Archive for the ‘National Politics’ Category

Dear Republicans: It’s Not About the Numbers, It’s About the People

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Happy almost week after Election Day! There’s been blog silence around here lately. Work demands and my health (long recovery from cervical spine surgery that involves lots of pain and numbness as the nerves recover) have kept me away from the keyboard.

Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of my brother Ken’s death. I spent a lot of time thinking about him and the work he did to bring about a more just world for everyone. I suppose that’s why this New York Times article hit me particularly hard. There has been much wailing, gnashing of teeth, and rending of garments on the Republican side of the aisle since November 6 left them with – horror of horrors – a Democratic President, a slightly larger Democratic majority in the Senate, and a slightly smaller Republican majority in the House.

Donald Trump was so verklempt that he tweeted a call for a revolution, although he decided discretion was better than a visit from the Secret Service and quickly deleted it. There are online petitions calling for the US government to allow 20 states to secede peacefully. Alabama is, of course, on the list. Louisiana and Texas, the first to file, are getting close to the 25,000 signature threshold that will get a response from the White House. I expect a measured statement to be issued, once everyone stops giggling.

Anyway, back to the New York Times piece. It reflects somewhat more measured responses.

(more…)

Richard Mourdock and the rape baby thing

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Hang onto your lacy unmentionables, Kathy, cause I’m fixing to defend Richard Mourdock. As most people have probably heard by now, the Indiana Tea Party Senate candidate explained during a debate Tuesday that the only time he believes abortion is appropriate is to save the life of the mother, and to underscore this position, he tearfully added that “even in the terrible situation of rape [life] is something God intended to happen.” (I picture Debbie Wassermann Schultz hearing this news and sobbing incoherently with joy, like Emma Thompson at the end of Sense and Sensibility.) After the debate, Mr. Mourdock tried to say that he didn’t mean God wants women to be raped, but a whole lot of folks are refusing to believe him.

Except me. The current rector of All Saints Episcopal is a very thoughtful man named Jim Flowers, and if I understand his sermons correctly, God does not, like a petulant Pat Robertson, send tornadoes or tsunamis to punish us when we are naughty. But (here’s the important part) when these things do happen, and we come together as a community and help one another, now THAT is where God is present. This is an appealing idea and has the double benefit of both reassuring us that God did not deliberately slaughter 250 people in Alabama with His awesome tornado power while also encouraging us to give to the tornado relief fund.

And it seems to me that is is all poor misunderstood Mourdock was trying to say with the rape baby thing. In the middle of this heinous, violent crime, sometimes we find a precious innocent baby. And that is where God is present.

Because Mr. Mourdock is one of those who believes that life begins at conception.  And thus his rape baby vision leaves out the nine long anguished months of growing the baby, the risk to the woman’s bodily health let alone mental health, and the far more intricate complication that nine months from now, this is not going to be just some generic Baby to be handed off to one of those omnipresent loving childless couples, but a combination of her genetic material and the rapist’s.  Do you want really to give up your son or daughter? She’s yours! Look, I think she has your hands! But then she is also his.  Can you ever forget that?

Has Mr. Mourdock given a moment’s thought to all this? He claims to have struggled, so I guess he has. When you have convinced yourself that life begins at conception, and that ending any pregnancy is murder, you cannot make exceptions for the circumstances of the conception. It’s a shame the woman was raped, but now she has to suck it up and deal. I appreciate his consistency, but I do not see the presence of God here.

 

What’s the Matter with Arkansas?

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Seriously, what is going on in the Natural State? Yeah, I had to look that up – last I knew, the Arkansas slogan was Land of Opportunity. Did they mean Opportunity for nuts to get elected to the state legislature?

First we have Rep. Jon Hubbard (R-Jonesboro), who self-published a book claiming that slavery was a “blessing in disguise” for black people, who were rewarded for their enslavement with citizenship in the US.

“The institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise,” Hubbard argues in Letters to the Editor: Confessions of a Frustrated Conservative. “The blacks who could endure those conditions and circumstances would someday be rewarded with citizenship in the greatest nation ever established upon the face of this Earth.”

Um, yeah. Hard to believe he couldn’t find a reputable publisher for that classic.

Then there’s Rep. Loy Mauch (R-Bismarck), who says Jesus was A-OK with slavery, since He didn’t speak out against it.

If slavery were so God-awful, why didn’t Jesus or Paul condemn it, why was it in the Constitution and why wasn’t there a war before 1861?

I’ve been pointing out for years that Jesus said nothing about loving relationships between same-sex partners, but I doubt Rep. Mauch would see that one my way. In the annals of actual evil things that actually hurt other people – like, say, owning them - there are lots of things of which Jesus did not speak in specifics. However, that whole “Love your neighbor as yourself” command pretty much covers the contingencies, although He may have overestimated our ability to extrapolate.

