Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bagging Baggers: "the black one" Edition

There is direct correlation between level of homophobia and likelihood of being gay.

A psychiatrist known as Dr. Shock for his notorious attempts to "cure" gay military recruits through electroshock therapy has been charged with sexually assaulting a male patient. Dr. Aubrey Levin, who was arrested in Calgary, Alberta, after he was secretly filmed sexually abusing a male patient, had previously been accused of gross human rights abuses for his treatment of gay soldiers and conscientious objectors in apartheid-era South Africa.

Think Progress: Tea party leaders say they would ‘absolutely’ abolish Social Security.

Last night on CNN, Larry King discussed the rise of the tea parties with a variety of guests and featured footage from last weekend’s lobbyist-organized Tea Party Express rally in Searchlight, NV. Dana Loesch, a tea party organizer from Missouri, and another tea party organizer, Wayne Allyn Root, joined King for the discussion. Root and Loesch decried the “unprecedented” and “unconstitutional” reach of a health care mandate. However, King noted that programs like Social Security are mandatory and asked if the tea parties would like to “do away with” that program as well. Both tea party organizers enthusiastically said “yes, absolutely” and added that a compromise would be at least privatizing the system:

KING: Would anyone turn away Social Security now? Would you do away with it?

LOESCH: I would, yes.

KING: You would?

LOESCH: Yes, absolutely.

KING: Would do you away with it, Wayne?

ROOT: I’d certainly like to. At best, I do away with it because I could find better ways to spend and save my own $15,000 a year.

Watch it:

As many observers have noted, tea party fervor has infected the modern Republican Party. The Republican Budget Road Map, championed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and a growing number of GOP lawmakers, would appease the tea parties by slashing entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security through cuts and privatization. Unfortunately, King did not discuss the billionaire-backers of the tea parties, like David Koch, who similarly wants to do away with Social Security.

John Cole: Teabonics

This is pretty awesome- an entire Flickr theme dedicated to “creatively” spelled signs at teabagger rallies, which have been cleverly named “teabonics”:

There is a whole lot of win here.


Most of the far-right arguments against health care reform are either wrong, stale, or both. What we really need is some new far-right arguments to help keep things interesting. Oh, here's one now.

On Glenn Beck's radio show this morning, guest-host Doc Thompson explained his belief that he, as a white person, is a victim of racism inherent in the new Affordable Care Act. You read that right.

Alex Seitz-Wald, thankfully, transcribed the relevant portion. "For years I've suggested that racism was in decline and yeah, there are some, you know, incidents that still happen with regards to racism, but most of the claims I've said for years, well, they're not really real," Thompson told listeners. "But I realize now that I was wrong. For I now too feel the pain of racism. Racism has been dropped at my front door and the front door of all lighter-skinned Americans.

"The health care bill the president just signed into law includes a 10 percent tax on all indoor tanning sessions starting July 1st, and I say, who uses tanning? Is it dark-skinned people? I don't think so. I would guess that most tanning sessions are from light-skinned Americans. Why would the President of the United States of America -- a man who says he understands racism, a man who has been confronted with racism -- why would he sign such a racist law? Why would he agree to do that? Well now I feel the pain of racism."

Sure you do, Doc. Sure you do.

Atkins (Dkos): Census conspiracy theories backfiring on GOP

Remember how Republicans were frantically attempting to get Michelle Bachmann to tone down the census conspiracy theories because they needed as many anti-government conservatives as possible to turn in their census forms to ensure maximum federal funding and conservative representation in Congress? (Yes, let that paradox sink in for a bit.)

Well, it looks like it may not have worked: per Taegan Goddard's Political Wire, distrust of the census could end up costing Republican seats:

Contrary to historical trends, the Houston Chronicle notes one of the toughest challenges facing U.S. Census officials is "not from counting the traditionally undercounted groups such as African-Americans and Latinos. Instead, a new and growing threat to an accurate national head count is coming from anti-government conservatives who may not fill out their forms to protest against 'Big Brother' in Washington."

