2016

re: the 2016 elections

The Fetal Position

In the wake of its self-autopsy following the 2012 elections, the GOP has acknowledged that it must do a better job “communicating” with women. Along with virtually every other demographic slice of the American pie. But, one slice at a time.

In 2012, the Republicans in office and running for office had a particular problem with the concept of rape. What it is, what it isn’t, whether god wills it, when it is legitimate. You know, the eternal questions. Nevermind that the correct answer is No. As in “No means no. Period.”

2013 became the year that the American news media went transvaginal – as it probed the GOP’s idea of ‘small government’. Small enough, apparently, to fit uncomfortably (and medically unnecessarily) inside your vagina. And let’s not forget the various “personhood” ballot questions and amendments in more than a dozen states. These sought to confer full legal status and rights to the fertilized ovum; in fact, rights that actually supercede those of the woman inside whose body said zygote resides. [Cue the creepy music from Rosemary’s Baby.]

Yes, Republicans have been obsessed about abortion since Roe vs. Wade was decided in 1973. Not about their own abortions. No, every woman’s Constitutionally protected right to decide whether she will carry a pregnancy to term, or terminate it. Republicans are, of course, on a mission from their god(s; they don’t agree on each other’s deities) so don’t confuse them with factual, ethical or moral realities.

Not sure what happened to that memo from the party elders, because 2013 saw Republicans in Congress and in the red states continue their undisguised assaults on the rights of women to be self-aware, self-governing human beings.

last time gop cared about you.fetus 720x348

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The most galling hypocrisy in the GOP’s passionate commitment its so-called “pro-life” agenda is that its screaming interest in the welfare of the unborn child seems to evaporate once the child is born. So, their position is more accurately termed pro-birth. Once that child is born, it’s on its own. Scram. Hit the road, kid. Get a job. We’re cutting your Head Start, your WIC and your SNAP. If you were just born in West Virginia, don’t drink the water. If you have two moms, you’re a bastard. And if your parents make minimum wage or are looking for work, too bad. When you’re 18, we’ll do our best to have one or more wars ongoing so you can sign up. If you get killed in battle, we’ll give your opposite-sex spouse $100G and a folded flag. If you come back wounded, go to the back of the line at the VA. It’s a long wait, but you’re a patriot. Suck it up. Don’t end up homeless or commit suicide. That just makes us look bad. Et cetera.

Maybe this is why babies cry upon eviction from the womb. Do they know that they’ve just been abandoned by the United States House of Representatives and more than half the state legislatures? Can they hear Fox News in utero? Do they know that Ted Cruz lives under their beds?

Wisconsin is one of the states that has really been leading the way for the GOP’s new pro-woman rebranding efforts. Governor Walker gives women, the middle class, teachers and other people a warm, fuzzy bear hug every time he turns around. And now, they’ve gone to bat for fetal Wisconsinites in a big way. There’s a bill in the Wisconsin Senate that will protect a fetus from being aborted because its incubator, er, mother doesn’t like its gender. Yes, it’s obviously a huge problem in America, and Wisconsin Republicans are running into burning uteruses and saving fetuses from their own evil mothers. Oh, it also gives the fetal grandparents rights to a veto over your host’s self-determination. So be nice to your Gramps and Nanas. They might have saved your fetal ass from your murderous mama!

Here’s a screenshot of the actual text of the bill, SB201. Pay attention to the line highlighted in (baby) blue:

Wisc SB201

That reads: “(b) ‘Child’ means a human being from the time of fertilization until it is completely delivered from a pregnant woman.”

Thanks for clearing that up, Wisconsin Republicans. Now you’ve put your pro-birth agenda into the actual text of a proposed law, by re-defining the word “CHILD” for us. Big news, really. Just one question: If we are a “child” from the moment of fertilized zygote “until it is completely delivered from a pregnant woman”… then what is our legal status once we’ve left the protective cocoon of the womb? Because you treat us like so much medical trash.

Click on the image of the SB201 screenshot if you want to read the official text on the State of Wisconsin website.

Click HERE to get yourself REGISTERED and able to VOTE in the upcoming primaries and general election in November. Whatever state you live in, blue, purple or deepest red. If every woman voted, the GOP would cease to exist. That’s right. You have the right to abort them from our government. And you should.

