Archive for the ‘GOP & The Election’ Category

The Truth About Mitt

December 26th, 2007 Comments off

After stories came out showing that Romney’s father, former Michigan Governor George Romney, never marched with MLK as Mitt has claimed several times, people stepped forward to “verify” that George Romney indeed marched with MLK, “hand in hand” down the street. Then, to top it off, Romney posted these clippings which very much give the impression that it did happen.

It was enough to fool TPM (temporarily–they posted updates), as they initially posted that “it’s looking like” it all really happened. However, a closer look at the evidence suggests that Romney is simply playing with the truth more than ever. Look at the press sources Romney uses; Romney lists a press account from the Detroit Free Press alongside with a citation from Stephen Hess and David Broder claiming that Romney’s father marched “with” MLK. It certainly makes it seem like they were side by side.

Except they weren’t. Look at the Detroit Free Press citation and every other citation on the page, and you’ll see that aside from the Hess & Broder quote, none say that Romney marched with MLK. In fact, one of them says outright that Romney’s father was at the rally with “Hosea Williams, a top aide to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” which makes it pretty evident that MLK wasn’t there. But by featuring the Broder quote prominently, Romney obviously wants people to believe that the claims of his father marching “with” King were true, when they were not. And none of this addresses Romney’s past claim that he himself marched with his father and King. Not to mention that the only writers that put Romney & King together–Hess and Broder–cannot recall their source for that claim, which probably was simply them taking Romney at his word and printing it as if it were fact.

Romney claimed:

“My dad marched with Martin Luther King.” — Meet the Press, 12/16/2007

“I saw my father march with Martin Luther King.” — Romney’s “Faith In America” speech, GHW Bush Presidential Library, 12/06/2007

“My father and I marched with Martin Luther King Jr. through the streets of Detroit.” — interview with the Boston Herald, 1978

Here are the facts:

On Sunday, June 23, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. marched in Detroit, MI. Gov. George Romney did not attend, citing a policy to do nothing but attend church on Sundays. Romney sent representatives to read a proclamation, and they were “lustily booed” by the crowd. Source

On Saturday, June 29, 1963, George Romney spoke at a rally in Grosse Pointe, MI, where an aide to MLK was in attendance. However, none of the news stories covering the event mention King attending, which they absolutely would have done had King been there. Furthermore, Grosse Pointe and MLK historians have stated point-blank that King never marched in Grosse Pointe, MI. Source

On Sunday, June 30, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the closing session of the annual New Jersey AFL-CIO labor institute at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, making it unlikely that he was also in Michigan on the 29th. Source

So: Mitt Romney never marched with King, as he once claimed. Nor did he ever see his father march with King. This is because George Romney never marched with King.

This is not to say that Romney’s father was not a supporter of the civil rights movement; Romney’s campaign seems to try to spin it that way, to make it seem like people are denigrating his father instead of pointing out Romney’s own penchant for exaggerating.

But that’s not the point. The point is that Romney is just making stuff up (other examples: that he passed bills that didn’t pass, or that he was a “lifelong hunter” and NRA fan) in ways that make Al Gore in 2000 look like the very picture of accuracy. Nor does his “definition of the word ‘saw’” remark make him less of a parser than Clinton was. Not to mention, of course, that Romney’s propensity to flip-flop (on abortion, gun rights, the environment, stem-cell research, immigration, gay rights–a host of issues) makes John Kerry look like the very picture of stubborn obstinacy.

How do Romney and his campaign explain his inaccuracies and flip-flops? They are all due to “hyperscrutiny” and “fine-tuning.”

Romney, in short, has all three qualities that conservatives viciously attacked in the last three Democratic candidates for office, and he has those qualities in far greater depth than did the Democrats. So far, I haven’t seen conservatives taking Romney to task for those qualities very much.

But, of course, it’s not as if raging hypocrisy has never been observed before on the conservative side of things.

Just Ask

December 26th, 2007 1 comment


Really? Good, because I have a list.

Oh, he didn’t actually mean it? Hrm.

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Romney: Atheism Destroys Freedom

December 9th, 2007 1 comment

Boy, talk about hypocrisy, spin, and sucking up all rolled up into one orgasmic heave. Romney’s speech on religion was not a testament to principle, rather it was an unabashed sop to the religious right, a plea to elect a religious candidate who belonged to a different sect, but promised to fight for Christian dominance. The text of his speech can be found here.

Romney certainly begins like a Republican: invoking WWII, fascism, winning the Cold War, and radical violent Islam in the first three paragraphs, couched in vocabulary like honor, inspiring, challenge, defend, and freedom, as well as scare words like peril, risk, troubled, and breakdown, topped off with homilies to a free and strong America and the greatest generation. You can practically measure the political intensity of the speech in quantifiable precision right from the start. All he left out were direct references to Reagan and Lincoln.

