Friday, May 21, 2010


Think Progress: Wisconsin bar burns Obama effigy with duct tape wrapped around its neck as crowd laughs and cheers.

The Secret Service is investigating a bar in West Allis, Wisconsin after a bartender burned President Obama in effigy in front of a cheering crowd. A video obtained by local NBC affiliate TMJ4 shows a bartender at the Yester Years Pub and Grill burning a small figurine of Obama “with what looks like duct tape” wrapped around its neck. The crowd can be heard laughing and shouting in the background. Watch TMJ4’s report:

Jerry Ann Hamilton, the President of Milwaukee’s NAACP, was “outraged” by the incident and worried it could be racially motivated. She called the images “very offensive” and said she would push for a full investigation. The town’s mayor and local residents also expressed dismay. The Secret Service confirmed it was investigating, but would not comment further. (HT: Mediaite)

Rachel Maddow, grounding the tuning forks of our national narratives. No one else on teevee can bring such clarity of thought and narrative coherence to an issue. This is the most brilliant opening to a tv news segment I have ever seen. Ever.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

mistermix: Speaking of Topsiders and Acid-Washed Jeans

Not to go all Rand all the time, but he’s a gift that just keeps on giving. His official statement about the civil rights issue, posted on his Obama-clone website, starts like this:

In response to liberal media attacks, Dr. Rand Paul today released the following statement:

Rand and Sarah Palin have at least one thing in common: a reporter asking a question that elicits a moronic response from either of them constitutes a “liberal media attack”.

DemfromCT (Dkos): Your Abbreviated Pundit Round-up

Joe Klein:

The latest--an update from Michael Scherer's smart post below--is that Rand Paul is now saying that he regrets the appearance with Rachel Maddow, not the ridiculous statements he made in favor of a private business's ability to discriminate according to race. I suspect that this will be the first of many such disasters for the Tea Party libertarians. They are about to find themselves faced with actual political rivals who will be more than happy to expose the utopian foolishness of their ideology. This will be a rare moment of public education for an electorate that doesn't pay sufficient attention to even the most important aspects of democracy.

If Democrats play their cards right, by November most Americans will know that Medicare is government health care, that social security is a government pension service, that all the bank bailout money either has been paid back or will be covered by a modest tax on too-big-to-fail banks, that the Obama stimulus package mostly consisted of tax cuts for them and support for necessary local government functions like schools and cops--and that the jobs-creating aspects of the stimulus package have been remarkably free of corruption.

Bob Shrum:

Farther up the Appalachian Trail, in a special election for Congress in western Pennsylvania that had Republicans salivating, the Democrat decisively triumphed in a district that had rejected Obama in 2008. The surprised GOP rationalized that the result didn’t really count; the winner was "pro-choice and pro-life." So are a lot of Democrats in Pennsylvania, including Sen. Bob Casey—and so are a lot of the Democrats in Congress who, after this special, we know can be re-elected in the fall. The outcome was a signal that the new Associated Press survey, which shows Obama’s party with a 5 point lead nationally, may actually be right. All politics is economics; as the economy improves, so will Democratic prospects for the midterms.

But the President can’t simply wait for history. He has to nudge perceptions and interpret events. This is Obama’s party—and the Campaigner-in-Chief has to carry an affirmative message that will define Democrats between now and November.

Charles Lane:

The constitutional aberration, in fact, was Southern legislation that required segregation in various business establishments. To cite just one of many examples, a 1928 Alabama state law mandated racially separate toilet facilities in hotels and restaurants. Segregation was never really a matter of individuals exercising their free speech or property rights, as Paul implied. It was a tight web of mutually reinforcing public and private rules.

I'm afraid that the Ron/Rand Paul world view founders on these sorts of contradictions all the time. It's amazing that there's room for it in today's Republican Party, or anywhere on the political spectrum, for that matter.

Lane has never been mistaken for a progressive.

