Obama: “Shame On Us If We’ve Forgotten”

“The notion that two months or three months after something as horrific as what happened in Newtown happens and we’ve moved on to other things, that’s not who we are.  That’s not who we are. 

And I want to make sure every American is listening today.  Less than 100 days ago that happened, and the entire country was shocked.  And the entire country pledged we would do something about it and that this time would be different.  Shame on us if we’ve forgotten.  I haven’t forgotten those kids.  Shame on us if we’ve forgotten.”

—President Obama, March 28, 2013

wwhen you think about it, the dysfunction in our nation’s capital, mostly caused by Tea Party Republican’s unwillingness to accept the political legitimacy of their opponents, is more obvious and discouraging not in the battles over budgets and deficits and debt, but in the battle over something as simple and commonsensical as requiring universal background checks for folks who want to purchase weapons.

It really is amazing that the President of the United States has to fight so hard to secure something so simple and so practical and so necessary for our nation’s well-being.

President Obama asked a series of questions on Thursday that deserve answers:

Why wouldn’t we want to make it more difficult for a dangerous person to get his or her hand on a gun? 

Why wouldn’t we want to close the loophole that allows as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases to take place without a background check? 

Why wouldn’t we do that?

President Obama on gun violenceThe President mentioned that 90% of Americans, including “more than 80 percent of Republicans,” support universal background checks, which simply means closing the current loopholes in the law that allow private sales, such as at gun shows, to go unchecked. Yet if these new-and-improved background checks become law, it will take a relatively strong offensive by the American people and those in Congress who support common sense on making the country a little bit safer when it comes to guns.

And nothing, not disagreements about Medicare, ObamaCare, or the dark and Randian components of Paul Ryan’s budget plan, demonstrates just how broken and malfunctional is our national legislature—because extremist Republicans mean to break it and keep it from working—than this one simple issue of requiring a universal five-minute background check on people who wish to purchase killing machines.

 

Socialism’s Surprising Supporters In Southwest Missouri

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

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

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

The Obama campaign attacked Romney on that point.

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

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

Let’s review:

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

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

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

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

joplin globe headline on federal money

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

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

And:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sodom, Gomorrah, And The Supreme Court

After listening to and reading the transcript of the oral arguments made available by the Supreme Court yesterday, I can quickly summarize the position of those opposed to legalizing same-sex marriage: homosexuals can’t produce kids by boinking, therefore the government has the right to withhold its official blessing from such boinking.

The attorney for those wishing to keep in force California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage, Charles Cooper, summed up his argument toward the end of the session:

That’s what this question really boils down here, whether or not it can be said that, for every legitimate purpose of marriage, are opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples indistinguishable? And with all due respect to counsel and to the Respondents, that is not a hard question. 

If, in fact, it is true, as the people of California believe that it still is true, that the natural procreative capacity of opposite-sex couples continues to pose vitally important benefits and risks to society, and that’s why marriage itself is the institution that society has always used to regulate those heterosexual, procreative relationships.

I’ll leave it to your common sense (or just listen to Justice Kagan dismantle it) to figure out what’s wrong with that ridiculous argument because I find its ridiculousness self-evident. But I will point you to the use of the words, “the natural procreative capacity.” Because homosexuals lack this capacity, goes the argument, they don’t enjoy the same entitlement to marriage as folks whose boinking can have crumb-cruncher consequences.

That’s what it boils down to.

The truth of the matter is that most of those defending the ban on same-sex marriage aren’t really worried about regulating “procreative” relationships, otherwise they’d prohibit Rush Limbaugh from having—count ’em—four wives. What they are really worried about is society legitimating what they consider to be illegitimate: homosexuality.

To them, people who are not sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex are defective human beings who need to be kept in their place as defective human beings otherwise the United States will go straight to hell because, after all, God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.

And we will soon find out whether our Supreme Court, the institution that actually tells us what the law is in this country, will side with the much-maligned, if imaginary, citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah or the angry, but thankfully imaginary, God who persecuted them for their imaginary sins.

Post image for Sodom and Gomorrah

Dr. Ben

Ben, the two of us need look no more
We both found what we were looking for
With my friend to call my own, I’ll never be alone
And you, my friend, will see, you’ve got a friend in me

“Ben,” as sung by Michael Jackson

being black and being conservative is a sure way to get some face time on Fox or some mouth time on right-wing radio. It’s no secret that right-wingers have been looking for an Anti-Obama, some nimble-minded African-American who can represent and articulate reactionary conservatism the way they mistakenly think Obama represents and articulates radical liberalism.

