Sunday Talks, 6/3/12

All right, I checked my math twice, and I think it’s correct: This week (hold on to your skirts, Martha), we have 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans on the Sunday talkies!

This fall’s presidential election takes top . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, 6/3/12

Friday Talking Points [213] -- A Quick One

Program Note:

We’re going to try something different today. We’re going to write a short column. Well, “relatively short,” I should say.

That sound you just heard was a gigantic sigh of relief from all the editors at the affiliated sites where this column appears. Or perhaps, the stunned jaws hitting the floor of our loyal readers who tune in every week for my mini-tomes of semi-wisdom, here.

Kidding aside, here’s the situation: I am rushing around like a cat at a dog show today in preparation for a trip (and mini-holiday) to Providence, Rhode Island next week for the Netroots Nation conference of “fellow travelers” (that’s a joke, but you have to have a long enough memory to encompass the Cold War to get it) — in other words: bloggers, interest groups, media types, and politicians from the Left.

Which means two things: I simply don’t have enough time to write a full column today, and you won’t be getting a column next Friday, either. “But Chris,” you say, “couldn’t you have written today’s column last night and have been better prepared?” Well, anything is possible, but I refuse to answer such hypotheticals. Hmph.

I am preparing next Monday’s column before I leave, because it will be time for our monthly look at the president’s polling numbers. But after Monday’s “Obama Poll Watch” column, it’ll be nothing but repeats over at my site, for a week. Just to warn everyone in advance. I do not plan on “liveblogging” Netroots Nation, as I think there will be plenty of others providing just such a service to those interested.

But for now, the rest of this column is going to be nothing more than a stream-of-consciousness transcription of my notes for the week. Call it a “do it yourself” column. Take these raw ingredients, mix a few awards in, add snark as necessary, and then and bake in the hot oven of overheated political rhetoric, and you too can create your own talking points at home!

So, in no particular order, here is what you’ve got to work with this week:

Where’s Meg? Mitt Romney staged a photo-op in California this week. Not the one at the shuttered Solyndra plant, but at a fundraiser on the same trip. A bunch of fatcats got together for a fundraising wingding in a tony location (with — you can’t make this stuff up — “expansive gardens, designed to resemble Versailles”) which was thrown by (among others) Meg Whitman. Meg (thank all that is holy) is not now serving as the governor of California, but instead running the company which used to be run by Carly Fiorina (who, again giving mucho thanks, is not now California’s senator). What’s wrong with this picture? Well, Meg’s leadership at Hewlett-Packard has led to a recent announcement that the company will be laying off almost 30,000 employees. So, we have a wealthy woman who tried to buy an executive office hosting a fundraiser for a wealthy man who is trying to buy the highest executive office in the land, on the supposed theory that folks like this “understand the economy” — while 30,000 pink slips are being readied. In the end, Meg decided not to even attend her own party, likely due to the sheer embarrassment factor (the layoffs were just recently announced), although she did manage to show up at a “poolside ladies’ lunch” earlier, with Ann Romney. Compare and contrast to Mitt’s Solyndra photo-op (this one is pretty easy to put together, and here’s a recent Romney quote praising Meg to use as well).

Birthers never give up. Pete Hoekstra (Republican Senate wannabe) has a new idea — let’s make the government bigger, and add a new layer of bureaucracy! Of course, this would normally be sacrilege for a Republican to suggest, but on this issue, he’s making an exception. The issue? Presidential birth certificates. No, seriously, this is a guy who used to be in Congress (and is running again), not some egomaniac from New York City.

Hoekstra wants to create a panel which would officially decide who is a “natural born citizen” and thus eligible for the highest office in the land, consisting of one C.I.A. agent, one F.B.I. agent, and a supervisor.

I have three questions for Pete, on his definition of “natural born” — which is not as clear-cut as one might imagine. Now, “native born” would be much clearer, but that’s not what the Constitution says. Question One: If a child is born to American parents not within any U.S. state, but on U.S. territory, is that child eligible to become president? Question Two: If a child is born of an American parent, but is born in a foreign country, is that child eligible to become president? Question Three: If a child is born by caesarean section (or the child was conceived using in-vitro fertilization, perhaps), is that child eligible to become president?