Romney wastes no time in getting to the heart of the matter, namely hypocrisy. Despite protestations about separation of church and state, he immediately paints the country as a religious state, claiming religion is literally necessary for the country to function:

Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.

Translation: atheists, go to hell; this is a Christian country and you are poison to us, representing the means of our downfall. If that’s not what he meant, it is certainly what he said. Perhaps he was just trying to suck up to the religious right, but the actual meaning of his statement is a punch in the gut to secularists. Right here, he completely contradicts himself on the whole “separation of church and state.”

But it gets better. He goes Dan Quayle on the crowd:

Almost 50 years ago another candidate from Massachusetts explained that he was an American running for president, not a Catholic running for president. Like him, I am an American running for president. I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith.

Again, his language specifically excludes atheists: a candidate should not be judged because of his faith. The correct statement is that a candidate should not be judged because of his beliefs. Huge difference. The correct statement means that there should be no religious test, that a person of any belief system should have an equal chance. What Romney said is contained purely to those who are religious, and that a candidate should not be judged by which god they bow to.

Add to that the fact that Romney is trying to equate himself to John F. Kennedy. In this, Romney fails miserably. While Kennedy, a Catholic trying to be elected in a Protestant society, also couched his speech in religious terms, he slipped in language clearly intended to include those of non-belief, and used more bold language mandating a secular government. Kennedy’s words from 1960:

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute–where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote–where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference–and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish–where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source–where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials–and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew–or a Quaker–or a Unitarian–or a Baptist. It was Virginia’s harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jefferson’s statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the victim–but tomorrow it may be you–until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.

Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end–where all men and all churches are treated as equal–where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice–where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind–and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.

Note the key passages: “where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference,” and “where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice.” Kennedy is clearly stating that the government needs to be divorced from religion, completely the opposite of what Romney is arguing. Kennedy argued for a secular government; Romney is arguing for religious bigots to not hold him Mormonism against him. Further down in his speech, you’ll note that Romney directly contradicts Kennedy’s sentiments about separation of church and state and what form it takes. Romney will gladly claim the mantle of a popular president–just not the principle upon which that mantle is based.

Not to mention that Romney engaged in a direct political dodge in his invocation of Kennedy: Romney said that Kennedy “was an American running for president, not a Catholic running for president.” However, what Kennedy said precisely was, “I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for President who happens also to be a Catholic.” Interesting edit by Romney.

Romney continues:

As a young man, Lincoln described what he called America’s “political religion” — the commitment to defend the rule of law and the Constitution.

Well, there’s Lincoln. I spoke too soon above. But the key to that statement is “the rule of law and the Constitution.” This from the man who approves of warrantless wiretapping, pledges to “Double Guantanamo,” and says we should not question the government’s torture policies. Romney promises to be the same kind of Republican as Bush is: loyal to the party over the Constitution–and more loyal to the religious right as well.

But then, Romney treads into territory that many religious people do on this issue, trying to have it both ways in terms of separating but not separating religion and government:

There are some for whom these commitments are not enough. They would prefer it if I would simply distance myself from my religion, say that it’s more a tradition than my personal conviction, or disavow one or another of its precepts. That I will not do. I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers. I will be true to them and to my beliefs.

I’ve heard that many times before: church and state should be separated, but my faith will direct my actions in ruling the state. I know how many religious people see this–my religion equals my morality, and my morality drives my decisions. But what about when that faith confronts matters of church and state? Surely the faith of a religious Christian informs that person that lack of religion will put people’s souls in peril of eternal damnation; this is likely one reason why so many Christian politicians favor prayer in schools, and the Ten Commandments posted everywhere.

Religious politicians try to dance on a razor-thin line here: no religious leaders will direct my actions, but my religious faith will direct my actions. That is, or almost is, a distinction without a difference, and is one of the reasons why we have such dangerous incursions by religion into the matters of state.

But Romney clearly crosses the line with this statement:

We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It’s as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America — the religion of secularism. They are wrong.

This is a direct sop to the religious right wing. It’s practically the mantra of many of them, and essentially says, “we should have separation of church and state, except that we shouldn’t, really.” Like those he is parroting, Romney is trying to have it both ways–being for separation and against it at the same time.

Romney explains that “The founders … did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square.” This is a direct reference to the abolishment of religion wherever public funds are used for funding. It is based on the principle that a single belief system must not be favored by the government over other belief systems. If one has a display of Christianity only in the public square, that is not acceptable; if one has a multi-religious display, even one not acknowledging non-belief, that is acceptable. So displaying the cross, the star of David, and the star and the crescent together on public land are legal.

Since this is not banned from the public square, then what is Romney talking about? Romney’s complaint, that religion is being “eliminated” from the “public square,” is really just religious code, which means, “Christianity is being demoted from being the sole, dominant religion, and we cannot have that; we want Christian-only displays allowed, the Ten Commandments posted in classrooms,” etc. etc. Just like the so-called “War on Christmas™,” it’s a red herring claiming that religion is being persecuted where there is no persecution; instead, the claim of persecution is used to promote the persecution of everyone else.

