Humid Heat Stroke Index And Other Climate Change “Hoaxes”

“It is a hoax.  All of it. I don’t know how else to say it.  All of that is just wrong, and these people know it’s wrong.”

—Rush Limbaugh on global warming

A after Earth just had its warmest May on record, after the northern Midwest just received two months worth of rain in about a week, yet another Republican vying for office has decided that questioning climate change is good politics. Unfortunately, that news is pretty ho-hum these days. It’s sort of like saying that somebody said something stupid on Fox and Friends this morning. Not much news there.

But what isn’t ho-hum is the latest report on what is happening to our climate and what will happen if we allow Republican know-nothings to run the government.

The report is called “Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States.” You can go check it out for yourself. It will wow you, if you can be wowed about bad news from scientists. Here I will publish only a portion of the report having to do with heat and humidity in the Midwest, a nagging problem for those of us who live here in Missouri about this time of year. The heat-humidity combo plate can sometimes keep you indoors for days—and nights for that matter.

First, the report makes clear that because of climate change, we Midwesterners will have “fewer winter days with temperatures below freezing.” I suppose that’s the good news. But we will “experience an additional 7 to 26 days above 95°F each year by mid-century, and 20 to 75 additional extreme-heat days—potentially more than 2 additional months per year of extreme heat—by the end of the century.” And, no, that’s not the bad news. This is:

But the real story in this region is the combined impact of heat and humidity, which we measure using the Humid Heat Stroke Index, or HHSI. The human body’s capacity to cool down in the hottest weather depends on our ability to sweat, and to have that sweat evaporate on our skin. Sweat keeps the skin temperature below 95°F, which is required for our core temperature to stay around 98.6°F. But if the outside temperature is a combination of very hot and very humid—if it reaches a HHSI of about 95°F—our sweat cannot evaporate, and our core body temperature can rise until we actually collapse from heat stroke. Even at an HHSI of 92°F, core body temperatures can get close to 104°F, which is the body’s absolute limit.

To date, the U.S. has never experienced heat-plus-humidity at this scale. The closest this country has come was in 1995 in Appleton, Wisconsin, when the HHSI hit 92°F. (At the time, the outside temperature was 101°F and the dew point was 90°F.) The only place in the world that has ever reached the unbearable HHSI of 95°F was Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in 2003 (outside temperature of 108°F, dew point of 95°F). Our research shows that if we continue on our current path, the average Midwesterner could see an HHSI at the dangerous level of 95°F two days every year by late century, and that by the middle of the next century, she or he can expect to experience 20 full days in a typical year of HHSI over 95°F, during which it will be functionally impossible to be outdoors.

That scares me, even though I likely won’t be around when things get that bad. I don’t think I’m going to live to be 200, unless that cryogenic storage kit I found on a right-wing huckster’s website pays off (I got a really good deal on it, and it came with a pair of X-ray sunglasses!). But even if I’m not around, there will be somebody here, somebody who will experience such extreme heat and humidity, among other troubling things like rising sea levels. And all of us living today, who may have a chance to do something good for those we will never meet, should be interested in investing in a future we will never know because so many before us invested in futures they never knew. Funny how that works.

The Risky Business Project that produced this report is rather unique in that it looked at and then expressed the problem in terms of “a common language of risk that is already part of every serious business and investment decision we make today.”

From the report:

Our research also shows that if we act today to move onto a different path, we can still avoid many of the worst impacts of climate change, particularly those related to extreme heat. We are fully capable of managing climate risk, just as we manage risk in many other areas of our economy and national security—but only if we start to change our business and public policy decisions today.

Given what we know about Republican politics today, it may seem like a fantasy to think that we could change our policy decisions in any meaningful way. But I want to publish a graphic from the Risky Business report that should be used at every congressional hearing, every think-tank seminar, on the subject of climate change. If you have ever experienced the misery of high heat and high humidity, this map should make you demand from your legislator some action:

humid heat stroke index

Limbaugh, Noah, And Neil deGrasse Tyson

I suppose in a time when Rush Limbaugh may win a children’s book award—yep!—and in a time when a major Hollywood film is coming out about Noah’s ark—yes, I said Noah’s ark, for God’s sake!—we shouldn’t be surprised that the updated (and awesome) version of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, is causing a stir among conservative science-haters who believe the universe was created about six months ago (or was it six thousand years ago? I forget). Now they are demanding equal airtime for their creationist nonsense.

But Tyson, who is handling the job of Carl Sagan quite well, isn’t falling for the logic behind that ridiculous demand. Further, he is making an it’s-about-time demand of his own, directed at journalists:

I think the media has to sort of come out of this ethos that, I think, was in principle a good one, but it doesn’t really apply in science. The ethos was, “Whatever story you give, you have to give the opposing view, and then you can be viewed as balanced.”…You don’t talk about the spherical earth with NASA and then say, “Now, let’s give equal time to the flat-earthers.”

Plus, science is not there for you to cherry pick. You know, I said this once and it’s gotten a lot of Internet play, I said, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” Alright?

I guess you can decide whether to not believe in it, but that doesn’t change the reality of an emergent scientific truth.

Thwack! Go ahead, book world, and hand out a children’s book award to a reactionary creep like Rush Limbaugh. And go ahead, Hollywood, make a Pope-blessed movie essentially about God drowning men, women, and children in a fit of pique and Noah and his imaginary ark full of animals cruising the world until God cools off.

But you will not get your hands on science, if Neil deGrasse Tyson has anything to say about it.

neil degrasse tyson quote

Why Liberals Should Thank Bill O’Reilly

You gotta love it. First President Obama tells the truth about Fox “News” and then Hillary Clinton follows it up. Now, when CNN, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC News, ABC News, and CBS News start telling the truth about Fox, then we will be getting somewhere.

In any case, Bill O’Reilly’s interruption-plagued ObamaCare-Benghazi-IRS interview (come on, what did you expect? Billo has to eat, ya know) with Obama ended with this:

I think — I — you know, I know you think maybe we haven’t been fair, but I think your heart is in the right place.

That moment of lucidity, I knew at the time, would get Billo in trouble. One commenter on the Fox “News” site said what a lot of right-wingers were thinking:

oreilly interview

“I’m DONE with you Bill!” When they start shouting, look out!

What you should know is that, as incredible as it sounds to liberal ears, Fox “News” is now seen by many right-wingers as part of the problem. Yes, Fox isn’t conservative enough! Over at Glenn Beck’s “The Blaze,” we find this comment attached to an article on O’Reilly’s interview with President Obama:

oreilly interview

O’Reilly and Huckabee traitors? Yikes. But look at his one:

oreilly interview

Nice folks, no? But what I really want you to see is this comment:

oreilly interview

When Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Karl Rove aren’t conservative enough for you, then the political dementia on the far right is worse than we thought. And speaking of dementia, try this:

blaze

It seems that Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, and Sean Hannity, who apparently have been feuding (who knew?), are now teaming up for a kind of mischief they apparently can’t accomplish as free agents. The article reports:

Beck said he, Levin and Hannity all have a different skill set, all of which are important to bring the country together and focus on real solutions.

Yes. These guys think their brand of right-wingery will “bring the country together.”

Hey, don’t laugh. Beck is serious:

“Something big is happening. Something good is really happening,” Beck concluded. “Well, I mean, unless you’re a progressive then I don’t think you’re going to like this. It’s not good news for you.”

Oh, yes it is, Glenn! It is always good news for progressives when the reactionaries are fighting so fiercely among themselves, and if Beck and Levin and Hannity want to join forces to give their extremist followers more power to attack the Republican establishment, I say, bravo!

And they aren’t the only ones bashing the establishment. Just this afternoon, I received an email from a Tea Party group that was asking for dough. After bashing unions (“who are working diligently to pervert our system of government”), the appeal continued in bold letters:

For too long we have allowed the political establishment of both parties to drive our country into the ground. Today is the day that we stop the political elite and return America to greatness. 

Yes, Democrats and Republicans are just one big elite group working together to destroy the country! Of course!

Today on his show, Rush Limbaugh, the king of the talk radio dung heap, himself spent a lot of time attacking the Republican establishment. He has a theory about what they are up to, and it goes something like this:

By pushing immigration reform (“amnesty”), Republicans are blowing their chances of winning the upcoming election “in a landslide.” Oh, sure Republicans want to win in 2014, but they want to do it without the Tea Party. Why? Because if the Tea Party delivers another landslide election to the Republicans like it did in 2010, then the Republican establishment is in deeper trouble when it comes time to nominate their presidential candidate in 2016. Teapartiers would demand that the GOP candidate come from their ranks. That is why the establishment is trying to get rid of Tea Party influence in the House and get immigration reform passed, Limbaugh said. They want to marginalize teapartiers, eke out a victory this year, and then get their establishment guy ordained as the party’s front man against Hillary.

I know, I know. It’s nuts. But it helps our side when these folks get this way. And I personally want to think Bill O’Reilly and Fox “News” for playing their part in the chaos.

_______________________________________

limbaugh and immigration

Limbaugh-Size Hypocrisy

What can you say about such breathtaking, Rush Limbaugh-size hypocrisy?

A Tea Party-supported congressman representing some of the most conservative folks in Florida, born Henry Jude Radel III but known as “Trey,” was, in the words of USA Today,

caught buying drugs as part of a federal investigation into a Washington, D.C., drug ring last month and is being charged with cocaine possession, according to a senior Drug Enforcement Administration official.

Now, presumably because Radel is a white guy holding a once-respected office in our national government, he was not arrested at the time he was caught buying drugs. He was “detained” later at his apartment by FBI agents, who, the USA Today report made clear, “never handcuffed Radel or took him to jail.” Of course not. Why would law enforcement want to treat him like a regular dope-buyer on the streets of D.C.?

In any case, Radel’s biggest sin, one this Catholic congressman may have to explain to the Lord someday, is not the cocaine purchase. No, that’s not his main crime. Just a few months ago this phony bastard voted to force food stamp recipients to piss in cups to prove they’re not lawbreakers like him. Where do you find words to describe such blatant dishonesty?

Not that making hungry people who receive government help prove they’re not drug abusers isn’t a colossally sinful Republican policy in itself, but for that policy to receive the support of some pharisaical Tea Party congressman, who has an affection for nose candy, is a sin that Satan himself would envy.

