A Good Year for the Poses

freehandThe 2014 Values Voter Summit wrapped up Sunday in Washington, and Omni Shoreham Hotel staff must be working hard to expunge the building of the heavy stench of gunpowder and cliché. Like previous editions, this year’s version was a consummate freak show with a gaggle of grotesques worthy of Todd Browning, but even speakers making their second, third or fourth appearance seemed to bring a little extra Republican bile, guile and vile to the festivities this time around.

The theme this year was “Defending the Dream, Defining the Future,” a phrase so vague it could be used for a corporate training seminar, a high school valedictory address, or a Shriners convention. But VVS organizers know what they’re defending and defining; they proudly state their intention is to “inform and mobilize citizens across America to preserve the bedrock values of traditional marriage, religious liberty, sanctity of life and limited government that make our nation strong.”

Yes, that’s right. The same snake oil they’ve been peddling since the first iteration of the conclave back in 2006. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s terse description of the VVS really summarizes it much better: “An annual political conference bringing together some of the most extreme groups on the religious right.” That includes host organization and lead sponsor, the Family Research Council (which the SPLC calls a hate group), along with other America-hating organizations like Liberty Counsel (shouldn’t that be “council”?) and the American Family Association (which wants to destroy your family, if you’re gay).

But of course the real, ahem, elephant in the room is, as always, the Republican Party, which coyly maintains no “official” connection to the VVS even as elected Republicans madly stampede to its podium year after year to pander, preen and pose. Why, there’s even a presidential straw poll conducted, which purulent demagogue Ted Cruz topped for a second consecutive year, with up-and-coming conservative clod Ben Carson a close second and perennial pious pseudo-Christian Mike Huckabee a distant third.

As always, though, the real “attraction” was the speechifying. The Values Voter Summit showcases more know-nothing arch-conservative blowhards than any venue outside the even bigger freak show known as the United States House of Representatives, and VVS speakers don’t even have to make a pretense of obeisance to parliamentary decorum. Nor do attendees, who seem to spend much of their time whooping like gibbons on nitrous oxide. Thanks to the event’s video archives, which get sadly more generous every year, we can all experience the horror of being at an event we wouldn’t actually be caught dead attending.

The “values voters” were thrilled by lame duck Congresswoman and future convicted felon Michele Bachmann, who described herself, unasked, as “a normal, real person.” She decried the bailout that saved the automobile industry as “gangster government,” said that the “trillion dollar” stimulus that prevented the economy from collapsing “didn’t work so well,” and bragged about introducing “the very first repeal bill” against Obamacare.

She waxed nostalgic about her “deep dive into the leading foreign policy and national security issues of our day.” She also griped about Benghazi, the Bergdahl prisoner swap, and Iran “racing toward completing nuclear weapons,” called Barack Obama “the first anti-Israel President in American history,” averred that Hillary Clinton will be defeated in 2016, and thundered that “it is never too late to save the country.” The fierce urgency of whenever, you might say.

Ted Cruz smirked more than anyone I’ve ever seen not named Bush. He called Obamacare a “disaster,” which I suppose it is if you hate seeing the number of Americans without health coverage drop by 26% and counting. He made a Cat in the Hat joke harking back to his ludicrous “faux-libuster” last year, to show how charmingly self-deprecating his handlers have coached him to be. He served up a tasteless quip about the White House fence-jumper (which he admitted he stole from Jimmy Fallon), and then added one of his own. He called for a debate between Hillary Clinton and the Little Sisters of the Poor. He called the Democratic Party an “extreme radical party.” In short, he said not a single truthful, worthwhile or remotely intelligent thing. Naturally, the crowd loved his speech.

Rick Santorum has appeared at every one of these things so far, and so most of his speech was heavily recycled from his previous heavily recycled speeches. He spent a little of his time hawking his upcoming book, Bella’s Gift, about raising a special needs child. (Will Bella’s gift be saving her old man from having to get a real job for yet another year? Probably not, but we’ll see.) Santorum called the President “a descendant of the French Revolution,” which – bien sûr – was a refreshing change from years of ridiculous allegations about Kenya. Mostly, though, he stuck with the self-evident and obvious, as in his observing at one point that: “You don’t have any Baptist ministers going on jihad.” Continue reading A Good Year for the Poses

Take Five (Mouths of Babes edition)

ONE: And a Little Child Shall Impede Them

Tennessee Republican state senator Stacey Campfield describes himself on his blog as “just an average guy….with a real cool job.” The trouble is that Campfield seems to believe his job is to be an utter dick. Take for example his newest idea, noted here a couple of weeks back, a bill to slash TANF benefits by 30 percent for households with children performing unsatisfactorily in school.

