Monday, August 27, 2012

Things To Expect From The Republicans In Tampa 2012

Just not today, with Tropical Storm Isaac having canceled most of Monday's public activities (the private fund-raisers, I'm certain, are still on.  Money = Time = Money).

  • Expect half of the public speakers to refer to Obama as a "failed" presidency.  With no mention at how an obstructionist GOP Congress went out of their way to make it look as though Obama failed.  And no mention of how Obama's actually kept a majority of his 2008 campaign promises.
  • Expect at least one public speaker to rail against gun control.  With no evidence proving that there's been any persecution of gun owners by Obama's administration.
  • Expect at least three public speakers to claim that Obama is an embarrassment on the international stage.  Ignoring the Nobel Peace Prize (granted, it was only due to Obama not being George W. Bush, who WAS an embarrassment on the international stage), the effective work coordinating with NATO re: helping Libyans free themselves, the overall improved goodwill with nations under Obama's tenure compared to his predecessor, and the fact that Romney's attempt to wow our international allies ended up with egg on his face.
  • Expect at least one public speaker to hint (not directly claim, but just blow the dog-whistle) that Obama sides with the terrorists.  With absolutely no mention at all at how Obama's agenda against Al Qaeda has reportedly broken that organization into almost nothing.  And definitely no mention of Bin Laden getting hunted down and killed on Obama's orders.
  • Expect every speaker to invoke the name and spirit of Sainted Ronald Reagan.  Because Reagan is basically the ONLY Republican President since Coolidge - this is counting Eisenhower (too moderate), Nixon (too crooked), Ford (too moderate), Bush the Elder (tax traitor), and above all the last GOP President Bush the Lesser (too much of a disaster) - that the current Republican Party can dare invoke to reflect their ideals.  And even then, Reagan wasn't as hardcore as the party is now...
  • Expect every speaker to claim that tax cuts and massive deregulation will do wonders for "job creators".  Even though the entire Bush the Lesser administration proved both points wrong: tax cuts lead to DEFICITS and massive deregulation leads to ECONOMIC COLLAPSE.
  • Expect one speaker - someone is bound to go off-script - to make reference to Obama's birth certificate.  Dog-whistle goes loud...
  • Expect one speaker to claim yet again that Obama is killing the work requirement for welfare.  Lies!
  • Expect one speaker to bring up "death panels" and how Obamacare will kill us all.  Le Sigh...
  • Expect one speaker to be a boring stiff mannequin during his acceptance speech.  Hi, Mitt...

Just don't expect any fun.  Unless a VIP gets caught at one of the Dale Mabry strip clubs wearing nothing but a dog collar and covered in maple syrup.  Which, given that this IS Florida, the crazy is possible...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

For Republicans It Wasn't Any Sin

Over the weekend we had a Republican candidate for Missouri Senator, Todd Akin, make some damn idiotic statements about "legitimate rape" and general failure remembering any high school biology he apparently slept through:

"First of all, from what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy from rape) is really rare," Akin told KTVI-TV in a clip posted to YouTube by the Democratic super PAC American Bridge. "If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Let's get the problem he has with biology out of the way first.

Human women do NOT have a hormone or secretion that stops an unwanted pregnancy from happening.  Not from a forced rape.  Not under any circumstances.  If women DID have that ability, then abortion itself as a medical practice would never have been developed.  The birth control pill would cease to be.

Akin is basically repeating a sick old meme among anti-abortion Republican politicians dating back to 1988.  If not earlier.  These guys - and it's mostly idiot guys saying it - simply do not know human biology.  Worse, they prefer to live with their ignorance because it fits their worldview.

The other, more unsettling thing that Akin stated was that "legitimate rape" phrase.  Like as though there is a distinction between any kind of rape.  There may be stranger rape, date rape, statutory rape, but they all boil down to the same thing: RAPE.  And rape is a hideously vicious crime.  But Akin and his ilk want to make that distinction between what they consider "legitimate rape" (what they tried calling "forcible rape") and what they would consider "she was asking for it" sex.  Basically, their attempt at blaming the rape victims if those victims have the misfortune of "dressing inappropriately" or "being in a bad environment" or "getting pregnant when they should have used their hormones to protect their virginal selves."

