Stormy Monday, 6/30/14

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StormyMondayThe Supreme Court might get the week off to a terrible start with a bad decision in Harris v. Quinn, which could hobble the right of public sector unions to act as sole representatives of their membership, and/or a bad decision in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, which could open a mile-wide “religious conscience” loophole in Obamacare requirements that for-profit corporations furnish particular birth control services under employee health plans.

Monday, the President will nominate former Procter & Gamble CEO Bob McDonald to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, which could sure as hell use a good cleaning. McDonald is a West Point grad with five years of Army service, but he would enter the job as an outsider. If you’re impressed by such things, be advised that he apparently acquitted himself with some distinction at P&G. Whether that’s any qualification for straightening out his new organization is very much an open question.

With Arizona’s Joe Arpaio teetering on the brink of jail and/or senility, the title of America’s Worst Sheriff could soon go to Louisiana’s Julian Whittington, of Bossier Parish (“fastest-growing parish north of Interstate 10″). Whittington will celebrate the Fourth with his second annual “In God We Trust” rally. Roll your eyes if you want, Mr. or Ms. Smartypants Lieberal, but the event will feature, among many other delights, “patriotic and God-lifting music,” just as the Founders – George Washington, Ronald Reagan, Pat Robertson, Ron Paul and PT Barnum – intended. Bobby Jindal can’t make it this time around, but he’s recorded a video for the occasion, and we all know how scintillating Jindal is in front of a video camera.

Teabagger Chris McDaniel, who failed to dethrone Senator Thad Cochran in last week’s Mississippi Republican primary runoff, continues his inspiring quest to become the highest-profile crybaby in US politics, as he ratchets up claims that Cochran won with votes cast by Democrats who had already voted in the Democratic primary. Should that desperate tack fail, McDaniel will likely have to spend the rest of the summer rummaging under couch cushions and down sewer grates for the roughly 7,000 votes he would need to edge Cochran.

McDaniel’s chief competition for highest profile crybaby is of course Oklahoma Teabagger Timothy Ray Murray, who will move to contest his primary loss last week to Congressman Frank Lucas on the grounds that Lucas is actually deceased and has been replaced by a body double. (While it’s a bafflement that anyone aspiring to rationality could continue to support Republicans, don’t forget that 60,932,152 Americans saw fit to vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket in 2012. Be afraid. Be very afraid.)

But hey, if it’s any consolation to voters in Oklahoma and Mississippi, things are also just a tad muddled in Afghanistan since its presidential runoff two weeks ago. The imaginatively named Abdullah Abdullah, after showing initial deference to the country’s Independent Election Commission, has decided they can go to hell, deepening the uncertainty surrounding the vote. The commission will announce “preliminary” results as early as Saturday. You know, it’s beginning to seem that we really did bring that nation American-style democracy. More’s the pity. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 6/30/14

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Lessons Celebrating Eric Cantor's Primary Loss

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DDWho speaks today of Jim Wright or Dennis Hastert?

Eric Cantor is a name that will slip easily into the past, having achieved little on his watch expect his own ambitions, which now will remain forever incomplete. The ladder of success is a two-way passage, and Cantor obviously forgot the Old Testament teachings that, among the many meanings of Jacob’s ladder, is the changing affairs of human community. Tuesday, Cantor’s fates changed; his Congressional career and ambitions perished in a hell of his own making. He wakes up today to find the gates slammed shut on his dreams.

He earned his current infamy. Yet by all accounts, he never saw it coming. That he missed what should have been in plain sight is explained in the text of an old southern African proverb: A blind mule is never afraid of the dark.

Cantor’s blindness begins when he miscalculated the dynamics of his gerrymandered district, which runs from Richmond to the Washington suburbs. His briar patch of safety was filled with thorns and he got stuck, having created many reasons for personal grudges in a district both conservative, educated and middle class–“rich and stupid” is the shorthand I have used to describe it. Conservative, yes. Loyal, no. Reactionary, yes. Racist, yes. Invested in a Koch brothers-writ future? No. Despite Cantor’s loss.

His district, which contains a fair share of federal workers with civil service protected jobs, felt empowered to vote against the political establishment and Cantor, one of its major leaders. They have direct witness of the destructiveness of current politics.

