Roy Blunt’s Moocher Talk And What’s Wrong With It

Not only has the Affordable Care Act been attacked by Republicans for being a government takeover of the healthcare system or for creating death panels that will kill your grandparents in their sleep or for busting the federal budget and your own or for limiting your choice of policies and doctors, now the GOP has a new line of attack: ObamaCare is creating more moochers!

Even though that whole moocher thing didn’t work so well in the 2012 presidential election, it is so much a part of the right-wing’s dogma about Democrats and Democratic constituencies that they simply can’t let it go.

Roy Blunt, my own senator, appeared on this week’s Fox “News” Sunday. And, of course, he followed the newest ObamaCare’s-a-moocher-maker script on what Republicans should say in response to the release of the CBO’s analysis of some of the effects of the Affordable Care Act on the nation’s labor supply.blunt on fox

Before we get to what Blunt said, let’s look at the question Chris Wallace asked him and the way that question was set up for him and the way the reactionaries want us all to understand the issue. Wallace played a cherry-picked clip of Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf’s testimony before the House Budget Committee last Wednesday. Here’s a transcript of the clip Wallace played:

DOUG ELMENDORF, CBO DIRECTOR: By providing heavily subsidized health insurance to people with very low income and then withdrawing those subsidies as income rises, the act creates a disincentive for people to work, relative to what would have been the case in the absence of that act.

Wallace stopped the clip there. What Fox viewers (and Roy Blunt) didn’t hear was what Elmendorf said next:

Now these subsidies, of course, makes those lower income people better off.

Yes. He said that. Right after he talked about the disincentive to work. He said that these folks would be better off. And he continued to explain:

This is an implicit tax, not the sort of tax we normally think about where if the government raises our taxes, we are worse off and face the disincentive to work more. Providing a subsidy, people are better off but they do have less of an incentive to work and I think they would respond to that by working somewhat less.

As you can see, the whole idea that folks would stop working or reduce the time they spend working is essentially based on what economists “think they would respond to” in terms of being better off because of the ACA. And it turns out that the CBO’s number-crunchers were influenced by the work of a conservative economist, as Jonathan Chait (“How Obamacare Became the New Welfare”) notes:

The Congressional Budget Office’s budget update last week surprisingly adapted an analysis, advocated by conservative economist Casey Mulligan, that Obamacare would induce the equivalent of two million full-time jobs in reduced labor. Now, in addition to its previously recited horrors, Obamacare was taking money from hard-working Americans to finance indolence.

Mr. Mulligan has been an outspoken critic of the Affordable Care Act from the start. Last October he criticized it for—sound familiar?—creating “a reduction in the reward for working” and suggested that its full implementation this year might cause “a recessionary double-dip.” So, he’s not a fan of the law, and it is unclear why the CBO embraced some of his thinking as to the effects it will have on the labor supply.

politics 1984 IS HEREBut such thinking is part of the long-time conservative critique of Democrats and their fondness for safety-net programs. On Sunday, Chris Wallace asked former-intellectual-turned-Fox-commentator George Will: “is giving people a cheaper way to get health insurance without working so much — is that a good thing or a bad thing?” As he always does, as he is no doubt required to do to get his big paycheck from Fox, Will took aim at liberals:

People forget Social Security was advocated, Chris, in the 1930s, as a way of getting people to quit working, because they thought we were confined to a permanent scarcity of jobs in this country. Second, it is the point of progressivism to put in front of the American people an increasingly rich menu of temptation to dependency on government. In order to change social norms and eventually national character, the president said, “I want to fundamentally change America,” and these disincentives to work are part of it.

Of course! President Obama and the Democratic Party want people to be dependent on government. They want people to stay in what Paul Ryan called the “poverty trap.” They want all Americans to quit working and become moochers. Makes perfect sense, right? That idea, which Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing radio personalities have aggressively pushed for more than two decades now, is what Republicans want voters to now specifically associate with “ObamaCare.”

But what about that idea? What about that poverty trap? You might be surprised. Jonathan Chait writes:

What’s more, as Jared Bernstein and Edwin Park point out, by lifting the threshold for who gets subsidized insurance, Obamacare actually reduces this poverty trap. Before Obamacare expanded it, Medicaid had extremely low income thresholds. It varies state by state, but the average state cut off Medicaid to people earning just 61 percent of the poverty line, a pitifully low sum. If you’re a single parent in Texas, you lose your Mediciad if you earn more than $3,600 a year. A family of two in Alabama loses its Medicaid once its income, after deductions, hits the lofty sum of $2,832 a year. That’s a severe incentive to keep poor people from obtaining full-time work.

Of course, Texas is boycotting Obamcare’s Medcaid expansion, and is thus keeping in place this strong incentive for its poorest citizens to stay out of the workforce. (If conservatives are worried about fostering a culture of dependency in these Obamacare-boycotting red states, they are keeping their fears very, very quiet.) The states choosing to expand Medicaid are correspondingly increasing the incentive for the very poor to enter the workforce.

As the above-cited economist Jared Bernstein makes clear:

During a hearing today on the latest CBO report, Rep. Paul Ryan declared the health care law to be “a poverty trap.”  He’s way off base.  In fact, he’s got it backwards…

None of this is to deny the CBO’s point that some people with incomes above the poverty level will choose to work less to avoid reductions in their premium subsidy.  But those choices are not the ones faced by the poor who live in states where the ACA is the law of the land.  In those states, the law has thoroughly reversed the poverty trap.  Rep. Ryan should know that and correct the misimpression he’s created.

Of course Paul Ryan, Roy Blunt, or any Republican for that matter, will not correct any of the misimpressions, not to say lies, they have created. And many mainstream journalists will continue to promote a false equivalence by reporting Republican misinformation and Democratic attempts to correct it as if both are morally equal and just part of the game of politics. Thus, if Democratic politicians want to keep their jobs and keep health insurance reform alive, it is up to them to get very aggressive in their defense of the ACA, especially with people like Roy Blunt running around and making mischief on television.

Which leads me finally to Blunt’s appearance on Fox yesterday. Chris Wallace, after playing the partial Elmendorf clip, asked Blunt this question:

WALLACE: Now, Republicans say this proves that ObamaCare is a job killer. Democrats say it means that fewer people will be locked into jobs. Senator Blunt, what is wrong with that, the idea of fewer people locked into jobs?

Now, of course Wallace knows that ObamaCare is not “a job killer.” The CBO report made clear and Elmendorf testified that the law would actually create jobs not kill them. But Wallace chose to set the question up by contrasting a Republican “job-killer” lie with a Democratic truth, to wit: the law allows some people to opt out of jobs they are locked into because of their need for employer-provided health insurance. And Blunt took the bait and further muddied the waters:

SEN. ROY BLUNT, R-MO.: Well, I think any law you pass that discourages people from working can’t be a good idea. Why would we want to do that? Why would we think that was a good thing? How does that allow people to prepare for the time when they don’t work?

This number is about three times as big as the number that was on the table when people that voted for the president’s health care bill voted for it in 2009 and ’10 when the estimate was it would cost the equivalent of 800,000 full time jobs. Now, they’re saying 2.3 million, and the best face can you put on that is that means people that don’t want to work don’t have to work. Surely, that’s not what we want to encourage. And that’s what this law does encourage.

Let’s start with his first declaration: “I think any law you pass that discourages people from working can’t be a good idea.” Oh, yeah? The Social Security law discourages people from working. Lots and lots of them. And lots of them are Republicans. Is Social Security a bad idea, Senator Blunt? Is Medicare a bad idea because it also discourages people from working? Apparently, Blunt thinks that making it possible for people who have worked all their lives and simply want to exit the labor force into retirement is a bad thing. No wonder he supported the infamous Paul Ryan Medicare-mutilating budget plan. I guess people should just work until their dead.

But more than that, notice how Blunt, like all Republicans are now doing and will continue to do until election day this November, focuses on those alleged 2.3 million” people who “don’t want to work” or “don’t have to work.” That is essentially the argument that was made more generally during the 2012 election. Paul Ryan said the following at a fundraiser in June of that election year:

Do you want the American idea of an opportunity society with a safety net where you can take a risk, start a business, make a difference, succeed and be honored for being successful? Or do we go down the path the president is proposing — a social welfare state, a cradle-to-the-grave society where we have more takers than makers?

The only difference now, in this election year, is that Republicans are targeting a specific effort by Democrats, embodied in the Affordable Care Act, to help low-income folks get affordable health insurance. And they think they have the CBO on their side this time.

elmendorfBut what about that CBO report and Director Elmendorf’s seemingly common-sense claim “that by providing a somewhat smaller incentive to work, somewhat fewer people would work”? Nobody argues that there won’t be some number of people who will do exactly what Elmendorf suggests they will do. As Jonathan Chait makes clear:

It is true that any means-tested government benefit will discourage some class of people from working. If a subsidy is available only for people below a certain income level, then people whose income approaches that income level will lose some incentive to earn more.

By its very nature, the concept of means-testing—which Republicans themselves have always embraced—involves people calculating whether working more actually makes them better off. People do that all the time when, for instance, they reach retirement age. The issue here is how many people will do what Elmendorf suggests. And relative to that issue Suzy Khimm (who used to be with the Washington Post’s Wonkblog) makes an excellent point:

It’s also worth taking the CBO’s findings with a grain of salt. The office had previously forecast that Obamacare would reduce the total hours worked by the equivalent of 800,000 workers, then updated its forecast based on more recent research. But one new study that CBO cited in its report actually “found no significant effect of Medicaid on employment or earnings” when Oregon expanded the program in 2008.

Austin Nichols, a researcher at the Urban Institute, says such evidence makes him skeptical that Obamacare’s effect on the labor market will be as large as the CBO predicts. “I don’t think we’re going to see the kinds of reductions in labor supply that Elmendorf is talking bout today,” says Nichols. “We have also evidence from Massachusetts that doesn’t show a large impact.”

Paul Krugman wrote that the “reduced labor supply” noted by the CBO and exploited by dishonest Republicans does in fact add to “the true cost of health reform.” But he demonstrates, through what he calls “some pretty prosaic economics,” that the effects are fairly modest. He ends:

Should you care how much other people work? Yes, a little – but not so much that it should change anyone’s views about health reform.

The truth is that at this point nobody really knows, with any degree of legitimate certainty, what direct and indirect effects the Affordable Care Act will have not only on the labor supply, but on other areas of the economy. As I have said many times, the ACA is an experiment. Much more time and evidence is needed to figure out whether the law will work as designed, whether it will need significant changes, or whether it should be scrapped altogether. But we have one political party that does not want it to work, will not lift a finger to fix any problems with it, and wants only to kill it before it has had a chance to prove or disprove itself.

Unfortunately for Missourians—especially for those Missourians who could get health insurance were it not for Republicans blocking Medicaid expansion—Roy Blunt is part of that one political party.