Romney further displays this propensity by citing the religious-right standard, “We are a nation ‘under God’ and in God, we do indeed trust.” Romney speaks of references to god in the pledge of allegiance and on currency–both of them incursions of religion in government that happened recently, in the last 50 to 100 years, in contradiction to established secular tradition. The same religious incursions that ultra-right-wing Antonin Scalia tried to invoke so as to completely demolish the wall separating church and state.

Unlike Kennedy, who, speaking to a Christian majority, slipped in language covering the non-religious, and encouraged secularism, Romney specifically excludes the non-religious, and makes repeated mention that he refers only to people of religion, that they are the only true Americans, the only free Americans.

Something else interesting from the beginning of his speech:

In John Adams’ words: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. … Our Constitution,” he said, “was made for a moral and religious people.”

On this, Romney was confronted by reporters, specifically on his leaving out non-religious people. From a Newsweek blog:

“I’m wondering why you didn’t mention non-religious people in your speech yesterday, number one, and also what you meant by ‘freedom requires religion’?” asked a reporter.

An important point–but Romney deflected. “I’m paraphrasing something that’s been said both by John Adams and George Washington,” he said. “Which is that, in their view, for a nation like ours to be great and to thrive… that our Constitution was written for a people of faith and religion. It’s a very extraordinary element and foundation for our nation. I believe that’s the case.”

Unsatisfied, another reporter pounced. “Do you think an atheist or non-believer or non-spiritual person can’t therefore be a free person?” he asked.

“Of course not,” Romney responded. “That’s not what I said.”

“But you said ‘freedom requires religion’?”

“I’m talking about the nation,” Romney snapped. Next question.

Note that Romney dodged the heart of the question about non-religious people.

Pay attention, however, to Romney’s switch of language: that the “Constitution was written for a people of faith and religion.” In his speech, he said it was made for “a moral and religious people.” Does Romney see no difference between the two? It may well be that Romney is one of those people who also believes that there can be no morality without religious faith.

The conclusion that we can come away with after this speech? That Romney is owned by the religious right, desires to tear down the separation of church and state, and will not consider at all the rights of the non-religious.

After all, Romney was speaking at the George (H. W.) Bush Presidential Library; that particular Bush is known to have said, “I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”

That sentiment perhaps sheds new light on Romney’s choice of venues for that statement.

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Another Republican Savior Going Down in Flames

December 7th, 2007 1 comment

Just when you though Mike Huckabee was looking like yet another Republican savior (first it was McCain, then Thompson, now Huckabee–their saviors have a habit of quickly self-destructing), we find out that he has some serious slime to gloss over: he argued for the release of a serial rapist and may have been instrumental in the rapist being released many years before he should have been (he was sentenced to life plus twenty years). That rapist then went on to rape and kill at least two more women.

The reason he wanted the rapist released? Because he was convicted by a jury for raping a woman who was a distant relative of Bill Clinton. For some conservatives, in their furious anti-Clinton frenzy, that amounted to an innocent man being set up by Clinton, who was clearly a mass murderer who had nearly omnipotent outreach to destroy anyone and everyone who came even within miles of anyone even remotely connected to him. I’m not kidding; some conservatives even today still believe that Clinton had dozens of people, including prominent politicians and journalists, as well as Secret Service agents, whacked. (Don’t believe me? Check out “The List,” as it’s referred to–apparently, the Clintons not only had Vince Foster killed, but John F. Kennedy Jr., Ron Brown, Admiral Jeremy Boorda, CIA Director William Colby, and many others. It’s not satire–these people are serious.)

Here’s the key part of the story, as told in the Chicago Tribune:

A jury sent DuMond to prison in 1985 for the rape of Ashley Stevens, 17, a distant relative of then-Gov. Bill Clinton.

His imprisonment became a rallying point for Clinton critics in Arkansas, who said they believed DuMond was in prison because of the Clinton connection.

In 1996, then-Gov. Huckabee joined the discussion, saying he planned to commute DuMond’s sentence in part because evidence in the case was “questionable.” Huckabee’s commutation announcement set off bitter complaints. On Jan. 16, 1997, he reversed the decision and denied clemency, although he told DuMond in a letter “my desire is that you be released from prison.”

That day, the Arkansas Post Prison Transfer Board agreed to release DuMond.

Sheer coincidence, naturally, according to Huckabee. And he claims that he had never been alerted the any evidence that the rapist was dangerous–which is now being refuted by several women who say they warned Huckabee about the man.

Of course, he denies having had any part in the rapist’s release. But even if that’s the truth–and the circumstances cast grave doubt on that claim–then Huckabee still had a strong personal desire to release a man who, when released, raped and killed at least two women.

