correcting a woman who said at one of his events that Obama was not “legally” the president and that “he is an avowed Muslim.” He told John Heilemann on Morning Joe this morning:

This was an elderly lady. She was there leaning on a cane; she was quite wobbly. I’m not going to sit there and slam an older lady because she has some way off, you know, bizarre beliefs.

So, the old gal gets the senior discount from a generous Rick Santorum. If only he would be as generous to future Medicare recipients. Santorum is one of the biggest backers of Paul Ryan’s plan to kill Medicare as we know it, which would eventually make folks like that wobbly woman wish Obama were legal.

_______________________________

Finally, Senator Rand Paul’s incident with the TSA in Nashville has his old man all hot and bothered: “The police state in this country is growing out of control,” said the elder Paul.  That coming from a man who wants to criminalize abortion. What a Grand Old Party!

Gut Reactionaries

A recent study in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching indicated that the reason a lot of people—including biology teachers—refuse to believe that evolution is a fact is not because they don’t understand it sufficiently but because they don’t “feel” in their bones that it is true. (Read the findings here;  it is fascinating.) As one article about the study put it:

Gut feelings may trump good old-fashioned facts…

Keep that idea in mind, as you read on.

Ryan Lizza appeared on Morning Joe this morning to defend his recent New Yorker article on President Obama and how the reality of Washington has changed him from someone seeking to bridge the “surmountable” gap between our two political parties to someone who has had to accept the political reality that polarization is “the most important dynamic of the last forty years,” and that the consensus, “in the middle” politics of the type we had during the Eisenhower years and beyond is long gone.

Lizza noted that when Obama ran for his U.S. Senate seat, he

criticized “the pundits and the prognosticators” who like to divide the country into red states and blue states.

And Obama’s famous 2004 speech at the Democratic Convention, which catapulted him into the Democratic Party stratosphere, sounds, well, unnervingly naive today:

There is not a liberal America and a conservative America; there is the United States of America!

It turns out, as we all know now and as Lizza wrote and repeated this morning, that,

There really is, frankly, a red America and blue America.

Yep, there really is.

Two prominent political scientists cited in Lizza’s piece, Keith T. Poole and Howard Rosenthal, “have devised a widely used system to measure the ideology of members of Congress,” and the verdict is:

both the House and the Senate are more polarized today than at any time since the eighteen-nineties.*

Now, we can argue about how and why things got that way.  My own theory is one that Lizza only suggested:

It would be hard for any President to reverse this decades-long political trend, which began when segregationist Democrats in the South—Dixiecrats like Strom Thurmond—left the Party and became Republicans. Congress is polarized largely because Americans live in communities of like-minded people who elect more ideological representatives.

I submit that the primary—but not the only—reason we find ourselves in such an ideologically polarized condition has to do with what I have called white cultural angst, expressed best by the now-exiled Pat Buchanan in his latest book, Suicide of a Superpower:

Due to the immigration and higher birthrates among people of color, America is becoming less white and less Christian — and therefore inevitably less Republican.

One can see how this might raise the level of anxiety among those on the mostly-white right and cause them to hole up in Lizza’s “communities of like-minded people who elect more ideological representatives.”

I thought about all this after I wrote a piece (“An Unlimited White Checking Account For Underclass Blacks”) on Newt Gingrich’s exchange with African-American journalist Juan Williams in front of a crowd of white Republicans from—this is important—South Carolina.

For my efforts, I was excoriated by another Joplin Globe blogger on his blog:

I don’t believe I have ever seen one quite so hate filled, disdainful or outright repugnant from him after almost four years of reading his “stuff”… His blog was RACIST in tone and substance and his attacks are nothing less than a call for class warfare between blacks and whites, rich and poor, and any other various segments of society.

God only knows what the comment section on that blog post contained, since I stopped reading after the first sentence of the first response, which happened to come from yet another Globe blogger, who wrote:

I read the same post and almost puked it was so vile and disgusting in its blatant racism and classism.

As you ponder those strange criticisms, I take you back to the beginning of this piece, which referenced the study on why some folks don’t accept the theory of evolution as valid. Ohio State University Research News put it this way:

In an analysis of the beliefs of biology teachers, researchers found that a quick intuitive notion of how right an idea feels was a powerful driver of whether or not students accepted evolution—often trumping factors such as knowledge level or religion.

That this “intuitive notion” or “gut feeling” is “a powerful driver” of what we believe helps, I suggest, explain why white anxiety has led us to where we are in terms of our cultural divide.  Pat Buchanan, the champion of white angst, wrote in his book—in a chapter titled, “The End of White America“:

Those who believe the rise to power of an Obama rainbow coalition of peoples of color means the whites who helped to engineer it will steer it are deluding themselves. The whites may discover what it is like to ride in the back of the bus.

That, I argue, is a visceral reaction—just like the one expressed by the two Joplin Globe bloggers—to what Buchanan sees on the cultural landscape. It is that same gut feeling that compelled a woman in South Carolina, responding to Newt Gingrich’s encounter with Juan Williams, to say the following directly to Mr. Gingrich—who didn’t bother to correct her:

I would like to thank you for putting mister Juan Williams in his place the other night.

That, my friends, is what a lot of the political polarization we see around us is about.  Since the civil rights advances of the 1960s, the white right has been anxious about what might happen to the days of their dominance. Putting  people of color in “their place” is what drives Pat Buchanan and others who believe white culture is being threatened by “intellectual, cultural, and political elites.” Those elites, Buchanan says,

are today engaged in one of the most audacious and ambitious experiments in history. They are trying to transform a Western Christian republic into an egalitarian democracy made up of all the tribes, races, creeds, and cultures of planet Earth. They have dethroned our God, purged our cradle faith from public life, and repudiated the Judeo-Christian moral code by which previous generations sought to live.

If you listen very closely, you can hear strains of that cultural gut-reaction fall from the lips of nearly every conservative Republican, from the campaign trail to talk radio and other conservative media and to, sadly, the Joplin Globe blogosphere.

