Monthly Archives: August 2012

RT @LOLGOP: Here’s why Clint is a huge problem for the GOP: They meant to create a parody of Obama. Instead they created a parody of a R …

More Voter Suppression Tactics Fail In Court

This just in…. In an opinion by Judge Peter Economus, a federal court today agreed with the Obama campaign that the Ohio anti-voter law must be suspended:

“A citizen has a constitutionally protected right to participate in elections on an equal basis with other citizens in the jurisdiction.” In Ohio, that right to participate equally has been abridged by Ohio Revised Code ‘ 3509.03 and the Ohio Secretary of State’s further interpretation of that statute with regard to in-person early voting. In 2005, Ohio expanded participation in absentee balloting and in-person early voting to include all registered Ohio voters. Now, “in-person early voting” has been redefined by the Ohio legislature to limit Plaintiffs’ access to the polls. This Court must determine whether preliminary injunctive relief should be granted to Plaintiffs on their claim that Ohio’s restriction of in-person early voting deprives them of their fundamental right to vote. Following Supreme Court precedent, this Court concludes that Plaintiffs have stated a constitutional claim that is likely to succeed on the merits. As a result—and as explained below—this Court grants Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction.

Amusingly, the court’s opinion relies on the Supreme Court’s infamous decision in Bush v. Gore to reach this holding, citing Bush‘s statement that “[h]aving once granted the right to vote on equal terms, the State may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person’s vote over that of another.” Judge Economus’ decision will be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, a Republican-leaning court with a history of legally-challenged partisan decisions benefiting the Republican Party

I Think A Nerve Was Struck

Breitbart's John Nolte pitches falling-on-floor-kicking-screaming temper tantrum about Liberal Media mockery of Clint:

All I can say in response is: Go to hell you Obama-shilling crybabies. Eastwood showed more grit and honestly in those few minutes than you water carriers have during your entire propaganda-for-the-collective careers.

What Eastwood did tonight was funnier, fresher, edgier,  and braver than anything those comedy cowards Chris Rock, Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert have done in 15 years.

Srsly?  Talking to an empty chair?

 

The Romney Speech — What You Didn’t Hear

0 mentions of Financial Reform

0 mentions of Climate Change

0 mentions of Immigration

0 mentions of Romneycare

0 mentions of Afghanistan or Syria

0 mentions of Social Security

0 mentions of Veterans

… and he only mentioned Medicare once, and the housing issue once.

The Eastwood Speech: Old Man Yells At Chair, Crowd Goes Wild

So the "mystery speaker" last night at the convention wasn't a hologram of Reagan after all.  It was Clint Eastwood.  And by all acccounts, he gave a speech so bizarre that it is almost upstaging Romney this morning.

Eastwood's speech was ad libbed.  He just made it up, in a very distrubing prattling way.  The centerpiece of his speech was an imaginary conversation with Obama, played on the stage by an empty chair.

The best tweet response of the night noted this: “This is a perfect representation of the campaign: an old white man arguing with an imaginary Barack Obama.”

As Rachel Maddow explained on the air once it was over, "That was the weirdest thing I've ever seen at a political convention in my entire life, and it will be the weirdest thing I've ever seen if I live to be 100."

Apparently, the Romney campaign thought it would be a good idea to send an 82-year-old man onto the stage without prepared remarks. Eastwood was an odd choice anyway — he's pro-choice and supports gay rights — but I can appreciate the fact that the man enjoys an iconic status. 

The most popular story on USA Today’s website is: “Clint Eastwood makes sudden impact at RNC.” From the story: “In an unusual speech for what is typically a highly scripted affair, Eastwood talked to an empty chair, which he addressed as if President Obama was sitting there. At one point Eastwood suggested the imaginary president had told him to say derogatory things. ‘What do you want me to tell Romney? I can't tell him to do that. I can't tell him to do that to himself,’ he said.”

“Clint Eastwood was supposed to make Mitt Romney’s day. Instead, he made a mess of the Republican night,” the New York Daily News writes. “The Republican National Convention’s “surprise” act turned into a surreal shtick as the “Dirty Harry” actor delivered a swerving diatribe punctuated by a running conversation with an empty chair, a symbol of GOP dissatisfaction with President Obama.”

The New York Times: “Clint Eastwood’s rambling, head-scratching endorsement of Mitt Romney on Thursday set off immediate questions and finger-pointing among Romney supporters: Who booked Mr. Eastwood? Did anyone have an idea of what he was going to say? Did anyone read his remarks before they were broadcast? The actor, in one of the more unusual moments in Republican convention history, offered a speech in which he pretended to have an off-color conversation with an imaginary President Obama sitting by his side in an empty chair.”

Wonkette tried to explain it:

There is no way to explain whatever it was Eastwood did last night. It may have been a speech in the planning phases, but what came out appeared to be more of a prolonged, pseudo-political brain-fart, the weird consequence of propping up a spaghetti western star to observe him having a stroke.

Presented here are his exact words, trimmed because WOW there are a lot of them that didn’t make sense.

So I — so I’ve got Mr. Obama sitting here.

[We see he is gesturing toward an empty chair. Mayhaps Obama was busy?]

And he’s — I was going to ask him a couple of questions, but — you know about — I remember three and a half years ago, when Mr. Obama won the election, and though I was not a big supporter, I was watching that night when he was having that thing and they were talking about hope and change and they were talking about, yes we can, and it was dark outdoors, and it was nice, and people were lighting candles.

Fun fact: One of Eastwood’s speechwriters was the corpse of James Joyce.

They were saying, I just thought, this was great. Everybody is trying, Oprah was crying. I was even crying.

Obama: Bringing Oprah and Dirty Harry together, to weep. Vote Romney.

And then finally — and I haven’t cried that hard since I found out that there is 23 million unemployed people in this country.

[All the employed people in the room clap.]

Now that is something to cry for, because that is a disgrace, a national disgrace, and we haven’t done enough, obviously — this administration hasn’t done enough to cure that. Whatever interest they have is not strong enough, and I think possibly now it may be time for somebody else to come along and solve the problem.

THE ENDORSEMENT! “I think possibly now it may be time for somebody else to come along and solve the problem.” Clint might as well kiss Mitt’s feet!

So, Mr. President, how do you handle promises that you have made when you were running for election, and how do you handle them?

I mean, what do you say to people? Do you just — you know — I know — people were wondering — you don’t — handle that OK.

Here’s where it starts to kind of fall apart. Speeches almost always go downhill when they are interrupted by people who are being imagined. (Sermons notwithstanding, of course.)

Well, I know even people in your own party were very disappointed when you didn’t close Gitmo. And I thought, well, closing Gitmo — why close that? We spent so much money on it. But, I thought maybe as an excuse — what do you mean shut up?

Guantanamo Bay: Because we’ve just sunk so much damn money into indefinite extrajudicial detention already.

OK, I thought maybe it was just because somebody had the stupid idea of trying terrorists in downtown New York City. I’ve got to to hand it to you. I have to give credit where credit is due. You did finally overrule that finally. And that’s — now we are moving onward.

Props to Clint on this one. Political conventions hardly ever feature “giving opponents credit for stuff.” This made the speech much better.

I know you were against the war in Iraq, and that’s okay. But you thought the war in Afghanistan was OK. You know, I mean — you thought that was something worth doing. We didn’t check with the Russians to see how did it — they did there for 10 years.

There’s no snark left in the tank here. The man made no. sense. (Also: It is totally hunky-dory to be against the war in Iraq. Good to know.)

And then, I just wondered, all these promises — I wondered about when the –

What do you want me to tell Romney? I can’t tell him to do that. I can’t tell him to do that to himself.

Clint Eastwood: Will let gays get married and babies get aborted, will not tell Mitt Romney to fuck himself. Noted.

You’re crazy, you’re absolutely crazy. You’re getting as bad as Biden. Of course we all know Biden is the intellect of the Democratic Party. Kind of a grin with a body behind it.

What other kind of grin is there? Is Eastwood seeing disembodied grins? WILL NO ONE HELP THIS MAN?

But I just think that there is so much to be done, and I think that Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan are two guys that can come along.

He’s really laying it on thick, you guys. I think he might consider maybe almost voting Republican.

See, I never thought it was a good idea for attorneys to be the president, anyway.

(Small sample of the presidents who were also attorneys: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt. Also a graduate of Harvard Law School: Mitt Romney.)

I think attorneys are so busy — you know, they’re always taught to argue everything, always weigh everything, weigh both sides. They are always devil’s advocating this and bifurcating this and bifurcating that. You know, all that stuff.

Screw Abraham Lincoln and his rotten bifurcating face.

But, I think it is maybe time — what do you think — for maybe a businessman. How about that?

Hey… maybe?

A stellar businessman. Quote, unquote, “a stellar businessman.” And I think it’s that time.