That’s not going to look too good next November.

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Prominent Republican Believes In Separation of Church and State

December 6th, 2007 7 comments

But only when it serves him, of course. The Republican, in this case, is Mitt Romney, and he’d rather not people pay attention to how different his religion is. So he’s getting religious about the First Amendment, sounding like a liberal Democrat on the issue:

“We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion,” he will say, according to excerpts of a speech he is to deliver at the presidential library of former President George H.W. Bush in College Station.

Figures that you’d have to wait for a Republican who would be hurt by the massive religious bigotry in play with every presidential election, to hear a conservative talk like that. And it’ll hurt Romney, partly because of his Mormonism, and partly because so many Republicans want the opposite of separation of church and state.

Of course, one can bet that he believes in separation of church and state only so far as his differences with mainstream Christians. But see what happens if someone asks him if it would be equally good to have a staunch atheist in the White House, and then watch him squirm out of it.

Reportedly, Romney will also say, “If I am fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest.” Funny–it brings me back to a scene from “Contact,” when Ellie is being shot down from being the person to travel as a representative of the human race, seeing as how she is an atheist and that “95%” of the people on Earth believe in a god. It always occurred to me that an agnostic (called an “atheist” by some) would be the ideal choice: someone who has not decided on any one belief system, someone unwilling to reject the many possibilities.

You can bet that what Romney means by “separation of church and state” in this context is, essentially, don’t apply your religious bigotry against me.

But I am sure that there are many conservative Christians who will apply the same logic to this as they do to gay marriage: let gays marry, and next a man will be marrying sheep. In this context, let a Mormon be president, and sooner or later a filthy atheist could win an election. And of course we all know that the collapse of civilization would soon follow.

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Don’t Get Too Excited

November 26th, 2007 1 comment

Trent Lott is resigning–the sixth Senate Republican to announce so this year. He just got re-elected in 2006 (makes you wonder why he went to that effort until you realize that he ran unopposed), but a special election will be held in 2008 and that term will run until 2012. In the meantime, Mississippi’s Republican governor will fill the spot by appointment. So there not too much chance of a Democrat to take the seat, though there is more of a chance now than there was before. Still, an influential Republican will go and at worst, a weaker one will take his place.

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Not So Fun When It’s “Fiar and Balanced” at You, Eh?

November 26th, 2007 1 comment

Fred Thompson made irony meters snap into the red when he started complaining that Fox News is biased… against him. Thompson’s words:

This has been a constant mantra of Fox, to tell you the truth. … From day one, they said I got in too late, I couldn’t do it. … So you know, they’re entitled to their opinion, but for you to highlight nothing but the negative in terms of these polls, and then put on your own guys, who have been predicting for four months, really, that I couldn’t do it, you know, kind of skews things a little bit.

Shock! Fox News is political, doesn’t report things in a fair and balanced way, picks and chooses those they want to build up (Giuliani, in this case) and whom they want to tear down!

Say it ain’t so, Fred!

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Republicans Trash Popular Bills, Blame Democrats

November 24th, 2007 1 comment

In their continuing streak of never-ending filibusters, Republicans have trashed two important bills in the Senate this week, and then have gone off blaming Democrats for the failure to pass the bills.

The two bills are a five-year, $286 billion farm bill, and a bill that would “patch” the Alternative Minimum Tax, adjusting it for inflation so it would not unintentionally catch millions of people in the middle and upper middle class.

Both bills were stopped dead because Republicans insisted on planting poison pills–volatile political bombs like repealing the estate tax–into both bills, forcing Democrats to either pass legislation they would choke on, or to vote against what Republicans could call “tax cuts” in election-year campaigning. Democrats refused to allow the amendments, so Republicans engaged the filibuster and shut down the vote.

And then blamed the Democrats.

So, what else is new?

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Did I Mention That I Was America’s Mayor on 9/11?

November 20th, 2007 1 comment

This from Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post:

Rudy Giuliani is trumpeting his leadership in the wake of 9/11 in campaign mailings to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.

In one piece, Giuliani is hailed as “America’s Mayor” who displayed “Strength through Leadership.”

While Giuliani’s supporters have long boasted about his performance after the attacks, he himself had not, until now, mentioned it as prominently. [boldface mine]

Of course, by “now,” the writer means, “the 21st century.” Giuliani mentions 9/11 every chance he gets. So much so, that for him, the words “nine-eleven” almost become a space-filler, like saying, “um” or “ah” while you’re trying to think of what to say next. Think Progress points this out, adding a quote from a Democratic candidate which sums it up very well:

Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) said that there are “only three things he [Giuliani] mentions in a sentence: A noun and a verb and 9/11.”

Of course, we can all blame the liberal media for this one.

