Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Friday, October 26, 2012 7:43 pm

Republicans and rape; or, zygote fetishization

The recent comments on rape from a long list of Republicans including Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin, along with the fact that the GOP’s national platform has opposed safe, legal abortion since 1980, have brought “social issues” to the fore in a national election that ordinarily would have been almost entirely about the economy. (Not arguing that it should have been almost entirely about the economy — I’d’ve loved some discussion of global warming, Afghanistan and using drones for extrajudicial assassination, to name just three topics — just that it ordinarily would have been.)

I won’t rehash the moral arguments about abortion, but I will offer this quasi-theological observation: The people who argue that their faith dictates that a woman who is raped and becomes pregnant must carry her rapist’s baby to term are not worshiping God, or any god. Rather, they are fetishizing a zygote. Their “culture of life” has become the idolatry of a cargo cult. It is nothing that Jesus would recognize as God’s love here on Earth.

With her gracious permission and without additional comment, I offer this take from my mother’s cousin Edith Hay Harris of Houston, Texas* Durham, NC:

My two cents: I was a volunteer for Greenville (SC) Rape Crisis Council for 8 or so years, some time back. I don’t think anyone can imagine what these women and girls endured. I think a lot of people don’t realize victims come in all ages and from all walks of life. I still remember a woman with a husband and children who became pregnant from the rape and had to have the baby; a 68 yr old grandmother who was nearly beaten to death by her attacker who put her grandson’s training pants over her face while he raped her; and a 12 year old who was impregnated by a homeless man. In the last case, we took her to Atlanta for an abortion, since no one in Greenville was providing that service then, and United Way dropped us from their funding for doing so. So, yes, I still feel that rage so many years later. I think these Republicans actually have contempt for women and need to control them. Sort of reminds me of the Taliban.

*Oops. Cousin Elsie lives in Houston, not Edith. I knew this.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 8:00 pm

Why tonight’s debate matters; or, Quote of the Day, What the GOP is Good At Edition, cont.

From DougJ at Balloon Juice:

The American right’s real genius lies in [mess]ing things up, then using that [mess]ed-up-ness as the crisis that necessitates the implementation of the right’s policies. I don’t claim that the [mess]ing up of things is always deliberate—they’re incompetent enough to [mess] a lot of things up by accident—but the reaction is very cynical and very carefully thought out.

DougJ considers what the GOP is up to in this instance analogous to the Reichstag fire. But if you’re going to go Godwin, given how clear Romney/Ryan have been about their plans for government spending right up until Romney shape-shifted into Moderate Mitt during the first presidential debate, a better example than the Reichstag fire might be the Nazi blitzkrieg  of Poland. And Jon Chait at New York magazine believes the Romney campaign/would-be administration plans just such an assault on the American social-welfare structure. In a piece titled “November 7,” to which DougJ also links, Chait writes:

Let’s first imagine that, on January 20, Romney takes the oath of office. Of the many secret post-victory plans floating around in the inner circles of the campaigns, the least secret is Romney’s intention to implement Paul Ryan’s budget. The Ryan budget has come to be almost synonymous with the Republican Party agenda, and Romney has embraced it with only slight variations. It would repeal Obamacare, cut income-tax rates, turn Medicare for people under 55 years old into subsidized private insurance, increase defense spending, and cut domestic spending, with especially large cuts for Medicaid, food stamps, and other programs targeted to the very poor.

Few voters understand just how rapidly Romney could achieve this, rewriting the American social compact in one swift stroke. Ryan’s plan has never attracted Democratic support, but it is not designed for bipartisanship. Ryan deliberately built it to circumvent a Senate filibuster, stocking the plan with budget legislation that is allowed, under Senate “budget reconciliation” procedures, to pass with a simple majority. Republicans have been planning the mechanics of the vote for many months, and Republican insiders expect Romney to use reconciliation to pass the bill. Republicans would still need to control 50 votes in the Senate (Ryan, as vice-president, would cast the tiebreaking vote), but if Romney wins the presidency, he’ll likely precipitate a partywide tail wind that would extend to the GOP’s Senate slate.

