The Measles, Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp, And Your Republican Party

Surprise, surprise. There are a few Republican presidential hopefuls out there this year (here and here) who question whether the government should require people to get vaccinated for measles because, dammit, it may lead to “profound mental disorders” and is a transgression against our freedom. Yet there are people in the Republican Party who have no problem putting some women through mental anguish by making it difficult, nearly impossible in some places, for them to exercise their reproductive freedom, and there are some zealots on the right who have no problem subjecting women to government-mandated vaginal snooping. You tell me which is a greater assault on personal freedom.

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All of this vaccination talk reminded me of former GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, in 2011, attacking poor Governor Oops! for forcing Texas school girls to get a vaccine against human papilloma virus. Dr. Bachmann, apparently an expert on the subject, famously and falsely suggested the vaccine might cause “mental retardation.”

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Speaking of intellectual disabilities, televangelist (and also a former GOP presidential candidate) Pat Robertson has given his blessing to the idea that the government ought not force parents to vaccinate their kids because “natural immunity is a pretty good thing” and “we should be very careful not to force people to do stuff that they earnestly feel they shouldn’t do.” Yes, again, this same man, a Christofascist, believes women should not be able to control their own bodies because God says that “abortion is murder.”

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Speaking of even more strange GOP presidential candidates, you gotta love this recent CNN headline:

Huckabee compares being gay to drinking, swearing

Yes. It makes sense. A girl-loving guy goes out and gets drunk and the next thing you know, he has a boyfriend who cusses up a shitstorm.

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But Mike Huckabee didn’t just pass on the old lie that homosexuality is a choice people make like, say, preferring Bud Light over Bud. He said the whole matter was “a biblical issue” and the Bible did not give him permission to “evolve” and that Christian businesses ought to have the right to discriminate against the deviants:

It’s like asking someone who’s Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli. We don’t want to do that — I mean, we’re not going to do that. Or like asking a Muslim to serve up something that is offensive to him, or to have dogs in his backyard. We’re so sensitive to make sure we don’t offend certain religions, but then we act like Christians can’t have the convictions that they’ve had for 2,000 years.

That’s interesting. Besides comparing gay people to bacon-wrapped shrimp and adulterated dogs, Huckabee says that convictions from the Iron Age ought to be honored in the law today. That would include the conviction that the bacon-wrapped shrimp and impure dogs should be executed because, as Leviticus 18:22 says,

The penalty for homosexual acts is death to both parties. They have brought it upon themselves.

Oh, but you may say: Christians no longer believe in executing bacon-wrapped shrimp and adulterated dogs for sinning against nature. Except that, remember, Huck said:

This is not just a political issue. It is a biblical issue. And as a biblical issue — unless I get a new version of the scriptures, it’s really not my place to say, OK, I’m just going to evolve.

So, without a new Bible, Huck can’t really evolve on the issue because it is a biblical issue and it says in the old Bible that you should kill the bacon-wrapped shrimp and the adulterated dogs. And if you don’t kill the deviant shrimp (or is it the bacon that is the deviant, or both?) and the adulterated dogs, then you are guilty of evolving, and I am quite sure the penalty for evolving is either death or losing the 2016 Iowa caucuses, whichever hurts the Huckster the most.

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Speaking of the Iowa caucuses, if you think all this talk about crazy Christofascist Republican candidates is just for the fun of it, the Real Clear Politics polling average for the Iowa Republican Presidential Caucus shows the Huckster leading the field by over 3 points. But if you happen to believe, like I do, that Huckabee has exactly zero chance of becoming the Republican nominee, let alone president, there is still good reason to fear some version of Christofascism will be a part of the 2016 general election campaign on the Republican side: Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker is “surging” in the latest Iowa polls.

Despite his growing and misleading reputation as a “moderate” in the party, Walker is, like the Huckster, an evangelical Christian who says his “policy decisions” are, “without a doubt, driven by my faith.” Walker not only sought the endorsement of an anti-gay group in Wisconsin last year, but the Koch-blessed, union-hating governor also believes, like Reverend Pat Robertson, that abortion should be illegal in all cases, including when a woman is impregnated by a rapist.

