With a shudder, it occurred to me the other day that I’ve been writing about Willard Mitt Romney, off and on, for nineteen months. There are very few things I dream of spending nineteen months writing about, and he sure as hell isn’t one of them. Nevertheless, with Romney down to his final hours of pretending he can become President of the United States of America, the travail continues.
First, though, let me get Paul Ryan out of the way. Whatever he was thought, or hoped, to bring to the Republican ticket, what Ryan mostly brought was additional opportunities for ridicule, and even the shallow entertainment value thus provided got old fast. The vaunted conservative policy wonk – a “numbers guy” whose numbers (when he bothers to offer any) never add up, a “serious thinker” whose cherished political convictions are a bumper sticker pastiche of Ayn Rand’s Epistles to the Terminally Selfish, a small-government zealot whose entire life, pretty much, has consisted of feeding, if not gorging, at the public trough – has been surprisingly useless to the ticket. And I say “surprisingly” because I’d assumed that merely by naming a running mate, any running mate, the top of the ticket would receive a little less scrutiny, thereby benefiting the campaign. Happily, I stand corrected.
I was also convinced it was damn near impossible that a person could look more ludicrous than Ryan did in his now-infamous “Hey Girl” beefcake shoot, but I erred on that score, as well. In a world where Ryan could become the vice-presidential nominee of a major political party in the first place, not only was it possible, it was probably inevitable. When I saw the photos of the assistant-Commander-in-Chief-wannabe at a soup kitchen he was never invited to, stylin’ for the cameras as he scrubbed clean pots and pans, his grinning wife standing nearby, I experienced that vilest of emotions: feeling embarrassed for people too oblivious to be embarrassed for themselves. Mixed, of course, with newly refreshed loathing.
Yet even this sleazy perfidy pales beside the Romney/Ryan campaign’s crass exploitation of the Hurricane Sandy disaster, when a scheduled Dayton campaign rally was hastily converted into a “storm relief event.” BuzzFeed has a terrific piece on the debacle, brimming with ghastly details, but the short version is that Romney’s handlers rushed to Walmart, spent $5,000 on groceries and other items the Red Cross didn’t want, handed them out to attendees so that the attendees could then “donate” them back, and all the while were blithely unconcerned that the obviously phony event would be exposed as, well, obviously phony. Not quite as spectacularly phony as George Bush’s victory jig on an aircraft carrier, granted, but culled from the same Republican playbook. Not satisfied with this smarmy charade, Romney then embarked on some epic hurricane-driven flip-flopping over just what he would or wouldn’t do with FEMA were the country to lose its collective mind and elect him, and topped it all off Wednesday morning in Tampa by urging 2,000 perfervid supporters to dig, uh, not very deep:
“So please if you have an extra dollar or two, send them along and keep people who have been in harm’s way, who’ve been damaged either personally or through their property, keep them in your thoughts and prayers…”
As the media continued to stream horror stories from Sandy’s wake, Romney’s Thursday afternoon rally in Virginia Beach was interrupted by a protester, who asked:
What about climate? That’s what caused this monster storm! Climate change!
As the candidate silently watched with his trademark vacant leer, the crowd began the boorish “USA!” chant Republican mobs, weirdly, use to try and shut up people they disagree with, as the protester was hauled away. Stinky little scenes like this have been integral to the Romney campaign, rather than isolated, garish eruptions of excessive exuberance, as they tended to be characterized back when Sarah Palin – or Ryan 1.0, as I now think of her – incited GOP crowds by claiming that Barack Obama “palled around with terrorists.”
As the last day of this sordid, abysmal campaign crawls by, we can at least be grateful that a few heretofore-obscure details are becoming clearer. That sure beats having to wait for the impending slew of tell-all books by Romney/Ryan campaign insiders, most of which will be read all the way through only by reviewers (and only because they’ll be paid to do so).
The recent plague of plutocratic extortionists threatening their employees with dire consequences for failure to vote Romney comes to mind. In These Times helpfully connected the dots back to a June 6 conference call where the candidate himself urged such a course: Continue reading From Here to Anonymity (Man of a Thousand Farces edition)
It has long been apparent that neither Mitt Romney nor his handlers have any idea what they’re doing, and since nothing says “helpful and fellow-feeling” like the Republican Party, a stampede of GOP deep thinkers has charged into the breach. The unsolicited advice began before the first balloon hit the floor at the end of the convention in Tampa, and has only increased in sound and fury since.
The clearest sign of the mess Mitt Romney finds himself in is that even perpetually ardent hyper-partisan Peggy Noonan is beginning to sound delirious with frustration. Her September 18 Wall Street Journal column – entitled “Time for an Intervention”! – excoriated Romney’s hamfisted attempt to exploit tensions in the Middle East:
… he seemed like a political opportunist, not big and wise but small and tinny.
Noonan was even more dismissive of Romney’s notorious Boca Raton fundraiser remarks:
This is not how big leaders talk, it’s how shallow campaign operatives talk: They slice and dice the electorate like that, they see everything as determined by this interest or that. They’re usually young enough and dumb enough that nobody holds it against them, but they don’t know anything. They don’t know much about America.
Jeepers! Noonan hasn’t sounded this fretful since George W. Bush was nearly assassinated by a pretzel. She’s so pessimistic she believes the entire Republican Party is going to have to step in and save the candidate from himself. While her prescriptions for a campaign turnaround are comical, she depicts the urgency of Romney’s need for one rather eloquently:
It’s time to admit the Romney campaign is an incompetent one. It’s not big, it’s not brave, it’s not thoughtfully tackling great issues. It’s always been too small for the moment… An intervention is in order. “Mitt, this isn’t working.”
As to the comical part, well, the Republican Party Noonan believes in ceased to exist decades ago, if indeed it ever existed at all:
… Luckily, Romney has access to some of the best writers and thinkers in the business. I say it that way because to write is to think, and Romney needs fresh writing and fresh thinking…
Time for the party to step up. Romney should go out there every day surrounded with the most persuasive, interesting and articulate members of his party, the old ones, and I say this with pain as they’re my age, like Mitch Daniels and Jeb Bush, and the young ones, like Susana Martinez and Chris Christie and Marco Rubio—and even Paul Ryan… he should be surrounded by a posse of them every day. Their presence will say, “This isn’t about one man, this is about a whole world of meaning, this is about a conservative political philosophy that can turn things around and make our country better.”
