Monday, April 30, 2012

"Toxic Culture of Entitlement"

The first thing you need to know is that former Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ritchie Farmer is mentally deficient. That's not an insult. That's a fact. The second thing is that his obvious retardation did not stop Kentuckians from voting him into one of the most powerful statewide offices. Twice. All they cared about was his being a hometown boy who played on a championship UK basketball team. The third thing is that literally nothing will come of the audit report that reveals widespread corruption and illegality on Reetchie's part. He will not go to jail, he will not pay any fines beyond returning all the stuff he stole, Kentucky will not turn the Commissioner of Agriculture into an appointed position the way it is in civilized states, and record-breaking corruption in the Agriculture Department will continue - albeit more circumspectly. Joe Sonka at Leo's Fat Lip:
This morning, Kentucky State Auditor Adam Edelen released the findings of his special examination into Richie Farmer’s handling of the Department of Agriculture during his term, which he says shows “a toxic culture of entitlement and self-dealing at Kentucky taxpayers’ expense.” Edelen will be referring the report to the Kentucky Attorney General, Executive Branch Ethics Commission, IRS, Kentucky Department of Revenue, Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Personnel Board. “The law makes no distinction between icons and the rest of us, and neither do I,” Edelen said. “The report paints a clear picture of an administration that had no qualms about treating taxpayer resources as its own. The former commissioner had state employees on state time take him hunting and shopping, mow his yard, build a basketball court in his backyard, and even chauffer his dog. He showered himself with gifts and office equipment and rewarded friends with jobs. These are just some of the documented abuses that should outrage every Kentuckian.” Farmer refused to be interviewed by the auditor’s office. I assume Farmer’s lawyers will be the one’s doing the talking now. So… will Attorney General Jack Conway pursue this further, or is it politically dangerous to put an “Unforgettable” in jail? We’ll find out ...
Read on for the best list of findings outside the full report. Page One has an informed take:
Hoo boy, this report from State Auditor of Public Accounts Adam Edelen about Richie Farmer has been a long time coming. Turns out? Richie used state resources and employees for his own personal gain. He’s still refusing to be interviewed by auditors but you can bet he and his people will trash this report anonymously and in the press. “The law makes no distinction between icons and the rest of us, and neither do I,” Edelen said. “The report paints a clear picture of an administration that had no qualms about treating taxpayer resources as its own. The former commissioner had state employees on state time take him hunting and shopping, mow his yard, build a basketball court in his backyard, and even chauffer his dog. He showered himself with gifts and office equipment and rewarded friends with jobs. These are just some of the documented abuses that should outrage every Kentuckian." The highlights: SNIP Richie signed the timesheets of his girlfriend/mistress because his chief of staff refused to do so/couldn’t substantiate any work she did A former executive director and former director told staff to delay action against a grain dealer because it was during an election year and could cause a negative political outcome for the former commissioner. A $1.65 million fuel-testing lab that was projected to test 20,000 samples a year has not met its goal and lost the state more than $744,000 in fiscal year 2011. Roughly half the department’s employees had permanently assigned take-home vehicles. Many of the employees were not justified in having state vehicles. There’s lots more detailed in the report. 41 findings and 126 recommendations. Many issues surrounding the reporting of taxable benefits to the IRS and Kentucky Department of Revenue. So you’ll likely want to read it all.
And it wasn't just money. There were casualties. Barefoot and Progressive before the audit report cam out:
It seems like Richie Farmer’s time as Ag. Commissioner, with its lavish parties and missing rifles, is going to continue providing fodder for Herald-Leader investigative journalists well into the next decade. Here’s the hilarity in today’s paper:
A distant relative of former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer worked in the Department of Agriculture for nearly five years as an amusement ride inspector despite never receiving certification to do the work. George “Doug” Begley worked from July 1, 2007, to March 12 inspecting amusement park rides in Eastern Kentucky, according to documents obtained by the Lexington Herald-Leader under the state’s Open Records Act. Documents in Begley’s personnel file show he voluntarily accepted a demotion to the department’s fuel-testing division in March after Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who took office in January, discovered that Begley never received his certification.
There’s something comical about the pettiness of cousin George Doug not getting a certification that would have probably been easy for him to get and that the state would have paid for. Richie Farmer’s corruption was mostly just laughs. Well, until somebody lost a foot.
A Louisville teen’s feet were severed after she was hurt on a ride at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in 2007. The park closed in 2009. Begley, who worked out of Breathitt County and inspected rides in that area, could not be reached for comment.
B&P also rejects the compliments being showered on Ritchie's successor for requesting the audit and acting expeditiously to implement recommended changes.
I get the strong sense that Jamie Comer is, if not encouraging these stories, at least rooting for them because they show a lack of continuity between the two Republicans. Next to Richie Farmer, he looks like a high-minded reformer. But make no mistake, Jamie Comer is a right-wing son of a bitch who voted against felon re-enfranchisement, against providing HPV vaccinations to girls, and against equal pay for equal work for women when he was a state rep. Expect him to run for something fancier in 2014 or 2015 on his record of cleaning up Richie Farmer’s mess and expect a lot of Democrats to talk about how he’s a good man.
Yes, of course Ritchie's a republican.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


This is why I've deleted your emails without even opening them for the last three years or more. If you refuse to lift a finger to help progressive Democratic challengers unseat entrenched GOPers, I'm not interested in anything you have to say. Neither am I going to give you one red cent of my money.

Let me give you a clue here. Engaged liberals are not as stupid or mindlessly loyal to the party as you appear to think we are.

[Cross posted at The Impolitic]

Lazy Sunday blogging

Almost forgot I promised to drop by here and check on the liquor cabinet -- er -- I mean post something. Lazy Sunday for me so I'm just going to commemorate National Poetry month for the moment. I could try to impress you with some obscure poet from the vast breadth of my poetry knowledge, but instead I'm posting the source of my earliest exposure to poetry readings.

It's quite possible that Bullwinkle is responsible for instilling a love of poetry in me at such an early age. Also, too, still my favorite cartoon series of all time. Jay Ward was a genius.

[I also post (almost) daily at the Detroit News.]

"Knowledge Without Affection Leads Us Astray Every Time"

For those of us who have read Wendell Berry for decades, who know him as that Henry County farmer with a way with words, it's easy to forget the man is a national treasure. Tom Eblen at the Herald:
The National Endowment for the Humanities chose the Kentucky farmer, poet, essayist, novelist, activist and philosopher to give the 2012 Jefferson Lecture at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. It is the federal government's highest honor for scholarly contributions to the humanities.
Berry, 77, delivered a searing indictment of corporate domination and the industrial economy, saying it has abused the land and people and threatens our survival. You can — and should — watch the video of Berry's lecture and read the full text of his essay, titled "It All Turns on Affection." Both are online at
"Now the two great aims of industrialism — replacement of people by technology and concentration of wealth in the hands of a small plutocracy — seem close to fulfillment," Berry said. "At the same time the failures of industrialism have become too great and too dangerous to deny." Even the term economy has lost its original meaning, which had to do with household management and husbandry, he said. Most economists now "never ask, in their professional oblivion, why we are willing to do permanent ecological and cultural damage 'to strengthen the economy.'" Corporate industrialism, he said, "has failed to sustain the health and stability of human society. Among its characteristic signs are destroyed communities, neighborhoods, families, small businesses and small farms. It has failed just as conspicuously and more dangerously to conserve the wealth and health of nature."
Read the whole thing. Watch the video and read the lecture here.


