Sunday 30 May 2010

So who has the momentum for the midterms?

Obama has already passed health care reform.

Financial reform? Polls show the American people want it, so Obama wins either by passing it, or by pounding on the Republicans for blocking it; the Republicans also blocked unemployment benefits repeatedly, and tried to kill a number of jobs bills.

Immigration reform? Polls say America wants it, Obama has a bill, Republicans are blocking it. Again, he wins either way. The Arizona law is the gift that keeps on giving for Obama – that, and he deployed troops to the border, and caught and deported more illegals than Bush.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell? Polls support repeal, Obama has a bill, the Republicans can either lose by fighting it or lose by letting it pass.

Elena Kagan? Again, Obama can’t lose. 2-0 in Court nominees.

Energy legislation? With BP destroying the state of Louisiana, Obama could get that too, particularly since the Bush-era regulators helped make the spill happen. He has Republicans jumping all over the place, actually hollering for more government action and condemning the corporate villain while simultaneously trying to cap BP’s liability, so it’s a double-win for Obama.

Scandals and stupid stuff? How about Rand Paul’s 7-8-9 explanations of his stance on Jim Crow laws, the Chicken Lady, Jan Brewer and the entire Arizona government, Mark Souder making an abstinence video with his mistress, the cop-killing teabagger, Bob McDonnell the friend of blacks and gays, Nikki Haley doing the nasty with a blogger, Michael Steele the gaffe machine, desperate candidates trying to dash to the right to fend off the teabaggers and then dash left to grab the independents, Tim “I found the Ark of the Covenant” D’Annunzio being ridiculed by his own party, Vaughn Ward stealing Obama’s speeches, primary opponents like McCain and Hayworth tearing each other’s throats out (we never declared war on Hitler!), the Westboro hatemongers, teabaggers sending death threats to Democrats, Palin’s repeated grand-mal seizures of cluelessness, Glenn and Rush…?

Boys and girls, there’s your leadership A-team! And most of that was just in the last month or so!

Republican ideas? In 1994 they won with Contract With America, but this time they have tried three times to launch their own manifesto of ideas, and each time they ended up mumbling…”hey, you voters, do you have any ideas we could use?” And one of the three efforts was funded by…taxpayers! The idea bag is empty.

So rolling into November, the Obama scorecard could read health care, financial reform, DADT, two Supreme Court justices, immigration reform, energy legislation, and bunch of smaller stuff. While the Republicans wallow in their own mistakes and intellectual vacuousness. And of course, vote suppression.

The Republicans have thrown the whole kitchen sink at Obama. Their bag of tricks is empty. What more can they come up with, to regain the momentum?

What do conservatives believe?

Modern conservatism began with the French Revolution. Horrified by the excesses of the Reign of Terror, European conservatives were forced to think about what they believed and then defend it in a new, revolutionary world. Philosophers such as Edmund Burke established a manifesto that embraced a love of tradition, religion, order, class hierarchy, old-fashioned habits and manners. Then and now, they revere leaders and centers of authority – the military, police, corporations (three key tools in Hitler’s rise to power). They love their leaders even when they stray from tradition, and they turn a blind eye to institutions which have outlived their usefulness (if any), to include slavery and racism; not only will they not abandon old institutions, they resist implementing the kinds of repairs and modernization which could preserve the institutions they love. They despise those who don’t share this reverence for tradition and authority, and they dread change, particularly rapid change such as we’ve had for the last century.

That European model of conservatism it didn’t translate well in America. The trouble for American conservatives began right at Lexington and Concord, when the Founding Fathers, radicals all, broke virtually every rule of conservative doctrine, overturning tradition, questioning religion, challenging royal authority, tossing out class structure in favor of democracy. Russell Kirk, a key conservative philosopher of the last century, argued that the Founders were really conservatives fighting back against radical royal innovation, but that’s nonsense. The Founders were radicals, pure and simple.

They didn’t stay that way: having defied 700 years of British traditions, they set about building their own: reverence for the money class in the north, reverence for rich slaveholders in the south. Now, however, conservatives had a second serious problem: terrible memories of the abuses of the British crown made hatred of authority an American tradition, particularly with respect to governmental authority. They established a doctrine of small government limited by the Constitution, state’s rights rather than federal power, libertarianism, small balanced budgets, eschewing the nanny state for self-made men taking responsibility or themselves and their society, and low taxes -- some of the lowest tax rates in the world, notwithstanding the howls of the laughably misinformed teabaggers. But how do you revere authority and despise it at the same time?

This model of limited government worked out fine for a key power base of the conservatives, the community of business and finance. Conservative thought and political needs happily coincided in this area: everyone out there to the right could agree on laissez-faire markets which were believed to be perpetually self-correcting, limited regulation, a reverence for property, a suspicion of the Federal Reserve, a tolerance of corruption linking businessmen to politicians, a fear of unions. When the trade issue raised an internal contradiction, the conservatives did an extraordinary pirouette: when free trade hurt businesses, they hollered for protective tariffs, but when they realized they could use free trade to exploit cheap overseas labor, they suddenly fell in love with the idea.

The conservative revulsion for governmental institutions worsened significantly eighty years ago: America began building new institutions, but they were being built by Franklin Roosevelt and the liberals. Conservatives didn’t want to worship those institutions, they wanted to destroy them. Neatly enough, the leaders of the first Republican renaissance, Eisenhower and Nixon, didn’t try to bring down those institutions, but the Reagan coalition had a better idea.

The Reagan revolution was ostensibly a declaration of war against big government. But to build that coalition, Reagan had to get in bed with allies who actually wanted a lot of government action: social conservatives who want a holy war on abortion, school prayer, gay marriage, and sex in the media, and messianic, nationalist, imperialist, “patriotic” neoconservatives who reviled the Republican isolationism of the previous century and want to launch preemptive wars to spread democracy around the world.

So they came up with a new philosophy: we like government institutions and traditions which help the GOP or its allies, or institutions which the GOP controls. The ones that don’t help Team Red, those are of course the bad ones.

While the Republicans were hard at work building up the governmental institutions they liked, leaders such as George Bush were hard at work wrecking the governmental institutions they hated, although to be accurate it must be said that Bush was so destructively incompetent that he damaged both the institutions which Republicans like and the ones they hate.

Their devotion to principle is elastic, therefore, when Congress or the White House changes party. Republicans were fanatically devoted to the notion of Congressional oversight of presidential power when the topic was Bill Clinton’s penis, but neatly forgot about controlling the president when Bush took over. In fact, Bush and Cheney showed vivid contempt for the idea that anyone would question their authority. King George III pretty much took the same position back in 1775.

Another way to damage the government: destroy the Senate confrimation process for senior officials. Currently GOP Senators have blocked dozens, if not hundreds, of the officials Obama needs to run the government. And if the process takes months or years to complete, the best and the brightest candidates will start refusing to go through the vetting process, and go back to the private sector.

Supreme Court, same idea. When the Court was loaded with Democrats, the rhetoric from the right was all about the stare decisis and the original intent of the Framers – “The Court shouldn’t do anything! They shouldn’t legislate from the bench!” But now that there are more Republicans on the bench, we are seeing the very judicial activism the Republicans formerly loathed – now that they have more control over that branch of government, they want that branch to take action.

Just as they like institutions better when they control, they also like ideas better when they can control their implementation. When John Maynard Keynes advocated deficit spending to clean up the damage from Republican incompetence during the Depression, the GOP howled. Deficits are bad! But when Reagan came along, suddenly deficits were good: using the power of the Laffer Curve, deficits will mysteriously pay themselves off through the magic of the market! Bibbidy bobbidy boo! Only Republicans are allowed to hand out free lunches!

Same thing with the most important institution of all, the Constitution. The Republicans conveniently forgot all about the Constitution when Bush spent eight years crapping all over that “goddamn piece of paper”, but now that Obama is in charge, they’re all about constitutional restraint upon the new president. Or even the individual provisions in the Constitution: they proclaim their adoration for our founding document, but conservatives hate the Bill of Rights because it protects people they dislike. Except, of course for the Second Amendment, which they revere because the deep-pocketed NRA told them to.

If their entire philosophy now consists of “we like institutions that help our party and our cronies”, how do they peddle such hypocritical bullcrap as an actual philosophical doctrine? Simple: that isn’t a philosophical problem, it’s a marketing problem.

In 1971, after 40 years of liberal ascendancy, Lewis Powell warned that the conservatives needed to launch an “intellectual” counterattack: get into the think tanks, the colleges, the courts, the media. William F. Buckley helped create the illusion that there was an intellectual fundament to conservatism. Rupert Murdoch’s empire-building helped immensely, and so did the incredibly preferential advertising deal that allowed Rush Limbaugh’s producers to market his radio show across the country at extremely low prices.

Since the conservative doctrine was based on empty philosophy and intellectual dishonesty – “we only love big government when it does what the GOP wants” – they have aimed to clog the marketplace of ideas with lies, attacks and distractions. They declared war on intellectualism: attacking academia, the media, and anyone else who can hold the crooks accountable or criticize their behavior: appealing to tradition over reason, simple unambiguous solutions to complex problems, populist rhetoric, appeals to religion.

Today’s media are enabling this dishonesty, because they simply don’t fact-check our leaders the way they did 30 years ago. The networks would rather entertain us than inform us, and the newspapers are at the point of collapse.

Conservatives have always thrived on anger, fear and uncertainty: fear of the revolutions freeing blacks and women and gays; fear of multiculturalism and the onset of a non-white majority.
They particularly exploit the fear that goes with unrest, from the French and Russian revolutions to Pearl Harbor and 911 to anti-Communist hysteria, to the ghetto riots and Vietnam protests by upstart college students. And they excel at throwing gasoline on the fire, pushing the buttons of their followers by screeching about taxes and welfare queens and abortion.

And here’s a clear sign of their intellectual bankruptcy. Three times in the last year or so, the Republicans have launched very public efforts to open a new GOP campaign to fight Democratic ideas with Republican ideas, along the lines of the Contract With America in 1994. But all three times, the Republicans failed to come up with any ideas of consequence. Instead, all three times they left it up to their own supporters to fill in the blanks with their own ideas: Party Platform via Mad-Lib. The Republicans don’t revere the Contract With America because it was full of great ideas: they love it because it helped them win Congress.

