Sunday, August 31, 2014

Last Call For Breaking Through In Iraq

It looks like President Obama's program of limited, targeted airstrikes against ISIS is working to loosen their grip on territory in Iraq.

Iraqi troops and militias aided by U.S. airstrikes broke through a two-month siege of the town of Amerli on Sunday, opening up a humanitarian corridor to thousands of Shiite Turkmen who had been trapped by Sunni militants and deprived of food, water, and medicine.

“Amerli has been liberated,” said Mahdi Taqi, a local official who spoke by phone from inside the town after the army had entered. “There is so much joy and people are cheering in the streets.”

Sunni militants from the Islamic State group, which seized much of northern Iraq in June, had surrounded Amerli, cutting off access to supplies and electricity.

Residents struggled to fight off the militants, but were beginning to die of hunger and disease.

The United Nations Special Representative to Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, last week warned of an impending “massacre” should Islamic State fighters breach the town. 
But a short series of U.S. air strikes on Saturday night appeared to quickly tilt the balance in favor of Iraqi government forces.

The three strikes were accompanied by humanitarian aid drops by American, British, French and Australian aircraft, the Pentagon said in a statement.

“These operations will be limited in their scope and duration as necessary to address this emerging humanitarian crisis and protect the civilians trapped in Amirli,” the Pentagon said.

A thoughtful, measured response is starting to turn the corner, and we're doing it without putting in tens of thousands of troops back in Iraq.  It's funny how everyone is screaming that President Obama's foreign policy is a "failure" and yet A) it's not failing and B) nobody seems to have any better ideas. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Last Call For The Main Event

Labor Day weekend marks the beginning of the heart of campaign season, and with 9 1/2 weeks to go until Election Day, the latest WHAS-TV/Courier-Journal poll here in Kentucky finds Mitch the Turtle up 4 points on Alison Grimes, 46-42%.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Nine weeks until election day, Kentucky's U.S. Senate race remains close, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has improved his lead over Alison Lundergan Grimes in the latest WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll, from a two point lead one month ago to a four point lead today.

WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll
  • 46% McConnell (R)
  • 42% Lundergan Grimes (D)
  • 5% Patterson (L)
  • 8% Undecided
  • 569 likely voters
  • Margin of error = ± 4.2%

Libertarian David Patterson is down two points since the last poll, now with five percent support.

"It's still close to the margin of error," Democratic strategist Bob Gunnell said. "(Grimes) still has very much a shot to win, and money will still continue to flow into her campaign."

"I think the McConnell people are going to be very excited about these numbers," said Republican strategist Les Fugate. "It continues the trend that we've seen in a lot of other polls, both polls for the campaigns and other independent polls. His momentum has slowly picked up since January and moved, once he consolidated the vote after the primary, and he continues to build off of that."

Neither Gunnell or Fugate are affiliated with the campaigns.

The crosstabs are pretty interesting as well.  Kentucky remains Clinton Country, as Big Dog was in town stumping for Grimes earlier this month.  His approval rating is better than anyone else in the poll at 53%.  That same four point lead favors Republicans when it comes to which party voters think should control the Senate (47-43%).

As far as issues go, Grimes has a commanding lead on women's issues, 21 points (52-31%) but McConnell has a similar lead on which candidate would better represent the interests of King Coal (44-22%).  McConnell also has a big lead on foreign policy (43-28%) and a smaller lead on immigration (40-32%), but voters are split on which candidate is better for the state's economy overall, McConnell at 40% to Grimes's 38%.

Meanwhile, voters here continue to hate Barack Obama.  His approval rating in the Bluegrass State is down to 29%, with his approval rating among Democrats down to 49%.  Obamacare, Kynect, or not, Kentuckians are pretty upset at the President.

This poll was taken before Friday's revelations that Mitch McConnell's campaign director was involved in taking bribes during Ron Paul's 2012 run, so we'll see how that plays out.

Mass, In Carson Nation

Because there aren't apparently enough completely bonkers Republicans vying for 2016 yet, we have Dr. Ben Carson happily courting the "Obama and liberals are Nazis" section of the GOP's big tent (which admittedly is pretty large and full of insane Republicans who are inexplicably still allowed to vote.)

Conservative Ben Carson isn't backing down from his previous statements likening progressives and Obama supporters to Nazi sympathizers.

The topic was broached and reported on in a profile of Carson in The Washington Post.
"You can't dance around it," Carson told The Washington Post's Ben Terris. "If people look at what I said and were not political about it, they'd have to agree. Most people in Germany didn't agree with what Hitler was doing…Exactly the same thing can happen in this country if we are not willing to stand up for what we believe in." 
In February Carson suggested that liberals could turn the country into Nazi Germany.
"There comes a time when people with values simply have to stand up," he said according to The Huffington Post. "Think about Nazi Germany. Most of those people did not believe in what Hitler was doing. But what did they speak up? Did they stand up for what they believe in/ They did not, and you saw what happened." 
A month later, Carson went there again, saying that American society today is very similar to Nazi Germany. 
"I mean, [our society is] very much like Nazi Germany," the retired neurosurgeon said in aninterview with Breitbart News. "And I know you're not supposed to say 'Nazi Germany,' but I don't care about political correctness. You know, you had a government using its tools to intimidate the population. We now live in a society where people are afraid to say what they actually believe."

Which is funny, because of Dr. Carson was even remotely correct, he wouldn't actually be able to say what he's been saying for the last several months.  Nobody's stifling his free speech.  He's allowed to freely make his incendiary claims without the US government arresting him.  He's practicing the very freedom he claims to not have, which shows his horrendous lack of understanding about the First Amendment.

But that's only one of the many reasons why he'll never be President.

StupidiNews, Blogiversary Edition!

Zandar Versus The Stupid turned six this week.  I never thought I'd still be going strong after six years when I started making observations in August, 2008, but here we are.

Hopefully we'll keep on going for a while longer.  Still plenty of stupid to fight, you know.

And now your regularly scheduled StupidiNews...

Friday, August 29, 2014

Last Call For Uncle Jesse

Talk about your Labor Day weekend news dumps.

Mitch the Turtle's campaign manager, Jesse Benton, is resigning under a huge cloud of scandal.

Benton said he offered his resignation, effective Saturday, with a "heavy heart."

He maintained his innocence, faulting "inaccurate press accounts and unsubstantiated media rumors."

"This decision breaks my heart, but I know it is the right thing for Mitch, for Kentucky and for the country," Benton said.

Benton's name has surfaced in connection to a bribery scandal dating to his time as former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's political director during the 2012 presidential election.

On Wednesday, former Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson pleaded guilty to accepting $73,000 from Paul's campaign in exchange for his endorsement and to obstruction of justice for lying about his involvement.

Sorenson's guilty plea included two sealed documents, which could threaten to involve Benton.

