If you ever wondered what the 1% really thinks of the 99%, now Mitt Romney has provided an answer—at least of what many of well-healed 1% think about about a good half of the country. Joe Klein compares Romney’s candid camera moment with the much repeated Obama gaffe about crackers clinging to their guns and religion:
In context, Obama was talking about small-town America, a place where the jobs“have been gone for 25 years now” and “nothing has replaced them.” Both Republican and Democratic administrations have failed to address this central economic problem, he said, and so the residents grow “bitter” and start to cling to their guns and Bibles. But Obama, the Whole Foods arugula shopper, ignored the fact that a great many gun owners are not bitter but joyful in the hunt — indeed, that they derive as much pleasure from their sport as Obama does from basketball or golf. Nor did he understand that in many small towns religion is a source of service and good deeds and community, of drug treatment and food banks, as well as the pure peace of prayerful meditation. But Obama was right about the larger picture: there was a fear and bitterness in white small-town America that had its roots in the changing economy and expressed itself in anger that some people — immigrants, welfare recipients (and especially, now, those on Social Security Disability) and those lazy folks at the Department of Motor Vehicles — were getting over. Those sentiments, obviously, gave rise to the Tea Party. They are undiminished today. And clearly, Obama was saying something he really believed, although — to borrow a Romney locution — inelegantly.
I’m not so sure about Romney. I’m pretty sure he’s smart enough to know that the 47% he summoned was in the category of “damned lie” statistics. I’m pretty sure he knows that the vast majority of those people work their butts off, pay federal payroll taxes (and a raft of state and local levies) or are senior citizens receiving Social Security and Medicare. I’m not sure that he has put two and two together: that a great many of the 47% — the white working-class voters and senior citizens — are Romney voters. Or that they don’t pay income taxes because of Republican tax cuts and Republican child and earned-income tax credits. But I am absolutely convinced that Mitt Romney has been inured to Republican fat-cat audiences complaining about how much they have to pay to keep the American enterprise afloat, and that he was well aware of the Fox-Rush echo-chamber formulations about food-stamp growth and dependency and people not paying federal taxes, and he was playing to those prejudices. The exigencies of fundraising have forced him to spend more time with plutocrats than average citizens this year. It’s not surprising that he’s lost track of the world as most people see it. Hell, he’s spending today — the day after this momentous gaffe — fundraising rather than trying to change the topic.
The Republican Convention was at a definite disadvantage. They went first. Never ideal. They lost a day, thanks to Isaac. And they built their entire convention on a lie. They are running against a figment of their collective imaginations. The Obama who hates success, hates America and hates taking responsibility for the economy. It is an Obama as nonexistent as the straw man floating above Clint Eastwood’s empty chair.
The Democrats, by contrast, are building their convention on Obama’s record and agenda: expanding opportunity. Equal pay for equal work, equal access to healthcare, Pell grants for greater college opportunity, the rescue of jobs tied to the US auto industry and the overturning of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell so homosexuals can openly fight for the country they love. These are accomplishments that move the country forward. And accomplishments tend to make for better speeches than trumped up fear mongering. But what was striking about the first night of the Democratic convention was the unbridled patriotism of it all. The Democrats’ love of country is positively passionate! Just as the Republicans tried to build an entire convention around a gaffe in an Obama speech, this convention is taking Romney’s premise that the best we have felt about Obama was the day we cast our vote for him and deftly turned it on its head. The Democrats feel just fine about Obama. And some seem as smitten with him as the First Lady, who, as it turns out, may be the best orator in the Obama household.
Apparently, bird-flipping bad boy Rick Perry has gotten religion. Or maybe he is just hoping to increase his political capital with the Religious Right in anticipation of a presidential bid. Not to suggest a politician would be that cynical and calculating, but courting the born-again wing of the GOP certainly helped our last Texas Governor trade up to an oval-shaped office. The details:
Texas governor and potential presidential candidate Rick Perry is organizing a national prayer rally.