No ENDA In Sight, Thanks To The Roy Blunts In Congress

If you were searching for something online on Monday, you no doubt noticed this Google Doodle:

google doodle and Shakuntala Devi

November 4 was the birthday of Shakuntala Devi. She was an arithmetically-gifted child prodigy who could do seemingly impossible calculations in her head. Initially that was her claim to fame. But she was also celebrated later for writing an important book on homosexuality in 1977, The World of Homosexuals, which Wikipedia calls “the first study of homosexuality in India.” Here’s more from the site:

The book, considered “pioneering”, features interviews with two young Indian homosexual men, a male couple in Canada seeking legal marriage, a temple priest who explains his views on homosexuality, and a review of the existing literature on homosexuality. It ends with a call for decriminalising homosexuality, and “full and complete acceptance—not tolerance and not sympathy”.

Long before anyone had ever heard of Shakuntala Devi, there was Sigmund Freud, who also had an interest in homosexuality, albeit in a time when it was poorly understood. The Skeptic’s Dictionary plainly states that Sigmund Freud’s personal invention, known as psychoanalysis, is,

the granddaddy of all pseudoscientific psychotherapies, second only to Scientology as the champion purveyor of false and misleading claims about the mind, mental health, and mental illness.

An example of such nonsense, as the Dictionary points out, is how Freud viewed schizophrenia:

Freud thought he understood the nature of schizophrenia. It is not a brain disorder, but a disturbance in the unconscious caused by unresolved feelings of homosexuality. 

Fortunately, real science has advanced beyond such mumbo jumbo. Schizophrenia is no longer “a disturbance” related to feelings of homosexuality, unresolved or otherwise. But there are folks among us who still have strange views of homosexuality itself, notwithstanding Shakuntala Devi’s call for “full and complete acceptance” of it a generation ago.

And many of those folks are in Congress.

By now you have heard that a so-called gay rights bill in the United States Senate, officially known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), has survived a procedural vote by a margin of 61-30. All Democrats (except for Claire McCaskill, who had attended a funeral for former Missouri congressman Ike Skelton in Lexington, Mo., and missed the vote) voted to advance the bill and a mere seven Republicans (minus a likely “yes” vote from an absent Lisa Murkowski of Alaska) voted with them.

The bill, as ABC News reported, “would ban discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” The assumption behind the bill, of course, is to apply Shakuntala Devi’s “full and complete acceptance” of one’s sexual orientation and gender identity to the American workplace.

Missouri’s other senator, Roy Blunt, did not vote and I don’t know why or where he was. But I do know that in 2007 a right-wing Christian website called “Americans for Truth About Homosexuality” featured Blunt, who was not my senator but my congressman at the time, specifically because of his opposition to ENDA:

Rep. Roy Blunt: Democratic Majority’s ENDA Bill Takes Dead Aim at Religious Freedom

blunt and ENDAIn a piece published by the reactionary website Human Events and appearing almost six years ago to the day, Blunt explained the basis of his objection to ENDA. You can go there and read it for yourself, but I will here summarize his objections:

1. Ensuring that there is no employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity represents a threat to the practice of Bible- and Quran-believing religion.

2. Employees in Christian or Muslim businesses would be forced to “choose” between their faith and their pocketbooks out of fear of litigation.

3. The whole ENDA exercise is a “whim”—defined by the Free Dictionary as an “arbitrary thought or impulse”—of Congress.

4. Your “freedom to practice religion” could be “greatly impinged” by some judge “sitting on a bench” in a particular state on a given day.

To condense Blunt’s objections into one sentence: Homosexuals have no rights which a conservative Christian (or Muslim) is bound to respect. 

All of this, of course, at least for Blunt and his Bible-believing constituency, stems from the Bible’s rather hostile view of homosexuals. You know, like this from Leviticus:

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

So, you can see that what Roy Blunt was protecting in 2007 (and presumably today) in terms of his opposition to ENDA, is the Iron Age beliefs of people who thought (and some who still think) that there is something so seriously wrong with homosexuals that executing them, if they practice their “sin,” is necessary.

Where is Sigmund Freud when you need him? His views are quite civilized, at least compared to the view Blunt is defending.

And by the way, Rand Paul, the duel-loving serial plagiarizer and faux-libertarian superstar, a man who in theory is in favor of “more individual freedom,” voted in favor of honoring Iron Age notions of sexuality and the bigotry that goes with them, allowing the Bible- and Quran-thumpers to keep discriminating against homosexuals, or perceived homosexuals, in the workplace. He too, like Roy Blunt, apparently believes that such folks have no rights which religious zealots are bound to respect, especially religious zealots who happen to own businesses.

Below is a video of Roy Blunt arguing against ENDA in 2007 in the House. While it is unlikely that ENDA will ever become law, so long as one side of the Capitol remains under theocratic control, you will, no doubt, hear arguments similar to Blunt’s should this matter ever get debated in the teavangelical-dominated House of Boehner:

Roy Blunt Votes To Shut ‘Er Down!

Let the record show that my United States senator, lobbyist-loving Roy Blunt, just voted to shut down the federal government.

And even though Democrats prevailed on the vote, I’m sure that all the soldier-loving, Social Security-sucking seniors in Missouri who put Blunt in office are as happy as can be that he voted with 43 other Republicans, many with grossly undeserved reputations for “reasonableness,” to show the world that the United States government is just one Republican-friendly election away from Tea Party disaster.

Roy Blunt And Republicans About To Exploit Public Ignorance

MSNBC’s star right-winger Joe Scarborough was all excited this morning about the fact that the chaos and confusion Republicans have been causing in Washington has finally started to pay dividends in the form of low approval ratings for the President:

obama job approval sept 2013

“Things are actually breaking our way for the first time in a couple of years,” Scarborough said of conservatives. Except things are not breaking their way. Bloomberg News, reporting on its own poll a few days ago, said the numbers for both Obama and the Republicans “are the worst ever for both.” So Scarborough was simply out of his mind.

But speaking of delusional thinking, perhaps the weirdest, most disconcerting moment on Morning Joe this morning was when Scarborough highlighted this frightening Bloomberg poll result:

debt ceiling result bloomberg

What was weird and disconcerting about the presentation of this particular poll result on Morning Joe was that no one seemed to be frightened by it. And if this poll result doesn’t frighten you, doesn’t scare the Cruz out of you, then you don’t understand what fooling around with not raising the debt ceiling will mean. (Go here to find out and then get really scared, and pissed, about the dangerous ignorance reflected in that Bloomberg poll.)

This dangerous ignorance on the part of the American people—which is partly the result of journalistic malpractice—would be harmless if it weren’t for the fact that it will undoubtedly encourage unhinged Republicans to exploit such ignorance and really push the United States into default, if they don’t get what they want. Just today Politico reported:

A large number of Senate and House Republicans are raising the threat of a debt default to curtail, delay or defund President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement. It’s a major gamble — risking the prospect of a first-ever default on U.S. debt — but it’s one seriously being considered by the same Republicans who have refused to join Cruz’s filibuster attempt of the stopgap spending bill to keep the government running.

Not only that, Politico noted that Speaker Boehner “has compiled a debt hike bill with a bunch of goodies that they think House Republicans will vote for, and red state Senate Democrats won’t want to avoid.”

People may think Ted Cruz is a wild-eyed extremist—and he is—but the only thing that distinguishes him from the rest of the Republican Party in Congress is that he and a few others are wild-eyed anti-establishment extremists. The rest of them are wild-eyed establishment extremists who are willing to risk the full faith and credit of the United States to achieve what they could not achieve in the last election: ideological victory.

After not supporting the weird attempt by Ted Cruz to defund ObamaCare via a continuing resolution on the budget, Missouri’s Roy Blunt told Politico:

The debt ceiling provides more of an opportunity to get something than the [continuing resolution] does.

Got it? Using the threat of debt-default, using the threat of economic chaos here and around the world, dynamiting the full faith and credit of the United States, is an “opportunity to get something” says Roy Blunt.

This is dangerous territory. This is alarming stuff. This is Republican politics.

An Open Letter To Senator Roy Blunt

Dear Senator Blunt,

I recently called you a gun whore and I apologize.

Oh, don’t get me wrong here. I don’t apologize to you, Senator. I apologize to all the street prostitutes in the world who don’t deserve to be compared to a United States Senator of your dubious moral quality. Most of the women who decide to make a living on the streets by selling themselves to the highest bidder do so for reasons beyond their control, reasons like poverty, sexual abuse, or drug addiction. Misfortune in life has often driven them to trading favors for money.

But you, Senator Blunt, have had no such misfortune in life. You, along with most of your Republican colleagues, simply sold yourself to the NRA for political power and for thirty pieces of blood-stained silver. Make no mistake about it, sir, the money you have taken from the NRA—and the money you will no doubt take from the NRA in the future—has blood on it.

That money, every single dollar, has on it blood spattered from bullet-riddled six-year-old faces, kids who spent their last minutes of life on this earth in utter terror, as a madman with a military style killing machine in his hands and armed with multiple 30-round magazines, quickly and methodically hunted them down and murdered all twenty of them, along with the six adults who tried to be their guardian angels on that bloody day.

You, too, Senator Blunt, are a guardian angel of sorts. Through your unfailing support of the NRA, you look after the welfare of gun manufacturers and their profits. You are the dark and dishonest spirit that keeps the NRA in power and keeps America awash in guns, awash in war-time killing machines, awash in blood, even the blood of children.

Your claims to voters and ultimately to the Almighty that you are a Christian and a “social conservative” will one day, if there is any justice in this incomparably large and unfathomably cold universe, be weighed against your actions as the gluttonous guardian angel of people and groups who care for nothing but their own narrow, lucrative interests.

Yes, Senator, I apologize to all the whores in the world for comparing what you do to what they do. They merely trade sexual favors for money. You trade the public good for money and power. You trade the commonweal for currency and clout. You trade our national well-being for your own. And, I confess, you are good at it. You are good at turning tricks and selling yourself to the highest bidder and accumulating power in Washington. In fact, Public Citizen honored your whoring skills with a special report:

Rep. Roy Blunt: Ties to Special Interests Leave Him Unfit to Lead

That report, which examined your record as a legislator in the House, revealed the truth about what it is you do, Senator:

In the end, what emerges is a portrait of a legislative leader who not only has surrendered his office to the imperative of moneyed interests, but who has also done so with disturbing zeal and efficiency.

What perverted pride you must have felt at being so honored, Mr. Blunt. What sick satisfaction you must have experienced when a Washington Post profile favorably compared your work in the House to convicted felon Tom DeLay, and noted that,

Here in Washington, Blunt has converted what had been an informal and ad hoc relationship between congressional leaders and the Washington corporate and trade community into a formal, institutionalized alliance.