As for Fox, nearly every black conservative in America has appeared on the “news” channel at some time or another, and the latest black conservative interest, after Allen West and Herman Cain, is Dr. Benjamin Carson. Network stars have been practically begging Carson to run for president, and this morning he appeared once again on the IQ-unfriendly Fox and Friends, apparently just to remind Foxers that he is still black and still conservative and, by the way, has a book for sale. It was the usual stuff.fox and carson

But Ben Carson himself is rather unusual. Not too many political junkies had heard of him before he kicked sand in President Obama’s face at this year’s National Prayer Breakfast. Carson’s 27-minute talk caused legs and other body parts to tingle throughout the conservative media complex, including at The Wall Street Journal, which was ready to put him in the White’s House. A salivating Sean Hannity asked him if he would run for president and he said he would,

if the Lord grabbed me by the collar and made me do it.

He told ABC’s Jonathan Carl that it wasn’t his “intention” to run for office,

But I always say, ‘I’ll leave that up to God.”

Uh-oh. God, as we have seen lately, has had some trouble picking winners, so the Almighty may be somewhat reluctant to tell yet another right-winger that he (or she) is presidential material.

Carson grew up poor in Detroit with his Bible-believing mom. After some initial resistance, he eventually responded to her you-can-do-anything admonitions and began doing well in school. Troubled with a ferocious temper—reportedly he tried to hit his mom with a hammer and tried to stab a friend with a knife—he figured out how to control it. He got a scholarship to Yale and graduated with a degree in psychology, then graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School. At 33 he became the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, the youngest doctor ever to do so.

He became world-famous for his work on separating conjoined twins, and this fascinating article reveals the complexity and teamwork involved in that amazing type of surgery. He has received lots of awards, including our nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2008. He even had a TV movie made about him.

Because of his notoriety as a surgeon and his inner-city background, Carson began making a lot of speeches, sharing his story and God-fearing conservative philosophy with others, and writing books, most recently, America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great.

You can, by now, guess what made America great, according to Carson: Judeo-Christian values and unfettered capitalism. And you can guess that if we don’t listen to this neurosurgeon’s political advice, including lowering taxes on rich people, we’re all doomed.

But what you probably couldn’t guess—unless you observe right-wing behavior fairly closely—is that what Carson really wants, more than being in the White’s House, is a television gig.

According to The Washington Post’s Greg Jaffe,

After a several-day onslaught from fans and the media, many wanting to know his potential political plans, Carson has eased away from suggestions he may have his eyes on the White House. The 61-year-old doctor ben carsonnow says the likelihood of a presidential run is “incredibly small.” What he really wants is a second career in television when he retires from Johns Hopkins later this year.

“Maybe if you write about it in your article, somebody will say, ‘Let’s do it,’ ” he said in an interview. […]

Before he left, Carson finished his thought. He would like to do a show that focuses on “educating the American populace about things that are essential to our freedom,” he said in his soft, steady voice. Or he would like to try a show that would bring together people who hold opposing views on critical issues that are dividing the nation. Carson would then help them seek a middle ground or resolution.

“If the proper venue was presented, I would probably accept such a thing,” he said.

Of course! Who wouldn’t rather get paid a million bucks to go on TV and tell people how to run the country, instead of actually going to the trouble of getting elected and, well, running the country?

The New York Times interviewed the new conservative star and reported:

Dr. Carson said he was a “flaming liberal” in college but became conservative through his own climb to success. “One thing I always believed strongly in was personal responsibility and hard work,” he said. “I found the Democrat Party leaving me behind on that particular issue.”

Look, I don’t have a problem with someone changing his or her political views. This is, after all, The Erstwhile Conservative blog. But what really disturbs me about this surgical savant turned political philosopher is that last comment. You know, the one about Democrats not believing in personal responsibility and hard work, which is why the good doctor abandoned them.

I don’t know one single Democrat who doesn’t believe in personal responsibility and hard work, do you? And I don’t see a plank in the Democratic Party platform that reads: “We’re for irresponsible behavior and laziness.”

The truth is that some folks achieve great success or get rich or both and then suddenly remember that they are conservatives and that it was conservatives who invented personal responsibility and hard work, and that if you didn’t grow up to be wealthy or, say, a famous brain surgeon, then you didn’t work hard enough because Democrats said you didn’t have to.

