Stormy Monday, 7/7/14

StormyMondayThe Republican National Committee unveiled a new fundraising gimmick over the weekend, and this week’s sales figures might provide a handy gauge for just how far gone Republicans currently are. The RNC will reward a $27 donation with a t-shirt bearing the slogan “I MISS W.” The GOP somehow being unaware of that whole universally known red versus blue symbolism thingie, you can have any color you want as long as it’s blue. Though I wonder if a rejected alternate slogan was “I’M STILL WITH STUPID,” I suppose “I MISS W” is close enough. It’ll be an effective way to telegraph to people that they should cross the street if they see you coming, but I’ll bet the RNC could raise way more money by modifying the slogan to “I MISSED W” and adding an image of a shoe to the design. Or a pretzel.

Afghanistan’s election commission, prudently, has not announced preliminary results from the controversial mid-June presidential runoff, but might this week. Meanwhile, Senator Carl Levin, visiting Kabul, and US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham have joined other US officials (like the lamentably ubiquitous Lindsey Graham and John McCain) in calling for an audit of the ballots. In retrospect, our clumsy attempt to bring democracy to Afghanistan should at least have omitted hanging chads.

With all the travails they’ve endured daily for many years now, at least the people of Afghanistan won’t be deprived of, um, Facebook via government decree, as was initially mooted. Hooray. I guess.

Our other nation-gelding – uh, building enterprise in Iraq has to be going better, though, no? In fact, no. 30,000 Saudi troops are amassed at the border between the countries, and the insurgents – ISIS, IS, or whatever they’re calling themselves this week – control some cities large enough that Fox News cheered when troops from the “Coalition of the Willing” took them 11 years ago. Will Iraq’s civil war become a regional war this week? Could be. It’s hard to understand why anyone has to “MISS W,” when in some respects it’s like he never left. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 7/7/14

Take Five (Hot Mess in the Summertime edition)

Take-FiveONE: Happiness Is a Warm Diorama

Last Friday, the NRA opened its “National Sporting Arms Museum” in Bass Pro Shops’ mammoth flagship store in Springfield, Missouri. Bass Pro founder Johnny Morris was so taken with the NRA’s National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia that he generously underwrote the new museum, where visitors will have an opportunity to drool over almost 1,000 guns, some of them historic, plus “detailed dioramas and displays.”

Guns & Ammo sent author and gun enthusiast SP Fjestad in for a preview. He was not disappointed:

The firearms displays are grouped within time periods, with some of the best dioramas I’ve ever seen placed in between them. These included a buffalo hunter, a 1950s hunting cabin, Lewis & Clark, Native American hunter, and modern-day father and daughter decked out in camo.

Yes, that does sound special, and worth every penny of the free admission. The new collection complements the Virginia museum‘s 1,700 guns and “state-of-the-art” firing range boasting “touch-screen target retrieval.” Impressive as all that is, I can’t help but think the NRA needs to let its corporate imagination run just a little wilder.

The full text of every piece of gun control legislation the organization has helped to defeat over the years might make a nifty exhibit, although it would take a hellaciously long time to read them all. What about a Gallery of Preschool Firearms Victims, or a Worst Gun Massacres Hall of Fame? Hey, Charlton Heston’s cold, dead hands could certainly pack in the crowds, especially if they were holding something sleek and high-caliber. Personally, I’d love to see an interactive, animatronic Wayne LaPierre that turns bright red and spews spittle at the utterance of certain, uh, trigger words, like “regulation” or “background check” or “civilized society.” Then again, the real Wayne LaPierre could do that even better, and he’s already on the payroll.

TWO: The Fun Also Rises

Used to be that when I heard the words “bull run” the first thing I thought of was Manassas, but that may change if entrepreneur Rob Dickens’ new brainstorm, The Great Bull Run, is successful. Its website describes it as an “adrenaline-filled experience” you can “[cross] off your bucket list without breaking the bank.” It kicks off in Petersburg, Virginia on August 24, with stops in Georgia and Texas scheduled for later in the year. Florida, California, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Illinois will be added to the roster in 2014.

