“It Is Enough To Make You Swear”

Last night I was researching yet another piece on the disgraceful Republican effort to suppress the vote (I have written about it many times because it profoundly pisses me off, and in the mainstream press Republicans mostly get a pass) and, voilà, on comes Rachel Maddow with a segment on the same thing. Oh, well. I will go on with what I was doing and steal some of St. Rachel’s stuff, including noting the success Republicans have had in reducing voter participation. But first, here are a few headlines and information from the accompanying stories:

Republicans Are Trying to Make Sure Minorities and Young People Don’t Vote This November

In a way, Barack Obama can be blamed for this. In 2008, his historic campaign inspired record turnout, drawing more people to the polls than the country had seen in 40 years. Almost all of the record increase came from black, Hispanic, and young voters, who tended to vote Democratic. Republican governors and GOP-controlled state legislatures, not surprisingly, saw this as a problem. They responded by throwing up a host of new obstacles to voting that disproportionately affect black, Latino, and low-income voters.

Chart of the Day: Kansas Successfully Reduces Voting Rate of Blacks, Young People

Here is a graphic Rachel presented on her show that helps explain the motivation of muck-the-vote right-wingers behind those preceding stories:

2012 exit poll on young voters and blacks

You can see why Republicans went to a lot of trouble to make it harder for young folks and black folks to vote. And we must not forget that Hispanics gave President Obama 71% of their votes in 2012, after he received 67% of their votes in 2008. It was, of course, the 2008 election that first put the fear of Obama’s Allah into Republicans, who saw how powerful those young people, blacks, and Hispanics can be, when it comes to electing Democrats and shutting the door on reactionary politics.

In 2010, capitalizing on a backlash against The Scary Negro in the White’s House, Tea Party-energized Republicans took control of the entire legislature in 25 states, for a gain of 11. The last time they controlled that many statehouses was in 1952. Republicans decided to put to use their new-found state political power by throwing electoral spike strips in front of constituencies who would surely flee from the right-wing governance the GOP was about to unleash. And, as Saint Rachel pointed out, they have been successful. Here is a map she presented:

voting restriction states since 2010

Regarding that depressing reality, Maddow said this:

This is meant to be a Republican-tilted system of voting. If you care about small “d” democracy and the right to vote and everything that went into securing it, it is enough to make you swear.

Yep. I have done a lot of swearing since 2010. I can’t think of anything Republicans have engineered, and they have engineered a lot of bad things—including now politicizing Ebola, for God’s sake—that is worse than their attempts to make it difficult for people to vote. Obviously, they know their message doesn’t have majority appeal. But rather than tailor their message to attract a majority, they would rather retain their parochial vision and use raw and rare political power to discourage their political enemies from exercising what should be, in a still-experimental democracy, their sacred right to vote.

There is some good news in terms of the court battles over these dishonorable and anti-democratic tactics adopted by Republicans. On Thursday night, the U.S. Supreme Court—over the objection of its most committed reactionary members, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito—blocked Wisconsin’s voter ID law from going into effect for the upcoming election. The same night we learned that a federal judge in Texas—an Obama appointee; it matters who gets to appoint judges—struck down that state’s voter ID law, known as SB 14.

Noting that the right to vote “defines our nation as a democracy,” U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos didn’t shy away from describing what Republicans in the Texas legislature were doing when they passed their squash-the-Democratic-vote law:

The Court holds that SB 14 creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose. The Court further holds that  SB 14 constitutes an unconstitutional poll tax.

One day, perhaps not too far in the future, we won’t have to battle the kind of reactionary nonsense that Judge Ramos struck down. But for now, the fight must continue because Republicans have no shame. They fear young people, blacks, and Hispanics. They see them as their enemies. And they will, apparently, try anything to keep their enemies from the battlefield.

What Would Ronaldus Magnus Do?

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

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

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

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

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


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Dismantling Democracy

If you don’t already hate, and I mean passionately hate, what the modern Tea Party-dominated Republican Party stands for (but not the Tea Partiers themselves), then you will after you watch a segment posted below from Rachel Maddow’s Monday night show.

This short segment featured the remarkable 81-year-old Democrat Ellie Kinnaird, who resigned her seat in the state senate—which she held for 17 years. The segment demonstrates how Republicans in North Carolina (and in similar ways, elsewhere) are systematically dismantling democracy by making it much more difficult to vote, all because young folks and people of color don’t buy into the virtue-of-selfishness philosophy of Republicans and don’t want to vote for them.

