(Note: the following was my response to a reader who wondered what has become of the Republican Party)
Once upon a time, beginning the 1850s, America had two political parties, called Republican and Democratic, that shared a common responsibility for governing the country. They had different ideas about war and peace, spending and taxation, as parties generally do and they competed every four years to see which one would have the opportunity to put its ideas to the test.
Then things changed. Beginning 30 years ago with the election of Ronald Reagan, which more than anything else validated for the right wing of the GOP that America was and must be forever more a "center/right nation," Republicans got it in their head that the purpose of politics was not to govern at all but to advance a very specific project to roll back the 20th century and undo all those changes that kept white Christians and wealthy businessmen from running the country as they saw fit. And so anyone who got in their way had to be stopped or destroyed by whatever means possible.
And so it is no coincidence that of the two non-Republicans who have been elected post-Reagan the first was impeached and the second denied the dignity of fellow citizenship.
Looked at this way it makes perfect sense that the right wing of the Republican Party would take to the streets within a few short weeks of the new president's inauguration in an effort to de-legitimize him for precisely the same thing their own most recent president was most guilty of himself, namely driving the nation into debt.
This is not our grandfather's Republican Party. And within the context of American traditions, history, conventions and democratic norms, it is not even an American one but one rooted in an authoritarian conception of the one-party state and the division of the populace into "legitimate," i.e. god-fearing, conservative and perhaps even Christian Americans and everyone else who supports the Democratic Party.
Not all Republicans feel this way, but enough to shape the character of the party and control the behavior of people like Mitt Romney who need it to achieve their life-long dream of doing something his father never did, become President of the United States.
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Joe. My. God. reports that Fifty Shades of Grey is a magazine.
Ew, I say. This is scarier than Marabel Morgan answering the door in Saran Wrap.
enlargeI don't know. When one loses their home in a storm and the GOP nominee for president comes to town with his entourage ostensibly to offer sympathy and rhetoric, I'd think they should maybe do that. If the idea is to look presidential, then Mitt Romney gave us a glimpse into the rather stern and businesslike president he would be.
Mitt paid a visit to hurricane-ravaged New Orleans Friday for the photo op and empathy moments. Only, it seems he kind of forgot the empathy moments.
Via Huffington Post:
Romney and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) spent close to an hour meeting with first responders and local officials. Romney shook hands with National Guardsmen outside the U.S. Post Office and talked with a local resident, Jodie Chiarello, 42, who lost her home in Isaac's flooding.
"He just told me to, um, there's assistance out there," Chiarello said of her conversation with Romney. "He said, go home and call 211." That's a public service number offered in many states.
Chiarello said she will likely seek some other shelter because her home was submerged in the flooding. She expressed frustration about the town's lack of flood protection.
"We live outside the levee protection that's why we get all this water because they close the floodgates up front and all they're doing is flooding us out down here," she said. "It's very frustrating, very. We go through Katrina and Rita and now we're going through Cindy, Lee and now Isaac."
Bill Clinton was the king of empathy. He was better at feeling people's pain than just about any other president I can recall. Barack Obama is not as good as Clinton, but he still gets something across to tell these people that he's on their side.
Telling someone to go home when their home is flooded and they just said so? That's either a case of arrogance or an inability to actually take the 30 seconds out to actually listen to them. I'm sure Mitt was busy gladhanding Bobby Jindal and couldn't really be bothered to think about actual solutions, but that response seems cold, ironic, and downright mean.
The AFL-CIO is inviting you to join President Bartlet aka Martin Sheen aka Ramon Estevez in saying thanks to a worker who makes a difference in your life this Labor Day.
These newly unionized Cablevision workers in Brooklyn, meanwhile, are celebrating that "We Are Union."
What we have learned this week is discussed with Up with Chris Hayes guests Josh Barro (@jbarro), writes Bloomberg View's "The Ticker"; David Sirota, (@davidsirota) writes a nationally syndicated weekly newspaper column and hosts a radio show, "The[...]
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I wouldn't be surprised if they started to post lists of all the cases they've successfully closed over the years. Forget conviction rates, the "wrapped up without charges" rates must be through the roof![...]
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As aired-Part 1Part 2Part 3It was obvious that he was a man who marched through life to the rhythms of some drum I would never hear. [...]