And now that you are in the Senate, you must feel a strange and devilish joy that your prowess as a corporate prostitute is still recognized, not only for your continued support for the gun industry, but for the agribusiness industry:

Sen. Roy Blunt: Monsanto’s Man in Washington

I have to admit that slipping a Monsanto-friendly provision into a totally unrelated piece of legislation is a skillful maneuver worthy of anything I have ever seen in the Kama Sutra or, frankly, in Deep Throat or Debbie Does Dallas.

But your votes on Wednesday, Senator Blunt, your votes to kill even the mildest and most common-sense efforts to at least make it more difficult for murderers to murder our kids and loved ones with NRA-protected killing machines, those votes, those votes, Senator, are more shameful than anything you have ever done.

The lies you, your colleagues, and the NRA told about the legislation, and your votes that ultimately killed all the relatively modest proposals and amendments, those lies and those votes, if there were a righteous God who has ears to hear and eyes to see what you have done, would move him to, as the Bible says, spew you and your cowardly colleagues out of his mouth on some future judgment day.

But, alas, whether there will be such a future day of everlasting judgment, whether there will be a time when you, Senator Blunt, stand before and receive unappealable justice from the God you claim to worship, whether there will be such a day and time is uncertain. Not one of us knows the truth about that possibility. But we do know, we can be certain of one thing, that the judgment of history, the only judgment we as human beings can make that has any permanence, won’t be kind to you, sir.

If there is a heaven and hell of human construction, it is the heaven and hell of historical judgment. And someday, long after you have passed from this life and have or haven’t met your creator, your descendants will find your legislative legacy in the hell of human history, where it most certainly belongs and where it, if not you, will live forever.

The Gun Whore Minority Is Winning

As the U.S. Senate takes up the gun bill today, the following headline tells us everything we need to know about what is wrong with Washington, D.C.:

Joe Manchin Says Background Check Measure Doesn’t Have The Votes, Accuses NRA Of Lying

Senator Manchin, who has been working with right-wing Republican Pat Toomey to present the mildest of reforms to the nation’s background check systsem for gun purchases, said,

We will not get the votes today.

Now, for people living in a democracy, like we are supposed to be living in here in America, Senator Manchin’s statement, and the headline of the story, should mean that there isn’t a majority of senators who would support the background check bill. Except that there is a majority will will support it today.

But here in the real world, where “majority” actually means “super-majority”—60 votes out of 100 in the Senate—saying a bill “doesn’t have the votes” is saying that the minority is in charge.

And that is only part of what is wrong with our ability to govern ourselves. The other part is described by the HuffPo article:

Manchin later criticized the NRA, of which he has been a lifetime member with an “A” rating. “Now when when they are so disingenuous and telling members that our legislation, and I quote, ‘would criminalize the firearms by honest citizens,'” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “This bill does not even touch …”

“That’s a lie,” MSNBC host Joe Scarborough interrupted.

“It is a lie, Joe,” Manchin responded. “If they lose credibility, they’ve lost everything in Washington.”

One would think that what Senator Manchin said is true. One would think that when the the country’s best-known lobbyist for gun manufacturers loses credibility by repeatedly lying about this or any legislation, then legislators would simply ignore the lobbyist. But, of course, what makes Washington work is not credibility but cash. And the NRA, no matter how little credibility it has, does have a lot of cash.

And speaking of having little credibility and lots of cash, now comes Missouri’s reactionary senator, Roy Blunt, and yet another headline that sheds light on what’s wrong with not only Washington, but certain parts of the entire country:

Roy Blunt Raises Specter Of Federal Gun Registry, Despite Explicit Ban

Last week, my senator, who loves lobbyists so much he divorced his first wife and married one, voted against even debating the Manchin-Toomey gun legislation. Blunt, this should be clear, is not only against the bill, he voted against even allowing discussion of the bill in what is laughingly called the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.

But worse than that—if there is something worse than that for a supposedly serious legislator—is that Roy Blunt is a liar. Either that, either he is a liar, or he shares a deep and abiding and dangerous paranoia with people who think the government is coming to get them and that if they can keep secret all their gun purchases they just might have a chance to hold off the United States military.

My guess is that, since Blunt is fond of lobbyists—did I mention that he divorced his first wife and married a lobbyist?—that he is simply lying on behalf of the NRA. He is lying about what the bill would do, in terms of creating a federal gun registry.

As HuffPo points out:

The federal government is already barred from creating a database of every single gun owner in America. And under background check legislation being worked out by the Senate, that ban would be made even more explicit, with harsh penalties for anyone who violated it.

But that’s not enough for Sen. Roy Blunt.

Here’s how Blunt responded when asked about the issue by none other than Fox “News” host Gregg Jarrett:

JARRETT: One of your objections — or your main objection — is really that you’re fearful that this will lead to a federal gun registry. Well, Sen. Toomey, your Republican colleague who negotiated this bipartisan deal with Manchin, insists it will not in any way lead to a gun registry.

BLUNT: And that’s his point of view, and it’s one that may have validity. Just last week, it was determined that the state of Missouri — my state — had given 167,000 concealed carry permit information on 160,000 people to, of all federal agencies, the Social Security Administration. Once you get these lists out there — once you have a gun dealer keeping lists for lots of other people — the only way that works, frankly, is if you keep the paper. And if you keep the paper, eventually somebody’s going to ask for it.

Notice how quickly Blunt acknowledged that the other side might be right. But also notice that even if what Blunt said was true—and obviously it is not—even if someone asked for “the paper,” so what? What is it that Blunt fears? Does he fear that law-abiding gun owners will soon be the subject of an impossible-to-conceive gun grab by the feds?

Does he fear that Barack Obama  will find out where all the white folks who own guns live and then tell a barely-breathing New Black Panther Party where they are so we can have a race war?

Or perhaps Blunt fears that Barack Obama will not step down after his second term and instead use the military to go after every single gun owner in the country and rip the weapons from millions of cold, dead hands.

Or, more likely, Blunt fears that the NRA, which has given him so much cash in his career that he is fourth on the Top Ten Gun Whores in Congress list, that the gun manufacturer lobbying group will stop paying him for lying on their behalf.

You figure it out. In the mean time, the country is nearly ungovernable, thanks to a minority of Grand Old Paranoids.

Socialism’s Surprising Supporters In Southwest Missouri

Let’s begin with a relatively lengthy selection from the Joplin Globe’s endorsement of Mittens Romney in 2012, and please follow the logic the paper used to toss its 2008 Obama endorsement under the editorial bus:

And on the issue that most threatens our nation’s future well-being — unchecked federal spending — this nation is more than stalled. It is in reverse. [...]

During the first debate, Romney bluntly warned moderator Jim Lehrer that he would cut off funds for public broadcasting if the nation was having to borrow money from China to pay for it. If true, it’s the kind of thing a debtor nation must do.

The Obama campaign attacked Romney on that point.

Sure, funding for public broadcasting is an insignificant part of the budget, but if Obama isn’t even willing to cut one one-hundreth of 1 percent of federal spending for something that is non-vital to America, then the president is not serious about reducing spending at all.

If Obama is not serious about that, he is the wrong person for the job.

Let’s review:

♦ “Unchecked federal spending” “threatens our nation’s future well-being”

♦ A “debtor nation” should not spend money on “non vital” stuff, if it has to “borrow money from China to pay for it”

♦ Because Obama doesn’t  recognize what “non vital” stuff is and won’t therefore cut it out of the budget, “he is the wrong person for the job”

Got it? Okay. Now, we can proceed to this morning’s banner headline in the same paper that endorsed Mittens:

joplin globe headline on federal money

Just where, you might ask, will Joplin “get” all that dough? Oh, that’s easy:

JOPLIN, Mo. — Joplin will receive $113 million from a $125 million state grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for disaster recovery.

And:

HUD statements said the award came from the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act that President Barack Obama signed Jan. 29 that designates $16 billion for U.S. disaster recovery.

“President Barack Obama signed…” Ouch. That’s gotta hurt. The scary socialist president sent our city some socialism-tainted simoleons.

Amazingly, Joplin’s city manager wasn’t expecting the windfall:

City Manager Mark Rohr said the grant was a surprise to city officials, who earlier had applied for $1.72 billion from HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program for tornado recovery and received $45.2 million.

Rohr said city officials thought the $45 million award, made in January 2012, was the result of the application and did not know that more money would be on the way.

“We’re very pleased and grateful for the assistance we’ve gotten, and we intend to use the money wisely to help the city recover in the best way possible,” Rohr said.

The city manager didn’t exactly say this money was “vital” to the needs of Joplin, did he? In fact, he sort of sounded like he—we—had won the lottery.

Well, this liberal—and Joplin resident—says good for Joplin.

But conservative readers of the Joplin Globe, especially readers who lauded the paper’s endorsement of socialism-hating Romney, had every right to expect, upon reading this story, that the paper would publish an editorial this morning expressing grave concerns about all that “unchecked federal spending,” right?

I mean, the Globe told us that we should not borrow money from China to pay for “non vital” stuff because we are such a “debtor nation,” so logic would dictate that the paper tell the city manager to wrap up the money and send it right back to President Obama, right?

Wrong.

In today’s paper, there was no such send-the-money-back-to-the-treasury editorial. Nope. Nothing about unchecked federal spending, debtor nation, or China. And I would bet ten-thousand Romney dollars that there will never be such an editorial in the Joplin Globe. Never.

Oh, by the way, speaking of the money the feds—no, the good people of the United States—have sent here to J-Town since the tornado in 2011, the Globe reports:

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill said the block grant raises the amount of federal funding Joplin has received to more than $350 million. 

I’m not a math whiz but I think that amounts to about $7,000 for every man, woman, child, and editorial writer in this Romney-for-president town.

Finally, to top off the amazing account of all that federal money rolling into the Republican-red, socialism-hating streets of Joplin, we have this from the Globe’s story:

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt’s office issued a statement saying that the award was the result of legislation Blunt sponsored that made the $45 million available to Joplin. He also has sought continued aid that is earmarked for the areas in most need, his staff said. Blunt, R-Mo., met at City Hall with Joplin and Duquesne officials within weeks after the May 2011 tornado to ask them what would be needed for recovery.

“When a disaster exceeds the ability of communities and states, the federal government has a responsibility to help people rebuild,” Blunt said in the statement. “I’m pleased these funds will continue to help local leaders, businesses and families in Missouri recover and reinvest for the future.”

If you made it through that without spewing up your breakfast—because you remember that small-government Roy Blunt voted against helping victims of Hurricane Sandy—then maybe you can agree with me that the headline of this story should have been:

Joplin Benefits From More Socialism, Thanks To Selective Socialist Senator Roy Blunt

To Hell With The Republican Party

GOP dying? Good!”

Glenn Beck

Okay. I’m warning all of you who don’t like profanity to click away.