_________________________

* Lizza also quotes “two well-known Washington political analysts,” Thomas Mann (of the bipartisan Brookings Institution) and Norman Ornstein (of the conservative American Enterprise Institute) who don’t believe the ideological divergence between the two parties has been symmetrical:

…citing Poole and Rosenthal’s data on congressional voting records…since 1975, “Senate Republicans moved roughly twice as far to the right as Senate Democrats moved to the left” and “House Republicans moved roughly six times as far to the right as House Democrats moved to the left.” In other words, the story of the past few decades is asymmetric polarization.

Most of us on the liberal side of the divide believe that symptomatic of this asymmetric polarization is the fact that Mr. Obama began his presidency by moving too far in the direction of unappeasable conservatives, who slapped his face time and again and demanded even more concessions. It took much too long for Mr. Obama to realize that short of giving Republicans everything they wanted, they could not be satisfied.

“Situation Ethics”

Truth is known by God and the rest of us seek it.”

Newt Gingrich, the day after he asked his sick wife for a divorce

__________________

Likely lying in his marriage bed, next to his extra-marital lover, Newt Gingrich would phone his wife of many years, Marianne, and tell her he loved her.

How sweet.

And how sweet too is the right-wing’s reaction to Marianne Gingrich’s charge that her husband was not just a cheater, but a hypocrite, who the day after he asked her for a divorce, spoke before the Republican Women Leaders Forum about “The Demise of American Culture.”  “How could he ask me for a divorce on Monday and within 48 hours give a speech on family values and talk about how people treat people? she asked.

In that speech on American culture, Gingrich blamed liberals for the Columbine shooting. Later he would blame liberals and Democrats for the tragedy at Virginia Tech and for Susan Smith drowning her two children. One of the reasons he gave was that liberals “created a situation ethics.”

Hmm.

On Thursday night, when CNN’s John King opened the GOP debate with a question about Marianne Gingrich’s charge that her husband asked her “to enter into an open marriage,” Gingrich, indignantly, turned on King:

I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office. And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that…

Every person in here knows personal pain. Every person in here has had someone close to them go through painful things. To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary a significant question for a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine…

I am frankly astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate… The story is false…I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans.

For that, the white Christian crowd gave him a standing ovation.

There are those of us out here in the non-Republican world who don’t understand that reaction. We don’t understand how a man who promotes the religion of Jesus can stand on a stage, as he runs for the highest office in our land, and instead of saying to the world that he was wrong so long ago, that he made a grave mistake, that he is sorry, could instead turn and attack the press, and essentially call his wronged wife a liar in front of the world.

We also don’t understand how a crowd full of Christians can raucously applaud a man who not only made a fool of his wife, but made a fool of them by mocking them with his lifestyle.  Even if, in their estimation, he deserves forgiveness, did he deserve an ovation?

Sarah Palin, who has made a fine living off the pious sentiments of folks on the right, said that the “dumbarse” media’s featuring of “a disgruntled ex” would cause Newt’s campaign “to soar even more.” You see, in Sarah Palin’s mind Marianne Gingrich is nothing more than a disgruntled ex, nothing more than an obstacle in Newt Gingrich’s way. She is not worthy of Jesus-loving Sarah Palin’s sympathy, of God-fearing Sarah Palin’s compassion.

Rush Limbaugh, as close to a national leader as the GOP has, hid his thoughts behind a “a good friend” of his, who allegedly sent him a note that read:

So Newt wanted an open marriage.  BFD.  At least he asked his wife for permission instead of cheating on her.  That’s a mark of character, in my book.  Newt’s a victim.  We all are.  Ours is the horniest generation.  We were soldiers in the sex revolution.  We were tempted by everything from Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice to Plato’s Retreat, Deep Throat to no-fault divorce.  Many of us paid the ultimate price, AIDS, abortion, or alimony for the cultural marching orders we got.  Hell, for all I know we should be getting disability from the government….Newt’s slogan ought to [be], “Hell, yes, I wanted it.”

Newt’s a victim.” Astonishingly, a bit later Limbaugh himself came close to blaming the real victim:

I think, of what we’ve seen so far from the Marianne Gingrich stuff, the thing I didn’t know… that Newt had asked for an open marriage…Most of the other stuff, I did know. I also know that Marianne Gingrich… I’ve been places shortly after Newt was made Speaker with Mary, social weekends and so forth, and she was never comfortable with the public eye — and that bothered him. He thought it limited his future.

She didn’t like the media, she didn’t like the focus on her life, so she just wasn’t comfortable with the public eye — and I know that he said, “Well, you knew what you were marrying.” So there’s two sides to all this..

It “bothered” Newt that his second wife “was never comfortable with the public eye.” So gingerly does Rush Limbaugh tiptoe around justifying Newt’s betrayal, his stunning lack of faithfulness. Gingrich twice divorced women who were sick and demanded of at least one of them that they share him with other women or else, and for this Limbaugh and Palin and the crowd of Christians in Charleston essentially celebrated him, affirming if not his infidelity, his indignation.

Look, if Newt Gingrich didn’t frequently stand in the streets and beat his Christian chest in righteous anger, if he didn’t haughtily shout from every housetop how morally corruptive is the liberal spirit, if he didn’t wave his flag of conservative morality in the face of Americans, then what he did or didn’t do, said or didn’t say, to his ex-wives would be between them.

But he does hawk his moral wares in the public square and he has indicted liberalism for nearly all the ills of society.  But no liberal urged him to cheat on his first wife or forced him to lie about the nature of that divorce. No liberal joined him in bed with his lover and current wife Callista. No liberal put a gun to his head and forced him to phone his second wife, with Callista by his side, and tell her he loved her. No liberal tempted him to make a mockery of his faith.

