News Roundup for 3/27/12

A couple of lowlife thugs in hoodies

-Headline of the Day-
"Geraldo Rivera sorry for ‘life-saving campaign’ against hoodies."

In response to the shooting of Trayvon Martin, Geraldo Rivera went to war against clothing. "I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was," Geraldo said. "You have to recognize that this whole stylizing yourself as a gangsta — you’re going to be a gangsta wannabe, well people are going to perceive you as a menace. That’s what happens. It is an instant, reflexive action."

That didn't go over real well. It seems that a lot of people thought this was a classic case of blaming the victim, while a whole lot more thought that maybe wearing a hooded sweatshirt probably shouldn't be viewed as a fashion crime worthy of the death penalty. Rivera got beat up on the twitter machine for a while and he learned that wasn't fun. So now he's offering what may be the lamest excuse for an apology in history.

"I apologize to anyone offended by what one prominent black conservative called my ‘very practical and potentially life-saving campaign urging black and Hispanic parents not to let their children go around wearing hoodies,’" Geraldo said.

In other words, "I'm sorry for being right."

I think he can count on being whacked around twitter for a while longer. (Raw Story)

-Romney clarifies-

Click for full strip

Personally, I think he's a yoyo. (GoComics)

-Bonus HotD-
"Conservatives Ban Guns At Their Own Conferences To ‘Keep It Safe.’"

They want nuts with guns everywhere -- except in their immediate vicinity. (ThinkProgress)


Griper News: News Roundup for 3/22/12

Karl Rove - a canned ham with glasses
Rove makes an appearance on The Colbert Report

-Headline of the Day-
"Karl Rove: Bin Laden killing was no biggie."

Republicans just can't let President Obama have nice things. If Obama does something, then it's automatically terrible -- unless you can't possibly spin it that way. In that case, it's trivial.

Karl Rove proved that today in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. In it, Rove uses a 17-minute Obama campaign web movie to point out that the president is just God awful -- unlike that fella Karl served under.

Anyway, Karl's biggest challenge was making the death of Osama bin Laden seem like one of those not-automatically-terrible-so-it-must-be-trivial things and he hit kind of a dead end. There's no way he could do it. Scratch that; there's no way he could do it honestly. This is Karl Rove here, so he quickly overcame this problem.

"As for the killing of Osama bin Laden, Mr. Obama did what virtually any commander in chief would have done in the same situation," Karl writes. "Even President Bill Clinton says in the film 'that’s the call I would have made.' For this to be portrayed as the epic achievement of the first term tells you how bare the White House cupboards are."

Tiny little bit of a problem here: that's not exactly what Clinton said. What Bill said was, "He took the harder and the more honorable path. When I saw what had happened, I thought to myself, 'I hope that’s the call I would have made.'" Contrary to what Karl wants you to believe, Bill's not saying it was an easy decision anyone would've made, he's saying it was a hard decision.

And would Karl's boss have made that call? Here's GWB on the subject: "I truly am not that concerned about [Osama bin Laden]. I am deeply concerned about Iraq... I really just don’t spend that much time on him, to be honest with you."

So I'm going to go out on a limb and say no. (Plum Line)

-The Distracto DeVille Deluxe-

"Guess it's back to calling women sluts, then." (McClatchy)

-Bonus HotD-
"Ann Coulter Says It Is Now Time To ‘Go After’ The Obama Children."

Ann who?

Oh yeah... She's that one woman who used to say deliberately offensive things for a living. The troll lady... You know...

Man, I thought she'd be insane and homeless by now. I guess I was half right. (Wonkette)

GOP Unable to Retreat from Disastrous War on Women

Pro-choice protesters
A new Economist/YouGov poll [pdf] shows Barack Obama defeating Mitt Romney in a head to head match-up. At 47% to 41%, it's a pretty convincing win. Undecideds can't make up the gap for Romney here. While not a slamdunk by any means, it still looks like a good bet.

But the big news out of this poll is that the suggestion that the numbers could've been a better bet for Romney, had his party not decided to launch a war against half of the American voting population. In the Republican War on Women -- an aggressive war of choice, by the way -- Republicans are the ones taking a beating.

Among women, President Barack Obama leads Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney by 55%-38% in the Economist/YouGov poll (Week of 3/17/2012). That 17-point deficit among women right now is too much for Romney to overcome, as Romney leads Obama among men by 45%-43%.

Right now, it is Newt Gingrich and even Rick Santorum (not so much Romney) who are the real lightning rods for women angry at Republicans in general.  For example, among women, Romney is viewed favorably by 36% and unfavorably by 46% of women.  By comparison among women, Santorum’s standing is 30% favorable rating and 50% unfavorable, and Newt Gingrich’s standing among women is 22% favorable-60% unfavorable.  (Obama is 50% favorable-42% unfavorable among women.)

The Republican Party is losing women at a pretty good clip. And the state parties aren't helping things much. Even as Republicans at the national level recognize that they simply must stop talking about women, those at the state level aren't getting the message. Ultrasound laws and attacks on Planned Parenthood are rampant. People who think this is all about contraception and Rush Limbaugh talking about sluts are missing the bigger picture.

In Georgia, a lawmaker arguing in favor of an anti-abortion bill so strict that it would require women to carry stillborn fetuses compared women to cows and pigs. In Arizona, another lawmaker wants women to watch videos of an abortion being performed before allowing them to obtain one for themselves. In Alaska, a lawmaker proposes forcing women to get a man's permission to abort. In Idaho, a legislator suggests that rape and incest are just excuses to get abortions. In Tennessee, a requiring the publishing of names of doctors performing abortions (that could also have been used to identify patients) has been removed from a bill, after much public outcry.

No, as much as national Republicans want to put their losing War on Women behind them, their counterparts on the state level are charging ahead.

Part of the reason for the rush at the state level is Republican panic. 2010 was a great year for Republicans -- and Tea Party types in particular -- but it may be their last gasp. Demographic trends show the voting public becoming more and more those same groups the party has scapegoated over the years, with the power of the white male voter steadily declining. It's now or never, from their perspective. If their political gains don't start collapsing this cycle, they will in the next or the next. The time for incrementalism is over. Any damage they want to do must be done now.

This also explains the GOP's War on Voting. They want to put off the inevitable by artificially changing the electorate with voter ID laws and lopsided redistricting. If Republicans can't carefully choose their voters, eventually -- perhaps very soon -- the voters will stop choosing them.

As a result, national Republicans can't shut down the War on Women. The slow eroding of Roe v. Wade, gains in women's rights, and progress toward workplace equality must not, because of looming Republican disaster, be all that slow anymore. As state legislators and governors accelerate their anti-woman work, the Republican candidates may find themselves being forced to support or denounce such measures. Given the stances they've already taken, it's hard to see how that will help them with the electorate. A couple of ultrasound and contraception comments, an endorsement from one "pro-life" legislative lunatic or another, and Romney's 17 point deficit among women grows.

National Republicans are signalling that they want to end this disastrous war, but those at in states will make sure the losing fight goes on.



Illinois Primary Turnout May Have Been the Lowest in History

Ghost town
"Romney Is Victor by Wide Margin in Illinois Vote," announces the New York Times. According to the Times, it was a blowout. Mitt takes away "about three times as many delegates as Mr. Santorum, which aides hoped would increase his lead enough to tamp down talk of a contested convention and build an unassailable advantage in the race for the nomination." A big win, a landslide victory, a total rout.

Pretty impressive -- until you learn that it's not.

[Associated Press:]

Illinois voters, at least the ones who bothered to show up, did the math and wound up backing Mitt Romney, a candidate they see as less than thrilling but still the Republican Party's best chance of capturing the White House this fall.