But the segment with Ellie Kinnaird also demonstrates that it is possible to fight back, to fight for democratic values, no matter your age:

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The Sin Of St. Rachel Maddow

Just before President Obama was set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday (at a 200-acre resort in Palm Springs, to which neither you nor I will ever be able to resort), NBC news reported this:

The U.S. secretly traced a massive cyberespionage operation against the 2008 presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and John McCain to hacking  units backed by the People’s Republic of China, prompting  high level warnings to Chinese officials to stop such activities,  U.S. intelligence officials tell NBC News.

This leak, obviously, had a purpose, which was to publicly highlight the ongoing, but mostly secret, complaints from the U.S. about Chinese computer-hacking. We were essentially trying to embarrass the Chinese because behind-the-scenes efforts to get them to stop hacking our information systems and stealing our secrets wasn’t working. All well and good, as far as I’m concerned. We should be embarrassing authoritarians everywhere.

For their part, the Chinese, desirous of some American good will before Xi Jinping met with President Obama, granted passports to family members of the blind Chinese activist, Chen Guangcheng, who is here in the United States, far from the tyranny that still characterizes the Chinese government.

Now, keep that last line in mind: China, despite its incremental turn towards capitalism, is still, especially compared to the United States, a bastion of communist bullies who watch over the population truly like Big Brother. But given the news and the punditry of the last few days, you wouldn’t know that. You would think that President Obama is a despot ever bit as despotic as Xi Jinping or any other tyrant in the world wishing to “spy” on his people.

This rubbish, unfortunately, has infected the minds of a lot of people I respect, people on the left, people who I have sainted on this blog. In this case, I’m talking about St. Rachel Maddow, who ended her Friday broadcast with this commentary on the Obama-Xi meeting:

…the Chinese government on the occasion of [Xi Jinping’s] visit to the U.S., they decided to finally give passports to the family members of this Chinese dissident who took refuge in our country from Chinese persecutions. Now his mother and his brother can visit him here, all of a sudden because of this, because of this meeting.

[She shows a video clip of Obama meeting with Xi Jinping] This was the scene in Palm Springs about 90 minutes ago, President Obama greeting the Chinese president, and they sat down for the first of their big, important meetings.

And this is kind of how these things are supposed to go on the sidelines of these meetings, right?  On the occasion of a high profile meeting with the President of the United States, on that occasion, you know what? Kindnesses towards dissidents should suddenly become possible. Other countries should think we expect that. Contact with us, desire to have good relations with us, is supposed to drive other countries towards better human rights policies and better civil rights policies, because that’s what we are supposed to stand for.

So far, so good. St. Rachel is acting the saint, saying everything right, analyzing the situation perfectly. Then, as many on the left are wont to do, she gives in to temptation and commits the sin of Big Brother-is-watching-us hysteria:

So the timing is tough right now, right? We like to think of ourselves as the good guys, where the international cost of doing business with United States of America is that you have to be less evil. It would be a lot easier for the United States to pull off this attempted embarrassment of the Chinese government over them hacking our politicians, were it not for the coincident revelations floating out of our own media this week about our own government mercilessly hacking us.

There it was. In front of God and everyone. Rachel Maddow committing the sin of a ridiculous comparison between the United States government’s data aggregation policy—authorized by Congress and overseen by the judicial branch—and an authoritarian communist country actually spying on its people. There she was implicitly putting President Obama and Xi Jinping in the same “hacking” boat.

If it weren’t for St. Rachel’s many virtues, if it weren’t for her former wind-driven-snow pureness, I would have to take back the halo I have put over her noggin. For now, though, it is prayer she needs. Lots of it. Prayer that she, and other liberals and progressives, will come to their senses and realize that what has been revealed so far in what is now being called the “NSA scandal,” is not Big Brother watching over us in order to then force us to get our minds right. That is what Big Brother is doing in China, not the United States.

And until someone shows me how aggregating data, a policy designed to help the government uncover terrorist plots, is a massive violation of the civil rights of Americans, I will continue to reject the notion that President Obama, or President Bush before him, is using the National Security Agency as a spying apparatus designed to arrest Americans and put them in prison or under house arrest like the Chinese do.

Finally, for those of you out there who buy into the notion that your government is out to spy on you and catch you looking at porn, or secretly emailing your mistress, or worshiping a very strange god, or whatever it is you don’t want the government to catch you doing, consider this recent report from NBC News:

The National Security Agency has at times mistakenly intercepted the private email messages and phone calls of Americans who had no link to terrorism, requiring Justice Department officials to report the errors to a secret national security court and destroy the data, according to two former U.S. intelligence officials. 

First, imagine the Chinese government admitting such a thing and rectifying such a mistake. And then imagine the Chinese government allowing that story to be widely dispersed in China.