The redemption of a human being is a beautiful thing in any context, religious or secular. Redemption is the solid core of Christianity, the summum bonum of Christian teaching, the raison d’être of the Incarnation. After Gingrich’s denial, Marianne Gingrich has reaffirmed her story and said her former husband never told her he was sorry. It seems to me, if the idea of Christian redemption means anything, if it is to maintain any respect in a civilized society, it ought to require of a man who seeks it to at least admit his crimes to the one he wronged and repent.

And those who say they believe in the religion of Jesus, but who have lately placed their faith in the Republican Party, ought to at least have the decency to sit quietly while a man on a stage who wants to be president refuses to humbly admit his sin and plead for mercy.

The Open Presidency

Newt Gingrich, so says one of his ex-wives, wanted an “open marriage” because apparently there is so much of Newt’s bloated awesomeness available that one woman couldn’t possibly appreciate it all by herself.

In any case, at the GOP debate tonight in Charleston, expect Newt to announce his campaign for an “open presidency,” one in which he would sort of alternate between being America’s commander-in-chief and, say, being the King of Spain for a day or two.

I’m sure Juan Carlos and the Spaniards wouldn’t mind, and after a President Gingrich screws everybody here at home, Americans will be glad to share him with the rest of the world.

“An Unlimited White Checking Account For Underclass Blacks”

I heard Charles Krauthammer say Tuesday night that Newt Gingrich’s “performance” on Monday’s GOP-FOX (I repeat myself) debate was “sparkling.”  Yes, he actually said sparkling, as he and Bill O’Reilly got all tingly about what Newt had to say to Juan Williams, who dared to ask if Mr. Gingrich could see that his comments about blacks and food stamps and janitors might be “insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans.”

What Gingrich had to say has been broadcast widely by liberal-minded folks to highlight what many of them see as at least quasi-racist appeals to the mostly pale-faced GOP crowd at the debate in a state with a history of blatant racism.

You know the drill: the poor, especially poor blacks, lack the necessary work ethic to succeed in America and it is up to hard-working white people like Newt Gingrich to devise ways to reprogram that work ethic into their otherwise lazy-loving brains.

But I want to focus on something Gingrich said on Monday night that has essentially been repeated in one form or another by other Republican presidential candidates. About extending unemployment benefits, he remarked,

It tells you everything you need to know about the difference between Barack Obama and the five of us, that we actually think work is good.

Now, forgetting for a moment all the racially-charged rhetoric about blacks and food stamps, we have in this statement a clue as to why there is so much palpable hate out there for our first black president. Mr. Obama is not just a black man living in the Whites’ House. He represents something far more than that. He symbolizes all welfare-loving blacks living in the whites’ America.

Attacking Mr. Obama in the way Gingrich did is a way of expressing the feeling a lot of whites have about black people, but are not normally free to express openly.  Under the cover of politics, though, they can, through criticism of Obama like Gingrich’s, essentially call them lazy n***ers and get away with it.  What else can Gingrich mean by suggesting that the President doesn’t “actually think work is good“?  Huh? Just what does that mean?

And why associate Mr. Obama with food stamps, as Gingrich has done (he is the “best food stamp president in history“)? What point is Gingrich really trying to make? Certainly not a policy point, since everyone knows that W. Bush’s Great Recession is the cause of an increased need for food stamps.

Additionally, eligibility rules for obtaining food stamps were relaxed twice under Bush, and in terms of proportionality, CBS News pointed out:

The percent increase in beneficiaries during Mr. Bush’s presidency was higher than it has been under Mr. Obama: The number of beneficiaries went from 17.3 million in 2001 to 28.2 million in 2008 – an increase of 63 percent in years that are mostly considered non-recessionary.

So, Mr. Gingrich’s point of connecting Mr. Obama with food stamps clearly was made for reasons other than noting policy differences. He appears to be using the President as a surrogate for all those lazy blacks who sit back and live off someone else’s work.

Newt is not alone in using this technique. Mitt Romney said the following about President Obama during the Ames, Iowa, debate in August:

He just doesn’t understand how the economy works, because he hasn’t lived in the real economy.

I think in order to create jobs, it’s helpful to have had a job. And I fundamentally believe that what we need in this country is someone who’s willing to go to work, who believes in America, who believes in free enterprise, who believes in capitalism, who believes in opportunity and freedom.  I am that person.  I love this country.

The not-so-subtle suggestion: Obama hasn’t had a job. He’s not willing to go to work. He doesn’t believe in America or free enterprise or capitalism or opportunity or freedom.

Rick Santorum has said in Iowa:

I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn their money and provide for themselves and their families.

The “other people’s money” is “other white people’s money,” don’t you know.

The New Republic noted that a section in a Ron Paul newsletter about a then-upcoming “race war” complained the problem was,

created by welfare programs, quota systems, and government interference in just about everything we do…

The “we” in that sentence is obviously a white we.

James Kirchick wrote four years ago that in a 1992 Ron Paul Political Report “special issue” on “the Los Angeles race riots of that year,” a “typical passage” about the Los Angeles riots read:

 “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began,” …It also denounced “the media” for believing that “America’s number one need is an unlimited white checking account for underclass blacks.”

You see the theme clearly: Blacks are parasites living off the government-confiscated wealth of white people, mostly white Republican people. And the rise of Mr. Obama has made it easy for uneasy whites to project their frustrations on him, a high-profile uppity figure who needs to be brought down to size.

And a mannerly Mitt Romney, who will end up with his party’s nomination, is especially good at using the “entitlement” meme, expressed much more urbanely than Gingrich could ever dream of, which can be summed up with what Romney said in New Hampshire in December:

President Obama sees America differently. He believes in an entitlement society.

That coming from a man born into wealth and privilege, who has earned millions partly by using government subsidies, and who, we will one day find out, pays an effective tax rate well below what many Americans pay because his income is of a kind not considered “ordinary” and thus deserving a special, lower rate.

Entitlement society, indeed.

The New Confederacy?