DougJ: It was never personal

There are those who think John and I are wrong to want to move the discussion of Rand Paul away from the topic of whether or not Rand Paul is a racist. Let me remind you: a few years ago, there was an extended back-and-forth between Bobo and Paul Krugman about the extent to which Reagan used racism to help himself politically. Republicans tried to deflect it into an argument about whether or not Reagan was racist himself and then trotted out old friends to say how much Reagan loved black people, had black best friends, didn’t see race at all, and so on.

But, you see, it doesn’t matter whether or not Reagan harbored racist feelings in his own heart, he gave his first post-convention speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi and talked about “states’ rights”. He talked about “strapping young bucks” buying T-bone steaks with food stamps. Reagan’s “actual feelings” about race matter about as much as Lindsey Graham’s “actual feelings” about health care reform.

Once things become personal, Republicans can wriggle off the hook. It’s just too easy to trot out black friends or at least stories about black friends and say “see, Rand Paul is not a racist, next question.” The last 40 years of American politics haven’t been destroyed by a bunch of dumb, racist crackers, they’ve been destroyed by cynical conservatives who were all too willing to manipulate dumb, racist crackers for political gain.

Rand Paul is a nut. But the focus has to be on his nutty political positions and the extent to which other Republicans also believe them (the denials have not been strong so far, aside from McConnell, who already hated Paul), not on his “actual feelings”. Republicans have made a lot of hay out of white fear over the past few decades. And now, to use their own words, it’s time to shove it down their throat.

Update. This is very smart:

DougJ: There’s no such thing as an original sin

The most important quote in American politics, from Lee Atwater:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff.

I don’t think that is what Rand Paul is doing here. He’s doing the opposite, in a way, spelling out his opposition to Civil Rights in a politically suicidal way for reasons I can’t ascertain. This may derail his Senate campaign. But it also appeals to racists:

In December, Chris Hightower, the spokesman for Paul’s senate campaign, was forced to resign after a liberal Kentucky blog discovered that his MySpace page had a comment posted around Martin Luther King Day that read: “HAPPY N***ER DAY” above what appears to be a historical photo of the lynching of a black man.

What makes this whole discussion interesting isn’t figuring out whether Paul is racist or a Randian nut job or just an idiot, what’s interesting is that the entire modern Republican party is based on opposition to the Civil Rights Act, and yet it’s taboo to oppose the Civil Rights Act openly. Look, I know there’s taxes and foreign policy and blah blah blah, but the simple fact is that the south was dominated by Democrats before the Civil Rights Act and is dominated by Republicans today.

Can you think of another single issue that has completely changed the political climate of an entire region?

To take this one step further, the institution of slavery is often described as the “original sin” of the United States, but obviously there was nothing original about it. I’ll bet you that in any ancient civilization anywhere in the world, one of the first things people did once they’d figured out the really important stuff—how to feed themselves, how to produce booze and pornography, etc.—was start developing theories about why they were better than the people from nearby areas and why it might be a good idea to steal from these people and/or keep them as slaves. And so it is today, with William Saletan and the Bell Curve and Andrew Sullivan’s deranged readers.

Racism and tribalism have always been a big part of politics everywhere. Why do we have to keep pretending otherwise?

DougJ: Drudge traffic

It’s been a longtime since I’ve nut-picked the comments at Politico, but these are hard to pass up (from the blog piece on Rand I mentioned in the last article):

I’d thought I’d never go along with that kind of thinking. I thought everything should be open to all. I prided myself, only for myself, in doing and voting in such a way as to figure everyone was equal. Now though, I see radical Communists in the White House, I see Presidential friends that tried to blow up the Pentagonand kill cops, I see union goons beating up an elderly black man because they didn’t like his politics, I see a political party that not only supports infanticide,but in addition, supports underage illegal alien teen brothels and a movie director raping a 13 year old, and I begin to think, there sure are a lot of groups I’d hate to hire or hate to live by if I could help it
I do have a question though. Race baiters like Jesse Jackson and Obama’s own Reverend Wright preach a gospel of hatred for the white race. If so many of their flock feel that way, why are they always trying to move into all white neighborhoods?
You liberal clowns are despicable. Obama’s America will look like the Kenyan shanty town where his brother lives if he is not stopped from instituting his radical marxist agenda.

