Etch A Drumpf

Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.“—Jeremiah 13:23

almost exactly four years ago, I wrote a piece titled “Etch A Romney.” It played off the admission by Eric Fehrnstrom, who was Mittens’ top aide and senior adviser, that the Romney whom voters were seeing and hearing in the primary election wasn’t the real deal. After he wrapped up the nomination, a better, more palatable, candidate would emerge. Fehrnstrom smugly told CNN:

Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.

Except he couldn’t start over again. Romney had said too much, some of it behind closed doors, to simply take it all back and reinvent himself. And his opponents in that primary campaign had also said too much. It was Texas governor Rick Perry who labeled him a “vulture capitalist.” It was Newt Gingrich who said the business model for Romney’s Bain Capital “undermined capitalism” and was “indefensible,” themes the Obama campaign amplified throughout the spring and summer that year, before Romney could be crowned at his party’s convention.

Thus, one would think, given Romney’s ultimate defeat in 2012, that cynically playing primary voters for fools—shaking it up and starting all over when the nomination is secured—would not be a strategy the 2016 Republican front-runner would want to employ, let alone admit to employing. Except, here we go again.

Paul Manafort—whose campaign experience goes back to Gerald Ford and includes Reagan and Bush I—is now Drumpf’s top aide. Drumpf brought him in to professionally navigate the complicated waters of finally securing enough delegates to win the nomination and then transitioning to the general election campaign. But Manafort may be a little rusty. Thinking he was speaking behind closed doors—why do people these days still think there are closed doors?—Manafort told RNC bigwigs that Drumpf “gets it.” Gets what? Oh:

…the part that he’s been playing is evolving into the part that now you’ve been expecting, but he wasn’t ready for because he had to first feed the first phase.

So, up until now, Drumpf has just been an act? Yep:

When he’s sitting in a room, he’s talking business. He’s talking politics in a private room. It’s a different persona. When he’s out on the stage, when he’s talking about the kinds of things he’s talking about on the stump, he’s projecting an image that’s for that purpose.

etch a drumpfIf I were a fan of the man with the tiny hands, I think I would resent the notion that I was a Drumpkin bumpkin, a simpleton who bought the whole I’m-gonna-build-the-wall-and-Mexico’s-gonna-pay-for-it shtick like it was something real, not something the reality star was “projecting” just to win my simpleton ass over. But I’m not a Drumpkin bumpkin. I don’t really know how such people will process this utter admission of fraud because it’s not like it hasn’t been out there before. It’s not like Drumpf hasn’t hinted at it now and then. It’s not like we didn’t learn in February:

The New York Times is sitting on an audio recording that some of its staff believes could deal a serious blow to Donald Trump, who, in an off-the-record meeting with the newspaper, called into question whether he would stand by his own immigration views.

Despite calls from Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio for Drumpf to give the paper permission to release the transcript of that interview, Drumpf wouldn’t do it. Yet his throngs kept coming to his rallies and kept salivating over his bigotry and kept punching people who dared to protest him. So, who knows what the Drumpkins will do now, now that they know beyond a doubt that their beloved is a grifter and his campaign has been a hustle. Here’s how “Lyin’ Ted” put it to right-wing radio nut Mark Levin:

Donald is a New York liberal who is pretending to be a conservative, to try to fool Republican primary voters. And, you know, the amazing thing, Mark, all of us are frustrated with politicians lying to us. I’m actually going to give Trump a little bit of credit here. He’s being candid. He’s telling us he’s lying to us.

That’s pretty clever of “Lyin’ Ted” to give Drumpf credit for lying, don’t ya think?

In any case, what other choice does Drumpf have but to change his spots—after he has convinced enough Drumpkins to give him the nomination? An avid poll watcher, Drumpf knows how unpopular he is among non-goobers. He has to pivot toward palatability. And he has the advantage of knowing that some of the press will pivot right along with him, so that they can set up an epic, ratings-rich battle in November.

It’s already happening, as I have previously noted. This morning MSBNC’s Morning Joe, which has been a platform for advising Drumpf on how to be a better candidate, featured a discussion in which the Etch A Drumpf strategy was seen as a good move, one that, in the words of panelist Donnie Deutsch, could make it possible for the bigot to beat Hillary Clinton.

Well, if he does get the nomination, and if he does beat Hillary Clinton in November, it won’t be because people ignored as showbiz all the bigoted buffoonery they have witnessed since last June. It will be because they embraced it. And if they do, that will say a helluva lot more about them than about Drumpf.