Rep. Mauch is reportedly a member of the secessionist League of the South who believes the Confederate flag is “a symbol of Jesus Christ above all else.” Those stellar credentials earned him a Cialis spot last year on TruTV’s list of the 50 Worst Politicians in America.

Finally, we come to Republican House candidate Charlie Fuqua of Batesville. Mr. Fuqua, in his no doubt brilliant tome God’s Law: The Only Political Solution, opined thusly: ”I see no solution to the Muslim problem short of expelling all followers of the religion from the United States.” He followed up with a blog post that reads in part:

There is a strange alliance between the liberal left and the Muslim religion. It may be that since both are the enemies of Christianity, that they both believe that, my enemy’s enemy is my friend. However there are several similarities between the two. Both are antichrist in that they both deny that Jesus is God in the flesh of man, and the savior of mankind. They both also hold that their cause should take over the entire world through violent, bloody, revolution.

Yes, we all remember the hordes of liberal lefties who showed up to political rallies back in 2010 packing heat and talking about Second Amendment remedies. Not to mention, last time I checked, US citizenship didn’t come with a religious test. Perhaps the nice people at Wal-Mart headquarters would donate some tinfoil for this poor, deluded man.

Sadly, his particular brand of crazy doesn’t stop with the typical lefty-Muslim hate. He also thinks rebellious children should face the death penalty. It’s Biblical, don’t you know? His website says he supports the sanctity of life, but I guess it’s only of the pre-born variety, before kids can mouth off or miss curfew or refuse to potty train on command.

The Arkansas Republican Party has, to its credit, denounced all three candidates and cut off their funding, at least for now. Time will tell whether the imperative to win seats overcomes decency and common sense.

That’s a Nice Little Job You Got There…

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

…it’d be a shame if something happened to it.

Yesterday, billionaire Westgate Resorts CEO David Seigel sent his employees a letter threatening their jobs if President Obama wins reelection.

As most of you know our company, Westgate Resorts, has continued to succeed in spite of a very dismal economy. There is no question that the economy has changed for the worse and we have not seen any improvement over the past four years. In spite of all of the challenges we have faced, the good news is this: The economy doesn’t currently pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is another 4 years of the same Presidential administration. Of course, as your employer, I can’t tell you whom to vote for, and I certainly wouldn’t interfere with your right to vote for whomever you choose. In fact, I encourage you to vote for whomever you think will serve your interests the best…

He whines for a while about how hard he worked and scrimped and saved while his friends – and by implication his employees – chose to have a life instead.

…Now, the economy is falling apart and people like me who made all the right decisions and invested in themselves are being forced to bail out all the people who didn’t. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed 42 years of my life for.

Yes, isn’t it terrible that people think they should have food and shelter?

Mr. and Mrs. Siegel suffered a setback to their perfectly normal, everyday lifestyle when the market crashed in October 2008. That would be before Mr. Obama was elected. The market hit bottom a couple of months after the inauguration but has since bounced back almost entirely. As Mr. Siegel notes in his letter, Westgate Resorts is doing just Buy Cialis fine, but he can’t help but moan about how he has suffered:

Even to this day, every dime I earn goes back into this company. Over the past four years I have had to stop building my dream house, cut back on all of my expenses, and take my kids out of private schools simply to keep this company strong and to keep you employed.

About that dream home – it was intended to be a 90,000 square foot house. Not NINE thousand – NINETY thousand. The whole thing was so ridiculously tacky and over the top that someone actually made a documentary about it. Among other things, the trailer tells us that, despite being 30 years older than his wife, Mr. Siegel doesn’t need Viagra.

Pardon me while I go bleach my brain.

Mr. Siegel, not one for subtlety, makes himself quite clear toward the end of his missive:

So where am I going with all this? It’s quite simple. If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company. Rather than grow this company I will be forced to cut back. This means fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.

That’s right. If the eeeeeevil government takes one more dime of his money, he’s going to make sure his employees pay with their livelihoods. “We’re the most profitable we’ve ever been,” says he, but it takes a lot of Benjamins to finish that dream house. He’s planning to put it on the market for the modest price of $100 million.

****

After some intrepid readers noticed that Mr. Siegel’s letter resembled a discredited internet tome your crazy uncle sends out via mass email, he admitted that he used said letter as a “guideline”. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Todd Akin: Arbiter of Manners

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

I figured if Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin stuck to his guns, all the Republicans who loudly withdrew their support after his heinous “legitimate rape” comments would come slinking back. And sure enough, they did. Yesterday, after he waited out the final deadline for withdrawal, the National Republican Senate Committee changed its tune.

Here’s the party line in August:

“This is undoubtedly a difficult time for Congressman Akin, but the stakes in this election are far bigger than any one individual.  By staying in this race, Congressman Akin is putting at great risk many of the issues that he and others in the Republican Party are fighting for, including the repeal of ObamaCare.

