“Situation Ethics”

Truth is known by God and the rest of us seek it.”

Newt Gingrich, the day after he asked his sick wife for a divorce

__________________

Likely lying in his marriage bed, next to his extra-marital lover, Newt Gingrich would phone his wife of many years, Marianne, and tell her he loved her.

How sweet.

And how sweet too is the right-wing’s reaction to Marianne Gingrich’s charge that her husband was not just a cheater, but a hypocrite, who the day after he asked her for a divorce, spoke before the Republican Women Leaders Forum about “The Demise of American Culture.”  “How could he ask me for a divorce on Monday and within 48 hours give a speech on family values and talk about how people treat people? she asked.

In that speech on American culture, Gingrich blamed liberals for the Columbine shooting. Later he would blame liberals and Democrats for the tragedy at Virginia Tech and for Susan Smith drowning her two children. One of the reasons he gave was that liberals “created a situation ethics.”

Hmm.

On Thursday night, when CNN’s John King opened the GOP debate with a question about Marianne Gingrich’s charge that her husband asked her “to enter into an open marriage,” Gingrich, indignantly, turned on King:

I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office. And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that…

Every person in here knows personal pain. Every person in here has had someone close to them go through painful things. To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary a significant question for a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine…

I am frankly astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate… The story is false…I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans.

For that, the white Christian crowd gave him a standing ovation.

There are those of us out here in the non-Republican world who don’t understand that reaction. We don’t understand how a man who promotes the religion of Jesus can stand on a stage, as he runs for the highest office in our land, and instead of saying to the world that he was wrong so long ago, that he made a grave mistake, that he is sorry, could instead turn and attack the press, and essentially call his wronged wife a liar in front of the world.

We also don’t understand how a crowd full of Christians can raucously applaud a man who not only made a fool of his wife, but made a fool of them by mocking them with his lifestyle.  Even if, in their estimation, he deserves forgiveness, did he deserve an ovation?

Sarah Palin, who has made a fine living off the pious sentiments of folks on the right, said that the “dumbarse” media’s featuring of “a disgruntled ex” would cause Newt’s campaign “to soar even more.” You see, in Sarah Palin’s mind Marianne Gingrich is nothing more than a disgruntled ex, nothing more than an obstacle in Newt Gingrich’s way. She is not worthy of Jesus-loving Sarah Palin’s sympathy, of God-fearing Sarah Palin’s compassion.

Rush Limbaugh, as close to a national leader as the GOP has, hid his thoughts behind a “a good friend” of his, who allegedly sent him a note that read:

So Newt wanted an open marriage.  BFD.  At least he asked his wife for permission instead of cheating on her.  That’s a mark of character, in my book.  Newt’s a victim.  We all are.  Ours is the horniest generation.  We were soldiers in the sex revolution.  We were tempted by everything from Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice to Plato’s Retreat, Deep Throat to no-fault divorce.  Many of us paid the ultimate price, AIDS, abortion, or alimony for the cultural marching orders we got.  Hell, for all I know we should be getting disability from the government….Newt’s slogan ought to [be], “Hell, yes, I wanted it.”

Newt’s a victim.” Astonishingly, a bit later Limbaugh himself came close to blaming the real victim:

I think, of what we’ve seen so far from the Marianne Gingrich stuff, the thing I didn’t know… that Newt had asked for an open marriage…Most of the other stuff, I did know. I also know that Marianne Gingrich… I’ve been places shortly after Newt was made Speaker with Mary, social weekends and so forth, and she was never comfortable with the public eye — and that bothered him. He thought it limited his future.

She didn’t like the media, she didn’t like the focus on her life, so she just wasn’t comfortable with the public eye — and I know that he said, “Well, you knew what you were marrying.” So there’s two sides to all this..

It “bothered” Newt that his second wife “was never comfortable with the public eye.” So gingerly does Rush Limbaugh tiptoe around justifying Newt’s betrayal, his stunning lack of faithfulness. Gingrich twice divorced women who were sick and demanded of at least one of them that they share him with other women or else, and for this Limbaugh and Palin and the crowd of Christians in Charleston essentially celebrated him, affirming if not his infidelity, his indignation.