Their paychecks were cut by sequestration, a House deal Cantor bragged he originated; their paychecks were stopped by the House-engineered government shutdown, which Cantor helped enable.

These conservatives saw in Cantor grandstanding and speech-making that brought no progress or stability, that instead attacked their own tenuous hold on what was a secure government lifeline, a civil service job, with college loans at the credit union, and good health care and a generous pension fund. For them, big government mean waste, fraud, and politics; they are anti-establishment, not necessarily anti-government. The unfair sharing of spoils to benefactors they are privy to daily drove them to the cynicism at the base of conservatism.

Their positions are more nuanced than tea party supporters in North Carolina, Georgia or Mississippi. They work in government. They simply want to eliminate what they see as its unfairness, the way the system is rigged to exploit families and workers.

Cantor stood alone, exposed against the backdrop of Washington’s giant machine, but also against the backdrop of the paper work and memorandums that crossed their desks and the themes of their meetings. In every decision, they could see Eric Cantor. Take away the partisanship and he was the establishment.

He wanted his district to overlook how deeply embedded he was in the establishment, but he overlooked the daily remainders they received. Like the repeated (fifty and counting!) meaningless votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act. His smug, annoying arrogance and obvious love of power and partisan political combat didn’t help.

His district remembered he was eager to hold up federal aid after Hurricane Sandy until budget cuts “paid” for the emergency assistance to homeowners who lost everything, to others needed the basics of shelter and food. His district remembered too well that, in their time of desperation, he put the budget first, yet supported continuing tax breaks for corporations imploding with cash. Continue reading Lessons Celebrating Eric Cantor’s Primary Loss

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IRS Agents 'Sabotage' Tea Party Activists? It's FALSE NEWS!

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FalseNewsIt’s another day in the never-ending saga of the menacing IRS agents against the beleaguered Tea Party, some four years after the first set of applications made their way to the Cincinnati Tax Exempt Determinations Unit. The implication thus far has been that a small band of reprobate IRS agents from Cincinnati were intentionally obstructing the patriotic work of our most loyal citizens. This image is perpetuated by the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee with the most extreme rhetoric, stronger than anything we’re seeing in the media. It doesn’t conduct the investigation in a fair and impartial manner, which oddly enough is what the investigation claims was done to citizens. Instead, it leaks testimony, verbally insults witnesses, cuts off the microphone of committee members, and blasts a blatantly political heading, charging: “The IRS: Targeting Americans for Their Political Beliefs.”

This is unacceptable and false on so many levels. What’s worse, this completely bogus inquisition, put on by Congressman Darrell Issa, is maligning the integrity of so many agents doing nothing more than ensuring political organizations do not intentionally evade taxes they are required to pay. The only intentional “targeting” going on is by groups pretending they aren’t going to engage in campaign activity when they know they are.

Who are these government workers who are actually under criminal investigation, thanks to Chairman Issa? They are citizens like Elizabeth Hofacre, an Army veteran, Boston University MBA, and IRS employee since 1999. She was the “emerging issues coordinator” in April of 2010 and was one of the first to be confronted with the uptick in Tea Party applications.  She did not say liberal cases were not processed, as has been misinterpreted by the media. She said they were not part of her role as an “emerging issues coordinator.”  In her own words, she sent “those applications to general inventory since they were not within the scope of the Tea Party emerging issue.”

She coordinated with Carter Hull, an IRS tax law specialist in Washington DC, at the Rulings and Agreements office that has oversight of the Determinations Unit in Cincinnati. Carter Hull is a Vietnam veteran who received his degree in 1965 and then gave 48 years to the IRS.  In his testimony, he states he received two test cases that he reviewed with Elizabeth Hofacre and then “drafted documents stating my recommendations and analysis.” He was charged with developing a template letter that would ensure a consistent line of questioning for groups that might illegally engage in lobbying and campaigning.  In the fall of 2010, the Cincinnati manager, Cindy Thomas, a 35-year IRS veteran, told Holly Paz, a Washington DC manager, that this letter was not prepared. No cases were processed during this time, meaning no “emerging issue” organization was denied tax exempt status for any reason.

