Have Republicans forgotten they were elected to govern? Not when it comes to money and power. Money, especially. It’s being used in South Carolina to raise support for Lindsay Graham, up for reelection next year, by touting an immigration solution that matches his work with the Senate bill introduced by the Gang of Eight. Now in committee, the bill is the object of scorn by Alabama’s Jeff Sessions. But Graham says he, “believes in it with all his heart.”
The same 501(c)(4) money supporting Graham opposes Vincent Sheheen, a Democratic candidate for governor, a moderate from an established political family, the kind of Democrat that once won easily in South Carolina, as Bill Clinton once did in Arkansas. A 30-second commercial opposes Sheheen by saying he wants South Carolina to be the only Southern state to accept Obamacare. The spot openly touts the region’s solidarity with regression.
Win or lose, Republicans have put buzz words in place. Now at the state level, voters hear the bell and respond. This is one reason why Republicans repeatedly raise Benghazi. It’s not only to tie Hillary Clinton to the incident, but to pound into it a connotation of failure, weaknesses and cowardice. Hence the angry testimony of State Department officers in a recent hearing which added nothing to what was known except more reports and confessions of anger.
The white men expressed their anger at being told troops would add to the confusion, especially when conditions were not clearly understood. The Republican purpose is to add anger and fear—to turn Benghazi into a brand like Obamacare. All one need do is hear the word, and a parade of negatives immediately comes to mind for the uninformed majority.
If Benghazi is in, military sexual assault is out. Silence reigns about a problem so severe that both males and females in a US uniform are more likely to be sexually assaulted than killed in combat. The Republican concern for mission-readiness and discipline so displayed when gays were allowed to serve openly does not extend to violence and force within inter-gender (and intra-gender) relationships.
Any civilian organization facing year-on-year statistics for sexual assaults at the level of the military would be gravely criticized and shut down. Yet the focus of Congressional national security is on e-mails about Benghazi talking points, while the rampant, growing, out-of-control epidemic of military sexual assaults undermines military working order—widespread reports cite the difficulties of working with your rapist—and puts the nation’s security at risk. And brings home a lot of hurt.
Last year, 26,000 assaults were committed, by the military’s own score. The Air Force Chief of Staff discussed it in a Senate subcommittee hearing as the result of a “hook-up” culture. Yet the Air Force’s officer in charge of the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention was charged two weeks ago with groping an unknown woman in a Virginia parking lot, and was arrested by civilian authorities. Yesterday, the Army reported the arrest of an officer at Fort Hood, a Texas base, who was the Sexual Assault Prevention Office Coordinator. He is being held on multiple charges of abusive sexual misconduct.
Outrage? The tempest over revised talking points and e-mails also ignores three of the most important global developments in recent weeks: the factory fire in Bangladesh that left more than 1,100 workers dead, calling into question issues of global working conditions and safety; the massacres in Northern Nigerian villages by the Nigerian army; and the conviction of Guatemala’s former president and military dictator, 86-year-old Efrain Rios Montt on charges of genocide. Continue reading Hooking Up the Wrong Way
After the President rolled out a 244-page budget last week that I’m told consists solely of the words “chained CPI,” I doubt the coming week will offer up comparable oddities, but I’ve been wrong before.
At least a little oddly, it seems the Senate might produce some bipartisan gun legislation yet. Illinois’ Mark Kirk and Maine’s Susan Collins have signaled support for the Toomey/Manchin compromise bill expanding background checks to internet and gun show purchases, albeit with a “personal transfer” exemption that rolls out a plush red carpet for the tragic headlines of tomorrow. Debate on the bill will move ahead after a filibuster was averted by a 68-31 vote on Thursday. While this all sounds encouraging, any Senate gun bill will likely be shot dead by the House.
The full Senate might also be presented with a proposal that would provide a defined path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who entered the United States on or before December 31, 2011 (and renewed fear of deportation for those who arrived a day or more later). A new guest worker program for farm workers has reportedly attained bipartisan consensus in the eight-senator group trying to hammer out a comprehensive immigration bill. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 4/15/13
Last month, I visited the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock. It was my second visit since its opening in 2004 so it was nice to see it again, this time with completed grounds and the nearby Heifer International headquarters. It’s worth a visit if you haven’t been.