“It should not be lost on anyone that some of the only voices not calling for Congressman Akin to do the right thing and step aside are Claire McCaskill and the leaders of the pro-abortion movement.   Senator McCaskill knows that the only way she wins re-election is if Todd Akin is her opponent in November.

“We continue to hope that Congressman Akin will do the right thing for the values he holds dear, but there should be no mistake – if he continues with this misguided campaign, it will be without the support and resources of the NRSC.” [emphasis mine]

Note the primary concern has nothing to do with Akin’s magical thinking re: rape and pregnancy. It’s all about the fear that Claire McCaskill would beat Akin like a drum. And, since Akin is now their candidate, like it or not hgh height growth, here’s the new statement:

“There is no question that for Missourians who believe we need to stop the reckless Washington spending, rein-in the role of government in people’s lives, and finally focus on growing jobs in this country, that Todd Akin is a far more preferable candidate than liberal Sen. Claire McCaskill,” NRSC executive director Rob Jesmer said. “As with every Republican Senate candidate, we hope Todd Akin wins in November, and we will continue to monitor this race closely in the days ahead.”

Continue to monitor, huh?

I suppose that gives them some wiggle room just in case Akin says something else stupid. Oh look – he already did:

“I think we have a very clear path to victory, and apparently Claire McCaskill thinks we do, too, because she was very aggressive at the debate, which was quite different than it was when she ran against Jim Talent,” Akin said. “She had a confidence and was much more ladylike (in 2006), but in the debate on Friday she came out swinging, and I think that’s because she feels threatened.”

She’s threatened? Sounds to me like the man who thinks he’s an expert on ladyparts is scared to death of an actual woman. I know some Republicans want to move us back to the 1950s, but apparently Todd Akin thinks he’s already living there. He may know even less about manners than he does about biology.

Perhaps for their next debate he will demand that she wear a Sunday hat and white gloves.

 

Polling Envy

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

It looks like almost every major poll shows Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney in the presidential race, with Obama over 50% in three essential swing states. That has some well-known conservatives quite verklempt. Verklempt to the point of claiming that the polls have been manipulated by liberal media determined to throw the election to President Obama. Verklempt, in one instance, to the point of starting a new website that claims the real numbers show Romney up by nearly 8 points. These folks think even Fox News is skewing its polls for Obama. Yeah, right.

As Obama’s lead grows, so does the number of conservatives who claim polls in general are biased and cannot be trusted. Similar to their dismissal of fact-checkers who flagged lies in Romney’s ads and Paul Ryan’s convention speech, conservatives are now claiming the media outlets that conduct the polls are attempting to discourage Republicans from voting by falsely tipping the polls toward Democrats.

Seems to me VolumePills Republican voters who really want Mitt Romney to be president would see these polls and be doubly determined to vote for their guy. Why would the media want to skew the results anyway? A foregone conclusion wouldn’t do much for ratings. They want a horse race; it keeps eyes glued to the page and screen.

So. Why are conservatives going down this path? I don’t think they really believe respected polling organizations would deliberately report flawed results. That leaves a couple of options:

They know they’re going to lose, but they think they can de-legitimize Obama’s reelection with constant whining about media bias.

Or they’re ginning up the whole “the polls are skewed” meme because they’re counting on voter suppression efforts to turn the tide. Should they succeed, we will, no doubt, be subject to much self-righteous crowing that they were right all along.

That prospect alone should encourage every good Democrat to help get out the vote.

 

To Make Things Worse…

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Rachel Maddow reports tonight that Republican Senators John Boozman (AR), Mike Johanns (NE), Richard Burr (NC), and Pat Toomey (PA) helped write the bipartisan Murphy, former paratrooper and the first Iraq War veteran to serve in Congress, took Senate Republicans to the woodshed.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

He’s right. Today is an absolute disgrace.

Senate Republicans Block Jobs Bill for Veterans

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Why does Jeff Sessions hate our troops?

I guess some Republicans really DO hate Mitt Romney. Look at his pals in the Senate who, in an election year no less, couldn’t bestir themselves to support a jobs bill for military veterans. Alabama’s own Jeff Sessions (R-jerkwad) led the opposition.

Romney had already taken heat for forgetting to mention our troops in combat during his convention speech. He made it worse when he responded to criticism of his omission (from Fox News, no less) not by apologizing but by once again slamming the president:

I only regret you’re repeating it day in and day out. When you give a speech you don’t go through a laundry list, you talk about the things that you think are important and I described in my speech, my commitment to a strong military unlike the president’s decision to cut our military. And I didn’t use the word troops, I used the word military. I think they refer to the same thing.

Yep, those kids in harm’s way are just an item he left off his laundry list. The cuts were, BTW, supported by his own running mate, but whatever, right?