And I think if you just step aside and Mr. Romney can kind of take over. You can maybe still use a plane. Though maybe a smaller one. Not that big gas guzzler you are going around to colleges and talking about student loans and stuff like that. You are an — an ecological man. Why would you want to drive that around?

OK, well anyway. All right, I’m sorry. I can’t do that to myself either.

Mitt Romney will trade you a small plane for the presidency, please. Also, fuck college students and their hippy-dippy demands for “an affordable education.” Also, Faux-bama is RUDE.

I would just like to say something, ladies and gentlemen. Something that I think is very important. It is that, you, we — we own this country.

[Cut to shot of ecstatic middle-aged white people.]

We — we own it. It is not you owning it, and not politicians owning it. Politicians are employees of ours. And — so — they are just going to come around and beg for votes every few years. It is the same old deal.

(See: Conventions like the one at which Eastwood said this.)

But I just think it is important that you realize , that you’re the best in the world. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican or whether you’re libertarian or whatever, you are the best. And we should not ever forget that.

Republicans are the best! Democrats are the best! Even Ron Paul weirdiesare the best!

And when somebody does not do the job, we got to let them go. Okay, just remember that. And I’m speaking out for everybody out there. It doesn’t hurt, we don’t have to be—

[He is interrupted by a real person.]

I do not say that word anymore. Well, maybe one last time. We don’t have to be — what I’m saying, we do not have to be metal [???] masochists and vote for somebody that we don’t really even want in office just because they seem to be nice guys or maybe not so nice guys, if you look at some of the recent ads going out there, I don’t know.

Don’t vote for people you don’t want to be voting for, kiddos. Probably.

But OK. You want to make my day?

[Cheers]

All right. I started, you finish it. Go ahead–

[Audience: Make my day!]

Thank you. Thank you very much.

In other news, early reports indicate an empty chair was just elected president.

Anyway, enjoy it for yourself:

 

The reaction from Andrea Mitchell and Brian Williams is funny:

 

UPDATE:  The invisib;e chair has a twitter feed.

The Romney Speech

I think the most damning thing you can say about the Romney acceptance speech last night was that the Obama team chose to excerpt him heavily, along with his stiffness and non-specificness, in an ad this morning.  I mean, look at Romney thoughout this ad, especially the last 10 seconds:

 

RT @tbogg: The only thing on earth that is stiffer and more awkward than a Mitt Romney speech is a 14-year old boy on his first visit to …

Mystery Speaker At GOP Convention Is Clint Eastwood

I think there's not a single right winger who hasn't mocked Sean Penn or any number of leftist celebrities.  Yet, here they are, putting their celebrity (singular, since Randy Travis is in disgrace and Ted Nugent is certifiable) front and center tonight.

Seriously, I think the Dems have a deeper bench here.

Six Worst Lies From Paul Ryan’s Convention Speech Last Night (Think Progress)

1. “A downgraded America.” Ryan blamed the president for the nation’s credit downgrade in August 2011 after Republicans threatened to allow the government to default on its debt for the first time in history. But the ratings agency explicitly blamed “Republicans saying that they refuse to accept any tax increases as part of a larger deal.”

2. “More debt than any other president before him, and more than all the troubled governments of Europe combined.” Romney has made the almost identical claim, that Obama has amassed more debt “as almost all of the other presidents combined.” But their math doesn’t add up: when Obama took office, the national debt was $10.626 trillion. It has increased to slightly above $15 trillion.

3. Shuttered General Motors plant is “one more broken promise.” Ryan described a GM plant that closed down in his hometown, Janesville, Wisconsin, and blamed Obama for breaking his promise to keep the plant open when he visited during his campaign. But Obama never made that promise, and the plant shut down in December 2008, before Obama even took office.

4. Obama “did exactly nothing” on Bowles-Simpson. Ryan said, “He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.” In fact, Ryan was instrumental in sabotaging the commission, leading the other House Republicans in voting against the plan.

5. “$716 billion, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama.” Ryan’s favorite lie is a deliberate distortion of Obamacare’s savings from eliminating inefficiencies. Furthermore, Ryan’s own plan for Medicare includes these savings. Romney has vowed to restore these cuts, which would render the trust fund insolvent 8 years ahead of schedule.

6. “The greatest of all responsibilities is that of the strong to protect the weak.” Ryan closed the speech with an invocation of social responsibility, saying, “The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.” However, numerous clergy members have condemned Ryan’s budget plan as “cruel,” and “an immoral disaster” because of its devastating cuts in social programs the poor and sick rely on. Meanwhile, Ryan would give ultra-rich individuals and corporations $3 trillion in tax breaks.

 

RT @LOLGOP: I love it when the people who want bigotry against gay couples written into the Constitution accuse others of dividing people.

More Racism At The RNC

They’re not just chucking peanuts at black people at the RNC:

An unscripted moment happened late this afternoon that caused the assembled mainstream media to turn away in the hope that it would disappear. As I was standing in line for a sandwich next to an Italian and a Puerto Rican correspondent, a controversy was unfolding on the floor. The RonPaulites, whose furious devotion to a single idea have made them the Ellen Jamesians of the right, were protesting a decision by RNC officials not to seat members of the Maine delegation, which was split between Paul and Romney supporters following rule changes made just prior to the convention. There were energetic shouts of “Aye!” and “Nay!” as a Puerto Rican party functionary—Zoraida Fonalledas, the chairwoman of the Committee on Permanent Organization—took her turn at the main-stage lectern. As she began speaking in her accented English, some in the crowd started shouting “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”

This poor woman.  Watch as her own party shouts "USA!" because she is Puerto Rican.

 

Fox News Latino reported:

A visibly upset Zoraida Fonalledas, Chairwomen of the Committee on Permanent Organization, was greeted by chants of "USA, USA, USA" when RNC Chairman Reince Priebus introduced her to the convention crowd. The chants kept coming until Priebus stepped back up to the podium and told the delegates to let Fonalledas take care of her business. Just a little bit awkward.

Convention Thoughts

I'm not watching the RNC, but all I can say is that I think people will see what they want to see, and get what they want to get from it.

Not very profound, but true.

I will be blogging from the DNC, however, with any luck.

Exposing Aaron Worthing’s Race Problem

Aaron Worthing has a race problem.  He's got many other problems too, but he chose to write about race, so that's what the focus will be here.

And please know understand what I am saying.  It's not that Aaron Worthing has a problem with other people's racism; he himself has an actual problem with race, which he projects upon others.  In his bubbilisicious world unencumbered by facts and reality, the REAL racists are those who acknowledge, and even celebrate, a person's heritage… whereas Aaron thinks that we should all be colorblind (the one thing, ironically, that Aaron is clearly NOT, protest as he may).

Well, he can't help it.  He's from North Carolina and East Texas. 

But I digress.  Let's dive in.  And no, I'm not going to swim through his entire post (reading Aaron Worthing posts makes one wish there was a Twitter-like word limit on Blogger)… but I will hit the salient points.

The post is entitled "The Democratic Party Wasn't Ready For A Black President".  Already you know we're off to a bad start, as President Obama is actually the President of the United States, not the Democratic Party.

And off we go….

There is something that has been tossing around in my head for now almost four years.  I think it crystalized tonight when I saw that liberals had created a hashtag on Twitter: #Negrospotting.

Aaron is referring to a little twitter game that arose last night, as liberal and Democratic twitterers looked for black faces at the Republican National Convention.  Which was a little silly because — even apart from the tokens that were paraded in front of the microphone — there were black people there:

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Anyway, this incensed Aaron to make a few tweets before he came to an epiphany of sorts, to wit, that "the Democrats were not ready for a black president."

“Wait,” you might say, “they voted for him.  How can you say they were not ready for a black president?”

Well, let me talk about what has happened on the subject of race relations for the last few years.  Let me share with you how I believe things have developed.

Fuck.  He's taking us down a tangent.  Somebody drop some breadcrumbs, okay?

So then Aaron goes on to say "Let's admit it folks.  Obama wasn't ready for the job" or words to that effect.  This is, of course, merely Aaron's opinion — an opinion which at best is held by less than half the country (presumably even many on the right will acknowledge that Obama was ready for the job, but they just don't like his policies), and most assuredly NOT held by the Democratic Party.

As evidence of Obama's not-readiness, Aaron rolls out a video of Obama in 2004, as if that matters (in AW-land, people can't change their mind upon growing and/or learning new informations).

Of course, the qualifications game is always a silly one.  Worthing thinks executive experience is important; presumably then, a governor would be qualified.  But a governor typically lacks foreign policy experience, one could reasonably counter.  And on the games goes.  Qualifications, my point is, is subjective. 

Anyway, now we get to the race stuff again.

Can we finally admit that some people voted for him because he was black?  I don’t mean to imply that it was a crude racial preference, so much as this.  As I said before, the election of a black president was an important benchmark in racial progress, and there was a desire among good people of all colors that we pass that benchmark as quickly as possible.  And this is for all the best possible reasons, the hope of greater racial harmony, of showing that America is the land of opportunity for all, and so on.

