Chuck Grassley and Sharron Angle were both in excellent form today – each supplying their own special moment of WTF?! to stun the masses.
The first truth bomb was dropped by Chuck during the Elena Kagan confirmation hearings when he informed the unwashed mouth-breathers in the audience that God — not the Constitution — gives Americans the right to bear arms.
If anyone can tell me why this doesn’t violate the separation of church and state, I’ll give you a shiny new nickel — or bullet — or however our creator likes to settle bartering exchanges.
Then, there’s crazy, crazy Sharron Angle. Sometimes I imagine the lone, sane Republican standing somewhere in a wheat field, holding a gently swaying leash as he stares off into the distance vacantly, wondering if he’s made a hasty decision in allowing the Reno neophyte to scamper into the world on her own.
Unlike Rand Paul, Sharron just can’t hide the crazy, and she’s not savvy enough to pass off the delusional stuff spewing from her mouth as “being mavericky.” She’s been unable to shed her extremist past, and continues to promote debunked conspiracy theories about the abortion-breast cancer non-connection. Now, she’s dropped another turd.
Here is Sharron talking to Bill Manders on his radio show.
MANDERS: Is there any reason at all for an abortion?
ANGLE: Not in my book.
MANDERS: So, in other words, rape and incest would not be something?
ANGLE: You know, I’m a Christian, and I believe that God has a plan and a purpose for each one of our lives and that he can intercede in all kinds of situations and we need to have a little faith in many things.
You see, rape is just part of God’s majestic plan, ya’ll. Along with genocide and famine.
Here’s a strange one. Today, Candy Crowly interviewed Senators Lieberman, Murkowski, Feinstein, and Lugar, and somehow managed to survive to tell the tale of it. Feinstein and Lugar specifically talked about Afghanistan, and Candy pointed out how the whole thing has turned into a bottomless quagmire of despair and suffering.
My words, not hers. Feinstein thinks people like me are Negative Nellies. I guess she was included in this conversation as the “liberal” answer to the Republicans’ crazies, but honestly, she sounded like a chickenhawk most of the time. The Taliban is bad. Really, Diane? I had no idea. I thought all that acid they threw in the faces of schoolgirls was part of an exfoliation regimen.
But the gold medal for “What’d He Say?” in punditry excellence goes to Dick Lugar for this exchange. My comments [in brackets]:
CROWLEY: Senator Lugar, she paints a pretty grim picture about a war that’s been going on for nine-plus years. [Again, I thought Feinstein was pretty conservative in her language, but then again, I’m a shrill, hysterical, irrational leftist agent]. If had you to say, on this day I will know that the U.S. has succeed and we can begin bringing troops home, what would that day look like?
LUGAR: Well, your question implies that we’ve defined success, and we’ve never got to that point. That’s a part of our problem, that we’re going to have, as a government, whether it be the president or the Congress, to define success in a way in which the American people find this to be satisfying. Otherwise we’ll continue to argue about the date of withdrawal or how fast, or how — whether we surge more or less, without ever having defined exactly what it is hope from Afghanistan. [What’d he say?]
Wait, what? The only barometer we have for “success,” which, btw, we haven’t even defined, is the satisfaction of the American people? So basically, whatever the American people desire shall by default become the parameters of “success.”
Here is Ross Douthat explaining why a billionaire, anti-choice zealots, and right-wing extremists hijacking U.S. politics is a victory for vaginas everywhere.
When historians set out to date the moment when the women’s movement of the 1970s officially consolidated its gains, they could do worse than settle on last Tuesday’s primaries.
I’ll give him points for a hilariously hyperbolic opening. Make your case, sailor.
It was a day when most of the major races featured female candidates, and all the major female candidates won. They won in South Dakota and Arkansas, California and Nevada. They won as business-friendly moderates (the Golden State’s Meg Whitman); as embattled incumbents (Arkansas’s Blanche Lincoln); as Tea Party insurgents (Sharron Angle in Nevada). South Carolina gubernatorial hopeful Nikki Haley even came in first despite multiple allegations of adultery.
But mostly, they won as Republicans. Conservative Republicans, in fact. Conservative Republicans endorsed by Sarah Palin, in many cases. Which generated a certain amount of angst in the liberal commentariat about What It All Meant For Feminism.