On Tuesday I heard yet another segment on television—perhaps the millionth by now— about what Republicans need to do to reform themselves.

Finally, I am here to say: Who gives a damn? Who cares what Republicans need to do to reform themselves? I used to. I used to care. Now I don’t. You know why? Because the party is beyond reform, that’s why.

As we get some bad economic news today—the economy didn’t grow last quarter—just think about why that is. The Republican Party has done its best to sabotage the economic recovery, mostly just because it hates Barack Obama and loves political power.

And think about this: My own senator, Roy Blunt, practically begged for funds for his constituents in Joplin, after a tornado ripped through our town in 2011. But then, when a super storm named Sandy ripped through the northeast, blunt2where all those goddamned liberals live, he said to hell with the goddamned liberals. He, and thirty-five other Republicans—most of whom have taken federal funds for disasters in their own states—voted “no” on Sandy relief.

Well, to hell with him, to hell with them, and to hell with the Republican Party.

I don’t like the GOP. I hate what it stands for. I want it to die and go away. I don’t want to waste time worrying if it can reform itself because those who mean to reform it sometimes sound as ridiculous as those who want it to remain the way it is, or, God forbid, make it worse.

Example: David Brooks is by all accounts one of the most reasonable Republicans on the planet and one who liberals love to cite. But when he can say that there ought to be a “second G.O.P.” and that this new G.O.P. would “be filled with people who recoiled at President Obama’s second Inaugural Address because of its excessive faith in centralized power,” there is no real hope for the party.

Did Brooks even watch that inaugural speech before he wrote that “excessive faith in centralized power” phrase? Are you kidding me? President Obama, in that speech, said this:

Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.  Our celebration of initiative and enterprise, our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, these are constants in our character.

Can David Brooks hear? Can he read? Is he having a love affair with Rush Limbaugh’s brain? Brooks said the new reformed group of Republicans would be one that “recoiled” at the “excessive faith in centralized power” that Obama expressed in his speech. Except that Obama expressed no such a thing.

What the President did do was explicitly acknowledge our national “skepticism of central authority” and called government-only solutions a “fiction,” and celebrated “initiative and David Brooks, serious typist for the Timesenterprise” and “hard work and personal responsibility,” which he called “constants in our character.”

Maybe David Brooks thinks only Republicans can seriously use language like that, I don’t know. But I do know there is something seriously wrong with a political party when a moderate member, one who gets accolades from Democrats like me for not being a crazy conservative, can grossly mischaracterize a Democratic speech and remain a respected “moderate.”

Okay, I admit I could tolerate a party full of David Brooks types, even if they say stupid things like “excessive faith in centralized power” when there was no excessive faith in centralized power.

But I can’t tolerate a party that would put a man like Reince Priebus back in charge. Priebus has been reelected as Republican National Committee chairman. He’s once again the official spokesman for the party.

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.

Not only is Priebus the leader of the Republicans’ War on Decency, he recently was auditioning for a part in the GOP’s War on Democracy. He favors Republican-controlled states “looking at” an outrageous scheme to thwart the will of the people by changing the way those states allocate Electoral College votes.

As if the Electoral College isn’t stupid enough without the Republican Party devising a way to make a future 47%-of-the-vote-getting presidential candidate the winner. Does anyone think a party that would even contemplate such a thing is redeemable? Huh?

Want more? I finally heard about remarks made last Saturday by newly elected Tea Party Senator Ted Cruz. The remarks were about two of President Obama’s picks for cabinet members, Democrat John Kerry—who has three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star and a Bronze Star from his service in Vietnam—and Republican Chuck Hagel—who has two Purple Hearts and flesh-wrapped shrapnel from his time in Vietnam.

Here’s how HuffPo reported the remarks Cruz made on Saturday: 

“Okay, we’ve got two pending nominations, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel,” he said in responding to a question at the National Review Institute summit in Washington. “Both of whom are very prominently — “

Cruz took a pregnant pause. “Anti-us?” said a moderator.

“Less than ardent fans of the U.S. military,” he continued.

Can you believe that? Can you believe a man would first tolerate the moderator’s disgusting “anti-us” remark and then say that combat veterans and war heroes were not fans of the military? I can. That’s what this goddamned party has come to.

You can Google “Ted Cruz military service” and you will find that the arrogant SOB never served a day in the military, let alone won any medals, as did Kerry and Hagel. Cruz was, however, a champion debater at, uh, Princeton. Good for him, the brave asshole.

Lest you forget, Ted Cruz is one of the bright lights in the Republican Party. Political strategist Mark McKinnon, who like David Brooks gets credit for being a “moderate” Republican, called Cruz, “the Republican Barack Obama.”

That, my friends, is from the lips of a moderate Republican. There’s no hope for the party, is all one can conclude.

And there is no hope for a party that encourages law enforcement officials, in this case sheriffs, to disobey the law. All over the country these “lawmen” are saying they will not obey any of Obama’s executive orders related to guns. Here in Missouri, the Republican-drunk legislature may soon entertain a bill introduced by a gun-slinging legislator,

making it a felony to enforce any executive order or federal law that bans the possession of a semiautomatic firearm, among other provisions.

You tell me if such lawlessness by a political party can be fixed.

Finally, I will end this tirade with more on the gun issue and with what happened to Neil Heslin, whose six-year-old boy was killed at Sandy Hook. Heslin was testifying emotionally during a public hearing in Hartford, Connecticut. He was in favor of doing something positive, like changing our insane gun laws, sort of as a way to memorialize the dead.

Initial reports on Tuesday were that Heslin was “heckled by gun nuts” in the audience. That heckling meme made it all around the country in no time. Then what followed the heckling meme was another meme pushed by right-wingers:

No, a Sandy Hook parent did not get “heckled by gun nuts”

Well, I have seen the video. I watched Neil Heslin’s face. I heard his tortured words. I felt his pain. He was obviously still stunned by the death of his little boy. He was understandably full of emotion.  ‘THAT WAS THE LAST I SAW OF HIM’: Neil Heslin dropped off Jesse yesterday morning and planned to go back in the afternoon to help him make gingerbread houses.He was trying to find something good from the tragedy. He asked a rhetorical question,

Why anybody in this room needs to have one of these assault style weapons or military weapons or high capacity clips?

Greeted with appropriate silence, Heslin then said,

And not one person can answer that question or give me an answer.

At that point, more than one person mouthed out ridiculous statements like “Second Amendment shall not be infringed” and “you will not infringe our rights.” Real classy folks.

Now, I don’t give a damn what you call this, whether you call it “heckling” or whether you call it something else. What I call it is indecent. And it is the Republican Party that has made the world safe for extremist gun freaks who don’t have the decency to respect a still-grieving father in a moment like that.

And it is the Republican Party that not only enables such indecency, but also enables those gun freaks who demand that they have the right to play with military-ish guns and fantasize about how they need those big-ass guns and clips to combat a tyrannical government. The Republican Party makes that possible.

Add all this up and more—I didn’t even mention the party’s still hot War on Women or that Marco Rubio had to kiss Rush Limbaugh’s ass and get his blessing on immigration reform—and, as far as I’m concerned, the once-great party of Lincoln is irredeemable, hopeless. And I don’t want to hear any more bullshit about its agonizing efforts to reform itself.

____________________

To sort of follow up on my outburst, I present below a stunning “Rewrite” segment from Lawrence O’Donnell’s Tuesday evening show. It’s about what happened to Neil Heslin:

“A Day Of Shame”

I implore all of you, all of you who care about our once-cherished political institutions, to watch Lawrence O’Donnell’s “Rewrite” segment from Tuesday night’s program (posted below), a segment detailing the Senate’s rejection, by a vote of 61-38, of the United Nations treaty to ban discrimination against people with disabilities. The treaty, which was negotiated under and initially signed by George W. Bush, needed 66 votes to pass.

Missouri’s Republican senator, Roy Blunt, was in the minority, in the minority of “shame,” as O’Donnell, who worked in the Senate for seven years, would have it. So were both senators from Kansas. And bob dole in senate chamberboth senators from Oklahoma. This shameful minority is emblematic of what is wrong with the Republican Party, of what is wrong with a significant number of our fellow Americans who support such extremism and paranoia, as exhibited in that Senate vote.

Before you watch the segment below, I want to relate a personal note. My cousin, Larry, was afflicted with polio as a kid. I thought about him when I heard what Republicans did in the Senate on Tuesday.

More than twenty years ago, when I was a die-hard conservative, Larry sat in his wheelchair, in my living room, and explained to me why parking lot spaces, those closest to a building’s entrance, were rightly reserved for disabled folks and why that was a good thing. Why providing for unfettered access to sidewalks and buildings was also a good thing, and not a big-government infringement on liberty, as I then thought all such things were (yes, again, that’s why this is a “Blog of Repentance”).

Larry, who has since passed away, made me think, and then later convinced me, that I needed to enlarge my perspective and see things from the point of view of someone who had to maneuver through life over and around unnecessary obstacles, obstacles that could easily be removed out of respect for the dignity of folks who, for one reason or another, could not walk and thus could not surmount curbs and other ordinary, but artificial, barriers.

Yes, Larry made me think. And, God only knows, how much he made me re-think my extreme conservatism, how much he contributed to my release from the prison of reactionary philosophy. So, as you watch the following segment, know that, as I can testify, there is hope for those who disgrace themselves with obscurantist, right-wing zealotry:

Roy Blunt, False Witness

The Old Testament tells us that the Lord hates “a false witness that speaketh lies.”

Uh-oh.

Without much of a pushback from Candy Crowley, Roy Blunt appeared on CNN’s State of the Union to speaketh lies about Mitt Romney’s once-prominent promise of tax cuts for all. After playing a clip of Romney saying “don’t be expecting a huge cut in taxes,” Crowley asked,

What do you make of that? Sounds like people aren’t going to get a tax cut.

BLUNT: Well, I — actually I think that’s what the governor’s been saying all the time, and it’s what most Republicans have been saying all the time. Get the rate down, eliminate the — a lot of the intricacies of the tax code…

CROWLEY: But hasn’t he been — I’m sorry. Hasn’t he been campaigning on cutting taxes?

BLUNT: No, no, no, he has always said we’re going to lower the rate and we’re going to eliminate the complexity of the tax code. That’s what he’s said consistently. It doesn’t mean revenue would go down. That would mean that people would have some sense that everybody’s paying the same thing based on the same rules, both at the corporate structure and the individual structure and I think that’s very consistent…

No, no, no,” he said. “It doesn’t mean revenue would go down.” Well, I am used to Blunt telling unchallenged lies to Missourians, but one would think when he tells lies to the nation that Candy Crowley would at least press him on it. But nope, she didn’t.