Then start praying for St. Rachel and other liberals who are embarrassing themselves by way of this—so far—phony NSA “scandal.”

The Associated Press “Scandal” In Ten Minutes

If you, like me, were a little hazy on the details surrounding the Justice Department’s peeking into the telephone records of Associated Press reporters, the good news is that after you see the segment below from St. Rachel’s show on Thursday night, you will be up to speed.

Just keep in mind that, especially in these days of high-tech communications, there will always be a tension between the government’s absolute mandate to keep the people safe from foreign enemies and the absolute necessity of a free press:

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Missouri Among The States That May Have To Allow Felons To Possess Assault Rifles

“The question next week is going to be, Who runs the United States Senate? Do the people really run this place or does the NRA run it?”

—Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy to Rachel Maddow

wworthless Republicans!” is all I can say to this:

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Pass this “Moms Demand Action” video on to citizens who might get inspired to do something about the pusillanimity in Congress regarding sensible gun laws:

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:

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

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“We’re Gonna Try To Take This Country Back For The Lord”

In case you didn’t see the following segment from Rachel Maddow’s show on Friday, she pretty thoroughly covered the frightening attempt by Arkansas conservatives, and conservatives elsewhere, to set the clock back to Back Alley Standard Time:

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Government Jobs Are People Too

I know I posted a segment from The Rachel Maddow Show earlier today, but I just have to post the segment below because it is the best 8 1/2 minutes you will spend, in terms of hearing a rebuttal to what right-wingers claim both about the nature of government employment and the alleged radical nature of President Obama and his administration.

Before you watch the segment, here is a graphic St. Rachel uses to make the point that what was standard practice in fighting recessions in the past has been turned on its head during the Obama presidency. The graph plots the change in government employment during the 1981 recession when Reagan was president, the 1990 recession when George H.W. Bush was president, the 2001 recession when George W. Bush was president, and the Great Recession when the Scary Negro socialist/communist was president:

government employment and recession

As you can clearly see, Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II did not seek to shrink government, and government employment, when the economy slowed down. That would have been stupid. And neither did President Obama initially seek to eliminate government jobs. Part of his stimulus plan put in place early in 2009 was designed to help states keep teachers, cops, firemen, and other government workers on the job. But that stimulus, much maligned by Republicans as a “failure,” is long gone. And nothing like it is coming back.

Here is the St. Rachel segment, which you should commit to memory, especially those of you who have hard-headed conservatives in your midst:

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The Republican Party Crackup, Presented By Rachel Maddow

No one on television quite ties it all together like the charming St. Rachel:

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House GOP: Women Need Not Apply

Here is how women voted in the last two presidential elections:

The following is a graphic showing next year’s Republican committee chairmen in the House, kindly put up by St. Rachel Maddow on her Tuesday night show. This gem goes to show how much Republicans learned from the election:

Here’s What Happened On Tuesday Night

If you didn’t see Wednesday night’s episode of The Rachel Maddow Show, I suggest you go here and watch it. From start to finish, it was simply the best show she has done.

All of us who sympathize, to one degree or another, with what the Democratic Party stands for, need to sit back and take in all of what happened on Tuesday night. It really was remarkable.

And here is a rather remarkable accounting of it by Saint Rachel, an account we should savor all the way to the end:

We are not going to have a Supreme Court that will overturn Roe versus Wade.

There will be no more Antonin Scalias and Samuel Alitos added to this court.

We’re not going to repeal health reform.

Nobody is going to kill Medicare and make old people in this generation or any other generation fight it out on the open market to try to get themselves health insurance. We’re not going to do that.

We’re not going to give a 20% tax cut to millionaires and billionaires and expect programs like food stamps and kid’s insurance to cover the cost of that tax cut.

We’ll not make you clear it with your boss if you want to get birth control under the insurance plan that you’re on.

We are not going to redefine rape.

We are not going to amend the United States Constitution to stop gay people from getting married.

We are not going to double Guantanamo.

We are not eliminating the Department of Energy or the Department of Education or Housing at the federal level.

We are not going to spend $2 trillion on the military that the military does not want.

We are not scaling back on student loans, because the country’s new plan is that you should borrow money from your parents.

We are not vetoing the Dream Act.

We are not self-deporting.

We are not letting Detroit go bankrupt.

We are not starting a trade war with China on Inauguration Day in January.

We are not going to have, as a president, a man who once led a mob of friends to run down a scared, gay kid, to hold him down and forcibly cut his hair off with a pair of scissors, while that kid cried and screamed for help, and there was no apology, not ever.

We are not going to have a Secretary of State John Bolton.

We are not bringing Dick Cheney back.

