Modern Age Revolution

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Republicans Cannot Accept That A Black President Was Just Re-Elected

These gentlemen have just been informed that the votes of people living in cities are indeed legitimate.

Republicans have been having substantial trouble processing the thumping they received at the hands of Barack Obama in the 2012 election. It started on Election Night, with Karl Rove literally refusing to accept that the state of Ohio had voted to re-elect President Obama:

And it’s been downhill ever since.

Public Policy Polling recently found that 49% of Republican voters believe “that the president did not legitimately win reelection because ACORN interfered with the vote. A full 50 percent of Republicans said Democrats engaged in some sort of voter fraud.” Of course, this is absolutely insane because ACORN was forced to shut down in 2010 after being falsely accused of stealing the 2008 election.

To reiterate: Republicans have become so unhinged from reality that almost half of the party’s voters believe an organization that has ceased to exist for years was involved in a diabolical conspiracy to rig the 2012 election.

But the madness doesn’t stop there. Top Republican donors are now publicly saying that votes from cities and urban areas should be flat out discounted:

In terms of sheer numbers, Obama won by five million votes. But [GOP megadonor Foster] Friess dismissed that margin, arguing that a 350,000 vote flip across four states (which he couldn’t name) would have given Romney the election.

“To me, 350,000 votes is not a huge mandate, even though the total numbers, which take into account a lot of those center cities, went for Obama.”

When I asked him if he was saying that votes from “center cities” should be discounted, his answer, in full, was: “Yes.”

I asked him why. His response:

“Because of the movement across the country in the state legislatures. Right now the Republicans have their tails between their legs. What I’m trying to say—there’s no reason for them to have their tails between their legs because the American people on balance, I believe, want free markets. They do not want to have a system where there’s more people riding the wagon than pulling the wagon. I believe the majority of the American people want to be wagon-pullers.”

As Robert Schlesinger of U.S News and World Report notes, “To hear it put so bluntly and unequivocally is still fairly breathtaking: The national popular vote doesn’t count because it takes into account city voters.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Republicans are moving now to reshape the Electoral College to reflect their belief that the votes of people living in cities are worth less than those of their rural counterparts. It is, in essence, a natural evolution of the Southern Strategy.

In American politics, the Southern strategy refers to the Republican Party strategy of gaining political support or winning elections in the Southern section of the country by appealing to racism against African Americans.

The states where this is occurring are states that went for President Obama in both 2008 and 2012: Virginia, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Washington. And no, Republicans are not being subtle about their intentions. In Virginia, State Sen. Bill Carrico (R-Grayson County) shared the following lament:

“If it’s going to continue winner-take-all — it doesn’t matter which side is running — it’s going to all come down to how many people vote in the metropolitan areas and it doesn’t matter what the rural voters do,” Carrico said.

Sadly for Carrico, his Senate colleagues torpedoed the bill.

In Washington, Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley) similarly mourned the rise of people in cities voting their preferences:

“A lot of voters in Eastern Washington feel disenfranchised. They feel their votes don’t count,” Shea said.

Washington has a law on the books to cast its electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of the state’s totals, if enough other states agree to do the same. That’s a bad plan, Shea said, because states have different voting laws and presidential ballots. It’s unworkable, and probably unconstitutional, he added, and HB 1091 would cancel that law.

Committee Chairman Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, asked Shea who would have been president right now if all the states had such a system in 2012.

“I don’t know,” Shea replied. “I’d have to do the math.”

“It would not be Barack Obama,” Hunt said.

Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford is one of the few Republicans to express major skepticism about the legitimacy of the idea:

“To me, that’s like saying in a football game, ‘We should have only three quarters, because we were winning after three quarters and the[y] beat us in the fourth,” Weatherford, a Republican, told the Herald/Times. “I don’t think we need to change the rules of the game, I think we need to get better.”

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker continues to send out mixed signals about his intentions for the state:

He called it “interesting” and “plausible” in an interview with the Journal Sentinel last month, but said he neither supported nor opposed it.

Talking to “Newsmax” on Saturday, Walker said we “have to be very careful in making changes like that,” but called the idea “worth looking at.”

But in a separate interview with the Journal Sentinel, Walker acknowledged major concerns.

“You concede it would have dramatic impact on the targeting of the state?” Walker was asked.

“Right. Exactly right. . . . That’s why I qualified (my earlier statements). . . . I just said I hadn’t ruled it out. I’m not embracing it,” Walker said.

“The most important thing to me long term as governor on that is what makes your voters be in play,” said Walker, voicing the concern that ending winner-take-all would make the state “irrelevant” in presidential campaigns.

“You would agree it would have that effect?” he was asked.

“Yeah. I think that’s a real concern,” he said.

But no one can compare with State Rep. Pete Lund (R-Shelby Township) of Michigan, who not only sobbed about being marginalized by people in cities, but also revealed just how unscrupulous he and his Republican cohorts are:

Rep. Pete Lund, R-Shelby Township, confirmed this week he plans to reintroduce legislation that would award all but two of Michigan’s 16 Electoral College votes according to congressional district results. The remaining two would go to the candidate winning the statewide majority.

“I believe it’s more representative of the people — closer to the actual vote,” said Lund, who proposed a similar bill in 2012. “It got no traction last year. There were people convinced Romney was going to win and this might take (electoral) votes from him.”

After looking for every other option in the world, Republicans finally shoved Mitt Romney down the throats of the American public and saw his (and their party’s) reputation annihilated on a scale few people ever anticipated. Their response? Doubling down on Jim Crow policies and declaring that votes from urban areas are not “representative of the people.”