If you go to Mitt Romney’s website—in light of his “47%” comments laughingly subtitled, “Believe in America” —you will find this:

Reduce taxes,” it says, “through…tax reform.” Nothing could be clearer than that. It doesn’t say “reduce tax rates,” but “reduce taxes,” with “reduce” being commonly defined as “to bring down.” Romney promised to bring down taxes, despite Blunt’s claim that  it was really “rates” he meant. A false witness, indeed.

But that wasn’t Blunt’s biggest sin on Sunday:

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about the state of the race in Missouri. This is where you had Congressman Akin, who made a very controversial remark, which you condemned, which others condemned. You, in fact, said at the time, “We do not believe it serves the national interests for Congressman Todd Akin to stay in the race for Senate. The issues at stake are too big, and this election is simply too important. The right decision is to step aside.” 

As we all know, Todd Akin did not step aside. He is running as the Republican. And you are looking as though — the Republicans are looking as though they’re going to lose that race because Akin stayed in it. 

BLUNT: I think at the end of the day, that race does largely become a debate about the majority in the Senate. Harry Reid is majority leader. What happens there? I think that becomes really big in that race. Frankly, I think that anybody else would have been a candidate that clearly would have won, and Todd very well may win. He is on a ticket at a time when people are looking at a Senate that’s not doing its work, and the only way to change the Senate is to change the majority in the Senate. 

CROWLEY: So you are going to sell it as a party race as opposed to the individual of Congressman Akin? 

BLUNT: I think it becomes a party race in our state and lots of other places as well, as people look at these Senate races. And I’m not — I think they look at them to a great extent independently of whatever has happened in the presidential race, but I think the presidential race is going to be decided by the economy, and the economy is not where people want it to be.

Get that? Blunt believes, or says he believes, that Missourians will overlook Akin’s stupidity because otherwise Harry Reid will remain Majority Leader. Forget “legitimate rape” people, we’ve got to make Mitch McConnell, the chief Republican obstructionist in Congress, Majority Leader!

In other words, Blunt, who sacrificed what principles he had left on the altar of political power, hopes Missourians will do the same thing. He said a bit later:

It’s a race about the majority, and let’s see how Todd does.

Yeah, let’s see how Todd does.

My question would be this: Is there nothing a Republican candidate could say or do that would earn Roy Blunt’s permanent disapproval? If Charles Manson were a Republican and could give the party a majority in the senate, would Roy Blunt say, “It’s a race about the majority, and let’s see how Charlie does“?

Huh?

Sadly, the reason Blunt has recanted his disapproval of Akin is because, believe it or not, the man with a cave dweller’s understanding of the female reproductive system and “ladylike” behavior and who wants to privatize Social Security and Medicare, actually has a chance of winning in cave-rich Missouri.

If he had no chance, Roy Blunt wouldn’t come within a Jack Abramoff scandal of him.

For his part, Akin, with a zeal befitting an evangelical zealot, has said that there is “an amazing correlation” at work here:

When you do the right thing, you end up winning anyway.

Well, there is one thing we know: no matter who wins, neither Akin nor the principleless Roy Blunt will have done the right thing.

And if Akin ends up in the U.S. Senate, those Missourians who put him there will be just as principleless as Blunt and will have brought shame to not only their state, but to the whole country.

Leading From Behind Todd al-Akin

How many times have you heard Republicans criticize President Obama for “leading from behind”? A bunch. Here is an example of what right-wingers mean by their criticism:

To sum it up, Barack Obama’s foreign policy is based on the belief that we have surrendered or had taken from us our leadership role in the world. He’s operating intentionally as a failure.

Yeah, that’s our president, alright. He’s not only a failure, he’s means to be one!

Yesterday I heard Dan Senor, a foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney and a man ass-deep in Bush’s decision to not lead from behind and start a foolish war in Iraq, criticize President Obama on TV  for failing to get Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to “step down.

My, my, my. I wonder why al-Assad won’t listen to the President of the United States and do what he is told? Maybe it is because Mr. Obama is a defective leader? A failure? Yeah, that’s it. I mean, if a leader asks a bad actor to get off the stage and that actor chooses to remain in the spotlight, it’s the leader’s fault, right? He has failed to lead, right? He’s a wimp, right?

Well, okay. Here’s what Dan Senor’s boss said about Todd Akin, Missouri’s torturously Talibanic Republican candidate for senate—and part-time gynecologist—after Akin’s ignorance and/or stupidity was revealed to the world:

As I said yesterday, Todd Akin’s comments were offensive and wrong and he should very seriously consider what course would be in the best interest of our country. Today, his fellow Missourians urged him to step aside, and I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race.

That was on August 21. Naturally, being a leader of epic proportions, Romney’s declaration that Akin should “step aside” immediately caused Akin to, well, step aside, right?

Not exactly:

Todd Akin (still) staying in Missouri Senate race

Despite calls from Republican Party leaders to step down, Rep. Todd Akin announced he will remain in the Missouri Senate race against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Dammit! What’s wrong with Mittens’ leadership? If President Obama is expected to snap his fingers and have a miscreant like Bashar al-Assad disappear, then making a little twerp like Todd Akin go away ought to be easy pickin’s.

But nope, Akin remains with us, which, of course, means Mittens has failed as a leader. And not only did Akin defy him, but others have kicked sand in Romney’s face.

Among the sand-kickers are Akin’s reactionary friends who are coming to his aid, folks like Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Jim DeMint, Phyllis Schlafly, and, no surprise, the author of the infamous “Blunt amendment“—a blatant and reactionary attack on women’s health choices—Roy Blunt:

Blunt backs Akin’s Senate bid after deadline to exit race passes

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) announced his support for Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-Mo.) Senate bid after the deadline passed for Akin to exit the race.

In a statement released late Tuesday night, Blunt, a venerable figure in Missouri politics and the GOP establishment in Washington, flipped on his earlier call for Akin to exit the race.

“Congressman Akin and I don’t agree on everything, but he and I agree the Senate majority must change. From Governor Romney to the county courthouse, I’ll be working for the Republican ticket in Missouri, and that includes Todd Akin,” he said in the statement.

Not too long ago Blunt said in a joint statement with other Missouri Republican “leaders” the following:

We do not believe it serves the national interest for Congressman Todd Akin to stay in this race. The issues at stake are too big, and this election is simply too important. The right decision is to step aside.”

Dammit! There’s that pesky phrase “step aside” again. Blunt tried and failed to get Akin to quit and that means Blunt is also a wimpy leader. Shoot, when it comes to Akin, there are wimpy Republican leaders all over the place. In terms of revealing leadership qualities, little old Todd Akin is the Bashar al-Assad of the GOP!

But in Blunt’s case, instead of moaning and groaning about Akin’s tin ear, instead of telling Akin to go straight to hell, Blunt, being a resourceful, if wimpy, leader, has chosen to follow Akin and help him get elected.

Now that’s what I call leading from behind!

Godspeed, Todd al-Akin!

Food And Republican Logic

While watching “Up with Chris Hayes” Sunday morning on MSNBC, a Republican guest’s comment inspired me to present the following premises and conclusion, which taken together represent the twisted logic of the right-wing and its ongoing and ridiculous, if not partly racist, claim that Mr. Obama is the Food Stamp President:

♦ The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was formerly known as and still is popularly called the Food Stamp Program. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

Nearly 75 percent of SNAP participants are in families with children; more than one-quarter of participants are in households with seniors or people with disabilities.

♦ A significant change in SNAP occurred in 2002, including expanding it to “make more legal immigrants eligible for benefits,” according to the Agriculture Department. And according to a right-wing opponent of the increase in food stamp benefits, the 2002 bill, “increased benefits for families with more children, adjusted benefits for inflation and made it easier to enroll.”

♦ George Bush was president in 2002 and signed the expansion into law (as part of the big 2002 farm bill), saying at the time:

This bill is also a compassionate bill. This law means that legal immigrants can now receive help and food stamps after being here for five years. It means that you can have an elderly farm worker, somebody here legally in America who’s worked hard to make a living and who falls on hard times, that person can receive help from a compassionate government.

And as for Bush’s entire tenure as president, CNN reported earlier this year:

Food stamp enrollment has been rising for more than a decade. President Bush launched a recruitment campaign, which pushed average participation up by 63% during his eight years in office.

♦ Teapartiers Paul Ryan (whose famous budget cuts SNAP by $134 billion) and Jim DeMint (who now abhors increased spending on food stamps!), along with my former congressman and now senator from Missouri, Roy Blunt, voted for the 2002 food stamp expansion. So did then-senator and Missouri Republican Kit Bond.

♦ The 2008 version of the farm bill also expanded the food stamp program, and although Mr. Bush vetoed the bill (but not because of the food stamp expansion), Republicans provided the necessary margin to override his veto. That bill, again according to that same right-wing opponent of food stamp increases,

contained more than 30 provisions relating to food stamps, including higher minimum benefits. 

Again, Roy Blunt voted for the 2008 bill that expanded the program and voted in the House to override Bush’s veto.  In the Senate, the override vote saw 35 Republican senators—including Mitch McConnell—vote to override the veto. Missouri’s Kit Bond, along with both Kansas Republican senators, voted to override, thus expanding the food stamp program.

♦ The Great Recession, which cost millions of Americans their jobs and caused many people to seek help from the food stamp program, began while George Bush was president.

♦ Just before Mr. Obama came into office in January of 2009, the GDP shrank at an annualized rate of almost 9%. Yes, you read that right: “More than any other recession since the Great Depression.”

♦ The Democrats’ 2009 stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), did increase eligibility and funds for SNAP because:

In light of the increased demand for services and strained State budgets, the increased ARRA funding to State agencies that administer the SNAP program enables State governments to avoid reductions in services and to meet the increasing demand from low-income families and individuals resulting from the recession.

REPUBLICAN CONCLUSION: The fact that more folks needed and continue to need food stamps because of the Great Recession is all Barack Obama’s fault and he is, therefore, the Food Stamp President.

Besides admiring the audacity of the faulty logic of Republicans, it may interest you to know that for all the talk about food stamps and the number of Americans who need them, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average monthly benefit—I kid you not—is a whopping $133.84 (in Missouri it is $127.05).

Again, I kid you not. That tiny amount, most of it going to families with kids, is what generates all the divisive demagoguery—including Romney’s 47% nonsense—and what causes Republicans to bend the principles of logic in service to their Obama-hating agenda.

Akin Is “Our Guy” Says Ozark Billy

Southwest Missouri congressman Ozark Billy, who recently and stupidly said, “We’re not the land of the free anymore,” has now thrown his considerable weight—that’s not really a metaphor—behind the embattled Todd Akin, according to Politico:

First-term Rep. Billy Long, who represents the conservative southwestern portion of the state, said Akin was the party’s candidate, whom he planned to support.