The question of whether conservative women get to be feminists is an interesting and important one. But it has obscured a deeper truth: Whether or not Palin or Fiorina or Haley can legitimately claim the label feminist, their rise is a testament to the overall triumph of the women’s movement.
Yesterday, I wrote about media pundits’ propensity to portray the extremely old and familiar as fresh and exciting. They do this to sell papers, drum up website hits, and to appear insightful and necessary. Maybe a handful do it out of boredom, or stupidity, believing what they are seeing really is something revolutionary.
In reality, there is nothing more sexist than assuming any woman’s political victory — regardless of the type of woman — is a progressive step forward for the feminist movement. Women are people, and people are a diverse bunch. It still matters what kind of woman wins the election. And the kind of women that won these races are either preposterously wealthy, staunch anti-feminists, or a healthy combination of both.
What happened on election day is an old story: rich, mostly white, right-wingers won. Oh, and they also happen to be girls. Hooray.
Basically, it will take more than Douthat calling this a victory for feminism to make it so.
Meg Whitman, the billionaire former eBay chief executive, won the Republican nomination for governor after spending a record $71 million of her money on the race. Quite simply, Whitman bought her victory, and this has nothing to do with the bonds of sisterhood or feminine strength. This is corporatism in a skirt.
In fact, Whitman herself seems to hate the notion of feminism. At least, she certainly doesn’t want anyone calling her such an offensive term. When asked if she is a feminist, Whitman replied, “I am a big believer in equal rights for all people … in a level playing field.” But she said, “I’m not a big label person.”
This could be NOW’s new slogan: Taking action for women’s equality since 1966…or whatever…we’re not big label people.
I know when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were taking on the male-dominated establishment, what sustained them was the thought that one day Blanche Lincoln (D-Walmart) would squeak out a victory despite being a corporate whore.
Apparently, it doesn’t matter than Lincoln is a turncoat Blue Dog Democrat, who voted with Republicans to allow warrantless government surveillance, the invasion of Iraq, and shot down the public option. All that matters is the stuff between her legs, which sort of goes against the whole notion of “feminism,” but nevermind. A girl won!
And then there’s Sharron Angle. I’ve written about her support of the right-wing extremist fringe, but Douthat skims over such silly details for the sake of preserving his narrative i.e. Things Are Super Awesome For Women Right Now. He’s going to jam this premise down your throat even though women earn around 79% of men’s median weekly salaries, and Congress just passed a healthcare bill that dramatically diminishes a woman’s right to choose the fate of her own body.
Angle proposed a bill that “would have required doctors to inform women seeking abortions about a controversial theory linking an increased risk of breast cancer with abortion.” (The abortion-causes-breast cancer theory is a myth, and was spread, in part, to discourage abortions). But I hear lying to scared, pregnant women for the sake of controlling their bodies is all the rage right now in the neo-feminist movement.
Other than the novelty of having survived not one — but multiple — allegations of adultery, Nikki Haley is extremely typical of the right-wing fringe. She has a 100 percent rating from the anti-abortion S.C. Citizens for Life group, and she calls on her website for the deportation of illegal immigrants. Oh, and if any of her white supremacist base, who may confuse her for a “raghead,” were concerned, don’t worry. She converted to Christianity.
Modern Republicans have grown wise to the fact that they’re never going to defeat feminism. Try as they did to shame, humiliate, and dismiss feminists as a bunch of ugly, barren spinsters, who refuse to shave their legs and can’t land a man, the propaganda campaign didn’t stick. Now, they’re left with only one option: hijack the movement.
In the same way President Obama’s victory was a sign that affirmative action is “no longer necessary,” so the victories of a handful of women (be they billionaires, right-wing extremists, turncoats, or militant anti-choicers) herald the dawn of a new feminism: one that is staunchly anti-woman, and represents only a class of wealthy, pro-Business, right wing extremists.
Um, Karl? The reason Dems are attacking Rush is because he’s the only so-called Coservative even offering the slightest hint of an ideology or plan for the future for his party.