I don’t know if Walker thinks gay people are like “bacon-wrapped shrimp” to a Jewish deli owner, or like dogs to a faithful Muslim, but I do know he has at least some 2,000-year-old Christian convictions that ought to worry all of us.

UPDATE: The Des Moines Register published a piece yesterday (“Walker tells Iowans he’s one of the ‘fresh faces’ Romney had in mind”) that discussed the death threats that Walker says he received after all the “reforms” he brought to Wisconsin. Walker is quoted as saying:

Part of me looks back and thinks that maybe God put me and my family through all this for a purpose – and it wasn’t just to get things done in Wisconsin, and it wasn’t just to win all those elections in a state that normally doesn’t go Republican. Maybe it was to set us to … help get our country on the right track.

Like Pat Robertson in 1988, like a lot of other Republicans since, Scott Walker apparently believes his candidacy is somehow tied to the Creator of the Universe. And I can’t think of anything more dangerous than that.

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.”]

Here’s What Really Should Be Pre-Election News

In a better world, that is, in a world where journalists weren’t obsessed with ultimately meaningless and self-serving polling results, the Sunday news shows before Tuesday’s elections would not have been all about the results of this or that poll, or the likelihood that Republicans are going to take over the Senate, or the idea that people have turned on President Obama. Nope. In a better world the Sunday shows would have featured a stunning—and depressing—investigative news report titled, “Jim Crow Returns: Millions of Minority Voters Threatened by Electoral Purge.” Here’s how that report, which was released last week, began:

Election officials in 27 states, most of them Republicans, have launched a program that threatens a massive purge of voters from the rolls. Millions, especially black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters, are at risk. Already, tens of thousands have been removed in at least one battleground state, and the numbers are expected to climb, according to a six-month-long, nationwide investigation by Al Jazeera America.

Now, that’s news. That’s the kind of stuff journalists ought to be doing and the kind of reports that ought to be the focus of endless hours of pre-election political chatter on TV, including Sunday shows like NBC’s Meet the Press, CBS’s Face the Nation, and ABC’s This Week with jim crow returns from al jazeeraWhoever’s Turn It Is, or CNN’s State of the Union. I mean, if Al Jazeera America’s report isn’t worthy of at least a segment on any of the pre-election Sunday news programs, then one has to wonder just what kind of democratic values do TV journalists respect or give a damn about?

Without going into too many details (you should read the report for yourself, written by Greg Palast after a six-month investigation), the person in the middle of this absolutely anti-democratic scandal is Kris Kobach, the ghastly but influential Republican from Kansas whose day job is supposed to be secretary of state. He apparently invented a system called the Interstate Crosscheck program, “which has generated a master list of nearly 7 million names,” supposedly representing “legions of fraudsters who are not only registered but have actually voted in two or more states in the same election — a felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.” Problem is, it’s all bullshit.

The original selling point of the program was that it “would match possible double voters on multiple points: first, middle and last name; date of birth and the last four digits of Social Security numbers.” Turns out that most of the matches were of names only, and the program even mismatched middle names and Social Security numbers. As Greg Palast noted:

In practice, all it takes to become a suspect is sharing a first and last name with a voter in another state.

The result of that intentionally sloppy practice is that the purge lists disproportionately include African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian-Americans. Why? Because, for cultural reasons, “a sixth of all Asian-Americans share just 30 surnames and 50 percent of minorities share common last names, versus 30 percent of whites.” Here’s what the results look like in graph form:

crosscheck program and minorities

That’s no accident, folks. Blacks (93%), Hispanics (71%), and Asian-Americans (73%) overwhelmingly voted for Obama in 2012. In 2008, it was 95%, 67%, and 62%, respectively. Republicans had to do something about such numbers, since changing their extremist ideology wasn’t an option. So, they figured out a way to purge as many minority voters as possible from the rolls under the cover of preventing non-existent “voter fraud.” Pretty slick. And pretty sick.

Here’s the way it affects three states, including important battleground states this election cycle:

tagged minorities as double voters

In close races, like the Senate races in North Carolina and Georgia, those numbers can mean the difference between victory and defeat, between Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell. Yet, not a word about the Interstate Crosscheck program or the extensive Al Jazeera investigation on Sunday’s “news” shows. Apparently, unless such reporting comes from The New York Times or The Washington Post, it ain’t worth talking about.