Look, if Newt Gingrich didn’t frequently stand in the streets and beat his Christian chest in righteous anger, if he didn’t haughtily shout from every housetop how morally corruptive is the liberal spirit, if he didn’t wave his flag of conservative morality in the face of Americans, then what he did or didn’t do, said or didn’t say, to his ex-wives would be between them.

But he does hawk his moral wares in the public square and he has indicted liberalism for nearly all the ills of society.  But no liberal urged him to cheat on his first wife or forced him to lie about the nature of that divorce. No liberal joined him in bed with his lover and current wife Callista. No liberal put a gun to his head and forced him to phone his second wife, with Callista by his side, and tell her he loved her. No liberal tempted him to make a mockery of his faith.

The redemption of a human being is a beautiful thing in any context, religious or secular. Redemption is the solid core of Christianity, the summum bonum of Christian teaching, the raison d’être of the Incarnation. After Gingrich’s denial, Marianne Gingrich has reaffirmed her story and said her former husband never told her he was sorry. It seems to me, if the idea of Christian redemption means anything, if it is to maintain any respect in a civilized society, it ought to require of a man who seeks it to at least admit his crimes to the one he wronged and repent.

And those who say they believe in the religion of Jesus, but who have lately placed their faith in the Republican Party, ought to at least have the decency to sit quietly while a man on a stage who wants to be president refuses to humbly admit his sin and plead for mercy.

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The Department Of Um

I took several pages of notes while I was watching the Republican debate last night on CNBC.  Fortunately, Rick Perry’s cringe-inducing performance made them all useless.  As soon as he had his moment of discomfiture, I stopped writing. 

It was just too sad and pathetic.  It’s as if the groom had passed a boisterous blast of noxious gas during the “I do” part of the wedding. Sure, it was unforgivable, obviously it was funny, but at the same time it was kind of like, “Hasn’t the guy suffered enough, God? Send down the angels and put him out of his misery.”

Of all the words I might have expected to hear at a GOP primary debate, “oops” wasn’t one of them.  But there it was, out of the mouth of Rick Perry, which may have been the most honest thing he has ever uttered in one of those silly debates.  Indeed, it may have been the most honest thing any of them have ever uttered.

I don’t know, but if you are talking about what you would do if people were dumb enough to elect you president, and you then begin a sentence—in your most authoritative and emphatic voice—with the words,

It’s three government agencies when I get there that are gone…

you might make sure that you had the names of those three agencies written on the palm of your hand, like Sarah Palin would. You don’t want to mess this one up. It’s your moment. It’s your chance to prove how decisive you are, how much you have thought about the subject, how committed you are to your small-gov’mint principles.

But, alas, Perry wasn’t even smart enough to come up with a Palin-palm cheat sheet. So, he continued:

Commerce, Education and the, um, what’s the third one there…Let’s see…So Commerce, Education, and, uh, the uh, um, um…The third agency of government…I would do away with the education, the, um, Commerce, and let’s see. I can’t think of the third one. I can’t. Sorry. Oops.”

There it is in one word.  The one word that any fair-minded observer of the Republican primary process would use to describe the past few months, as these candidates have revealed themselves to the public:

Oops!

A Scary Correlation

Nothing describes the current and unfortunate state of the Republican Party more than a simple fact: the dumber Herman Cain appears, the higher he soars in the polls. 

To put it more kindly, there seems to be a positive correlation between ignorance and popularity in GOP primaries.

Cain’s answers to allegations that he sexually harassed two female employees in the 1990s have been, uh, “evolving” for a couple of days now, from absolute denial to a Clintonesque technicality that has him now admitting he knew there was an “agreement” but not a “settlement” of the matter. He seems to be unaware that folks in the media might actually be keeping track of his obvious and various obfuscations.

In case you haven’t noticed, Mr. Cain, the Tea Party favorite, is b-l-a-c-k, which means of course that after all these years of conservatives accusing liberals of always playing the race card vis-à-vis criticism of President Obama, they now are free to deal from the bottom of the deck in support of Herman Cain.  Ann Coulter, herself not always playing with a full moral deck, told Sean Hannity:

If you are a conservative black, they will believe the most horrible sexualized fantasies of these uptight white feminists.