We are not going to have a foreign policy shop stocked with architects of the Iraq War. We are not going to do it. We had the chance to do that if we wanted to do that, as a country, and we said no, last night, loudly…

The Democratic senator who was supposed to be the most endangered incumbent in the country not only won, she won by 16 points.

Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who was so stuffed with hedge funds money that he burped credit default swaps, Scott Brown lost by a lot to the nation’s foremost authority on the economic rights of the middle class.

After marriage rights for same-sex couples were voted down in state after state after state for years, more than 30 times in a row, this year, all change. In Maine, they voted on marriage equality and they voted for it. In Maryland, they voted on marriage equality and they voted for it. In Minnesota, they were asked to vote against marriage equality, and Minnesota refused to ban it. In Washington state, the vote is not called yet. They are still counting the vote and we will be watching closely, but if you are on the pro-gay rights side in Washington state, it should be noted that it is looking pretty good.

In Iowa, anti-gay activists were sure that they were going to turf out a judge for ruling in favor of marriage equality. They had done it before, to a bunch of other judges. They had been successful every time they had tried before. But not this one, not this time. Judge Wiggins in Iowa keeps his seat.

Nevada elects its first African-American congressman this year.

America gets our first openly gay United States Senator.

America gets our first-ever Asian-American woman senator from Hawaii. Her seat in the House, I should note, gets filled by…a Democratic Iraq War veteran. I’m going to tell you right now that her name is Tulsi Gabbard, because she is on the fast track to being very famous some day. Tulsi Gabbard.

Speaking of Iraq War veterans, Tammy Duckworth, veteran helicopter pilot who lost both her legs in Iraq, she is going to Congress, and she is sending home the opponent who mocked her for her war record, Joe Walsh.

California relaxed its three-strikes-you’re-out law and rejected a law to cripple the political power of unions.

Decriminalization of marijuana was approved in Washington and in Colorado.

The astonishing tide of dark money spent against Democratic Senators Jon Tester in Montana and Sherrod Brown in Ohio turned out to be pointless. Both those Democratic senators won. They held on to their seats.

Democrats won a Senate seat in North Dakota, of all places, a seat that nobody thought they could win.

All of these states that had this hugely aggressive, total Republican takeover from the 2010 elections—Ohio and Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania and Virginia and Florida—all of those states that went so red in state government in these past couple of years and that then had these big fights inside their states over how Republicans were governing there, in Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia— and we will see about Florida— last night not only did Republicans lose the presidential election in every single one of those states, Republicans lost the Senate race in every single one of those states too: Sherwood Brown, Tammy Baldwin, Debbie Stabenow, Bob Casey, Tim Kaine, Bill Nelson. Depending on Florida, a Democratic sweep of the presidency, and definitely a Democratic sweep of the Senate races in those states that the GOP was so excited to have supposedly turned red in a way that was going to stick.

Last night, Democratic women swept every major office in New Hampshire.

Last night, California Democrats won a Democratic super-majority in the state house and in the state senate. Not just majorities in California, but super majorities. Wherein, if the Republicans don’t turn up, any of them, any day, at work, nothing will be different in California  They’re completely legislatively irrelevant.

Allen West lost his seat.

More women got elected to the U.S. Senate than at any time in U.S. history.

The Republican presidential nominee and vice presidential nominee both lost their home states.

Missouri and Montana and West Virginia chose democratic governors.

West Virginia chose its first gay state legislator. So did North Dakota. West Virginia and North Dakota? Yes, seriously.

Joe Lieberman’s old seat went to a real Democrat in Connecticut.

The proportion of young people voting compared to 2008, it went up. Same with African-Americans, up from 2008. Same with Latinos, up from 2008. Not down, up.

If you are a liberal or if you are rooting for the Democrats, last night was a very, very, very big night.

And, oh, yeah, this happened: President Barack Obama, yes, will go down in history as our nation’s first African-American president. But he will also go down in history as the most successful Democratic presidential candidate since FDR. President Bill Clinton got re-elected too, I know, but only Barack Obama got re-elected with not just big electoral college margins, but also with majority wins in the popular vote, twice.


D is for Deficit Hawks

Monday night’s St. Rachel Maddow Show featured a couple of graphs that need wide distribution.

As background, an ABC/Washington Post poll found that the only category Barack Obama was deficient in among polled registered voters was on the issue of the deficit:

Romney, by this poll, has a three point advantage on “dealing with the federal budget deficit,” despite the fact that his proposals would actually increase the deficit. People just naturally think Republicans are better budget hawks than Democrats, I suppose.

But here is reality from St. Rachel:

That red chunk is the budget deficit inherited by President Obama. So, you can see that he has actually reduced the deficit since he’s been in office, despite Republican claims to the contrary and despite the economic travails we have been through that required a lot of government spending to keep the economy above water.

