For Religious Conservatives, the War Against Gay Rights is Already Lost

One of the more enjoyable aspects of the recent and rapid advance of gay
rights over the past few years -- and the past few months in particular
-- has been watching the Baghdad Bob-like insistence on the far-right
that the battle against the Homosexual Menace can still be won. For
those of you who might not remember, "Baghdad Bob" was a nickname given to Saddam Hussein's Information Minister Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf. He earned notoriety for being the worst propagandist anyone had ever seen, insisting that the defense of Iraq from the Dubya
invasion was going great for Hussein -- at one point telling reporters
there were no Americans in Baghdad while our tanks rolled around in the

The right's approach to the advance of gay rights and gay acceptance has
been complete denial to a ludicrous degree. For people who talk about
liberty and freedom a lot, they sure don't seem to have a lot of use for

At the head of all this stupid, you're generally going to find Michele Bachmann. Yesterday was no exception.

Raw Story: Appearing on CNN’s
The Situation Room, and speaking before Arizona governor Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062
which would have effectively legalized discrimination based on
religious grounds, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) explained to Wolf Blitzer that a veto would “eviscerate” freedom of speech.

Asked by host Blitzer what she thinks Governor Jan Brewer should do with
the bill sitting on her desk, Bachmann replied that we need to have
“tolerance” for people on both sides of the issue.

“I think what we need to do is respect both sides. We need to respect
both opinions,” Bachmann replied. “And just like we need to observe
tolerance for the gay and lesbian community, we need to have tolerance
for the community of people who hold sincerely held religious belief.”

Let's get one thing straight right off the bat: the right to discriminate is not
religious freedom. It's the opposite. When you give everyone the right
to be as oppressive as their dark, hating hearts desire, the result is
not more freedom, but more oppression. This is what Libertarians
constantly fail to understand and this is why hate-filled intellectual
lightweights like Bachmann love Libertarian arguments so much. They
aren't pro-freedom, they're pro-oppression. It's the same with the Obamacare
contraception coverage debate -- forcing your employees to abide by
your religious beliefs is not religious freedom, it's state-sanctioned
religious oppression.

So when a Bible-beating dope like Bachmann tells you something is about
freedom or liberty, it's not. It's about the opposite. If Michele
Bachmann gave a damn about religious liberty, she wouldn't be such a tireless fearmonger when it came to Muslims.

But the bigger and dumber argument is that we have to tolerate the intolerance of bigots like Bachmann and other SB1062
supporters -- or we are ourselves intolerant. This is an incredibly
stupid argument specifically designed to turn logic on its head. It
would make the people denouncing white supremacists or
counter-protesters at a Westboro Baptist funeral protest the real
bigots. This is not an argument that can survive in the wild. "Tolerate
my intolerance, hater!" is just as stupid and illogical as it sounds

Meanwhile, similar pro-discrimination bills are dropping like flies
all around the country. None made it as far as Arizona's, so they
didn't get the same amount of coverage. And, as I spent yesterday pointing out, no challenge to a state same-sex marriage ban has failed since the Supreme Court's Windsor decision -- a fact that handed the Michele Bachmanns of the world yet another loss yesterday.

The tide in the right's fight against the Creeping Homosexual Menace
isn't turning, it's turned. The war is all but over and the fierce
denials from the homophobe chorus only serve to (barely) delay the
inevitable. Those tanks behind the Baghdad Bob-like Michele Bachmann
aren't from the Religious Conservatives' advance force -- they're flying
rainbow flags.

And it's time for the dead-enders to wave white ones.


[photo via Wikimedia Commons]


One Good Reason to Raise the Minimum Wage: the 99% Want Their Money Back

Protesters demand a liveable wage
What's a big factor in driving up deficits and government spending? Lazy, no-good moochers on welfare, getting a free ride.

Aljazeera America:
State and local governments have awarded at least $110 billion in
taxpayer subsidies to business, with 3 of every 4 dollars going to fewer
than 1,000 big corporations, the most thorough analysis to date of
corporate welfare revealed today.

Boeing ranks first, with 137 subsidies totaling $13.2 billion, followed
by Alcoa at $5.6 billion, Intel at $3.9 billion, General Motors at $3.5
billion and Ford Motor at $2.5 billion, the new report by the nonprofit
research organization Good Jobs First shows.

Dow Chemical had the most subsidies, 410 totaling $1.4 billion, followed
by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire-Hathaway holding company, with 310 valued
at $1.1 billion.

The figures were compiled from disclosures made by state and local
government agencies that subsidize companies in all sorts of ways,
including cash giveaways, building and land transfers, tax abatements
and steep discounts on electric and water bills.

Meanwhile, families in poverty are having trouble getting by -- because
government supposedly can't afford to pay for things like food stamps or
the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Welfare reform was supposed to lift people out of poverty, but it's done the opposite. And it was all predictable.

After Clinton signed welfare reform into law, families were basically
given one chance to get out of poverty, then they'd be trapped there for
life. You had a lifetime cap on welfare payments, then you were on your
own. After Clinton signed the bill into law, payday loan shark
businesses sprouted up like mushrooms all over the nation. These
businesses prey on people in need, trapping them in a debt cycle with
incredible interest rates and eliminating any hope of ever being able to
escape poverty. According to ThinkProgress, the number of families in poverty who missed out on welfare benefits was 28%. Today, it's 74%.

As programs to eliminate poverty go, TANF -- the program that replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC
or "welfare as we know it") -- blows. It does exactly the opposite of
what was promised. When a handful of people have to switch from crappy
health coverage, that law needs to be scrapped. When a law that was
supposed to reduce poverty instead has families paying loans with
massive interest rates just to stay in a flea bag apartment in the worst
side of town, that law is somehow inviolate. In fact, there's no
shortage of Republicans who'll tell you it has to be made even worse.

But where is money being thrown away here. If Warren Buffet stops
getting a tax credit for merely existing, if the Koch brothers get cut
off from oil subsidies, if Wall Street has to pay higher taxes, are they
going to go broke. Will we see JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon living out of a pay-by-the-week motel room, rolling a 40% interest payment over and over just to make the rent?

I doubt it. Yet they're the ones getting all the welfare. Worse, we
don't even pretend that the handouts we give Wall Street are designed to
get the super-rich's snouts out of the government troughs. Whereas
welfare for people in poverty is supposed to get people off welfare,
handouts for the rich keep coming, no questions asked. Need a tax break
to build your new office complex or hotel? Sure! We don't even need to
check and see if you need the money. Which is good, because it's 100%
guaranteed that you don't.