First of all, I have no problem admitting that some people voted for him because he was black.  Nearly 67,000,000 people voted for Obama in 2008, and it would be ridiculous to suggest that, at least for some of them, his race was the sole issue.  Others may have voted for him because they thought he was cute.  Most, I suspect, voted for him for more than one reason, although this doesn't seem to occur to Aaron.

And for most, I suspect, the fact that he was black was a bonus.  Not the sole reason, not the most important reason.  But Aaron is going on the assumption that that's the only reason.  *Sigh*

Anyway, having written that "the election of a black president was an important benchmark in racial progress", Aaron adds:

But we had to earn that benchmark.

WTF?  Who the hell is "we" and what has to be accomplished to "earn" that benchmark?

Come to think of it, why is there a benchmark AT ALL for a black president?  Do "we" ask what benchmarks need to be met before we can elect a white president qua white president?  In other words, if a white presidential candidate falls short of the qualifications (whatever we set them to be), do we say he/she is unqualified as a white president?  Sarah Palin, for example, has been widely (and appropriately) mocked on the right and the left for her lack of gravitas, articulation and intelligence to serve as Leader of the Free World.  But I have yet to have hear anyone say, "Sarah Palin doesn't meet the benchmark for a white person to be president".

After slamming Obama for the debt, Aaron asks, apparently with a complete lack of self-awareness:

To the extent that any Republican is hypocritical or otherwise inconsistent in opposing Obama’s policies, does it make sense to assume that racial bias is at the heart of it?  If a Republican is being unfair in opposition to a Democrat, shouldn’t you rule out the possibility of political bias before assuming it is about race?  I don’t particularly like it when people just assume everything their side does is right and the other side does is wrong just because they have chosen a side, but who can deny that this attitude exists among Republicans and Democrats?  So if a Republican is being truly unfair to a Democratic president, is that really so out of the ordinary that you have to assume it is because of the color of his skin?

These are all reasonable questions, except that Aaron himself was the one who intruduced race in the discussion and ties it with Obama's policies on Obamacare and the debt.

Let me put it this way…. If Aaron had written a piece saying that Obama was unqualified to be president because he increased the debt, didn't speed up the recovery fast enough, and saddled the nation with Obamacare, then he would be just like everyone else, i.e., taking a (rebuttable) political position which reflects his bias as a rightwinger.  And that's fine.  That's how the game is played.

But Aaron didn't do that.  He wrote a piece with the thesis that Obama is unqualified as the first BLACK president because he increased the debt, didn't speed up the recovery fast enough, and saddled the nation with Obamacare.

And then he wonders why conservatives like himself get dinged with sending up racial dog whistles.  The answer isn't all that mystifying: it's because conservatives like Aaron send up racial dog whistles!

Aaron, of course, doesn't see the racism in himself, in part because he adopts a convenient definition of racism, one he sees as the "correct" definition:

In fact the correct definition of racism is nothing more than the opposite of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream: judging people by the color of their skin, rather than the content of their character.  To do this is wrong, and I believe that to the core of what I am.  

Well, no doubt, judging people by the color of their skin, rather than the content of their character, is perhaps the salient feature of racism.  And Aaron is correct in pointing out that, by that definition, there are black racists as well as white racists.

But in conveniently limiting himself to "MLK's definition" — one which focuses on racism at the individual level — Aaron dismisses the concept of institutional racism.  I'd be surprised if he ever heard of the phrase.  Watch as he tries to defend the white power structure which still exists today:

[T]oday you see a number of professors explain that black people cannot possibly be racist, because racism is prejudice plus power.  So, the argument goes, since black people are powerless, no black person can be a racist.*** 

[E]ven if you accept that definition of racism, does anyone notice the flaw in the argument?  Black people are not and indeed never have been powerless.  That they are not presently powerless is evident in the fact Obama is President.  And even in the days of slavery, they were not powerless.  It is a slander upon the human spirit, and the intelligence and ingenuity of those slaves to say they were completely powerless.  This is proven by the fact that once Lincoln announced a policy of emancipation—giving the slaves a reason to side with the Union—resistance by slaves brought the Southern economy to its knees.  As Jeffery Rogers Hummel wrote in Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men, “[l]iberation, so often presented as something the Union did for blacks, was as much something they did for themselves.”  Slaves had some power, and when it mattered, they used it.

Well, I suppose it helps make your point if you simply lie about the definition.  No, Aaron, the "argument goes" that black people are comparatively powerless in a way unrelated to their numbers.  And although it is certainly better now than it was during the Civil War, it's still not equality in any real political sense.  So, when you accurately consider what "a number of professors" explain, your entire point gets blown out of the water.

It's not about, and never WAS about, complete powerlessness.  But it is about subjugation, which existed during the Civil War, and exists (to a lesser extent) today, even with Obama as President.  As Bell Hooks wrote:

“A vision of cultural homogeneity that seeks to deflect attention away from or even excuse the oppressive, dehumanizing impact of white supremacy on the lives of black people by suggesting black people are racist too indicates that the culture remains ignorant of what racism really is and how it works. It shows that people are in denial. Why is it so difficult for many white folks to understand that racism is oppressive not because white folks have prejudicial feelings about blacks (they could have such feelings and leave us alone) but because it is a system that promotes domination and subjugation?” 

And because of Aaron's ignorance of the historical truth of institutional racism, he makes racist statements like this:

Sonya Sotomayor’s comment about wise Latinas was not a one-shot.  She had been saying it for years.  If a white man said that he hoped a white man would be a better judge than any woman or minority, he would expect to be contradicted—if not run out with torches and pitchforks.  But when Sotomayor said what she did, the liberals who surrounded her never protested her obvious racism. 

And why is that?  Because Sotomayor's statements were not racist.  Against the backdrop of institutional racism, a minority person exhibiting racial pride is laudable at best, innocuous at worst. 

But some people like Aaron Worthing pit races against each other (this, too, makes him racist) as if race is a zero-sum game.  To Aaron, a minority expressing affinity for his or her race ("wise Latina") means dissing the white man:

But in fact, any time you say, X trait is better than Y trait, by implication you are saying Y trait is worse than X—and if X trait is preferred, then why shouldn’t you discriminate in favor of it?  Racial affinity is racial preference; racial preference leads logically to racial discrimination.

Wow.  Under that worldview, MLK (who Aaron claims to admire) himself was a racist.

Aaron asks why this doesn't work in reverse — why white people get lambasted for being proud of their white heritage.  Well, part of this is quite simply that the white heritage in America isn't exactly something to be proud of.  I mean, it's just not.  You would have to turn a blind eye to the massacres of Indians, the enslavement of an entire race, and — even in my lifetime — the relegation of certain races to second class citizens.  I mean, it's ugly, but it's historical fact.  And when white people typically speak of their "proud white heritage", that's what they are talking about.  They're talking about the things that white people should be ashamed of.  That's the reason.  Institutional racism.  Read about it.

Anyway, at the end of his ignorant screed, Aaron tries to resurrect himself:

Ideally, Obama’s failure as a President should be taken as his failure alone and not reflective of his race as a whole.  And if his presidency is seen as a test case, the issue to be determined is not whether to let another black person take up residence in the Oval Office but whether to allow another Democrat to do so.

But what I fear is that many ordinary white people will decide not to vote for another black president, even if he or she is the best qualified. 

No, you don't fear that.  You want that.  Your entire post is about how the president failed, not as president, but as a black president.  Your words!  It's in your freaking title, you jackass!  This is classic projection: Aaron has an issue with the president's race and now he fears everybody else will have an issue with the president's race which he claims to not have (no, really!  He doesn't!).  If you claim Obama's race shouldn't be relevant, and that it isn't relevant to you, don't spend an entire making it relevant. 

And while you're at it, ask yourself why the only people that you marginalize as racists happen to be people of color.  

I mean, why IS that? Better pundits please.

RELATED – Wonkette channels AW:

Here is a positive, hopeful story that will put a spring in your step and some salt on your nuts.

An attendee at the Republican National Convention in Tampa on Tuesday allegedly threw nuts at a black camerawoman working for CNN and said “This is how we feed animals” before being removed from the convention, a network official confirmed to TPM.

In a written statement, CNN addressed the matter but divulged few details: “CNN can confirm there was an incident directed at an employee inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum earlier this afternoon. CNN worked with convention officials to address this matter and will have no further comment.”

Some in the liberal media might get their hair up in a lather (or a dander, or a bother, or what the fuck ever) about this, seeking to impute the actions of a couple of likely DNC plants to the entire convention. Instead, let’s look at how the rest of the convention behaved.

Did they throw snack products at black people? NO. The Democrat Party continually talks about what terrible racist savages Republicans are, yet 99.9% of the convention managed to avoid assaulting a lady just because she was black and maybe liberal.

This is the realization of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream. All black people should vote Republican, because you almost certainly won’t get hit in the face repeatedly.

