Jon and John’s War Against The Black Vote

“Good job making it harder to vote, Jon.” “Thanks, John.”

I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter turnout machine.”

~ Doug Preisse, Republican Party chairman of Franklin County

Here’s the thing about the sacred right to vote.   It’s only a right as long as you have it.   They don’t have to take it away from all at once.   Killing it off by a slow death of a thousand cuts will get the job done just as effectively.

The hard-right conservatism of the Republican Party does not appeal to Black voters.  This is simply a fact.   Here in Ohio, a perennial battleground state, the Republicans recognize this and have resolved to address it by doing all they can to suppress the Black vote as Think Progress reported:

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has followed through on promises to restrict voting opportunities in his state. The change, announced Tuesday, eliminates extended early voting hours on weekdays, the final two days before Election Day as well as Sunday voting, a day typically important to African-American voters because churches use it to turn out votes.

The early voting period is vital to the elderly, low-income voters, and anyone else with limited means to get to the polls, not to mention that it cuts down on election-day long lines and chaos. MSNBC notes that in 2008, black voters made up 56 percent “of all weekend voters in Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s largest, even though they made up just 28% of the county’s population.”

Optional in Ohio.

Husted’s announcement comes on the heels of other Ohio initiatives to suppress turnout. Ohio just passed two bills that eliminates an entire week of early voting and end the practice of mailing absentee ballots.

Naturally Husted would never say he’s going to make it harder to vote.  The Big Lie told by the GOP is they are streamlining the process and making it fairer. 

“In 2014, absentee voters will have the option of voting in person for four weeks, or they can vote without ever leaving home by completing the absentee ballot request form we will be sending all voters,” Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said. “Our goal is to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat and to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity in the voting process no matter which method they choose.”

“Easy to vote and hard to cheat?”   That’s a different line than Husted’s rap last year when his office and the state’s 88 country boards conducted investigations looking for fraud in the 2012 presidential elections and came back with 135 cases they recommended for prosecution.

Wow.  That many?  Go get those crooks, Jon-Boy!   Uh-uh.  Not so fast.  Every whiff of smoke doesn’t mean there must be a forest fire.

Voter fraud does exist, but it is not an epidemic,” Husted said. “To put this into context, … that’s 135 referrals out of more than 5.6 million votes cast.”

Oh.

Well, that’s disappointing, but 135 cases is good enough for the G.O.P.   Let’s go ahead and  shorten the early voting period by six full days and get rid of same-day voter registration.  While we’re at it let’s cut the number of voting machines in the state and increase wait time for voters at the polls.  Especially those old Black ones.   Watching them shiver in the November cold to cast their ballots will be fun!

This is how Husted, Gov. John Kasich and Ohio Republicans observe Black History Month.  By trying like hell to make the votes of Blacks history.

Once upon a time Blacks had to march in the streets and even die for the right to vote.   Just because marches aren’t popular and nobody’s dying doesn’t mean Blacks can relax and stop fighting to keep and protect their hard-won rights.

The Republicans are engaged in one of the historically most efficient political tactics: suppress the vote and by making it harder for people whom aren’t going to vote for you to for vote for the other guy, you win.  Voter suppression works for Republicans and that is today’s Black History Moment.  If we sit idly by it will be tomorrow’s Black future.

What the enemies of our progress take away we can take back.  IF we are willing to fight for it.    Hoping someone else will come along and get our rights back won’t do it.  When it comes to voter suppression Husted and Kasich are only getting started.

The secret of the GOP’s success.

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Hating Melissa Harris-Perry is More Fun Than Forgiving Her

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“Look, I SAID I was sorry. Now back off.”

A lot of people found 2013 to be a bad year. MSBNC had a really bad year.

The ratings have been in the toilet. They moved Ed Schultz out of prime-time to a Saturday afternoon (!) dead zone and then back to just-out of prime time though his show wasn’t getting clobbered as badly as the hapless Chris Hayes is by the invincible O’Reilly Factor.

MSBNC gave Alec Baldwin a “talk” show. At least, I guess it was. It got yanked off the air so fast over Baldwin’s bad temper and big mouth that it’s hard to remember what kind of show it was supposed to be.

Martin Bashir lost his afternoon show for suggesting someone should defecate in Sarah Palin’s mouth.

Just to wrap things up in a big red bow, on the Melissa Harris-Perry show, the panel had a big tee-hee over Mitt Romney welcoming a new grandson, an adopted Black baby named Kieran Romney, to the family and hilarity ensued on the show.

“Everybody loves a baby picture,” Harris-Perry said, “and this was one that really, a lot of people had emotions about this baby picture this year. This is the Romney family. And, of course, there on Governor Romney’s knee is his adopted grandson, who is an African-American, adopted African-American child, Kieran Romney.”