The website generously credits Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls as inspiration, but notes that the American version has “significantly more safety protections” and its bulls “aren’t killed after the event or otherwise abused in order to make them run.” And those aren’t the only differences. I have no idea what extras, if any, Pamplona features in its Eurotrashy, old-fashioned event, but Dickens and Co. are offering up a little something they call Tomato Royale, inspired by yet another Spanish tradition, La Tomatina Buñol. Pamplonians (Pamplonites? Pamplemousses?) can read it and weep:

Tomato Royale is an insane tomato food fight that happens three times a day at each event. When the music starts, participants sprint to crates of tomatoes stationed around the arena and the free-for-all begins! Hurl tomatoes at your family, friends and fellow participants without guilt, inhibition or remorse!

Each bull run ticket also includes entry to Tomato Royale, but non-runners can join in the fun, too.

Having done it more than once as a farmhand, I have no desire to try and outrun half a ton of annoyed male bovine again, but the idea of throwing tomatoes at total strangers, especially Republicans, sounds pretty groovy. Prices at various venues range between $35 and $65 for the run, which also gets you into Tomato Royale and entitles you to a free t-shirt and a free beer. Yep. Free t-shirts and beer. Sucks to be you, Pamplona.

THREE: Pity Party

Much was made of the Republican Party’s attempts, post-election, to strategize its way out of its current doldrums, to broaden its appeal, to become – however improbably – the Party of Know.

It all kicked off with the “Growth and Opportunity Project,” whose 100-page report, released in March, advocated greater outreach to minorities, women and young voters. The same week, RNC Chair Reince Priebus dutifully announced a $10-million minority outreach effort, and did the interview circuit to inform everyone of what everyone except the RNC already knew:

“Focus groups described our party as ‘narrow minded,’ ‘out of touch,’ and ‘Stuffy old men.’”

Priebus then trotted out a canard beloved of Republicans who refuse to admit their ideas stink:

“It all goes back to what our moms used to tell us: It’s not just what we say; it’s how we say it.”

The great Will Durst described this wrongheaded approach much more eloquently:

No need to demonstrate more compassion, the trick is to seem more compassionate… In other words, all they need to do is to bleach the leopard’s spots.

The spot-bleaching and the minority outreach, to date, have been less than successful. Pablo Pantoja, the acclaimed “Director of Florida Hispanic Outreach for the Republican National Committee,” gave up on his party in May:

“Yes, I have changed my political affiliation to the Democratic Party.

It doesn’t take much to see the culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party today.”

No, it certainly doesn’t, especially with old white conservatives like Phyllis Schlafly noisily insisting that the party is barking up the wrong demographic. Between sips of embalming fluid, Schlafly recently told a rightwing radio host:

… the people the Republicans should reach out to are the white votes…

A couple of weeks later, Georgia conservative social activist Rich Thompson – at an event ludicrously christened “The True Rainbow Coalition: Building an Organization in Minority Faith Communities” – showed just why GOP minority outreach was doomed from the get-go:

… right now an extremely disproportionate number of people of color are being paid by the government. Therein lies a serious problem. We can’t just cut everybody off instantaneously. But we have to have a serious conversation about how we get people to being producers and not receivers. So I thank you for coming this evening to find out how we can better message to people of the black community, the Latino community, and the Asian community.

The party’s efforts to court women have been no more effective, and are painfully epitomized by the 43 restrictions on women’s reproductive rights passed in 2012, not to mention the 92 passed in 2011.

As to the youth vote, the College National Republican Committee has provided their elders little cause for optimism:

The Republican Party’s troubles with young voters are well known. But a new internal report virtually elevates the threat level to apocalyptic, declaring that the GOP needs a “fundamental re-thinking” of its approach in order to remain viable with the younger generation.

Adding to all this bad news for Republicans is that their fondness for lying has not gone unnoticed. The Center for Media and Public Affairs released the results of a study showing that PolitiFact “has rated Republican claims as false three times as often as Democratic claims.” Meanwhile, there are indications that the RNC’s smarm offensive may well have come too late:

The Republican Party’s ratings now stand at a 20-year low, with just 33 percent of the public holding a favorable view of the party and 58 percent judging it unfavorably…

But at the end of the day, the biggest problem for Republicans might not be their strategists, their candidates, or their elected officials. It might be their voters:

A new CNN poll shows just how far away from sanity the Republican Party has drifted. According [to] the poll, 80% of Republicans think George W. Bush’s presidency was a success.