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Romney Sounded A Lot Like Bernie Sanders

Mittens was back in the news big time today with his accurate and articulate attack on Donald Drumpf. The problem is that he didn’t say anything about him that anyone paying attention didn’t already know. So, we’ll see how that goes.

What I want to bring to your attention, in case you didn’t get to hear Romney’s entire speech, is this nice little boost he gave to the Bernie Sanders campaign:

For the last three decades, the Clintons have lived at the intersection of money and politics, trading their political influence to enrich their personal finances. They embody the term “crony capitalism.” It disgusts the American people and causes them to lose faith in our political process.

A person so untrustworthy and dishonest as Hillary Clinton must not become president.

Sound familiar?

I have tried for a while now to point out that the subtext of Bernie Sanders’ criticism of Hillary Clinton is that she is, essentially, untrustworthy and dishonest, which is how Republicans have characterized her for years and exactly how Romney characterized her today. I have objected to this line of attack from Sanders for obvious reasons. She will be the Democratic nominee and it doesn’t help to have a fellow Democrat lob the same rhetorical grenade at her that Republicans have been using to blow up her chances to become president and, among other things, appoint a couple or three Supreme Court justices.

In case there is any doubt about what Sanders has been doing, let me take you back to that famous exchange between the two during a debate just a month ago. Sanders had said that Clinton represented “the establishment” and that he represented “ordinary Americans.” That’s fair enough for a primary campaign fight. Nothing wrong with that. But after she objected to the establishment label, Sanders came back with this:

SANDERS: What being part of the establishment is, is, in the last quarter, having a super PAC that raised $15 million from Wall Street, that throughout one’s life raised a whole lot of money from the drug companies and other special interests.

To my mind, if we do not get a handle on money in politics and the degree to which big money controls the political process in this country, nobody is going to bring about the changes that is needed in this country for the middle class and working families.

Now, any ordinary person, after hearing Sanders make this charge, would immediately conclude that Hillary Clinton is taking money from Wall Street, drug companies, and “other special interests” because she is part of a corrupt political process and she is selling herself and her agenda to the “big money” interests. Clearly, Sanders wants voters to conclude that Mrs. Clinton is corrupt and not to be trusted, which is why she responded this way:

CLINTON: Yeah, but I — I think it’s fair to really ask what’s behind that comment. You know, Senator Sanders has said he wants to run a positive campaign. I’ve tried to keep my disagreements over issues, as it should be.

But time and time again, by innuendo, by insinuation, there is this attack that he is putting forth, which really comes down to — you know, anybody who ever took donations or speaking fees from any interest group has to be bought.

And I just absolutely reject that, Senator. And I really don’t think these kinds of attacks by insinuation are worthy of you. And enough is enough. If you’ve got something to say, say it directly.

But you will not find that I ever changed a view or a vote because of any donation that I ever received.

Naturally, when someone is challenging your integrity, especially someone in your own party, you get a little defensive. And Mrs. Clinton sure did. She should expect that treatment from Republicans, but has a right to get a little upset about having to hear it from a fellow Democrat.

And Bernie Sanders hasn’t stopped. Here’s how The Wall Street Journal described his attacks on her integrity yesterday in Portland:

At a rally here ahead of Maine’s caucuses this Sunday, Mr. Sanders pressed Mrs. Clinton to release transcripts of her paid speeches to Wall Street firms and mocked the idea that anything she said could have been worth the six-figure speaking fees she collected.

The Bangor Daily News described what he said during that rally this way:

bernie in maineSanders has vowed to stay in the race and take his fight to the Democratic National Convention in July, and his supporters certainly don’t want to settle for Clinton, who has squabbled with the underdog over her ties to Wall Street and big banks.

He hit Clinton on that in Portland, saying there’s “one candidate” taking contributions from banks, the fossil fuel industry and billionaires, “and that candidate is not me.”

Let me be clear about this. I am all in favor of ridding our political system of big money. There is no doubt it is a corrupting influence overall, even though corruption is often hard to prove in any individual case. I was worried when Barack Obama took all that money from Wall Streeters in 2008, but as we all know now it didn’t exactly corrupt him. He still went after them with Dodd-Frank and most of them still hate him for it.

The problem with what Bernie is doing is that attacking Hillary Clinton’s integrity is the kind of thing that will leave some voters unable to vote for her, no matter how much Bernie comes to terms with the fact that she will be the nominee and he will have to endorse her and, presumably, campaign for her. It’s one thing to have policy disagreements with your opponent and challenge his or her judgment on this or that political decision. You can do that and still, after losing, endorse your opponent with credibility.