NBC’s Chuck Todd did mention voter ID laws to his guest Rand Paul, as did CBS’s Bob Schieffer. Both of them, though, let Paul escape rather easily (Paul claims he generally favors voter ID laws, but thinks the GOP shouldn’t make it a “big issue.” What the hell does that mean? They have made it a big issue.). CNN’s Candy Crowley allowed Paul—is it just a coincidence that Paul, who is trying to snuggle up with African-American voters, appeared on three Sunday shows in order to explain how friendly he is to them?—to advertise his very good idea about restoring voting rights to millions of convicted felons who have served their time, many of them African-Americans. Fine. That would be a great accomplishment. But what’s the chance of getting a majority of Republicans, especially House Republicans, on board? Zero. Ain’t gonna happen. In the mean time, what about the efforts by Republicans all over the country to purge minorities from the rolls? Huh? Silence.

But we did hear from Jonathan Karl, a conservative pretending to be an objective correspondent for ABC’s This Week, that,

in a bid to boost the African-American vote, some Democrats are resorting to scare tactics.

The only reason Republicans like Kris Kobach can get away with voter suppression efforts is because of shitty journalism like that.

As a final note, the state of Missouri is listed by Al Jazeera America as a participant in Kobach’s Interstate Crosscheck program. Our secretary of state is a Democrat, Jason Kander. I have met him and like him very much. So, I called the media contact for the secretary of state’s office, Laura Swinford. I talked with her about the Al Jazeera article and Crosscheck. She didn’t think Missouri was utilizing the program in the same way that Kris Kobach of Kansas and others were doing so, but she said she would get back with me after I sent her the link to the article. I’ll let you know what I find out, if anything.

Dumb Republicans

Conservative Republicans, it being their nature, say and do some dumb things. Take, for instance, this one:

A Michigan Republican with a criminal record for breaking into cars and masturbating is urging residents to move out of state to avoid the “homosexual agenda.”

You’ll be happy to know that this guy is running for a seat in the Michigan legislature. And, if you live in Michigan, you’ll be happy to know that he thinks “as long as there are those that love God here, we can win souls and see God move in this city and state.” Yes, in case you didn’t know, legislating is all about winning souls watching God “move.”

And speaking of God moving, mysteriously he was moved yesterday to reveal to the Huffington Post a video he shot of Joni Ernst, the testicle-hating senatorial candidate from Iowa, telling folks at some gun rally in 2012 that she packed heat and reserved the right to use it against “the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.” As many have now pointed out, this is the same wacky ball-hater that wants to castrate the rights of women to control their own reproductive health.

But even slightly more sober conservatives say and do dumb things. Chris Christie recently said to his Chamber of Commerce pals that he is “tired of hearing about the minimum wage.” Then, after he realized how dumb it was to say something so dumb, he said something equally dumb:

My comments are never almost universally interpreted the way I mean them.

And we can see why.

But some Republican conservatives not only say dumb things, they say dumb and dangerous things, things that scare and mislead people. Rand Paul, plagiarist and self-certified ophthalmologist, said recently that the Obama administration has inaccurately described Ebola to the public and has “tried to downplay the transmissibility” of the disease, when, in the opinion of the self-certified ophthalmologist, Ebola “is something that appears to be very easy to catch.”

Man, that level of numb-headed irresponsibility makes Chris Christie look good, which is no small feat.

Speaking of small feats, there is my congressman Ozark Billy Long. Let me show you a still from a campaign commercial that is airing here in Hooterville, and I should tell you this commercial was actually “Approved by Billy Long. Paid for by Billy Long for Congress”:

billy long commercial

Shouldn’t the Democrat running against Long, Jim Evans, be running that ad? I mean, Long is bragging that he did something 56 times that failed. He was recently accused of being an ineffective legislator and it turns out his own ad proves it! Brilliant stuff that.