… Party elders, to the extent you exist this is why you exist:
Right this ship.
Whee! On September 28, Noonan sounded no less frantic, although she’d managed to weave some silver linings out of whole cloth over the space of ten days:
… there are some institutional and personal elements surrounding the Wednesday debate that may well work in Mr. Romney’s favor.
From a canny journalist with a counterintuitive head: “The media will be rooting for Romney.” Two reasons. First, they don’t want the story to end. They’re in show biz: A boring end means lower ratings. Careers are involved! Second, the mainstream media is suddenly realizing that more than half the country (and some of their colleagues) think they are at least operationally in the tank for the president, or the Democrats in general. It is hurting the media’s standing. A midcourse correction is in order, and Wednesday will offer an opportunity: I think it’s fair to say Gov. Romney more than held his own this evening, and a consensus seems to be forming that the president underperformed.
Which, if Noonan were capable of being honest about it, is exactly the sort of bullshit narrative that America’s vigilant free press is ready to deploy, even if Romney kicks off the evening by accusing Jim Lehrer of not having written a decent song since “The Vatican Rag,” tries to bet the audience $10,000 that he’ll win the debate, throws up on himself, and finally collapses in an aspic of tears and flop sweat as Ann Romney comes running out from the wings, screaming, “Look what you people have done to him! I told you people I was worried about his mental well-being!”
Noonan goes on to paint a lovingly detailed picture of a Barack Obama who exists only in the fever swamps of the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation. At this point, I don’t think she’s trying to convince her readers as much as she’s trying to convince herself that Romney can win the debate and win the White House, and I don’t think she’s making any headway. In Noonan’s lush imaginings, the President is vulnerable because, A, everyone is too easy on him, B, he’s boring and pedantic, C, he doesn’t like to be questioned, D, he makes stuff up, and E, he acts like the biggest celebrity in the world, just as the McCain campaign alleged. Putting aside the fact that if her portrait of Barack Obama had any validity he wouldn’t now be the incumbent, it’s touching that Noonan retains enough vestigial faith in Romney to believe he could capitalize on these weaknesses even if they were real.
Others, in both the Republican squawkoscenti and among the hoi polloi, aren’t so sure. The recent Values Voter Summit featured a gratifying number of long faces, and no small amount of backseat driving: Continue reading From Here to Anonymity (Eve of Derision edition)
If you are a Republican who has wondered from time to time why we Democrats don’t take you seriously, let me explain it for you. (And please feel free to ask for assistance when you get to the big words.)
Part of it is your politicians’ penchant for hypocrisy, corruption, and blatant lying. Part of it is your collective attitude towards the poor, the homeless, the disabled and the uninsured, which is basically to ignore their plight. Part of it is your utter selfishness and greed as you demonstrate your outrage when you think someone somewhere – regardless of how dire their need may be – might benefit from a penny of your tax dollars. And a big part of it is the fact that you do all of the above while claiming to be good Christians, following the path of The Nazarene who taught love, tolerance and a clear responsibility to one’s fellow man.
But the biggest reason we have for not taking you seriously is the fact that you are, to put it bluntly, so unspeakably fuckin’ stupid.
Todd Akin’s recent remarks about a woman’s body being able to block an unwanted pregnancy while being raped is, as many have pointed out, a despicable excuse for denying access to abortion, even in such circumstances. What is even more disturbing is the fact that Akin, a sixty-five year old man with a college degree and no small amount of life experience, can be that ignorant about simple biology. And proudly so. There is only one reason for anyone of his age and education to be that ill-informed: he is fuckin’ stupid.
A quick perusal of the current crop of Republican politicians is rife with displays of unending fuckin’ stupidity. Sarah Palin was too stupid to come up with the name of a single newspaper she read while campaigning. Worse, she was too stupid to even fake it by naming any newspaper (even if she had to resort to lying, which is considered a virtue among you), rather than look like what she was: too fuckin’ stupid to handle the responsibilities of local dog-catcher, no less those of the vice presidency.
Mitt Romney’s current campaign for the presidency is rife with stupidity. Once caught in the glare of the “where are the tax returns” headlights, instead of hoping the story dies down and disappears, Mitt has continued to bring the topic up himself repeatedly. That’s because he’s too fuckin’ stupid to do otherwise.
Michele Bachmann. There’s a reason why she’s known as Michele “Batshit Crazy” Bachmann throughout the blogosphere. The woman believes that Muslim terrorists are infiltrating the US government. She also believes her husband is “straight”. Like I said, too fuckin’ stupid. And yet you people vote for her, time and again.
These are just a few paltry examples of fuckin’ stupidity within your party’s ranks. The list goes on far beyond that – but you’re probably too fuckin’ stupid to retain any more information than can be communicated beyond a few short sentences.
Aside from the stupidity of your politicians, one need not go far afield to determine just how stupid the average GOP voter is. A few hours watching Fox News leaves no doubt.
My favorite demonstration thereof was their showing footage of what was allegedly a Teabagger event held in D.C., allegedly attended by hundreds of thousands of people. The only problem being that the footage was from Obama’s inauguration in January, while the Teabagger gathering was held in the summer. How’d they get away with that? Well, it probably has a lot to do with knowing their viewing audience is too fuckin’ stupid to realize that people don’t parade around in winter coats under bare trees in the middle of June.
Over the past few years, we have heard from Republicans that the earth is 6,000 years old, that dinosaurs cavorted with humans on Noah’s ark like a below-decks scene from Titanic, that global warming is a hoax, that evolution is an unsubstantiated theory – and now we learn that not only is there such a thing as “legitimate rape” but that women can simply block the process of impregnation via some kind of automated mindset clicking in at the moment of what could have been conception. Continue reading GOP: FYI
Mitt Romney’s little reminiscence about poking around in his father’s sock drawer and discovering a free-McDonald’s-forever card signed by Ray Kroc himself was, amazingly, not quite the weirdest story from the right-hand side of the campaign trail last week. I’ll get to the weirdest one below, but I’m still fascinated by the runner-up.
