Take Five (States’ Blights edition)

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Take-FiveONE: The Classless of 2010

When this column was launched in December 2010, many now-notorious Republican governors weren’t even sworn in, but within months of taking their oaths of office they began appearing regularly here, lewd exemplars of the very worst of what their party breezily describes as “ideas.” Soon, maddeningly, it seemed as though they’d been around forever, like syphilis or Larry King.

The big story in American politics post-Dubya is not about President Obama or about Washington’s tawdry doings and even tawdrier non-doings; it’s about what’s happening in the 30 governors’ mansions currently occupied by Republicans and in the legislatures where their conservative running dogs frantically attempt to dismantle half a century of hard-won progress.

Republicans in DC have one arrow in their quiver – stubborn obstructionism – but their state-level colleagues have two: not only do they stall and subvert any and all efforts by Democrats to do much of anything, they actually manage to enshrine their own wretched ideas into law. Bad law. The freshman Republican governors of the “classless of 2010” – along with their elder GOP peers – have had a larger impact on people’s lives than this or any President could ever hope to have, and that impact has been dire. At the state level, the Republican Party’s War on Damn Near Everyone has inflicted heavy casualties.

This year and next, 38 states will hold elections for governor, and the results will be every bit as important as the results of the 2014 House and Senate elections. Women’s rights, workers’ rights, voting rights, gay rights, all rights remain at risk as long as Republicans are allowed to control anything.

TWO: Rick-Rolled

Either Rick Perry has finally run out of ideas for screwing over Texas or he’s just setting his sights on screwing over something even bigger, like the entire country. Perry announced recently that he won’t seek another gubernatorial term, but there’s lots of in-progress screwing over to complete before he saddles up, rides off into the sunset, and leaves the whole shambling mess to his unfortunate successor.

Perry’s announcement was originally scheduled to be made in June but was delayed due to some of that aforementioned screwing over, in this case involving draconian restrictions on reproductive rights for women. Consistent with most legislation passed during Perry’s tenure, some of the ramifications of the bill can scarcely be guessed at now and the extent of the damage to the body politic can’t be fully assessed until the legislation has metastasized, but metastasize it surely will.

After state Senator Wendy Davis successfully filibustered SB 5, ol’ Rick just went right ahead and convened his darn self a special session of the Legislature and got the bill passed. He explained his determination simply, confirming yet again that the words “Rick Perry” and “simple” have an almost magnetic mutual attraction:

“Texas is a place where we defend life.”

The 261 folks executed on Perry’s watch might take umbrage at the statement, but them’s the breaks if you insist on being an evil-doer in a Rick-rolled state. Of course, restricting women’s rights isn’t the only thing the lame duck governor has on the docket. Almost immediately after the Supreme Court’s transparently political body blow to the Voting Rights Act, the Perry regime took pains to crow – uh, announce that it will enforce photo ID provisions, provisions previously halted by a federal court as discriminatory against minority voters.

In a line from his retirement announcement aimed at friends and supporters, Perry said:

In our time together, we have made the most of this unique opportunity to shape the future of Texas.

That they have, it’s true. And despite the relief millions of Texans will feel on seeing the east end of a westbound Rick Perry, they still have 18 more months to wait, heartsick, while he and his cronies continue to make the most of this unique opportunity. At which point those Texans will have a chance to start repairing the damage by electing a Democrat to replace him, and giving that Democrat a Legislature dominated by Democrats. Implausible? Maybe, but George Bush the Lesser being succeeded in Austin by someone even worse seemed implausible too, 12 years ago.

For a superb, though far from comprehensive, roundup of the damage Perry had done to Texas and Texans, go here.

THREE: Three of a Kind

Perry isn’t the only far-right gubernatorial goober to institutionalize rolling back women’s rights. In fact, the practice is spreading across state lines faster than this summer’s wildfires.

The execrable Scott Walker signed a bill recently that prevents a doctor from performing abortions unless said doctor has admitting privileges at a “local” hospital, and mandates – another Republican fave rave – that women seeking an abortion undergo the scarlet-letter indignity of a medically unnecessary ultrasound. Lawsuits filed by two Wisconsin abortion providers are pending. Continue reading Take Five (States’ Blights edition)

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Sunday Talks, 10/28/12

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On ABC’s “This Week,” Stephanie Cutter and Newt Gingrich will discuss the current state of the race as well as ABC’s newest polling numbers. The roundtable will include ABC News’ George Will, PBS’ “Washington Week” moderator . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, 10/28/12

Sunday Talks, 6/3/12

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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 . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, 6/3/12

Sunday Talks, 3/8/12

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It’s the Easter Sunday edition of Sunday Talks. I wonder who’s going to lay an egg.

ABC has a special Easter Sunday edition of “This Week,” featuring evangelical pastor Rick Warren, founder of the Saddleback Church . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, 3/8/12

Take Five (If Pizzas Were Horses edition)

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ONE: Someday his prince will come…

Having taken some time off after a painful cycling accident, I return, Van Winkley, to a dramatically changed world. Mere weeks from the beginning of primary season, the cloddish Newt Gingrich seems poised to lead the Republican field, while Herman Cain’s stock drops a little further every time he opens his mouth, and even further every time a woman does.