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Who knows? If there is in fact, a heaven and a hell, all we know for sure is that hell will be a viciously overcrowded version of Phoenix & a clean well lighted place full of sunshine and bromides and fast cars where almost everybody seems vaguely happy,[...]
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I'm not asking you to contemplate whether or not Rove deserves to be shot in the head or not, just if publicly joking about murdering him would be funny. Rove was not prosecuted for the raft of crimes he committed while he worked for Bush and now he's working with Organized Crime elements and skirting lax campaign finance laws to put together hundreds of millions of dollars in dark money-- some of it coming from overseas enemies of the U.S.-- to defeat President Obama and win majorities in both Houses of Congress. But, like I said, I'm not asking if he deserves to be shot down like a mad, rabid dog in the street. But now that he's joked-- in front of organized crime figures who he works with-- that he'd like to see Rep. Todd Akin killed... well is that funny? Will the Secret Service have to start protecting the Missouri congressman and his family?
Rove had no idea he was being recorded when he made his threat. But a reporter had managed to get into a secretive event he held for big donors to his shady PAC on the last day of the GOP convention in Tampa. It was a breakfast for "about 70 of the Republican party?s highest-earning and most powerful donors. During the more than hour-long session, Rove explained to an audience dotted with hedge fund billionaires and investors-- including John Paulson and Wilbur Ross-- how his super PAC, American Crossroads, will persuade undecided voters in crucial swing states to vote against Barack Obama. He also detailed plans for Senate and House races, and joked, 'We should sink Todd Akin. If he?s found mysteriously murdered, don?t look for my whereabouts!'?
The purpose, of course was for Rove to beg the right-wing billionaires and multimillionaires for more money. (It doesn't all go up on TV. He reportedly gets a very hefty cut of every nickel contributed, enough to make him a wealthy man many times over.)
The morning began with an address about the urgency of defeating Obama by Florida?s Republican Senator Marco Rubio. Crossroads Chief Executive Officer Steven Law followed and introduced some of the super PAC?s staff, referring to general counsel Tom Josefiak as ?the guy who keeps us from ever having to wear orange jumpsuits.?
Then came the main event: Rove, joined by former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, laid out his strategy for winning the White House. ?The people we?ve got to win in this election, by and large, voted for Barack Obama,? Rove said, in a soothing, professorial tone, explaining why the campaign hadn?t launched more pointed attacks on the president?s character.
Rove explained that Crossroads had conducted extensive focus groups and shared polling and focus group data with ?all the major groups that are playing? in the election. ?As many of you know, one of the most important things about Crossroads is: We don?t try and do this alone. We have partners,? he said. ?The Kochs-- you name it.?
What had emerged from that data is an ?acute understanding of the nature of those undecided, persuadable? voters. ?If you say he?s a socialist, they?ll go to defend him. If you call him a ?far out left-winger,? they?ll say, ?no, no, he?s not.?? The proper strategy, Rove declared, was criticizing Obama without really criticizing him-- by reminding voters of what the president said that he was going to do and comparing it to what he?s actually done. ?If you keep it focused on the facts and adopt a respectful tone, then they?re gonna agree with you.?
In Rove?s estimation, things are going well. ?Barack Obama unleashed hell on our candidate on May 15,? he said. ?Between May 15 and July 31st, he spent $111 million on ads out of his campaign war chest, and there was about another $17, $18 million spent by outside groups. The day that this started, the Gallup poll was 45-45. On the 31st of July, it was 46-46.?
?We spent-- outside groups spent $110 million and Romney spent $42 million,? Rove continued. ?So the bad guys [Democrats] spent $130 million and the good guys [Republicans] spent $152 million, and our money didn?t go as far as theirs because we couldn?t buy at the lowest unit rate. Really, it was sort of roughly equivalent, and we fought it to a draw.? And that, Rove pointed out, was after a brutal Republican primary. ?We have to keep in mind whose vote we?re trying to get-- it ain?t the delegate from Alaska. It?s not the alternate from Alabama. It?s some undecided voter in the battleground state who likes the president.?
Rove spoke almost exclusively about defeating Barack Obama and retaking control of the White House. There was sparse praise for Mitt Romney-- either as a candidate or as a future leader and policy maker.