And so, The Long War continues.

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Wayne LaPierre Is A Crazy Person

Crazy insane or insane crazy?

Since 1991, All-World crazy person Wayne LaPierre has been in charge of one of the most loathsome forces plaguing American politics: The National Rifle Association. For over 20 years, LaPierre (who pulls in a yearly salary of $970,000) has served as the NRA’s Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer, as well as a thorn in the side of rational Americans everywhere. Following LaPierre’s unhinged press conference in response to the tragic killings in Newtown, Connecticut, many people are just now becoming familiar with LaPierre’s distinct brand of insanity, while also wondering how someone so clearly disturbed could manage to be a predominant force in American politics for so long.

This is the story of Wayne LaPierre, Crazy Person.

***

For awhile, Wayne LaPierre appeared to be your run-of-the-mill loon, making the standard issue delusional pronouncements about Big Government Coming For Your Guns:

According to the January 7, 1993 Miami Herald, he urged members, “Only with your direct input can we stop President Clinton and his anti-gun allies from RIPPING THE SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHT OUT OF THE CONSTITUTION.”

As time wore on, hints of the LaPierre lunacy we are now depressingly all too familiar with began peeking through the surface:

Much of the annual convention in Minneapolis was devoted to attacks on the press. “Our media has become the master over the very Constitution that created it,” said Wayne LaPierre, the N.R.A. leader. “Forget Stalin’s Russia. Forget Hitler’s Germany. The mightiest propaganda machine the world has ever known is right here in 1994 America.” …

But when LaPierre addresses his constituency, he preaches nonaccommodation on guns. “The Final War Has Begun” was the message he delivered in The Rifleman after the House passage of the weapons ban.

But the first real taste of LaPierre lunacy the world at large experienced came on the heels of the Oklahoma City Bombing. LaPierre sent out a NRA fundraising letter describing federal agents as “jack-booted government thugs” who wear “Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms.”

The six-page NRA letter signed by LaPierre and sent earlier this month singles out lawmakers who are pressing for gun control legislation and says: “It doesn’t matter to them that the semi-auto ban gives jack-booted government thugs more power to take away our constitutional rights, break in our doors, seize our guns, destroy our property, and even injure or kill us.”

It goes on: “Not too long ago, it was unthinkable for federal agents wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms to attack law-abiding citizens.”

LaPierre was initially defiant once news of the fundraising letter became public, as you would expect a man fundamentally detached from reality to do:

The National Rifle Association’s top official defended the inflammatory language his organization has used about federal agents, saying yesterday that references to “jack-booted government thugs” are accurate.

“Those words are not far, in fact they are a pretty close description of what’s happening in the real world,” NRA Executive Vice President Wayne La- Pierre said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The NRA’s attack on federal agents, made in a fund-raising letter, has been cited as an example of the kind of rhetoric that creates a climate for violent acts such as the Oklahoma City bombing. LaPierre insisted that is not the case.

“That’s like saying the weather report in Florida on the hurricane caused the damage, rather than the hurricane,” he said.

Former President George H.W. Bush was so infuriated by LaPierre’s statements that he resigned his NRA life membership and unleashed a devastating resignation letter that was a salvo against LaPierre and his radical vision for the NRA:

I was outraged when, even in the wake of the Oklahoma City tragedy, Mr. Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of N.R.A., defended his attack on federal agents as “jack-booted thugs.” To attack Secret Service agents or A.T.F. people or any government law enforcement people as “wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms” wanting to “attack law abiding citizens” is a vicious slander on good people.

Al Whicher, who served on my [ United States Secret Service ] detail when I was Vice President and President, was killed in Oklahoma City. He was no Nazi. He was a kind man, a loving parent, a man dedicated to serving his country — and serve it well he did.

In 1993, I attended the wake for A.T.F. agent Steve Willis, another dedicated officer who did his duty. I can assure you that this honorable man, killed by weird cultists, was no Nazi.

John Magaw, who used to head the U.S.S.S. and now heads A.T.F., is one of the most principled, decent men I have ever known. He would be the last to condone the kind of illegal behavior your ugly letter charges. The same is true for the F.B.I.’s able Director Louis Freeh. I appointed Mr. Freeh to the Federal Bench. His integrity and honor are beyond question.

Both John Magaw and Judge Freeh were in office when I was President. They both now serve in the current administration. They both have badges. Neither of them would ever give the government’s “go ahead to harass, intimidate, even murder law abiding citizens.” (Your words)

I am a gun owner and an avid hunter. Over the years I have agreed with most of N.R.A.’s objectives, particularly your educational and training efforts, and your fundamental stance in favor of owning guns.

However, your broadside against Federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency and honor; and it offends my concept of service to country. It indirectly slanders a wide array of government law enforcement officials, who are out there, day and night, laying their lives on the line for all of us.

You have not repudiated Mr. LaPierre’s unwarranted attack. Therefore, I resign as a Life Member of N.R.A., said resignation to be effective upon your receipt of this letter. Please remove my name from your membership list.

Sincerely,

George Bush

Eventually, LaPierre would apologize, saying, “If anyone thought the intention was to paint all federal law enforcement officials with the same broad brush, I’m sorry.” He even managed to survive an attempt by a rival and more extreme NRA official to oust him from power.

Naturally, it surprised no one when only a few years later, LaPierre again unleashed a deranged attack against the Clinton Administration, this time accusing President Clinton of enabling violence in America in order to pass his gun control agenda:

“I’ve come to believe he needs a certain level of violence in this country,” LaPierre told ABC News on the March 15, 2000 episode of Nightline. “He’s willing to accept a certain level of killing to further his political agenda. And the vice president, too. I mean, how else can you explain this dishonesty we get out of the administration?”