Who Is The Mystery Speaker?

From the WSJ:

TAMPA, Fla. – Republican convention planners appear to have a surprise planned for those tuning in Thursday night.

Buried deep in the convention schedule released Monday is a vague reference to a mystery speaker scheduled for the event’s final evening. “To Be Announced” has a prime speaking slot late in the Thursday program.

I suspect the speaker is Mitt Romney himself, making an early "surprise" visit, as Clinton did, and Obama did, before their actual acceptance speech the following night.

Oddly, the rightwing press is getting breathless with speculation.  Could it be…. her?  Sarah Palin?!?!?

Oh, I wish.  I do so wish.

Others have speculated that it will be a hologram of Ronald Reagan.  That would be cool, but both Sarah Palin and Ronald Reagan's ghost would only highlight the fact that Mitt has neither the popularity or charisma of either.

Folks, the mystery speaker is Mitt Romney.  Count on it.

Republicans Today Would Call Reagan A Socialist

Bloomberg has a nice piece out today which spells out what I (among many others) have been saying for a long time: the Tea Party people would hate Ronald Reagan if Reagan were president today.  The bill of particulars:

During Reagan’s eight years in the White House, the federalpayroll grew by more than 300,000 workers. Although he was a net tax cutter who slashed individual income-tax rates, Reagan raised taxes about a dozen times.

His rhetoric matched that of many of today’s most ardent Christian conservatives, yet he proved to be a reluctant warrior on abortion and other social issues. Perhaps most tellingly, he was willing to cut deals, working closely with Democratic leaders such as House Speaker Tip O’Neill of Massachusetts to overhaul Social Security and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski of Illinois to revamp the tax code.

That record prompted President Barack Obama in April to invoke a predecessor’s words about tax fairness, quoting a story about an executive who paid lower tax rates than his secretary and millionaires who exploited loopholes to pay no taxes while a bus driver paid his fair share.

“That wild-eyed socialist, tax-hiking class warrior was Ronald Reagan,” Obama said.

Mostly, the article continues, Reagan didn't have a problem with the one thing that makes democracy work, and the one thing that the modern GOP can't abide: compromise.

Study: Right Twists Facts

Even though he backtracked like the Road Runner in reverse, people are still reflecting on the "science" behind Rep. Todd Akin's stunning assertion that women's bodies are able to ward off pregnancy from a rape.  Of course, there is absolutely nothing to support that assertion, but there are segments of the right wing that actually believe it and report it as fact.  It gets repeated often enough, and before you know, it takes on what Stephen Colbert calls, "truthiness".

Does this happen a lot?  Oh, indeed.  And this is the subject of a new scientific study by psychologists Brittany Liu and Peter Ditto of the University of California-Irvine, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

The PDF is here, but Chris Mooney summarizes:

In their study, Liu and Ditto asked over 1,500 people about their moral and factual views on four highly divisive political issues. Two of them — the death penalty and the forceful interrogation of terrorists using techniques like waterboarding — are ones where liberals tend to think the act in question is morally unacceptable even if it actually yields benefits (for instance, deterring crime, or providing intelligence that can help prevent further terrorist strikes). The other two — providing information about condoms in the context of sex education, and embryonic stem cell research — are ones where conservatives tend to think the act in question is unacceptable even if it yields benefits (helping to prevent unwanted pregnancies, leading to cures for devastating diseases).

In the experiment, the subjects were first asked about their absolute moral beliefs: For instance, is the death penalty wrong even if it deters others from committing crimes? But they were also asked about various factual aspects of each topic: Does the death penalty deter crime? Do condoms work to prevent pregnancy? Doesembryonic stem cell research hold medical promise? And so on.

If you believe some act is absolutely wrong, period, you shouldn’t actually care about its costs and benefits. Those should be irrelevant to your moral judgment. Yet in analyzing the data, Liu and Ditto found a strong correlation, across all of the issues, between believing something is morally wrong in all case — such as the death penalty — and also believing that it has low benefits (e.g., doesn’t deter crime) or high costs (lots of innocent people getting executed). In other words, liberals and conservatives alike shaded their assessment of the facts so as to align them with their moral convictions — establishing what Liu and Ditto call a “moral coherence” between their ethical and factual views. Neither side was innocent when it came to confusing “is” and “ought” (as moral philosophers might put it).

However, not everyone was equally susceptible to this behavior. Rather, the researchers found three risk factors, so to speak, that seem to worsen the standard human penchant for contorting the facts to one’s moral views. Two of those were pretty unsurprising: Having a strong moral view about a topic makes one’s inclination toward “moral coherence” worse, as does knowing a lot about the subject (across studies, knowledge simply seems to make us better at maintaining and defending what we already believe). But the third risk factor is likely to prove quite controversial: political conservatism.

In the study, Liu and Ditto report, conservatives tilted their views of the facts to favor their moral convictions more than liberals did, on every single issue. And that was true whether it was a topic that liberals oppose (the death penalty) or that conservatives oppose (embryonic stem cell research). “Conservatives are doing this to a larger degree across four different issues,” Liu explained in an interview. “Including two that are leaning to the liberal side, not the conservative side.”

In other words, everybody experience a little discomfort when the facts do not align with their worldview, but conservatives much more so.  And whereas liberals are more inclined to live with this discomfort, conservatives are much more likely to reconcile the conflict by, well, skewing the facts inside their head.

Hence, they leave the reality-based community.

RELATED: Not only that, they just don't give a damn:

“Our most effective ad is our welfare ad,” a top television advertising strategist for Romney, Ashley O’Connor, said at a forum Tuesday hosted by ABCNews and Yahoo! News. “It’s new information.”…

The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” awarded Romney’s ad “four Pinocchios,” a measure Romney pollster Neil Newhouse dismissed.

“Fact checkers come to this with their own sets of thoughts and beliefs, and we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers,” he said.

 

Arizona Abortion Law Says Women Are Pregnant Two Weeks Before Conception

Yes, it's true:

A new law was signed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Thursday that has abortion advocates up in arms. The new law, titled Women’s Health and Safety Act deems a woman pregnant 2 weeks before conception.

How does it do this?  It calculates gestational age starting with the first day of the last menstrual period rather than the date of conception.

What does this mean?  It means that the first trimester of a woman's pregnancy starts BEFORE conception.  And since (legally) women can only get an abortion in the first or second trimesters, it shortens the time when women can act.

A pretty craven run-around.

Hurricane Isaac Is Bad For The Republicans

It's bad for Republicans for two reasons.  First, the obvious reason: it is screwing up their convention.  Now Donald Trump won't be able to speak.

But more importantly, if Isaac hits the Gulf Coast, particularly New Orleans, it will serve as a reminder that Republicans are, well, bad at governing.  We all remember how horrible FEMA responded to Katrina.  

Alan Wolfe made this point in a 2006 article for the Washington Monthly entitled "Why Conservatives Can't Govern:"

If government is necessary, bad government, at least for conservatives, is inevitable, and conservatives have been exceptionally good at showing just how bad it can be. Hence the truth revealed by the Bush years: Bad government–indeed, bloated, inefficient, corrupt, and unfair government–is the only kind of conservative government there is. Conservatives cannot govern well for the same reason that vegetarians cannot prepare a world-class boeuf bourguignon: If you believe that what you are called upon to do is wrong, you are not likely to do it very well.

Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, was — by all accounts — bad at governing.  It's part of the reason he is running on his business record, rather than his record as Massachusetts governor.  And his running mate, Paul Ryan, has built his whole political career on the notion that government must be shrunk and dismantled.  These are the same themes that Bush ran on, and when Katrina hit, the government was not there.  Isaac will remind of this.  Or should.

The convention, by the way, was supposed to start today.  And today's theme was to be WE CAN DO BETTER.  Except it's raining.  Isaac isn't a threat to Tampa — in fact, all Isaac warnings and watches have been dropped for Tampa Bay.  But… it's raining.  So today and the theme are called off.  Maybe the theme should have been WE CAN DO BETTER UNLESS WE MIGHT GET A LITTLE WET IN THE PROCESS.

RIP Neil Armstrong

91728-004-94AC562CLike everybody else living at the time, I saw the moon landing in grainy black and white.  

It was 1969, and nobody knew that it was the end of an era.  This was before the national cynacism set in because of Watergate.  It was before politicians like Reagan started bashing the government, and future generations would pick up on that and treat our government like it was the enemy.  It was a time when we strived together through government, and greed was considered a bad thing.

By fulfilling Kennedy's promise to put a man on the moon before the end of the sixties, NASA and Neil Armstrong showed what government can do.  The Apollo 11 landing was something of pure good, pure success.  It was using government (partnered with business) to create entire new technologies, to embrace (rather than mock) science, and to literally reach for the stars in a way that was unheard of only ten years earlier.

Neil was the symbol for all that America could be.  None of us knew at the time how short-lived the promise of America would be.