While walking through the exhibits, I thought back to Obama’s comments during the ’08 primary about the need for a more transformative presidency. He argued the Democratic party needs a President like Reagan, who changed the trajectory of American politics, as opposed to someone like Bill Clinton, who did not.
Some liberal blogs and Hillary Clinton’s campaign tried to gin up outrage by accusing Obama of praising Reagan’s conservative agenda. But, when touring the Clinton Library, it’s easy to see what Obama really meant.
Most of the accomplishments Bill Clinton brags about were undone within a year of George W. Bush taking office.
The Clinton budget surplus became Bush’s record deficits. Responsible fiscal and tax policies that were more fair to the middle-class were scrapped for Paris Hilton tax cuts and government run on credit card debt. Strong job growth gave way to the Bush recession. His reduction in the crime rate ended as soon as the next recession hit. A time of relative peace and good relations with most of the world was squandered by Bush’s war of aggression that made the United States more hated than it has ever been.
In contrast, the damaging aspects of the Clinton presidency are more enduring. Trade agreements destroyed the American manufacturing sector. Clinton’s lending and financial deregulation, done near the end of his presidency, contributed to the housing mortgage collapse. Deregulation left the media in the hands of a few mega-corporations, limiting the diversity of viewpoints in news and homogenizing American culture. All of these were touted as accomplishments in the Clinton Library.
Plus, one can’t ignore Clinton’s adoption of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the Defense of Marriage Act, his failure to take meaningful action on climate change, and his lack of effort in pushing for universal health care after the ’93 failure. The truth is that Obama isn’t just cleaning up Bush’s mess. He’s also fixing the damage done by Clinton.
If Obama’s first-term accomplishments are defended against future efforts to dismantle them, they will profoundly change America. Consider:
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Reducing dependence on oil
- Saved the US auto industry from collapse and pushed them to modernize their gas-guzzling fleet
- Most significant re-regulation of Wall Street, lending, and credit cards since the New Deal
- Largest investment in clean energy and efficiency projects in American history
- Ended a war, began deescalation of another, and reduced the world’s nuclear weapons stockpile
- Taking student loans back from the banks
- Half a dozen EPA rule changes that will reduce pollution from coal
These are accomplishments progressives spent years fighting for; that previous Presidents have attempted and failed to achieve. The impact of these actions will be felt decades from now. If Obama goes on to effectively deal with climate change, he can easily be listed among the most effective Presidents in American history.
The difference can also be seen in how Obama advocates for progressive ideals. Obama often pushes progressive proposals in language that appeals to moderates. The fact that he’s still advancing progressive ideals is sometimes lost on the netroots, who would rather be pandered to with fiery Kucinich-style speeches. Continue reading Clinton Presidential Library provides contrast to Obama’s transformative presidency
ONE: Suppose They Gave a Primary and Nobody Came
A funny thing happened on the way to March 6. That’s the date on which Virginians will cast their vote in the state’s Republican primary, and the funny thing is that Newt Gingrich, a Virginia resident who has recently been at or near the top in virtually all GOP polling, couldn’t come up with the signatures needed to get on the ballot. Just to add to the fun, neither could Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann.
Instead, Virginia primary voters will have to choose between the only two candidates running campaigns savvy and organized enough to have qualified: Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. Their rivals simply couldn’t meet the state’s dauntingly stringent qualifying requirements, which include finding 10,000(!) Virginians conservative enough to sign a Republican nominating petition, with a minimum of 400(!) signatures gathered from each(!) of the state’s Congressional districts, a Sisyphean task made even harder by the shocking stipulation that those gathering signatures in the state must be qualified Virginia voters(!), just like Virginia resident Newt Gingrich.
The Perry team supposedly submitted almost 12,000 signatures by the filing deadline, while the Gingrich campaign claimed 11,050, but sufficient signatures were found to be invalid to sink both bids.
Gingrich, that longtime veteran of the Party of Personal Responsibility, immediately started pointing his surrogate’s finger at others. In a Facebook post which will live in infamy, campaign director Michael Krull stated:
“Newt and I agreed that the analogy is December 1941. We have experienced an unexpected set-back, but we will re-group and re-focus with increased determination, commitment and positive action. Throughout the next months there will be ups and downs; there will be successes and failures; there will be easy victories and difficult days – but in the end we will stand victorious.”