But those two tidbits pale in comparison to the biggest problem of all.


From an article in Slate:

The statement was actually intended to soften Akin’s absolute opposition to abortion, even in the case of rape or incest. Why bother to have loopholes for such conditions when they’re going to be so rare, goes his thinking? As Talking Points Memo notes, the Congressman has long suspected that rape and abortion laws are less likely to protect women from abuse than to allow them to be abusive:
Akin’s past includes praising a militia group linked to anti-abortion extremism in the 1990s and voting against creating a sex-offender registry in 2005. Back in 1991, as a state legislator, Akin voted for an anti-marital-rape law, but only after questioning whether it might be misused “in a real messy divorce as a tool and a legal weapon to beat up on the husband,” according to a May 1 article that year in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via LexisNexis).

From an article in Balloon Juice:

The Republican party officially takes the same position he has:
The Republican Party is once again set to enshrine into its official platform support for “a human life amendment” to the Constitution that would outlaw abortion without making explicit exemptions for rape or incest, according to draft language of the platform obtained exclusively by CNN late Monday. “Faithful to the ‘self-evident’ truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed,” the draft platform declares. “We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”
Akin’s real sin is letting people really understand how truly insane the Republican party is.

Just try to remember this: Akin is currently in the House, and alongside current wingnut heartthrob Paul Ryan they co-sponsored a 2011 bill called "The No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act".  This was a major bill the Republican House wanted on the floor in a big hurry.  This is the same bill that attempted to redefine rape as "forcible rape", which would have narrowed down to exclude rape victims who simply didn't have a knife to their throats.  It wasn't that Ryan and Akin and the rest of the House GOP wanted to tighten the definition: they wanted to cut back the number of women who could get medical help and get abortions.

That's what's really important to these ignorant clueless guys.  The fetus.  They don't care about women who are raped, who suffer from incest, who may have a medical emergency of any kind that would force the painful choice.  They just don't want those fetuses aborted.  And you can't call these guys "pro-life" like they want to because if they really were pro-life, these guys would be the first to vote for more financial aid for poor families to raise all these extra newborns, they'd be funding more pre-school and public school programs to get those newborns educated.  But the GOP wants to cut back on all that kind of social community spending just so they can give billionaires more tax cuts.  They only care about the fetus: once you're out, they don't give a sh-t.  Unless you promise to vote for them, probably.

Like John Cole said, the biggest sin Akin committed was highlighting just how truly insane the Republicans are right now: how scientifically ignorant they are, how blase they are about the complexity of living in the real world, how vicious they aim to be in making people who don't travel within their circles suffer just so the elite can enjoy themselves.

For the LOVE OF GOD.  Do NOT vote Republican.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lest We Forget: WOODSTOCK

Not about to let another year go by without a Woodstock reference!

The song ends just as the sun rises on the Sunday morning of the festival. After this, The Who would stage it during concerts to have a sunrise effect as they finish this song.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Three Problems With Paul Ryan As GOP Veep

Lo and behold, post about veep selections and ye shall receive.

Mitt Romney goes and selects Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) to be his Vice Presidential ticket balance.

Why this is a problem for the Republicans in three easy observations:

1) Ryan is coming from a state that is currently polling well for Obama, with no guarantee that Ryan's selection will turn the tide.  Not to mention that Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes isn't much of a prize compared to larger electoral states like Florida, Ohio, or Pennsylvania which are considered toss-up states (although currently polling well for Obama again) and from which Romney could have tabbed more voter-friendly partners.
2) Ryan is coming from a U.S. Congress (112th on record) that is generally recognized as one of the worst Congresses in American history.  It is certainly the least popular Congress ever.  Everything people hate about Congress will reflect on the people who lead it.  And Ryan is one of the key leaders of the Republican party leadership in charge of the 112th Congress: He is chair of the House Budget Committee, responsible for pushing annual budget plans that hew closely to the party ideology (tax cuts for the wealthy, cuts to social programs and education, and vague unprovable justifications that it will all create budget-balancing revenues which ten years of Bush the Lesser Economics have proven impossible).  He's been touted since 2004 as the Idea Wonk Guy for the House GOP.  You can't separate him from the Republicans' economic platform.  To put him on the main ticket this election cycle - rather than keep him in a safe Congressional seat run (which he can still do under election laws) - puts him and his economic ideas front and center for the whole party.  Which leads to...
3) Ryan's budget proposals - especially his proposals to turn Medicare into a voucher program, privatize Social Security, and cut Medicaid into little pieces - are massively unpopular, and nearly everybody who pays attention knows it.  Obama's campaign is already on the attack, and the evidence is pretty solid that a lot of populations that rely on all three major social safety net programs - the elderly, the poor, the middle class families struggling to care for their own - are going to turn against such ideas and the party backing them in a big damn hurry.  There's a reason why Romney's campaign was quick to claim that Ryan's budget plan will NOT be Romney's budget plan...  But Ryan's budget plan - and the slavish worship the wingnut base had towards both the person and the plan - was what made him Romney's pick for the Veep spot!  You can't have it both ways, people.

