GOP Wolves In Grandma’s Nightie — Run, Red, Run

The male-dominated Republican Party really is engaged in a nationwide campaign to give government – the government of their dreams – control of women’s bodies, at least those women’s bodies that survive the deep cuts in women’s health care.

Todd Akin is no lone puppy. If anything, he’s just a weak follower of the GOP pack led by the likes of Paul Ryan and Rick Perry. The attack becomes even more sinister when Ryan and others deny it.

Ryan’s now the wolf in grandma’s clothes ready to gobble down Little Red Riding Hood. Ryan,  worried that a nation of Red Riding voters will run away, says, “Nobody is proposing to deny birth control to anybody.” Asked about the big, sharp lie, he might have answered, “All the better to eat you with, my dears.”

A goodly number of Republican women voters are trying their darndest to overlook this medieval state of affairs. Some actively want to return to an era of female subservience. Others probably don’t really believe these dangerous and regressive policies will ever be in place.

We have to ask two questions: What so haunts these men that they want so badly to control ladyparts? Are they threatened? Given their embarrassing public statements about female physiology and biology, it’s clear that it’s not facts that worry them. Where have you gone Sigmund? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

The second question: Since they dress up in their grandmas’ nighties to disguise their intentions, they must realize that most women want nothing to do with their sick quest, right?

Run, Red. Run.

Rick Perry and Race

In the aftermath of revelations about the ugly name of Gov. Rick Perry’s hunting lease, some Democrats and pundits, including some friends of mine, are pardoning Gov. Rick Perry on the question of race. I’m not certain how you issue such a blanket pardon to a sitting Southern governor who tossed out the idea of secession or who signed a Voter I.D. law everyone knows is aimed at disenfranchising minority voters.

It’s true that contemporary racism doesn’t look exactly like yesterday’s racism. In many social circles white people no longer use the N-word. Lynchings have disappeared it hate crimes haven’t. We can all eat at the same restaurants and use the same drinking fountains and restrooms. But this self-contratulating myth that we as a generation have magically transcended race is not just immoral, it’s destructive. It blinds us to a racism that continues to have terrible consequences.

Rick Perry’s policies punish people of color. He’s tried to walk back his talk of secession, but he mentioned in purpose multiple times in order to fire up right wing nuts who heard the code for just what it was: a harkening back to a time when white people ruled and people of color were considered less than human.

We are very reluctant these days to brand anyone a racist. Even racists. I suppose there’s some good in that. At least we realize that racism is so evil we shouldn’t toss the word around lightly. Is the name of a hunting lease enough to earn Perry the brand? I don’t know. But the rush to issue a blanket pardon — “Rick Perry is not racist” — seems a bit too much to take. A governor who plays upon racial prejudice as Perry did with his secession comments should not be pardoned for their racial implications.

Why I’m calling it *gulp* for Michele Bachmann

Yep. Monday night belonged to Michele Bachmann.

Let’s be clear: If history is any indication, the Republicans are not going to nominate “a maverick” for president. The party has its share of them at the state and Congressional levels, but I’m talking about a presidential nominee who’s a true outsider in the McGovern sense.

That was always Pat Buchanan’s problem. It was where Jack Kemp hit a glass political ceiling. Reagan was the maverick when he lost in 1976. So was McCain in 2000.

Bachmann faces the same challenge. But she stepped up, met it head-on, and exceeded expectations on Monday. Exceeding expectations are what debates are about. Her strong performance should light a fire under Gov. Rick Perry, who increasingly seems like he is considering a run himself.

The other big winner was Romney, who comes from the other wing of the GOP –  the one where the nominees traditionally live. The big loser, of course, was Pawlenty, who grabbed media attention on the Sunday talk shows with his buzzword “Obamaney Care” and flubbed miserably on Monday, when he had a chance to keep up the momentum on a true national stage.

Pawlenty wrote a book called Courage To Stand, but he didn’t have enough courage to stand by that claim, much less plant it firmly on Romney’s forehead when the two were face to face. It was more than a missed opportunity; it was an affirmative mistake that reinforced his milquetoast image.

Romney walked on stage Monday at St. Anselm College as the frontrunner, and Pawlenty’s fumble let him leave largely unscathed. Romney showed cool in a cool medium and came across presidential. His campaign experience was evident.

But this group is far to the political right of the 2008 GOP field, and that is Bachmann territory. Being ultraconservative helps in this early phase. Down the stretch Republicans are going to think increasingly about who can beat Obama. They are going to ask who can appeal to independents and conservative Democrats. That is Romney’s biggest asset, and he lucked out because the others chose to use this first debate to introduce themselves in a positive light rather than to attack him.

The key thing Bachmann did was move out of Sarah Palin’s shadow. She showed news savvy by announcing she had filed her papers and was an official candidate. She showed political savvy by being the first one in the first debate to swiftly and firmly promise to eliminate the Obama health care program. It made the rest of the group, who scampered to restate their own similar positions, look like they were following her lead.