But it is quite another thing to challenge the trustworthiness and honesty of your opponent and then expect your most ardent followers—in Bernie’s case, mostly young folks—to believe you when you tell them they should put their trust in the person whose trust you have been questioning. Consider this recent headline:

Don’t Assume Bernie Sanders Supporters Will Back Hillary Clinton If She’s The Nominee

I will pull just one quote from that article. It was said by a Sanders supporter named Patt Coltem from St. Paul, Minnesota:

I would vote for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in a heartbeat. She’s just too shady. She’s a pathological liar. He’s the only other person in this race who doesn’t have someone backing him. Trump is crazy; he does a lot of weird stuff. I would prefer not to vote for him for president, but that’s how much I dislike Hillary Clinton.

We can only hope that there aren’t a lot of Patt Coltems out there. And we can only hope that Bernie Sanders will, if he keeps fighting to the bitter end, at the very least stop sounding like a Republican by attacking the integrity of the eventual Democratic nominee.

[Bottom photo from “Grassroots Action for Bernie”]

 

“I Would Have The Best Chance Of Beating The Eventual Democrat,” Says Mittens. Then He Quits.

It’s now official. Mittens ain’t gonna do it.

Vladimir Putin must be thanking his lucky zvezdy. Mittens would have no doubt done something terrible to him, had the loser of the 2012 election decided to become president. ISIL leaders are today giving thanks to Allah for this rare bit of good news. They can now safely take over the world.

And all those poor out there in America, who Mittens, as President Obama said, was “suddenly” and “deeply concerned” about helping from the White’s House, are obviously depressed today, having been consigned to a Romney-less future. There will be no Cayman Islands hero coming to their rescue.

It appears that, after today, Rand Paul will be right: Mittens is “yesterday’s news.”

But he couldn’t depart the presidential stage without one more falsehood. In his remarks today, he reportedly said:

I am convinced that with the help of the people on this call, we could win the nomination.

No one, no one in his right mind, would actually quit, if he were really “convinced” he could win the nomination. But he wasn’t done lying to himself:

I also believe with the message of making the world safer, providing opportunity to every American regardless of the neighborhood they live in, and working to break the grip of poverty, I would have the best chance of beating the eventual Democrat nominee…

Again, if he really believed all that stuff, deep down in his Bain-stained heart, he wouldn’t give up before the thing even started. He qualified his statement by offering the opinion that his confidence in winning comes “before the other contenders have had the opportunity to take their message to the voters.” Then he took a shot at Jebby the Bush:

I believe that one of our next generation of Republican leaders, one who may not be as well known as I am today, one who has not yet taken their message across the country, one who is just getting started, may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democrat nominee. In fact, I expect and hope that to be the case.

Take that Jebby!

So, all of this leaves us with Bush, Chris Christie, and Scott Walker to fight over who can best represent millionaires and billionaires in the 2016 election. The rest of the potential Republican field, which ranges from Rand Paul to Marco Rubio to Lindsey Graham, with every variety of wingnut in between, will only imagine themselves as being worthy of big-donor dough, the kind of money it takes these days to win the voting allegiance of a tiny sliver of the electorate.

As for Mittens, he did leave the door slightly open for the future, should things get really, really messy in the Republican primary process next year and the party comes running to him for a convention bailout:

I’ve been asked, and will certainly be asked again if there are any circumstances whatsoever that might develop that could change my mind. That seems unlikely.

That does seem unlikely. But there could be such a brutal fight break out in 2016 between the party’s heavyweights that one of the nuts could emerge with enough delegates to throw the whole thing into a tizzy. And Romney, the Master Predator, could be asked to takeover the party and do what he has always done best: enrich himself at the expense of others.

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[Image: Wisconsin Jobs Now]

Keeping Up With The Republicans

Here’s a headline from USA Today this morning:

Obama to propose paid sick leave for American workers

Now try to imagine this headline:

Romney to propose paid sick leave for American workers

I know, I know. You can’t imagine such a thing. There is no way Republicans would put workers on their agenda, except to attack workers’ rights to organize or sustain a union. But Republicans are up to something, right? They’re not just sitting around waiting for Jesus to come back, are they?

Nope. They’ve been busy. But besides saying President Obama is worse than Hitler, and besides saying he should start a religious war against Islam, what is the GOP doing these days? Oh, you know:

♥ The family values party has told Hispanic families to go straight to hell.

♥ And speaking of family values, God’s man in the upcoming GOP presidential field, former Arkansas governor and always a preacher Mike Huckabee, recently criticized the Obama’s for their parenting skills.