Last summer, when Republicans were debating their welfare drug-testing policy, Democratic congressman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts proposed testing phonies like Representative Henry Jude Radel III:

Why don’t we drug test all the members of Congress here? Force everybody to go urinate in a cup or see whether or not anybody is on drugs? Maybe that will explain why some of these amendments are coming up or why some of the votes are turning out the way they are.

Yes, that might explain it. But what explains the hypocrisy?

Radel, a former talk show host like Limbaugh, has admitted he has a problem. Good for him. That’s the first step towards recovery. He said,

I struggle with the disease of alcoholism, and this led to an extremely irresponsible choice.

I hope he sees his “irresponsible choice” as not just buying blow from a dealer working with the feds, but also cruelly voting to drug-test people on food stamps. That would be his second step towards recovery.

Sabotage, Limbaugh-Republican Style

Many times I have used the word “sabotage” to describe what Republicans have done to the country, both in terms of politics and in terms of policies that could, with even a little cooperation, improve the lives of so many Americans.

Now there is an article that details that “calculated sabotage by Republicans,” written by reporter Todd Purdum of Politico. Titled, “The Obamacare sabotage campaign,” the article tells us things we already knew:

From the moment the bill was introduced, Republican leaders in both houses of Congress announced their intention to kill it…

The opposition was strategic from the start: Derail President Barack Obama’s biggest ambition, and derail Obama himself. Party leaders enforced discipline, withholding any support for the new law — which passed with only Democratic votes, thus undermining its acceptance.

quote boxBut besides reminding us of the intentions of Republicans, the Politico article does an excellent job of presenting the comprehensiveness of the effort to destroy the President and his health reform law. Not only did congressional Republicans attempt to sabotage ObamaCaare both before its passage and after, but “Republican troops pressed this cause all the way to the Supreme Court,” and “Republican governors declined to create their own state insurance exchanges” and “refused to do anything at all to educate the public about the law.”

Republicans, by their resistance, increased the burden on the federal government, forcing it to create many more exchanges than it had expected and forcing it “to do all that extra work” without the “dedicated funds” necessary. On top of all that:

The drama culminated on the eve of the open enrollment date of Oct. 1. Congressional Republicans shut down the government, disrupting last-minute planning and limiting the administration’s political ability to prepare the public for the likelihood of potential problems, because it was in a last-ditch fight to defend the president’s biggest legislative accomplishment.

All of this was no accident. It was “the explicit aim of the law’s opponents.” And they’re not finished. Conservatives are still attacking the law in the courts, Darrell Issa and other lawmakers are still making mischief in the House, and right-wing groupthink tanks are hard at work, including the Cato Institute, which “has drawn up an action plan on how to keep fighting the law in the states.” Some Republican representatives, like Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, have refused to give his constituents assistance when it comes to signing up for ObamaCare.

Perhaps most appalling of all is the subversive advice coming from the radiohead of the Republican Party:

…just last week, Rush Limbaugh advised his listeners that they could avoid penalties for failing to buy mandated insurance by arranging to avoid federal income tax refunds, since the IRS can only levy fines by withholding refunds, not by liens or criminal sanctions.

Yes, that paragon of conservative virtue, the man who represents the law-and-order party, the man who regularly charges the President with lawbreaking, is actually not only encouraging folks to break the law, he’s telling them how to do it and get away it.

PhotoOf course, I suppose it’s only natural for such a man. A man who once said that “if people are violating the law by doing drugs…ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up,” and then years after saying that, after giving his aggressive approval of the mostly misguided war on drugs, we found out his housekeeper and her husband were supplying him with powerful narcotics and that he had been obtaining painkillers from several doctors, none of whom knew how extensive was his abuse.

So, I suppose Limbaugh knows a lot about lawbreaking, and since he did no jail time for his drug-related actions, I suppose he knows how to get away with it, too.

What Would Ronaldus Magnus Do?

The segment below from Saint Rachel Maddow pretty much says it all about the irresponsibility of not raising the debt ceiling and how none other than Ronald Reagan dealt with the half-nuts in his own party who thought about using the threat of default as a political instrument in the 1980s. Democrats should talk about this, leftish bloggers should post this, liberal columnists should write about this, until we are safely, if we can get safely, past this artificial, ideologically-inspired crisis.

And by the way, Democrats should dope-slap the next dumb-ass journalist who says John Boehner an Mitch McConnell have “tough jobs.” They don’t. People who shovel asphalt for a living without health insurance have tough jobs. There ain’t a damn thing tough about keeping the country from defaulting, from stopping the ideological terrorists from blowing up the economy.

All Boehner has to do is allow a clean debt-ceiling bill to come to a vote in the House—it will pass with Democratic votes and a handful of sane Republicans—and all McConnell has to do is tell his Tea Party colleagues to STFU and let the bill pass, all the while encouraging yet another handful of sane Republicans to vote with Democrats to overcome a filibuster.

After all, the worst that can happen to either of them—loss of their jobs—is nothing compared to what will happen to the country if the suicide bombers get close enough to the full faith and credit of the United States to blow it up.

And if the two Republican leaders aren’t patriotic enough to risk their government jobs for the well-being of the country, may they be forever cursed with listening to never-ending audio loops of IQ-killing Sarah Palin and Ivy League-deflating Ted Cruz defending Jesus-loving Rush Limbaugh’sgreat time in the Dominican Republic,” compliments of a secret supply of Satan-sanctioned, sausage-swelling, slut-seducing Viagra. Amen.

Watch:

Pundits, Pesticide, And The President

This morning, after the President’s press conference in Russia, I watched a few liberal pundits on MSNBC criticize Obama’s demeanor during his exchange with reporters, including his lack of enthusiasm, and so on. The idea was that the President doesn’t seem all that convinced about his own decision to attack Syria. Presumably for these folks, the President’s leadership style is much too thoughtful and not forceful or decisive enough for their tastes. He’s too professorial, don’t you know. He should be the cheerleader-in-chief.

Now, I’m used to hearing those criticisms from right-wingers, who seem to value more “manly” decision-making, which to them requires less thought and more knee-jerking. But I never thought I would live long enough to hear liberals implicitly long for Bush-like decisiveness, which decisiveness was pregnant with a false but, apparently for some, comforting certainty.

Such decisiveness and certainty resulted in things like, say, the attacking, defeating, and occupying of Iraq, which we were told with utter certainty was not only necessary (turns out it wasn’t), but would bring us much good will in the Middle East (turns out it didn’t). Even though the Iraq war, from its pretenses to its promises, was a colossal mistake, at least, dammit, Bush was certain and decisive and forceful!

When it comes to making decisions on the use of force, I’ll take the thoughtful, get-it-right-the-first-time style of Barack Obama, no matter how much it irritates people on the right—or left. Thus, fed up with listening to liberals whine about the President’s leadership style, I thought I would at least get a taste of the big league whiners. So, while on my way to Fox, I stopped by CNN and found a Tea Party town hall being conducted by the one and only Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, who represents Old South Alabama in the U.S. Senate. He was trying to explain, to hard-headed teapartiers like himself, the dynamics of what is going on in Syria and Congress. And, of course, it is all President Obama’s fault because he is a weak leader:

If President Bush had told Bashir Assad, “You don’t use those chemical weapons or you gonna be sorry, we’re coming after you, this will be a consequence you will not want to bear,” I don’t believe he would have used them (raucous applause)…People didn’t see strength in the President’s red line…

Sessions, echoing what I heard liberals on MSNBC say minutes before, called Obama an “uncertain trumpet.” Well, if it is certainty that people want, they should go to a once-saved-always-saved, Bible-believing Baptist church and confess their faith in Jesus and live happily ever after, however long the after is. Then they can say things like the following, which was said by a town hall teapartier immediately following Jeff Sessions’ put down of Obama and his praise for the leadership qualities of George W. Bush:

I stand here and I listen to you and, uh, and I sure hope that in those secret meetings that you have good intelligence…but…I’m not sure it was a chemical weapons attack. I think it was a pesticide attack. I think that the al Qaeda could get a hold of pesticides. It was not consistent with a chemical weapons attack. The emergency people came in there too quickly. They would not come into an area with poison gas residue all over the place. I read a very interesting analysis of this, and I think it was setup to get the United States to come in there and do al Qaeda ‘s dirty work.

But here’s my question: You have something that none of us here have. You have a megaphone. You have a platform. You have a microphone. But my question to you is I’ve seen this president…crossing one red line after another, you know, fraudulent birth certificate—everybody knows that his documents are a fraud, everything about this man is secret, nobody knows anything about Obama, nothing! Gays in the military, gun-smuggling to the Mexicans, getting Mexicans killed, getting Americans killed…He violates the Constitution in that he has a duty as the President of the United States to enforce the laws of the United States. He’s refused to enforce the immigration laws. He’s refused to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, which was signed by Bill Clinton for heaven sake’s [sic]. This man has violated so many, he’s crossed so many red lines, and now Syria.

And my question [sic] is, What do you think is the red line for Barack Obama? When is the United States Senate, when are our representatives going to say that he’s gone too far and stop this man? As a U.S. Senator, do you feel like you personally are incapable of doing anything to stop him? Or do you feel like you’re capable of doing something to stop him, and if so what is that? Thank you very much (loud applause).

To which Jeff Sessions replied:

It is sad that…such a large number of people have lost confidence in the President, his integrity or his willingness to lead…

Yes, it is sad. And what is sadder is that a United States Senator is part of the problem, part of the reason that ignorant and ill-informed and conspiracy-crazed Americans, like that poor Tea Party fool in Alabama, can feel comfortable in standing up and saying such stupid things and expect only the mildest of rebukes from a Senator who has so much to say about leadership:

But you know I can’t agree with all of those things. I don’t think they’re probably factually correct, all of them. I just don’t think that’s true, some of them. I do believe that from the day we saw his Supreme Court nominations, his own statement that, uh, he wanted judges to do “empathy,” and basically that’s saying you want judges not to follow the law but to do whatever feels good at the time…They do not respect the rule of law as the President of the United States should…[blah, blah, blah]

Jeff Sessions had been criticizing President Obama’s leadership style, he had been talking about how weak Obama is, how that leadership weakness allows bad things to happen. Yet the Senator couldn’t stand up to a freak at his town hall freak show and say to him, “Look, pal, what you said was crazy. It was nuts. You’re an embarrassment to the Republican Party. Stop reading those wacky right-wing conspiracy websites and stop spreading this crap at my town halls.” Now that would have been real leadership.