These actions were reviewed by supervisors Elizabeth Kastenberg and Judy Kindell. Judith Kindell received her JD from Columbia Law School in 1986, an LLM in 1995, and has worked as a tax law Specialist at the IRS since 1991. Interestingly enough, she wrote the IRS Rules for Exempt Organizations in an Election Year, which was used as a reference during Darrell Issa’s witch hunt against ACORN’s activities.

Between April 2010 and July 2010, a system was materializing to identify groups that claimed social or educational status that might be political in nature. Terminology was added to the database in the form of a BOLO (Be On the Lookout) list which has four tabs.  “Emerging Issues” is one of those tabs, and where the Tea Party keywords were entered into the spreadsheet. As was later acknowledged, there were BOLOs for “Progressive,” “ACORN successor” and “Emerge”, although those keywords were entered into a separate tab as they were not new organizations with new issues.

By July of 2011, the use of group names had come to the attention of Holly Paz in Washington DC. Holly received her JD at University of Pennsylvania Law School, and spent her years in private practice and the IRS focused on exempt organizations. She reported the information to her superior, Lois Lerner, who has now become notorious for invoking her Fifth Amendment rights. At that point, a teleconference was arranged to correct the keywords to “political,” “lobbying “or “advocacy.” Holly Paz became aware of another set of inappropriate changes to the BOLO database in January 2012, and reported it to Lois Lerner. According to the TIGTA report, the Cincinnati office thought the July 2011 criteria were “too broad” and added policy positions in order to tag groups that might be involved in campaigning. Continue reading IRS Agents ‘Sabotage’ Tea Party Activists? It’s FALSE NEWS!

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Political Dynamics for 2014

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DDWe often forget the world is a dynamic place. Instead of embracing its splendor, our senses are blunted by our own inventions and appetites. We have forgotten how to think deeply and make change. We abandon beauty for bad taste. A recent television episode for families featured a child who had lost his tooth. The kid remarked, now he could “suck his own blood.”

Despite the political bloodsucking, it is the time of the year when we celebrate our best and brightest, those whose youth or age has allowed them to bring opportunity to society, and to be recognized for their special gifts. Did these gifts make a difference? Or did they gain the attention of the public eye because we were told they should? In this category belong pre-scandal Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and any guest on Fox.

Unemployment by State. FRED.

Unemployment by State. FRED.

So ignore the national trends. Take a private inventory. Over the last year, who made a difference in your life? Why? How? In that same period, who did you make a difference to? How? Why?

The Tea Party hoped for a difference, but went into a rage of despair when they discovered that in the period between shutting down the government and passing the federal budget their influence had waned, and they still don’t understand why. They are busy making noises and plans to run against those members of Congress who abandoned their ideals. It seems more retribution than strategy.

I have never been sure what those ideals were, but apparently the Tea Party stood for closing the government. That action seemed their pinnacle of success. I remember the smiles and general glee, the joy of their words celebrating an achievement the rest of the world found unthinkable and stupid.

That act alone is a reason to “dig deep.” The Tea Party never seemed to understand that government is the legal structure that supports local business and global commerce, and maintains the social order, and aids the orderly transitions of generations. Their obsession with the balance sheet turns a blind eye to government’s real functions—the safety and security of our economy and our society, an expensive undertaking, but functions which create real long- and short-term benefits for all.

I think the Tea Party doesn’t like the “for all.” Definitely, it doesn’t like how we provide for the “all.” As best as I can tell, it plays favorites. It favors the wealthy who receive government help in greater dollar amounts than the poor, but the Tea Party seems to want to protect that part of the government balance sheet. Government helps the wealthy by removing its numbers from the balance sheet, so the transfer is not transparent and is also invisible. But big numbers posted in the budget before they go out seem to drive the Tea Party crazy.

But big numbers off the government balance sheet have no impact on their attention. Not one Congress member who proudly wears the Tea Party label apologized or was contrite that their action to shutter the federal government cost 120,000 jobs, and cost the economy $24 billion.

Will the mainstream alliance of big business, cronies, and Republican loyalists carry the day in the next Presidential cycle? Will the Tea Party, gaining skill at raising money and still popular as an assembly of anarchist-reactionaries, protect their turf?

Heritage Action, and the dark money the Koch brothers organizations provides, may make the difference. But will their support be enough to help the Tea Party hold its seats against a turning tide?

