Monday Reads

Good Morning!!

I’m filling in for Dakinikat today, while she wends her way back down to New Orleans after her daughter’s great big Bollywood wedding. It’s another very slow news day today, but I’ve tried to dig up some interesting reads for you anyway.

The U.N. Security Council has condemned Syria’s government for the Houla massacre.

An emergency council meeting in New York on Sunday accused President Bashar al-Assad’s forces of unleashing havoc in the town, calling the bombardment of residential areas “an outrageous use of force” which violated international law.

“The security council condemned in the strongest possible terms the killings, confirmed by United Nations observers, of dozens of men, women and children and the wounding of hundreds more … in attacks that involved a series of government artillery and tank shellings on a residential neighbourhood,” the non-binding statement said.

Russia, which has resisted previous western-led condemnations of its Damascus ally, signed up to the declaration, signalling the extent of revulsion over images of infant corpses lined side by side after Friday’s slaughter, one of the worst incidents in the 14-month conflict.

You probably heard that John McCain, who for mysterious reasons is a permanent fixture on the Sunday talk shows even though he’s wrong about everything, has called Obama’s foreign policy and especially his caution on Syria “feckless.” The Villagers really love that word for some reason….why not just say “irresponsible” or “lazy”? Those are some of the definitions of the word.

On the other hand, outgoing Indiana Senator Richard Lugar, who is a lot more thoughtful than McCain, thinks Obama is right to be cautious on Syria. From TPM:

“I think that he has been very cautions. And I think that he’s cautions because he’s in the process of withdrawing our troops along with NATO from Afghanistan, pivoting our policy toward China and the east, more toward a situation of using robots – the ability to not to have to send in troops. It’s a difficult situation. So when you talk about Syria, and you talk about troops or intervention, the president has been very cautious. I think properly so.”

Also on the Sunday shows, Bob Shieffer asked Romney adviser Ed Gillespie why Mitt won’t appear anywhere except Fox News. Gillespie responded that Romney meet with “some schoolchildren last week.” Shieffer said, “I know schoolchildren are happy to see him.”

Good one, Bob!

On Candy Crowley’s show Rudy Giuliani was supposed to be playing surrogate for Romney and pulled a Cory Booker. Giuliani began by announcing that Romney is “the perfect choice” and then proceeded to “trash” Romney’s Massachusetts record while “explaining” his trashing of Romney back in 2008.

“Well, I mean, there’s a certain amount of personal ego in that — at that point, I was probably comparing his record to my record,” he said about his dings at Romney. “And maybe it was circumstances or whatever, but I had massive reductions in unemployment. He had a reduction in unemployment of about 8,10 percent — I think it was 15 percent. I had a reduction of unemployment of 50 percent. He had a growth of jobs of about 40,000; we had a growth of jobs of about 500,000. So I was comparing what I thought was my far superior record to his otherwise decent record. … That’s all part of campaigning.”

But, he added, Romney is much better than President Barack Obama.

I guess it’s still not quite as bad as the “endorsement” Romney got from Mitch Daniels.

Politico has a somewhat long piece for them on why Republicans are afraid that Romney “lacks the ‘vision thing'” For example:

“At the end of the day, you can’t just be all, you know, anti-Obama,” said former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, whose state is key to Romney’s chances. “It has to be, I think, two parts that and one part here’s the antidote, here’s the vision, here’s the path that I would like to lead America down.”

And GOP strategist Mark McKinnon — who advised former two-term Republican president George W. Bush — said it’s time for Romney to outline his agenda.

“It’s important to establish the problem when you are a challenger because you are asking voters to fire the incumbent. So, Romney has to file his grievances,” McKinnon said. “But at some point he has to show that he has a vision of a better way. He can’t just say ‘The future is bleak, follow me.’ Because no one will.”

That sounds a little bit like the “advice” Mitch Daniels gave to Mitt. Sadly, Mitt has no vision for a better way. He just wants to be King so he can order everyone around and fire people when he feels like it.

I’ve been so focused on politics for the past several years that I’ve somewhat lost touch with popular culture. So it came as a shock to me today when reading an article about the Cannes Film Festival that one of the movies being shown there is an adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road. I knew instantly it would be horrible. Every Kerouac adaptation has been.

I used to be fascinated by Kerouac. I was on the Lowell, MA, Kerouac Festival Board for a few years, I’ve done two major research projects on Kerouac’s life and work, one of which I presented at at academic conference. I’ve read everything Kerouac has written, including his letters. I will never see this film, because I don’t want the book ruined for me. Trust me on this, just read the book if you haven’t already, and skip the movie.

The Washington Post has a piece on the Wisconsin recall election which is coming up on June 5: Scott Walker’s fate will have November implications.

Walker made national headlines last year when he eliminated most collective-bargaining rights for public employee unions, triggering huge protests. The fight put friends, neighbors and family members on opposite sides and left the state as polarized as any in the nation. It will culminate in next month’s recall election, only the third for a sitting governor in U.S. history.

The Democrats need to get off their butts and into Wisconsin soon or Walker is going to win. That would be disastrous, and would likely put the state in play for Romney in November. Wisconsin Democrats have been begging for help from the DNC, and it has been slow in coming.