As for Neil, I was always impressed by his humility.  I mean, 600 years from now, nobody will know who Michael Jordan is — maybe not even Michael Jackson.  But Neil Armstrong's name will forever be placed alongside the great explorers — Magellan, Columbus, etc. — who went to places virtually unknown.  That's got to be a heady experience.  But after retiring from NASA, Neil went quietly into the shadows — doing consulting work and farming instead of cashing in on his name.  You gotta respect that.

Neil Armstrong passed away this weekend at the age of 82.

RT @TheStevenWeber: AP: GOP to amend platform to include exception for abortion in rape, but only if fetus is pregnant.

Fox News Outs Member of Seal Team Six

So one of the guys of the elite Seal Team force that killed bin Ladn decided to write a book.  And he did it under a pseudonym, Mark Owen, to protect his identity and his family.
Good.
Except stupid Fox News decided to out him.  You can see it here, in this article.
Can you imagine if MSNBC had done that?  The cries of outrage and treason?
But it's Fox, so the right is hypocritically silent.

Users on several militant Islamic websites affiliated with al-Qaida have posted the name and photo of a former Navy SEAL identified as the author of an upcoming book on the commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The posts called for his "destruction" in revenge for the al-Qaida founder’s killing.

"We pray to Allah for his destruction sooner rather than later," said one of the posts.

"Oh Allah, make an example of him for the whole world and give him dark days ahead," read another.

Among the website publishing the death threats was the "Al-Fidaa" web forum, which al-Qaida uses to distribute its media and public communications, said Evan Kohlmann, an NBC News consultant and a terrorism analyst at Flashpoint Partners, a global security firm.

The source of the photo, which appears to show a special operations soldier in leveling an automatic rifle during a training exercise, was not immediately clear.

"Here is the first picture of the dog who murdered the martyr Shaykh Usama Bin Laden," wrote one of the posters, using an alternate spelling of bin Laden's name. "May Allah have mercy on him."

Fox.  Why do they hate America?

Complete MSL Curiosity Descent – Full Quality Enhanced 1080p + Heat Shield impact

This is a full-resolution version of the NASA Curiosity rover descent to Mars, taken by the MARDI descent imager. As of August 20, all but a dozen 1600×1200 frames have been uploaded from the rover, and those missing were interpolated using thumbnail data. The result was applied a heavy noise reduction, color balance, and sharpening for best visibility. 

The video plays at 15fps, or 3x realtime. The heat shield impacts in the lower left frame at 0:21, and is shown enlarged at the end of the video. 

 

GOP Theme Fail

It's fine if the Republicans want to have a "We DID Build It" Day at their convention, but it looks really stupid, seeing as:

(1)  They are holding their convention in an arena funded by public (taxpayer) money

(2)  On standby are thousands of local, state, and federal officials all ready to rescue the Republicans in the event of a hurricane; and

(3)  This:

On the day that the GOP convention will tout Fox-fueled myth "We Built It" as its primary theme, Delaware Lt. Gov. candidate and small business owner Sher Valenzuela is slated to deliver a speech about small business issues. But contrary to the evening's theme, Valenzuela's company, First State Manufacturing, has received millions of dollars in federal loans and contracts. Valenzuela has not only attributed her success in part to this outside assistance, but urged other small business owners to follow the same strategy of seeking government funds.

Obama's whole point when he said the "You didn't build that" line was that successful businesses have always relied on the government for the roads and bridges and protection from hurricanes and fires that make the business successful.

The GOP event proves this point, not disproves it.

This Week’s Mass Shooting: NYC Edition

Gunman this morning opened fire at the Empire State Building this morning at 9 am.  One woman killed, four nine others shot (not life threatening).

Gunman killed in police fire.

Early reports say he was upset over losing his job.

UPDATE:  AP is reporting that some of the shooting victims may have been hit by the police's bullets.

 

RT @BrkshireThtrGrp: Today is Gene Kelly’s 100th Birthday! Let’s begin the day with a special Good Mornin’ from the one and only: http:/ …

RT @beardedstoner: Tampa to be declared a major disaster area next week. Also, there might be a hurricane.

Last Tweets

Nass

That was about 16 hours ago.

@LizNassty (Elizabeth Nass) and @r0se_petals (Rose Mayr) were hanging out on a railroad bridge early this morning.

A few minutes later, Rose tweeted this picture of her and Elizabeth — or more accurately, their feet — dangling over a road below:

Trainfeetx-wide-community

You may have already heard what happened:

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. – A CSX train hauling coal derailed from a bridge in this historic town outside Baltimore early Tuesday, killing two teens who were on the tracks and crushing several vehicles parked below a rail bridge, police said.

Killed were Ellicott City residents Elizabeth Conway Nass and Rose Louese Mayr, both 19, Howard County police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said.

She said the train's two operators were not harmed.

Senseless.

It wasn't clear, by the way, if their presence on the bridge had anything to do with the train derailment.

Pregnant Raped Women Are “Blessed”

Despite all the GOP politicians falling over themselves denouncing Todd Akin, he's no outlier in the Republican Party. His views are absolutely mainstream. Listen to Sharon Barnes of the Missouri Republican central committee:

While Republicans at the national level were in a hurry to shove him aside, Republican opinion had not hardened against Mr. Akin in Missouri, in part because of the salience of the abortion issue. “The congressman is totally, firmly, solidly pro-life,” Sharon Barnes, a member of the state Republican central committee, said, adding that Mr. Akin believed “that abortion is never an option.”

Ms. Barnes echoed Mr. Akin’s statement that very few rapes resulted in pregnancy, adding that “at that point, if God has chosen to bless this person with a life, you don’t kill it.”

“That’s more what I believe he was trying to state,” she said. “He just phrased it badly.”

Ms. Barnes said that she believed that the controversy would blow over, and that once people in the state became more familiar with Mr. Akin, they would learn “what a great, conservative, godly man Todd Akin is, and they’ll put his comment in its proper context.”

OMG.

Akin 2.0 — Another GOP Displays Ignorance About Pregnancy

Where are the conservative women?  Oh, right.

TPM:

Rep. Steve King, one of the most staunchly conservative members of the House, was one of the few Republicans who did not strongly condemn Rep. Todd Akin Monday for his remarks regarding pregnancy and rape. King also signaled why — he might agree with parts of Akin’s assertion.

King told an Iowa reporter he’s never heard of a child getting pregnant from statutory rape or incest.

“Well I just haven’t heard of that being a circumstance that’s been brought to me in any personal way,” King told KMEG-TV Monday, “and I’d be open to discussion about that subject matter.”

A Democratic source flagged King’s praise of Akin in the KMEG interview to TPM. But potentially more controversial for King is his suggestion that pregnancies from statutory rape or incest don’t exist or happen rarely. A 1996 review by the Guttmacher Institute found “at least half of all babies born to minor women are fathered by adult men.”

 

GOP Platform Continues Its War On Women

Even as most Republican big-wigs are denouncing Todd Akin's caveman views on women, they're preparing to certify a GOP platform that calls for criminalizing abortion in all circumstances.

Tampa, Florida (CNN) – The Republican Party is set to once again 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."

The party will also reaffirm its opposition to federally-funded stem cell research and demand that the government "should not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage."

Republicans have also inserted a "salute" to states pushing "informed consent" laws – an apparent reference to ultrasound bills that have moved through some state legislatures – "mandatory waiting periods prior to an abortion, and health-protective clinic regulation."

The Akin Deadline

Somewhat interesting day today politically.

As everybody knows by now, Todd Akin, the Republican from Missouri running for a Senate seat, stepped in it big time a couple days ago when he discussed "legitimate rape" and how women have magic missiles in their hoo-hahs which shoot sperm, thus ensuring they can never can pregnant from a rape.

There have since been calls from all quarters of the Republican party — and even pundits like Hannity and Coulter — for Akin to get out.  Even Romney — not known to take a stand on, well, anything — is unable to support Akin now.  Not so much because he has done anything wrong, but because he clearly can't win now (so they think).

But here's the catch.  According to this Roll Call report, under Missouri law a party’s nominee may withdraw from the race before “5 p.m. on the 11th Tuesday before the election,” at which point the party would have 28 days to pick his replacement.  This means that if Akin is going to drop out, he miust do it before 5 pm opn the 11th Tuesday before the election.

TODAY is the 11th Tuesday before the election.

The problem?  Akin says he isn't going to drop out.  The RSCC has said they will pull all money for ads.  Karl Rove's PAC had some ads for Akin scheduled to run today — they have pulled those.  He will run without money and without support from his party.  Even VP nominee Paul Ryan has made a phone call.  Yet, as of this morning, Akin insists on staying in the race.

Now, normally, this might not mean much.  After all, it is one senator, and one state.  But the Senate is so closely divided right now, that for Republicans to lose one seat means that they don't get the majority.  And if Democrats get the majority, they control all the committees.  Which makes a huge difference in what bills get voted on, what judicial candidates get approved (including Supreme Court nominees, if any), etc.