The “pesticide” conspiracy theory espoused by that Tea Party nut was undoubtedly related to the larger conspiracy going around—promoted by Rush Limbaugh and others using the writings of an Israeli-American political scientist named Yossef Bodansky—that President Obama may have helped plan the chemical attack on civilians in Syria on behalf of al-Qaeda rebels. Here is a typical headline from a true-believing, Christian website called Sword At-The-Ready:

Obama Regime Armed Al Qaeda-Rebels To Use Chemical Weapons In Syria

Now, it appears to me that the pathetic, brainsick individual at Sessions’ town hall was trying to imply what that headline states outright and what the accompanying article articulates:

Obama has been and is engaged in arming Jihadists in the Middle East, our avowed enemies. Evidence is mounting that not only did Obama arm the Jihadists in Syria with heavy weapons from Benghazi, the Obama regime helped plan the chemical weapons attack near Damascus.  A tactic the Bosnian Muslims utilized in their civil war to get the UN to bomb the Serbs.

In the process of helping radical Islam in raising up the black flag over secular dictatorships, Obama emasculates the United States and destroys it’s reputation among the world’s nations.

If you consider Obama’s agenda is to destroy the country and raise up his utopia over our ashes – much of what Obama has been doing and demands to do – makes sense.

It’s not incompetence, this is all deliberate.

Sword At-The-Ready says it is,

dedicated to the presentation and discussion of Conservative American Principles in light of the Scriptures, Our True History, Culture and Politics.

You get it: there is a culture war/civil war going on between people of fundamentalist-quality faith and everyone else, especially our diabolical leader, Barack Hussein Obama.

It’s too bad that among the nuts, even though he isn’t quite as nutty as the nutty people attracted to one of his town halls in Wetumpka, Alabama, is Jeff Sessions. This man sits in, uh, the world’s greatest deliberative body but he couldn’t bother to—or worse, didn’t want to—call out someone who doesn’t believe the President is a citizen and who suggested that he is involved in a pro-al Qaeda plot in Syria.

So much for leadership.

For the record, CNN cut away from the town hall shortly after Sessions began his reply to the gullible Tea Party conspiracist guy. And later in a story reporting on what happened at the Sessions town hall, the gullible Tea Party conspiracist guy wasn’t mentioned, nor was Jeff Sessions’ inadequate, leadership-less response. Thanks, CNN.

jeff sessions townhall

Newest Edward Snowden Bombshell: Secret Limbaugh Republican Debate Questions Revealed!

Republican leader Reince Priebus, when he is not threatening CNN and NBC to stop their proposed Hillary presentations, has made it clear that he is not comfortable with allowing Republican presidential contenders to engage in endless debates with each other, which exposes the ignorance, extremism, and utter unsuitability of any one of those candidates to become the leader of the free world.

Priebus has, though, declared himself open to the possibility that rabid right-wing radio jocks like Andrea Tantaros and Mark Levin and, God willing, Sean Hannity could host a debate between Republican candidates.

It’s even been suggested that Rush Limbaugh join in. Yippee!

As a former dittohead, as a former Limbaugh listener for nearly 20 years, I have an inside track on just what questions he is prepared to ask at such a debate. Don’t bother to ask me how I got a copy of the questions and commentary below (have you seen Edward Snowden lately?), just sit back and hope that Reince Preibus allows such a possibility to become reality:

LIMBAUGH: Senator Cruz, do you think that women who use contraceptives are, as I have suggested, “sluts”? If not, why not?

LIMBAUGH: Senator Paul, if you ever got a call from Barack Hussein Obama, would you say, as I once said to a black caller, “take that bone out of your nose and all me back”?

LIMBAUGH: Senator Rubio, a caller on my radio show once suggested that you were duped by liberals into supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants. Are you that stupid? And speaking of stupid, I had a caller tell me that Republicans should allow you to go on with your amnesty bill because it would appeal to stupid voters? Is that what this party has been reduced to? Appealing to the stupid? Are we the champions of stupid? Wait, don’t answer that. I have another question.

Senator Rubio, I have said that it is just “a matter of mathematics to me,” in terms of your proposal to give amnesty to illegals. These illegals will mostly vote for Democrats and the math works against us Republicans. Why would we want to legalize all those brown people when they are just going to turn around and vote for Democrats? Huh? Is there something wrong with your math skills? Was the Heritage Foundation’s Jason Richwine right about Hispanics like you? 

LIMBAUGH: Governor Christie, why did you swap spit with President Obama, especially just before the presidential election? I said at the time that you were the servant and he was the master. That’s not the way God intended things. You had it backwards. And you tried to make Republicans like me look like fools. Don’t you know that God sent that pre-election hurricane your way in order to alert the rest of the country that liberalism and Obama were bad for the country? And there you were holding hands and cuddling up to him. You’re a disgrace to God and to the Republican Party! What the hell are you doing on this stage?

In fact, what am I doing on this stage? I’m too damned famous to moderate these debates.

limbaugh and debates

White Guilt And The Black Guy In The White’s House

Last night Sean Hannity referred to the IRS mess as the “IRS enemies-list scandal.” The only thing you can say about that particular phrasing is that the man who said it is, well, nuts. He’s nuts with Obama-hate. He and other Republicans will not rest until they turn Barack Obama into a darker version, literally and figuratively, of a White House-fleeing Richard Nixon.

And speaking of nuts and Obama-hate, yesterday Rush Limbaugh, speaking of all the non-scandals going on, said,

The real danger to me, though, is not one or two rogue employees at the IRS or the NSA or the CIA. The real danger is having a rogue administration. And we do, I think. This is the primary challenge that we face.

Yes, that’s nutty. But not as nutty as something else Limbaugh presented to millions of right-wing worshipers:

obama regime

In his IQ-draining monologue, Limbaugh advanced his long-held and long-articulated theory of how it is that Barack Obama is able to remain relatively popular and get away with all these scandals and governmental malfeasance and socialist destruction:

White guilt.  Race…In addition to everything else in the Limbaugh Theorem, the fact that there is so much guilt, white guilt that’s behind the election of Obama, that that same white guilt is simply not gonna show up and hold him responsible.  Not you and I.  I mean, we voted against Obama, so we don’t have white guilt, but there’s a lot of white voters that voted for Obama simply because of racial reasons, hoping to get rid of racism or wanting people know they weren’t racists or whatever, but it’s all oriented towards how Shelby Steele has described it, and I think brilliantly, white guilt. 

…It’s why he’s not going to be held responsible for anything.  The whole reason for his existence — and he’s exploiting it, by the way, and knows it — is that enough people in this country feel so guilty over slavery and the civil rights violations that whatever is necessary to assuage that, they will do. 

I mentioned to you two weeks ago, maybe longer, that, in my view — and I’d like to be wrong about this — but I can’t foresee any circumstance where the first African-American president be removed from office.  Can you tell me who in the Congress is gonna make that move?  Give me a member of the House of Representatives that is gonna make that move and then be joined by enough other members to make it a reality?  Tell me who’s gonna do it?  Nobody’s gonna do it.  And why aren’t they gonna do it?  If it were ever justified, if it were ever something that were truly constitutionally justified, still not gonna happen because of race. 

There you have it. Barack Obama is able to destroy America because there are too many white people out there paralyzed with guilt over how their ancestors treated black folks. If we white folks could only get rid of our white guilt the way Rush Limbaugh has, we would see the world as he sees it.

Enlightening commentary from the most popular pundit in conservative media, a man whom Republicans dare not challenge.

What Do You See?

I recently had quite an exchange with, among others, a regular contributor to this blog, Herb Van Fleet. It began with my praising President Obama’s speech at Moorehouse College and proceeded to a discussion about the Trayvon Martin case. I suggest anyone interested in human perception, in how one person sees the world as compared to another, follow that very interesting (and ongoing) exchange. Make your own judgment as to who is being led by a false perception of events surrounding the Martin-Zimmerman case, and who is not.

All of this, however, got me thinking, as I came across some seemingly unrelated articles this weekend.

Look at this photo:

An image from a surveillance camera captured Trayvon Martin before his encounter with George Zimmerman.

Now, look at this photo:

rgiii photo

Finally, take a look at this, much more famous, picture:

All of us, for one reason or another, look at these pictures a little differently. We may think they tell us something important, possibly something essential, about the person pictured.

Let’s start with Obama. What does that photo tell us about him? Well, for some folks, it tells us a lot:

Barack Obama Was High on Cocaine During “The Missing Hours” of the Benghazi Attack Last September

This “story” was promoted, as Charles Pierce points out, by The Washington Examiner, which Pierce describes as “a minor satellite in the wing-nut universe.” But even so, the story is advanced not because it is true, but because it conforms to the way some small, but significant, percentage of the population sees our president. It’s what they see when they see that photo above, or some other similar photo, or, for some smaller number of people, any photo of him at all.

Now, let’s go back to the top photo. That’s Trayvon Martin, purchasing some items at a convenience store on February 26, 2012, just before he was to encounter George Zimmerman, who shot him dead a little later that night in Sanford, Florida.

Zimmerman, who lived in the gated community in which he first spotted Martin and who was apparently a neighborhood watch coordinator of some sort, didn’t know the 17-year-old kid. Thus, he didn’t know the kid was headed toward the home of his father’s fiancée, who also lived in the gated community.

In order to properly follow the upcoming trial involving George Zimmerman, it’s necessary to understand and not forget this essential fact: Zimmerman didn’t know a single thing about Trayvon Martin. Not a single thing. But what he did know is what he saw when he saw Trayvon Martin: “a suspicious guy” who “looks like he is up to no good or he is on drugs or something.” That’s what he first told police on the night he shot Martin.

Evolution endowed us with the ability to quickly identify things that could hurt us, like spiders and snakes. But not all spiders and snakes are out to get us. Much of that fear is irrational and a waste of mental energy. But having the ability to quickly perceive such danger obviously helped us survive and become the misjudging creatures we often are.

We are also conditioned to interpret the things we see.  Sometimes nurturing or experience teaches us to see things that may or may not be there in any particular future case. Some people look at that picture of Trayvon Martin at a convenience store and they see a kid about to do something bad. Others look at him and say it’s just another kid in a hoodie buying some Skittles and iced tea.

Perception matters, as a dead Trayvon Martina and a live George Zimmerman, who is on trial for second-degree murder, demonstrates. And it should matter to all of us that the way we perceive things on first glance, the initial judgments we make, have a high probability of error. Further, it should matter to us that part of our perception is influenced by our culture, by the way we were raised in this culture and by the way we have been treated within it. Thus, it helps us to become better thinkers, better people, if we remember these facts about ourselves and, just as important, about others.

