My dream, for this Independence Day 2014, is a dream of sweet freedom from the Republican Party in its current psychopathic incarnation. And, for once, it looks like maybe dreams do come true!
Anyone who doubts that the 21st Century GOP is lumbering inexorably toward the tarpits of history should go, posthaste, to DraftMitt.org and savor the sweet reek of FAIL.
In an era of frantic Republican rejiggering, nothing quite says political desperation like the notion of trotting out Willard M Romney’s empty suit for yet another rackety run at the Oval Office. To me, this move says more about the dearth of talent in the Republican party and its donors’ apparent reluctance to throw good money after bad, than it does about any flimsy case that could be made regarding Mr Romney’s presidential qualifications.
One month after it’s debut, DraftMitt.org has racked up just under 29K supporters—short of a groundswell, as they say in politics. So far, no one is actually taking credit for this swell idea. The website prominently displays a disclaimer that Romney has not bankrolled it—actually it’s such a nondescript little canned site that my paperboy could have funded it. There are no RNC or other traces of GOP branding, just Mitt and Ronnie Reagan playing bookends.
Also, too, there’s the banner link using the 2012 campaign coinage retread “Mittmentum.” Ask Karl Rove about “mittmentum.” At any rate, that link takes us to the now notorious Washington Times poll that proves, at least in the echo chamber, that: “Hands down, Obama is the worst president since WWII” and that most Americans now regret not having voted for Romney in 2012.
Really? who recycles embarrassing reminders of a failed attempt? Even #DraftMitt is a recycled Twitter tag that takes one to a 2013 page tagged with “Because MA needs Mitt Romney in the Senate” with 3 tweets and 10 followers.
I could be wrong but I’m starting to get a sense of Tagg Romney, Campaign Manager, behind the scenes, here.
So you will be free to once again lurve your children. Speaking at CPAC he opined:
He then told an anecdote he said was relayed to him by Eloise Anderson, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) Department of Children and Families secretary.
“She once met a young boy from a very poor family, and every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program,” Ryan said.
“He told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch, one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids,” he continued. “He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him. This is what the left does not understand.”
Yes we libs think having kids get a free hot lunch at school (not to mention breakfast) is the height of parental neglect and lack of caring. And not, you know, maybe lack of food and neat brown bags in the house.
Why does Paul Ryan hate the Poors he’s trying to save so much?
I think it is unfortunate that there is increased violence in Iraq and a bloody shame that al-Qaeda seems to have control of Fallujah. Based on the aftermath of first, the invasion of Iraq, then the war there, then our withdrawal, it is likely that reasonable people could predict that there would be increased violence, and that Fallujah was a likely place for a bunch of it. And, sure as fire is hot and water is wet, Senators McCain and Graham are all over it, and if you’ve been reading the libretto thus far, I bet you know what song they are singing:
McCain and Graham had been vocal critics of President Obama’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011, and they called the reports of al Qaeda gaining control in Fallujah and elsewhere “as tragic as they are predictable.”
“While many Iraqis are responsible for this strategic disaster, the administration cannot escape its share of the blame,” the Republicans said in a statement. “When President Obama withdrew all U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011, over the objections of our military leaders and commanders on the ground, many of us predicted that the vacuum would be filled by America’s enemies and would emerge as a threat to U.S. national security interests.”
“Sadly, that reality is now clearer than ever,” McCain and Graham said. “What’s sadder still, the thousands of brave Americans who fought, shed their blood, and lost their friends to bring peace to Fallujah and Iraq are now left to wonder whether these sacrifices were in vain.”
It’s very sad that the country was destabilized by a decade of war, and it is President Bush who signed the status of forces agreement that led to the withdrawal, and ending the presence of US troops in Iraq was overwhelmingly in accordance with what the US public wanted. That decision has consequences—and so would staying. If Sens. McCain and Graham are under the impression that brave Americans specifically fought, shed blood, and lost friends to bring peace to Fallujah, they might want to ponder a rationale for the AUMF that started with weapons of mass destruction that no longer existed, and contemplate also why Fallujah does not happen to have peace today. The presence of US soldiers battling ISIS today would not constitute peace, and if the size of the conflict was smaller because of our continued presence, it would be somewhat like a lid on a pot that’s boiling over. Asking us to take into consideration whether the living or the dead Americans who fought in Iraq wonder whether their sacrifices are in vain—is itself a vanity.