Of course, if there is anyone who knows about accountability to the people, it’s Wayne LaPierre. Just check out the way he responded to the father of a student who was killed in the Columbine High School shootings:

A couple of years after his 15-year-old son Daniel was killed in the Columbine high school shooting in April 1999, Tom Mauser bumped into Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the National Rifle Association, at a charity event.

It was a fortuitous meeting for Mauser. In the months after the massacre, in which 12 students and a teacher died, LaPierre had been seminal in lobbying against a Congressional bill that would have closed the gun show loophole that allows firearms to be sold by private sellers without any background check on the purchaser. The loophole was exploited by the Columbine killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, to procure their weapons.

After the bill collapsed, Mauser had written to the NRA asking why it had so fiercely opposed such a sensible safeguard to prevent future tragedies. “I wrote: ‘Do you have any idea what it’s like to go through this, to lose your son in that way? Why are you doing this?'” Mauser says.

Mauser was surprised by the NRA’s response. Or lack of it. The NRA simply did not reply.

So he raised the matter with LaPierre when he happened upon him, and LaPierre, being the polite and affable character he is widely said to be, promised to find out what had happened to the letter. Months passed, and still Mauser received no reply, so in 2002 he presented a copy of the same letter to the Washington offices of the NRA and picketed outside the front door.

For his pains, the NRA called the police and Mauser was arrested. He repeated the action in 2005, and was arrested again. “It became clear to me, LaPierre would rather have me arrested than talk to me, reply to my letter or even acknowledge me as a human being.”

This is the man who stands between the United States of America being a land where mass killings are a routine part of everyday life or a country where people are free to live without fear that today is the day they become another innocent life extinguished. This is a man who told the Senate in 1999, “We think it’s reasonable to provide mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere for anyone,” and now today says, “background checks will never be ‘universal’ — because criminals will never submit to them.”

It is time to end the radical and violent hold Wayne LaPierre has maintained on American culture and society. It is time to contact your elected representatives and tell them that Wayne LaPierre is a crazy person, and no decent human being could possibly support him. Or, to put it in a way even an unbalanced zealot like Wayne LaPierre can understand:

It is time to take our country back.

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Why Did It Take Us This Long To Uncover That Memorial Day Originated With Former Slaves?

Via Professor David Blight of Yale University comes this amazing revelation regarding the history of Memorial Day, or as it was once known, “Decoration Day”:

After a long siege, a prolonged bombardment for months from all around the harbor, and numerous fires, the beautiful port city of Charleston, South Carolina, where the war had begun in April, 1861, lay in ruin by the spring of 1865. The city was largely abandoned by white residents by late February. Among the first troops to enter and march up Meeting Street singing liberation songs was the Twenty First U. S. Colored Infantry; their commander accepted the formal surrender of the city.

Thousands of black Charlestonians, most former slaves, remained in the city and conducted a series of commemorations to declare their sense of the meaning of the war. The largest of these events, and unknown until some extraordinary luck in my recent research, took place on May 1, 1865. During the final year of the war, the Confederates had converted the planters’ horse track, the Washington Race Course and Jockey Club, into an outdoor prison. Union soldiers were kept in horrible conditions in the interior of the track; at least 257 died of exposure and disease and were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand. Some twenty-eight black workmen went to the site, re-buried the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery. They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

Yes, that’s right, a contingent of black Americans–most of them former slaves–“conducted a series of commemorations to declare their sense of the meaning of the war.” And what did those commemorations include exactly?

At 9 am on May 1, the procession stepped off led by three thousand black schoolchildren carrying arm loads of roses and singing “John Brown’s Body.” The children were followed by several hundred black women with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantry and other black and white citizens. As many as possible gathering in the cemetery enclosure; a childrens’ choir sang “We’ll Rally around the Flag,” the “Star-Spangled Banner,” and several spirituals before several black ministers read from scripture.
[…]

Following the solemn dedication the crowd dispersed into the infield and did what many of us do on Memorial Day: they enjoyed picnics, listened to speeches, and watched soldiers drill. Among the full brigade of Union infantry participating was the famous 54th Massachusetts and the 34th and 104th U.S. Colored Troops, who performed a special double-columned march around the gravesite. The war was over, and Decoration Day had been founded by African Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration. The war, they had boldly announced, had been all about the triumph of their emancipation over a slaveholders’ republic, and not about state rights, defense of home, nor merely soldiers’ valor and sacrifice.

Now…how is it even remotely possible that such a remarkable aspect of the United States of America’s history could be lost for such an incredible length of time? Would you believe the answer has something to do with institutionalized white supremacy? (Ed. note: Yes. You would.)

According to a reminiscence written long after the fact, “several slight disturbances” occurred during the ceremonies on this first Decoration Day, as well as “much harsh talk about the event locally afterward.” But a measure of how white Charlestonians suppressed from memory this founding in favor of their own creation of the practice later came fifty-one years afterward, when the president of the Ladies Memorial Association of Charleston received an inquiry about the May 1, 1865 parade. A United Daughters of the Confederacy official from New Orleans wanted to know if it was true that blacks had engaged in such a burial rite. Mrs. S. C. Beckwith responded tersely: “I regret that I was unable to gather any official information in answer to this.” In the struggle over memory and meaning in any society, some stories just get lost while others attain mainstream dominance.

The reason Mrs. Beckwith “was unable to gather any official information” is that she was desperately trying to prevent her worldview of institutionalized white supremacy from being destroyed.