So today, watch for Akin news.  Could be an interesting day.

UPDATE: PPP just published a poll taken last night showing that his race is still a dead heat, even though 79% of voters disagree with what he said (84% said they’d heard the comments [pdf]).

UPDATE #2:  His ad today — he's really sorry.

 

Rape is an evil act. I used the wrong words in the wrong way and for that I apologize.

As the father of two daughters, I want tough justice for predators. I have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual assault. I pray for them.

The fact is, rape can lead to pregnancy. The truth is, rape has many victims. The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness.

In other words, Todd Akin is sorry that he sounded like a heartless dick when he explained why he doesn't believe victims of rape or incest should have access to safe and legal abortion (or, for that matter, emergency contraception). And he probably actually means it: Akin is smart enough to know sounding like a heartless dick isn't a good way to get elected, and he clearly wants to get elected.

UPDATE (2:35 pm EST):  With less than 4 hours remaining, there's no sign that Akin is going to pull out.  In fact, backed by the support of Kirk Cameron, he told Mike Huckabee this afternoon that he is in it still.

RIP William Windom

One of my favorite charactor actors since he dominated the TV screen as a guest in a Star Trek episode.  Take a look at this scene — it's total balls-to-the-wall.  I mean, he overacts Shatner, and that's saying something.

 

Windom was 88.  He is also known for his bouts on "Twilight Zone", and a recurring charactor on "Murder She Wrote".  He also played roles in two of my favorite movies: the prosecutor in the film "To Kill A Mockingbird", and Elizabeth McGovern's overbearing dad in "She's Having A Baby" (which I watched again only a few days ago).

The Short Cartoonist Speaks The Truth Again

Love me the Reich-man:

 

Transcript:

Mitt Romney hasn't provided details so we should be grateful he's selected as vice president a man with a detailed plan Romney says is "marvelous," "bold and exciting," "excellent," "much needed," and "consistent with" what he's put out.

So let's look at the five basic features of this "marvelous" Ryan plan.

FIRST: It would boost unemployment because it slashes public spending next year and the year after, when the economy is still likely to need a boost, not a fiscal drag. It would be the same austerity trap now throwing Europe into recession. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Ryan's plan would mean 1.3 million fewer jobs next year than otherwise, and 2.8 million fewer the year after. 

SECOND: Ryan would take from lower-income Americans and give to the rich – who already have the biggest share of America's total income and wealth in almost a century. His plan would raise taxes on families earning between 30 and 40 thousand dollars by almost $500 a year, and slash programs like Medicare, food stamps, and children's health What would Ryan do with these savings? Reduce taxes on millionaires by an average of over $500,000 a year. 

THIRD: Ryan wants to turn Medicare into vouchers that won't keep up with the rising costs of health care — thereby shifting the burden onto seniors. By contrast, Obama's Affordable Care Act saves money on Medicare by reducing payments to medical providers like hospitals and drug companies.

FOURTH: He wants to add money to defense while cutting spending on education, infrastructure, and basic research and development. America already spends more on defense than the next five biggest military spenders put together. Our future productivity depends on the public investments Ryan wants to cut.

FIFTH AND Finally, Ryan's budget doesn't even reduce the federal budget deficit — not for decades. Remember: He's adding to military spending, giving huge additional tax cuts to the very rich, and stifling economic growth by cutting spending too early. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates Ryan's Roadmap would push public debt to over 175 percent of GDP by 2050.

So there you have it. The Ryan — Ryan-ROMNEY — economic plan.

And the five reasons why it would be a disaster for America.

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Statement on Rape and Pregnancy

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has issued a statement on Todd Akin’s insane counter-factual claim that women who are raped can secrete a special vagina venom to terminate “legitimate rape” sperm: ACOG – Statement on Rape and Pregnancy.

Washington, DC — Recent remarks by a member of the US House of Representatives suggesting that “women who are victims of ‘legitimate rape’ rarely get pregnant” are medically inaccurate, offensive, and dangerous.

Each year in the US, 10,000–15,000 abortions occur among women whose pregnancies are a result of reported rape or incest. An unknown number of pregnancies resulting from rape are carried to term. There is absolutely no veracity to the claim that “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.” A woman who is raped has no control over ovulation, fertilization, or implantation of a fertilized egg (ie, pregnancy). To suggest otherwise contradicts basic biological truths.  

Any person forced to submit to sexual intercourse against his or her will is the victim of rape, a heinous crime. There are no varying degrees of rape. To suggest otherwise is inaccurate and insulting and minimizes the serious physical and psychological repercussions for all victims of rape.

To suggest otherwise is also the position of the Republican Party, which has sponsored bills in many states and in Congress to redefine rape as “forcible rape” in order to criminalize abortion for rape victims.

Akin Ain’t The Only One

Rick Santorum:

As horrible as the way that that son or daughter and son was created, it still is her child. […] I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you.

As you know, we have to, in lots of different aspects of our life. We have horrible things happen. I can't think of anything more horrible. But, nevertheless, we have to make the best out of a bad situation.

Ron Paul:

If it's an honest rape, that individual should go immediately to the emergency room.

State Rep. Steve Brunk (KS):

Kansas lawmakers are currently considering a law that would bar insurance providers from covering elective abortions — unless a woman pays extra for a special plan…The bill "wouldn’t apply to abortions performed to save the life of a woman, or to pregnancies resulting from rape or incest." However, in the latter case, women would first be forced to file a police report.

"You’d have to have a report that someone stole your car," said Rep. Steve Brunk, a Bel Aire Republican. "This is kind of the same thing."

Clayton Williams, and almost-fundraiser for John McCain in 2008, until this past comment got him in trouble:

Clayton Williams stirred controversy during his 1990 campaign for governor of Texas with a botched attempt at humor in which he compared rape to weather. Within earshot of a reporter, Williams said: "As long as it's inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it."

South Dakota state Sen. Bill Napoli explaining the one and only time abortion might be acceptable for a woman who has been raped:

A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.

That Old Canard

I guess by now everyone who cares knows about Rep. Todd Akin (R Mo) and his stupid comments that women's bodies shut down the possibility of preganancy when there is a "legitimate rape".  But in case you didn't know, here's the video:

 

Akin — a member of the House Committee on Science (*facepalm*) — said this in defense of his position that abortion should be illegal even in the case of rape.  The reasoning, according to him, is that you can't get pregnant during a "legitimate rape".  

Akin has of course tried to backtrack, saying he "misspoke" in that interview.  What that means is anybody's guess.  Is he saying he shouldn't have said it?  Or is he admitting that he was wrong about the science?  I'm guessing the first, and not the second.

If it weren't so disgusting, it would be funny.  What is it with these Tea Party Republicans and their views on medicine?  Remember Michelle Bachmann and her hysterical views that the HPV vaccine causes mental retardation?  Where do these people get their information?

Sadly, Aiken's position has been around for quite some time in GOP circles.  The push for a no-exceptions anti-abortion policy has for decades gone hand in hand with efforts to downplay the frequency with which rape- or incest-related pregnancies occur, and even to deny that they happen, at all. In other words, it's not just Akin singing this tune.

Take Christian Life Resources, an educational site, for example. It reprints an 1999 article on the topic that seeks to make the same distinction between categories of rape as did Akin, and for the same reason. Wrote John C. Willke – a physician who in the 1980s and early 1990s was president of the National Right to Life Committee — in the piece, originally published in Life Issues Connector:

When pro-lifers speak of rape pregnancies, we should commonly use the phrase "forcible rape" or "assault rape," for that specifies what we're talking about. Rape can also be statutory. Depending upon your state law, statutory rape can be consensual, but we're not addressing that here …. Assault rape pregnancies are extremely rare.

…. What is certainly one of the most important reasons why a rape victim rarely gets pregnant, and that's physical trauma. Every woman is aware that stress and emotional factors can alter her menstrual cycle. To get and stay pregnant a woman's body must produce a very sophisticated mix of hormones. Hormone production is controlled by a part of the brain that is easily influenced by emotions. There's no greater emotional trauma that can be experienced by a woman than an assault rape. This can radically upset her possibility of ovulation, fertilization, implantation and even nurturing of a pregnancy. So what further percentage reduction in pregnancy will this cause? No one knows, but this factor certainly cuts this last figure by at least 50 percent and probably more.

An edited version of Willke's article appears on the website of Physicians for Life group under the headline, "Assault Rape Pregnancies Are Rare." The most medically ignorant paragraphs have been excised from this version of the story, though the headline has been strengthened to make the point plain.

The canard had been floating around the right long before Willke wrote his piece. In 1995, 71-year-old North Carolina state Rep. Henry Aldridge gained national notoriety after telling the N.C. House Appropriations Committee, "The facts show that people who are raped — who are truly raped — the juices don't flow, the body functions don't work and they don't get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever."