The use of the deadly attack on the embassy in Benghazi, Libya, that resulted in the deaths of four Americans as a political tool has frankly astonished me since the foreign policy naif Mitt Romney had the bad taste to broach it the very evening that it happened. For that reason, I see a kind of lukewarm vindication of the Obama Administration’s public statements regarding the matter in the NYT’s in-depth study on it, which draws two meaningful conclusions: that al-Qaeda was not involved in the attack and that it did stem in part from the widespread protests over a rather dumb bigoted little video, just as was stated by current NSA Susan Rice.
It has long seemed to me that the Benghazi affair as initiated by the Romney folks was a matter of using President Obama’s perceived strength (as having authorized the successful raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden) against him. The failure on the Romney side began with the claim that a statement attempting to ameliorate matters from the Cairo embassy was a sign that the Obama Administration actually sided with radical Islam, but this blew up into a claim that the administration was actually somehow derelict in defending the Libyan embassy from attack from several others on the Republican side, including Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, and House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa. The use of the Benghazi tragedy as an indictment of the Obama Administration spans a number of criticisms that conservatives have had with the Commander-in-Chief—that he is Muslim or more sympathetic to radical Islam, that he isn’t a real leader, or that he wants America to fail.
It’s pretty much always been bullshit. Senators McCain and Graham did the best job of giving the game away when they failed to attend a briefing on the matter, opting instead to hang their faces in front of a camera pointing fingers. Rep. Issa, supposedly a kind of watchdog, has fluffed the matter at intervals, but is mostly of the school of investigation that insists that if he doesn’t hear what he thinks he ought, there is surely a cover-up afoot.
On Sunday, “Meet the Press” host David Gregory asked Issa to respond to The Times story, which was published online Saturday. The story also said the Benghazi attacks were “fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.”
“We have seen no evidence that the video was widely seen in Benghazi,” Issa said Sunday. “People from this administration … have said under oath there was no evidence of any reaction to a video.
“What we know, David, is the initial reports did not name this video as the prime cause,” he added.
Is that so? (No, it is not. And being a very concerned person, he might perhaps have looked at more than a few media accounts, no?) He’s also said that if a group alleges it has some connection with al-Qaeda, then that is good enough for him, which must be very validating to jihadi-come-lately groups who can at least claim to know somebody who knows somebody.
I’m afraid until Fox News gives the high sign, the idea that there was something more than usually rotten in Benghazi will be as certain a thing as the unbearable whiteness of Santa Claus in some quarters.
What I do want to point out, though, is that there is a sobering side to this in that the militants who made this attack came from the people the US supported in the overthrow of Qaddafi. I think there is an analogy that could be preemptively applied to involvement in Syria, for example. If anyone has the ear of, say, Sen McCain, they might want to try to explain it to him. I sort of hope President Obama has figured it out, but I’ve no real idea. Something about good intentions.
Well, it’s almost a year now since Willard Romney limped offstage and exactly nine months, almost to the day, that the Republican National Committee floated its 100-page manifesto for The Great Rebranding of 2013: The Growth and Opportunity Project (GOP—get it? how clever is that?).
The GOP was chock full of searing insights and smart advice for a titanic course adjustment and anyone unfamiliar with the actual Republican Party might have thought “by Jingo, I think they’ve got it!”
The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself. We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.
Instead of driving around in circles on an ideological cul-de-sac, we need . . . a route into our Party that a non-traditional Republican will want to travel. Our standard should not be universal purity; it should be a more welcoming conservatism.
The Republican Party must focus its efforts to earn new supporters and voters in the following demographic communities: Hispanic, Asian and Pacific Islanders, African Americans, Indian Americans, Native Americans, women, and youth. This priority needs to be a continual effort that affects every facet of our Party’s activities, including our messaging, strategy, outreach, and budget.
When Michele Bachmann’s 2012 presidential campaign started to take a massive dump, I was kind of sympathetic but concerned. To my jaded eye, Michele Bachmann’s campaign always looked like a form of trolling rather than a serious effort, and deep in my guts, I always thought Ron Paul, as a kind of rear-guard Goldwater winger, was also doing his part to run a presidential campaign to score points and #profit. Which is why the problems with the Bachmann campaign starting with Sorenson struck me as weird. I was interested with the allegations that Kent Sorenson was “bought” by the Bachmann campaign. But the evidence and the Bachmann campaign’s own allegations suggested the obvious reason he didn’t “stay bought”. Iowa did not know they had a pimp.
He got a better offer. My immediate response was that the Paul campaign looked more viable, at the time—but the current story is that maybe there were reasons.