Answer One: This describes John McCain, who was born in the Panama Canal Zone. Answer Two: This describes George Romney, Mitt’s dad, who was a Republican candidate for president and was deemed eligible even though he was born in Mexico. Answer Three: I have no idea if any C-section babies have become president and I really could not care less, however using a legalistic lens, wouldn’t this contradict the Constitution? After all, these are “artificial” and not “natural” methods, right? I’m just sayin’…

Add in a few crazy Trump quotes, stir, and bake for 10 minutes.

Curt Schilling, welfare baby. OK, these are running too long, so let’s get a little snappier here. Curt Schilling is apparently a welfare baby who has left the taxpayers of Rhode Island on the hook for his failed video game company — but he’s annoyed that folks are calling him a welfare baby. Aww, isn’t that cute?

The marijuana vote. A long-serving Democrat in the House just got “primaried” by a Democratic opponent in Texas. Silvestre Reyes was knocked out of the running by Beta O’Rourke, and one of the main issues in the campaign was marijuana. O’Rourke is in favor of legalizing pot, and Reyes attempted to use a Republican line of attack against him with an ad that said O’Rourke was encouraging children to use drugs. But when the votes were in, O’Rourke had 50.5 percent to Reyes’ 44.4 percent. Might this be a wake-up call to other Democrats? The old reactionary Democratic “We’re just as against drugs as the Republicans!” knee-jerkism seems to be fading, over time. Just as Democrats woo the “gay vote” and the “green vote” and all other such demographics, sooner or later they’ll realize that there is indeed a “marijuana vote” out there to be tapped into.

Obama, part one. Boy, it must be tough to be a conservative. They toss their own ideas down the Orwellian “memory hole” faster and faster, these days. Remember when the righties were trying to portray President Obama as being a big ol’ meany to the Wall Street hedge fund billionaires? That’s so last week, apparently. Now, in a whiplash-inducing turnabout, Karl Rove and his buddies are trying to paint Obama as some sort of “stooge” of Wall Street. Got that? Last week, Obama was Wall Street’s enemy, and he “didn’t understand capitalism.” This week, he’s now Wall Street’s puppet. In a rational world, this would not make sense. I mean, he can’t be both, fer cryin’ out loud! Continue reading Friday Talking Points [213] — A Quick One

An Open Letter to Republicans (from an Insufferably Snobby Democrat)

While the gulf between the ideologies of the left and the right has often been a wide one, there is something more at play these days, and that is the downright stupidity of Republican voters.

One can debate the virtues of big government versus small government, the distribution of wealth, fair taxation, the handling of deficits – and any number of things the parties tend to disagree on.  But you can’t argue with stupid.  And I, for one, refuse to even try.

I admit to being an intellectual snob, especially when it comes to politics.  I have no patience for people who literally know nothing about how government works, but ramble on incoherently as though watching FOX News makes them experts on the topic.  I have no patience for FOX News either: a collection of bobble-headed idiots who spew GOP propaganda on a 24/7 basis to those too dumb and/or lazy to find a legitimate news source, or investigate the outrageous “news” stories they are fed day in, day out.

I have no desire to interact with people who believe that Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim – despite all evidence to the contrary – simply because that’s what they want to believe, the facts be damned.

I have no want to discuss anything to do with the governance of my country with those who insist that the USA was founded as a Christian nation, and who view the separation of Church and State as something dreamed up by liberals, rather than being something enshrined in the Constitution.

I cannot be bothered to try and persuade the oh-so-proudly ignorant that signs and bumper-stickers that say “Keep the goverment’s hands off my Medicare”, “Inglich is our offical langage,” or decry the idea that healthcare should never include a “pubic option” that their stupidity places them in the category of the embarrassingly laughable.

I have no compulsion to communicate with those who cherry-pick random quotes from the Bible as support for their bigotry and their prejudices, while at the same time ignoring the words and teachings of Jesus Christ – whom they profess to love and revere, but only when convenient.