In a statement provided first to the Herald-Leader, Benton said there "is no more important cause for both Kentucky, my new home I have come to love, and our country than electing Mitch McConnell Majority Leader of the United States Senate."

"I believe this deep in my bones, and I would never allow anything or anyone to get in the way," Benton wrote. "That includes myself."

Ron Paul's campaign was crooked as hell, and Benton ran that show in 2012.  Now it's caught up to him and everyone is wondering just how corrupt and rotten Benton's campaign for McConnell is.  And frankly, for all the "McConnell is too shrewd a political operator to lose to a neophyte like Grimes" conventional wisdom, hiring Benton turned out to be his biggest mistake so far of a campaign filled with missteps.

Oh, and let's not forget Benton started out running Rand Paul's campaign in 2010.  You have to wonder about just how many bodies Benton knows are buried.  Odds are he put them there.

Now McConnell has to spend the rest of the campaign explaining why his campaign manager was a crook, and why he hired him in the first place.  Hell, it might be enough to sink his campaign.

We'll see.  But I feel a lot better about Alison Grimes's chances now.

Read more here:

A Keystone Of Obamacare

We've finally reached the point where a GOP governor facing re-election is in such dire straits that he's doing what was once thought impossible just six months ago:  striking a deal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.  Greg Sargent:

In another sign that the politics of Obamacare continue to shift, the Medicaid expansion is now all but certain to come to another big state whose Republican governor had previously resisted it: Pennsylvania. 
The federal government has approved Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s application for the state’s own version of the Medicaid expansion, without a handful of the conditions Corbett had hoped to impose, Dem sources tell me. 
Corbett just announced that he will accept the expansion that has been offered, perhaps with some last-minute changes — expanding coverage and subsidies to as many as half a million people. 
This comes after months of jockeying between Corbett and the federal government. Corbett had pushed for a version of the expansion that would have imposed various conditions designed to make it more palatable to conservatives and to achieve political distance from Obamacare — while simultaneously taking all that federal money. Among them: Using the cash to pay for private coverage for the poor.
According to a Dem familiar with the deal, the version the feds signed off on does not give Corbett some of the things he wanted. In various ways, it is not a true “Private Option,” like the one in Arkansas. Corbett previously dropped the work requirement he’d sought, and did not get a weakening of consumer protections in Medicaid or a “lockout” provision that would have nixed coverage to those who miss a premium payment, the Dem confirms.

And Corbett is dying in the polls.  He's down by one measure by as much as 25 points right now.

The latest indignity: A new Franklin & Marshall College poll shows Corbett winning the support of just 24 percent of Pennsylvania voters. That's right, an incumbent … at 24 percent. That's just not something you see — like ever. 
Now, that actually sounds a little worse than it is. F&M polling routinely has many more undecided voters than most polls (about one-quarter in this poll), which means Corbett is at just 24 percent but only trails by 25 points (only!), 49-24. That's not quite the same as being down 70-24 or something like that. 
But that's still 25 points. And as we have written, it's pretty uncommon for a sitting governor to lose reelection, much less get swamped.

Republican governors in states that went for Obama in 2012 are in real trouble across the board (the exceptions being John Kasich in Ohio and Pat McCrory in NC).  Corbett in Pennsylvania, Rick Scott in Florida, Paul LePage in Maine, Rick Snyder in Michigan, and Scott Walker in Wisconsin are all in the fights of their political lives.  Republican governors in red states are hurting too.  Nikki Haley is facing a tough race in South Carolina, and so is Nathan Deal in neighboring Georgia.  Even Sam Brownback in Kansas is in trouble.

And all of these governors, with the exceptions of Corbett (and Kasich, who's still trying to split the middle), have come out against Medicaid expansion, costing millions of voters affordable healthcare.

Now even Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee wants to expand Medicaid.

In 2014 Republicans are going to talk about repeal, but it'll never happen.  And you'll see more and more red states throw in the towel and take the money.

Where Are The Women, Karl Rove Asked

Republicans are still trying to figure out why women hate the GOP, so Karl Rove and some of his buddies paid for a pretty detailed study as to why there's a massive gender gap that favors women voting for Democrats.  The results are pretty hysterical, frankly.

A detailed report commissioned by two major Republican groups — including one backed by Karl Rove — paints a dismal picture for Republicans, concluding female voters view the party as “intolerant,” “lacking in compassion” and “stuck in the past.”
Women are “barely receptive” to Republicans’ policies, and the party does “especially poorly” with women in the Northeast and Midwest, according to an internal Crossroads GPS and American Action Network report obtained by POLITICO. It was presented to a small number of senior aides this month on Capitol Hill, according to multiple sources involved.

I can't imagine why that would be, with Republicans vowing to eliminate affordable health care under the ACA, trying to shut down abortion clinics in dozens of states, refusing to raise the minimum wage and basically pretending that only married women with kids, living in the exurbs matter.

The report is blunt about the party’s problems. It says 49 percent of women view Republicans unfavorably, while just 39 percent view Democrats unfavorably.

It also found that Republicans “fail to speak to women in the different circumstances in which they live” — as breadwinners, for example. “This lack of understanding and acknowledgment closes many minds to Republican policy solutions,” the report says. The groups urge Republicans to embrace policies that “are not easily framed as driven by a desire to aid employers or ‘the rich.’”

Two policies former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor promoted as a way to make inroads with middle-class women and families — charter schools and flexible work schedules — were actually the least popular policies among female voters.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that every male Republican senator voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act every time it was brought up in the last six years, and that Republicans consider single women, especially working single women, to be immoral and dirty.  Maybe it has to do with Republicans happily embracing the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling that your boss gets to decide if they cover birth control because of religion, when the law says it gets covered.

I'm just spitballing here.

When female voters are asked who “wants to make health care more affordable,” Democrats have a 39 percent advantage, and a 40 percent advantage on who “looks out for the interests of women.” Democrats have a 39 percent advantage when it comes to who “is tolerant of other people’s lifestyles.”

Female voters who care about the top four issues — the economy, health care, education and jobs — vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Most striking, Democrats hold a 35-point advantage with female voters who care about jobs and a 26 percent advantage when asked which party is willing to compromise. House Republicans say jobs and the economy are their top priorities.

You don't say.  35, 40 point advantages for Democrats among women.  And what's the GOP response?

The groups suggest a three-pronged approach to turning around their relationship with women. First, they suggest the GOP “neutralize the Democrats’” attack that Republicans don’t support fairness for women. They suggest Republican lawmakers criticize Democrats for “growing government programs that encourage dependency rather than opportunities to get ahead.” That message tested better than explaining that the GOP supports a number of policies that could help fairness for women.

Second, the groups suggest Republicans “deal honestly with any disagreement on abortion, then move to other issues.” And third, “pursue policy innovations that inspire women voters to give the GOP a ‘fresh look.’” The report suggests lawmakers and candidates inject “unexpected” GOP policy proposals into the debate as a way to sway female voters. Suggestions include ways to improve job-training programs, “strengthening enforcement against gender bias in the workplace” and “expanding home health care services by allowing more health care professionals to be paid by Medicare for home health services.”