Democrats can point to a growing list of skilled politicians of exceptional merit. Going into 2016, really smart Democrats are focused on the state level and are building out grassroots organizations. New York State, with Gov. Cuomo and Senator Kristen Gillibrand, and New York City, with new Mayor de Blasio, are the ones to watch. Experienced, key operatives are coming into the state to put a progressive agenda in place, including expanding public education and higher taxes on the wealthy.

Sen. Gillibrand has been a real surprise among Senate Democrats. She deserves greater recognition for her no-holds-barred approach to arm twisting and her willingness to put principles first. She may be New York’s best Democratic female candidate for President. Continue reading Political Dynamics for 2014

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The Failed Tea Party Rally of 1960

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A few weeks ago I read the latest volume in Robert Caro’s epic four-part biography of Lyndon Johnson, The Passage of Power. The depth of insight about Johnson’s life and Caro’s theme on the use of power is so impressive that other historical biographies now feel more tedious by comparison. In The Passage of Power, he describes an event I’d never heard of that stuck with me: The Adolphus Hotel incident.

Four days before the 1960 election, Johnson was greeted by an angry, booing crowd of several hundred Republicans outside his campaign event at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas. The mob had come from a Nixon gathering and were led by ultra-conservative Texas Congressman Bruce Alger. Their signs called LBJ a traitor and accused him of selling out to the “yankee socialist” JFK.

Johnson decided to walk through the hotel lobby with his wife, Lady Bird. He acted above the insults as he slowly pushed his way through a crowd that hissed, booed and spat at them. He was quoted in papers saying, “I only hope the day never comes when a man cannot walk his lady across the street in Dallas.”

So far this sounds like just another day on the campaign trail. A Democratic candidate for national office being greeted by a crowd of booing people with nasty signs calling him a socialist traitor is no big deal. The only unusual thing is that they were allowed so close to the event. In a post 9/11-world they would be kept across the street for an Obama event, or out of view several blocks away when Bush was President.

Here’s the part that blew my mind. In 1960 this kind of behavior actually bothered people! The rude manner in which LBJ and his wife were treated was scandalous. It’s credited with encouraging Texas to rally around its mistreated native son and delivering the state to the Kennedy/Johnson ticket. There were still independents and moderate Republicans who felt a sense of shame about a crowd of ignorant, hateful jackasses. What happened?!

Today they would be celebrated on cable news as the hot new political movement. They would whine about liberal bias until the press gave them favorable coverage and their own show on CNN. Continue reading The Failed Tea Party Rally of 1960

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Take Five (Joke on the Water edition)

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ONE: Issa Muggin’

Following his failure to bring down the Obama Administration with the Fast and Furious pseudo-scandal, Congressman Darrell Issa found himself faced with a choice: do something worthwhile with his time, or occupy himself with more ephemeral crap. Can you guess which he chose?

Issa has gone back and revived an idea that got no traction on multiple previous occasions; he’s trying once again to persuade fellow legislators to rename America’s coastal waters, to exchange the drab moniker “Exclusive Economic Zone” for the super-duper ain’t-that-America gee-whiz red-white-and-blue hyper-patriotic name “Ronald Wilson Reagan Exclusive Economic Zone.” Catchy, n’est-ce pas?

Other than sabotaging the nation’s future prosperity with voodoo economics and more than tripling the national debt, ruthlessly shutting down mental health facilities and leaving their patients to fend for themselves, trading arms for hostages and then lying about it, ignoring the AIDS epidemic, invading Grenada for the mucho macho cred, unleashing a crack plague on inner cities, and shrugging off global warming, just what did Reagan do to deserve Issa’s proposed encomium?

Well, back in 1983, he issued Proclamation 5030, which created the EEZ in the first place. The proclamation reads in part:

Within the Exclusive Economic Zone, the United States has, to the extent permitted by international law, (a) sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring, exploiting, conserving and managing natural resources, both living and non-living, of the seabed and subsoil and the superjacent waters and with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the zone, such as the production of energy from the water, currents and winds; and (b) jurisdiction with regard to the establishment and use of artificial islands, and installations and structures having economic purposes, and the protection and preservation of the marine environment.