Romney was speaking to a crowd at a Chicago fundraiser when an attendee mentioned having worked for McDonald’s, and its head honcho directly, for many years. The invocation of Ray Kroc apparently activated something in the candidate’s personal anecdote database, a database that has served Romney only fitfully to date as he oils his way around the nation in search of cash and votes:
“You know how boys liked to go through their dad’s top drawer, just to sort of see what he has in there, maybe find an old coin he might not miss?” Mr. Romney asked the audience…
“I found a little paper card, a little pink card, and it said this entitles George W. Romney to a lifetime of a hamburger, a shake and French fries at McDonald’s,” Mr. Romney said. “It was signed by the hand of Ray Kroc.”
Mr. Romney said that when “I saw this thing [I] was like, ‘This is a gold mine, Dad!’”
“So I had it laminated,” Mr. Romney said. “My dad, as you know, would go almost every day to a McDonald’s restaurant and get either a hamburger or a fish filet sandwich. And he would present this little card, and of course, the person behind the counter would look and say, ‘Well, what is that?’ They’d never seen something like that, but he said it was never turned down.
“They always honored it,” Mr. Romney said.
Let’s just consider this in context for a moment. Kroc bought McDonald’s in 1961 from the eponymous brothers who opened the first McDonald’s outlet, so that’s the earliest possible date for the drawer incident. Romney would have been about 14 at the time. George Romney, meanwhile, had been head of American Motors since 1954, had been named Man of the Year in Industry by the Associated Press four consecutive times by 1961, and was a millionaire on the strength of the astonishing rise in his company’s share price under his management.
Against this background, George Romney’s younger son was rifling through Dad’s dresser, looking for… well, let’s say maybe an old coin. And the famous auto tycoon, at least after the lamination his larcenous son generously arranged, didn’t pay for his many orders at the Golden Arches; instead, he simply flashed a card which none of the McDonald’s employees recognized, but which was nonetheless sufficient to prompt them to give him his grub for free.
It’s a measure of the overweening aura of strangeness of most of Romney’s personal anecdotes, I guess, that I can find this story completely believable. Peculiar, even vaguely creepy for reasons I can’t explain, but completely believable.
What I still find totally unbelievable, despite empirical evidence for it, was the hands-down weirdest Romney campaign story of the week. I’m referring, of course, to Paul Ryan being tapped as his running mate. While I’ll be disparaging everything there is to disparage about Paul Ryan in the next installment of this column, right now all that occurs to me that I should have seen this coming.
After all, Romney and Ryan had a chance to bond during their Wisconsin crime spree back in April, when the pair plied their audience with free eats at a Cousins Subs:
The Democratic Party obtained video of the luncheon from one of its staffers who attended the event. In the video, Romney says, “So bring your friends to the polls, get out and vote and if you want another sandwich, there are more back there.” Romney and Ryan interchangeably ask voters whether they want “turkey, ham or Italian” subs. The subs in question ranged from $4.49 to $4.99.
Naturally, in true GOP style, the Romney campaign treated the ensuing criminal complaint with juvenile derision:
WISN 12 News received a statement from the Romney campaign, which called the complaint laughable.
“This is a laughable stunt by the Democrats designed to distract from President Obama’s disastrous polices that have resulted in record job losses and skyrocketing gas prices. Democrats are willing to do and say anything to avoid a discussion about the president’s three years of failure in the White House.”
Sadly, the hoagie racketeers were cleared by Waukesha DA Brad Schimel, who is – if you’re not sitting down, please do so right now – a Republican. And far more significantly, Leopold had found his Loeb, Sacco his Vanzetti, Butch his Sundance. And now they want to take their crime spree national. Continue reading Slouching Towards Tampa (Big Mac Daddy edition)
Just what the hell is it with Republicans and bad pizza?
Remember Tom Monaghan, founder of the resoundingly crummy Domino’s? Monaghan, a Republican and possible religious fanatic to boot, was last seen in the fetid swamps of my perpetually embarrassing home state, building a model God-centric community he calls Brigadoon. Or maybe Del Boca Vista.
A previous edition of this column featured the May 2011 Manhattan summit meeting of Sarah Palin and Donald Trump, which began at the Trump Tower on 5th Avenue but, at Palin’s request, continued at the Famous Famiglia Pizza outlet near Times Square. Famous Famiglia claims that their pie is “New York’s Favorite Pizza” so you know damned well it’s no such thing.
Erstwhile Republican presidential gag candidate Herman Cain once helmed Godfather’s Pizza and later became part owner of the chain in a leveraged buyout from previous owner Pillsbury. He sold his ownership stake in 2006. Godfather’s woeful product has been excoriated by worstpizza.com as:
… about as good as any gas station or c-store heat and eat.
Now comes word that John Schnatter – founder and CEO of Papa John’s Pizza, Romney booster, and free-range asshat – warned his shareholders the other day that “Obamacare” will force the chain, every time some benighted soul orders one of its joyless pizzas, to tack on:
… 11 to 14 cents extra, “or 15 to 20 cents per order from a corporate basis.”
Schnatter raised this nightmare scenario because he prefers Mitt Romney’s economic positions, positions which would lead directly to a considerable segment of Papa John’s clientele deciding that delivery pizza is a frill they can no longer afford, even if they do get to pocket that “Obamacare” mark-up. If all this defies reason, and good business sense, welcome to the exciting world of savvy Republican entrepreneurs.
TWO: Stall Tales
The old expression “spend a penny” became hopelessly outdated the day then-Senator Larry Craig took his wide stance into a men’s room at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport a little more than five years ago. “Spend $217,000″ is the updated version.