Yes, because "fairness for women" apparently means "You don't want to be seen as a lazy whore on government programs, do you?"  The GOP plan is literally slut-shaming women into rejecting programs designed to help women and families.  This is their message.

And they wonder why they are overwhelmingly losing women to Democrats.

On the other hand, if Democrats don't vote in midterms and Republicans do, it doesn't matter how awful Republicans treat women, now does it?  They'll win anyway, and will never change.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Last Call For Domestic Disagreements

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, under blistering pressure for suspending Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice only two games for a domestic abuse charge against his wife (while Browns wideout Josh Gordon got a one year suspension for weed), has admitted that Rice got off way too easy, and that the league now has a real policy against domestic abuse.  Deadspin's Barry Petchesky:

In a memo sent to the owners today, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced massive new punishments for all NFL personnel—not just players—who commit domestic violence offenses. Offenders will be suspended six games for a first offense, and receive an indefinite ban for a second, with the ability to apply for reinstatement after one year. 
In the letter, Goodell specifically cited the league's actions regarding Ray Rice as the motivation behind these new rules.
"At times, however, and despite our best efforts, we fall short of our goals. We clearly did so in response to a recent incident of domestic violence. We allowed our standards to fall below where they should be and lost an important opportunity to emphasize our strong stance on a critical issue and the effective programs we have in place. My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn't get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will."

Pretty bold words and bold action from the notoriously conflict-averse and image-conscious Goodell. Apparently this is going in under the league's player conduct policy, meaning the NFL Players' Association can't really challenge it. Considering the league's long and ugly history involving players and domestic abuse towards NFL spouses and significant others (and the NFL is far from the only major league sport with a huge domestic violence issue) this is a long overdue move on Goodell's part.

Now he just has to fix the Josh Gordon problem.  A year for weed in a league where players are wracked by chronic pain and devastating brain and spine injuries?  Let's try addressing that first, Rog.

Not Even Common Core-tesy

Louisiana GOP governor and perennial punchline Bobby Jindal has decided that the state's failing educational standards have to be Obama's fault, so he's suing the federal government.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday accusing the U.S. Department of Education of illegally coercing states to adopt the Common Core academic standards by requiring states that want to compete for federal grants to embrace the national standards. 
Jindal, a potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, was once a strong supporter of the Common Core standards, but he has become increasingly critical as opposition to the standards has grown, particularly among conservative Republicans and tea party groups. 
Jindal has tried unsuccessfully to remove the Common Core from Louisiana but has been stymied by the state legislature, the state board of education and Jindal’s own state superintendent of education — all supporters of the Common Core. 
“The federal government has hijacked and destroyed the Common Core initiative,” Jindal said in a statement. “Common Core is the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C. in control of everything.” 
Before filing the lawsuit Wednesday, Jindal also tried unsuccessfully to sue his state board of education over the Common Core standards.

What makes this all laughable is that for the last two decades, Republicans have been screaming about how schools were not being held accountable, how there weren't national standards of performance, and how teachers and educators weren't graded on performance like their students were.  Common Core actually does all that and offers incentives to states for participating, and suddenly it's "we have to sue the government for this coercive federal overreach!"

What makes this all pathetically depressing is that Jindal is trying to dodge responsibility for Louisiana's educational disaster by blaming the President.  After all, Jindal's the one who wanted to make massive cuts to public schools by privatizing them through religious organizations and slashed spending so harshly that libraries closed across the state and the resulting plummet in the polls can't be his own fault, you know.

Jindal has been the worst governor in the state's history, and yet he's still making plays like he has some sort of chance in 2016.

Coming at the expense of state taxpayer, no less.  Typical.

At The Water's Edge

Sen. Rand Paul reminds us once again that Republicans don't consider Barack Obama to be human, let alone President of the United States.  The amount of disrespect they regularly display is astonishing, especially when it comes to foreign policy disagreements.  Rand Paul went to Guatemala to tell everyone that yes, everything is Obama's fault.

According to the report in The Hill, the Kentucky Republican sat down with Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina for 45 minutes, and the senator discussed politics with the foreign head of state. 
“I think what’s happened at the border is all squarely at the president’s lap,” Paul said. “The problem and the solution aren’t in Guatemala. The problem and solution reside inside the White House.” 
As a substantive matter, the senator’s position is tough to defend or even understand. President Obama didn’t sign the 2008 human-trafficking measure into law; he didn’t create awful conditions in Central American countries; and he didn’t encourage anyone to lie to desperate families about what would happen to their children. If there’s a coherent explanation for why the White House to blame, it’s hiding well. 
But even putting that aside, since when is it kosher for U.S. officials to travel abroad to condemn U.S. leaders like this?

Good question.  Remember when the Dixie Chicks were blackballed for suggesting as Americans that George W. Bush's foreign policy on Iraq was wrong?  Eleven years later, it's now 100% acceptable for a sitting US senator to go abroad and openly attack the President, with the head of state of a foreign nation in attendance.

Isn't that illegal?

Just to flesh this out further, in 2010, then-House Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) traveled to Israel in the hopes of undermining U.S. foreign policy towards Israel. At the time, this caused quite a stir in foreign-policy circles – it seemed extraordinary for an elected American official to travel abroad in order to work against his own country’s position. 
Perhaps now, with the Rand Paul example in mind, the practice is becoming more common. 
For even more context, note that in 2007, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) met with Syrian officials in Syria. Republicans, including Cantor, suggested Pelosi may have violated the Logan Act, “which makes it a felony for any American ‘without authority of the United States’ to communicate with a foreign government to influence that government’s behavior on any disputes with the United States.

One wonders who, if anyone, will raise similar allegations against Rand Paul.

So did Paul violate the Logan Act?

Nobody seems to care that he did, openly.  And that he admits it.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Last Call For Turtled Up

When I said last week that Sen. Mitch McConnell was serious about shutting down the government if the GOP takes over the Senate in January, I really meant Mitch McConnell is going to shut down the government if the GOP takes over the Senate in January.  Lauren Windsor at The Nation:

Last week, in an interview with Politico, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) outlined his plan to shut down President Obama’s legislative agenda by placing riders on appropriations bills. Should Republicans take control of the Senate in the 2014 elections, McConnell intends to pass spending bills that “have a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy.” 
What McConnell didn’t tell Politico was that two months ago, he made the same promise to a secret strategy conference of conservative millionaire and billionaire donors hosted by the Koch brothers. The Nation and The Undercurrent obtained an audio recording of McConnell’s remarks to the gathering, called “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society.” In the question-and-answer period following his June 15 session entitled “Free Speech: Defending First Amendment Rights,” McConnell says: 
So in the House and Senate, we own the budget. So what does that mean? That means that we can pass the spending bill. And I assure you that in the spending bill, we will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what's called placing riders in the bill. No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We're going to go after them on healthcare, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board (inaudible). All across the federal government, we're going to go after it

So yes, that's the plan.  If the GOP gains control of the Senate, they will shut the government down by defunding Obamacare, the EPA, financial regulation reform, and who knows what else.  All of that will come to a screeching halt.