This whole affair is making me somewhat re-evaluate my estimation of both the Bachmann and Paul campaigns’ seriousness. Were these really a “straight shoot” and not “work” to make shit interesting for “Inevitable Mitt”? Did either of these candidates really think it was worth it to score points so much that they were violating campaign law in Iowa—up in the corn, feeling their oats? This makes me pre-emptively re-evaluate my estimation of Rand Paul’s obvious 2016 trolling. He could be for reals.
I don’t know if that scares me enough. I guess I won’t know until 2016. If anyone ever wonders where I go when I am not posting, I am recalibrating my cynicism, because sometimes I believe it must be broken.
So a couple of weeks ago Reince Priebus rolls out, in their words, “the most comprehensive post-election review” evah! of of a political loss, namely the thumping they got last November, and announces that a kinder, gentler Republican Party must emerge to win voters back.
Priebus noted that the party’s policies are fundamentally sound but require a softer tone and broader outreach, include a stronger push for African-American, Latino, Asian, women and gay voters.
“To be clear, our principles our (sic) sound, our principles are not old rusty thoughts in some book,” Priebus said, but the “report notes the way we communicate our principles isn’t resonating widely enough.”
Unsurprisingly the toner was barely set on the report pages when the hard-line god-bothering contingent of the party made it clear that they thought the Rethuglicans were communicating a message of unbudging resistance to change on social issues just fine thankyew.
The last two Republican winners of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses say that the GOP will shoot itself in the foot if it softens its stance on social issues such as same-sex marriage — countering calls from others within the GOP ranks who say that is one way for the party to broaden its national appeal.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who won the Iowa caucuses in the 2012 presidential race, told Politico that the Republican party will cease to exist if it softens its stance on social issues such as same-sex marriage.
“Look, the Republican Party isn’t going to change,” Mr. Santorum said. “If we do change, we’ll be the Whig Party.”
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, meanwhile, said that the GOP should learn a lesson from the 2008 and 2012 elections, where they lost after nominating Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
“The last two presidential elections, we had more moderate candidates, so if anything a lot of conservatives went to the polls reluctantly or just didn’t go at all,” Mr. Huckabeetold Politico. “If all of the Evangelicals had showed up, it may have made a difference.”
Ah yes. As we all know Conservatism cannot fail; it can only be failed.
So, Claire McCaskill announced her support for marriage equality this weekend. Brave move from a Senator in a red state? Craven bandwagon-jumping?
McCaskill can be exasperatingly Blue Doggy, but I think she deserves credit for openly supporting marriage equality, even if she’s hardly the first Dem out of the gate. Consider that she would have almost surely lost in 2012 to dead-eyed loon Todd Akin if he hadn’t been stricken with that peculiar strain of Rape Commentary Tourette’s that plagued last year’s crop of GOP candidates.
Even if the announcement is less than a profile in courage, it’s still a victory. Good for McCaskill.
Really this is one of those stories where you don’t know whether to laugh or cry ROTFLMAO.
According to Joshua Green at Bloomberg BusinessWeek, heading into the Michigan primary, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, who at that point still had some sort of chance in the race, hatched a plot to combine forces and run Romney off the road:
As Mitt Romney struggled in the weeks leading up to the Michigan primary, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum nearly agreed to form a joint “Unity Ticket” to consolidate conservative support and topple Romney. “We were close,” former Representative Bob Walker, a Gingrich ally, says. “Everybody thought there was an opportunity.” “It would have sent shock waves through the establishment and the Romney campaign,” says John Brabender, Santorum’s chief strategist.
“Oh noes” we are supposed to say in retrospect! Such a stupendous charismatic pair as Serial Adulterer Newt and Colossal Dick* Santorum could totally have upset OBamz apple cart and WHERE WOULD WE ALL BE TODAY!!
Well, we know it didn’t happen and Romney pulled out a squeaker win in Michigan. The coalition collapsed and, as much as anything, from the stupendous weight of their own egos.
But the negotiations collapsed in acrimony because Gingrich and Santorum could not agree on who would get to be president. “In the end,” Gingrich says, “it was just too hard to negotiate.”
And the rest of us were denied the spectacle of a truly great clown show of a campaign, surpassing even that of Grandpa Grumps and Klondike Barbie. If only.
*Thanks to Charlie Pierce for the oh-so-apt moniker.