When he was running for his second term as Mayor (or was it his third after he overturned a term limits law to keep his job?) New York’s Michael Bloomberg ran advertising on television showing himself  on the streets of New York without necktie, wearing a windbreaker, and getting referred to as “Mayor Mike.” Since then, I can’t remember seeing him in public wearing anything less than a perfectly tailored suit and tie. And these days it's "Mayor Bloomberg," thank you very much. But never mind all that.

Lately, “man of the people” Bloomberg is willing to spend a chunk of the city’s dwindling treasury to make sure a bunch of working stiffs don’t earn a penny more than $7.25 an hour.

This is in a city so expensive to live in that, regardless of national figures, an income for a family of three below $16,841 means you're poor. At $7.25 an hour, your annual income would come to $15,080. That’s more than a thousand bucks below the poverty line, where currently 21 percent of the financially drowning population is gasping to survive. (See chart.) 

Billionaire Bloomberg’s anti-living-wage stance stems from a fracas he’s having with his own City Council and its speaker, Bloomberg’s usual political ally, Christine Quinn. This time even Quinn isn't going along with Bloomberg.

The Council wants to pass a law requiring owners of buildings subsidized by the city’s taxpayers to pay a minimum wage of $10 an hour plus benefits.

Seeing a man earning ten bucks an hour really rankles Bloomberg’s precious sensitivities, even as he counts his billions. (I’ve seen estimates that he has as little as $17 billion. And as much as $21 billion.) 

Now the extra $2.75 an hour probably wouldn’t pay the heating bill on Bloomberg’s personal mansion on East 79th Street, not to mention the cost of traipsing off to Bermuda regularly with his girlfriend. (And no, he doesn’t get there flying tourist class. Why go through all that when you can just take a fistful of high denomination bills out of your pocket and rent a plane that leaves when you’re ready, skipping all those inconvenient schedules and security screenings.)

But if a working stiff threatens to earn an extra $2.75 for cleaning out ten floors of urinals and mopping up the pee puddles under them, what does the mayor do?

Bloomberg throws a hissy fit

Pay the workers? As Bloomberg sees it – and said it on the radio – that’s akin to bloody communism

Declared the mayor: “It’s interesting if you think about it. The last time we had a big managed economy was the USSR, and that didn’t work out so well.”

And then he waxed poetically impressionistic: “We cannot stop the tides from coming in. We need jobs in the city. It’d be great if all jobs in the city paid a lot of money and had great benefits for the workers...But if you force that, you will jut drive business out of the city.”

Whoa! Wait! Just wait an effin’ second! We’re talking only about employees working for the landlords of buildings that the city is subsidizing with taxpayers’ money. Most employers in the city would be completely unaffected. Most building owners would face the choice of paying a handful of employees an extra $2.75 an hour or giving up hundreds of thousands, and in many cases millions of dollars in subsidies. Who does the mayor think he’s kidding?

The mayor also argued that requiring a minimum wage would interfere with the free market. Speaker Quinn replied that this is exactly what the Bloomberg subsidies to his corporate real estate pals do in the first place, adding that if a business isn’t looking for taxpayer dollars, they’re under no obligation [ to pay the proposed $10 minimum hourly wage.] 

Somewhere in there, the 12th, (Or is he the 15th? Or is he the 17th?) richest man in the world let his deep inner resentments of paying a few of those nasty poor a piddling $2.75 boiled to the surface. Wage bills like the one under discussion, he complained, are “a throwback to the era when government viewed the private sector as a cash cow to be milked rather than a garden to be cultivated. In those days, government took the private sector for granted. We cannot afford to go back to those days…..” and on and on.

Oh that poor under-cultivated billionaire flower! How he must smart at getting “milked” and getting “taken for granted.”

He vetoed the bill. The City Council overrode him. So what’s the mayor going to do?

In a city whose treasury is squeezed for cash, with a budget gap of $4.63 billion that had to be closed by cutting city services and, umm, "increasing revenues, "he’s planning to take his own city to court. 

He’ says, in other words, that he’s willing to spend big bucks to have city lawyers sue their own city  – to take $2.75 an hour out of the pockets of janitors and building superintendants, rather than out of the pockets of landlords to whom the city gives hundreds of millions.

I mean, is Emperor Mike a great American, or what? 

Cross posted at The New York Crank

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Kentucky Democrats Reject Open Congressional Seat

Kentucky Democrats have a huge opportunity this year to increase our Congressional representation by 50 percent. Republican Geoff Davis in the Fourth District is retiring, creating that rarest and most precious of political gifts: the open congressional seat. Just eight years ago, Democratic Representative Ken Lucas held that seat for three terms, after which he voluntarily stepped down. It's not a guaranteed red district. But the Kentucky Democratic Party is taking a pass. There are seven - count 'em! Seven! - republican candidates competing in the May 22 primary. That's a recipe for general election failure. Even the worthless KDP should be able to exploit that kind of primary massacre for an easy ride to November victory. But no. The two Democratic candidates competing in the primary are unknowns who have never held elected office. Granted, the Democratic bench in northern Kentucky is thin, but it's not that thin. So why are Democratic office holders in Northern Kentucky ignoring the chance to grab an open congressional seat? Racism. Hold on - stay with me here. Northern Kentucky is traditionally conservative, though nowhere near as conservative as far Western Kentucky or the south-central Old Fifth. It has an urban core across the river from Cincinnati, not so different from the urban core that makes Louisville a liberal bastion. The Fourth was not even badly gerrymandered in redistricting. But the Fourth stretches for 180 miles through two dozen rural, heavily white and deeply impoverished counties. Counties where Barack Obama is an epithet. And any Democratic candidate in the Fourth District who runs on a ballot headed by Barack Obama is going to lose. From
The second Democrat has filed to run for Congress in Northern Kentucky. William Adkins, the chairman of the Grant County Democratic Party, filed Tuesday to run in Kentucky’s Fourth Congressional District seat occupied by U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Hebron. Adkins will face Greg Frank, of Corinth, in the Democratic primary. Davis’ decision to not run for re-election has also spurred five Republicans to vie for the seat: Lewis County Judge-executive Thomas Massie; Boone County Judge-executive Gary Moore; Oldham County Republican and math teacher Brian Oerther; State Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington and Fort Mitchell Republican and consultant Tom Wurtz. Adkins, 56, of Williamstown, works as an attorney and has served as Grant County Democratic chairman since 2008. He first ran for public office in 2010 for Williamstown City Council but didn’t get elected. Adkins said he saw Davis’ departure as an opportunity. A heavy Republican presence in the Fourth District doesn’t discourage him, Adkins said. Many Democrats live in the 24 counties of the Fourth District, which includes Northern Kentucky counties of Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties.
According to, Frank:
has not sought public office before. He has worked in the medical field, including for the Kentucky Medical Command Unit based in Lexington where he has served as a medic for the past three years. He said he served in the U.S. Army, including a stint in Operation Desert Storm, and served in the Kentucky National Guard in 2007-2008. He received a bachelors degree in history from Northern Kentucky University in 2008 and said he will soon complete a masters degree in health care through the University of Phoenix online. Frank said he wants to institute a two-term limit for all members of Congress and federal judges and wants to reform lobbyists and campaign finance. He will outline some of his philosphy in a book he’s publishing, “Common Sense II: Death of Democracy,” to be released Feb. 14. Term limits would limit special interests in government, Frank said. “These judges on the federal level, they’re like herpes,” Frank said. “We get them for life. We have to have term limits. We are no longer a government of the people by the people for the people. We’re a government of the few, for the special interests, in the name of greed.” He would like further caps on money spent lobbying and spent for campaign finance. Frank would also push for mandatory drug screenings for Congress members. “I have to give a urine sample to make sure there’s no cannabis in my urine,” Frank said. “Every federal employee has to give a urinalysis. If the American people have to give drug tests, they should have to give a drug test too.” A Democrat does stand a chance in the conservative Fourth District, Frank said. “I think the only way that would be remotely possible is that if they see that individual as an American, not as a Democrat and see that person as a message, not a messenger, one with a platform of states’ rights, campaign reforms and the bill I will initiate the minute I get into the office, the Social Security Medicare Reimbursement Act where the government would be required to put back the $2.67 trillion it has robbed to plug budget shortfalls and pay for wars without raising taxes,” Frank said.
Losing by 40 points to whichever of the mouth-breathing teabaggers the repugs choose will only enhance the resume of Adkins or Frank. This is, of course, the fault of the worthless Kentucky Democratic Party, which is worthless. For the past twenty years it has done nothing to build up local county parties and build a bench of local office-holders ready to step up when opportunities like open congressional seats appear. State party rules state that no one who failed to support the party's last Presidential Nominee can serve as a precinct, county or state party officer. If that rule were enforced, 90 percent of "Democratic" party officials in Northern Kentucky would lose their positions. Did I mention that the KDP is worthless? I was wrong; it's worse than worthless. It's actively destructive to Democratic politics in Kentucky. That could have something to do with its current chairperson being a registered republican who makes campaign donations to Mitch McConnell. And yes, that chairperson was appointed by "Democratic" Governor Steve Cowardly Waste of Oxygen Beshear.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Hey, I'm outta here for a week. Various fine folks will be here while I'm gone, however, so stop by.