If you vote for the Republican party, you will get a government of nothing.  Mitch McConnell will see to that. You know what's coming.  Let's see if we can prevent it.

A Trip Through The Elephant Graveyard

New Republic's Alec MacGillis eulogizes the career of Wisconsin GOP Rep. Tom Petri in WI-6, who is retiring and whose seat will almost certainly go to right-wing nutjob Glenn Grothman.

As an undergraduate at Harvard in the early 1960s and later in the decade, he had been a leading member of the Ripon Society, the organization founded in 1962 to advance the cause of moderate Republicanism against the rising tide of Sun Belt conservatism (it was named after the town in Wisconsin where the GOP was founded in 1854—a town that, as it happens, is in the Sixth Congressional District.) Petri belonged to the NAACP, joined the Peace Corps and engaged in a sit-in at a Woolworth’s to protest segregation at its southern stores. Petri even went on William F. Buckley’s television program, “The Firing Line,” in 1969 to spar with the pugnacious conservative. Challenged by Buckley to distinguish the Ripon Society’s program from New Deal liberalism, Petri countered, “We’ve felt that the role of government should be to enlighten self-interest in the society, to be a systems manager for the people rather than trying to do everything itself.” Petri went on assume a lower profile than Steiger had, perhaps partly because the party’s rightward shift in the 1980s and since left him increasingly isolated. He fought hard for federal funding for Wisconsin highways, water-infrastructure projects, and farmers; he got notice when he voted against President Bush’s Iraq surge; and he got less than 64 percent of the vote in his district only once in the past 16 elections, in 1992. 
But soon after Grothman announced his primary challenge earlier this year, saying Petri hadn’t done enough to fight a growing “culture of dependency” (an especially brazen move given that Grothman did not even reside in the district at the time), Petri decided it was time to retire. Finishing a very close second to Grothman in this month's primary was another state senator, Joe Leibham, while state assemblyman Duey Stroebel (great name!) came in third. Liebham and Stroebel are both well to Petri’s right, but Grothman far outflanks them all.

It's utterly impossible to imagine in 2014 any Republican in Congress being a member of the NAACP.  Petri is the last of his breed, now driven out of the party by the anti-science, anti-minority, anti-woman core of the modern GOP.  Between Petri and his predecessor, Rob Steiger, WI-6 was the home of moderate Republicanism for almost 50 years.  Now it's just another red meat red district.

How to explain that a district went from being represented for nearly five decades by Steiger and Petri to now being on the verge of Glenn Grothman? There is the nationwide shift in the party that has seen liberal Northern Republicans dwindle to an all-but extinct breed (one of the last members of the species, Jim Jeffords, left the party a decade before he died, last week.) But exacerbating that shift in Wisconsin has been a local dynamic that I described in aJune cover story about the rise of the state’s governor, Scott Walker, and that theMilwaukee Journal Sentinel's Craig Gilbert laid out a few weeks earlier in a striking series of articles. Over the past few decades, the suburbs of Milwaukee have developed into a conservative bastion that is far more monolithically white and Republican than the suburbs of other northern cities, a singularity that, I argued, has something to do with the unusual lag in the migration of African-Americans to Milwaukee. 
This deep-red territory is also defined by its remarkably strong local conservative-talk radio culture, with two hosts who have commanded loyal audiences for several decades now. And just as Scott Walker was adept at using those shows to build his base, Grothman was adept at using them to rise in the ranks. Back in 2005, he won a promotion from the state assembly to the state Senate by going on the shows at every chance he could to attack the incumbent Republican senator, Mary Panzer, as insufficiently conservative. Even Leibham, the second-place finisher this month, told me that he “grew up listening” to both hosts, Mark Belling and Charlie Sykes, and still catches them both every day.

It would be easy to say things along the lines of "somewhere along the way the Republican party stopped being the party of hope and became the party of abject fear and resentment" but Republicans have never been the part of anything but, at least not in my lifetime.  The last strands of human decency have been purged from the party, seemingly permanently.  Tom Petri was that last strand.

Now nothing is left but the wasteland.  And if they remain in charge, that wasteland will swallow all.

Glibertarians, Not Libertarians

A new Pew Research study shows that the term "libertarian" definitely needs to be in near-permanent quotation marks here in America, because many are anything but.

About one-in-ten Americans (11%) describe themselves as libertarian and know what the term means. Respondents were asked whether the term “libertarian” describes them well and — in a separate multiple-choice question — asked for the definition of “someone whose political views emphasize individual freedom by limiting the role of government”; 57% correctly answered the multiple-choice question, choosing “libertarian” from a list that included “progressive,” “authoritarian,” “Unitarian” and “communist.” On the self-description question 14% said they were libertarian. For the purpose of this analysis we focus on the 11% who both say they are libertarian and know the definition of the term. 
These findings come from the Pew Research Center’s political typology and polarization survey conducted earlier this year, as well as a recent survey of a subset of those respondents via the Pew Research Center’s new American Trends Panel, conducted April 29-May 27 among 3,243 adults. 
Self-described libertarians tend to be modestly more supportive of some libertarian positions, but few of them hold consistent libertarian opinions on the role of government, foreign policy and social issues. 
Men were about twice as likely as women to say the term libertarian describes them well and to know the meaning of the term (15% vs. 7%). More college graduates (15%) than those with no more than a high school education (7%) identified as libertarians. There also were partisan differences; 14% of independents and 12% of Republicans said they are libertarian, compared with 6% of Democrats. 

The easiest way to view this is substitute "libertarian" with "Ron Paul voter" and you have a really, really good idea of where and what these voters stand for.  They are for the most part boilerplate Republicans who happen to like weed and are okay with same-sex marriage.

When it comes to attitudes about the size and scope of government, people who say the term libertarian describes them well (and who are able to correctly define the term) are somewhat more likely than the public overall to say government regulation of business does more harm than good (56% vs. 47%). However, about four-in-ten libertarians say that government regulation of business is necessary to protect the public interest (41%). 
The attitudes of libertarians similarly differ from the public on government aid to the poor; they are more likely than the public to say “government aid to the poor does more harm than good by making people too dependent on government assistance” (57% vs. 48%), yet about four-in-ten (38%) say it “does more good than harm because people can’t get out of poverty until their basic needs are met.” 
Libertarianism is associated with limited government involvement in the social sphere. In this regard, self-described libertarians are somewhat more supportive of legalizing marijuana than the public overall (65% vs. 54%). 
But there are only slight differences between libertarians and the public in views of the acceptability of homosexuality. And they are about as likely as others to favor allowing the police “to stop and search anyone who fits the general description of a crime suspect” (42% of libertarians, 41% of the public). 
Similarly, self-described libertarians do not differ a great deal from the public in opinions about foreign policy. Libertarianism is generally associated with a less activist foreign policy, yet a greater share of self-described libertarians (43%) than the public (35%) think “it is best for the future of our country to be active in world affairs.” 
And in views of the tradeoff between defending against terrorism and protecting civil liberties, large majorities of both the public (74%) and self-described libertarians (82%) say “Americans shouldn’t have to give up privacy and freedom in order to be safe from terrorism.”