Gosh. That sort of brings a patriotic tear to my eye, I’ll tell you. Yet the point of Issa’s exercise isn’t really to rename the EEZ, or even to honor the sainted, Grecian Formula-enhanced corpse of Ronald Reagan. It’s simply about Issa keeping himself busy with matters of absolutely zero benefit to the nation. That’s pretty much been his specialty since he was inexplicably elected to office, and in that, he has no end of company in the 112th Congress.

But what about the Exclusive Economic Zone? Isn’t it time a little creativity was brought to bear on this? Why should 12,500 miles of coastline all be named after one guy, even if he did tear down the Berlin Wall with his bare hands? Why not have a Slappy White Chesapeake Bay, to commemorate the legendary Baltimore-born comedian? Or a Biscayne Eat, Pray, Love Bay, in recognition of million-watt megastar Julia Roberts having a residence nearby?

Come to think of it, why not open up corporate bidding for naming rights to different areas? How about Puget Sound by Starbucks? Or the MGM Grand Banks? Sure, most of the latter is under Canadian jurisdiction, but if the Canucks put up a fuss, just invade ’em, Congressman. That’s what the Gipper would have done, right? You could even call it the Ronald Wilson Reagan Commemorative Invasion and Total Ass-kicking of Canada. If you’re going to pretend to be doing the people’s business, at least pretend with a little vigor.

TWO: Drive, They Said

Speaking of Congressional wastes of space, ThinkProgress did an investigation recently into seven teabagging House freshmen, and found some fascinating information:

Though they campaigned on a platform of reducing the deficit and ridding wasteful spending, more than a half-dozen Tea Party congressmen have collectively spent over $100,000 in taxpayer money on personal vehicles.

ThinkProgress examined spending records for the 112th Congress and found seven GOP freshmen — Reps. Chip Cravaack (R-MN), Sean Duffy (R-WI), Bill Flores (R-TX), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Mike Pompeo (R-KS), and Steve Womack (R-AR) — who had spent an average of $15,000 on cars for themselves. All together, their taxpayer bill totaled $106,643.

There is nothing illegal about the practice of using taxpayer money to lease personal-use cars, but it smacks of hypocrisy for Tea Partiers like Duffy who promised to “lead by example” when it comes to deficit reduction.

ThinkProgress tersely notes that the spending totals were:

… compiled from the House of Representatives’ official Statement of Disbursements, a quarterly publication regarding all expenditures for House offices, for the 112th Congress.

And when the lame duck session gets underway, don’t be surprised if the munificent seven propose eliminating the Statement of Disbursements in the interest of saving taxpayers some money…

THREE: Razing Arizona, part I

Of course, teabaggers in Congress can be fairly said to be mirroring the folks who sent them to Washington in the first place, a demographic characterized by astonishing ignorance, revolting bigotry, cringe-inducing paranoia, putrid hypocrisy and a world view as narrow as one would expect the vista from inside a colon to be. The recent dustup over Michele Bachmann and four other members of Congress accusing Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood leads to a case in point.

The controversy began outrageously enough, and went quickly downhill from there, reaching what one would fervently hope would be its nadir on Monday, when Wes Harris – who heads the Original North Phoenix Tea Party – told the Arizona Capitol Times that John McCain’s spirited defense of Abedin warranted a recall petition, and maybe more:

While Harris has many problems with McCain, a mass email he sent out focused solely on the senator’s recent defense of Huma Abedin…

Harris said he plans to circulate recall petitions against McCain. In his email, he said, “We must find a way to get rid of this embarrassment.”

The email Harris sent includes a forwarded item from the blog Bare Naked Islam that castigates McCain for defending “Islamic enemies of America” and attacking U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican and tea party favorite. The blog piece ends by saying, “Go to hell, Senator, it’s time for you to take your final dirt nap.”

What specifically prompted the blog’s call for the Senator’s death were McCain’s remarks on the Senate floor:

“I have every confidence in Huma’s loyalty to our country, and everyone else should as well. All Americans owe Huma a debt of gratitude for her many years of superior public service. I hope these ugly and unfortunate attacks on her can be immediately brought to an end and put behind us before any further damage is done to a woman, an American, of genuine patriotism and love of country.”