I have no time for those who cling to ever-changing rewritten history on an ongoing basis, those who have access to the hard facts as to which president, with the overwhelming support of his party, plunged the nation into unprecedented debt, but simply accept whatever ludicrous fabrications are proffered by right-wing sources to contradict the realities of George W. Bush’s disastrous administration and the consequences thereof.

I give no credence to those who consistently vote against their own best interests, simply because some loud-mouthed know-nothing has convinced them (without too much convincing necessary) that their best interests lie with the party that has devoted its every endeavor to legislation that favors corporate power over that of the hardworking citizen.

I cannot bring myself to debate the necessity of social safety nets for the homeless, the poverty-stricken, the sick and dying, with people who are literally one paycheck away from financial disaster – and yet cling to the belief that they are somehow immune from the consequences of electing a POTUS who would gladly dissolve those safety nets once in office.

I will not discuss the concept of :Supporting the Troops” with those who happily vote for representatives who deliberately choose to ignore the plight of our veterans, or those who believe there are more important things to spend our money on – like preparing to wage the next war with troops who will again be abandoned once the fighting is done.

Over the past few decades, I have watched in wonder while GOP supporters have devolved into being mindless, shallow, don’t-confuse-me-with-the-facts lemmings,
ever anxious to follow their fellow locksteppers off the nearest cliff.

But what was once a matter of idiotic voters has now become a matter of equally idiotic GOP candidates: a VP candidate who couldn’t even fake having read a newspaper while running for the second most important position on the planet, presidential wannabes who pull non-facts out of their asses on a regular basis and tout them as the truth, representatives who run for office on the I’m-as-stupid-as-you-are platform – aided and abetted by a mainstream media that has dumbed itself down in order to appeal to the yes-I-am-TRULY-stupid contingent as often as possible.

What the upcoming election boils down to is not a clash of ideology; it is a clash between the informed and the willfully ignorant, the fact-seekers and the deliberately factually impaired, the intelligent citizen versus the stupid citizen.  It’s as simple as that – and it’s a concept that the stupid voter is just – well, too fuckin’ stupid to understand.

As Democrats, we are fully aware that this what we’re up against. This is what we have to focus our attention on and strive to defeat: not a difference of opinion, or an alternate way of seeing how government can best work for all citizens. What we are up against is stupidity, in all its ignorant, misspelled, misled, misinformed, ungrammatical, fact-free glory.

Our candidate is articulate, intelligent and well-informed. He has proven, time and again, his grasp of issues both foreign and domestic, his ability to visualize long-term policies and the benefits thereof, an undeniable desire to move towards humanitarian ideas and ideals, and has garnered the respect of the international community based on all of the aforementioned.

Your candidate, on the other hand, is as blatantly stupid as they come; a man who is incapable of holding a position on any issue for more than twenty-four hours, or articulating a single thought without insulting the very people he is hoping to persuade. And he will no doubt be voted for by the equally stupid, who recognize and support one of their own. Continue reading An Open Letter to Republicans (from an Insufferably Snobby Democrat)

Digging Deeper: Out of Africa, Charles Taylor Sentenced For War Crimes

Africa today is not the Africa of my youth. When I was six, on the continent, only Ethiopia was free. The continent was a spider work of colonies run . . . → Read More: Digging Deeper: Out of Africa, Charles Taylor Sentenced For War Crimes

Slouching Towards Tampa (With Friends Like These edition)

With his certain victory today in the Texas primary, Mitt Romney will finally have his party’s nomination more or less sewn up, but is there anyone, even among Republicans, who actually likes Romney? Of course not, but it’s fascinating to watch those who, for various reasons, are pretending that they do.

Let’s start with evangelicals, a voting bloc without which the Republican Party would be about as viable as Whigs. Romney has a dual problem with evangelicals: he’s nowhere near conservative enough, no matter how much he pretends to be, and his religion is regarded by a large swath of the Christian right as little more than Scientology with a big-ass choir.

Romney made the quadrennial ritual forelock-tugging visit to Liberty “University” on May 12. Despite a large turnout to hear him speak, and the faint praise of some in attendance, others on campus were less than welcoming:

Liberty teaches that Mormonism is a cult, and university officials took down a commencement Facebook page after it was flooded with hundreds of posts objecting to Romney’s appearance.