I recently heard an interesting interview on NPR about Lulu DeCarrone, a coffee shop owner who decided to pull the plug on WiFi in her shop. She suddenly realized that her customers were sitting alone at tables for hours just staring at their computers and not talking. No one was having fun anymore and Lulu wasn’t making much money either. Quoting her:

It happened around three or four years ago. One afternoon, I was standing behind the counter and I allowed laptops for a while. And there were four tables, and four people sitting with laptops there. And I remember thinking, “This is like a crypt. I don’t like the feel of it.” Well, two ladies came in a little bit later and they were having such a good time. They were old friends, they haven’t seen each other in a long time and they were laughing and just carrying on. And the people who were sitting on the laptops kept glaring at them. And I made the decision right then and there. I thought I would rather lose my business and sell pencils out of a hat in front of the British Art Museum, than have this atmosphere in my store….

I thought, “Oh my God, maybe no one will come. Maybe I’ll lose it.” And I swear to you, that I was willing to do that. But it worked in reverse. I am the absolute opposite of what Starbucks does, and I’m very happy about it.

It’s become like Mecca for people who are disgusted. I never expected this. This has blown my mind; I never thought that would happen. I get compliments every single day. So I think that’s what it’s given me: Not a big bank account, certainly not driving a fancy car — but it has given me something that’s much harder to get, joy.

I’m no Luddite, but I have to admit, I do get disgusted sometimes the way gadgets have taken over and replaced socializing in public. When I was teaching at a large university, it was rare to see a student who wasn’t either listening to music on headphones, talking on the phone, or texting. They were completely out of touch with whatever was happening in their surroundings in the present moment. And so I also enjoyed this piece at the WaPo on people who ruin things for everyone around them by talking loudly on their cell phones. Here’s a sample:

I love taking the train and typically enjoy the ride. It can be so peaceful, and you don’t have the stress that comes with flying. But if I don’t get a seat in the “quiet car” that Amtrak has designated for those us who want peace, I’m privy to some conversations that should only be conducted in private.

I understand the occasional short conversation to let someone know when to pick you up or that the train is running late, but people are holding long and involved conversations, often about inane stuff. Businessmen are barking orders or, in one case I overheard, holding a conference call. I really don’t want to know your business.

On a recent Amtrak trip, a woman sat next to me and made a call to her friend who, I learned, was afraid she had a sexually transmitted disease. Thankfully, another seat opened up and the woman moved. But I could still hear her describing the test for the disease.

And have you noticed that many people seem to have no compunction about making you wait while they take calls? Why not just call the person back later and talk to the person you’re with?

OK, that’s all I’ve got. What are your recommended links for today?


Saturday Morning Reads

Good Morning!!

Wonk the Vote is taking care of some personal business today, so I’m filling in for her. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of exciting political news at the moment, so I’ve got a bit of a potpourri of links for you.

The most bizarre story out there right now is that Jason Russell, one of the founders of “Invisible Children,” an organization that recently released a video on Joseph Kony that went viral on the internet, has been hospitalized after an apparent breakdown.

Jason Russell, 33, was allegedly found masturbating in public, vandalizing cars and possibly under the influence of something, according to the SDPD. He was detained at the intersection of Ingraham Street and Riviera Road.

An SDPD spokesperson said the man detained was acting very strange, some may say bizarre….

Police said they received several calls Thursday at 11:30 a.m. of a man in various stages of undress, running through traffic and screaming.

Police recognized that Russell needed medical treatment, and he wasn’t put under arrest. ABC News has more detail on the incident. It sounds pretty bad.

Russell was allegedly walking around an intersection wearing “speedo-like underwear.” He then removed the underwear and made sexual gestures, sources told TMZ, which posted video of a publicly naked man purported to be Russell.

Several bystanders held Russell down until police arrived, ABC’s San Diego affiliate reported.

San Diego police spokesperson Lt. Andra Brown told NBC San Diego that Russell was “screaming, yelling, acting irrationally.” He was running into the roadway and interfering with traffic, although there were “no reports of actual collisions.” Bystanders reported he was in “various stage of undress,” although by the time police arrived, he had his “underwear back on.”

Invisible children is saying that Russell was hospitalized for exhaustion and malnutrition.

To be honest, I haven’t watched the video, because my sister saw it and told me it was very emotionally manipulative. She told me that in the film, Russell talks frankly to his son about Kony’s violent crimes in a way that sounded like child abuse to me. Plus, like many groups who are active in African countries, Invisible Children seems to be run by right wing Xtians. So I avoided seeing the film don’t know much about it. I’d be interested in the opinions of anyone who has seen the film.

I did find some background in The Guardian UK:

Invisible Children has shot to fame in recent weeks after one of the videos that it produces in order to publicise the atrocities of Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army went viral. Viewed more than 76m times, the video gave a high profile to the group’s cause, but also put the tiny charity at the centre of global scrutiny.

Critics have condemned the group for a perceived lack of transparency in its financial records and for over-simplifying a complex issue. They accused the group of being fame-seeking and of having an overtly western focus on what is a regional African problem. Some also pointed out the group had taken large donations from rightwing Christian fundamentalists groups in the US, who have also funded anti gay-rights causes.