It seems Huck doesn’t like Beyoncé or her husband Jay-Z and thinks it is God-awful for the Obama daughters to be exposed to them.  As many have pointed out, though, the Huckster is a friend of Ted Nugent, who wrote a song about raping a 13-year-old girl, which apparently satisfies Huckabee’s lofty standards of moral decency.

huckabee and nugentOh, not only is Huckabee a friend of the draft-dodging Nugent—a man so vile and full of hate that calling President Obama a “subhuman mongrel” is one of the nicer things he has said about him—Huck also had Nugent on his Fox television show, where he played bass for the aging rocker on a nice rendition of “Cat Scratch Fever,” a song Ted wrote about getting laid when he was “just ten years old.” The song, performed before a mostly lily-white audience of like-minded evangelicals, also features this paean to godliness:

Well, I make the pussy purr with the stroke of my hand
They know they gettin’ it from me
They know just where to go when they need their lovin’ man
They know I’m doin’ it for free

Amen. Thank God for Republican family values!

♥ Sen. Rand Paul, who also wants your vote for president, naturally thinks the way to demonstrate his qualifications for the office is by attacking disabled folks. That is in sync with the Tea Party-controlled House of Representatives, which on its first day in session this year passed a new parliamentary rule that will, essentially, hold hostage Social Security disability benefits, as GOP New Deal-haters figure out how much to cut from the program. Because, as we all know, there are tons of people—parasites, all—out there defrauding the system. Except there aren’t. Like most of these things, it is a Republican fantasy that people are lazy and don’t want to work, a fantasy that Rand Paul believes he can exploit for political gain, just like President Romney did.

♥ Speaking of Rand Paul, the man who is now directing RANDPAC, Paul’s political action committee, is John Yob. Who is John Yob? He’s the same man who helped get Dave Agema elected to a position on the Republican National Committee. So what? you might say. Who the hell is Dave Agema? Allow the National Journal to introduce him to you:

In a New Year’s Eve Facebook post, Michigan RNC Committeeman Dave Agema republished an essay from American Renaissance, a white-supremacist newsletter. The article, which Agema said he found “very enlightening,” argued that “blacks are different by almost any measure to all other people. They cannot reason as well. They cannot communicate as well. They cannot control their impulses as well. They are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike.”

That ain’t all:

Agema has a well-documented history of making inflammatory statements. He argued that President Obama is really a Muslim. He praised Vladimir Putin for Russia’s brutal stance on homosexuality. He blamed Satan for dividing the Republican Party. He even shared what he called an “eye opening” essay on Facebook that posed the question: “Have you ever seen a Muslim do anything that contributes positively to the American way of life?”

Yep. He sits on the Republican National Committee, even though, finally, the GOP is “censuring” him.

♥ A man the GOP won’t censure, however, is that great American patriot, Louie Gohmert of Texas. Gohmert wishes “our top leaders in this country” had “the courage” of the military dictator—I said dictator—running Egypt. But the Tea Party genius didn’t stop there. He crapped on the efforts of the U.S. military, which has been at war, fighting terrorists, since 2002:

If the story is properly written about Egypt, and one day it will be, they will see that in the last six years, that besides Israel, the country that has been most fearless in standing up for freedom and against radical Islamic terrorism, unfortunately, has not been the United States because of our leadership. It has been the nation of Egypt.

I am sure the families of all those Americans killed, as well as all those Americans who have been wounded fighting “radical Islamic terrorism” for the last six years, appreciate the fact that a Republican congressman has their backs—at least long enough to stick an Obama-hating knife in them.

♥ On a happier note, one of the Tea Party nuts who voters, wisely, tossed out of Congress in 2012 is Joe Walsh from Illinois. Here is a headline about him that appeared on Talking Points Memo yesterday:

Ex-GOP Congressman Hopes ‘Cowards At CNN, MSNBC’ Are Beheaded

I remind you that this crazy man, despite losing to Tammy Duckworth in 2012, still got 45% of the vote.

♥ Oh, Mittens is back and this time he promises he will—really, truly, honest-to-Kolob—worry about the poor. And we know that, just like in the case of Joe Walsh, at least 45% of the electorate will believe him.

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[AP photo: “A bugler plays during burial services for Army Staff Sgt. Scott W. Brunkhorst, Tuesday, April 13, 2010, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.” Staff Sgt. Brunkhorst, who was 25 years old, died “in the Arghandab River Valley, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.”]

How To Get A Job On Fox “News”

I watched President Obama’s press conference on Tuesday at The Hague. Man, oh, man. What is it about those ABC News guys?