Craig and his bathroom habits are in the news again as the disgraced ex-politician fights a lawsuit filed by the Federal Election Commission over $217,000 in campaign funds Craig diverted to his legal defense against charges stemming from his licentious potty break. In the process, Craig and his lawyer Andrew Herman have raised the bar when it comes to ingenious legal strategies:
Craig counters that money tied to his airport bathroom trip was for neither personal use nor his campaign, but fell under his official, reimbursable duties as senator because he was traveling between Idaho and the nation’s capital for work.
He cites a U.S. Senate rule in which reimbursable per diem expenses include all charges for meals, lodging, hotel fans, cleaning, pressing of clothing — and bathrooms.
“Not only was the trip itself constitutionally required, but Senate rules sanction reimbursement for any cost relating to a senator’s use of a bathroom while on official travel,” wrote Andrew Herman, Craig’s lawyer in Washington, D.C., in documents filed Thursday.
Genius! And the icing on the urinal cake is that Craig and his legal counsel adduce another rank Republican hypocrite, Jim Kolbe, as precedent:
In documents supporting his bid to have the complaint dismissed, Craig cites the case of former U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona, who tapped campaign money in 2006 to defend himself after allegations of improper behavior emerged against him following a Grand Canyon rafting trip with two former male pages.
The trip by Kolbe, the second openly gay Republican to serve in Congress, was an official visit with support provided by the National Park Service.
The phrase “openly gay” should be taken with a big fat grain of salt in Kolbe’s case, by the way, since he came out only after gay-rights groups threatened to out him after his gutless vote in favor of DOMA. Craig, in contrast, is immortal for the line: “I am not gay.” And soon, I suspect, he’s going to be immortal for skating on egregious misuse of campaign funds, but happily, the $217,000 that a bunch of misguided Republicans steered into Craig’s coffers helped pay for, among other things, a lot of free entertainment for the rest of us.
THREE: Party of Personal Responsibility Update
Speaking of legal defenses, New Jersey Assemblyman Robert Schroeder is now facing criminal charges over $400,000 worth of bad checks alleged to have been written to investors in All Points International Distributors Inc., a military contracting business owned by Schroeder. If you inferred from that that he’s a Republican, you inferred quite correctly.
This is only the latest legal trouble Schroeder has faced. According to the north Jersey Record, Schroeder’s entrepreneurial career:
… includes more than a dozen lawsuits from vendors and creditors stretching back to at least 1997.
Uncharacteristically for a Republican, Schroeder initially seemed to signal that he knows who’s at fault here:
“I made a mistake, I apologize,” Schroeder said. “I’m responsible for my actions. It’s a sad day for my family.”
If you find that statement remarkably mature for a Republican politician who finds himself in hot water, don’t be too hasty. Schroeder has a ready explanation for why he “made a mistake”:
“We’re having tough business times like everybody else,” said Assemblyman Robert Schroeder, who represents the 39th District. “Business has been in decline during the Obama administration.”
Thank goodness. You can’t count on much in this crazy old world, but I’ve always believed you can count on Republicans invariably shifting the blame for their misdeeds onto somebody else. Bonus points for making your scapegoat Barack Obama, Mr. Schroeder. I guess we’ll see how that stands up in court. Continue reading Take Five (Saucy, Cheesy & Sorta Greasy edition)
Trace Adkins sings our national anthem, and not very well, but I try to savor it since the evening will only go downhill from here.
Yep. CNN once again tells us via one of their bottom-of-the-screen FACTs that Palin was elected Governor of Alaska as a “maverick reformer”. Mm, FACTy. I wonder if Adkins could be persuaded to come back out and sing “Fixin’ To Die Rag”…
Utah Governor Jon Huntsman puts Sarah Palin’s name in nomination as the VP candidate. He either has a very sore throat or his voice is changing. If the latter, then in the spirit of bipartisanship I wish him a successful puberty.
“We are looking for a rebel, a renegade. We are looking for Sarah!” he croaks. After already sitting through two nights of this jive, I’m looking for a rusty nail to scrape across my wrists.
After the now-obligatory reference to Palin being a “hockey mom” – what on earth has happened to America? – he tells the convention and the nation that Palin is: “Not afraid to kick a few fannies and raise a little hell.” This probably ties in to those ethics investigations underway in Alaska, but Huntsman doesn’t pursue the subject further.
Mitch McConnell, looking as chipper as I’ve seen him since his heyday as a Muppet, tosses it over to the Alaska delegation to move that Palin be acclaimed the VP nominee. Evidently still jet-lagged, the Alaska delegation complies with his request.
Heart’s “Barracuda” blares from the Xcel Center PA. I’m hoping the Wilson sisters will follow Jackson Browne’s lead and stop the GOP from using this song, but I’ve always been an idealist…
Time for an uplifting feminist message from a revolting little toadstool, Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, who claims that Palin speechified yesterday with: “A voice that spoke with the accent of real America.” Is that what that accent was? I thought it was the sound of a cat with its tail caught in a screen door, but I’m a Southerner, so my opinion on such things is perhaps suspect.
Blackburn promises that Palin will be a “revolutionary second in command”. Surely McCain’s Naval Academy training will enable him to identify mutiny when he sees it. He was, however, near the bottom of his class at Annapolis, so maybe not…
Marsha, Marsha, Marsha’s not done yet though. “Last night, my NASCAR dad fell in love with a hockey mom.” My sympathies to Blackburn’s mother. I hope this all works out for her.
The Congresswoman notes that John McCain was a POW. Why on earth have the Republicans been sitting on this information until now?
Flip over to CNN. Wolf Blitzer informs viewers that the Best Political Team On Television is: “watching, paying attention and listening.” Obviously, this is going to be an historic evening.
Tim Pawlenty takes to the podium. CNN opts to interview a weirdly costumed delegate instead. Back to PBS.
Anyone wondering why Pawlenty didn’t get the VP nod is left in no doubt almost immediately. Hearing him speak is as exciting as hearing your dog start to heave at 5:00 AM.
“Barack Obama gives a good speech,” says Tim, “But the best sermons aren’t preached, they’re lived.” Sermons? Preached? Not only do Republicans refuse to separate church and state, they refuse to separate talking from stupid.
Over the past two days, the convention has raised the oratorical device of repetition to a level I can’t recall since I used to watch Romper Room.