However, the group and its many defenders mounted a strong defence, detailing its financial history and saying that their sole aim was to highlight a dreadful and ongoing human rights cause that had garnered little attention for decades. They were also hailed for using social media to engage young people in social activism.

Yesterday a jury in New Jersey Dharun Ravi guilty a hate crime for spying on roommate at Rutgers, Tyler Clementi and posting videos on the internet of Clementi and an older male in sexual encounters. Three days later, Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

A former Rutgers University student was convicted on Friday on all 15 charges he had faced for using a webcam to spy on his roommate having sex with another man, a verdict poised to broaden the definition of hate crimes in an era when laws have not kept up with evolving technology.

“It’s a watershed moment, because it says youth is not immunity,” said Marcellus A. McRae, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice.

The student, Dharun Ravi, had sent out Twitter and text messages encouraging others to watch…. The case set off a debate about whether hate-crime statutes are the best way to deal with bullying. While Mr. Ravi was not charged with Mr. Clementi’s death, some legal experts argued that he was being punished for it, and that this would result only in ruining another young life. They, along with Mr. Ravi’s lawyers, had argued that the case was criminalizing simple boorish behavior.

I for one am very pleased with the verdict. Ravi’s behavior went way beyond bullying, IMO. I’m sick of seeing young people driven to suicide by behaviors that are characterized as “bullying” because they’re been carried out by young people in school. If adults acted in the same ways, their behaviors would be seen as harassment, stalking, and even outright violence.

Last night George Clooney was arrested in DC along with several legislators for protesting outside the Sudanese embassy.

A group of U.S. lawmakers and film star George Clooney were arrested at Sudan’s embassy in Washington on Friday in a protest at which activists accused Khartoum of blocking humanitarian aid from reaching a volatile border region where hundreds of thousands of people may be short of food.

Protest organizers said those arrested included U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, Al Green of Texas, Jim Moran of Virginia and John Olver of Massachusetts – all Democrats. Organizers said Ben Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and Martin Luther King III, the son of the slain U.S. civil rights hero, also were arrested.

Clooney, his father Nick and the other anti-Sudan activists ignored three police warnings to leave the embassy grounds and were led away in plastic handcuffs to a waiting van by uniformed members of the Secret Service, a Reuters journalist covering the demonstration said.

I was glad to see that some members of the Massachusetts delegation were involved.

The suspect in the Afghan mass murders has been identified.

The military on Friday identified the soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers earlier this week as Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, a 38-year-old father of two who had been injured twice in combat over the course of four deployments and had, his lawyer said, an exemplary military record.

Bales’ name was kept secret for several days because of

concerns about his and his family’s security.

An official said on Friday that Sergeant Bales was being transferred from Kuwait to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., home of the Army’s maximum security prison. His wife and children were moved from their home in Lake Tapps, Wash., east of Tacoma, onto Joint Base Lewis-McChord, his home base, earlier this week….

Little more than the outlines of Sergeant Bales’s life are publicly known. His family lived in Lake Tapps, a community about 20 miles northeast of his Army post. NBC reported that he was from Ohio, and he may have lived there until he joined the Army at 27.

Bales enlisted right after 9/11 and has had four combat deployments. It’s hard to understand how that could be permitted, especially after he suffered a traumatic brain injury. The story notes that the day before the shootings, Bales had seen a fellow soldier lose his leg.

CNN reports that Bales family said he did not want to go to Afghanistan after he had already served three combat deployments, lost part of his foot, and suffered the TBI.

“He was told that he was not going to be redeployed,” [Bales’ attorney John Henry] Browne said. “The family was counting on him not being redeployed. I think it would be fair to say he and the family were not happy that he was going back.”

Browne painted a picture of a decorated, career soldier who joined the military after the 2001 terrorist attacks and had spent his Army life at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington. Browne called him a devoted husband and father to his two young children who never made any derogatory remarks about Muslims or Afghans.

I’ve got a few political links for you. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is making news again. Naturally it relates to the war on women. He says the Republican presidential candidates “mishandled the recent debate over women’s health and contraception.”

In an interview with Reuters, he voiced misgivings about how the Republican presidential candidates have framed issues, especially the recent debate over women’s health and contraception.

The Obama administration’s recent decision to require religious institutions such as Catholic-run hospitals to offer insurance plans that cover birth control for women, which his administration later modified under pressure from critics, was “a radical expansion of federal power,” Daniels said….

“Where I wish my teammates had done better and where they mishandled it is … I thought they should have played it as a huge intrusion on freedom,” Daniels said.

Instead, he said they got dragged into a debate about women’s right to contraception, an issue which was settled 40 years ago.

Daniels said they should have framed the argument as one about government intrusion on personal liberty. He said the Obama rule was like saying that because Houston yoga is healthy, the government should require it.

Excuse me? What about the “intrusion” on women’s “freedom?” And what a stupid analogy. The government isn’t requiring anyone to use birth control. Why won’t Mitch just ride away on his Harley Sportster and leave us alone?