Let’s now move to the second photo above. The one where the guy is posing before some empty boxes. Provided you haven’t seen this photo before, what do you see? What is it the image conjures up in your mind? What conclusions could you, would you, draw from this shot? Is he just a kid acting silly? Some kind of street thug? What?

It turns out, of course, that the kid in the photo (which he Tweeted) was a military brat who was born in Okinawa, Japan. He graduated from High School a semester early and graduated from college in three years, with a bachelors degree in political science and a 3.67 GPA. And he did all that, and more, while playing football for the Baylor University Bears in Waco, Texas. Oh, yeah, he won a Heisman Trophy and now is the talk of the town in Washington, D.C., as the much-loved quarterback of the Washington Redskins. The team signed him to a $21.1 million dollar four-year deal.

But I’ll bet, unless you knew who Robert Lee Griffin III was, you couldn’t have looked at the photo above and guessed one single thing on his thus-far impressive résumé of life. RG3, as he is now called, tweeted that photo in order to, as ESPN put it, show “thanks” to the fans who, because they adore him, bought many items on his and his soon-to-be-wife’s wedding registry.

Go back and look at that photo of RG3 again. And remember that, even though Rush Limbaugh thinks he can spot an angry liberal by just looking, none of us is well-equipped to make serious judgments upon first glance, or on the basis of a brief acquaintance with the facts.

Sure, there are times when a quick analysis is all you have to go on. It’s often better to let fear rule when it comes to spiders and snakes than make a lethal mistake, for instance. Modern life, though, is much different from the lives our ancient ancestors lived. We have the time to step back and take a more objective look, as we can in the case of President Obama and RG3. We have the time to examine our perceptions, to see why we are seeing what we see when we see it.

If George Zimmerman had done that on February 26, 2012, if he had taken a little more time to think about what he was actually seeing, if he had let the police do their jobs, he wouldn’t be awaiting trial in a Florida courtroom, worrying about going to prison.

And Trayvon Martin, whatever his faults were or weren’t as a 17-year-old kid, would still be alive.

In Defense Of Lois Lerner

You’d think she killed somebody.

Lois Lerner, who on Wednesday invoked her right against self-incrimination, is being attacked, by nearly everyone in the country who knows who she is, for her role in the IRS v. Tea Party “scandal,” which, of course, isn’t quite a scandal yet, but Republicans keep trying. Some of the most vicious attacks are coming from Constitution-loving right-wingers, who can’t believe Lerner would actually use something other than the Second Amendment to protect herself.I Have Not Done Anything Wrong: IRS Official Lois Lerner Invokes 5th Amendment Right

MSNBC’s conservative gabber, S.E. Cupp, who provides a damn good reason not to watch that network’s afternoon show “The Cycle,” took to tweetin’ yesterday to say,

So, Lois Lerner is either a coward or a criminal, right? Tell me where I’m wrong.

Apparently, S.E. Cupp studied the Constitution at the Rush Limbaugh School of Law, which ought to be enough right there to tell her where she’s wrong.

And speaking of Professor Limbaugh, he said about Ms. Lerner:

Okay, let me tell you what happened today at the IRS hearings. Lois Lerner, who ran the whole kit and caboodle and was… By the way, this was the first time I had a close-up look at her. This is an angry woman. You have to be very careful in making judgments about people based on physical appearance, although I’ve gotten really good at it. I can spot people out there and I can tell you who the libs are pretty much by just what I see. But, in this case, I already know that she is.

I already know that she’s a liberal, I know that she is in the same mode as Barack Obama, and now I know this is a woman who’s angry…This is a woman obsessed with the Christian right, Lois Lerner. This is a woman obsessed with religious people.

Okay. So, from two popular conservative commentators (there are a thousand more to choose from) we know that Lerner, by refusing to testify, is an angry, Jesus-hating woman who is either a criminal or a coward. All because she dared to avail herself of a constitutional right. Hmm.

The honcho of the Republican National Committee, the insufferable Reince Priebus, himself issued a Tweet regarding his discussion with Sean Hannity about this mess:

…it’s lawlessness and guerrilla warfare and Obama is in the middle of it.

Yikes! Obama is a gorilla, uh, guerrilla!

In any case, Priebus, appearing on Morning Joe today, commented on Lois Lerner’s right-invoking committee appearance:

You don’t need to plead the Fifth if you have done nothing wrong…

Obviously, Priebus also attended Rush Limbaugh’s law school. Even though he was aggressively challenged by Morning Joe regular John Heilemann, Priebus didn’t back down. In Priebus’ strange and disordered mind, pleading the Fifth is tantamount to an admission of guilt, don’t you know. Damn those Founders!

But right-wingers aren’t the only ones saying such stupid things. This morning on Morning Joe, which prejudicially carried a graphic characterizing Lerner’s brief statement as “defiant,” I heard Andy Serwer, managing editor of Fortune magazine, for God’s sake, say this:

What an unsympathetic position. We just saw her pleading the Fifth. This is something that mafia chieftains do in front of Congress, not public officials, not someone from the IRS. Obviously everyone just wants to know the real story, we want her to come clean. How bad could it be? I’m sorry, “You need to tell what’s going on here,”  and, you know, to just do otherwise is just ridiculous, and the IRS is just going to continue to be a piñata. And obviously is not’s just right-wing groups who are upset with this, but every American citizen should be upset with this.

Mafia chieftain? Wow. So much for presumed innocence. I remind you that the man who said that is a, gulp, journalist.

Well, I may be the only one in the world who has sympathy for this woman, but I can’t help it. I still happen to believe in the noble and once-American concept of innocent-until-proven-guilty. And I really do believe in the Constitution, which also includes the Fifth Amendment’s right to remain silent should someone try to compel any person “to be a witness against himself.”

Republican legislators, who, like all Tea Party-drunk conservatives, claim to love, cherish, and lustily sleep with the Constitution, were upset on Wednesday when Ms. Lerner invokedLois Lerner her Fifth Amendment right just after she made a plea of innocence and after Darrell Issa, headhunting chairman of the House’s Oversight and Government Reform Committee, talked her into authenticating a document.

I watched as Trey Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor who now represents right-wing folks in South Carolina’s 4th congressional district, forgot that he was not in a federal courtroom but at a congressional hearing and insisted that Lerner “ought to stand here and answer our questions.” Uh, she was actually sitting at the time, but then, hey, maybe being a former prosecutor and current zealot entitles one to demand that witnesses stand during the inquisition. Heck, why not go the whole way and roll out the rack? Bones cracking would make good TV.

But that’s beside the point. Gowdy said of Lerner,

You don’t get to tell your side of the story and not be subject to cross-examination.

Whoa, cowboy. Settle down there. (Some folks in the gallery were applauding at Gowdy’s prosecutorial grandstanding, and Issa did nothing to stop them, by the way.) Lerner didn’t actually tell her side of the story. There’s a lot of story to tell, if she ever tells it, and she didn’t even come close with these words:

I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee. And while I would very much like to answer the committee’s questions today, I’ve been advised by my counsel to assert my constitutional right not to testify or answer questions related to the subject matter of this hearing. 

After very careful consideration, I’ve decided to follow my counsel’s advice and not testify or answer any of the questions today. Because I’m asserting my right not to testify, I know that some people will assume that I’ve done something wrong. I have not. One of the basic functions of the Fifth Amendment is to protect innocent individuals, and that is the protection I’m invoking today.

After initially and correctly telling everyone that they should respect Lerner’s Fifth Amendment right without prejudging her, Issa later put on his big-boy Tea Party pants and now agrees with Gowdy and others who believe she lost her constitutional right not to incriminate herself. He’s going to call her back to appear again. Whoopee! More good cable TV to come!  Maybe next time they really will crack her bones!

As with so many things in this litigious world of ours, there are at least two sides of this Fifth Amendment “controversy.” There are those lawyers who think she did not waive her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by offering a brief statement of her innocence. Of course, those lawyers did not attend the Rush Limbaugh School of Law, so what do they know?

And, of course, as Reince Priebus indicated, this all comes back to President Obama. Conservative Republican Joe Scarborough said on MSNBC this morning,

Why is the president allowing this to go on? This IRS story is another great example of just sheer incompetence at the White House to get their story out in a clean, effective way…

Yes, the Prez should simply strip Ms. Lerner of her constitutional rights, force her to tell Darrell Issa what he wants to hear, and then impeach himself after it’s all done. That, and only that, will satisfy the mob.

Finally, the truth in all this just may be found in a little article on The Daily Beast published today. The story quotes a man who used to hold the same position Lois Lerner now holds:

“It was inevitable something was going to happen,” said Marcus Owens, who served as director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division from 1990 until he retired in 2000. That was the same year that the 1998 IRS Restructuring and Reform Act was implemented, ushering in, he said, a culture of disorganization and miscommunication.

“Virtually all IRS executive positions were re-aligned and re-evaluated and a lot of field offices positions were eliminated. The channels of communication between field offices and the Washington headquarters were muddied,” Owens said. “Instead of having clear, hierarchical oversight, Cincinnati was given the responsibility to handle things that would normally be handled by the better-equipped Washington office.”

He went on to say,

“This is a case of funding problems and management problems. Everyone is thinking that the IRS was hunting down conservative organizations with bloodhounds or something when what they were really doing was opening the morning’s mail… The IRS is really a collection agency for the government. Tax returns that generate revenue must be accurate, but those that don’t generate revenue receive less attention,” he said. “That’s just the way it is.”

I doubt very much if we hear a lot from Marcus Owens or hear a lot about the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998. But we should. (By the way, only two U.S. Senators voted against that bill, including that great progressive, the late Paul Wellstone, so that ought to tell us something.) The likelihood that we won’t hear much about Owens or that 1998 law tells us something very important about the state of journalism these days, perhaps something more important than a prominent journalist going on TV and comparing a Fifth Amendment-invoking IRS employee to a “mafia chieftain.”

_____________________________

[photo credit: Getty Images (top) and AP (bottom)]

The U.S. Government Bombed The Boston Marathon, Or Just Another Day In The World Of Right-Wing Nuttery

I only listened to a little Glenn Beck on Wednesday morning because, frankly, a little Glenn Beck goes a long way in terms of destroying brain tissue, and, to be honest, I don’t have that much brain tissue to spare these days.