The day-long prayer and fasting event, called “The Response,” is scheduled for Aug. 6 in Houston, Texas.
Gov. Perry said Americans must call on Jesus to guide them through the “unprecedented struggles” the nation is facing.
“Right now, America is in crisis. We have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism and a multitude of natural disasters,” Perry said on the event’s website.
“Some problems are beyond our power to solve… this historic hour demands a historic response,” he said.
Governors across the country are invited to participate in the prayer rally.
Some have criticized the event saying Perry shouldn’t use his office to promote a religious gathering.
The prayer rally will be held at Reliant Stadium.
The birthers have long questioned whether Obama’s presidency isn’t breaking the law of the land. Now Wendy Wright is floating the idea that Obama’s new health care law is breaking all ten commandments. After all, doesn’t it promote coveting? She writes: “As with many bills, politicians sold ObamaCare by stoking envy.” Well, whatever was stoked, providing those without with what they are without likely decreases coveting. Right? Am I missing the point? Or does Ms. Wright not understand the sin of coveting? Next, she addresses bearing false witness. Again, her accusation has nothing to do with the health care law itself, only with some of the over-the-top examples of people’s health needs. Like those “thousand points of light” the President resorted to rhetorical hyperbole. Then comes “Thou shalt not steal.” This is where the right wing consistently confuses taxation with governmental stealing. My Savior took the position that we should render unto Washington that which is Washington’s. So I think we can move on. My Jesus trumps her Moses. ObamaCare, according to Ms. Wright apparently also encourages adultery. Finally, she deals with the actual law. Apparently, sex education provisions will lead to greater fornication. All we have to do is look at the rate of out of wedlock births in the Bible Belt to know that sexual immorality is rampant even where sex education is not provided. “Thou shall not kill” is next. This of course, focuses on the subject of “government funding of abortions.” Of course, there is no tax-payer funding of abortions in the health care law that was passed thanks to pro-life Democrats. So again Wright is off the mark. And shouldn’t the life of the child be considered in the high rate on infant fatalities that we currently have because of inadequate health care available to the poor? “Honor your father and mother.” Children should decide a parent’s health care. Here again, Wright, bears false witness: “Under ObamaCare, that privilege will be stripped from us and given to unaccountable bureaucrats. They will ultimately decide what health care our parents can get.” This is more of that death panel nonsense that the right spews out with abandon. Simply untrue. Okay this one is a stretch; “Keep the Sabbath holy.” The final health care vote happened on a Sunday. I guess Joe Lieberman thought that Saturday was the Sabbath.”You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.” Another real stretch. She writes:“President Obama gave a pen with which he signed ObamaCare to Sister Carol Keehan, the nun who runs the Catholic Health Association. Why? Her seal of approval appeared to give a Catholic blessing to a bill that her superiors, the bishops, rejected.“ Still don’t know what this has to do with honoring Yahweh. “No graven images.” The thought here is that health care is an idol to the left. You know, like “lower taxes” and “school vouchers” are to the idolatrous right? Idolatry has no party affiliation. ”The Lord your God is One.” Wright concludes with this scathing indictment: ”ObamaCare sets up government as the one who will supply our needs and provide for our health.” Well, considering that the new health care law requires me to buy insurance coverage from the private sector, I am not sure how government becomes my great Jehovah-jireh. It is God who provides and He provides through various means: doctors, hospitals, drug companies and pastoral counselors. And yes, He even provides, occasionally, through the government. He is that big.
Sure, this has been edited for effect. Sure, there are probably other people that could have been interviewed that wouldn’t make the Tea Party come off sounding so stupid. However, for this Glenn Beck-sponsored rally, I’ve got to believe this is pretty representative of the crowd. Why do I say that? Because, everything these flag-waving solid citizens are saying I’ve heard before. On the Glenn Beck show.