Bare Naked Islam’s banner slogan, by the way, is: “It isn’t Islamophobia when they really ARE trying to kill you.” Now, if you’re like me, you absolutely despise taking John McCain’s side on anything, but it’s impossible not to here.

Harris had plenty more spleen to vent, of course:

“Have you ever read the Quran? I suggest you do so, because anyone that is a Muslim is a threat to this country, and that’s a fact…”

Harris said he believes Abedin has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. But ultimately, he said it doesn’t matter whether she’s linked to the group or not because he doesn’t believe Muslims should work for the federal government…

“Is she a Muslim? Is she an active Muslim?” Harris said. “I rest my case. That’s all she needs to be.”

Harris offered no definition of an “active Muslim” and I strongly suspect he couldn’t do so if challenged, but in the post-fact America Harris and his fellow bigots are working so hard to create, actual knowledge and a capacity for critical thought are unnecessary. Ironically, John McCain’s 2008 candidacy did a lot to move all this, uh, forward. Continue reading Take Five (Joke on the Water edition)

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Jesus to Address Joint Session of Congress

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Jesus Christ, the renowned Jewish philosopher and religious scholar viewed by many as their Lord and Savior, will address a nationally televised joint session of the United States Congress this coming Tuesday, April 3, at 8 PM Eastern time.

According to officials, neither the purpose nor subject of Jesus’s historic address will be known in advance. When asked if this most unprecedented appearance is in any way related to a possible pending apocalypse, a representative of the enigmatic church leader cryptically responded, “Does He look Mayan to you?”

The announcement was made following a reportedly heated closed-door session of the Republican Congressional Caucus which was necessitated by a division within its ranks over whether or not to adopt the concurrent resolution necessary to convene a joint session.

Action on Capitol Hill was fast and furious Friday afternoon after the surprise request to address Congress was submitted by representatives of Mr. Christ. Initially, House Speaker John Boehner’s office indicated that the Speaker sought to move the address to Monday evening — a request which was flatly rejected by the Son of God who expressed concern over the possible alienation of millions of His followers if the address were to preempt ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and ‘The Voice’.

Less than one hour later, it appeared as though the first appearance by a Holy person in the House chamber in recent memory was in jeopardy when Speaker Boehner was informed by members of the GOP’s Tea Party Caucus that they would not support the measure because they feared that an appearance by Jesus on the Capitol floor while Barack Obama is still in office would be perceived as a victory for the President. Continue reading Jesus to Address Joint Session of Congress

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Slouching Towards Tampa (Where Are They Now edition)

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Tomorrow’s Florida primary probably won’t result in Rick Santorum or Ron Paul heading for the exit sign, but it will move both of them a step closer to it.

That pleasant thought got me wondering what the other Republican dropouts were up to these days. Turns out they’re all keeping busy, though probably not without some regrets here and there about what they’re busy with.

Michele Bachmann has set her sights on another term representing the Minnesota 6th. Well, maybe:

Speaking on Fox News, Bachmann seemed caught off guard when asked directly if she’d be running for a fourth term.

“I, very — yes,” she said.

However, Bachmann quickly qualified her response to indicate that it was an option she would be considering.

“I believe I’ll be looking at that, very seriously looking at coming back for a fourth term.”

Her hesitance seems to be contagious:

The contentious nature of the primary season, coupled with some high-profile missteps, sent her back to Minnesota with a low favorability rating in her home state.

According to a statewide Public Policy Polling survey released on Tuesday, only 34 percent of those polled have a positive view of her, while 57 percent have an unfavorable view.

Only 37 percent said she should run for reelection.

She can look forward to some traveling, at least:

Former Republican presidential candidate and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has been named as a witness in a messy, multimillion-dollar federal lawsuit in Nashville.

Led by prominent Republican fundraiser and millionaire Bill Hemrick of Brentwood, a group of Middle Tennessee conservatives sued California businessman Anthony Loiacono for $19 million in November over a failed venture to create a television network devoted to the tea party movement. The plaintiffs claim Loiacono used their investments as his “personal bank account.”

Loiacono first responded by challenging Hemrick to a “lie detector challenge.” He has since formally responded to the lawsuit and claims Hemrick and co-plaintiff Mel Martin are primarily responsible for Tea Party HD’s demise. He has countersued the plaintiffs for $1 million alleging defamation and abuse of process.