Naturally, since Glenn Beck specializes in peddling conspiracy theories for cash, Glenn Beck has a conspiracy theory regarding the Boston Marathon bombing, which, as far as I can tell,  involves Barack and Michelle Obama and Joe Biden and the Saudi Arabian foreign minister and the Saudi ambassador and Janet Napolitano, who will, when this plot is unraveled, be “the first to fall,” says Beck.  Oh, yeah, I think the pigmented comedian Dave Chappelle is involved too, because he converted to Islam in 1998 and since then, well, the world has gone to hell.

Because he is a capitalist without a conscience, Glenn Beck won’t let a terrorist attack go to waste without least attempting to make a profit from it. And this latest conspiracy theory—involving a Saudi man who police—and, for Allah’s sake, even Fox News’ Bret Baier—says was merely a victim of the bombing and not a suspect or participant on behalf of the government, is so stupid and unbelievable that, of course, it has legs in the world of right-wing nuttery. (You can see Beck’s take on Bret Baier here.)boston marathon bombing

Let me tell you that the evening of  the Boston Marathon bombing, I was at a local high school baseball game watching my kid play. Standing beside me was a dad of another player on our team. I knew this guy to be a right-wing fanatic (chances are, around these parts, someone you are standing next to at a ball game is a right-wing fanatic), and, it happens, a Glenn Beck fan. He was checking his phone for updates on the bombing and, lo and behold, he told me that “they” just found out that the perpetrator was a “Saudi national.” “Who could have guessed that?” he said sarcastically.

Playing along, I said, “Of course!” Who else, I said only to myself, would want to kill spectators at a marathon but those damn Saudis! They’ve always hated long-distance runners, especially long-distance runners from Ethiopia who win, and they hate people who would stand and applaud their efforts. Kill the infidels!

Needless to say, I later found out the truth about the Saudi national and that Matt Drudge and Alex Jones and Glenn Beck and others were trying to make a buck off the whole thing. And I sort of felt a little guilty for not telling the guy at the baseball game that he was, dammit, out of his mind for believing anything that came from his right-wing “sources.”

In any case, all of this embarrassing nonsense leads me to post the segment below from Wednesday night’s Rachel Maddow Show, which, in case you think this conspiracy stuff is harmless fluff, will change your mind about how pervasive, sick, and thus, dangerous, it is in terms of our national well-being. Because people like Alex Jones and Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity can, thanks to Fox “News,” talk radio, and the Internet, reach millions of folks, they are making us dumber as a society.

As Steve Benen wrote:

…let’s not overlook the fact that last week, Beck used his Internet show to push a bogus claim about a Boston suspect, but his arguments quickly drew attention from the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, the chairman of the House subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency, the chairman of the House subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, and the chairwoman of the House subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security — all of whom are Republicans, and all of whom took Beck’s nonsense seriously.

There’s a strain of madness running through contemporary Republican politics…

The “Average Person” Is A Liberal

Wonkblog published a very interesting piece (“No, the 2012 election didn’t prove the Republican Party needs a reboot”) by John Sides, an Associate Professor in the Political Science department at George Washington University.

Sides essentially argued that much of the Republican hand-wringing over the last election, which has caused some of the party architects to think they need to reorient the party toward more (relatively) centrist positions in order to win national elections, is unnecessary. He suggests that things are not so bad for Republicans as the Romney defeat might indicate.

Let me say from the start that I don’t give one good damn about the reformation of the Republican Party. As far as I’m concerned, given what it has become, I hope it wanders forever in the wilderness of doubt and uncertainty about itself. I hope the so-called civil war within the party continues unabated for at least as long as it takes our sun to convert its last atom of hydrogen into helium and swells into a red giant that will swallow up the earth, sort of the way Newt Gingrich attacks the all-you-can-eat buffet on the campaign trail.

Any political party whose leaders have to, say, appease pale-faced zealots like Rush Limbaugh before they can endorse sensible immigration reform (as Marco Rubio, a Limbaugh butt-sweat slurper, is doing right now) is not a party worth saving.

But I do want to take issue with something that Professor Sides claimed in his article, to wit: Even though Mitt Romney moved far to the right in the GOP primary, that ideological move did not hurt him as much as most of us thought:

…it does seem true that Romney had to tack right in the primary.  But when the general election rolled around, who did voters perceived as ideologically closer to them, on average: Romney or Obama?  Romney.

Sides uses a YouGov survey from January 2012 until election day to make that rather startling point:

Sides says:

Although over time both Romney and Obama were perceived as moving farther away from the average voter, Romney was still closer to this voter on Election Day.  The candidate who would have benefited most from a shift to the center was Obama.

Naturally, since I perceived Barack Obama as having shifted to the center on so many—too many, for my particular tastes—issues, I was quite surprised by Professor Sides’ claim here.

Could it be that the far-right Mitt Romney, the one who embraced a harsh stance on immigration reform that only Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh could love; the one who was called a “vulture capitalist” by his own GOP competition; the one who made that repulsive 47%-of-the-country-are-moochers comment in front of fat-cat donors; the one who picked the extremist, Ayn Rand-loving Paul Ryan for his running mate; could it be that that Mitt Romney was closer to the “average person” than Barack Obama?

Hell no.

What we are dealing with here are the way people, when asked in polls or surveys, interpret the words “liberal,” “moderate,” and “conservative.”  Notice how the “average person” in the graph plots himself or herself right there in that comfortable “moderate” range. Why is that? Because most people like to think of themselves as not too hot or not too cold, and people generally don’t perceive their political beliefs to be anywhere near one of the ideological poles, even if they obviously are.

When I was a conservative, I heard conservative commentators tell me all the time that the majority of Americans were “with us,” that we represented the “average person.” Now that I am a liberal, I hear the same thing. Americans are “with us” liberals. And both of those claims can’t be true.

So, what is true?

Notwithstanding the arguments of Professor Sides, and other political scientists who rely way too much on the self-perceptions of survey respondents in taking the ideological temperature of the country, we have one fairly reasonable way of gauging the ideological proclivities of voters: how do they respond to specific issues?

Let’s take a look at several of them:

GUN CONTROL:

fox poll on gun control options

GAY MARRIAGE:

REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS:

ABORTION POLLS

SOCIAL SECURITY (a liberal program par excellence):

social security survey

MEDICARE (another liberal program):

MEDICARE CUTS POLL

MEDICAID EXPANSION UNDER OBAMACARE:

medicaid expansion poll

TAXING THE RICH:

TAXING THE RICH POLL

Mitt Romney was on the wrong side of all of those issues. The Republican Party still is. A majority of Americans, despite how much they want to perceive themselves as “moderates,” actually support liberal programs and policies.

I suppose something can be said for the fact that people who support liberal ideas consider that support to be the very definition of “moderation,” which is bad news for a Republican Party that is still waging war on women’s reproductive freedom, homosexual rights, and the well-being of the poor; which is still protecting above all else the interests of the moneyed class; which is still trying to repeal the New Deal, and which, as we speak, is threatening to derail even the most mild form of gun control legislation.

The Tea Party, Ted Nugent, and The Republican Renewal

Tonight, Marco Rubio, a far right, Tea Party Hispanic Republican, will act as first responder to any fire Barack Obama’s State of the Union address might ignite.

This morning on The Daily Rundown on MSNBC I heard a lovely Republican pollster, Kristen Soltis Anderson, exalt Rubio this way:kristen anderson

I’m looking forward to him getting this national exposure. I think he’s the right person at the right time to lead the Republican Party into this period of renewal.

Period of renewal? Rubio is the leader of a Republican renewal? The man who had to prostrate himself before Rush Limbaugh’s prostate in order to get the broadcaster’s blessing on immigration reform? That Rubio? Come on, lovely Republican pollster. Slurping perspiration from between Limbaugh’s butt cheeks isn’t Republican renewal, it’s old-school Republican politics. Rush was Tea Party before Tea Party was and wasn’t cool.

And speaking of the imaginary Republican renewal, tonight Senator Rand Paul will also give a response to Barack Obama, a president so politically hot he needs two Republican first responders to put out his fire.

Rand Paul, whose Tea Party extremism was first exposed on television by Rachel Maddow, recently fantasized about being president, which is one of the scariest thoughts in the world, next to being struck by a beam of gamma rays. No, wait. I’ll take the gamma rays.Rand Paul

Pretending to be president wasn’t the only time Paul fantasized about being in charge. In 2006, he imagined himself being the governor of Kentucky. And, to boot, he was the governor of Kentucky with an ethics scandal. His solution: he would pardon himself! Case closed, people!

Marco Rubio and Rand Paul will not, however, be the best representatives of the Republican renewal on display tonight. That honor belongs to Texas congressman Steve Stockman.

Stockman is the one who made news recently by offering to do the GOP’s dirty work of impeaching President Obama over his executive orders related to gun violence. That, of course, made him a Fox “News” hero. Tonight he will attend the SOTU address accompanied by another proud Republican renewalist and Vietnam War draft-evader, Ted Nugent.

Now, I’ve written about NRA board member Nugent before and offered numerous quotes from him that prove he has been infected with an extra-terrestrial form of Obama- Clinton-hate. Here is an example from 2007, addressed to dupes dumb enough to pay money to watch him perform:

I think that Barack Hussein Obama should be put in jail. It is clear that Barack Hussein Obama is a communist. Mao Tse Tung lives and his name is Barack Hussein Obama. This country should be ashamed. I wanna throw up. …Obama, he’s a piece of shit. I told him to suck on my machine gun. Hey Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch.

From a Detroit radio interview in 1992:

Foreigners are assholes; foreigners are scum; I don’t like ‘em; I don’t want ‘em in this country; I don’t want ‘em selling me doughnuts; I don’t want ‘em pumping my gas; I don’t want ‘em downwind of my life-OK?  So anyhow-and I’m dead serious…

From an interview in 1994:

About Hillary Clinton: “You probably can’t use the term ‘toxic cunt’ in your magazine, but that’s what she is. Her very existence insults the spirit of individualism in this country. This bitch is nothing but a two-bit whore for Fidel Castro.”

About national health care: “The government must stay out of my life. If there are weenies who are in the liability column of our nation, tough shit.”

About Social Security: “To be forced to have a Social Security number in this country is illegal. It’s against the Constitution. I can’t tell you the specific language, but I reviewed it, and I know it’s illegal. The clusterfuck that is Social Security insults people who work hard for their living.