The rest of the Repubs are throwing hissyfits over earmarks, and shrieking at the thought of biapartisanship. At least Rush is trying to lead the disenchanted masses. Granted, the direction is off a cliff, but still…
PRESIDENT OBAMA has decided to spend his political capital now, pushing through an ambitious agenda of health care, education and energy reform. If the Democrats in the Senate want to help him accomplish his goals, they should work to eliminate one of the greatest threats facing effective governance — the phantom filibuster.
Most Americans think of the filibuster (if they think of it at all) through the lens of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” — a minority in the Senate deeply disagrees with a measure, takes to the floor and argues passionately round the clock to prevent it from passing. These filibusters are relatively rare because they take so much time and effort.
To reduce deadlock, in 1917 the Senate passed Rule 22, which made it possible for a supermajority — two-thirds of the chamber — to end a filibuster by voting for cloture. The two-thirds majority was later changed to three-fifths, or 60 of the current 100 senators.
In recent years, however, the Senate has become so averse to the filibuster that if fewer than 60 senators support a controversial measure, it usually won’t come up for discussion at all. The mere threat of a filibuster has become a filibuster, a phantom filibuster. Instead of needing a sufficient number of dedicated senators to hold the floor for many days and nights, all it takes to block movement on a bill is for 41 senators to raise their little fingers in opposition.
Historically, the filibuster was justified as a last-ditch defense of minority rights. Under this principle, an intense opposition should be able to protect itself from the tyranny of the majority. But today, the minority does not have to be intense at all. Its members have only to disagree with a measure to kill it. Essentially, the minority has veto power.
The phantom filibuster is clearly unconstitutional. The founders required a supermajority in only five situations: veto overrides and votes on treaties, constitutional amendments, convictions of impeached officials and expulsions of members of the House or Senate. The Constitution certainly does not call for a supermajority before debate on any controversial measure can begin.
And fixing the problem would not require any change in Senate rules. The phantom filibuster could be done away with overnight by the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid. All he needs to do is call the minority’s bluff by bringing a challenged measure to the floor and letting the debate begin.
Some argue that this procedure would mire the Senate in one filibuster after another. But avoiding delay by not bringing measures to the floor makes no sense. For fear of not getting much done, almost nothing is done at all. And what does get done is so compromised and toothless to make it filibuster-proof that it fails to solve problems.
Better to risk a filibuster — an event that, because of the great effort involved, would actually be rare — than to save time and accomplish little or nothing.
It also happens to make a great deal of political sense for the Democrats to force the Republicans to take the Senate floor and show voters that they oppose Mr. Obama’s initiatives. If the Republicans want to publicly block a popular president who is trying to resolve major problems, let them do it. And if the Republicans feel that the basic principles they believe in are worth standing up for, let them exercise their minority rights with an actual filibuster.
It is up to Mr. Reid. He can do away with the supermajority requirement for virtually all significant measures and return majority rule to the Senate. This is not to say that the Democrats should ride roughshod over the Republicans. Republicans should be included at all stages of the legislative process. However, with the daunting prospect of having to mount a real filibuster to demonstrate their opposition, Republicans may become much more willing to compromise.
David E. RePass is an emeritus professor of political science at the University of Connecticut.
This is how bad things are in the Republican Party. The following 3-minute clip from 13-year-old Jonathan Krohn is considered the “highlight” of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC.) That’s right, this whining, vaguely condescending stump speech (complete with funny voices) from a child is the highlight of CPAC.
Don’t get me wrong, Jonathan has exceptional stage presence, and wrote a good speech about the so-called moral righteousness of the Republican party. I don’t really want to pick on Jonathan here. Who I really want to tear apart is the Republican party.
Really, guys? THIS is the best you can do? Things must be really bad over there in Republicanland if you’re putting all your Hope Eggs in the basket of a child, even though he is very brainwashed well-trained intelligent. You know he won’t be able to run for president for another twenty-two years, right?
It is very appropriate that the Republicans are now turning to a wunderkind as their messianic leader. They already tried an old, white dude, a woman, and not one (but TWO!) men of color, and nothing has reversed the course of their party’s renegade locomotive from speeding toward that cliff. It’s almost like their ideology of deregulation and fucking the poor is, like, not working or something.
Quick, THROW THE KID UP THERE! I’M THINKING! WHY AM I THINKING?! Put him in a little suit!!!