In a move that would affect about 200,000 already-registered voters in the state that started the Civil War, South Carolina has enacted a new law that would require its residents to produce a photo ID before voting.  Reuters reports:

Federal officials and South Carolina Democrats who oppose the law say it could disenfranchise up to one-third of black and other minority voters.

Now, you may not know why Republicans would want to do that, but Professor Newt Gingrich knows. From the same Reuter’s story:

“If the only people who vote in elections are law-abiding, hardworking citizens who are deeply committed to America, the left wing of the Democratic Party will cease to exist,” Gingrich said on Friday at a campaign stop in Duncan, South Carolina.

Of course, Democrats who vote for Democrats are not “hardworking citizens who are deeply committed to America.” We all knew that, didn’t we?  Only white Republicans can truly be hardworking and deeply committed to America.

The story also notes that in the 2008 presidential election in South Carolina,

73 percent of whites here voted for Republican John McCain, while 96 percent of blacks voted for Obama.

And the old attitudes haven’t disappeared entirely.

“I hate to say it, but ever since the schools integrated (in the 1960s), it went downhill,” unemployed paralegal Vicki Cotterman said at a campaign stop for Perry in Walterboro on Thursday. “The white boys try to be like some of the black thugs – they go around with their pants down to their knees. It’s disrespectful.”

Insurance agent Patti McBride said she believed Obama, a practicing Christian, actually is a Muslim because he has an unusual first name.

“Our country was founded on Christianity, and now we have a Muslim with a Muslim name as the president, for God’s sakes,” McBride said.

One thing that both Newt Gingrich and insurance agent Patti McBride proves is that you don’t have to be a genius to be a historian for Freddie Mac or sell insurance.

In any case, the Muslim’s Justice Department, in an ingenious use of Sharia law, prevented the South Carolina photo ID law from going into effect and Newt Gingrich and insurance agent Patti McBride are probably happy that the state is suing the Justice Department to get the law reinstated.

If that fails, I suppose South Carolina could always start another Civil War, the last one having worked out so well for the state and for the country.  And Newt Gingrich could be the (paid) historian for the New Confederacy.

Romney The Reactionary

How is it that what was once called reactionary is now called moderate? Because Mitt Romney is a very reactionary, extremist candidate on social conservatism, national security and, of course, he is the champion of the one percent, when it comes to economic policy in this country.”

—Katrina vanden Heuvel on MSNBC

Yesterday afternoon I was talking with my neighbor—perhaps the only other Democrat in my immediate ‘hood—about politics. I suggested to him that what scared me about Romney is that he is not a moderate Republican, despite the fact that Newt Gingrich and mainstream journalists routinely describe him that way, which will, if not corrected by Democrats, eventually become popular opinion.

I also said that Romney would likely be more dangerous than, say, Newt Gingrich, if he were to get elected in November and if Republicans were to gain control of both the House and Senate with Democratic-proof majorities.

Just as an example, as Katrina vanden Heuvel pointed out last night on MSNBC, Romney has Robert Bork—an extremist’s extremist—as his legal adviser, for God’s sake.  And, look, I realize that Supreme Court appointments probably won’t be much of an issue this year, but they should.

Think Progress pointed out that,

Four of the Supreme Court’s current members are over age 70. One of these justices is a cancer survivor. So whoever takes the oath of office in 2013 could have the opportunity to fill several of these seats. [The four: Scalia (75), Kennedy (75), Ginsburg (78), Breyer (73).]

Erwin Chemerinsky pointed out long ago that Robert Bork,

had criticized virtually every Supreme Court decision protecting individual rights as exceeding the proper role of the judiciary in a democratic society.

Think Progress did a nice job of summarizing Bork’s strange view of the Constitution (I include only three below), which by extension gives us a glimpse into the mind of Mitt regarding his judicial philosophy:

♦ Bork called the principle behind the Civil Rights Act of 1964, “unsurpassed ugliness.” That Act, as Think Progress noted, “banned whites-only lunch counters and other forms of discrimination.”

♦ “In Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court held that married couples have a constitutional right to use contraception — a decision that was later extended to all couples. Bork called this decision “utterly specious” and a “time bomb.”  (Bork also criticized William O. Douglas for finding in the Constitution a right to privacy, which Douglas argued in Griswold emanated from the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth Amendments.)

 ♦  Here’s a quote from Bork (page 1935 in the ABA Journal): “Constitutional protection should be accorded only to speech that is explicitly political. There is no basis for judicial intervention to protect any other form of expression, be it scientific, literary or that variety of expression we call obscene or pornographic.” Yikes. First Amendment? What First Amendment?

When Bork got borked in 1987—six Republicans got in on the borking, too—some thought, in Chemerinsky’s words,

society clearly expressed its acceptance of a “living” Constitution.

Unfortunately, whether society sees the Constitution as living doesn’t much matter these days. While conservatives on the court say they don’t believe in a living Constitution, they have animated it with all kinds of new interpretations, such as corporations have free-speech rights just like people. So, living or dead, the Constitution ultimately means what those who interpret it say it means.  It has always been that way, and it will be that way always.

That’s why it matters what kind of judges Romney plans on appointing, and why it should matter to voters what kind of judicial philosophy he believes in—at least during this election cycle.  Last November a Portsmouth paper reported that,

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said if he had the opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court justice he or she would be in the mold of Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts.

“Their approach is the approach I would encourage,” he said.

And that is just one reason why a decidedly un-moderate Mitt Romney is so dangerous.

UPDATE: I just heard that John Bolton, one of the wackiest voices on the far-right wing of the GOP (he urged Bush to bomb Iran in 2008!), has endorsed Mitt Romney. What does that tell ya?

The Job Cremator Gets Burned

The ABC News New Hampshire GOP debate on Saturday was a dud. The fireworks didn’t go off as promised and Mitt Romney’s phoniness and sanctimony were not spread all over the night sky.

Gingrich was unusually timid, even given a chance to bash Romney’s tenure with Bain Capital, which has caused Democrats to start labeling Romney, cleverly, the “job cremator.”