And here is a larger picture of Democratic performance vis-à-vis deficit spending:

There’s a lot of Republican red above the ZERO line in that graph, no? Democrats—you can believe your eyes—are far, far better stewards of the budget than Republicans.

And that will be true no matter how many lies Republicans tell voters.

The Joplin Globe’s Dumbest Editorial Of All Time

In what appeared to me to be a prelude to an eventual Romney endorsement, the Joplin Globe praised Romney’s courageous attack on Big Bird and approved of cutting federal funding for public broadcasting, which the editorial admits only costs each American $1.35 per year.  Yes, a buck and some change a year.

As others have pointed out, the government spends about as much at the Pentagon in six hours as it does on public broadcasting for a whole year. Yet, the Joplin Globe, in what can only be considered its dumbest editorial of all time, asks:

Is it really the role of the federal government, which is now running deficits of more than a trillion dollars annually, to subsidize Big Bird?

This editorial did not appear to be a joke, since it was not published on April 1, so I have to take seriously the effort here to bend over backwards for Romney and his pitiful attempt, during his debate with President Obama, to camouflage the real damage his and his running mate’s budget proposals will do to the country, in terms of their effects on the poor, the elderly, the disabled, not to mention the middle class and Big Bird. (The rich will do just fine, however.)

The Globe says Americans need to have “a serious conversation about the proper role and reach of the federal government.” Yeah, we sure do. And a serious conversation doesn’t start with trimming $1.35 a year from each American’s tax bill.

How about starting a serious conversation with the following graph, courtesy of Rachel Maddow and Foreign Policy magazine:

The graph shows the base defense budget since 1950, and it clearly shows the buildups during war time, the Korean War, Vietnam War, the Reagan Cold War spending, the so-called War on Terror (Maddow reminds us that the George W. Bush-era numbers don’t reflect the two Bush wars, since they were “off budget” during his time).

The graph also shows that after those periods, defense spending came down dramatically, since there was obviously less of a need for it. But notice the War on Terror spending. The red line shows what the budget would look like if the trend followed the post-Cold War trend in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It would have fallen, quite normally, way below current levels.

Then notice the “fiscal cliff” sequestration cuts, which as draconian as they are advertised by both Democrats and Republicans, still are less than the normal post-wars decline. Then notice the Obama proposed defense spending, which is way over the normal post-wars decline. Then, if you can stomach it, notice the Romney defense spending increases, which go off the chart.

That is what the Joplin Globe ought to want to start a conversation about, not Romney’s cheap attempt to score points with right-wing ideologues, who have always hated public broadcasting, apparently the Joplin Globe now among them.

The History of Romney’s Tax Return Game

Since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hurled his you-didn’t-pay-any-taxes-for-ten-years charge at Mitt Romney, Republicans have been circling the wagons around Mittens in hopes they can just shout away the controversy over his tax returns.

Over the weekend, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, a right-wing zealot named Reince Priebus, had no problem calling Reid a “dirty liar,” and Senator Lindsey Graham also claimed Reid was “lying” and “making things up.”

Well, thankfully Rachel Maddow did two segments last Friday evening that deftly pointed out the games Romney has played with tax returns, his and others’, as well as exposing just who started all this lying bidness about what’s in Romney’s own tax returns—spoiler alert: it was Mittens himself ten years ago!

If you didn’t see the segments, you need to, as you will clearly see Romney’s hypocrisy on this issue, including his telling a rather large whopper about his filing status as a Massachusetts resident when he was running for governor. Below is the first segment and the second one can be seen here:

Watch Romney Pull A Dead Rabbit Out Of His Hat

The incomparable Rachel Maddow provides us an incredible peek inside the campaign brain of the Mittens Machine.  This is must-see TV:

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Mittens, Pathological Prevaricator?

I once worked for a guy who lied when it was easier to tell the truth. He told whoppers that he should have known weren’t believable. But he kept telling them, and I became convinced he had no idea that most of us weren’t buying them.

Mitt Romney is like that. He lies when it would be so much easier not to. That’s my personal definition of a pathological prevaricator. In this case a politically pathological prevaricator.

I most recently accused him of lying—and I received some flak for doing so—about three weeks ago. I have yet to hear him speak at any length that I haven’t heard him tell blatant lies—not just “spin”—and it is beyond the normal politician-speak we have, unfortunately, grown used to.

Now, finally, I can post a segment from St. Rachel Maddow that makes the point better than I ever could, and she does so in the context of the recent Etch-A-Sketch gaffe:

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Remarks And Asides

Pat Robertson, in touch with God, has a question for Joplin residents and others who live in tornado zones:

Why do we build houses where tornadoes are apt to happen?