Bachmann carefully introduced herself in terms of her real work as a member of Congress, but her most impressive moment – the one where she showed real message savvy – was when she tied health reform in a negative way directly to the issue Obama is trying to seize: jobs. She cited a study that shows it’s a job killer. An 800,000-job killer. It was a political twofer and a signal she is ready to campaign at a sophisticated level.

Bachmann’s biggest job right now is to convince political insiders who know her as a bomb thrower that she is more than a “movement candidate.” If she is serious, she can’t be the GOP’s Dennis Kucinich. She clearly is the candidate that the Tea Party is most comfortable with and, like it or not, that means she has a real Republican constituency.

Perry (and Palin) are Bachmann’s strongest competition for those voters, but both are still playing coy. Perry doesn’t have the national exposure Palin has, so he can’t wait as long as Palin can to enter the race. If he is serious, Bachman’s strong showing was bad news for him.

Ron Paul has a constituency, but nobody believes he is going to get the nomination. Romney has a national base of supporters left over from four years ago. The rest of that group is hoping for the type of “catch fire” opportunity Pawlenty flubbed.

I worked on Ann Richards’ campaign in 1994, when many Texas Democrats didn’t take George W. Bush seriously until it was too late. I watched Al Gore and national Democrats make the same smug mistake six years later. I’d never vote for Bachmann, but in terms of making the most of a specific campaign moment, I’m not afraid to give her kudos for an impressive job on Monday night. Perry’s advisers should do the same.

American Winter: The Right’s War on Education and Contraception

It’s a shocking historical juxtaposition. The pro-democracy movement known as the Arab Spring is in significant part a consequence of rising literacy and declining birth rates in the Mideast. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Right is mounting a direct assault on education and a renewed war on contraception. This ought to tell us something.

It may be spring in the Mideast, but a chill wind is howling in America as America’s Right puffs its cheeks like Old Man Winter. Education and the personal freedom to control one’s body and sexual life fuel powerful democratic movements. What kind of movement then is America’s Right engaged in?

French social scientist Emmanuel Todd is explicit about the democratizing power of literacy and reproductive freedom. They lead to:

…the transformation of the political system, a spreading wave of democratization and the conversion of subjects into citizens.

But the American Right seeks the opposite, the conversion of citizens into subjects. That they do so while speaking of liberty is just more authoritarian “denying and distorting of information” in the words of Italian humanist, Auschwitz survivor and anti-fascist Primo Levi.

Is the Right really mounting a war on contraception? While far-right conservatives have largely succeeded in snookering the credulous news media into framing its anti-birth control agenda as all about abortion, they seek much more than an abortion ban.

In a moment of unintended candor, a leading conservative Texas state legislator, Wayne Christian, recently confessed. The Texas Tribune asked Christian whether he was engaged in a war on birth control. He answered: Continue reading “American Winter: The Right’s War on Education and Contraception”

Texas Green Party and the GOP: In Bed to Keep Texas Red

Why would Texas Green Party leaders make a deal with Republican Gov. Rick Perry to help beat Democrats? Perry and other GOP allies of the Greens are their bitter enemies on every single policy issue they care about. The sleazy deal, if successful, will help the GOP continue its poisonous environmental record, its crony capitalism, its pro-big insurance agenda. The deal is twisted and dishonorable.

Gov. Rick Perry’s lackies and cronies are all over scandal. Just yesterday another name surfaced:  Consultant Anthony Holm, who has worked for Perry and Perry financier (and Swift Boat funder) Bob Perry, was named a source of money by Greenie kat swift (nothing upper case about her) in her happy email. They needed the money to fund a petition drive so they could get on the ballot here. More than half-a-million dollars. Where’s Bebe Rebozo when you need him? On the other end of kat swift’s emails, it seems.

It’s a case of childish willfulness overwhelming judgment and the moral compass as well. I believe kat swift and the Green Party candidates care about their causes. But what they seem to care most about is being publicly recognized. Among their friends, they can take comfort in a sanctimonious fairy-land in which only they are right and just. The GOP wants them on the ballot to take votes from Democrats. But Republicans are really bribing the Greens to help perpetuate Republican rule and the status quo. But nothing can shake the self-righteousness of the Green’s fairy-land. It’s sad, really.

Now the Green’s have retreated to an argument that they simply want to preserve the voices of those who signed their petitions (petitions circulated with hundreds of thousands of dollars of dirty money). They are destroying the integrity of the election process to save it, I suppose, or so their story goes.

Do they really believe that their hoped-for ends — which they drive further away by their actions — justify these means? Really?

Stubborn as a Mule

Bill Maher’s piece on the stubborn idiots who continue to deny dangerous climate change brought to mind this clip from The Family Guy. That it’s Texas that inspires the “stubborn as a mule” routine is just a special bonus. Also, I hear Japan movie theaters are refusing to show the devastating documentary, The Cove. This goes out to them, to the climate-deniers, to the Texas State Board of Education, and, well, please add your own list of mule-headed recipients.

Genius at PolitiFact: Rick Perry not Actually Louis XIV!