Last week, Campfield asked fellow legislators to hold the bill “for further study,” shortly after he was shown up by an eight-year-old girl. Aamira Fetuga confronted Campfield in the state Capitol and handed him a petition with 2,500 signatures in opposition to the legislation. Campfield’s immediate reaction, as expected, was to be a complete dick:

“How are you? Thanks for coming,” Campfield said, taking the petition. “I love it when people use children as props.”

And I love it when a politician who once proposed issuing death certificates for aborted fetuses lectures other people about props. Campfield quickly cut and ran from his pint-sized nemesis, or tried to:

He then set off on the three-minute walk to the Senate chamber. Rasheedat Fetuga, founder of child advocacy group Gideon’s Army, which organized the protest along with Clergy for Justice and Stand for Children, shouted after him that her daughter was not a prop and that he works for the people…

Well, Rasheedat was half right; her daughter is certainly not a prop. In fact, Aamira was a full participant, and seemed admirably self-possessed and engagingly direct:

“I’m worried about the lights being cut off,” she said.

“That won’t happen as long as you have a decent parent who can show up for two conferences,” Campfield replied.

He was referring to a provision in the bill stipulating that parents could avoid having their family’s benefits slashed by jumping through one of a number of possible hoops: “an eight-hour parenting class, meeting twice with teachers, enrolling a child in summer school or arranging tutoring.”

After taking refuge in the Senate chamber only to find that several Republican senators previously onside were now opposed, Campfield finally withdrew the bill. For now, anyway; a crucial element of Campfield’s comprehensive dickishness is his persistence. I offer as Exhibit A the fact that he has been introducing various iterations of his “Don’t Say Gay” bill for fully half a decade now.

For more context, check out Les Leopold’s horrifying new overview of what happened in Tennessee while civilization had its back turned and absolute dicks like Stacey Campfield were elected to positions of power.

Last word goes to the wholly unreconstructed dick himself, an exceedingly rare example of Campfield actually being correct about something:

“There’s always going to be detractors.”

TWO: Love and Marriage

A recent poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal finds that 53 percent of respondents support same-sex marriage. Among Democrats, it was favored by 73 percent of respondents, while 66 percent of Republicans continue to support discrimination.

So it wasn’t exactly shocking that the RNC, at its spring meeting in LA, decided to renew its official opposition to marriage equality, by supposedly unanimous voice vote:

Resolved, the Republican National Committee affirms its support for marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and as the optimum environment in which to raise healthy children for the future of America; and be it further

Resolved, the Republican National Committee implores the U. S. Supreme Court to uphold the sanctity of marriage in its rulings on California’s Proposition 8 and the Federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Now, a cynical observer just might think the Republican Party’s definitive reaffirmation of institutional bigotry is a response to the threat of reliable money spigots being turned off, but of course it could be simply a remarkable coincidence:

After the Republican National Committee hinted at new outreach to gay voters, and possibly changing its stance or at least its tone on gay-rights issues, 11 influential social-conservative groups aired their grievances in a letter addressed to [Reince] Priebus timed to coincide with the start of the RNC’s meeting…

“We respectfully warn GOP leadership that an abandonment of its principles will necessarily result in the abandonment of our constituents to their support…”

Even more suspiciously, the “unanimous” aspect of the resolution’s approval was cast into doubt by an unfortunately soft-spoken attendee:

… Robert Kabel, a gay committeeman from the District of Columbia who supports allowing same sex nuptials, didn’t speak up. At least not loud enough for anyone to hear him.

Immediately after the vote… Priebus declared that all 157 members present had supported the measure.

… Kabel insists he dissented.

“I voted against the resolution. I did, it just wasn’t very vocal,” Kabel said after the meeting. “It’s hard to hear in here.”

Others, however, made themselves heard loudly, one being Michigan’s Dave Agema, the resolution’s sponsor. Agema appeared on a Family Research Council radio show to expound on his views in more detail:

“What I’d like to have the homosexual community know is I don’t hate them,” he said. “As a matter of fact when Jesus caught a woman in the act of adultery when they brought her to him he said, ‘I don’t condemn you but go and sin no more.’ That ought to be the church’s goal here. We ought to be saying to these people, ‘Hey, we don’t agree with your lifestyle and we’ll help you get out of it, but we want you to know the facts of what’s going to happen to you if you stay in this lifestyle.’”

The former state representative from West Michigan entered the national debate on gay marriage two weeks ago by sharing an article on Facebook titled “Everyone Should Know These Statistics on Homosexuality,” which began with a warning to parents that their children could be “indoctrinated” at public schools.