And a more recent poll confirms that many of the party’s voters still have their heads screwed on at least half a turn too loose. Asked which direction Republican leaders should move, 54% of respondents opted for “conservative direction” while only 40% urged a move toward moderation. Even more amazingly, 35% of respondents believe Republicans have “compromised too much” with Democrats, and 32% believe the amount of compromise has been “about right.” It would have been fascinating to see how many respondents could even name a single example of their party compromising with Democrats, other than the bipartisan Gang of Eight immigration bill hammered out in the Senate, since consigned to the House to die a painful death at the hands of – wait for it – intransigent Republicans.

On same-sex marriage, 31% of respondents believe the party’s stance has been “too conservative,” but 27% feel it’s “not conservative enough.” On abortion, “too conservative” was the choice of 25% while “not conservative enough” garnered 26%.

Favorables and unfavorables for various GOP leading lights were also intriguing. Would-be Veep Paul Ryan scored 65% favorable against a mere 15% unfavorable, but “next big noise” Ted Cruz was favorable to only 33% of respondents, while 13% gave him a thumbs-down and a surprising 53% had no opinion.

Best of all, the survey found that Republicans of the Tea Party persuasion constitute 37% of respondents, but 49% of those who “always vote in primary” are Teabaggers. All of which means that 2014 may not be as dire as Nate Silver has been hinting, and 2016 is looking up. Continue reading Take Five (Hot Mess in the Summertime edition)

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 (Cry If I Want To edition)

ONE: There’s Got to Be a Morning After

On November 7, the sun rose over a Republican Party in bleary-eyed disarray. Clearly, it was time for institutional soul searching, time to push the chair back from the immovable feast of civic ignorance, time to build bridges to women, blacks, Hispanics, the LGBT community, time to stop screeching and – politely, respectfully, humbly – rejoin the American conversation.

Naturally, none of this happened. Instead, the GOP nonchalantly brushed the cigarette butts off the pizza crusts, shook off its electoral hangover, and resumed its reckless bender. Compromise? Nope. Public interest? Don’t care. Policy proposals? Not a chance. Constitution? Screw it.

There’s no better (meaning worse) example of this than Louie Gohmert. The fifth-term Texas Congressman kicked off 2013 by joining with the equally loathsome Paul Broun to nominate Allen West for Speaker of the House, but quickly moved on to what Gohmert considers much more serious business, in this case the defense of the Republic from the grave and gathering threat of, uh… sharia law.

Gohmert used a recent appearance on a rightwing radio show to share his “thoughts” on the topic:

We – we’ve got some people that think Sharia Law ought to be the law of the land, forget the Constitution. But the guns are there, that Second Amendment is there, to make sure all the rest of the Amendments are followed.

Of course, this is the same guy who commented, following the Newtown massacre:

I wish to God [the principal] had had an M-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out and she didn’t have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands, but she takes him out, takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids.

If there’s a silver lining to having Gohmert sitting in the House of Representatives, it’s that he no longer presides as Chief Justice of the Texas 12th Court of Appeals, a position to which he was appointed in 2002 by fellow empty-headed loudmouth Rick Perry.

TWO: Michele Bachmann, Job Creator

Her presidential campaign never got past Iowa. She barely held on to her House seat despite outspending her Democratic opponent by a factor of 11. She’s currently embroiled in a sordid set-to with former campaign staffers over unpaid wages and various other alleged improprieties. Despite all that, Michele Bachmann is heartily pleased with herself.

In an appearance at Patrick Henry College the other day as part of the school’s Newsmakers interview series, Bachmann boasted:

“If you’re a conservative you can never get anything wrong and I was very proud of the fact that I didn’t get anything wrong that I said during the course of the debates… It forces a person to be better. You have to be a virtual Wikipedia.”

Or not. At all. As Raw Story points out:

During the Republican presidential primary debates, Bachmann claimed the HPV vaccine could cause mental retardation.