First, a little background:

When Fox “News” first opened up its fairly unbalanced doors in 1996, a 23-year veteran of ABC News, Brit Hume, joined them. Hume had been ABC’s Chief White House Correspondent, and at Fox he was the anchor of Fox’s “Special Report” for ten biased years.

In 2003, another prominent ABC News correspondent, Chris Wallace, joined Fox. Wallace, son of Mike, still hosts the closest thing−and sometimes it isn’t that close−to a real news show on the network, “Fox News Sunday.”

John Stossel, who for years was a correspondent and co-anchor of ABC News’ 20/20 program, left ABC in 2009 to join Fox “News” and Fox “Bidness” Channel, where he preaches his libertarian ideas to, if not the choir, at least the gullible.

Earlier in 2009, Michael Clemente joined Fox as a Senior Vice President of News, after spending 27 years at ABC News, including a stint as senior broadcast producer for ABC’s World News Tonight and later for 20/20. His last job at ABC News was as Senior Executive Producer of the ABC Digital Media Group.

If you happen to watch Fox “News,” you will see Rick Klein, who is a “regular guest.” Except that Rick  Klein is the Political Director for, uh, ABC News! Now, I understand that ABC does not have its own cable news platform, but why allow your Political Director to appear so often on Fox? Is it because occasionally Fox promotes his stuff for ABC? If so, ABC News ought to be ashamed of itself.

All of which leads us to Tuesday’s press conference at the Hague. Jonathan Karl, who is currently ABC News’ Chief White House Correspondent, actually asked President Obama these questions:

Mr. President, thank you. In China, in Syria, in Egypt and now in Russia we’ve seen you make strong statements, issue warnings that have been ignored. Are you concerned that America’s influence in the world, your influence in the world is on the decline? And in light of recent developments, do you think Mitt Romney had a point when he said that Russia is America’s biggest geopolitical foe? If not Russia, who?

If that sounds to you like something John McCain might ask, or something that Reince Priebus might ask, or something that Sean Hannity might ask, you have good ears. Karl is apparently auditioning for Roger Ailes and, as a long-time Fox monitor, I’d say he is well qualified for a job on the network. Or just about any reactionary operation. Here’s how a few right-wing sites reported on Karl’s performance at The Hague:

right wing responses to karl

And my personal favorite, posted by Jonathan Karl’s Fox friend Greta Van Susteren, includes a proud shot of the ABC News correspondent:

greta and jon karl

As you can see, Karl is something of a journalistic hero on the right. But that’s not just for what he did at The Hague yesterday. When you examine Karl’s body of work, you see why the right-wingers love him so.

He started his reporting career in a right-wing organization created to promote conservative journalism on college campuses, the same kind of collegiate journalism that gave us people like Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin. Karl also worked for Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, which is basically Fox “News” in print. He has written articles for the right-wing Weekly Standard (including this embarrassing piece), a publication that helped bring us the Iraq War.  At ABC News, if you watch his reporting, you see a clear bias in favor of Republican talking points, including the need for austerity and tiny tales of government waste. Because I like Diane Sawyer, I frequently watch her newscast, and the best one can say about Karl’s reporting is that it slants to the right; the worst one can say about it is that, well, Karl is an undercover reactionary.

Nothing demonstrates his conservative bias better than his infamous mishap involving the Fox-created Benghazi scandal. Karl went on the air last spring and unethically fed into the Fox Benghazi narrative by erroneously “quoting” from an email that he himself had not read. The false quotes, presented as “exclusives,” made it appear that the White House (read: Barack Obama) and State Department (read: Hillary Clinton) had “dramatically edited” the famous Benghazi talking points used by Susan Rice on all the Sunday news shows. We found out later that Karl was fed his false information by, uh, congressional Republicans. He sort of apologized for the error and ABC News should have sort of fired him, but on he goes.

Given Karl’s track record, you have to wonder why President Obama, who has publicly compared Jonathan Karl to Fox’s Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry, didn’t answer Karl’s question this way:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Wow, Jonathan! Isn’t ABC treating you well? Aren’t they paying you enough? Did Roger Ailes promise you a job and a raise if you came here to the Netherlands and tried to claim how weak I am on the world stage? Isn’t that Fox’s “Obama meme du jour”? No, wait. They’ve been saying that for some time now. But, congratulations anyway! I think you’ve got the job you obviously want whenever you want it. I look forward to not calling on you at my next presser. Oh, and tell Mittens that Mr. President said “hey.”