On the darker side of local politics around these parts, I present to you a scene from a campaign commercial running here in Joplin put out by Rep. Lynn Jenkins. She is a Republican from Kansas who represents my old home town and who, in August of 2009, told Kansans that “Republicans are struggling right now to find the great white hope.” Here is a screen shot of the ad I saw last night:

jenkins ad against wakefield

Just who is that woman in the ad? And who is that shifty and scary looking negro standing behind her? Well, the woman is Democrat Margie Wakefield, who happens to be Jenkins’ opponent and who happens to be giving Jenkins a run for her money. And I think you all know who the other guy is. He is The Scary Negro himself. And, man, doesn’t he really look like he’s up to no good? Maybe he has a gun in her back or maybe he’s about to stick a shiv in her. Maybe he’s about to rob her and take her money or, God forbid, something worse like force her to support ObamaCare. What other reason would he be standing so close and looking so creepy?

Sad thing is, this ad doesn’t really qualify as another dumb thing conservative Republicans are saying or doing these days. It’s actually pretty smart, in a Southern strategy political sense, to remind people in mostly rural Kansas that The Scary Negro is out there, ready to do something ugly. But whatever ugly thing that Barack Obama might do between now and the end of his term, it won’t be nearly as ugly as that ad.

No ENDA In Sight, Thanks To The Roy Blunts In Congress

If you were searching for something online on Monday, you no doubt noticed this Google Doodle:

google doodle and Shakuntala Devi

November 4 was the birthday of Shakuntala Devi. She was an arithmetically-gifted child prodigy who could do seemingly impossible calculations in her head. Initially that was her claim to fame. But she was also celebrated later for writing an important book on homosexuality in 1977, The World of Homosexuals, which Wikipedia calls “the first study of homosexuality in India.” Here’s more from the site:

The book, considered “pioneering”, features interviews with two young Indian homosexual men, a male couple in Canada seeking legal marriage, a temple priest who explains his views on homosexuality, and a review of the existing literature on homosexuality. It ends with a call for decriminalising homosexuality, and “full and complete acceptance—not tolerance and not sympathy”.

Long before anyone had ever heard of Shakuntala Devi, there was Sigmund Freud, who also had an interest in homosexuality, albeit in a time when it was poorly understood. The Skeptic’s Dictionary plainly states that Sigmund Freud’s personal invention, known as psychoanalysis, is,

the granddaddy of all pseudoscientific psychotherapies, second only to Scientology as the champion purveyor of false and misleading claims about the mind, mental health, and mental illness.

An example of such nonsense, as the Dictionary points out, is how Freud viewed schizophrenia:

Freud thought he understood the nature of schizophrenia. It is not a brain disorder, but a disturbance in the unconscious caused by unresolved feelings of homosexuality. 

Fortunately, real science has advanced beyond such mumbo jumbo. Schizophrenia is no longer “a disturbance” related to feelings of homosexuality, unresolved or otherwise. But there are folks among us who still have strange views of homosexuality itself, notwithstanding Shakuntala Devi’s call for “full and complete acceptance” of it a generation ago.

And many of those folks are in Congress.

By now you have heard that a so-called gay rights bill in the United States Senate, officially known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), has survived a procedural vote by a margin of 61-30. All Democrats (except for Claire McCaskill, who had attended a funeral for former Missouri congressman Ike Skelton in Lexington, Mo., and missed the vote) voted to advance the bill and a mere seven Republicans (minus a likely “yes” vote from an absent Lisa Murkowski of Alaska) voted with them.

The bill, as ABC News reported, “would ban discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” The assumption behind the bill, of course, is to apply Shakuntala Devi’s “full and complete acceptance” of one’s sexual orientation and gender identity to the American workplace.

Missouri’s other senator, Roy Blunt, did not vote and I don’t know why or where he was. But I do know that in 2007 a right-wing Christian website called “Americans for Truth About Homosexuality” featured Blunt, who was not my senator but my congressman at the time, specifically because of his opposition to ENDA:

Rep. Roy Blunt: Democratic Majority’s ENDA Bill Takes Dead Aim at Religious Freedom

blunt and ENDAIn a piece published by the reactionary website Human Events and appearing almost six years ago to the day, Blunt explained the basis of his objection to ENDA. You can go there and read it for yourself, but I will here summarize his objections:

1. Ensuring that there is no employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity represents a threat to the practice of Bible- and Quran-believing religion.

2. Employees in Christian or Muslim businesses would be forced to “choose” between their faith and their pocketbooks out of fear of litigation.