One might suppose that at least a handful of Republicans might blanch at the prospect of reshaping the entire face of government unilaterally. But Ryan’s careful organizing of the party agenda has all taken place with this vote as the end point, and with the clear goal of sidestepping any such objection. When Republicans won control of Congress during the 2010 elections, Ryan successfully lobbied the party to take a vote on his budget plan the following April. The plan stood no chance of passage (given Obama’s certain veto) and exposed dozens of vulnerable House members to withering attacks over its unpopular provisions. So why hold a vote carrying huge potential risk and no chance of immediate success? So Ryan could get the party on record supporting his plan, depriving quiet dissidents of any future excuse to defect should the real vote come in 2013.

And if this were only a policy difference, that would be one thing. But the fact of the matter is that if these planned changes happen, a nontrivial number of America’s most vulnerable citizens — the very old, the very young, the chronically ill, those most hampered and hammered by the past four years of insufficient-bordering-on-indifferent action on unemployment — will die prematurely. That’s not hyperbole. That’s not an idle prediction. It is, rather, an absolutely foreseeable consequence of cutting social services, particularly Medicaid, in a time of great need and want. And if you don’t care about that, you’re a sociopath, pure and simple.

There are many things at stake in tonight’s debate and this year’s presidential and congressional elections, not the least of which are the fate of the globe’s environment and the fact that both my children  will be of military age before the end of a second Romney term. But for a combination of big and fast, the GOP plan to destroy what remains of the social safety net and give the proceeds to the very wealthy tops the list, and it simply cannot be allowed to happen.

Thursday, August 9, 2012 8:37 pm

Your liberal media, part the bajillionth

This, kids, is what they call a teachable moment, courtesy of BooMan. Suppose this story were going around …

Mitt Romney isn’t really a Mormon. He’s an atheist who only went along with his father’s faith so he could duck the Vietnam draft. He didn’t actually try to convert anyone when he was in France either. In reality, he spent all his time in Monte Carlo gambling and buying high-end hookers. When his daddy found out what he was doing, he made him come home and marry his high school sweetheart. Actually, he only made him marry her after the second time she got pregnant. The first time, they got an abortion. Then Romney started using some of the mafia connections he had made in Marseilles to import heroin. By the time he became governor, they were flying it straight into a secret airport they set up in the Berkshires. When one of the pilots started to talk, Romney had him killed.

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s an amalgam of stuff that has been said about our past two Democratic presidents, personalized a bit for Romney.

Now. Sen. Harry Reid has claimed that a source whom he won’t name, but who supposedly was involved in Romney’s firm, Bain Capital,  says Romney paid no federal income taxes for 10 years. Not only has the Poynter Institute’s Politifact claimed that Reid’s pants are on fire, even liberal pundits like Kevin Drum are accusing Reid, on the basis of zero evidence, of lying. BooMan concludes with this useful observation:

Now, if we started telling these stories to people, and a substantial percentage of the population started to actually believe these stories, and if congressmen humored and even encouraged the people who believed these stories, and if media figures talked about these stories, and if Congress actually had hearings about some of these stories, then Mitt Romney would know what it’s like to be treated like a Democrat.

Stuff like this is where the notion that there’s a lower bar for the GOP, that IOKIYAR*, originates.

Now, I really wish Reid’s source, if the person exists, would come forward. And if the source doesn’t exist, then I’ll be the first to say Reid deserves whatever happens to him, whether it’s being hauled up before the Senate Ethics Committee, toothless as it might be, or sued.

But as much as I respect U.S. journalists who attempt to fact-check politicians, they have committed some serious failures of both logic and context in criticizing Reid for an accusation that, while unproven, is not demonstrably false and that Romney himself could easily disprove if it were.

Thursday, March 22, 2012 8:52 pm

Quote of the Day

Filed under: Evil,Journalism — Lex @ 8:52 pm
Tags: ,

From Rachel Maddow, and, dear God, I wished more journalists had the stones to call this what it is. Speaking on the Mitt Romney/Etch-a-Sketch fiasco, she said (at about the 6:30 mark):

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

In the general election you don’t have to be any one ideological thing in order to win over the country. But you have to not be a liar. Here’s how else Mitt Romney is like an Etch-a-Sketch. It’s not just speaking French. It’s not just outsourcing jobs to China. It is not just fudging  his conservatism. It’s fudging everything, all the time. And this is hard to talk about in the day-to-day news context because there are such low expectations for politicians’ being truthful and because the word ‘lie’ is both underused and overused to the point where everybody’s a little touchy about it. But the degree to which Mr. Romney lies — all the time, about all sorts of stuff, and doesn’t care when he gets caught — is maybe the single most notable thing about his campaign.