On this Memorial Day, let us all strive to make amends for the Mrs. Beckwiths of the world. It is the least we can do to honor the many and varied sacrifices of all those who came before us.

Regardless of their skin color.

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The 2012 Condoleezza Rice “Probably The Most Important Essay Maybe Written This Year” Award – Nominee #1

Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine has composed a fantastic dissection of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), one of the greatest frauds in the history of American politics. Chait’s piece seeks to answer the mystery of how “Ryan managed to occupy these two roles in our national life—Fiscy award-winning spokesman for those Americans demanding a bipartisan agreement to reduce the deficit, and slayer of bipartisan deficit agreements—simultaneously?”

Here is one of the best explanations I have seen to date of the intellectual sham that is Paul Ryan’s political career:

After Obama assailed Ryan’s budget, [New York Times business columnist James] Stewart wrote a second column insisting that Ryan’s plans were just the sort of goals liberals shared. He quoted Ryan as writing, in his manifesto, “The social safety net is failing society’s most vulnerable citizens.” Stewart is flabbergasted that Democrats could be so partisan as to attack a figure who believes something so uncontroversial. “Does anyone,” Stewart wrote in his follow-up, “Democrat or Republican, seriously disagree?”

The disagreement, I suggested to Stewart, is that Ryan believes the social safety net is failing society’s most vulnerable citizens by spending too much money on them. As Ryan has said, “We don’t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency”—which is to say, plying the poor with such inducements as food stamps and health insurance for their children has sapped their desire to achieve, a problem Ryan proposes to solve by targeting them for the lion’s share of deficit reduction. Stewart waves away the distinction. “I was pointing out that, at least rhetorically, you can find some common ground,” he says. Stewart, explaining his evaluation of Ryan to me, repeatedly cited the missing details in his plan as a hopeful sign of Ryan’s accommodating aims. “He seems very straightforward,” he tells me. “He doesn’t seem cunning. He seems very genuine.”

Seeming genuine is something Ryan does extraordinarily well. And here is where something deeper is at play, more than Ryan’s charm and winning personality, something that gets at the intellectual bankruptcy of contemporary Washington. The Ryan brand is rooted in his ostentatious wonkery. Because, unlike the Bushes and the Palins, he grounds his position in facts and figures, he seems like an encouraging candidate to strike a bargain. But the thing to keep in mind about Ryan is that he was trained in the world of Washington Republican think tanks. These were created out of a belief that mainstream economists were hopelessly biased to the left, and crafted an alternative intellectual ecosystem in which conservative beliefs—the planet is not getting warmer, the economy is not growing more unequal—can flourish, undisturbed by skepticism. Ryan is intimately versed in the blend of fact, pseudo-fact, and pure imagination inhabiting this realm.

Go check out the full piece. It’s essential reading in preparation for the next phase of the general election.

(An explanation of the award’s name can be found here.)

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Mitt Romney Is A Shameless Liar

“And in return, I shall lie directly to your face.”

When you wake up in the morning, there are two things that you can absolutely bank on: the sun will rise in the East, and Mitt Romney will shamelessly lie about anything and everything. Pick a subject, any subject, and you will be able to find scores of lies and falsehoods from Willard Mittens Romney in his craven pursuit of The White House.

What makes the shameless and serial lying of Mittens so special is his acknowledgement, and subsequent blatant disregard, of the fact that he is engaged in a crass display of pandering to the worst elements of human existence. The team assembled by Mittens shows not a smidgen of care for the fact that they are employed on a crusade of egregious untruths.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s first ad of the 2012 presidential campaign quotes President Obama out of context in what the Romney campaign is calling a deliberate attempt to show that Mr. Obama “doesn’t want to talk about the economy.”

In the ad, which goes up Tuesday in New Hampshire, Mr. Obama is heard saying “if we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.”

But when Mr. Obama made that statement, he was actually quoting an aide to John McCain, his 2008 rival for the presidency. “Senator McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote, if we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose,” Mr. Obama said.
[…]

“We used that quote intentionally to show that President Obama is doing exactly what he criticized McCain of doing four years ago,” said Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom. “Obama doesn’t want to talk about the economy because of his failed record.”

When pressed further about the inherent absurdity of their initial explanation, Romney senior New Hampshire adviser Tom Rath was reduced to telling CBS News, “He did say the words. That’s his voice.”

But you would expect Mittens to lie frequently and flagrantly about President Obama’s record; ’tis the nature of the beast he is attempting to tame. You have to take a moment to really consider what it means when individuals who worked with Romney during his “moderate” days as Governor of Massachusetts come out and declare that he is a straight up liar. And not just any random individual, mind you, but the man whose ideas were instrumental in the landmark overhaul of health care in Massachusetts, Romney’s only real signature achievement as an elected public official. You know, the legislation that also served as the blueprint for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (aka “ObamaCare”; aka “The Crown Jewel of Socialism”):

[Jonathan] Gruber said he understands the political motivation for Republicans to be trying to dismantle the bill.

“Look, if this succeeds, then Obama becomes F.D.R. This is the most important social policy accomplishment since the 1960s. And if this succeeds, this could be the kind of benefit to the Democratic Party that Social Security was. So if I was the Republicans, I’d be screaming and kicking and scratching to kill it too, on purely political grounds,” he said.
[…]

He credited Mitt Romney for not totally disavowing the Massachusetts bill during his presidential campaign, but said Romney’s attempt to distinguish between Obama’s bill and his own is disingenuous.