Turnout seems likely to be among the lowest in decades — perhaps the lowest, period. The record low in state records dating back to 1960 is 23 percent, which happened two years ago. Officials in several election districts said Tuesday's turnout was hovering around 20 percent.

Romney easily bested Rick Santorum in the popular vote and captured at least 41 of the 54 delegates at stake, pushing him closer to his party's nomination.

"On all the issues, I disagree with [Romney] less than I do anyone else," an Urbana voter told the AP. "I am not a strong supporter of anybody... Isn't that terrible?"

Feel the excitement!

Low voter turnout has been a hallmark of the Republican primaries so far. There's been plenty of polling that shows low voter enthusiasm, but here it is in action -- non-theoretical and manifest. We've got tumbleweeds rolling through polling places.

While one in three Illinois voters said they were voting for the candidate most likely to beat Obama (a demo Ramney won easily), two in three said they didn't favor a quick nomination process. This shows deep ambivalence toward Romney, even as most of those who bothered to show up voted for him. And the Washington Post's Dan Balz sees signs of trouble for him in the general election -- from conservative voters.

Romney has won every state that has had an exit poll and in which white, evangelical Christians accounted for less than 50 percent of the electorate. He has lost every state where evangelicals made up more than 50 percent of the electorate. Santorum has won five of those, and Newt Gingrich took two.

With four in ten primary voters identifying themselves as evangelical, Illinois was no exception to this trend. Also:

A similar rough boundary line exists for the electorates based on ideological leanings. Romney has won every state with exit polls in which “very conservative” voters have accounted for fewer than 35 percent of the vote. He has lost the states in which the percentage is greater than 35 percent.

In Illinois, the percentage of very conservative voters was a little less than one in three — about the same as in Michigan and Ohio. Romney’s support among these voters fell roughly in between his showings in the other two heartland states.

Patterns based on income and tea party supporters are less sharply etched but also relatively clear. In general, the more voters there are with family incomes above $100,000, the better Romney does. The higher the percentage of strong tea party supporters in a state, the better his opponents perform. The Illinois electorate fell on the upper end of states with a relatively high percentage of high earners and was around the middle in the percentage of strong tea party supporters.

Regardless of whatever handful of voters gave Romney his victory in Illinois, he still takes the lion's share of delegates from that contest. Mitt's well on his way to wrapping this thing up. But in the general election contest ahead, things don't look nearly as bright. It looks like he'll have to go back and win over all the people who voted against him.



News Roundup for 3/20/12

Newt Gingrich

-Headline of the Day-
"Gingrich says actor Robert De Niro’s racially themed first lady joke 'inexcusable.'"

At a New York fundraiser, famed juggler and Marilyn Monroe impersonator Robert De Niro made the introduction for First Lady Michelle Obama. It was a terrible, shocking crime unparalleled in human history. In his introduction, De Niro said, "Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now, do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?" Everyone laughed, because it's all backwards and absurd and what you call your "comedy."

I know! It's awful right?

Anyway, Newt Gingrich caught wind of this and began firing off victim cards. "What DeNiro said last night was inexcusable, and the president should apologize for him," Noodles said. "It was at an Obama fundraiser, it is exactly wrong, it divides the country. If people on the left want to talk about talk show hosts, then everybody in the country should hold the president accountable when someone at his event says something that is as utterly and terribly unacceptable as what Robert De Niro said."

Because, of course, comments like this are what led to the horrors of institutional white slavery, the WASP holocaust, and... I don't know, the Hindenburg or something. White people have it bad enough without everyone going around pointing out the shameful fact that they're white. Call his wife white will you? Why, prepare to defend yourself, sir!

And this is just like what happened with Sandra Fluke and Limbaugh, as Noodles points out. After all, Rush went on a three day rant about how Fluke was a "slut" and a "prostitute," with guys lined up around the block and all the commies were all up in arms. Now De Niro spends two seconds to call his wife white and not a peep. The hypocrisy!

Know ye, Mr. Big Hollywood liberal, that the Righteous Wrath of Noodles is upon thee! Woe be unto thee as ye are smothered beneath a stack of victim cards! And it be unending, with attacks like unto the number of stars in the sky. No, there will be no surcease, ye will find no respite, until that very day that ye croak out thine final utterance: "Forgiveth me, Noodles!"

Or until Newt figures out that this is all unbelievably lame and he's getting zero traction from it. Then this will be the last anyone ever hears of it. (The Hill, with Gingrich rage-gnome video)

-Wall Street business culture-

"Ethics? What's that?" (Truthdig)

-Bonus HotD-
"Fat Chicago Cop Chokes Kid Out to Rousing Applause of 'Fox Nation.'"

The conservative base explained: they're all pretty much just assholes. (Wonkette)

Paul Ryan, True-Believerism, and the Coming GOP Medicare Fiasco

Rep. Paul Ryan
It's a warning I haven't written about in a while, but beware of true believers. I used it more during the Bush administration, when the neocons were ignoring the fact that the invasion of Iraq just wasn't working. The neocons had a domino theory for Iraq; Saddam Hussein falls and -- for some unexplained reason -- the middle east stabilizes, Israel becomes everyone's buddy, and Democracy breaks out all over the place. Everything was falling down around their ears, but the line from the Cheneyite wing of the White House seemed to be "It will work! It will! The theory is so beautiful and perfect, it can't possibly be flawed."

This is why you should always beware true believers. They're the fanatics, the zealots, the guys who are absolutely certain the flawless idea can't fail. They're the ones who believe that when something's not working, you need to do more of it. And they seem to be incapable of recognizing failure. They're the doctor in the bad medical drama, pounding a patient's chest and shouting, "Damn you! Don't you die on me!" Except the true believer would keep pumping away until the body was stiff. The TV doctor listens when someone tells them it's over, the true believer thinks it's impossible for it to be over.

The neocon true-believerism was bloody and disastrous. Other kinds are simply disastrous. And, luckily, the example of true-believerism offered today only harms the true believers.


To Democrats, the release of the House GOP budget is like Christmas in March. And they’re planning a celebration of sorts.

Democrats are organizing media blitzes, House floor speeches and town halls back home to seize on the changes to Medicare that Republicans are expected to propose Tuesday. To blunt GOP talking points that only Republicans are willing to confront the debt, Democrats intend to unveil their own budget next week calling for a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes on the rich.

The Republican budget plan last year was a political winner for Democrats, and party leaders expect nothing less this time around.


At the heart of the Democrats’ war against the House GOP proposal — spearheaded by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — is its plan to dramatically reshape Medicare in order to contain costs and keep the health care program for seniors viable. This year’s budget is expected to incorporate a modified version of the Medicare revamp drafted by both Ryan and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) that would allow seniors to keep the traditional Medicare program or enroll in an alternative private plan.

Yes, Rep. Paul Ryan, Ayn Rand true believer extraordinaire. If you looked back, you'd see the Republican's slide to where they are today begin with the last version of the Ryan plan. And here it is again; all polished up and shiny and ready for another shot. Only slightly modified since the last one and pretty much guaranteed to be as unpopular.

The only real difference here is in the marketing. The true believer can't grasp that their beautiful and perfect argument could possibly be rejected, so he makes the assumption that people either didn't understand it or that he framed the argument poorly. Let's look at this another way, Ryan says, let's say my plan "strengthens the safety net." People seem to give a crap about that (although it seems Ryan can't understand why), so let's brand it that way.

The problem of course is that it doesn't. At all. Matthew Yglesias took a look at the plan (which is just a framework lacking any sort of specifics, by the way) and found that Ryan's idea of the social safety net seems to consist entirely of Medicare. Ryan's spinning cuts to Medicare as saving it, because he's following the argument -- made since Medicare was first introduced -- that the program is going to go bankrupt tomorrow, if not sooner.