Charles Krauthammer, the George Will of Fox “News,” asked Cain if race had anything to do with all that sexual harassment stuff, to which Cain replied,

I believe the answer is yes, but we do not have any evidence to support it.

Cain has a peculiar habit of believing things without evidence.  You may remember this statement he made about Occupy Wall Street three weeks ago:

I don’t have facts to back this up, but I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama administration.

Now, I suppose it’s not all that surprising that a man who attaches little significance to evidence as necessary to support beliefs would be wildly popular in a Republican primary.  After all, Republicans brought us supply-side, trickle-down economics.

But while it is not surprising, it is disturbing. This morning Joe Scarborough made much of the fact that Cain didn’t appear to know that China had been a nuclear power for some 50 years now, suggesting that Sarah Palin would trounce Cain on a foreign policy edition of Jeopardy. “He makes Sarah Palin look like Averell Harriman,” Morning Joe said.

Cain has tried to preempt any attempt to ask him “gotcha” questions about foreign policy by admitting up front he knows very little about the world. His “Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan” comment is all the rage on the right.  His obvious confusion about what “right of return” means in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict hasn’t hurt him at all. In fact, as Michael Steele said this morning, all that kind of stuff endears him even more to the base of the Republican Party.

But criticizing Herman Cain’s graspless understanding of foreign policy issues sort of suggests that he does better closer to home. Nope. He is just as clueless when his mind aimlessly wanders into domestic policy.

He has no clue what his position is on abortion, and his 9-9-9 tax plan (or whatever its current configuration is) is just as ignorant as his saying that China is “trying to develop nuclear capability.” His unfamiliarity with the neoconservative movement—which was largely responsible for the Iraq War—is much worse than not knowing the names of the leaders of foreign governments.

All of which, and more, serves to demonstrate that Herman Cain is not a serious presidential candidate because he has never taken the time in his life to take national and international issues seriously enough to actually learn much about them.

But the fact that so many Republicans do take Cain seriously says more about them than him. And what it says is really, really scary.

Fortunately for the GOP, Mitt Romney will rescue the party from silliness, but at a price: conservatives will have to gamble that his policy positions today—which have been re-tailored to fit a Tea Party electorate—will remain his policy positions tomorrow.

Sarah Palin And The End of Civility

Now that the fractional governor, Sarah Palin, has been exposed for all—even the gullible—to see (something I repeatedly maintained would happen), I think it is time to examine two uncomfortable details from the 2008 campaign that I shall never get over and that perhaps changed the nature of our politics for generations.

Number one: On October 4, 2008, Ms. Palin, a candidate for Vice President of the United States, said this about Barack Obama:

This is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America. We see America as the greatest force for good in this world. If we can be that beacon of light and hope for others who seek freedom and democracy and can live in a country that would allow intolerance in the equal rights that again our military men and women fight for and die for all of us. Our opponent though, is someone who sees America it seems as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.

The Associated Press reported at the time:

The Republican campaign, falling behind Obama in polls, plans to make attacks on Obama’s character a centerpiece of presidential candidate John McCain’s message with a month remaining before Election Day.

But the attacks on Barack Obama were more than just desperate, last-minute campaign tactics. They turned out to be a glimpse into the post-election future, as the Republican Party and its extremist allies conspired to demean, delegitimate, and destroy the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama.

And, oddly, I don’t completely or even largely blame Sarah Palin for the initial unprecedented attack—and suggesting that Barack Obama sympathized with terrorists “who would target their own country” is unprecedented as far as I’m concerned— on a political opponent who was aspiring to be President of the United States.

I blame people like Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace, not to mention John McCain, who ultimately picked her.

Which leads me to the number two detail about the 2008 presidential campaign:

Steve Schmidt was the top campaign strategist for John McCain and Nicolle Wallace was a senior advisor. Today, you can see them both frequently on cable television.   Three years ago they were essentially Palin’s “handlers” after she was chosen for VP, and both of them came to find out that she was, essentially, unfit for the office she was seeking.