I'll leave you with a duet from Mitt and Ann Romney:


You know, it would be a lot easier to take seriously the high-and-mighty pronouncements from John McCain about the Obama campaign's bin Laden ad...

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) rebuked President Obama on Friday for using the anniversary of Obama bin Laden's death to score political points, calling it a "shameless end-zone dance."

"Shame on Barack Obama for diminishing the memory of September 11th and the killing of Osama bin Laden by turning it into a cheap political attack ad," McCain said in a statement circulated by the Republican National Committee.

... if McCain's criticism wasn't posted at the site

What's your point, Senator? Principle? Or "targeted victory"?

In a new ad, the Obama campaign is asserting that Mitt Romney wouldn't have gone after Osama bin Laden:

President Obama's campaign is ... argu[ing that] Mitt Romney would not have launched the raid to capture Osama bin Laden last year....

The campaign suggests Romney would not have ordered the raid by pointing to a 2007 interview with The Associated Press in which Romney said: "It's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person." ...

That quote tells us that Romney was endorsing the George W. Bush approach to bin Laden ("I really just don’t spend that much time on him, to be honest with you"). And that's the problem: Not only does Romney's statement suggest that bin Laden would be alive if Romney were president, it suggests that Romney will meekly go along with GOP orthodoxy at all times.

Everyone knew that President Bush began prioritizing Iraq over Al Qaeda shortly after Tora Bora -- or before. Mitt Romney had the opportunity in the 2008 campaign to distinguish himself from Bush -- and he either didn't think there was anything wrong with the Bush approach or didn't have the guts to make a break with Bush.

What this tells us (as if we didn't already know) is that Romney is no leader. He'll slavishly follow whoever sets the tone in his party. And that's what we really need to take away from that moment in 2007.

(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)

Over at the House of Dead Drunk Wingnut Jesus, Ben Shapiro is horrified to find this in Obama campaign material aimed at African-Americans:

The title of the Breitbart gasp of outrage is "Obama's New Slogan: Get My Back!"

Now, let's wander over to Lucianne Goldberg's site. She's linked this as one of the feature stories of the day. What does she have to say about it?

"Ebonics." To Lucianne Goldberg, the phrase "got your back" is Ebonics.

I'm sure that would be news to Andre Agassi's tennis coach:

Or the guy who self-published this:

"Ebonics"? Seriously? Has anyone other than a right-winger even used the word "Ebonics" in this century?


And no, I don't know which comment Lucianne (or her Web minion) particularly liked over at Breitbart -- the reference is to "Reply 20," but the relies are nested and unnumbered, so I can't tell. Probably one of the ones that makes a gay joke about Obama, playing on the word "back" (yeah, once they get tired of hating him for his politics and his race, they decide he's an evil gay guy. There's no limit.)

I once imagined that every right-winger in America would eventually write a terrible three-chord tea party anthem, all of which would be collected on YouTube as evidence that the aliens really should come to Earth and put human civilization out of its misery. Well, the writing of tea party anthems seems to have gone out of fashion.

Instead, we have the likes of the new anthem of the Drunk Dead Wingnut Jesus Cult, "Breitbart Is Here":

Wow. That makes that Santorum "Game On" song sound like Springsteen.

Question: Why do a surprising number of these people pen their right-wing anthems in the style of seventies rock, that bastion of no-nuke, Nixon-hating granola peaceniks? Yeah, I'm hearing Allman Brothers here, but also a bit of Jackson Browne. Wingnuts listen to Jackson Browne? Really?

(Found at the wingnut site I Own the World.)


Oh, and if you can't bear to sit through the whole thing, skip ahead to about 2:20. That's when it gets truly awful.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Oh, I'm so happy to see The New York Times dignifying this nonsense:

Watchdog Group Discloses Cost of First Lady's Vacation

Michelle Obama's summer vacation to Spain in 2010 cost taxpayers more than $467,000 in transportation and security expenses, according to a watchdog group that obtained federal records.

The disclosure came at a time when Republicans were already pressing President Obama about billing trips to the government that seem campaign-oriented. Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, called on the president Thursday to reimburse taxpayers for this week's trip to three battleground states....

Can we just stop right here and do some grade-school math? There are 313,435,217 Americans as I type this, according to the Census Bureau. That means every American's share of that $497,000 is ... less than a penny. A lot less than a penny. Somewhere between one tenth and two tenths of a penny. (My calculator says 0.1585654202975 of a penny.)

This has been bugging me since I started hearing about the horrible, appalling, ghastly GSA junket that became a huge story for days and will probably be talked about at least until November. The cost? $823,000. The cost per American? 0.262574195675019 of a penny.

Should the government avoid waste? Should agencies like the GSA avoid embarrassing themselves? Sure. But have a little perspective, please: this isn't costing you all that freaking much.

Was taxpayer-funded travel invented in the Obama administration? Of course not. George W. Bush made 77 trips to Crawford, Texas, during his presidency, and you paid. What about election-year presidential travel that's ostensibly presidential but suspiciously political? Well, here's a USA Today article from June 2004, when George W. Bush sought reelection:

President Bush is using Air Force One for re-election travel more heavily than any predecessor, wringing maximum political mileage from a perk of office paid for by taxpayers.

While Democratic rival John Kerry digs into his campaign bank account to charter a plane to roam the country, Bush often travels at no cost to his campaign simply by declaring a trip "official" travel rather than "political."