Jon Huntsman, who is depending on a good showing in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary to keep his campaign going, didn’t have much fire in his belly on Saturday. In fact, he couldn’t have warmed a gnat’s gonads.  Regarding the unbelievably important Bain Capital issue, he punted.

But Sunday morning’s NBC debate was a real fireworks display. And the let’s-blow-up-Romney-for-a-change show was kind of refreshing, and certainly a lot of fun for Democrats to observe.  Watching Romney’s “pious baloney” (Gingrich’s phrase) loaded into a canister and blasted so high in the sky it could be seen in South Carolina, was, well, genuine schadenfreude.

For all the other fireworks in the debate, the one that will keep pleasing Democrats is the Bain Capital controversy. Late in the debate, Gingrich finally got real:

Well, I think you have to look at the film, which I haven’t seen.  But if you look at the New York Times article, and I think it was on Thursday– you would certainly have to say that Bain, at times, engaged in behavior where they looted a company, leaving behind 1,700 unemployed people.

First of all, it was not a New York Times article that Newt wanted us to look at, but a Reuter’s article about a Kansas City steel mill, “Special Report: Romney’s steel skelton in the Bain closet.”  And Newt is right, the article is a good read, which includes this:

“Romney cost me lots and lots of sleepless nights and lots and lots of money,” said Ed Stanger, who worked at the plant for nearly 30 years.

Second, the “film” Gingrich alludes to is the soon-to-be-released documentary (“When Mitt Romney Came to Town“), produced by a so-called “super PAC” that happens to support Newt Gingrich, which, according to The Washington Post,

paints the GOP presidential frontrunner as a corporate “raider” more unscrupulous even than Wall Street executives, preying on the misfortune of people who lost their jobs when his company, Bain Capital, turned around their companies.

Here is a trailer of the documentary, and I remind you: this is a Republican-produced film:

The Post goes on to describe more of the content:

The video, which is being disseminated by the Winning Our Future super PAC, also features clips of Romney speaking French, getting his shoes shined on the tarmac next to a large airplane, and even Fix boss Chris Cillizza describing an expansion of Romney’s massive beach house in California.

Indeed, it is a concerted effort to paint the former Massachusetts governor as an elite who lined his pockets by gaming the system and destroying unsuspecting American businesses.

From Saturday’s debate, which featured an extensive discussion of Bain Capital, Romney defended himself this way:

ROMNEY: Well, I — I’m not surprised to have “The New York Times” try and put free enterprise on trial. I’m not surprised to have the Obama administration do that, either. It’s a little surprising from my colleagues on this stage…

You see, to folks like Romney, “free enterprise” means doing things like lining your own pockets and “gaming the system and destroying unsuspecting American businesses” and the jobs that go with them.  His real argument, when you strip away all the decorations, is that such outcomes are just part of the price of enjoying unfettered, dog-eat-dog capitalism.

We shall see how that plays in November, and we can be sure that by the time the election is here, every American with a TV or radio or who reads a newspaper, will know exactly what Bain Capital is and Romney’s role in it. (For another problem for Romney related to Bain Capital, read here.)

Finally, one of my favorite moments, other than the Bain Capital business, was watching the normally undisturbed Jon Huntsman finally get disturbed about Romney’s pious baloney (thanks, Newt, for that wonderful characterization!) expressed in Saturday’s debate. This time the discussion was about Huntsman’s work on behalf of the Obama Administration as Ambassador to China:

ROMNEY: I’m sorry, Governor, you were, the last two years, implementing the policies of this administration in China. The rest of us on this stage were doing our best to get Republicans elected across the country and stop the policies of this president from being put forward.

By Sunday morning, Huntsman had finally come up with an effective way of countering the pious baloney (other than speaking in Mandarin):

Let me say– let me say, first of all, with respect to Governor Romney, you know, there are a lot of people who are tuning in this morning.  And I’m sure they’re terribly confused after watching all of this political spin up here.  I was criticized last night by Governor Romney for putting my country first. 

And I just wanna remind the people here in New Hampshire and throughout the United States that I think– he criticized me while he was out raising money for serving my country in China.  Yes, under a Democrat.  Like my two sons are doing in the United States Navy.  They’re not asking who– what political affiliation the president is.  I wanna be very clear with the people here in New Hampshire and this country.  I will always put my country first.  And I think that’s important to them.

You see, while Mitt was only pretending to put his country first by making the “sacrifice” of sharing his awesome skills with the people of Massachusetts (he could always go back to his job-cremating day job, remember), and while Mitt was only pretending to put his country first by making the “sacrifice” of running for president since 2007 (2007, for God’s sake!), Jon Huntsman was actually doing it. He actually put party politics aside, at least temporarily, and served his country—even if he served it at the pleasure of someone so hated in the Republican Party.

When Romney tried to justify his criticism, Huntsman answered back:

This nation is divided because of attitudes like that.

For all of Jon Huntsman’s ideological flaws—and there are many—one cannot question his service to his country, as Romney certainly did on Saturday night. Not only was Huntsman elected as Governor of Utah for two terms (he won with 78% of the vote the second time), he also served the sainted Ronald Reagan and Bush I and Bush II.

But his unforgivable sin, of course, is serving that scary black man in the White’s House, and for a moment on Sunday morning, it seemed that Huntsman was telling his judges in the GOP to judge not lest they be judged.

And, for Huntsman, it is about time.

Why African-Americans Don’t Vote Republican

Ever wonder why African-Americans mostly vote for Democrats?

How about Newt Gingrich calling the first African-American president “the best food stamp president in American history“?

Or how about this from Gingrich:

I’m prepared, if the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.

Never mind that six in ten households on food stamps are Newt-white.

CBS News reported:

Oscar Eason, President of NAACP State Conference of Alaska, Oregon and Washington State, told CBS News Gingrich’s comment “goes right to the heart of real racism – that African Americans are lazy and don’t want to work and depend entirely on handouts.”