Hate government programs, interventionist foreign policy, don't mind cops profiling people.  That's not libertarian, that's Republican.  The poster child of this group remains Rand Paul, and he's right there with them.
None of the seven groups identified by the 2014 political typology closely resembled libertarians, and, in fact, self-described libertarians can be found in all seven. Their largest representation is among the group we call Business Conservatives; 27% of this group says the term libertarian describes them well. Business Conservatives generally support limited government, have positive views of business and the U.S. economic system, and are more moderate than other conservative groups on the issue of homosexuality. However, they are also supportive of an activist foreign policy and do not have a libertarian profile on issues of civil liberties.

Surprise!  If "Tea Party" is the new Religious Republican, then "libertarian" is the new Corporate Republican.

Don't be fooled by them.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Last Call For Marco Rubio, Immigration Moderate

Remember folks, Sen. Marco Rubio is the savior of the GOP, with his moderate stance on immigration and willingness to compromise.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) contends that unilateral action by President Barack Obama on immigration, which is expected this fall, will doom future chances for reform by poisoning the well in Congress. The one-time championfor comprehensive immigration reform wants Senate Republicans to combat the likely executive action through the budget process when Congress returns in September.

"There will have to be some sort of a budget vote or a continuing resolution vote, so I assume there will be some sort of a vote on this," Rubio told Breitbart in an interview published Tuesday. "I'm interested to see what kinds of ideas my colleagues have about using funding mechanisms to address this issue."

You know, like shutting down the government.  Go for it, Marco!

After Congress returns on Sept. 8, lawmakers will have just 10 working days to come to consensus on a continuing resolution to fund the government or risk a shutdown. Two particularly contentious issues -- the renewal of the Export-Import Bank and newly proposed rules on coal-fired power plants -- already threaten to derail that agreement. Adding immigration to the debate would complicate matters further and potentially trigger a domestic crisis on the eve of the Nov. 4 midterm elections.

Aside from the politics of another potential shutdown fight, it's unclear what "funding mechanisms" Senate Republicans would attach to a continuing resolution that could limit an executive action on immigration. A spokesman for Rubio declined to provide any specifics when reached for comment on Tuesday.

Of course not.  But I guarantee you the GOP will threaten to shut down the government over this.  And right before the elections?

Please proceed, GOP.

This Begich The Question

As TPM's Dylan Scott notes, Alaska Sen. Scott Begich plans to keep his Senate seat by running against President Obama harder than his Republican competition, and that seems to be okay with Democrats.

“I’ll be a thorn in his ass," Begich told the Washington Post last month. “There’s times when I’m a total thorn, you know, and he doesn’t appreciate it.”

It might sound a little bewildering to those in the lower 48, but it also might be exactly what Alaska voters want to hear.

In conversations with Begich's campaign staff and outside political observers, the message seemed clear: Alaska, perhaps more than any other state, is driven by Alaska issues and personalities, a result of its history and geography. And Begich has a long history with the state: His father was a congressman and Begich formerly served as Anchorage mayor. He is spending his recess criss-crossing the state, even if it takes three planes to haul campaign stickers and window signs from one town that might be home to only 500 voters to the next.

That is his biggest asset, his campaign says. His staff exhaustively lists every government project won (like rural broadband Internet access) and his travels across the state. They talk about his "parking-lot town halls" that pop up spontaneously. A few weeks ago in Kodiak, he was leaving King's Diner when a group of eight men struck up a conversation that turned into an extended Q&A session, according to Begich's campaign manager Susanne Fleek, who also worked on his 2008 campaign. The same thing happened in Anchorage in recent days, she said, and that's the accessibility that Alaskans expect.

Here in Kentucky, Alison Grimes is doing much the same thing.  I don't hold it against them (too much).  Like it or not, in order to keep the Senate, we're going to have to elect anti-Obama Democrats who will most certainly cause the President serious problems in the last two years of his term.  The alternative?


Keep that in mind.  You may be angry with them  Lord knows I am.  But I'll take a Democrat any day of the week over any Republican right now.

The Latest Republican Mind-Wipe

This is what you have to do to run as a Republican in 2014: you now have to say that despite the massive, overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, that global warming doesn't exist.  The latest Republican to have his mind wiped in order to present a dangerous lie: our old friend Scott Brown, running for Senate in New Hampshire this time around.

Former Sen. Scott Brown (R), now running for Senate in New Hampshire, over the weekend was pretty clear: science has not proven that climate change is real. But back in 2012, when Brown was running for re-election in Massachusetts, he said that he "absolutely" believed climate change is real and that it is a result of both man-made and natural causes.

Brown and the other candidates in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire were asked on Saturday "do you believe that the theory of man-made climate change has been scientifically proven?"

Former Sen. Bob Smith, another former senator running to replace Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), was first asked if he believed "that the theory of man-made climate change has been scientifically proven?" Smith responded "no." Then the same question was posed to Brown. Brown said "no" too. The question and answer were flagged by the opposition research organization American Bridge 21st Century.

Brown's comments strongly conflict with an answer he gave on climate change when he was running against now-Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in 2012. Brown was asked if he believed climate change is real, and if so what would should the federal government be doing about it?

"Yes, yes I do," Brown said. "I absolutely believe that climate change is real and I believe there's a combination between man-made and natural. That being said one of the biggest things we could do is get an energy policy and we don't have one."

So what happened to Scott Brown?  Simple.  You can run on climate change being real in Massachusetts as a Republican.  Not so much in New Hampshire, where apparently science no longer exists.  In the end, Scott Brown is just another conservative wingnut who will happily let corporations destroy the planet for profit.  Just like every. Other.  Single.  Republican.

But hey, Republicans.  Let the planet burn, right?  It's all in your head.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Last Call For More Meat

Rejoice, plebeian food-eaters .  Now you have one more way you can torture your digestive tract, because 'MURICA.  Behold, our latest superhero, Ten Dollar Meat Mountain!

His humble origins:

Arby’s faced a key problem as it moved to attract customers: People thought the restaurant served mainly roast beef. To change that, the company made this poster showing a tall stack of every meat on the menu, from bacon to brisket.