The 68,000 miles Bush has logged this year on Air Force One include five trips to Pennsylvania.

With rare exceptions, he confines his travels to the more than a dozen states he and Kerry are fighting hardest for, and to places where he is raising campaign money.

Even when the White House deems a trip as political, the cost to Bush's campaign is minimal. In such instances, the campaign must only pay the government the equivalent of a comparable first-class fare for each political traveler on each leg, Federal Election Commission guidelines say.

Usually, that means paying a few hundred or a few thousand dollars for the president and a handful of aides. It's a minuscule sum, compared to the $56,800-per-hour the Air Force estimates it costs to run Air Force One....

So, really, enough already.

(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)


UPDATE: Whoops, sorry -- the Daily Caller tells me that the exact cost of Michelle Obama's trip was $467,585. But now the Census Bureau estimates the U.S. population as 313,435,714. So that's, um ... 0.149180511963267 of a penny per person.

I'm not surprised that the anti-Obama forces are going after the president's appearance on Jimmy Fallon's show, but I expected them to play to their electoral strength by targeting their pushback at older voters who still probably aren't comfortable with these crazy kids doing their jungle dancing to that awful Negro music. But that's not how this American Crossroads ad is pitched:

After a bunch of Cool President clips, the ad, halfway in, switches to statistics about the economic plight of young people. I don't think it's a bad strategy for Republicans to try to remind the young that their economy sucks, but this ad is trying to link that to the president being cool. It's trying to get young people to resent the president's coolness.

Can that really work? If you find the clips in the first half of the ad cool and entertaining, can you really absorb the message "No! Don't listen to the part of your brain that responds to coolness! Coolness is not good! Coolness is bad! Bad! Romney is boring! Boring is good!"?

It's as if one of the least cool men in America, Karl Rove, wants you to share his envy of the president's coolness.

This might work if Obama's coolness didn't have a disarming touch of self-effacement. But the way it is, it just comes off "Screw that cool, interesting, entertaining guy."

BooMan refers us to an extraordinarily sympathetic story about George Zimmerman from Reuters. He got a gun because he'd been menaced by a pit bull! He has black people in his family tree! And on and on.

Look, folks, we need to face facts: the chances of a conviction in this case are basically zero. It's just not going to happen. Too much is being put out there so that potential jurors will give Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt.

(As far as I'm concerned, the chances of an acquittal a conviction dropped to zero the minute that bloody head photo came out, however much it contradicts other evidence.)

I'm trying not to have the paranoid thought that Rick Scott, possibly after conversations with national figures on the right, arranged for a special prosecutor because he thought it was better for the right if Zimmerman was arrested and tried than if he remained free. What I mean is this: Assuming Zimmerman is tried and acquitted, I suspect the amoral SOBs on the right hope there's an unpleasant reaction on the part of Trayvon Martin's supporters. I think they want us to riot, or at least engage in isolated acts of violence. I don't know when a trial is likely to take place, but I think they'd love it if the trial happened before the election and an acquittal led to a riot that they could hang around President Obama's neck. Even if this happens after the election, I imagine they think it's always good to be able to say, "See? We're civilized and they're not."

Please tell me I'm crazy to think this.

I see that everyone on the right is flipping out about President Obama's "slow jam the news" appearance on Jimmy Fallon's show, including Limbaugh:

Rush Limbaugh suggested President Barack Obama's "slow jam" with Jimmy Fallon last night was "beneath the office of the presidency," nothing more than an unfunny attempt "to show that he's hip."

The performance was, in Limbaugh's opinion, merely a play for the youth vote....

Limbaugh went on to compare Obama's performance on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" to Richard Nixon's appearance on "Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In" in 1968.

"Remember that show? And everybody thought that it was a descent into no dignity whatsoever. So beneath the presidency, so beneath the office of the presidency," he said, according to a transcript of his show. "You have to go all the way back to Nixon to find a president who done so much to lower -- wait, what am I saying? They had two terms of Clinton after Nixon."

I see that Limbaugh skipped over one president in particular. Hmmm, now when was it exactly that Ronald Reagan made a public appearance with Michael Jackson at the White House? Why, it appears that it was May 14, 1984 -- during the spring of the year Reagan ran for reelection! Who'd have thought?

Savor this just to watch Reagan say,

Well, isn't this a thriller! ... Michael, welcome to the White House. I hope you'll forgive me, but we have quite a few young folks in the White House who all wanted me to give you the same message: they said to tell Michael, "Please give some TLC to the PYTs."

Limbaugh used to think it was a good idea to link Michael Jackson to Reagan. After Jackson died, Limbaugh said:

Jackson's success paralleled the rebound of the United States under Ronaldus Magnus.... He was as weird as he could be, but he was profoundly, because of his weirdness, an individual.... He flourished under Reagan, he languished under Clinton/Bush, and died under Obama.

(Yes, Limbaugh thinks Michael Jackson's weirdness was crypto-libertarianism. I guess the Beatles flourished under LBJ because rock groups are inherently communist.)

Oh, and on the subject of "Ronaldus Magnus" and pop culture let me add that Reagan brought in Mr. T to be the White House Santa in December 1983 -- just as the '84 campaign was getting under way.


The headline of this Fox News poll is that Obama and Romney are tied, but buried in the results is this (emphasis added):

... a 72-percent majority says it was a "cheap shot" when a Democratic strategist recently said Ann Romney, a stay-at-home mother of five children, hadn't worked a day in her life.

Meanwhile, being a working mom is seen as tougher than being a stay-at-home mom by 49-29 percent. And being a stay-at-home mom is seen as a tougher job than being a political strategist by 60-25 percent.

Yup, Fox paid its pollster to poll that cheap shot against Hilary Rosen.

And no Fox did not pay its pollster to ask any question that acknowledges Rosen's status as a working mother of twoadopted children.

(Poll via Memeorandum.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I've only read bits of the foreign policy speech Marco Rubio delivered at the Brookings Institution today, but Jefferson Morley has persuaded me that Rubio is another Beltway insider who naively thinks the GOP will be totally over this barking-mad-extremist thing by the next election cycle:

Marco Rubio insists he isn't running for vice president in 2012, but he is running pretty hard for something. The question is what and when.

The junior senator from Florida gave a proverbial "major foreign policy address" in Washington today, after publishing an Los Angeles Times op-ed calling for the U.S. to pay more attention to Latin America and before moving on to a meeting with Democratic senators about his variation of the Democrats' DREAM Act.

If nothing else, the events indicate Rubio is auditioning to become the new Richard Lugar: the Democrats' favorite Republican....

Morley runs through the details of the speech -- the shout-outs to Democrats, the positive references to multilateralism, the VP-disqualifying nice words for the UN -- and concludes:

Rubio's audience was Washington elites not the Republican base. In conjunction with his independent stance on immigration, Rubio’s speech veered so far from Republican orthodoxy circa 2012 as to almost disqualify him as Romney's running mate, at least in the eyes of a suspicious conservative base....

Rubio is positioning himself as a compassionate conservative and internationalist, a profile that will serve him well with the media. And his well-buffed bipartisan image will serve him even better if Romney loses.

Is "Rubio angling for Obama second term Secy State?" tweeted Yahoo News' Laura Rozen facetiously. No, he's angling for another job in 2016.

Yeah, he is angling for a very particular job in 2016. And he's an idiot for doing it this way. And no, this won't set him up nicely if Romney loses.