Using these tools, conservatives endeavor to hide the fact that all three factions of the Reagan coalition have been discredited: America has turned its back on the social conservative jihad against abortion and gays, Reaganomics and deregulation left us a titanic debt and crumbling economic and fiscal institutions, and the neocons led us into a morass in the Middle East.

And with an entire generation of supporters who just don’t think, these tactics have worked. Reagan screwed over the farmers and unions and they still voted for him. The Republicans have been promising for 30 years to overturn Roe v Wade, and the social conservatives stuck with them despite the total failure of the repeal effort. Their followers keep electing Republicans on a small-government platform even as Republican politicians increase the reach of government year by year.

So their plan is to expand the parts of government they like (or control), shrink the parts of government they fear, and bamboozle their followers so they don’t notice what these guys are up to.

GOP plan: turn us into medieval Poland

For about 200 years, the Polish parliament, or Sejm, consisting of about 135 people, actually required that laws pass by unanimous vote within six weeks and also win the approval of the king. To make such unanimity even remotely possible, exhaustive discussions were necessary. Also, for most of this period, if a bill was vetoed in a particular session, then all of the legislation from the entire session could be nullified, because the body of law passed in that session was considered to be one unit.

By the late 1600s the Polish government was paralyzed. Finally in 1791 the veto rule was abolished. But it was too late: by the time the Poles fixed the problem, Russia, Prussia and Austria had taken advantage of the Polish chaos to rip Poland to pieces and annex its territory. Poland ceased to exist because, in two hundred years, its leaders couldn’t figure out how to build a flexible governing body.

The Poles set up this system out of stupidity and excessive optimism. It was one of the first national constitutions ever written, and they really thought it would work. Today’s Republicans in the Senate, however, are trying to destroy our legislative process deliberately – just because they don’t control it anymore.

They blocked dozens of perfectly good judges and other officials, blocked the stimulus which saved a million jobs, blocked jobs bills, blocked unemployment bills, blocked efforts to protect your health care, blocked student loans, blocked a plan to prevent crooked bankers from stealing your house or your money, blocked financial reform, blocked repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, blocked the border security bill they said they wanted, blocked energy reform while thousands of gallons of crude were washing up in Louisiana….all while trying to make up new rules, insisting that no legislation is legitimate unless it has GOP input and widespread GOP support. Because, ya know, the GOP represents the Real America. So unless a bill passes with 70-80-90 votes, it’s a big ol’ fraud. Straight from the Polish playbook – unanimous or bust!

Perhaps their aim is to destroy America entirely, like Poland 200 years ago, in a fit of pique because they don’t control the country anymore and they know the American people will never trust them again.

Apres nous, le deluge! If we can’t play with the dolly, nobody can! It’s mine, mine, mine!

Sunday 23 May 2010

Republicans in a bookstore?

More proof that conservatism is intellectually bankrupt...

For many years now, conservatism has stood for nothing more or less than a fear and hatred of new ideas, new things, new people. The few times they have ventured out into the plain of intellectual endeavour, they have sunk into a quicksand of philosophical dishonesty, hiding behind stilted vocabulary and logical fallacy like Buckley, behind Hollywood imagery like Reagan, behind fallacious economic argument like Laffer, behind dangerous fiscal policies like Greenspan and Friedman, behind irrelevant historical references and absurd bowties like George Will. Three times this year, the Republican party has essentially proved their intellectual barrenness by launching a self-proclaimed rebirth of conservative leadership, which, in each case, involved nailing a suggestion box to the wall and waiting for their supporters to come up with the new ideas.

Here’s another example.

If you go to your local bookstore and go to the Politics section (or Current Events, or whatever they call it in your neighborhood), you will notice that the Republican wingnuts are going like gangbusters, absolutely loading the bookshelves with book after book after book attacking the Democrats.

Right now you can go to the local Barnes or Borders and get books written (or more like ghost-written) by Bush, Gingrich, Rove, Hannity, Ventura, Palin, Romney, George Allen, Nugent, Malkin, Ron Paul, O’Reilly, George Will, Huckabee. Beck alone has 4-5-6 of them out there.

The most energetic, of course, is Ann Coulter, who is so filled with spittle-spewing hate that she can hardly get through a year without popping out a book, each one with a title aimed at inflicting as much bile and insult upon the Democrats as her puny little powers can muster:

Guilty: Liberal "Victims" and Their Assault on America.
Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right.
Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism.
Godless: The Church of Liberalism.
How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must): The World According to Ann Coulter.
If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans.
High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton.

Book after book tries to whip up anger over the insidious Democratic plot to Destroy America As We Know It:

The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency
Obama Zombies
Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media’s Attack on Christianity
That’s No Angry Mob, That’s My Mom: Team Obama’s Assault on Tea-Party, Talk-Radio Americans
Enemy Within: Saving America From The Liberal Assault On Our Churches, Schools, And Military
The Manchurian President: Barack Obama’s Ties to Communists, Socialists and Other Anti-American Extremists
Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Change
Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder: Savage Solutions
National Suicide: How Washington Is Destroying the American Dream from a to Z

And more books are aimed at peddling the illusion that Obama is trying to silence them so liberals can win the battle of ideas, which is pretty absurd when you see how many books have been openly published and sold on the topic:

The New Thought Police: Inside the Left’s Assault on Free Speech and Free Minds
Fleeced: How Barack Obama, Media Mockery of Terrorist Threats, Liberals Who want to Kill Talk Radio, the Self-Serving Congress, Companies that Help Iran, and W… (the title’s so long it runs off the page)
Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto
Lies the Government Told You: Myth, Power, and Deception in American History
Conservative Comebacks to Liberal Lies: Issue by Issue Responses to the Most Common Claims of the Left from A to Z

One school of “thought” is the insinuation that Obama = Muslim = Terrorist:

Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America
Terror and Liberalism
The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America

But they start to get vague when it’s time to tell us what they would do if they regained power. The last time they had power they trashed the joint, so now when they write about their plans for the future in their ideal world, its does get a little vague, and when they do delve into detail, they end up with foolishness like dismantling the Fed or the IRS:

Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right: How One Side Lost Its Mind and the Other Lost Its Nerve
The Coming Insurrection
Ayn Rand, Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal
The Fair Tax Book
End the Fed

So what’s the problem?

The overwhelming majority of their “philosophy” is “we hate Democrats”. Other than that…essentially substance-free. And these people, believe it or not, are the leaders of the conservative intellectual movement: the rest of the conservatives are even more ignorant and dishonest than they are.

Video of cop-killing teabagger: break the IRS girl’s legs!

As we’ve heard from the news, two anti-government terrorists with links to white supremacist groups just murdered two policemen with an AK-47 during a routine traffic stop in Arkansas.

The two terrorists were Jerry Kane and his son. Kane had a long police record based on many run-ins with the law, due largely to his belief that all governmental activity is illegal and no federal or local authority has any power over him. When he was sent to jail for driving without a license and refusing to identify himself, he complained about the “Nazi checkpoint” and lamented that the police had told him to either produce his papers or go to jail – which is wildly ironic since his fellow wingnuts want to impose that very standard on Latinos in Arizona. He promised to sue one arresting officer for kidnapping and extortion, and then did a “background check” on the cop to learn his address and his wife’s name; on the radio he promised to show up at the cop’s house and present an “invoice” for $80,000, presumably backing up his demand with a weapon. When a judge sentenced him to community service, he claimed the judge was “enslaving” him and demanded that he be paid $100,000 per day.

Kane financed his existence the way a number of teabaggers do, by giving seminars on “debt elimination” which are illegal scams – telling people they never have to repay their credit cards or even their mortgage, because the lenders are engaging in “mortgage fraud”.

There is a videotape of one of these seminars, in which Kane essentially tells the audience that people who are legally coming to demand money, like IRS investigators, are criminals who must be attacked violently. A local IRS agent was described as a “stalker” whereupon Kane told the audience to hunt her down and beat her with a baseball bat.

Kane says “I don’t want to kill anybody but if they keep messing with me that’s what it’s going to come down to. And if I have to kill one, then I’m not going to be able to stop. I just know it. I mean I have an addictive personality…They’re criminals, it’s time to conquer. Find out where she [the IRS agent] goes and hangs out, get a bunch of friends together, and beat her ass, break her fucking legs….I’m not advocating violence, I’m advocating ‘conquering’. It’s not violence....You can aim for the head, she’s probably wearing a bulletproof vest….” He also talks about killing the enemy’s babies and their wives, like Joshua did in the Bible.

The audience clearly agreed with him, insisting that even if a policeman has a badge, that isn’t enough -- “show me your delegation of authority.” Another said “they drew first blood, you are self-defending.”

Neatly enough, other terrorists are doing the same thing, resorting to crime to support their aims. Al-Qa’ida elements use kidnapping and extortion to generate revenue.

Police warned that this teabagger could be dangerous to the police. And they proved to be right. And according to the SPLC, the number of these groups as skyrocketed since we got ourselves a black president.

How Rand Paul outsmarted us all…

Remember the West Wing episode in which the President caught a lot of flack for saying something controversial to a reporter when he thought the mike was off? Only it wasn’t a mistake – he did it on purpose?

I’m thinking Rand Paul did the same sort of thing on Rachel Maddow.

Let me set the stage here. After the 2008 election, statisticians took a good look at the election results, county by county, and compared them with the 2004 race. They found that most of the country gave Obama more support than Kerry had gotten in 2004, which is unsurprising since Obama won and Kerry lost. But there is a particular part of the country where Obama actually lost ground, relative to Kerry. That zone runs from West Virginia, down the Appalachians through Kentucky and Tennessee, and then across the river into Arkansas and Oklahoma. In other words, the economically depressed areas filled with white racists didn’t like having a black president.

The epicenter of that we-hate-Obama belt is in Tennessee. Kentucky, right next door, was also really bad for Obama – he lost Kentucky by almost 300,000 votes, one of his five or six worst states.

Everybody is bellowing that Rand Paul blew it on the Maddow show. I don’t think he did. I think he signalled to his true supporters – the gigantic racist vote in Kentucky – that he is one of them. That was no mistake: it was a perfect reflection of his own views, as well as those of his father, who argued six years ago that the federal government was wrong to prevent private businesses from discriminating against minorities. He is emitting an endless series of explanations, not to clarify his views, but to keep his name out there front and center – to remind his true followers that he is still one of them.