Cain’s alleged 13-year extramarital affair with Ginger White seems at last to have turned off one of his most ardent sycophants, Erick Erickson, who posted this at RedState on Tuesday:

This time, to his credit, Herman Cain told Wolf Blitzer he would wait until the story ran and all the facts were out there. It was a wise thing to do. But while Herman was on CNN saying that, his attorney issued his statement that all but admitted there’s a there there.

Herman Cain believed he could be President of the United States. For a time, I believed Herman Cain could be President of the United States. But I don’t know that much of Herman’s staff ever really thought he could. Too many never seemed in it to win it. They seemed in it to make some money off Herman’s run and a name for themselves. Well, they’ve sure made a name for themselves — “incompetent.”

Erickson’s bitterly elegiac tone stands in sad (and by “sad” I mean deep-down funny) contrast to his mash note – uh, I mean column, of November 10:

I still believe you can win the Republican nomination.

I still believe you can beat Barack Obama.

I still believe you can be one of the most inspiring Presidents since Ronald Reagan.

The Herman Cain I know would not and could not do what you are accused of.

Poor Erick might want to persuade the Herman Cain he knows to pursue the nomination, then, since the Herman Cain who is actually running appears to have a proclivity for sexual harassment, sexual assault, and adultery. In what passes for Erickson’s mind, though, the problem is somehow Cain’s staff. Actually, that’s not entirely surprising spin, since Erickson openly admits that he’s beholden to Cain:

I owe you a good bit of my present career in radio. You leaving opened the door for me.

Gee, Erick, when Cain slams the door on his candidacy, maybe you can take over his campaign! After all, you’re no more ignorant, unqualified and clueless than the rest of the field. Well, not much, anyway. But of course, you’re already a very busy guy. Your Cain-sparked career in radio, your irksome gig on CNN, and your roach-infested website all indicate that maybe the world I returned to this week is exactly the same one I left, absurd, inexplicable, unjust, random, outrageous, and endlessly entertaining.

TWO: Hermaneutics

Snark (mostly) aside, I share Erickson’s glumness about Cain’s fading fortunes. While his opponents offer all kinds of goofball quotes, cheeseball pandering and slimeball behavior of their own, nobody puts it all together and brings it like Herman Cain. Here’s a little tapas selection for you:

Chewing the fat with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Asked if he agrees with the president on Libya, Cain looks up and says, “OK, Libya.” He then pauses for a moment.

“President Obama supported the uprising, correct?” he asks, speaking carefully. “President Obama called for the removal of Qaddafi – just want to make sure we’re talking about the same thing before I say yes I agree, or no I didn’t agree. I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reason – nope, that’s a different one.”

Cain then pauses for about five seconds.

“I gotta go back and see – um, I got all this stuff twirling around in my head,” he says. “Specifically, what are you asking me. Did I agree or not disagree with Obama?”

Chewing the pizza with GQ:

Chris Heath: What can you tell about a man by the type of pizza that he likes?

Herman Cain: [repeats the question aloud, then pauses for a long moment] The more toppings a man has on his pizza, I believe the more manly he is.

Chris Heath: Why is that?

Herman Cain: Because the more manly man is not afraid of abundance. [laughs]

Devin Gordon: Is that purely a meat question?

Herman Cain: A manly man don’t want it piled high with vegetables! He would call that a sissy pizza.

Chewing the croqueta in Miami:

During a stop at the famous Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana, Cain drank a coffee and ate some croquetas.

“How do you say ‘delicious’ in Cuban?” he asked.

While he waited in vain for a Cuban-speaking person to enlighten him, he discussed the shocking way he’s treated:

“I’m often criticized … criticized about the fact that I don’t know this and I don’t know that, and I don’t know that and I don’t know this,” he told the crowd.

Chewing Henry Kissinger’s war criminal ass:

Accomplished and controversial former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is known as a practitioner of realpolitik, but GOP contender Herman Cain says his offer to give him his old job back was a nothing more than a real joke.

“Dr. Kissinger turned my offer down to be [S]ecretary of [S]tate…”

When asked by reporters later Tuesday if he had really offered Kissinger a job, Cain denied it and said he was only kidding.”

Oh, and Cain’s campaign manager, Mark “Butt Man” Block enjoyed that confab too:

After the Kissinger meeting, Cain’s campaign manager Mark Block told the National Review that Kissinger complimented a web video in which Block is seen smoking a cigarette. The ad became a viral internet sensation.

“Halfway through Mr. Cain’s conversation, Doctor Kissinger turns and points to me and says, ‘That smoking thing you did was brilliant.’ I sat there thinking, Dr. Henry Kissinger just said something I did was brilliant,” Block said. “We all got a good chuckle.”

And despite my bruised ribs, I got a good chuckle myself when I ran across this item:

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is now being protected by the U.S. Secret Service…

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, in consultations with congressional leaders, authorized Secret Service protection for Cain at the request of his campaign, the agency’s spokesman Ed Donovan said…

The Washington Post quoted Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon as saying the protection was requested after the newspaper’s report Thursday detailing physical skirmishes involving journalists covering the campaign…

Cain is the first Republican in the 2012 presidential race to receive Secret Service protection.

Just how the Secret Service goes about protecting a candidate from his own mouth, I do not know, but of course they’re called “secret” for a reason. Continue reading Take Five (If Pizzas Were Horses edition)

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Sunday Talks, July 17, 2011

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President Barack Obama’s budget director, Jack Lew, makes the rounds on this Sunday’s television talk shows, as the administration and congressional leaders continue to struggle to forge a deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, July 17, 2011