And then something unexpected happened. 
“People started coming in and asking, ‘Can I have that?’” said Christopher Fuller, the company’s vice president of brand and corporate communications. So Arby’s began granting their wish.

America is truly great, because meat.

The “Meat Mountain,” as it’s called, will not be listed on the menu, but store associates will make it for customers who ask. The price is $10. For that, you get a bun and, from the bottom up:
  • 2 chicken tenders
  • 1.5 oz. of roast turkey
  • 1.5 oz. of ham
  • 1 slice of Swiss cheese
  • 1.5 oz. of corned beef
  • 1.5 oz. brisket
  • 1.5 oz. of Angus steak
  • 1 slice of cheddar cheese
  • 1.5 oz. roast beef
  • 3 half-strips of bacon
Arby’s says the Meat Mountain is so tall that it won’t fit into the traditional clamshell packaging. So if you dare to scale the Mountain, it will come wrapped in paper.

Nearly a pound of meat for $10.  Go for it, America!  Hell, you've got Obamacare, right?

Timmy King's, or Burger Hoho's?

The latest US company playing the tax inversion game (which is apparently what all the cool corporate kids are trying to do by merging with a non-US company and then moving the corporate HQ overseas to avoid US taxes) is, of all companies, Burger King.  The Home of the Whopper is apparently trying to join the Home of the Timbit, Canadian coffee and donut chain Tim Horton's.

Burger King (BKW.N) is in talks to acquire Canadian coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons Inc (THI.TO) in a deal that would create a fast food powerhouse with a market capitalization of roughly $18 billion. 
Burger King and Tim Hortons, comparable in size by market value, confirmed their merger discussions late on Sunday, saying the new company would be the world's third-largest quick service restaurant. It would be based in Canada, which has lower overall corporate taxes than the United States, especially for entities that have large amounts of earnings from overseas. 
The proposed deal would be structured as a so-called tax inversion transaction to move Burger King's domicile out of the United States, and could come as soon as in the next few days, according to sources familiar with the discussions
Recent attempts by companies for tax inversion deals, which are done to avoid higher U.S. taxes and save money on foreign earnings and cash held outside the United States, have drawn the attention of President Barack Obama, who criticized a "herd mentality" by companies seeking such deals. 
Tax inversions have become popular in recent months as low interest rates are making it cheaper for companies to make acquisitions, KeyBanc analyst Christopher O'Cull wrote in a note to clients about the potential deal.

Tim Hortons, on a forward earnings basis, is trading at a discount to Burger King, noted O'Cull. This factor likely makes an acquisition of the only slightly less valued Canadian chain more viable.

So what kind of fallout will this deal entail?  President Obama has said, and rightfully so, that tax inversion plays like his hurt American workers and the tax base.  But Burger King joining Tim Horton's and moving to Canada isn't exactly an "offshore tax haven scheme" either.  On the other hand, it would be by far the most visible tax inversion move to date, ever since the one for Walgreen's was scotched last month.

On the gripping hand, Burger King would finally get some good coffee and donuts, and Timmy Hoho's would get some good burgers in the deal.  Chicken Fries with poutine, anyone?

Still, corporate tax avoidance is corporate tax avoidance.  We'll see what the Obama administration's response is.

Run Rand Run

Sen. Rand Paul freely admits in this latest pile of crap from Politico that he can pull the millennial Snowbro vote from Hillary (which says volumes about Snowbros) but he seems to think that's going to be enough for him to win in 2016 and that Dems are scared of him running.

No Rand, we're not.  Go for it.

Sen. Rand Paul says Democrats are afraid his stance on war and foreign policy would attract independents and "even some Democrats" if he were to run against Hillary Clinton for president in 2016. 
“I think the American public is coming more and more to where I am and that those people, like Hillary Clinton, who — she fought her own war, 'Hillary’s war,' you know?" Paul said in an interview that aired Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." 
"And I think that’s what scares the Democrats the most — is that in a general election, were I to run, there’s going to be a lot of independents and even some Democrats who say, ‘You know what? We are tired of war. We’re worried that Hillary Clinton will get us involved in another Middle Eastern war because she’s so gung-ho.’"

So they'll vote for the conservative Republican who hates civil rights, hates women's bodies, and thinks zygotes are people.  Plus, Rand Paul will totally resist the GOP perpetual war machine.  Sure he will. Worked for all those years that Ron Paul was President, right?


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Last Call For Domestic Terrorists?

Convicted felon Dinesh D'Souza is living high off the right wing crazy train, and folks, you can definitely tell he has a book to sell.

D'Souza shouted at his webcam: "The common thread between ISIS and what's going on in Ferguson is you have these people who basically believe that to correct perceived injustice, it's perfectly okay to inflict all types of new injustices. Behead guys who had nothing to do with it. Go and loot shops from business owners who were not part of the original problem whatsoever. And all of this is then licensed by the left and licensed, to some degree, by the media."

Amazing stuff there, huh.  Ferguson protesters are just as bad as ISIS, because of course black people behead good white cops daily or something.  Oh, and it's all Obama's fault.

"You have Obama, you have Holder, and you have Al Sharpton," — the liberal Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, when you think about it — "now, can a cop, acting under the exigencies of his job, expect justice in those three guys who are deciding the outcome? I mean, It seems really clear that they are fostering an atmosphere in Ferguson that basically goes, 'Let's declare this guy is probably guilty, and let's see what we can do to put him up against the wall.' The idea that he would get impartial justice is becoming highly questionable."

The fact that Michael Brown was shot dead by a cop doesn't even register with D'Souza.  Not even human, just something preventing Office Darren Wilson from getting "impartial justice".  Damn that ni-CLANG! for jumping in front of those bullets, right?

If you thought George Zimmerman was the ultimate right wing victimization poster boy, you've not seen anything yet.

The Worst Cops In The World

The Washington Post finally committed acts of actual journalism and looked into the job history of Officer Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Missouri cop who killed unarmed Michale Brown two weeks ago.  Turns out Wilson's former police department in Jennings, Missouri was so awful that it was disbanded by authorities.

The small city of Jennings, Mo., had a police department so troubled, and with so much tension between white officers and black residents, that the city council finally decided to disband it. Everyone in the Jennings police department was fired. New officers were brought in to create a credible department from scratch.

That was three years ago. One of the officers who worked in that department, and lost his job along with everyone else, was a young man named Darren Wilson.

Some of the Jennings officers reapplied for their jobs, but Wilson got a job in the police department in the nearby city of Ferguson.

Exactly who would hire an officer from a police department so terrible that it lost the public trust to the point where the entire department was shut down and re-created?  How does a police officer in that situation get re-hired a couple of towns over?

People who know him describe him as someone who grew up in a home marked by multiple divorces and tangles with the law. His mother died when he was in high school. A friend said a career in law enforcement offered him structure in what had been a chaotic life.