Clearly he's been infected with Jon Huntsman-itis. He thinks -- as do a lot of people in the political smart set -- that Republican extremist insanity is just a phase and simply has to end soon, possibly after this fall's presidential election, certainly by 2016.

That's nuts. The crazy base of Rubio's party has pre-autopsied a Romney loss and concluded that the cause of the campaign's death (if it happens) will be a failure to be right-wing enough. These baseheads aren't going to get burned out -- not if Obama is president for four more years. They're just going to get madder and madder until (a) they elect one of their own as president or (b) they start a second civil war.

Now, maybe Rubio will figure this out between now and 2016, and be a Romney-esque shape-shifter. But I'd say George Zimmerman has a better chance of being the GOP's presidential nominee than Rubio, or would if he were old enough.

Chronicle, Meet Chronicle

On the front page of yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle, an article headlined "Insatiable news sites feed us political trivia":
MSNBC host Martin Bashir led his program the other day with a lengthy discussion of a scandal the left-leaning cable network ominously called "Cookie-gate."

It stemmed from a campaign photo-op discussion GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney had with suburban Pittsburgh voters in which he mocked the cookies they were served as looking like "they came from 7-Eleven." They had been donated by a popular local bakery, and over the next several minutes the cable TV channel spun the story as an example of how Romney has trouble connecting with voters.

"Cookie-gate" was the latest in a series of near-daily items that have dominated the presidential campaign recently. Somehow rocker and outdoors enthusiast Ted Nugent, Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen, Romney's dog Seamus and President Obama's long-ago description of eating dog as a child have taken turns dominating the national conversation.
On April 13, this story made the Chronicle front page:
The role of women in this year's presidential election stayed on center stage Thursday after a Democratic consultant's comments triggered a new round of "mommy wars" - pitting mothers who are employed against those who stay at home.
Different authors, of course: the first story is by Joe Garofali, generally one of the better political reporters; the second is by Carla Marinucci, notorious for repeatedly writing stories about Susie Tompkins Buell's disappointment with the President. Same newspaper, though.

Note to The Chronicle: tut-tutting about the trivialization of politics is a lot more credible when you don't peddle the trivial shit yourself.

Newt Gingrich is finally embracing reality and dropping out of the presidential race. The conventional wisdom, as articulated by the Washington Examiner's Philip Klein, is that he did himself more harm than good with this run:

Rick Santorum ... can be said to have won even in losing.... But for Newt Gingrich, he actually did lose by losing.

Going into the campaign, Gingrich had a career as an author, speaker, Fox contributor and policy entrepreneur. But now, as Molly Ball reported last week:
The Fox News contributor gig is no longer, having been suspended when Gingrich became a candidate, and quietly canceled thereafter....

The policy and consulting enterprise Gingrich helmed is similarly on the rocks. American Solutions for Winning the Future, his major nonprofit, shut down last August, and the Gingrich Group, his for-profit advocacy shop, filed for bankruptcy in Georgia earlier this month....
... I expect to see him reemerge as a media figure. But I hope my fellow conservatives don't take him seriously once he's no longer useful as a vehicle for stopping (or slowing) Romney.

Oh, he'll be taken seriously. If Romney loses, he'll be one of the two principal non-Romneys who told the GOP not to nominate that RINO; he's leapt ahead of Bachmann, Perry, and Cain as the guy best positioned to exploit a Romney loss.

And if he can't exploit it on Fox, well, Fox was never his only outlet -- he's always been one of the go-to Republicans on Sunday morning chat shows. He'll go right back to that again, not as a gray eminence whose heyday was the last century, but as a guy who's deemed relevant because of recent events.

And if Romney wins? Well, just as Sunday shows will need to be majority GOP if Obama wins, in order to maintain "balance," Sunday shows will need to be majority GOP if Romney wins, because the "liberal media" will need emissaries from this brave new Republican world to explain the party's ways. And who better than a guy who rode the primary circuit with Mitt, and who happens to be an old friend of the Sunday shows to boot?

Oh, no, Newt didn't ruin his brand. Quite the contrary. In the Beltway, Republicans' careers are all but unkillable.

The Romney campaign is furiously trying to spoon-feed stories to the media that signal a pivot to the center. Yesterday, Molly Ball of The Atlantic did the campaign's a favor and wrote a Romney press release:

Mitt Romney's Gay Spokesman: A Milestone in Republican Politics

The recent hiring of Richard Grenell, Mitt Romney's openly gay foreign-policy spokesman, represents a breakthrough in the world of Republican presidential campaigns.

Grenell isn't the first out gay person to serve as a high-level staffer to a GOP nominee, but as far as I can tell, he is the first such press spokesman -- the first to serve as the public face of the all-but-certain Republican nominee -- and on the historically sensitive issue of national security, no less.... His rise signals a remarkable new openness in a party often castigated for its social conservatism....

We're supposed to be impressed by this? In 2012? I just want to remind Ball that this makes the Romney approximately as pro-gay as the Poppy Bush White House twenty years ago. Ball talks about "the historically sensitive issue of national security," but Grennell is a spokesman on defense issues for a guy who's not in office; Bush Senior had a man known to be gay as his spokesman at the Pentagon.

Older readers know who I mean -- Pete Williams, now a newsman at NBC, was Pentagon spokesman during the Gulf War, then was outed in August 1991. There was talk of a resignation, but the Bush administration kept him on, and he continued to serve as the controversy died down.

Hiring Grennell is a huge breakthrough? Why?

The Romney campaign promised us that the speech Mitt gave last night was going to be the real kickoff to the fall campaign. It's clear that the campaign recognizes that a candidate for president ought to be for something, rather than just incessantly negative about his opponent; it's clear that the campaign grasps the notion that Romney has to offer some sort of "vision thing."

So, yes, there was some misty, soft-focus stuff in Romney's speech, or at least as close an approximation as a speech team drawn from a party of rage junkies could muster ("I see an America with a growing middle class, with rising standards of living. I see children even more successful than their parents -- some successful even beyond their wildest dreams -- and others congratulating them for their achievement, not attacking them for it").

But at this moment when Romney needs to show that he has a sunny, optimistic vision of a possible of America -- a task accomplished even, to some extent, by Nixon in '68 ("Bring Us Together") and Poppy Bush in '88 ("a thousand points of light") -- what's the line the Romney campaign has sold to the press as the keeper, the takeaway line, the money shot from last night?

Business Insider tells us:

... one line seems to pretty much sum up the campaign's message going forward:

"It's still about the economy ... and we're not stupid."

Really, Mitt? That's what you want as a meme from last night?

Clearly it is, because the various journalist-whisperers in the Romney campaign have gotten that line into headlines from Politico, UPI, the L.A. Times, National Review Online, BuzzFeed, even the Daily Mail in Britain.

It's an angry line. It's a smart-alecky, cocky, snarly, contemptuous line from a guy who thinks he's better than you, unless you agree with him.

But that was the tone of most of Romney's speech -- oh, sure, he occasionally stared off into the horizon and seemed, more or less, to see America as a shining city on a hill, but mostly he delivered the speech in the superior tone of a talk radio host or a CEO who feels his authority isn't being adequately respected:

This works if you're on the guy's side and you feel he's being contemptuous on your behalf -- and in this economy, the number of people who feel that way may be large. But I just don't think it's the tone you use if you really want to persuade the unpersuaded.