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Mind The Gap

Later this month, a new documentary gives us the insider view of the 2012 Romney campaign. Netflix has been promoting “Mitt” with a clip from Election Night. It shows the Romney family in their Boston hotel suite, slack-jawed in stunned disbelief as they watch President Obama cruise to re-election. Mitt & Co. were (somehow) blindsided by the loss. For those of us who know we dodged a bullet missile asteroid that day, this flick promises to dish up heaping servings of delicious schadenfreude. Butter on your popcorn?

It is generally accepted that Romney ran one of the worst presidential campaigns in memory. His clumsy mimicry of human behavior and idiom was simply unconvincing. But he had a lot of help from his lunatic primary opponents – better known as ‘the clown car’ – and, of course, there’s the Republican Party’s acidic base.

The GOP wasted no time in getting down to some very public soul searching following their election disaster. (Which does beg the question: Where do people without souls go to do soul searching?) Democrats, after all, kept the White House and the Senate – and gained seats in both houses. What went wrong? They commissioned “an autopsy” (their own words) to discover the cause of death.

Last March, the autopsy findings were released. The RNC gave the postmortem a rather upbeat title. “The Growth and Opportunity Project” (get it? G.O.P.) ran to 100 pages, and identified the constituencies they would have to attract if they wanted to win elections going forward.

Republicans found they were in good shape with older, white, heterosexual, Christian men. Everyone else… not so much. The autopsy revealed “opportunities” for the GOP to work harder for the votes of women, Latinos, African-Americans, the LGBT community and the “under 30” crowd.

OK, good plan, off you go… but then, a funny thing happened on the way to the next election. The Republican Party seems to have declared 2013 to be opposite year. At the federal and (red) state levels, Republican politicians pursued policies and enacted laws that can only be described as hostile to the very groups they were supposed to be wooing. Huh?

from The New Yorker

from The New Yorker

Women were given the gift of mandatory transvaginal probes (which meet the definition of forcible rape in many states) and draconian restrictions on abortion providers. Women have also seen cuts to the WIC, SNAP and Head Start programs that their families depend on for luxuries like food and child care.

Latinos were promised comprehensive immigration reform. Instead, they got an about-face from Marco Rubio on his own immigration reform bill, and a lot of nasty talk about “amnesty” and “fences”. Latinos and African-Americans were targeted by laws to prevent (statistically non-existent) “voter fraud” in red states from Texas to Ohio, North Carolina to Wisconsin, Pennsylvania to Florida. Early voting days and hours have been reduced, new voter identification requirements put in place. The Justice Dept is investigating these voter suppression attempts, some of which have already been stopped in the courts.

We gays have never been promised anything by the GOP, except unrelenting hostility to the notion of equal rights. And they send lousy wedding gifts. Witness last week’s freakout in Utah. As far as younger voters are concerned, GOP opposition to raising the minimum wage, balking at fixing the student loan crisis, blocking every job-creation bill, and its curmudgeonly attitudes tell that story. Most people born during or after the Reagan administration have vastly relaxed attitudes about race, gender and sexual orientation. Ruh-roh. Oh, and get this: they’ve even managed to pick a fight with – wait for it – His Holiness The Pope. Wow. I mean, the guy is freakin’ infallible. Do you think he cares what Rush and The Donald and Paul Ryan think about him?

Finally, the unrelenting obsession of the House of Boehner to “repeal Obamacare!” is inexplicable – given that their fifty attempts were dead-on-arrival in the Senate, nevermind Obama’s veto pen. And now that the Obamacare “DISASTER!!” has given way to some really stunning success – with six million people enrolled in new health care plans, and more each month – GOP has positioned itself as the sworn enemy of an increasingly popular and extraordinarily beneficial program. It is the cliché definition of insanity: Do the same thing over and over while expecting a different result.