And in a later debate, Bachmann claimed she had never made the claim.

She also claimed President Barack Obama had “the lowest public approval ratings of any president in modern times,” accused former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney of implementing “socialized medicine,” and said the U.S. “will be paying for the entire People’s Liberation Army of China” by 2015.

In a November 2011 debate, Bachmann insisted that the Obama Administration had canceled the Keystone XL pipeline (it hadn’t) and the 20,000 jobs it would supposedly create (it won’t), and that the President had met, without preconditions, no less, with Iranian officials (he didn’t).

This is just the latest example of Bachmann vigorously and quite inappropriately patting herself on the back for veracity she doesn’t possess. In one of the debates, she went as far as asserting that PolitiFact backed her up:

“After the debate that we had last week, PolitiFact came out and said that everything I said was true.”

Of course, Politifact had done no such thing:

… in fact, Bachmann earned two ratings from us at that debate, a Mostly True for her claim that Newt Gingrich advocated for the individual mandate in health care and a Pants on Fire for her claim that Mitt Romney set up a health plan in Massachusetts that is “socialized medicine.”

And PolitiFact didn’t let it go at that:

… The fact that Bachmann would cite us was interesting given that her PolitiFact report card shows 60 percent of her ratings have been False or Pants on Fire.

In another debate, Bachmann hilariously claimed that raising the debt ceiling would be equivalent to handing Barack Obama a “blank check,” but I agree with John Avlon that a favorite hit from the Bachmann songbook of deceit is this:

“This is one thing we know about Barack Obama. He has essentially handed over our interrogation of terrorists to the ACLU. He’s outsourced it to them. Our CIA has no ability to have any form of interrogation for terrorists.”

Bachmann may consider herself a “virtual Wikipedia,” but I think Robert Schlesinger was a lot closer to the mark when he described her as:

… practically a walking, talking full-employment plan for journalistic fact-checkers.

THREE: Three of an Imperfect Pair

But a vibrant democracy needs more than just elected asshats; it also needs unelected ones. Enter Larry Pratt, Stan Solomon and Greg W. Howard.

Pratt is something of a Renaissance asshat. Yes, he did serve briefly in the Virginia House of Delegates, but he’s been far more active and effective since leaving office. He founded the xenophobic organization English First, served as a board member of ALEC, and currently helms Gun Owners of America, a group of firearms fetishists who consider the NRA a bunch of pinko sellouts.

Solomon is a broadcast hatemonger with a particular bent for homophobia, and is best known for his inability to shut up.

Howard is sort of a journeyman asshat. He considers Alan Keyes “eloquent” and Twitter a “haven for cyberbullying, pornography, racism,” he describes abortion in the African American community as “America’s Holocaust,” and he has a strange obsession with Saul Alinsky, in much the same way, I suppose, that some people are obsessed with Space Food Sticks or surreys with a fringe on top or The Buggles. Continue reading Take Five (Cry If I Want To edition)

Food for Thought

If you’ve ever watched Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, you know the inevitable lead-in to every show: a harried restaurant owner bemoans the fact that he’s losing customers by the dozens, but is always quick to point out that his food (invariably self-described as nothing less than fabulous!) could not possibly be the cause of the decline in business.   They will blame their wait staff’s laziness, the chef’s inattentiveness to detail, even a poor choice of china, flatware, and decor.  But the food, they will insist, can’t possibly be the problem.

And so it now goes with the GOP, who – after what passes for thoughtful introspection and intelligent discussion among its PTB (cue laugh track here) – have determined that the fare they are selling to the voting public is as tasty and nutritious as ever, and the lack of loyal customers is simply a matter of failing to promote the same old/same old menu items they’ve offered up for decades.

“It’s not the platform of the party that’s the issue,” stated Reince Priebus, the recently thawed-and-reheated RNC chairman.  “In many cases, it’s how we communicate about it.  It is a couple dumb things that people have said.”

No offense to Mr. Priebus – who is probably no better at math than he is winning elections – but by my count, the dumb things said by Republicans during last year’s presidential campaign alone numbers in the hundreds.  And “dumb” hardly describes some of the statements made, which were more in the category of baseless, fact-free, easily debunked lies, with a side order of bullshit.  But to be fair, the bullshit is always served on an all-you-can-eat basis, offered up on pristine white china that may be old and cracked, but deemed still serviceable by management.