And Paul’s latest policy statement on BP is also in keeping with that. BP is a foreign company that has inflicted incredible disaster on the American economy, but Rand Paul is insisting that Obama is “un-American” for criticizing BP. In other words, Obama the blameless American leader is more un-American than the foreign folks who turned Louisiana into a toxic waste dump.

Or, to break the Rand Paul code, “Kenya” is more un-American than “Britain”, because “black” is more un-American than “white”.

“I am still one of you! I’m still a racist! I’m not going to go Hollywood on you!”

The media people think they’re hurting Paul when they label him an extremist. Au contraire: every time they say it, he wins more supporters in the only place he cares about, Kentucky. The fact that the other 49 states think he’s Lester Maddox elicits only amused indifference in him.

All Republicans know by now that tangling with Rachel Maddow and her ninja-like research staff is like hanging a curveball on Albert Pujols: you make the slightest mistake and he will give the ball a ride all the way to the Mississippi River. So Rand Paul had nothing to gain and everything to lose by going on Maddow’s show, deep in enemy territory on MSNBC: unless Paul intended to make a “mistake” on purpose.

Obama is more conservative than the founder of modern conservatism

Obama is more conservative than the founder of modern conservatism.

Nixon is the true founder of modern conservatism. He took the conservative mantle from the discredited McCarthy and Goldwater, crafted the southern strategy by way of exploiting the fears of whites, and spent two decades warning that the Democrats couldn’t be trusted on national security, or anything else. Nixon, rather than Reagan, would have confirmed his place in history as the founder of the New Right if he hadn’t flamed out in Watergate. Reagan simply built on Nixon’s work.

So all you wingnuts who are screeching that Obama is practically a Marxist, try to remember that Obama is actually to the right of the founder of the conservative movement, Richard Nixon.

You think Obama is all about Big Gummint? Nixon proposed Medicare for all, which is much more liberal than the Obama plan. Nixon increased Social Security, Medicare, food aid and public assistance. He set up the EPA, OSHA, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Council on Environmental Quality, allowing Big Gummint to get uppity with corporations on unsafe air, water and consumer products. He imposed wage and price controls. He presented a pretty big budget and proclaimed “Now I am a Keynesian”.

You think Obama isn’t as gutsy as Bush on foreign policy? Nixon gave away Vietnam to the Communists, made peace agreements with our most dangerous allies in Russia and China, and ended the draft.

You think Obama is a social liberal? Nixon supported the pro-choice movement and the ERA for women; he played a huge role in desegregating schools, signed Title IX, the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, and the Comprehensive Child Development Act.

And…he launched the first federal affirmative action plan. Skeery brown folks are taking our jobs! That was Nixon who launched that.

So what have we learned here?

First, Obama is actually to the right of Nixon, so all the teabag protests that Obama is to the left of Mao are just plain absurd.

Second, Nixon would never survive in today’s Republican party. The racist wing of the GOP – which he helped create 40 years ago – would destroy him if he ran today. Today’s GOP is so hate-filled that even one of their most famous hate-mongers, Nixon, would no longer be welcome.

Thursday 20 May 2010

Obama’s a Maoist!

One of the sillier efforts by the wingnuts has been to call Obama a “Maoist”. Their three or four minutes of research turned up the nugget that Huey Newton and the Black Panther Party were influenced by Maoist teaching decades ago, and like all wingnuts they have a great deal of trouble telling one scary brown person from another, so they have made the equation that Obama = Black Panther.

Which is silly, because if any group is pursuing Maoism, it’s…the teabaggers. Maoism involves a revolutionary struggle of the masses of the people against the exploiting classes and their state structures, focusing on rural folks and, when necessary, guerrilla-like tactics. That is the teabaggers in a nutshell – the struggle by Good White Folks in the fly-over states against Obama and Big Gummint. The tea-party tactics are straight out of Mao’s seminal book on guerrilla warfare. And they even split into rival “more-revolutionary-than-thou” factions just like the Maoists did, arguing over who really represents the true spirit of the movement.

China’s Maoists and America’s teabaggers have followed much the same path: they created a cult of personality around their founder (Reagan versus Mao), who led a group of allies who created economic disasters and committed many crimes. Today the die-hard Maoists and teabaggers both are firmly rooted in an extremism which is based on a complete divorce from the reality of the world around them, due, in the case of the teabaggers, to their reliance on Fox, Rush and their own tinfoil websites; in both cases they have become too extreme even for their own party leaders, who in turn are condemned as “revisionist” (or RINO’s in teabag-speak). The Maoists and the teabaggers have another thing in common: the Maoists roundly resisted the pragmatic reforms of Deng Xiaoping, and his ethos of following the facts wherever they lead, eschewing ideology, and judging state policies in accordance with whether or not they work; Obama has offered the same sort of “anti-Maoist” formula, and the teabaggers have rejected him too.

So the next time you hear Newt or Rush or one of the other brain-dead pseudo-intellectuals of the loony right bloviating about Obama’s Maoist program, try not to laugh at them too obviously. Because that’s another thing that Maoists and teabaggers have in common: they get nasty and violent when you ridicule their bullcrap arguments.

GOP hypocrisy in the desert

Arizona drafts a Nazi-like immigration law; Los Angeles calls for a boycott of Arizona. And now?

A utility commissioner in Arizona has sent a letter to LA’s mayor, threatening to cut off the electricity from Los Angeles, to retaliate for the boycott. A lot of LA’s power runs through Arizona.

Arizona has set up a PR task force to repair its image, but short of repealing the law, what do they do?

And the threat itself isn’t the most outrageous part.

The most outrageous part is that these white, ultra-right-wing whack jobs who are screeching “HOW DARE THEY BOYCOTT US??” are the same tobacky-chewing country-western yahoos who screamed “BOYCOTT THE DIXIE CHICKS! IT’S OUR INALIENABLE RIGHT! FREE SPEECH! YEE HAW!” seven years ago.

Back then, you see, boycotts were just hunky-dory for the wingnuts.

Now, of course, they are on the opposite end of the shotgun. And suddenly they think it’s a bad idea.

Just like all schoolyard bullies prefer beating people up to getting beat up themselves.

GOP wants to force a vote which would cut 180,000 jobs

Link text

If you're just joining us, Cantor's new toy was launched last week -- Republicans will pick government programs they don't like, and then encourage the public to vote on which one they want to see eliminated. GOP lawmakers will then try to cut the "winning" program, responding to public demand.

This week, the initial round of voting wrapped up, and the first measure on the chopping block is the TANF emergency fund -- which will enable states to place 186,000 unemployed individuals in subsidized jobs by the end of the summer, and which Cantor's office deliberately mischaracterized to YouCut participants.

...So they do have original ideas! Just crappy ones.

Tuesday 18 May 2010

Huge swing toward Dems in polls

The latest AP poll shows a gigantic 8-point swing in voter preferences for control of Congress. A month ago the GOP had a 3 point lead; now they trail by 5, 45-40.

Other data like the Economist poll show the same thing.

In the last century the House has been grabbed by the minority party six times.

Three of them were short-term speed bumps, caused by serious rifts within the majority party: one in 1910 and two during the Truman era. As soon as the party in question pulled itself back together, they got the House back. That kind of intramural war isn’t going to happen within the Democratic party: they are disorganized, but it’s the Republicans who are fighting a civil war right now.

One flipflop was the Depression – the Dems got a 50-seat swing in 1930. The Democrats shouldn’t worry about that scenario either, because if America suffers another cataclysm like that, it is very likely to be the fault of the Republicans.

And two turnovers happened when the majority party suffered from simultaneous problems: (a) weak, vulnerable leadership, and (b) something crazy happening in Congress in the fall of the election year -- the gun bill in 1994, the Foley case in 2006. The Democrats have strong leadership (except Reid, who has no bearing on the House races). But they need to keep their peters in their pockets, metaphorically speaking, during September and October. What we really need is to avoid having some Democratic Congressman discovered in bed with a dead woman or a live man or a live animal or a stack of cancelled checks from Usama bin Laden, round about Columbus Day.

So watch for lethal intra-party strife, a national cataclysm, or (the most likely threat) a crazy Congressional mistake.

Rid me of this meddlesome priest!

So what did we learn tonight?

First, the PA-12 race was a must-win for the Republicans, it went for McCain in 2008, the GOP spent a ton of money to grab this seat…and they lost by a touchdown.

Second, all the fears that the Democrats would lag between the GOP in turnout and enthusiasm didn’t pan out. Democrats are energized and pissed off.

Third, the Republican tactics haven’t changed. Goon squads working for Rand Paul in Kentucky were caught repeatedly, buying and selling votes, bullying and intimidating voters, and illegally demanding to look at voting machines. The police had to make arrests and eject these thugs from the polling places; the FBI will probably become involved. And keep in mind, this is the Kentucky police – hardly the Socialist Internationale.

And for the fourth lesson, we must go back to the year 1170.

Eight hundred years ago, the most powerful man in Europe, the leader of the political order of the western world, had a problem. A young upstart was challenging the leader’s political power, by standing on the law. Finally, fed up, the leader, King Henry II, bellowed….

"What miserable cowards have I nourished and brought up in my household, that no one will rid me of this meddlesome priest!"

Four of his buddies took him literally, hopped on their horses, rode off to Canterbury, and killed the upstart, Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Afterwards, Henry insisted “I didn’t really mean for those guys to actually, ya know, kill him!! Ya gotta believe me!” But no one believed him. Henry’s name was Mud, and Becket went on to become a beloved saint.

How narrowly has history repeated itself!

The defenders of the established power structure, the GOP apologists for BP and Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers and Enron and Haliburton and Blackwater, have essentially put a price on the head of the upstart, Obama, and his evil minions.

There have already been many efforts by Republican leaders to suggest that it is okay to use violence against Democrats, if Democrats insist on, ya know, actually running the government as they were elected to do. Followed, unsurprisingly, by violent attacks. They particularly pushed that argument after the Democrats passed health reform – the national GOP addressing the terrorist attack on the wife and kids of a Congressman’s brother by implying that it’s all Congressman Perriello’s fault for voting for health care, Fox News arguing that the Democrats should expect the violence and threats because they had the nerve to pass health reform, Boehner implying that the violence was the Democrats’ fault for daring to pass the health bill, and saying a Democratic colleague is a “dead man”. And so forth. And then bricks are thrown at windows, guys how up at Obama events with guns, etc etc.