Ms. Wallace just confessed to Time magazine (in a stunningly strange interview that lacked proper follow-up questions) the following about the inspiration for a VP character in her latest book of fiction:

The idea of a mentally ill vice president who suffers in complete isolation was obviously sparked by the behaviors I witnessed by Sarah Palin. What if somebody who was ill-equipped for the office were to ascend to the presidency or vice presidency? What would they do? How long would it take for people to figure it out? I became consumed by this question.

Wallace went on to suggest that like the character in her book, Palin was in a “troubled state of confusion, despair and helplessness,” and,

Palin vacillated between extraordinary highs on the campaign stage — she ignited more enthusiasm than our side had seen at any other point — to debilitating lows. She was often withdrawn, uncommunicative and incapable of performing even the most basic tasks required of her job as McCain’s running mate…

There certainly were discussions — not for long because of the arc the campaign took — but certainly there were discussions about whether, if they were to win, it would be appropriate for her to be sworn in.

Now, Steve Schmidt, who don’t forget was running John McCain’s campaign, was asked about Nicolle Wallace’s remarks and this is what he told Lawrence O’Donnell Thursday night:

…during the campaign after the economy collapsed we were essentially out of it. We were never closer than six or seven points again. But if the question is, did all of us, you know,  a bunch of us, who had been around the West Wing of the White House, did we see behavior that we found deeply troubling? And the answer to that question is,  yes, we did. Uh, did we talk about it? Uh, yes, we did. You know, was there, you know, legal considerations? No, there were not. But did we talk about a pattern of behavior that we found troubling during the campaign? Of course we did.

Now, forget, if you can, how  cold-dead frightening are the admissions by Wallace and Schmidt.  Let’s go back to Palin’s appalling and unprecedented remarks about Barack Obama.  They were made on October 4.  And remember that Schmidt referenced the economic collapse of 2008, asserting that after the collapse, “we were essentially out of it.” When did that collapse happen?  September 15, 2008.

So, we have Sarah Palin making her  famous “palling around with terrorists” remark after Schmidt recognized that the campaign was doomed, and after he and Nicolle Wallace recognized that Palin’s behavior was, in the words of Schmidt, “deeply troubling,” and in the words of Wallace merited discussions about whether “it would be appropriate for her to be sworn in.” 

Those aren’t my words.  Those aren’t the words of any Obama supporter. Those are the words of those closest to John McCain and his campaign in 2008.

Let the cynicism sink in.  Let it penetrate your brain like WD-40. 

These disgusting people were using Sarah Palin to trash Obama in unthinkable and country-dividing ways, even when they knew the race was lost, when they knew that their vice presidential candidate was profoundly and dangerously flawed.  For his part, to this day John McCain defends his decision to unleash the quit-in-a-fit governor on the rest of the country.

Just a few days after the 2008 election, when the anti-Palin stories were trickling out from “anonymous” campaign staffers,  I wrote a column for the Joplin Globe, partly defending Sarah Palin on the basis of her obvious ordinariness:

Ms. Palin’s naiveté included the fact that she did not understand how her Republican handlers used her; how they cynically chose her to appeal to women; how they disgracefully structured her stump speeches to question Barack Obama’s patriotism; and how they finally discarded her when she failed to convince a majority of the electorate to take her seriously as a candidate.

While she deserves part of the blame for such crass cynicism, the real culprits were the Republican Svengalis who, confident in their own ability to hoodwink the electorate one more time, plucked her from her Alaskan nest, knowing she could not fly.

I have little doubt that she honestly believed in what she was doing. That’s what makes it so sad and pathetic to watch her fellow Republicans cut her up and now suggest to the world that the whole Palin phenomenon was founded on a lie.

Using her anti-elitist persona as a hook to attract similarly lowbrow voters, the campaign insisted she was nevertheless qualified to be commander in chief. Turns out that presenting her as merely “common folk” wasn’t just a phony campaign tactic. Ms. Palin was as common as advertised, but she was uncommonly unfit to lead the free world.

That was November, 2008, and Ms. Palin, of course, has since learned a thing or two about how to manipulate those anti-elitist types for her own financial gain. But much of the fault for what Sarah Palin did—and continues to do—to our politics, lies with people like Nicolle Wallace and Steve Schmidt and John McCain, who were willing to use the  ‘ill-equipped” “pit bull” Palin to  jump-start the prejudices and fears of part of the American electorate in order to win an election and achieve power.