I'd throw in the fourth reason why Ryan is a problem pick - he's a fanboy of Ayn Rand - but that's more of a personal peeve I have towards Objectivist utopian hacks.  But you never know, a majority of Americans can come to feel the same way about Objectivism being a destructive political-economic ideology...

I'd like to think this will make it easier for voters nationwide to reject the Republicans and their tax-cut, kill-government ways.  But then there's the problem of voter suppression efforts in key swing states, and the fact that in our Citizens United world of unlimited campaign money the wealthy wingnut crowd can possibly buy this election cycle outright...  I'm still worried that Romney/Ryan could win.  And then it will be the Bush the Lesser years all over again.

For the Love of God, people.  Don't Vote Republican.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

At What Point Can We Have an Honest Debate About Guns?

There has been another mass shooting, this time at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.  Seven dead reported for now.

Can we finally, please for the Love of God, discuss the possibility that the Second Amendment - written in an era when there was no standing army, when it took days to travel from one end of a state to another, when the frontier was open and the need for immediate local responses were higher, when state-formed militias made sense - is an outdated amendment that needs revision and recognize that the need for civilian-owned firearms isn't there anymore?

We've got closed borders now.  We've got 24/7 police and law enforcement service.  If we're gonna get invaded by Aruba our military response will be in minutes, not weeks.  The need for "well-regulated militias" isn't there anymore.  The fantasy of needing civilian soldiers against some nefarious government plot of epic doom is just that: a FUCKING fantasy.  The right of an individual to own a firearm needs to be balanced with everyone else's right TO NOT GET SHOT AT.

The NRA and gun nuts out there are gonna scream and kick and throw tantrums and whatnot to make sure we don't even have a goddamn discussion about this.  And even though we're not in a warzone, we're gonna have a body count in the United States about as bad as some war-torn Third World nation.  All because a small, very vocal minority of citizens worship some hunks of metals more than they care about peoples' lives.

We have sensible restrictions on a lot of things that can hurt people.  We restrict car ownership and driver's licenses with regard to public safety.  But the automobile came after the Constitution and Bill of Rights were written, so the car doesn't have an amendment allowing its free open use for any drunken incompetent who could plow into a school bus full of kids.  Yes, that still happens anyway with car accidents, but at least we have laws and a method of enforcement to reduce such a deadly risk.  We can't for guns.

And innocent people get shot because we DARE NOT consider even the slight possibility that we don't need a Second Amendment to protect the frontier anymore.


Friday, August 03, 2012

Probably Should Get The Veep Distraction Out of the Way

There's a couple of things I want to write about Romney's floundering Presidential campaign, the one of least value ought to go first and be done with it.  Romney's quest for a Vice Presidential co-campaigner.

My earlier viewpoint about the unnecessary Veep selection process - the need of a Vice President really isn't there anymore - still stands: we have a succession process in place if anything should happen, and the Vice President in theory/practice - save for the anomaly that was the Dick Cheney regime - is pretty much a useless cog in the Executive Branch's system.  The only value of a Vice President - tie-breaker vote in the Senate - could be altered with a simple Constitutional amendment re-working the makeup of the Senate (different blog post to go in greater detail later).

But for now we're stuck with it, and so the media speculation about whom Romney should pick for "balancing the ticket" is getting into a fever pitch with the Tampa convention mere weeks away.