Hmm. Stirring stuff. Krull tersely noted that the campaign is “exploring alternate methods to compete in Virginia – stay tuned.” Actually, one such alternate method was invoked to no avail in a statement last weekend:
Krull said Gingrich… will pursue “an aggressive write-in campaign” to appear on the ballot.
The only problem with that being that write-ins are prohibited on Virginia primary ballots, something that Newt Gingrich (who – it bears repeating – is a Virginia resident) might have known if only he’d ever paid any attention to something other than himself.
But Krull’s larger point remained: Newt is not to blame! It’s society’s fault, man:
“Only a failed system excludes four out of the six major candidates seeking access to the ballot. Voters deserve the right to vote for any top contender, especially leading candidates.”
By yesterday, Newt must have realized the “failed system” gambit wasn’t working, so he abruptly switched scapegoats:
… the former House speaker said the “mistake” occurred because one of their workers committed fraud.
“We hired somebody who turned in false signatures. We turned in 11,100 – we needed 10,000 – 1,500 of them were by one guy who frankly committed fraud.”
At this rate, a few more days and he’ll be claiming to have uncovered evidence of an ACORN connection.
Mitt Romney hurried to ridicule his opponent:
“I think he compared that to Pearl Harbor,” Romney said of the Gingrich campaign’s failure to get on the Virginia ballot, which the former speaker’s adviser called a “set-back.”
“I think it’s more like Lucille Ball at the chocolate factory,” Romney said. “You’ve got to get it organized.”
Well, that’s clever enough, though as one CNN reader commented: “Nothing says relevance like references to a black & white, long off-the-air sitcom.” We’ll just leave Mitt to his cynicism. Krull has already reassured Gingrich’s Facebook followers that the campaign “will continue to learn and grow,” and I for one can’t wait. It’s over two months away, but next year’s Super Tuesday is already shaping up to be the most super ever!
TWO: A Candidate Named Sue
Unlike Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry’s not the sort of petulant guy who would throw an adolescent fit about not making the Virginia ballot. He’s the sort of petulant guy who would file a lawsuit over it:
“Gov. Perry greatly respects the citizens and history of the Commonwealth of Virginia and believes Virginia Republicans should have greater access to vote for one of the several candidates for President of the United States,” Perry campaign spokesperson Ray Sullivan said in a statement.
The suit challenges “the constitutional validity of the Virginia statute which regulates access to the ballot by presidential candidates and limits the rights of voters to vote for the candidate of their choice,” the campaign said.
Perry’s filing (PDF available here) claims:
20. Virginia’s requirement for petition circulators to be either eligible or registered qualified voters in the state imposes a severe burden on Plaintiffs’ [sic] freedoms of speech and association because it substantially limits the number of eligible petition circulators.
21. Virginia’s requirement for petition circulators to be either eligible or registered qualified voters in the state is a severe burden on Plaintiff’s freedoms of speech and association because it prohibits an otherwise qualified candidate for the Office of the President of the United States from circulating his own candidate petitions.
22. Virginia’s requirement for petition circulators to be either eligible or registered qualified voters in the state prohibited Plaintiff from recruiting petition circulators who live outside the Commonwealth of Virginia to circulate petitions on his behalf.
Amusingly, Exhibit F to the filing is a web page printout from foxnews.com featuring an AP report about Perry failing to make the ballot.
Now, I’m not one of those activist judges Perry’s always railing about except when he wants one to find in his favor. In fact, I’m not a judge at all, but if I were, my rulings with regard to the above would be pretty much as follows:
20. Virginia’s requirement for petition circulators to be either eligible or registered qualified voters in the state limits the number of eligible petition circulators to a maximum of roughly 5,000,000 people, based on available tallies by the Virginia State Board of Elections in 2008 and excluding several years of population growth, thereby imposing no demonstrable burden on the Plaintiff.
21. The inability of the Plaintiff to find a sufficient number of petition circulators from a pool of roughly 5,000,000 people suggests that a significant number of Virginians might dispute the Plaintiff’s claim to be a “qualified candidate for the Office of the President of the United States.”