In our culture, such people as Ted Nugent are normally promoted by sleazy characters out to make a quick buck from a freak willing to be publicly outrageous for fifteen minutes.

But tonight, at the State of the Union address, a Republican congressman will apparently show up with Ted Nugent, a man who was recently investigated by the Secret Service, on his arm.

And you will not hear one word from Republican leadership in the House or Senate or anywhere else. That, my friends, is the real Republican renewal.

A renewal of the GOP’s vows to extremism.

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ted nugent

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:

Why Conservatives Need Rush Limbaugh’s Permission To Pass Immigration Reform

There are a lot of conservatives out there in denial about the racist component of the fierce and sometimes weird opposition to President Obama. I’ve written about it often, and while I obviously don’t think all or even most of the opponents of Barack Obama are outright racists, there is a rather large group of folks on the right, the white right, who resent the browning of America.

Along those lines, Mother Jones, which has been doing great journalistic work, published today this article:

mother jones and white nationalists

You can read the article and draw your own conclusions, but I have argued that a lot of the fuel that fires up the irrational hate-Obama movement is a fear that white culture—whatever that is—is being overrun by a foreign one, or many foreign ones.

Defending a white nationalist group, one of the conservatives featured in the Mother Jones piece, James B. Taylor, said:

You’ve got the NAACP and B’nai B’rith. Why not something for white people?

That nationalist group that Taylor was defending is this one:

npi

Here is part of the NPI’s “about” page:

npi about

Look at that nice white American family, those beautiful white children. The white culture these images are meant to represent is what a lot of people on the right are fighting for, indeed, have been fighting for long before anyone ever heard of Barack Obama.

And although the cultural angst that some white folks feel didn’t start with our black president, unlike any American president before him he has the pigmented credentials that serve so well to feed the fear and paranoia that is today a part of the conservative movement.

Speaking of that fear and paranoia, isn’t it ironic that Republican Senator Marco Rubio, whose parents were Cubans and whose ethnicity Republicans are strategically, if not cynically, using to appeal to a broader base of Americans, today had to go before none other than Rush Limbaugh, the whitest of white Obama-hating conservatives, to essentially get his blessing on immigration reform.

And Limbaugh during his interview on Tuesday seemed to give Rubio permission by saying,

Well, what you are doing is admirable and noteworthy.

Ain’t that nice?

But Limbaugh asked him after that :

LIMBAUGH: This legislation that you’ve admitted is not written, but you’re here on the radio today, you’ve been doing a lot of media, who are you trying to reach with this?

RUBIO:  In terms of the –

LIMBAUGH:  The bill.  You talking Hispanics, illegals, are you talking the American people, who are you talking to?

Ahh. You see? “The American people” and “Hispanics” are not really the same thing in the mind of Rush Limbaugh, a man so powerful in the Republican Party that its most prominent Hispanic leader feels the need to get the radio host’s permission to pass immigration laws.

Shyst!

“Let’s just call Beck and Limbaugh FreedomWorks’ whores and be done with it.”

Crooks and Liars

I don’t know how many of you out there caught the following from Media Matters, but it is just too sweet to ignore:

Former FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey says the conservative outlet that helped launch the Tea Party paid Glenn Beck at least $1 million last year to fundraise for the organization, an arrangement he said provided “too little value” for the money. 

“The arrangement was simply FreedomWorks paid Glenn Beck money and Glenn Beck said nice things about FreedomWorks on the air,” Armey, the former House majority leader, told Media Matters Friday. “I saw that a million dollars went to Beck this past year, that was the annual expenditure.”

Armey, who left the organization this past fall after a dispute over its internal operations, said a similar arrangement was also in place with Rush Limbaugh, but did not know the exact financial details.

I urge you to follow the Media Matters link and read it all. And if anyone out there, and I am talking to conservative lurkers, doubts that much of the conservative movement these days is nothing more than a vehicle for shysters to, well, shyst and enrich themselves, then, as usual, scribble your doubts in the margins of a $100 bill and send them to me.

I will get back to you with more evidence in due time.

Surreality

How surreal it all is:

♦ First, there was teapartier Sen. Jim DeMint’s announcement of his new gig as president of the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank. That’s “think” tank. You know, where real thinking is supposed to happen. DeMint, though, first publicly explained his new thinking job on Rush Limbaugh’s show, where thinking goes to die.

♦ Then there was Sen. Mitch McConnell, who tried to embarrass Democrats by proposing a vote—an up or down vote without a filibuster—on legislation that would allow President Obama to extend the debt limit all by himself, without first getting congressional approval. McConnell obviously thought Harry Reid would nix the idea. But Reid embraced it, which caused the creepy McConnell to have to essentially filibuster his own bill. Yes. He proposed something and then said he would filibuster his own proposal.

♦ All of which caused Missouri’s Claire McCaskill, who at the time was acting as Presiding Officer over the floor exchange between McConnell and Reid, to let slip from her astonished mouth: “Got whiplash!

♦ And speaking of Claire McCaskill, now it turns out that her election opponent, Todd Akin, actually received secret last-minute cash—$760,000—from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which had publicly pledged not to support the evangelical pseudo-gynecologist.

♦ Then there is the prospect that a Democratic administration, one led by a man who conservative Republicans have determined is a wildly radical leftist, is, in the words of The New York Times:

considering plans for legal action against Colorado and Washington that could undermine voter-approved initiatives to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in those states, according to several people familiar with the deliberations.

Yes, President Obama, Choomer-in-Chief, might actually put the kibosh on cannabis lovers.

♦ Then there was the distasteful Ann Coulter explaining to the even more distasteful Sean Hannity that Republicans lost the election and they should let taxes on the rich go up.

♦ Then, just when we thought Republicans were coming around to the idea that the rich would have to cough up more dough, The New York Times tells us that a significant number of rich folks will still be able to avoid them.

♦ Then there is today’s jobs report. While most experts expected the number of jobs created last month to be restrained, mainly due to Superstorm Sandy, the jobs were actually up. Up enough to drop the unemployment rate to 7.7%, its lowest mark in four years. There were 146,000 jobs added.

♦ In the mean time, right in the middle of all the muddle about fiscal cliff-diving, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman says there is no “fiscal crisis,” only a “job crisis.” He says we should spend more not less:

So why aren’t we helping the unemployed? It’s not because we can’t afford it. Given those ultralow borrowing costs, plus the damage unemployment is doing to our economy and hence to the tax base, you can make a pretty good case that spending more to create jobs now would actually improve our long-run fiscal position.

♦ Finally, the guy who killed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin is, uh, suing NBC. George Zimmerman alleges,

NBC News saw the death of Trayvon Martin not as a tragedy but as an opportunity to increase ratings, and so set about to create the myth that George Zimmerman was a racist and predatory villain.

In the mean time, Trayvon Martin doesn’t get to sue anybody.

Fiscal Cliff Negotiations—So Far, So Good

Here is President Obama’s initial fiscal-cliff-avoidance proposal he reportedly offered to Republicans:

  • $1.6 trillion in new revenue (including restoration of top marginal rates, higher taxes on capital gains and a return to the 2009-level estate tax, which itself is way too generous but not as bad as today’s)
  • $400 billion [correction:] $600 billion in additional entitlement cuts, which when added to the almost $1 trillion discretionary spending cuts already a part of law and a similar amount of “savings” from shutting down the two wars, makes well over $2 trillion in total spending cuts
  • About $200 million in additional stimulus, including an extension of unemployment benefits (which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office acknowledges would add 300,000 jobs) and an extension of the payroll tax holiday and some money to invest in infrastructure improvements as well as some money to help still-stressing homeowners modify their mortgages
  • A delay in those pesky automatic spending cuts to Defense and entitlements for one year
  • Ending congressional approval of raising the debt ceiling, a silly technical requirement that in Republican hands has become fiscally dangerous

Here is how Huff Po’s Ryan Grim reported the Republican summary of Obama’s proposal:

The proposal is based on a two-step plan that would decouple the high-end tax and capital gains rates from the middle-class rates, extending only those for the middle class. It would revert estate taxes to their higher 2009 level, and raise an additional $600 billion in taxes elsewhere, according to the GOP summary. It then proposes tax reform required to raise at least as much as the tax hikes, and entitlement reform that would trim $400 billion from the programs.

Here’s how Fox’s favorite conservative pundit, Charles Krauthammer, reacted, uh, overreacted, to the President’s proposal:

It’s not just a bad deal, this is really an insulting deal… Robert E. Lee was offered easier terms at Appomattox and he lost the Civil War. The Democrats won by 3% of the vote and they did not hold the House. Republicans won the House. So this is not exactly unconditional surrender, but that’s what the administration is asking of Republicans.

There not only are no cuts in this, there’s an increase in new spending with a stimulus – this is almost unheard of. I mean, what do they expect? They obviously expect the Republicans will cave on everything. I think Republican ought to simply walk away.

Here is that other intellectual of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh, and his reaction on Thursday:

walk away rush

This is, unfortunately, one time that we can count on Republicans not taking Limbaugh’s advice. They won’t walk away. Their greasy fingerprints—the grease courtesy of their fat-cat donors—will be all over what happens, either a deal or an adventure into short-term fiscal uncertainty.

Finally, here is Ezra Klein’s analysis of Obama’s proposal that should make liberals breathe a little—I said a little—easier, as we worry about our side’s negotiating prowess:

We’re seeing two things here. One is that the negotiations aren’t going well. When one side begins leaking the other side’s proposals, that’s typically a bad sign. The other is that Republicans are frustrated at the new Obama they’re facing: The Obama who refuses to negotiate with himself.

That’s what you’re really seeing in this “proposal.” Previously, Obama’s pattern had been to offer plans that roughly tracked where he thought the compromise should end up. The White House’s belief was that by being solicitous in their policy proposals, they would win goodwill on the other side, and even if they didn’t, the media would side with them, realizing they’d sought compromise and been rebuffed. They don’t believe that anymore.

Perhaps the key lesson the White House took from the last couple of years is this: Don’t negotiate with yourself. If Republicans want to cut Medicare, let them propose the cuts. If they want to raise revenue through tax reform, let them identify the deductions. If they want deeper cuts in discretionary spending, let them settle on a number. And, above all, if they don’t like the White House’s preferred policies, let them propose their own. That way, if the White House eventually does give in and agree to some of their demands, Republicans will feel like they got one over on the president. A compromise isn’t measured by what you offer, it’s measured by what the other side feels they made you concede.