Agema repeated that claim on Wednesday, saying that school kids are already being conditioned to accept homosexuality and that “the next thing that will occur is your kids will come home and say, ‘I think this is a good thing and I think I want to be one.’”

Yet when it comes to ludicrous views about homosexuality, Agema is a callow hobbyist compared with Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, who recently treated his radio audience to this sarcastic tirade:

“We’re getting to the point where these homofascists are going to force us to wear on our sleeves some kind of identifying marker so people will know who the racists and the homophobes and the bigots are, and can stay away from them.”

The very same day, a different but equally appalling take was offered up by the reflexively offensive Bill Donohue, loosely hinged president of the Catholic League, in a television appearance on Current:

“This idea of two men getting married is the most bizarre idea in human history,” Donohue told host John Fugelsang, adding that the purpose of marriage is a “duty” to procreate.

“The whole purpose of marriage is to have a family,” he said. “It’s not about making people happy. It’s not about love.”

I’m beginning to understand why Donohue’s marriage ended in divorce. Continue reading Take Five (Mouths of Babes edition)

Take Five (The Wrong Remains the Same edition)

ONE: “What part of ‘second’ don’t you understand?”

Did you daydream that Republicans would accept the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s renewed mandate and resolve to be a little more cooperative? That restless legions of Teabaggers and assorted civics-challenged bigots would cease their puling about “Socialism!” and “Death Panels!” and their frenzied flocking to gun stores and gun shows in advance of an imaginary Obama vendetta against the Second Amendment? That the comically desperate birthers would quietly disperse at last, their tumid fantasies of the Republic being “saved” by Antonin Scalia and/or Donald Trump deflated for all time?

Yeah, neither did I.

President Obama’s second term already seems destined to be as rife as his first with an unrelenting din of obstructionist Republicans, conspiracy cranks and bullet-headed jerks utterly horrified by the President’s only-half-white pigmentation. Hold your breath and let’s start at the very bottom of the barrel.

Although her campaign to become an obstructionist Republican was a characteristically garish failure, Orly Taitz certainly has the conspiracy crank and bullet-headed jerk categories comprehensively covered. The national poster child for every fool out in the darkness aspiring to be a dentist/attorney/fanatic has once again been smacked down from the bench, in this case by District Court Judge Morrison C. England Jr. in Sacramento:

“Your argument, it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever,” the judge told her at one point…

“Why do you keep filing these lawsuits when they keep getting rejected?” England asked…

Taitz responded by comparing herself to Thurgood Marshall and his persistence in filing suits to fight segregation. She explained that one of the plaintiffs is a Republican elector for Mitt Romney, who came in second to Obama in November.

“But second,” England countered. “What part of ‘second’ don’t you understand?”

Like Wile E. Coyote in the Roadrunner cartoons, no matter how many times she finds herself running right off the edge of a mesa (carrying an AcmeTM anvil) Taitz doesn’t quit. And her fans love her for it. Her website – not linked here because it’s said to be riddled with viruses and spyware – recently featured this testimonial from someone purporting to be a court reporter in attendance at the oral arguments before Judge England:

… I found the judges actions to be unbelievable.  There is something terribly wrong when our judiciary system will not stand up and take note of this kind of blatant corruption. I was one of the last ones filing out that shock you hand, it was a pleasure. Although I am on a fixed income, I will contribute to your (our) cause in the near future. Sincerely, Vernon Steinkamp

Personally, I think there’s something terribly wrong when the “judiciary system” allows Vernon Steinkamp to transcribe legal proceedings, but perhaps that’s why they put him on a fixed income. Still, I’ve read enough of Taitz’s submissions in serial unsuccessful proceedings to think Mr. Steinkamp might just be her ideal transcriptionist. At a minimum, I surely would like to see him, um, shock she hand.

Elsewhere on the “World’s Leading Obama Eligibility Challenge Web Site,” you can find Taitz’s funhouse-mirror musings on the proceeding in Sacramento. Ever wanted to know how the exact opposite of a great legal mind works? Here’s how:

The judge nodded and told me, indeed the U.S. Constitution does not require the US President to have valid IDs.