“The people of Missouri voted for him, and he’s our guy,” Long told POLITICO. “And either you’re for Todd Akin and I’m not for Claire McCaskill. … He’s been an underdog his whole life, he won a lot of races he wasn’t supposed to win, so I think he can win.”

Yep, against the stream of establishment sentiment, our own Ozark Billy is making a gallant stand for ignorance and bigotry, but he’s not the only local embracing  Todd Akin’s “gaffe,” which, of course was not a gaffe but a rare moment of honesty and clarity.

Jasper County pooh-bah and resident Christian moralist-slash-Glenn Beck fan, John Putnam, said Mittens “needs to rescind” his demand that Akin give up the fight, and he offered this:

I think Reince Priebus and Roy Blunt and all the people need to support the candidate that the folks from Missouri nominated and picked in the primary. I think the GOP party bosses that are trying to drum him out are creating a bigger split in the party than Todd Akin is.

We’ll see whether Romney, true to form, or Priebus or Blunt waffles on Akin and accepts the Jasper County Republican’s godly counsel, but I have to admit that, for once, I agree with John Putnam. Party bosses—and right now there ain’t no bigger boss than Mittens—are creating a “split” in the party between evangelicals, who actually believe the nutty stuff they say, and regular party guys—characters who wouldn’t know Jesus if he jolted them with a bolt of overdue lightning—who use those evangelicals to obtain political power.

But my guess is that the evangelicals who are being used will, despite their Akin-induced dissatisfaction with the party honchos, nevertheless come to GOP Jesus and work hard to get their superiors elected, what with that Black Devil, Barack What’s-His-Unholy Name, lurking in the electoral shadows.

Meanwhile, the Black Devil’s Missouri handmaiden, Claire McCaskill, will likely save her job, despite the fact that the faithful, led by conservative crusader and buffet king Billy Long, will try their best to exorcise her evil self from the United States Senate.

Akin And Blunt Embarrass Missouri

Ah, to live in Missouri.

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

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

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

Obama tried to repeat the phrase but broke up laughing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But there is more cuckooism to explore:

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

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

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

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

Wolf, wolf.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Women Beware: Republicans Will Probe Your Privates

The Republicans in Virginia—seriously—want a government so big that it can literally get inside individual citizen’s genitals, by force and without their consent.

—Rachel Maddow

Transvaginal” is not a word one comes across routinely on a blog about politics. But it is a word women had better get used to, if what is happening in Virginia—which has already happened in Texas—makes its way across the country.

It isn’t enough that extremist legislation—with Missouri Republican Roy Blunt’s fingerprints all over it—has been proposed in the U. S. Senate that would, in the words of The Huffington Post:

amend the Affordable Care Act to allow any employer to exclude any health service coverage, no matter how critical or basic, by claiming that it violates their religious or moral convictions.

Get that? “Any health service coverage” can be denied to women because of her boss’s—frequently a man—religious or moral sensibilities. That is preposterous. But it is not as preposterous as what has happened in Texas and what is going on in Virginia.

From NARAL:

On the last day before bills crossover between the House and the Senate for this General Assembly session, the House of Delegates passed H.B. 1 a bill granting personhood status and rights to fertilized eggs by a vote of 66-32.

The House also passed a bill to force women to have an ultrasound — and potentially an invasive transvaginal ultrasound — 24 hours before an abortion regardless of if it is medically necessary or if a woman wants it.

This isn’t a joke. This is really happening. In America.

First, granting personhood status to fertilized eggs—which would annihilate abortion rights and have implications for contraception—has been tried in Colorado and Missisippi, both efforts failing by a vote of the people (failing in Colorado twice).

Second, the bill requiring ultrasounds will in fact require that many of the ultrasounds be transvaginal because most abortions occur early on in gestation and the invasive procedure would be needed for, as the law requires, the woman to see the fetus or hear its heartbeat.

Just for your information, the following is how one source, Ovarian Cancer Facts, describes the beginning of the transvaginal procedure—which Big Brother in Texas requires and Virginia soon will. Read this and keep in mind that this is mandated—mandated!—by government:

Your bladder must be empty in order for the test to be accurate. For this reason, the physician may ask that you not drink anything for several hours before undergoing the sonogram. Once the time for the test arrives, you will be asked to undress from the waist down and lie on a table. During the process, the feet are placed in stirrups and the knees are bent.

With you in place, your physician will initiate the process by preparing a transducer for insertion into your vagina. Commonly referred to as a probe, this device uses waves to create images that help your doctor assess the current condition of the reproductive system. A monitor that is attached to the probe allows your doctor to view the images in real time. After placing a condom over the probe and lubricating the device with a gel, it is inserted into your vagina and begins to transmit the images.

That, my fellow Americans, is what Republicans mean by “limited” or “small” government—probing its female citizens as part of a theological or moralistic crusade.

In Virginia, the Senate has already passed an ultrasound bill identical to that passed by the General Assembly and Governor Bob McDonnell—a conservative Catholic—has indicated he will sign the final product, and Virginia, like Texas, will begin Big Brother’s foray into Virginia women’s vaginas.

Here is part of St. Rachel Maddow’s jaw-dropping segment from last night’s broadcast:


Roy Blunt: Never Let A Pothole Go To Waste

Claire McCaskill, nobody’s liberal Democrat, will undoubtedly find her reelection effort tough going this year, even as the GOP is set to nominate one of three right-wing extremists to oppose her.

But she is getting some help from a couple of big-shot Missouri Republicans. From The Kansas City Star:

Two prominent Republicans were among three dozen civic and political supporters of Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill who met in Kansas City last Monday to hear her plans for re-election.

Both are top officials at Kansas City Southern, where the meeting took place. One was company Chairman Michael Haverty. The other was the meeting’s host, KCS Executive Vice President Warren Erdman, who used to be chief of staff to former Republican Sen.Kit Bond.

Erdman likes the fact that McCaskill is a “pragmatist,” which coming from a Republican means she sometimes blesses Republican philosophy with her assent. “I like things that produce results,” Erdman said.

It’s not clear what Erdman would think of the unproductive efforts of Roy Blunt—our very red senator—to , well, I’ll just let Blunt’s press release tell you:

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) attempted to introduce a bipartisan amendment today to the federal highway reauthorization bill in order to repeal the Obama Administration’s unlawful health care mandate that violates Americans’ religious freedom.

Because highways have so much to do with contraceptives and conscience, Blunt didn’t see a problem with hijacking the federal highway bill to do a bit of
moralizing on behalf of those who hold extremist theological positions on birth control. Never let a pothole go to waste, is Blunt’s motto, I suppose.

In any case, Think Progress offered this short analysis of the potential broader implications of Blunt’s “conscience amendment,” should its implementation end up in the God-blessed hands of a Republican president:

Under the measure, an insurer or an employer would be able to claim a moral or religious objection to covering HIV/AIDS screenings, Type 2 Diabetes treatments, cancer tests or anything else they deem inappropriate or the result of an “unhealthy” or “immoral” lifestyle. Similarly, a health plan could refuse to cover mental health care on the grounds that the plan believes that psychiatric problems should be treated with prayer.

Don’t think such things aren’t possible, if Missourians send Sarah Steelman or Todd Akin or John Brunner to replace Claire McCaskill in the U.S. Senate, and if Missourians—including anti-Obama “pragmatists” like Republican Warren Erdman—send Mitt Romney (or maybe even worse, Rick Santorum) to the White’s House.

In that case, Roy Blunt’s amendment, and likely much worse, will become reality instead of mere moral theatrics.

Roy Blunt Is Back In The Saddle Again

Roy Blunt, the ultimate Washington insider who was elected overwhelmingly and hypocritically by allegedly insider-hating Missouri Republicans, is now back on the inside.

He will now be the Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, beating out hyper-teapartier Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. While the slot isn’t exactly top billing (it’s #5 in the pecking order), it does show Blunt, who was an early backer of Mitt Romney, is set to throw his weight around should Romney come to sit in the White’s House.

In what can only be considered an understatement, given Roy Blunt’s mucky history with felonious lobbyists and his penchant for marrying and producing them, Politico noted:

K Street certainly has big ties to Blunt, the former House majority whip. Former aides include: Gregg Hartley of Cassidy & Associates; Joe Wall of Goldman Sachs; Sam Geduldig of Clark, Lytle Geduldig & Cranston; Brian Gaston of Glover Park Group; Amos Snead of Story Partners; Jay Perron of IFA; and Samantha Cook of SMC Consulting.

Here is how plugged into the system are Mr. Blunt and his clan:

Either The People Or The Money Rule

“Our system is flawed and has to be fixed. Human beings populate our system. Human beings are weak.”

— Jack Abramoff on CBS’s 60 Minutes

 

If you didn’t watch the first segment on 60 Minutes last night—”Jack Abramoff: The lobbyist’s playbook“—then, as one American to another, I beg you to watch it. It is available online here (transcript here).

And if you did watch it and you’re not pissed off and ready to do something about our corruptive and corrupting political system, then you are, shamefully, jaded beyond redemption or, sadly, uneducable.

It’s that simple, my dear readers. The truth is that for some of our problems, the solutions don’t exist or elude us or are too complicated to explain. This isn’t one of those problems. There is something radically simple we can do about our money-is-boss politics—which is a problem for both political parties—but more on that later.

First, during the 2010 elections I tried to make an issue (here for example) of convicted felon Jack Abramoff’s relationship with my congressman at the time, Roy Blunt, who was running for our state’s open U.S. Senate seat. Blunt was a part of GOP House leadership when Jack Abramoff’s corruption was at its zenith, and his hands weren’t clean.

But Missouri voters—many of whom were allegedly “fed up” with Washington insiders—chose to ignore the facts about the ultimate insider Roy Blunt and his connection to the quite corrupt (self-admittedly so, thanks to his interview on 60 Minutes) Jack Abramoff, and, thus, we call Mr. Blunt “Senator Blunt” today.

On Sunday night, Abramoff said:

I think people are under the impression that the corruption only involves somebody handing over a check and getting a favor. And that’s not the case. The corruption—the bribery, call it, because ultimately that’s what it is—that’s what the whole system is.

Abramoff, who eventually served three and a half years in federal prison, knows what he’s talking about. The 60 Minute segment began with this description:

Jack Abramoff may be the most notorious and crooked lobbyist of our time. He was at the center of a massive scandal of brazen corruption and influence peddling.

As a Republican lobbyist starting in the mid 1990s, he became a master at showering gifts on lawmakers in return for their votes on legislation and tax breaks favorable to his clients. He was so good at it, he took home $20 million a year.

Abramoff’s first words in the segment were these:

I was so far into it that I couldn’t figure out where right and wrong was. I believed that I was among the top moral people in the business. I was totally blinded by what was going on.

While I don’t believe for a second that Abramoff was “blinded by what was going on,” I do believe that the fault for what he was able to do belongs, ultimately, with the American people. 

