Did Mike Huckabee Really Say That You Will Go To Hell If You Vote For Obama?

Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, ordained Southern Baptist minister, enthusiastic Romney supporter, and current Inquisitor of the Republican Party, said this in a political ad:

Christians across the nation will have an opportunity to shape the future for our generation and generations to come. Many issues are at stake, but some issues are not negotiable: The right to life from conception to natural death. Marriage should be reinforced, not redefined. It is an egregious violation of our cherished principle of religious liberty for the government to force the church to buy the kind of insurance that leads to the taking of innocent human life.

Your vote will affect the future and be recorded in eternity. Will you vote the values that will stand the test of fire? This is Mike Huckabee asking you to join me November the 6th and vote based on values that will stand the test of fire.

Not only does the Huckster say that God is sneaking a peek at the secret ballot of Christians (God is a nosy deity, I guess), he also says that the vote of Christians can trump God’s will, in that their vote “will affect the future.” And, more important, Pastor Huck suggests a non-Romney vote will subject the actions of Christians—those folks purchased by the blood of Jesus—to a “test of fire.”

Most liberal commentators, because they don’t much understand the language of evangelicals, are interpreting Huck’s comments as meaning that Christians are hell-bound if they vote for The Scary Negro Who Hates God. Here’s an example from Slate:

Huckabee Says Christians Will Go to Hell If They Vote Obama

Not so though. It sounds like that, it sounds like the Huckster is sending Christian Obama voters to hell, but that’s not what he means. If you read 1 Corinthians 3, you’ll see the Apostle Paul tells us:

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

See? “The fire will test the quality of each person’s work,” that is, each Christian’s work. Huck is saying that a “yes” vote for Obama will compel God to make a huge withdrawal from the Christian’s heavenly reward bank account, but won’t necessarily send that Christian to hell. He or she will escape “through the flames.” Slick, eh?

Thus, discerning Christians, and those with rather large heavenly bank accounts, can afford to vote for Obama without fear that God will immediately assign them to an eternity in hell. God will merely slap a big penalty on them, call it a Kenyan Socialist Obama Tax, for disobeying Mike Huckabee, but they will still get to heaven.

They just may have to sit in the cheap seats.

So, all you Christians out there with grace to spare, Barack is your man! Feel free to vote your conscience!

“Stupid FEMA Trucks”

By now we have all been reminded, through various statements he has made in the past, how Mitt Romney feels about FEMA and firemen and policemen, about those faces of government that folks in a heap of storm trouble rely on, in this complex society, whether the need is rescue, recovery, or rebuild.

We know all about that in Joplin. More than a dozen federal agencies were on the ground here after our tornado, and in our community of about 50,000 folks, more than 800 FEMA employees were doing their thing here, so much so that people normally a little suspicious of government, like the president of our Chamber of Commerce, said,

FEMA was an absolute champion.

Millions upon millions of dollars from American taxpayers have flowed into this area for all kinds of purposes, from housing to debris removal. President Obama has been here two times, pledging each time to keep government’s commitment to partner with private efforts to get Joplin back on its feet.

As we see the horrendous pictures on television of the destruction brought on by a much larger storm than the devastating Joplin tornado, as we see government workers of all kinds on the ground doing what it is they do in the wake of such destruction, we should remind ourselves of how strong is the anti-government spirit that animated Mitt Romney to say “we cannot afford” to do the kinds of things that those government workers, firemen, cops, and, yes, FEMA folks, are now doing all over the Sandy-ravaged Northeast.

Or animated Romney to say, in the context of FEMA and disaster relief:

Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better. 

That anti-government spirit is strong, indeed. Last year, the popular conservative, Glenn Beck, announced that he was going to bring ordinary people, including religious leaders, together to, as one report put it,

step up and help the less fortunate by providing goods and services for the poor and for people who are faced with a disaster like Hurricane Katrina or the Joplin, Missouri tornado.

“God forbid if there is a Joplin or Katrina,” Beck said. “If we have done our job so well that when the stupid FEMA trucks come rolling down, we say ‘Man, turn around, push off,’ that’s when Man will be free again.”

Stupid FEMA trucks.” I wonder how many Glenn Beck, anti-government conservatives in the path of Hurricane Sandy feel that way about FEMA trucks today?

Locally, here where FEMA and the federal government has played such a crucial role in our post-tornado recovery, a local blogger, a man who sometimes writes the in-house editorials for the Joplin Globe , a man who is often a guest Globe columnist, wrote earlier this year:

America was great because of the lack of government controls, by and large. I want to go “back” to that principle and simply allow government to do the minimum needed to prevent anarchy. Otherwise let the “people” sort it all out on their own. I don’t care how “complex” society becomes. The Constitution is so basic to any society that it will work fine regardless of new technology.

As for “needs” of people, That has NEVER changed in history. And by and large the Constitution ignores those needs other than defense against foreign “needs”.

Give people freedom and they will by and large as a nation do fine.

This writer, again a man with a voice on the Joplin Globe’s editorial page, including authoring some of its own editorials, said he wants to go back to a time when there was just enough government to “prevent anarchy.” Let people “sort it all out on their own,” he said, no matter how “‘complex’ society becomes.”


Give people freedom,” this writer says, and “by and large” they’ll do just fine.

By and large. I wonder, as I see folks all over the Northeast in shock at what has happened to them, what has happened to their communities, if they are by and large doing just fine. I wonder if all those storm victims, including conservative ones, want to sort it all out on their own. I wonder if those victims long for a shoestring government just big enough to prevent anarchy.

Yes, I wonder.

Hurricane Sandy: Union Thugs At Work

After The Storm Is Over

In my reaction to the Joplin Globe’s why-should-the-rich-pay-more reasoning in its editorial endorsing Mitt Romney, I wrote:

…let’s just let the moochers and their mooching kids in Romney’s “47%” starve to death here in our lovely Joplin community, a community propped up by a lot of government money after the tornado paid us a visit. Now that houses and businesses are going up all over the place, now that there is plenty of money floating around this FEMA-blessed area, to hell with everyone else.

I had forgotten, when I wrote that, that Mittens had something to day during a CNN Republican primary debate about the kind of federal disaster relief that benefited folks here in Joplin:

KING: What else, Governor Romney? You’ve been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I’ve been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it’s the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we’re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?

ROMNEY: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better. 

Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut — we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we’re doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we’re doing that we don’t have to do? And those things we’ve got to stop doing, because we’re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we’re taking in. We cannot…

KING: Including disaster relief, though? 

ROMNEY: We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.

The Joplin Globe, a paper that has spent the last 17 months chronicling the post-tornado recovery of Joplin, including stories on the large role FEMA and the federal government played in that recovery, endorsed a man who said that “we cannot afford to do those things” these days because neither he nor the Joplin Globe believe that the rich should pay a little more in taxes.

It will be interesting to see how many Republicans, those in the path of Hurricane Sandy, will refuse the help of the federal government after the storm is over.

I didn’t see any refusal of federal help around here in this very red Republican town after the tornado tore through the middle of it, and I don’t expect Governor Christie or any other Republican official or any other Republican voter will say after their storm subsides, “No, we cannot afford to do those things.”


Speaking Of Newspaper Endorsements…

I’m sure you all have heard about the Des Moines Register‘s turncoat endorsement of Mitt Romney the other day. It made all the news, especially all the right-wing news, since it was the first time since 1972 that the paper endorsed a Republican.

The Des Moines Register’s reasoning in its endorsement was almost as dumb as the Joplin Globe’s reasoning in its endorsement of Romney. Here is just one example:

Early in his administration, President Obama reached out to Republicans but was rebuffed. Since then, he has abandoned the effort, and the partisan divide has hardened. That has hampered not only the economy, but the entire country. We remain a nation of red states and blue states.

Get it? Republicans “rebuffed” President Obama (and it wasn’t just “early in his administration,” either, it was throughout his term) and it is Obama’s fault for not continuing to allow Republicans to rebuff him. Therefore, the hardening of the “partisan divide” is Obama’s fault and we should elect a Republican to be president.

Such a dazzlingly dopey deduction is exactly why Republicans set out to sabotage the Obama presidency in the first place. The figured they could count on fools like the Des Moines Register editorial writer(s) to make it Obama’s fault.

But besides that Iowa paper’s confused and confusing endorsement, perhaps you didn’t hear, I know I didn’t until today, that the Salt Lake Tribune, way out there in Mormon land, actually endorsed Barack Obama. Yep, the paper, which had endorsed Obama four years ago, stuck with him, despite what must have been some cultural—and subscriber—pressure to jump ship in favor of Mittens. (The same kind of pressure which no doubt wilted the resolve of the Joplin Globe to stay with the President.)

The Salt Lake Tribune’s Obama endorsement is a profile in courage for a paper that  operates in a “largely Mormon, Republican, business-friendly state,” as its editorial acknowledged, in a year where a Mormon, Republican, and business-friendly Mitt Romney is a candidate. That must have been a tough business decision, if not a tough political one.

Keeping in mind my criticism of the Joplin Globe’s Romney endorsement—”utter phoniness” and “complete incoherence“—I would like to share what the Salt Lake Tribune editorial said about a man the state knows well.

After praising Romney for rescuing the 2002 Olympics in Utah, the paper said:

In short, this is the Mitt Romney we knew, or thought we knew, as one of us.

Sadly, it is not the only Romney, as his campaign for the White House has made abundantly clear, first in his servile courtship of the tea party in order to win the nomination, and now as the party’s shape-shifting nominee. From his embrace of the party’s radical right wing, to subsequent portrayals of himself as a moderate champion of the middle class, Romney has raised the most frequently asked question of the campaign: “Who is this guy, really, and what in the world does he truly believe?”

The evidence suggests no clear answer, or at least one that would survive Romney’s next speech or sound bite. Politicians routinely tailor their words to suit an audience. Romney, though, is shameless, lavishing vastly diverse audiences with words, any words, they would trade their votes to hear.

Romney is “shameless,” the Tribune said, when it comes to telling folks what they want to hear. In the Joplin Globe endorsement, that widely held view of Mitt Romney didn’t merit a mention. It didn’t come up. How can that be? How could our local paper not even at least acknowledge the one thing that is universally suspected about Romney—including by conservatives, who don’t trust him either—that he just might not do what he says he will do, whatever that is on a given day.

But more than that, Romney’s credibility problem, which the Joplin Globe editorial pretends doesn’t exist, is related to the one thing the paper insisted was its primary reason for endorsing Romney: his tax plan, which the Globe, despite all the contrary evidence, believes is legitimate. But it believes that on faith, not evidence. And given all the lies, given all the changes in Romney’s policies and his principles, how can anyone have faith in what Mitt Romney says?

The Salt Lake Tribune addresses the very issue that the Joplin Globe touted as its primary reason for endorsing Romney:

To claim, as Romney does, that he would offset his tax and spending cuts (except for billions more for the military) by doing away with tax deductions and exemptions is utterly meaningless without identifying which and how many would get the ax. Absent those specifics, his promise of a balanced budget simply does not pencil out.

You see, that kind of sound reasoning, as opposed to the silly, sophomoric shards of thought that characterized the Joplin Globe’s editorial endorsement, leads to the following conclusion:

In considering which candidate to endorse, The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board had hoped that Romney would exhibit the same talents for organization, pragmatic problem solving and inspired leadership that he displayed here more than a decade ago. Instead, we have watched him morph into a friend of the far right, then tack toward the center with breathtaking aplomb. Through a pair of presidential debates, Romney’s domestic agenda remains bereft of detail and worthy of mistrust.