Watching Jonathan do his thing up there, I couldn’t help but feel deeply satisfied. It was like someone had ripped open William Kristol, Rush Limbaugh, or Newt Gingrich, and the screaming, petulant child that lives inside streaked out. The Republican party has finally become a living metaphor of itself: a lost, little boy, who thinks he’s a cowboy, and who really believes a society can be built upon an ideology of selfishness.
I saw Jonathan’s CPAC debut as more than a pageant. I felt like I was watching the Republican elephant give birth to the culmination of all its years of irresponsibility, greed, immorality, and pathetic tough-guy grandstanding.
Update (May 6, 2009): Amity Shlaes linked to this article in her most recent Bloomberg.org article. I respond to her accusations that bloggers are afraid to debate here.
Note from Allison: The stupidity just keeps rolling in, and I’m loving it.
Well, it just gets better and better. As you know, we’ve been tracking the debunking of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s tall tale about being right there on the front lines fighting government bureaucracy with Sherif Harry Lee while the boat rescues were still taking place in the aftermath of Katrina. Well, today, the New Orleans Times-Picayune has a gentle but pretty clear run-down of what happened.
In so many words, in Jindal’s speech Tuesday night he said he was there and part of the story as it unfolded — Sherif Lee was trying to mobilize civilian boats for roof-rescues and government bureaucrats wouldn’t let them head out without proof of insurance and registration. Lee put his foot down and dared the bureaucrats to come arrest him. And when Jindal put his foot down too Lee said they should come arrest Jindal too.
Only, Jindal’s staff now admits that that actually didn’t happen. Instead of being there and being part of the story, Jindal’s reps now admit that days later Jindal overheard Lee telling the story to someone else. And Jindal retold the story he’d been told while inserting himself into it as part of the story.
It’s not really any different from a lot of tall tales we’ve probably all heard at one point or another when someone takes a fun story they’ve heard and retells it making themselves one of the central characters.
Now, Jindal’s reps are still in high dudgeon over this, saying Jindal was totally on the level, claiming some mix of it not making any difference whether Jindal made up his role in the story or not or that what Jindal actually said was never meant to imply that he was part of the story rather than someone who heard about it later. But that’s pretty preposterous if you look at what Jindal actually said.
But now there’s this. TPM Reader EA just flagged this youtube video that appears to show Jindal telling the same story last year, only with even more embroidery about his own part in the drama ..
Watch the video here…
Soooo…this really happened.
After a long day at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele gave a speech asserting that the party is “alive and well.”
Although he emphasized that the conservative movement must become a revolution and transform America, he conceded that the party had made mistakes: “We know the past, we know we did wrong. My bad. But we go forward in appreciation of the values that brought us to this point.”
According to CNN, Steele was then praised by Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
As Steele concluded his remarks, Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann — the event’s moderator — told Steele he was “da man.”
“Michael Steele! You be da man! You be da man,” she said.
In related news:
Did you know about the exorcism? The name that came from The Brady Bunch? Those and other surprising facts about one of America’s fastest rising young politicians.
Last night, on the evening of President Barack Obama’s first major speech, the Republicans put forward Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal as the face of the opposition, tapping him to deliver their response. As a 37-year-old Indian-American Rhodes Scholar, the first-term governor presented a deliberate visual counterpoint to Obama. His folksy speech last evening is meeting with mixed reviews. But with GOP politicians already jockeying for the 2012 primary, Jindal is emerging as a top contender.
“From the insiders I’m talking to, Jindal’s in the top three, right next to [Sarah] Palin and [Mitt] Romney. He’s the rock star of the Republican Party right now,” says Jeff Crouere, the former executive director of the Louisiana GOP and host of daily political talk show Ringside Politics.
“Whenever I concentrated long enough to begin prayer, I felt some type of physical force distracting me,” Jindal reflected. “It was as if something was pushing down on my chest, making it very hard for me to breathe…”
But as the country gets acquainted with the Bayou’s boy wonder, the stranger details of Jindal’s religious or personal background remain largely unknown, even among the Republican grassroots. How many Americans know that Jindal boasted of participating in an exorcism that purged the spirit of Satan from a college girlfriend? So far, Jindal’s tale of “beating a demon” remains behind the subscription wall of New Oxford Review, an obscure Catholic magazine; only a few major blogs have seized on the story.