And as the 2012 general election season approaches, those prejudices and fears will be stoked once again, and the campaign to come—largely because of what happened in 2008—will feature a cyclone of cynicism which will likely blow away what’s left of our political civility.

I’m Rooting For Radical Rick

Republicans are giddy over Rick Perry.

Me, too.

While most liberals and Democrats are upset with the intemperate Texan, I am excited. Remember during the 2008 campaign when that crazy lady in Minnesota stood up at a McCain rally and said, “Obama is an Arab“?

And remember when McCain grabbed the microphone from her and sort of tried to de-Arab Obama?  McCain said,

No ma’am.  He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.

Well, if that same thing happened during the 2012 election with Rick Perry as the nominee, we might have this happen:

WOMAN AT PERRY RALLY: Obama is an Arab.

PERRY: No ma’am. He’s not in love with America, that’s for sure. But an Arab? No ma’am.  Now, he is a socialist the troops don’t respect, and you can count on it when I’m president that the military will respect me, a white guy from the great state of Texas.  There won’t be a black cloud hanging over the country.

You see?  That could happen.  Wait.  It already has happened, sort of.

Perry has already—just a couple days into the primary campaign—questioned Obama’s love for America and his bona fides as Commander-in-chief.  And the underlying, as of yet unspoken, foundation for such things is this:

WE JUST CAN’T TRUST THIS STRANGE NEGRO TO RUN THE COUNTRY

And to top it all off, Perry said this about Ben Bernanke, Fed chairman:

If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don’t know what y’all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treasonous in my opinion.

Treasonous?  What could he mean by that?

He told reporters, who ask him if he thought the Fed was playing politics on behalf of Obama:

If they print more money between now and this election I would suggest that’s exactly what’s going on.

Now, think about it.  If Bernanke’s actions help Obama, Bernanke is “almost” committing treason.  That must mean that Obama is an enemy to the country, right?  Helping The Scary Negro remain president is tantamount, or “almost” tantamount, to betraying the country.

Perry is merely saying out loud what a lot of Republicans say among themselves.

Thus, as the truth trickles out about Rick Perry’s dubious job record in Texas (by the way, why is Obama responsible for all the unemployment in the rest of the country, but not responsible for the employment in Texas?);

As the truth trickles out about Rick Perry’s constitutional hostility toward Social Security and Medicare;

As the truth trickles out about Rick Perry’s fondness for trickle-down economics, which has miserably failed Texas and the country;

I am rooting for Radical Rick to become the GOP nominee because he represents an embarrassingly large swath of the Republican Party these days, and the American people will have no clearer choice of visions for our country. 

If Americans want George Bush on Rovian steroids, if they want Sarah Palin with a Texas twang, if they want a pale-faced zealot who is dangerously certain of God’s calling and purpose, Rick Perry is their man.

And if fifty-percent-plus-one of the country want that kind of America, the rest of us will just have to suffer.  But it’s time we find out what kind of country we will have.

Bizarro!

Although he tried to minimize the damage by cozying up to Sean Hannity on Wednesday night, John McCain, who ruined his reputation by, among other things, unleashing Sarah Palin on an unsuspecting world, did manage to slam the Tea Party on the floor of the U.S. Senate:

What is really amazing is that some members are believing that we can pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution in this body with its present representation – and that is foolish. That is worse than foolish. That is deceiving many of our constituents.

To hold out and say we won’t agree to raising the debt limit until we pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, it’s unfair, it’s bizarro.

Bizarro. I like that. McCain also dismissed any idea of rearranging payments after a default:

Today we are six days away from a possible default which could plunge this country into a serious crisis. There are those that argue somehow in a bizarre fashion that somehow we could prioritize our payments to the most urgent requirements, such as our veterans, such as Social Security.

Bizarro. Bizarre. Okay. But McCain also said the following, which is bizarrely bizarro in its own right:

This is the same kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell into GOP nominees.