The GOP is right: This isn’t a serious proposal. But it’s not evidence that Obama isn’t serious. He’s very serious about not negotiating with himself, and his opening bid proves it. Now that they’ve leaked his initial offer, the next question is obvious: What’s their offer?

He’s In Over His (Black) Head

First, look at this image, which I found on the Rush Limbaugh website the day after the first presidential debate:

See that determined white guy whippin’ that black man’s ass? That is the image that Obama-hating conservatives, particularly Obama-hating quasi-racists like Rush Limbaugh, have been begging for from their suspicious paleface champion, Mittens “The Truth” Romney.

The jubilance over Romney’s debate performance, for some on the right, is rooted in the fact that somebody finally put the Uppity Negro in his place.

Limbaugh explained on Thursday why the President lost the debate:

The guy’s a community organizer, an agitator.  He had no experience. He wasn’t prepared for this job ever.  He’s not prepared for this job now…Obama hasn’t been prepared ever for this job.  He’s not qualified.  It’s above his pay grade.  He is in over his head. 

I will translate the above: That trouble-making Negro is too dumb to be president.

Romney, who has never found it in him to criticize anything Limbaugh has said or done, has offered a version of the same thing several times:

…we’ve learned who Barack Obama is, what he’s capable of doing, that he’s over his head and he swimming in the wrong direction.

He too thinks the Negro is too dumb to be president. If you doubt me, read the context: “we’ve learned who Barack Obama is…”

John Sununu, the co-chair of Romney’s presidential campaign, a man who, if there is a hell, will have an entire ego-roasting chamber to himself, had this exchange on Thursday with Andrea Mitchell:

SUNUNU: What people saw last night, I think, was a president that revealed his incompetence, how lazy and detached he is…

MITCHELL: Governor, I want to give you a chance to maybe take it back. Did you really mean to call Barack Obama, the President of the United States, lazy?

SUNUNU: Yes. I think you saw him admit it the night before when he delivered the pizzas. He said, “You know they’re making me do this work.” He didn’t want to prepare for this debate. He’s lazy and disengaged.

So, President Obama is not only a dumb and incompetent Negro, he is a lazy and dumb and incompetent Negro, a charge Sununu has made before.

Thus it is that our president, a man who graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School—and another prominent if cartoonish Romney supporter, Donald Trump, has also openly questioned Mr. Obama’s education credentials—a man who was the first African-American to head Harvard’s Law Review, a man who taught constitutional law as a professor at the University of Chicago, a man who got into politics at the bottom and worked his way up to become the most powerful leader in the world, is really just an incarnation of all the stereotypes that racists harbor about black folks: they aren’t very bright, they don’t want to work hard, and they want to make life more difficult for whites.

And Romney’s loudest supporters have openly appealed to the angst behind those stereotypes without so much as a peep from him. And as his “over his head” comment suggests, that may be because Romney needs to use that appeal to racial angst to get whites to vote for him in historic proportions. Otherwise he has little chance to win.

As Ron Brownstein wrote:

Romney’s camp is focused intently on capturing at least 61 percent of white voters. That would provide him a slim national majority—so long as whites constitute at least 74 percent of the vote, as they did last time, and Obama doesn’t improve on his 80 percent showing with minorities.

That 61% “would equal the best performance ever for a Republican presidential challenger with that group of voters,” Brownstein says, which is why Romney can’t afford to alienate one single white voter, not to mention a buffoon like Limbaugh, who is a spokesman for white cultural angst.

But as sad as that reality is, there is coming a new one, albeit one that will be forced on the GOP:

Republican strategists clearly feel the weight of trying to assemble a national majority with so little support among minorities that they must win three in five whites. “This is the last time anyone will try to do this,” one said. A GOP coalition that relies almost entirely on whites could squeeze out one more narrow victory in November. But if Republicans can’t find more effective ways to bridge the priorities of their conservative core and the diversifying Next America, that weight will grow more daunting every year. 

George Will Channels Rush Limbaugh

Wow.

I thought I could anticipate all the conservative excuses, should President Obama remain President Obama after November 6. But damn, I didn’t expect this one from conservative intellectual George Will:

Perhaps a pleasant paradox defines this political season: That Obama is African American may be important, but in a way quite unlike that darkly suggested by, for example, MSNBC’s excitable boys and girls who, with their (at most) one-track minds and exquisitely sensitive olfactory receptors, sniff racism in any criticism of their pin-up. Instead, the nation, which is generally reluctant to declare a president a failure — thereby admitting that it made a mistake in choosing him — seems especially reluctant to give up on the first African American president. If so, the 2012 election speaks well of the nation’s heart, if not its head.

Get it? Folks don’t want to see Their Negro fail in his first job! Oh, my, God. The condescension is, uh—let me catch my breath—breathtaking. Will is saying that if Barack Obama weren’t black, he’d be toast in November! Americans are engaging in a “pleasant” bit of affirmative action!

If this reasoning sounds familiar, it should. It is very similar to the reasoning Rush Limbaugh used in 2003 on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown—and which lost him that inexplicable gig as a commentator and which later kept him from buying into an NFL franchise—regarding quarterback and African-American Donovan McNabb.

McNabb, you may remember, had three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances and had led his team to a couple of NFC championship games before Limbaugh, during pre-game commentary nine years ago, said this:

Sorry to say this, I don’t think he’s been that good from the get-go. I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn’t deserve. The defense carried this team.

Limbaugh resigned under pressure soon after those remarks, but was always defended by the right-wing as a victim, since it is hard for palefaced conservatives to see the condescension and offense embedded in them.

Perhaps George Will thinks it is career-enhancing to channel Rush Limbaugh, when trying to explain why Obama might win. And given the state of the conservative movement in the Age of The Scary Negro, perhaps it is.

One Fine Day

Well, I said yesterday that Romney’s attack on President Obama for “sympathizing” with those who attacked and killed American diplomats on Tuesday—I still can’t believe Romney made it necessary to write that—would require a “multitude of relatively sober Republican leaders in Congress” to step forth and “call this for what it is” or else “the Republican Party is truly beyond redemption.”

Okay, so let’s look at what happened.

Joe Scarborough, who has his hear tuned to the weird frequency congressional Republicans use to broadcast their bullshit, tweeted:

He was “inundated,” he said. Some inundation. Quiet as could be.

No Republican that I could find openly condemned Romney for suggesting not once but twice that President Obama essentially sided with those attacking American embassies in that he felt the need to “apologize” to them. Not one Republican.

Oh, to be sure, there weren’t that many Republicans willing to go all-in with Mittens, but neither were they rushing to call him out for his recklessness or his questionable patriotism.

Of course, I didn’t expect they would. But I did expect people like Richard Lugar, a veteran Republican who gets credit for being sensible on foreign policy matters, to strongly criticize Romney’s irresponsibility, especially since Ambassador Chris Stevens worked as a staffer for Lugar on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

But no criticism of Romney came from Lugar. Only rightful praise for Chris Stevens, whose priceless service and sad death Romney stomped all over with his viscous and opportunistic attack on the Commander-in-Chief.

What about John McCain, who fancies himself, depending on what day it is, the de facto Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, and sometimes even the de facto President of the United States. What did he have to say?

Well, I saw McCain twice on Thursday morning defending Romney. And I mean defending him. Here’s how NBC wrote up his appearance on the Today show:

A day after he and many fellow Republicans showed restrained reaction to the White House’s response to the deadly attacks against American diplomats in Libya, Sen. John McCain on Thursday ripped into President Obama for “feckless foreign policy” he said is harming Middle East relations.

See? Romney lies about and attacks the Commander-in-Chief before McCain’s dead “friend” Chris Stevens is cold, and McCain, statesman that he is, rips Obama—the man who ordered bin Laden to the bottom of the sea—as “feckless.”  Thank Allah that guy never actually became president.

What about Rob Portman, who was a Paul Ryan cowlick away from being Romney’s VP pick? What did he have to say about Romney’s unpatriotic overreaction to a statement from our embassy in Cairo? On CBS This Morning, he said this:

I think for Governor Romney, having seen that statement, to react as he did is the reaction that most Americans would have…which is that at a time when we have this kind of violence against American territory, the thing to do is to condemn it and not to begin by issuing an apology…

Are you bleeping kidding me? Huh? First, Governor Romney is not just one of a breed we call “most Americans.” We don’t want a man in the White House who will react like Most Americans. We want one who actually gets all the facts right before he runs his mouth, a running mouth that will run all over the world.

Second, Portman, as interviewer Norah O’Donnell tried to point out to him, is simply spouting off without knowing the chronology of events. For the millionth time, the statement—not cleared by the White House but completely acceptable given the circumstances—issued by a staffer in the embassy in Cairo occurred about six hours before the breach of American territory happened, and Secretary Hillary Clinton was quick to condemn the violence after it became clear what was going on.

Dammit, get it right. You’re a bleeping U.S. Senator for God’s sake.

I saw Allen West, congressman from a place in Florida where facts are apparently manufactured for convenience, repeat to the Three Stooges on Fox and Friends this morning the same lie Portman and Romney are still pushing:

We should not have made some type of conciliatory, apologetic stance in the middle of our embassies being attacked…

The fact that there was no apologetic stance at any time, let alone “in the middle” of an attack on our embassies, didn’t bother the Three Stooges, as they nodded in agreement with that lying fool from Florida, in all but pigmentation a perfect representation of today’s GOP.

I saw Jim Inhofe, the loopy senator from Oklahoma, aggressively defending Romney on Fox this morning, embarassing himself, and if it is possible to further embarass that God-forsaken and embarrassing state, Oklahoma.

I read a statement released by Senator Jim DeMint, the real father of the Obama-loathing, reactionary Tea Party, not only defending Romney, but also picking up Romney’s lie about the President, whom he hates with a Christianly, Waterlooish passion:

Governor Romney is absolutely right, there is no justification for these deadly attacks and we should never apologize for American freedom. Islamic radicals will use any pretext to justify their hatred of America and our freedom.

It was disheartening to hear the administration condemn Americans engaging in free speech that hurt the feelings of Muslims, while real atrocities have been repeatedly committed by Islamic radicals against women, Christians, and Jews in the Middle East.

How do you begin to describe a party whose leaders say stupid and dishonest shit like that?

And speaking of stupid and dishonest shit.