AND: Another point I meant to make was: How familiar is "the economy stupid" to the broad general public anyway? Yes, the line poste4d on the wall at Clinton headquarters in 1992 became well known to a fair number of Americans, but it's not like a line from a blockbuster movie -- a lot of people just don't pay that much attention to politics. Plus it was a long time ago -- there are first-time voters this year who weren't alive in '92. That plus the Romney's speech's shout-out to the Greatest Generation suggests that the campaign is all but writing off voters under 35. (The Greatest Generation? Seriously? You're going to sweep to victory on the octogenarian vote, Mitt?)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Raw Story reports:

A senior at Gibson County High School in Tennessee was kicked out of her prom last Saturday for wearing a dress that resembled the Confederate battle flag, according to The Jackson Sun.

School officials told 18-year-old Texanna Edwards that she could not wear the "offensive and inappropriate" dress, but she could change and come back to the event. However, Edwards refused to change out of her custom made dress and consequentially was not allowed to attend prom....

Here's Texanna:

According to the Sun, Edwards had the dress custom-made; she "wanted her dress to look like the Confederate flag because she lives in the South and at the time she didn't know if there was a dress like hers." Well, there sure was a dress like hers in 2004:

A teenager is suing her eastern Kentucky school district for barring her from the prom for wearing a red dress styled as a large Confederate flag.

School officials called Jacqueline Duty's homemade dress too controversial and kept her out of Russell High School's May 1 prom.

Duty's federal lawsuit claims the Russell Independent Board of Education violated her First Amendment right to free speech and her right to celebrate her heritage....

Jacqueline did Texanna one better: instead of having hers made, she made hers herself -- and worked on it for four years. Here's hers:

Both Texanna and Jacqueline had similar reactions when they were told they couldn't attend prom dressed this way.

Texanna: She said in her four years as a student, she’s seen students wearing clothing bearing the Confederate flag with no incident.

Jacqueline: “We've all worn Confederate flags to school before,” she told the paper.

Yeah, I think that's the problem.


Savoring the moment, Glenn Reynolds delightedly harrumphs,

HERE WE SEE THE RESULTS OF OUR MEDIA HATEMONGERING: Man Beaten, In Critical Condition, Told "Now, that's justice for Trayvon."

The story that brightened his day is this one, from near Mobile, Alabama:

... According to police, [Matthew] Owens fussed at some kids playing basketball in the middle of Delmar Drive about 8:30 Saturday night. They say the kids left and a group of adults returned, armed with everything but the kitchen sink.

Police tell News 5 the suspects used chairs, pipes and paint cans to beat Owens.

Owens' sister, Ashley Parker, saw the attack. "It was the scariest thing I have ever witnessed." Parker says 20 people, all African American, attacked her brother on the front porch of his home, using "brass buckles, paint cans and anything they could get their hands on."

Police will only say "multiple people" are involved.

What Parker says happened next could make the fallout from the brutal beating even worse. As the attackers walked away, leaving Owen bleeding on the ground, Parker says one of them said "Now thats justice for Trayvon."

There's no justification for this, and if you want to call it a hate crime, be my guest. There's some history here, but nothing to justify this:

Even family and friends of Matthew Owens admit there was some tension on this street before Saturday night's event. And they say a lot of this has to do with basketball. Relatives of the victim, who live on the street, say local kids often block Delmar Drive when they play basketball. They say it's lead to some confrontations. Racial comments from both sides may have made the confrontations more toxic.

It all bubbled over Saturday night....

But if these are "the results of our media hatemongering," then Reynolds is on record accepting the premise that we should indict Rush Limbaugh as an accessory to the Oklahoma City murders.

I await an explicit follow-up from Reynolds confirming that this is the argument he's making.

I'm reading the BuzzFeed and Politico stories about a speech Ann Romney gave last night to a Republican group in Connecticut, and, well, I get it. She got two standing ovations. She comes off as human and empathetic. She gives shout-outs to mothers in the workforce (and to stay-at-home dads). She's surviving cancer and MS.

And yet this little Freudian slip is rather, um, Romneyesque:

"My hats off to the men in this room too that are raising kids -- I love that, and I love the fact that there are also women out there that don't have a choice and they must go to work and they still have to raise the kids," she said. "Thank goodness that we value those people too. And sometimes life isn't easy for any of us."

"I love the fact that there are also women out there that don't have a choice and they must go to work and they still have to raise the kids"? Really?

Look, I know what she was trying to say, but to me it comes off as "Isn't it wonderful that there are all these poor suffering specimens out there for me to bathe in the glow of my love?"

And there's something off about the clip Politico chose to post:

So many women that I've never met before, and may never see ever again in my life, tell me how much they care for me and how much they're praying for me. And I so appreciate that.

(Tearing up:) And I can't tell you how much I appreciate that, because the days are long, the road is hard, the trials are there, and I never know when -- I have this little gray cloud that's over my head, when it's gonna start raining on me again. And I do need everyone's prayers.

On the one hand: Yes, she's a long-term survivor of two horrible major illnesses. On the other hand: Aren't even voters who approach Ann Romney with an open mind and an inclination to fellow-feeling going to hear some of this and wonder, "What about us?" Because, really, it isn't supposed to be all about her, is it? Even if she has genuinely suffered? And didn't she and her husband choose to run for president? Um, they weren't forced to, were they?

But I don't know if there'll really be any negative response to this, just as I don't if there'll be any negative response to this among voters who aren't already looking at these issues in political or economic terms:

"I know what's like to finish the laundry and to look in the basket five minutes later and it's full again. I know what's like to pull all the groceries in and see the teenagers run through and all of a sudden all the groceries you just bought are gone," Romney said to the crowd. "And I know what's like to get up early in the morning and to get them off to school. And I know what's like to get up in the middle of the night when they're sick. And I know what’s like to struggle and to have those concerns that all mothers have."

What will the swing-voter response to that be? Nods of agreement? Or muttering along the lines of "Yeah, but you don't know what it's like to do all that and then have to go off to a shitty job that doesn't pay enough and has crap benefits"?


UPDATE: Apparently I'm not the only person who had a bad reaction to that Freudian slip.

Elias Isquith finds Tom Ricks of The Washington Post calling for a return to the draft, for all the usual reasons:

Since the end of the military draft in 1973, every person joining the U.S. armed forces has done so because he or she asked to be there. Over the past decade, this all-volunteer force has been put to the test and has succeeded....

This is precisely the reason it is time to get rid of the all-volunteer force. It has been too successful. Our relatively small and highly adept military has made it all too easy for our nation to go to war -- and to ignore the consequences.

... One percent of the nation has carried almost all the burden of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while the rest of us essentially went shopping....

Elias seconds the notion, and adds:

I'd like to see the draft come back for more abstract, public-minded reasons. There are precious few institutions nowadays that bring together Americans from disparate social spheres; the military used to be one of them. Implementation in this regard was never perfect, of course; there were fortunate sons. But the general principle that the military was a product of our collective labors, spurred by our collective interests, this was more influential during the time of a draft than it is today.

I understand why people say these things. But is there any reason whatsoever to have any faith at all in this country's ability to bring back a draft in a fair, genuinely sacrifice-sharing way?

Do you honestly believe that the children of hedge fund managers and oil billionaires would serve as equals alongside the children of janitors and Walmart clerks? Do you honest believe that this inequality-saturated country could bring back conscription without building massive loopholes for the privileged (and probably a large number of loopholes for the merely well-off)?