Only God knows, I suppose.


By the way, I apologize for making Rush Limbaugh say nasty things about a college girl. I promise I won’t do it again.


Speaking of apologies, I previously excoriated Cal Thomas for saying nasty things about St. Rachel Maddow. It turns out that not only did Cal Thomas immediately apologize, he wanted to break bread with the very liberal Rachel so as to express his sincerity.  And because she is a saint, she graciously accepted it.  “To be forgiven by one you have wronged is a blessing, it’s even cleansing,” Thomas convincingly wrote.

That, my friends, is the way it is supposed to work.


More evidence that Mittens was for the federal insurance mandate before he was waging an unseemly war against it surfaced in a piece by Sam Stein featuring quotes from a 2008 GOP primary debate (“No, no, I like mandates. The mandates work.”). Stein made a good point about the apparently easy-to-find evidence:

It also shows how poorly staffed the rest of the GOP field has been with respect to opposition research. The fact that it’s taken this long for these quotes to surface could end up making a huge difference with respect to the Republican primary outcome.

And the candidates, losers all, deserve their fate.


Speaking of Mittens, his wife, Ann, is obviously charming and well-spoken. But she said something that is utterly out of touch with reality:

We can be poor in spirit, and I don’t even consider myself wealthy, which is an interesting thing. It can be here today and gone tomorrow.

I don’t know why the Romneys have such trouble acknowledging the obvious.  Look, if you have a couple hundred million smackers in the bank or resting in a tropical paradise, along with a $40 million dollar yearly income and a Cadillac in every port,  then you, by all means, consider yourself wealthy.

She went on:

How I measure riches is by the friends I have and the loved ones I have and the people that I care about in my life, and that’s where my values are and that’s where my riches are.

Sure, everyone’s riches are ultimately found in their friends and loved ones. But it helps to have some friend$ and loved one$ in once-$ecret fund$ in the Cayman I$land$.


Growing Pains star, actor Kirk Cameron, now spends his time crusading against Charles Darwin and promoting an Iron Age meme, part of which includes a rather unhappy assessment of homosexuality:

I think that it’s – it’s – it’s unnatural. I think that it’s – it’s detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.

He could have said that about Growing Pains.


Speaking of Christian actors on TV, Kristen Chenoweth, of ABC’s GCB (according to Wikipedia, GCB formerly stood  for “Good Christian Bitches”), related this story about The Gay:

Even as a young child, I thought, ‘Why is being gay bad?’ I didn’t understand it. So I asked my grandma, who is the best Christian I ever knew. I’d say, ‘What about my friend Denny, he’s gay, is he going to hell?’ She told me, ‘I read the Bible like I eat fish. I take the meat that serves me well but I don’t choke on the bone.'”

Baptize me in the Church of Kristen Chenoweth’s Grandma.


Phil Brooks, whose column appears in the Joplin Globe, said it all about Missouri governor and Democrat Jay Nixon, when he compared him to former Democratic governor Bob Holden, “an unapologetic liberal“:

Nixon is significantly more moderate. Facing a budget crisis similar to that of Holden’s era, Nixon flatly has ruled out tax increases. Instead, he champions an idea supported by many Republicans: business tax breaks for economic development.

In Missouri these days, you see, most of us liberals have to live with the fact that almost all of the Democrats are one teabag short of being Republicans.

Sex, More Sex, And Nothing But The Sex

From the Huffington Post Saturday morning:

From the Huffington Post Saturday night:

On Friday I listened to Limbaugh explain why his “illustrating absurdity by being absurd” dodge was sufficient to cover for his calling a young woman a slut and prostitute and desiring to see her perform sex on Internet-posted videos.

The left wants to pretend they have no sense of humor,” the GOP spokesman said yesterday. It was all a big joke that chumps like us don’t get:

If anybody doesn’t realize that we are illustrating absurdity here by being absurd and that that is the trademark of this program…  But oh! No! “Oh, of everything else you’ve said, that’s the lowest of the low. Demanding sex video? Who do you think you are?” Lighten up.

While Limbaugh has used this dodge for years to get him out of some tight spots, this time some of his advertisers, who have made him wealthy, aren’t finding the humor in his comments. They are abandoning his leaking ship of hate.

But I also listened to Sean Hannity, a Catholic Obama-hater, explain on Friday why Rush’s “illustrating absurdity by being absurd” ruse was simply misunderstood by the Democrats and (guess who?) the Liberal Media.  Of course Rush “did not mean it” when he said he wanted to wildly masturbate while watching porn videos of young plaid-clad Catholic college girls.*

Then I found out that Bill O’Reilly had his own, uh, more restrained, plan of attack against law student Sandra Fluke:

Let me get this straight, Ms. Fluke, and I’m asking this with all due respect. You want me to give you my hard-earned money so you can have sex?