And today, the day Americans began to exercise their constitutional rights to make their choices for the 2010 midterm races, the Republican fatwas have returned.

Newt Gingrich, one of the viable GOP candidates for the 2012 presidential nomination, has a new book coming out, called “To Save America: Abolishing Obama's Socialist State and Restoring Our Unique American Way”. In the book he repeatedly advances the notion that Obama is one step away from..Hitler. He argues that the evil Obama regime threatens America as much as Nazi Germany or the Russians. “The degree to which the secular-socialist left represents a fundamental replacement of America, a very different world view, a very different outcome, I think is a very serious threat to our way of life…If you can get $757 billion out of the Congress and no elected official has even read the bill, that's the behavior of a Chicago-style machine.”

In other words, Obama not only equals Hitler, he also equals Public Enemy Number One, Al Capone. People we put on Wanted posters decades ago. Dead or alive!

A teacher in Alabama has been teaching his kids geometry with an example that involves assassinating the President: "He was talking about angles and said, 'If you're in this building, you would need to take this angle to shoot the president,' " a student reported.

And a GOP House candidate in California wants to shoot, not just Obama, but all liberals: “If I could issue hunting permits, I would officially declare today opening day for liberals. The season would extend through November 2 and have no limits on how many taken as we desperately need to “thin” the herd.”

So let’s string together all these Republican talking points:

Obama = Hitler + Capone

Kill Obama!

Kill Liberals!

…Hardy har har….we were just kidding, folks! Hey, you four guys in the back with the tinfoil hats and the shotguns…where ya going? We didn’t really mean for you to kill anybody!

Dang. Wonder where they went.

Off to make Obama a martyred saint, if history is any judge.

How the GOP will steal the 2010 midterms

Two pivotal events happened to the Republicans in the 1960s, both involving Nixon.

First, the Republicans sustained a terrible shock in 1960, losing by a hair to that upstart Irishman. They have insisted ever since that Kennedy stole the election, but the argument is so bogus that even Pat Buchanan laughed it down, pointing out all the illegal stuff the Republicans did in the same election. But they vowed never again to lose a close race without a fight. They started Operation Eagle Eye to nudge election results in the right direction, beginning with the 1962 race in which young lads like William Rehnquist cut their teeth as political gangsters, harassing black voters in Arizona under the guise of protecting “ballot security”.

The Republicans have been screeching “Democratic voter fraud” for the last fifty years. Study after study shows that the voter-fraud meme is utterly baseless, but they keep yelling it, complaining to the media and to their own supporters about unsubstantiated “tips” and “reports” of “irregularities”, magnifying any error by any Democrat anywhere is a titanic vote scandal…All to crank up their own turnout, to get people like the Wall Street Journal to endlessly repeat the accusations, and to justify their own thug-like political tactics, on the reasoning that real Republican voter disenfranchisement is less important than imaginary Democratic voter fraud.

The second issue involves race. As civil rights became a central issue in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Republicans, led by Nixon, realized they couldn’t woo both blacks and white racists at the same time, so they chose to dump the legacy of Lincoln and go with the rednecks. And they decided also to get into the vote-suppression business in a big way. They have exploited the fear of the shrinking white majority regarding minorities, as well as anyone trying to help minorities to vote: Obama, the Rainbow Coalition, ACORN, the NAACP, and the ACLU; the aim is to sell the notion that anybody black or brown is illegitimate dishonest, criminal, and anyone who helps them to vote must be a crook. The Republicans also worked to combine the concept of the big Democratic party machines with the black vote into one scary meme – “urban”. In one case they openly admitted targeting blacks and got barbecued by a judge. Later on they decided to write off the Latino vote for reasons no one can understand, and decided to criminalize that entire community with the immigration jihad as well.

So the Republicans made vote suppression a fixed part of their political strategy: seeing to it that minorities don’t vote.

How do they do all this? Long before the polls open, the GOP launches a very public, organized, completely unauthorized effort to “deter” fraud in black and Hispanic areas. It goes something like this: “When you get to the polls, election officials are watching. We will ask you questions, and if you get them wrong you could go to jail. Voter fraud is illegal. It’s a crime. The FBI could become involved. We are putting out a reward for catching perpetrators of fraud!” All to scare minorities away. And when that doesn’t work, they simply lie: “There are new residency requirements! Voting machines can see who you are and notify government agencies! If you have a traffic ticket, a parking ticket, or a child support issue, if you have been questioned by the police for anything, or even been a witness, or anybody in your family, you will be arrested if you vote!” That last one was sent by the “Harris County Negro Protective Association” which of course does not exist. And once they figure out their message, they bring out all the King’s men to get it out: robo-calls, radio ads, newspaper inserts, posters, mailers, postcards, even signs posted at polling places. Blacks and Hispanics, who have years of experience being harassed by the police even though they’ve done nothing wrong, get the message, just as they did when they tried to vote in the 1950s: show up to vote and nasty crap will happen.

For fifty years the Republicans have been training white poll watchers and sending them into minority areas to intimidate minority voters with harassment and abuse, to frighten and humiliate voters. Their poll watchers challenge minorities with nosy, abusive questions. “Where’s your ID? You’re illegitimate! Fraud! Fraud!” Once they even justified their abuse with “some of them were voting more than once….most blacks look alike so it was hard to tell.” If a minority voter is foolish enough to ask for assistance, the Republican poll watcher is likely give them an abusive answer, or complain about the “improper assistance” they are getting from other poll watchers. Another trick is to take pictures and film of voters, to include recording their confidential conversations with real election officials. The Republicans are quite open about trying to terrorize voters they don’t like, on the grounds that since they’re black they’re probably crooks anyway: “‘Browbeating’ is a common defense to cover irregularities.”

Next come the goon squads: big scary guys who stand in the doorway, Wallace-like, to intimidate voters. They are quite open about encouraging assault: They want to “have a human body who is tough and even mean, at the polls counting the ballots.” At one polling place, “We dispatched a 6’6,” 275 lb. football player to the polling place; he walked in, cracked the guy on the kisser, and flattened him to the floor, turned around and walked out, and no more problems occurred at that polling place! Use force if needed!”

If that isn’t good enough, bring in the fake cops. The Republicans have been caught many times sending their own people with uniforms, guns and radios to the polling places, giving the impression that they have the power to arrest people. Some wear badges that say things like “Ballot Security Program.” Some of them write down license numbers, ask questions about citizenship, sit next to the real election officials

Of course the real cops can intimidate people too: just the fear of immigration officials will keep perfectly legal Latinos from going to the polls in Arizona this fall, so the Republicans have already won that battle. Courts have had to direct unofficial poll watchers to coordinate any complaints with the secretary of state’s office rather than starting to whoop up trouble right there at the polls or call the police.

The Republicans also push local cops to go door-to-door in black areas, armed, to ask about their absentee ballots – try to vote and you’ll get a cop on your doorstep! They have also hired private investigators and other unregulated freelancers to go out into minority areas, ostensibly hunting down fraudulent voters, offering rewards for the purpose. We will absolutely see the teabaggers taking the law into their own hands this fall.

A key aim is to ensure that their dirty work is done on election day itself: scream at election officials on election day to get their way on the big day itself, get the media reporting the results they want to see, and then…it’s too late to correct errors or outright fraud.

The larger aim is to make voting a negative experience so that minorities don’t come back. Minority areas don’t have enough polling places close by, lines are long, equipment is antiquated, ballots run out, dragging out the process of identifying voters. The Republicans have been known to send homeless panhandlers to polls for harassment, or to put out the word that “anybody who moves within the county must verify their address at the clerk’s office!” So you must go to poll, learn the new rules, go to city hall, then back to vote. Or give up and go home, which is a Win for the GOP.

The Republicans are particularly energetic at illegally attacking documentation. They aggressively (and illegally) purge voter rolls in minority areas, particularly in the South, as they did in Florida in 2000; often the claim is that the people being purged are convicts, which neatly feeds into white fears of blacks. They vigorously challenge voter documents, especially the increasing number of absentee ballots; in minority areas they illegally demand notarization of absentee forms, and they will challenge ballots for pencil marks that stray outside the box, for example. Many times they have used the subterfuge of sending registered mail to minority addresses; if they are not returned, the voter is illegally tossed off the voter rolls; they can also target renters who are disproportionately poor, old, black or Hispanic.

Their real pet peeve is voter identification in minority areas, a way to suppress turnout, pushing for more and more identity documents. A key aim is to criminalize being a minority, to push the “Brown = Criminal” meme: just as they screech about Obama’s birth certificate, they pop up in minority areas and bark “Show me photo ID! Show me a bank statement, a gas bill!” In at least one case a Republican poll watcher sneered at one voter “Where’s your government check??” They also resist anything that increases minority participation, such as motor-voter.

The GOP sometimes tries to distance itself from these efforts by hiring operatives who are not officially on the payroll – the same deniability strategy that failed disastrously in Watergate. But they’re not really trying hard -- GOP officials have admitted privately, many times, that they are suppressing the minority vote illegally. They even gave out trophies to the goons who stole the 2000 election. And the Republicans have been caught, sued and punished in court over and over. They’re answer, effectively, is “tough crap, you’re sore losers! Rules are for sissies!”

The GOP leadership is running all of this, controlling thousands of GOP lawyers via the Republican National Lawyers Association (who played a key role in the Florida fight), borrowing help from their corporate pals, using the local secretaries of state (remember Katherine Harris?), exploiting their control of the U.S. Attorney organization during the Bush era to illegally use the Justice Department to suppress Democratic votes…and I’ll bet they use the teabaggers this year too!

So where will they attack? The Republicans target blacks and Hispanics not only because they hate them, and the feeling is mutual – but also because targeting them is easy, since those groups are still heavily segregated, half a century after the civil rights movement. In addition it is easy to continue selling the “Brown = Criminal” theme. They also target the elderly and native Americans; they go after college students with residency requirements. They are particularly exercised in races which were decided by razor-thin margins last time or could be this time, or races with black and Latino candidates.