He also filed a lengthy list of 50 anticipated witnesses in the case, including Bachmann and other prominent conservatives such as commentators Ann Coulter and Phil Valentine; Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips; and state lawmakers Rep. Glen Casada and Sen. Jack Johnson of Williamson County.

Great stuff. The report goes on to note that Tea Party HD produced Bachmann’s response to the 2011 SOTU. That was the response where she looked earnestly at a spot somewhere off-camera, as if she were speaking not to you, the viewer, but to your neighbors. Tea Party HD will be missed.

You’ll be delighted to know that the former candidate still finds time for fun, and one thing she’s always found fun is denying non-heterosexuals their rights:

Eagan, Minn. — Minnesota pastors and lawmakers who support a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman aim to develop varied strategies to win voter support.

At a strategy session [Friday]… the Faith and Freedom coalition discussed ways to sell the marriage amendment to people who may not hold their fervent views.

… the room came to its feet for a last-minute appearance by Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, who first proposed a marriage amendment when she was a state senator…

“I think if you want to talk to people who are not interested in talking about the morality you can also come at it as “should people be allowed to vote,” Bachmann said.

A minister in the back of the room offered up a prayer for Bachmann. A pastor from Minneapolis asked for advice on how to talk about the amendment with parishioners who are parents of gay children.

Bachmann said she wasn’t an expert, and switched back to her main line of argument, that people should get to decide the laws they live under.

Coincidentally, Bachmann had appeared on The O’Reilly Factor the night before to share her lack of expertise about running for the presidency. Some snippets:

I loved the debates. I wish I could have been a part of every single debate. I wanted to answer every question. It’s a wonderful process because it helps to explain positions to people across the United States and explain why Barack Obama can’t have a second term. It’s a wonderful process…

… if you go all the way back to August — whoever goes to the top, they don’t stay there very long and they go straight down. And people have a very short shelf life. And it’s almost like the voters have whiplash. They go from one candidate to another and they — they completely go with one candidate and then they’ll hear some information and they’ll move away. And so people are looking for perfection…

The fact on the ground is that you have to have money to be able to keep the mother ship going.

Bachmann’s not the only ex-candidate to return home with a tarnished reputation:

Governor Rick Perry has gotten a rocky welcome home to Texas, facing low poll numbers and criticism over state expenses related to his failed campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Travel for Perry’s security team cost the state nearly $800,000 between September and November, according to a new report from the state Department of Public Safety.

Money well spent, I’d say, since it indirectly helped the nation remain safe from a Perry presidency by keeping him on the stump week after uproarious week. Texas Democrats are demanding that he reimburse the state, but Perry’s probably more concerned over a different sort of fallout from his face-plant on the national stage: Continue reading Slouching Towards Tampa (Where Are They Now edition)

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Why 2012 Will Be a “Close” Election

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I so wish I could tell you that the upcoming general election will be close, and that it will be due to the life-and-death seriousness of the issues as they relate to our economy, the environment and our foreign policy — but I cannot honestly say this.  I do believe that the 2012 election will be close, but for the wrong reasons; one being that it is how media conglomerates generate large sums for themselves during an election year.  So when the media crows again how this will not only be close, but the most expensive ever, don’t think they aren’t at the same time counting on the millions they will earn throughout.

We must understand that the protracted Obama-Hillary primary wars of 2008 were a boon to media coffers!  Couple that with the birth of the limitless Super PACs (thanks to our Republican-dominated SCOTUS), and you can easily see what I see: media mavens relying on  their potential earnings after facing lean advertising years. If you hadn’t thought about it before, think about it now, while closely observing how desperately reporters are handling the Republican primaries. It may seem quite entertaining at the moment (to some of us), but I would respectfully suggest that we ought to be preparing for what is to come in the general.

Speaking of the current sorry-ass Republican primaries, it is mighty strange that although there is only one halfway electable Republican left standing, we are now witnessing a media-termed “horse race” as we head toward Super PAC-spending Tuesday. It’s not because the alternative candidates to Romney are actually worth anything (because they aren’t); it is because the faster the Republican Primaries end, the less money the Super PAC will spend, and that would greatly reduce the media’s anticipated advertising windfall.