What?  He’s dissing Sharron Angle?  Now, that is bizarrely bizarro because of this news story from October of last year:

LAS VEGAS – In her quest to topple U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Republican challenger Sharron Angle introduced U.S. Sen. John McCain (Arizona-R) to a crowd of Las Vegas supporters at the Orleans Friday night. McCain took the stage and delivered a ringing endorsement for Angle.

“I look forward to standing side by side with Sharron Angle,” Sen. McCain said. “I look forward to fighting with her against this out of control spending, this mortgaging of our children’s futures, this generational theft that has taken place.”

Whoops!

[Photograph: Ethan Miller/Getty Images]

Eric Cantor: “I quit.” John Boehner: “Who, me?”

House Republican majority leader Eric Cantor is quitting half way through the infamous debt ceiling negotiations at the White House.

Cantor, in the spirit of the former half-governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, stayed around long enough to do only the fun stuff: cutting what he claims is trillions from the federal budget.  The rest of the job—negotiations over revenue increases—will fall on the shoulders of Cantor’s boss, Speaker John Boehner.

Cantor said,

I believe that we have identified trillions in spending cuts, and to date, we have established a blueprint that could institute the fiscal reforms needed to start getting our fiscal house in order. 

That said, each side came into these talks with certain orders, and as it stands the Democrats continue to insist that any deal must include tax increases. There is not support in the House for a tax increase, and I don’t believe now is the time to raise taxes in light of our current economic situation. Regardless of the progress that has been made, the tax issue must be resolved before discussions can continue.

The good news in Cantor’s statement is that it appears that Democrats are hanging tough on the issue of taxes, something many of us didn’t think possible.  The bad news is that no one knows what “trillions in spending cuts” means at this point.

Cantor claims—falsely—that, “there is not support in the House for a tax increase.”  John Boehner made the same false claim on Thursday.  What they mean is that there is not support on the Republican side of the House for a tax increase.  But most people forget that there are 192 Democrats wandering around the House side of the capitol, most of whom would certainly be open to revenue increases.

That means that Boehner cannot claim there is not support in the House for a tax increase, unless he admits that there is no way he could get a handful of Republicans to join Democrats to do the right and rational thing and vote for some kind of revenue increase. 

Right now there are 432 occupied seats in the House, meaning 217 is the magic majority number.  Assuming some very small number of Democrats behave like conservative tea partiers, Boehner would only have to come up with somewhere around 30 votes on his side of the aisle to get a deal passed that included tax increases.

Now, think about that.  We are talking about the debt ceiling and the full faith and credit of the United States.  We are talking about default and a potential economic catastrophe.  We are talking about geezers not getting their Social Security checks.  We are talking about international embarrassment.

Yet, John Boehner can’t come up with 25 or 30 Republican votes to save the day? Huh?

What kind of leader is he? What kind of party has the GOP become?

And that’s just the House side.

Over in the Senate, it is far from certain that rational behavior on the Republican side is any more reliable than in the tea party-dominated House.  Mitch McConnell is placing the burden all on President Obama:

Where in the world has the president been for the last month? What does he propose? What is he willing to do to reduce the debt and to avoid this crisis that is building on his watch? He’s the one in charge.

Forget the fact that Mr. Obama established the debt-ceiling talks in the first place and that Democrats, according to Cantor, have been agreeable to “trillions” in spending cuts.  We just aren’t dealing with serious people here. 

Once upon a time, the dynamics of these kinds of negotiations would always feature a lot of grandstanding, but in the end, we could count on there being enough serious and rational people who would do the right thing for the country.

One wonders these days if there are any serious and rational people left in the Republican Party.

The bottom line is that Democrats need to stand their ground and continue demanding a more balanced approach to addressing our debt problems. And if the Republican Party wants to risk an unprecedented economic meltdown—and have the blame for such a disaster follow them for a generation—then there is little Democrats can do to stop them, short of surrendering.

And for now it looks like Democrats have no plans to surrender.

I said, “for now.”  We are, after all, talking about Democrats.

Remarks and Asides

Newt Gingrich’s staff has divorced him.