"Because health care is projected to grow more expensive over the next fifty years, the cost of this program is projected to go up substantially," Yglesias writes. "One way of preventing that from happening is to just refuse to pony up the money, and make Medicaid beneficiaries get by with less health care. And that's what Ryan's plan does. On the one hand, it excuses states from their minimum coverage responsibilities. On the other hand, it reduces the amount of money that's available to give people coverage. Which is all about what you'd expect from a tax cutting Ayn Rand fan. Keep the money in the hands of the job creators who earned it rather than handing it out to the moochers and looters looking for a little free medicine."

So no, it doesn't "strengthen the safety net," because it's not meant to. It's meant to cut spending beyond the bare minimum, in order to help pay for a ten percent cut in corporate tax rates. And the math still doesn't add up. How we'll be able to afford Ryan's tax break bonanza for the 1% and still achieve deficit reduction (which is supposedly the whole point here) is one of those sketchy, "we'll get to that later" details he conveniently leaves out.

This was a disaster for the GOP the last time around and it's hard to see why it would fly any better now. In fact, this time around, it's probably worse. In an election year, Republicans are backing a plan that cuts Medicare -- and the only thing they have to hide behind is a fig leaf of spin.

I guess this time my warning about true believers is for Republicans. Paul Ryan is not an asset, guys. And this is not the beautiful and perfect plan he says it is.



News Roundup for 3/19/12

Title screen from 'Tom Corbett, Space Cadet'
Tom Corbett: Fighting truth, justice, and the American Way

-Headline of the Day-
"112% wrong in Pennsylvania."

When last we saw Pennsylvania Space Cadet Gov. Tom Corbett, he was handily defeating the evil forces of Ladies Who Get Abortions. Armed only with his slow wit and keen sense of the exact wrong thing to say, resourceful Tom fended off critics of his ultrasound bill by telling them, "I don't know how you make anybody watch. You just have to close your eyes" -- easily to proving to one and all that he has absolutely no understanding of the basis of that criticism.

Now, we find Cadet Corbett fighting another ruthless and villainous foe -- Citizens Who Want to Vote. When some of this ravenous horde asked why a voter ID law he signed was necessary, he let them have it. "When some of the precincts come in with a 112 percent reporting you have to scratch your head and say how does that happen?" he declared.

Where does this figure come from? Straight out of Corbett's trusty Astro-Utility Butt. Notes Steve Benen, "Corbett was Pennsylvania's state Attorney General, and before that, a U.S. Attorney. If he had found evidence of such obvious fraud, he had opportunities to investigate and prosecute. That never happened, because the fraud never took place."

Pennsylvania Space Cadet Gov. Tom Corbett; fighting truth wherever it rears its ugly head! (Maddow Blog)

-GOP strikes another righteous blow in the War on Women-

War on Women political cartoon

Now run along and knit baby clothes or needlepoint a pie or whatever the hell it is you women do when you're not eating fistfuls of abortion pills. (GoComics)

-Bonus HotD-
"Santorum Accepts Blessing After Pastor Tells All Buddhists, Muslims to Git Outta US."

Greenwell Springs (LA) Baptist Church pastor and Santorum-backer Dennis Terry says that America is Christians only and everyone else has to get the hell out! And Rick's just super-happy to take his endorsement and his magic blessing.

Can we get some media over  here to ask him if he agrees with Pastor Terry?

No? OK, under the rug it goes. (Wonkette, with video)

The Fox News Death Panel of Experts

Today I posted an image called "Fox News killed my mother." Because it did. It was the most widely circulated image I've ever posted. But, after about and hour I could no longer read any of the comments. Still can't. And some of you have messaged me to say you can't see it. So here it is again. This time, my explanation will be in the first comment instead of here. Basically my mother fell and refused to go to the doctor because she was afraid that "Obamacare" would get information about her and use it in their "death panels." Since then several of you shared identical experiences. This is how their fear mongering is killing our nation, one person at a time, one lie at a time.
-Tracy Knauss, Facebook

"FOX News is killing America one lie at a time, one life at a time. I know this personally," Knauss wrote in her comment. "FOX News killed my precious mother, Hallie. She watched FOX religiously. And when she fell ten days before she died, she refused to go to the doctor because, 'I don't want Obamacare to get all of my information!' she declared, recalling the warnings from FOX News 'anchors.' She was emphatic. She was not going to consort with the Muslim enemy. As she made out her will she told her lawyer, 'I don't want any of my money going to the Muslim Brotherhood!' And her last protestation dealt with 'Obama's death panels.' Mother died just days later. I hold FOX News responsible for my mother's death."

It seems the real death panel here is the panel of "experts" (otherwise known as "PR flacks") on any given Fox News program. This is the danger that not only Fox News presents, but the entire rightwing "news" industry and the Republican Party: when you lie to people about healthcare, bad things happen. It's really no different than being a snake-oil salesman -- except, for some reason, you aren't held responsible for the damage you cause.

But I'd go further here. Yes, Fox is the worst of the mainstream media -- followed by talk radio on the second tier and the wingnut blogosphere at the lowest -- but the supposedly "unbiased" media sources share a lot of the blame as well.

The problem with "unbiased" news is that it's not exactly unbiased, so much as it's nonjudgmental. When it comes to reporting on things like the "death panels" lie, most of the media tends to try to take what appears to be an even view of the subject matter. What's true and what's not true is irrelevant, since the reporting isn't on the "death panels" per se, but on the controversy surrounding them. It's about the "he said, she said" story, not what he and she are arguing about. Headlines that should blare "GOP SPREADING THE PUREST FORM OF BS KNOWN TO MAN" are instead "BIG FIGHT IN WASHINGTON AS REPUBLICANS HONE THEIR MESSAGE."

As a result, even a small percentage of outlets like MSNBC's audience probably believes that the "death panels" are real. We live in a world without facts, where every difference is a matter of opinion. There are no lies, just different takes. There is no concrete truth, only opinion. Because reporting that Republicans lie would look like bias -- and we can't have that. Somewhere along the line, the idea of "balance" -- which is really just false equivalency -- became more important in journalism than facts.

Which isn't to say that all mainstream media lies outright. But they do lie. It's simply a lie of omission. When Sarah Palin launched this whole "death panels" myth, news sources reported the absolute, undeniable fact that she said it. What they failed to do was report that it wasn't even remotely true. As a result, they wound up repeating the lie. Not as a statement of fact, mind you, but as an expression of Palin's opinion. Mother Hallie might well have died the same way, regardless of which news network she watched. The odds were just better with Fox.

It doesn't have to be this way. In February, National Public Radio introduced their new handbook of journalistic ethics and, with it, a policy of focusing on truth.

In all our stories, especially matters of controversy, we strive to consider the strongest arguments we can find on all sides, seeking to deliver both nuance and clarity. Our goal is not to please those whom we report on or to produce stories that create the appearance of balance, but to seek the truth.


At all times, we report for our readers and listeners, not our sources. So our primary consideration when presenting the news is that we are fair to the truth. If our sources try to mislead us or put a false spin on the information they give us, we tell our audience. If the balance of evidence in a matter of controversy weighs heavily on one side, we acknowledge it in our reports. We strive to give our audience confidence that all sides have been considered and represented fairly.

"With these words, NPR commits itself as an organization to avoid the worst excesses of 'he said, she said' journalism. It says to itself that a report characterized by false balance is a false report," wrote media watchdog Jay Rosen at the time. "It introduces a new and potentially powerful concept of fairness: being 'fair to the truth,' which as we know is not always evenly distributed among the sides in a public dispute."