There is certainly a lot of talk about the American Constitution these days. Obama, of course, has throw it out the window, according to the Tea Party. The illegal aliens are abusing it according to conservative Republicans. And California’s Proposition 8 tramples it, according to the district judge who just overruled this democratically established law. Of course, these same constitutional villians have the temerity to appeal to this very Constitution for their side’s views, as well. The rightwing has the tendency to argue that because of our “representative” form of government that governance should match the weekly Gallup pole rather than the results of the last election. If the majority of the country, according to polling data, oppose Obamacare, then no Obamacare. It is so obvious! The Religious Right agree (depending on the issue) but add that this is a “Christian nation” and therefore biblical standards are implied in our founding documents. There’s a lot of wishful thinking in this argument, to be sure. So, they argue, if homosexuality is an sin according to the Good Book, then no marriage for gays. Black and white. Right? Of course, I don’t hear a lot of support for stoning heterosexuals who commit adultery, a much more clear biblical mandate. The Religious Left have their “constitutional” arguments as well. While they are very happy to marry two men in a Christian ceremony, this is not the issue, they insist. The issue is civil marriage, they point out. Separation of church and state and all that. Why, it’s the very governing principle that our Protestant founders hard-wired into the Constitution. Shouldn’t gays and lesbians have the same right to the pursuit of happiness as the straight community? And isn’t it the role of government to protect the liberties of the minorities against the prejudices of the majority? It’s stage two of the civils rights movement! It is all so self-evident––to quote one of these devout founding fathers. So this constitution of ours must be a pretty broad document for it to be interpreted in so differently, huh? And that’s the thing about our beloved constitution that some of us love. And the rest of us, cannot stand.
Marc Ambinder makes a legitimate criticism of the madness of the Republicans:
Serious thinkers on the right have finally gotten around to a full and open debate on the epistemic closure problem that’s plaguing the conservative movement. The issue, to put it in terms that even I can understand, because I didn’t study philosophy much in college: has the conservative base gone mad?
This matters to journalists, because I really do want to take Republicans seriously. Mainstream conservative voices are embracing theories that are, to use Julian Sanchez’s phrase,
“untethered” to the real world.
Can anyone deny that the most trenchant and effective criticism of President Obama today comes not from the right but from the left? Rachel Maddow’s grilling of administration economic officials. Keith Olbermann’s hectoring of Democratic leaders on the public option. Glenn Greenwald’s criticisms of Elena Kagan. Ezra Klein and Jonathan Cohn’s keepin’-them-honest perspectives on health care. The civil libertarian left on detainees and Gitmo. The Huffington Post on derivatives.
I want to find Republicans to take seriously, but it is hard. Not because they don’t exist — serious Republicans — but because, as Sanchez and others seem to recognize, they are marginalized, even self-marginalizing, and the base itself seems to have developed a notion that bromides are equivalent to policy-thinking, and that therapy is a substitute for thinking.
But here’s the rub. Even though it is getting harder and harder to take the Republicans seriously, it is hard to argue with success. And what Ambinder misses is this. The Republicans are going to pick up seats come November and possibly take back both houses. So is the GOP crazy? Yep, like a fox.
I, for one, am sick and tired of populism in politics. Especially, in the politics of the right wing. So it very refreshing to see the face of GOP politics that has always rang true. The country club elite. Men named Biff with monogrammed Kleenex, a trust fund, a vocabulary like Bill Buckley and a Harvard degree. There! Much better. That’s the GOP I remembered.
You know how the GOP religiously courts the white evangelical? You know how Dubya prided himself at “connecting” with this group? Well if this chart is to be believed, white evangelicals are less entrenched in the world of politics than we have been led to think. Black Protestants and white Catholics are another story.
A great many people voted for Obama simply because he was black. All of the people responsible for the appointment of Michael Steele did it because he was black. He was born out of crass cynicism. The same naive cynicism that put a woman on the McCain ticket. And clearly, Caribou Barbie got more traction than Mr. Steele. Now these GOP cynics want him gone. Me too. I don’t like the idea of any black man in national leadership until they produce a birth certificate. After all, this Steele guy looks a little foreign to me.