The jobs bill was, per its sponsor, paid for by revenues generated in other areas. It would have allowed thousands of veterans the opportunity for employment as police officers, park workers, and firefighters That didn’t stop Sessions from objecting to the bill and rallying his buddies to keep zero tar electronic cigarettes it from coming to a vote. Lawrence Downes in the NYT today:

It would be easier to admire the Republicans’ late-breaking fiscal scrupulosity if their motives — denying  the Obama administration any kind of victory this year, whatever the cost to jobless vets — weren’t so transparent.  It’s probably useful to remind Republicans like John McCain (a “nay” on the jobs bill) that wounded, jobless and homeless veterans aren’t a fact of nature. They’re a product of the wars that Congress members voted for, the war debt they piled on, and the economy they helped ruin.

On the surface, it certainly would appear that their motive is to hurt Obama, but it looks to me more like a loss for Romney. If his own party won’t support the military it claims it loves best, how can he persuade veterans and their families that he’s a better bet than Obama, who supported the jobs bill?

Are Senate Republicans in reality just more rats jumping off the sinking Ship Romney? Makes you wonder. They’re just joining other conservatives who are covering their, um, bases in the face of what looks like a losing campaign.

But all the politics in the world don’t make up for the loss of the possibility of more jobs for veterans. It would be such poetic justice if Jeff Sessions loses his job the next time he comes up for re-election, and it would be even better if it were veterans leading the charge.

h/t maddowblog

I Am the 47%

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Ah, it’s good to be back. Diving into the blogging world at this point in an election year is probably just flat nuts, but I’ve had so many days recently when I wished for the release of simply writing down what’s swirling in my head. Now I can.

Good to know, for instance, that I’m one of the 47%, just a worthless freeloader who refuses to take personal responsibility or care for my life. Romney, verbatim:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.

…my job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

A friend and I were joking on Facebook last night that we’d freeload together, once we got off work.

Now really, who are those 47%? The Tax Policy Center breaks it down (via Ezra Klein in the Washington Post):

Currently, just over electronic cigarette drops 46% don’t pay federal income taxes. Around 60% of those are working and paying other taxes, but their exemptions, deductions and credits abrogate their tax liability; almost all the rest either are elderly or have annual incomes under $20,000. These moochers include disabled veterans and college students working their way through school. If only the latter could just borrow tuition money from their parents

But I digress. What’s really curious is that <1% marked “Others”.

…a tiny sliver of this 47 percent includes the 1 percent — the country’s top earners.

According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, some 3,000 of the 76 million taxpayers that were expected to pay no federal income taxes in 2011 were members of Romney’s cohort, making nearly $2.2 million per year, which puts them in the top 0.1 percent income bracket.

Another 24,000 taxpayers expected to pay no income taxes last year were in the top 1 percent income bracket, according to the TPC, making between $532,613 and $2.2 million per year.

I’m one of the 47% who will vote for the President “no matter what”. Mitt Romney says he’s never in the last ten years paid less than 13% in federal income taxes, although he refuses to release the returns to prove it. I wonder if any of the attendees at the $50,000 a plate dinner are part of the “tiny sliver”. What do you think?

Brownback: A No Free Speech Zone

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Geez, how thin-skinned can you get? I’d think Gov. Sam Brownback’s staff would have better things to do than trolling Twitter looking for disparaging comments about their boss. Well, okay, actually I can understand them monitoring the word on the street, uh, tweet. But reporting a high school student to the principal because she said this? Really?

Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot

The principal is insisting that high school student Emma Sullivan, who authored the tweet, write letters of apology to pretty much everyone in the western world.

Here’s the thing. Aside from that pesky First Amendment, which protects political speech, I find it extremely unlikely that this young woman actually said, “You suck,” to Brownback’s face. Had she done so, there would have been great uproar at the time. Twitter, with its 140-character limit, lends itself to shorthand. She didn’t have space to elaborate on the political points she made in opposition to Brownback’s policies, so she boiled them down to “told Pokies him he sucked”.

Here’s the other thing. Where were Brownback’s staffers when Rush Limbaugh referred to our African-American First Lady as “uppity”, a term fraught with racist and sexist history? Did they miss that one in their rush (ha) to find high school students saying rude things online about the governor?

See, I don’t really think it’s the responsibility of Brownback’s staffers to call out Limbaugh (although the silence from Republican leaders is just embarrassing), but they don’t have any business making a big deal out of a tweet sent by someone who doesn’t have a nationally syndicated radio show either.

Yeah, the language was rude. But Republicans getting their panties in a bunch about it is pretty damn hypocritical when their national spokesperson spews racism, sexism and homophobia on a daily basis to an audience of millions.

****

Of course, if Republican leaders did dare to speak out about Limbaugh, they also would find themselves in the principal’s office, forced to apologize for exercising their First Amendment rights.

via Think Progress