What he found in Jennings, however, was a mainly white department mired in controversy and notorious for its fraught relationship with residents, especially the African American majority. It was not an ideal place to learn how to police. Officials say Wilson kept a clean record without any disciplinary action.

So a cop from a bad department moves to a controversial department with its own set of very real problems.  That sounds like a great idea.  And Wilson got his start in the kind of abusive, dirty cop shop that Ferguson was, only bigger.

After going through the police academy, Wilson landed a job in 2009 as a rookie officer in Jennings, a small, struggling city of 14,000 where 89 percent of the residents were African American and poverty rates were high. At the time, the 45-employee police unit had one or two black members on the force, said Allan Stichnote, a white Jennings City Council member.

Racial tension was endemic in Jennings, said Rodney Epps, an African American city council member.

You’re dealing with white cops, and they don’t know how to address black people,” Epps said. “The straw that broke the camel’s back, an officer shot at a female. She was stopped for a traffic violation. She had a child in the back [of the] car and was probably worried about getting locked up. And this officer chased her down Highway 70, past city limits, and took a shot at her. Just ridiculous.”

Police faced a series of lawsuits for using unnecessary force, Stichnote said. One black resident, Cassandra Fuller, sued the department claiming a white Jennings police officer beat her in June 2009 on her own porch after she made a joke. A car had smashed into her van, which was parked in front of her home, and she called police. The responding officer asked her to move the van. “It don’t run. You can take it home with you if you want,” she answered. She said the officer became enraged, threw her off the porch, knocked her to the ground and kicked her in the stomach.


All the problems became too much for the city council to bear, and in March 2011 the council voted 6-to-1 to shut down the department and hire St. Louis County to run its police services, putting Lt. Jeff Fuesting in charge as commander.

St. Louis County PD.  With its surplus military gear used against the people of Ferguson.  This just keeps getting better.  And yes, this shows a distinct pattern of rotten cops across the St. Louis area, cops with no respect for black citizens they are supposed to be protecting.

Dirty as hell.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Department Of Rand 'Portation

Reminder:  Sen. Rand Paul is a conservative Republican who likes weed and wants America to be alone, which means he's just as awful as the rest of the GOP when it comes to immigration.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said in an interview published Thursday that he supports legislation ending the president’s program to defer deportation for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

Speaking to Breitbart News during a medical mission in Guatemala, Paul lent his backing to House Republican efforts to address the crisis of unaccompanied minors crossing the southern U.S. border.

“I’m supportive of the House bill and I think it will go a long way to fixing the problem,” Paul said. “But like everything else, nothing good has happened because Sen. Reid has decided that he’s not going to allow any votes on any bills this year because he’s protecting his members who are vulnerable in the election -- he’s protecting them from any kind of votes. So I think there’s a very good chance the House bill could pass in the Senate, but it won’t ever pass if it doesn’t ever see the light of day.”

Which means he wants to pass that awful GOP House bill to deport all undocumented immigrants.  Every single one.

When he's not running away from them, that is.

Paul certainly is aware of that, not least because he witnessed a confrontationbetween a DACA recipient and one of the program's sharpest critics. Paul may have voted against comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate, but he has been careful to show openness to alternative measures (like expanded work visas).

“At this point in time I don't think any type of immigration reform will get out of Washington that includes a path to citizenship," Paul told "Meet The Press." "But I do think that there is a path to a secure border and an expanded work visa program.”

In addition to softer policy edges, Paul has argued that the Republican Party needs to have a more inclusive message. He has barnstormed the country in an attempt to woo minority voters.

"Until you show that you care about them and that you want to do something about them, you're not going to win," he told an audience in Iowa two weeks ago. "So if we want to win, we're going to have to change."

The only thing changing is Paul's constant flip-flop gymnastics.

Bordering On Disaster In West Africa

Ivory Coast, West Africa's largest economy, is closing its land borders with neighboring Liberia and Guinea in an effort to prevent the spread of Ebola.

Ivory Coast, French-speaking West Africa's largest economy, had previously imposed a ban on flights to and from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

"Faced with new outbreak sites and the reactivation of old sites...the Ivorian government decides to close its land borders with sister republics Guinea and Liberia," said a statement read on state-owned television late on Friday.

Liberia's Nimba County, which shares a border with Ivory Coast, has seen the number of Ebola cases balloon in recent weeks. According to Moses Massaquoi, the head of Ebola case management at Liberia's health ministry, 65 cases including 25 confirmed patients have now been reported there.

"The number of cases in Nimba has spiked recently and it is now an area of concern," Massaquoi told Reuters.

Ebola has killed 1,427 people out of 2,615 known cases identified since the West Africa outbreak was first identified in Guinea in March, according to WHO figures released on Friday.

However, families hiding infected loved ones and the existence of "shadow zones" where medics cannot go mean that the true scale of the epidemic is unknown, the U.N. health agency said.

The problem with closing land borders is that it's making an already tough issue with getting humanitarian aid and medical supplies worse. Hopefully some reason will start prevailing here as it's only a matter of time before a large African city gets Ebola cases, but getting the supplies in to these places is far more important.

We'll see.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Last Call For The Notorious RBG

Justice Ginsburg, for her part, warned that tossing out a key prong of the Voting Rights Act “when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

In what may become the most controversial part of her interview with Coyle, Ginsburg also suggests that public acceptance of gay Americans is eclipsing our ability to relate to each other across racial lines. “Once [gay] people began to say who they were,” Ginsburg noted, “you found that it was your next-door neighbor or it could be your child, and we found people we admired.” By contrast, according to Ginsburg, “[t]hat understanding still doesn’t exist with race; you still have separation of neighborhoods, where the races are not mixed. It’s the familiarity with people who are gay that still doesn’t exist for race and will remain that way for a long time as long as where we live remains divided.”

Hard words, but true.  America needs to think about things like that.  I know I do.

The Fix For Hobby Lobby

New proposed Health and Human Services rules regarding Obamacare and birth control may be the insurance coverage fix that hundreds of thousands of American women were hoping for.

A "proposed rule" by the Department of Health and Human Services lets female employees of for-profit businesses, like Hobby Lobby, obtain birth control directly from their insurer, at no extra cost, if their boss opts out of covering the service in the company's insurance plan for religious reasons
The move extends an accommodation that already exists for non-profit organizations, which are allowed to refuse to cover for birth control. In short, the religious owners can pass the cost on to the insurer so that they're no longer complicit in what they view as sin. 
The Supreme Court ruled in June that owners of closely held for-profit corporations cannot be required, under Obamacare, to cover emergency contraception like Plan B, Ella and two types of IUDs if it violates their sincerely-held religious belief. The HHS move is a workaround to that ruling. 

So that's actually great news, and insurance companies will be thrilled, because contraception is a fraction of the cost of neonatal services, pregnancy complications, and childbirth.  This is outstanding, and I hope these rulesgo into effect as soon as possible so that employees of religious companies can go back to using science to do things.