As Harris-Perry made the introduction, panelist Pia Glenn sang “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just isn’t the same,” a tune whose original lyrics read “one of these things doesn’t belong.”

“And that little baby, front and center, would be the one,” she added.

“And isn’t he the most gorgeous?” Harris-Perry said. “My goal is that in 2040, the biggest thing of the year will be the wedding between Kieran Romney and North West. Can you imagine Mitt Romney and Kanye West as in-laws?”

Comedian Dean Obeidallah chimed in by reducing the baby to a token. “I think this picture is great,” he said. “It really sums up the diversity of the Republican party, the RNC. At the convention, they find the one black person.”

There goes the neighborhood.

There goes the neighborhood.

I don’t like Mitt Romney and he would have been a lousy president, but while he is rich elitist and exhibits no particular concern for other races it doesn’t by default mean he’s overtly hostile to them either.  But even if he was that’s no reason to make fun of his Black grandson.

Harris-Perry quickly issued an apology on Twitter and her MSNBC page, but it was too late.  She had handed her critics a sword and they pounced to impale her with it accusing her of reverse-racism against the Romneys.

At the beginning of her Saturday program Harris-Perry issued another apology to Governor Romney’s family and those she offended with her failed attempt at humor, but  didn’t make it though the segment before breaking down tearfully.

Romney was scheduled to appear on Fox News the next day where he was certain to be asked about the controversy, but the blogosphere wasn’t about to wait for him as one critic sneered, “She’s only sorry because her producer/ station caught so much backlash, they knew they needed to apologize. I seriously doubt it’s heartfelt. Even abusers can turn on the tears when apologizing. Not buying into her act.”

I’ve met Melissa Harris-Perry. She’s an academic, not an actress.

When someone says they’re sorry and it’s them saying it and not a spokesperson, agent or some crisis manager, it should be accepted as genuine and heartfelt until proven otherwise. Everyone screws up. It’s how you handle the screw-up and move past it that matters.

Some folks insist on having their pound of flesh and will keep carving until they get it.

She fucked up. She apologized multiple times. The object of the insult accepted the apology.

On her Right flank, MHP is taking flak for an apology judged insincere. On her Left flank, MHP is catching hell for apologizing at all.   They’re both full of it.  Only the blindest partisans and the terminally cynical would doubt the sincerity of the apology.

Romney didn’t seem to as he said on Fox, “I think people recognize, and the folks at MSNBC who have apologized recognize, people like me are fair targets: If you get in the political game, you can expect incoming. For children, that’s beyond the line. I think they understand that and feel that as well. I think it’s a heartfelt apology, and I think for that reason we hold no ill will whatsoever.”

That should be it.  Of course it’s not.

Mitt Romney didn’t have to accept Harris-Perry’s apology as being sincere. That he did speaks  to his compassion and understanding that human beings–even ones on MSNBC–fail and when they try to do the right thing after doing the wrong thing, they should be forgiven.

Nothing has changed how I feel about Harris-Perry and her guests heavy-handed and dim-witted attempt at humor at a child’s expense. But let’s not overreact here, okay? This isn’t the first person in the media to screw up and go after a kid or any other soft target. MHP used poor judgment and she got rightfully called out for it.

I hope she learns from her mistakes and grows from the experience. Too often others in the same position haven’t apologized. Not sincerely, not insincere or at all.

For every one Harris-Perry royally effing up there are dozens of examples of a Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Bill Maher, Al Sharpton or Alec Baldwin saying something simultaneously stupid and horrific and any apology, if one is offered at all, comes grudgingly and delivered with a smirk, a snicker and a wink.

I didn’t see any of that in Harris-Perry’s apology. I guess her haters did.

In the depressingly vast sea of Whiteness of cable TV talking heads, Melissa Harris-Perry provides a shot of not only much needed racial diversity, but a degree of intelligence, wit and class to a medium conspicuously short of all the above.

It’s time to forgive and forget and mostly forget.

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The Unforgiven?

The Sphincter of the House

john-boehner

John loses his boner.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, acknowledged Wednesday that he would allow a vote in the House on a newly-minted Senate deal on debt and spending.

“We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win,” he said on WLW radio in Ohio.

Boehner additionally confirmed that he would “absolutely” allow the whole House to vote on a plan introduced on Wednesday in the Senate. That bipartisan plan, unveiled by Senate leaders, would fund the government through mid-January and raise the debt ceiling until early February.

Which begs the musical question…

How in the hell was this any sort of “good fight?”