22. It is undeniable that Virginia’s requirement for petition circulators to be either eligible or registered qualified voters in the state prohibited the Plaintiff from recruiting petition circulators who live outside the Commonwealth of Virginia to circulate petitions on his behalf, but the Court is frankly baffled by the Plaintiff’s willingness to believe that people from other states like him any better than Virginians do.
In layman’s terms, suck it up, Rick. Case dismissed.
THREE: Pop Charts
Gallup released its annual year-end “Most Admired” lists on Tuesday. Hillary Rodham Clinton tops the list of most admired women for the 10th consecutive year, earning a nod from 17% of survey respondents, while Barack Hussein Obama, also at 17%, is first on the men’s list for the fourth consecutive year.
The President had no meaningful competition for top slot; placing a very distant second on the men’s list, at 3%, was George W. Bush, which I interpret to signify that respondents were nearly six times more likely to admire someone who cleans up messes than someone who makes them.
Sharing 2% were Billy Graham, Bill Clinton and Warren Buffett. Steerage on this little ego voyage was occupied by Donald Trump, Bill Gates, Pope Benedict and Newt Gingrich with 1% each, along with President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Thomas Monson, a ranking not approached by the two Mormon presidential hopefuls.
Oprah Winfrey placed second to Secretary Clinton at 7%, with the First Lady a couple of points back at 5%. From there, the women’s list meanders down into murkier territory, with the bottom five names on the list each at 2%. These last include Queen Elizabeth, Margaret Thatcher, Ellen DeGeneres, Laura Bush and none other than Michele Bachmann, who makes the list for the first time, proving perhaps that if you’re in the news sometimes, by gosh, someone’s going to admire you. Continue reading Take Five (Yes, Virginia edition)
The death of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi and the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq by year’s end are the pressing issues on this Sunday’s television talk shows.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appears on . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, 10/23/11
ONE: And arrest his ass if he dares to campaign in Maricopa County!
On a hunch, I just did a Google search using the words “sheriff idiot” and six of the first 10 results referenced Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the shame of Arizona’s Maricopa County. In fairness, one of the six used the word “idiot” only to describe some protestors that Arpaio squared off against last year, and in another hit, idiot status was actually being conferred on Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of Pima County, though Arpaio was heavily featured in the article.
Still, my little search is a testament to just how famously objectionable and objectionably famous Arpaio is. “America’s toughest sheriff” (as he likes to describe himself) has been offending people for nigh on 20 years now, but according to fellow idiot Jerome Corsi of WorldNutDaily, he’s just found a way to raise his game to a whole new level:
… Sheriff Joe Arpaio told WND he has assigned a five-member “Cold Case Posse” to investigate the authenticity of Barack Obama’s birth certificate…
“This investigation does not involve politics,” Arpaio told WND. “I listen to all the residents of Maricopa County who come to my office with complaints, regardless what their politics are.”
Yes, you read that right. A county sheriff in Arizona has assembled a team to sniff President Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate. I guess the oddest thing about this is that it doesn’t seem odd at all these days. Since the right wing has devolved so far down the food chain that it now ranks below plankton, this seemed almost inevitable.
… Arpaio is responding to a complaint brought to his office by representatives of the Surprise Tea Party in Surprise, Ariz., who have expressed in writing their concerns that the voting rights of Maricopa County residents in the 2012 presidential election could be compromised if Obama were to use a forged birth certificate to establish his eligibility under Article 1, Section 2, of the Constitution.
I surely do wish Sheriff Joe had been on this illegitimate president thing 11 years ago, but at least he’s on it now. His crack(ed) team consists of – whoa, not so fast, bub! Their names are secret:
The identities of the five individuals assigned to the Cold Case Posse investigation of the Obama birth certificate are being withheld from the public, in order to protect the individuals involved from both public reaction and from questions that are certain to arise from the media.
Well, whoever the hell they are, Corsi reports that the team consists of:
… volunteers with professional experience in conducting investigations, including individuals chosen because of their professional backgrounds in law enforcement, as well as lawyers who have participated in criminal or civil cases and individuals with specialized skills in fields ranging from accounting to conducting criminal forensic examinations.