“The problem is there is no way to say that,” Gruber said. “Because they’re the same fucking bill. He just can’t have his cake and eat it too. Basically, you know, it’s the same bill. He can try to draw distinctions and stuff, but he’s just lying. The only big difference is he didn’t have to pay for his. Because the federal government paid for it. Where at the federal level, we have to pay for it, so we have to raise taxes.”

And suddenly, you realize that if Mittens is lying about one signature achievement, he surely can be lying about others. Perhaps even the number of jobs he created while working at his beloved, Bain Capital. At a September 2011 debate at the Ronald Reagan presidential library, Romney stated:

“We added tens of thousands of jobs through the businesses we helped support. That experience — succeeding, failing, competing around the world — is what gives me the capacity to help get this economy going again.”

By January 3, 2012, the number skyrocketed to six figures, with Mittens crowing about his success on Fox News:

“And I’m very happy in my former life; we helped create over 100,000 new jobs. By the way, we created more jobs in Massachusetts than this president’s created in the entire country. So if the president wants to talk about jobs, and I hope he does, we’ll be comparing my record with his record and he comes up very, very short.”

By January 13, 2012, the number plummeted to “thousands of jobs” in a campaign ad Romney released in South Carolina.

The point here is that it is irresponsible not to ask how the number of jobs created by the accomplishment that defines why a person is running for President of the United States could so wildly fluctuate in 10 days.

Because if that person is now on record as lying about the two achievements that distinguish their merit to attain the office of Leader of the Free World, then it only makes sense that they would run away from the truth that their tax plan is an open buffet for robber barons.

Or that he would say with a straight face:

“We’ve got a president in office three years, and he does not have a jobs plan yet. I’ve got one out there already and I’m not even president, yet.”

It only makes sense that he could claim,

“the Massachusetts Pro-Life Family Association supported my record as governor, endorsed my record as governor,”

when in fact, he forcefully rejected their endorsement while running for governor in 2002.

And the only reason it makes sense is that Mitt Romney believes you aren’t paying attention while he plays you like a fool.

“So we went to the company, and we said, ‘Look, you can’t have any illegals working on our property. I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake! I can’t have illegals!'”

This is how Mitt Romney views the world. Never forget that.

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This Man Has A Legitimate Chance of Winning The Republican Presidential Nomination

Q: Do you believe that people choose to be gay?

NEWT GINGRICH: I believe it’s a combination of genetics and environment. I think both are involved. I think people have many ranges of choices. Part of the question is, do you want a society which has a bias in one direction or another?

Q: So people can then choose one way or another?

NEWT GINGRICH: I think people have a significant range of choice within a genetic pattern. I don’t believe in genetic determinism and I don’t think there is any great evidence of genetic determinism. There are propensities. Are you more likely to do this or more likely to do that? But that doesn’t mean it’s definitional.

Q: So a person can then choose to be straight?

NEWT GINGRICH: Look, people choose to be celibate. People choose many things in life. You know, there is a bias in favor of non-celibacy. It’s part of how the species recreates. And yet there is a substantial amount of people who choose celibacy as a religious vocation or for other reasons.

Look, I can choose to eat at Olive Garden. I can choose to purchase a Netflix subscription. And I can also choose to find other men attractive, while choosing to eat baked pasta romana at Olive Garden. It’s just part of how human beings operate, naturally.

Please, oh please, oh please…nominate this man for President of the United States.

Please.

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Are You Unemployed? Surprise! Republicans Hate You.

“You want a job? Ha! No.”

It is a known fact that the Republican Party has no interest in working to fix the catastrophically high unemployment rate in this country. After lying through their teeth during the 2010 midterms about all the jobs they planned to create, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives went to work doing everything but passing legislation designed to create jobs.

Their first piece of legislation, H.R. 1, was an appropriations bill to continue funding the government that slashed discretionary funding for a seemingly endless array of vital programs. H.R. 1 sought to “kill a program that helps low-income families weatherize their homes and permanently reduce their home energy bills, cut federal funds for employment and training services for jobless workers and for clean water and safe drinking water by more than half, and raise the risk that the WIC nutrition program may not be able to serve all eligible low-income women, infants, and children under age 5.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had its funding slashed by more than $1.3 billion.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was placed in the crosshairs for a 10% budget cut, cutting about $241 million from the agency’s budget.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) experienced a 30% cut in its budget.

“But these cuts were necessary for job growth,” Republicans told you.

But Mark Zandi, Moody’s Analytics chief economist, told you that H.R. 1 could cost “about 700,000 jobs through 2012.”

Zandi’s analysis, first reported by the Washington Post, predicts that the GOP budget plan would reduce economic growth by .5 percent this year and by .2 percent in 2012.

“Significant government spending restraint is vital, but given the still halting economic recovery, it would be counterproductive for that restraint to begin until the economy is creating enough jobs to bring down the still very high unemployment rate,” Zandi writes in his report.

And in response to the notion that the Republican plan would actually result in job cuts across the United States, the utterly abysmal Speaker of the House, John Boehner, told the country, “So be it.”

The Ohio Republican was asked at his weekly news conference about the prospect of federal job cuts if a House GOP plan to trim $100 billion in government spending passes.

“Over the last two years since President Obama has taken office, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs,” Boehner said. “And if some of those jobs are lost in this, so be it. We’re broke. It’s time for us to get serious about how we’re spending the nation’s money.”

The reporter who asked the question noted, however, that the government might have to pay federal unemployment assistance to laid-off workers, potentially adding more costs.