Running a Gag into the Ground

November 11th, 2007 2 comments

There’s only so long a time in which you can blame Bill Clinton for everything and have it appear believable even to your base. Rudy Giuliani is still blaming Bill Clinton for the overtaxed state of the U.S. military today:

“Our military is too small to deal with the Islamic terrorism threats, but it really is too small to deter would-be aggressors to even think of challenging us. And that’s due to Bill Clinton,” Giuliani told students and others in the audience of about 350 at Iowa State University’s Memorial Union.

“Bill Clinton cut our military and our intelligence budget by such a huge amount that we’ve never made up the difference,” said the former New York mayor, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

They never get tired of that old lie, do they? So let’s recap: (1) George H.W. Bush was the one responsible for starting the military cuts, as the well-known “Peace Dividend” after the fall of the Soviet Union. (2) Bill Clinton continued these cuts, but not as deeply as Bush 41 suggested they be followed. (3) Bush cut annual defense spending by $59 billion, Clinton by $43 billion. (4) The military was in far better shape when Clinton left it in 2001. And (5) Bush 43 has had six years to build it back up.

If Bill Clinton is to blame, then Bush 41 and Bush 43 share in that blame, and to a greater extent each. But truth be told, Bush 43 is primarily to blame.

End of story.

Except, of course, for Giuliani, who will keep telling this bald lie as he tells so many others that have been proven false. And for the media, which will continue to forward the lies as “one side of the story,” usually while ignoring the “other side of the story.” Like the Des Moines Register did in re-telling this Giuliani whopper.

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The New Standard

November 1st, 2007 Comments off

There are some accepted standards in politics which are pretty reprehensible. One is that politicians accept bribes; we all know it, but we do nothing more than shake our heads and accept it. A somewhat lesser evil is that politicians don’t answer tough questions–they either answer a question other than the one asked, or they don’t accept interviews with reporters that ask tough questions. Both the press and the people have accepted this as well.

But with the Bush presidency, there seems to be a new standard: openly lying. We’ve seen it many times, especially with Dick Cheney. The idea is that even with the truth readily available and solidly known, the administration nevertheless continues to spout the lie. Iraq is the nexus of the war on terror. Global climate change isn’t proven. Drugs from Canada are not trustworthy. Waterboarding is not torture.

This practice is not new, of course. It has also been established by corporations, like the tobacco companies claiming that smoking doesn’t cause cancer; we are already used to corporate America spreading such obvious lies in the face of existing evidence to the contrary.

And certainly we are used to politicians lying. So what’s new?

What’s new is politicians continuing to spread proven lies combined with the element of new press/media paradigm of not calling attention to the lies (else we would be playing into the terrorists’ hands!). With the media safely neutered, politicians feel secure enough in propagating those lies.

Latest example: Rudy Giuliani claimed that socialized medicine is bad, and as proof claimed that he would have been twice as likely to die from prostate cancer under the United Kingdom’s socialized health care system. Well, that claim was shown up as absolutely false. So did Giuliani retract it? Nope. In fact, he’s going to continue saying it:

Asked if Mr. Giuliani would continue to repeat the statistic, and if the advertisement would continue to run, [Giuliani spokeswoman Maria] Comella responded by e-mail: “Yes. We will.”

And the press is not really showing that they care much about it. The New York Times, for example, simply reports that the number is “disputed.” The article does show the actual facts in the case, but never calls what Giuliani said a “lie” or even “untrue.” You come away from it feeling that there is perhaps some uncertainty about whether or not Giuliani’s number is incorrect. And this is not Giuliani’s first lie; he has lied repeatedly over the past several months, often reciting huge whoppers, few if any of which are noted in press coverage. Giuliani remains the Republican front-runner.

This one lie won’t sink the system. But it is an example of the new low standard to which we hold public officials, as well as the press: that a lie can be told, that it can be shown up as a lie, and that it can then continue to be told with virtually no repercussions to the lying party. Such lies got us into the Iraq War, such lies destroyed our surplus and sank us back into disastrous debt. Such lies are helping to dismantle the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

And thus, our system sinks deeper into systemized corruption and failure.

Stealing Elections, Part CCXVII

October 6th, 2007 1 comment

The latest Bush/GOP strategy for stealing an election: abuse their power to make the Federal Elections Commission either ineffective, or an outright arm of the Republican Party. Bush has nominated Hans von Spakovsky to the commission. Von Spakovsky was involved in politicizing the US Attorneys in the “loyal Bushie” purge, and has worked to suppress minority votes. He is about as unacceptable a nomination to the FEC as you can imagine being nominated.

But Senate Republicans are now saying that if von Spakovsky is not confirmed, they will block all other candidates and leave the FEC inoperative for the 2008 elections. Effectively, they are saying that either the FEC is to become a GOP weapon, or it will be taken down. Either way, Republicans will be free to break any election laws they want.

Which pretty much demonstrates their fully conscious intention to break election laws.

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Condemn the Condemnation

September 30th, 2007 Comments off

Hey! Look! Fox News is attacking the troops now! We should condemn them as well!

Of course, this whole “we should condemn (insert person’s or group’s name here) for attacking the troops” movement is nothing but a sham. The only reason there has been a call from the left to condemn Limbaugh or anyone else is not because liberals think that it’s a good idea to condemn anyone for an opinion, but simply to show up the conservatives for their blatantly political grandstanding and hypocrisy.

The thing is, no one should be condemned like that simply for expressing an opinion. Criticize it, disagree with it, proffer an opposing opinion–but to condemn the act of speech in the halls of Congress begins to set limits on freedom of expression. If we start getting timid about criticizing any element of our government, then a severe blow has been dealt to our freedoms, precisely because politicians will then hide behind it–as the Bush administration has so heavily exemplified over the past several years. Bush ran out of legitimacy some time ago, and has been milking the military for all it’s been worth since then.

The Democrats who voted with the Republicans enough to get the condemnation passed should be ashamed; the excuse that it would cost them politically to do otherwise simply won’t cut it.

Even the movement to condemn Limbaugh in Congress is a bad move. Yes, there is value in demonstrating to Republicans that they can be met, measure for measure, and in showing up their blatant hypocrisy. But it also means stooping to their level and puts us in danger of having a dangerous precedent set.

And let’s not forget how this started: Giuliani and other conservatives tried to stir up cheap publicity by attacking a left-wing whipping boy in defense of a general with political ambitions lying on behalf of the president whose quagmire is leading us to ruin.

Hardly a bedrock foundation upon which to build upon. Let’s get off this heap of dung before our feet sink too deeply into it, and leave the conservatives to wallow knee-deep all by themselves.

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…And It’s Dead

September 28th, 2007 Comments off

Or at least, it is dying. The Republican measure to split California’s electoral votes, that is:

In an exclusive report to appear on this website late tonight and in Friday’s print editions, The Times’ Dan Morain reports that the proposal to change the winner-take-all electoral vote allocation to one by congressional district is virtually dead with the resignation of key supporters, internal disputes and a lack of funds.

The reality is hundreds of thousands of signatures must be gathered by the end of November to get the measure on the June 2008 ballot.

Not that it had all that much a chance of passing anyway, but even the threat was enough to make mobilization against it worthwhile.

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Giuliani’s Condemnation of Limbaugh Should Be Along Any Minute Now…

September 28th, 2007 3 comments

Well, the right wing has revived as a whipping boy, a Liberal Satan that they all agree they can pile onto and attempt to destroy. Pretty much all the Republican candidates have taken it upon themselves to completely and utterly vilify Why? Because they called General Petraeus “General Betray-Us.”

McCain actually called for MoveOn to be “thrown out of the country” (he later claimed that he spoke in error due to his “outrage”), and Giuliani is daring Hillary Clinton to condemn MoveOn. org or be labeled a hypocrite.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think such name-calling campaigns are less than mature and respectable for any large public advocacy group, or even any one critic. Sure, it can be fun–there was a satisfying edge to Al Franken’s “Rush Limbaugh Is a Big, Fat Idiot.” It might not be enough to point out that Franken at least wasn’t making fun of Limbaugh’s name with bad puns, but it is rather more excusable that (a) Limbaugh ain’t no soldier (in fact, like so many chickenhawks, he dodged the draft), and so few see it has foul play when he is attacked for his actions, and (b) while being funny and comical, everything that Franken wrote was either fully true or was high satire (for example, Franken’s fictional account of Limbaugh serving in Vietnam). In other words, Limbaugh deserved it in spades, and the worst of it was less name-calling than it was simply pointing out facts.

But such things are not what the Republicans claim to be furious about; they claim that crossed a line by attacking a man in uniform. That, we are told, is unacceptable and deserves, even demands condemnation.

However, what did with its recent ad was virtually amateur hour when it comes to right-wing spokespeople and organizations. Take Rush Limbaugh, as a simple example.

One of the few times I ever listened to more than just one minute of Rush Limbaugh was many years ago when he was attacking Senator Inouye, a decorated WWII veteran who won the Medal of Honor, and repeatedly called the Senator “In No Way.” But that’s hardly Limbaugh at his worst. He has recently called Barack Obama “The Magic Negro” and has had racist impersonations of Al Sharpton on for a long time; is it any less objectionable to be a racist? When Clinton was in office, Limbaugh referred to his daughter Chelsea as “the White House dog”; is it OK to viciously attack the president’s 13-year-old child? Limbaugh has called Democrat Tom Harkin (also a war vet) “Dung Heap Harkin.” Other name calling includes “Nikita Dean,” “Ned Lament,” “Dick Turban,” “Nazi Pelosi,” “Bela Pelosi,” “Dingy Harry [Reid],” “Barack O’McNabb,” and many others. He has absolutely no problem with calling decorated war vets names, often far worse than “General Betray-us.”

But wait, you say, Limbaugh is just attacking politicians, and that’s okay–ignoring for the moment that many of these politicians are also former soldiers, and Petraeus himself is a presidential hopeful, in his own mind at least.

Then how about this statement made by Limbaugh just the other day, where he called soldiers who oppose the Iraq War “phony soldiers”?

And in a rather strong show of irony, was not the first to use the name “Betray-us.” Guess who was? That’s right: Rush Limbaugh. He used it last January to smear Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, who also opposes the war–and is also a Vietnam War veteran:

LIMBAUGH: By the way, we had a caller call, couldn’t stay on the air, got a new name for Senator Hagel in Nebraska, we got General Petraeus and we got Senator Betrayus, new name for Senator Hagel.

So, when will Giuliani condemn Rush Limbaugh? Did Giuliani call for Republicans to condemn Limbaugh back in January?

Of course not. That would violate the long-standing Republican principle of applying double standards to conservatives and liberals. And we can’t have that.

Theft by Fiat

September 27th, 2007 3 comments

I would say that the chutzpah of Republicans in how openly they try to steal elections is galling, but then I have to remember that this is simply par for the course for them.

Under thinly-veiled pretenses of fighting “voter fraud”–something there has been virtually no evidence of despite widespread right-wing claims and a concerted effort to find it–Republicans have been successful in getting laws passed in key electoral states that specifically target Democratic voters, especially minorities and the poor. This story from McClatchy outlines the efforts.

One of two primary tactics in the regard is voter caging: to target tens of thousands of registered letters at heavily poor and minority Democratic voters, especially ones who have the highest chances of not being able to sign for the letters. Any letter that is not signed for is brandished as “proof” that the voter registration is fraudulent, and the voter is challenged at the polls, and forced either not to vote at all, or to cast a “provisional ballot” which is usually not even counted.

One such incident involved letters sent to students at their school addresses–during summer vacation, when they would mostly be away and unable to respond. The letters were even marked “do not forward” so as to guarantee fraudulent challenges.

The other tactic is a modern-day “Jim Crow” law: to require a photo ID in order to vote. Since the people who usually don’t have photo ID are largely minority and Democratic, these laws essentially throw up unfair roadblocks in the hopes of preventing them from voting. Normally, I would not protest the requirement of something like getting an ID if a person feels it necessary to carry out an act–even if it is a right–but the roadblocks are not being put in place on legitimate grounds, nor are they inconveniencing voters indiscriminately–they are specifically targeted at disenfranchising a very specific segment of society. For example, if someone suggested a gun control measure that had no discernible effect on crime but specifically targeted an ethnic group to deny them the same rights as others, then that would be a no-brainer–of course it should be opposed. That’s what we’ve got here.

It should be noted that the same people who are pushing for photo ID requirements at polling places are the exact same people who vehemently fight against “motor-voter” law which make it easier to register to vote when one acquires a photo ID, in the form of a driver’s license. Why? Because it is likely that Democrats would benefit from such a convenience more than Republicans. Not just because more Democrats would register, but because it would make it harder to fraudulently cage Democratic voters.

So we have two laws, both tying photo IDs to voting, and conservatives push for one and fight against the other–not based upon fighting voter fraud or enabling people to vote, but decided purely on the grounds of denying as many Democrats as possible their right to vote.

But the tactics don’t stop at such minor measures; this year, the Republicans are thinking big. They want to steal California. The idea is to change California from a standard winner-takes-all state to a state which divvies up its electoral votes according to which districts voted which way.

Why is this stealing? Because the GOP only wants it to happen in California, a Democratic stronghold. Now, if they proposed a measure that would simultaneously switch California as well as Texas, Mississippi and Alabama–three Republican strongholds with the same number of combined electoral votes as California–that I would approve. A fair and even switch. Or change the whole country that way. But not just Democratic strongholds.

California Governor Schwarzenegger, while not directly opposing the measure, did not approve:

“I feel like, if you’re all of a sudden in the middle of the game start changing the rules, it’s kind of odd,” said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-California. “It almost feels like a loser’s mentality, saying, ‘I cannot win with those rules. So let me change the rules.’”

That’s kind of funny, because in 2005, he called special elections in order to try to pass measures to gerrymander California along Republican lines, and to prevent unions from contributing to Democratic campaigns. At the same time, Republicans in California were also attempting to pass the exact same electoral-vote-splitting measure as they are this year.

Schwarzenegger may be less a victim of poor memory than he is of getting his ass kicked in an election; after his pro-GOP measures were soundly trounced, he swung noticeably to the center.

What this all comes down to is fairness. You want to make changes that affect everyone the same, great. Democrats tend to go for that, and even give way against their own advantage–like they did when they passed campaign finance reform laws that actually benefitted Republicans a few years back. Or like when they arranged for Clinton’s special prosecutors to be Republicans; not only would Republicans fight the idea of a Democratic prosecutor investigating Bush, they would fight tooth and nail against any prosecutor investigating Bush.