3. The whole ENDA exercise is a “whim”—defined by the Free Dictionary as an “arbitrary thought or impulse”—of Congress.

4. Your “freedom to practice religion” could be “greatly impinged” by some judge “sitting on a bench” in a particular state on a given day.

To condense Blunt’s objections into one sentence: Homosexuals have no rights which a conservative Christian (or Muslim) is bound to respect. 

All of this, of course, at least for Blunt and his Bible-believing constituency, stems from the Bible’s rather hostile view of homosexuals. You know, like this from Leviticus:

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

So, you can see that what Roy Blunt was protecting in 2007 (and presumably today) in terms of his opposition to ENDA, is the Iron Age beliefs of people who thought (and some who still think) that there is something so seriously wrong with homosexuals that executing them, if they practice their “sin,” is necessary.

Where is Sigmund Freud when you need him? His views are quite civilized, at least compared to the view Blunt is defending.

And by the way, Rand Paul, the duel-loving serial plagiarizer and faux-libertarian superstar, a man who in theory is in favor of “more individual freedom,” voted in favor of honoring Iron Age notions of sexuality and the bigotry that goes with them, allowing the Bible- and Quran-thumpers to keep discriminating against homosexuals, or perceived homosexuals, in the workplace. He too, like Roy Blunt, apparently believes that such folks have no rights which religious zealots are bound to respect, especially religious zealots who happen to own businesses.

Below is a video of Roy Blunt arguing against ENDA in 2007 in the House. While it is unlikely that ENDA will ever become law, so long as one side of the Capitol remains under theocratic control, you will, no doubt, hear arguments similar to Blunt’s should this matter ever get debated in the teavangelical-dominated House of Boehner:

Remarks And Asides

I liked President Obama much more when he wasn’t dining with Republicans.

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Apparently, so did a lot of Americans:

Obama’s Approval Rating Now Underwater, Poll Shows

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Mitch McConnell, fresh off the revelation that he is more of a scoundrel than we otherwise thought, nevertheless managed to expose the mainstream press, which rather than focus on McConnell’s willingness to tolerate the trashing of Ashley Judd as “emotionally unbalanced,” instead focused on his call for an FBI investigation into the alleged illegal recording that revealed his sliminess.

And that is how miscreants like Mitch McConnell stay in power.

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Conservatives are attacking Obama for hurting old folks. Liberals are attacking Obama for hurting old folks. So, why is Obama hurting old folks?

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Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, whom President Obama considers a “friend” and who gets much credit for not being a nutty Republican, nevertheless called the emasculated agreement on background checks for gun purchases, worked out by Sen. Joe Manchin and Sen. Pat Toomey under the watchful eye of the NRA, “a government takeover of gun shows.”

Let’s get this straight: There are Republicans who don’t want the government sticking its nose in the gun business, but insist on the government sticking its nose in vaginas all over the country.

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Senator Rand Paul, Tea Party Wonder Boy at the moment, went to the historically black college, Howard University, on Wednesday and told those gathered that the Republican Party hasn’t changed a lick since, oh, Frederick Douglass was a baby, or something like that.

For his next stand-up comedy routine, Paul will team up with  Alaska congressman Don Young and tour central California and explain to the immigrant workers why “wetback” is a term of endearment and it really shows how Republicans are, and always have been, the party of immigration reform.

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And speaking of keeping the GOP up to date, Congressman Joe Barton, naturally from Texas, said not to worry about climate change, since the Almighty’s got everything under control and always has:

I would point out that if you’re a believer in the Bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change and that certainly wasn’t because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy.

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Speaking of brilliant Republicans, Dick Cheney told Republican lawmakers that “We’re in deep doo doo” with North Korea making all those threats and that because of his personal experience of misreading the mind of Saddam Hussein, “you never know what they’re thinking.”

What brilliance, what stupefying brilliance.

_____________________________

Speaking of Dick’s stupefying brilliance, it didn’t take a Dick to figure this out:

Penis Size Study Shows Women Find Men With Big Genitals More Attractive 

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Speaking of weiners, some of them have eyes but still can’t see:

Anthony Weiner Is Eyeing A Return To Politics

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Ann Coulter, a skinny version of Rush Limbaugh, “joked” about murdering Meghan McCain, John’s daughter, and all that will happen to Ann Coulter is that conservatives will buy more of her books.