Jerry Falwell Jr., the “school” chancellor, showed off his versatility with a little stand-up routine before Romney’s speech, likely sending Jerry Sr.’s corpse into rapid rotation:

… Jerry Falwell Jr. told parents, staff and students that “we are electing a commander-in-chief, not a pastor-in-chief.”

Not to be outdone, the candidate did some comedic ancestor-spinning of his own:

Romney went right at the latest hot-button issue, bringing much of the audience to its feet in cheers by declaring: “Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.”

Romney has also received lukewarm plaudits from another previously hostile demographic, his former primary rivals. Erstwhile Swiss citizen Michele Bachmann, for example, had contended as far back as December:

“No, he cannot beat Obama because his policy is the basis for Obamacare… You can’t have a candidate who has given the blueprint for Obamacare. It’s too identical. It’s not going to happen. We have to have a candidate, a bold distinct candidate in the likeness of Ronald Reagan.”

Not having found such a candidate, Bachmann has since decided that if she squints tightly enough, a flip-flopping, suspiciously moderate, milquetoast venture capitalist is close enough. Bachmann also accompanied fellow has-been Herman Cain to a DC press conference on May 16, where Cain issued his own full-throated “yeah, he’ll do” endorsement:

“We as conservatives know that in order to win, we have got to rally around our nominee… It is clear that Governor Mitt Romney is going to be our nominee, so I wanted to formally endorse him today… I know there are lot of people who may not be as excited as some of us about the process, or as excited about the ultimate nominee…”

Another vocal Romney skeptic has finally come around, if only because it keeps his incessantly marketed name in the news:

… Donald Trump is delighted that Mitt Romney is using The Donald’s star power to lure lottery contestants and donors to a major fundraiser June 28 for Romney’s presidential juggernaut.

… fortunate attendees will receive, according to the campaign, “airport transportation in the Trump vehicle… stay at the Trump International Hotel & Tower… [get a] tour of Trump Tower” and “dine with Donald Trump and Mitt Romney.” Trump will host a fundraiser for Romney, featuring a drop-by by former rival Newt Gingrich, next Tuesday at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas.

Trump managed to fake enthusiasm for Romney better than most, but can’t do so without, as is his wont, paying homage to himself:

“I feel strongly that Mitt is really doing well. I think he’s gonna be a great candidate and a great president. We need a great president. I feel a lot of people listen to what I have to say.”

Funny stuff, though not as funny as his tellingly phallic comments from April of last year:

“I’m a much bigger business man and have (a) much, much bigger net worth. I mean, my net worth is many, many, many times Mitt Romney,” Trump said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Romney, a candidate who will unhesitatingly cozy up to any abrasive jackass, is perfectly cool with another of Trump’s look-at-me gambits, his birther obsession. In fact, it was precisely this topic that yesterday prompted Romney to make his first honest statement of the campaign:

Asked… whether Trump’s questioning of President Barack Obama’s birthplace gave him pause, Romney simply said he was grateful for all his supporters.

“You know, I don’t agree with all the people who support me and my guess is they don’t all agree with everything I believe in,” Romney said. “But I need to get 50.1% or more and I’m appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.”

Whether that appreciation extends as far as granting Trump a plum turn at the podium in Tampa remains to be seen:

“Mr. Trump’s massive popularity is just one of the many reasons he is being sought as a keynote speaker at the Tampa RNC Convention,” Michael Cohen, special counsel to Trump, told The Daily Caller.

Trump’s not the only major league asshat who seems to have succumbed to a mild case of Romney fever recently. You might remember a Republican éminence grise or bête noire – named George W. Bush:

“I’m for Mitt Romney,” Bush told ABC News this morning as the doors of an elevator closed on him, after he gave a speech on human rights a block from his old home — the White House.

Alas, since Bush was essentially as welcome as herpes to the organizers of the 2008 Republican convention in Saint Paul, I don’t expect his being “for Mitt Romney” will net him much mic time this go-round, which is a pity. It would be a real highlight of the convention to see Bush and Trump on stage together, spinning plates, perhaps, or maybe doing a combover-and-paper version of “Dueling Banjos.” Continue reading Slouching Towards Tampa (With Friends Like These edition)