I am sick of that lying meme.

And I am sick of the lying meme that says if you work hard and play by all the rules, you too will be successful and live out your dreams. Not everyone will. Not everyone who does all the right things ends up with a pot of gold at the end. Some folks don’t even end up with much of a pot.

God love Ben Carson’s mother and what she did for her son, but there are a lot of mothers like that who raise their kids to be hard-working, responsible adults who don’t happen to see those kids turn out to be famous or wealthy or the object of Rush Limbaugh’s affections.

And, by God, there are a lot of mothers who raise their kids like Ben Carson’s mother raised him and those mothers happen to call themselves Democrats because they believe that the Democratic Party, for all its faults, is the party that, should all else fail, keep an eye on those who can’t or don’t make it.

Dr. Carson is obviously an extraordinary man with exceptional talents. He also seems to be just slightly less doctrinaire than the average conservative know-it-all, even though he said something at CPAC as ridiculous as anything that has exited the mouth of Bill O’Reilly, when he told the cheering crowd, “We have to resist this war on God.” War on God? How can a man so smart say something so dumb? I guess it’s all part of auditioning for a job on Fox.

In any case, Dr. Carson may get a television deal or run for president or some other political office. But if he really wants to serve people, as he has claimed time and again, I hope he changes his mind about retiring as a surgeon at Johns Hopkins.

We have enough right-wing pundits and politicians in this country and not enough people who can do what Ben Carson can do for his fellow human beings, in the following case an eight-year-old girl:

The New Deviants?

Here’s the latest regarding Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill:

claire mccaskill on gay marriage

As the story makes clear, her position is one of freedom. She said:

While churches should never be required to conduct marriages outside of their religious beliefs, neither should the government tell people who they have a right to marry.

McCaskill also talked about an “uncomfortable inequality” and said,

Supporting marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is simply the right thing to do for our country, a country founded on the principles of liberty and equality.

Meanwhile, many folks on the right, who talk a lot about “a country founded on the principles of liberty and equality,” don’t think those principles extend to folks who have the Gay Disease. The president of the Family Research Council, a powerful force in Republican politics, said in response to Republican Senator Rob Portman’s change of heart on the issue of gay marriage:

I commend Senator Portman for his unconditional love for his son.  Regardless of a child’s choices, the love of a parent can and should be a guiding beacon in the lives of their sons and daughters.  Unconditional love, however, does not mean unconditional support in choices that are both harmful to them and society as a whole.  This is especially true when we approach public policy.  Our unconditional love for our children should not override the historical and social science evidence which makes abundantly clear what is best for all children and for society – being raised by a married mother and father.

The Family Research Council, in case you aren’t sufficiently scared of what the Gay Disease can do to society, published a helpful post titled, “The Negative Health Effects of Homosexuality.” I will summarize it for you: Gay sex will kill us all!

The truth behind most of the opposition to same-sex marriage is that it is based on the fact that the Bible has a problem with homosexuality, namely that people with the Gay Disease should be killed, or, more accurately in these New Testament times, people with the Gay Disease should let Jesus heal them.

Fortunately, the times are changing rather quickly.

It is good that people like Claire McCaskill are rejecting the idea that there is something wrong with homosexuals. And it is even better that people are coming around to the idea that same-sex marriage is about liberty and equality.

And best of all is that the way things are going, some day the deviants among us will be those who want to deny other people liberty and equality based on Iron Age theology.

Billy Long’s Shame

My congressman, Ozark Billy Long, has now voted to, in the words of Salon’s Richard Kirsch, “kill tens of thousands of people. Every year.”

Hear me out, people.

Republicans in the House passed Paul Ryan’s budget today by a vote of 221-207, with all Democrats voting against it. Ten Republicans, some of them because it wouldn’t inflict enough pain and misery and death on the country, also voted against it.

But Ozark Billy apparently considered the bill sufficiently painful to warrant his vote. The Associated Press reported today’s macabre theatrics this way:

WASHINGTON — The Republican-controlled House passed a tea party-flavored budget plan Thursday that promises sharp cuts in safety-net programs for the poor and a clampdown on domestic agencies, in sharp contrast to less austere plans favored by President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies.

And thanks to Barack Obama and his Democratic allies, Ryan’s budget will never get to do its killing, killing that is quantifiable because, as Richard Kirsch, pointed out:

when more people lack health coverage, more people die.