I responded to him that the U.S. Constitution does not require the President to have a pulse also…

Taitz is at least perceptive enough to notice that Judge England was pained by the proceeding, but earnestly misconstrues the cause of his suffering:

The judge lowered his head, he was holding his head with his hands, he was clearly following the marching orders from the regime and was deeply ashamed of it. A number of people later told me that they felt that the judge looked like he was ashamed of what he was doing…

For Taitz, though, misconstruing things is a vocation, a calling, a crusade:

I showed him that it is impossible to have a white hallo around words if you only place a document on the green safety paper…

It seems that during Obama regime the only ones who get protection from the law are the criminals, the law abiding citizens are completely deprived of all of their rights, the only thing they have to protect them, is ammo…

Well, and those shocking hands, of course. As is customary with any story involving Taitz, the weirdness soon got ratcheted up further. After Judge England rejected her claims, he went on to reject her emergency 60(b) motion, which alleged – among many other things – that the President has, or is, a double. Or something:

Additionally, widely published picture by Dr. Scott Inoue, Obama’s former classmate, shows Barack Obama as a third grade student in Hawaii in 1969. At the same time official Obama school records show him in Indonesia in 1967-1969 attending school in Jakarta Indonesia under the name Barry Soetoro. It means that from January 1, 1967 till 1969 we could see two distinct individuals: Barry Obama residing in Hawaii and Barry Soetoro residing in Indonesia. We do not know, which one of them came back to the U.S. in 1971… If Barry Soetoro came back, than the question is, what happened to Barry Obama? Is he even alive? A number of high ranking officials of the U.S. Government and the government of Hawaii are complicit in the most egregious crimes, cover up of the forgery, however it might be more than fraud and forgery. If Barry Soetoro came from Indonesia instead of Barry Obama, this is espionage.

TWO: Failing Upward

At the moment, Taitz is aglow with the prospect of a potential new ally, in the form of a nakedly political Supreme Court controlled by the Republican Party, or at least a powerful faction of it. She buoyantly announced recently that the Supreme Court doesn’t yet find her as irritating as Judge England does. Perhaps they’re still unaware of her terrible prose:

Press release!

Law offices of Orly Taitz

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States John Roberts scheduled a case by attorney Orly Taitz dealing with Barack Hussein Obama’s use of forged IDs to be heard in conference before the full Supreme Court…

Please, keep in mind, Richard Nixon was reelected and sworn in, but later was forced to resign as a result of Watergate. over 30 high ranking officials of Nixon administration including Attorney General of the United States and White HouseCcounsel were indicted, convicted and went to prison.  ObamaForgery gate is a hundred times bigger then Watergate.  More corrupt high ranking officials, US Attorneys, AGs and judges were  complicit, committed high treason by allowing a citizen of Indonesia and possibly still a citizen of Kenya Barack Hussein Obama, aka Barack (Barry) Soebarkah, aka Barack (Barry) Soetoro to usurp the U.S. Presidency by use of forged IDs and a stolen Social security number.

The Supreme Court will turn its collective mind to the case in a February 15 conference, and if four of the justices decide it’s warranted, the Court will go on to hear argument. In other words, the Supreme Court is going to waste time deciding whether to waste further time on this scurrilous nonsense. If that’s not outrageous enough, consider the possibility that, just maybe, Clarence Thomas will open his yapper during consideration of Taitz’s litigation, now that he has recently broken seven years of weird silence from the bench. Heady days for democracy. Continue reading Take Five (The Wrong Remains the Same edition)

Take Five (Miserable Bastards edition)

ONE: And your money back if the birth certificate turns out to be valid!

Last week Take Five presented “highlights” from the press conference announcing the results of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s cold case posse investigation into President Obama’s eligibility to hold the office he’s held for 38 months. A brief appearance at the press conference by Jerome Corsi puzzled me, since he added nothing material to the proceedings and actually spent most of his time talking about what a peach Andrew Breitbart was.

I’m frankly ashamed to say I completely missed the obvious. Jerome Corsi is a grifter, so what was he doing at the press conference? Why, grifting, of course. Only a tad more surprisingly, so was Mike Zullo, the posse’s lead investigator. Cinch up your hip waders! For only $9.99, you can buy the “book” the two have collaborated on:

Mike Zullo, a retired detective and volunteer Maricopa County Sheriff Posse member, is listed as the co-author of “A Question of Eligibility,” an e-book for sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The book is a copy of the investigation findings presented to the press on Thursday.

Zullo’s co-author is Jerome Corsi, a well-known political conspiracy writer who started the Swift-boat case against Sen. John Kerry.  More recently, Corsi, who writes for World Net Daily, has spent the last few years driving the birther movement.

Sufferin’ succotash, Arpaio must be furious! Or, um, not:

Corsi denied using the MCSO as a promotional tool to sell his books and theories…

Corsi said he informed Arpaio of his plans to sell the investigation’s findings six months ago, at the start of the investigation.

“He approved,” Corsi said, since neither he nor Zullo are paid members of the MCSO.