One of the few Romney mentions was by Haley Barbour, who jumped in to explain how Democrats hoped to define the nominee: ?You know, ?Romney is a vulture capitalist who doesn?t care about the likes of you. He doesn?t even know people like you-- he?ll lay you off, cancel your insurance, shit jobs. He?s a plutocrat. Married to a known equestrian!?
...Rove?s analysis of the Senate races was technical and masterly. The Republicans need four seats to gain a majority, and Rove said he feels ?really good? about Nebraska and is optimistic about North Dakota, even though Democrats have a strong candidate in former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp. ?We?re deeply engaged? there, Rove said. In Wisconsin, former Governor Tommy Thompson ?has an excellent shot to win-- he has a quirky, cross-party appeal.? Virginia is going to be tight and will likely mirror the way the state votes in the presidential race. Of those, Rove declared, ?we can win three.?
In Connecticut, Rove noted that Linda McMahon, the former head of World Wrestling Entertainment, whom he had once written off, was running a ?really smart campaign.? And the state, he noted, had moved more to the right. ?Those affluent, socially liberal, economically conservative people in Fairfield County and the New York suburbs have finally figured out that their pocketbooks matter more than abortion.?
There are six Republican incumbents Rove identified as in jeopardy, but the biggest risk to Republican hopes of retaking the Senate is Todd Akin in Missouri, following his comments about ?legitimate rape.? Rove urged every attendee to apply pressure on Akin to convince him to leave the race. ?We have five people who are interested? in replacing Akin, Rove said. ?We don?t care who the nominee is, other than get Akin out.?
Just to get the ?juices flowing? of the billionaires in the room, Rove shared a little anecdote. Someone he described as a ?benefactor? [widely believed to be Mafia thug and agent of China, Sheldon Adelson] had recently contacted him, offering to donate $10 million to be deployed in Florida-- $5 million for Republican Congressman Connie Mack?s Senate race against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson and $5 million for the presidential race. But the donor placed two conditions on the money. One, his donation had to be matched by other donors. And two, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush had to start making phone calls on their behalf. Rove paused for effect and announced: ?Jeb?s making phone calls for us!? The crowd erupted.
American Crossroads? total budget, Rove said, was $300 million, with $200 million of it for the presidential race, $70 million for the Senate, and $32 million for the House.
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A Republican Senate candidate from Pennsylvania who said that out-of-wedlock pregnancy was similar to rape is being accused of a second sexist comment after video emerged of him telling women at a Paul Ryan campaign event that he assumed they were "talking about shoes."
Pennsylvania Democrats released video on Thursday that shows Tom Smith approaching two women -- who he called "girls -- at an event in Pittsburgh.
"Alright, what are we talking about here?" Smith asks, taking the women by the hand. "Two girls together talking."
"We?re talking about the power of petite women," one woman responds.
"My guess would?ve been you were talking about shoes," Smith replies.
The video also contains a clip from a Monday event at the Pennsylvania Press Club, where Smith said that President Barack Obama and Sen. Bob Casey trying to fix the economy was like when a "your wife wrecks the car" and tries to "take it to the beauty salon to get it fixed."
Earlier this week, Smith had compared rape to out-of-wedlock sex after he was asked to comment on Rep. Todd Akin's (R-MO) assertion that women could not get pregnant from "legitimate rape."
"I?m pro-life, period. And what that Congressman said, I do not agree with at all," Smith said, adding that he did not support any exceptions to abortion bans, including in cases of rape, incest or life of the mother.
"How would you tell a daughter or a granddaughter who, God forbid, would be the victim of a rape, to keep the child against her own will?" The Associated Press' Mark Scolforo wondered.
"I lived something similar to that with my own family," Smith said, explaining that his daughter had gotten pregnant "out of wedlock."
"That?s similar to rape?" Scolforo pressed.
"No, no, no, but? put yourself in a father?s situation, yes. It is similar," Smith replied. "A life is a life, and it needs protected. Who?s going to protect it? We have to. I mean that?s, I believe life begins at conception. I?m not going to argue about the method of conception. It?s a life, and I?m pro-life. It?s that simple."
(h/t: Think Progress)