Rand Paul probably isn’t a racist—his reasons for opposing the Civil Rights act are likely intellectual, if misguided. But make no mistake: his position has a lot of appeal to people who are racists.

Update. A very good point from Atrios:

Government regulates – and, of course, provides the necessary conditions for the existence of – private business in all kinds of ways. So when people have a particular concern about, say, the Civil Rights Act, as opposed to, say, parking requirements, it’s reasonable to wonder why.
Sully: In Defense Of Rand Paul (Kinda), Ctd

A reader writes:

Here's the problem with Rand Paul's statements over the Civil Rights Act. If he were truly a pure libertarian, they'd be defensible theoretical views, as you point out. But, as Time magazine notes:

Paul has lately said he would not leave abortion to the states, he doesn't believe in legalizing drugs like marijuana and cocaine, he'd support federal drug laws, he'd vote to support Kentucky's coal interests and he'd be tough on national security.

Paul is willing to bend the issue of pure personal freedom for drug laws, abortion, and even coal subsidies ... but he thinks telling a restaurant it cannot discriminate is a bridge too far? I still don't think he's racist, but what he chooses to be ideologically pure about certainly raises my eyebrow.

Frum last week highlighted a pretty damning piece from the WSJ:

Tea party favorite Rand Paul has rocketed to the lead ahead of Tuesday’s Republican Senate primary here on a resolute pledge to balance the federal budget and slash the size of government. But on Thursday evening, the ophthalmologist from Bowling Green said there was one thing he would not cut: Medicare physician payments. In fact, Paul — who says 50% of his patients are on Medicare — wants to end cuts to physician payments under a program now in place called the sustained growth rate, or SGR. “Physicians should be allowed to make a comfortable living,” he told a gathering of neighbors in the back yard of Chris and Linda Wakild, just behind the 10th hole of a golf course. ...

He also said he plans to continue practicing ophthalmology if elected.

Richard Lawson: Mosque-Mad Tea Party Leader Not a Fan of Muslims or Their 'Monkey-God'
Outraged at the proposed building of a 9/11 Anti-Memorial Mosque right near Ground Zero, radio host and Tea Party Express chairman Mark Williams took to his blog and got real mad at nasty Muslims. And their monkey-god too.

Williams, a frequent Fox News contributor, wrote on his site:

The monument would consist of a Mosque for the worship of the terrorists' monkey-god (repeat: "the terrorists' monkey-god." if you feel that fits a description of Allah then that is your own deep-seated emotional baggage not mine, talk to the terrorists who use Allah as their excuse and the Muslims who apologize for and rationalize them) and a "cultural center" to propagandize for the extermination of all things not approved by their cult. It is a project of American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative, essentially the same group of apologists (but under 2 different names) for terrorists and the animals who use it as a terrorist ideology. They cloak their evil with new age gibberish that suggests Islam is just misunderstood.

Yay! And he's like a bigwig in the Tea Party movement, which, as we know, is NOT AT ALL RACIST OR CRAZY. We are required to believe that, because they told us so.

A Tea Party Express spokesman told Talking Points Memo that it ain't no thang:

It doesn't have anything to do with the Tea Party Express and the issues addressed by the tea party movement, and was written on Mr. William's personal blog, and not on any Tea Party Express website, blog or social networking page.

Ah yes, the old "The chairman of our Politics & Anger & Soiled Depends Club said something pretty offensive, publicly, but not on our club's letterhead, so it doesn't count" maneuver. It's like when the Freemasons were all "Oh no, Andrew Jackson didn't call that guy a quadroon in our official pamphlet, so it's fine."