_______________________________

Rush Limbaugh, conservatism’s coronating coroner, has pronounced Mitt Romney’s presidential ambitions dead.  The killer was Romney’s outrageously mainstream views on climate change and energy efficiency.  Reuters reported Romney, in a rare moment of consistency, said to a crowd in New Hampshire:

“I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that,” he told a crowd of about 200 at a town hall meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire.

“It’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may be significant contributors.”

Bye-bye nomination,” said climate-science denier and radio climatologist Limbaugh.  The good news for Romney is that Rush once pronounced Obama’s presidential ambitions dead in 2008. So, don’t take any shit, Mitt!

_________________________________

Speaking of Mitt, for strategic reasons he has decided not to compete in the decidedly undemocratic Iowa Republican straw poll this August.  You know, that’s the poll in which, thanks to the media and the deep pocket$ of hopeful candidates, a handful of extremist conservatives get disproportionate attention and nominate either an extremist loser like Pat Robertson (1987) or, God help us, George W. Bush (1999). 

Just to put things in perspective, the victory in the poll for George W, which he said, “jump-started our grass-roots organization for the main event, the Iowa caucuses,” was achieved by purchasing—literally, purchasing—the votes of 7,418 zealots.  Those are the folks we first have to thank for the costly disaster in Iraq and the costly disaster in our economy. 

The folks we have to thank last for those costly disasters are, of course, the Republicans on our laughingly impartial Supreme Court, who put W in office.

_________________________________

The state of Alaska is ready to release thousands of emails emanating from the fingertips of Sarah Palin during what the AP reports as “her first two years as governor.”  First two years?  That must be sort of an inside joke among those AP types.  Always kidding around like that.

In any case, I’m just guessing here, but I bet that we will find, upon release of the 24,000 pages of emails, that Sarah Palin is really an accomplished policy wonk. 

I’m betting that those emails will be filled with much technical analysis of the economic trends in Alaska, the United States, and the world.  I’m betting there will be back-and-forth on such macroeconomic issues as inflation/unemployment in terms of expectations-augmented Phillips curve equations, or how price and wage spirals relate to inflationary expectations. 

Stuff like that.

What? You don’t think so?  Have some faith. After all, she was the Republican VP nominee last time.  Jeeze.   

_________________________________

Finally, speaking of brilliant conservatives, there’s this report:

A new Tennessee law makes it a crime to “transmit or display an image” online that is likely to “frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress” to someone who sees it. Violations can get you almost a year in jail time or up to $2500 in fines.

Get that? I guess I’m gonna have to stop sending this to my conservative Tennessee friends:

Freedom Works’ Crib Notes

While the national media foolishly and sadly follow Sarah Palin around the country, serious Tea Party people—Palin is not seriously thinking about running for president—are focusing on the battle ahead.

Dick Armey, former House Majority Leader and now Pooh-Bah of Freedom Works, has graciously supplied freshman House Republicans with a few simple points to make about the party’s plan to hold the debt ceiling hostage in exchange for some ideological candy and about the party’s plot to murder Medicare in its sleep.

Debt Ceiling:Key point: the world does not end if the debt ceiling is not raised. Treasury Secretary Geitner [sic] is not likely to default on our loans. Spending cuts will become a priority before default.”

Translation: We don’t have to worry about any fallout from our irresponsible behavior.  Geithner will either have to do our bidding or we will blame him for any trouble!  It’s that simple fellow Republicans!

Medicare Caper:Get out there and talk to people. Hold town halls at senior centers and other areas where the population is especially concerned about their benefits being cut. Take the lessons of ’94 and ’95 and get out there and explain to people that their immediate benefits will not be affected.”

Translation: Go tell the old folks who love their Medicare, and who vote in droves, that they have nothing to fear.  We’re not going to murder their Medicare, only their children’s and grandchildren’s Medicare. What old-timer wouldn’t buy into that plan?  No harm, no foul. The geezers get to keep (most) of their current bennies, while the younger folks will both pay for those bennies and cough up more scrilla for cost increases in their own health care coverage resulting from our stingy “new” plan.  Let’s hope the voters don’t figure out the unfairness of that part of our electoral scheme.

The Myth Of Doing Nothing: “We need to dispel the myth that if we leave Medicare alone it will stay the same. It won’t…Democrats do not have a plan of their own. Hold up a blank piece of paper as a powerful image of their do-nothing approach. Stick to your message.”