Now, this is just the first piece of legislation the Republican controlled House of Representatives passed, a spectacular devastation of the already desolate employment picture in this country. They decided to follow this up with a one-two punch of the wholly symbolic, utterly worthless, and highly counterproductive H.R. 2, “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act”. That’s right, the second thing Republicans did once they gained control of the House was attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Would you be surprised to believe that the “job killing health care law” was actually responsible for creating more than 200,000 private sector jobs (more than 1/5) of the 1.1 million private sector jobs created between the ACA being signed by President Obama in March 2010 and January 2011?

(ed. note: No, you are not surprised.)

But those are only the first two pieces of legislation the Republican controlled House passed. Now, I bet you are thinking to yourself, “What could these clowns possibly do to complete the hat trick of not giving a fuck about the unemployed?” How about rolling out H.R. 3, also known by the repugnant name “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”? As you can easily imagine, this law was not designed to create jobs. It was designed, however, to redefine what “rape” means in the United States of America:

For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.

With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to “forcible rape.” This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion. (Smith’s spokesman did not respond to a call and an email requesting comment.)

Yes, that’s right. Republicans in the House went from misguidedly trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to attempting to create a new kind of rape known as “forcible rape.”

But, okay, fine. This doesn’t prove that Republicans hate the unemployed. It just proves that they have not even the slightest interest in doing anything to improve the catastrophically high unemployment rate. I guess, then, we should turn to the actual things Republicans have said and done regarding the unemployed to make the case.

Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV) claimed that extending unemployment benefits was creating “hobos.”

Heller said the current economic downturn and policies may bring back the hobos of the Great Depression, people who wandered the country taking odd jobs. He said a study found that people who are out of work longer than two years have only a 50 percent chance of getting back into the workforce. “I believe there should be a federal safety net,” Heller said, but he questioned the wisdom of extending unemployment benefits yet again to a total of 24 months, which Congress is doing. “Is the government now creating hobos?” he asked.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced legislation that would have required people applying for unemployment to pass a drug test in exchange for benefits.

Hatch introduced an amendment to the tax extenders bill that would require those who are applying for some of the benefits in that bill, including unemployment and welfare benefits, to pass a drug test in exchange for the benefits.

“Drugs are a scourge on our society — hurting children, families and communities alike,” Hatch said in a statement. “This amendment is a way to help people get off of drugs to become productive and healthy members of society, while ensuring that valuable taxpayer dollars aren’t wasted.”

Under the Hatch amendment, individuals who fail to qualify for benefits because they failed a drug test wouldn’t necessarily be jailed, but would be enrolled in a state or federal drug treatment program.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) basically told the unemployed to stop complaining about not having a job and…go back to work. At the job they don’t have anymore.

Kentucky Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul has a blunt message for the millions of Americans who remain unemployed in the long-term: “Accept a wage that’s less than [you] had at [your] previous job” and “get back to work.”

According to Paul, the issue is “bigger than unemployment benefits” and the Tea Party-backed Senate hopeful made his position on the matter clear in an interview with talk radio host Sue Wylie on WVLK-AM last week.

“As bad as it sounds, ultimately we do have to sometimes accept a wage that’s less than we had at our previous job in order to get back to work and allow the economy to get started again,” Paul explained. “Nobody likes that, but it may be one of the tough love things that has to happen.”

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) decided it would be a top-notch idea to compare the unemployed to alcoholics and drug addicts.

FARENTHOLD: Drug testing for recipients of various welfare programs, I really think that’s something that needs to be considered. We’ve gotta, you know, nobody wants to starve anybody. Everybody wants to help folks out. But we’ve got a system where you can stay on unemployment for an awfully long time. And I think we need to create a system of decreasing benefits over time to encourage you to get a job. I think anybody who’s had an alcoholic in their life or somebody with a drug problem, realizes that until things get bad enough there’s no incentive to change. I think that we’re so generous in some of our social problems that people are unwilling to get a job outside in the heat. Rather than get 15 dollars to go get roofing they’d rather get 9 or 10 dollars in benefits. I think drug testing is not an unreasonable requirement to get benefits.

The current Republican governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett, had the genius stroke that unemployed individuals in Pennsylvania are consciously choosing not to work:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett on Friday accused some jobless Pennsylvanians of choosing to collect unemployment checks rather than going back to work, prompting swift criticism from his Democratic opponent and one of the state’s top labor leaders.

“The jobs are there. But if we keep extending unemployment, people are just going to sit there,” Corbett told Harrisburg radio station WITF at a campaign stop in Elizabethtown. “I’ve literally had construction companies tell me, ‘I can’t get people to come back to work until . . . they say, “I’ll come back to work when unemployment runs out.” ‘ “

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) once said, “[C]ontinuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work.”

I could go all day like this, citing example after example of Republicans explicitly sharing their disdain for the unemployed. Or I could just once again point out that in all the time Republicans have controlled the House of Representatives since asking “Where are the jobs?” during the 2010 midterms, they have passed NOT A SINGLE FUCKING PIECE OF JOBS LEGISLATION.

But they will, however, keep coming after the reproductive rights of women in this country. Because they hate the unemployed almost as much as they hate women.

The House is scheduled to vote this week on a new bill that would allow federally-funded hospitals that oppose abortions to refuse to perform the procedure, even in cases where a woman would die without it.

Under current law, every hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid money is legally required to provide emergency care to any patient in need, regardless of his or her financial situation. If a hospital is unable to provide what the patient needs — including a life-saving abortion — it has to transfer the patient to a hospital that can.