Therefore, our endorsement must go to the incumbent, a competent leader who, against tough odds, has guided the country through catastrophe and set a course that, while rocky, is pointing toward a brighter day. The president has earned a second term. Romney, in whatever guise, does not deserve a first.

Mittens, Commander-In-Chief Material?

The video message below was produced by the Truman National Security Project, a group of progressives who believe “progressive values and national security go hand-in-hand.”

Imagine that.

Remember how Republicans tried to turn John Kerry, a Vietnam war hero, into a lying fraud? They claimed he was “unfit to serve” as commander-in-chief because all of the combat medals he was awarded were illegitimate. They also claimed that his criticism of the Vietnam War, after he came home, betrayed the trust of our troops and harmed those still in the field.

The swiftboating of John Kerry was one of the most despicable campaign tactics in the modern history of politics.* But it was based on the doggedly persistent but false meme that Democrats are national security weaklings, that we don’t care about the military, or we want to dismantle it and make America a third-rate power. Barack Obama, even though he gave the order that put Osama bin Laden’s body in the bellies of a thousand fishes, is still attacked for being weak on national security issues. Still.

The Truman Project is fighting back against that overarching false meme, which has helped win Republicans so many elections, that Democrats are somehow less interested in protecting the country, less patriotic, and Republicans are the real commander-in-chief types. The project’s mission, which is to recruit and train “a new generation of progressives across America to lead on national security,” is based on a simple premise:

Understanding national security is a litmus test for leadership.

Watch and see if Mittens passes that test:


*Check out this article from the Huffington Post a few weeks ago to see how Republicans slandered Democratic candidate for Georgia State Representative, Scott Holcomb, a Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan veteran. His GOP opponent—who never served in the military—falsely accused him, in a campaign ad, of doing drugs while he was serving in the Army. Yep, Republicans love our troops, as long as they are Republican troops.

Joplin Globe Doubles Down On Dumb And Endorses Romney

Just as I suspected it would, the Joplin Globe has endorsed Mitt Romney.

Thus will end my association with the paper, as I will soon cancel my subscription.

I don’t do so lightly, as I have always known the paper’s Republican leanings, even when I was receiving beer money from the Globe for blogging. But the utter phoniness of the editorial endorsing Romney, along with its complete incoherence, compels me to react in the only rational way I know how: say goodbye to an old friend who has not only disappointed, but who has disappointed in a way that is irreparable.

And I can now spend the $15 a month on a digital subscription to The New York Times.

The Globe lost some subscribers four years ago for its daring endorsement of Barack Obama. It will lose me for its stunning lack of faith in its original endorsement. It is clear that Globe management was not prepared to make the mistake of endorsing the locally unpopular president, despite his two visits here and despite his administration’s enormous efforts to help Joplin recover from last year’s tornado. Instead, the paper has invented ridiculous reasons for endorsing Romney, including this one:

But in regard to the issue that is front and center for Americans — jobs and economic recovery — this nation remains stalled.

Stalled? Don’t the members of the editorial board read their own paper? Huh? The nation is not stalled. GDP is in fact growing and has been growing for 13 straight quarters. The quarter before Mr. Obama took office the economy was shrinking at a pace of almost minus 9 percent. MINUS BLEEPING NINE PERCENT. And during the first quarter of his presidency the economy was shrinking at a rate of  minus 5.3 percent, a situation he had absolutely nothing to do with, since he was still trying to find his way around the White’s House at that time.

The most recent GDP numbers indicate we are now growing at 2 percent, which is nothing to brag about, but:

given the utter hole we were in,

given the obstruction presented by the Republican Party in terms of filibustering Obama’s additional economic efforts to get us out of that hole,

given the fact that Republicans created the so-called “fiscal cliff” that has businesses worried about the rules of the game next year,

given the fact that, according to an article in the Globe itself, “slower global growth has cut demand for American exports,”

given the effect this year’s expansive drought had on agriculture inventories,

2 percent ain’t all that bad.

It’s certainly a helluva lot better than the minus 9 percent growth Obama inherited, from an administration that was acting according to the exact same philosophy that Mr. Romney, to the extent you can believe a goddamn word he says, plans to act on, should voters take the Globe’s advice and put him in the White’s House.

And other economic indicators are improving, including housing, which has been the main drag on the economy. The private sector has added more than 5 million jobs over the last 31 consecutive months of job growth. And if it weren’t for the shedding of state and local government jobs—which the President has tried to get Republicans in Congress to help stop—the overall job numbers would be even better.

But perhaps the most nauseating part of the Globe’s endorsement, besides completely ignoring Romney’s many, many lies and his penchant for secrecy, was this:

Obama’s mistake was that he favored short-term, targeted solutions.

Are you kidding me? Of course he favored short-term, targeted solutions. You bet he did. You know why? Because the goddamned economy was in the toilet. Millions of American jobs were being flushed into the abyss of Republican economics. That’s why he “favored short-term, targeted solutions.” And so did almost every other economist this side of Rush Limbaugh.

And so did the Joplin Globe in 2008.

As I noted, the paper endorsed Barack Obama four years ago. You know what the paper said then? Here’s what:

Following the market collapse and the recent Wall Street bailout, we believe that the nation needs a new economic plan.

Obama’s plan to provide tax cuts for middle-income Americans is a welcome one, as is his plan to eliminate capital-gains taxes for small businesses and provide cuts for businesses that create and keep jobs in the United States.

If tax cuts for middle-income Americans and tax cuts for businesses aren’t “short-term, targeted solutions,” then what the bleep is? The Globe was calling for, in 2008, short-term, targeted solutions that it now opposes. What hubris. What hypocrisy.

Obama did the things the Globe asked in 2008. He cut taxes for middle-income Americans. He also cut taxes, including capital-gains taxes, for small businesses. Here is a list of those tax cuts from Politifact:

From the Recovery Act, HIRE Acts, and Affordable Care Act:   

1. A new small business health care tax credit   
2. A new tax credit for hiring unemployed workers   
3. Bonus depreciation tax incentives to support new investment   
4. 75 percent exclusion of small business capital gains   
5. Expansion of limits on small business expensing   
6. Five-year carryback of net operating losses   
7. Reduction of the built-in gains holding period for small businesses from 10 to 7 years to allow small business greater flexibility in their investments   8. Temporary small business estimated tax payment relief to allow small businesses to keep needed cash on hand
From the Small Business Jobs Act:
9. Zero capital gains taxes on key investments in small businesses   
10. Raising the small business expensing to $500,000   
11. An extension of 50 percent bonus depreciation   
12. A new deduction for health care expenses for the self-employed   
13. Tax relief and simplification for cell phone deductions   
14. An increase in the deduction for entrepreneurs’ start-up expenses   
15. A five-year carryback of general business credits   
16. Limitations on penalties for errors in tax reporting that disproportionately affect small business   

From the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act:
17. 100 percent expensing

That’s an impressive small-business tax-cutting list, don’t you think? Yet, despite the Globe advocating for those things four short years ago, now suddenly the paper says, “long-range, core change is needed.” Yeah, that’s what a “stalled” America needs alright. Let’s austerity ourselves into prosperity. It’s working so well for the Europeans who have tried it.

The 2008 Globe endorsement of Obama also included this:

With the war in Iraq well into its fifth year, Obama has said that it is time for the Iraqi government to begin stepping up to take on financial responsibility for its country at a time when our country is spending billions of dollars (not to mention the human cost) each month in our efforts there.

And we agree that beginning a responsible drawdown of American forces will also require Iraq to begin taking more military control of its country, and allow our troops to place more emphasis on al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan, and bringing 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden to justice.

Needless to say, Obama ended the war in Iraq. It’s over. Done. Finished. Just like the Globe suggested was necessary. He also put “more emphasis on al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan.” And about bringing that “9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden to justice,” perhaps the Globe editorial board hasn’t heard the goddamned news yet: The sonofabitch is bottom-feeding in the North Arabian Sea, thanks to a courageous SEAL Team Six and their Globe-endorsed Commander-in-Chief.

End the war in Iraq? Check. Put more emphasis on the bad guys in Afghanistan? Check. Bring bin Laden to justice? Check. Joplin Globe endorsement? Uh, well, no. All those checks and plenty more, yet President Obama is not worthy of another term says the Joplin Globe.

Moving on from the paper’s moving goal posts, the Globe additionally argues,

Romney won’t raise any new taxes to reduce the deficit. Period….It’s true that the nation’s wealthiest 2 percent — individuals making more than $200,000 and couples making more than $250,000 — can pay more, but why should they?

Yeah, why should they? Let’s balance the budget by getting the money from the poor, the elderly, the disabled. Or maybe we could rob the piggy banks of the countless kids getting free or reduced price lunches here in Southwest Missouri.

Or let’s just let the moochers and their mooching kids in Romney’s “47%” starve to death here in our lovely Joplin community, a community propped up by a lot of government money after the tornado paid us a visit. Now that houses and businesses are going up all over the place, now that there is plenty of money floating around this FEMA-blessed area, to hell with everyone else.

Yeah, why should the rich pay more? Under Bill Clinton they were suffering mightily under those confiscatory 39.6 percent tax rates, weren’t they? God, how did they get by? How did they survive? And how did the economy create those 22 million jobs, given such a drain on those overburdened “job creators”?

The Globe continues:

Romney’s plan is to roll back individual income tax rates for all income groups by 20 percent, and cut the corporate tax rate from 35 to 25 percent, while at the same time reducing personal and corporate deductions.

This gets us closer to the kind of overhaul that is needed.

Oh, Allah. Help me. How many times must this stuff be debunked? One can go all over the Internet and get various versions of the debunkery, so I won’t go into it here. Suffice it to say that the Globe repeats the Romney line that he will reduce personal and corporate deductions sufficiently to make his plan work. Oh, yeah? Which ones? Tell us, Joplin Globe. Tell us which tax deductions Romney will “reduce.”  He won’t tell us, so why don’t you? And if you can’t tell us, then you don’t know what the hell you are talking about by saying,

This gets us closer to the kind of overhaul that is needed.

Finally, I recently wrote a piece titled, “The Joplin Globe’s Dumbest Editorial Of All Time,” based on its assertion that Romney’s plan to cut the chump change used to fund public broadcasting was part of “a serious conversation about the proper role and reach of the federal government.” Boy, was I a little premature with that one. In its Romney-endorsing editorial, the Globe doubled-down on dumb with this remarkable ending passage:

When it comes to systemic problems, think Big Bird. Recent posturing over that “Sesame Street” character is telling.

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

The Obama campaign attacked Romney on that point.

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

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

Mitt Romney should be the next president.

Yes, Mitt Romney should be the next president because he courageously promised to save American taxpayers one dollar and thirty-five cents a year by cutting off funding for public broadcasting, even though he would have exactly no power to do so without a willing Congress. That is real courage, real commitment, real change.

Maybe he can go on from there and cut the federal subsidy for the goddamned Joplin airport. Next he can tackle those free lunches that the greedy freeloading kids around here eat at school. Then, after he is energized by such “serious” budget cutting, he can cut Medicaid, so Joplin’s poor and elderly can unceremoniously croak in our streets.

Yes, why should the rich, the Romneys of the world, pay more? When there are so many better alternatives?