At least one county official isn’t so sanguine:

“I’m shocked to learn about this book,” said Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox.

Well, Ms. Wilcox, as I confessed above, I didn’t see the grifter aspect of this coming, but at least the only shock I experienced when I found out about it was in being reminded how naïve I am. Thanks for making me feel a bit better.

Here’s hoping the ongoing federal investigation of the sheriff’s misconduct in office leads to Arpaio himself no longer being a paid member of the MCSO. Now, there’s a press conference I’d love to see.

TWO: One Million Moms Circle the Drain

I also mentioned last week that I couldn’t wait to find out what One Million Moms would get all irate about next. Turns out I didn’t have to wait at all. Even as the organization (an appendage of the American Family Association) was busy calling for Toys ‘R’ Us to be boycotted for daring to sell the gay wedding edition of Life with Archie, they were also urging citizens to demand that Clorox pull its new Liquid Plumr ad.

Why would they want to do that? Over to you, Moms:

The commercial starts off with a woman in a supermarket daydreaming about what this new Liquid-Plumr product has to offer. She says, “Double impact,” twice as she reads the bottle. In her dream she is at home and answers the door to find a sexy plumber. The plumber is nice looking with huge biceps and a tight shirt. He says, “I’m here to snake your drain.” She says come on in and he walks upstairs. The doorbell rings again and it is a second sexy plumber. He says, “I’m here to flush your pipe.” She answers with an okay and while he walks on upstairs she lets out a squeal and moan while letting down her hair. Then she wakes up to reality to find the two men in the supermarket. She flirts by giving sexy eyes to the one man in the deli slicing meat and the other in produce holding two melons. These two men are the same as in her dream.

Pretty racy indeed. And there’s more:

It may be coincidence, but the man in produce is standing beside cucumbers with a price sign behind him reading 69 cents.

To summarize, an advertising agency hits on the not-at-all-novel idea to use sex (something most people enjoy) to promote a product that clears disgusting gunk out of clogged drains (something most people find revolting), and One Million Moms swoop in to spoil the fun. And rest assured they’re always soliciting new ideas for more fun to spoil:

NOTE: If you see a commercial or program which is offensive, email us the information. Many of you have done this, and it is very helpful.

THREE: Joehio

Speaking of clogged drains, Joe the Plumber (who is not a plumber and not really a Joe) finally has himself a vocation. Samuel Wurzelbacher is now the official Republican candidate in Ohio’s newly redrawn 9th Congressional District. He’ll be running, quite pointlessly, against Marcy Kaptur, who defeated Dennis Kucinich in the Democratic primary on Tuesday. That he’s headed for an electoral drubbing is almost a shame, since his winning the seat would be a vivid milestone on the drunken Republican march toward Idiocracy, although it sure as hell wouldn’t do the Ohio 9th or the United States House of Representatives any good.

“Joe” was pitted against Steve Kraus – an actual auctioneer and real estate agent, as opposed to someone who just calls himself Steve the Auctioneer and Real Estate Agent – who was significantly outspent and ultimately unable to find a sufficient number of rational Republicans in the district to stave off defeat.

So that’s one more Congressional race to watch closely. I’m hoping for a debate between Kaptur and Wurzelbacher; it would be fascinating to hear his thoughts about, for example, small business tax policy.

Apart from Wurzelbacher’s win and Kucinich’s loss, the most noteworthy Super Tuesday event in Ohio was the delightful primary defeat of Jean Schmidt, one of the nastiest human beings ever to plant buttocks on a Congressional seat. It’s an extremely overdue exit; her most storied career moment is already fading into history:

In November of 2005, she gained fame (and infamy) for her floor remarks attacking Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA), a Vietnam veteran who had recently called for an orderly U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. On the House floor, she declared in a message to Murtha, “that cowards cut and run, Marines never do.”

So it was gratifying that she lost her primary to Brad Wenstrup, an Iraq veteran. Maybe with all her new free time she can go to Afghanistan; the Marines there could use some help. Continue reading Take Five (Miserable Bastards edition)

Take Five (Birth of a Vexation edition)

ONE: Dinner Is Swerved…

Readers will, I’m sure, remember the ugly incident in Phoenix when Barack Obama commandeered an entire airport to land his gas-guzzling private jet, then jumped out of it, ran over to Governor Jan Brewer’s outstretched index finger (which was minding its own business on the runway) and aggressively confronted it with his face.