The logical equation of "a report characterized by false balance is a false report" jumps out at me; mostly because it should seem so obvious, but instead seems so profound. And it seems profound because it's so alien to the media landscape we've become way too used to. That phony balance is why people doubt global warming and evolution. It's why people think the president is secretly a Muslim Kenyan and that Iran's building a nuclear weapon this very minute -- if they don't have one already. The news tells "both sides of the story," then neglects to tell you which side is the liar.

No one's ever going to make a similar "NPR killed my mother" photo-manip. Their hands are clean. The rest of the media doesn't get off so easily. Fox News may be the worst, but they're the worst of a bad lot.



News Roundup for 3/16/12

McCain-Palin button
2012 is starting to seem very familiar

-Headline of the Day-
"Romney, Santorum Stir Less Enthusiasm Than McCain Did."

Remember back in 2008, when all the Republicans were all like, "Oh crap, I guess I have to vote for John McCain?" Well, it turns out that GOP voters in 2012 are feeling even more oh-crapper than they did then.

According to the report, "A little more than one-third of Republicans say they would vote 'enthusiastically' for either Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum if either candidate were to win their party's nomination for president. Slightly fewer say they would vote enthusiastically for Newt Gingrich. This level of enthusiasm is similar to Republicans' feelings about voting for Romney in early 2008, but lower than the enthusiasm level for that year's eventual GOP nominee, John McCain." In fact, enthusiasm for Mitt Romney was about where it was in 2006, when he -- you know -- lost.

If you ask me, you can blame Super PACs here. They've bought contests all over the country and the people the billionaires want don't really match up with what the people want. To be fair, what those people wanted seemed to be Herman Cain, but then he went and turned out to be a serial buttpincher and that ruined that dream.

Still, it doesn't seem very likely that the GOP electorate would go from Herman Cain to Mitt Romney all on their lonesome. Mittens has been winning races not because everyone thinks he's so awesome, but because he and his Super PAC buddies have been running "don't vote for Mitt's opponent -- he's even worse than Romney!" ads. People are settling for what they see as the lesser of two evils -- which is kind of tough, since those evils are like Satan and Beelzebub.

Of course, there's still a way to juice things up again come the general. It's the John McCain way: grab some random featherheaded lunatic who knows all the empty talking points and buzzwords by heart as a running mate, then hope they aren't exposed as a lightweight before election day.

Romney-Hannity 2012! (Gallup)

-On a related note-

Super PAC political cartoon

"Now go ahead and pledge allegiance to the Koch brother, kids -- or do you hate America?" (McClatchy)

-Bonus HotD-
"GOP Strapped to the Roof of Romney's Car."

File under "Perfection in Metaphors." (Political Wire)


News Roundup for 3/15/12

Tom Corbett, Space Cadet
PA Gov. Tom Corbett

-Headline of the Day-
"Dems Hammer PA Governor Over Ultrasound Comments."

Let's go straight to the money shot on this one: "I don’t know how you make anybody watch. You just have to close your eyes."

That's Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, who is both a Republican and a famous Space Cadet. What Cadet Tom is talking about here is Pennsylvania's ultrasound bill, which would force women to undergo an unnecessary procedure (at heir own expense) in order to get an abortion.

See, the thinking behind ultrasound bills is pretty simple: women are stupid. Women get abortions because they have absolutely no idea what's up in there. So, if you show them a picture of it, maybe they won't have an abortion.

"If you’re a woman who opposes mandatory ultrasounds, Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has a suggestion for you: ‘You just have to close your eyes,’" writes the Democratic Governors Association. "‘Close your eyes?’ Does Governor Corbett have no shame?"

He's a Republican. Since when have they known shame? (Talking Points Memo)

-More ultrasound ultra-fun-

Santorum ultrasound political cartoon

Remember ladies, having government poke around in your uterus is liberty! (Truthdig)

-Bonus HotD-
"At NCAA Tournament, Southern Miss Band Chants ‘Where’s Your Green Card?’ At Hispanic Kansas State Player."

Because they're classy like that. (ThinkProgress, with video)

GOP Enthusiasm Continues to be Weak

I've already touched on the latest Pew poll briefly, but it really bears a closer look. In my original post, I used Pew to shoot down the "Obama's crashing poll numbers" narrative that's currently popular on the right. After all, it -- like most other recent polling -- shows the President's numbers rising, not falling. A grand total of two polls have shown Obama's approval dropping and his lead in the general election drying up. All polling since then shows the opposite -- Pew included.

But the Pew poll also shows a trend continuing and, perhaps, worsening -- Republican voters still don't like their choices. And the stark differences between the candidates (as much as Romney pretends to be as far to the right as Santorum) is actually exacerbating the problem. Behold the damage:

Pew poll graphic

[Pew Research Center for the People & the Press:]

As voters look toward the fall election, Democrats express more enthusiasm for Obama than Republicans do for either of their party’s leading candidates. To be sure, however, this reflects the internal divisions within the party over who would be the best nominee, with each candidate receiving tepid support from those who would prefer to see the other candidate win.

If the general election is between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, 75% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters say they would back Obama strongly, compared with 63% of Republicans and Republican leaners who say they would back Romney strongly.

If Santorum is the GOP nominee, 80% of Democratic voters say they would support Obama strongly, compared with 61% strongly backing Santorum among Republican voters.

Santorum backers rightly distrust Romney as a flip-flopping, finger-in-the-wind politician. And Romney backers rightly see Santorum as a doomed candidate (Pew shows he'd lose to Obama in a 57%-39% landslide). So each group sees the nomination of the other candidate as game over. Meanwhile, respondents who describe themselves as "strong" Obama supporters outnumber Romney's strong supporters in nearly every demographic. Not surprisingly, those numbers are highest for Obama among women and minorities -- demographic trends are rendering the GOP's southern strategy (a polite term for appealing to prejudice) obsolete. Romney wins only white men and ties with white women and people over 65. The white vote is simply not enough to give a candidate the presidency anymore. Thankfully, the effectiveness of racebaiting is in it's twilight -- if the sun hasn't already set on it.

Finally, there's a growing sense of inevitability to President Obama's reelection. "By a 59% to 32% margin, most Americans think Barack Obama will win the election if Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee," Pew reports. "That margin [is] far wider if Rick Santorum is the GOP nominee: 68% think Obama would win, just 24% Santorum."

Further, this sense of inevitability is bolstering Democratic enthusiasm; we've already seen how Obama leads the "strong supporter" race. And the GOP's "who's crazier" contest isn't helping them any on that count, either. In their frantic search for some demographic to replace minorities in the southern strategy, they're pissing off pretty much everyone other than straight, white Evangelical males -- the woman vote being their latest casualty in that war. Since people are more likely to vote against something than for something, angry people are among the most motivated voters.

It's almost required that you point out that a lot can change between now and November when you write about polling. And that's true. But right now, things are looking very good for President Obama.

Now wonder the right is clinging to those two dissenting polls.



News Roundup for 3/14/12

Charlie Sheen
Unhinged celebrity madman Rush Limbaugh

-Headline of the Day-
"Rush Limbaugh’s ‘Slut’ Comment Controversy Proves It Has Staying Power."

According the the report, "On his show Tuesday, Limbaugh declared the 'slut' controversy all-but-over, claiming victory against Democrats and the 'Obama media.' The Republican kingpin pointed to the latest CBS/New York Times poll that shows Obama’s approval rating at 41 percent, its lowest point in his presidency, as proof that the uproar over his comments had 'backfired' against the left."

The name "Baghdad Bob" just popped into my head for some reason.

Anyhoo, the poll Limbaugh cited is looking more like bullshit every day. And even if it were dead on, how would that mean his slut-shaming scandal was over? It's like saying, "A new poll shows Americans hate spinach. I hate spinach. Therefore, I am beloved."

Meanwhile, back in reality, the New York Times reports that "new evidence emerged" that the ad boycott was having a deep effect. The boycott is clearly "costing Premiere Radio Networks -- the show's syndicator -- money, though the total amounts are unclear."

Further, majority in a Bloomberg poll out today believe that Limbaugh should be fired.

In the words of another embattled celebrity lunatic; "Winning!" (ABC News)

-More 'Winning!'-

Big, intrusive government: it's only OK when Republicans do it. (McClatchy)

-Bonus HotD-
"Most Popular Wisconsin Governor Ever Scott Walker Now Kvetching About Measly Salary."

No, really. (Wonkette)


Wisconsin's Unconstitutional Voter ID Law

Wisconsin State Constitution
Scott Walker's voter suppression scheme has run into trouble -- and that trouble may be shared by other bills the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) drafted in other states. Specifically, ALEC's one-size-fits-all approach to legislative mass production doesn't actually fit all. Different states are, after all, different legal environments and a law that's fine in one state may be unconstitutional in another.

In striking down Wisconsin's voter ID law, Dane County Judge Richard Nies wrote, "A government that undermines the very foundation of its existence — the people's inherent, pre-constitutional right to vote — imperils its legitimacy as a government by the people, for the people, and especially of the people." This was clearly a personal opinion of voter ID laws in general. But before we entertain cries of "judicial activism!" we have to consider an inconvenient fact -- the Wisconsin Constitution.

[Center for Media and Democracy:]

Article III, Section 1 of the Wisconsin Constitution provides that all state residents who are U.S. citizens and over age 18 may vote, and Section 2, according to the decision, "authorizes the government to exclude from voting those otherwise-eligible electors (1) who have been convicted of a felony and whose civil rights have not been restored, or (2) those adjudged by a court to be incompetent or partially incompetent, unless the judgment contains certain specifications."

According to Judge Niess, Section 1 and 2 provide the exclusive basis for creating laws that implement the constitutional requirements for voting. "The government may not disqualify an elector who possesses those qualifications on the grounds that the voter does not satisfy additional statutorily created qualifications not contained in Article III, such as a photo ID," he wrote.

"By enacting Act 23’s photo ID requirements as a precondition to voting, the legislature and governor have exceeded their constitutional authority."

The state constitution is very explicit about which groups of people may be denied a vote -- and people without the proper papers aren't one of them. It wouldn't be judicial activism to strike down this law, it would be judicial activism to uphold it, since you'd have to ignore the state constitution.

If Walker and state Republicans want any voter ID law to pass constitutional muster, they need to either amend the state constitution or, conceivably, rewrite the law so that provisional ballots are provided to voters without ID -- with the burden of proof being on the government. In other words, if I show up at the polls without an ID, I get a ballot that's counted after the state proves my legitimacy. As the law stands now, it's the other way around; I cast a provisional ballot, then I have to prove my legitimacy by 4:00pm the Friday after the election.

The first option would be difficult to impossible, while the second is contrary to the entire point of voter ID -- that point being voter suppression. If legitimate voters can show up and cast provisional ballots that will be counted once the state confirms the voter's status, then there is no suppression. Anyone eligible person can vote, ID or not.

Either way, Article III, Sections 1 and 2 are glaring flaws with Wisconsin's voter ID law and it seems unlikely that anyone with any familiarity with Wisconsin law would overlook them. Which means it's probable that no one from Wisconsin actually wrote this. This may prove to be a problem with ALEC's legislation mill, which turns out nearly identical legislation for different states. In their rush to bypass Washington and get nationwide laws passed at the state level, they don't seem to have been very interested in the details. Haste makes waste and, in this case, that waste was of Republican's time and energy jamming this thing through over the objections of the opposition party. I can tell you from firsthand knowledge, a lot of people signing those recall petitions were signing because of the voter ID law. In fact, my impression was that we would've gotten fewer signatures had the legislature not pushed this through. It may have done them more harm than good, in the end.

Because now those people get to vote in April elections -- and perhaps the recall in June -- without needing ID. Which means they can turn out in full force. And those people aren't very happy.



News Roundup for 3/12/12

Rick Santorum looks goofy
Rick's plans are a wee bit wide of reality

-Headline of the Day-
"Santorum Concedes: He Can't Win The Nomination Outright."

Talk about your misleading headlines; Rick Santorum has not conceded the Republican nomination to Mitt Romney. Instead, he conceded to the argument that he'll never get the delegates he needs to win the nomination. It not really much of a fine distinction and when your headline begins "SANTORUM CONCEDES" you really ought to consider the fact that someone's bound to take that the wrong way.

How can Rick argue that he can't win the delegate math, while he can win the nomination? Simple. It just takes buttload upon buttload of wishful thinking. See, Santorum 2012 is circulating a memo arguing that Romney won't get the delegates needed to be the automatic winner. That means a contested convention. And that, by a leap of logic worthy of Evel Knievel, means we're looking at nominee Rick.

Actually, now that I think about it, "SANTORUM CONCEDES" is only a millimeter short of the truth. (Buzzfeed)

Plan B-
If the strategy in the memo doesn't pan out...

Bad Reporter
Click for full strip

...Rick has a plan to get rid of Gingrich. (GoComics.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Fox News Commenters React to Afghan Killings: ‘A Dead Muslim Is a Good Muslim.’"

How far gone is the right these days? Well, they're cheering on serial killers, so... (Little Green Footballs)

GOP on Gas Prices: 'Quick! Look Over There!'

Gas pumps
We've seen this movie before. Ahead of a big holiday that traditionally involves post-winter travel, gas prices begin to rise. They rise in the spring, ahead of Memorial Day and Easter. Then later, they'll raise again before the Fourth of July. We've been spared the worst of this lately, because of a poor economy. Gas prices need to respond to the economy and low demand means low prices. The price of a good or recovering economy is higher prices. It can't really be helped. And, of course, there's always the "genius of the free market" -- in the form of speculators -- artificially inflate the price of oil.

In our present circumstance, speculators are the biggest problem. Oil prices are actually falling -- and prices at the pump rise. If you ever needed any evidence that the price of gas is inflated, there you go.

Still, it's the president taking the beating here.

[Washington Post:]

Disapproval of President Obama’s handling of the economy is heading higher — alongside gasoline prices — as a record number of Americans now give the president “strongly” negative reviews on the 2012 presidential campaign’s most important issue, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Increasingly pessimistic views of Obama’s performance on the economy — and on the federal budget deficit — come despite a steadily brightening employment picture and other signs of economic improvement, and they highlight the political sensitivity of rising gas prices.

The potential political con­sequences are clear, with the ­rising public disapproval reversing some of the gains the president had made in hypothetical general-election matchups against possible Republican rivals for the White House. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) now both run about evenly with Obama. The findings come just five weeks after Obama appeared to be getting a boost from the improving economy.

Actually, it wouldn't surprise me if a later poll came out and proved this wrong. Then again, I wouldn't be surprised by the alternative either. The question is, come election day, do gas prices matter?

[Brad Plumer, Washington Post's WonkBlog:]

It’s hard to rule anything out, but evidence remains thin that gasoline will matter much come November. While Americans love to grumble about expensive gasoline — and with good reason — political science research suggests that they don’t tend to vote over it. Nate Silver, for one, has found that “there’s not a lot of evidence that oil prices are all that important” a factor in presidential elections. Nor do gasoline prices necessarily dictate the public’s view of the White House: Back during George W. Bush’s presidency, there was a much-linked graph showing his approval ratings climbing and dipping in lockstep with gas prices. But subsequent analysis by political scientist Brendan Nyhan showed that the correlation was just a “statistical artifact.”