The sex angle, which seems to fascinate conservatives, is one that Limbaugh just couldn’t get away from. Here was Limbaugh on Friday:

Obama just called Sandra Fluke to make sure she was all right? Awwww.  (kissing sound)  That is so compassionate! What a great guy.  The president called her to make sure she’s okay.  What is she 30 years old?  Thirty years old, a student at Georgetown Law, who admits to having so much sex that she can’t afford it anymore.

“So much sex that she can’t afford it anymore.” As if the amount of birth control pills a woman takes is commensurate with the amount of sex she is having.  That kind of mentality is what we are dealing with here, whether it be talk radio or Fox “News.” Rachel Maddow destroyed Limbaugh on this point on Friday night.

Limbaugh continued:

The president tells Sandra Fluke (chuckling), 30-year-old Sandra Fluke, that her parents should be proud.  Okay.  Let me ask you a question.  I might be surprised at the answer I would get to this question.  Your daughter appears before a congressional committee and says she’s having so much sex, she can’t pay for it and wants a new welfare program to pay for it. Would you be proud?  I don’t know about you, but I’d be embarrassed.  I’d disconnect the phone. I’d go into hiding and hope the media didn’t find me…

By the way, if he had said that about my daughter, hiding might be a good idea.


It’s no different than if somebody that I don’t know knocked on my door and said, “You know what? I’m outta money. I can’t afford birth control pills and I’m supposed to have sex with three guys tonight.”

“Well, why are you coming to me?”

“Well, because you’ve got the money.”

“Well, have you ever thought maybe you shouldn’t? If you can’t afford it, you can’t do it.”

Now, all of that is bad enough, but what is worse is that not a single word of it addresses what it was that Sandra Fluke actually testified to in the hearing arranged by Democrats. Most of her testimony involved third-person accounts of women who couldn’t get access to the healthcare they needed to treat, say, polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is a hormonal disorder. She relayed the account of her friend who has the condition:

For my friend, and 20% of women in her situation, she never got the insurance company to cover her prescription, despite verification of her illness from her doctor.  Her claim was denied repeatedly on the assumption that she really wanted the birth control to prevent pregnancy.  She’s gay, so clearly polycystic ovarian syndrome was a much more urgent concern than accidental pregnancy.  After months of paying over $100 out of pocket, she just couldn’t afford her medication anymore and had to stop taking it.  I learned about all of this when I walked out of a test and got a message from her that in the middle of her final exam period she’d been in the emergency room all night in excruciating pain.  She wrote, “It was so painful, I woke up thinking I’d been shot.”  Without her taking the birth control, a massive cyst the size of a tennis ball had grown on her ovary.  She had to have surgery to remove her entire ovary.

Not a word about wanting to have unlimited sex without consequences and have conservatives mystically pay for it. And speaking of that, here are some statistics from the Kinsey Institute relevant to this issue:


I’m just using Limbaugh’s not-so-clever “illustrating absurdity by being absurd” trick.


Political Junkie Stuff

The pending retirement of Olympia Snowe has started a lot of talk about political polarization and moderation and the state of our politics.

I realize most of you aren’t political junkies, but if you want something you rarely get on cable television news—an almost non-stop political science lesson—then watch the following segment from St. Rachel Maddow, who clearly demonstrates that there is no symmetry between what liberals do and what conservatives do, in terms of extremism.

(I stopped the segment before Rachel introduced Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from Maine who will seek Snowe’s seat, but you can go on site and watch that if you are interested) :

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Women Beware: Republicans Will Probe Your Privates

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

—Rachel Maddow

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Conservative Christians Love Jesus But Hate Liberals

Rachel Maddow did a segment Thursday night on Republican hypocrisy and the manufactured outrage over the contraception requirement issue. During the segment she played a clip from a panel discussion that was part of the Conservative Political Action Conference—the place where conservatives go to sharpen their long knives.

The panel discussion was led by Genevieve Wood of the Heritage Foundation, and one of the panelists was a man named Cal Thomas, a syndicated columnist familiar to readers of the Joplin Globe, which used to regularly publish his right-wing rants.  He is also a regular on Fox “News.”

Before we see what Mr. Thomas had to say during a discussion on the contraception issue—which, naturally, was couched in terms of religious liberty—I want to tell you a little bit about the Christian columnist.

