It's truly mindboggling that the Republican National Committee actually sees extreme nastiness as morally acceptable and politically advantageous, but that does appear to be the case. As always, a heckuva job Michael Steele and Company!
First, here are some findings from the new, Washington Post-ABC News poll out this morning. First, note that, among both registered and "all voters," Democrats maintain a 4-point "generic" lead over Republicans for the U.S. House of Representatives elections next November. Not great, but not horrible either.
Second, check out these numbers on enthusiasm - or lack thereof - for switching control of Congress from Democrats to Republicans this November. Right now, among registered voters, it's about an even split (2-point edge for "good thing") between those wanting control of Congress to switch parties and those wanting to keep it in Democratic hands. These numbers contrast sharply with the overwhelming desires for change in 1994 and 2006, when we saw shifts in control (Republican takeover of the House in 1994; Democratic takeover of the House and Senate in 2006).
Finally, let's look at the new numbers from Research 2000. The first important finding is that the so-called "enthusiasm gap" has narrowed somewhat since health care reform legislation was passed. Yes, Republicans still have the edge in who's more likely to vote this November, but there's been a big increase in Democrats who are "likely or definitely going to vote", from 40% on 3/8-10 to 55% on 3/22-3/25. Republican enthusiasm also went up, from 51% to 62%, but not quite as much as Democratic enthusiasm. Anyway, this is still an area where we need more improvement, but it's a good start.
Second, take a look at the following numbers from the Research 2000 poll, indicating a major surge in support for Democrats and a sharp drop for Republicans over the past week. For instance, President Obama is up 5 points, to 56%-39% (+17 points), while Congressional Republicans are down 7 points, to 21%-71% (-50 points). Also, the Democratic Party is up 3 points (to 40%-53%, or minus 13 points) while the Republicans are down 3 points (to 28%-67%, or minus 39 points), resulting in a 26-point favorable/unfavorable rating for the blue team over the red team.
So much for the prediction that, if Democrats passed health care reform legislation, it would kill them at the polls. In fact, it did the opposite. The implication is that passing more of what Democrats were explicitly elected to do in 2006 and 2008 is not a bad thing, it's a very good thing both on policy terms and also politically. So, next up on the agenda: immigration reform, financial reform, clean energy/climate legislation. more on "jobsjobsjobs." Keep getting results, let the Republicans stay as the "hissy fit" Party of No, and we'll see how it goes at the polls this November. Yes, there's a long time to go and these numbers could change (in either direction). For now, though, things are looking pretty good, especially considering the totally biased (towards Republicans and the "Tea Party") news coverage we get from the corporate/right-wing media.
P.S. Also see the recent poll by Quinnipiac University, indicating that the presence of "Tea Party" candidates on the ballot this fall strongly benefits the Democrats. So, let's hope for lots of those, in places like Virginia's 5th CD and possibly other (1st? 10th?) CDs as well.
[Robert Hurt for Congress "strategist" Chris] LaCivita said that Hurt will not pledge, as Perriello has, to reject contributions from lobbyists or corporate PACs. Hurt will promise, he added, to not take money from "communists..."OK, then; right here, right now, I will pledge that Blue Virginia will not accept any money from Maoists, Stalinists, Trotskyites, Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, Hoxhaites, Titoites, Castroites, Juchists, Communists or Anarcho-Communists. Now, will Republicans pledge that they will not accept money from Fascists, Neo-Fascists, National Socialists, Neo-Nazis, National Frontists, Hellenic Frontists, or Northern Leaguists? Deal? :)
Now, here's Paul Krugman.
What has been really striking has been the eliminationist rhetoric of the G.O.P., coming not from some radical fringe but from the party's leaders. John Boehner, the House minority leader, declared that the passage of health reform was "Armageddon." The Republican National Committee put out a fund-raising appeal that included a picture of Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, surrounded by flames, while the committee's chairman declared that it was time to put Ms. Pelosi on "the firing line." And Sarah Palin put out a map literally putting Democratic lawmakers in the cross hairs of a rifle sight.Of course, the facts would interfere with right wingers' desperate attempts at false equivalency and victimhood, not to mention the cowardly corporate media's eager embrace of this meme. So, carry on, cowardly corporate media, you're doing a heckuva job as always!
All of this goes far beyond politics as usual. Democrats had a lot of harsh things to say about former President George W. Bush - but you'll search in vain for anything comparably menacing, anything that even hinted at an appeal to violence, from members of Congress, let alone senior party officials.
UPDATE: Cantor's story continues to crumble.
While his organization doesn't condone such behavior, National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Andy Sere said Perriello is not the victim.
"Central and Southside Virginians are the ones who are going to have the bear the burden of increased taxes," he said. "What you're seeing is a frustration among his constituents who believe he's not listening to them."
That's right, according to the NRCC spokesman, threats of violence (and worse) against his family are actually Tom Perriello's fault because he had the audacity to vote for health care reform. In other words, the NRCC spokesman is arguing, in America if you disagree with a policy of your government or a vote by your duly elected representative, the recourse is not the "ballot box" but the metaphorical "bullet box." So, Republicans, which is it going to be: are you going to unequivocally condemn violence and incitement to violence, or are you going to condone it and end up with blood on your hands? It's your choice.
P.S. Just to be clear, I absolutely and strongly condemn ANY violence or threats of violence against ANYONE in politics (or otherwise), whether they are people on the left making threats against George W. Bush (or other Republican candidates or elected officials) or people on the right making threats against Barack Obama (or other Democratic candidates or elected officials). Having said that, can anyone recall an equivalent back in the Reagan or Bush days to what's going on now, with high-ranking Democratic officials condoning or even advocating violence against Reagan or Bush? I can't.
UPDATE: NotAndySere writes about Sen. Robert Hurt's shameful, cowardly, inexcusable silence.
A day after all of the Charlottesville area candidates managed to come out against threats of violence, where is Robert Hurt? Is Hurt too busy fundraising at the end of the financial quarter to make a statement? Is he too worried about coming out in opposition to the antics of the Danville Tea Party, which have been condemned by the local paper? Is this just how they do things down in Southside? Or maybe Hurt's going to let a spokesman explain everything for us because he's too afraid to do anything on his own?
UPDATE #2: Tom Perriello talks on CNN about these threats.
UPDATE #3: Andy Sere is completely wrong on the substance of his charge that "Central and Southside Virginians are the ones who are going to have the bear the burden of increased taxes." In fact, according to the Census Bureau, only 6.1% of Virginia households make more than $200,000 per year, and obviously an even smaller share make $250,000 per year, which is the threshold for paying higher taxes under this legislation. In addition, median income in the 5th CD is significantly lower than in Virginia as whole. The bottom line is that we're talking about maybe 2% or 3% of 5th CD households facing tax increases, while 97%-98% of 5th CD households receive subsidies, tax cuts, and the many other benefits (on pre-existing conditions, closing the "donut hole," etc.) this legislation offers. Also see this fact sheet, which notes, "There are 183,000 households in the district that could qualify for these credits if they purchase health insurance through the exchange or, in the case of households with incomes below 133% of poverty, receive coverage through Medicaid."
UPDATE 3a: It's also worth pointing out that over 50% of those households are in Albemarle and Charlottesville, so the tax effect on Southside and other (comparatively) economically-distressed areas of the 5th is even LESS significant...than the 1%-2% of the district as a whole. Probably down to 0.5% or so of households outside of Albemarle and C-ville.
UPDATE #4: Actually, it turns out that only 2.3% of 5th CD households earn over $200,000 per year. I don't see the statistics, but obviously, an even lower percentage earns more than $250,000 per year, the threshold for paying higher taxes under the new health care reform law. So, we're talking about 1%-2% of (the wealthiest) 5th CD residents facing higher taxes, 98%-99% seeing the same or lower taxes (plus all the other benefits of health care reform). Sere is simply wrong.
UPDATE #5: Virgil Goode also condones the threats and illegality against Tom Perriello, saying "that's just part of being a public official."
UPDATE #6: The DCCC has issued a statement in response to Sere.
House Republicans and Right Wing extremists are completely out of control and are now justifying and validating dangerous new levels of violence. This is exactly the type of extremist and despicable behavior that turns off independents and just about everyone else. Given the current threats against House Democrats and their families, House Minority Leader John Boehner and NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions must apologize immediately for this disgraceful comment from their own ranks.
UPDATE #7: And Sere (incredibly) holds his ground.
Deplorable as it is, we're not going to allow Tom Perriello to use one isolated incident as a cynical ploy to distract Virginians from the higher taxes and Medicare cuts he just imposed on them. Thousands of Rep. Perriello's constituents have legitimately expressed their frustration with him via letters, rallies and town hall meetings, and we will always support their right to do so.Amazing. As if anyone is against peoples' rights to peaceful protest against policies they disagree with. What we ARE against is violence and threats of violence. What about that doesn't Andy Sere understand? Or, does he understand it perfectly well and simply agree with it?
UPDATE #8: Eric Cantor somehow manages to blame Tim Kaine and Chris Van Hollen "for 'dangerously fanning the flames' by using threats against Dem lwmkrs as a 'political weapon.'"
UPDATE #9: Robert Hurt tweets, "I condemn the vandalism that occurred at Rep. Perriello's brother's home and any other attacks that have taken place across the country."
The Republican National Committee has followed up its infamous fundraising presentation with a new fundraising appeal that shows the Speaker of the House aflame online. The RNC's Chairman has said that the Speaker should be put before a firing squad and vehemently defended Rep. Boehner's characterization of the passage of health insurance reform as 'Armageddon.'The point is, Republicans are stoking this anger, fanning the flames, and implicitly (or even explicitly) encouraging their supporters to resort to violence. Unfortunately, as Timothy Egan writes in this morning's New York Times, the Republican Party has become "the party of the hissy fit," the home for "rage-filled partisans with spittle on their lips...tying their fate to a fringe, one that includes a small faction of overt racists and unstable people." On one level, that's fine, if Republicans want to write themselves off as a serious political party in America. Make our day! On another level, though, what the Republicans are doing here is completely unacceptable, bordering on illegal (incitement to violence?); "playing with fire," as Egan writes.
It is no coincidence that we now have reports that Democratic Congressional offices have been vandalized, Democratic Members of Congress have received threats and been subject to racial epithets and homophobic slurs, and a gas line was cut at what was thought to be the home of a Democratic Member of Congress after the address was posted online and tea partiers were encouraged to intimidate the Congressman.
These now cannot be brushed off as isolated incidents.
It is no longer enough for Republicans to characterize threats and incidents of vandalism as isolated. It is no longer enough for Republicans to blame these events on outsiders.
Republican leaders must disassociate themselves from this deplorable behavior, they must condemn these acts decisively and, most importantly, they must tone down their own tactics and rhetoric to set a better example for their supporters and the country. I call on them to do so.
Sadly, this once-great political party has deteriorated from the sensible, serious centrism of Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, and many others (e.g., Bob Dole in his pre-presidential-nominee days, George HW Bush in his "voodoo economics" days). Just as sadly, this once-great political party has declined from the serious intellectual foundations laid down by people like William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater to the blow-dried idiocy of Eric Cantor, the "get-off-my-lawn!!!" rage of John Boehner, and the know-nothingism of Sarah Palin. Last but not least, this once-great political party has morphed from the "sunny optimism, and at times bipartisan bonhomie" of Ronald Reagan to the "red-faced, frothing" (as Egan puts it), pessimistic, fear-and-loathing driven "Party of No" we see today.
The consequences of this Republican implosion, which not coincidentally has taken place in the aftermath of our country electing its first African American president, are almost certainly not going to be positive. Here in Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli is one manifestation; as E.J. Dionne writes, Cuccinelli and his allies "want to resurrect states' rights doctrines discredited by President Andrew Jackson during the Nullification Crisis of the 1830s and buried by the Civil War." Perhaps they even want to fight another Civil War. Who knows? But the bottom line is that, as Anne Applebaum writes in this morning's Washington Post, if all Republicans are going to do is "scream 'communist' and 'fascist' at our democratically elected president-- thereby achieving nothing at all -- then I want nothing to do with them." Nor should any of us.
Dear Conservative Americans,What follows is an exhaustive list, duly cited and linked, of conservative "hypocrisy," "hyperbole," misunderstanding of "history," and of course "hatred." As my friend Josh says, "Quite possibly the greatest takedown of conservative hypocricy, hyperbole, and hatred in history." Check it out.
The years have not been kind to you. I grew up in a profoundly Republican home, so I can remember when you wore a very different face than the one we see now. You've lost me and you've lost most of America. Because I believe having responsible choices is important to democracy, I'd like to give you some advice and an invitation.
First, the invitation: Come back to us.
Now the advice. You're going to have to come up with a platform that isn't built on a foundation of cowardice: fear of people with colors, religions, cultures and sex lives that differ from your own; fear of reform in banking, health care, energy; fantasy fears of America being transformed into an Islamic nation, into social/commun/fasc-ism, into a disarmed populace put in internment camps; and more. But you have work to do even before you take on that task.
Your party -- the GOP -- and the conservative end of the American political spectrum has become irresponsible and irrational. Worse, it's tolerating, promoting and celebrating prejudice and hatred. Let me provide some expamples -- by no means an exhaustive list -- of where the Right as gotten itself stuck in a swamp of hypocrisy, hyperbole, historical inaccuracy and hatred.
If you're going to regain your stature as a party of rational, responsible people, you'll have to start by draining this swamp:
Also, I should have video shortly of the first speaker, who was absolutely superb. For now, here are some photos, including one (see after the "flip") of Del. Bob Brink listening to the speaker. Also, Miles Grant is there, so he may have more reports and photos.
UPDATE: Follow Miles' twitter feed for more. Other speakers included Arlington Co. Board Chair Jay Fisette & Del. Brink. Also there are Del. Adam Ebbin, Arlington School Board Members Sally Baird, Libby Garvey and Abby Raphael.
Today starting at 4 pm in Arlington, you can protest Ken Cuccinelli, who will be speaking at the GMU Law School. Join Del. Adam Ebbin, Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette, (possibly) 2009 Democratic Attorney General nominee Steve Shannon, and many others to protest Cooch's anti-GLBT policies, "specifically...his opinion letter to the Presidents, Rectors and Visitors of Virginia's Public Colleges and Universities urging them to delete sexual orientation from their nondiscrimination policies." As the flyer says, Cuccinelli's stance on this issue "is bad for Virginia's economy, is out of touch with reality, and threatens the competitiveness, reputation and accreditation status of all of Virginia's public Universities." Other than that, it's brilliant!
P.S. If you need any more motivation to protest Cooch, click here and read about Cooch's wild hypocrisy when it comes to health care for his family vs. health care for everyone else's families.
UPDATE: Also, see Barnie Day's column, "Cooch Quixote." It begins, "Thank you for filing suit against the health care bill. You make Virginia-and Bull Conner-proud. Say, where are those water hoses and big German shepherds when we need them?" Ouch.
UPDATE #2: David Englin has launched a campaign "to encourage Virginians who support health care reform to urge Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to abandon his threat to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Government." Check it out.
*Preventing insurance companies from denying coverage for "pre-existing conditions"
*Allowing children to be covered on their parents' insurance plan up to the age of 26.
*Closing the "donut hole" (the coverage gap in the Medicare prescription drug benefit)
*Ending lifetime spending limits on policies
*Forbidding insurers from retroactively canceling policies
*Removing co-pays for seniors to get checkups
All of these provisions are in the health care reform legislation passed by Congress, and all are extremely popular with the American people. If Republicans like Rob Wittman, Frank Wolf, Robert Hurt, Scott Rigell, Keith Fimian, Pat Herrity, Morgan Griffith, etc. want to run on repealing these things, I strongly encourage them to do so and see how the voters respond in November. This should be interesting! :)
P.S. It might even be Republicans' "Waterloo." Wouldn't that be ironic?