And here's the thing. No one in government actually keeps track of how
much we spend total in corporate welfare. In order to find out, you have
to do an in-depth study. "The best estimate of total state and local
subsidies comes from Professor Kenneth Thomas, a political scientist at
the University of Missouri at St. Louis. In 2010 he calculated
the annual cost at $70 billion. No serious challenge has been made to
this conservatively calculated figure, which in 2014 dollars comes to
$75 billion. That is about $240 per person — nearly $1,000 annually for a
family of four," Aljazeera reports. "That amounts to more than a week’s take-home pay for a median-income family with two parents and two children."

That's a massive transfer of wealth from the 99% to the 1%. A huge heist
that goes on every day, unreported and untracked. "Class warfare" is
actually underselling it. We've created an American aristocracy.

A grand a family and what do we have to show for it? Income inequality
at historic levels. All this corporate welfare doesn't seem to be doing
one helluva
lot, other giving wealthy money-hoarders more money to hoard. At this
point, raising the minimum wage would be justified even if the economy
was going gangbusters -- just as a way to force these platinum-plated
welfare queens to pay a few of the taxpayers back. At least them we'd
get something back from this massive raid on taxpayers'
pocketbooks. We need to do much. much more to level the playing field
and actually get people out of poverty, but raising the minimum wage
would be a good start and the very least we can do. Those wages will be
spent, benefiting everyone.

We've got our welfare policy bass-ackwards
and wrong. Unless we turn it completely around, things are never going
to get any better. Raising the minimum wage is a step toward reversing a
transfer of wealth that's moving in entirely the wrong direction.


[photo via The All-Nite Images]


Better Pay, More Independent Workers -- No Wonder GOP Hates Obamacare

Pro-Obamacare demonstrators
The bad news keeps coming for the anti-Obamacare right. Not only did a Congressional Budget Office report released yesterday detail how the Affordable Care Care would empower workers to work fewer hours if they chose, but further examination of the report finds even more good news for America's working people. Talking Points Memo's Dylan Scott is once again on the ball:

TPM spoke with... top economists who agreed with [this] analysis: People choosing to work less because of Obamacare, as CBO projects, would mean higher wages.

"That stands to reason. You get this sorting effect," Dean Baker, co-founder of the left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research. "You have a lot of people working now who don't want to work. The only way they can get insurance is through their employer."

Those people retire or cut back their hours or otherwise lower their participation in the labor market -- a possibility that CBO raised itself -- reducing the labor supply. Over the long term, that drives up wages. Baker said that CBO said as much in its analysis: The report projected that total hours worked would drop by as much as 2 percent by 2024 because of Obamacare, but total compensation would fall only 1 percent.

Supply and demand: reality's greatest defender -- at least, in matters economic.

It's a pretty simple concept; if American workers work fewer hours, that doesn't mean that the workload they used to carry no longer needs to get done. As the supply of work hours drops, the demand automatically rises. When demand for labor rises, wages rise. Workers can demand more to work the same hours -- although in reality this will probably manifest as employer-designed incentive programs to keep employees at the workplace longer. Workers won't have to actually make that demand, because employers will beat them to the punch with the offer.

This has always been at the heart of Republican fearmongering over Obamacare. Before, many employees were trapped in jobs they didn't like or were working more hours than they preferred, because leaving or cutting back would mean losing their necessary health insurance. If insurance is no longer contingent on full-time employment, workers are free to pursue other interests, create more family-friendly work schedules, cut back to part time as the get closer to retirement, or even retire earlier. Employers do not like this and the big corporations who make up the GOP's funding base are big employers.

The ironic thing is that this all plays to the sort of things that Republicans are always talking about. It's not hard to foresee an increase in entrepreneurship, as employees leave companies or cut back hours to pursue their dreams. We'll probably see growth in self-employed or partially self-employed workers. American workers will be able to be more independent, more self-reliant, more able to take the risks required to start up a small business.

But of course when Republicans talk about this stuff, it's all happy horsecrap. It's a sales pitch, not an aspiration. If you still need proof of that, I don't know what to tell you. Why do they want to repeal a law that will increase entrepreneurship -- oh, and decreases the deficit at the same time? You think the big businesses the GOP represents wants a whole bunch of small businesses popping up and competing with them?

When the CBO report came out yesterday, the initial reporting on it was terrible -- journalistic malpractice, pure and simple. But the earlier crap reporting by the mainstream press is being corrected, while the more partisan media outlets never get it right anyway. If you watch Fox News, you want to be lied to and you'll hate Obamacare no matter what. And of course, reality will do some heavy lifting when 2 million jobs fail to evaporate and employees' compensation begins to rise.

That's the problem with spin -- eventually, it'll be proven wrong. Especially when it's based on a deliberate misunderstanding of the facts.


[photo by LaDawna Howard]


Tea Party on RiNO Safari in Kentucky

Mitch McConnell
It's 2014, an election year, which means it's time for a good ol' fashioned RiNO hunt. For those unfamiliar with the acronym, RiNO stands for "Republican in Name Only" and is meant to indicate a GOP sell-out to moderation or even liberalism -- but in reality, it's come to mean a heretic in the cult of Tea Party purity. Democrats, liberals, and various and sundry other commies, behold of the wonder of the RiNO safari and rejoice.

CNN: A conservative group is launching a new campaign which calls on "the GOP leadership in both the House and the Senate to step aside."

ForAmerica told CNN that it's putting six figures behind its "Dump the Leadership" campaign between now and November's leadership elections.

The group says that its digital ads will target House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, as well as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip John Cornyn, and the group adds that the first paid spots are now up online.

ForAmerica has been put together by ultra-conservative one man noise machine Brent Bozell. Brent is... Well, Brent's an interesting character -- if by "interesting" you mean an unrelenting, fiery ball of seething hatred, ridiculous lies, and perpetual victimhood. Also interesting (in the more traditional sense) is Bozell's reason for this RiNO hunt.

"Time and again, year after year, the Republican leadership in the House and Senate has come to grassroots conservatives, and Tea Party supporters pleading for our money, our volunteers, our time, our energy and our votes," Bozell told CNN. "In return they have repeatedly promised not just to stop the liberal assault on our freedoms and our national treasury, but to advance our conservative agenda. It's been years. There is not a single conservative accomplishment this so-called 'leadership' can point to."

There's a reason for that failure to advance the agenda -- conservative leadership spends way too much time listening to extremists like Brent Bozell. The government shutdown, the debt limit fiasco; these aren't exactly the children of Republican moderates. The Tea Party's demand for everything they want, right now, with no compromise whatsoever is a lousy strategy to get anything done. Replacing the leadership with Tea Party purists is not going to fix the problem Bozell thinks he sees.

In fact, the effort itself can only hurt Bozell's cause, as reality demonstrates.

Talking Points Memo: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is tied with his Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, at 42 percent each in a new poll by conservative-leaning firm Rasmussen Reports.

Six percent preferred neither of them, and 10 percent were undecided, according to the survey, which was released Monday.

Rasmussen's polls came under fire during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles for regularly overstating the standing of Republican candidates.

Rasmussen's poll shows the person Bozell and ForAmerica would prefer -- Matt Bevin -- actually doing better against Grimes in the general. But the most recent polling shows that Bevin has no hope at all of winning the Republican primary in Kentucky. Barring some earthshattering scandal or the incumbent's untimely demise, Mitch McConnell will win the primary and advance to the general. The man has a better than 20-point lead.

Which means that Brent Bozell and company are going to throw money at a candidate who's almost certainly going to lose the GOP primary, dirtying and roughing up the Republican who's just as certain to win. Mitch McConnell will not come out of this smelling like a rose, to say the least, and the man who's already the least popular senator in the US goes into a race even less popular than before. And that's a race where poll averages show him slightly behind. SPOILER ALERT: that's not going to help Republicans keep that seat.

After the race is over, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will probably be sending Brent Bozell a box of chocolates and a thank you card.

And while McConnell's case is an extreme example, it's still an important one. Other targeted Republicans probably won't be taken down so easily and ForAmerica's money will, for the most part, be wasted. But in a year where the GOP has hopes of retaking the Senate, throwing a seat away like this could spell disaster. And the fact that it's the Senate Minority Leader himself would only be a PR coup for Dems.

It also shows just how counterproductive conservative extremist tantrums and RiNO hunts can be. No wonder GOP leadership are going to war with the Tea Party. The 'baggers are true believers -- and true believers would rather destroy the party than allow it to be run by anyone other than purists.


[photo by Gage Skidmore]


GOP Immigration Reform Plan: Kill it, Plant the Knife on the President

Paul Ryan hands papers to Pres. Obama
It's definitely not the outcome anyone expected -- although maybe we
should've. House Republican leadership had put forward two principles
for immigration reform, one of which was that "specific enforcement triggers"
had to be met in order for House Republicans to advance a bill.
"Specific" was exactly the wrong word here, since this was a
fill-in-the-blank provision to be decided on later. This was the flag
that everyone was watching. The common wisdom was that if they were able
to wrangle the base on board, the triggers would be half-way reasonable
-- or at least do-able. Undocumented people would have to learn English
-- assuming they didn't already know it -- or complete high school or
an equivalent. If they didn't, then the trigger would be completely
unreasonable, like an impenetrable fence at the southern border or
something crazy, like mandatory prison sentences. If the push to pass
the bill failed, the signal was expected to be a poison pill -- a
requirement that was either so noxious that Democrats would reject it
out of hand or so technically impossible that it could never be met.

That's what everyone expected to happen. If the House killed immigration reform, that was the way it was supposed to die. No one foresaw this ignoble end:

Associated Press:
Republicans are starting to lay the blame on President Barack Obama if
an overhaul of the nation's broken immigration system fails to become

The GOP's emerging plan on immigration is to criticize Obama as an
untrustworthy leader and his administration as an unreliable enforcer of
any laws that might be passed. Perhaps realizing the odds of finding a
consensus on immigration are long, the Republicans have started telling
voters that if the GOP-led House doesn't take action this election year,
it is Obama's fault.

"If the president had been serious about this the last five years, we'd be further along in this discussion," Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, said Sunday.

And in case you don't get the message, Rep. Paul Ryan -- who'd taken the
lead on the bill -- said pretty much the same thing; "Here's the issue
that all Republicans agree on: We don't trust the president to enforce
the law."

No one expected this turn of events -- mostly because it's stupid.

What the GOP is trying to do here is blame a move the President made
back in 2012 for immigration reform's death today. In '12, Obama
announced that he would stop deporting the children of undocumented
people, basically moving forward with as much of the DREAM Act as executive power would allow. It was a case of the president doing what he could, because the Republican-obstructed congress would do nothing.

And of course, it ties into their current (and baseless)
freak out over Obama's announcement of the use of executive privileges
to advance his agenda as laid out in the 2014 State of the Union.

So the story is this: Republicans don't want to pass immigration reform,
because they don't trust the president to enforce a something that he would sign into law himself and that he himself had called for. This
is an astonishingly dumb argument and an extremely hard one to buy.
They'd have been better off going with the "specific triggers" dodge and
demanding an inescapable dome be built over Mexico and China.

But what this messaging signals is that the base will accept nothing.
Keep in mind, the "specific triggers" excuse would not only have to fool
Latino voters, but also the GOP base. It would have to be some proposal
that was at least close to acceptable to both groups and it turns out
that this is impossible. The racist base
will accept nothing short of increased enforcement and, if at all
possible, an effort to mass-deport every undocumented person in the
entire US. There is no compromise position here -- the base is so
extreme that not even the pretense of compromise is good enough, because
no compromise would be plausibly acceptable.

Which is why we get the unbelievably stupid "reform is dead because of
Obama" excuse. No one expected it, but maybe everyone should've.

[photo via Wikimedia Commons]


On Immigration, Will the GOP Cave to Racists?

Anti-immigration protesters
In a piece for The Daily Beast, Patricia Murphy writes that a new front is about to open up in the GOP Civil War. At this very moment, House Republicans are locked away at a "retreat," where they're trying to knock together some sort of immigration reform bill. So far, John Boehner has put forth two principles -- one vague and one specific -- that would be required to get House leadership's support. The first is the vague one: that any law would go into effect only after so far undefined "specific enforcement triggers have been implemented." The second is that there be no pathway to citizenship.

Actually, it would be more accurate to say that there would be no automatic pathway to citizenship -- people covered by the reforms would have nothing standing in the way of citizenship, other than the fact that they'd have to officially declare that desire. This is pretty much a fig leaf for the GOP, whose messaging had until recently argued that a pathway to citizenship was "amnesty" and the worst thing ever! By saying there's "no pathway to citizenship," House leaders hope to avoid charges of "caving" to Democrats on the issue. But it would be much more accurate to say there would no longer be any glide path to citizenship, since the path is cleared of any obstacles, should you wish to follow it. You've just got to land the thing yourself.

Whether that fig leaf is enough to get enough Republicans on board is still an open question. Greg Sargent has argued that we'll know when they define the "specific enforcement triggers." If the triggers are unreasonable and unattainable, like a giant wall closing off a ridiculous percentage of the southern border or 100% use of and compliance with e-Verify, then that means Republicans have failed to agree among themselves and they're trying to blame the failure of reform on Democrats.

But what would really be responsible for that failure? In a remarkable moment of candor, some Republicans say racism would be to blame.

Buzzfeed: “Part of it, I think — and I hate to say this, because these are my people — but I hate to say it, but it’s racial,” said the Southern Republican lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “If you go to town halls people say things like, ‘These people have different cultural customs than we do.’ And that’s code for race.”

There are a range of policy reasons for opposing plans to liberalize immigration or to regularize undocumented immigrants in the country, ones revolving around law-and-order concerns and the labor market. But that perceived thread of xenophobia, occasionally expressed bluntly on the fringes of the Republican Party and on the talk radio airwaves, has driven many Hispanic voters away from a Republican leadership that courts them avidly. And some Republicans who back an immigration overhaul, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and one of the Republican Party’s most vocal champions of a pathway to citizenship, acknowledge that race remains a reality in the immigration debate.

“There will always be people [who have] different reasons for opposing the change. We have a history in this country of demagoguery when it comes [to immigration]. You know, ‘Irish Need Not Apply.’ There’s nothing new going on today that’s gone on before. This isn’t the first time that there’s been some ugliness around the issue of immigration,” Graham said.
It's the nativist base that cheered on Arizona's racist anti-immigration law -- one that requires anyone who police suspect might be undocumented to produce the proper papers on demand, like a "papers please" scene from Hogan's Heroes. It's the same base that had John McCain star in a presidential campaign commercial with a somewhat problematic Arizona sheriff. And it's that same base that dragged Sen. Marco Rubio from 2016 frontrunner to conservative has-been after he took the lead on an earlier reform effort.

In all but the last example, the base was encouraged by the party -- or, at least, by the party mouthpieces in rightwing media. No one spoke out when the base made Joe Arpaio -- who should've been nothing more than a racist, birther embarrassment -- a party hero. No one spoke out on any of this stuff. And now party leadership expects them to turn on a dime, because it's politically expedient.

Maybe Boehner's more of a leader than I suspected. Maybe he can twist enough arms and promise enough campaign financing to actually get a working version of this out of the House. At this point, there is some reason for optimism.

But the base will not follow. At this point, they've been trained to respond to anything less than driving all undocumented people out of the country with pitchforks as a form of "amnesty." If Republicans agree to any substantive reforms, the base -- driven by what even many Republicans admit is bigotry -- will be extremely displeased at best. And in revolt, at worst.

We could see a Second Wave of Tea Party sentiment after this, an angry denouncement of the "RiNOs" who let the liberals pull one over on them. A rabid, raw, nakedly racist backlash against GOP leadership and party establishment.

But it has to happen sometime. The party has to shed the racists to make some progress. It may hurt them in the short term, but there is no other moral choice. The only alternative is to go back to pandering to bigots -- a position the party has taken far too often on far too many issues.

It has to stop some time. Now would be as good a time as any.


[photo by Mike Schinkel]


Rand Paul's Answer to Poverty: Wage More War on Women

Rand Paul
I've never been extremely impressed with Kentucky's freshman Senator
Rand Paul. He seems keenly proud of his own brilliance -- despite the
fact that few people other than himself can manage to find any evidence
of it. His desire to be a Senator seems to stem more from his need to be
a Very Important Person than his desire to serve his country. And you
don't take it upon yourself to respond to the President's State of the Union Address
-- in no official capacity whatsoever -- unless you think people need
to appreciate the beneficent fruits of your towering intellect.

In short, Rand Paul is an incredible egotist, made even more insufferable by the fact that he's not actually all that smart
He's five gallons of smart in a 50 gallon drum -- and the rest of the
barrel is filled up by bullcrap. That's my impression. And it's an
impression he recently did very little to dispell.

ThinkProgress: At a luncheon for the Chamber of Commerce in Lexington, KY, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) floated the idea of capping government benefits for women who have children out of wedlock, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.

While he said that preventing unplanned pregnancies should be in the
hands of communities and families, he added, “Maybe we have to say
‘enough’s enough, you shouldn’t be having kids after a certain amount.”‘
He went on to say, “I don’t know how you do all that because then it’s
tough to tell a woman with four kids that she’s got a fifth kid we’re
not going to give her any more money. But we have to figure out how to
get that message through because that is part of the answer.”

The idea of withholding benefits from women who have more than a certain
number of children is actually current policy in many states. While
most programs through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, or welfare) give families more money if they have more children, 16 states cap the assistance and don’t give any extra money for new children if someone in the household is already receiving aid.

Want to take a guess at how good this policy is at eliminating poverty? ThinkProgress
goes on to report that it doesn't make a dent in poverty at all,
because duh. In fact, many of the states that had implemented such a cap
are in the process of undoing it.

But worse than Paul's ignorance of the consequence of his proposal is
his complete unawareness that Republican policies could possibly be
contributing to any of this. Your party reduces the number of abortion
clinics by regulating them out of business and fights to keep women from
getting contraceptive coverage in their health insurance -- both of
which affect women in poverty to a far greater degree than anyone else
-- and then you complain that poor women have too many children?

Seriously, how stupid do you actually have to be? And Tea Party darling Rand Paul can STFU
about "individual liberty" now, because you know who else thinks having
the government limit the size of families is a good idea? China.
For someone who claims to be on the side of freedom, Rand Paul -- like
pretty much ever Republican official out there -- sure spends a lot of
time thinking up new ways to micromanage women's lives. The word these guys are looking for here isn't "liberty," it's "totalitarianism."

The whole thing is idiotic beyond words and Sen. Poodlehair
here seems to be convinced that it's the most common sense thing in the
world. Why? Because he's a Republican, that's why. For Republicans, the
solution to every problem is to find the right person to punish, then
you punish them hard and punish them long -- unless they're wealthy.
That's why they don't believe in global warming; they can't figure out
how beating poor people, women, and minorities with ax handles would
solve the problem. So it must not exist.

For them, it's create a problem, then complain about the people the problem affects. That's how geniuses like Rand Paul operate.

You really wish those geniuses were rare.


[photo by Gage Skidmore]


Economics, the State of the Union, and the Ever-Dimming Appeal of the GOP

Protester holds sign reading, 'NO LONGER REPUBLICAN'
As State of the Union speeches go, President Obama's 2014 appearance
before the joint chambers of congress went well. Of the people who
watched the speech, 53% had a "very positive reaction to his speech."
Conservatives will no doubt point out that the sample is skewed left,
but the poll can hardly be blamed for not including people who refused
to watch the speech. The audience was largely Democrat and indie, so the
sample is largely Democrat and indie.

Still, there's some nasty news for Republicans here. The CNN flash poll's
respondents were "44% Democratic and 17% Republican." Yet, when asked
if "the president's policies will move the country in the right
direction," 71% said they would -- a number way too high to be
explained by Democratic boosterism. That number has to include a lot of
indies and even some Republicans. CNN reports that the number of dems in
the sample is "about 12 points more Democratic than the population as a
whole," so 71-12=59.

But let's not get all teabagger about things and start "unskewing" polls
to advantage Republicans. Let's look at numbers that need no

A Pew Research/USA Today poll
released a few days ago polled several of the central themes of the
State of the Union. From income inequality to reducing poverty to
increasing the minimum wage to extending jobless benefits. The public is
with the president and Democrats. And on the question of how to deal
with most of these issues, Republicans are pretty far outside the

On only one issue do Republican voters agree with the majority of
Americans -- that the minimum wage should be raised to $10.10 an hour.
And it's hardly a landslide; 53% think Americans should get at least a
living wage. But it shows that even the party's voters are at odds with
the party's elected officials.

But part of the problem is that Republicans don't seem to understand the
issues surrounding poverty. 57% of Republicans say that people get rich
by working harder than everyone else -- a silly argument that would
make the guy who works on a loading dock a billionaire and the guy who
sits at a desk trading money a pauper. Not surprisingly, this view is
not shared by the majority. Only 35% agree with this explanation of
wealth creation. People are far more likely to explain wealth as a
matter of luck and privilege. 63% of Democrats and 52% of Independents
believe that someone become wealthy "because he or she has had more

Only 36% say the economic system is "fair to most Americans," 60% say
the economy is rigged to favor the wealthy, and 60% say most people are
willing to work hard to get ahead. 54% would like to see taxes raised on
the rich to expand programs to fight poverty, only 44% believe that
government aid results in dependency, and a measly 35% believe that
"lowering taxes on the wealthy to encourage more investment and economic
growth" -- i.e., the GOP's core economic message or
"trickle-down/supply side economics" -- would help to reduce poverty.

The President walked in to that congressional chamber last night with a
deck of winning cards. No wonder his speech was well-received outside
Republican circles.

And no wonder those Republican circles keep shrinking.


[photo by Matt Baran]


Motionless, Broken GOP Complains About Being Left Behind

Photoshop image of GOP behind sign asking, '#WhatUsGovern'?
Tonight's the President's State of the Union address and the big news on the right is that the president plans to use the lawful power of the presidency to get some stuff done. Needless to say, conservatives think this is the worst thing ever! For the rest of America, however, this is seen as a good idea. Greg Sargent points to a Washington Post/ABC News poll that includes this relevant response:

Presidents have the power in some cases to bypass Congress and take
action by executive order to accomplish their administration’s goals. Is
this approach something you…

Support: 52

Oppose: 46

 "In other words, despite the inevitable screams about Obama 'tyranny,'
this approach will politically be at worst a wash (independents are
split on it 49-49) and at best a net positive (in addition to majority
support for it, moderates favor it by 56-43," Sargent reports, "only
Republicans and conservatives oppose it in large numbers)."

And you don't have to look far for other data to explain that result. To return to a Pew poll
I wrote about yesterday, a majority of Americans see the Republican
Party for what it is: extremist, hyper-partisan, enthralled to
lobbyists, unethical, dishonest, and not concerned with "the needs of
people like me." If that's the way Americans see Republicans, why on
Earth would they want GOP input on anything? The more you could get done
without people like that, the better off everyone would be.

And if you think congress has been dysfunctional before, imagine what it
will be like with a fractured GOP that can't even agree amongst
themselves -- which seems to be the direction that the GOP Civil War is
dragging everything.

Whenever presidents give State of the Union addresses, the opposition
party chooses one person to deliver the official response. In recent
years, an additional tea party response was added. This year, there will
be three––count ‘em, THREE––separate State of the Union rebuttals from
three different Republicans. The official Republican party response will be delivered by Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, giving her a brief moment in the spotlight to make a name for herself nationally.

However, last week the group Tea Party Express announced that Senator Mike Lee, who played a major part in Ted Cruz‘s big 21-hour Obamacare filibuster, would be delivering the official tea party response to the State of the Union. Previous tea party post-SOTU speakers have been Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Rand Paul.

And speaking of Rand Paul, the Kentucky senator will be… yep, you guessed it!… delivering his own rebuttal to the State of the Union. Paul’s speech appears not to be in connection with any group, just something he decided to do.

Wow. What a show of party unity, huh? Three separate responses are a
pretty good sign that none of these people are on the same page and that
none of these groups trust the others to speak to their concerns. A
party being pulled in three separate directions isn't a party that's
going to be able to function very well. This explains why all the
"accomplishments" of the GOP have been the negative consequences of
doing nothing -- i..e., the government shutdown, the debt limit fiasco,
the sequester kicking in, etc. When you want people to fight over how
and when to pull the brake lever on a runaway train -- and in the
process, fail to throw the lever at all -- you go ahead and call the
GOP. It's what they're good at. It's hard to imagine why you'd want
someone to do that, though.

And so the American people don't. They want the President to use his
executive authority as an end run around a broken and nonfunctional
Republican Party. You can't count on the GOP to get things done, so we
don't. If we rely on Republican cooperation -- with the president, with
Democrats, and even with themselves -- we'll never see anything
accomplished. If we want government to work, we'll have to do our best
to get it to work without them.

Luckily, there's a way to do that.


[image by DonkeyHotey]


How Not to Deny You're Waging a War on Women

You may need a refresher on Virginia state Sen. Dick Black, a far-right
Republican who just doesn't get how marital rape can be a thing. If so,
here's Mother Jones' Molly Redden's reporting on the subject from January 15.

After taking a drubbing in last year's state elections, Virginia
Republicans are debating whether their party has come to be defined by
its extremists. But in a congressional district in Northern Virginia,
one of the state's main instigators of culture warfare, state Sen.
Richard H. "Dick" Black, is running in the Republican primary to replace
longtime GOP moderate Rep. Frank Wolf, who is retiring. And he's
guaranteed to ignite wedge-issue passion. Exhibit A: As a state
legislator, Black opposed making spousal rape a crime, citing
the impossibility of convicting a husband accused of raping his wife
"when they're living together, sleeping in the same bed, she's in a
nightie, and so forth."

Black has referred to emergency contraception, which does not cause abortions, as "baby pesticide."
Black also fought to block a statue of Abraham Lincoln at a former
Confederate site in Richmond. He wasn't sure, he explained at the time,
that statues of Lincoln belonged in Virginia. He has argued that
abortion is a worse evil than slavery. And once, to demonstrate why
libraries should block pornography on their computers, Black invited a
TV reporter to film him using a library terminal to watch violent rape porn.

Last week, we got the not-unwelcome news that Black was dropping out of that race.
Black said he was staying in the state Senate to "maintain our 20/20
split," but there's good reason to believe that he was pushed out. Black
is exactly the kind of candidate establishment Republicans don't want running in November -- the kind who uses hard-ass conservativism
to be a jerk and troll everyone who isn't a true believer. Maybe he
could've won the district or maybe he couldn't have. But he would've
been guaranteed to engage in jackass antics that would make national
waves and make the party look bad as a whole. And, as I pointed out last week, Black's not the only candidate that Republicans have who's making trouble for the GOP as a whole.

But a bigger problem for the party might just come from non-candidates who they can't force out of the spotlight; Brainiacs
who think they've mastered the art of spin and think that they can fix
the party's problems freelance. You know, masterminds like Mike Huckabee, whose attempt to spin away the the GOP's "War on Women" label only managed to confirm it.

And then there's serial headline-grabber/foot-in-mouth inserter Rand Paul, who decided -- like Huckabee -- that it's Democrats who are waging a war on women because Bill and Hillary:

Political Wire: Said
Paul: "One of the workplace laws and rules that I think are good is
that bosses shouldn't prey on young interns in their office. And I think
really the media seems to have given President Clinton a pass on this.
He took advantage of a girl that was 20 years old and an intern in his
office. There is no excuse for that, and it is predatory behavior."

He noted that "sometimes it's hard to separate" Bill and Hillary Clinton
and then added, "And then they have the gall to stand up and say
Republicans are having a war on women? So yes, I think it's a factor.
It's not Hillary's fault, but it is a factor in judging Bill Clinton and

The best response I've come across to this insane false equivalence comes from DPM at Balloon Juice; "Clearly, one instance of sexual harassment almost twenty years ago requires, as I’m sure any serious Burkean
would agree, that women pay for their own contraception for the rest of
recorded time without further comment." And of course, there's the
invasive and unnecessary ultrasound laws and the voter suppression and
the candidates like Black who think it's impossible to rape your wife
and your talk show hosts who think women who use birth control are sluts
and you get the idea.

And of course, since the most recent example of a dem War on Women that Sen. Poodlehair
could come up with was two decades ago, you kind of get the idea that
evidence of said WoW is laughably slim. And one guy engaging in office
shenanigans with one intern is not at all the same as an entire
political party wanting to invade women's bodies with ultrasound wands
to punish them for daring to exercise their right to an abortion. That
it's the same as chasing them away from the polls. That it's equal to
not allowing health insurance to cover contraception, because forcing
employees to abide by their employers' religious beliefs is somehow some
bass-ackard kind of "religious freedom."

That's the worst part of all this; that Huckabee
or Paul don't get -- or pretend not to get -- what's wrong with all of
this. That they don't get why women might not be all that pleased with
middle aged Republican men micromanaging their lives. That they think that women are dumb enough to fall for these idiotic arguments.

In trying to deny there's a Republican War on Women, these people are waging one. They're doing it badly. And it hurts.

Republicans may be able to scare off candidates like Dick Black with
backroom talks about funding and donors, but the guys like Rand Paul and
Mike Huckabee,
who aren't running for anything at the moment, they're going to be a
trickier problem. They think they're smart enough to straighten this
whole War on Women thing out on their own -- and they're so not.


[photo via Wikimedia Commons]


Freedom vs. the Cult of the GOP

Protester with sign declaring voting a human right
Let's face it, there are really two reasons why Republicans want to put
up significant obstacles to voting, The first is the obvious one that
everyone knows: faced with an ever-shrinking demographic base,
Republicans want to even the playing field by keeping Democratic voters
away from the polls. If you ever doubted that one, then consider Texas' onerous voter ID law, which recognizes gun licenses as valid voter identification, but not a college ID card.

The second is similar, but more cultish.
It's the Tea Party's rationalization for voter suppression. Like the
first, this reasoning has it that too many Democrats vote, but this one
tries to argue that making it harder to vote is a good thing, since then
only the people who really want to vote will make it to the ballot box. These people worry about the "low information voter" (LIV), who -- if they only took the time to listen to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity
on the Blessed Electronic Gospel Box -- would understand all and see
the Starry Wisdom of the Tea Party Way. It's ironic, since the people
who think this way are actually the LIVs they worry about. They're factually wrong about pretty much everything, but reject any disagreement as heresy and even as some sort of mental defect.
In any case, the result of this cult-thinking is the same as that of
the more reality-based suppressors' thinking -- weeding out Democratic
voters. Only the reasoning behind the suppression effort is different.

But whichever the reasoning, the cause of the panic is the same: the reliably Republican voter is disappearing into the mist.

Brian Buetler, Salon:
When it became clear about a year ago that Republican leaders would
have a much harder time advancing immigration reform than they realized —
that GOP activists and conservatives were livid about the idea
that Republicans were going to help illegal immigrants gain citizenship —
it started to look like the party had an insoluble problem on its
hands. Watching Republicans attempt to broaden their appeal to growing,
traditionally Democratic constituencies has been like watching someone
try to cover a bedroom floor with a poorly cut carpet, fastening it into
one corner but pulling it out of the others in the process.

They can’t connect with traditionally Democratic constituencies without
breaking connection with their reliable supporters. They can tug in
every possible direction, but at some point they need to acknowledge
that the carpet’s too small.

And here's where the Tea Party's reasoning for voter suppression
actually approaches sense -- eve if it doesn't actually get anywhere
near there.

The problem with the GOP is that they've been at the same messaging for
so long that the people who began telling it have been replaced by the
people who fell for it. In other words, Republicans are all people
who've bought into Republican BS -- it's now a party that's fallen for
it's own propaganda. They don't want to change to appeal to a broader
base of voters -- and why would they? They believe they're 100% correct.
If you change your argument to appeal to more voters, then you're
moving away from a position of absolute truth. Compromise is the
rejection of truth for the convenience of half-truths or even lies. This
is why true believers reject moderation -- and why people who actually are right reject it as well.

So if Republicans can't change, then voters have to. The voting public
must become more Republican. But here's where the Tea Party true
believers run into trouble -- short of reeducation camps where hippies
are made to listen to Limbaugh 24/7, there's no way to force voters to
become enlightened in the ways of trickle-down, free market, fem'nist hatin', minority-bashing, Homosexual Menace-fightin' hoodoo.

So you chase liberals away from the polls. Instead of converting voters
to Republicanism, you reduce the voting population until Republicans
dominate. Which is why I don't hold out a lot of hope for the recommendations of a bipartisan panel
on voting in America. Conservatives don't care about democracy,
conservatives care about conservatism. So recommendations to improve
voting in America will be fought tooth and nail, with lies about how
they're all just an excuse to make voter fraud easier.

Ironically, the only way to beat voter suppression is to ruin
Republicans at the polls. Thankfully, their voter suppression methods aren't nearly as effective as the GOP had hoped.

As much as they make a big show of "standing for liberty," Republicans
don't believe in it. Not for everyone, anyway; only for the members of
their orthodoxy. They believe in freedom in the same way that a dictator
does -- plenty of freedom for themselves, not so much for everyone
else. You see, the plebeians don't really know what's good for them, so
it's the burden of the Enlightened to make their decisions for them. Too
much freedom and you'll only hurt yourself with bad decisions about
income inequality, the minimum wage, and "lifestyle choices" like
homosexuality, contraception, and abortion.

The enemies of democracy are the enemies of freedom, since democracy is our most basic freedom. The right to vote is the right on which all other freedoms depend.

Use it or lose it, people.


[photo by Michael Fleshman]


Even Republican Voters Concerned about Income Inequality

Click to Enlarge
[Click to Enlarge]
67% of Americans are godless commies who hate capitalism and freedom.
That is, if you use the metrics offered by rightwing media. If you tend
to be more in line with mainstream thought, then the better take is that
Americans are concerned about equality and fairness -- just as we
always have been. And the bad news for Republicans is that all those
capitalism-hatin' Marxists include a majority of their own voters.

In all, 54% of Republican voters told Gallup
that they were either very or somewhat dissatisfied with "the way
income and wealth is distributed in the US." While this is way lower
than the 67% of all Americans who answered likewise, there's still a
majority of Republican voters echoing these Occupy movement sentiments.
And if you remove Republicans from the equation to keep them from
dragging down the curve, roughly three-quarters of respondents would
agree that income inequality is not good for America.

Gallup analysis shows an opportunity for leadership by the president:

Obama will almost certainly touch on inequality in his State of the
Union address on Jan. 28. This will certainly resonate in a general
sense with the majority of Americans who are dissatisfied with income
and wealth distribution in the U.S. today. Members of the president's
party agree most strongly with the president that this is an issue, but
majorities of Republicans and independents are at least somewhat
dissatisfied as well.

Although Americans are more likely to be satisfied with the opportunity
for people to get ahead through hard work, their satisfaction is well
below where it was before the economic downturn. Accordingly,
improvement in the U.S. economy could bring Americans' views back to
pre-recession levels.

Everyone knows that Democrats plan to make income inequality an
election-year issue and this has already put Republicans on the
defensive. Paul Ryan, for his part, is hoping people forget the "takers
v. makers" messaging of the Romney-Ryan campaign, which basically argued
that poverty in America is way too sweet a deal,
and see him instead as completely and miraculously transformed into St.
Paul Ryan, Blessed Defender of the Downtrodden and Acolyte to Pope

The problem of course is that Ryan's merely repackaging the old
"trickle-down" BS that Republicans can't seem to pull themselves away
from, despite the fact that it's failed over and over again. The past
three GOP presidents have tried it and it didn't work for any of them --
including the guy who introduced it to voters.
So Ryan's problem -- and the Republican Party's -- is that all this new
"friends of the poor" messaging sounds great, until you get into the
mechanics. Then it sounds stupid.

So the only real effort to address poverty, income inequality, and
unfair distribution of wealth is the old, tried-and-true, tested and
proven progressive approach. Raise minimum wage, increase protections
for workers, get the very wealthy to finally pay their fair share.
Republicans will hate it, but they have nothing else to offer.

And that's why income inequality will be a big issue for Democrats in
the 2014 midterms -- because Republicans' only defense is BS that's so
worn out that only that gullible 45% of Republican voters will fall for
it. You know, the same ones who think every word from Rush Limbaugh is
Gospel; the dopes, the eternal chumps, the reliable pigeons always
begging to be plucked. The ones who, for whatever reason, want to be fooled.

Whether the issue can turn an election remains to be seen. But if it
isn't a winner, it'll be because Republicans successfully changed the
subject. Which is why Democrats need to stick to their guns and stay on

This is a debate Republicans cannot win. So they'll most likely try to avoid having it at all.



How the Gun Industry Profits Off the Carnage its Product Creates

NRA's Wayne LaPierre
It's one of the gun lobby's and firearms industry's most successful scams; the "fear buying" marketing campaign. The way it works is this, you convince a certain cowardly subset of the population that there's some imminent threat to their safety or that the government is minutes away from scooping up all their guns and said cowardly subset will run out in a fit of panic buying, like people who get into fights over water before a big storm.

And how do we know it's the same subset every time? Because the numbers are too contradictory any other way. After a string of high profile and extremely shocking killings in 2013, it started to look like some real action was about to take place in the arena of gun safety. That this didn't happen is a matter of national shame, but the panic buying set in, making 2013 a banner year for firearms sales.

So, did everyone run out and buy a lot of guns and ammunition? Actually, no. Hardly anyone did. A study launched by the General Social Survey showed that gun ownership was actually at a 40-year low. Logic dictates that these are the same panicky grandmas out buying guns in a Pavlovian response to perceived danger -- danger that the guns would become illegal, danger that some other unhinged shooter would attack them, or both. And the gun-buying was in no way rational. If you're extremely skilled, you might be able to use two firearms at once, but record sales after record sales, combined with the number of gun-owning households in free fall, suggests these people have a lot more guns than two, which means a lot more guns than they can use at any given time.

So the "safety" conferred by gun ownership starts to look a lot more talismanic than utilitarian. In other words, the "guns keep you safe" argument basically becomes superstition.

And, of course, the gun industry is looking to go back to the well yet again, using their favorite marketing firm -- the gun lobby.

ThinkProgress: On Thursday, Businessweek’s Paul Barrett declared it the “the year of the woman,” at the 2014 Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade show, as the industry turns its attention on marketing to women. Reporting from the annual gun show, Feldman told Barrett that gun retailers look forward to reaping profits from “fear-buying” ahead of the 2016 presidential election:

The mood is upbeat, but the crazed buying frenzy of last year is over. Demand for ammunition is still unbelievably strong, but the gun makers know it’s time to market and sell product, not simply write orders that can’t possibly be filled. The next ramp-up in sales may not occur until the 2016 presidential campaign gets going in earnest. The more likely a Hillary Clinton victory looks, the more advance ‘fear buying’ will recur. While most may vote Republican, manufacturers and retailers secretly hope for a repeat of the ‘Obama surge’ that has boosted sales since 2009.

The gun lobby’s use of paranoid theories to boost gun sales has been a common tactic during the Obama administration. In both 2008 and 2012, the National Rifle Association told its members that Obama secretly planned to confiscate firearms, despite Obama’s conspicuous silence on the issue of gun violence throughout the election.

So they'll fire up the old "gun-grabber" myth machine and watch the chumps flock to by more guns than they can possibly use. At this point, it pays to consider those two trend lines -- gun ownership declining while gun purchases increase. There's a certain distillation going on here. All those guns are in fewer and fewer people's hands, meaning that ever-shrinking group of pigeons is responsible for an ever-growing number of firearms purchases. And that in turn at least suggests that many of the remaining gun purchasers probably don't have it all on the ball. After all, you don't amass more weapons than you could possibly use -- and do it in the name of safety -- if things are running like clockwork upstairs.

So what the firearms industry and gun lobby are doing is basically the same as a vodka company launching a marketing campaign aimed straight at alcoholics. There's a reason why distilleries don't do that, despite the fact that it would be tremendously profitable -- it's irresponsible to the point of soullessness. And this is actually worse, because a vodka company can't use a alcohol-fueled car wreck as an opportunity to sell booze. But gun companies can use gun massacres as an opportunity to sell guns -- and they do. Over and over and over again, to the same group of paranoid gun-aholics.

In terms of pure, raw evil, the gun industry makes the tobacco industry look like Little Bo Peep. Yes, cigarette companies sell a product they know kills people. And yes, they lied in denying the danger of their product for decades. But no tobacco exec ever launched a "cigarettes cure cancer" campaign, turning the deaths caused by their product into a reason to buy it.

That's basically what the firearms industry is doing. An ouroboros campaign where you need guns to protect yourself from all the guns and the more guns you have, the better off you are, because the number of guns out there keeps growing. A big magical circle, where you buy the cause to protect yourself from the effect.

Guns cure guns. So buy a handful today.


[photo by Gage Skidmore]


Republicans Mugging Republicans

Vintage photo of people staging a mugging
It's been said that a Republican is just a liberal who's been mugged. Of course, it tends to be Republicans who say this, since it makes very little sense. Being the victim of a crime may change your opinions about law enforcement or gun control, but why would being mugged make you oppose abortion or women's rights or same sex marriage. Why would being mugged make you more accepting of the Wall Street corporate crime wave? Why would being mugged make you think that labor unions must be broken and the minimum wage left at a pittance? And why would being mugged make you decide that giving everything to the rich and nothing to the poor is a good idea? Is the argument that being mugged makes you stupid?

A truer take on that cliche might be that being mugged turns you Democrat -- at least, when those muggers are Republicans.

ThinkProgress: On Tuesday, a potential agreement to extend benefits for those who have been out of work for six months or more fell apart over squabbling about procedural disagreements in the Senate. That fight came two and a half weeks after those checks stopped going out to millions of Americans, and it doesn’t look like it will be resolved in the next two weeks. Congress let the program lapse at the end of the year, which offered support to the jobless after their state benefits ran out, drying up a lifeline for those who are struggling to find a new job.

The people who have been left without that support are incensed, and the anger reaches across party lines. In an email to ThinkProgress, Peter LeClair, an out of work investment manager from New York, said he has been a lifelong Republican. But he “will never vote for a Republican, as long as I live” after watching them say that relying on unemployment benefits makes people dependent. “I am incensed with this Rand Paul,” he said, who has said extending the benefits would “do a disservice” to those who were relying on them. “He says I am lazy... I am not lazy, how dare he. He doesn’t even know me.”

LeClair says he has sent out over 2,000 resumes and been “rejected on a daily basis.” The benefits, which he pointed out he paid into while he worked for more than 20 years, were the only think keeping him “glued together financially.” He said he is “absolutely shocked and dismayed” with Republicans, reiterating, “I will never, so help me god, vote for a Republican again, period.”

Of course, LeClair's not the only one. "I read these politicians’ opinions of the unemployed and am furious at the implication as it correlates to my situation," says another. Yet another says she "was barely making ends meet with what little bit of benefits I was receiving. Now that they have expired, my children and I are literally homeless."

Once you see what Republicans' economic babble actually means to real people, once you become one of the many, many groups of Americans they tell lies about, the GOP doesn't seem like a party with such great ideas anymore. Once Republicanism meets your personal reality, you find they just don't mix.

Of course, the first clue should've been the glaring inconsistencies in GOP messaging; a rocky recovery and high unemployment are the fault of economic policies one minute, then they're the fault of lazy, work-rejecting "takers" the next. It would be helpful if they made up their minds before they opened their mouths. Never mind that there are roughly three jobseekers for every job, if everyone just hunkers down and looks really, really hard and wishes with all their little heart, everyone can find work -- because math is science and science is of the devil. In Republican World, three is not greater than one, three is equal to one; mostly because anything else would screw up their messaging on unemployment benefits.

As I wrote yesterday, the best Democratic recruiting tool is probably Republicans.

Here's the problem with the conservative approach to problem-solving: when a Republican sees a problem, they immediately look for someone to punish. Oddly, that someone is usually the person suffering from the problem. So if you're hungry, no food stamps. If you're poor, no assistance. If you're unemployed, no benefits. It's like seeing someone on the side of the road with a flat, pulling over, and beating them with the tire iron -- then driving away assuming you fixed their flat.

The only thing Republicans seem to think people in struggling families should get from anyone is bullets from Second Amendment Heroes standing their ground against them. Free rein for Wall Street; free bullets in the chest for working people.

You almost wish you could make everyone who votes Republican live the lives of the people Republicans attack, if only for a few days. But of course, this is a cruel wish. Just because a Republican who's been mugged by their party becomes a Democrat, it's no good reason to wish them a beating.

We're better than that. After all, we aren't Republicans.


[photo via Wikimedia Commons]