What exactly was the high-minded principle The Boner and his fellow knuckle-dragging troglodytes were fighting for worth shutting down the entire government for three weeks,  throwing thousands of federal workers out of work and cutting off their checks (while Congress made sure they were still receiving their pay)  pushing the country into default and making the United States of America look like the nuttiest asylum ever run by the most insane inmates?

“We Just Didn’t Win.”

Which means The Boner is a loser.  The Caveman Caucus is full of grunting losers.  The Republican Party is a loser.   Ted  “Canadian Bacon” Cruz is the biggest loser right along his fellow losers in the collective of whiny losers called the Tea Party.   That is a good thing to come out of a bad thing.

Ultimately the cavemen caved in.  What else could they do?  Though the extremist whack jobs in Congress and their little cheerleaders on Fixed News were ready to crash and burn the American economy for the sake of a temper tantrum, eventually the adults wrested the controls away from them and narrowly avoided one potentially very hot mess.

This is your Republican Party.

This is your Republican Party.

So if the Boner is wimpiest wimp that ever wimped in American political history and is a Dead Man Walking in his remaining tenure as Speaker of the House of Crazy People, who were the winners here?

NOBODY WINS  in a sorry spectacle like this and you are on crazy pills if you think anybody won jack.   The Congressional crazies will be all over the television and the radio and the Internet telling anyone who will listen, “We WON!  We shut down the government!  We brought the country to a screeching halt.  Man, we ROCK!  We are such total bad-asses!  High-five and chest bumps all around!”

This will be nothing more than the hollow victory yelps of crazy people and no different from the whiskey-fueled ranting of a mangy drunk arguing with himself on a standing-room bus as a puddle of pee runs down his leg and all the other riders desperately try to pretend the foul-smelling lout isn’t really there.

That is what the Republican Party is now.  Mangy, ranting drunks who annoy everyone and stink of stale ammonia strong piss.

We’ll take a break from this unnecessary exercise in brinkmanship and be back for more of the same after the Xmas when “The Real Assholes of Washington D.C.” returns for its next season.

What have we learned?  We have learned John Andrew Bohner is the 61st Speaker of the House and a total neutered whipped dog who is regularly kicked around by 30 extremists in his own caucus and he lives in fear of the next kick in the rib.

I’d feel sorry for the Boner if I wasn’t revolted  by his submissive groveling weakness and his gutless  “I don’t give a shit what happens to the country as long as I’m still Speaker”  self-preservation motivation.

See you in January.

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Cancel The Ted Cruz Show!

“You want me to stick this microphone WHERE?”

This was the week the new fall season of television got underway. Did you catch The Ted Cruz Show this week?

Limited production values.  Lousy acting.  Boring script.  If there ever was a program that deserved cancellation before the debut, Senator Cruz’s phony filibuster to defund Obamacare was definitely it.

Terrible Ted hopes he call bullshit the American people into believing he has the votes to repeal President Obama signature domestic accomplishment (he doesn’t) and that he isn’t operating out of craven calculation and cynically pandering to the GOP wing-nuts in hopes of winning the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 (he won’t).

What makes me sick is how some purer-than-thou liberals actually sided with Cruz when he came out against bombing Syria in retaliation for Bashir al-Assad using chemical weapons against civilians.   All of sudden Cruz was being called “principled.”  That’s what I can’t stand about some liberals is how they will deep French kiss their worst enemies if they happen to agree with them on something.

If Cruz endorsed motherhood, the flag and apple pie, I’d be opposed to all three. I don’t want to on the same side as Cruz on anything.   I can’t believe a principled liberal like a Paul Wellstone, Howard Metzenbaum or Ted Kennedy would crawl in bed with a rattlesnake like Cruz and expect him not to bite, but such is the sorry state of contemporary liberalism.

Normally, there would be an issue or two where I could find common ground with Cruz, but my distaste for the smug bastard makes it impossible for me to even WANT to find common ground.

The TED talk by Cruz lasted 21 hours and 19 minutes.   He talked about how terrible/awful/no good Obamacare was.  He said most senators have bad haircuts and wear cheap suits.  He professed his fondness for White Castle hamburgers.  He read from Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham.”

Showing my age here, but I remember when the Senate was once dubbed “the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.”   Reading Dr. Seuss does not seem to rise to that level of debate  Cruz missed the point of the story.  By the end , the protagonist ends up liking green eggs and ham.   Does that mean Cruz really likes Obamacare?

When his time expired the Senate voted 100-0 to move to consider the legislation from the House to keep the government open and paying its bills with Democrats vowing to strip the defunding poison pill out of it.

That’s right. One hundred to zip. When he was through showing off and wee-weeing in his Depends, Cruz voted to go ahead and proceed with the legislation he claimed he’d talk about until he dropped.