Under H.R. 358, dubbed the “Protect Life Act” and sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), hospitals that don’t want to provide abortions could refuse to do so, even for a pregnant woman with a life-threatening complication that requires a doctor terminate her pregnancy. This provision would apply to the more than 600 Catholic hospitals governed by the Catholic Health Association, which are regulated by bishops and prohibited from performing abortions.

Almost.

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How Is It That No Republican Knows What Socialism Actually Means?

“This tastes like socialism. I blame Obama.”

If there is one thing we have learned since the inauguration of President Barack Obama, it is the fact that while Republicans have no fucking clue what socialism looks like in the real world, they have absolutely no qualms about slinging the term around to describe anything they dislike.

In the real world, socialism is simply defined as “an economic system in which the means of production are either state owned or commonly owned and controlled cooperatively.” For Republicans, such as Michele Bachmann, socialism can be defined as a) the Affordable Care Act, or as Bachmann has referred to it, “the crown jewel of socialism”; and b) anything and everything else of which President Obama even slightly approves.

In September 2009, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael “I’m The Cow On The Tracks” Steele blasted out a fundraising e-mail in response to President Obama’s speech to Congress regarding health care reform. In response to President Obama making comments such as “our health care system is placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers” and “in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick,” Michael Steel wrote the following:

“Send a virtual post card[sic] to Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid and let them know you won’t tolerate their socialist power grab.”

Shortly after Steele’s e-mail went out, John Boehner, who is currently serving as one of the worst Speakers of the House the United States of America has ever seen, was asked point blank on Meet The Press whether he thought President Obama was a socialist. This was the exchange:

DAVID GREGORY: Do you really think the President is a socialist?
JOHN BOEHNER: Listen, when you begin to look at how much they want to grow government, you can call it whatever you want, but the fact is —
GREGORY: What do you call it though?
BOEHNER: This is unsustainable. We’re broke.
GREGORY: That’s fine. Do you think the President is a socialist?
BOEHNER: No!
GREGORY: Okay. Because the head of the Republican Party is calling him that.
BOEHNER: Listen, I didn’t call him that, and I’m not going to call him that.

Here’s how you know John Boehner thinks you are a fucking moron without a clue about what is going on in this country. In February 2009 (seven months earlier), John Boehner referred to the Obama administration’s budget proposal and economic stimulus plan as “one big down payment on a new American socialist experiment.” I am pretty sure this is known in most circles as “fear mongering.”

In March 2010, a Harris poll found that 67% of Republicans believed President Obama was a socialist. Just to put that in context for you, that is more Republicans than the amount who believed President Obama wanted to take away Americans’ right to own guns (61%), is a Muslim (57%), was not born in the United States and is therefore ineligible for the presidency (45%), and is a racist (42%).

(More Republicans think President Obama is a socialist than he is a racist! I cannot be the only one who finds that stunning.)

In the midst of the intellectual black hole known as the 2012 Republican presidential primary, the candidates have been jockeying furiously to one-up each other in expressing delusional claims about President Obama’s socialist nature. Mitt Romney, he who possesses negative moral fortitude, said the following about President Obama:

“What President Obama is, is a big-spending liberal,” he continued. “He takes his political inspiration from Europe and from the socialist democrats in Europe. Guess what? Europe isn’t working in Europe. It’s not going to work here.”

Completely unserious human being, Newt Gingrich, babbled at length about Obama’s “socialist policies.” Rick Perry, asshole extraordinaire, was quoted by one of the debate moderators as once saying that the Obama administration is “hell-bent toward taking America toward a socialist country.”

Perhaps one of the most egregious examples of Republican ignorance occurred this year following President Obama’s State of the Union address. Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) –an outright moron who has said everything from “cap-and-trade would kill people; the Affordable Care Act will dictate what kind of car Americans can drive; the health care reform effort reminds him of “Northern Aggression”; and that he considers President Obama to be a Hitler-like figure intent on establishing a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship on Americans”– tweeted the following response to President Obama’s State of the Union address:

“Mr. President, you don’t believe in the Constitution. You believe in socialism.”

This is also the same man who, when the Center for Disease Control launched a public-service campaign on the benefits of a healthy diet in the midst of the 2010 midterms, responded by saying, “This is what the federal, CDC, they gonna be calling you to make sure you eat fruits and vegetables, every day. This is socialism of the highest order!”

However, this is not some new thing for Republicans. Please do not make the mistake of giving these clowns the benefit of the doubt. Ronald “Ronaldus Magnus” Reagan once said that Medicare and Medicaid were part of an advancing socialism that would “invade every area of freedom in this country.”

That was in 1961.

1961.

So you should consider it wholly unsurprising that during an interview with Time magazine, Rick “Governor Goodhair” Perry expressed the following thoughts on socialism:

TIME: Now that you’ve been in the race for while, do you feel pressure to temper some of your rhetoric, like calling the Obama administration socialist?

PERRY: No, I still believe they are socialist. Their policies prove that almost daily. Look, when all the answers emanate from Washington D.C., one size fits all, whether it’s education policy or whether it’s healthcare policy, that is, on its face, socialism.

The ignorance, it is dwarfing.

Let’s turn to Steve Benen over at The Washington Monthly to break this all down:

“Socialism” is not a synonym for “stuff Republicans don’t like.”

Aside from Obama’s advances on gay rights and reproductive rights, there’s just not much in this White House’s agenda that moderate Republicans wouldn’t have found tolerable a decade or two ago. The Affordable Care Act largely relies on private insurers, rather than socialized medicine. Cap and trade was a Republican idea. Keynesian stimulus has been the basis for U.S. economic policy for both parties for eight decades. Investments in infrastructure and education have traditionally been bipartisan priorities.