It is uncertain just how many people would be threatened by the Republican vote to, among other things, end ObamaCare and mangle Medicare and Medicaid, because we still don’t know how many Republican governors and Republican-dominated legislatures will refuse to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

But we do know that studies have found that somewhere between 26,000 and 45,000 people die needlessly prematurely because they don’t have health insurance. And the Ryan-Long-Republican budget, if it were to become law, would see to it that the needless deaths continue.

Kirsch says,

I’ve grown tired of providing a veneer of respectability to people in power –people with good health insurance, coverage that provides them with access to the best medical care, and pays most of their bills – who deny their constituents a basic human right.

Yes, I’ve grown tired of it, too. Thus, today I say that Billy Long, my representative in Congress, voted to allow countless Americans to die needlessly, even if Democrats will see to it that some of them won’t have to.

And to further strip off the veneer, I say today that those of you who went to the polls last November and cast a vote for Billy Long bought yourself a share of his shame.

A Peep Inside The Strange Minds Of Two Missouri Legislators

Jeffrey Messenger was elected in 2012 as a Republican in Missouri’s House of Representatives. He represents the 130th legislative district, about 50 miles east of Joplin. He lives in the town of Republic.

Thanks to his last campaign bio page, we learned that Messenger is a hard working guy with roots firmly planted in rural America. We also learned he owns a business that makes prosthetic limbs for those unfortunate folks who need them, and we found out he “is in the process of building another full time facility in Joplin, Missouri.” Good for him.

And we also learned that Messenger claimed his experience in the prosthetic limb business would somehow make him a better legislator:

Since being involved in Kessler Heasley Artificial Limb Co. Jeff has been able to increase his knowledge in the benefits as well as the pitfalls of Medicare, Medicaid, and Private Insurance, and understands the frustration for individuals when it comes to insurance coverage…

Jeff decided several years ago he wanted to get involved in politics. He feels he has the experience and the know how it will take in Jefferson City to get the job done.

Experience and know-how.  He can get the job done, he said. He “understands the frustration for individuals when it comes to insurance coverage,” he claimed.

Wednesday evening in Springfield, at a town hall with other Missouri legislators, Jeffrey Messenger, the man who understands people’s frustrations “when it comes to insurance coverage,” explained to those gathered why he is opposed to Missouri expanding insurance coverage under ObamaCare.

As reported by the Springfield News-Leader:

Messenger pointed out what he views as potential problems with expansion.

Messenger said that larger businesses will be penalized under the Affordable Care Act if they fail to provide health insurance to employees working 30 hours or more. To avoid the penalty, companies will cut employee hours down to under 30, he said.

These workers, because they work fewer hours and make less, will be more likely to qualify for an expanded Medicaid, and this will add an unanticipated strain to the system, Messenger said. He described it as a kind of loop.

“It just keeps growing and growing and growing,” Messenger said.

You get it? Businesses will screw their employees out of hours so they don’t have to provide them with health coverage, which will in turn make those employees candidates to get health insurance under Medicaid expansion, and therefore we shouldn’t expand Medicaid to help them. It’s all very simple, really. And very cruel.

Messenger not only “understands the frustration for individuals when it comes to insurance coverage,” he is willing to ignore that frustration, or really, to exacerbate it. Oh, by the way, Messenger’s campaign web page informs us that Jeff is “Pro-Life 100%.” Thank God.

As grievous as Messenger’s message to Missourians was during Wednesday night’s town hall, by far the dumbest and most offensive comment made about Medicaid expansion in Missouri was made by another Republican legislator, Lyndall Fraker, who represents folks east of Springfield and lives in Marshfield.lyndall fraker

But before we get to his dumb and offensive comment, Fraker’s campaign bio indicates that he proudly managed the Walmart store in Marshfield, which is interesting since Walmart is planning on taking cynical advantage of ObamaCare by excluding workers who work less than 30 hours a week from its health insurance plans.

Now, Fraker is not responsible for what Walmart honchos do, but he did say his Walmart experience made him realize “what a passion he had to serve others.” Goody, goody, now we’re ready for his comment on Medicaid expansion.

Here is the News-Leader’s account:

Fraker said it would be hard to roll back expansion once it’s happened.

“It’s hard to take candy away from a baby,” Fraker said. He used the metaphor of him and his wife buying a refrigerator. He said if his family couldn’t afford it, their approach would be to wait and see.