This is going to help a lot of people, and I'm glad I have good news for once in the Friday news dump slot.

The Luckiest Blue Dog Democrat In Minnesota

Democratic Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota's first district is a decent swing state liberal at best, certainly no firebrand, but he does have one thing going for him in a pretty purple part of the state:  Republicans keep nominating utterly batshit crazy people to run and lose against him.  Walz would be exactly the kind of depressingly moderate, Obama-avoiding jellyfish that would be in trouble this year (with his 63.37 lifetime Progressive Punch score on crucial votes that puts him square into ConservaDem territory)  but the GOP goofball running against him has about 3 cubic acres of baggage.  MoJo's Tim Murphy:

Republican congressional candidate Jim Hagedorn could face a major obstacle in his race to unseat Minnesota Democrat Tim Walz: conservative blogger Jim Hagedorn. 
Hagedorn, the son of retired congressman Tom Hagedorn, was a surprise victor in last Tuesday's GOP primary. But he brings some serious baggage to his race against Walz, a four-term incumbent. In posts from his old blog, Mr. Conservative, unearthed by the now-defunct Minnesota Independent, Hagedorn made light of American Indians, President Obama's Kenyan ancestry, and female Supreme Court justices, among others, in ways many voters won't appreciate.

Oh good.  Yeah, I know I'd have all kinds of fun trying to run for office with this blog.  Hagedorn hasn't figured that out yet, it seems.

Hagedorn also reveled in the type of gay innuendo you may have heard in high school courtyards in decades past. (Kids these days know better.) He referred to former Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl as an "alleged switch-hitter" and a "packer." Former GOP candidate Mike Taylor, the target of a homophobic attack ad during his campaign against then-Sen. Max Baucus,came out even worse: "[T]he ad really bent Taylor over with rage and caused him to go straight to the bar and get lubricated," Hagedorn wrote. "It must have taken all Taylor's power to refrain from fisting…err…using his fists on Max Baucus, or at the very least ream him inside and out." 
In an entry on the Supreme Court's 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision, which ruled that state bans on sodomy were unconstitutional, he wrote: "Butt (sic) never have winners lost so dearly. The Court's voyage into uncharted, untreated cultural bathhouse waters was designed to offer a gentle push from behind…to generate a small skip forward for the pink triangle class…to throw them a bone, so to speak."

This is comedy in conservative GOP circles, I guess.  It's unintentionally funny to see a candidate this awful pretty much assuring Tim Walz doesn't have to try to move left, either.

Except that part doesn't make me laugh, but cry.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Last Call For The Epidemic In South Carolina

A new in-depth feature from Charleston, SC's Post and Courier examines the state's massive domestic violence epidemic, and what the state's lawmakers, clergy, state workers, women's groups, and others are, and in most cases are not, doing about it.

More than 300 women were shot, stabbed, strangled, beaten, bludgeoned or burned to death over the past decade by men in South Carolina, dying at a rate of one every 12 days while the state does little to stem the carnage from domestic abuse.

More than three times as many women have died here at the hands of current or former lovers than the number of Palmetto State soldiers killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.

It’s a staggering toll that for more than 15 years has placed South Carolina among the top 10 states nationally in the rate of women killed by men. The state topped the list on three occasions, including this past year, when it posted a murder rate for women that was more than double the national rate.

Awash in guns, saddled with ineffective laws and lacking enough shelters for the battered, South Carolina is a state where the deck is stacked against women trapped in the cycle of abuse, a Post and Courier investigation has found.

Couple this with deep-rooted beliefs about the sanctity of marriage and the place of women in the home, and the vows “till death do us part” take on a sinister tone.

The stories here are heartbreaking, and all too real.

Consider 25-year-old Erica Olsen of Anderson, who was two months pregnant when her boyfriend stabbed her 25 times in front of her young daughter in October 2006. Or Andrenna Butler, 72, whose estranged husband drove from Pennsylvania to gun her down in her Newberry home in December. Or 30-year-old Dara Watson, whose fiancé shot her in the head at their Mount Pleasant home and dumped her in a Lowcountry forest in February 2012 before killing himself.

Interviews with more than 100 victims, counselors, police, prosecutors and judges reveal an ingrained, multi-generational problem in South Carolina, where abusive behavior is passed down from parents to their children. Yet the problem essentially remains a silent epidemic, a private matter that is seldom discussed outside the home until someone is seriously hurt.

Do read the whole article.

The Root Of All Evil

Part-time Republican candidate and full-time white supremacist Wayne Allyn Root has some thoughts on Ferguson, Missouri and the shooting of Michael Brown, and the one thing he's fairly sure of is that racism in America was a solved problem until January 20, 2009.

“It’s like we’re reliving the 1960s with Barack Obama,” said Wayne Allyn Root during a radio appearance Wednesday. “He didn’t come in to help us end the specter of racism, he brought it back, folks.” 
Root, a Fox News contributor and the 2008 Libertarian Party vice-presidential nominee, told religious right broadcaster Steve Deace that police had been cowed into submission by Obama, reported Right Wing Watch.

“Is it not a racist overreaction by the police department that is scared to death of being called racist to allow people to loot and burn and do nothing but stand by while stores are being looted and burned because the people doing the looting and burning might have dark skin, and therefore if you hit one of them, if you arrest any of them – if you kill one of them in a gunfight – you’ll be charged with even more racism?” Root argued.

To recap, Root is arguing that racism is worse than murder.  In fact, he's arguing that perceived racism is so awful, it makes people kill people in ways that can be perceived as racist, like some Moebius strip steamroller of shame.

The Tea Party activist claimed Ferguson police were deeply concerned about being perceived as racist. 
“It’ll make the riots that much worse, and you’ll look that much worse in the eyes of a president who’s looking to indict police officers for racism,” Root said.

And it's all Obama's fault.  Of course it is.  Because no black man was ever shot by police before January 20, 2009.

PS, Wayne here is going to be running for Harry Reid's job in Nevada in 2016.  Good luck with that.

Plumber And Dumber

If there is anything advantageous to this whole awful Ferguson, Missouri tragedy, it's the fact that it's made the racist elements of the GOP readily visible for all the world to see.  Take Joe (actually Samuel) the Plumber (not a plumber) here in Ohio, for example.

Samuel Wurzelbacher, better known as "Joe the Plumber," took to Facebook on Wednesday to post his thoughts about the ongoing conflict in Ferguson, Mo. and compared the protestors to "cockroaches."

In two separate Facebook posts, Wurzelbacher speculated about the clashes and looting that have broken out in Ferguson in the wake of the killing of a black unarmed teen by a white police officer:

Yeah.  Because we all know those people are all lazy parasites who do as little work as possible, cost taxpayers billions, and do nothing but complain.

Oh wait.  That's Congress.  Never mind.


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