So who's on the short list for Romney's ticket?  And how much trouble is each possible choice?

For starters, there are a few people - Jeb Bush and Condi Rice are the most mentioned - who have very direct ties to the George W. Bush administration: Jeb as Dubya's brother, and Condi as one of Dubya's biggest personal allies.  Here's the problem: George W. Bush is still a very unpopular ex-President, and a solid majority of voters still blame Bush the Lesser for the weak economy.  If Romney picks anyone from Bush the Lesser's administration or anyone from the Bush clan, he is directly linking himself to that previous ruined regime.  Not a good idea, ergo don't expect it to happen.

Marco Rubio, Senator from Florida, gets name-dropped on a regular basis for a lot of reasons: the hope he can flip Florida from "Leans Obama" to "Leans Romney"; as a prominent Hispanic Republican, he could keep enough conservative Hispanic voters from fleeing an otherwise hostile party towards "illegals" (which keeps coming across as anti-Hispanic ranting); he's popular with the Far Right base, which doesn't like Romney (still); and he's young for a party whose leadership is visibly aging and needs someone like him to be a standard bearer by 2016.  But even Rubio has problems: he's not as popular in Florida as the GOP would hope - polling on the possibility shows no change in voter trends, so he's not going to swing this state to Mitt - and Rubio's lack of national political experience makes it harder for the Republicans to argue about Obama being "inexperienced" and "not properly vetted yet".

There's been arguments made that Romney wants to do the exact opposite of what McCain did back in 2008 when Sarah Palin was selected as Veep.  Which means two things: not taking a woman, but taking a staid white guy who is not a major boat-rocker.  Which pretty much covers a lot of Republican elected officials at the moment but pretty much narrowed down to the likes of Tim Pawlenty, Senator Rob Portman, Senator Jon Kyl, Senator John Thune, Gov. Bob McConnell, and (insert bland Congressperson from key swing state here).  Big problems with any of these choices: they won't boost the ticket with any enthusiasm, and they represent either small electoral states or states already heavily favoring Republicans (save for Portman from the key state of Ohio, which is why he's got a better chance than most).

Alternatively, there's the argument that Romney HAS to take a woman candidate to blunt the trend of women voting for Obama and the Democrats (as well as change the image of the Republicans as a bunch of stuffy old white men eager to make contraception/birth control illegal, pushing female income inequality, destroying cheaper access to health care, and other well-documented sexist actions).  That brings to the list the likes of Michele Bachmann (crazy evangelical currently spewing anti-Arab sentiment) or Jan Brewer (crazy anti-immigrant from Arizona that's giving whacked-out wingnut places like Florida and Texas a run for Teh Craziest State In America title).

Which brings up the other list of potentials: the wingnut celebrities of the GOP.  While Romney has the Republican nomination locked up, his unfavorables even within the GOP itself are too high.  That has to do with the fact that most of the Teabagger Far Right wingnuts still do not trust Romney (being a habitual flip-flopping liar is a big reason why).  The odds that Romney will have to add to his ticket someone pleasing to the Far Right - which goes against common sense as Romney NEEDS moderate/independent voters in November - are pretty high.  Which is why Bachmann, Brewer, budget-killer Paul Ryan, Rick "Do Not Google" Santorum, Herman "Mike Tyson Did a Damn Good Impersonation" Cain, Nikki "Does the GOP Really Want to Run a Candidate From an Openly Pro-Confederate State" Haley, and Chris "Anger Management" Christie are on the list.  Hell, even Donald "Bankruptcy Court" Trump and Newt "Divorce" Gingrich are possibilities at this point.

To be honest, this might be a good time for the Republican Party to start arguing the need to trade out the Vice President spot for changing the Senate make-up to have the tie-breaker vote handled by a separately elected National Senator.  Ah, SPOILERS for that constitutional amendment idea (TBD), retroactively...

Seriously, I expect Portman to be the sensible common-sense pick.  However, VP selections RARELY go the way people predict (did anyone have Dan Quayle on their radars back in 1988?  Geraldine Ferraro in 1984?  Or Spiro Agnew in 1968?) so don't be surprised if a completely-out-of-the-blue name gets selected (if it's a wingnut celebrity, start laughing and vote Democrat).