Of course not a day goes by without Mitt Romney saying something idiotic. Yesterday, right after his plane landed in Puerto Rico, Romney attacked Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor.

The justice, nominated by President Barack Obama in 2009, is beloved by local Democrats and Republicans as the high court’s first member of Puerto Rican descent.

“In looking at Justice Sotomayor, my view was her philosophy is quite different than my own and that’s the reason why I would not support her as a justice for the Supreme Court,” Romney told reporters Friday afternoon, just minutes after his plane touched down in San Juan. “I would be happy to have a justice of Puerto Rican descent or a Puerto Rican individual on the Supreme Court, but they would have to share my philosophy, that comes first.”

The issue puts Romney at odds with a majority of local voters and his most prominent Puerto Rican supporter, Gov. Luis Fortuno, standing at Romney’s side as the former governor or Massachusetts made his remarks. It also underscores the challenges facing Republican candidates as they bring popular conservative rhetoric to an area packed with Hispanic voters ahead of Sunday’s GOP president primary.

And, as if that wasn’t enough of an insult, Romney then followed the poor example of his opponent Rick Santorum and lectured the locals about making English their official language.

Romney and his rival Rick Santorum have supported the conservative push to formalize English as the official language across the country. On Puerto Rico, an American territory that will vote on its political status, including statehood, on Nov. 6, most residents speak Spanish as their primary language.

Santorum made headlines earlier in the week after saying that Puerto Rico would have to adopt English as its main language to attain statehood, a dominant political issue here.

Can you believe the nerve of these guys? I’ll end on a humorous note–another story mocking Mitt Romney. You know how I love to mock my former governor. It seems that in 2006, Romney

declared September “Responsible Dog Ownership Month” in the state.

Eleven dogs and 35 humans gathered at the State House for an event celebrating the governor’s proclamation on Sept. 21 of that year, according to a contemporaneous newsletter from the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners.

“We have a pervasive problem because of people who don’t act as responsible dog owners,” Jennifer Callahan, then a Democratic member of the state legislature, said at the time, citing the hundreds of thousands of dogs that wind up in shelters every year.

ROFLOL! The Seamus on top of the car story didn’t appear in The Boston Globe until 2007.

That’s it for me. What are you reading and blogging about today?


Sunday Reads: Occupy Superbowl, Alveda King throws women under bus, and the big homeless

Vintage ad for a Sunday Drive...

It is Sunday Morning…

All day yesterday, I kept thinking it was a Friday. It is strange how days have a certain “feel” about them… If you missed any of yesterday’s posts, Wonk the Vote, PeggySue, Dakinikat and BostonBoomer had some excellent ones, take a look.

I have a lot of links for you this morning, so we’ll just dive in.

First off, the Occupy movement got hit hard yesterday evening. More than 100 Occupy activists arrested in Oakland after clashing with police

Occupy activists tossed pipes, bottles, burning flares and other objects Saturday at Oakland police, who responded by using tear gas and smoke grenades and arresting more than 100 demonstrators, city and police officials said.

Oakland has been a flash point of the Occupy movement since October when police used tear gas to break up demonstrators who refused to leave downtown. One demonstrator, a Marine veteran of the war in Iraq, suffered a skull fracture after being hit with a police projectile, according to a veteran’s group. Police said they acted after the crowd threw paint and other objects at officers.

On Saturday, police made mass arrests following an afternoon clash with protesters near the Kaiser Convention Center and then later outside a downtown YMCA, according to a police statement.

Let’s look at another link covering the same event: Dozens arrested at Occupy Oakland; protesters break into City Hall

Dozens of people were arrested in downtown Oakland skirmishes on Saturday, as an estimated 2,000 Occupy protesters tried to take over the grounds a vacant convention center, then broke into City Hall.

Police used tear gas and “flash” grenades in the afternoon against protesters who tried to tear down fences around the vacant Henry Kaiser Convention Center, where they hoped to establish a new camp. Police said some demonstrators started throwing objects at officers. There were at least 19 arrests in the afternoon.

After 6 p.m. (9 p.m. ET), police in riot gear declared a group of protesters gathered near the YMCA under mass arrest for failing to disperse, according to local media reports and livestreams. Police said about 100 demonstrators were arrested.

Several protesters at  the YMCA appeared to be put hard to the ground as police moved in and at least one protester had blood on his face.

Hmmmm…Here are some of the tweets during the arrests:

Matthew K
Report: Oakland police turn away KPIX, KGO television news vans attempting to reach City Hall where protesters are inside.
Andrew Katz
My screenshot from ‘s feed shows just how many protestors are still awaiting arrest.
RT
protesters took over City Hall, set US flags on fire

Watchdog Progressive

Arrests at like nearly all the others prior to, have largely under the cover of night when the brutality is the worst.

Jen Angel

RT : Tag press suppression & journalist arrests with (please RT and send tips)

Andy Carvin

Woman being gurneyed into an ambulance is yelling “Officer 119!” in reference to the officer who allegedly hit beat her.