“John McCain put our country first.” Well, keep throwing that at the fridge until it sticks, Tim.
Pawlenty winds up with a weird riff on “Sam’s Club voters,” a demographic I’ve never heard of. I only hope they can co-exist in the Republican Big Tent alongside those NASCAR dads and hockey moms.
Reappearing like the fatted calf from his exile to the private sector, former Senator Bill Frist, once the Great White Hope for his party’s nomination, says some worthwhile things about alleviating AIDS and other scourges overseas. As long as he doesn’t intend to diagnose via videotape, so far so good.
Frist calls Cindy McCain “America’s most passionate advocate for peace”. I choke up briefly, remembering Mrs. McCain’s desperate attempts to prevent Shock and Awe. God bless her for trying.
Frist goes on to describe international poverty and AIDS relief as “a foundation for peace.” No wonder the GOP threw this pinko overboard!
Back on CNN, an intriguing argument erupts between Roland Martin and Bill Bennett about McCain’s many flip-flops. Sniffing controversy, Blitzer puts the kibosh on the segment and cuts to a commercial.
Sam Brownback, who once ran for something somewhere, is working up some Romper Room repetition of his own, inciting the delegates with a refrain of: “Yes, we will!”
Brownback, a poster boy for American unexceptionalism, tells us: “I believe in American exceptionalism.”
He then reminds us that McCain can’t raise his arms. Something to do with being a POW, I suppose. I don’t know why the GOP expects me to make these connections for myself. Why don’t they just lay out the facts once and for all?
circa 8:40 PM:
As I’m in the kitchen getting dog biscuits for the two loyal friends kind enough to stick with me watching this crud, the convention airs a brief video about September 11, 2001. I return to the TV to hear John King commenting that there was no mention of Bush in the video. These Republicans sure know how to circle the wagons.
Senator Lindsey Graham, the walking definition of gormlessness, takes the stage. Although I learned long ago never to be embarrassed for Republicans, since they don’t have the sense to be embarrassed for themselves, Graham really pushes my resolve.
He praises Joe Lieberman for “breaking with his party.” He doesn’t specify which party he means.
Video tribute to Sarah Palin. Sample line: “When Alaska’s maverick joined America’s maverick…” Presumably, when McCain hits the stage, he’ll call for Alaska statehood!
Tom Ridge up for 17 minutes of puffery about McCain, marred by a few gratuitous swipes at Obama that he abruptly spits out as if a bug had landed in his mouth.
A video tribute to Cindy McCain, narrated by Gary Sinise. Intentionally or not, it reinforces the stubborn notion I have that Cindy is a Pat Nixon for our time, the difference being that Cindy can afford better than a cloth coat.
Cindy Lou herself takes the podium. And why not? She probably paid for it.
She refers to Palin as a fellow hockey mom. What the hell is going on in Arizona?
“I think John was a hero in Vietnam.” Well, me too, Mrs. McCain, but I wouldn’t marry him or vote for him for President.
Some remark of Cindy’s provokes yet another chant of “USA! USA!” I could believe, over the last few nights, that Republicans think they just discovered the damn place. Continue reading Three Days of Bad Road: Reliving the Horror of the GOP 2008 Convention, Day 3
Yesterday was a race to see whether the GOP convention had more empty seats or empty platitudes. It was a draw. Tonight I expect platitudes to edge ahead, slightly. As Mitch McConnell gavels the session to order, there are just slightly more people in the hall than there are at a typical PTA meeting in Wasilla, Alaska.
But like moths to a flame, delegates file in as “America the Beautiful” is torn to shreds by John Shillington and Ruby Brown, apparently friends of the McCains in Arizona. If they ever perform this at McCain dinner parties, rest assured Cindy has the sense to put away the good crystal in advance. With vibrato more wobbly than the candidate’s positions on tax cuts and offshore drilling, they make their way through a version that rivals “Hey Jude” in length. At some point, they seem to run out of the song’s actual written verses and start making up new ones on the spot. A couple of excruciating modulations later, they’ve provoked at least one woman in the crowd to close her eyes tight and throw her arms skyward. She’s either figuring the Rapture is imminent, or she’s beseeching a merciful God for the PA to blow a fuse.
Phony diversity segment begins with Michael L. Williams (an African American), Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission. Williams seems to have borrowed one of Tucker Carlson’s bow ties for the occasion, along with Carlson’s habit of spewing meaningless bilge into the nearest microphone.
Next up is Luis Fortuño, Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico to the United States Congress. He talks for a while and then stops talking.
Diversity be damned, the Republicans have actually found another white person who wants to talk! It’s Meg Whitman, former president of eBay and McCain national campaign co-chair. Proving that it’s a small world after all, she says nothing more substantive than the African American and Hispanic speakers before her. Is this a great country or what! She does mention that the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan is now the party of John McCain. In my mind’s eye, I picture that famous illustration of the evolution of humans from simple sea creatures to Homo Sapiens, only in reverse.
Amazingly, Whitman warns America: “Government shouldn’t spend more than it takes in!” Even more amazingly, the Republican crowd cheers as if they’d never countenance anything else. In the time it takes for the cheering to die down, we’ve spent another few hundred thousand dollars occupying Iraq. This is nothing to Whitman, of course. After all, she was in charge of a company where customers would probably bid $4000 for my dirty socks if I painted a fuzzy image of Christ on them. (And no, they’re not for sale.)
CNN’s annoying little FACT box on the bottom left of the screen tells me that Palin was elected governor of Alaska as a “maverick reformer”. Where would we be without FACTS?
Meg Whitman be damned. It’s time for a real businesswoman. Yep, it’s Carly Fiorina here to brag about how she nearly destroyed Hewlett Packard.
But soft! She doesn’t mention HP, spying on employees, golden parachutes or anything of the like! Nevertheless, she has an awful lot to say.
First off, John McCain – wait for it – was a POW…
Carly says McCain believes: “Americans should be freed and empowered to make their own choices.” As long, presumably, as those choices don’t include reproductive freedom, gay marriage and smoking marijuana.