His argument came during a debate over "a proposal to eliminate a state abortion fund for poor women," according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

In 1980, attorney James Leon Holmes wrote, in a letter arguing for a constitutional ban on abortion, "Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami."

He later apologized for his comment and was successfully nominated to a federal judgeship by George W. Bush in 2004, the inside-Washington controversy over his remarks notwithstanding. Today he serves as the chief judge of the Eastern District of Arkansas.

In Pennsylvania, Republican state Rep. Stephen Freind asserted in 1988 that women rarely get pregnant from rape, because violent attacks cause temporary infertility. Reported the Philadelphia Daily News:

The odds that a woman who is raped will get pregnant are "one in millions and millions and millions," said state Rep. Stephen Freind, R-Delaware County, the Legislature's leading abortion foe.

The reason, Freind said, is that the traumatic experience of rape causes a woman to "secrete a certain secretion" that tends to kill sperm.

Efforts to outlaw abortion and legislatively narrow the definition of rape to only the most violent assaults go hand in hand, as abortion opponents believe rape exceptions to abortion bans will be exploited by women to obtain abortions in an environment in which it is otherwise outlawed. Rape, therefore, needs to be defined differently — to be defined more narrowly and to be defined, most critically, as something that does not result in pregnancy.

You could see these conceptual gymnastics at work on the ground in Idaho earlier this year. Reported the Huffington Post:

The sponsor of an Idaho mandatory ultrasound bill, state Sen. Chuck Winder, made some highly controversial comments Monday during his closing arguments, suggesting women might falsely use rape as an excuse to obtain an abortion.

Just before the Idaho's Senate passed the bill, which requires woman to have an ultrasound prior to obtaining an abortion, opponents of the bill pointed out that it makes no exception for rape victims, incest victims or women in medical emergencies.

Winder, a Republican from Boise, responded to those concerns by raising the question of whether women understand when they have been raped.

"Rape and incest was used as a reason to oppose this," Winder said on the Senate floor. "I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that's part of the counseling that goes on."

Not surprisingly, Akin has had cold feet about efforts to expand the definition of rape, raising question about the 1991 bill that updated Missouri law to outlaw sexual abuse and rape within marriage for the first time because rape charges "in a real messy divorce" could be used "a tool and a legal weapon to beat up on the husband," according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He ultimately voted for the bill, which was signed into law by Gov. John Ashcroft.

The most prominent example of the peculiar effort to downplay rape in order to decrease access to abortion cropped up in the U.S. Congress earlier this year. Sponsored by New Jersey Republican Chris Smith, H.R. 3, the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," would have rewritten the rape exception in federal abortion-funding bans from the language in the Hyde Amendment. Henceforth, according to the bill, there would be exemptions only for something called "forcible rape." (Presumably, this is the same thing Willke called "assault rape" and Akin called "legitimate rape," as opposed to what Willke called "consensual" "statutory" rape.) After a public outcry, Smith retreated from his first draft of the bill and reinstituted the Hyde language, though an additional provision was added later to clarify that the bill will "not allow the Federal Government to subsidize abortions in cases of statutory rape." Akin and Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan were co-sponsors of the bill, along with 225 others. The bill passed the House with all Republicans and 16 Democrats voting for it, but then died in the Democrat-controlled Senate. President Obama had pledged to veto the bill.

It's an old lie.  But Republicans believe it because it helps them to believe it.  

What's the truth?  According to a 1996 article in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, after being raped once, a woman had a 5.0 percent chance of pregnancy, and the salient factor is (of course) where the woman is in her ovulation cycle.  This means that "among adult women an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year" in the United States alone.

They say that truth is the first casualty of war.  And this proves there actually is a war — a war on women.

RT @DamienFahey: Todd Akin meant to say that if you’re a legitimate moron the body will find a way to shut down your chance at winning a …

Fake Black Democrats

Danny Tarkanian is the Republican nominee in a newly created congressional district in Nevada.

He also seems to think his opponent has a very good makeup artist. During a speech to a GOP club earlier this week, Tarkanian went into a lengthy rant about how “all these black Democrats” have accused him of making a racist comment.

He then levied an unusual allegation against state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, his Democratic opponent, claiming that “[w]e could be like Steven Horsford who’s not doing anything with [the African-American] community and, you know, pretend we’re black and maybe try to get some votes if that’s where it is.”

This is the man Tarkanian accused of pretending to be black:

 

Romney Says “Trust Me. I’ve Never Paid Less Than 13% In Taxes”

Okay, Mitt.  First of all, we shouldn't have to trust you.  Release your tax returns just like every other presidential candidate has done for the last 40 years.

Secondly, someone with your income should be paying 35% in taxes.  Obviously, you're taking advantage of tax loopholes that middle class taxpayers can't take advantage of.

Which is baaaaaad.

Obama campaign sez:

Mitt Romney today said that he did indeed ‘go back and look’ at his tax returns and that he never paid less than 13% in taxes in any year over the past decade. Since there is substantial reason to doubt his claims, we have a simple message for him: prove it. Even though he’s invested millions in foreign tax havens, offshore shell corporations, and a Swiss bank account, he’s still asking the American people to trust him. However, given Mitt Romney's secrecy about his returns, coupled with the revelations in just the one return we have seen to date and the inconsistencies between this one return and his other financial disclosures, he has forfeited the right to have us take him just at his word.

The Price of Stupidity

Kentucky lawmakers wanted to make sure that their high school students were well-prepared to go to colleges, whether in-state or out-of-state.  Specifically, they wanted to be sure that the end-of-high-school tests were in parity with the national norms.  That's a good thing, a responsible thing, for lawmakers to be concerned about.

So to that end, the Kentucky lawmakers asked themselves a question: "Just what are the things a Kentucky high school student needs to know in order to be competitive in colleges across the nation?"  So they consulted ACT, the company that prepares standardized tests all over the country.

Aaaaand….. that's where they ran into a problem:

"Republicans did want the end-of-course tests tied to national norms; now they're upset because when ACT surveyed biology professors across the nation, they said students have to have a thorough knowledge of evolution to do well in college biology courses," said Rep. Carl Rollins, D-Midway, chairman of the House Education Committee.

*Crash and burn sound effect*

What's a GOP state legislature to do?

Well, first they went to ACT and asked if they could tailor a standardized national test just for Kentucky that wouldn't include evolution.  But, alas, they were told that it would be too expensive… and also — not to state the obvious — but it wouldn't really be a standardized test anymore.

And there it is.  Kentucky students, you are doomed.

And here's the reasoning why the Republicans in the Kentucky legislature is against including evolution in the curriculum.  Hold on to your hats:

Another committee member, Rep. Ben Waide, R-Madisonville, said he had a problem with evolution being an important part of biology standards.

"The theory of evolution is a theory, and essentially the theory of evolution is not science — Darwin made it up," Waide said. "My objection is they should ensure whatever scientific material is being put forth as a standard should at least stand up to scientific method. Under the most rudimentary, basic scientific examination, the theory of evolution has never stood up to scientific scrutiny."

Now, who do you think is better equipped to determine whether the theory of evolution has stood up to scientific scrutiny — scientists, or Ben Waide?

World’s Worst Protester Dies

O.K.  So two weeks ago, this guy made the news for his anti-gay protest-gone-wrong outside General Mills:

 

Today, we learned he died:

A Twin Cities man who staged a fiery protest outside General Mills headquarters in Golden Valley last week died several days later while running an errand, his family's minister said Wednesday.

Michael L. Leisner, 65, of Andover, gained national television attention for setting a box of Cheerios on fire outside the cereal maker's corporate offices on Aug. 5 in a one-person protest of the company's support for same-sex marriage.

Leisner posted video of his act online, with it showing him scrambling to stomp out the flames before he hurriedly instructs his off-camera friends to get in the car. The video made its way onto cable television's "The Daily Show" and "Chelsea Lately."

Leisner died Saturday while waiting in his car for his sons to finish playing tennis, said Dwight Denyes, senior pastor at Emmanuel Christian Center in Spring Lake Park.

Makes you think.

Faux Outrage

Let me get this straight.

Romney has been saying for weeks that he wants to "unshackle" Wall Street from regulations.

Last night, Joe Biden picks up on the metaphor, and quips that Romney's policies will lead the middle class "back in chains".

Then, the Romney camp gets offended, because putting people in chains means… SLAVERY.  And how DARE Joe Biden insinuate that — wait, WHAT?!?

Listen, Mittens.  If you are going to go to the fainting couch whenever Team Obama says something clever (and my God, it wasn't even that clever), and act like Obama has just offended all the rich white people like you because of, uh, slavery (or something, I don't really know), maybe you don't have the fortitude to serve in the most stressful office in the land.

And I Am Ryan Gosling

Boy are they delusional at Fox, and going full steam with their Paul Ryan worship.   Check out this tweet:

Holy smokes, which one is which?