Cathastrophe

So…when do we get concerned that every Press Pass at an Occupy Protest becomes ‘suspect’ at the officers discretion.. which is always.
What Cathastrophe and JCStearns are talking about is the appearance of organized arrests with police targeting journalists.  As this series of tweets from a reporter at  810AM in San Francisco below illustrates:

KristinHanesKristin Hanes

Whenever journalists are arrested/detained for reporting the news, everyone’s freedom is at risk. That is what frightens me the most. #oo
Kristin Hanes
When we walked past mobile processing center, officer said, “I’ve never put a reporter in there and didn’t want to.”

Kristin Hanes

I was arrested. Then let go. My officer flagged his boss down and said, “do we really want to do this?”

Kristin Hanes

When I was taken to be ziptied sergeant looked at press pass, “Thats not an Oakland pass, you’re getting arrested.”

I think there will be more news on the arrests later today, as of 12:25 am:

OWS Livestream

And updating with this tweet @2:34am est

daudigDave Gilson

#freegavin RT @markfollman: NBC news reporting “at least 300” arrested tonight in Oakland. MoJo’s @garonsen is among them.
49 seconds ago Favorite Retweet Reply

Sticking with the Occupy subject a little more: Protesters march through Super Bowl Village

A mix of union members and Occupy protesters from across Indiana marched through Super Bowl Village on Saturday in opposition to the state’s proposed right-to-work legislation.

About 75 marchers weaved through packed crowds at the pre-game street fair in downtown Indianapolis in the first of what could be several such protests before the big game Feb. 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium. The protesters chanted “Occupy the Super Bowl” and carried signs that read “Fight the Lie” and “Workers United Will Prevail.”

Saturday was the second straight day of right-to-work protests in the Super Bowl Village. About 40 people picketed the opening of a zip line in the Village. The 800-foot zip line allows participants to clip onto a wire about 100 feet off the ground and glide almost two blocks.

Most onlookers stared in silence as the protesters walked past them, but some like Jason Leibowitz of Jamestown were upset about their outing being interrupted. “There’s a place and a time for this,” Leibowitz said. “This isn’t it.”

Of course, the one guy these protesters are focused on is Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Most emphasized that while the right-to-work legislation appears likely to pass following Wednesday’s House vote approving the bill, that doesn’t mean an end to protests.

“If the governor signs, I want to shame him out of this state,” said Heath Hensley of Occupy Anderson. “He doesn’t want us screwing up this Super Bowl.”

State Senator Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, called the bill evidence that Republican legislators are not in touch with the needs of working-class voters. “If you voted Republican in the past, stop,” Breaux said.

Talking about protests and labor unions, last night the movie Made in Dagenham was on Showtime. If you haven’t seen it, you should.

I have a few other US items to share with you, after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »


You don’t have to be crazy to vote in a Republican Primary, but it sure helps

I continue to watch the ever-growing Republican pander to the rapture believers and the voodoo economics crowd.  Pandering is disgusting no matter which side of the aisle does it.  However, the Republicans have a special form of it because it involves reality denial not empty promises.  It’s obvious that Republican primary voters have views clearly based in an alternate reality.  Republican candidates develop two alter egos to deal with the disconnect.  So my question is can any Republican Presidential Wannabe make it through the primary without sounding so many Republican Dogwhistles that they are sure to turn off independent voters? This is especially germane given those dog whistles are anathema to Democratic and Independent voters alike.  Let me demonstrate.

Several political analysts have noticed the widening gap between Republican politicians, their primary base, and polls on issues from the public at large.   First, there’s Mitch Daniels who said earlier that the Republican Party had to call a truce on social issues only to turn around as governor in Indiana and do a wildly unpopular thing.  He just signed a law in Indiana to defund Planned Parenthood (h/t to Beata).  He may have the party elite in his pointy little head, but he’s probably lost women. Rick Ungar at Forbes called this a “cynical move [that] will likely prove useful in the coming primaries”.

However, there is a world of difference between the nomination process and the general election that follows – something Governor Daniels will discover should he become the Republican standard bearer.

In a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll, we learn that –

Among women overall, 56% found it mostly or totally unacceptable to “eliminate funding to Planned Parenthood for family planning and preventive health services.”

Among women 18–49, 60% found it mostly or totally unacceptable to “eliminate funding to Planned Parenthood for family planning and preventive health services.”

That means that are at least 56% of women out there who are going to understand that Governor Daniels is directly responsible for denying critical care to women who have nowhere else to go to get it.

Add to this the fact that approximately 25% of all American women have, at some time or another, utilized the services of Planned Parenthood and one quickly understands that Daniel’s support for this legislation is not going to play well with female voters.

Then there’s Romney who is trying hard to prove his credentials to that same rapture set.  I was not surprised to read the numbers on how powerful the evangelical set has become in Republican politics.  They asked for them, after all, with the Nixon Southern Strategy and moves to capture “Reagan Democrats”.  The problem is that none of the pro-business Republicans want anything to do with the great unwashed that those strategies brought to the party.  They wanted their votes but that was basically it.  They had hoped that pandering to evangelicals with empty promises would work for them. It does work for Democratic politicians.  It was obvious there was going to be ongoing problems when most evangelicals sat out an election rather than vote for John McCain whom they consider apostate.  Mormon and former typical NE Rockefeller Republican Romney gives them the creeps. Ron Brownstein writing for National Journal says Romney has an evangelical problem.

The reason is that with Huckabee off the field, the former Baptist minister’s core constituency—the evangelical Christians who represent nearly half of the GOP’s primary electorate—are now back in play for all competitors. If Romney can’t defang the resistance he encountered from those voters in 2008, he faces the threat that they will eventually consolidate behind another contender, such as former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, with potentially wider support than Huckabee demonstrated last time. “The risk for Romney is that some other candidate with broader appeal may attract them, someone who could stitch together a majority coalition in a way that Huckabee was not going to do,” says veteran GOP pollster Whit Ayres, who is working for potential presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman.

Even many Republicans underestimate the centrality of evangelical voters in the GOP’s nominating process. In 2008, self-identified evangelical Christians constituted 44 percent of all Republican presidential primary voters, according to a cumulative analysis of state exit polls by former ABC polling director Gary Langer. Candidates who rely almost entirely on evangelicals—such as Huckabee, Gary Bauer in 2000, and televangelist Pat Robertson in 1988—have never come close to winning the GOP nomination. But evangelicals are plentiful enough that any candidate whom they deem completely unacceptable faces a formidable obstacle—and not only in the Deep South, where they are most heavily concentrated.

Evangelical Christians represented a majority of 2008 GOP primary voters in 11 of the 29 states in which exit polls were conducted. In Iowa and South Carolina, two states that along with more-secular New Hampshire have proved decisive in Republican nomination contests since 1980, evangelicals provided exactly 60 percent of the vote. In 10 other states, including many outside the Deep South, evangelicals represented between one-third and 46 percent of the vote.

Assuming this problem doesn’t go away with the May 21st rapture, Romney and others will still have to woo the Krewe of Iron Age Myth. Here’s the portion of the article detailing their precise issues which basically have to do with defining life at fertilization, defining all GLBTs as damnable, and ensuring no “foreign” people ever reach US soil. Also, they hate preppies. This explains why Dubya’s fake NASCAR persona went over well.

Romney has encountered two levels of resistance from evangelicals: doubts that he is truly committed to conservative positions on social issues such as abortion, and theological tension over his Mormon religion. That latter problem was especially pronounced in the South, where Southern Baptists and Pentecostals, two groups particularly leery of Mormonism, make up at least two-thirds of Republican evangelicals, notes John C. Green, a political scientist at the University of Akron who is an expert on religion and politics. Class issues compound Romney’s challenge. Polls suggest that his smooth, boardroom manner plays better among college-educated than noncollege Republicans, and in many places evangelicals tilt toward the latter.

PBS’s Glen Ifill has noticed the return to dogwhistle politics.  This quote pertains to Newt Gingrich who rightly labelled most of these extreme Republican policies as “right-wing social engineering”. Republicans spent the next week making Newt come to jayzus. Newt’s rhetoric let the dogs out and definitely showed that today’s Republicans sold the big tent a long time ago.

It’s unclear who the former House Speaker thought he was speaking to, but the dog whistle was heard by conservatives who immediately chastised him for undercutting a fellow Republican. “You’re an embarrassment,” one Iowa Republican scolded him in a widely-circulated YouTube video.

Gingrich said this was not what he meant, but in dog-whistle politics, what is heard often matters more than what is said. Days later, he apologized to Ryan.

During the same television appearance, Gingrich also said he did not mean to send a coded message on race when he told a Georgia Republican Party dinner days earlier that President Obama is “the most successful food stamp president in American history.”

Outrage ensued. Many African Americans saw racial code directed at the nation’s first black president. Gingrich called that suggestion “bizarre.”

Leave aside for a moment that in order for this to be code, the listener would have to automatically assume that most if not all food stamp recipients are black. This, as it happens, is not true, and Gingrich insisted he was making an argument about the state of the economy, not the skin color of food assistance recipients.

There may be some merit to his explanation, but it got lost in the din of the whistle, which sparked debate mostly among liberals and African Americans — who seemed least likely to be the remark’s intended targets.

Newt has been thoroughly chastised for not carrying the current party branch water bucket.   Another place where the Republican party seems clearly out of step with the majority of Americans is allowing gay marriage rights.  Independents opinions have pushed support solidly over the 50 % mark.

For the first time in Gallup’s tracking of the issue, a majority of Americans (53%) believe same-sex marriage should be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages. The increase since last year came exclusively among political independents and Democrats. Republicans’ views did not change.

No Republican primary candidate will pass the evangelical litmus test with a position running contrary to their narrow interpretation of an obscure reference in Deuteronomy.  There are only two presidential contenders that support gay marriage.  That would be Fred Karger and Gary Johnson.  What!?!?  Never heard of them?  You probably never will either.  They will be eviscerated by the jayzus lovers.   At best, you’ll hear that neo-confederate argument of State’s Rights from Ron Paul that represents a variation of the theme of legal slavery. State’s Rights is basically code for ‘southern states get to ignore the civil rights of others unless the Supreme Court–now stacked with theocrats–disallows it’.  It’s a grand compromise ala slavery.