Instead of that, President Obama, soberly and thoughtfully, answered in a way that demonstrated what real strength is and why we are fortunate the American people chose him to lead the country in these perilous times:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Jonathan, I think if the premise of the question is that whenever the United States objects to an action and other countries don’t immediately do exactly what we want, that that’s been the norm, that would pretty much erase most of 20th century history.

I think that there’s a distinction between us being very clear about what we think is an appropriate action, what we stand for, what principles we believe in, versus what is, I guess, implied in the question, that we should engage in some sort of military action to prevent something.

You know, the truth of the matter is, is that the world’s always been messy. And what the United States has consistently been able to do, and we continue to be able to do, is to mobilize the international community around a set of principles and norms. And where our own self-defense may not be involved, we may not act militarily. That does not mean that we don’t steadily push against those forces that would violate those principles and ideals that we care about.

So yes, you’re right, Syria — the Syrian civil war is not solved. And yet Syria has never been more isolated.

With respect to the situation in Ukraine, we have not gone to war with Russia. I think there’s a significant precedent to that in the past. That does not mean that Russia’s not isolated. In fact, Russia is far more isolated in this instance than it was five years ago with respect to Georgia and more isolated than it was certainly during most of the 20th century when it was part of the Soviet Union.

And what we have to make sure we’re…putting all elements of our power behind finding solutions, working with our international partners, standing up for those principles and ideals in a clear way.

There are going to be moments where military action is appropriate. There are going to be some times where that’s not in the interests — national security interests of the United States or some of our partners, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not going to continue to make the effort, or speak clearly about what we think is right and wrong. And that’s what we’ve done.

With respect to Mr. Romney’s assertion that Russia’s our number one geopolitical foe, the truth of the matter is that, you know, America’s got a whole lot of challenges. Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors — not out of strength, but out of weakness.

Ukraine has been a country in which Russia had enormous influence for decades — since the breakup of the Soviet Union. And you know, we have considerable influence on our neighbors. We generally don’t need to invade them in order to have a strong cooperative relationship with them. The fact that Russia felt compelled to go in militarily and lay bare these violations of international law indicates less influence, not more.

And so my response, then, continues to be what I believe today, which is Russia’s actions are a problem. They don’t pose the number one national security threat to the United States. I continue to be much more concerned, when it comes to our security, with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan, which is part of the reason why the United States, showing its continued international leadership, has organized a forum over the last several years that’s been able to help eliminate that threat in a consistent way.

Bill O’Reilly, Jason The Surfer, And The End Of American Civilization

Bill O’Reilly likes to talk about race hustlers and parasites. Well, it takes one to know one. Using his own standards of judgment, O’Reilly is a race-hustling parasite himself.

His show, a tribute to narcissism, has lately found him doing the race hustle in front of race-anxious whites, those who find it a bit unsettling to have someone other than a white man occupy The White’s House and who find it depressing that America is browning. O’Reilly exploits white angst and makes money off that exploitation.

But I’m particularly pissed off about the latest Fox-inspired attempt to put the blame for our financial and cultural troubles on those O’Reilly calls “parasites.” Billo once again brought up a guy now known as “Jason the Surfer“—no relation to Joe the Plumber—whom Fox managed to unearth in California, and who spends some of his monthly SNAP money (reportedly $200) on, Jesus forbid, sushi and lobster.

O’Reilly said,

This guy is a parasite. And my contention is that the Obama administration is encouraging parasites to come out and, you know, take as much as they can with no remorse and this is how a country declines. This is how we become a weak nation.

Now, if you’re like me, you find it hard to imagine that President Obama or anyone in his employ has spent a millisecond trying to figure out how to get California surfers to avail themselves of food stamps.Jason-Greenslate

And, if you’re like me, you also find it hard to believe how a kid on a surf board with a belly full of taxpayer subsidized sushi and lobster—even if it’s only a rare treat (at these prices)—can lead to the decline of American civilization, especially when all those Romney types are still out there hard at work practicing vulture capitalism, described famously by Republican Rick Perry during the 2012 campaign:

They’re sittin’ out there on the, on the tree limb, waitin’ for the company to get sick, and then they swoop in, they eat the carcass, they leave with that, and they leave the skeleton.

Newt Gingrich also famously said during that campaign the following:

I think we have to be honest about this. One of the reasons people who like free enterprise do not like Wall Street is that they see very rich financiers who rig the game, so the taxpayer loses, the worker loses, and somehow the rich guy does okay…If we identify capitalism with rich guys looting companies, we’re gonna have a very hard time protecting it…Is it fair to have a system, is it right, is it the kind of country you want to live in to have a system where somebody can come in, take over your company, take out all the cash and leave behind a wreck? And they go off to a country club having a great time and you go off to the unemployment line.

I remind you that people who do such nasty things in this country are essentially subsidized by everyone else. Many pay a lower rate of taxes because they have talked (via ca$h) the establishment into believing that all of what they do is essential to the economy and the nation’s well-being. That scam goes on while the race-baiting, cultural-angst-exploiting Bill O’Reillys of the world focus on a mixed up 29-year-old kid in California who gets a couple of hundred bucks a month in food help.

As I have said many times before, if we go down as a civilization, I’d rather it be by trying to make sure folks have enough to eat—even if a few folks game the system for a few bucks—than by making sure Mitt Romney’s vulture-money can vacation comfortably in the Cayman Islands.

Steve King, Ted Nugent, And Team Republican

It is assumed, by most talking journalistic mugs in the medium of cable television news and elsewhere, that Steve King, Republican congressman from Iowa, is a member of the “fringe” of the Republican Party. He’s waaaay out there, it is said.

So, when Steve King labeled most undocumented immigrants as “drug mules” with Herculean, cantaloupish calves who could haul 75 pounds of dope through the desert, it was considered a nutty act by a former dirt-mover in Iowa who, polite commentators want to assure us, is not a mainstream Republican.

Except that in June the supposedly fringe-friendly King offered an amendment in the House of Representatives that would have essentially forced the government to deport “DREAMers“—young folks brought into the country by relatives and who don’t have proper documentation—and his amendment passed the House! Oh, and it passed the House with 221 Republican votes (including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and local right-winger Ozark Billy Long)! Some fringy congressman King is. Only six—six!—Republicans voted against the extremist amendment.

Like Steve King, another conservative, Ted Nugent, is not considered a mainstream right-winger because, as the mainstream press would tell you, he says crazy stuff on the scale of a Steve King. When told of Stevie Wonder’s performance boycott of Florida, due to the state’s Stand Your Ground law, Nugent said:

You’ve got to be kidding me. So 700 black people, mostly young children and young people were slaughtered in Chicago last year by black people, and not a peep out of Stevie Wonder. Are you kidding me? What is this, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest? How brain-dead do you have to be? How strangled by denial, how dishonest, how cheap do you have to be to focus on a clear-cut case where all the evidence, from the DOJ, from the FBI, from the army of investigative specialists in Florida determined that George Zimmerman acted in self-defense against a life-threatening attack by hoodlum, dope-smoking Trayvon Martin?

Leaving aside the fact that he lives in a fact-free world, what Nugent said has been said, in one form or another, by most conservative pundits on TV and elsewhere. The opinion he expressed above is mainstream conservative opinion, whether any leader of the Republican Party or whether any mainstream media journalist wants to admit it.

If that isn’t enough to convince the average journalist that Steve King and Ted Nugent are smack in the middle of contemporary GOP thought, if not eloquence, then the average journalist should consider this:

I’m looking here at Steve King. He needs to be your Congressman again. I want him as my partner in Washington!

That, of course, was the loud voice of the last Republican to run for President of the United States. Remember him? Remember Mittens Romney? He spoke those words in September of 2012. And Steve King was as nutty then as he is now, yet the guy who represented the GOP in the last national election, the guy who represented what the party stands for, not only accepted King’s endorsement, he said, again:

I want him as my partner in Washington!

Yeah, boy!

What about Romney and Ted Nugent? Oh, there was this:

nugent romney endorsementAccording to Nugent, Romney called him and asked him for his endorsement. And that call and that “long heart&soul conversation” came after Nugent, among other things, had called Democratic leader Debbie Wasserman-Schultz a “brain-dead, soulless, heartless, idiot,” and after he called former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi a “sub-human scoundrel,” and after he referred to President Obama as a “piece of shit,” and after he referred to Hillary Clinton as a “worthless bitch” and a “toxic cunt.”

Yeah, that must have been some heart&soul talk the gun-loving, pants-crapping, draft-avoiding rocker had with the Republican Party’s national presidential candidate.

After Nugent’s endorsement, Tagg Romney tweeted out this keeper:

tagg tweet on nugent

How cool is that? Very cool! Ted Nugent and Steve King, even if they don’t always express their conservatism with phony Washington politeness, are on Team Republican!

nugent mainstream republican

“A Species Of Madness”

I don’t do this often, but I must share with you a comment I received on Monday from a frequent and insightful contributor to the ongoing discussions on this blog. I know a lot of you folks don’t dive into the comment section, but you really should. You will learn a lot of stuff or be directed to places where you can learn a lot of stuff, or you can be one of those who teach the rest of us a lot of stuff.