Energetically wagging the digit in a desperate evasive maneuver, Brewer was nonetheless unable to escape Obama’s patently rancorous smiling and nodding. Following this terrifying experience, she commented: “I felt a little bit threatened, if you will…”

Brewer courageously ventured to Washington last weekend for the annual National Governors Association meeting and once again found herself antagonized, this time by an invitation to a black-tie dinner at the White House. In contrast to the Phoenix fiasco, though, on this occasion she was not caught off-guard by the wily Kenyan’s impudence:

Brewer said in an interview… that she had a scheduling conflict.

“I’ve just decided I wasn’t going to be going because I had some other commitments I had to attend to,” Brewer said…

Obama’s liberal media running dogs predictably refused to take Brewer’s dignified explanation at face value and pressed for more details, but to no avail:

A spokesman, Matthew Benson, declined to say whether the conflict was state business or personal.

“We’re not going to get into our schedule,” Benson said.

Bravo, Mr. Benson! This transparency stuff could easily get out of hand. Best to nip it in the bud, just like your boss did:

Brewer, who dined at the White House last year and will attend a policy discussion with other governors and Obama… laughed when asked to identify her scheduling conflict.

TWO: Posse Comatose

Thursday afternoon, I waded into the fever swamp that is WorldNutDaily to catch their live video feed of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s press conference announcing the results of his cold case posse’s investigation into President Obama’s birth certificate. After enduring two or three choppy, incomprehensible minutes – memo to Joseph Farah and the WND techs: streaming video is supposed to, you know, stream – I opted for Phoenix’s ABC 15, whose feed was perfect.

The press conference didn’t disappoint. It was just the sort of stupendously dumb display of rank birther hokum I’d been hoping for. Arpaio spoke first, and let’s just say he’s as good a public speaker as he is a sheriff. He opened by saying that he had “felt the investigation could clear President Obama’s name,” but – surprise! – it didn’t. He believes probable cause exists to indicate forgery and fraud may have been committed. Arpaio “cannot in good faith report” that the long-form birth certificate and Selective Service registration released by the White House are authentic. History was unfolding, right before my eyes!

Arpaio then turned the microphone over to Mike Zullo, the posse’s lead investigator. Zullo noted that he would be presenting a series of videos to assist with his muddled remarks concerning multi-layer PDFs and OCR software, but took pains to point out that they were “draft videos” rather than final versions, and contained some typos. Hey, that’s perfectly understandable! After all, the posse’s only been at this for five and a half months. My favorite typo: “all that ailes the long form birth certificate.”

And Zullo (who, when asked, later confessed to being a Republican, although he denied being a Teabagger) made it clear that he and the other members of the posse (former police officers, attorneys, graphics experts and forensic document examiners) have done a lot more than just misspell words. Zullo insisted that the posse members “were not willing to merely speculate or engage in conjecture” and that the birth certificate “failed every test we put it through.” At one point, he paused, looked around the room, and said in a sepulchral voice, “This is serious. This is very serious.”

He noted that the posse tried but failed to obtain passenger manifests for incoming flights from Kenya at around the time of Barack Obama’s birth. They did obtain microfilm copies of INS records from the National Archives, 685 rolls, 10 years’ worth, but to their shock and awe, the records from August 1 to August 7, 1961 – the very week the President was born… somewhere – were missing.

Zullo turned briefly to the Selective Service document, which he described as “not just forged, it’s poorly forged.” He concluded that “there’s no question” a criminal investigation is needed, and casually added that the posse has identified a person of interest in the forgery of the birth certificate. Jeezum crow!

Swift Boat Liar Jerome Corsi was up next; I still do not understand why. He said something about the death of “fellow reporter” Andrew Breitbart and noted that Breitbart had interviewed Arpaio the night before, or asked to, or something.

Carl Seel, a Republican who represents District 6 in the Arizona House of Representatives, spoke next; again, I still do not understand why. He muttered something about having a bill pending, presumably to prevent Kenyans from making the ballot in Arizona, then said he had to get back to the Legislature to get some stuff done, or something. He commended Sheriff Joe, and concluded with: “Thank you very much. God bless America.”

Arpaio returned to the podium, noting that a lot of media were present and commenting insightfully that some might say his investigation is “pointless, silly, trite.” Having spent over an hour essentially accusing the President of the United States of being a criminal, Arpaio was adamant that he was “not accusing the President of the United States of any crime.” He was refreshingly candid about his ignorance of civics, confessing that he doesn’t know who has jurisdiction over this matter. He’s considering asking the State of Hawaii to get involved, but doubts that they’ll help. Maybe he’ll talk to Congress instead. Maybe not. Who’s to say?