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The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, which hands out awards— “Jefferson Muzzles”— to deserving anti-free speech advocates, handed an award to one of Missouri’s bright-light state legislators, Mike Leara:

There are some…who believe that merely proposing a law that restricts gun rights should be a criminal act. Earlier this year, Missouri State Representative Mike Leara proposed a bill that provides “[a]ny member of the general assembly who proposes a piece of legislation that further restricts the right of an individual to bear arms, as set forth under the second amendment of the Constitution of the United States, shall be guilty of a class D felony.”

Congratulations, Mike! And wear your muzzle proudly!

Even A Blind Rand Paul Finds A Nut Now And Then

Senator Rand Paul, as you all have seen or heard by now, is, as I write this, conducting an honest-to-goodness filibuster in the U.S. Senate over the nomination of John Brennan for Director of the CIA. Paul started his filibuster at 10:47am Central Standard Time this Wednesday.

Despite the fact that I dislike, rather strongly, Rand Paul, and despite the fact that he has said some dumb things during the time he has been speaking, I have exactly no problem with what he is doing, for a couple of reasons:

1) The filibuster should be conducted in the way Rand Paul is conducting it; that is, he is actually doing the (relatively) hard work of standing up and speaking, and speaking, and speaking, as opposed to just technically initiating a filibuster without the accompanying necessity of standing on the floor and paying the price—in terms of the sheer physical strain, as well as the public exposure—of his convictions.

2) His point for conducting the filibuster, as far as I can tell in the time I have listened to him, is a valid one. I admire anyone who is willing to stand up for hours upon hours in defense of a recognizably legitimate principle.

I will summarize his objection, the ostensible reason for his filibuster, by quoting something he said at 6:37 pm Central time—almost exactly eight hours after he began:

If you have a war that has no end, if you have a war that has no geographic limit, and then if you have strikes that have no constitutional bounds, basically what you have is an unlimited, imperial presidency.

I cannot and will not argue with that.

Now, I confess that a year ago to the day, I wrote about drone strikes on Americans in foreign lands (Can The Government Kill Citizens Overseas?), and I haven’t seen or read anything that would make me change my mind (reluctantly, I said “yes”).

But what Rand Paul is arguing, again, as far as I can tell between the bouts of nuttiness, is something different. He seems to be mostly concerned with a president’s authority to use drones, or presumably any other method, to kill Americans here, on American soil. And I can say that there is no way, under any set of normal circumstances, I would support using drones to kill Americans on American soil, without an independent due process of law. No way.

And I would expect Barack Obama, as our leader and as a Democrat, to feel the same way. I think he does, even if, just to protect his executive turf, he is somewhat reluctant to say so. And I think his Attorney General, Eric Holder, feels the same way. I believe Holder’s letter to Rand Paul, which you can see here, comes close to satisfying my concerns, since he writes:

It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States. For example, the President could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances of a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001.

I say it comes close to satisfying my concerns because I think it could have been worded more clearly and more directly, sort of like this:

Senator Paul,

Unless there is a rare circumstance of an imminent catastrophic attack, such as happened on December 7, 1941, or on September 11, 2001, there is no way the Constitution permits the authorization or use of lethal military force on terrorist suspects on United States soil. None.

Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Attorney General of the United States

The problem with what Rand Paul is doing is not his message. It is the fact that such an otherwise silly man is delivering a message that merits our attention. And the fact that Senator Ted Cruz, a most disgusting and calculating opportunist from Texas—who does a mean impression of Joe McCarthy—is supporting Paul makes it all the worse.

But at the end of it all, what remains is a legitimate demand, by at least one member of the legislative branch, that its executive branch counterpart recognize the supremacy of the Constitution in its treatment of American citizens here at home.

And, as much as it pains me to say so, Rand Paul is doing a good thing in this case.

The State Of The Union, In Three Speeches

As always, I recommend actually reading President Obama’s speech from Tuesday night.

There was simply too much in it to absorb fully with the eyes and ears. HuffPo did a pretty good job of summarizing it:

huffpo sotu

Overlooked in all the post-speech coverage I saw was the brilliant opening:

Fifty-one years ago, John F. Kennedy declared to this chamber that “the Constitution makes us not rivals for power but partners for progress.”   “It is my task,” he said, “to report the State of the Union — to improve it is the task of us all.”  