And let's delve into that Houston Chronicle article in a bit more detail:

As of Friday afternoon, only 27 percent of Texas households had filled in and returned their census forms — well below the national average of 34 percent — according to computer data from the U.S. Census Bureau. In Harris County, the response rate is 23 percent. Houston's returns are running at 21 percent.

Meanwhile, Democrats are the political group most motivated to complete the census and fill it back--and Republicans are following leaders like Ron Paul and Michelle Bachmann in refusing to fill it out. Some conservative counties in Texas have a response rate as low as five percent:

Polling by the Pew Research Center finds Democrats are more likely than other Americans to view the census as “very important” to the country. Seventy-six percent of Democrats call this year's count very important, compared with 61 percent of Republicans and independents.

In Texas, some of the counties with the lowest census return rates are among the state's most Republican, including Briscoe County in the Panhandle, 8 percent; King County, near Lubbock, 5 percent; Culberson County, near El Paso, 11 percent; and Newton County, in deep East Texas, 18 percent. Most other counties near the bottom of the list are heavily Hispanic counties along the Texas-Mexico border.

And as sorry as some of us may feel that Texas would not be receiving its fair share of Congressional seats or federal dollars, I'm sure we would feel much worse if the Governor weren't an ardent secessionist.

But the real question is, when did the GOP abandon all sense of long-term perspective just to ensure maximum fury regarding the here and now?

John Cole: Nothing Could Go Wrong Here

This is a great idea, Sarah:

During her “Redneck-Woodstock” speech in Searchlight, Nevada on March 27, 2010, Sarah Palin had a suggestion for her audience:
    “That bumper sticker that maybe you’ll see on the next Subaru driving by—an Obama bumper sticker—you should stop the driver and say, ‘So how is that hopey, changey thing working out for ya?’”

I can’t be the only one who could see a potential problem with teabagging Palinites randomly stopping people with Obama stickers and taunting them. Certainly nothing could go wrong with this plan.

Which reminds me- I need a new Obama sticker for my Subaru. Anyone have “Vets for Obama” sticker lying around unused?


Long-time observers may remember the name Bud Day. Six years ago, Day, a decorated Air Force combat veteran, hooked up with the Swiftboat liars to smear John Kerry. Four years later, Day explained his support for John McCain and the war in Iraq by saying, "The Muslims have said either we kneel or they're going to kill us."

This week, Day has begun trying to rally support for Gov. Charlie Crist's (R) Senate campaign in Florida, instead of Marco Rubio (R), who's leading in the polls. Apparently, Day sees the Republican primary through a racial lens. (via Memeorandum)

"You know, we just got through (electing) a politician who can run his mouth at Mach 1, a black one, and now we have a Hispanic who can run his mouth at Mach 1," Day said. "You look at their track records and they're both pretty gritty. Charlie has not got a gritty track record."

Day confirmed he was speaking of Obama and Rubio.

"You've got the black one with the reading thing. He can go as fast as the speed of light and has no idea what he's saying," Day said. "I put Rubio in that same category, except I don't know if he's using one of those readers."

By "readers," Day appears to be referring to teleprompters.

I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that the Crist campaign doesn't promote Day's endorsement too heavily. Any praise that includes references to the president as "the black one" probably isn't the kind of support a politician will want to advertise.

Or is it? In a press release, Crist said he "could not be more grateful" for Day's support, though the statement did not refer specifically to Day's apparent racial perspective on the primary contest.

I can only hope Crist will distance himself from Day's comments, and not try to win Republican support by characterizing Rubio as "a Hispanic" that belongs "in that same category" as "the black one."


Oh, Michele Bachmann, is there anything you won't say out loud?

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) told a crowd at a Duluth, Minn., rally over the weekend that there is no evidence that several black lawmakers were harassed by conservative protesters on Capitol Hill in the days leading up to the health care reform vote.

Black lawmakers, including civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), reported that they had been spat on and slurred by protesters demonstrating against the health reform bill last week.

"Democrats said that they were called the 'N word,' which of course would be wrong and inappropriate. But no one has any record of it. No witness saw it, it's not on camera, it's not on audio," she said. "They said that they were spat upon. No one saw it."