In case you missed this one, here it is:

thegeneralist commentThe book, The Fall of the House of Dixie, can be purchased here, and here is a link to a review from NPR Books, which includes this:

As its ranks dwindled and in a last gasp, the Confederacy, too, had a plan to recruit black soldiers. In 1864, Confederate President Jefferson Davis approved a plan to recruit free blacks and slaves into the Confederate army. Quoting Frederick Douglass, Levine calls the logic behind the idea “a species of madness.”

One factor that contributed to this madness, he says, “is the drumbeat of self-hypnosis” that told Confederates that “the slaves are loyal, the slaves embrace slavery, the slaves are contented in slavery, the slaves know that black people are inferior and need white people to … oversee their lives. … Black people will defend the South that has been good to them. There are, of course, by [then] very many white Southerners who know this is by no means true, but enough of them do believe it so that they’re willing to give this a chance.”

Considering what might have happened had there been no war at all, Levine thinks slavery could well have lasted into the 20th century, and that it was, in fact, the Confederacy that hastened slavery’s end. “In taking what they assumed to be a defensive position in support of slavery,” he says, “the leaders of the Confederacy … radically hastened its eradication.”

The “Average Person” Is A Liberal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sides says:

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

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

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

Hell no.

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

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

So, what is true?

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

Let’s take a look at several of them:

GUN CONTROL:

fox poll on gun control options

GAY MARRIAGE:

REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS:

ABORTION POLLS

SOCIAL SECURITY (a liberal program par excellence):

social security survey

MEDICARE (another liberal program):

MEDICARE CUTS POLL

MEDICAID EXPANSION UNDER OBAMACARE:

medicaid expansion poll

TAXING THE RICH:

TAXING THE RICH POLL

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

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

Is The Joplin Globe Rising From The Dumb?

Remember when the Joplin Globe endorsed Mitt Romney? Of course you do. How could anyone forget, “Joplin Globe Doubles Down On Dumb And Endorses Romney” or the related, “The Joplin Globe’s Dumbest Editorial Of All Time” ?

And remember during the election when Republicans were openly calling Obama a socialist, and Romney, who didn’t want to directly call him one, suggested instead that the president “takes his political inspiration from Europe, and from the socialist-democrats in Europe” ? romney socialist adAnd remember a Romney campaign ad that The New Republic said linked “Obama with a triumvirate of famous socialists,” including the late Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, and Che Guevara?

So, we had Republicans directly saying Obama was a socialist and Romney indirectly saying it and the Joplin Globe siding with Romney and endorsing him. It was enough to make a guy cancel his subscription.

Well, I don’t know exactly what energetic Democratic mole has dug into the hardened ground of the Joplin Globe editorial staff, but I applaud his or her efforts. Believe it or not, via an “Other Views” editorial written by the Scripps Howard News Service, the Globe published this sentence that could have been written by yours truly:

Those figures should give the lie to the charge that Obama is a socialist. If he is, he’s a very bad one.

“Those figures” were these figures:

While the private sector was adding 246,000 jobs in February, the public sector cut 10,000. Newsweek notes that since the spring of 2010, the private sector has created 6.35 million jobs; the public sector has cut 1.5 million jobs.

Let those numbers sink in. Government employment over the last three years has declined by 1.5 million. That’s 1.5 million Americans who could be working and spending and paying taxes and helping to reduce the deficit that has freaked out so many people, including the Joplin Globe editorial board.

Remapping Debate published an article in January (“The incredible shrinking federal workforce“) that examined the ratio of federal employees (federal only, mind you) to population, using the year 1978 as a basis. And get this: The population has grown 40% since 1978 and yet there are 20% fewer federal employees! If the the employment-to-population ratio were the same today as it was in 1978, there would be nearly 350,000 more Americans employed in the federal government. Let that number sink in, too, as you add it to the 1.5 million public sector jobs lost since 2010.

Finally, while you’re thinking about the incredible drag on the economy that a shrinking government workforce represents, keep in mind that it was the Joplin Globe that brought this fact to the attention of its many conservative readers, many of whom believe Barack Obama is a big-government-loving socialist. That is progress, people.

And speaking of the local paper’s progress, the Scripps Howard-Joplin Globe editorial actually made the point that there is “real progress” going on in the economy, even as “lawmakers lurch from one budget crisis to the next.”

Now, if the Globe will go all the way and start to acknowledge that those “lawmakers” responsible for all the lurching are Republican lawmakers, perhaps the paper can regain some of the credibility it lost by that very dumb Romney endorsement.

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