“We don’t need a new pair of shoes; we just need to shine our shoes,” opined West Virginia national committeewoman Melody Potter, the idea being that if you serve shit sandwiches on carefully polished plates, the world will beat a path to your deli counter.

Of course, the Republican party’s strict rule has always been no shoes, no shirt = no service, and the shoeless and shirtless (i.e. women, minorities, welfare and food-stamp recipients, veterans, the disabled, the homeless, the sick, etc.) have traditionally been turned away due to a lack of available seating, while “Reserved for Old White Men” placards grace every table.

“The principles are sound,” said former RNC chairman, Mike Duncan. “Enlarging the map means reaching out to a lot more people and having a consistent dialogue with those people… It’s inviting them in. It’s communicating with them in the proper forums: it’s not just language but where they’re reading. It’s explaining the values to them.”

Yeah, that’s the ticket, Mike.  It’s time to start inviting in the very people the GOP has dismissed as takers-not-makers, parasites whose only sustenance comes from suckling at the government teat, the minorities who have been told their place is in the kitchen scrubbing pots, and the women who have been permitted to dine alongside their male counterparts so long as they STFU and allow the men to not only dominate the dinner conversation, but choose which menu items the ladies will be allowed to eat.

“We can stand by our timeless principles and articulate them in ways that are modern, relevant to our time and relatable to the majority of voters,” said Priebus.  “That, I believe, is how we’ll achieve a Republican renewal.”

Despite the GOP’s claims that they only need some new signage out front and a more pleasing font on the menus, the fact remains that the “principles” they believe they should be explaining to the citizenry are not principles at all.  They are the same long-held policies – on everything from immigration to healthcare, from education to a woman’s right-to-choose – that are so far past their expiry date, they are not only unpalatable; they are likely to cause ptomaine poisoning.

“When it comes to young people, when it comes to new African-American leaders, Hispanic leaders, we really have done an incredible job over the last few years,” Preibus continued.  “We’ve just done a lousy job bragging about it.” Continue reading Food for Thought

Take Five (New Year's Eve edition)

ONE: Post-Apocalypse Study Group Rolled Out

Man of constant sorrow Reince Priebus recently announced that the Republican National Committee is launching what it calls the “Growth and Opportunity Project,” an exercise in institutional soul-searching designed to identify how the party got its collective butt whupped last November and to find ways to “ensure Republicans are victorious in 2013, 2014, 2016 and beyond.”

The RNC is so serious about this that they’ve already unveiled the names of the heavy hitters who will form the project’s steering committee. And what names they are! Henry Barbour, nephew of the legendarily execrable Haley, former Jeb Bush Chief of Staff Sally Bradshaw, former GW Bush propaganda catapult operator Ari Fleischer, plus Glenn McCall, a – gasp! – African American, and Zori Fonelledas, a – ZOMG! – Puerto Rican.

While I can’t help the RNC with future victories (and I’ll be horrified if they ever have any), in the spirit of good old-fashioned bipartisanship and this joyous holiday season, I’m quite happy to identify for them what went wrong in 2012. I can do it in six short words. Got a pen handy, Reince? You’ll want to jot this down.

Mitt Romney. Paul Ryan. Your policies.

You’re welcome!

TWO: Un-American Heritage

2012 still has a few minutes to go, but I have my nominee for the year’s most inadvertently funny quote, and I’m sticking with it. Asked to comment on Jim DeMint’s decision to resign his Senate seat to preside over that notorious America-hating “think” tank, the Heritage Foundation, conservative academic John J. Pitney claimed:

“What Heritage does is influence the intellectual debate.”

In a way, I suppose Pitney’s absolutely correct. Heritage (among other malevolent rightwing institutions) has influenced the intellectual debate, but only by removing intellect from it completely.