Thomas writes a column with Bob Beckel (a Fox “News” Democrat) for USA Today called “Common Ground.”  The two columnists wrote a book by the same name, which was subtitled, “How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America.” Get that?  Partisanship is “destroying America,” and Thomas knows how to stop it.

Cal Thomas was at one time the vice president of Moral Majority (1980-1985), a conservative Christian political group founded by right-wing fundamentalist preacher Jerry Falwell.  About Mr. Falwell, Thomas said in 2007:

Without him, it is doubtful Christian fundamentalist, Evangelical Christians and conservative Roman Catholics would ever have mobilized into the significant voting bloc that elected Ronald Reagan twice, George H.W. Bush once and the current President Bush.

So far, we know that Mr. Thomas doesn’t like America-destroying partisanship and he has been part of an explicitly Christian organization with the word “moral” in its name. I’m just guessing that if you write a book about how to stop war-like partisanship, you are probably against war-like partisanship. And I’m also guessing that if you  lead a group that calls itself “Moral Majority,” you must think you are part of the majority with morals, right?

Thomas is also a spiritually sensitive fellow. He recently criticized Alaska Airlines for removing from its meal tray a small card that had a verse from one of the Psalms printed on it. But Cal had an inspired plan to outsmart those too-sensitive airline executives:

I think what I will do is every time I now fly on Alaska, I will take out my Bible, open it to the Psalms and read one about being thankful to God. Maybe my seat-mate will see what I’m doing and either be blessed or ask a question.

Now, that’s quite a nice picture of the gentlemanly Thomas with his Bible on his lap in the airplane, honoring God by reading a Psalm of David, perhaps stirring an observant sinner to repentance. I’m starting to tear up thinking about it.  GOP Jesus must be proud of Cal.

But, alas, there is more to the Cal Thomas story, like what happened today at that CPAC panel discussion.  Genevieve Wood played a clip from Rachel Maddow’s appearance on Meet The Press, in which St. Rachel dared to criticize the GOP for its position on contraception, and then Ms. Wood asked Thomas this question:

Cal, let’s talk about this religious–this is serious, we laugh about it, but this is serious in terms of, if they get away with this, what would happen in a second term? If that outrage doesn’t turn to action in November, what are we looking at here?

Tapping into his ample supply of Christian charity, Thomas replied:

I’m really glad, Genevieve, that you played the Rachel Maddow clip. I think that she is the best argument in favor of her parent’s using contraception. I would be all for that! And all of the rest of the crowd at MSNBC, too, for that matter.

Big laughs all around. Applause. Cheers. I think I even heard GOP Jesus let out a glorious guffaw!

But when the laughter faded, what we had left was a man—who has made a fine living off blowing his Christian trumpet; off touting his virtue as a Christian; off pushing the idea that morality resides on the side of conservatism*—publicly suggesting that a liberal commentator and her colleagues shouldn’t have been born.

They shouldn’t have been born.

That brand of Christianity, which I once might not have recognized, is becoming all too familiar to those of us outside the faith.  I hear it practiced by, among others, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham, Christians all.

In any case, while I am sure GOP Jesus approved of Cal Thomas for his casual dismissal of the value of human beings who happen to be liberals, perhaps there is Another Jesus who may, one day, have something more definitive to say about it.

In the meantime, here is the brief clip from St. Rachel’s show (in which you will see why she is a saint):

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…to the left there is no real God. Government is God.

Much Ado About Nothing?

Rachel Maddow presented a good argument last night contradicting the Beltway Wisdom regarding the politics of the controversy drummed up by the Catholic Church over a new federal requirement that health insurance plans should cover contraception.

Her argument fits in nicely with the results of a poll conducted for Planned Parenthood that shows a majority of voters, including a majority of Catholics, support the position the Obama Administration is taking.

She begins by reviewing the overwhelming rejection in Colorado (twice) and Mississippi of so-called personhood amendments:

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“You’re Fired!” Says Wealthy Job Creators

Rachel Maddow pointed out something last night about the Koch Brothers that bears repeating.

She noted that they have now amassed a combined fortune of about $50 billion, and that all of the profits made by Koch Industries are private profits, since the company has never gone public.

But the most important point she made is related to the Republican argument that the so-called job creators will create more jobs if they are allowed to accumulate more and more wealth. Thus, we have the anti-tax argument made by nearly every Republican in the country, from the lowliest local officeholder to the Senate Minority Leader.

I reproduced the graph she used on her show:As you can see, the richer the Kochs got, the more folks they fired.


“Cash Warfare”

The “leaderless resistance movement” known as Occupy Wall Street, in case you haven’t noticed, has been scaring conservatives for almost two weeks now.

Related to that, there was a brilliant, must-see opening segment on Thursday night’s Rachel Maddow Show:

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