Um………

NO!  They don't look ANYTHING alike!   Sure, they both have hair and two eyes and a nose and mouth, but….

Geez, Fox.  Get a grip.  Take a cold shower.

RT @LOLGOP: I can’t wait to hear if Mitt Romney endorses the part of the Ryan Budget where he loses in a landslide because of it.

The Headline Vs. The Story

In case you didn't know, this country is facing a serious drought problem.  Drought conditions plague 78% of the country.  This is making it hard for the farmer.

So Mitt Romney decided to make it a campaign priority.  And last week, he visited a farmer In Iowa who walked him through the deplorable conditions.  Under the headline "Iowa Farmer Gives Romney Tour of Drought-Stricken Cornfield", the Des Moines Register reported the events:

As Romney stepped out of a black SUV at a field on the southern edge of Polk County this morning, [corn and soybean farmer LeMar] Koethe told him: “We need you like we need oxygen.”

Koethe and Northey gave Romney a quick tour of Iowa’s deteriorating corn crop, handing him an ear of corn that should be twice as big with far more kernels.

And, oh look… a picture of Romney shaking hands with Farmer Koethe (also standing there is the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey)

Now, in case you might be thinking that Romney was doing something un-Romney-esque, and sticking up for the little guy (in this case, the little farmer), then think again.

Here's some things you should know about Farmer Koethe.

First of all, Koethe doesn't own one farm; he owns 54 of them.  But that's only one of his jobs.  Koethe is also a described as a millionaire, a real estate mogul, and a former concert promoter who booked acts like Slipknot at his 24,000 square foot event center.

Furthermore, Koethe lives in a spaceship house. It might not have a car elevator like Romney’s planned home, but it’s got its own car wash bay and recreation center:

Here’s how the home was described by the Environmental Design Group:

Arguably one of the most distinctive homes in Iowa-if not the nation-this personal residence takes unique architecture to a new level. It contains an underground garage equipped for multiple vehicles, as well as a car wash bay.The lower level also contains a large recreation center with an art display area.Grade-level entry provides access to the elevator and a spiral staircase rising 35 feet to the main living area. The main level provides an amazing panoramic view of the area.

628x471
Not your typical farmhouse.

Finally, according to figures from the EWG Farm Subsidies database, Koethe has received $130,575 in conservation payments from the federal government. Conservation payments, which add up to about $5 billion in federal spending each year, are typically used by the government to encourage farmers not to grow crops — sometimes to stabilize prices and sometimes to preserve land.

Now, I don't doubt that the drought is affecting Koethe just like it is effecting other farmers.  But is this really the best optic for Romney?  Can't he — just for once — worry about the American who isn't a multi-millionaire?

RT @LOLGOP: Give a Republican a fish and he’ll think he learned how to fish. Teach him to fish and he’ll call you socialist.

Another Mass Shooting

Here we go again — only seven days after the last mass shooting, which itself was a mere two weeks after the mass shooting before that.:

COLLEGE STATION – Multiple people, including at least one officer, were reported injured in a shooting near the Texas A&M University campus Monday afternoon.

Police said the suspect, who was taken into custody, was firing shots from a house near the campus across from football stadium Kyle Field. The identity and conditions of those injured are not yet known.

KBTX reports that the shooter, was using automatic weapons and firing shots from a house near Fidelity and Highland streets. They are also reporting multiple casualties, including members of law enforcement.

Gun control laws?  No, we can’t talk about those.  Especially in Texas.

UPDATE:  One officer confirmed dead apparently.

Under Ryan’s Plan, Mitt Romney’s Tax Rate Would Be < 1%

From The Atlantic:

Under Paul Ryan’s plan, Mitt Romney wouldn’t pay any taxes for the next ten years — or any of the years after that. Now, do I know that that’s true. Yes, I’m certain.

Well, maybe not quite nothing. In 2010 — the only year we have seen a full return from him — Romney would have paid an effective tax rate of around 0.82 percent under the Ryan plan, rather than the 13.9 percent he actually did. How would someone with more than $21 million in taxable income pay so little? Well, the vast majority of Romney’s income came from capital gains, interest, and dividends. And Ryan wants to eliminate all taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends.

Thoughts On Mr. Ayn Rand

So Mitt picked Paul Ryan to be his running mate.

No, he's not Sarah Palin.  Sarah Palin was the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska — the only political position that she held to completion.  She touted her foreign policy experience because she could see Russia from her house, and didn't read the newspapers.

Paul Ryan isn't that stupid.

But to hear the news commentary, you would think he was a fucking genius when it comes to economics.  He has a B.A. in economics from some Florida community college.  That doesn't make him an economist any more than I am a social psychologist (B.A., Soc. Psych, Tufts Univ. 1985).

Yes, he came up with an economic plan, but the plan was a joke.  It didn't make sense. Paul?

Mark Kleiman points us to a lamentable but revealing column by William Saletan, which illustrates perfectly how the essentially ludicrous Paul Ryan has gotten so far – namely, by playing to the gullibility of self-proclaimed centrists, who want to show their “balance” by finding a conservative to praise.

Saletan writes:

Ryan is a real fiscal conservative. He isn’t just another Tea-Party ideologue spouting dogma about less government and the magic of free enterprise. He has actually crunched the numbers and laid out long-term budget proposals.

OK, what? Where is that coming from? Did Saletan miss the whole discussionwhen the Ryan plan came out? Did he miss the point where even Jacob Weisberg apologized for his initial praise, admitting that

I reacted too quickly and didn’t sort out just how laughable Ryan’s long-term spending projections were. His plan projects an absurd future, according to the Congressional Budget Office, in which all discretionary spending, now around 12 percent of GDP, shrinks to 3 percent of GDP by 2050. Defense spending alone was 4.7 percent of GDP in 2009. With numbers like that, Ryan is more an anarchist-libertarian than honest conservative.

Look, Ryan hasn’t “crunched the numbers”; he has just scribbled some stuff down, without checking at all to see if it makes sense. He asserts that he can cut taxes without net loss of revenue by closing unspecified loopholes; he asserts that he can cut discretionary spending to levels not seen since Calvin Coolidge, without saying how; he asserts that he can convert Medicare to a voucher system, with much lower spending than now projected, without even a hint of how this is supposed to work. This is just a fantasy, not a serious policy proposal.

So why does Saletan believe otherwise? Has he crunched the numbers himself? Of course not. What he’s doing – and what the whole Beltway media crowd has done – is to slot Ryan into a role someone is supposed to be playing in their political play, that of the thoughtful, serious conservative wonk. In reality, Ryan is nothing like that; he’s a hard-core conservative, with a voting record as far right as Michelle Bachman’s, who has shown no competence at all on the numbers thing.

What Ryan is good at is exploiting the willful gullibility of the Beltway media, using a soft-focus style to play into their desire to have a conservative wonk they can say nice things about. And apparently the trick still works.

Yup.

And by the way, Romney/Ryan is Gekko/Galt.

So was the Ryan pick good or bad for Obama?  On the whole, I think it was good for Obama.  Yes, Ryan shores up the conservatives which Romney needs.  But they weren't going to vote for Obama anyway, and they weren't going to stay home.

You see, there have long been two theories about presidential elections. One is that they’re won in the middle, by the candidate who can pivot most successfully to the center and pick up the swing voters there. The other is that they’re won by the candidate who gets higher turnout from voters always inclined to support him or her.

The Ryan selection seems to endorse and put stock in the second theory. The severity of his budget proposals and his intellectual romance with Ayn Rand don’t strike me as big turn-ons for a large number of independents and moderates, many of whom will deem him—and maybe, by extension, the nominee who chose him—as too callous: as the man in that political ad who pushes grandma in her wheelchair all the way off the cliff. But true conservatives? Many are doing cartwheels right now.

But Ryan hurts Romney when it comes to Medicare (Ryan wants to turn it into a voucher system).  That hurts the GOP with seniors.  And suddenly, the toss-up state of Florida looks a little bluer (it's not like the Latino voters are going to swing to Romney).

Putting it numerically, Obama has 237 of the needed 270 electoral votes locked up.  That means, he needs only 33 to win.  Florida gives Obama 27 of those 33.  And the Ryan pick moves Florida closer to the Obama column.  (And now, it doesn't take Wisconsin, where Ryan is from, out of the blue column.  Vice Presidents don't take their states necessarily).

Now, of course, it is still too early to see what lasting impact, if any, Ryan will have on the election outcome.  There are still the debates.  And many many many ads.

But let's give kudos to Romney for not picking a Sarah Palin.  At least give him that.

By the way, if you want to know more about Ryan, Ezra has you covered.  The big takeaways is this:

”If you know about Paul Ryan at all, you probably know him as a deficit hawk. But Ryan has voted to increase deficits and expand government spending too many times for that to be his north star. Rather, the common thread throughout his career is his desire to remake the basic architecture of the the federal government.”

This is a very good out-of-the-gate Obama ad:

 

Also, this: