Wednesday, November 25, 2020
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Cliven Bundy is a Powder Keg, Will The GOP Light the...

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Kathleen Parker, one of my favorite GOP columnists at the Washington Post, wrote a cautionary column last Sunday asking fellow Republicans to be more careful in picking their allies.  She was of course referring to the enthusiastic backing of rancher Cliven Bundy, who refused to pay grazing fees for his cattle on federal land and threatened Bureau of Land Management agents with armed resistance.  At first, delighted tea partiers and their conservative fellow travelers in Congress, state governor's mansions, and on a major TV network rallied around Bundy.

But it didn't take long for Fox's Sean Hannity, Senator Rand Paul, and Governor Rick Perry to walk back their support when Bundy claimed that blacks were better off under slavery.

Although Parker handled it with a light touch, making fun of the trio of embarrassed Republicans and tried to make it seem like flawed logic for liberals to conclude that the Republican Party was racist.  No, she bravely soldiered on.  This was a failure to vet Bundy properly, and she made the call that her party needed to do a better job of choosing their friends.  That's all.  Merely a zany and embarrassing misunderstanding.  

It was a nice try from an embarrassed and decent but loyal Republican.  But as the ever perceptive Dana Milbank argued in another column on the editorial page, Republicans, while probably not all racist, should not have been at all surprised by Bundy's racism.  He pointed out the long history that the anti-government, anti-tax fringe movement has had with racism. He correctly cited their roots in the 1970s Posse Comitatus Movement and the 1990s Montana Freemen Movement, among others.  He also pointed out that Perry, especially, has "flirted with secessionists" in Texas.

Birds of a Feather: TeaPublican, Pathetic “Gov” from NC to “Help”...

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If there were ever a metaphor for what's wrong with Ken Cuccinelli, and his desperate campaign to bring Virginia back to the Stone Age, it has to be the upcoming visit by pretend NC Governor Pat McCrory. He's even a more fitting metaphor than Rick Santorum's jetting in to "rescue the Cooch" from his inanity. As if. So tomorrow, Pat McCrory will rally with Cuccinelli in Roanoke, purportedly to get out the vote (GOTV) for the Cooch. How fitting that the worst "Governor" in America will campaign for the worst AG. (McAuliffe has totally trumped Cooch with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton, hasn't he?)

But McCrory is in a league of his own. He might as well be a subsidiary of Art Pope, the Koch Brothers' buddy, who helped found and fund Americans for Prosperity (prosperity for for the 400 richest in America and not for everyone else). As I have told you on these pages, Pat McCrory picked his very own sugar daddy, the Ayn Randian Art Pope, to be NC's budget director. And you know who is really governor (hint: it's not Pat). In other words, McCrory couldn't do the job himself anyway. He's too busy furrowing his brow in front of the mirror and trying to act "serious." He has taken to hiding from the citizens of NC because he cannot govern and he doesn't care what the citizens think.

Nor can Cooch do the job of governor of Virginia. He's too busy with foolish and destructive retro campaigns that hurt people. And he's too preoccupied trying to bring back anti-sodomy laws, which the SCOTUS has ruled unconstitutional. It's ironic as hell that the radical right used as an anti-ACA ad a caricature of Uncle Sam involved in pelvic exams. The ACA provides a way to buy private insurance. The government is nowhere in the examining room. But Cooch and McCrory have inserted themselves into women's vaginas and done more to eliminate women's privacy than anyone in America. Besides, who would be Cooch's budget director? Pat Robertson?  

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Calling the Republicans’ Bluff

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) cuts to the heart of the debate over the government shutdown, in a must-view speech on the Senate floor.

She exposes the fundamental contradiction at the heart of the Republicans' message: that they are all about hating government in general, yet they almost always refrain from attacking the essential functions the government performs -- because those functions have overwhelming public support. She reveals the way to overcome the spell of the "anarchy crowd" -- answer their vague, blanket attacks on government with specific references to all the good, popular programs that our government delivers every day:

When I hear the latest tirades from some of the extremists in the House, I am struck by how vague these complaints are. The anarchy gang is quick to malign government. But when was the last time anyone called for regulators to go easier on companies that put lead in children's toys?  Or for food inspectors to stop checking whether the meat in our grocery stores is crawling with deadly bacteria? Or for the FDA to ignore whether morning sickness drugs will cause horrible deformities in little babies? We never hear that, not from political leaders in Washington, and not from the American people.

She then blows away the entire Tea Party ideology in one sentence:  "The boogeyman government, like the boogeyman under your bed, is not real."  

The Tea Party of old versus the Tea Party of today

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Whatever infantile world some so-called libertarians are living in, it's clearly not the world that the rest of us are breathing in. According to one author, the furloughing of 800,000 federal government employees hasn't caused a tangible disruption within our society. Another chestnut is the old Tea Party fallback quote, "Obama's...just pure distilled Marxism." Not only can a man not be a system of thought, President Obama's policies have come nowhere near socialism, let alone Marxism.

These common beliefs among the Tea Party base (i.e., government employees, on the whole, serve no critical function in our society and President Obama is a shady Marxist/socialist/communist (?)) have continued to be a distorted but nonetheless real set of beliefs that only increases in severity with each political move that President Obama makes. That is, President Obama can do no right in the eyes of some within the Tea Party movement.

As such, it's no longer acceptable for President Obama to negotiate with a group of individuals who would no sooner trust our nation's elected president than they would Joseph Stalin, a group of individuals who would no sooner honor their commitments to a deal(s) reached with President Obama than they would with the Devil.

Perhaps a big reason why we are even in an unnecessary situation of government shutting down is President Obama has handed this tiny group victories in the past, emboldening them to take ever more drastic steps. We'll never know if this situation would have played out differently had President Obama held firm in the past.

The point is not to place blame at President Obama's doorstep, however. It is to argue that the Democratic Party's bending position to the crazies of America has left the door open for the kinds of drastic political moves that the Republican Party in the House is taking. If the Tea Party wants their voice to be heard, they better mediate through the saner elements in their party and let them filter what is and isn't appropriate.

Rightward-Facing Dog: Who is Watchdog.org?

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Cross-posted at Daily Kos

If you want to know the source of the conspiracy theories floating around Terry McAuliffe's former company, GreenTech Auto, look no further than a little website named Watchdog.org and its so-called "Virginia bureau."  It sounds like some sort of muckraking investigative site -- until a closer look reveals that this is in fact a watchdog trained to only bark at Democrats and wag its tail at Republicans.

However, it's not just another volunteer-based, opinionated blog like, say, Blue Virginia.  Watchdog is funded by big corporate, conservative interests -- including the Koch brothers -- to essentially manage the opposition research for campaigns like Ken Cuccinelli's so that the campaigns can focus their time and money on other things.  

They're certainly not legitimate journalists, but they've established their "bureaus" in state capitals across the country, and some state capital correspondents' associations grant them press credentials.  Unfortunately that includes our very own Virginia Capital Correspondents Association, of which Watchdog's Kenric Ward -- unlike any other blogger or lobbyist -- is allowed to be a member.

Thanks to some investigative journalism done about them, here's what we do know about the shadowy Watchdog.org:

It gets big bucks from right wing donors:  Watchdog is run by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, which itself was launched by the conservative Sam Adams Alliance.  These groups are so tied in to all the other major Tea Party power brokers and organizations that it's hard to go through all those links without pulling out a progressive version of Glenn Beck's chalkboard.  

Virginia: Be Forewarned How Quickly and Severely a State Can Go...

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I didn't move to North Carolina for its politics. But I must confess it was one of the things that buoyed me as I prepared to leave Virginia after 30 years to be nearer to family. Despite the recent win of the GOP in the General Assembly (GA), North Carolina was still a progressive state.  And we had a Democratic governor. A little over a year ago, it was unthinkable that NC would surrender its entire progressive list of 20th and 21st century accomplishments. But thanks to an extreme Texas-style gerrymander, which suppressed the representation of Democrats, what the majority in North Carolina want no longer matters. The Tea Party took over in 2008 and grabbed even more seats in 2012. And so the North Carolina GA began to march in lock step with states like Wisconsin and Texas.

Meanwhile, the North Carolina legislature acts daily at the behest of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) bill mill. Though ALEC-driven look-alike legislation has appeared in numerous states, NC is a new experiment on how quickly and extremely the GA can force a Koch-friendly Tea Party state. How hard can it be with Koch buddy and fellow Americans for Prosperity funder, Art Pope, sitting as the state's budget director? Pope and the network of state and national PACs and non-profits was the biggest factor in the GOP win.  And now there he sits, pulling the budgetary strings.

There's much more below the fold...

Don’t North Carolina Virginia: NC Equates Women to Motorcycles!

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Behold the NC General Assembly(GA), an institution which has been hijacked by the Tea Party. In the latest affront to majority mainstream voters, yesterday the NC House of Delegates continued with its wrecking ball to the 20th and early 21st centuries. Under the guise of making abortion clinics "safer," it came up with its own version of the NC Senate effort to shutter all but one women's health clinics in North Carolina. Following the mocking the Senate took for restricting abortion as part of an anti-Sharia law bill, the House got a "better idea." Essentially the HoD equated women with motorcycles. That's right. To protect "these women" the haughty, arrogant, US Taliban tacked onto a motorcycle provision rules which essentially end the availability of abortion in NC. Also included in the legislation here is the following:

* They used many of the same clinic-rule-tactics used in Virginia in the past year. And then NC one-upped (or rather "7-upped") Virginia.

* A doctor (not a physician's assistant or nurse practitioner) must be physically present for the entire procedure.

*A doctor must be physically present with any patient who takes RU-486, the "abortion pill." Originally, the HoD was going to require docs to be with the women for the entire pharmaceutically induced procedure, but that can take days. That maneuver was transparent and widely mocked for its outrageousness. Even this violates women's privacy and severely limits its use.

Cautionary Tale: What Happens When the Tea Party Takes Over (Alternative...

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North Carolina WAS a pretty progressive state for an increasingly purple one. It had even enshrined North Carolinians' right to clean air and water in the state constitution. That was then. The Tea Party has shoved NC into a headlong list of "never minds" and rewrites of law sending our state back to the 19th Century. Sound familiar? The NC House of Delegates became a laughing stock, when in 2012, it forbade state scientists study of the rise of sea levels.  (You wouldn't want to provide evidence that global warming is real, would you. Snark, for the literalists out there.) Also in 2012 it went headlong into an effort to open the state to horizontal fracking and pretend to protect the public against its ravages.

Then, yesterday, the NC House Commerce Committee passed a bill to repeal NC's alternate fuels standards. The downward trajectory of NC continues in full bloom. If you have been asking how low can NC go, you haven't seen the end of the absurdity the GA, or Art Pope's puppet governor are concocting. Here is the background:

A Virginia Bellwether for the Elections

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RomneyAllensign-1 Lost in the news today is a small item that looms large for Tuesday. John E. Gordon has switched political parties.  He is one guy. But in the GOTV effort, he is a guy that signals a slippery slope for Republicans who have thrown in with some pretty petty "populists."

"It's not that I'm leaving the Republican Party; it's that the Republican Party left me ... me and many other moderates," Gordon said in his announcement. "It aspired to be a big-tent party; but now it is dominated and exclusive to the tea party and folks with a very conservative social agenda." - Richmond Times Dispatch

So while the Republicans have been pandering to the know-nothing wing for two decades, they have driven those broader minded, more representative of the American electorate, to the curb. Concurrently they have touted a "big tent" welcome mat in an effort to attract a broader base of, well, non-whites. But is it sincere? After expressing frustration that more minorities have not joined the cause during a Virginia Beach appearance last spring, George Allen brushed off an African American member of the audience who commented that he might be able to explain how to help. Allen simply deflected the offer by telling him that he was interested; "see me afterwards..." Not interested or competent enough to share an unscripted conversation publicly. No, that's way too dangerous terrain for George. And there is nothing to demonstrate that Allen or many other Republicans are interested in anything but the votes.

Virginia Republicans Skip Tea Party Attack on Clean Energy

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Wind FarmingThis week, 47 House Republicans sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner asking him to let key federal incentives for wind energy expire. The list of sign-ons range from swing seat Republicans desperate to fire up the Tea Party base (Maryland's Andy Harris) to genuine wackos (Texas' Louie Gohmert). But what's most notable is how many Republicans refused to sign the letter - 194 House Republicans refused to sign on. Not one Virginia Republican joined the clean energy attack:
Although GOP districts hold 81 percent of the nation's wind power capacity, Republicans are deeply split on investing in wind (Mitt Romney, for example, drew criticism from fellow Republicans for opposing the PTC). Boehner's home state supports up to 6,000 wind jobs.

The GOP remains less divided on issues favoring Big Oil. Of the 47 Republicans asking Boehner to end the wind investments, 46 voted in March 2011 against closing tax loopholes that let Big Oil collect $4 billion in annual subsidies. The one outlier, GOP Rep. Richard Hanna, was a no-vote that day. According to OpenSecrets, these representatives have received a total $2.2 million from the oil and gas industry, in an election cycle where Republicans have collected 89 percent of the oil industry's contributions. Republicans have maintained these tax breaks are "essential" to an industry posting record-breaking profits.

According to the Tea Party, $5 billion a year to back hundreds of thousands of jobs harvesting clean, domestically-produced wind energy? Unaffordable! The billions we shovel to already-massively-profitable oil companies even though the top 5 oil companies alone banked $137 billion in profit just last year? Indispensable!

It's just more proof the Tea Party is a fraud. They don't care about fiscal responsibility or keeping the boot of big government off the little guy's neck - they care about whatever their billionaire corporate funders tell them to care about.