Translation: As long as Democrats are just trying to keep us from killing Medicare, we can win the message battle by simply saying our plan to kill it is the only one out there.

Barack the “Scary Negro” Should Listen To Bluegrass Instead Of Rap

They’re at it again.

As the fish gobble up the last of Osama bin Laden, and as President Obama enjoys a polling holiday with the public, the Right has returned to an old theme: Barack Obama is a Scary Negro.

Let me start with the family values/serial adulterer Newt Gingrich’s appearance on Fox’s Reich Ministry of Propaganda Hour Sean Hannity Show.  (By the way, if you are one of those who mistakenly think Newt Gingrich is an “ideas man,” then you should read the transcript from Hannity’s show and get yourself right.)

During the “interview,” Hannity ask Gingrich about Obama being “difficult to beat” in the upcoming election:

GINGRICH: He will be. Because first of all, he is going to say whatever he needs to win…they are going to try to raise a billion dollars for a very practical reason. He can’t afford to run in a fair election… If he was on an equal playing field, he would lose.

HANNITY: Just — you are saying on his record?

GINGRICH: Yes. On his record, on his values, on his beliefs…

You see, President Obama has different values, different beliefs. He’s the Scary Negro. That was the theme conservatives tried to push in the 2008 election.  In fact, Hannity mentioned “President Obama’s background and associations” during his talk with Gingrich and to this day Sean Hannity’s radio show still features audio of Reverend Jeremiah Wright. 

Which leads us to the so-called controversy over an appearance at a White House poetry celebration by Grammy-winning rapper, Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., who calls himself Common.  

Conservatives in the media—particularly Hannity and Glenn Beck—have accused the hip-hop artist—who apparently attended Reverend Wright’s church—of essentially endorsing cop-killing and the assassination of President Bush, using as evidence some controversial words he has written for his music and performances.

You know the gittin’ is good when Sarah Palin chimes in. She told the refurbished host, Greta Van Susteren:

The judgment is just so lacking of class and decency and all that’s good about America with an invite like this. They’re just inviting someone like me or someone else to ask, ‘C’mon Barack Obama who are you palling around with now?’

But the news that Common is some kind of angry gangsta rapper is news to most people.  Here’s the way a commenter on RapRadar, a hip-hop site, put it:

RN (Real Nigga) says:

Common may be the squeakiest cleanest rapper in the game ever. This is some bullshit. 

 Here’s  how NPR described the largely unknown artist in 2007:

He shuns popular trends in hip hop and focuses on some of the art form’s core principles: storytelling and presenting music with a message. is part of a tradition of so-called “conscious artists” like Dead Prez, The Coup and Mos Def who try to bring social and cultural messages back to the airwaves.

An interviewer said this to Common last October:

…your music is very positive. And you’re known as the conscious rapper. How important is that to you, and how important do you think that is to our kids?

The interviewer who asked the telling question above was not some crazed lefty working for a radical news outlet.  It was Jason Robinson, a reporter for none other than FoxNews.com.  Of course, that was then, but now is the time to ramp up the Obama-Is-A-Dangerous-Negro meme:

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JUST FOR FUN: As for me, I’m not one who appreciates the aesthetics of hip-hop music, although I can appreciate the fact that other folks do. I do know that a lot of conservatives love country music, with its cheatin’ and drinkin’ and fightin’ songs. Go figure.

And I know a lot of people, including myself, who appreciate a sub-genre of country music, bluegrass.  Some bluegrass songs feature the strangest—and most murder-drenched—lyrics imaginable.

One of my all-time favorites is the Ralph Stanley version of “Pretty Polly,” based on the old folk song about a young lady who is enticed into romance with a man who impregnates her and eventually murders her. Yep. He knocks her up and knocks her off all in one good ol’ timey, four-and-a-half-minute American tune.

That makes Ralph Stanley, and those who like this kind of bluegrass music, murderous thugs, I suppose.  Oh, wait. Can’t be. They tend to be white. Nevermind.

Here is the best version, featuring the greatest living voice in country music, Kentucky’s Patty Loveless:

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