The Daily Beast outlines how pro-life Democrats and a fairly moderate President Obama have been promising a Health Care Reform that would avoid using public money to fund abortions all along. So why are pro-choice Democrats so shocked? Maybe they were listening to the distortions of Glenn Beck and the Tea Party crowd.
In a July interview with Katie Couric and on the floor of Congress in September, President Obama promised there would be no public financing of abortion in health reform, meaning the procedure would not be available to women who opt in to any potential new public insurance plan. That pushed the goalposts closer to the pro-life position.
Others are pointing at the pro-choice groups themselves. Jane Hamsher, who runs the Netroots blog Firedoglake, says the organizations have gotten too cozy with the Democratic Party establishment, which often seeks to avoid public discussion of abortion. In the health-reform fight, NARAL and Planned Parenthood were less effective in advocating for their agenda than were proponents of the public insurance option, Hamsher said. “We went out and got commitments from members of the House to vote against any bill that doesn’t have a public option,” Hamsher told The Daily Beast. “They weren’t doing the same thing.”
Richards, of Planned Parenthood, said she wasn’t aware of any efforts, before Saturday’s vote, to extract promises from legislators to vote against a health bill that restricts abortion access. “Frankly, this issue came out Friday night,” she said. Yet Stupak has been on the warpath since July, when he released a letter signed by 19 Democrats demanding a ban on abortion coverage in the exchanges.
The neo cons have a charmingly parochial view of the world. They believe that if we simply occupy more countries and build more bridges (right after we blow them up), we can defuse radical Islamic jihad and spread democracy. No more 9-11s. No more terrorism. All it takes is enough troops. The trouble is that the U.S. army apparently can’t even take an American-born Muslim, pay for his education and train him to use a gun and win his particular heart and mind to the American Way. Is there something about our view of the world and the Muslim view of the world that is fundamentally irreconcilable? Nahhh, that makes far too much sense.
Obama’s handpicked general, Stan McChrystal, has been lionized by the right wing media as a military genius who can win the Afghanistan war. As troop fatalities rose over the past weekend conservative radio was all henny penny that we need more troops and we need them now (even when at least two of the deaths result from “friendly backfire”––one American helicopter collided into another U.S. helicopter, suggesting there are, perhaps, too many American soldiers in Afghanistan, at least at that particular moment.) So while Obama “dithers,” to quote our former Vice President, let’s consider what General McChrystal is smoking. Scott Ritter sums it up:
McChrystal operates under the illusion that American military power can provide a shield from behind which Afghanistan can remake itself into a viable modern society. He has deluded himself and others into believing that the people of Afghanistan want to be part of such a grand social experiment, and furthermore that they will tolerate the United States being in charge. The reality of Afghan history, culture and society argue otherwise. The Taliban, once a defeated entity in the months following the initial American military incursion into Afghanistan, are resurgent and growing stronger every day. The principle source of the Taliban’s popularity is the resentment of the Afghan people toward the American occupation and the corrupt proxy government of Hamid Karzai. There is nothing an additional 40,000 American troops will be able to do to change that basic equation. The Soviets tried and failed. They deployed 110,000 troops, operating on less restrictive lines of communication and logistical supply than the United States. They built an Afghan army of some 45,000 troops. They operated without the constraints of American rules of engagement. They slaughtered around a million Afghans. And they lost, for the simple reason that the people of Afghanistan did not want them, or their Afghan proxies.
Perhaps we need to listen to our historians, as much as we listen to our generals.
Wow! And I thought I was hard on the Christian Right. Frank Schaeffer, son of evangelical apologist Francis Schaeffer, lashes out at the evangelical political block. Or as he likes to call them, “the fifth column of insanity.”