Tuesday, I laughed at Harold Cook’s blog about PolitiFarce. Now, I’m ticked off about his target — PolitiFact.

That’s because the geniuses behind PolitiFact chose to truth-test the following Boyd Richie quote about Rick Perry: “He’s spending Texans’ hard-earned money to live like Louis XIV.”

Man, have you ever seen such a withering, scandalous and altogether outrageous attack? That Boyd Richie sure is playing rough. Or maybe not.

Though the truth test acknowledges the statement’s rather-gentle humor, precious ink and bandwidth were, nevertheless, wasted Wednesday on a literal analysis of its truth. We’re told about Louis’s 20-room house, the gardens, the orange trees and the theater – all of which are denied to poor old Rick. The piece concludes with a rating of Pantalon en Fue, or Pants on Fire. That’s their designation for a whopping lie.

Since I’m completely unfamiliar with French, I’ll butcher some Spanish for my thoughts on this: Caca de caballo!

Literalism is the refuge of a twit. Very often, it’s a defensive maneuver designed to hide one’s inability to formulate a reasoned response to another’s argument. Or, in this case, an inability to find some better use for one’s freakin’ time.

Moreover, PolitiFact’s literal analysis was as deep as a baby pool and, shall we say, just as pristine. Did Louis’s house, circa 1715, have indoor plumbing and bathrooms? How big was his fridge? How loud was his stereo? Did he have one of those fancy, color-coordinated washer-dryer combos? Did he have a freakin’ Food & Wine subscription? Should we give a rat’s ass?

Still, it wasn’t the literalism that set me off. Nor was it the shallow reasoning. I don’t really care about that stuff.

It does make me a little mad that PolitiFact is trying to suck out the last particle of humor left in politics, but that didn’t inspire me to spew invective.

What I do care about and what really torqued me is that this is the second time PolitiFact has provided cover for Perry by diverting the debate off-point.

Remember Rick’s “act of God” line about the oil spill? Did PolitiFact challenge that? Nope. Instead, they tested Perry’s explanation that came after the controversy boiled over. And sure enough, PolitiFact said he was right.

Never mind that Perry isn’t a lawyer and probably didn’t know “act of God” was a legal term of art. Never mind the irony “act of God” clauses being used to deny insurance payments to people like those poor souls on the Louisiana coast.

Boyd Richie and the Democrats are making this point: Rick Perry is living high on the hog at the taxpayers’ expense while average Texans are struggling through a recession that, if you will recall, our Governor once said didn’t exist.

Moreover, Perry is living his taxpayer-funded lifestyle of the rank and fatuous after becoming a millionaire himself over the last 20 some-odd years in politics. How in the hell did that happen?

Perhaps Perry will say getting rich was also an act of God. Who’ll join me in betting that PolitiFact rates it true?

Democrats and the Rise of the New Confederacy

It’s hard to ignore the irony. The wannabe Republican heirs of George W. Bush gather in New Orleans, the city Bush’s callousness and ineptitude all but destroyed, to advance a movement best called the New Confederacy.

At the Southern Republican Leadership Conference here, Texas Gov. Rick Perry invoked his love for the Tenth Amendment, the New Confederacy’s code term for “get the black man out of the White House.”

Touting his states’ rights bona fides, [Perry] said, “I believe in the 10th Amendment with all my heart. Basically what is says is that the federal government was created to be an agent of the states, not the other way around.

Sarah Palin was here. So was Newt Gingrich. Mentions of Hurricane Katrina were few and far between. “We are so over Katrina,” said a New Orleans GOP activist. But the full collapse of the moral levees that once held back a tide of hatred and prejudice was evident. The New Confederacy – despite Mitt Romney’s one-vote win and Palin’s third-place finish in the Southern Republican Leadership Conference – is now the GOP’s dominant political force.

Republicans’ coded racist appeals, beginning with Richard Nixon’s infamous “southern strategy,” weakened the Democratic Party in the South. In the wake of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts, white voters fled the Democrats’ Big Tent for the Republicans’ Big Box, the wall-to-Walmart, magnolia-white land of confederate dreams.

Continue reading “Democrats and the Rise of the New Confederacy”

A Socialist Primer: Rick Perry, Health Care & the Governor’s Race

Perry-RallyI’m wondering what it’s going to take for my former colleagues in the Texas press corps to call out Rick Perry for using the term “socialism” over-and-over to describe the insurance reform Congress passed last week.

Either Perry and reporters covering him don’t know what socialism is (and I doubt that), or Perry again is pushing  Tea Bag propaganda, and the press is too lazy or too intimidated to challenge it.

I’m used to Perry embarrassing Texas. So, I’m not surprised he’s parroting Dolph Briscoe’s old obsession with “creeping socialism.”  Thankfully, we’ve moved beyond the 1970s, though you wouldn’t know it from the Cold War rhetoric in a statement Perry released last Sunday and sound bites he repeated later in the week. Continue reading “A Socialist Primer: Rick Perry, Health Care & the Governor’s Race”