But Fiorina isn’t shooting for such picayune policy details. She’s turning her fabled business savvy to mass hypnosis. “I know John McCain,” she notes again and again. Carly, AJ Foyt once gave me a personal tour of the pits in Indianapolis, and there was the time I sat one table over from John Updike in a cafeteria at my alma mater, but I don’t like to brag about such things myself.
Fiorina confidently proclaims McCain will balance the budget by 2013. Wow, a mere 13 years of Republican misrule after a Democrat did the very same thing! Impressive.
Apparently, knowing John McCain means you can keep talking and talking at this shindig. Still not tiring, Carly says McCain: “will never shrink from calling evil and oppression by their names.” Unlike that hapless Obama guy who insists on calling these abstract concepts “Beauregard” and “Wanda”, right?
She segues immediately into lauding McCain for valuing the contributions of women to our country. She doesn’t say whether this holds true if they “plaster on the makeup like a trollop,” however.
Diversity redux. Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, an African American, asks the delegates: “Ready to party in this house tonight?” To paraphrase Todd Rundgren, I guess some folks is even whiter than me.
Steele nears the crescendo of his speech with these immortal words: “Government should never be powerful enough to infringe on the rights of individuals.” Umm…
Flip to CNN. Wolf Blitzer is saying to Anderson Cooper: “Sometimes we hype things.” Anderson nods. I leave the room to get my second large drink of the evening.
CNN mercifully cuts away from those two and we get to join Kyra Phillips, who’s chillin’ with none other than Kurt and Heather Bruce at the Peanut Farm Restaurant in Anchorage. Heather is Sarah Palin’s sister.
“Welcome, guys!” chirps the unsinkable Phillips. Asked the family reaction to the Palin nomination, Heather responds, not quite circumspectly enough: “Omigosh, omigosh. I can’t believe this is happening. This is great, but this is crazy.” Yes, well.
Kyra: “Was Sarah interested in politics in high school?”
Enough of CNN’s investigative reporting! Romney is up to remind America why he’s the most oily, most unctuous, most unbearable figure in American politics. He does not disappoint.
He begins by admonishing the “Eastern elites” of America that it’s time to look to the west, because the sun is about to rise in Arizona and Alaska. Not having read the Book of Mormon, I have no idea if this is prophecy, a simple end-times weather report or just Romney being, well, Romney.
He goes on. And on. And on. Time for a change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington. Must stop the spread of government dependency. Need a party of Big Ideas, not a party of Big Brother.
Mitt avers it’s time to: “Keep Al Gore’s private jet on the ground!” Nice to see Romney won’t let Al off the hook for the election that was stolen from Gore 8 years ago. Nope, time to go after his plane too. Take that, Al Gore. The first chants of “USA! USA!” of the night begin a groundswell among the well fed, ludicrously attired attendees. Long as the enemy’s name begins with the letters A and L, good enough, it seems.
Mitt, unaware that he lost this year’s nomination – or acutely conscious that the GOP 2012 nom is wide open – follows up with: “Just like you, there’s never been a day when I was not proud to be an American!” I can’t wait to watch Obama bite this supercilious little greaseball’s ass in 4 years…
CNN’s David Gergen dryly describes Romney’s spew as: “A great speech, for the 1970s.” Maybe, but it would have pissed me off back then too. Continue reading Three Days of Bad Road: Reliving the Horror of the GOP 2008 Convention, Day 2
With nine weeks or so until the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa gets underway. I thought it might be a good time to look back at the 2008 convention in all its insipid, infuriating, ignorant, phony, mean-spirited glory. This chronicle originally appeared at Daily Kos, Open Salon and Democratic Underground.
I’d understood that the convention was being held in St. Paul, but the folks in the crowd shots confirm that it’s actually being held in Squaresville.
David Brooks informs the PBS audience that it would be a mistake to skip over McCain’s history as a POW. He needn’t worry.
Bill Bennett reminds CNN viewers that James Madison never left the country, and that when Sarah Palin finally got a passport, she went not to Paris, but to Kuwait. No mention of her tarmac stop in Ireland, however.
From the podium, Norm Coleman threatens Republican Jihad on Middle America: “We’re going to paint the entire Mississippi watershed John McCain red!” Yikes!
Then tells dodgy story about Jefferson as lead-in to the curious and creepy refrain: “John McCain has a face that says ‘Yes’!”
Just saw an African American guy on the convention floor. Not sure why he was there.
Bill Bennett proclaims “the brooding omnipresence of Ronald Wilson Reagan.” Time for a bathroom break.
CNN interviews 19 y/o mayor of Muskogee, OK. Poor kid believes John McCain will keep him safe, says meeting Giuliani would “make my dreams come true.” These kids today.
Tucker Bounds tells Gwen Ifill that Palin has been “fully vetted” and she will “electrify the place” on Wednesday. Then runs out of Xcel Center before mean old Campbell Brown can tease him again.
Video tribute to GHW Bush claims “he helped put the ghosts of Vietnam to rest”. Not sure how this squares with the rest of the party doing their damnedest to achieve the opposite. Oh well.
Wolf Blitzer describes Barbara Bush as a “magnificent lady”. Bathroom break.
David Brooks: “Rush Limbaugh is no idiot.” What an idiot.
Former POW Orson Swindle introduces five Medal of Honor winners. First chants of “USA! USA!”
She’s excited by the McCain/Palin ticket! She’s proud that the first female VP will be a Republican woman!! I have no idea who she was talking about.
Speaking about W, she notes: “A lot has changed in the last eight years.” Yeah, duh.
Pickles tells vets: “America honors your service and gives you our thanks.” CNN cuts to a yawning military man on the convention floor.
And now it’s time for Preznit Satellite. He says his duties have kept him in Washington tonight “overseeing hurricane relief”. Great relief felt in both St. Paul and New Orleans, undoubtedly.
W praises “two people of character, decency and integrity” then goes into a complete non-sequitur about his parents.
Talks about McCain. Geez, apparently McCain was a POW! W says “his arms were broken, but not his honor”. No mention of his 2000 primary attempts to paint McCain as dishonorable.