Meanwhile, Rick Santorum, Gingrich’s new “junior partner,”said in response to a question about “foreign influence in this country“:

They’re just pushing harder and harder to get more and more of you dependent upon them so they can get your vote. That’s the bottom line. I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.

To which Benjamin Jealous, president of the NAACP, responded:

Santorum’s targeting of African-Americans is inaccurate and outrageous, and lifts up old race-based stereotypes about public assistance. He conflates welfare recipients with African-Americans, though federal benefits are in fact determined by income level.

Later, Santorum told, or tried to tell, CNN—which wasn’t buying it—this:

“I’m pretty confident that I didn’t say ‘black.’” The GOP contender said he “was starting to say one word, and I sort of came up with another word and moved on and it sounded like black.”

No wonder the guy has a Google problem. He is full of something.

In any case, the GOP has a problem with African-Americans partly because of dumb stuff like the above freely flowing from the mouths of its prominent candidates, and partly because GOP economic policies are largely responsible for so many blacks—and whites—needing food stamps and public assisantance in the first place.

Remarks And Asides On Iowa

The final results:

THE LIAR………………………. 24.6%

GOD’S CANDIDATE #1….. 24.6%

CRAZY UNCLE RON……….. 21.5%

NETTLED NEWT……………. 13.3% 

GOD’S CANDIDATE #3….. 10.3%

GOD’S CANDIDATE #2……. 5.0%

In the 2008 Iowa Caucuses, The Liar, as Nettled Newt likes to call Mitt Romney, got 30,021 votes and finished a distant second to a bass-playing Baptist preacher.  After more than five years of running for president, and millions upon millions of dollars spent, this year The Liar received six fewer votes and just barely beat a man with a Google problem (the difference: 8 votes out of 122,255 cast). That kind of efficiency is why, I suppose, we should elect him president.  Just ask him. Or ask John McCain, The Sore Loser, who is set to endorse The Liar today.

In any case, you may have noticed that God, as he is wont to do, hedged his bet in the race and had at least three entries.  If you think that is cheating, take it up with Him.  In the mean time, one of his candidates, #1, almost emerged the “winner” in a historic squeaker. And then, in his post-election speech, the God-endorsed candidate, beaming with ethereal pride, proceeded to bear false witness against the President.  I’m guessing God was in the lobby signing Bibles at the time.

Indeed, in many of the post-election speeches and true to form, the candidates told a number of whoppers about the socialist interloper in the White’s House.

And speaking of God and telling whoppers about the President, Pat Robertson has heard from God again. And guess what? What he heard fits in nicely with Robertson’s politics. God is good that way. Robertson shared this message from GOP Jesus:

Your country will be torn apart by internal stress. A house divided cannot stand. Your president holds a radical view of the direction of your country which is at odds with the majority. Expect chaos and paralysis. Your president holds a view which is at the odds with the majority — it’s a radical view of the future of this country, and so that’s why we’re having this division. This is a spiritual battle which can only be won by overwhelming prayer.  The future of the world is at stake because if America falls, there’s no longer a strong champion of freedom and a champion of the oppressed of the world. There must be an urgent call to prayer…This country is disintegrating.

Dang. I liked God much better when he was sending us “good tidings of great joy.”

But speaking of an urgent call to prayer and disintegration, I exhort you to make an appeal to the Almighty for fans of Crazy Uncle Ron, whose strong showing in Iowa last night will only intensify his followers’ delusions that this man has a future in the attic of the White’s House.

God’s candidate #3, also known as The Forgetful Texan, is going home to regroup and find out why God told him to run for president without equipping him for the job.

Speaking of being ill-equipped for the job, God’s candidate #2, who called Mr. Obama a socialist at least a gazillion times in her “concession” speech, gave no immediate indication when she will do the inevitable and give up the ghost, holy or otherwise.

The real story, though, is Nettled Newt. Speaking extemporaneously after his poor showing, which is his way of bragging about how darn smart he is, he was clearly still pissed about The Liar’s terrorist attack on his record and character. And Newt is planning a paradoxical counter-attack: telling “the truth” about The Liar.  Maybe in New Hampshire this week, as Newt carries out his strategy, some enterprising reporter will ask Newt how he can call The Liar a liar and accuse him of “buying” the election, yet still claim he would support him for president.

All in all, just another amusing day watching Republicans.

How Anti-Obama Memes Are Made

Yesterday on Morning Joe, and throughout the goofy right-wing blogosphere and on the even goofier Wall Street Journal editorial page, much was made of an excerpt, apparently not originally aired by CBS’s 60 Minutes, from an interview of President Obama, who uttered a fairly standard defense of his accomplishments so far, saying they would compare favorably with other presidents at the same point into their terms.

Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman who never tires of telling us how awesome he was in Congress, was beside himself that Mr.Obama would be so uppity as to say he was “the fourth best president.”  Here was the graphic displayed on MSNBC while the discussion over the remarks took place:

Image

PRES. OBAMA COMPARES HIS RECORD TO LINCOLN & FDR” and “4th Best President?” Wow, what an uppity guy who sits in the White’s House. Here’s the Wall Street Journal’s header:

Image

Whenever the right-wing gets all nasty with Big O like this, trying to create yet another anti-Obama meme that supports the weird conservative critique of the President, it becomes necessary to look at what actually was said. Here is the complete question and answer from the interview:

KROFT: Tell me, what do you consider your major accomplishments? If this is your last speech. What have you accomplished?  

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, we’re not done yet. I’ve got five more years of stuff to do. But not only saving this country from a great depression. Not only saving the auto industry. But putting in place a system in which we’re gonna start lowering health care costs and you’re never gonna go bankrupt because you get sick or somebody in your family gets sick. Making sure that we have reformed the financial system, so we never again have taxpayer-funded bailouts, and the system is more stable and secure. Making sure that we’ve got millions of kids out here who are able to go to college because we’ve expanded student loans and made college more affordable. Ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Decimating al Qaeda, including Bin Laden being taken off the field. Restoring America’s respect around the world.  