For the GOP, fairness simply doesn’t figure into politics. They laugh at the idea. They don’t want fairness, they don’t want people to exercise their rights, they don’t want all the votes counted. They just want to win, at any cost. And they don’t care if it is by hook or by crook, and apparently they don’t give a damn about who knows it, from the blatant nature of their theft.

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What I Meant Was…

September 24th, 2007 6 comments

Formerly pro-gun-control Giuliani trying to win over the NRA by explaining his support of a gun control lawsuit:

“I also think that there are some major intervening events — September 11, which cast somewhat of a different light on the Second Amendment, doesn’t change it fundamentally but perhaps highlights the necessity of it.”

Um, okay. So, is he saying that the terrorists on 9/11 would have been foiled if everyone on board the planes were allowed to fly armed?

Or is Giuliani simply pandering without respect to reason?

Either way, he’s a hypocritical idiot. With all due respect to “America’s Mayor.”

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Waaahh!! The Bad Man Called Me a Bad Name! Waaahh!!

September 22nd, 2007 3 comments

Okay, granted, the name-calling of General Petraeus by was puerile.

That said, what of the right-wing reaction? Is the right wing, or the military, or the general, so weak and easily scarred that such name-calling warrants this level of outrage?

Of course not. The outrage is purely self-serving; the right wing has found that they can manufacture a villain which they can easily “fight” and cast themselves as heroes and defenders of a man in uniform, and they are pulling out all the stops in order to do so. And they can depend on the fact that the media loves a good, dirty fight–something the right-wingers excel at.

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Filibuster, Filibuster, Filibuster…

September 19th, 2007 1 comment

Senate Republicans are still filibustering everything in sight. Today’s lineup:

Giving Washington D.C. residents representation in Congress. Washington D.C. has more people in it than the state of Wyoming (D.C.: 581,000; Wyoming: 493,000), but Wyoming has full representation in Congress. The people of D.C. don’t get that privilege. They are effectively living under the equivalent of colonial rule–taxation without representation. Democrats want to give those people a vote. Republicans oppose for a simple reason: D.C. would vote Democratic. If they would vote Republican, the GOP senators would vote for the measure in a heartbeat. But they’re not, so the GOP wants to continue denying them their fair representation. With a filibuster, no less.

Senator Webb of Virginia wants to give U.S. troops–you know, the ones we’re supposed to be supporting?–enough leave time back home so they won’t be as over-stressed and overburdened. Bush has repeatedly extended their tours of duty, bringing them back to Iraq again and again, forcing them to stay longer and longer each time. The strain is showing. Suicide rates among veterans and soldiers are climbing. So Webb–a decorated Marine officer whose son is also a Marine and is serving in Iraq–introduced an amendment to a defense funding bill that will require our troops to get as much time at home as they serve abroad.

So how do the Republicans in the Senate respond? With a filibuster, forcing our troops to serve beyond all reasonable expectations, and get burnt out. Way to support the troops!

Fox Misp
Somebody buy Fox News a dictionary! Or a spell checker.

And then there’s Habeas Corpus (which, apparently, Fox News can’t even spell–see inset at right), which Democrat Chris Dodd is trying restore after Bush and Gonzales denied Americans has any such right. Guess what Republicans are planning to do to keep Americans from enjoying that right? Yep. Filibuster time!

Apparently, Republicans feel that since the Democrats used the filibuster in a strictly limited fashion to block far fewer judges than Republicans denied Clinton (Bush got through more nominees than any president in recent history), it is now OK for Republicans to filibuster everything in sight. As always, taking things to extremes.

Democrats blocked bat-guano crazy extremist judges that one could easily choke on. Republicans are filibustering your Constitutional right to Habeas Corpus, leave time for extremely overburdened soldiers, and the right for Americans to have representation in Congress. You know, commie liberal stuff.

Republicans are living up to their promise to Americans: burn out the troops and wreck the military, strike down your Constitutional rights, and deny minority voters the right to representation in Congress, using the very same means they themselves called “unconstitutional” and “undemocratic.”

These guys deserve to lose everything in the next election. Let’s see that they do.


September 18th, 2007 Comments off

Now Republican Senator Larry Craig is really in trouble. Sure, pleading guilty to disorderly conduct in a public-restroom gay-sex-solicitation sting was really bad, especially where his state’s governor is a Republican so his seat will be safe either way. And deciding not to retire quietly but instead to challenge the guilty plea and get it reversed, well, that didn’t win him much praise in right-wing circles either–they just want him to quietly bow out.

But now Craig’s challenge has brought him utter disaster: the ACLU is backing him.

As far as conservatives are concerned, he may as well have just joined the Nazi Party and been done with it. Let’s see how quickly Craig’s staff can make a public spectacle of refusing any ACLU assistance or association.

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