Now, I can truly say, without fear of future contradiction, that I have indeed read the Joplin Globe’s dumbest editorial of all time.

Essay: A Day In The Life Of The Nightly News, Or How Television Journalism is Being Transfoxed And What We Can Do About It


trans·fox: \tran(t)s-‘fox\ transitive verb: to change in composition or structure so as to appease conservatives, intransitive verb: to become transfoxed: become “fair and balanced” in the Fox “News” sense

trans·fox·a·tion: \tran(t)s-fox-ā-shən\ noun: the operation that converts objective news reporting into “fair and balanced” reporting in the Fox “News” sense

The Erstwhile Conservative Dictionary

iberals and Democrats need to start complaining more, and I mean a lot more, about the way the press, particularly the national political press, does its job. In fact, we need to start a major campaign of whining about the news business, particularly about the television network news business.

Something needs to be done about what is happening to big-time TV journalism, vis à vis its coverage of politics and political campaigns. There has been a slow but steady transfoxation of television news going on.

As a former conservative, I can tell you that what often accompanies conservatives’ ideological message is a withering critique of the news business, which they believe, as vigorously as they believe anything, is strongly skewed toward the left. That’s nonsense of course, but what isn’t nonsense is the fact that their whining, their unrelenting attacks against journalists and the news industry, have been—without question—quite effective. Those attacks, combined with the advent and financial success of Fox “News,” are working.

And we, those of us in the fight against reactionary political forces, need to undertake a plan of unrelenting attacks ourselves, before all the news business is transfoxed.

Conservatives’ constant complaining and protesting of news coverage has caused too many mainstream political reporters, editors, and anchors to shy away from presenting an accurate accounting of political news. This is especially true on the nightly network news shows.

If you watch the evening news on ABC, CBS, or NBC, you get very little of what is actually happening on the campaign trail or in the world of politics (there’s only about 21 minutes of news time available in a nightly broadcast and only a fraction of it is devoted to political news). What campaign news you get often features results from the various polling firms, especially the network’s own polling efforts, or other reports on the horse race aspect of the contest. And what other political news you get frequently comes in the form of a carefully composed report designed to achieve some mystical and false balance, rather than in a form that follows the evidence and reports the truth.

A perfect example of that false balance and failure to follow the evidence was—is—the press’ coverage of the deliberate attempt by Republicans to subvert Obama’s first term by sabotaging the economic recovery. If the popular political press had accurately reported on that issue, if they would accurately report on it today, Republicans would have to answer for it, would have to explain their actions to the American people, would have to defend their radical and nakedly political motives.

Alas, Republicans are free to run, with much success, against Democrats on the basis of an alleged “failure” to right the economy.

As a random test of my theory of the transfoxation of high-profile TV journalism, I decided to spend some time surveying the three network’s nightly news broadcasts on Friday night, in terms of their coverage of the presidential campaign. Despite a declining viewership (less than half of what it was in 1980), there are still around 21-23 million folks who get their nightly news from either ABC, CBS, or NBC, with NBC viewership the greatest of the three at about 8-9 million per night. (About 13 million get their news from the networks’ morning shows.)

And here’s what I, naively it turns out, thought would be the big news stories Friday night related to the campaign, all of which developed after Thursday night’s network broadcasts:

♦ John Sununu’s offensive comments about Colin Powell and Romney’s failure to address them, especially since Sununu is the national co-chair of Romney’s campaign and one of his top surrogates.

♦ Romney’s refusal to answer questions about Richard Mourdock’s weird claims about God and rape, especially since Romney’s running mate holds similar views and Romney himself has said he would be “delighted” to sign a law outlawing all abortions.

♦ Romney falsely telling Ohio voters that Chrysler was moving jobs to China.

Surely, I thought, all three of those stories would come up in some way or another.

ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer

I first watched ABC. The first story Diane Sawyer presented, naturally, was about Hurricane Sandy and the threat it poses to folks on the Atlantic Coast. Fine, so far.

The second story, comprising two reports, was about presidential politics, beginning with a silly piece by ABC’s White House reporter Jake Tapper, focusing on Obama’s attempt to “reach out to young voters” via non-traditional, “pop culture” news sources like “The View” and Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show.” Tapper’s voice-over began:

President Obama has not taken questions from White House reporters since August. Today he took them from MTV…

Now, given what happened on the campaign trail in the 24 hours since the last ABC News nightly broadcast, did that “story” really deserve such a prominent place? No, it didn’t, clearly. But it was a way for Tapper to vent his frustrations about the Obama campaign’s decision to ignore him in order to reach folks who get their news from less “official” and presumably less sterile sources.

ABC’s second report from the campaign trail on Friday night was a piece by David Muir, who covers Romney’s Swing State Lying Tour. Now, I want to reiterate that Muir is covering Romney out on the campaign trail. He’s there with him, hearing everything Romney says. He, more than anyone else at ABC, should be aware of what is happening, or in the case of Romney, what is not happening, since Mittens refuses to answer any campaign reporter’s questions.

So, what was the substance of Muir’s report Friday night? That Romney was “rallying key voters,” namely white men, around his vapid “economic message.” There was a Green Giant-size graphic to make the point clear:

Rick Klein, Senior Washington Editor of ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer, who often, and unbelievably, appears on, uh, Fox “News” (and given his opinions, I think he is auditioning for a job) saw to it that his boyish mug appeared during the segment saying,

Mitt Romney may have a hard time relating to voters, but he is dialed in to white men. They are very much attuned to what he is saying about the economy.

As he was giving us that wonderful journalistic gem, one that just happens to favor Romney’s efforts, and one that fails to mention that what Romney is “saying about the economy” has been discredited by nearly every economist and fact-checker in the Milky Way, this image appeared on the  screen:

Ah. Isn’t that special, that nice, old, and quite white vet greeting Mittens? So sweet, so touching. What important news that is.

Muir, who again travels with Romney every day, finished up his stunningly bad piece of journalism by explaining that the earnest GOP candidate was concentrating on “jobs” and “white men” and Obama was, well, he was spending his time courting “undecided women” folk.

Such is the state of network TV journalism these days, at least at ABC on Friday night.

Meanwhile, let’s look more closely at what really was worthy of reporting, what really happened out on the campaign trail, since ABC News had last broadcast its nightly program on Thursday.

Romney’s loudmouthed surrogate John Sununu said on CNN that Colin Powell, a man who has had more military bling-bling pinned on his chest than any thousand neo-con think-tankers, endorsed Obama because he was proud of his race. That race-baiting remark, not the first to drip from Sununu’s venomous lips, at least should have been mentioned on ABC ‘s broadcast, along with the fact that Romney refuses to comment on it, don’t you think?

Also deserving at least a mention was Romney’s stubborn and supposedly strategic refusal to comment on the mess surrounding Richard Mourdock’s stupid and offensive comments about God and rape. One would think, given the role the gender gap is expected to play in this election, that story would deserve at least thirty seconds on a national news broadcast, right?

And also not mentioned was a particularly sensitive story, given the importance of Ohio to the election, about Romney lying to Ohioans about a loss of jobs:

The Detroit News, which endorsed Romney, felt compelled to point out, rather politely, that he was lying through his car-loving teeth when he said at a rally in northern Ohio on Thursday night that Chrysler was considering moving production of its Jeep vehicles to China—whoops! my bad; according to the friendly paper, Romney was merely, “reacting to incorrect reports circulating online.”

Yes. That’s quite different from lying. The paper took pains to point out that Romney was a victim of “right-leaning blogs.” A victim. He was misled. Those right-leaning blogs, as they always do, lied about—the Detroit News said they “misinterpreted“—a Bloomberg News story regarding Chrysler’s possible building of Jeeps in China “for sale in the Chinese market.” And Romney merely fell for their lies. Poor guy.

A Chrysler spokesman emphatically said that “Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China,” and then directly aimed the barrel at Romney and the right-wing:

A careful and unbiased reading of the Bloomberg take would have saved unnecessary fantasies and extravagant comments.

Jeep LogoUnnecessary fantasies and extravagant comments,” If only big-time, mainstream journalists, broadcast and print, were as willing to tell the truth as plainly as that Chrysler spokesman.

But even though it would be way too much to ask of network reporters and editors, not to mention big-city newspapers, to actually use language like “unnecessary fantasies and extravagant comments” in reporting on either Romney or Obama, it is not too much to ask that they at least report on what Romney said and how wrong he was and particularly how careless he was to take as gospel something written on a right-wing blog. If he wasn’t lying, then by God he was bleeping careless, too bleeping careless for a man who is auditioning for a job that depends on carefully and correctly evaluating what he reads.

But nothing from ABC News on Friday night about Romney’s false claim, or nothing about Romney’s refusal to discuss John Sununu’s comments about General Powell’s proud-of-his-own-race endorsement of Obama or Richard Mourdock’s pathetic comments about God and rape. Nothing.

But we did find out that white guys, particularly old white guys, really, really like Romney. And we found out that Obama prefers MTV to ABC’s White House reporter. (And, by the way, who can blame Obama, given the way ABC’s Jake Tapper reports the news?)

So, that was ABC. What happened on Friday night on CBS and NBC?

CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley

CBS’ Scott Pelley briefly introduced the major stories of the night, beginning with Hurricane Sandy. Then he introduced the second story, “The Economy Picks Up Steam,” which noted the 2% GDP growth last quarter. But Pelley helpfully added a remark, presumably to soften for Romney the blow of good news: “But is it enough?” Enough for what? To keep Romney out of the White’s House? Jeez.

The third news snippet of the night on CBS was about the $2 billion dollars both candidates and their SuperPacs have spent on the campaign. It would have been nice if Pelley had tossed in the reason that so much money is available (Republicans want it that way) and so much of it is anonymously given (Republicans want it that way, too), or that about half of Obama’s dough was given by small donors and less than a fourth of Romney’s booty came from the little people, undoubtedly a lot of the little people Romney Hood referenced in his infamous “47%” discourse on dependency.

But, no, Pelley quickly pivoted to the latest polling, and viewers saw this:

Then Pelly brought on the old newsman Bob Schieffer, who told us how “perplexed” and “flummoxed” are the experts over who is going to win the election. Now, that there was some hot news, pardner. And Schieffer ended his segment with the comment that this election will come down to “turnout.” Yep, that was a shocking bit of news, there Bob. Thanks.

Pelley then promoted Schieffer’s “Face the Nation” Sunday broadcast by announcing that John McCain—who bleeping else?—will make his gazillionth appearance on a Sunday network show.  I can’t think of any more important and pressing news than that, can you?

The program moved on to a report on the horrific meningitis outbreak, and we are now more than half way through the broadcast, with no mention of Romney’s ducking questions on Sununu or Mourdock or his fibbing to Ohio voters about Chrysler moving Jeep jobs to China. It’s getting late.

The next segment was a piece on the Scott Brown-Elizabeth Warren senate race in Massachusetts. Scott Brown, naturally, was called a “moderate Republican” by the reporter, even as she allowed Brown to say on camera that Warren was “an extremist.” That damn liberal media! They were at it again!

The next story entailed a brief mention of a suicide bomber in Afghanistan, who killed at least 41 people outside a mosque. Then we moved on to the touching story of a recovering Malala Yousafzai, the teenage girl who was shot in the head on a school bus by the Taliban in Pakistan for advocating education for girls.

Her defiant and inspiring recovery is one of those feel-good stories that TV journalists are especially good at, perhaps because in this case they didn’t have to bother to appease conservative Taliban media critics. There’s no “both sides are guilty” reporting necessary when it comes to the assassination attempt of a schoolgirl by religious zealots donning turbans.

The CBS Evening News ended with an “On The Road” segment that featured an amazing man who is organizing a collection of old photos, 160 million of them and counting. It’s the kind of story that networks like to end with, you know, so folks can comfortably move on to “Dancing With The Stars” and “Two and a Half Men.”

And that was it for the night, all 21 minutes and 26 seconds of news for CBS viewers. Romney escaped the spotlight, in terms of what he had really done and not done since the last broadcast. No Sununu, no Mourdock, no Jeep-jobs-to-China falsehood.

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams 

On NBC things went significantly better. Hurricane Tammy consumed a third of the broadcast. Then came the campaign coverage segment which began with a report from reporter Peter Alexander, who is following the Romney campaign and who did his segment standing in front of what looked like a rather large crowd of Mittenites.

Alexander included in his piece a “flub” by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, who said during a Romney rally in Ames, Iowa, on Friday:

We will put America on a new path to a new day with a new President Obama—a new President Romney, pardon me.

Also at that Iowa rally, sharing the stage with Mittens, was Congressman Steve King, a crazy man who has wondered aloud about Obama’s citizenship, who has suggested states should still be able to stop couples from using contraception, and a man who supports the candidacy of Todd Akin. Unfortunately, Alexander never bothered to mention King in his reporting. Palling around with extremists must be old news. Sort of like Romney Hood’s tax returns.

But after playing some Romney boilerplate, Peter Alexander then remarkably and accurately reported:

Speaking at a construction company that benefited from President Obama’s stimulus grant that Mr. Romney routinely attacks, the Republican nominee blasted his opponent…

Now, that’s what journalists are supposed to do, right? If a candidate is attacking another candidate for his stimulus plan failures, people should know he is doing so at a site that was helped by that other candidate’s stimulus plan. Isn’t that the way it’s suppose to work? Kudos to Alexander and NBC. But where was ABC and CBS? Why didn’t their reporters mention that important fact? Huh? They were at that same event.

Alexander then pointed out the President’s MTV interview, which apparently cut deep into official TV journalism’s soul so much it just had to be broadcast far and wide. Reporters can sometimes be a sensitive lot.

But to his great credit, Alexander then pivoted to the John Sununu story, playing Sununu’s older offensive remarks about Obama being “lazy and detached” and his new offensive comments about Colin Powell, along with showing his subsequent statement trying to backtrack but not apologize. Alexander then ended with this:

We reached out to the Romney campaign for comment, Brian, but they offered nothing in addition to Governor Sununu’s statement.

They offered nothing. Which is what they usually do, but we didn’t hear a word about their silence, about Mittens’ silence, on ABC or CBS. Kudos again to a Fox-resistant NBC.

Up next came a segment with the talented Chuck Todd, NBC’s political director and White House correspondent. Brian Williams appropriately introduced the segment this way:

So, Chuck, here’s the field in front of us: John Sununu says Colin Powell endorsed the President ’cause they’re both black guys. A surrogate for Romney slips up and mistakenly endorses Obama for president. Romney goes after stimulus while his host on that very piece of property accepted help from stimulus money. Beyond unforced errors, the Romney campaign’s effort is to put together the electoral and not the popular vote math in these next ten days to push a victory out of it.

Now, you just wouldn’t hear Diane Sawyer of Scott Pelley talk that way, would you? No, you wouldn’t. Kudos to Brian Williams.

Chuck Todd then went through some scenarios that included the possibility of a Romney-Obama electoral tie, and a Republican-controlled House picking Romney for president and a Democrat-controlled Senate picking Biden for VP.


In any case, that was the end of the campaign and political news for NBC on Friday night.

Again, even though it did much better than the other networks, even though it did cover the Sununu fiasco, NBC’s broadcast did not mention the Mourdock issue nor the issue of Romney’s phony claim that Ohioans were going to lose Chrysler Jeep jobs to China. And considering what’s at stake regarding both of those stories—women’s reproductive rights and jobs in the electorally-important  Ohio—wouldn’t those stories at least have deserved a mention, especially since an aging Chuck Grassley’s relatively harmless gaffe was featured? Huh?

Maybe the NBC News team felt bringing all that other stuff up would be like piling on, even if Romney, at least on this day, deserved it. You can bet, though, that over on Fox, if the Obama campaign had had a similar bad day full of bad news, the crew wouldn’t hesitate to cover every painful  issue, over and over and over. See: Benghazi story. In fact,  the Romneybots at Fox don’t even require Obama to actually have had a bad day. They just make one up and go with that. See: Benghazi story.

Thus, although Fox has negatively influenced journalism, particularly network news journalism, I suppose we can be grateful that, at least on Friday night, NBC News did resist the transfoxation of the news and stood for more accurate coverage of what’s going on out on the campaign trail.

At least that’s something. But it ain’t enough. Let’s start whining.

And winning.

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

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

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

A Candid Republican Tells The Truth About Racism In His Party

Friday night on MSNBC, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, a Republican who served as chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell during the George W. Bush administration, was asked to comment on Republican bully and Romney bullshitter John Sununu’s race-based assertion that Powell endorsed President Obama because, well, “take a look at Colin Powell,” he said.

Wilkerson, forcefully and without qualification, said this:

My party, unfortunately, is the bastion of those people, not all of them but most of them, who are still basing their decisions on race. Let me just be candid: My party is full of racists. And the real reason a considerable portion of my party wants president Obama out of the White House has nothing to do with the content of his character, nothing to do with his competence as Commander-in-Chief, as President, and everything to do with the color of his skin. And that’s despicable.

All of you lurking conservatives out there who have followed this blog for the past three and a half years, who have indicted me, a Democrat, for what you claim are false accusations of racially-tinged resentment and false accusations of racism on the part of Republicans, can take it up with Colonel Wilkerson, one of your own.

Possum Trot, Missouri

Just to give folks not from around here an idea of how conservative the area of Southwest Missouri is, I want to note an article in Friday’s Joplin Globe about the race for the 158th District Missouri House seat, a seat that would represent the good folks of Barry, Lawrence, and Stone counties, just east and southeast of Joplin.

Respectively, the biggest towns in each county are Monett (pop. 8,873), Aurora (pop. 7,014), and Kimberling City (pop. 2,253). The lucky guy or gal who will represent this august area will also represent places like Coney Island (pop. 94) and, I kid you not, Possum Trot, which Wikipedia defines as “a former town” and, sadly, relates:

Only the remains of a church and a house are left.

What dreams died in Possum Trot, we will never know.

In any case, my point here is to show just how little choice folks around here—almost all of them white—not only have, but how little they actually want, in terms of politics. It goes from awful to God-awful, since very few Democrats even bother to put up an electoral fight.

In the 158th District, the Globe reports a battle between a Republican and a Constitution Party candidate. Here is a sample of their respective positions:

REPUBLICAN: “During a time when the federal government is in such a state of dysfunction, as it is now, the role of the state Legislature becomes ever more important. The most important job of a state legislator in the current environment is to protect the state and its people from the ways of a reckless federal government.

“We have to get government out of the way, not just at the federal level but at the state level as well, so that businesses can grow. It is as simple as that.”

CONSTITUTION PARTY: …she would “promote constitutional legislation that will move us in the direction of state sovereignty. I will examine bills that seem to solve problems but in the end restrict our liberties and cast my vote accordingly, even if it goes against what seems to be popular at the time. Reform our welfare program to include lifetime collection limits and a cap on per-child benefits.

“Lowering tax rates for all is the key … (along with) inching our way towards state sovereignty and saying ‘no thank you’ to federal government funds that have strings attached in the form of regulations.”

There you have it. Your choice in these counties is between a Romney-like candidate who wants to turn the government over to business interests, or a Ryan-like candidate who wants to put lifetime limits on welfare, including capping benefits for kids.

And that’s the way most folks around here like it, even if all there is left in Possum Trot is a rundown church and house.

Intrusive, Vagina-Probing, Have-The-Rapist’s-Baby-Or-Else Big Government

From HuffPo:

Notice the “at least” in the subheader. There could be more. And remember, too, that Romney and Ryan are just as extreme, when it comes to their preferences, even though Romney, but not Ryan, has tried to have it three or four or more ways on abortion.

Again, for the record, Romney’s real position, as ABC News reported in 2007 after a Republican debate:

“I would welcome a circumstance where there was such a consensus in this country that we said, we don’t want to have abortion in this country at all, period,” Romney said at the time. “That would be wonderful. I’d be delighted.”

Pressed CNN host Anderson Cooper, “The question is: Would you sign that bill?”

“Let me say it. I’d be delighted to sign that bill. But that’s not where we are,” Romney replied. “That’s not where America is today. Where America is ready to overturn Roe v. Wade and return to the states that authority. But if the Congress got there, we had that kind of consensus in that country, terrific.”

As for Paul Ryan, he said in an interview with WJHL in Roanoake, Virginia:

REPORTER JOSH SMITH: Our viewers would love know…specifically where you stand when it comes to rape, and when it comes to the issue of should it be legal for a woman to be able to get an abortion if she’s raped?

PAUL RYAN: I’m very proud of my pro-life record, and I’ve always adopted the idea that, the position that, the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life.

These are radicals. These are reactionaries. These are, in fact, radical reactionaries. Democrats have to keep pounding this into Americans’ heads, not just American women’s heads. These folks mean it when they say they want to use government—intrusive, vagina-probing, have-the-rapist’s-baby-or-else big government—to eliminate all abortions. All of us have to tell our friends, our family, our co-workers, our neighbors, about what is happening. Then we have to keep reminding them.

Even 76% of non-candidate Republicans believe abortion should be legal in the case of rape, for God’s sake, which is why Romney has tried to hide his extremism by copping a relatively less radical, but still radical nonetheless, position summarized as “only legal in the case of rape, incest, and the life of the mother.”  In the context of what he have heard from the mouths of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, that sounds like a pro-choice liberal speaking. But it isn’t. It’s still a reactionary speaking, still a radical position to hold. And besides that. Romney is still—still!—supporting Mourdock.

Whether it is this year’s crop of Republican senate hopefuls, or whether it is Mitt Romney’s expressed delight in signing a potential law that would eliminate all abortions, or whether it is Paul Ryan’s strange claim that rape is, in terms of the abortion issue, just another “method of conception“—God, that’s offensive—the message that these extremists would radically change the cultural landscape for women in this country has to be broadcast far and wide and often.

These zealots aren’t kidding, and Americans need to be told that again and again and again.

No Bull

Douglas Brinkley is, among other things, a professor of history at Rice University in Houston. Besides particular events and eras in American history, he has written books about past presidents, about foreign policy, about war.

He recently interviewed President Obama for Rolling Stone magazine, and the quote heard most often from the piece so far is this one, as relayed by The Guardian:

Brinkley’s interview recorded a conversation between Obama and Eric Bates, the executive editor of Rolling Stone. Bates told Obama that his six-year-old daughter had a message for the president: “Tell him: you can do it.” Obama replied with a grin:

You know, kids have good instincts. They look at the other guy and say, ‘Well, that’s a bullshitter, I can tell’.

Bullshitter. Bullshitter. Bullshitter. That’s all I’ve heard about the interview, except that in our too-polite media it is presented as “bulls****er.” How kind of the media to cover for Obama like that.

In any case, besides Obama’s stunningly accurate characterization of Romney’s shtick, Brinkley’s interview was full of other worthy quotes, and I mean quotes from the historian, Brinkley:

Barack Obama can no longer preach the bright 2008 certitudes of “Hope and Change.” He has a record to defend this time around. And, considering the lousy hand he was dealt by George W. Bush and an obstructionist Congress, his record of achievement, from universal health care to equal pay for women, is astonishingly solid.

Now, when is the last time you heard anyone in the media bidness refer to “an obstructionist Congress” ? Particularly in the context of Obama’s accomplishments? When one thinks about it, what the President has been able to accomplish has been remarkable, and remarkably progressive, given the times we live in.

Brinkley, the historian, continued:

Viewed through the lens of history, Obama represents a new type of 21st-century politician: the Progressive Firewall. Obama, simply put, is the curator-in-chief of the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the New Frontier and the Great Society. When he talks about continued subsidies for Big Bird or contraceptives for Sandra Fluke, he is the inheritor of the Progressive movement’s agenda, the last line of defense that prevents America’s hard-won social contract from being defunded into oblivion.

Since the time of Theodore Roosevelt, Brinkley asserted, “the federal government has aimed to improve the daily lives of average Americans.” TR fought “Big Money interests”; Woodrow Wilson created the Federal Reserve, the Federal Trade Commission, and re-established the federal income tax; FDR brought the country the New Deal, Social Security, laws to protect workers and give them the right to bargain collectively, regulation of Wall Street, unemployment compensation and the FDIC, which brought confidence to depositors that their money was safe, even if banks weren’t.

But in between Wilson and FDR came “the GOP Big Three of Harding-Coolidge-Hoover,” who “made ‘business’ the business of America, once more allowing profiteers to flourish at the expense of the vulnerable.” It was the policies and resulting disaster from those three Republican presidents that FDR was elected to fix.

And it took him a while to do it. But he did it. And as Brinkley wrote,

The America we know and love today sprung directly from the New Deal.

Ever since the election of Ronald Reagan, what Brinkley calls the “Grand Reversal,” an assault on the New Deal  has been ongoing, even including to some degree Democrat Bill Clinton, who “survived two terms only by co-opting traditional GOP issues like welfare reform and balanced budgets.”

And Brinkley makes another essential point in anaylzing President Obama in terms of the historical trend to unravel “the America we know and love today” :

Paul Nitze, the foreign-policy guru of the Truman administration, once told me that the problem with historians like myself is that we’re always hunting for a cache of documents to analyze. What our ilk tends to forget, he chided, is that inaction is also policy. Under this criterion, Obama must also be judged by the things he won’t allow to happen on his watch: Wall Street thieving, Bush-style fiscal irresponsibility, a new war in the Middle East, the reversal of Roe v. Wade, the dismantling of Medicare into a voucher program – the list is long. The offense-driven, Yes-We-Can candidate of 2008 has become the No-You-Won’t defensive champion of 2012. Obama has less a grand plan to get America working than a NO TRESPASSING sign to prevent 100 years of progressive accomplishments from being swept away, courtesy of Team Romney, in a Katrina-like deluge of anti-regulatory measures.

That analysis might not appeal all that much to undecided voters who are apparently pathologically unable to make up their minds about this election, but it should damn well appeal to unenthusiastic liberals, unionists, and other Democrats who have been angry with Obama because, like FDR before him, he hasn’t been able to do everything he set out to do, or done things exactly the way various interest groups wish he would have done them.

When we cast our votes for the leader of this country, we are casting votes for someone with the instincts we most desire in a leader, with the instincts to not only do good things, but to protect the good that has been done. The one thing we know about Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is that they both have very different instincts about what is good and what should be preserved.

Brinkley again:

If Obama wins re-election, his domestic agenda will be anchored around a guarantee to all Americans that civil rights, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, affordable health care, public education, clean air and water, and a woman’s right to choose will be protected, no matter how poorly the economy performs. Obama has grappled with two of the last puzzle pieces of the Progressive agenda – health care and gay rights – with success. If he is re-elected in November and makes his health care program permanent, it will take root in the history books as a seminal achievement. If he loses, Romney and Ryan will crush his initiatives without remorse.

If that isn’t enough to get Democrats to run not walk to the polls, then they—those who sit on the sidelines and allow Republicans to win, to govern, to destroy what we value as Democrats, as Americans—are a miserable lot.

Ronald Reagan’s National Security Adviser, George H. W. Bush’s Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs of Staff, George W. Bush’s Secretary of State, All Endorse President Obama

Colin Powell finally came out of the closet today:

Of course, what does a retired four-star general, who worked for three Republican presidents (and also served under Richard Nixon as a White House Fellow) , know about foreign policy and national security? Plenty. And he knows a lot about Mitt Romney, too:

The governor who was saying things at the debate on Monday night … was saying things that were quite different from what he said earlier. I’m not quite sure which Gov. Romney we would be getting with respect to foreign policy.

One day he has a certain strong view about staying in Afghanistan but then on Monday night he agrees with the withdrawal, same thing in Iraq. On almost every issue that was discussed on Monday night, Governor Romney agreed with the President with some nuances. But this is quite a different set of foreign policy views than he had earlier in the campaign. And my concern … is that sometimes I don’t sense that he has thought through these issues as thoroughly as he should have.

Think, Mitt, think,” he has said before.

I know the following colorful badges, medals, and ribbons don’t compare to, say, the ones Romney-endorsers Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity received for their service to the country, but damn they’re an impressive sight:

The Logic Of Republican Theology

On televisions across the state of Indiana you can see a new ad that features Mitt Romney endorsing Richard Mourdock for U.S. Senate.  Mittens says:

As senator, Richard will be the 51st vote to repeal and replace government-run health care. Richard will help stop the Reid-Pelosi agenda. There’s so much at stake, I hope you’ll join me in supporting Richard Mourdock for U.S. Senate.

You may remember that Mourdock, a teapartier’s teapartier, finished off Senator Richard Lugar in the Republican primary earlier this year. And now Republicans in Indiana have to live with this extremist, an extremist that an equally extreme Romney endorsed.

On Tuesday night,  Mourdock said this during a debate with his Democratic opponent:

I believe that life begins at conception. The only exception I have for, to have an abortion, is in that case of the life of the mother. I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. That it is something that God intended to happen.

Now, first of all, I want to address the “I struggled with it myself for a long time” comment. Richard Mourdock, from all accounts, is not a woman. He can’t “struggle” with anything related to the issue of rape and pregnancy. He can pretend to struggle with it, he can pretend to wring his hands over how difficult an issue it is, but he doesn’t have the slightest idea of what it would mean to be raped and then be forced—by the biggest of big government—to bear the rapist’s child.

It is a perverted mind that believes any man can genuinely speak to this issue, let alone “struggle” with it.

Then we have the issue of a rape-produced pregnancy being “something that God intended to happen.” I applaud Mourdock for following the logic of his fundamentalist views to their proper ends. At least he didn’t dodge what his Iron Age thinking compels him to conclude. If one thinks like Mourdock, the only consistent position he can take is, yes, the government should force women to bear all children conceived, even if they were conceived through violence, through a violation of their bodies.

Except that after the debate, in answering questions about his remarks above, Mourdock eventually betrayed the logic of his theology:

MOURDOCK: What I said was, in answering the question on my position of faith, I said that I believe that God creates life. I believe that as wholly and as fully as I can believe it, that God creates life.

QUESTIONER: And so even if that happens in a rape situation, you still firmly believe that to be true?

MOURDOCK: That God creates life? Absolutely. I mean, God is the only one that can create life.

QUESTIONER: You said, quote, I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen…

MOURDOCK: …that life would be created…

QUESTIONER: …that life specifically?

MOURDOCK: Yes. I think God creates every life.

QUESTIONER: That life was created because of rape. How can you…

MOURDOCK: …no, no, no…

QUESTIONER: …How can you support that?

MOURDOCK: No, no, no. God creates life. God creates life. We don’t make life, uh, you know, in machines. God creates life. It’s a simple fact. I mean, God creates life. Does God want people raped? Of course not.

QUESTIONER: But you believe that abortion should be outlawed even in cases of rape?

MOURDOCK: Yes, that’s correct.

QUESTIONER: Incest, too?

MOURDOCK: Yes. I’ve said that consistently…

At one point, Mourdock added:

Are you trying to suggest somehow that God preordained rape? No, I don’t think that. Anyone who would suggest that is just sick and twisted. No, that’s not even close to what I said. What I said is that God creates life.

Sick and twisted? Yes. It would be sick and twisted for someone to suggest that God preordained rape. But such a sick and twisted suggestion logically follows from a belief that God creates and thus necessarily “preordains” life. Even God can’t create something he hasn’t preordained, which is defined as “deciding or determining an outcome or course of action beforehand.”

Therefore, Mourdock’s theology, his firm belief that God creates and thus determines beforehand all life, has to logically lead him to believe that God also preordained the method through which he created that life. There simply isn’t any way around that, even if Mourdock, for political reasons, eventually backed away from that conclusion.

All of which demonstrates just what is wrong with the anti-choice position of zealots like Mourdock. If he were true to this theological beliefs, if he remained steadfast in defending them, he would say, yes, I don’t understand why, but since God creates life, and since a life is sometimes created through the agency of rape, then God necessarily preordains rape.

It is that simple.

And for all you women out there, and for all you men who have sisters, wives, or daughters, if you believe that women’s bodies are nothing more than vehicles for God to act out his indiscriminate life-giving aims, if you believe women’s bodies are a fit subject for neanderthalic men like Richard Mourdock to wage theological and philosophical “struggles” over, then go right ahead and vote for Mourdock and his dreadful but logical conclusions.

And then hope that God won’t choose you or a woman in your life to “create life” in some horrific way.

And while you are at it, you can also vote for Mourdock’s endorser, Mitt Romney, who said in a debate in 2007 that he would “be delighted to sign” a bill “banning all abortions.” Here’s the context of that remark, as provided by ABC News:

“I would welcome a circumstance where there was such a consensus in this country that we said, we don’t want to have abortion in this country at all, period,” Romney said at the time. “That would be wonderful. I’d be delighted.”

Pressed CNN host Anderson Cooper, “The question is: Would you sign that bill?”

“Let me say it. I’d be delighted to sign that bill. But that’s not where we are,” Romney replied. “That’s not where America is today. Where America is ready to overturn Roe v. Wade and return to the states that authority. But if the Congress got there, we had that kind of consensus in that country, terrific.”

Yeah, just terrific.

The national press has done a good job of ignoring the extremism of the Republican Party on the issue of abortion. I am convinced that not enough women, or men for that matter, understand what is at stake in this election, in terms of the reproductive and health care rights of women.

Finally, I want to end with something written about Mourdock and his remarks by Ross Kaminsky, a conservative who writes for the extremist, right-wing rag The American Spectator:

I think he’s just proven himself to be another person whose pro-life gut reactions trump what any intelligent person knows he should be saying in an election campaign — by which I do not mean to imply that he should say anything he doesn’t believe. He simply doesn’t need to say everything he does believe, especially when those things have essentially nothing to do with what the election — or the job he wants — is really about.

You see? Mourdock “doesn’t need to say everything he does believe.” He doesn’t need to reveal how extreme he is. Why? Kaminsky continues:

While his explanations make sense in the context of a religious belief, his comment was political suicide. He might still win his election, and I have to hope he does, but he’s just the latest example of why so many call the GOP the “stupid party.”

Sadly and disturbingly, Kaminsky doesn’t believe the GOP is the “stupid party” for believing such nonsense as Mourdock and Romney believe. No. He believes it is the stupid party for telling voters that they believe it.

And with the aid of a compliant, don’t-offend-the-conservatives press, a press that often glosses over such extremism, that stupid party may soon be running the entire country.

Remarks And Asides, Debate Edition

I thought, at times, I could hear Bob Schieffer snoring during Monday night’s debate.  He did wake up long enough to say, “Obama bin Laden.”


The real way to conduct a debate, if we have to have them in a format approved by both parties, would be to have partisan journalists question the candidates. That would be much more entertaining and much more informative. It would be like real life, where candidates are asked tough questions by people who give a damn, instead of by sleepy journalists who are afraid of being accused by conservatives of bias.

We could have, say, Rachel Maddow question Romney and, uh, well, there’s no one quite like Rachel Maddow on the other side, so I guess that wouldn’t work.


Among the many whoppers Romney told last night, he said killing ObamaCare, which he has admitted he grandfathered, would reduce the deficit. Of course killing ObamaCare would increase the deficit by about $109 billion, at least if you believe the Congressional Budget Office. But Republicans don’t believe the CBO, except when they do.


Obama’s line during the debate, “Nothing Governor Romney just said is true,” should be put on a bumper sticker, which, with the help of a magic marker, would still have usefulness even if Mittens becomes president: “Nothing Governor President Romney just said is true.


Another Romney whopper told yet again, despite a tsunami of pants-on-fire criticism, was the “Apology Tour” line, first birthed by, I think, foreign policy expert Sean Hannity. And Romney’s bogus claim was enthusiastically, you might say orgasmically, endorsed by conservative intellectual—in this case perhaps that’s an oxymoron—Charles Krauthammer, who actually claimed Romney won the debate by virtue of his repeating that much-debunked claim:

People don’t care that much about what our policy on Syria is gonna be. They care about how America is perceived in the world and how America carries itself in the world. And the high point of that debate for Romney is when he devastatingly leveled the charge of Obama going around the world on an apology tour…

He actually said that. I’m not making that up. He said people don’t really give a damn about our actual policies, only other nation’s perceptions. And I’m not making the following up either, which Krauthammer uttered during his awesome analysis of the debate:

I thought Romney had the day. He looked presidential and the President did not, and that’s the impression I think that’s gonna be left.

Let me get this straight: The President of the United States wasn’t, uh, presidential. Hmm. I’ll have to give that some deep, deep thought, since it came from a brilliant conservative thinker.


And speaking of brilliant conservative thinkers, after the debate was over, Romney enthusiast and Limbaugh impersonator, Ann Coulter, tweeted:

That, my friends, passes for brilliant commentary in Fox-fed brains. I bet she spent the better part of the weekend thinking that one up. I wonder if ABC’s This Week, a once reputable Sunday program, will have her back for her insightful opinions? She sure looks good sitting next to yet another brilliant conservative thinker, George Will, whose brilliance is all the more blinding in her presence.


When Romney was in prep school terrorizing kids he thought were gay, he should have been studying geography:

ROMNEY: Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea.

Go look it up.


After listening to some undecided voters share their opinions on the debate, I have decided they should all be rounded up and sent to live in one state and be done with it. I propose Kansas, since they can’t muck up that state any more than Republicans have mucked it up. And since there isn’t a whole lot of stuff to do in Kansas, they will have little trouble making up their minds about whether to go out on the town or stay at home and read absolutely nothing.


Finally, the best lines of the night, and for some of us, a long damn time coming:

A Foreign Policy Debate About Ohio

I want to start out by saying, about last night’s debate and about the campaign in general, that we have never—never, absolutely never—seen a candidate like Mitt Romney.

It is amazing to me that President Obama was able to decisively—it wasn’t even close, folks, and the flash polls show it—win the debate, considering what he was up against. How do you debate Sybil? How do you debate someone with multiple personalities, any one of which might appear out of nowhere and then disappear, replaced by yet another? How do you conduct a debate with someone like that?

How do you even prepare for a debate with someone who can convincingly (but only for those low-information voters who don’t pay attention) pretend that whatever he has said prior to the debate he didn’t say? How do you debate someone so willing to abandon the neoconservative philosophy, dangerous to the core, that won him the Republican nomination?

Romnesia, indeed.

The Mitt Romney who spoke last night, the one who was sitting in that chair getting schooled by the real Commander-in-Chief, was not the tough-talking, warmongering cowboy we have seen on the campaign trail or the one endlessly and falsely criticizing the President’s policies on right-wing TV and radio.

Nope. The Romney who sat there last night actually agreed with just about everything President Obama has done abroad, despite the fact that conservatives, including Romney, have said time and again that the President was “in over his head.” They have said that he has had a disastrous foreign policy, messed everything up, made us weaker before our foreign friends and enemies, and thus made us less safe.

All that was washed away last night as Mitt Romney essentially endorsed President Obama’s handling of world affairs.  He agreed with the progress that has been made, agreed with the goals going forward, and tried to piggyback on the Commander-in-Chief’s sober, thoughtful approach. Romney was so much in accord with the President that it made some conservatives nervous. Glenn Beck sarcastically tweeted at a couple of points:

I am glad to know that mitt agrees with Obama so much. No, really. Why vote?…He is not hitting anywhere.  Is this to make him not scary?  He is scaring me.

Of course, it doesn’t take much to scare Glenn Beck, a little sanity will do the job, but his comment does show that the right-wing’s distrust of their champion is still alive and well.

But more important than Romney’s snuggling up with Obama’s handling of national security and foreign policy, was Mittens’ attempt to agree with the President’s decision to bail out GM and Chrysler. Because Ohio is such a critical battleground state, this part of the debate may actually turn out to have the biggest effect on the outcome of the election, and the President wouldn’t let Romney get away with his lie on this issue.

It came up during a discussion on China, and I will provide an extensive excerpt to show how rattled Romney was:

MR. ROMNEY:…I want a great relationship with China. China can be our partner. But — but that doesn’t mean they can just roll all over us and steal our jobs on an unfair basis.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Governor Romney’s right. You are familiar with jobs being shipped overseas, because you invested in companies that were shipping jobs overseas. And, you know, that’s your right. I mean, that’s how our free market works.

But I’ve made a different bet on American workers. You know, if we had taken your advice, Governor Romney, about our auto industry, we’d be buying cars from China instead of selling cars to China…

MR. ROMNEY: I just want to take one of those points. Again, attacking me is not talking about an agenda for getting more trade and opening up more jobs in this country. But the president mentioned the auto industry and that somehow I would be in favor of jobs being elsewhere. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m a son of Detroit. I was born in Detroit. My dad was head of a car company. I like American cars. And I would do nothing to hurt the U.S. auto industry. My plan to get the industry on its feet when it was in real trouble was not to start writing checks. It was President Bush that wrote the first checks. I disagree with that. I said they need — these companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy, and in that process they can get government help and government guarantees, but they need to go through bankruptcy to get rid of excess cost and the debt burden that they’d — they’d built up.

And fortunately the president picked —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor Romney, that’s not what you said.

MR. ROMNEY: Fortunately, the president — you can take — you can take a look at the op-ed.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor, you did not —

MR. ROMNEY: You can take a look at the op-ed.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You did not say that you would provide, Governor, help.

MR. ROMNEY: You know, I’m — I’m still speaking. I said that we would provide guarantees and — and that was what was able to allow these companies to go through bankruptcy, to come out of bankruptcy. Under no circumstances would I do anything other than to help this industry get on its feet. And the idea that has been suggested that I would liquidate the industry — of course not. Of course not.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Let’s check the record.

MR. ROMNEY: That’s the height of silliness.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Let’s — let’s check the record.

MR. ROMNEY: I have never said I would — I would liquidate the industry. I want to keep the industry growing and thriving.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor, the people in Detroit don’t forget.

MR. ROMNEY: And — and that’s I have the kind of commitment to make sure that our industries in this country can compete and be successful. We in this country can compete successfully with anyone in the world. And we’re going to. We’re going to have to have a president, however, that doesn’t think that somehow the government investing in — in car companies like Tesla and — and Fisker, making electric battery cars — this is not research, Mr. President. These are the government investing in companies, investing in Solyndra. This is a company. This isn’t basic research. I — I want to invest in research. Research is great. Providing funding to universities and think tanks — great. But investing in companies? Absolutely not. That’s the wrong way to go.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor, the fact of the matter is —

MR. ROMNEY: I’m still speaking.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well — (chuckles) —

MR. ROMNEY: So I want to make sure that we make — we make America more competitive —


MR. ROMNEY: — and that we do those things that make America the most attractive place in the world for entrepreneurs, innovators, businesses to grow. But your investing in companies doesn’t do that. In fact it makes it less likely for them to come here —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: All right, Governor —

MR. ROMNEY: — because the private sector’s not going to invest in a — in a — in a solar company if —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I’m happy — I’m — I’m — I’m happy to respond —

MR. ROMNEY: — if you’re investing government money and someone else’s.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You’ve held the floor for a while. The — look, I think anybody out there can check the record. Governor Romney, you keep on trying to, you know, airbrush history here. You were very clear that you would not provide government assistance to the U.S. auto companies even if they went through bankruptcy. You said that they could get it in the private marketplace. That wasn’t true. They would have gone through a—

MR. ROMNEY: You’re wrong. You’re wrong, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I — no, I am not wrong.

MR. ROMNEY: You’re wrong.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I am not wrong. And —

MR. ROMNEY: People can look it up. You’re right.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: People will look it up.


Of course Romney doesn’t really want folks to look it up. If people spent time looking up things he said, he’d be toast. But we’ll look it up in a minute. First, though, let’s look at what Romney did in this exchange.

Notice how he tried to steer the conversation away from the President’s criticism of his position on the auto bailout. He tried to bring up carmakers Tesla and Fisker and, for God’s sake, Solyndra, the former solar panel maker. That demonstrated Obama had struck a nerve.

But notice, too, that Romney admitted something very important related to the bailout of GM and Chrysler, and all those jobs people now have in Ohio because of that bailout:

Providing funding to universities and think tanks — great. But investing in companies? Absolutely not. That’s the wrong way to go.

Investing in companies is the wrong way to go, he said. Investing in companies like GM and Chrysler, then, was the wrong way to go. Nothing could be clearer than that, all you folks in Ohio who still have jobs in the auto industry. Romney thought that was “the wrong way to go.”

Now, let’s look up what President Obama wanted us to look up and what Romney hopes we won’t. Let’s look at that famous “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” editorial in The New York Times. The first two sentences of the piece went like this:

If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.

Hmm. Bailout = end of auto industry. He wrote that. And he wrote,

Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.


Romney tried to argue during last night’s debate that he “would provide guarantees” that would “allow these companies to go through bankruptcy, to come out of bankruptcy.”  Those guarantees, though, were for private money, for “post-bankruptcy financing,” as he said in the Times article. The problem, as everyone knew at the time, was that there was no post-bankruptcy, private financing available. No one wanted to invest a dime in the companies, which is why the government, if it wanted to save all those jobs, had to step in.

And that is why Romney is having a hard time convincing folks in Ohio and elsewhere, folks who have a paycheck today thanks to the government bailout of the auto industry, that they should trust him with their futures. He got it wrong when it counted most for them.

But Mitt Romney did get one thing right in that op-ed article in The New York Times, although not quite in the way he envisioned it. He said that unless things were done his way—the Romney way—regarding the automakers, “the federal government would…seal their fate with a bailout check.”

Yes, that’s right. The fate of a million, perhaps one and a half million, folks who have jobs today was sealed with that bailout check, a check that a President Romney would never have written.

You got that, Ohio?

“My Candidate Is Jesus Christ,” Said Billy Graham

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot

—”Just As I Am” by Charlotte Elliott

y mom and dad would never, and I mean never, miss the broadcast of a Billy Graham Crusade—yes, that’s what he called his travelling evangelical show, despite the historical shame attached to that term—and many times, as a kid and as an adult, I listened to his warnings that Jesus was coming soon and folks had better get saved or else hell awaited.

The strains of “Just As I Am,” that beautifully written old hymn, still bounce around in my head, as does the sight of all those scared sinners ambling down to meet Jesus, or, more realistically, to meet the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Of course, my Democratic parents probably didn’t know much, if anything, about Billy Graham’s politics. He is said to have admitted to being a “lifelong Democrat,” but I have found exactly no evidence to back that up and much to contradict it.

But he did say in 1980:

The clergy ought to stay out of politics and let the laymen handle it…My candidate is Jesus Christ.

Well, by the time 2000 rolled around, Graham was flirting around with another candidate, George W. Bush, who didn’t much resemble Jesus in any way I could see, but nevertheless had Graham’s sly endorsement.

Now we hear that the old evangelical preacher has embraced another Republican candidate, one who apparently does resemble Jesus, at least GOP Jesus, the savior of Holy Vulture Capitalism, the kind who feasts on working-class carcasses.

It appears that Billy Graham has had a come-to-Mitt moment.

And his endorsement of Romney—his open-mouthed evangelical kiss—comes despite the fact that Billy Graham used to want us to believe that Mormons, just like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientologists, are not Christians:

Scrubbed away. Gone. Forgettaboutit. Nothing to see here.

Without any hesitation or ambiguity, when I was a conservative evangelical Christian, and studying to be a minister of that brand of gospel, I was taught that Mormonism was most definitely a cult, just as Billy Graham claimed. There simply wasn’t any question about it, and given the doctrines that conservative evangelicals hold, including those related to the nature of God, Jesus, and man, and the central role the Bible plays in defining Christianity for them, it is impossible to believe that one can be a practicing, true-believing Mormon and also be a Christian in the evangelical sense.

And if Mitt Romney is anything, we definitely know he is a practicing, true-believing Mormon.

But politics, particularly in the age of Obama, makes people do strange things, like betraying the rudiments of their rudimentary faith in order to make sure the White’s House is safe and secure once again, even if it means putting a cultist in charge. Strange things like scrubbing away a doctrinal dispute that was once so important that eternal salvation depended on knowing that Mormonism would lead you straight to hell because it was a cult.

All of this strange and disgusting stuff leaves me with one positive benefit. Should an enterprising evangelical ever come to my door again, offering me a chance to meet Jesus, or confront me on the street with a pamphlet or a Bible, telling me I will suffer eternal damnation unless I repent, I will ask one simple question:

Did you vote for Mitt Romney?

Yes? Then go straight to hell you pious fraud.

Damn, That’s Good!

From my “I wish I had thought of that” file, I bring to you, to use a technical phrase, a freakin’ awesome neologism:

The Mainstream Press’ Response Is Not Optimal

optimal: Most favorable or desirable

—The Free Dictionary

 new commenter, N. Michael Barrows, has joined us and presented us this:

I have a question for anyone…willing to give a response. I see that The President is getting slammed this morning (10/19) for using the phrase “not optimal” last night on The Daily Show when referring to the deaths of the four Americans in Libya. Now, I’m not saying that “not optimal” is what should have been said; but my question is: Could he have said anything regarding the attack that would not have drawn the negative attention as what he did say?

My response:


Let me begin by reminding folks that it was Jon Stewart who first used that phrase. The President then incorporated it into his response to Stewart, as is rhetorically kosher. I don’t see a damn thing wrong with the way Obama used the phrase, given the question he was asked, which had to do with the administration’s initial response—response—to the tragedy in Benghazi: 

STEWART: I would say and even you would admit it was not the optimal response — at least to the American people as far as us all being on the same page. 

OBAMA: Here is what I will say: If four Americans get killed, it is not optimal. And we’re gonna fix it… 

STEWART: All of it… 

OBAMA:  All of it. And what happens during the course of a presidency, is that, you know, the government is a big operation, and at any given time, something screws up and you make that sure you find out what’s broken and you fix it.

Whatever else I have done throughout the course of my presidency, the one thing that I’ve been absolutely clear about is America’s security comes first and the American people need to know exactly how I make decisions, when it comes to war, peace, national security, and protecting Americans. And they will continue to get that over the next four years of my presidency.

Naturally, these words, which admittedly most people will never hear, were immediately ignored by not only right-wingers, but also by some mainstream news outlets. The focus, as usual, was on one word, as if one word suffices to characterize Obama’s response.

Was the President supposed to respond to Stewart’s question by saying that “it”—whatever the “it” referenced in his response—was optimal? What Obama was essentially saying, as he played off Stewart’s word, was this:

Look, Jon, four Americans died. Of course the response was not optimal.

But the larger point to make in response to your question, Michael, is this: There are those out there who parse Obama’s every statement, who interpret what he says in the worst possible light, who no matter how he answered Jon Stewart’s question, would have found grave fault with it.

What is worse than that, though, is that the mainstream press often, way too often, makes a news story out of ridiculous conservative-inspired criticism of Obama. You can turn on your TV or you can search the Internet and you will find all kinds of mainstream journalists talking and writing about this overwrought conservative response to what Obama said. This latest attack on the President’s words are just part of the larger attack against him as not being sufficiently American, of not sufficiently loving the country.

And the mainstream press ought to have learned by now to ignore this utter bullshit coming from places like Breitbart and Fox “News.” The fact that it doesn’t ignore it is what makes me so angry. This whole non-controversy demonstrates just how easily conservatives can manipulate the mainstream press. It is sickening. It is shameful.


Petticoat Joplin

Sometimes I feel sorry for conservatives.

Like one of our local Obama-haters named Marilyn Beasley, who often writes into the Joplin Globe and who sometimes (and inexplicably) gets featured as a guest columnist.

Not long ago she wrote a typical Foxish piece about Obama supposedly gutting welfare-to-work standards so that lazy, dark Democrats could stay home and smoke crack and have babies. Okay, she didn’t exactly put it that way, but that’s how I read it and I suspect how she meant it.

In any case, a couple of adults have written to the Globe trying to correct the lie that Obama is changing the work standards under welfare reform, a lie that Romney has used in stump speeches and television ads. But Mrs. Beasley will have none of it. She’s sticking to her own set of facts, thank you.

But my point about Mrs. Beasley is that in a way I feel sorry for her and those like her, even though my pity has limits. Here’s why: In Friday’s paper, she responded to a critic of hers, Jim Williams, who had written:

Marilyn Beasley’s letter of Sept. 10 states in part: “I can prove the facts to back up what I write.” Is she serious? If so, is she suffering from short-term memory loss? Most likely her information comes from an unreliable source, namely, Fox News.

Mrs. Beasley responded:

Mr. Williams…assumed that I get my information from Fox News. Although I love listening to Fox, I think for myself and read everything I can to know what is happening in our country and to our country.

So far, so good, don’t you think? I mean, after that statement I was expecting Mrs. Beasley to drop on us a Mother Jones reference, or, heck, The New York Times, for God’s sake. But then—and this is where my limited pity enters the picture—she writes:

I first read about this directive on the Drudge Report and Newsmax.com.

Uh-oh. Let me see. Drudge and Newsmax? Let’s stop here for a moment.

Right-wingin’ Drudge is a big-time Romney guy and the source of most of Rush Limbaugh’s radio show. And a former senior writer at Forbes called Newsmax the “great right hope” and said it is “a must-read on the conservative media circuit.” Dick Morris, toesucker-in-chief, writes a column for Newsmax and has said it reflects “what Republicans in the heartland are really thinking.” In other words, Newsmax tells people like Marilyn Beasley what they want to hear.

So, sadly, Mrs. Beasley hasn’t exactly shown herself able to think for herself and “read everything” she can “to know what is happening in our country and to our country.” But she wasn’t done, so let’s hear her out:

Since I don’t just accept things on face value, I started searching facts. I found other articles about this in the Washington Examiner (Oct 15), Political News (Oct.12), and the Heritage Organization, among others. I believe the Heritage Organization is one of the most reputable groups when it comes to fact finding, and it had extensive information on the subject. I would advise anyone who is interested in finding out the facts to check these out.

Okay, don’t laugh. Feel pity. Lots of pity. She represents a lot of people where I live, here in Petticoat Joplin. And I suspect she represents a lot of folks where you live, too.

The Washington Examiner is a right-wing tabloid owned by a right-wing gazillionarie named Philip Anschutz, who also owns another, more influential, right-wing magazine called The Weekly Standard. Politico says these holdings have given the gazillionaire,

a megaphone for his right-wing views on taxes, national security and President Barack Obama that the 130 or so companies he owns have not provided him.

So much for the unimpeachable credibility of another one of Mrs. Beasley’s factual sources. How about her reference to something called “Political News”? What the hell is that? Beats me. I couldn’t find a site called Political News. So, I’m guessing she got it either from a section in the Hooterville World Guardian or her church bulletin.

In any case, her last reference, the one she said is “the most reputable” “when it comes to fact finding,” was to the Heritage “Organization,” by which I presume she means The Heritage “Foundation,” a very right-wing think tank with a reputation for more tank than think.

Jamison Foser described the tank think, the one that was for the individual mandate before it was against it because The Scary Negro embraced it, this way:

Again and again, Heritage crosses the line between “wrong” and “dishonest.”

Constantly bouncing between wrong and dishonest is a perfect description of right-wing media in general. And it helps to explain why it is that rather than always get angry at the Marilyn Beasleys of the world, I occasionally feel sorry for them.

You see, the reason that these Obama-hating folks are so often wrong and so often dishonest is because of the polluted troughs in which they stick their news noses into feed. When you are challenged on your Fox News source and your defense is that you also get your news from,

Drudge, Newsmax, Washington Examiner, and The Heritage Foundation,

then you are to be pitied—at least partially. At some point you are obligated to stick your snout into more diverse troughs, if not more reputable ones. At some point you have to realize that not all the “truth” is found on Fox or on the lips of Rush Limbaugh.

And at some point the Marilyn Beasleys around us have to realize that they are being suckered and used by rich right-wingers, who manipulate these pitiful folks into voting against their own economic interests in favor of the interests of people like Philip Anschutz, Sheldon Adelson, and the Koch brothers.

No “Breaking News” On Fox For This One

Tagg Romney was asked by a conservative talk show host what it was like during the debate “to hear the president of the United States call your dad a liar.” A chuckling little Romney said:

Jump out of your seat and you want to rush down to the stage and take a swing at him. But you know you can’t do that because, well, first because there’s a lot of Secret Service between you and him, but also because that’s the nature of the process.

Keith Boykin, an African-American broadcaster and former aid to Bill Clinton, was on a discussion panel on MSNBC this afternoon that included Steve Deace, a conservative radio host. Boykin responded to the Tagg Romney thing this way:

This is the most privileged, pampered group of people I’ve ever seen, complaining about everything along the way…and the idea that somehow they get away with it makes no sense to me, because you know, everyone at this table, everyone on this panel knows, if by chance Barack Obama had a son, and his son was an African-American and said he wanted to take a swing at the President of the United States, there would be an uproar from Steve and the conservative media and Fox “News.” This is a double standard at its highest level.

Who can doubt that?

For his part, the conservative Deace compared Tagg Romney’s macho response to one his eleven-year old girl might give if Deace were under attack from Boykin. “In the heat of the battle, I think you cut people a little bit of slack when family’s at stake,” Deace said.

The problem is that Little Mittens is 42 bleeping years old.

Again, who can doubt that if Obama’s black son, of any age, suggested he wanted to take a swing at a President Romney, that Sean Hannity would feature a “Breaking News” segment tonight complete with that nutty Fox “News” psychiatrist—you know, the one who suggested that Joe Biden’s debate performance was attributable to “dementia”—telling us about pent-up black rage in the Obama family?

12 Conservative Myths Everyone Should Know

A frequent contributor in the comment section of this blog is a thinker named Herb Van Fleet. He posted a list of conservative myths the other day that blew me away. Here is Herb’s fantastic offering:

1. Lowering taxes DOES NOT create jobs!

2. Austerity HAS NEVER saved a depression or a recession!

3. Cutting defense spending DOES NOT REDUCE our national security!

4. Cooperation and Compromise ARE NOT impediments to democracy!

5. Signing a pledge to not raise taxes (or get rid of tax deductions) IS NOT patriotic!

6. President Obama WAS NOT born in Kenya, IS NOT a Muslim OR a Socialist and WILL NOT send out the national guard to take away your guns!

7. The poor and those dependent on welfare DID NOT cause the Great Recession or the increases in the federal debt!

8. The Americans who DO NOT want to start a business or fight their way up the corporate ladder ARE NOT irresponsible, or lazy, or a drain on society!

9. The vast majority of Americans who do not pay income taxes ARE NOT irresponsible, or lazy, or a drain on society!

10. A rising tide DOES NOT LIFT ALL boats, just the boats that are already afloat; NOT the boats that are still tied to the dock!

11. The United States IS NOT, I repeat, NOT a Christian nation – Creationism IS NOT scientifically valid, women ARE NOT subordinate to men, and homosexuality IS NOT a choice that can be fixed by prayer!

12. Cutting “entitlement” programs where the beneficiaries have paid taxes in good faith for certain benefits (Social Security and Medicare) is not only a BREACH OF TRUST with the American people, it is flat out IMMORAL!

For an extensive comparison between Conservative and Liberal see http://www.conservativemyths.com/compare.html

“This Campaign To Make Democracy Extinct”

One luxury of being fabulously wealthy is that you can throw your weight around and distort reality. You can sometimes bend it to conform to your own agenda.

This morning I heard a disturbing report on NPR that detailed the efforts of Sheldon Adelson, who made his billions in the casino bidness, to throw his weight around by launching “a free newspaper in Israel in 2007” that “has close ties with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

The result of the American billionaire’s efforts is that other Hebrew newspapers, including ones not in the pockets of Adelson and Netanyahu, are struggling, since they cannot compete with a business willing to give its product away, charge advertisers much less than market rates, and thus operate at a considerable loss.

Adelson’s newspaper venture, called Israel Hayom, is obviously designed to quiet any opposition to right-wing thinking and, more important as a war with Iran looms in America’s future, right-wing actions.

Here’s how McClatchy reported on the issue:

The economic crisis that’s hit the newspaper industry in the United States and elsewhere is threatening some of Israel’s most influential publications and could soon leave the country with virtually no liberal-leaning printed newspapers…

Publishers say that competition with the Internet, as in the rest of the world, is one reason for their decline. But they say a far bigger influence has been the cost of competing with Israel Hayom, a free-distribution newspaper that American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson founded five years ago.

In Israel, the right-wing paper is known as “Bibi Press,” for its “often-fawning articles about Netanyahu.” The free paper is hurting all newspapers, not just left-leaning ones. The McClatchy article ends this way:

Popular Israeli columnist Ben Caspit wrote Friday in Maariv that outside forces were driving Israeli media outlets out of business.

“An enormous power, uncontrollable and unstoppable, arrives from outside and destroys the local forces one after another, like in a futuristic film. The local forces are us: Maariv, Haaretz, Channel 10, Globes, afterwards it’s Channel 2’s turn and in the end also Yediot Ahronot. No one of these has enough power to even tickle Sheldon Adelson,” he wrote.

“I think not so long from now we will all understand that we are in one boat. That they are taking over our country. That this is a war. . . . We need to unite and to explain to Bibi, so that he’ll understand, that he must not continue with this campaign to make democracy extinct.”

Noam Sheizaf of the web magazine +972, called attention to how Israel Hayom inserted itself into American politics. He published a story in July titled:

Romney uses Adelson’s free paper to criticize Obama

Sheizaf noted that during Romney’s visit to Israel this year, he violated the longstanding practice of not criticizing a sitting American administration while abroad. And he did so not in a left-leaning newspaper that interviewed him, but in Adelson’s rag.

For the record, the bloated billionaire is also throwing his bloatedness around here in other ways, notably:

Mr. Adelson has already contributed more money to defeat Mr. Obama than anyone: over $50 million has gone to the 2012 campaign, including $10 million to a “super PAC” backing Mr. Romney and $10 million to Crossroads GPS, which has run millions of dollars of advertisements against Mr. Obama.

Adelson has pledged to spend $100 million or more, and it remains to be seen whether he can buy enough votes for Mitt Romney to win and thereby represent the billionaire’s interests and help with his agenda. But we have seen enough already to make us realize that in an important way the election in November is about more than Obama and Romney.

It’s about whether rich folks can continue to openly get away with distorting reality.

It’s about whether the wealthy can bend the electorate’s will enough to keep advancing the exclusive interests of the moneyed class.

It is about whether Americans will continue to allow fat-cat bully-billionaires like Sheldon Adelson to push them around.

The Incredible Shrinking Romney

The man who was a CEO, the man whose vulture-money has dual citizenship, the man who has spent his whole life telling people what to do and when to do it, tried once again to bully his way into the White’s House by running over the President of the United States.

And this time, this time, he met resistance, a determined and dignified resistance, and the Big Man on Campus suddenly looked small, his confidence exposed as arrogance, as insolence. At the end, we saw a different Mitt Romney, one who couldn’t wait to get off that stage.

Early on, and perhaps lost in the theatrics to come, President Obama deconstructed Mittens and turned his off-putting swagger into a much-deserved stagger:

Governor Romney’s says he’s got a five-point plan? Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan. He has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules. That’s been his philosophy in the private sector; that’s been his philosophy as governor; that’s been his philosophy as a presidential candidate.

You can make a lot of money and pay lower tax rates than somebody who makes a lot less. You can ship jobs overseas and get tax breaks for it. You can invest in a company, bankrupt it, lay off the workers, strip away their pensions, and you still make money.

That’s exactly the philosophy that we’ve seen in place for the last decade. That’s what’s been squeezing middle-class families.

And we have fought back for four years to get out of that mess. The last thing we need to do is to go back to the very same policies that got us there.

What was Romney’s reaction? What could he do? His time on the question had been used up. He had already had his say. But true to form he validated Mr. Obama’s claim that “folks at the top play by a different set of rules“:

CROWLEY: Mr. President, the next question is going to be for you here. And, Mr. Romney – Governor Romney – there’ll be plenty of chances here to go on, but I want to…

ROMNEY: That – that Detroit – that Detroit answer…

CROWLEY: We have all these folks.

ROMNEY: … that Detroit answer…

CROWLEY: I will let you absolutely…

ROMNEY: … and the rest of the answer, way off the mark.

No, as it turns out, it was right on the mark, Mittens. A different set of rules, indeed.

You know who I thought of while I was listening to Romney, watching him almost stalk the President? I thought of Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia. I wondered how Putin, a former KGB officer and all-around bad guy, would handle such condescension. How would he handle Romney bossing him around? How would he handle Romney’s dismissive “I’m still speaking” shtick?

He’d dope-slap him back to La Jolla.

But President Obama is not Vladimir Putin. As is his trademark, true to his brand, he calmly, but assertively, pushed back against the Romney lies, against the arrogance. No part of the debate demonstrated that calm but assertive Obama brand better than when the discussion turned to Libya.

The President called out his opponent for his disgraceful exploitation of the turmoil surrounding the death of our ambassador and three other Americans:

While we were still dealing with our diplomats being threatened, Governor Romney put out a press release, trying to make political points, and that’s not how a commander in chief operates. You don’t turn national security into a political issue. Certainly not right when it’s happening.

Romney’s response included this:

But I find more troubling than this, that on – on the day following the assassination of the United States ambassador, the first time that’s happened since 1979, when – when we have four Americans killed there, when apparently we didn’t know what happened, that the president, the day after that happened, flies to Las Vegas for a political fund-raiser, then the next day to Colorado for another event, other political event.

I think these – these actions taken by a president and a leader
have symbolic significance and perhaps even material significance in that you’d hope that during that time we could call in the people who were actually eyewitnesses.

Obama would have none of that nonsense. Looking straight at Romney, he said:

The day after the attack, Governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror, and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime. And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families.

And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team, would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, Governor, is offensive. That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president, that’s not what I do as Commander in Chief.

It was all downhill from there for the former CEO and BMOC.

Romney, thinking he had a gotcha moment, persisted in making a fool of himself:

ROMNEY: I – I think it’s interesting the president just said something which – which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.

OBAMA: That’s what I said.

ROMNEY: [looking at the President] You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you’re saying?

OBAMA: Please proceed, Governor.

ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

OBAMA: Get the transcript.

CROWLEY: It – it – it – he did in fact, sir…call it an act of terror…

OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?

CROWLEY: He – he did call it an act of terror.


Finally, although President Obama could have done a much better job of linking Romney to the most extreme elements of his party, he managed to strike a decisive blow at the end, the opening provided by Romney himself:

I think the president’s campaign has tried to characterize me as – as someone who’s very different than who I am. I care about 100 percent of the American people. I want 100 percent of the American people to have a bright and prosperous future.

Uh-oh. That was sort of like Romney saying, “Go ahead, dope-slap me with the truth.” Obama did:

I believe Governor Romney is a good man. Loves his family, cares about his faith. But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about. Folks on Social Security who’ve worked all their lives. Veterans to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this country’s dreams. Soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now. People who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas taxes, but don’t make enough income.

And I want to fight for them. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last four years. Because if they succeed, I believe the country succeeds. 

When my grandfather fought in World War II and he came back and he got a G.I. Bill and that allowed him to go to college, that wasn’t a handout. That was something that advanced the entire country. And I want to make sure that the next generation has those same opportunities. That’s why I’m asking for your vote and that’s why I’m asking for another four years.

Those were the last words of the debate, words that no doubt are still ringing in Romney’s ears this morning, as hopefully they are ringing in the ears of undecided voters.

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