Just as the Democrats have insisted on pursuing their legislative agenda by Marquis of Queensbury rules while the Republicans have been kicking them in the balls over and over, we seem to be heading for another election cycle in which we play by the rules and the Republicans don’t. Which is how you lose. Just as we lost in 2000 and 2004 by allowing the Republicans to suppress the vote. So as we wheel the Obama campaign machine out of the garage again, be sure that the effort includes voter education and resistance to vote suppression. Keep working with the usual suspects to register voters and fight voter suppression: the Rainbow gang, the NAACP, the ACLU etc. Utilize another group the Republicans loathe, the trial lawyers. When their goons show up at the polls, take their pictures, and their cars too!

So, Republicans, it is useless to deny you’re doing it, because the party has admitted doing it, and they have been caught and punished in court. And it is also useless to holler “Democrats are doing it too!” because, time after time, you fail to back up your baseless claims.

**UPDATE** -- Wow, they're not even waiting for November.

Kentucky's election fraud hotline lit up on Tuesday with claims of numerous election violations, according to the Bluegrass Politics blog on the Lexington Herald-Leader's Web site.

According to the Herald-Leader's Janet Patton the charges have varied from vote buying or selling to “electioneering" (campaigning within 300 feet of a polling station) to voter harassment and appear to have been made mostly against Rand Paul supporters.

“Some are local but primarily they have been with one campaign: the Rand Paul campaign,” Les Fugate, deputy assistant secretary of state, told Bluegrass Politics of the complaints.

Friday 14 May 2010

reasons for Democrats to smile

The website ThinkProgress has had a great couple of days:

77 percent of Arizonans want Obama to pass immigration reform – they prefer a federal law over their own brand-new, idiotic state law. (elsewhere on the net, Republican operatives have admitted privately that they chose Tampa rather than Phoenix for their 2012 convention partly because the new Arizona immigration law would make the GOP look bad. Ouch!).

Maine Republican caucus-goers were forced to apologize for vandalizing a junior-high building. They tore down a poster, went through a teacher’s personal effects, and stole property. Even the kids were incensed. My favorite quote: “Republicans opened a closed cardboard box they found near Clifford’s desk and later objected to the fact that it contained copies of the U.S. Constitution donated to the school by the American Civil Liberties Union. “ After busting into the guy’s private effects, they complained that he had a copy of the Constitution!

More frat-house hijinx! The House GOP killed a jobs bill by attaching poison-pill language calling for any federal worker who even sees pornography to be fired. One giggling Republican brayed “We certainly should do more of this type of thing!” And actually they have played this kind of frat-house stunt to obstruct an energy efficiency bill, a health care bill, and a health and education bill. And if the Democrats don’t fold, the Republicans run ads like “Barbara Boxer Votes To Allow Convicted Sex Offenders To Receive Taxpayer-Funded Viagra!”

[ As we noted earlier, the Republicans are stomping all over Democratic ideas because, as they have admitted, they have no ideas of their own. They launched an abortive effort to set up a fancy cool-ideas council which really consisted of holding town halls so the party leaders could crib from the ideas that the voters themselves suggested. Then they set up a remake of “Contract With America” which, again, is just a suggestion box so that voters can do the party’s homework for them. And now House GOP leader Cantor has set up a website called “YOUCUT”, and again the idea is that you, the voter, come up with ideas for how to cut government spending. The problem with the plan is that the cuts proposed on the site are described dishonestly, and even if voters chose all of the cuts, it would only save a billion out of a trillion-dollar budget. So the Republicans are dishonest AND lazy AND futile. ]

The Oklahoma legislature has passed legislation mandating that abortion patients must: give up their personal details so they can be posted on a website, look at an ultrasound of their embryos, give up the right to sue a doctor if he lies about the state of the fetus, and give up any form of insurance coverage for abortion, unless you get a special policy.

And some other reasons to smile:

A new poll shows that a majority of voters would not support Sarah Palin for presidency. A majority of ALASKANS. One of the most conservative, Republican states in the union, and they don’t want her to run. Meanwhile, her opponent should she get the nomination, Obama, is hitting his highest approvals since October 2009, according to a new PPP poll.

The latest USA Today analysis shows that Americans are paying less tax than at any time in the last 60 years – going all the way back to Harry Truman. This is largely based on the middle class tax cut in the stimulus bill that the GOP opposed. So much for the teabaggers – their whole reason for existing is a gigantic fraud. “Taxed enough already” indeed.

Not that this is really good news, but Obama’s effort to pass climate energy legislation seemingly gets another boost every week: coal mines blow up, oil wells spill, nuclear reactors leak radioactive waste into drinking water….just as the nonsense in Arizona gives new momentum to another Obama initiative, immigration reform. Two other issues are also boosting the immigration effort: evangelicals who hope Latinos will vote GOP if the GOP stops fighting immigration reform, are defying rightwingers who want to block reform; also, people are beginning to ask how the Republican plan to build some sort of Maginot Line along the Mexican border can possibly work, when almost half of illegal immigrants cross the border legally and then overstay their visas. And a lot of the rest of them use tunnels, which makes a fence kinda stupid.

As we learned earlier, the GOP leadership said publicly that they would not defend its incumbents against attacks from the right by teabag candidates. Senator Bob Bennett was just tossed out of his own reelection race by the Utah GOP, and some raised the prospect of Bennett running as a write-in; John Cornyn, head of the Republican committee that is set up to elect Republicans to the Senate, reiterated that Bennett will get not a nickel from the party. Wouldn’t it be neat if Bennett stuck it to the Republicans by (a) switching parties, or (b) backing Harry Reid in shooting down GOP filibusters?

For that matter, since the Maine GOP has been hiacked by teabaggers, and has approved a platform slamming Obamacare, unions, motor voter which helps minorities too much, apparently), gay marriage, climate change legislation….isn’t this the perfect time for Collins and Snowe to quit a party that clearly doesn’t want them anymore, and join the Democrats? Particularly when their fellow Maine Republicans are acting like a Mongol horde?

And lastly, I finally figured out why I keep laughing involuntarily whenever John Boehner comes on TV to yell and scream about Obama’s evil communist plots. It’s because he sounds exactly like Sylvester the Cat. Suffering succotash! That one had been bothering me all year.

Why Kagan means the apocalypse!

Apocalypse for the wingnuts and Republican bigots, that is.

Obama has picked Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court.

Kagan is Jewish.

Let’s stop and appreciate the enormity of this historic moment.

For the first time ever, there will be no white male Protestants anywhere in the leadership of the U.S. government.

Obama, black, no fixed church (half-black, if you want to be fussy).

Joe Biden, Catholic.

Nancy Pelosi, female Catholic.

Harry Reid, Mormon.

Supreme Court, six Catholics and three Jews, including a black, a Hispanic and three women.

The leadership of the U.S. government will include no white male Protestants, and the only Republicans are on the Court – and even there, the number of Republican appointees is going down by one.

So if you belong to, say, the Klan, or Stormfront, or the American Nazis, or the other denizens of the wingnut-teabag underworld – all the people who look down on women, Jews, blacks, Catholics, or anyone who’s different -- get ready to screw yourselves into the ceiling.

In a way, I wish the lesbian rumors about Kagan were true, just to drive them completely insane.

Sunday 9 May 2010

It's official: the GOP has no ideas

It’s official: the Republicans have no ideas.

The Republican “idea machine” has shut down. About a year ago, the Republicans set up a “National Council for a New America”, the GOP’s think tank for its own ideas, to compete with Democratic ideas.

We waited and waited and waited.

It became clear that the GOP had no ideas. Their entire agenda was to tear down Democratic ideas and attack the Democrats themselves. Whenever they were challenged to come up with their own proposals…“the dog ate our homework”. Their promise to hold town meetings across the country to hear ideas from “plain folks”…didn’t do that either – one town hall and they quit.

Now the group is dead. And their excuse? It’s all the Democrats’ fault! Those damn liberals attacked the Council so it couldn’t get going.

Let me see if I get this straight. Over the last year, it’s been the Democrats who have been slamming Republican ideas? And not the other way around?

Sorry, girls. You promised ideas, we waited for you to produce them so we could discuss them, you didn’t produce anything, so the country moved on.

Fast forward a bit. Not long ago the Republicans, still with visions of a 1994 remake in their minds, announced that they were going to repeat the 1994 strategy by announcing a new “contract” with America, this time to be called “Commitment to America”. Presumably it would be a list of things the party promises to do, the ideas it plans to pursue as legislation, and so forth. Right?


It’s a suggestion box.

YOU go to their website, and YOU put the ideas in.

The guy who was stuck setting this up said the goal is for “the public to take ownership.”

As with the failed “Council” effort, the aim was to let common folks do all the work for the “leaders”.

In other words, they are so completely out of ideas, that they’re leaving all the homework to us.

Republican “leadership”. Totally out of gas.

But these same Republicans insist that they must be given control of Congress so that they can turn their ideas into law! Ideas which…they don’t have.

Actually the fact that the GOP “idea factory” is out of business, is hardly a surprise. Just in the last day or two they have shown, over and over, how intellectually bankrupt they really are.

The Republicans have no idea how the Constitution really works -- Sarah Palin went on the air recently and made clear that (a) she’s an idiot, (b) she ridicules knowledge of the Constitution out of spite because she doesn’t have any herself, and (c) she seemingly wants to build a theocracy, like the Iranians did. "Our Constitution, of course, essentially acknowledging that our unalienable rights don't come from man; they come from God….I think we should kind of keep this clean, keep it simple, go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant. They're quite clear that we would create law based on the God of the Bible and the 10 Commandments. It's pretty simple."…If her presidential aspirations don’t pan out, she can always run for Ayatollah.

More cluelessness about the Constitution -- Kit Bond: “And both of these fellows, on Christmas Day and New York in Times Square, have enough evidence that you could convict them. You don't need to Mirandize them. You don't need to give them that warning and potentially shut them up and certainly give them a lawyer who will tell them to be quiet.” So the wingnuts want to take away the Constitutional right to a lawyer, the Constitutional right to citizenship, and the Constitutional right to a Miranda warning, from U.S. citizens who haven’t been convicted of anything…But it’s Obama who’s the terrible threat to the Constitution, right?