Don't you think we'd wind up about where we are now, with low-income conscripts on the front lines (commanded, perhaps, by gung-ho Southerners), while upper-middle-class kids were far from combat and superrich kids were still partying in Biarritz?

And don't you think this new state of affairs would just become a new front in the culture wars, as right-wingers waged class war against the "liberal" upper-middle-class kids in the rear echelons (exempting the superrich, of course) while claiming kinship with the genuinely patriotic grunts? Wouldn't a draft just become part of this problem, rather than part of the solution?

(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)

Monday, April 23, 2012


I'm not sure I've chosen a side in this debate:

Barack Obama's top advisers are making a mid-"core" correction in their attacks on Mitt Romney -- with a little nudge from Bill Clinton....

Late last year, as Romney galloped to the right, Obama's messaging team hit on what it assumed would be a durable bumper-sticker attack: Romney, senior advisers David Plouffe and David Axelrod intoned time and again, was a political shape-shifter who lacked any real moral or political "core."

... But Clinton, echoing survey data presented by Obama's own pollster Joel Benenson, quietly argued that the empty-core approach failed to capitalize on what they see as Romney’s greatest vulnerability: An embrace of a brand of tea party conservatism that turns off Hispanics, women and moderate independents.

A more effective strategy, Clinton has told anyone who would listen, would be to focus almost exclusively on Romney’s description of himself as a "severe conservative," to deny him any chance to tack back to the center....

I guess I'm just surprised that we're actually talking about attacking right-wingers for being right-wing as if that might be a successful electoral strategy. As far as I can recall, no one in politics has believed that for forty years. Clinton himself barely ran against the right -- he was more of a triangulator, attacking Sister Souljah in '92 and signing welfare reform and the Defenmse of Marriage Act in '96. Obama essentially ran against Bushism in 2008, but the message seemed to be that it just didn't work for some reason that may or may not have had some vague connection to ideology.

So have we finally arrived at a moment when being right-wing means something other than being a rock-ribber Real American? After decades of destroying the middle class, repeatedly crashing the economy, and setting half the country against the other half, are right-wingers actually going to be criticized for their ideology? That would be a breakthrough....

Dave Weigel and Kevin Drum triumphantly offer this chart from a new Pew poll as evidence that Republicans should just lay off the social issues, for their own good:

Weigel writes:

When Mitch Daniels was thinking over a run for president, he told Andrew Ferguson and other conservative writers that the man who won that office "would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues." ...

The new Pew poll demonstrates, one more time, why Daniels was right.

Hell, it's not even like Daniels had stumbled onto a transcendent insight. Republicans won in 2010 because voters focused on economics....

Did Republicans really win in 2010 because voters focused on economics? Yeah, maybe -- but they blew Democrats out at the polls because base voters turned out in an off-year election, motivated to a fever pitch not just by economic issues but by ACORN and the New Black Panthers and "czars" and the "Ground Zero mosque" and alleged atrocities committed by illegal immigrants and all manner of peripheral issues -- not to mention the fact that the economic message that drove them to the polls ("Obama is a socialist attempting to destroy capitalism in America") was a grotesque distortion of reality.

All of which tells you that it doesn't matter what voters think they care about -- by Election Day, a lot of them will care about whatever Fox News and talk radio want them to care about, regardless of what they tell nice, civilized pollsters working for Pew.

Would Pew have found in the spring of 2004 that one of the top issues in America was politicians possibly lying about their war records? The Swift Boaters didn't let that stop them. Would voters in the spring of 1988 have said that their top issues included the Pledge of Allegiance, flag burning, and furlough programs for felons? That didn't stop the folks in and around the Poppy Bush campaign.

The right knows how to make elections about subjects other than what they're supposed to be about -- not every time, and certainly not infallibly, but a hell of a lot more often than ought to be the case. If abortion and gay rights aren't going to work anymore, wingers have a lot more stuff they can try.

Pseudo-plumber Joe Wurzelbacher is running for Congress in Ohio, and to judge from a couple of remarks he made in an interview with David Brody of Pat Robertson's CBN News, the plumberesque guy thinks Congress is a reality show.

How do we know this? Well, first there's this soundbite:

I even talked about putting a webcam up at my desk. People want transparency. I’ll sit there and show you the bill all day long.

This suggests a view of the government as Big Brother. (Though if you win, Joe, please: no makeout sessions on night-vision cam. I don't think we can take that.)

And then there's this:

I'm not coming to Washington, D.C., to make friends. I'm coming here to get something done.

Hmmm ... where have I heard that line before? Oh yeah -- on every reality show ever:


The Daily Caller actually thinks this is something the right should boast about:

Poll of the Day: Dick Cheney 10 times more popular than John Edwards -- With John Edwards' trial for alleged campaign finance violations set to commence Monday, a CBS News/New York Times poll measured the former North Carolina senator's favorability rating. The results are outstanding for Edwards. Outstandingly bad: 3% favorable, 41% not favorable, 15% undecided, 35% haven’t heard enough, 6% refused.

... Most exciting ... is that the poll provides writers the opportunity to write a sentence that many thought might never be written. The last such poll of former Vice President Dick Cheney -- from 2010 -- showed Edwards' 2004 electoral nemesis with a 36 percent favorability rating. That means Cheney is over 10 times more popular than someone or something, in this case one Mr. John Edwards. Cheney. Over 10 times. More. Popular....

Yes, Dick Cheney is far more popular than John Edwards, for an obvious reason -- or, rather, a two-part obvious reason:

(1) When Democrats and liberals notice that one of our own is unambiguously a scumbag, we reject that person.
(2) When one of our own is unambiguously a scumbag, we actually notice the obvious scumbaggery, which is what leads to rejection.

Republicans do neither of these things, which is why they still love Dick Cheney.

(Edwards poll results here. X-posted at Booman Tribune.)

You're going to see a lot of Mia Love:

On Saturday, Utah Republicans gave their nomination for a new heavily GOP Congressional seat to a surprising choice: Mia Love, the 37-year-old daughter of Haitian immigrants and the mayor of Saratoga Springs, a community of 18,000 outside Salt Lake City.

Utah selects its candidates at party conventions with primaries only occurring if no one wins 60 percent or more of delegates. Love won the nomination on the final ballot when she beat former state legislator Carl Wimmer with 70 percent of the vote....

She'll get a speech at the Republican convention. She'll be on Fox News a lot. She'll be all over the place. Here's why: She's African-American, she's a Mormon, she's a cookie-cutter right-winger who takes every position you'd expect a boilerplate wingnut to take, and Team GOP is going to wave her our faces all through the Romney campaign and say, "See? Mormons aren't racist! Suck it, libruls!" (It's not out of selflessness that Romney's son Josh endorsed her.)

Love is sort of an Allen West Lite, accusing the people she hopes will be her future colleagues of racism:

If elected in November, Love would be the first black Republican woman in Congress and Utah's first black representative. She said she would join the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, D.C., should she win.

"Yes, yes. I would join the Congressional Black Caucus and try to take that thing apart from the inside out," she said....

"It’s demagoguery. They sit there and ignite emotions and ignite racism when there isn't," Love said. "They use their positions to instill fear. Hope and change is turned into fear and blame. Fear that everybody is going lose everything and blaming Congress for everything instead of taking responsibility."