Which brings us to Jim DeMint, whose impressive track record of egregious tomfoolery, twaddle and Teabaggery is a perfect fit for the Heritage Foundation. “Greenville’s foulest” has insisted that gay people and women who have sex out of wedlock should be barred from teaching, averred that “the bigger government gets, the smaller God gets,” threatened to read the full text of 2010′s START treaty and omnibus spending bills on the Senate floor as a deliberate stalling tactic because the mid-December timing of the legislation was somehow “sacrilegious,” compared the United States to “Germany… before World War II where they became a social democracy,” cheered for the 2009 military coup in Honduras, and gushed about the idea of working with Glenn Beck.

So what does Senator Teabag envision for the Heritage Foundation? Not surprisingly, his end game is getting more ultraconservatives elected:

… DeMint said he is taking the Heritage job because he sees it as a vehicle to popularize conservative ideas in a way that connects with a broader public. “This is an urgent time,” the senator said, “because we saw in the last election we were not able to communicate conservative ideas that win elections.” Mr. DeMint, who was a market researcher before he entered politics, said he plans to take the Heritage Foundation’s traditional research plus that of think tanks at the state level and “translate those policy papers into real-life demonstrations of things that work.” He said, “We want to figure out what works at the local and state level” and give those models national attention.

The RNC’s Growth and Opportunity Project, though, might just want to think twice about keeping DeMint on speed-dial:

Mr. DeMint’s leadership PAC, the Senate Conservatives Fund, spent $5.48 million in the 2010 and 2012 elections, and out of 27 races that it stepped into, his preferred candidate won either the primary or general election 8 times.

Keep on keepin’ on, Jimbo.

THREE: First, Do Much Harm

Despite DeMint’s impending departure, the 113th Congress will not want for cretinous Republican senators. Exhibit A: Oklahoma’s Tom Coburn. The lurid war of disinformation and misinformation about the impending “Fiscal Cliff” has been heating up for weeks, but Coburn’s remarks to George Stephanopolous on December 9 remain a uniquely objectionable contribution to the discussion:

“It doesn’t really matter what happens at the end of this year because ultimately the numbers and the bond holders throughout the world will determine what we’ll spend and what we won’t. So, we can play the political game that is being played out in Washington right now or we can be absolutely honest with the American people and say, ‘Medicare is going bankrupt, Social Security disability will be bankrupt in two years, Social Security trust fund will be bankrupt in five years, Social Security total will be bankrupt in 16,17 years.’

“The fact is we are spending money we don’t have on things we don’t absolutely need…”

Coburn is a medical doctor who’s also terrified that Obamacare is a stealth method of eventually imposing – horrors! – a single-payer healthcare system on innocent freedom-worshipping Americans. He has also voted against a raft of measures that would increase revenue and voted against many others that would save billions without harming Social Security, SSDI and Medicare beneficiaries in the slightest.

While the rest of us realize that Coburn’s about as trustworthy on fiscal issues as Marie Antoinette or Bernard Madoff, this sort of blather about entitlements actually earns someone like him respect from fellow conservatives. If Oklahoma voters ever come to their senses and vote to send the miserable little pud packing, don’t be surprised if the Heritage Foundation has a position for him.

FOUR: “Barefoot paradise for a child…”

I still remember the day my classmates and I were brought into the auditorium of Jacob G. Smith Elementary School in Savannah and taught to sing a new Johnny Mercer song entitled “Georgia, Georgia.” Mercer had written it at the behest of the Georgia General Assembly, with the idea that it would become the new official state song. With all due props to the spectacularly gifted Mr. Mercer, “Georgia, Georgia” was essentially a monotonous paean to the supposedly transcendent joys of Georgia, a paean which left an uprooted young Floridian, me, rather unmoved. (State legislators apparently had misgivings of their own; the song was later rejected in favor of “Georgia On My Mind.”)

“Georgia, Georgia” has been going through my head, maddeningly, as I read the latest news from the Empire State of the South. Somewhere along the line, Mercer’s dreamy land of scuppernong and Spanish moss and honeysuckle became a land that progress and common sense forgot. If Sherman had known what damage conservatives would eventually do to Georgia, maybe he would have saved his matches.

Georgia Senate majority leader Chip Rogers hosted a training seminar at the state capitol for fellow Republicans back in October, to get them up to speed on the grave and gathering threat posed by the UN’s non-binding, largely forgotten, two-decade-old sustainability policy framework known as Agenda 21. Invitations to the event warned of:

“… a Socialist plan to change the way we live, eat, learn, and communicate to ‘save the earth.’”

The seminar included a video featuring a fellow named Field Searcy, who was actually kicked out of the Georgia Tea Party last spring for his noisy advocacy of birtherism and various Alex Jones conspiracy theories. Ever wanted to know what it’s like to leave Planet Earth for one minute and nine seconds? Just watch the video clip here. Searcy generously shared his special expertise with the Republican legislators:

So who is promoting this agenda…? Well, at the very top, the United Nations. A non-government organization called ICLEI, or Local Governments for Sustainability. Other NGOs are promoting this. Federal agencies.

They do that by a process known as the Delphi Technique. Now, the Delphi Technique was developed by the RAND Corporation during the Cold War as a mind-control technique.

Rogers has since resigned his seat to take a job with Georgia Public Broadcasting (!), while Searcy is still sending occasional transmissions from the alternate universe he inhabits. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that his understanding of what is correctly called the Delphi Method is laughably faulty. Continue reading Take Five (New Year’s Eve edition)

Romney Signs Lucrative Endorsement Deal

Spectrum Brands, makers of the George Foreman Grill®, announced yesterday that they have reached an agreement in principle with former Massachusetts governor and current GOP Presidential front-runner Mitt Romney to endorse their latest small kitchen appliance, The Mitt Romney Waffle-Pro®.

Company spokesman Liam Toomey unveiled a prototype of the new product at a press conference in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where candidate Romney was scheduled to be campaigning for the upcoming Republican primary. “We were expecting the governor to be here,” Toomey told the reporters present, “but apparently he changed his mind at the last minute.”

The press conference featured a demonstration of the Waffle-Pro®, showing off the feature which the manufacturer claims makes this product revolutionary — a ‘reset’ button which allows its top surface to pivot, instantly converting the unit that just produced an attractive but unhealthy snack or breakfast into ‘The Mitt Romney Health-Pro® Vegetable Griller/Steamer’. “We feel that the same versatility which allows this product to instantly address and cater to what would seem on the surface to be diametrically opposed dietary cravings will make it as popular with consumers as its namesake is with moderates,” Toomey noted.

The Mitt Romney Waffle-Pro® is expected to be available in stores August 27 to coincide with the opening of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. Toomey also announced that Gov. Romney is expected to give “… what should be a memorable — if not historic — nationally televised waffle demonstration the day after the convention.”

While full financial details of the deal were not disclosed, Spectrum Brands did reveal the existence of a provision which they feel makes the deal a guaranteed ‘win-win’. As Mr. Toomey explained it, “if the product, as many anticipate happening with the Governor’s political career, somehow goes the way of the dodo bird, the company has an option to spin off its Mitt Romney Waffle-Pro® unit which Mr. Romney will then take over and secure venture capital to refinance, guaranteeing a successful financial outcome for both himself and our top executives prior to filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Continue reading Romney Signs Lucrative Endorsement Deal

RNC to Suspend Presidential Primaries, Introduce New Logo

A visibly haggard Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus emerged from a closed-door emergency meeting of the RNC’s Executive Council this afternoon and announced to the crowd gathered outside the meeting room the immediate suspension of his party’s 2012 Presidential primaries.

Word of the announcement spread like wildfire as several of the lunchtime throng seated in the main dining room of the Whitewater, Wisconsin Applebee’s realized that the seemingly disoriented individual who had just emerged from the restaurant’s banquet room to disturb their midday meal was no ordinary rambling lunatic, and apparently something important was afoot. While several took to Twitter and Facebook to document their presence at this unprecedented, historic event, another called a local newspaper to suggest they send a reporter.

“I honestly couldn’t believe my luck — this is probably the best scoop I’ll get all year,” said Skippy Fartbuster, editor-in-chief of the Whitewater Central High Weekly Bugle, who took the call.

In a Fartbuster exclusive, Priebus explained RNC strategy going forward: Continue reading RNC to Suspend Presidential Primaries, Introduce New Logo