So what on earth is Rick Perry talking about? By his reasoning, nearly every liberal democracy on the planet — in East Asia, in Europe, in North America, etc. — are fallen dominoes, overtaken by socialists. Presidential candidates, especially those likely to win, shouldn’t be quite this unintelligent.

So, just remember, every time you hear a Republican use the word “socialism” to describe something, you can be extremely confident they have no idea what the fuck they are talking about.

Especially Rick Perry.

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The State of Georgia Murdered Troy Davis

On Wednesday, September 21, 2011, the state of Georgia murdered Troy Davis. The state will reference this murder using terms like “capital punishment,” “the death penalty,” and “ultimate justice.” But make no mistake about it, they are explicitly referring to state sanctioned murder. And the state of Georgia cares so much about what Andrew Cohen describes as “its interest in the finality of its capital judgments,” that it is eagerly willing to disregard “the accuracy of its capital verdicts.”

And the accuracy of the capital verdict against Troy Davis can very much so be called into question.

In August 1991, Troy Davis was convicted on charges of killing a Savannah, Georgia police officer during an altercation that occurred in August 1989.

Davis, then 20, was leaving a house party in Savannah with his teenaged friend, Darrell Collins, when a car drove past. Its passengers leaned out the windows and shouted obscenities. In response, an unknown perp fired a gunshot into the car, injuring a man named Michael Cooper. The vehicle sped off, and Davis and Collins left the scene en route to a downtown pool hall.

Outside, they came across Sylvester “Redd” Coles, who was involved in a dispute over a beer with a homeless man named Larry Young. It was now around 1 a.m., and Coles and Young wandered into a Burger King parking lot, continuing their argument. Curious to see what would happen, Davis and Collins followed. Tensions mounted, and someone pistol-whipped Young, whose head began to bleed. An off-duty police officer named Mark Allen MacPhail, who worked security at a nearby bus stop, noticed the commotion and intervened. Then, three shots were fired at the officer. One hit him in the face; another pierced his left lung.

Troy Davis was sentenced to death.

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Do You Ride A Bicycle? Surprise! Republicans Hate You.

Some of you might believe that post title to be a bit hyperbolic. You are wrong. Republicans are currently hard at work on making it even more dangerous and deadly for cyclists all over the country. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a swing over to Crooks and Liars where karoli breaks it down:

The Obama administration has made bicycle lanes and safe streets a priority. Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood is an avid cyclist who understands the benefits of safe pathways. As one who has nearly been run down by distracted drivers who inadvertently swerve into very narrow bike lanes, every improvement made is one that I view as a lifesaver somewhere to someone.

Enter Rep. John Mica, our new Republican transportation appropriations overlord. Yes, our tea party Congress has proposed killing all guaranteed funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects. Back in July, when the House was busily carving out all sorts of little green projects from the budget, Mica and his crew decided bicycle paths and walkways for pedestrians were just extras we don’t need. Luckily, the Senate had our backs and passed a clean funding extension, but the two bills have not been reconciled yet.

That lack of reconciliation between the two bills is where the hatred for cyclists comes into play. You see, people like Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) don’t think we should invest any money in improving bike safety across the country. Because it’s not like Real Americans use bike lanes on a daily basis to get from Point A to Point B. Nope, only commies and terrorists do weird shit like that. And thus, you end up with the following standoff:

Senator Coburn (OK) has said he won’t agree to an extension unless funding for bike projects is stripped out. Representatives Boehner and Cantor have basically said the same thing in the House. Yes, folks, they are willing to hold the entire transportation program hostage – infrastructure spending and millions of real jobs – to get rid of bike projects.

As President of the League of American Bicyclists, Andy Clarke, goes on to note, only an asshole would be so adamantly against investing in improving bike safety across the country. Well, he phrases it a tad more eloquently than I would:

Why would they do this, I hear you ask. After all, bike projects create jobs; bike projects improve safety; more bicyclists means less congestion, cleaner air, less oil consumption, fitter and healthier American’s. It’s baffling. It’s not like the transportation program is going to be cut by the amount they strip out for bike funding…no, the money still gets spent but it will likely buy us another mile or two of freeway instead of thousands of small-scale, labor-intensive bicycling and walking improvements.

Equally, the enhancements program is hardly eating up a massive chunk of the transportation program. Even though Cantor and Boehner like to leave the impression that it’s ten percent of the transportation program…it isn’t. Not even close. It’s ten percent of one of dozens of programs that make up the overall program. In fact, enhancements account for barely one percent of Federal transportation funds.

But remember, while Republicans are literally willing to throw cyclists to the wolves trucks going 45 MPH, they will be DAMNED if they’ll let you eliminate tax breaks for Big Oil conglomerates like BP, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron and ConocoPhillips:

The Senate on Tuesday blocked a Democratic proposal to strip the five leading oil companies of tax breaks that backers of the measure said were unfairly padding industry profits while consumers were struggling with high gas prices.

Despite falling eight votes short of the 60 needed to move ahead with the bill, top Democrats said they would insist that eliminating the tax breaks to generate billions of dollars in revenue must be part of any future agreement to raise the federal debt limit.

[…]

The defeat on Tuesday was expected since most Republicans were dug in against what they saw as a politically motivated plan in advance of the 2012 elections. Democrats had hoped that directing the savings toward the deficit would make it harder for Republicans to reject it.

In the 52-to-48 vote, 3 Democrats joined 45 Republicans in opposing the bill, which was supported by the Obama administration and fiscal watchdog groups that saw the tax help for the oil industry as wasteful. Forty-eight Democrats, two independents and two Republicans backed it.

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