We tolerate the Jack Abramoffs because of a kind of morbid hopelessness about politics (“they ‘all’ do it and there’s nothing we can do to stop it”) or because most Americans refuse to be bothered with politics until election time rolls around (“Who’s on Monday Night Football tonight?”).  In between those elections is when the dirty work is done by people like Jack Abramoff and the politicians he courts.

Leslie Stahl, the reporter for the segment, introduced the stunning notion of the cost of “buying a congressman” this way:

STAHL: Jack Abramoff was a whiz at influencing legislation and one way he did that was to get his clients, like some Indian tribes, to make substantial campaign contributions to select members of Congress.

ABRAMOFF:  As I look back it was effective. It certainly helped the people I was trying to help, both the clients and the Republicans at that time.

STAHL: But even that, you’re now saying, was corrupt?

ABRAMOFF: Yes.

STAHL: Can you quantify how much it costs to corrupt a congressman?

ABRAMOFF: I was actually thinking of writing a book — “The Idiot’s Guide to Buying a Congressman”— as a way to put this all down. First, I think most congressmen don’t feel they’re being bought. Most congressmen, I think, can in their own mind justify the system.

STAHL: Rationalize.

ABRAMOFF: –rationalize it and, by the way, we wanted as lobbyists for them to feel that way.

Abramoff said “most congressman don’t feel they’re being bought” and “in their own mind justify the system.”  I have no doubt that is true, which makes the system so insidious and so damaging to the country. (And, by the way, as former six-term Republican congressman Bob Ney, who pleaded guilty to bribery as part of the Abramoff scandal, made clear in the 60 Minutes piece, Bush administration staffers were also part of Abramoff’s web of influence.)

You see, there are no Jack Abramoffs operating on behalf of those who need Congress the most, who need Congress to act on behalf of the unemployed—jobs bill after jobs bill is killed by Republicans in the Senate—or on behalf of a struggling middle class—whose wages and benefits decline while the top income earners enjoy unfettered prosperity—or on behalf of the infirmed and elderly—whose “entitlements” are under siege by would-be budget-cutters who refuse to raise even slightly the taxes on America’s wealthy elite.

Follow this exchange:

ABRAMOFF: At the end of the day most of the people that I encountered who worked on Capitol Hill wanted to come work on K Street, wanted to be lobbyists.

STAHL: You’re telling me this, the genius of figuring out you could own the office by offering a job to the chief of staff, say. I’m having two reactions. One is brilliant. And the other is I’m sick to my stomach.

ABRAMOFF: Right. Evil. Yeah. Terrible.

STAHL: ‘Cause it’s hurting our country.

ABRAMOFF: Shameful. Absolutely. It’s the worst thing that could happen. All parts of the system.

STAHL: I’m mad at you.

ABRAMOFF: I was mad at me–

STAHL: I’m not kidding. I’m not kidding.

ABRAMOFF: Look I did things and I was involved in the system I should not have been in. I’m ashamed of the fact I was there, the very reason why now I’m speaking about it. And now I’m trying to do something, in recompense, is the fact that I thought it was– it was wrong of me to do it.

We must face the fact that there is no Jack Abramoff ready to spend “over a million dollars a year on tickets to sporting events and concerts” so that a particular congressman will vote on the infrastructure-jobs bill.

There is no Jack Abramoff ready to triple the salary of a congressional staffer who will help convince his boss that he or she should not vote to balance the budget solely on the backs of working Americans.

No. The Jack Abramoffs in our system exist only to make the rich even more rich. And as long as the American people—most of whom are not among the rich—tolerate this system, then it will continue and there will be more Jack Abramoffs in our future.

But we can do something about it. Jack Abramoff himself suggested that members of Congress should be prohibited from ever—ever—becoming lobbyists:

ABRAMOFF: If you make the choice to serve the public, public service, then serve the public, not yourself. When you’re done, go home. Washington’s a dangerous place. Don’t hang around.

That would be an important start—but who expects members of this corrupt system to vote away the benefits of corruption?

For us average folks out in the hinterlands, there is no reason to sit on the sidelines any longer. There is a movement afoot to amend our Constitution to stop the whoring, stop the sleaze, stop the fraud. I wrote about it over a month ago and it is called Get Money Out. At the time I wrote, I think the petition had about 80,000 signatures. Today there are almost 240,000.

There are now two draft amendments proposed. The latest one is one I can enthusiastically support:

“No non-citizen shall contribute money, directly or indirectly, to any candidate for Federal office. United States citizens shall be free to contribute no more than the equivalent of $100 to any federal candidate during any election cycle. Notwithstanding the limits construed to be part of the First Amendment, Congress shall have the power to limit, but not ban, independent political expenditures, so long as such limits are content and viewpoint neutral. Congress shall set forth a federal holiday for the purposes of voting for candidates for Federal office.”

Jack Abramoff’s corruption represents just the tip of a very large iceberg. He got caught—thanks to the Washington Post—but there is no guarantee that cash-strapped, reporter-cutting news organizations can ferret out all the bad guys for eventual prosecution.

We must do something ourselves if we want to keep our democracy—Greek: demos = “common people” and kratos = “rule“—alive.  If the common people truly rule, then they should rule the big money out of our political system.

Roy Blunt, Socialist Sympathizer

The theme of the day seems to be socialism.

In what may be his most egregious vote to date, Missouri Senator Roy Blunt said “Hell no!” to those who dared to end socialistic subsidies to farmers with incomes over a million smackers.

The measure, sponsored by normally nutty neighbor Sen. Tom Coburn, would, as the AP put it,

discontinue certain farm subsidies for people who make more than a million dollars in adjusted gross income. The practical impact of the vote may be marginal — current limits are about $1.2 million at most — but it represents a sea change in how the heavily rural Senate views farm support. In recent years, many votes to limit subsidies have failed in the Senate.

Normally, I would have no problem with Blunt supporting socialist programs, but he has told us how worried he is about the federal deficit, and he has voted to be stingy in terms of helping middle class folks find work or keep the jobs they have or keep their heads above water with unemployment benefits (he voted against Obama’s jobs bill).  He’s also voted against raising taxes on wealthy folks to pay for all this socialism.

So, why would he vote to support subsidies to millionaire farmers who are, in Tom Coburn’s words, “doing just fine“?

Let me gue$$.

By the way, the bill passed 84 to 15.

As A Matter Of Fact, Majority Doesn’t Rule

On Tuesday, Mr. Obama told ABC’s Jake Tapper the following regarding the President’s efforts to get his jobs bill passed:

…even though we’ve gotten a majority of senators in the Senate willing to move forward on this, because of the filibuster, because of the rules that are set up in the Senate, those things are blocked.

Last week, Missouri Senator Roy Blunt—who supported the filibuster that cost Missourians thousands of jobs—appeared on Your World with Neil Cavuto, guest hosted that day by the fact-challenged Foxer, Eric Bolling. 

Blunt, in Fox fashion, gave a completely dishonest interview (for instance: Obama’s “plans have made this economy worse“), and Bolling, in Fox fashion, did a completely dishonest job of asking the questions.

But something Blunt said may come back to haunt him and all Republicans in 2013. About President Obama’s jobs bill he spurted:

So I think all the effort today is just to see how many Democrats they can hold on to in the Senate, not talking about how they get any Republicans or anywhere close to the 60 votes it would take for this bill to move forward. This is all a political charade. And I think everybody in Washington knows that.

Blunt’s matter-of-fact declaration that a bleeping jobs bill needs 60 votes to move forward is, well, off-putting, to say the least. 

Republicans have used parliamentary gambits, including “secret holds” and record-setting filibusters—which can only be trumped by herding 60 senators—to block nearly every action, big or small, in the United States Senate.*

And the notion that Democrats, as a matter of normal business, should design every piece of legislation to satisfy that 60-vote threshold—essentially giving Republicans veto power—is breathtakingly undemocratic.

Should Republicans take over the Senate next year, they will, of course, resent turning every issue into one that requires a super-majority of senators.  Their chances of obtaining a 60-vote Republican majority next election is, well, only a fantasy that toesucking Dick Morris can afford to entertain. Even if Republicans have a good year next year—and that is far from certain—if they win enough seats to win nominal control of that body, they will not have enough to govern—that is, if Democrats choose to do what Republicans have done.

The question is should Democrats choose to do so?

Damn right they should. If only one side plays the filibuster game to the extent Republicans have, then that one side dooms itself to political irrelevance.

In 2012 the American people should hold Republicans accountable for their undemocratic obstruction—especially the shameful filibuster on the jobs bill.  Anything less will only validate the GOP strategy of sabotage and will guarantee gridlock as far as the eye can see.

____________________________

* Just considering nominations to vacant federal judgeships, the Alliance for Justice reports:

In terms of numbers, President Obama steadily lost ground to entrenched Republican obstruction in the U.S. Senate, ending his first two years with almost double the number of vacancies that he inherited. Of the 105 nominations submitted by President Obama during the first two years of his term, only 62 — 2 Supreme Court justices, plus 16 courts of appeals and 44 district court judges — were confirmed. That is the smallest percentage of judicial confirmations over the first two years of any presidency in American history.

Liberal Media? What Liberal Media?

“Republicans think that if the economy improves, it might help President Obama. So they root for the economy to fail and oppose every effort to improve it.”

— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, just before Republicans voted en masse Tuesday to give the finger to the unemployed in America

 

Let me preface this piece with this: There are 14 million Americans out of work today. Keep that in mind as we go on.

Reporting on the Senate vote on President Obama’s jobs bill on Tuesday, it took The New York Times three paragraphs to even mention that the failure of the bill to pass was—only partly—because of “a solid phalanx of Republicans in opposition.” 

The real news, you see, was that two wayward Democrats, Ben Nelson and Jon Tester, did not vote with the other 51 Democrats to support the measure.

And that’s the way the Beltway Press operates, unfortunately.

Here’s the photo and caption headlining the report in the Times:

The caption reads: “Democrats have designed this bill to fail,” the Republican leader Mitch McConnell said.

So much for the “liberal” New York Times.

As for “liberal” MSNBC, here’s a screen shot from that network’s best political morning program, The Daily Rundown:

Notice the vote: 49 votes against—including all 47 Republicans.

Notice the headline: “BILL NOT SUPPORTED BY ALL DEMOCRATS

Such is the state of so-called liberal Washington journalism these days.

Roy Blunt, one of our Missouri senators, appeared on MSNBC this morning and essentially said to 14 million jobless Americans, in his best Italian: Fuhgettaboutit until after the next election.

Nothing much will get done, mused Roy, given the fact that those callous Democrats just want to play politics.  Here’s what Blunt said about President Obama:

It is clear what he’s trying to do. I have Harry Truman’s old office in the Russell Building and his desk on the floor of the Senate.  And what the President wants to do is say this is a “do nothing Congress.” What he’s forgotten is that his party controls half the Congress and he’s not giving us anything that even Democrats really want to do.