Born in Baton Rouge in 1971, Jindal rarely visited his parents’ homeland. His birth name was Piyush Jindal. When he was four years old, Piyush changed his name to “Bobby” after becoming mesmerized by an episode of The Brady Bunch. Jindal laterwrote that he began considering converting to Catholicism during high school after “being touched by the love and simplicity of a Christian girl who dreamt of becoming a Supreme Court justice so she could stop her country from ‘killing unborn babies.’” After watching a short black-and-white film on the crucifixion of Christ, Jindal claimed he “realized that if the Gospel stories were true, if Christ really was the son of God, it was arrogant of me to reject Him and question the gift of salvation.”
Jindal’s Hindu parents were non-plussed. “My parents have never truly accepted my conversion and still see my faith as a negative that overshadows my accomplishments,” he wrote. “They were hurt and felt I was rejecting them by accepting Christianity… I long for the day when my parents understand, respect and possibly accept my faith. For now I am satisfied that they accept me.” (In a subsequent interview with Little India, Jindal claimed his parents were “very supportive. They felt like it was important that I was embracing God.”)
During his years at Brown University, Jindal pursued his Catholic faith with unbridled zeal. Jindal became emotionally involved with a classmate named Susan who had overcome skin cancer and struggled to cope with the suicide of a close friend. Jindal reflected in an article for a Catholic magazine (called “Beating a Demon: Physical Dimensions of Spiritual Warfare”) that “sulfuric” scents hovered over Susan everywhere she went. In the middle of a prayer meeting, Jindal claimed that Susan collapsed and began convulsing on the floor. His prayer partners gathered together on the floor, holding hands and shouting, “Satan, I command you to leave this woman!”
While under the supposed control of satanic demons, Susan lashed out at Jindal and his friends. “Whenever I concentrated long enough to begin prayer, I felt some type of physical force distracting me,” Jindal reflected. “It was as if something was pushing down on my chest, making it very hard for me to breathe… I began to think that the demon would only attack me if I tried to pray or fight back; thus, I resigned myself to leaving it alone in an attempt to find peace for myself.”
Toward the conclusion of what Jindal called “the tremendous battle between the Susan we knew and loved and some strange and evil force,” Jindal and his friends forced Susan to read passages from the Bible. “She choked on certain passages and could not finish the sentence ‘Jesus is Lord.’ Over and over, she repeated “Jesus is L..L..LL,” often ending in profanities,” Jindal wrote. Finally, evil gave way to the light. “Just as suddenly as she went into the trance, Susan suddenly reappeared and claimed ‘Jesus is Lord.’ With an almost comical smile, Susan then looked up as if awakening from a deep sleep and asked, ‘Has something happened?’”
During the 2006 gubernatorial campaign, the campaign of Jindal’s Democratic opponent, incumbent Gov. Kathleen Blanco, attempted to inject his religious views into the race by running an ad promoting a website called JindalonReligion.com, which featured his essay about participating in an exorcism. However, Jindal immediately fired back, denouncing the commercial as an assault on his faith and on the deeply religious culture of Louisiana. “Jindal turned that one around and tried to play the victim before [the Democrats] could get any traction,” Crouere told me. “Then the Blanco campaign just backed off”
Though Crouere is a Republican, he harbors strong doubts about Jindal. To him, the young governor is still too green for the national stage. “I just find it odd that the GOP seems to have as its savior a guy who has been in Congress for three years and governor for one year,” Crouere said. “The same criticism that was leveled against Obama for being untested could easily be leveled against Jindal.”
Because Obama entered the presidential campaign without an extensive political track record, the video histrionics of his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah “God Damn America” Wright, remained unexposed until the middle of the Democratic primary. Could similar exposure of Jindal’s tales of “spiritual warfare” complicate his ascendancy as well? “The Louisiana Democrats don’t really have their act together, and weren’t able to get the word out,” Crouere remarked. “I still don’t think a lot of people are aware of the nature of Jindal’s religious background.”
Max Blumenthal is a senior writer for The Daily Beast and writing fellow at The Nation Institute, whose book, Republican Gomorrah (Basic/Nation Books), is due this spring. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.