The Republicans have no idea how to write legislation, either. Their legislators at the state level are pursuing a really risky strategy. They are trying to show America that the best lawmaking happens at the state level, not the federal level. And then they are doing all they can to disprove that theory, by pursuing their wingnut agenda in one statehouse after another. Florida Republicans are now obsessed with banning sex with animals. Kansas lawmakers want to impose a tax on abortions. Arizona, which has passed an astounding body of stupid legislation recently, on everything from “papers please” to concealed carry, is now working on a law banning “human-animal hybrids”, so all you mermaids and centaurs better hit the road! And this is how they’re trying to persuade us that state-level lawmakers know better than Washington.

The Republicans have no idea how the economy works -- The latest jobs report showed the biggest jump in manufacturing jobs in almost 12 years. The report shot down the GOP assertion that the new jobs were mostly in the government sector. GOP leader Eric Cantor was force to mumble "An employment report that shows job growth is always a good thing, period”, while his boss, John Boehner, went into complete denial/cognitive-dissonance mode: "Where are the jobs?"

The only idea they do have, is racism right out of the gutter. Skeery brown people! AAUUGGHH! -- America is seeing, ever more clearly, that a lot of what they’re hearing from the GOP comes in the form of racial code words and signals. Down in Florida, my hero, Alan Grayson, is under attack from a wingnut candidate who actually went on the air with a picture of a white guy and a brownish guy, asking -- which one looks more like a terrorist? Message: BROWN PEOPLE SCARY! This perfectly mirrors the intent of the new Arizona law: look at the brown guy on the street, doesn’t he look like an illegal? And when people think about all the other racist things the Republicans have said – “Kenyan” as code-word for “black”, “real American” as code for “white” (which would come as a surprise to native Americans) -- Americans are starting to associate the GOP with the stench of a KKK torch.

More mindless racism -- Fox News is now running with a story that illegal immigrants kill 2000 people a year, which the original source admitted was a number that was essentially made-up: it has no basis in fact. The fact is that immigrants are far less likely to commit serious crimes that “real” Americans: they don’t want trouble, because trouble means deportation. As Crooks And Liars noted, the fact that this nonsense has no basis in reality didn’t stop Fox from implying, on the air, that 12 million people are murderous thugs. On no evidence whatsoever.

Some more signs that the American people are realizing how idea-free the Republicans are: first, Crist has pulled ahead. The minute Crist got the Republican stink off his back, he pulled 6 points ahead of Rubio in Florida. And second, the birther solidarity against Obama has begun to crack. The latest ABC poll shows that even among the birthers who think Obama is an illegitimate criminal, one-third of them approve of his job performance. Even the birthers are starting to realize how insane their jihad against Obama really is.

…Oh, wait, they DO have an original idea. They want to dismantle Medicare. Read on!

Star Trek and Rush Limbaugh!

Plenty of perfectly sane adults go to Star Trek conventions, dressed up as Star Trek characters, even dressed up as aliens, speaking Klingon, and indulge themselves in their weird little world, the world of phasers and photon torpedos and new planets and the Borg. Then they go home to their relatively normal lives, putting the world of Star Fleet behind.

That’s the key. They go home and take off the costumes and the fake ears.

Plenty of normal people dress up and go off to Ren Fest, dressed as kings and queens and varlets and wenches, gnawing on their turkey legs, drinking their fake “mead”. And then they leave that world behind and go home.

Even children open up Harry Potter books and dive into a world of magic and fantasy. Then they close the books and go back to reality.

But there is a particular fantasy world that some people have trouble letting go of. Planet Wingnut. Every day the fans of this particular fantasy turn on Fox and Rush, and listen to their fantastic tales of this mythical planet, where the president is a Marxist Muslim from another country, where Big Gummint is plotting to take away all your rights and all your guns, where all white people are afraid, where all black and brown people are lazy and scary by turns, where the astounding lies of Beck and Hannity are actually true. The problem being that the listeners turn off their televisions and radios – and refuse to go back to reality. They think that Planet Wingnut is where they really live, in the real world. As though the other folks really thought they were on the bridge of the Enterprise, or at the court of Henry VIII, or at Hogwarts. The wingnuts have created a fantasy world for themselves, but they refuse to leave it.

Rush claims that leftist terrorists caused the BP spill, that Obama has ignored the Tennessee flood, that Obama threw a party to celebrate the unemployment rate going to 9.9 percent, that Obama lied about the Times Square bomber’s ties to Pakistani terrorists, that Homeland Security handled the Times Square case incompetently, that America supports arresting people without due process, that Obamacare will cut your insurance and raise the deficit, that only the rich pay taxes, that Obama caused the Dow to crash…those are the wingnut lies, JUST from Rush Limbaugh, JUST from today.

People listen to this crap for hours every day, and it’s practically all the “news” they get regarding the outside world.

And these are the people who control the agenda of the GOP. People who are clinically insane. And instead of plastic “phasers” and Tudor-style broadswords, these people have real guns with real bullets. And they really think the people around them – you and me – are the Klingons who need to be destroyed. In fact, the crazier they are, the more they indulge in all the Obama-wants-your-guns paranoia, the more likely they are to have guns.

Arizona declares war on the same people they stole the land from

Two things you forgot about Arizona!

We just learned that the Senate asked the Republican governor of Arizona to delay implementation of their “papers please” policy until next year, to give Congress a chance to do what the Republicans claim they want done – immigration reform. The governor told the Senate to pound sand. This makes it even more likely that Congress will try to tackle the problem this year.

So as Congress takes this on, I want to remind you of two things you forgot.

First, the Republicans know that when all those aliens get citizenship, they will vote. And they will vote in gigantic numbers for the party that got them the vote: the Democrats. So when they get down to the nut-cutting, the Republican party leadership will put out the word: KILL THIS BILL AT ALL COSTS.

Second, and this is the big one: we stole Arizona from the Mexicans. The United States had no legal claim whatsoever to Arizona, but we just sent our soldiers and grabbed it from the Mexicans. Even Abraham Lincoln, who expended hundreds of thousands of lives to nail down possession of disputed real estate, thought the land grab from the Mexicans was bogus, based on fraudulent claims of warlike acts by the enemy (sound familiar?). After the white folks ripped off the brown folks, they also attacked the red folks and put them in “reservations”, which in other countries are called “concentration camps”. So the Arizona land that the white folks are so bitterly defending from the brown folks…is the same land they stole from the brown folks in the first place.

Friday 7 May 2010

A fake American trying to hunt down a fake American?

Good catch from Ariana this week. Look at the four frontrunners for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012? Huckabee, Palin, Romney, Gingrich. What do they have in common?

Three of the four are employees of Fox News. All but Mitt. And it’s still early days – they may get him too!

So no matter who the GOP nominates to run against Obama, that person is likely to be an employee of Rupert Murdoch.

The wingnuts are screaming that Obama is taking orders from non-existent Kenyans, whereas the Republicans are taking orders from a very real Australian, who is so rich, so creepy, so weird, that he was parodied as an insane James Bond villain in Tomorrow Never Dies. Murdoch has a track record of killing competition, busting unions, interference in electoral politics, and making gigantic earnings without paying taxes, but here’s my favourite part: he skirted around U.S. laws decreeing that only U.S. citizens could own our TV stations, by securing a naturalization for himself. So the leader at the apex of this conservative movement to delegitimize Obama because he was allegedly born overseas and played some sort of sneaky game with his naturalization…played a sneaky game with his naturalization. All those people screeching that Obama’s a fake American take their marching orders from a fake American.

GOP attacks fizzling?

Polling data from ABC shows that the tea party movement is fizzling out, and doing little damage to the Democrats. The movement is drawing support from the Republican party almost exclusively, and the movement's supporters mostly lean Republican already. Only 8 percent of its own members are even active anymore, the movement has little room for growth, Americans have decided that the more they learn about the movement the less they like, and they don't want to learn any more about it.

Another fizzle: GOP voter enthusiasm for the 2010 midterms is dropping like a rock.

Fizzle: a lot of the tea-party shrieking about the evils of Big Gummint have fizzled out as the need for Gummint becomes laughably obvious due to the recent disasters. Bobby Jindal, already a figure of ridicule for making fun of volcano research before a volcanic eruption cut Europe off from the rest of the world, is now being forced to eat his words about government spending as he screams for Gummint to help clean up the BP oil. Meanwhile the heart of tea-party country, the "we-hate-Obama" belt running through Tennessee and neighboring states, is underwater and everyone is hollering from the Gummint.

Fizzle: despite all the anti-Obama screeching, to the effect that he botched the oil-spill response and that it's "Obama's Katrina", only 26 percent say he's doing a poor job -- the same 26 percent that hates all things Democratic.

And why is this important? In midterms, timing is everything. The Dems lost the House because the NRA got a ton of momentum in September 1994, when the gun bill was passed. The Dems won the House back in 2006 partly because they had momentum: the GOP sex scandals blew up just before the voting. And now the GOP, which had hoped to retake the House this fall, is losing some, um, tumescence in its effort to get people riled up.

Partly because they sound kind of silly. To wit:

Day 1. We hate Big Gummint! Big Gummint should do little or nothing!

Day 2. Why isn't Big Gummint helping more in the Tennessee flooding?

Day 3. Why isn't Big Gummint moving faster on the BP spill?

Day 4. Why isn't Big Gummint moving faster to secure the Arizona border?

Day 5. Why isn't Big Gummint moving faster to follow Oklahoma's lead in shoving probes up women's vaginas in abortion clinics?

Day 6. Why isn't Big Gummint stripping the citizenship from terror suspects -- while letting them keep their guns?

Day 7. ...We hate Big Gummint!

the wingnuts want to surender their freedoms to...Hillary Clinton

Joe Lieberman’s proposal to strip the U.S. citizenship of anyone who is even accused of supporting with a terrorist group, without any due process, is so clearly unconstitutional that both Democrats and Republicans alike have ridiculed it.

But there is a small, admittedly irresponsible part of me that wants this law passed.

The rightwing yahoos, the most wild-eyed wingnuts, love this plan. “You ain’t a real Umurkin anymore, Abu, hit the trail!!”

But they don’t realize that a key provision in the law gives overwhelming police power to the all-time hero of the American wingnut community…Hillary Clinton.