Zullo spoke again, citing “numerous sworn affidavits” attesting to something or other. Then he related a puzzling anecdote about a retired government employee who had a conversation in the ’80s with Barack Obama in the front yard of Bill Ayers’ mother’s house. The future President was introduced as a foreign student. Or maybe it was the government employee who was a foreign student. Or maybe it was Bill Ayers, or maybe his mom. History is terribly confusing.

Arpaio, being the stand-up kind of guy he is, took a few questions from the press. A reporter asked if he wasn’t essentially accusing the President of living a lie. The sheriff clutched his pearls and tut-tutted: “I’m not accusing him of any lying or crime… I didn’t say that… I never said that… he can present other information proving he was born here… it’s not my problem they came up with this information and documentation… I’m not accusing anyone of anything until we find out who may have committed these alleged crimes…”

Last word goes to a reporter who prefaced one of the final questions in the news conference with: “None of us are stupid in this room.” Continue reading Take Five (Birth of a Vexation edition)

Take Five (Careful What You Wish For edition)

ONE: The Cain Scrutiny

A funny thing keeps happening on the way to the Republican nomination. Each successive frontrunner swoons in popularity as soon as the blogosphere, joined a little belatedly by the establishment media, subject him or her to more than superficial attention.

Herman Cain, the current favorite according to some polls, is now receiving that sort of scrutiny. His acolytes would have America embrace him as refreshing, unscripted, real, genuine – you know, pretty much everything Republican candidates never are – yet the longer he stands in the spotlight the more apparent it becomes that he’s a flibbertigibbet, politically naïve and uninformed on the issues, with a weakness for some of the worst ideas his party has ever proposed, which is to say some really, really, really bad ideas.

A very partial rundown follows of some of the most bare-assed preposterous things Herman Cain has said just in the past couple of weeks. My apologies in advance.

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain argued that racism is not a professional barrier for African-Americans on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday.

His answer came in response to a question in which host Candy Crowley suggested that Cain, who grew up poor and black, had been the benefit of some luck and was superimposing his success on his entire race.

“Luck is where preparation meets opportunity,” Cain responded. “I don’t believe racism in this country holds anybody back in a big way.”

Very inspirational, Mr. Cain. A lot of minority kids will be giddy to hear that the substandard educational “preparation” they’re receiving will actually equip them well for the dizzying amount of “opportunity” awaiting them in a world where (with “luck”) they’ll get to be governed by Republicans.

And unless he’s the one playing it, Cain decries what he calls the “race card” vehemently. Here’s Cain on October 3:

Speaking outside Trump Tower today, Herman Cain dismissed the idea that he was trying to paint Rick Perry as a racist by having called Perry “insensitive” yesterday when asked about the “[N-word]head” rock on property Perry had leased.

“All I said was the mere fact that that word was there was ‘insensitive.’” Cain responded. “That’s not playing the race card. I am not attacking Gov. Perry. Some people in the media want to attack him. I’m done with that issue!”

“I really don’t care about that word,” Cain added. “They painted over it. End of story! I accept Gov. Perry’s response on that.”

Actually, what Cain had described as “insensitive” was quite clear from his original statement of the day before, which the candidate had apparently forgotten:

“My reaction is, that’s just very insensitive,” Cain told Fox. “[There] isn’t a more vile, negative word than the N-word, and for him to leave it there as long as he did, before I hear that they finally painted over it, is just plain insensitive to a lot of black people in this country.”

Wow! Cain’s even quicker on a turnaround than George Bush the Lesser, who said in December of 2001:

We’re going to get [bin Laden]. Dead or alive, it doesn’t matter to me.

But by the following March was saying this:

Well, as I say, we haven’t heard much from him… again, I don’t know where he is. I – I’ll repeat what I said.  I truly am not that concerned about him.

But Herman Cain knows when to hold ‘em, and far be it from me to tell him when to fold ‘em:

Back in July, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain told Fox News that the “race card is now a joke, because a lot of American people have figured it out.” It’s a sentiment he’s repeated frequently, arguing that Democrats cry racism to paper over President Obama’s faults.

Yet Cain frequently invokes race on the campaign trail, far more often than Obama did during his first campaign for the White House.

Cain seems downright obsessed with cards of all sorts:

He contended that those protesting against banks were merely jealous of wealthy Americans, or those with financially lucrative jobs, and lambasted them for playing the “victim card.”

“Part of it is jealousy,” he said. “I stand by that. And here’s why I don’t have a lot of patience with that. My parents, they never played the victim card. My parents never said, ‘We hope that the rich people lose something so we can get something.’ No, my dad’s idea was, ‘I want to work hard enough so I can buy a Cadillac – not take somebody else’s.’