Rush Limbaugh, who just a day earlier said Romney “may as well be Elmer Fudd,” since conservatives weren’t voting for him but “against Obama,” was on Wednesday all gooey-eyed and Viagra-hard over Mittens:

And after all this happens, guess who the bad guy is?  Mitt Romney, who is the only guy that looked presidential in all of this, who had the guts to go out and characterize this statement from the embassy accurately.  And the media is now saying that Romney jumped the gun, launched a political attack before the facts of the embassy violence were known…

Stupid and dishonest shit is what that is. But there is plenty more, which I won’t go into, except for what was revealed about Romney’s motives by none other than Laura Ingraham, the nasally, hysterical talk show host and Fox “News” regular, who hates Obama almost as much as she loves her converted-Catholic Jesus.

On Tuesday, before the events in Libya and Egypt, Ingraham said this about Mittens:

This is a gimme election, or at least it should be. If you can’t beat Barack Obama with this record, then shut down the party. Shut it down. Start new, with new people.

Ingraham was expressing the frustrations conservatives were feeling over Romney’s declining poll numbers. But on Wednesday, things had changed. After playing a clip of Romney’s presser in which he doubled-down on the initial lie about Obama and the embassy statement, Ingraham said:

Excellent. Mitt Romney is gettin’ his groove on…He did not back down one iota. That’s exactly how he should conduct this campaign. Keep these people back on their heels…Maybe this will just spur Obama to get a pair as well…

Her first caller after that stellar commentary was a spectacularly ignorant gentleman from New Albany, Indiana, who confessed that, “Obama makes my skin crawl,” after he chimed in with this:

This is what I’ve been waiting for. This-is-what-I-have-been-waiting-for. In one press conference, Governor Romney looked more presidential than any press conference I’ve seen Barack Obama conduct in four years…

Now, one would have had to see that pathetic Romney press conference to know just how disturbed is this gentlemen’s perception, but his comment does reveal the real reason why Mitt Romney behaved on Tuesday like Glenn Beck instead of a candidate for high office. He was trying to get people like Limbaugh and Ingraham and that low-information, bigoted American from Indiana to love him.

Because nothing makes palefaced folks say “I love you” like a factless attack on our feckless, Muslim-loving, hyper-apologetic, terrorist-sympathizing, Kenyan Commander-in-Chief.

And if Republicans want a party that only right-wing know-nothings on the radio and TV can love, then that is what they will have.

And one fine day they will have it all to themselves.

It Wasn’t Just A Joke

Mark Halperin is Time magazine’s senior political analyst and also a regular “contributor” on MSNBC. His job at the “liberal” network, as far as I can tell, is to tell liberals things they could hear on, say, Fox.

Today was no different. He told Andrea Mitchell:

I think Mitt Romney was making a joke. We’ve seen, particularly when he’s in Michigan, when he jokes about the heights of trees—and the left is gonna say I’m making a huge excuse for him.

Well, at least he got that last part right. And for her part, Andrea Mitchell, interviewing Jen Psaki, Obama’s traveling press secretary, compared the Romney birther appeal to President Obama’s real joke about Romney strapping his dog to the top of his car for a 12-hour ride:

He made a joke about Seamus the dog the other day…that was another ad-lib kind of thing…

Yeah, I suppose you can compare a joke about a dog crapping on himself in a crate on top of Mittens’ car to, uh, the black President of the United States not being a proper American. I can see the similarity there, can’t you?

Look, the truth is that Romney, after jumping on the Throw Todd Akin From The Train bandwagon this week, has to show the many crackpots in the GOP some love.

Their feelings have been hurt and there’s nothing like a racist joke to raise their spirits.

About the Romney birth certificate reference, king of the crackpots, Rush Limbaugh, initially said, “Right on! Right on!” and then later got a little more nuanced:

As you can imagine, the media is in a tizzy. The media is in a tizzy…Romney gets up to the microphone. It’s his turn to speak, and he test-drives that line about nobody’s ever had to ask to see his birth certificate…I’m going to tell you what. You know, I’m gonna make a prediction for you. It’s going to be fascinating to watch. The Obama-bashing at the Republican convention is going to be delicious. It’s going to be five-star-restaurant type stuff. I mean, you’re going to love it. You are going to eat it up, all the Obama-bashing. And I’ll bet you what’s happening right now is the networks are trying to figure out how they can avoid airing any of it.

So, to Limbaugh, Mr. I Hope He Fails, what Romney did was no joke, but a test-drive of “all the Obama-bashing” that will go on at the Republican convention.

You’re going to love it. You are going to eat it up,” said the beefy, bigoted broadcaster.

And that, my friends, is why what Romney did was not merely a joke.

The Problem Is That Romney Hasn’t Attacked Obama’s “Ideology.” Huh?

He’s defined by liberalism or Marxism, socialism, whatever you want to call it.”

Rush Limbaugh

lthough this may cause you to upchuck your last meal, today Rush Limbaugh said he was “near orgasm” over Charles Krauthammer’s latest column. Okay, I’ll give you time to get that thought out of your mind.

Back? Good. What could Krauthammer say that would so delight Limbaugh? Oh, not much, except that he thinks Romney Hood ought to attack Obama not only on his “stewardship” of the economy, but on his “ideology.” Yep, Krauthammer thinks Obama, who has been called a socialist, Marxist, and communist by Republicans, hasn’t been hammered enough on his alleged radical ideas. If only Romney will “make the case” that Obama is a lefty, he will win back the White’s House. He wrote:

The ideological case…is not just appealing to a center-right country with twice as many conservatives as liberals, it is also explanatory. It underpins the stewardship argument. Obama’s ideology — and the program that followed — explains the failure of these four years.

(Try to ignore that last comment about “failure,” because Krauthammer suffers from “too many years of neurologically hazardous punditry,” a charge he once made against Bill Moyers and Paul Krugman.  Go to The Center for American Progress and listen to Michael Linden explain the success of the stimulus.)

Krauthammer said this is “a center-right country with twice as many conservatives as liberals.” I hear that nonsense a lot. And it almost always comes from folks like Krauthammer, who then go on to explain just how far left Mr. Obama has gone. At the end of his column, Krauthammer wrote:

If Republicans want to win, Obama’s deeply revealing, teleprompter-free you-didn’t-build-that confession of faith needs to be hung around his neck until Election Day. The third consecutive summer-of-recovery-that-never-came is attributable not just to Obama being in over his head but, even more important, to what’s in his head: a government-centered vision of the economy and society, and the policies that flow from it.

Now, it probably never occurred to someone as smart as Charles Krauthammer gets credit for being*, but someone with less brainy talent can easily see that if the country is “center-right,” if truly there are “twice as many conservatives as liberals,” and if Mr. Obama is a wild-eyed leftist in over his head, then there’s  no way that we ought to have seen this headline in today’s Washington Post:

Three polls show Obama widening lead over Romney

The story:

Three polls released in the last 24 hours show President Obama widening his lead over the former Massachusetts governor to as much as nine points. The surveys of registered voters, all conducted sometime between Aug. 2 and 8, also have Romney’s unfavorable ratings headed north. Two of the polls show his support among independents slipping.

The biggest surprise among those three polls perhaps was the Fox “News” poll, which shows Romney Hood trailing the left-wing Marxist by 9 points.

Krauthammer, of course, would attribute that spread to an ignorant public, who, despite four years of incessant ranting from folks like him, doesn’t yet know that the guy they favor is such a radical. It would never occur to him and other conservatives that a possible majority of the voting public simply might not buy into the often deranged attacks on their president.

And speaking of derangement, Krauthammer, who was trained as a psychiatrist, famously and churlishly bragged about discovering a new psychiatric illness among selected liberals in 2003 that he labeled “Bush Derangement Syndrome.” Since self-diagnosis of mental disorders may be problematic for obvious reasons, and given the presidential polling trends, I would suggest that Mr. Krauthammer get to a doctor before November 6.

_______________________________

*Even smart people make dumb mistakes. In the column, Krauthammer noted:

The Congressional Budget Office reports that Obamacare will incur $1.68 trillion of new expenditures in its first decade.

If you follow that link he provided, you will find that the actual estimate from the CBO is 1.168 trillion, which means Krauthammer overstated the number by, oh, a half a trillion!

Is Romney A Decent Guy?

Responding to my post, “Romney: Champion Of Ugly Americans Everywhere!a thoughtful commenter named Treeske wrote:

…one feels almost sorry for this, probably very decent guy’s clumsiness, or is it truly arrogant ignorance (like you mentioned) the elite so often fall victim to?

Tree,

You know, I hear the description of Romney as a “decent” or “nice” guy all the time—mostly from Democrats who then go on to bash his brains out!—but I’m not so sure what kind of guy he is in terms of being decent or nice.

I mean, is Romney’s decency defined by his willingness to say literally anything to achieve the presidency?

Is Romney being a nice guy when he tells lies constantly about Mr. Obama and suggests he is less than an American, helping to legitimize the weird fantasies of amateur and professional right-wing Obama-haters?

Is his decency indicated by an unseemly eagerness to carve up his belief system so as to make it compatible with the extremists in the Republican Party, extremists who seek to alienate large swaths of society?

Is Romney’s niceness defined by a willingness to custom-make his principles in order to get the approval of creeps like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter?

Does a nice guy do the things that Romney has done, like the the dog incident or the haircutting incident or the haircuts he gave workers and their pensions when Bain took companies over and loaded them with debt in order to make a profit? Do good guys do that stuff?

Was Romney being nice when he brought health care reform to Massachusetts but now is being doubly nice when he opportunistically attacks the same reform when Obama fought to bring it to all Americans? Huh?

Is it decent of a guy to store some of his dough overseas in order to shield it from taxes that help support our country? How many roads weren’t built because Romney’s beer money is resting in Bermuda?

Does a nice guy have offshore companies the financial and moral significance of which are kept secret from potential voters?

Does a decent guy keep his tax returns hidden from the millions of taxpayers he seeks to govern?

Look, obviously I don’t know Mitt Romney personally. And I admit to some prejudice in the matter, being a drinker, a Democrat, and an opponent of fundamentalist religion, especially the kind of freakish fundamentalism at the center of Romney’s life that keeps him clothed in special skivvies and away from alcohol.

I can only know Romney by what comes out of his mouth, like the many lies he has told and keeps telling about Mr. Obama, or by what kind of policies he says he will pursue should, God forbid, Americans make the mistake of putting him in charge.

And while judging his personal decency by his religious aversion to the drink or by what comes out of his mouth might sound like I’m swimming at the shallow end of the pool, I do have some Romney-approved company:

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.

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