The issue here is not gonna be a list of accomplishments. As you said yourself, Steve, you know, I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president — with the possible exceptions of Johnson, F.D.R., and Lincoln — just in terms of what we’ve gotten done in modern history. But, you know, but when it comes to the economy, we’ve got a lot more work to do. And we’re gonna keep on at it.

First, note that he was actually asked about his accomplishments, which he did a decent job of listing. But then notice the offending sentence:

I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president — with the possible exceptions of Johnson, F.D.R., and Lincoln — just in terms of what we’ve gotten done in modern history.

Where in there did he say he was “the fourth best president“? Where in there did he say he was better than any president? No where, that’s where. To put something up “against” something else is to say that a favorable comparison can be made, and naturally Mr. Obama, like any leader, believes some of the gargantuan things he has done will be viewed kindly by history.

But he was only talking about “our“—our!—”first two years” in office, not an entire presidency. The Wall Street Journal wrote:

Perhaps President Obama has been taking history lessons at the knee of Newt Gingrich. His recent self-assessment of his tenure rivals any historical analogy that the former Speaker and college professor has come up with…

Newt Gingrich? They are comparing Obama to Newt Gingrich, whose appetite for self-aggrandizement is just slightly smaller than his appetite for waste-aggrandizement? Huh? Newt thinks he is the savior of Western civilization, for God’s sake. Not only has he compared himself to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and Henry Clay and Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln and both Roosevelts, he has compared himself to Sam Walton and Ray Kroc!

In any case, that is how it happens these days. Obama says something rather normal for a man in his position—running for another term and thus necessarily talking up his accomplishments—and his uppityness so outrages folks on the right that they have to say nasty things about him.

Like comparing him to Newt Gingrich.

A Night With Newt, Or What It Means To Be Rich In America

 Stating the obvious, Dennis Jacobe, Gallup’s chief economist, said, 

Rich is a relative term. People’s perception of who is rich depends on where they sit economically and in society. 

Gallup’s recent survey found these facts about the way folks think about what it means to be rich: 

♦ “While men put the wealthy level at $150,000, women said it’s $100,000. College graduates and city dwellers view $200,000 as the threshold, while non-graduates and country dwellers would feel rich with half that income. People 49 or younger target $160,000, while those 50 or over would say they’re rich with annual incomes of $100,000.”

♦ “Fifteen percent of those surveyed said they would need to make $1 million or more a year to feel wealthy, while 32 percent chose a figure between $150,000 and $1 million, the survey showed. Twenty-three percent said $100,000 to $150,000 would be enough.”

♦ “Less than $100,000 a year would be enough to make 30 percent of those surveyed feel rich. That group includes 18 percent of Americans who said they would consider themselves wealthy if they made less than $60,000 a year, Gallup said.”

That last finding, that “18 percent of Americans…said they would consider themselves wealthy if they made less than $60,000 a year,” is rather stunning to me.

Almost one in five Americans would feel wealthy if they earned less in one year than what Newt Gingrich earns in about an hour for moving his lips in front of a small crowd.

If that doesn’t speak volumes about what is wrong with both income disparity in the United States and the Republican Party, then nothing does.

A Day In The Life Of The GOP

From HuffPo, we can see things are looking up for Democrats:

Mitt Needs Help And Help Is On The Way

Mitt Romney’s chances of winning the GOP primary are still pretty good and the smart money—especially the establishment money—is on him.

But if he keeps this kind of stuff up he may be finished:

Romney vows not to say “incendiary” things about Obama

The story quotes him:

“I know that among some folks just saying outrageous an incendiary things will get you kudos and drive your number up, but it’s not going to win you the White House and it’s not going to win us the respect of people on the other side of the aisle that we have to bring together,” Romney said. The way to win the White House, he said, is to go after President Obama as “an extraordinary failure” – not “an evil person.”

What passes for moderation among Republicans these days is having the discipline to not call your opponent “an evil person.”  And while that is a fairly low bar, it is still way too high for a lot of those folks who have put Newt Gingrich at the top of a very malodorous heap.

It’s funny how falsely “moderate” Republicans like Romney can claim on one hand that they will not say “outrageous” things about Obama and then in the same inhalation utter that the President is “an extraordinary failure.”  That, by any non-Republican standard, is outrageous.

Given what the state of the economy was when last a Republican president was in charge, Mr. Obama has been anything but a failure, not to mention an extraordinary one. But Romney has to say something outrageous about the President because many of the folks who vote in GOP primaries demand it.

Mr. Romney has also said that Mr. Obama is “in over his head,” which certainly implies that his intelligence and natural ability are suspect, something which any thinking American can discern as false upon listening to the President talk for, say, five minutes. Again, this is Romney’s way of getting at that strong anti-Obama vote.

But that kind of well-bred belittlement is not satisfying the teapartiers, although there are some signs that a few of the more rabid right-wingers are reluctantly climbing in bed with the GOP establishment and beginning to see Mitt as the only viable option to beat the evil Obama.

Stuff like this may ultimately and ironically may save Romney:

Michael Savage, a radio guy who lives up to his name when it comes to his hatred for the President, has “enumerated the reasons why Gingrich cannot succeed in an election against Obama.Among them (caps, of course, are in the original because that’s the way Savage talks):

  • HE MADE ADS WITH NANCY PELOSI PROMOTING THE FALSE THEORY OF GLOBAL WARMING.
  • HE’S IN FAVOR OF AMNESTY FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS.
  • HE’S TAKEN HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS FROM FANNIE MAE AND FREDDIE MAC, TWO OF THE MOST CORRUPT FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS IN HISTORY.
  • HE’S CHEATED ON TWO WIVES AND LEFT BOTH OF THEM WHILE THEY WERE BOTH SERIOUSLY ILL, WHICH WILL DESTROY HIS CHANCES AMONG FEMALE VOTERS.
  • HE CALLED THE REPUBLICAN PLAN TO REFORM MEDICARE “RIGHT WING SOCIAL ENGINEERING.”
  • IN A PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE AGAINST OBAMA, REGARDLESS OF HOW WELL HE DOES, ON TELEVISION, HE WILL COME OFF BADLY COMPARED TO OBAMA AND LOOK LIKE NOTHING MORE THAN WHAT HE IS: A FAT, OLD, WHITE MAN.