If the Republicans want to make this presidential election about character and not about the economy and jobs and the endless war in Afghanistan and the rising ocean and shrinking window for doing anything about it, well, then, let’s have that conversation.

And as we do, let’s remember that the three most important rules of political journalism are 1) Look at the record, 2) look at the record and 3) look at the record.

Obama has let me down, to the point at which I publicly called for his impeachment more than two years ago. But the reality for a long time has been that in the system we have, the best we can hope for is the lesser of two evils.

On top of that, Obama has carried through on some important things on which he campaigned in 2008, including health-care reform, stimulus for the economy and finding Osama bin Laden. The sole Supreme Court justice he has appointed to date appears not to be a sociopath. He can, on some subjects, be trusted, at the least, not to do the wrong thing.

But Romney has a history of doing the wrong thing, time and time again, particularly in the economic sphere, where we remain vulnerable. On top of that, he has held so many positions so many times on so many issues, it simply is impossible anymore to place any credence in anything that comes out of his mouth, including his own name.

N.B. I pray for the day when Rachel Maddow gets to moderate a presidential debate. Because as much as she comes across about as threateningly as your smarter little sister, she will cut a guy. And I want to be watching when it happens, because as politics goes, I suspect it might be the single greatest moment of my lifetime.

Friday, January 27, 2012 7:56 pm

Newt’s dilemma

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is taking increasing fire … from members of his own party. And MoJo’s Kevin Drum has a plausible explanation for why:

What’s most ironically amusing about all this, though, is that underlying a lot of the attacks on Newt is the complaint that he’s not conservative enough. Weirdly enough, there’s some truth to this by modern GOP standards. Newt’s tone and temperament are perfectly suited to the no-compromise-no-surrender spirit of the tea party-ized GOP, which is why he’s so appealing to the base during debates. But the truth is that for all his bluster, Newt was perfectly willing to do deals during his time as Speaker. He likes to think of himself as a world-historical figure, and that means getting world-historical things done. Simple obstruction is not really his MO. That makes him doubly unreliable, since obstruction is the sine qua non of movement conservatism these days.

The GOP Establishment can read polls as well as anyone. And they’re in damage-control mode: They know they’ve got a good thing going from a financial standpoint (free money for Bank of America, et al., from the Fed just for starters), and they know they’ll have to at least appear to give a little to keep the gravy train running. So you have Bob Dole — a SOB in his day but fondly remembered by Democrats now compared with today’s GOP — coming out and trashing Newt.

But Newt, although he almost certainly wants the same thing, is willing to tell the GOP primary voting base otherwise. In South Carolina, they wanted to hear that badly enough to believe him. It’ll be interesting to see whether Florida GOP primary voters respond likewise.

Friday, January 20, 2012 8:34 pm

Happy new year!

Sorry I haven’t been around. I’ve been busy.

For one thing, I took a real vacation earlier this month, which I desperately needed.

For another, I’m back in school. Fun, but major timesuck.

So, what’s been going on?

Well, we’re now down to four presidential candidates on my side. Mitt Romney, lying sack (outsourced to Steve Benen). Newt “Swing” Gingrich, flaming hypocrite. Rick Santorum, who wants government small enough to fit into your uterus. And Racist Ron Paul, the “libertarian” who ain’t, exactly.

Really, GOP? Really?

The Times Almighty wonders out loud whether it ought to point out when lying presidential candidates are, you know, lying. And NBC’s White House correspondent, Chuck Todd, worries that the biggest problem in the presidential campaign might be … wait for it … Stephen Colbert.

I may go back into seclusion.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 9:09 pm

Your liberal media …

… is, as Jason Linkins observes, utterly unable to call a spade a spade.

Journalists, even the ones working in Podunkia for $15,000 a year, are held to this standard: If you knew it was wrong and published it anyway, or you published it with reckless disregard for whether it was wrong, you’re screwed. (Unless, of course, you work for The New York Times, in which case they’ll give you a regular op-ed gig alongside Tom Friedman, David Brooks and Ross Douthat.) I see no reason why a politician, particularly one running for president, should be held to a lower standard.