Look, it’s no accident that the media has been all over candidate Romney since his big win in New Hampshire.  At the exact time the announcement was made that Mitt held an insurmountable double-digit lead in South Carolina polls, the corporate media got hella serious!   To add to the media’s trouble, GOP candidates were dropping like flies, Mitt Romney reeked of the inevitable stench, and the primary season was ending before it had started.  But by golly, all was not lost, as we witnessed the re-resurrection of the twice-fallen Newt in just 7 days!  I will add that this wasn’t an easy get by any means. Just ask Ginger Chuckie on MSNBC; he seemed quite exhausted with that renewed Newt surge!

Yes, truth be told, our poor corporate media has had the hardest time coming up with a plausible scenario to get that primary GOP Super PAC money bomb coming their way, considering what they were given to work with! It isn’t typical of our media to get so resourceful as to report on the manner in which a GOP millionaire candidate built his fortune, or to just allow GOP candidates to be dumb enough to literally destroy each other, after all that St. Reagan preached on that subject!  The media corporations, after all, are not left-leaning, nor have they been for quite some time.  No, the media corporations lean green with greed, and we shouldn’t allow ourselves to forget that.

As for the general election of 2012, we have already been repeatedly warned that it will be close due to the economy, and it has been left at that. It is a mantra that too many of us sheepishly agree with. But, come to think of it, wasn’t it the Republican Party who brought upon this nation the worst recession since the Great Depression? Wasn’t it largely Republicans who deregulated our financial institutions, which brought us to our knees? And aren’t they now promising us more of that, and calling it “restoring America”?

Wasn’t it the Republican Party who started an unjustified war via lies trumpeted by our media, and kept the war’s spending off the books for all the years they could, while still to this day proclaiming “cowboy diplomacy” as the only way to go?

Wasn’t it the Republican Party who brought us the tax cuts for the rich, and yet is still proposing tax cuts for the rich as the remedy to the original fiasco? And what about the Medicare drug programs that wasn’t paid for, meant to destroy Medicare by not allowing government drug price negotiations in their legislation?

Wasn’t it Republicans who recently claimed that deficits were their priority concern, deficits that they themselves expanded widely during their eight years of power?

Isn’t it the Republican Party which now vilifies American victims of the great GOP recession, using unemployment benefits as a bludgeon against the jobless, shaming those in need of food stamps, and using outright racial stereotypical slurs in so doing?

Aren’t those Republicans, who, with one hand on their bible, refuse to even consider lending the other hand to their brothers and sisters who happen to be “the lesser” among us? Continue reading Why 2012 Will Be a “Close” Election

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Needed: One Christmas Miracle, Please

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Recently a cousin left a comment on his Facebook that our troops fought and died “so we could say Merry Christmas.” I don’t know why the right finds it necessary to conflate patriotism and Christianity, or pretend that Christ has gone missing from Christmas, or that anyone in America doesn’t know “the reason for the season” or at least the reason in this country.

In their quest, they miss so many joyous moments from other cultures and religions. For instance, we are in the Hanukkah season, the Season of Miracles. While I don’t know a thing about the religious customs of Hanukkah, or whether various cultures bring different perspectives to the holiday, I find it odd that these Christians can’t find enough camaraderie in this holiday to delight in the biggest Christian miracle of all, Jesus Christ. Certainly Hanukkah has nothing to do with Jesus, I know that, but I can rejoice in the celebration of miracles. Any Christian should be able to do that.

The biggest miracle of this holiday season will likely be in the homes of thousands of children whose parents will be home from war. I don’t think those children will particularly care what greeting mom or dad gives, or whether they say anything at all, just that they are there to say it will be enough. Especially when they can give a big hug and kiss and some giggles and tickles to go along.

Of course many of those same right wingers are not rejoicing, or worse, taking credit for the war ending while criticizing Obama for ending it. Confused? Well, Obama just carried out the exit strategy negotiated by W, doncha know? Never mind that the Tea Party opposes the exit strategy just as McCain does, saying Obama deserves “scorn and disdain” for pulling all of our troops out of Iraq. Continue reading Needed: One Christmas Miracle, Please

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