It’s possible that most Americans won’t notice the fall out from the Huckabee bow out.  Huckabee clearly had the evangelical market cornered.  Now these folks are scattering.  That means there’s a grab for them and the rhetoric will become appalling. Evangelicals may go for the fembots, if either of them enters the race. Both potential Republican women candidates have that classic know-nothing bravada that allows them to say outrageous untruths convincingly. However, no serious Republican money will ever reach Quiterella or Michelle the Mouth. Ask me if I care a fig about Quiterella having fire in her belly?

Then there’s the absolutely no new taxes fanatics.  Look at the public’s poll numbers on raising taxes on the very wealthy and leaving medicare and medicaid alone which is the dogwhistle Newt Gingrich refused to blow before he was forced to blow it.  Republicans and the Club for Growth (sic) keeping running against the public on this issue too which is why Nancy Pelosi is up there in Wisconsin reminding voters of the Ryan plan as I write.

The McClatchy-Marist poll, conducted as Democrats and Republicans were touting their own long-term budget visions, also found the country largely pessimistic about America’s direction.

On taxes, the poll reported that roughly two out of three registered voters — 64 percent — would be in favor of increasing taxes on annual income over $250,000. President Obama reiterated in his deficit-reduction speech last week that he favored allowing taxes to rise on families in that income level.

Independents favored that plan of action at roughly the same percentage as the country at large, with more than eight in 10 Democrats also behind the idea. A majority of Republicans, 54 percent, opposed it.

The poll was conducted both before and after Obama’s Wednesday speech, with support for higher taxes on wealthier Americans picking up afterward.

Meanwhile, fully four in five registered voters oppose cutting Medicare and Medicaid. The House GOP’s fiscal 2012 budget, largely crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), makes fundamental long-term changes to both health entitlement programs, converting Medicaid into a block grant and turning Medicare into a type of voucher system.

Democrats (92 percent), Republicans (73 percent) and independents (75 percent) all opposed cuts to the two programs, the McClatchy-Marist poll found.

How long can Republicans push plans that go against poll numbers like that?  Rachel Maddow points out that a solidly Republican New York Congressional District may put a Democrat in the House on the issue.  Maddow also pointed out that Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is running quickly away from saying that he’d vote for the Ryan plan if it hit the senate floor which it will do sometime this week or next.  It is also rumored that Mitch McConnell will not whip his members when the vote occurs.  Some of these old dudes remember the third rail.

Karl Rove’s American Crossroads PAC is about to spend $650,000 on the Medicare referendum that is the special election for New York’s 26th Congressional District, Roll Call reports. The idea is to save what should have been a safe seat anyway for Republican Jane Corwin, who came out in favor of the Paul Ryan Medicare plan and has been having a barrel of fun ever since.

Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner paid a visit. Today, Mr. Rove brings the money. Producer Mike Yarvitz finds two bits from the local Buffalo News — headline: “GOP leaders rally to Corwin, but where are the Democrats?” — for a sense of scale. Quick read: It’s a lot of money.

So, whose likely to really win this Republican Presidential Primary Extremist Extravaganza?  Two Guesses.

No wonder the President is on the road with speeches made to burn political capital.  None of the above appears the best choice for any one that doesn’t want the right’s agenda.


VooDoo Politics

Is this little man the great white hope of the Republican Elite?

According to Politico, the GOP “elite” are looking to Mitch Daniels in 2012 to save the Republican party from itself.  Excuse me while I laugh.  Have you seen Mitch Daniels or actually heard him speak?  He may be the most sane person on deck at the moment, but when you’ve spent decades dredging the voting pool for the dim-witted that will believe your made-up tales on things like extreme tax cuts and “clean” coal, you’ve got to figure that eventually one of them or maybe a half dozen of them will decide to run for national office.  Remember, this is the man that’s helping the religious right defund Planned Parenthood in Indiana too. I remember when Planned Parenthood was the darling charity of the Republican elite like Babs Bush.  This isn’t Nixon’s Republican party any more.  It’s more like George Wallace’s.

Despairing Republican lobbyists say their colleagues don’t ask, “Who do you like?” but instead, “Who do we back?”

“It’s not that they’re up in arms,” said a central player in the GOP money machine. “It’s just that they’re depressed.”

And a huge swath of operatives, donors and strategists remain uncommitted, in the hope that the field is not yet set.

So instead of solidifying against the overwhelming force being amassed by Obama’s reelection campaign, the GOP is indulging in an embarrassingly public — and probably futile — search for a more compelling standard-bearer.

They’ve started a war against women so it only figures that two of the standard bearers are two women that don’t  know anything about anything but cutsey hyperbole based on wishful thinking.  Also, don’t forget what the southern strategy has bought them either.  They’ve now developed code words for immigration and civil rights so they don’t sound so much like the Ku Klux Klan.   You would think Mitt Romney would have a chance but he’s got two problems.  Evangelical Christians think Mormons are a cult and he put the Lincoln Chaffee/Heritage Foundation’s Republican Health Plan into law in Massachusetts.  He just can’t seem to get away from the fact that it looks very much like “Obamacare” because they’re basically one and the same. Oh, and look who at the other names coming up with Mitch Daniels.