Candy from a baby. I can see where health insurance is like candy, can’t you? Sure it is. And people who need health insurance but can’t afford it are like babies. I can see that. And by God we can’t give those babies candy because it will be hard if we have to take it back. They’ll whine and cry and stuff.

And I can see where health insurance is like buying a new refrigerator, can’t you? Absolutely it is. If you can’t afford a new fridge, just wait and see what happens. And if you don’t have a fridge that works, you could store your food in an ice chest. Just don’t count on a Republican legislator to provide you with the ice. And if you don’t have a refrigerator and don’t have any ice, you can just stop eating. Eventually you won’t have to worry about the fridge or the ice.

The News-Leader reported that someone in the town hall “took offense to Fraker’s characterization, and he apologized.”

For what? Why did Lyndall Fraker apologize? For revealing how his mind works? How he really thinks about this issue?

We all should write him and thank him, and Jeff Messenger, for a moment of honesty. This is who these people are, my friends, this is who they are.

Vietnam, Iraq, And How We Can’t Trust What We See

I am still trying to process what I learned in the segment below, put together by Rachel Maddow.

If you have read anything about Richard Nixon, you know it is entirely believable that he helped prolong the Vietnam War in order to first win the presidency in 1968. But even knowing something about the strange and cynical mind of Richard Nixon didn’t prepare me for the following. It is a must watch:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Finally, here is the segment that followed, featuring Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Secretary of State Colin Powell’s former chief of staff:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Liberalism And The American Worker

It’s all pretty simple really. American workers are producing more at work and bringing less dough home.

HuffPo reports that Senator and Saint Elizabeth Warren has given some love  to the results of a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, which, she said, shows that,

If we started in 1960 and we said that as productivity goes up, that is as workers are producing more, then the minimum wage is going to go up the same. And if that were the case then the minimum wage today would be about $22 an hour.

Here are a couple of graphs that back up that claim:

minimum wage and productivity

You see the gap between productivity and the real minimum wage in the bottom graph? Who reaps the benefits of that gap? And as for the top graph, Elizabeth Warren wants to know:

…with a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, what happened to the other $14.75? It sure didn’t go to the worker.

The what? The worker? Someone in Congress is worried about the worker? Yes, it’s true. In fact, there are more than a few of them and guess what? They’re all liberal, I said, liberal, Democrats! Imagine that. Have you ever heard a conservative Republican wonder out loud why workers aren’t getting more of the benefits of the ginormous increase in productivity? Huh? Of course you haven’t.

In any case, Warren made her remarks last week during a Senate subcommittee hearing and they were directed to Dr. Arindrajit Dub, a professor from UMass who happens to know something about the minimum wage because, uh, he studied it. As HuffPo notes:

Dube went on to note that if minimum wage incomes had grown over that period at the same pace as it had for the top 1 percent of income earners, the minimum wage would actually be closer to $33 an hour than the current $7.25.

Of course, even liberal Democrats aren’t quite bold enough to ask for the whole enchilada, only this:

Warren went on to argue that raising the federal minimum wage to over $10 an hour in incremental steps over the next two years — a cause championed by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address and since taken up in the Senate — would not be as damaging for businesses as some critics have argued.

As the Center for Economic and Policy Research pointed out in another piece (Minimum Wage Raise is the Least We Can Do to Civilize America”), the minimum wage is not just a kid’s wage:

Contrary to prevailing myths about who would benefit from a proposed increase in the minimum wage, 88 percent of the 28 million workers affected are not teenagers.  As the Economic Policy Institute has shown, the majority are full-time workers, and on average they earn about half of their families’ income.  And 28 percent of the nation’s 76 million children would have a parent who would benefit from the raise.

Another minimum wage myth that needs a dose of reality is this one:

And raising the minimum wage doesn’t only cut into profits, it also increases demand in the economy by moving income to workers who spend more than those who receive profit.  The Economic Policy Institute estimated that the proposed increase in the minimum wage would actually increase employment.

And dispelling the largest myth of all:

Although it is theoretically possible to raise minimum wages enough to cause employers to hire fewer workers, there is hardly any indication from economic research that the proposed increase in the minimum wage would have this effect. 

So, under the Warren proposal, almost 25 million folks, many of them with kids, would get a raise which would in turn benefit the entire economy and would not increase unemployment in the slightest.

Who could be against that?

Oh, I forgot.

The mainstream press is too busy worrying about reforming the Republican Party and the Republican Party is too busy worrying about keeping tax rates low on rich people.