NEWT GINRICH [sic] IS UNELECTABLE. MITT ROMNEY IS THE ONLY CANDIDATE WITH A CHANCE OF DEFEATING BARACK OBAMA, AND THERE IS NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT THAN THAT FOR FUTURE HEALTH, SAFETY, AND SECURITY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. THEREFORE, I AM OFFERING NEWT GINGRICH ONE MILLION DOLLARS TO DROP OUT OF THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE FOR THE SAKE OF THE NATION.

Romney had better hope there is more anti-Newt sentiment like this coming from out there on the wing-nut right. Glenn Beck thinks Gingrich is some kind of Teddy Roosevelt progressive and has suggested he would “consider” Ron Paul as a third-party candidate, should Newt Gingrich get the GOP nod.  That kind of talk puts the fear of Allah in a lot of conservatives, as that would certainly mean an Obama electoral college landslide.

These criticisms may create a powerful Newt-can’t-win narrative as time goes by and, along with establishment money and establishment politicians supporting Romney and bad-mouthing Gingrich, Mitt may just pull off the nomination without calling Barack Obama a communist devil.

Socrates They Are Not

Senator McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote, ‘If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.”

—President Obama during 2008 campaign

 

Although it will be lost on the general public, and on many of those in the general public who will vote next year, it is important nonetheless to understand the reality behind the Democrat’s original stimulus package in early 2009, which Republicans never tire of telling us—falsely—was a failure. 

It is clear that whoever the Republican nominee will be, he—yes, he—will say loudly and often that Mr. Obama “made the economy worse” or “spent a trillion dollars on a stimulus that failed.”

We have discussed this several times over the last year or so: the $800 billion stimulus package was too small to do the job the way it was designed because the way it was designed was based on incomplete data.  Ezra Klein put it succinctly:

The Bureau of Economic Analysis, the agency charged with measuring the size and growth of the U.S. economy, initially projected that the economy shrank at an annual rate of 3.8 percent in the last quarter of 2008. Months later, the bureau almost doubled that estimate, saying the number was 6.2 percent. Then it was revised to 6.3 percent. But it wasn’t until this year that the actual number was revealed: 8.9 percent. That makes it one of the worst quarters in American history.

This reality is stunningly important in trying to understand the dynamics behind the early days of the Obama Administration as it grappled with what to do to stop the bleeding of millions of jobs. Even though the last quarter of 2008 was one of the worst quarters in history, the folks advising Mr. Obama on what to do about the collapsing economy didn’t know just how bad it was.

Now, it may be true, as some on the left argue, that the Obama Administration’s efforts were based on too-rosy scenarios and wishful thinking. But imagine if the Democrats had proposed a trillion-plus package.  As it was, Mr. Obama was attacked ruthlessly by Republicans, even before it became clear that the stimulus was too small to do the job the Administration said it would do.

If the stimulus package had been commensurate with the job that needed to be done, not only would Republicans have attacked it even more rabidly, some Democrats would have fallen away and not supported it.  It’s likely that the Administration got all it could get at the time, and unfortunately all it could get wasn’t enough.

But what’s not true, and never will be true no matter how many times you hear it from the lips of Republicans, is that the stimulus did nothing or made things worse. Klein quotes Doug Holtz-Eakin, John McCain’s “top economic adviser during the 2008 presidential campaign” and “no fan of the stimulus”:

The argument that the stimulus had zero impact and we shouldn’t have done it is intellectually dishonest or wrong. If you throw a trillion dollars at the economy, it has an impact. I would have preferred to do it differently, but they needed to do something.

No doubt that phrase “needed to do something” is pregnant with all kinds of “could haves” and “should haves,” now that we can better see how big the initial problem was.  There are plenty of Monday-morning economists who have plenty of ideas about what could have and should have been done. (There were, to be fair, folks like Paul Krugman who did seem to understand how bad things were at the time, but they were in a minority.)   

But the truth is, as far as the politics of 2012 are concerned, that most voters who are not committed to one party or the other don’t really care about an academic debate over the depth of the economic crisis or the size of the stimulus presented to help alleviate that crisis.  They see persistent unemployment, growing economic disparity, and millions of vacant homes and millions more to come through foreclosure.

And Mr. Obama sits at the top of what voters see. That’s what makes it so easy for Republicans—who have done absolutely nothing to fix the mess their policies largely helped to create—to demagogue the stimulus issue and blame the President for the slow recovery and for racking up unnecessary debt.  It’s not fair, of course, but it’s reality.

The President’s reelection is in serious doubt.  Most of the uncommitted voting public will not pay any attention to a rational discussion of how we got here and what the alternatives were based on what was known at the time.

They will listen to, and then ignore, his perfectly reasonable argument that things would have been much worse if it weren’t for his leadership on the economy.

They will hear, but not really absorb, his arguments about a “do nothing” Congress and Republican’s gridlock-creating obstinacy.

They will not, like pupils of Socrates, reason their way into voting for him like that.

Fortunately for Mr. Obama , he will be facing a radical Republican, no matter who survives the often ridiculous GOP primary process. With Mitt Romney fully embracing the Ryan plan to kill Medicare, with Newt Gingrich fashioning himself as the savior of Western civilization by putting kids to work as janitors, the President will have plenty of opportunities next year to force the public to think about what putting the Tea Party in charge will mean.

And if that doesn’t take their minds off the too-slow recovery, nothing will.

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