Two of the nation’s best-known Republicans, in background interviews, predicted this week that Daniels would run, although wishful thinking seems to be at least part of the animating force behind the latest wave of pro-Daniels buzz.

One veteran of several Republican presidential campaigns said party strategists consider Obama beatable and are asking themselves, “How can we beat this guy?”

“People are worried we don’t have the right elements on the field,” the campaign veteran said.

So Republicans are conjuring up far-fetched — even fanciful — scenarios, including the possibility that Jeb Bush will change his mind in late fall if the field still looks weak.

George Will, the conservative columnist, and Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, have openly fantasized about an entry by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Ryan’s advisers say he is focused instead on his role as a central player in the grand fiscal debate unfolding in Washington.

While these elite Republicans have been amassing their personal fortunes in places like Washington DC and New York City, Grass Roots,  Republican activists–like the insane Tea Party Organizers or the ever fanatical RTLers–have been swamping party structures with whackos for years.  Any one that’s attended a county or state Republican convention will tell you that most of them are stacked with members from evangelical churches that were told who to vote for by their whack-a-d00 preachers.  So, where do Republican elites get the idea that they can use these folks for votes without eventually tarnishing their free-wheeling business agenda with messy candidates?  Did they really think they could just sit there and manipulate their dumb right wing activists with promises of another pablum President like Ronald Reagan?  These folks are dying to bring down Roe v. Wade and shove the GLBT civil rights movement back into the national closet.  They want true believers where it counts.

Gallup Polls shows there is no clear front runner since Huckabee expressed his preference for a life with cash in his wallet.

With Mike Huckabee out of the race for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, three well-known politicians, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich, emerge as leaders in Republicans’ preferences. Republicans, however, have less intensely positive feelings about these three than they did about Huckabee. Two less well-known potential candidates, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain, generate high levels of enthusiasm among Republicans who recognize them.

Each of these Republicans appear to have groupies, but not one of them has enough widespread appeal to break out of the pack.  Newt Gingrich is as bombastic as ever.  Herman Cain has basically come out of no where so he has no background in what it takes to fund raise, appeal to the shrieking masses, and figure out what he has to say to attract the core voting blocks.

I’d almost like to watch this circus except there is so much at stake right now that it would be nice to have a functional two party system.  We have anything but that now.

Steve Benen of the Political Animal explains the nuts and bolts electioneering impact of a donor base made nervous by the current crop of presidential wannabes.

The Republicans’ malaise isn’t just fodder for pundits; it carries real-world consequences. Major donors, activists, and staffers, for example, are waiting on the sidelines, hoping that more compelling candidates will come along. Allen added, “[I]nstead of solidifying against the overwhelming force being amassed by Obama’s reelection campaign, the GOP is indulging in an embarrassingly public — and probably futile — search for a more compelling standard-bearer.”

Party officials are pleading with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who has foresworn the possibility. Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) is the subject of a new round of scuttlebutt, but as of yesterday, he’s not running. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) is apparently eyeing 2016. Sarah Palin hasn’t ruled out the race, but by all appearances, the party establishment would much prefer she stay out of it. (Allen said D.C. Republicans are “terrified” that she or a similar insurgent candidate, such as Bachmann, will make matters worse.)

And that leaves Daniels — the former Bush official largely responsible for creating a fiscally irresponsible snowball — to play the role of the rescuing hero. Some of this seems to be the result of affection for Daniels, and some is the result of panic-stricken Republicans surveying the current GOP field.

This puts the President clearly in the cat bird seat even with his polls returning to normal after the OBL kill bounce.  It appears it was only a brief vacation from every one’s concern with the lousy economy. Color me unsurprised.

So, yes, the President got a bump and, yes, it was short lived. We suspect that in the end, the impact will be approximately a 3-5 percent bump in approval and corresponding drop in disapproval that puts him somewhere around 50-51 percent approval rating and 43-45 percent disapproval. In addition, perceptions of the President’s handling of foreign policy and Afghanistan have gone up considerably. All in all, a good few weeks for the President.

Unfortunately for the White House, the dominant issue in the country remains the state of the economy, and the news on that front is not nearly as good. Here is our take on the economic situation and the overall political climate leading up to the 2012 elections:

The country remains in a prolonged period of national pessimism that seems at this point to be intractable. The political impact of this cannot be overstated. Six-in-ten Americans think the country is off on the wrong track. According to the Real Clear Politics average of public polls, only 34 percent of voters think the country is going in the right direction.

Meanwhile, both of the political parties refuse to address the real elephant in the room with real solutions.  The job market continues to be awful, the housing market is still slumping, and the costs of health care, college, gas and food are high.  So, what’s the discussion?   It’s all about dismantling medicare and arguing over the nuances of the federal debt ceiling.  Way to go elected officials!

This has me all depressed.  It’s never been more obvious that our two party system continues to bring to leadership people that are completely out of touch with the realities of the dwindling working and middle class. The dead cat bounce in Tea Party popularity as well as the electorate’s response to the  populist Obama campaign message struck the chord.  However, both turned out to be astroturf messages and as usual, there’s no place to go.

What’s a voter to do?