She went on, "There's a $10,000 reward right now for anyone who can produce a video or an audio. Don't you think we would have seen a video or an audio by now if there was something out there?"

I see. So, Michele Bachmann would have us believe that John Lewis is a liar. John Lewis, who has demonstrated more integrity, honesty, and courage in his career than Bachmann's limited intellect can even fathom, is deserving of mistrust, because he heard racial slurs and talked about it. Got it.

Here are a few details for the right-wing Minnesotan to consider.

1. When Bachmann's buddies began hurling bigoted slurs at her Democratic colleagues, there were plenty of witnesses, many of them journalists who reported on them. "No witness saw it"? That' s backwards.

2. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) not only claims to have been spat on, there's a video of the incident. Moreover, the right-wing activist who did the spitting was arrested. "Don't you think we would have seen a video"? Michele, we have seen a video. (I'll take that $10,000 reward now, please.)

3. A wide variety of Democratic lawmakers, many of them African American, including Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) have received faxes with images of nooses on gallows. The faxes have been given to law enforcement officials. If Bachmann wants to see them, I'm sure that can be arranged.

It's easy to expect garden-variety stupidity from Michele Bachmann, but these remarks question the integrity of her colleagues, who've been harassed by Bachmann's unhinged friends. The sooner she apologizes, the better.


Following weekend raids in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio, federal officials now have nine suspected members of a Michigan-based Christian militia in custody. All have been indicted on sedition and weapons charges.

Barbara McQuade, the U.S. attorney leading the prosecution against the accused, explained to reporters today that the terrorist plot represented an imminent threat, prompting federal officials to take action. McQuade said the plot would have begun with a false 911 call, leading to the murder of the responding law enforcement officials. From there, the radicals intended to set off a bomb at the funeral, which they hoped would set off an "uprising."

To clarify a point from yesterday, eight of the nine suspects were initially taken into custody on Sunday, and the ninth surrendered to authorities today.

And as long as we're on the subject, 15 years ago, Paul Glastris, the Washington Monthly's editor-in-chief, spent some time with members of the Michigan militia and wrote a provocative piece for the magazine on his experience.

One June day two years ago, James Douglas Nichols was pushing 70 miles per hour down a country road not far from his Decker, Michigan farm when he was caught in the crosshairs of a sheriff deputy's radar gun. The deputy pulled Nichols over and issued him tickets for speeding and for driving without a valid license.

Soon after, before a courthouse hearing in Sanilac County in eastern Michigan's "thumb," Nichols offered a bizarre defense of his actions. The government, Nichols insisted, does not have the constitutional power to regulate private citizens in their cars. "I have put everyone concerned here on notice of what is going on here," declared Nichols with paranoid melodrama, "to violate my rights to free travel as cited in the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Michigan."

Presiding District Court Judge James A. Marcus patiently explained to Nichols the long-accepted legal distinction between a private citizens' constitutional right to travel freely and the government's legitimate right to regulate the operation of a motor vehicle. But Nichols was not about to buy the judge's fine distinction; he had done plenty of his own research. Nichols continued his losing protests, citing Supreme Court case after Supreme Court case. "He'd lift a sentence or phrase that he thought was applicable, but he'd do so out of context so that the meaning was completely incorrect or nonsensical," recalls Judge Marcus.

The Sanilac County courthouse, a gracious brick edifice with a hideous concrete-block addition stuck on the back, is no stranger to twisted logic. Earlier that year, James's brother Terry Nichols had tried his own hand at finding his salvation in do-it-yourself legal reasoning. He didn't really owe that $31,000 in bank credit card debt, he announced to the court, because the banks had lent him "credit," not "legal tender." He offered to pay with what he called a "certified fractional reserve check" -- a worthless piece of paper. "You can't follow their arguments," explains Judge Marcus, "because they're listening to a different music no one else hears."

Terry Nichols, of course, conspired with Timothy McVeigh to blow up the federal building in Oklahoma City -- at the time, the deadliest terrorist attack in American history.

It's fascinating, 15 years later, to see how the militia extremists have changed, and how they haven't.

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