Which only made this particular bit of political theater more of a pointless farce than it already was. The only purpose it accomplished was to give a first-term, junior Senator a spotlight.   Cruz delights in being abrasive and pushing his mug into every passing camera even if it means he doesn’t actually get much done in the Senate.

Mission accomplished.

The Cat in the Hat responds to Senator Cruz invoking “green eggs and ham.”

The Cruz style of politics as a contact sport is where you piss into a glass, toss in an ice cube, declare it to be lemonade and roll your eyes in shocked disbelief as to why everyone isn’t lining up for a swig.

Because no matter whether you’re pulling for the Duluth Democrats or the Rockford Republicans, most Americans don’t care which side wins as much as they care about stuff getting done. Simply calling attention to yourself by being the loudest and rudest a-hole standing on a table and pounding on your chest doesn’t do dick but annoy everyone in earshot.

Cruz wouldn’t be the first newbie to the Senate who gambled the best way to the top is not by the long slog of building a legislative record of accomplishments (Obama sure didn’t) and in Washington, even exhibitions of unbridled ambition this naked aren’t unusual.

What is unusual is how bound and determined Cruz is to sharpen his elbows and jab in the ribs either Democratic foe or Republican ally as if neither one of them can respond with an act of payback that chops him off at the ankles.   If being the darling of right-wing radio and blogs is all it took to win the Republican presidential nomination, Cruz would have it locked up and Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and all the other potentials could skip 2016. However, just being the darling of right-wing radio and blogs is not the same thing as being the darling of the party elders and the big shots who write the checks and Cruz is not that guy.

Washington is a small town with big egos and long, ugly memories. Cruz hasn’t been there long enough to know this, but 2016 is still far enough away for him to learn

“Damn. I think that Negro and the cop spotted me!”

Maureen Dowd Doesn’t Hate ALL Democrats. Just the Real Ones.

"I'd like Obama more if he were more like my fantasy presidents."

“I’d like Obama more if he were more like my fantasy presidents.”

Maureen Dowd, the New York Times columnist whose rep is based upon her sharp-edged nasty snark than deep political insights sniped at President Obama over the Senate’s failure to pass any meaningful gun legislation, “Unfortunately, he still has not learned how to govern,”  Dowd wrote with each word dripping in acidic scorn,  “How is it that the president won the argument on gun safety with the public and lost the vote in the Senate? It’s because he doesn’t know how to work the system. And it’s clear now that he doesn’t want to learn, or to even hire some clever people who can tell him how to do it or do it for him. “

Dowd, who has never held any elected office besides runner-up to the homecoming queen helpfully suggested Obama should look to Hollywood for pointers on what to do,  “The White House should have created a war room full of charts with the names of pols they had to capture, like they had in “The American President.”

The rank stupidity of Dowd’s brain-dead advice was not lost on Obama when he said during the White House Correspondents Dinner, “Everybody has got plenty of advice,” the president said with his own Snark Gun loaded and cocked, “Maureen Dowd said I could solve all my problems if I were just more like Michael Douglas in ‘The American President.’ And I know Michael is here tonight. Michael, what’s your secret, man? Could it be that you were an actor in an Aaron Sorkin liberal fantasy? Might that have something to do with it?”

Instead of the I.R.S. investigating the Tea Party,  someone ought to investigate why the Times continues to give Dowd space to spew  nonsense.

“Some folks still don’t think I spend enough time with Congress,” the president said. “‘Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell?’ they ask. Really? Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell?”

“I just have to be snarky. I don’t have to make sense.”

That was a laugh line for the president, but the next one was him speaking from the heart.   “I’m sorry. I get frustrated sometimes.”

Obama has hosted Republican Senators for dinner.  He invited Paul Ryan to sit down for lunch.  He’s played golf with other Republicans.   As far as outreach goes, the president has tried everything but a pajama party sleepover in the Lincoln Bedroom.

This is the kind of “bipartisan” reaching out b.s. that make the collective nipples of the Washington press corps hard and erect.   In the wake of the I.R.S. investigations, the continued Benghazi story and the Justice Department’s surveillance of the Associated Press, last week was Christmas in May for the professional Obama bashers in the GOP and right-wing noise machine.  What made things a bit more unusual was how the supposed Obama worship ping “liberal” media piled on as well.

The nature of the professional press is they are at your feet one day and at your throat the next.   The easy (and lazy) way to lay the blame for the failure of Congress to get anything done even when a clear majority of Americans want it, is to go Dowd’s way and lay it all on the wimp in the White House.   That allows the Republicans to claim their hands are clean and that is exactly the cover idiots like Mo Dowd provide them.