Only liberal Democrats have time to celebrate and promote the interests of the American worker.

Everything You Wanted To Know About CPAC 2013 Without Having To Watch

Well on its way to unreforming itself, the GOP had quite a time at its Conservative Political Action Conference:

♦ Titillating evangelical horndogs everywhere, Sarah Palin sucked on a Big Gulp and made a joke about her rack.

♦ And speaking of boobs, Karl Rove, who found himself dope-slapped by the front and back hand of Palin, later, safely back at the Fox ranch, dope-slapped her right back by referencing her fractional governance in Alaska.

Round 1 to Barracuda, but Turd Blossom is a late bloomer, so don’t count him out.

♦ Ted Cruz managed to give a speech without McCarthyizing anyone.

♦ Jeb Bush gave what many considered to be a relatively thoughtful speech, perhaps the only one of the conference, which means, of course, that none of the gathered paid any attention to it.

♦ If Bobby Jindal falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, will he make a sound?

♦ Mitch McConnell said:  “Don’t tell me that Democrats are the party of the future when their presidential ticket for 2016 is shaping up to look like a rerun of the ‘Golden Girls,’” Man, oh, man. Hillary is renting space in their heads, I tells ya.

♦ Yes, Phyllis Schlafly is alive. I think.

♦ Allen West was, literally, very colorful. He said, “there is nothing on this green earth that a liberal progressive fears more than a black American who wants a better life and a smaller government.” He also said that, “Deeds, not words, will paint this country red.” Next year, he’ll work on his letters and numbers, and by 2016 he’ll run for the White’s House. You heard it here first, people.

♦ Uncharacteristically, Chris Christie didn’t have much to say.

♦ Characteristically, Newt Gingrich did: he said the GOP was “mired in stupidity.”cpac 2013

♦ Which brings me to Michele Bachmann, who said, I kid you not, that we would have a cure for “Alzheimer’s, juvenile diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Parkinson’s,” if it weren’t for our government with its “cadre of overzealous regulators, excessive taxation, and greedy litigators.” Again, I kid you not.

♦ Speaking of jokes, Paul Ryan told a knee-slapper:

We are the party of equal opportunity.

♦ Speaking of men who will never be president, Mittens gave an inspiring speech. I was especially inspired by this line:

I am sorry that I will not be your president.

♦ And speaking of more men who will never be president, Rand Paul, like his father before him, won CPAC’s vaunted straw poll, which is scientific confirmation that nuts really don’t fall far from the tree.

♦ And speaking of that straw poll, Richard Nixon got one vote, which may mean that at least one CPAC attendee longs for a slightly softer side of conservatism, or that the metaphorical Night of the Living Dead marathon that was this CPAC conference brought back memories of Tricky Dick.

♦ And speaking of zombie dicks, toesucking Dick Morris told his fellow conservatives that “single white women run screaming from the Republican Party, largely because of our pro-life position.” Unfortunately for Morris, not a single white woman was around to hear him say that.

♦ And speaking of men who make single white women run screaming from the Republican Party, gun manufacturer lobbyist Wayne LaPierre gave us license to tell the truth about him:

They can call me crazy and whatever else they want…

That kinda takes all the fun out of it.

♦ And speaking of the one single white woman in America who is still a Republican, we have Ann Coulter, who said no way to “amnesty” for those brown immigrants because, “if amnesty goes through, America becomes California and no Republican will ever win another national election.” 

♦ And speaking of immigration, Marco Rubio didn’t. He couldn’t muster the courage to mention immigration reform, which he is supposedly championing in Congress, before what would have fast become a hostile CPAC crowd.

Rubio’s speech, though, was full of new ideas like this one: “We don’t need a new idea. The idea’s America, and it still works.” Or how about this new idea: “America’s always been our people.” Where does he come up with these brilliant insights? Or this gem: “We still need plumbers.” Yep, that was really in his speech. America still needs plumbers. And toilets. And toilet paper. Wow, the possibilities are endless.

♦ And speaking of crappers, I found the following headline on the “intellectual” National Review website:

Louie Gohmert, CPAC Superstar

That Gohmert, famous for saying stupid things, is a superstar among CPAC types, pretty much sums up the state of the Republican Party these days, although I will toss in a few more examples:

♦ Donald Trump told a bewildered crowd that he had offered to build a ballroom at the White House for “$50 to a $100 million.” But nobody at the White House called him back. “That’s the problem with the country,” he said, “You don’t hear from people.” If there’s a God in heaven, we will never hear from Donald Trump again.