The law prescribes that the Secretary of State has power that is incredibly broad, pardon the expression: the power to decide who should lose their citizenship, and then execute the decision. All Hillary needs to do is make a “determination” and send a letter to the Attorney General, and poof! You’re no longer a citizen.

So the wingnuts are hollering to win passage of a law which will give their worst (imaginary) enemy the power to take away their citizenship, and also supporting other bills which would strip non-citizens of virtually all of the freedoms we take for granted – like the Arizona law, and others under consideration in places like Texas.

So put the pieces together. Hillary declares that a local Texas yahoo militia is a terrorist group, and that its members are no longer citizens. And then the Texas police act on their new-found police powers to arrest the militia members on the street without probable cause and throw them in jail, indefinitely, even if no crime is committed.

Cue scary music!

Cue conspiracy theories!

Cue black helicopters!

And the lesson here, you fascist morons, is two-fold: (a) if you tell lawmakers to take away freedom from others, then you lose your freedom as well, particularly when (b) your rock-throwing, gun-waving behavor makes you look like – what’s the word? Terrorists. Acting like terrorists, and calling for terrorists to be thrown in a cell without trial, all at the same time – it’s a kinda stupid strategy. Giving wingnut nemesis Hillary Clinton the power to take your freedom away, just makes it stupid and funny at the same time.

And for bonus points, did anybody spot the historical irony in this story? Lieberman is getting his ideas about stripping citizenship from undesireables from…that’s right, the Third Reich. Who meted this treatment out to…that’s right, the Jews.

Oh, and a side-note: did you notice that John Boehner actually did the responsible thing, in shooting down Lieberman? That’s because the Republicans are starting to believe their own bullcrap: they really believe they can take the House, so Boehner is starting to act “Speaker-like”.

When Republicans commit treason, it's called "citizen's arrest"

As we know, the Republicans like to make stuff up – not only facts, but the very words we use. For every political jihad they fight, the bumper sticker phrases are sure to follow in short order: death panels, permanent bailouts, checkbook tax, tax-and-spend liberal, soft on terrorism, “Support the Troops!”, Kenyan socialism and all the other neologisms.

Their latest gambit: to redefine treason by calling it “citizens arrest”.

As we know, they have set up this incredibly dangerous group called the “Oath Keepers”, which is itself a laughable syllogism because the very intent of the group is to encourage armed men – military and police -- to violate their oaths of duty. Specifically, the aim of the group is to organize armed people to “resist” President Obama because they took an oath to defend the Constitution, and Obama allegedly is violating the Constitution by illegally occupying the presidency.

And now they are putting this into action.

Not long ago, a man in Tennessee demanded that the local grand jury “indict” Obama for his crime, and try him for treason. The grand jury unsurprisingly refused. The man showed up to execute a “citizens arrest” of the grand jury foreman, who is black – to use physical force to stop a legally-selected government official from doing his job. The police arrested the would-be arresting officer. An outraged Oath Keeper, formerly Navy and currently “militia”, showed up with an AK47 to free his ally, and ultimately was also arrested. Other armed men showed up also, and they threatened to bring more. Along the way the Oath Keeper also tried, at one point, to execute citizen’s arrest on the cops who arrested him.

The Oath Keepers are now writing letters to Supreme Court Justice Scalia, demanding justice for their comrades.

The Oath Keepers say they are certain that Obama will come to take their guns and put them in concentration camps. And now that they have been disarmed and arrested, they can say “see, we were right!”

So we have a group of current and former military and law enforcement, concocting plans to use armed violence to stop legitimate government functions.

Also known as “treason”.

For extra credit, look up a bunch called “Repent Amarillo”, a vigilante group that focuses on harassment of gay bars, theatres that should gay-themed plays, a local park (because witches could use it), and eventually a Planned Parenthood site and possibly the entire city of Houston (because they made the terrible mistake of electing a gay mayor).

Next: I took these ideas below from original founding documents. Does this sound like a good working definition of the Oath Keepers? And their teabagger pals?

In the quest for red-blooded American manhood, the group seeks brotherhood with other men who possess the qualifications for membership who share the same beliefs, spirit, character, interest and purpose, united native-born U.S. citizens with no allegiance to any foreign nation or sect, organizing the patriotic sentiment of native-born Americans for the defense of distinctively American institutions, dedicated to the principle that America shall be made American through the promulgation of American doctrines, the dissemination of American ideals, the creation of wholesome American sentiment, the preservation of American institutions. The aim is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, and protect the states and the people thereof from all invasion of their right from any source whatsoever. Major offenses include Treason against the United States of America, violating the oath of allegiance to the groupr or any supplementary oath of obligation thereof, and violation of the Constitution or laws of this order by conspiracy, relinquishment or forfeiture of citizenship, or support of any foreign power against the United States of America. All influence that seek to destroy the sanctity of the American home must be destroyed; the home must be protected, and womanhood must be protected.

The group is organized on a military plan for quick, united action. The member will protect order. His resistance is to be unyielding. The true member is a man and will not be moved by threats of enemies, or threats of punishment by any person or power whatsoever, or by persecution of any kind. He can be loyal and true in the face of every sort of impending danger. He will not yield his honor even for the price of his safety. His resistance will be unswerving. He has sworn, "I will die rather than divulge same, so help me God”. Every member is pledged to go at any time without hesitation to the assistance or rescue of a fellow member in any way. With uplifted hand, every member has committed himself; "at his call I will answer."

The reason I ask, is that the ideals expressed in those two paragraphs came from the Ku Klux Klan manual, 1925.

I ask this also because those Oath-Keeper morons just tried to launch an armed revolt against a grand jury session in Tennessee.

From the link:

AGJ members believe that President Obama is not a natural-born citizen -- a constitutional requirement to serve as president -- because his father was Kenyan, and therefore a British subject, at the time of Obama's birth. "There was no question that to be natural born, you must have parents of the soil, born on the soil," said Swensson. "By Barack's own admission, his father was Kenyan." The founders instituted this requirement, Swensson added, in order "to prevent the possibility of divided loyalties. And now here we are."

Let's remember to hold the Republicans to their own loyalty standard next time around.

Piyush Jindal's parents are immigrants from a country with millions of Muslims; he was raised a Hindu until converting in high school (unlike Obama, Jindal really was raised in an Asian religion). Jindal named himself "Bobby" after the Brady Bunch character.

Charlie Crist also Americanized his name; he is actually Charles Christodoulos, born to Greek immigrants.

Rudy Giuliani, Italian immigrants.

Sarah Palin has expressed support for Alaskan secession -- would her first loyalty be to the U.S. or Alaska?

Haley Barbour is part Native American. Loyal to the U.S. or to his tribe, which was conquered by the U.S.?

And if McCain runs again -- loyal to the U.S., or to his nation of birth, Panama?

John Huntsman lived extensively in Asia and adopted children from China and India; these children will have dual citizenship. What if we get in a scrape with China during a Huntsman administration? Where would his loyalties lie?

Rick Perry has even more divided loyalties -- his parents were (gasp) Democrats! How can you be loyal to the Democratic party and still be loyal to (sniff) Uhmurka??

So Republicans need to stop and think about how stupid they really want to be about all this.

And one more thought: has it occurred to the Oath Keepers that some 30 percent of the military consists of people who are not white males? Setting aside the fact that demographically, minorities show their bravery and patriotism by joining the military in larger numbers than the white guys, there's also the fact that when these guys come home, they most emphatically do not share the sentiments of the Oath Keepers, particularly respecting Obama. And for that matter, there are plenty of white soldiers who support Obama, particularly since he has supported them better than Bush did (got your armor protection finally, boys?).

Monday 3 May 2010

Big bad federal gummint identifies bomber in two days

And in two minutes, the wingnuts will start screaming that Big Bad Gummint is depriving him of his rights....

**UPDATE** -- Boy was I wrong! Now the wingnuts are complaining because Obama didn't deprive him of his rights. They are complaining that this U.S. citizen was actually Mirandized. Do these yuckapucks not understand that if we don't Mirandize them, then we lose a big pile of testimony and evidence under the poisoned-fruit doctrine? Do they understand that eventually we're going to need to start living up to that freedom and justice stuff, and actually put people on trial instead of torturing and killing them? Isn't that distinction a key reason why we removed Saddam from power?

That's the thing with Republican illogic -- it can go in any direction. When you're not tethered to reality, you can slam Obama for adhering to the rules too much, or not enough, or even both, all at the same time.

Sunday 2 May 2010

the myth of the nonpartisan populist teabagger, exposed

The teabaggers keep saying they are non-partisan populists who want to protect the little guy from the Big Boys who are jeopardizing their economic future – the want accountability for the fat cats who wrecked the economy on Wall Street, and so forth.

So they should support the financial reform bill, right?

Um, no.

Bob Corker, Republican Senator from Tennessee, made the terrible mistake of talking to the Democrats about their finance bill. Corker didn’t even support it – all he did was talk to the Dems about it.

What did the teabaggers do? They phonebanked Corker, carpet-bombing him with phone calls condemning him for even talking to a Democrat.

Thus exploding the myth that these tea party clowns are nonpartisan defenders of the little guy. They are Republicans hell-bent on destroying Democrats and defending their corporate paymasters.

And this is course is why the teabaggers protested, when Obama wanted to defend the common man from abuse by insurance companies. And why they protested against Obama for doing a lot of the same things Bush did. And why they protested even though Obama gave them a tax cut. And why they take their orders from the former Republican House Majority Leader.

Bob Corker is no liberal sissy. Rough tough construction company guy, multi-millionaire, ran a racist campaign ad against Harold Ford, hard-core supporter of the Iraq war, opposed the stimulus and the bailouts, filibustered unemployment benefits….Rock solid Republican. But he could be the latest hard-core conservative to be targeted by the wingnuts for not being wingnutty enough.

Oil slick! We need Big Gummint!

Gee, the wingnuts are cracking down on Obama, to bring Big Gummint in and whup up on those big bad oil companies. Clearly their sense of irony sharp as it ever is.

As the Washington Monthly correctly pointed out, Obama had the Navy and Coast Guard out there immediately, and already more than a dozen agencies are busting their butts on this -- seems like half his cabinet is down there already. But they're not magicians. Blaming the fireman (Obama) instead of the arsonist (BP) is intellectually dishonest, which is of course why the Republicans will embrace the strategy enthusiastically.