Pleasantly enough Williams went on a rant about that Muslim Miss USA lady, Rima Fakih, on the same blog post. It is also NOT AT ALL CRAZY. It is mostly just a beautiful even-handed sentiment that the Teabaggers should be deeply proud of:

Meet the new Miss Muslim USA Rima Fakih. In the photo above she is a participant in a stripping contest held by a Detroit T & A radio show. Last night she won the nod for Miss. USA when Miss. Oklahoma dared answer a question from a judge about illegal aliens with a response that suggested immigration law be enforced while safeguards against racial profiling are also enforced. At that point pageant political correctness went into full gear and Fakih was declared the winner.

Note to the freaks and mental cases who dominate Islam: See what you're missing when you peal off the burka there fellas? Maybe you wouldn't have to spend so much effort Michael Jacksoning the little boys in your terror camps if you took a look at the chicks for a change.

In the meantime I have a wonderful idea along the same lines as that mosque at Ground Zero thing… a nice, shiny new U.S. Military Base on the smoldering ruins of Mecca. Works for me!

Turn that cube in the middle they got there into a McDonald's! Gooooooo Tea!

mistermix: Republicans to Calderon: Callate, Pendejo

Here’s a little thought experiment: Imagine that Mexican Constitution made explosives legal, that Mexico had thousands of shops in border towns selling hand grenades, and that shit was blowing up everywhere here. Then imagine that Obama addressed the Mexican Congress and said the following:

And with all due respect, if you do not regulate the sale of these weapons in the right way, nothing guarantees that criminals here in the Mexico, with access to the same powerful weapons, will not decide to challenge Mexican authority and civilians.

My guess is that Cornyn and Kyl would be yelling treason, while McCain would be commandeering the Arizona National Guard as part of his invasion plan.

Those mild words (with references to the US, not Mexico) are what Felipe Calderon said yesterday in Congress. He’s concerned because the current violence in Mexico is armed in part from the 7,000 stores selling assault weapons on the US/Mexico border. Fewer than half of the Republicans in Congress bothered to show up, and here’s Cornyn:

“I have great respect for President Calderon, but he really shouldn’t turn this into an opportunity to tell us we should change our laws,” Cornyn said. He said that the Second Amendment, which gives Americans the right to bear arms, wasn’t a subject for diplomatic discussions.

I wonder what would happen if half of the Republicans missed one of Bibi Netanyahu’s joint addresses to Congress, and if the ones who did attend told him to STFU.

Think Progress: Gingrich: I’m not ‘unhinged,’ even though I once said that about people who made Bush-Nazi comparisons.

Recently, healthcare and oil industry lobbyist Newt Gingrich published a book, To Save America, which argues repeatedly that the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress are a “secular-socialist machine” that “represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.” But in 2005, during an appearance on Fox News’ Hannity & Colmes, host Sean Hannity asked Gingrich what he thought about and Democrats supposedly “comparing George Bush to Adolf Hitler.” Gingrich replied, “maybe they’re becoming the unhinged party.” Today during a press conference in the Capitol Hill visitor center, ThinkProgress asked if Gingrich’s standard for being “unhinged” applied to his own frequent comparisons of Obama to Nazi Germany:

TP: In your new book, you argue that Obama and liberals quote “represent as great of a threat to America as Nazi Germany”–

GINGRICH: Not here, but I’m happy to talk about that–

TP: Just really quickly though, but during the Bush years, you said people who make Bush-Nazi comparisons were quote “unhinged.” By your own definition, are you unhinged?

GINGRICH: No. Nice try.

Watch it:

While Gingrich sees nothing absurd or hypocritical about his comparison between the Obama administration and Nazi Germany, he is facing increasing criticism for his assertion. This morning, conservative MSNBC host Joe Scarborough ripped Gingrich’s Nazi-Obama comparison as “sick” and “pure wingnuttery.” Yesterday, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) called on the GOP to condemn Gingrich’s new book for his “dangerous anaology” between Obama and Nazi Germany. “Gingrich’s linkage not only diminishes the horror of the Holocaust, it also licenses the use of extremist language in contemporary America,” remarked David Harris, executive director of the AJC.

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