Mitt Romney lied — and, knowing that the media will not call him out for his lying, he seems to believe that he can successfully campaign against Obama by lying while the media say, “Oh, what an interesting campaign strategy,” instead of, oh, I don’t know, maybe, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”

Politico notwithstanding, calling a politician’s lie a lie is not expressing “opinion.” It’s reporting. And, dear God, do we need more of it.

UPDATE: Fox’s Megyn Kelly dismissed pepper spray as “a vegetable, essentially.” No, Megyn, the vegetable would be you. (link NSFW)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 7:57 pm

Quote of the Day

Ladies and gentlemen, Charles Pierce on your liberal media:

Some day, volumes will be written about how Gingrich managed to get everyone in the Washington smart set to believe he is a public intellectual with actual ideas, and not just the guy at the club whose life gets changed for him every time he reads a new book.

My god, Caligula died centuries too soon. Today, if he’d brought his horse into the Senate, some careerist Beltway journo would find that the horse had whinnied some “interesting new approaches” to our “entitlement crisis.” The horse would be on Meet the Press the following Sunday with David Gregory, who would ignore the fact that there is a fking horse sitting across the table from him and concentrate instead on something the horse had whinnied five years ago that seems to have been contradicted by something the horse whinnied the day before. And then Tom Brokaw would come on to mumble something about how horses were more politically savvy back in his day.

 

Thursday, November 3, 2011 11:26 pm

Quote of the day

Filed under: Quote Of The Day — Lex @ 11:26 pm
Tags: ,

The Boston Globe effed up and got rid of Charles Pierce, so Esquire snapped him up and set him to political blogging. Everybody wins:

“… with all due respect to E. J. Dionne, the only difference between the ‘old’ South Carolina conservatives and the ‘new’ South Carolina conservatives is that Jim DeMint isn’t knocking up black women the way that Strom Thurmond used to.

Friday, December 4, 2009 9:40 pm

Odds and ends for 12/4

Hmm, roasted or fried? Um, I mean, we come in peace: Kara Swisher renders Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s Wall Street Journal op-ed into plain English.

Is your boss stealing from you? Could well be.

Good news/very bad news: In the week ending Nov. 28, first-time unemployment claims fell from 462,000 the previous week to 457,000. The very bad news: Emergency claims by people whose unemployment benefits have run out rose by 265,000. In one week. The total was more than 3.8 million, compared with 777,000 a year ago.

Will wonders never cease?: Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., does one worthwhile thing in his miserable, misanthropic life and carves Ben Bernanke a new orifice. Fellow tool Jim DeMint, R-S.C., actually asks helpful questions.

Yes, apparently wonders will cease: Sarah Palin, birther.

And then wonders that already have happened will un-happen: Sarah Palin Goes Rogue Fail.

Shorter Mitt Romney economic plan: “More money for me and my friends!”

You’re worried about health care and the deficit? Fine: Let’s talk about that: Republicans and some “centrist” Democrats say they worry about what health-care reform will do to the deficit. They need to worry more about what will happen to the deficit if health-care reform doesn’t pass. (But don’t take my word for it. Take the word of Bush 43’s head of Medicare.)

Pwn3d!: Sens. Tom “Sanctimonious” Coburn and David “Diapers” Vitter introduce what they intend to be a poison-pill amendment to health-care reform that would require members of Congress to enroll in the public option … only to be swarmed by Democrats who think that’s a great idea and sign on as co-sponsors. Hee.

Quote of the day, from commenter “paradoctor” at Hullabaloo, on the douchiness of Senate Republicans: “To them, corporations are people and women are an abstraction.”

Nature strikes back: Asian carp are invading fresh waters of the upper Midwest and the Great Lakes. Bye-bye, trout. And apparently you shouldn’t use a motorboat to go fishing for them because the sound of the motor just pisses them off. (h/t: Nance)

New Internet meme: “There’s far too much detail here for this to be a fabrication.”

And he’d have lived forever if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids and their dog: Aaron Schroeder, composer of hundreds of pop hits ranging from “It’s Now or Never” and “Good Luck Charm” to the theme from the TV cartoon “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?,” is dead at 83.

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