Dowd’s specialty is supposed to be politics, but she doesn’t seem to know how to count votes, how deals are cut to win votes, and how hard it is to “punish” lawmakers who don’t do the president’s bidding when they’re more afraid of special interest groups, possible primary challengers and irate voters back home than the man in the Oval Office.

Sometimes you must leave the high road and fetch your brass knuckles. Obama should have called Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota over to the Oval Office and put on the squeeze: “Heidi, you’re brand new and you’re going to have a long career. You work with us, we’ll work with you. Public opinion is moving fast on this issue. The reason you get a six-year term is so you can have the guts to make tough votes. This is a totally defensible bill back home. It’s about background checks, nothing to do with access to guns. Heidi, you’re a mother. Think of those little kids dying in schoolrooms.”

This is how bubblehead liberals like Dowd breathing the rarefied air in their ivory towers believe the world should work.  Come on Obama, you gutless wonder!  Be like President Josiah Bartlett and impose your will, reward your friends and punish your enemies.    Guilt trip a balky Democrat if you can and ridicule them if you must.  It’s easy.  Just call President Bartlett and ask him!

“I got 99 problems, but being Charlie Sheen’s dad ain’t one of them.”

And then what?  What if Sen. Heitkamp says, “I’m sorry, Mr. President.  My constituents don’t want this bill and I don’t either.”  What can Obama do then?  Call Harry Reid and tell him to make sure Heitkamp only gets the crappiest of committee assignments?  Obama was in the Senate with Reid before he moved from the Capitol to the White House.  He knows Reid has no clout juice and they don’t fear Obama, they laugh right in Reid’s face.

The truth why President Obama can’t seem to get anything through Congress the answer is simple  The strategy of Congressional Republicans is to give him NOTHING.  If Obama is for it, they are against it.  Even if it is something Republicans normally favor.    This has always been known.   Now even some Republicans are ‘fessing up to the strategy, but that doesn’t shake the conviction of the skeptics who say if only Obama twisted arms a little harder and thumped that bully pulpit a little more.

There are far too many fools like Mo Dowd who think the President can do what he wants simply because he IS the President.    They blame Obama because it is easier than to blame a few hundred Republican obstructionists in Washington whose policy position is if Obama is for it, they are against it.   This is by design, not accident.   I’m reading Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein‘s It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism and I’d be doing Dowd the biggest favor of her life if I passed it on to her to once I’m done.   There are lots of answers for her between the book’s covers.

Ornstein, a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told Fresh Air’s Terry Gross, ” It’s time to acknowledge how far the Republican Party has veered towards tolerating extreme ideological beliefs and policies, and how the GOP has embraced cynical and destructive means to advance political ends over problem-solving.”

While Dowd would have us all believe if Obama would only grow a pair he could knock some sense into the GOP.   Ornstein and Mann know that’s too simple by half and despite the eagerness of the press to slice the pie into even slices of who’s to blame for the political gridlock, they aren’t reluctant to point to the Republicans as deserving the lion’s share.   “…However awkward it may be for the traditional press and nonpartisan analysts to acknowledge, one of the two major parties, the Republican Party, has become an insurgent outlier — ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition. When one party moves this far from the center of American politics, it is extremely difficult to enact policies responsive to the country’s most pressing challenges.”

Derailing Hillary Clinton 2016 is the real target of the Benghazi “scandal.”  If it hurts Obama too, that’s just gravy to the wing nuts.   According to her polling numbers, Clinton has become more popular, not less.  The Republicans and Fox News haven’t laid a glove on her.

The Republican Strategy explained by a Republican.

The Republican Strategy explained by a Republican.

Dowd is impervious to reason, logic, history or fact.  She preens from her perch as the Grey Lady’s Red-Haired Harpy lacking the gravitas of Paul Krugman, the intelligence of Thomas Friedman, the compassion of Nicholas Kristof or the social conscience of Charles Blow.

But she’s still got Obama to kick around for another three years.  Unless her Republican friends successfully impeach him first.  She’d probably like that.

I WENT to New York last week to cover the TV presentations for the new season, shows like “Scandal,” “Shark Tank” and a faltering “American Idol.”

 I may as well have stayed here.

You know that the faltering American idol in the White House must be reeling in this scandalous spring. No Drama Obama is immersed in drama so over the top it could have been scripted by Shonda Rhimes and Karl Rove.

Who knows? If Washington keeps imploding, Hillary may run in 2016 on restoring honor to the White House.

If the system is broken it helps to know who broke it.

If the system is broken it helps to know who broke it.

You know Dowd is sippin’ that purple drank when an relentless Hillary-hater is looking wistfully to her for relief.   Could that be why she forget how much she despises Hillary as she spitefully made clear in 2008.

 As a possible first Madame President, Hillary is a flawed science experiment because you can’t take Bill out of the equation. Her story is wrapped up in her marriage, and her marriage is wrapped up in a series of unappetizing compromises, arrangements and dependencies.

Instead of carving out a separate identity for herself, she has become more entwined with Bill. She is running bolstered by his record and his muscle. She touts her experience as first lady, even though her judgment during those years on issue after issue was poor. She says she’s learned from her mistakes, but that’s not a compelling pitch…If Hillary fails, it will be her failure, not ours.

What is Dowd anyway?   A smug, smart-ass who is passed off as some sort of “liberal” but comes off more like the Times version of a self-hating one like Fox’s Kirsten Powers or a TV critic?   Why should anyone take seriously a political columnist who doesn’t seem to know how politics works?
If you believe the op-ed page even the Times doesn’t believe Dowd parroting the G.O.P.’s talking points about “scandals.”

The American public, Greg Sargent pointed out this morning, does not find a presidential scandal in either the Benghazi talking points or the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of right-wing groups seeking a tax-exempt and disclosure-free status.

In a C.N.N. poll released over the weekend, 61 percent of Americans say President Obama’s comments about the I.R.S. investigation were mostly or completely true, and 55 percent say the I.R.S. acted on its own. On Benghazi, 50 percent believe that early statements about the attack reflect what the administration believed at the time, compared with 44 percent – 76 percent of them Republicans – who say officials intentionally misled the public.

The blind hatred of the Republicans for this president will gradually lead them to overplay their hand.   For now Obama will have to take incoming fire from the front from Republican Klingons trying to depose him as well as backstabbing “liberals” and the eighth biggest hack in journalism who have the  long knives out after Obama the same way they were for  Bill and Hillary, Al Gore, John Kerry and every other Democrat who doesn’t measure up to Joe Bartlett.

Because in Dowd’s wacky world, the only good Democrats  are Democrat who aren’t real.

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Mr. Cruz Goes To Washington (To Burn it Down)

“Yes, I am a snotty bastard. Glad you noticed.”

There are many ways to become well-known as a U.S. Senator.  You can be a grinder, a workhorse who shuns soundbites on Sunday morning talk shows to busy yourself doing the dirty work of writing legislation.   You can wrap yourself up in the business of providing support for the folks back in your home state.   You can learn the rules of the Senate and take the time to build working relationships with both sides of the political aisle.

Or you can say, “screw that,” and become well-known for being a jerk.   That’s where Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) comes in.   With sharpened elbows and a nasty disposition guaranteed to annoy your allies and outrage your enemies.   There is a reason freshman Senators are often treated like children underfoot. They either don’t know or don’t care what the protocols are of the Senate. Guys like Cruz prefer throwing a sharp elbow and being a royal pain in the ass.

Cruz is a Princeton debating champion, Harvard Law School graduate, law clerk to the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and the former solicitor general of Texas.   He’s not dumb.  Just nasty.  He just goes about things in dumb ways such as his slimy attack on Chuck Hagel during his confirmation hearings to become Secretary of Defense.  “We do not know, for example, if he received compensation for giving paid speeches at extreme or radical groups,” Cruz told the Senate Armed Services Committee before it voted to approve Hagel’s nomination. “It is at a minimum relevant to know if that $200,000 that he deposited in his bank account came directly from Saudi Arabia, came directly from North Korea.”

That unsubstantiated slam against Hagel’s character earned Cruz a rebuke from John McCain.  McCain ended up voting against his former Republican colleague, but shot down the junior senator from Texas when he said of Hagel, “no one on this committee should at any time impugn his character or his integrity.”

Cruz’s bare-knuckles approach  doesn’t do much more than  calling attention to how much of a jack-ass he is.   We saw how much of mule’s patootie Cruz really is when he used a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting as an opportunity to lecture Diane Feinstein about the Constitution.   What followed was a very public display of irritation with the upstart freshman.

“Would she consider it constitutional for Congress to specify that the First Amendment shall apply only to the following books and shall not apply to the books that Congress has deemed outside the protection of the Bill of Rights?” Cruz said, speaking to Feinstein.

“Likewise, would she think that the Fourth Amendment’s protection against searches and seizures, could properly apply only to the following specified individuals, and not to the individuals that Congress has deemed outside the protection of the law?”

Pointing her finger and glaring at Cruz, Feinstein shot back.

“One, I’m not a sixth grader,” Feinstein said. “Senator, I’ve been on this Committee for 20 years. I was a mayor for nine years. I walked in and I saw people shot with these weapons.

“I’m not a lawyer,” she added, “but after 20 years, I’ve been up close and personal with the Constitution. I have great respect for it. … So I, you know, it’s fine you want to lecture me on the Constitution. I appreciate it. Just know I’ve been here for a long time.”

“I thank you for the lecture. Incidentally, this does not prohibit — you used the word ‘prohibit’ – it exempts 2,271 weapons. Isn’t that enough for the people of the United States? Do they need a bazooka? Do they need other high-powered weapons that other people use in close combat? I don’t think so.”

What a snot-nosed, swaggering rookie like Cruz probably doesn’t know is while he’s trying to score rhetorical points with the Fox and Friends crowd, Feinstein wasn’t just blowing smoke when it comes to having first-hand familiarity with gun violence. She could have lectured her caustic colleague of the bloody events that led to her becoming the mayor of San Francisco. Namely, the murders of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.

Feinstein doesn’t suffers fools or Ted Cruz.

Feinstein went on CNN and to explain her angry reaction to Cruz’s condescending remarks.

“Well, I just felt patronized,” Feinstein told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “I felt he was somewhat arrogant about it. When you come from where I’ve come from and what you’ve seen, when you found a dead body and put your finger in bullet holes, you really realize the impact of weapons. And then as you go up the technical ladder with these weapons, and they become more sophisticated, and more the product of a battlefield, and you’ve got these huge clips, or drums of 100 bullets out there that people can buy, when you see these weapons becoming attractive to grievance killers, people who take them into schools, into theaters, into malls, you wonder, does America really need these weapons? My answer to that is no. And so it’s based on my experience.”

None of this phases Cruz who seems to revel in starting new fires as soon as the previous ones are put out.   There’s no chance a nervy punk like Cruz learns anything remotely resembling humility or even simple manners from Feinstein setting him straight. That would take a degree of class Cruz shows no signs of possessing.

That’s okay. There have always been terrible Senators like him and they usually find themselves isolated by their own rudeness, offensive ways and arrogant attitudes. Cruz isn’t even the biggest asshole from Texas serving in Congress. Not as long as Louie “Terror Babies” Gohmert is gibbering like a drunken hyena in the House.

As a senator, Cruz has six years to make a complete fool of himself. He should pace himself.

Ted hangs out with the Palins. Now you know why he’s such as ass.

Rob Portman’s Coming Out is A Profile In No Courage

“Look, Rob, you can bring your Black friend, but leave your gay son at home. Got it?”

Big political news.  Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) became the most prominent member of the GOP caucus to come out.  In favor of same-sex marriage, that is.  Portman, who was on Mitt Romney’s short list of possible vice-presidential running mates attributed his change of heart to his son coming out as a gay man.

I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married.

That isn’t how I’ve always felt. As a congressman, and more recently as a senator, I opposed marriage for same-sex couples. Then something happened that led me to think through my position in a much deeper way.

Two years ago, my son Will, then a college freshman, told my wife, Jane, and me that he is gay. He said he’d known for some time, and that his sexual orientation wasn’t something he chose; it was simply a part of who he is. Jane and I were proud of him for his honesty and courage. We were surprised to learn he is gay but knew he was still the same person he’d always been. The only difference was that now we had a more complete picture of the son we love.

So let’s review: it’s okay to previously be on record as opposing gay rights and same-sex marriage just so long as your positions “evolve” once you learn your son or daughter is one of those people you’ve actively discriminated against.

It has to become personal. Oh, and you have to be a Republican too.

I was blind but now I see. Go forth and sin no more. Hallelujah!

Portman remained a religious-based, anti-equality, bigot throughout his entire career prior to his sonny-boy coming out only to be “transformed” and “evolve” when his previously held beliefs suddenly became personal for him.

Until it did he was fine with discriminating against someone else’s child.

  •     Let the military decide on don’t-ask-don’t-tell
  •     Supports Amendment to prevent same sex marriage
  •     Supports banning homosexuals in the military
  •     YES on banning gay adoptions in DC.
  •     YES on Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage

“Same-sex marriage? Sure I have sex the same way in my marriage.”

As recently as 2011, Portman was a typical Republican homophobe actively opposing same-sex marriage and not apologizing for it.  I’m not nearly as impressed by my home state Senator’s partial-reversal as some folks are. It’s nice. It’s late, but it’s still nice. I’m sure those gays and lesbians Portman happily discriminated against will be glad he’s getting off their backs.

Hooray, and so what if Rob Portman goes forth and sins no more? Just because you got religion doesn’t mean you’re not a sinner anymore.

Everyone was wondering why Romney chose Paul Ryan over Portman as his vice-president when it was obvious Portman could have helped Romney in the critical state of Ohio (you know, that place that when it was declared for Obama and ended Election Night sent Karl Rove into such a frenzy he tried to eat his own foot).

Now we know why. Ryan didn’t have a gay son.

Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce shares my skepticism about Portman’s epiphany.

If Will hadn’t come out, or if he’d been as straight as Nebraska highway, Portman wouldn’t have cared about the sons and daughters and brothers and sisters of all the other Dads who love them and want them to have the same opportunities? It’s not just the implied notion that discrimination is OK unless it inconveniences Sunday dinner with the Portmans. It’s also the relentless banality through which even “decent” Republicans struggle to come to simple humanity. Does any group of people have dark nights of the soul that are so endlessly boring and transparently insincere?

It’s like listening to Kierkegaard sell flatware. I’m glad there’s another vote for marriage equality here. I’m also glad I didn’t have to listen to the full explanation behind it.

Me too and frankly I don’t get why I should give Portman credit for doing what he’s supposed to do.

It’s wonderful and terrific that Rob has decided to stop discriminating against a group of people. But am I supposed to bake him some cookies too?

A Reasonable Man In an Increasingly Unreasonable Party

Want to make a Republican mad?  Tell them there’s a strong strain of racial intolerance in their party.

Want to make a Republican even madder.  Let the person telling them be another Republican and one with unimpeachable credentials.   Someone like Colin Powell.

While the pundits in Washington gripe about the lack of racial diversity in Obama’s new Cabinet (so far) they have forgotten the Republicans have a far greater problem with racial diversity. They don’t want any according to Powell.

“There’s also a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party,” Powell said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “What do I mean by that?  What I mean by that is they still sort of look down on minorities.”

Without naming them, Powell went after the swinish John Sununu, the Mitt Romney supporter for describing President Obama as “lazy” and America’s favorite ditz, Sarah Palin for referring to the president’s explanations about the embassy attack in Libya as “shuck and jive.’”    It probably hadn’t slipped Powell’s mind how Sununu had dismissed his second endorsement of Obama as being racially based and didn’t mince words about the casual way the Republicans have infused race-baiting of the president in their criticisms of the president.

There is also a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party. What do I mean by that? I mean by that is they still sort of look down on minorities. How can I evidence that? When I see a former governor say that the President is “shuckin’ and jivin’,” that’s a racial-era slave term. When I see another former governor after the president’s first debate where he didn’t do very well say that the president was lazy. He didn’t say he was slow. He was tired. He didn’t do well. He said he was lazy. Now, it may not mean anything to most Americans, but to those of us who are African Americans, the second word is shiftless and then there’s a third word that goes along with that. The birther, the whole birther movement. Why do senior Republican leaders tolerate this kind of discussion within the party?

The pushback to Powell was swift and predictably, attacked the former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff personally instead of addressing the issue.

“Powell’s behavior is petulant. Attacking Republicans makes him a liberal media darling and provides more fuel to Bush-haters. Yet Powell is no saint. He is just a disgruntled ex-employee who dislikes the boss who fired him,” growled Eric Golub in the Washington Times.

“I think the case that he makes is weak, and it is an odd thing for a man who declares himself to be a Republican—and has done so well under Republican presidents—to say,” snorted Brit Hume to Bill O’Reilly who dismissed Powell saying “used to be a Republican and I don’t think he is any longer.”

The yapping of the attack dogs of the conservative media won’t deter Powell from telling hard truths to the more reasonable members of the Republican Party.   The GOP has been on the sick end of two straight losing national elections and as it moves further to the extreme Right, it has left Blacks, Asians and most importantly, Latinos, behind for the Democrats.   Powell has been consistent in explaining why this has happened, but it seems to be falling on deaf ears to his fellow Republicans.

“I think the Republican Party is having an identity problem,” Powell said, “If it’s just going to represent the far right wing of the political spectrum, I think the party is in difficulty.”  The former Bush Cabinet member said he voted for a GOP presidential candidate seven times in a row before voting for President Obama twice. “I’m a moderate, but I’m still a Republican.”  The general is absolutely right about the dire state of the Republican Party but saying that out loud will get you denounced as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) by the factions who specialize in that kind of thing.

They would be better served to shut up and listen to one of the few Republicans left with widespread crossover appeal.   The moderation of Powell’s voice may irritate the likes of O’Reilly, Hume and Golub but what irritates them more is Powell’s criticisms have the sting of harsh truth to them and he remains one of the most admired men in this country.

When Powell speaks, it carries much weight and Americans respond to his words.   That’s what his critics fear the most.  They might have to actually start working on fixing what’s wrong with the Republican brand and would sooner cut off their right nut than give up their Obama Hate-A-Thon.

And they really are mad at Powell for calling them out for it and spoiling their fun.

Sorry, Colin. I promised Joe I’d keep him around for my second term.