If, as Mitch McConnell claimed at CPAC today, the Democrats’ 2016 “presidential ticket looks like a rerun of the Golden Girls,” given that the all-star lineup at CPAC 2013 includes in its cast Jeb Bush, Eric Cantor, Steven Crowder, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Newt Gingrich, Bobby Jindal, Michele Bachmann, Steve King, Ron Johnson, Wayne LaPierre, Dana Loesch, Reince Preibus, Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Wayne Allyn Root, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump, Scott Walker, Ben Shapiro, Allen West, the ghost of Andrew Breitbart, and Mitch himself, what rerun shows would best encapsulate:
(a) CPAC 2013?
(b) the Republicans’ prospective 2016 presidential ticket?
The source of the sensation of the 2012 election campaign, the Romney 47% video, is set to reveal himself to the world this evening, according to HuffPo. To blow further sand up Mitt’s underoos, it appears his offhand attitude to the waitstaff bit him in the ass:
The man, who tended bar for a company that catered to a high-end clientele, had previously worked at a fundraiser at a home where [Bill] Clinton spoke. After Clinton addressed guests, the man recalled, the former president came back to the kitchen and thanked the staff, the waiters, the bartenders, the busboys, and everyone else involved in putting the event together. He shook hands, took photos, signed autographs, and praised the meal—all characteristic of the former president.
When the bartender learned he would be working at Romney’s fundraiser, his first thought was to bring his camera, in case he had a chance to get a photo with the presidential candidate.
Romney, of course, did not speak to any of the staff, bussers or waiters. He was late to the event, and rushed out. He told his dinner guests that the event was off the record, but never bothered to repeat the admonition to the people working there.
The bartender said he never planned to distribute the video. But after Romney spoke, the man said he felt he had no choice.
“I felt it was a civic duty. I couldn’t sleep after I watched it,” he said. “I felt like I had a duty to expose it.”
HuffPo—which, like Mother Jones, whose David Corn played the crucial role in standing the story up after snippets of unattributed tape had appeared on YouTube (not to forget the contribution of James Carter, of course), has shown admirable restraint in protecting its source—ran some more background on him earlier today:
Once the full tape aired, he said he knew he’d have to quit his bartending job. “I knew I was forfeiting the right to work there,” he explained. He said he had bartended events for half the guests at the Romney speech. They all knew him and probably suspected what he had done, he said. He felt like he couldn’t just go back to work. “I was worried I was going to end up dead.”
“I was the only person in that specific spot,” he said of where he positioned his camera that night. “There was no real doubt. I could say that they know. My employers knew and the people I worked with knew that I did it.”
No one fingered him.
Releasing the video was worth risk to his wallet, he said. “It’s a bigger issue than a part-time catering job,” he explained. “I felt like it was my duty. I felt the guy was dangerous, to be honest. ... The one thing I didn’t hear in his voice—I didn’t hear an ounce of empathy whatsoever. ... That kind of scared me a little bit.”
I hope this guy is truly prepared for the backlash he’s likely to face from the vengeful RW thuggerati. Better polish those countertops. He’s no doubt had plenty of practice.
More: The big reveal happens on MSNBC’s The Ed Show at 8pm ET tonight (followed by a slot on HuffPo Live tomorrow morning):
Paul Ryan, the very, very serious thinker of the Republican Party, the numbers guy who puts together oh-so-serious budgets designed to throw the Olds and the Poors off their Medicare and Medicaids becauz that’s what serious people do, went on Fox News Sunday to discuss his newest veryserious budget which will be officially unveiled next Tuesday. Unfortunately he discussed it with Chris Wallace, one of the people at Fox who actually has thinkingskillz. Here is the exchange:
On Sunday morning, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) stopped by Fox News Sunday to preview his new budget, which will be released in full on Tuesday. As it had the past two years, this year’s version will call for massive cuts to social service programs, including food stamps, job training, Medicaid, and Medicare. Host Chris Wallace challenged Ryan on the viability of his plan, pointing out that he wants to repeal and replace Obamacare, and, “that’s not going to happen.”
Still, Ryan insisted that he and then-running mate Mitt Romney won the election on this issue because they “won the senior vote”:
WALLACE: Are you saying that as part of your budget you would repeal — you assume the repeal of Obamacare?
WALLACE: Well that’s not going to happen.
RYAN: Well, we believe it should. [...]
Yes, and since we believe it should happen magical Repeal Fairies will make Obamacare go away between now and when this Budget *goes into effect*.
Hmmm. I’m just imagining this scenario in a corporate conference room with the controller presenting the budget to the CEO.
CEO: “Ryan, this budget assumes that revenues will triple when we introduce our new product line of flying pigs. Are you assuming we can create flying pigs?”