Now, if you put your ear to the ground, you just might hear the sound of Harry Truman pounding furiously on the lid of his coffin, trying to make his way to the throat of the man who gave Roy Blunt his old office and desk.

But beyond that, let’s look at what Blunt said more closely.  He alleges that Democrats control “half the Congress.”  Wrong. Given that Republicans have chosen to use the filibuster as an instrument of constant obstruction, the Democrats do not in fact control the United States Senate.  Neither party does. It is, as Blunt suggested, a paralyzed body. 

You should notice that the vote on the jobs bill was not actually a vote on the jobs bill. It was a procedural vote to see if the jobs bill could actually be “considered” by the Senate. 

And you should also notice that if the Senate were truly democratic—if majority ruled—then we would be talking today about how the Senate actually passed the jobs bill. After all, it did get 51 votes (Reid changed his vote for strategic reasons), which used to be a majority in the Senate.

Now, let’s examine Roy Blunt’s last assertion, that Mr. Obama is “not giving us anything that even Democrats really want to do.”  Notice how that fits nicely with the way the Beltway Press reported the vote in the Senate yesterday.  All along, Mitch McConnell and the Republicans have been framing Obama’s job bill as something that Democrats don’t even support.  And if you follow the news closely, you understand that is the way the thing has been reported: Obama’s real problem, don’t you know, is with Democrats.

The truth is, of course, that 51 Senate Democrats—96 percent—voted for the jobs bill, and 100 percent of Republicans, including Roy Blunt, voted against it.  Yet, the “news” is that the jobs bill represents a failure on the part of Democrats.

Get that? It’s the Democrats’ fault the thing failed.

You figure it out, because I can’t.

In the mean time, there are those 14 million unemployed Americans who can’t figure it out either.

“Chaos”

Last week, I gave kudos to Sen. Roy Blunt for supporting disaster relief without strings attached.  In case you forgot, Blunt actually was one of 10 Republicans who voted with Democrats to approve a $7 billion funding bill for FEMA, which has been critical for our recovery here in Joplin and elsewhere.

My Blunt kudos may have been a case of premature ejaculation (don’t panic: “a short sudden emotional utterance“).

Discussing the possibility of the Senate voting on an amended version of the House temporary budget resolution—which failed to pass, but more on that later—Fox “News” reported:

The House is scheduled to pass it’s [sic] bill Wednesday and head out of town Thursday. Reid has said he intends to try to amend that bill to plus up disaster aid to $6.9 billion. Whether or not he will have the votes, again, remains to be seen. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., who’s state was ravaged by a tornado in May, would not commit Tuesday to supporting Reid’s move, as he did previously.

So, my premature kudos for Blunt I officially, uh, withdraw.

Now to the House: With the end of the fiscal year fast approaching, House teapartiers, in an unholy alliance with Democrats, put a political chiv in the back of Speaker Boehner by not voting for the Continuing Resolution to fund the government through November 18. 

Boehner, who has never really been in operational control of the House, was understandably upset over the kids in the House Tea Party letting him down, even after he threatened them. But he promised there would not be another fiasco over the budget, like the last one, and the one before that, and the one before that.

In any case, here’s how Roll Call reported Boehner’s shallacking:

The House threw the appropriations process into chaos today, voting down a stopgap funding resolution that conservative Republicans and virtually all Democrats opposed.

Chaos.”  And what is at the heart of that chaos?  Disaster funding.  FEMA.  Offsets.  

Republicans have played games with disaster funding and Democrats refuse to join them. Democrats in the House oppose the inadequate funding of FEMA in the CR and refuse to support the budget offsets that involve cutting off funds for a valuable loan program for advanced technology vehicles that has been a real job creator.

For his part, Boehner only needed 18 more Republicans to pass his CR, but 48 Republicans, mostly extremists, voted against the resolution because it followed the discretionary spending levels of the infamous debt-ceiling deal instead of a slightly lower amount previously passed in a separate House budget resolution.

By requiring FEMA funding to be subject to a debate about offsets, as Tea Party Republicans and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor have done, we are in chaos.  This is exactly why from the beginning of the disaster recovery in Joplin I tried to ask my congressman, Ozark Billy Long, what his position on offsets and disaster funding was. 

And of those few who have tried, nobody has been able to get him to answer definitively. He voted for Boehner’s CR, with its stingy funding for FEMA and its offsets for disaster relief, and unfortunately that doesn’t tell us whether he will vote for a resolution that does not contain offsets.

I guess we’re just supposed to wait and find out, because I still have not had a response from Long’s office to my question.

And, too, I suppose we’re going to have to wait and see how Roy Blunt will vote on disaster relief.

In the mean time, no more premature short and sudden emotional utterances from me.

Blunt And McCaskill Team Up

Kudos to Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill, who voted on Thursday for federal disaster relief for Missouri and elsewhere without strings attached.  

They rejected the view, first put forward by House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor just after the EF-5+ tornado hit Joplin, that such relief can only be provided if other cuts are made to the budget. That idea has no precedent in FEMA history.  Money for such disasters has never been the center of a political fight.

On Monday, a Senate Republican filibuster—I repeat: a Republican filibuster—temporarily defeated the disaster aid bill, but Majority Leader and Democrat Harry Reid brought it up again on Tuesday—I repeat: a Democrat brought it back up—and the filibuster was broken, thanks to a handful of Republicans, including Blunt.

The final vote on Thursday for the $7 billion aid bill was 62-37.  And noteworthy is the fact that not one single Republican senatorial neighbor of Missouri voted for disaster relief.  Not one. 

Also noteworthy is the stunning fact that neither Republican senator from Mississippi voted for the bill—despite the fact that Mississippi received around $10 billion in FEMA money after Hurricane Katrina, all of it provided without a fight over the budget. 

Now, we find that on Wednesday, House Republicans introduced a continuing resolution that would temporarily fund the entire government through the middle of November—the fiscal year ends on September 30—and in that resolution they not only propose insufficient disaster relief funds ($3.65 billion), they also propose paying for part of it by cutting a successful loan program that has helped the U.S. auto industry hold on to jobs here at home.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, whose state is trying to come back from its own economic disaster, said:

It’s outrageous that House Republicans are pushing a plan that would drive advanced technology jobs overseas, and that they are trying to ram it through by attaching it to disaster relief. These loans have helped businesses in Michigan and around the country build the products of the future here at home.

Michigan congressman Gary Peters said:

…House Republicans have shown that they don’t care about manufacturing jobs in places like the Greater Detroit Area.

Whether one agrees with Stabenow or Peters or others who object to cutting the loan program for the auto industry, the point is that we shouldn’t be fighting over the budget when it comes to federal aid for recovery from events like the Joplin tornado, horrific flooding around the country, earthquakes, or hurricanes.

If there is one thing we should be able to agree on, it is helping each other through emergencies.  And picking a fight over how to fund FEMA just further divides us.

Ozark Billy Long: The Invisible Man

Sometimes you get what you ask for.

Here in Joplin, here in Southwest Missouri, we have voted time and again for right-wing politicians who tell us that government is the problem not the solution, who tell us that government is sucking the life out of the country, making everyone wards of a socialist state, taking our liberty, and killing our spirit.

In short, folks around here have said they are “fed up” with Big Daddy government, which is why Colonel Ozark Billy Long, who was “fed up” before Rick Perry stole his thunder, can belly-up to D.C. bars and rake in the cash on behalf of his constituents here at home.

As everyone around here knows by now, FEMA is running out of dough:

WASHINGTON — After a devastating hurricane swept across several East Coast states this weekend, the federal government has announced it will divert some of the long-term funding promised to rebuild roads, schools and other buildings destroyed by tornadoes in Joplin and other states.

Oh, don’t worry anti-government Joplinites.  FEMA says this only affects long-term funding and the short-term cash will still keep flowing into the area and into the bank accounts of many fed-up anti-government voters.

The Joplin Globe editorialized on the matter this morning:

Both Missouri Sens. Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt responded to the announcement with statements of reassurance that the needs of Joplin and other areas of the state would be met.  We’re still not sure where freshman Rep. Billy Long, a Republican from Springfield, stands because his office didn’t return our calls.  That’s troubling because Joplin needs to know the philosophy of all its legislators on funding for disasters.

Way back on May 24—two days after the tornado—I asked Ozark Billy the same question.  That was just after Eric Cantor, House Majority Leader, had started all the nonsense about budget offsets for disaster relief and the implication that budget battles over such relief would be part of the mix.

Long refused to answer me even though I looked him right in the eyes and asked him about Cantor’s remarks and about funding for Joplin.  His handler told me, rudely, that they would “look into it.”  Well, I called Long’s office the next day and ask the question again and was told that I would be receiving a response from Long’s press guy via email. 

I’m still waiting for that response, even after repeated attempts at the time to reach him.

It turns out that Long has responded to the recent FEMA announcement, courtesy of a statement released on his normally dormant website:

Rep. Billy Long, a Springfield Republican whose district includes Joplin, said he, too, would work to make sure Joplin gets what was promised.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to those on the East Coast that were affected by this hurricane. Those of us in southwest Missouri know just how devastating a natural disaster can be,” Long said. “My staff and I have been in constant contact with FEMA to ensure that FEMA keeps its promise that they would see the rebuilding of Joplin through.”

That response doesn’t exactly address the problem, does it?  The problem, as the Globe stated it quite accurately this morning is this:

Remember, FEMA isn’t driving the train on long-term funding, but Congress is.  Typically, Congress appropriates more money for FEMA when one disaster piles onto another.

But times are different in Washington, D.C., and we can no longer count on business as usual…

In the end, it will be up to Congress to make sure disaster promises are kept.

Yes, it is up to Congress, and Billy Long, contrary to the Globe‘s suggestion that we don’t know his philosophy on things like federal funding for disasters, obviously is trying to have it both ways. 

Long doesn’t want to cross Eric Cantor and the Tea Party in Congress on budget issues—remember Long’s philosophy: He is “fed up” with all the government spending—but he wants to come across as one who is fighting for his constituents here in Joplin.

Well, honestly, local media have allowed Long to have it both ways.  Colonel Billy, during his month-long hiatus from his demanding work in Congress—passing worthless bills that never become law is hard work, you know—as far as I know hasn’t had any town hall meetings anywhere in the district, except maybe Metropolitan Grill in Springfield, nor has he given any extensive interviews to reporters.

He has been invisible for the most part, and that’s no easy task for our capacious congressman.

Perhaps, just perhaps, if the disaster funding issue comes to a head this fall, we may have local reporters demanding some access to and some answers from Mr. Long, instead of merely accepting—as the Springfield News-Leader did in its story on this issue this morning—a short statement from Long’s website.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 626 other followers

%d bloggers like this: