Showing posts with label Republican Primary Race. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Republican Primary Race. Show all posts

Friday, May 18, 2012

Obama Defeats Romney!

That's right, Democrats, this could happen to you. 

Fear-mongering and racial
dog-whistling are the stock
in trade of Super PACs.
James Carville wrote an opinion piece for CNN last week which spoke directly to my greatest fear about the November election: I am worried that there is a sense that the president (and the Democratic party) has the 2012 election sewn up. "After all", I keep hearing, "look at the Republicans!  They squabbled ridiculously over the primaries - flip-flopping endlessly on favorites before finally settling reluctantly on Mitt Romney for their presidential nominee. The roster of candidates was so bad, it almost seemed like a joke, and the lukewarm acceptance of Romney seemed to point to a dispirited party base who would probably stay home in November. Barack Obama is a sure winner in November!"

Let's get real, here. This is dangerously complacent thinking.

The Republican base that has been nurtured so assiduously for the past two decades through religion and fear-mongering will not stay home and sit out the election, no matter how disappointed they may be in their nominee. Because no matter how little they love Mitt Romney and how miserably uninspiring they find him, their hatred for President Obama provides inspiration that is greater, fiercer and more enduring. It will be the desire to throw President Obama out of the White House which will mobilize the Republican base this year; distaste for Mitt Romney notwithstanding. Mitt at least is white, male, and willing to pander to the religious and the rich.

 Billionaires flock to Republican operatives' Super PACs.
With the advent of super PACs and corporate "citizens", the power shift in the United States in favor of the wealthy and privileged has lurched more dramatically to the far right, tiniest stratosphere of society. People speak about a return to the "gilded age" and they do not mean a golden age for everyone. Money is power. A few very rich people and corporations can and do influence elections. With Citizens United, the Supreme Court handed the powerful few even more power to influence elections and to see to it that their chosen candidates win and keep power.

Voters are swayed by advertising. People believe or at least are emotionally manipulated by the messages that saturate the television and radio airwaves throughout an election campaign. And most people accept what they are fed through advertising uncritically. Super PACs are pouring millions into negative advertising campaigns every week because they work, and reports of equivalent money and power coming from average Americans, unions or one George Soros are greatly exaggerated.

"Newsflash: Nothing is in the bag. Nothing can be taken for granted. Everybody from the precinct door-knocker, to the Chicago high command, to the White House, to the halls of Congress, to the Senate and House committees, to congressional leadership, here is a simple message: If we don't get on the offense, reconnect with the American people, talk about how the middle class is in a struggle for its very existence, hold the Republicans accountable and fight like the dickens, we are going to lose." James Carville.

Vote Romney for a new gilded age!
The dirty tactics have already begun, and these smear campaigns will be bankrolled by fewer than 100 wealthy, powerful donors. This election could - literally - change the course of American history. We are on the brink of an abyss: poised to plummet - possibly for good - down into the kind of quasi-feudal society from which our forebears escaped. Everything that has been good about America has been bad for those who would prefer a society where a few can live like kings, surrounded by a vast and impoverished labor force willing to work for low wages, thus increasing the "kings'" wealth and power.

Writers and speakers and ordinary citizens who care about the future had better be paying attention. We must keep these issues in front of people. We must keep the electorate engaged and aware that this election matters. This is the year to knock on doors, make phone calls, write and speak out for the future of the American dream. People who care about the 99% had better fasten their seatbelts - we are in for the fight of our lives.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Sermon Antidotes - Controlled

There are antidotes for the poison sprayed upon the multitudes in houses of worship across the continent every Sunday morning.

Sit back and take in some reality-based inspiration on this Sunday morning.

Tombstone da Deadman:  Controlled.

"You like that song?...I wrote that for you."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Santorum Exits Republican Primary Ring

The bland white face of misogynist Christian fascism

CNN and other news sources are reporting that Rick Santorum has pulled out of the Republican primary struggle.

For Mitt Romney, this is a multi-faceted win.  First, it means that Santorum's backers have seen the writing on the wall and told the bland white face of religious fascism to stand down (for now), while they all close their eyes, hold their noses and try to support Romney.

Second, it means that all the money currently being poured into primary races to tear Romney down will now go into general election funds to tear President Obama and other Democrats down.

Third, it means that Romney no longer will be forced to defend against opponents within the party, but can now put his considerable ability and well-oiled political machine to work in the campaign to defeat President Obama in November.

Look for a hard swerve toward the center from Mitt Romney within days if not hours.

It is vital for Progressives to keep the focus on the extreme positions that Romney was willing to espouse or at least support in order to curry favor with the extreme right wing of his party. He will talk out of the other side of his mouth now to lull independent voters, women and progressives into a false sense of security.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Attention Supreme Court: The People Will Decide

Another in the long line of inexplicably "surprising"  revelations that seem to be coming fast and furious these days:  a Pew Research Council poll shows that public disapproval of the U.S. Supreme Court has tripled during the hearings regarding the Affordable Healthcare Act.  The American people have registered their awareness, once again, that conservative lies criticisms about progressive trickery are more often than not breathtakingly brazen projection.  The "activist liberal judges" we have heard so much about for so many years have failed to materialize in any powerful way, while the United States Supreme Court has been stocked with activist Republican conservatives. Finally, the American people seem to be waking up to this reality.

The religious right and the libertarian wing of the Republican party have long accused "the left" of a litany of evils ranging from the myth of the "liberal media" to the incredible accusation that "godless socialists" were bent on destroying this country. For years, the fiction that these "dangers" from the left not only exist but are a threat to all patriotic Americans has been promulgated and, unbelievably, accepted by a majority of conservatives and even some liberals in the USA. Always prominent among these false claims was the suspicious accusation that the left was somehow packing the judicial benches across the land with "activist" judges.

Even while their own churches and business leadership were busy organizing followers to do their bidding in the voting booth, even while powerful conservative backers were financing the establishment of a network of schools and colleges to produce an entire generation of dedicated workers for their pro-religion, anti-social cause, even while libertarian billionaires and billionaire churches planned and financed a scheme to infiltrate every school, every influential profession and every level of government, right-wing American leaders and their followers continued to accuse the left - that scary, elitist, monolithic left - of trying to do the very thing that they were actually doing.

Patrick Henry College est. 2000
It was the uncertainty and unease felt by the great American middle class following the social and sexual revolution of the 1960's that set the stage for the right wing's greatest opportunity, and its leadership did not waste it. Acting quickly to fill the void that social turmoil often brings to the collective psyche of a population, the religious right shifted its proselytizing and church-planting into high gear. Money was poured into the establishment of Christian schools and "colleges" which popped up all over the country seemingly overnight.  Massive infusions of cash from the coffers of wealthy churches and like-minded wealthy corporations enabled the construction of old-looking, brand new campuses, to give the air of legitimacy to institutions created for the singular purpose of graduating a generation of ideologically-driven businessmen, lawyers, doctors and politicians to fill the leadership positions in the future, theocratic, conservative America of their dreams.

Yet, notwithstanding such a well-financed and determined strategy, the right-wing has found it an uphill battle to beat down and crush the independent American thinker. The traditional wide band of moderate Americans in the center of most policy debates throughout our modern history has been eroded far more slowly than the so-called "moral majority" might have expected given their relentless religious and political proselytizing.  Even at the pinnacle of their power in 2004, the extreme right was only able to grab the top ring of political power with a surprisingly small margin, barely heaved over the finish line by an incumbency that was only made possible by an activist Supreme Court, disturbing voting irregularities and the fear and uncertainty of war.  The fact that - even with a well-funded, carefully-planned, long-term strategy to undermine and further weaken the American social contract using religious indoctrination and inflammatory political propaganda - right-wing conservatives have only managed to thoroughly convert roughly 30% of the population to their extreme ideology says something encouraging about the resilience and independent toughness of the moderate American center.

Polls taken last week indicated public support for the Affordable Healthcare Act is split along partisan lines, but that support is rising as the provisions of the Act are beginning to go into effect. A small majority want the bill struck down by the Supreme Court - many because they think the Act goes too far, but some because they object that the Act does not go far enough. This comes in spite of the fact that, when questioned about specific provisions of the law, a much larger majority of respondents actually support many of them!  While the libertarian arm of the Republican propaganda machine (via conservative-dominated media) has seemed to succeed in muddying the waters in the short term, it seems that the American public is beginning to smell a rat. The Pew Research Council poll may be the proverbial canary in the mine: an early indicator that deep in the heart of America, a sense of the fundamental inappropriateness of an unelected body potentially striking down a law which was passed by democratically elected representatives of the people is beginning to reassert itself.

David Frum had an interesting take on the role of the Supreme Court in the election (!) last week on the Daily Beast.  Frum believes that, this time, even a high court stocked with hand-picked conservative ideologues might not bow to partisan pressure to use its unelected power to influence a hugely important matter of public governance - not even to bolster the flagging fortunes of the current crop of Republican primary contenders.  The nine justices may actually perform their constitutionally-defined duty, and nothing more, to the frustration of the conservatives who expect obedience from them,  and to the relief of progressives everywhere.  It is the American people who hold the right to decide in November whether they are satisfied with the work of the current congress.

Out of an apparent "going for broke" recklessness, virtually all of the Republican leadership has openly joined in this intensely partisan and miserably destructive strategy to polarize the American public in order to eke out political victories by small but sufficient margins to retain power. I suppose there may be a cleverly hidden strategy behind this latest spectacle.  What appears to be the disintegration of the GOP might in fact be the birth pangs of yet another well-orchestrated power play, but from where I sit it looks like a nuclear, if temporary, implosion.  They did their worst,  but the extreme right-wing could not completely win over the great American middle. The Pew poll seems to suggest that any attempt by the Supreme Court to interfere politically on behalf of the Republican agenda will be viewed with disapproval by the American public, particularly by progressives and independents.

And that is very good news to me.

* Update: Maureen Dowd's column Men in Black on this topic is a must read.

Monday, April 2, 2012

More "Pro-Life" Terrorism

Another Planned Parenthood clinic - this time in Wisconsin - was bombed last night in the continued campaign to deny reproductive rights to women through domestic terrorism.  And once again, the incident will probably* be blamed on a lone, crazy person as though actions like this occur in a vacuum and people who commit these acts are never influenced or affected by violent rhetoric or extreme ideology.

Perhaps it is a coincidence that the bombing came just two days before the Wisconsin primary.  Of course, it must be yet another "meaningless" coincidence that Rick Santorum's recent ad campaign in Wisconsin mentions $50 abortions. No doubt, there are no subliminal dog whistles in the infamous horror ad that Santorum's campaign has been airing. The smirking, pouty scarlet female mouth shushing the viewer is probably just a little creative license, not at all intended to stir up resentful, misogynistic feelings in target viewers.

Sure, anyone who sees a pattern in the domestic terrorism that is being employed by the anti-choice brigade must be a little paranoid, a little crazy. Left-wing conspiracy nuts, we must be!

Story on CBS

Planned Parenthood responds.

*Update: As expected:

State Rep. Michelle Litjens (R), who represents Grand Chute in the state legislature, is a member of Wisconsin Right To Life and a strong critic of Planned Parenthood. She cautioned against associating the bombing with her fellow anti-abortion advocates and complained that the bomber, whatever his or her motivation, may tar the opposition to Planned Parenthood with the crime.
“I don’t believe this is politically motivated, I think this is some crazy person doing something really stupid,” she said. “Bombing a Planned Parenthood is doing nothing about the abortion issue other than calling it to the center of attention and making people who oppose abortion look like they’re out to do something bad.”  (link)

Monday, March 26, 2012

When You Get Garbage Email

You know how from time to time, we all receive group or chain emails which are sometimes cute but often pretty annoying?  Sometimes it is a harmless fluff piece about friendship (Celebrate Girlfriends!) or a sweet little piece about family relationships (Celebrate our wonderful moms/ dads/ aunts/ uncles/ sons/ daughters!). Often it is an urgent communiqué bursting with homeopathic woo or simple common sense (This secret may save your life! <Drink more water ;)>), but let's be honest:  more often than not, these mass mailings are right-wing rants about the unpatriotic liberal/ commie/ socialist/ godless/ not really American/ OBAMA-monster!

"It" again?!
These screeds don't just clutter up your INBOX.  They don't just stink up mine. They infest email inboxes all over the country - all over the world - and they spread dirty lies.  They are sent via email "trees" to thousands of people who receive them from people they trust. Some of the recipients may just delete these emails without opening them, but many others' attention is snagged by the catchy subject lines, so they open the emails and read the poisonous contents. All too usually, the recipients suspend their disbelief. They suspend all critical thinking skills. They accept these vile messages as gospel truth because it comes to them from a friend or relative. None of us wants to believe that a trusted source like a friend or relative would send us frightening or disgusting lies, and most of us still hold fast to the "where there is smoke, there is fire" folk wisdom. These groups depend on that general tendency to trust; they create the smoke using unconscious and conscious bigotry, photoshop and sheer blatant lies. Then they disseminate the disgusting product throughout the inter web via unsuspecting networks of friends, coworkers and families.

Most progressives simply delete these awful emails and try not to think of them when we see the friends or relatives who sent or forwarded them to us. But is there something more we could or should be doing?  I am inclined to think that yes, we could and, more importantly, we should do something more about this. These emails are not benign.  They are not in the same league as the "Let's celebrate girlfriends!" chain mail, but I think the strategy is to have them fly under the radar pretending to be just as harmless and/or benignly "informative" as those.

No. These emails are like the spreading of a cancer.  Email tree chains quickly spread to thousands and then millions of people. This is a propaganda tool which we have ignored at our peril.  Most of the time, we ignore it because we do not want uncomfortable confrontations with friends or relatives. But here's the thing: the groups spreading this vicious garbage are counting on that.

I think there is at least one way that we can fight back.  One way to counteract this sort of vicious campaign of lies which most progressives can get behind.  Fight the lies with - it's so obvious - the truth!  Of course, if it were that simple, the truth would have worked all along.  Unfortunately, people who are caught up in this sort of chain mailing propaganda - mail coming from trusted friends and relatives remember - are often caught with their guards down, therefore prime targets for lies and smear tactics.

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.George Orwell

Getting people to accept the truth - when it contradicts what trusted friends and relatives are telling them - is a challenge, but it can be done.

 Photo may cause apoplexy
Here is advice I've adapted from the excellent methods shared by Aratina Cage, a blogger and frequent commenter on Pharyngula.  I think it is brilliant.

-Create an anonymous email account (a nice touch - and truthful! - might be to give your new email account a patriotic-sounding moniker. Something like trueblueamerican@? You will have to give the email server your info, but the recipients of the mass emails will just see the patriotic sender's address.  Maintain your usual email for your regular email.

-Generate a new mass emailing to all recipients of the original obnoxious "patriotic" hate email. Include yourself and the sender of the original email.

-Copy and paste the Time cover photo of Obama and Reagan (pictured left).

-Beneath the picture, remind the recipients that President Obama is the current head of state,  and you just know that they are all very interested in his accomplishments.

-Helpfully provide links to political tracking sites such as PolitiFact.  The Obameter there keeps track of the President's accomplishments and his fulfillment of campaign promises. It also keeps track of where he has failed to deliver.

-Encourage the recipients to keep tabs on the President's daily activities via the White House Blog. There, they will be kept informed of news, videos and ideas directly from the administration.

-Last, provide a link to Snopes where you can urge the recipients to fact-check chain emails to be sure that  they are always armed with the truth and can never be fooled by fiction presented as fact.

-Keep everything in a file labeled "nuisance emails" and repeat every time you receive a propaganda email.

Aratina Cage has come up with a great idea and I plan to start using it immediately.  In fact, I now find that I welcome these types of emailings!  With this method, freethinkers and progressives can refute the destructive, fear-mongering false claims of the anti-Obama reactionaries using their own methods.  And for those of us who shy away from confrontation with relatives and friends, it is all anonymous.

These mass emailings spread lies and frighteningly damaging propaganda. It's time to fight fire with water. Or, more appropriately perhaps, we ought to fight filthy garbage with powerful cleansers!

(Courtesy of chigau, Pharyngula commenter) Check out the name on the plumbing truck the white knight is charging towards. Classic:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Voter Photo ID - Yes, It Is a Poll Tax

This video is painful to watch.  A United States Marine,  a veteran,  arrives at his small Tennessee polling place on Super Tuesday, prepared to vote, but not prepared to produce a photo ID.  He has brought his state issued voter card and he wants to vote as he has done every election for nearly forty years.

He confronts the unassuming bureaucrats, telling them that, while he does possess photo ID, he is refusing to present it.  He is refusing to present a photo ID on principle - and that principle is that a law requiring a photo ID from citizens before permitting them to exercise their right to vote is a bad law.  It is the same thing as charging a fee. He is protesting on behalf of his fellow citizens who may be prevented from voting because of this law.

The Marine has brought a camera person with him to record his protest.  He insists that the bureaucrat to whom he is registering his protest tell him to his face - and on camera - that he, a US Marine who has served his country honorably, will not be permitted to vote unless he produces a valid photo ID.  The bureaucrat finally does so, and the Marine, barely keeping his composure,  leaves.

The Tennessee Legislature passed a new law requiring voters to present a state-approved voter ID.  While the state promised on its website to provide eligible voters with valid photo ID free of charge,  there are several impediments to access for many eligible citizens.

Poor people and people who do not have birth certificates face taxing hurdles to obtaining this state ID. Many poor people cannot afford to pay for a birth certificate (which the "free" ID requires), and a significant number of others have never had a birth certificate for various reasons usually related to extreme poverty and other social deprivations.  Some of the people who are disenfranchised by these laws are veterans who have fought for this country.

This video is not pretty.  It is not slick nor is it scripted and smoothly delivered.  This is an extraordinary citizen who is fighting for his country.  He fought for his country as a Marine and now he is fighting for justice at home.

Sir,  I salute you.

Call Them What They Are, CNN

"Diehards" unconvinced?

So,  "Super Tuesday" has come and gone.  Mitt Romney managed to net five solid victories by substantial margins in Alaska, Idaho, Massachusetts, Vermont and Virginia  while eking out a narrow victory in the battleground state of Ohio.  It seems to me that these results indicate a pretty convincing level of support across several broad categories of the national population.  Romney has now succeeded in securing primary wins in conservative states as well as progressive states, in the northeast, the southwest, the upper midwest and even the south.  That seems like a good cross-section of the country so far,  and a clear indication that, while voters are not enthusiastic , the broad spectrum support for Romney is there.

But no.  According to CNN,  the fact that four races went to other candidates (three to Rick Santorum and one to Newt Gingrich) perturbs them.  Rather than seeing the fact that there appear to be other candidates whom people consider viable as an indicator that the democracy is working and that there is, in fact, room for a diversity of viewpoints in the country, CNN wrings its hands and bleats about an imploding GOP.

Pockets of regionalized enthusiastic support for secondary candidates should be seen as supportive evidence of a working democracy, rather than as evidence that somehow "the process is breaking down".  Also, to paraphrase Mark Twain, I think reports of the Republican Party's impending demise are greatly exaggerated.

But never mind all that. I've barely written three paragraphs on this topic and I am already out of patience with it.  The thing that really prompted me to post this morning is the CNN home page above.  Yet another misleading, pandering headline from the news source that has sometimes seemed like our only option for even a chance of even-handed news coverage.  Some days, it gets really depressing.

"Diehards", CNN?  If this story was being written about any other country but the USA,  by journalists who were not fearful of their corporate overlords wrath, then this headline would have correctly read:

      Front-runner wins 6 states, but hardliners unconvinced

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Onion Reports on Voter Reaction to Rick Santorum

The Onion's satirical story on Rick Santorum is the sort of thing that almost seems to define Poe's Law.

My favorite quote:

"I mean, with the other guys, you can dig into their past and find at least some shred of rational thinking, even if they're cynically downplaying it now," Gallardo continued. "But I get the sense Santorum is speaking nothing but his completely unfiltered thoughts. I know it's weird to say this about a politician, but I sort of wish he were lying to my face at least a little."


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Santorum's Un-Americanism Should Make Us All Queasy

Slate has an article online discussing Rick Santorum's now infamous remarks last Sunday on ABC's This Week.  It is well worth reading.  This man is appalling.  With his "anti" stance on so many solid American values,  such as the separation of church and state,  he is sounding distinctly un-American.

The comments below it are a little worrying,  but we all have to get used to that eventually, don't we?  Amazing how remarks that were almost unimaginable (among sane people, at least) are now an everyday occurrence, at least on the internet.

But even more worrying,  the Catholic Santorum shares the determination of fundamentalist, dominionist Protestant Christians to transform the United States into a Bible-based Christian nation answerable only to God. Where have we seen theocracy like this before? Oh yes.