Bush still talking…
Mentions the “angry left”. Cindy McCain smiles. This leftist is now officially angry.
Surge is working. Dangerous world. Lessons of September 11. Man we need is John McCain.
Says 3 or 4 words about Sarah Palin. Something something something.
“Americans have always lived on the sunrise side of the mountain.” Why does George Bush hate the Americans who live on the other side of the mountain?
Pickles up again, praising Cindy McCain’s charitable work abroad. It’s apparent that Cindy has 100 times more foreign policy experience than Palin. I’m getting really confused.
It’s Gipper Time! Please, Gipper, don’t hurt ‘em!
Video tribute to Reagan discussing his early years in politics. “Some dared breathe the word ‘maverick.’” Some dared breathe the word “jerk” too, but that doesn’t get a mention.
Replaced Carter’s indecision with “conviction politics”. If only Iran-Contra had resulted in conviction politics, I muse sadly.
“Ronald Reagan saved our America, saved our century and changed the world.” Hot damn, how come nobody ever told me about this before?
Fred Thompson is warmly applauded by the same people who ignored him back during the primaries.
Says Palin is a “breath of fresh air”. She’s “from a small town, with small town values” but the pundits have attacked her. Damn pundits! More: “Democrats and the media are in a state of panic!”
Reminds us that McCain was a POW! Very handy, since I’d just forgotten about that.
“If Roberta had been the McCain captured by the North Vietnamese, they would have surrendered!” In other words, John McCain isn’t as tough as a 93 y/o woman… Continue reading Three Days of Bad Road: Reliving the Horror of the GOP 2008 Convention, Day 1
ONE: “Ma’am, are you aware you have no clothes on?”
Some weeks back I breezily suggested that there might be a plot afoot to destabilize America via inconvenient nudity. It seems my jocularity was misplaced. A startling incident in Ballston, New York provides chilling new evidence that something eldritch is indeed unfolding. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
On May 15, Barbara LaFleur, naked as a jaybird though significantly taller, strolled into Curtis Lumber on Route 67 in Ballston, chatted with several employees, asked for the time, then walked out of the store. Manager Bob Eakin was not present at the time of the occurrence, but did a fine job describing what his employees endured, which was also captured on surveillance video:
“No one wanted to say much to her,” he said. “It’s not a situation you want to be involved in.”
After exiting Curtis Lumber, LaFleur, still bare, walked to a nearby Stewart’s, where store staff attempted a somewhat more engaged approach with the perp:
“The manager said ‘Ma’am, are you aware you have no clothes on?’ She was kosher and cool about it, and the manager told her she needed to leave,” said a Stewart’s employee, who only identified himself as Terry.
LaFleur was clothed again by the time she was apprehended by the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office and charged with misdemeanor public lewdness. Happily, no injuries were reported. Saratoga County DA James Murphy still sounds haunted by the crime as he tries to get to the bottom of it:
“While the defendant claimed she was merely expressing her freedom to be fully liberated by walking nude into Stewart’s and Curtis Lumber, this alleged conduct is actually a crime under the penal law,” said Murphy in a statement. “Surprisingly, mental health found no psychiatric issues whatsoever.”
Despite her casual crime spree, LaFleur is currently free on her own recognizance, and it’s reassuring that she isn’t considered a flight risk. The TSA has enough nudity problems of its own.
TWO: Will Vote for SNAP Benefits
If one wanted to make a case for the inferiority of white people, a solid start would be to point at Phyllis Schlafly. I don’t intend to make such a case, but I’m going to point in her direction anyway. Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, a sort of virtual outhouse that makes you want to stand upwind of your computer monitor, is in a tizzy over a recent New York Times report that white births are no longer a majority of births in America:
Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 49.6 percent of all births in the 12-month period that ended last July, according to Census Bureau data made public on Thursday, while minorities — including Hispanics, blacks, Asians and those of mixed race — reached 50.4 percent, representing a majority for the first time in the country’s history.
Of course it’s been known for many years that this would happen. It’s even reasonably interesting as an alternative to chatting with someone about the weather, but “Roger” at the Eagle Forum blog finds it acutely distressing:
The immigrants do not share American values, so it is a good bet that they will not be voting Republican when they start voting in large numbers.
“Voting in large numbers”? That does seem sort of un-American, come to think of it, but not the way “Roger” might think. “Roger” thinks that voting for anything other than a Republican isn’t patriotic, and that’s because “Roger” is delighted to surrender his freedom to The Party just like a good Soviet. It’s depressingly predictable, as well, that “Roger” thinks all these non-white births are from fecund immigrants, as opposed to simply augmenting the reproductive efforts of millions and millions and millions of American citizens who are not white. I suppose “Roger” doesn’t accept the legitimacy of their citizenship anyway.
This should be more than enough corn-fed stupid for any one skull to contain, but “Roger” goes on. In particular, a passing reference in the Times piece to Ozzie and Harriet really seems to chafe:
The NY Times liberals seek to destroy the American family of the 1950s, as symbolized by Ozzie and Harriet. The TV characters were happy, self-sufficient, autonomous, law-abiding, honorable, patriotic, hard-working, and otherwise embodied qualities that made America great. In other words, the show promoted values that NY Times liberals despise.
“Roger” left out “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent,” among other things, but it’s easy to see where he’s going with this:
Instead, the USA is being transformed by immigrants who do not share those values, and who have high rates of illiteracy, illegitimacy, and gang crime, and they will vote Democrat when the Democrats promise them more food stamps.
Food stamps? Man, these immigrants work cheap. Yet “Roger” didn’t quite purge himself adequately with his original tirade. He has since updated the blog post twice to berate Daily Kos and Right Wing Watch for finding fault with his “thought” processes:
Why do they hate Ozzie and Harriet so much? Draw your own conclusions. I say that they despise the mere concept of a national archetype that extols traditional American values…
Why is it that the only people who use meaningless phrases like “traditional American values” without irony are mouth-breathing bigots?
The liberal blogs hate that archetype, but they are not willing to say why.
I can only speak for one liberal blog – this one – but I have no problem saying why I hate that archetype. I hate it because it’s phony, cartoonish and beloved of xenophobic whites pining for a fantasy version of America where “diversity” only means more brands of toothpaste on the drug store shelf. I hate it because immigrants have always been a boon to America and there’s not a shred of evidence to prove that the newest immigrants will be any different from those of 50 or 100 or 200 years ago in terms of the energy, ambition and imagination they’re eager to devote to their cherished new country. I hate it because even Ozzie and Harriet’s forebears came from somewhere else.
My own tolerance ends abruptly when I encounter intolerance of the sort that “Roger” and his pals in Schlafly’s moral pigpen have raised into a creed and a crusade to turn back history. I hate that too.
THREE: Renaissance Moron
You might remember that the economy nearly melted down under George Walker Bush. While the nation narrowly avoided financial Armageddon, it is still struggling out of the worst downturn since the Great Depression. Meanwhile, the New York Times recently caught up with Bush and found him involved in a little economic self-stimulus:
Two months from now, he plans to publish a book outlining strategies for economic growth.
With all due respect to the Times, I believe the word “strategeries” is what their reporter must have meant, but never mind. I’ll be watching for Tax Cuts for the Rich! You’re Welcome, America in the remainder bins in July, and hoping that in future the would-be author sticks to topics he actually knows something about: weaving lies into wars, shirking a National Guard service commitment, instituting “enhanced” interrogation, prospering from insider trading, ignoring hurricanes, nodding when that nice Mr. Cheney asked for energy policy task force meetings to be kept secret, shrugging off the threat of bin Laden, shrugging off the pursuit of bin Laden, ordering warrantless wiretapping, suspending habeas corpus and stealing two elections.
For dummies. Continue reading Take Five (WTF edition)
Republicans have rushed to embrace the distraction of possible running mates for Mitt Romney, probably because it beats sitting around lamenting that their nominee is going to be Mitt Romney. The good news for the GOP is there’s no shortage of potential names; the bad news is that all of them are wretched.
Speaking of wretched, Senator John McCain was recently asked by CBS if he had any bright ideas for VP. “I think it should be Sarah Palin,” he said, and then he giggled like a schoolboy on nitrous oxide. Make of that what you will.
There’s no question that Palin still has a solid core of support among a certain type of no-information Republican voter. The party powers-that-be, however, might have reason to feel differently:
At the website for… Sarah PAC, donors are assured that funds they give to the PAC will be “dedicated to building America’s future by supporting fresh ideas and candidates who share our vision for reform and innovation.” According to Politico, however, those funds are currently doing nothing of the sort.
The committee’s [April 11] filing says that Sarah PAC raised $388,000 between January and March and spent $418,000 over the same time period, most of it on further fundraising and a bevy of political consultants, as well as a down payment on building space in Tampa, Florida near the site this summer’s Republican National Convention.
None of the funds have been spent on candidates or donations to other conservative causes…
And if Palin’s “ask not what you can do for your party” approach isn’t off-putting enough to the Republican establishment, there’s also the fact that she hasn’t come up with any new material in four years. In an interview with Sean Hannity about Hilary Rosen’s completely justified characterization of Ann Romney, for example, Palin’s contribution to the “nontroversy” was the same old same old:
“The comments that Hillary Rosen made today certainly have awakened many mama grizzlies across the nation,” the former Alaska governor asserted.
Mama grizzlies, Governor? Really? Palin won’t say one way or the other whether she’s interested in being a two-time failed VP candidate, but she did toss out an intriguing name in a March interview on Fox News:
“You know who I’d like to see… Colonel Allen West. Colonel Allen West, who’s been to the school of hard knocks, he should be the one who should be considered seriously for VP.”
Why, yes, he should be, by any party determined to lose 50 states this November. Yet Palin’s not the only one who thinks West’s jib is sufficiently well cut to take up residence at the Naval Observatory. Nikki Haley, who has herself been mentioned as a possible Romney running mate, echoed Palin, albeit a little tepidly:
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a top surrogate for GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, suggested Wednesday night that controversial Tea Party freshman Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) could be a “good” choice as the party’s vice presidential nominee.
“You’ve got great ones. You have heard Gov. Palin talk about West, and he’s good.”
And if the Palin and Haley endorsements aren’t enough to persuade the Republicans to go West, maybe that of novelty presidential candidate and serial philanderer Herman Cain will:
“Colonel Allen West out of Florida. Here’s why. He is well-spoken, he is direct, people in Florida love him, he has a huge following. He is from Florida. Florida is going to be one of those key states… But more importantly, Colonel Allen West is a dedicated patriot. He served in the military, and he is willing to serve his country some more.”
And a vice president isn’t subject to Article 15 proceedings, which is a huge plus, but if Romney wants to tap West as his running mate, he might need a time machine. The Congressman was most recently spotted hanging out in the year 1954:
… at a town-hall event in Palm Beach, he told supporters that he has “heard” that up to 81 Democrats are, in fact, communists, the Palm Beach Post reports.
In the video… someone asks West how many members of the Democratic Party are “card-carrying Marxist Socialists.”
“I believe that there are about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party,” West responds…
When pressed for specifics, a spokeswoman for the West campaign said that West was referring to the 76 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Some days later, West proffered more implausible specifics:
I think that if you would take the time to study the political spectrum of ideologies, you’d understand that at the turn of the [20th] century, American Communists renamed themselves as progressives. If you study the Woodrow Wilson administration, people referred to the Woodrow Wilson administration as a progressive administration…
There’s a very thin line between communism, progressivism, Marxism, socialism — or even, as Mark Levin has said, statism. It’s about nationalizing production, it’s about creating and expanding the welfare state. It’s about this idea of social and economic justice. And you hear that being played out — you know, now with fairness, fair share, economic equality, shared sacrifice, ad nauseam, ad infinitum.
I’m starting to think Palin, Haley and Cain are onto something here. That’s certainly one of the most forthright, unequivocal attacks on social and economic justice I’ve ever seen. Sadly, this courageous asininity landed West in hot water with another bunch of America-hating Bolsheviks: Continue reading Slouching Towards Tampa (Veep Doo-doo edition)