Godspeed you, then, anonymous sleuths! You follow in the shambling, frustrated footsteps of intellectual titans like Donald Trump and Orly Taitz, and you are the last faint hope for all those who like their presidents 100% white.
Oh, and because this operation has 501(c)3 credentials, you can actually donate to the effort, dear reader! Corsi helpfully provides a mailing address for just that purpose. Or you could just take that money, shred it, burn the shreds, collect the ashes, put them in an urn, shove the urn off a cliff, sweep up the ashen shards, drop them down a mineshaft, seal the shaft with cement, then take the shuttle and nuke the whole thing from space. Your choice. Continue reading Take Five (True Lies edition)
ONE: Breaking: Democrat-turned-Republican Changes Position!
Rick Perry fun fact: Perry entered politics as a Democrat, and retained that party affiliation for about five years while serving as an elected Democrat in the Texas House of Representatives. A year after he chaired the Gore campaign in Texas, he became a Republican. He doesn’t much talk about this anymore, of course, since his own private “fierce urgency of now” entails hoodwinking right-wing voters into believing that he emerged from the womb a full-fledged, fire-breathing Republican, ready to take on that socialist squatter in the White House.
Former Democrat Perry demonstrated his ideological malleability most recently on the subject of marriage. His public stance on the issue was nationally articulated in July of this year at a conclave of Republican governors, prompted by a question about New York’s landmark recognition of marriage equality:
“You know what? That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business if you live in some other state or particularly if you’re the federal government.”
That’s a position not wholly dissimilar to that of President Obama, a position that punts – conveniently – the issue of marriage equality back to the states, and while I disagree with it, Candidate Perry’s newest position on the issue is more objectionable by several orders of magnitude. Asked by the AP whether he would support a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, the former Democrat replied:
“I am for the federal marriage amendment. And that’s about as sharp a point as I could put on it.”
Well, apparently not quite as sharp, since Perry subsequently pandered just a smidge more and signed the “Marriage Pledge” put forward by the National Organization for Marriage, whose recent villainy has been commented on before here and here.
Seemingly unaware that his talking out of both sides of his mouth is an ongoing matter of record, the former Democrat recently took dead aim at his critics:
“With all due respect to anybody that’s out there either directly or indirectly criticizing me because I speak plainly, I call it like I see it,” Perry said on the Laura Ingraham radio show.
To my mind, it seems that the way the former Democrat “sees it” is remarkably mercurial, but – unlike, say, former Democrat Rick Perry, for example – I’m still a Democrat, so what the hell do I know? With all due respect to former Democrat Rick Perry, who chaired the Gore campaign in Texas, I think I’m seeing a campaign theme beginning to emerge here, and not one for the Republicans: Vote for former Democrat Rick Perry! You’ll always know where he stands, right up until he decides he wants to go and stand somewhere else.
TWO: Look Out, Pauly Shore
Erstwhile Republican frontrunner Michele Bachmann spent four days in Florida at the end of August, with a portion of the junket devoted to prying her foot out of her mouth. It started with these comments:
“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”
Nothing really out of character for Michele Bachmann, of course; poorly reasoned, disjointedly argued, theologically inept, politically dumb… the usual. But when the comments went viral, the candidate was forced to go on defense:
“Of course I was being humorous when I said that. It would be absurd to think it was anything else,” Bachmann said… on a campaign stop in Miami.
“I am a person who loves humor, I have a great sense of humor,” she said.
Yeah, just great, because after all, what’s funnier than a storm that killed 24 people and caused the worst flooding Vermont has suffered in 80 years, and a quake that damaged the National Cathedral and the Washington Monument? Comedy gold, right?
Why, it’s almost as funny as the recent CNN poll that showed Bachmann has fallen to fourth place, tied with the ever-hilarious Rudy Giuliani. Or the Washington Post-ABC News poll that places her fifth, two notches below shambolic non-candidate Sarah Palin. Continue reading Take Five (On Second Thought edition)
Clinton isn’t the only one who could replace Obama (don’t get excited Joe Biden, it’s not you). There is Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, who could appeal to moderates; Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, who would appeal . . . → Read More: TSW #20