The real worry is that gas prices can sink the economy -- and there's no evidence that that's happening either. And history does not support this trend continuing. "At the moment, 63 percent of Americans say that gas prices are causing them financial hardship, with 36 percent saying the gas squeeze is causing 'serious' financial hardship," Plumer says. "But those are actually the lowest hardship numbers since May of 2008 — and, in fact, it’s virtually identical to what Americans were saying in May of 2004, six months before George W. Bush won re-election."

And think back to 2008. Sure, the economic meltdown finally killed the GOP's "drill, baby, drill" chants. But that line wasn't getting them anywhere anyway. John McCain consistently lagged in the polls, with his one brief moment in the lead coming after he chose Sarah Palin as his running mate (and before America found out who Sarah Palin actually was).

On more lasting issues, Obama still leads. Taylor Marsh looks at the same Washington Post/ABC News poll and finds that "when asked who cares more about issues that matter most to women, Pres. Obama beats Republicans 55 to 30, which is a massive shift from the 2010 midterms." Unlike most voter and gas prices, it's very evident that women can be convinced to vote on women's issues. And Republicans are currently making it very easy to run on those issues. In fact, I'd have to say that given the current GOP tone toward women, women's rights, and reproductive health, it would be irresponsible not to make women's issues a major plank in the Democratic platform. To do anything else would mean throwing women to the wolves. Not only is it the smart thing to do, it's the right thing to do. President Obama and Democrats should stay on that message not just because it's a winner and Republicans are trying to change the subject, but because it's their duty. The GOP gas prices line -- as much as it seems to be working at the moment -- is a distraction from what's hurting them most. They're being pounded over women's issues, so they're saying, "Quick! Look over there!"

At best, this poll is probably a bump in the road (at worst, it's an outlier and not representative). We'll see. We've never had a gas prices election -- not that plenty of would-be presidents haven't tried. But we have had rights elections and those tend to be winners. Expect the Republicans to continue to hammer Obama on gas prices. Because from their perspective, it's saving them from discussing these disastrous social issues. But also expect Democrats to try to deflect that criticism to oil companies and speculators, while continuing to make women the bigger focus.



News Roundup for 3/9/12

Jed Clampett
Mitt Romney

-Headline of the Day-
"Romney woos Southerners: I had some ‘cheesy grits’ at the Hilton, y’all."

Hoo-dangit! That ol' Mitt Romney fella was down there in Pascagoula, Mississippi and danged if he didn't fit right in. Bein' in the south and all, Mittens reckoned this'd be a fine time to start playin' to them stereotypes.

Mitt told a crowd that "strange things are happening to me." He was fixin' to have him a boney fied transformation right up there on that stage! It was riveting. "I am learning to say y’all, and I like grits and things," he told them. Who doesn't like grits and things? Whenever I go out for breakfast, I always tell the waitress, "Have the cook whip me up a big ol' honkin' plate of them grits and things." They always know what you mean.

Then, in Jackson, Romney got downright homey. "Mornin’ y’all," he told the crowd. "Good to be with you."

"I got started right this morning with a biscuit and some cheesy grits, I’ll tell ya. Delicious," he added. "Hilton Garden Inn knows just what to serve me in the morning."

He then went on to praise The Dukes of Hazzard, tell everyone how much he loves chawin' tobbaccy, and played the spoons on his knee. "Y'all love me yet?" he asked. "Because I've got a banjo back on the bus, if that's what it takes." (Raw Story)

-Mitt's road to the nomination-

Romney political cartoon

Paved with greenbacks -- and future kickbacks. (Truthdig)

-Bonus HotD-
"Confirmed: Fracking Caused Ohio Earthquakes."

Maybe we shouldn't be doing it then?

Naw... Now is not the time to be rational. (ThinkProgress)


News Roundup for 3/8/12

Rush Limbaugh and John Boehner
Boehner came up with a brilliant wedge issue
-- and now he's stuck with it

-Headline of the Day-
"Dems twist knife in birth control fight."

You hear about this Rush Limbaugh thing? Oh, it's terrible! He's yelling at ladies he doesn't even know and calling them whores and prostitutes, just because they want prescription drug coverage.

Turns out that this isn't just a sudden bout of Tourette's or something. It was brought about by a big Republican freak out over employers' coverage of birth control. It seems that employers can no longer force employees to live by the employers' religious beliefs and this is the worst thing ever!

Anyway, this is becoming a problem for Republicans, since the whole thing is stupid and everybody knows it. GOP leaders just want it all to go away (although Limbaugh isn't really playing along on that point).

So a bunch of Democrats, who also happen to be women, cooked up a plan. This thing isn't going to fade away, as GOP leadership hopes. Republicans are going to have to come out -- in public and on the record -- about how they feel about contraceptive coverage.

According to Greg Sargent, "In a letter to Speaker John Boehner — which was sent my way by a source — the 12 female Senate Dems, led by Patty Murray, are demanding that he drop his promise to hold a vote on the House version of the Blunt amendment, which has over 200 Republicans co-sponsors.

"The letter from the female Senators — which is timed to International Women’s Day — asks Boehner to pledge not to move any more birth-control-related legislation in the House."

See, the problem here is that the nuts are dug in on this issue because of Limbaugh. They think they have to defend him and in doing so have taken his whole slut/whore/bitch line as Gospel. If Boehner drops the issue, they're going to be ma-ad. But if he puts it up to a vote, everyone else will be. For the record, "everyone else" outnumbers the nuts by, like, a lot. This is what you call being between yer rock and a hard place. If Boehner let's the issue fade, a bunch of females get to shout "victory!" from the rooftops and piss off the GOP base. If not... well, that's pretty much like flooring it into the brick wall of public opinion -- in an election year that's already looking a little shaky for the Grand Old Party.

Of course, it wasn't the dem women who put Boehner between that rock and that hard place. Some guy named "John Boehner" did that.

They're just making sure he stays there for a while. (Plum Line)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, this week we're going to learn all about a Iran and the nuclear weapons program it doesn't actually have...

Iran political cartoon
Click for animation

Bonus fun: it wouldn't really be a war over nuclear weapons, since Iran doesn't actually have any of those. It'd be a war against Forbidden Knowledge -- which is futile. (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Joe The Plumber/Future Congressman Whining About ‘Gotcha’ Questions Already."

Hey, he learned that whine from the best. (Wonkette)

Breitbart's Final Smear

Andrew Breitbart speaks
Andrew Breitbart's "last laugh" seems to be more of a hiccup. Before he died, Breitbart promised to release damning video from Barack Obama's college years. "I have videos," he told the collection of birthers, racists, and other assorted nuts at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). "This election we’re going to vet him."

This is the story of an empty threat laid bare by unforeseen events. It's becoming clear that Breitbart didn't have any damaging video, but that's not stopping his fans from clamoring for it. And that's a bit of a problem.

[Brett Smiley, New York Magazine:]

Breitbart.com's explosive, blockbuster video that would expose Barack Obama as a radical commie who wasn't vetted by the media was almost entirely hype.

Breitbart.com's editor-in-chief Joel Pollak and editor-at-large Ben Shapiro appeared together on Fox News Wednesday night with Sean Hannity to discuss the one-minute teaser clip released earlier today in which a younger Barack Obama, president of Harvard Law Review, spoke to a group at a rally about racial equality among the Harvard Law staff. The demonstration was led by professor Derrick Bell, who took an unpaid leave of absence in protest of a lack of female black professors at the school.

"Open your hearts and open your minds to the words of professor Derrick Bell," Obama said in 1991.

And that was it.

The rightwing blog PJ Tatler explains what the big, terrible, shocking deal is here. It turns out that Derrick Bell, who died last year, was a Harvard law professor who was "credited with developing 'critical race theory,' which suggested that the U.S. legal system was inherently biased against African Americans and other minorities because it was built on an ingrained white point of view. He argued in his many books and lectures that the life experiences of black people and other minorities should be considered in hiring decisions and in applying the law."

So far, so nothing. But we're not to the stretchy part yet. Citing his obituary, PJ finds that "Some scholars, both black and white, challenged Bell’s ideas, as well as his strong support of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan."

Aha! There you go; young Barack Obama once knew a guy who knew Louis Farrakhan. Therefore, Barack Obama hates white people. This is weak. This isn't even guilt by association; it's guilt by association, by association. It's a crazy game of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," where you can connect anyone to anyone you like -- perfected by the logically-impaired Glenn Beck, before Fox got sick of hosting that hothouse of lunacy.

But why stop there? Why stop at Farrakhan? Here's video of Louis Farrakhan praising Ron Paul for wanting to audit the fed. And Ron Paul infamously ran a racist newsletter. Since, as the wingnuts seem to believe, if you know someone it means you agree with every single thought they've ever had, we have to conclude -- as we follow this chain -- that Barack Obama doesn't hate white people, Barack Obama hates black people. Obama believes what Bell believed, which was what Farrakhan believes, which is what Paul believes. Right? I mean, according to the rightwing blogosphere, that's the way things work.

Of course, that means you can take Paul's association with the Republican Party and eventually make Eric Cantor believe what Farrakhan believes or John Boehner believe what Obama believes. In fact, since there is no unknown person in the world, we all believe the same damned things, since association is like a virus that turns you into an ideological clone of everyone you know. What's all this fighting about then?

What we learn from this little exercise is that -- as the right argues until it's more convenient to argue otherwise -- everyone is an individual, capable of generating their own thoughts. We also learn that the old saw about politics making for strange bedfellows is true.

And we also learn that you shouldn't make empty threats to generate headlines and drive traffic to your site. It might just bite you in the ass in the great beyond. Which, if we continue this line of reasoning, is exactly what Andrew Breitbart believed. Makes you wonder why he did it.



On Super Tuesday, Mitt Fails to Lock It Down

Mitt Romney tired
The janitors are sweeping up the confetti after the Super Tuesday celebrations last night (at Gingrich 2012 HQ, those janitors are fifth graders) and looking back, "Super" seems a little hyperbolic. By the numbers, Mitt Romney's the big winner, but the battle actually left him looking weak. In his least contested and most decisive win -- Massachusetts -- turnout was positively anemic. You could argue that this was because Mitt was a shoe-in, so people didn't bother voting. But that doesn't explainb Ohio, a hotly contested race with likewise light voter turnout. "Turnout has been low... modest, you can insert the term you want," says Secretary of State Jon Husted.

In that state, Romney outspent Santorum 3:1 and it was a nailbiter all the way to the wire. As a result, it looks more like an election bought than an election won. And momentum? It's just not there.


Romney, as we’ve written before, is likely heading into another bounce-free news cycle. The former Massachusetts governor’s campaign and its backers had hoped to use a strong night to start making the case that it’s time to wind this down, and his election night speech, delivered from Boston, was supposed to convey the aura of a nominee-in-waiting.

But in the end, he underperformed. He does not head into Wednesday with the spin on his side, and his campaign has done little to finesse expectations throughout this race. The muddled results Tuesday — Romney’s cache of victories, Newt Gingrich’s win in Georgia and Santorum’s surprisingly strong clinch in Tennessee accompanied by wins in Oklahoma and North Dakota — are going to do little to bring an immediate end to the primary.

So on it goes. No one but the candidates are talking about who should drop out or who can't go on. Romney hasn't put this thing to bed. The self-destructive primary season continues. It seems that after every big GOP primary night, the biggest winner has been Barack Obama. It's so true that it's becoming cliché to type those words out.

There isn't really much more to write about it without padding the post, so this will be a short one; Super Tuesday was a Super Yawn. No knockout punch by anyone, no candidates shed, no big turn-around, no excited crowds of voters. Just the same story we've seen over and over: people not very excited about Mitt Romney, but convinced -- at the last minute and through great expense -- that he has the best chance at beating President Obama. He's racking up the delegates, slowly but surely, and his (probable) road to the nomination seems like a long slog, if not a death march; an exhausting trudge through unfriendly territory.

At the end of that march, bone-weary and bruised, he'll meet an opponent who's freshly rested, showered, shaved, and has had a good breakfast. As a metaphor, it should seem heroic. But the truth is that it's all beginning to look so slow and predictable as to be dull.



News Roundup for 3/6/12

More popular than Newt Gingrich

-Headline of the Day-
"Romney Rebounds Among Conservatives, But GOP Contenders All Stay Underwater."

It's Super Tuesday, so gather the children round the Super Tuesday for Super Tuesday dinner and regale them with stories of how the Super Tuesday winner is bound to be the most popular person in all the land -- because lying to kids on holidays is some sort of holiday tradition.

See, new polling shows that while Mitt Romney's made some ground with conservatives after winning in Arizona and Michigan, everybody else still hates him. And if it's not Mittens who comes out on top tonight? Doesn't matter. When it comes to GOP primary candidates, we hate all of them.

According to the report, "All four Republican contenders remain underwater in overall favorability in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, marking the difficulties the survivor may face against Barack Obama. More Americans hold negative than positive views of Romney by a 10-point margin, Rick Santorum by 8 points, Ron Paul by 9 points and Newt Gingrich by a whopping 33 points."

Yeah, we really don't like Newt. I'll wait a moment until you're done laughing at him.



Still, really?

OK, we have to move on. Anyway, things don't look good from a historical standpoint here. The article tells us, "[A]s noted in previous reports, all are well below the levels of popularity attained by previous candidates -- John McCain and Obama among them -- at about this stage of their own nomination battles."

So let's see glued to our TV sets and watch as Republican voters in ten states try to decide which hated public figure they're going to have to settle for (ABC News)

-Desperate times call for...-

Republican political cartoon
Click for full strip

I don't think it would help. (GoComics)

-Bonus HotD-
"President Mocks Fox News Reporter’s Question About Gas Prices."

In answer to Fox News White House Reporter Ed Henry's question about whether he actually wanted gas prices to rise, President Obama said, "Ed, just from a political perspective, do you think the President of the United States, going into reelection, wants gas prices to go up even higher? … Is there anybody here who thinks that makes a lot of sense?"

Interestingly, the words "stupid," "fucking," or "question" were not used in that response. (Talking Points Memo)

Right Pounding the Panic Button Over Limbaugh

We start the day with yet another Rush Limbaugh post, mostly because the reaction of the rightwing blogosphere to his slut-shaming scandal is just so fascinatingly wrongheaded. I'm sure all of these people consider themselves "experts" in the field of politics, yet their approach to this problem of theirs is comprised entirely of weak spin, obviously false equivalencies, and laughable attempts to play the victim card. It's like a case study in how to completely blow crisis management. They're going to dig in, damn it, and if that doesn't work, they're going to dig in deeper.

A big part of the problem is that they're used to dealing with low-information types. It's easy to fool people who don't know anything but what you tell them, but it's quite another to convince everyone else. For example, the aptly-named Jammie Wearing Fool reported the shocking revelation that Sandra Fluke wasn't just some random Georgetown student grabbed off the street to testify before congress, she was an activist (I guess you're supposed to gasp here). There's a lot of rooting around in her past to uncover this secret information, but they could've saved themselves the trouble and just looked at the transcript of her testimony.

My name is Sandra Fluke, and I’m a third-year student at Georgetown Law School. I’m also a past-president of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice or LSRJ. And I’d like to acknowledge my fellow LSRJ members and allies and all of the student activists with us and thank them so much for being here today.


We, as Georgetown LSRJ, are here today because we’re so grateful that this regulation implements the non-partisan medical advice of the Institute of Medicine.

Keep in mind that Jammie Wearing Fool reports this as some secret info that's been uncovered through relentless Googling. Yet these were literally the first words out of her mouth in her testimony. They also reveal that she's a 30 year-old and claims that previous reports put her at 23, but a trip through Google News shows that the only people mentioning her age as 23 are citing the JWF report. Why it would make any difference anyway isn't clear. But it appears to be an entirely made-up talking point. This argument is lame beyond words.

Another attempt at spin is the old "quick, look over there!" gambit. In this case, MSNBC host and liberal radio talker Ed Schultz once called Laura Ingraham a "slut" and nothing happened to him. It's unfair!

In responding to a Brent Bozell column, Dave Weigel handled that one nicely.

How pure does your hackery need to be to write something like "MSNBC suspended him for a week" and argue that Schultz faced no repercussions? Schultz apologized immediately and profusely for calling Ingraham a slut. She tweeted that she accepted the apology. (Disclosure: I'm an MSNBC contributor. I just focus on this example because it's amusing.) The comment -- which, we all agree, was pathetic -- was a pretty context-free insult. The nub of the Limbaugh/Fluke issue is: To what degree is the desire to allow insurers to avoid birth control mandates motivated by a blame-women-first view of promiscuity? And yet poke around the right wing punditsphere and you see a festival of point-missing.

And let's apply a little logic here, OK? Even if Schultz had done exactly the same thing and had gotten away with it, how does that make Limbaugh innocent? In fact, applying this line of reasoning means you're arguing that what Limbaugh did was as terrible as the left says it is. And anything else some leftie media type or blogger has said? The same thing. I'm always amazed at the nutjobs' inability to think an argument all the way through.

But (saving the best for last), my favorite fail comes from the unfortunate Robert Stacy McCain, who breathlessly reveals that Fluke once argued for the coverage of gender reassignment surgery. The best response I can think of is "so?"

Look, just because she's advocated something you disagree with doesn't "prove" she's wrong on an entirely different and unrelated point. It's like saying she couldn't possibly be a good driver, because you have it on good authority that she eats lemon pie -- and you hate lemon pie.

And it certainly doesn't prove that she really is a slut and a prostitute. Given the context here, this is an absolutely meaningless bit of information that McCain seems to believe is a big multi-megaton blow to her credibility. All it really is is a logical non sequitur.

As of this writing, Limbaugh has lost twenty advertisers. And he's bleeding them so fast that you have to put "as of this writing" into any report on that number, because there's a good chance you'll publish your post and the number will have grown. What you're doing guys? It's obviously not working.

I'm not sure I understand why you'd think it would.



News Roundup for 3/5/12

Rush Limbaugh - Hate Radio
His common sense approach to issues has cost him nine advertisers so far

-Bonus HotD-
"Rush's 53 Smears Against Sandra Fluke."

In his half-hearted not-really-an-apology to Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke, Rush Limbaugh wrote, "For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke."

The problem here is that this "instance" was three separate shows over a three day period and that Rush personally attacked her -- i.e., said things about her personally -- at least 53 different times during that period.

I hope no one takes this the wrong way, because I don't mean this to be a personal attack, but Rush Limbaugh is a steaming bowl of crap. I mean that in only the nicest way, of course, and am only illustrating the absurd with absurdity. Mr. Limbaugh is not, after all, a literal steaming bowl of crap. It's merely a metaphor. He's as helpful and useful to a functioning society as a steaming bowl of crap and I just want highlight this undeniable fact.

At this point, Limbaugh's bleeding advertisers at an alarming rate, having just lost his 9th today.

Try not to take it personally, Rush. (DailyKos)

-I don't see how that's going to help-

After all, talking to Republicans is what got them so far gone in the first place. (McClatchy)

-Bonus HotD-
"Romney: 'In my administration, coal will not be a four-letter word.'"

I guess he plans to spell it wrong or something... (ThinkProgress)

Limbaugh's 'Slut' Comments Bring Out the Most Self-Destructive Tendencies of the GOP Base

Airline crash test
Right now, the GOP is in a bit of a tailspin. The base seems to be at the stick and they're determined to point the nose straight at the ground. They'll show that stupid planet -- they'll crash this thing right into it and then we'll see who's boss!

A quick spin through the rightwing blogosphere shows a widespread political tone-deafness beyond any I think I've ever seen before. Rush Limbaugh's "slut" comments and subsequent non-apology have thrown them into a complete frenzy of boneheadedness and mindless rage. It's really something to see. They're riding this political loser all the way to the pavement.

I don't want to get too psychoanalytical -- mostly because I'm not qualified -- but you really have to wonder if the recent death of Andrew Breitbart figures into all this. Breitbart was popular on the right, they have no one to blame for his death, and all that emotion has to go somewhere. So it's pointed at innocent bystanders; Sandra Fluke and the people who agree with her. Breitbart's dead, Limbaugh's "under attack"... It's not hard to see the fear and rage that's always there finally boiling over as a result. If you read the comment threads to some of the wingnut blog entries, you'd think it was 9/11 all over again.

Of course, an out-of-control base has been the GOP's problem for a while now. Polling shows that a drawn-out primary season hurting the party. And it's hurting the party because of all the pandering to the base. The debate has been driven far, far to the right of the average voter, making the candidates' stated "Republican values" almost alien to most people. And then this past week. Wow, this past week.

Republicans had already stumbled twice with women voters -- first by backing the Komen Foundation over Planned Parenthood, then by opposing the contraceptive coverage rule. Combine this with the backwards-looking -- but high-profile -- puritanism of Rick Santorum and you've got a party that's really starting to look very anti-woman.

And then Limbaugh doubles down and makes it not only explicitly anti-woman, but anti-contraception. Conservative blogs wondered aloud if contraception was such a good idea and took Limbaugh's position that women who enjoy sex while avoiding pregnancy are automatically sluts. It was the reactionary tendency of the right gone haywire; liberals have sex and use contraception (just like everyone else), so liberals were wrong. Lost was "religious liberty" argument, which was hardly any better. The banner of "contraception=sluts!" was proudly being carried forward -- and still is.

[Village Voice:]

"Rush Calls Some Slut a Slut and Everyone Gets Sand in Their Collective V@g!n@," said The Alternative Conservative, who apparently found "vagina" offensive but "slut" OK.

"Please don't call Sandra Fluke a slut," said Ace of Spades. "Respect her for what she is, a shiftless rent-a-cooch from East Whoreville."

"Let's face it, I'm sure most people, including Liberals/progressives, thought 'my goodness, how much sex does she have a day? Does she ever study?'" fantasized William Teach.

Things were a little different at the classier rightblogs. At National Review, for example, Daniel Foster called Limbaugh's comments "ungentlemanly' before explaining why Limbaugh was perfectly within his rights to call the slut a slut. Class will tell!

These are the people at least one GOP candidate will have to pander to -- Mitt Romney. Ron Paul will never get the nomination and when Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum speak these people's language, they aren't actually pandering. They're right at home.

Which means these awful, repellent, vile individuals are piloting this thing -- as I said -- straight to the dirt. And they're throwing the parachutes out the window as they go. They're bound and determined to drive this thing not only into the ground, but under it.

Because they've somehow become convinced that a big fireball will prove those damned liberals wrong.