CEO: “Well that’s not going to happen!”
RYAN: “Well we believe it should happen.”
How long between the end of that conversation and the issuance of the pink slip to young Ryan?
Ryan also says, after reiterating that wishing Obamacare away can make it so, that the purpose of budgets is to make hard choices. Um, no Paul. Budgets sometimes require you to make hard choices but that is not their purpose. The purpose of a budget is to make the most realistic assessment possible, based on known facts, of what your revenues and expenses for the coming fiscal period will look like. Pretending that things will happen that are not going to happen and using the budget to further right wing ideology and destroy programs that you don’t support is *not* the purpose of a budget.
You can definitely see why this oh-so-serious thinker had to scramble his way into gummint welfare for a living - he wouldn’t last 10 minutes in the real world.
A short clip of this Stones song was featured in “Argo.” The lyrics are obviously the result of a prolonged heroin binge, but the song rocks nonetheless:
In a comment on an Oscars thread yesterday, Robin G praised “Moonrise Kingdom.” I’d been meaning to see it and finally did last night. Awesome movie—highly recommended—and thanks for reminding me of it, Robin G: It was exactly the thing I needed to see.
Why People Hate the Government
My teenage daughter will soon go on a class trip that involves a domestic flight. Among the many neuroses her father and I share is an aversion to flying, but we try not to allow our eccentricities to completely dominate our child’s life, which is some of the hardest work in parenting. However, our ignorance of the demands of modern air travel nearly put the kibosh on a trip for which we’d already paid $1,400 (non-refundable!).
We foolishly assumed minors accompanied by fellow students, teachers and chaperones on a school-sponsored class trip would be allowed to board a winged bus to a destination within the United States with only common forms of identification like a student ID card and birth certificate. Not so; now, even a child must have an official state ID card from the DMV to board a plane. (Because of 9/11? If so, that’s reason enough to take a scuba trip to the North Arabian Sea, find Osama bin Laden’s skull and fashion it into a poop-scoop.)
Anyhoo, we learned that to obtain an official state ID card, a kid must have a Social Security card or a specific printout from the Social Security Administration verifying her application for a Social Security card. The form containing the same information that is issued to new parents to enable them to deduct children from their taxes doesn’t count, or so I was told by the DMV.
To obtain the magical correct form, one must have many additional forms of ID, which may or may not be acceptable to the person at SSA who ultimately reviews it. County school district vaccination records are considered a kind of gold standard, though. I learned this after finally reaching a human being following multiple excursions into the SSA’s hellish, circular automated call menu, which is designed to automatically dump callers if too many other luckless supplicants are in queue, a situation that is apparently the case 90% of the time.
Thus it came to pass that the kid and I took a day off of school and work last week and visited the Three Circles of Bureaucratic Hell in a nearby city. First we sat in the overflow holding area at the county health department to secure the vaccination records, occupying a zone teeming with screaming toddlers, anxious children and nervous families applying for citizenship or refugee status.
Then we languished in the waiting room at the local branch of the Social Security Administration with many crabby elderly folks, some of whom seemed to be practicing outraged speeches to unleash on the indifferent heads of bureaucrats seated behind numbered, Plexiglass-barred window openings in a vast, echoing hall that would make a great set for a MiniTruth scene from “1984.”
After emerging from that ordeal limp and exhausted by ennui, we made our way to the DMV for another crushing round of paper-shuffling and waiting. All told, it took around seven hours (not counting transportation), which was actually less than I thought it would. But it occurred to me that perhaps the experience of being gnashed in the gears of bureaucratic machinery is a more potent driver of people’s reflexive hatred of government than I’d realized.
I’m a confirmed fan of Big Government. I don’t enjoy paying taxes any more than I look forward to dental work, but I understand the necessity of both. The only thing that pisses me off about my tax rate is that Mitt Romney pays a lower percentage, and I’d gladly exchange a larger chunk of my income for a Scandinavian-style social safety net.
But I flatter myself and the Balloon Juice / Rumproast communities by believing that we’ve thought this through more than Honey Boo Boo’s core audience has. To them, the silly hoop-jumping requirements, appalling run-arounds and astoundingly inefficient service on display at the customer-facing outlets of local, state and federal agencies are The Government. Which makes it easier to understand why assholes like Rand Paul get elected.
Maybe better customer service would help consign Reaganism to the political dung heap it so richly deserves? It’s a thought.
Please feel free to discuss movies, music, parenting, soulless bureaucracy or anything else. In other words, open thread.