♦ Iowa congressman Steve King said, “ObamaCare has to go.” Wait, let me double-check that quote…Yep, he said that at CPAC 2013. King also put the kibosh on immigration reform by referring to the lawbreakers as “undocumented Democrats.” King did manage to stumble on the truth about the Republican Party, when he said that, “economics isn’t the most important issue.” Nope, it isn’t, what with all that fornicatin’ goin’ on out there.

♦ And speakin’ of fornicatin’, right-wing columnist Katie Kieffer told a panel on “women’s issues” (yes, there was such a panel) that “ObamaCare is sexist,” because men can tell the pregnant gals in their life, “that’s not my fault; you should have been using Obama’s free birth control.”

♦ And speaking of births, Orly Taitz, famous Birther Queen, got insulted by Pamela Geller, a conservative blogger and birther in her own right, who once wrote that President Obama is the illegitimate son of Malcolm X.  Wow, talk about the pot calling the black man a kettle, or the kettle calling the pot a black man or, well, you know what I mean: Obama is a Very Scary Negro.

♦ Finally, speaking of black folks, a white audience member at a panel on what I will generously describe as “minority outreach” —the event was sponsored by Tea Party Patriots and titled, “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?” suggested that slavery was good for those ungrateful blacks. Yessem, slav’ry been berry berry good to me, massa!

At least at this point we have a little good news. As you will see in the video clip below, the response to the racist was pretty much disbelief that someone would say something so shocking in front of the cameras and microphones:

But as good as the news was that the young people in the audience seemed to laugh at the audacity of the racist, there was some bad news. The man leading the panel discussion was KCarl Smith [sic], an African-American conservative who leads a group called Frederick Douglass Republicans™ [sic].  Here is a sample from his website:

frederick doublas v obama

Smith, who baited the audience with references to the Democratic Party and the KKK, rather than heaping ridicule on the racist in his audience, sold him a book and made friends with him, while scolding a Russian radio host and producer, who happened to be black.

Here is part of the account from Talking Points Memo, which illustrates that there is some serious racial angst in the reactionary tribe:

Scott Terry of North Carolina, accompanied by a Confederate-flag-clad attendee, Matthew Heimbach, rose to say he took offense to the event’s take on slavery. (Heimbach founded the White Students Union at Towson University and is described as a “white nationalist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.)

“It seems to be that you’re reaching out to voters at the expense of young white Southern males,” Terry said, adding he “came to love my people and culture” who were “being systematically disenfranchised.”

Smith responded that Douglass forgave his slavemaster.

“For giving him shelter? And food?” Terry said.

At this point the event devolved into a mess of shouting. Organizers calmed things down by asking everyone to “take the debate outside after the presentation.”

Brown, who took offense at the suggestion modern Democrats were descendants of the KKK, tried to ask a question later once things finally calmed down. She was booed and screamed at by audience members.

“Let someone else speak!” one attendee in Revolutionary War garb shouted.

“You’re not welcome!” a white-haired older woman yelled.

Eventually she asked a question. It was about whether Republicans should call out racist ads.

Attendees interviewed by TPM afterwards expressed outrage at the way the event turned out. Not at Terry and Heimbach — they were mad at Brown.

Chad Chapman, 21, one of the few black attendees, said overall he enjoyed the event — except “there were lots of interruptions, mainly because of the woman.”

I asked whether he was concerned about the question from Terry and Heimbach.

“No they were just telling the truth,” he said. You mean you agree blacks are systematically disenfranchising whites, I asked?

“I listen to anybody’s point of view, it doesn’t really matter,” he said.

A media scrum formed around Terry immediately after the close of the event. A woman wearing a Tea Party Patriots CPAC credential who had shouted down Brown earlier urged him not to give his name to the press.

She wouldn’t give her name either, but I asked her what she thought.

“Look, you know there’s no doubt the white males are getting really beat up right now, it’s unfair,” she said. “I agree with that. My husband’s one of them. But I don’t think there’s a clear understanding about what really is going on. He needs to read Frederick Douglass and I think that question should be asked to everyone in this room who is debating.”

Yes, the Republican Party is indeed the champion of all those distressed white males, which is where I’ll leave this year’s visit to CPAC, the place where the great Republican retooling isn’t taking place. See ya again next year!

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