Take Five (New Year's Eve edition)

ONE: Post-Apocalypse Study Group Rolled Out

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

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

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

Mitt Romney. Paul Ryan. Your policies.

You’re welcome!

TWO: Un-American Heritage

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

“What Heritage does is influence the intellectual debate.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep on keepin’ on, Jimbo.

THREE: First, Do Much Harm

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

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

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

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

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

FOUR: “Barefoot paradise for a child…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Talks, 7/1/12

The Supreme Court’s decision upholding the core of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law leads this Sunday’s television talk shows.

White House chief of staff Jack Lew is on “Fox News Sunday,” ABC’s “This Week” and . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, 7/1/12

Sunday Talks, 4/22/12

The Secret Service scandal in Colombia dominates this Sunday’s television talk shows, as the Republican presidential race turns to the field of possible running mates for the likely nominee, Mitt Romney.

“Fox News Sunday” and CBS’s “Face . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, 4/22/12

Take Five (Miserable Bastards edition)

ONE: And your money back if the birth certificate turns out to be valid!

Last week Take Five presented “highlights” from the press conference announcing the results of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s cold case posse investigation into President Obama’s eligibility to hold the office he’s held for 38 months. A brief appearance at the press conference by Jerome Corsi puzzled me, since he added nothing material to the proceedings and actually spent most of his time talking about what a peach Andrew Breitbart was.

I’m frankly ashamed to say I completely missed the obvious. Jerome Corsi is a grifter, so what was he doing at the press conference? Why, grifting, of course. Only a tad more surprisingly, so was Mike Zullo, the posse’s lead investigator. Cinch up your hip waders! For only $9.99, you can buy the “book” the two have collaborated on:

Mike Zullo, a retired detective and volunteer Maricopa County Sheriff Posse member, is listed as the co-author of “A Question of Eligibility,” an e-book for sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The book is a copy of the investigation findings presented to the press on Thursday.

Zullo’s co-author is Jerome Corsi, a well-known political conspiracy writer who started the Swift-boat case against Sen. John Kerry.  More recently, Corsi, who writes for World Net Daily, has spent the last few years driving the birther movement.

Sufferin’ succotash, Arpaio must be furious! Or, um, not:

Corsi denied using the MCSO as a promotional tool to sell his books and theories…

Corsi said he informed Arpaio of his plans to sell the investigation’s findings six months ago, at the start of the investigation.

“He approved,” Corsi said, since neither he nor Zullo are paid members of the MCSO.

At least one county official isn’t so sanguine:

“I’m shocked to learn about this book,” said Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox.

Well, Ms. Wilcox, as I confessed above, I didn’t see the grifter aspect of this coming, but at least the only shock I experienced when I found out about it was in being reminded how naïve I am. Thanks for making me feel a bit better.

Here’s hoping the ongoing federal investigation of the sheriff’s misconduct in office leads to Arpaio himself no longer being a paid member of the MCSO. Now, there’s a press conference I’d love to see.

TWO: One Million Moms Circle the Drain

I also mentioned last week that I couldn’t wait to find out what One Million Moms would get all irate about next. Turns out I didn’t have to wait at all. Even as the organization (an appendage of the American Family Association) was busy calling for Toys ‘R’ Us to be boycotted for daring to sell the gay wedding edition of Life with Archie, they were also urging citizens to demand that Clorox pull its new Liquid Plumr ad.

Why would they want to do that? Over to you, Moms:

The commercial starts off with a woman in a supermarket daydreaming about what this new Liquid-Plumr product has to offer. She says, “Double impact,” twice as she reads the bottle. In her dream she is at home and answers the door to find a sexy plumber. The plumber is nice looking with huge biceps and a tight shirt. He says, “I’m here to snake your drain.” She says come on in and he walks upstairs. The doorbell rings again and it is a second sexy plumber. He says, “I’m here to flush your pipe.” She answers with an okay and while he walks on upstairs she lets out a squeal and moan while letting down her hair. Then she wakes up to reality to find the two men in the supermarket. She flirts by giving sexy eyes to the one man in the deli slicing meat and the other in produce holding two melons. These two men are the same as in her dream.

Pretty racy indeed. And there’s more:

It may be coincidence, but the man in produce is standing beside cucumbers with a price sign behind him reading 69 cents.

To summarize, an advertising agency hits on the not-at-all-novel idea to use sex (something most people enjoy) to promote a product that clears disgusting gunk out of clogged drains (something most people find revolting), and One Million Moms swoop in to spoil the fun. And rest assured they’re always soliciting new ideas for more fun to spoil:

NOTE: If you see a commercial or program which is offensive, email us the information. Many of you have done this, and it is very helpful.

THREE: Joehio

Speaking of clogged drains, Joe the Plumber (who is not a plumber and not really a Joe) finally has himself a vocation. Samuel Wurzelbacher is now the official Republican candidate in Ohio’s newly redrawn 9th Congressional District. He’ll be running, quite pointlessly, against Marcy Kaptur, who defeated Dennis Kucinich in the Democratic primary on Tuesday. That he’s headed for an electoral drubbing is almost a shame, since his winning the seat would be a vivid milestone on the drunken Republican march toward Idiocracy, although it sure as hell wouldn’t do the Ohio 9th or the United States House of Representatives any good.

“Joe” was pitted against Steve Kraus – an actual auctioneer and real estate agent, as opposed to someone who just calls himself Steve the Auctioneer and Real Estate Agent – who was significantly outspent and ultimately unable to find a sufficient number of rational Republicans in the district to stave off defeat.

So that’s one more Congressional race to watch closely. I’m hoping for a debate between Kaptur and Wurzelbacher; it would be fascinating to hear his thoughts about, for example, small business tax policy.

Apart from Wurzelbacher’s win and Kucinich’s loss, the most noteworthy Super Tuesday event in Ohio was the delightful primary defeat of Jean Schmidt, one of the nastiest human beings ever to plant buttocks on a Congressional seat. It’s an extremely overdue exit; her most storied career moment is already fading into history:

In November of 2005, she gained fame (and infamy) for her floor remarks attacking Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA), a Vietnam veteran who had recently called for an orderly U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. On the House floor, she declared in a message to Murtha, “that cowards cut and run, Marines never do.”

So it was gratifying that she lost her primary to Brad Wenstrup, an Iraq veteran. Maybe with all her new free time she can go to Afghanistan; the Marines there could use some help. Continue reading Take Five (Miserable Bastards edition)

Sunday Talks, 11/13/11

Members of the powerful deficit-slashing supercommittee highlight this Sunday’s television talk shows as the 12-member, bipartisan panel struggles to find $1.2 trillion in savings by Thanksgiving.

The committee’s Republican co-chair, Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, is on CNN’s . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, 11/13/11

Sunday Talks 7/24/11

It’s another debt-centric lineup on this Sunday’s television talk shows, with White House chief of staff Bill Daley and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner covering all five of the major networks to discuss the troubled negotiations to raise . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks 7/24/11

Sunday Talks, July 17, 2011

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