There’ll be time enough for counting when the dealing’s done, as it were. Cain has also been busy building bridges to the gay community:

“How can you say that being gay is a choice?” the question came in from Twitter on [Lawrence] O’Donnell’s show. “Did you choose to be straight?”

Cain had just come off a bruising discussion with O’Donnell about whether he sat out of the civil rights movement while in college. So Cain’s answer was brusque.

“There will always be a difference of opinion,” he said. “Like I told Joy Behar, she has her opinion, I have my opinion. It’s a difference of opinion. Next question, please.”

On the brighter side, at least Cain didn’t accuse the questioner of playing the gay card, though I’ll bet he wanted to.

It wasn’t all straw-man politics this week, however. Cain got to talk about serious “policy” proposals, like his so-called “9-9-9 Plan”:

… which would slash taxes on the wealthy, drive up deficits to the worst point since World War II, and force low-income Americans to pay a massive nine times their current tax rate. In an interview this morning with CNN’s Candy Crowley, Cain even said food and clothing would not be exempt from the 9 percent national sales tax he would put in place if elected president. Indeed, he said it would be “fair” for a poor person to pay as much in sales taxes as Crowley does…

Presently, the bottom quintile of earners pays about 2 percent of their income in federal taxes. Under Cain’s plan, their taxes would increase all the way up to 18 percent.

Taxing poor people’s food is considered so beyond the pale that even the Tea Party group FreedomWorks assumed that the final version of Cain’s tax plan would exempt food from the sales tax.”

Michele Bachmann, another former frontrunner desperately seeking to rekindle some sparks under her campaign, smote the “9-9-9 Plan” in Tuesday night’s GOP debate:

I would have to say the 9-9-9 plan isn’t a jobs plan, it is a tax plan…  And one thing I would say is, when you take the 9-9-9 plan and you turn it upside down, I think the devil’s in the details.

Get thee behind her, Herman Cain! Continue reading Take Five (Careful What You Wish For edition)

Take Five (Borrow and Spend edition)

ONE: Debt ceiling cat iz watching u hyperventilate.

Frontrunning GOP presidential wannabe Michele Bachmann began tossing fistfuls of raw meat to her Teabagger fans this week in the aftermath of the debt ceiling agreement. Despite her enthusiasm for government spending back when George Bush was squatting in the Oval Office, Bachmann has decided that spending while black is a no-no.

The Bachmann campaign site is filled with her righteous thunder at that darned old Barack Obama. Hear her roar:

“Mr. President, the real losers in the budget deal were the American people who will continue to be subjected to your failed economic policies. The President got what he wanted — a blank check, debt ceiling increase of at least $2.1 trillion to continue his wasteful spending next year… We needed real cuts and a fundamental restructuring in the way Washington spends taxpayer dollars to solve the spending crisis we are in…

Mr. President, it’s time for you to take responsibility for this failed economy and stop blaming the American people, earthquakes, the previous administration and the wind. It’s time to stop the ‘hot air’ in Washington and let the winds of true change, economic growth and job creation spurred by the private market sweep through this country.”

Wow, Bachmann sure sounds unhappy, and she has lots of company. Today alone, I’ve read these comments about the President in the context of the debt ceiling brouhaha, all taken verbatim from three heavily-trafficked “progressive” websites: “impotent,” “useless and clueless,” “intentionally screwing us,” “not on our team,” “shill for the plutocracy,” “grifter,” “inept,” “treasonous,” “a fucking moron,” “motherfucker,” “the enemy,” “betraying progressive ideals,” “colluding with the right from the beginning,” “Republican,” “closet Republican,” “weak and not terribly capable,” “a conservative,” “going for the 2012 Republican nomination,” “lying,” “disgusting,” “evil,” “sinister,” “doing more harm to all things liberal than any Republican ever could,” “worse than having a Republican in charge,” “massively destructive,” “consistent­ly and actively sought to undermine every progressiv­e interest,” “never practiced anything but lying, secret dealmaking­, capitulati­ng and selling out his supporters,” “a horrible president,” “clearly isn’t bright,” “beyond disappointing,” “spineless,” “one lousy leader,” “a mole in the ranks of true progressiv­es.”

Golly. If only the President had ignored his own legal advisers and implausibly invoked the 14th Amendment, then had to defend himself against impeachment proceedings even as the nation defaulted on its debt and dragged the world into a depression, while both Michele Bachmann and the puerile yacktivists quoted above raised their voices in unison huzzahs, well, what a wonderful world it would be, huh? Way to go, President Buzzkill… Continue reading Take Five (Borrow and Spend edition)