Progress and improvement. That was what President Obama’s speech was all about. And he called upon Congress to help, but the reason Congress won’t help much is because of what we saw and heard in the second, then the third, speech of the night, given by Marco Rubio and Ron Paul, both of whom on the day they gave their speeches voted against the Violence Against Women Act, for God’s sake.

Like his political philosophy, Rubio’s palate was dry, causing an embarrassing dip for a drink worthy of any amateur on YouTube making his first video. His speech, really an audition for 2016 GOP primary voters, was mostly warmed-over Ryanism, with an ethnic twist.

The straw man Rubio vanguished last night is one Republicans have murdered many times:

This idea – that our problems were caused by a government that was too small – it’s just not true. In fact, a major cause of our recent downturn was a housing crisis created by reckless government policies.

That Rubio believes such a thing I don’t doubt. That he expects a majority of Americans, many of them victims of genuinely reckless behavior in the financial industry, to believe it, I do doubt. Most of the true-believing government-shrinkers in the country have now given up on selling the nonsense that do-gooders in government caused the Great Recession.

Rubio plodded on, though, confident that his target audience—both softcore and hardcore teapartiers—would find his argument convincing, even though they are already convinced:

More government isn’t going to help you get ahead. It’s going to hold you back.

More government isn’t going to create more opportunities. It’s going to limit them.

And more government isn’t going to inspire new ideas, new businesses and new private sector jobs. It’s going to create uncertainty. Because more government breeds complicated rules and laws that a small business can’t afford to follow.

The real uncertainty, of course, has been created by Republicans in Congress. And that uncertainty hasn’t been created by “more government,” but by dysfunctional government: That government is best that governs chaotically.

And speaking of chaos, we have the mind of Rand Paul. He argued in his speech for “a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution!” (yep, that exclamation mark is in the original text). He said he “will propose a five-year balanced budget.” But later added:

We must stand firm. We must say NO to any MORE tax hikes!

Those caps and punctuation are, once again, in the original. This guy even SHOUTS when he WRITES!

The muddled and immature philosophy he gets so excited about is this:

Only through lower taxes, less regulation and more freedom will the economy begin to grow again.

An opthmalmologist by training, Paul has taken to practicing short-sighted voodoo economics. He’s sticking pins in America, hoping this time the voodoo ritual will work. But he’s confused. About the GOP he says,

Our party is the party of growth, jobs and prosperity, and we will boldly lead on these issues.

Huh? Earlier in his speech he informed us that,

Both parties have been guilty of spending too much, of protecting their sacred cows, of backroom deals in which everyone up here wins, but every taxpayer loses…I will work with anyone on either side of the aisle who wants to cut spending. But in recent years, there has been no one to work with.

No one. Just him. Just him and his voodoo.

The Tea Party, Ted Nugent, and The Republican Renewal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From a Detroit radio interview in 1992:

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

From an interview in 1994:

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

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

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

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

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

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

A renewal of the GOP’s vows to extremism.

_____________________________________________________________

ted nugent

President Rand Paul

I watched in its entirety Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this morning.

Predictably, the biggest grandstander in the current Senate, John McCain, did his grandstanding for his Fox “News” Channel fans. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin did the same. No doubt, both will be guests on Fox today and tonight.

But the biggest grandstander of them all was Rand Paul who, unbelievably, uttered this sentence:

Had I been president at the time and I found that you did not read the cables from Benghazi and did not read the cables from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post.

Now, although she is rather feisty and capable of putting Senator Paul (God, that makes me cringe) in his place, Hillary Clinton did not really do that. I, though, will write the response that she should have given the Senator from Kentucky:

Senator Paul, you said, “if you had been president” you would have fired me. Let me explain something to you: If there ever is a future time when the American people are stupid enough to put you in charge, nobody would have to worry about firing me. I would grab my family, those whom I love, and get the hell out of the country. As dangerous a place as Libya is, I’d rather live there than live any place in which you had real power.

Now, if you please, the thought of someone like you ever becoming president has made me ill yet again and I will have to take a break.

 

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