Then again, being a cookie-cutter wingnut, she accuses everyone who opposes her of racism, preemptively if necessary:

I met her at CPAC, the annual conservative conference, where she gave a stirring speech: "According to liberals, I'm not supposed to exist. I know that I am going to be a target for the Left. I have something to say to them: Game On."

Much will be made of her race. Much shouldn't be made of her race. She's just another wingnut clone who happens to have more melanin than all the other wingnut clones.

I'm a little late getting to this, but it occurs to me that the Rob Portman trial balloon is an effort to determine whether Mitt Romney's masters in the crazy base would deign to permit him to pick Portman.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There is no doubt in the minds of Republican National Committee members that Mitt Romney will be their standard bearer in the fall, and already consensus is building behind one potential vice presidential nominee -- Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.

In an informal survey of more than half of the Republican State Chairmen and national committee people at this weekend's State Chairman meeting at a resort here, two-thirds said they believe Portman is the most-likely and best-qualified running-mate for Mitt Romney. The committee members spoke to BuzzFeed only on the condition of anonymity....

The party establishment and the Romney campaign know that the crazy baseheads wouldn't give a crap whether the muckamucks like Portman if Portman failed to meet one of their dozens and dozens of litmus tests. So they wanted to put his name out there to see whether, say, Erick Erickson would declare that Portman is nothing but a pathetic sellout Sorosite liberal, or whether the Jesusites would howl in anguish. (On the latter score, I think they're cool:

According to Phil Burress, chairman of the Citizens for Community Values (CCV), Portman is pro-life and pro-business.

"Senator Portman is not only a conservative, but he is also a friend of mine, and I've known him before he even ran for Congress in the first place. So we're going to have a tremendous pro-life, pro-family senator who will be representing us," he reports.

Burress is a well known crusader against gay rights and pornography. (He's also, by his own admission, a former porn addict, but I think that actually elevates his status among fundies -- he once was lost but now he's found and all that.) Burress's word counts for a lot, so I guess Portman really does check the God-botherer box.

And I haven't heard any howls about him from the more feral precincts of the right. No, I don't think anyone really cares that he was Bush's budget director during a time a massive deficits, because the crazy base only pretends to hate debts and deficits run up by Republicans. Especially if he's a fundy the mainstream press probably doesn't recognize as a fundy, I won't be surprised if he's Romney's pick.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Politico reports:

Meet Mitt Romney the victim. And that may be a good thing for his campaign.

Following the still-rippling kerfuffle over Hilary Rosen's comments that Ann Romney "hasn't worked a day in her life," Romney is portraying himself as the victim of the liberal media and secular culture, and some social conservatives who opposed him in the GOP primary are rallying around him as a result....

Well, whining about victimization has been the way Republicans have made their bones with the base since the days of Nixon, right? It's certainly what the base loves about Sarah Palin. As Politico notes, claiming victimization is what Romney's opponents were doing when they were making the going difficult for Mitt:

Rick Santorum campaigned as a kind of professional victim, traveling from state to state with tales of how he risked his career and lost his Senate seat because of his convictions. Newt Gingrich purposefully used the media as a punching bag to draw the ire of populist conservatives.

Now we have Romney whining about the Obama campaign (because Obama said he wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth) and about the vast left-wing conspiracy." But most of the Politico story is about how successful the whining in response to Hilary Rosen's comments has been -- in fact, if the Romney campaign is falling short with the base, it's by not having enough to whine about:

Ralph Reed, the founder and leader of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, ... said Rosen's comments, regardless of her lack of official affiliation with Obama's campaign, will be tough for Obama to live down because "it allows Ann to play the victim, because it was so over the top, because it was so sweeping in its condemnation."

...But connecting with some socially conservative voters -- some of whom see themselves as victims of the culture and media -- will be difficult for Romney, said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, because those voters won't forget how Romney campaigned as the establishment choice during the primary campaign.

"People want to be able to connect with Romney," Perkins said. "I think it's going to be harder for him to connect at that level because he has been seen and positioned himself as the establishment candidate.... Everything is more complicated for him because his record doesn't match his current rhetoric. I think instead of just avoiding it, he needs to work a little harder."

Perkins almost seems to be saying that Romney just isn't enough of a victim -- he and his wife aren't able to claim persecution for home-schooling, or bringing a disabled fetus to term, or whatever else makes you a hero in the eyes of the religious right.

But there is Hilary Rosen -- and you can bet that Team Romney will go out of its way to search out other victimizers between now and November (and, God help us, throughout a Romney presidency, if there is one). It's as if the message on the right is the exact opposite of what you'd think it would be: "How can you deal with Al Qaeda if you haven't whined about how helpless you are in the face of attacks from a mid-level Democratic operative or a little-known lefty blogger?"

Which leads me to wonder whether this explains why George W. Bush was reelected and his father wasn't. I always thought it helped W. that his war was ongoing in 2004, while his father's was over by 1992, but I thought it was because that kept much of America on a patriotic, rally-round-the-flag footing. But now I'm thinking that W. benefited specifically from seeming to be the victim -- of critics of the wars and torture, of the uncaptured bin Laden, of the Iraqi insurgency. Failure ennobled him, in the base's eyes; it proved that the forces of evil were all out to get him. Weakness is strength. Whining is strength.

Matt Bai in The New York Times Magazine:

It's Pawlenty Time

The last thing Mitt Romney needs is a bold choice, like the untested Marco Rubio, for his running mate. If you're a nominee facing an incumbent president in chaotic times, your main job is to project a mundane kind of reliability. Unlike John McCain four years ago, Romney doesn't need to do anything radical. A more boring choice -- maybe Rob Portman or Tim Pawlenty -- might be the best one he can make.

I know that Game Change (book and especially HBO movie) became a sacred text within the world of political insiders, but I think there's more than that to the fact that every Beltway pundit in America is practically begging Mitt Romney to make a safe VP choice. I keep saying this, even though I don't fully understand it myself, but it seems self-evident: the press really, really wants Romney to be both the Reassuring GOP Daddy and the centrist Messiah of Tom Friedman's third-party sermonettes. As I keep saying, I think it's because the Republicans have scared the Beltway press with their recent extremism, and Romney reassures insider journalists that no one really needs to do an intervention -- and, I guess, that no one needs to rethink the notion that all the truly unsettling extremism is either the fault of Democrats listening to hippie bloggers or the fault of, well, "everybody."

I don't know what the press is worried about -- if Romney does the unexpected and picks, say, Santorum, the press will just regroup and tell us it's a pragmatist's move and doesn't really say anything about the guy at the top of the ticket, except that he's really shrewd and calculating; if Romney picks a God-botherer like Bob McDonnell, we'll be told that only hippie bloggers think he's a God-botherer; if Romney picks Joe Pesci ... er, Chris Christie, we'll be told that Christie is surprisingly thoughtful and moderate, and that his loudmouth nature is merely on the surface; and if it's Rubio, well, we'll be told to pay no attention to hint of scandal because Senator McDreamy just such a rock star.

But for now, there's a weird anxiety about Romney, as if his glitchiness means he might be some sort of evil stepdad figure , in a Stephen King/Joss Whedon way. And we can't have that -- certainly we can't question how a party that wallows in lack of empathy could possibly choose a nominee who appears to have no human feelings. We just need to be reassured that everything's all right and Republicans aren't the biggest threat to the nation, because that would defy all conventional wisdom.