And Obama is not the president who approved the rig or the oversight plan thereof. Seems to me like the only thing Obama did wrong, was to trust BP and Haliburton not to lie about what was going on in the Gulf. I don’t expect he’s going to do that again.

This makes it easier to decide whether to push immigration reform – which unites Democrats and divides Republicans – or energy legislation – which splits Democrats and unites Republicans.

Saturday 1 May 2010

Dems on the rise for 2010

The new Washington Post polls says that:

Obama’s approvals are the highest in several months.
Respondents like the Democrats over the Republicans by 14 points with respect to solving the nation’s problems.
Respondents favour the president over the GOP on virtually every issue.
Democrats actually have a 5-point lead over Republicans in a generic ballot, their best showing in months.

…and people are realizing that not only did Obama cut their taxes – tax rates are at their lowest level in 60 years.

…and Harry Reid’s probable Senate opponent, Sue “Chicken To The Doctor” Lowden, is also being exposed as a right-wing dirt-bag who threw a bunch of employees out of their health system.

Why Arizona really matters

Why the Democrats need to push immigration reform right now:

The Democrats are on a roll, finally figuring out how to shame Republicans into ending their filibusters. But that’s not why they need to push immigration reform.

Right now people are really steamed about the Arizona “Papers Please” law. But that’s not why to push reform, either.

Right now other states – Texas, Ohio, Utah – are thinking about passing similar laws; soon there could be whole swaths of the country where it’s pretty much illegal to be brown. But that’s not why we need to move on this.

The reason we need to do this now is that the “arrest everybody who’s brown” tactic could have disastrous consequences on election day. The threat of widespread arrests based on skin color is nothing short of vote suppression: how many Latinos are going to stay away from the polls in November just to avoid getting thrown in jail by all those cops standing around at the polls? What could stop the cops from simply arresting all the Mexicans at your local polling place, and only letting the white folks vote? Could this asinine law be the element that allows McCain to keep his job until he’s 80?

That’s the real reason why we need immigration reform.

Q. What legal impediment is there, to stop a crooked, irresponsible sheriff like Arpaio from simply throwing every Mexican in jail on election day, so that only whites can vote, and then letting all the detainees back out again the next day?

A. Nothing at all. It is now perfectly legal for white Republicans to steal the election.

The Republicans know full well that passage of serious immigration reform would be really bad for them but great for everyone else: Lindsey Graham, who earlier was screeching at Obama for not moving fast enough on immigration reform, is now screeching that the Democrats must STOP pushing it or he will stonewall everything else going through the Senate.

As the Washington Monthly pointed out, the Immigration Reform Law Institute is the group which is taking credit for writing the Arizona bill, and is now urging the legislature to amend the bill and make it easier for police to concoct legal pretexts for harassing innocent brown people, to include city rules such as having a car up on blocks (they also admitted that the law as originally written was a racial-profiling law by passing a no-profiling amendment). The guy spearheading that amendment effort is the same guy who formerly was Chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, where he took credit for the vote-caging effort there – the entirely illegal effort to get blacks and Mexicans thrown off the voter rolls if they fail to answer a registered-mail verification, something they didn’t bother to do in white areas.

Gee, can anybody see the pattern here?

Republicans go after minorities in Kansas, to stop them from voting Democratic.
Republicans throw Arizona Mexicans in jail, to stop them from showing their faces on the street so they can vote Democratic.
Republican vote suppression in Ohio, stop voters from voting Democratic, steal the 2004 presidential election.
Illegal Republican voter suppression in black and Hispanic sections of Florida, stop voters from voting Democratic, steal the 2000 presidential election.
Republicans go all out to destroy any African-American voter registration effort, stop them from voting Democratic.
Republican hissy fits when one alleged “Black Panther” shows up at a polling place with a “stick” – screeching “Hey, he’s only a Democrat, only Republicans are allowed to commit voter suppression!!”
Republicans declare war on union groups, because they organize Democratic voters.
Republicans declare war on lawyers and push for tort reform, because they organize Democratic voters.
Republicans bitterly resist all efforts to reform the electoral college, because the current system artificially suppresses the power of Democratic voters, by disproportionately emphasizing the voices of the Republicans of the Great Plains.
Republicans shamelessly pushing Voter ID laws, voter purging laws, ex-con disenfranchisement laws.
Republicans putting scumbags like Katherine Harris in charge of voting laws.
Republicans jamming the phone lines of Democratic organizers to suppress voter turnout in New Hampshire.
Republicans illegally registering voters using pro-marijuana petitions.
Republicans suppressing voter representation in Democratic districts by sending fake census forms so the real forms don’t get filled out.
Republicans undertaking such a widespread vote suppression effort in the Virginia gubernatorial race that the FBI had to step in.
Republicans pushing vote suppression in the 2008 race, using caging, purging and delays a polling places to stop people from voting for Obama in Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, Montana, Wisconsin.

The Republicans seemingly can’t stop them from doing incredibly stupid things, pissing off Mexicans with their stance on Sotomayor and their immigration policies, pissing off blacks with their 19th-century attitudes toward Obama, pissing off women with their antediluvian policies on abortion, possing off young people with their fiscal policies, pissing off gays…They know that soon they will only have adult white men, who currently comprise only about 24 percent of America, and dropping. They know that the Republican party is doomed, for demographic reasons, and all they can do is try to delay the inevitable, with illegal voter suppression. So we will see more and more of it.

And what happens when Obama passes immigration reform, and gives 11 million Mexicans a clear path toward becoming citizens…and voting?

In the meantime there are one or two problems with that law, that will get it overturned.

It empowers virtually any government employee to jail almost any citizen without cause.
It mandates that government employees MUST pursue illegals.
It doesn’t properly define who can invoke these powers, or what qualification or training is required.
It will require that some people incriminate themselves.
It provides for entrapment.
It mandates the payment of court costs without due process.
It violates civil procedure by imposing costs on defendants without court involvement.
It eradicates the doctrine that any suspect is innocent until proven guilty.
It imposes penalties on anyone who brings another person into their home or car, or even invites them to Arizona.
It virtually assures that innocent people will be detained, injured or killed.
It mandates transfer of state detainees to federal facilities without federal input, and makes no provision for federal refusal to implement that mandate.
It essentially makes brown skin into probable cause.

The worst, most incompetent lawyer in the world could get this overturned in any federal court. Not only should the law be overturned, but whichever moron wrote it should be disbarred for criminal incompetence. In years to come, they will use this asinine law as a pop quiz in freshman-level Constitutional Law -- okay kids, the student who finds the most errors gets an A!

So why did the governor sign this piece of garbage?

According to Mother Jones, that crazy Arizona governor signed that crazy Arizona immigrant law because she is about to be primaried by an even crazier Republican “leader” – Arpaio, the local sheriff. This maniac could be the next governor, who could make the current incumbent look like Mary Poppins.

So let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Arpaio, ironically the son of immigrants, has created a catastrophe trying to hunt immigrants on the border. He instructed his civilian “posses” to go out and arrest “aliens”; these people now have concealed-carry powers. But the Department of Homeland Security was forced to step in and order Arpaio to stop using his deputies to hunt immigrants: even though they are federally trained, the implementation has been, in a word, problematic. Meanwhile the Department of Justice is investigating Arpaio for civil rights violations and for illegally targeting minorities; Arpaio refused to cooperate with Justice.

When he isn’t hunting Mexicans, he is hunting his critics. Arpaio is investigating many of his opponents on criminal charges. The FBI is investigating him because he has tried to terrorize his political critics – judges, county managers, a police chief, a state attorney general – by filing corruption charges and lawsuits. He has raided city hall and demanded access to a mayor’s email account. When a county supervisor made the terrible mistake of requesting an audit of the sheriff’s budget, Arpaio retaliated with 200 frivolous criminal charges. Arpaio arrested the editors of a local paper and subpoena’ed the paper as well as the IP addresses of all visitors to the paper’s website, because the paper had criticized Arpaio; a court ruled that the subpoenas were illegal. The DOJ empanelled a grand jury to charge him with abuse of power.

So what about his day job, fighting crime? He began his law-enforcement career in the early 1950s – he will soon turn 78 -- but he is actually a really, really bad law enforcement officer. A newspaper won a Pulitzer for exposing lousy emergency response and lousy law enforcement. He launched the incredibly dangerous process of recruiting volunteer “posses” to do deputy work which requires actual training -- manage search and rescue, run traffic control, execute warrants, and transport prisoners. He is under fire for “clearing” more than 80 percent of his cases without proper investigation, including three young girls who were raped. His efforts have had no effect whatsoever on recidivism. A petition to recall Arpaio from office was launched, although it failed.

Likewise his handling of detainees has gotten him in very serious trouble. His county has had to pay over $40 million to the families of inmates who died in custody, despite efforts by Arpaio’s office to destroy evidence; some of his victims were disabled. His deputies have a reputation for beating inmates. He reduced food supplies to inmates, put them in tents in the Arizona sun, put them in chain gangs, and put them in pink underwear; he then sold the pink underwear as a sideline, misused the funds, and refused all external oversight. Arpaio’s jail lost accreditation several times for lying about compliance and for violating health and safety rules. He has been sued more than 2000 times regarding prison conditions.

And then, the webcam. A judge slapped down Arpaio and fined him, for putting video of pretrial detainees on the internet, in violation of the constitutional protections regarding due process. “We fail to see how turning pretrial detainees into the unwilling objects of the latest reality show serves any of these legitimate goals…Inmates . . . are not like animals in a zoo to be filmed and photographed at will by the public. “ Even the Supreme Court, which lurches further to the right every year, wouldn’t back up Arpaio.

And this guy could be governor. In total charge of a huge chunk of the U.S.-Mexico border, including most of the border areas which are not blocked by the Rio Grande. And he will have total executive power, total veto power, total control over all state forces, everybody who has a gun. To continue to terrorize anyone with brown skin, or anyone in the state who questions his illegal behaviour.

So the Republicans want to remove our voting rights, steal elections, throw innocent people in jail, and hand the state of Arizona over to an incompetent, violent thug. This is kind of stuff we hanged Saddam Hussein for.

Now does everybody get it?