So, are Republicans insane? The more likely diagnosis is political schizophrenia. The Grand Old Party is split like an old pair of grandpa’s trousers. “Traditional” or “mainstream” Republicans are in the party’s minority – and seem to have lost ground since 2012. The Tea Party / Teabagger / Teavangelical / RWNJ (right-wing nut job) half (3/4) of the party has been in the ascendancy since the 2010 midterm elections gave them a stranglehold on Congress. They don’t have enough votes to pass anything, but they can obstruct almost everything. And they have. You may have heard…

You may also have heard that 2014 is an important election year. The next six months are going to be fraught with what some are calling a Republican “civil war”. Establishment Republicans are being “primaried” by the ultra-right-wingnuts. Remember Senator “I am not a witch” O’Donnell of Delaware? Or Senator “rape is something god intended” Mourdock of Indiana? How about Senator “legitimate rape” Akin of Missouri? Well, the GOP’s Class of 2014 is shaping up to be another bottomless pit of moronic bigotry and ignorance. Stay tuned. And pass the popcorn.

NBCNews

NBCNews

NBC News recently released the above tidbit of exit polling from the 2012 national election. It shows the harsh electoral reality the GOP has been up against and continues to face: the “empathy gap”. Romney had healthy margins of voters who preferred his vision, values and leadership. (C’mon! Seriously?) But Obama was re-elected because he won the overwhelming majority of people who want their president to care about them. That’s empathy. Barack “Trayvon could have been my son. He could have been me” Obama (like Bill “I feel your pain” Clinton) is swaddled in it. But it is a quality that seems to elude the GOP as a whole. (Or a-hole, to be more accurate.)

empathy.typesetYou’ll hear talk about the Republican effort to “rebrand the party” as a kinder, gentler place for women, blacks, gays, Latinos, 20-somethings, the poor, etc. And then you’ll likely hear laughter – because these old, white men really don’t have the slightest idea how to be relevant to the human condition in the 21st century.

Which is why the elders of the Republican Party have hired consultants to teach their 2014 candidates how to talk to women. No, I’m not making this up. Just Google “how to talk to women”. Go ahead, I’ll wait. OK, did you see the part about “connecting with women on an emotional level”? Uh-huh.

Honey, while you’re making more popcorn, how about bringing us a few beers? 

A Bridge Too Far

bridge to nowhere

The fabled New Jersey Turnpike (“You from Jersey? What exit?”) officially ends at the halfway point of the George Washington Bridge, where New Jersey gives way to New York.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s political future may also end on that mighty bridge. Put that in the tragic irony folder. Christie had been anointed by an overeager media as the savior of the Grand Old Party. A Republican who can reach across the aisle, bridge the American political divide. His post-Sandy bromance with President Obama may have infuriated the Romney campaign (coming as it did a week before the election)… but it had the politically purple parts of America swooning. Here comes Chris Christie! The only Republican with the, er, heft to derail the Hillary Clinton juggernaut.

We knew he had serious presidential ambitions when he underwent lap band surgery to get from super-sized to Super Tuesday. After all, it would be rather embarrassing to have to trade in Air Force One for a C-130 Hercules. Oh, that was mean.

But that’s the point: Christie is mean. He is an arrogant, thin-skinned bully who yells at teachers, calls voters idiots, sneers at reporters. His enormous physical presence magnifies his swagger, and that has helped him. Until now. Now Chris Christie just seems like the incredible shrinking governor. Shutting down access to the busiest bridge in the nation for four days to punish the mayor of Fort Lee (who refused to endorse his candidacy) was an extraordinary abuse of power.

And it comes as a surprise to absolutely no one. Except Mr Christie, who is surprised to learn that as a politician he is mortal, and now very likely mortally wounded. I don’t think he’ll finish his second term – which hasn’t even officially begun yet. That may be wishful thinking. We’ll see.

One bit of political fallout from this debacle is mostly background noise for now, but it shows you where the leadership of the national GOP is headed. The teabagger wing (the tail) of the party (the dog) has been giving the press off-the-cuff sound bites throwing Christie under the 2016 campaign bus. That’s all we need to know about the road to the White House for President Hillary Clinton. The “Republican base” which controls the primaries was never going to allow “the savior of the GOP” to get the nomination – not even if he slimmed down enough to model for Playgirl, Scott Brown style.

Note: this might have been my #100happydays entry for today, but that’s just not in the spirit of that project. But this spectacular Christie clusterfuck does make me happy. I hate bullies. And I love it when they get their comeuppance so publicly.

Get The Red Out: #2014

Here we are. 2014. An election year. What’s up for grabs? All of the House. One-third of the Senate. Governorships. State legislatures. Local ballot measures. The primaries begin this spring. The general election – Election Day – is 11/4/14. Just ten months away. Debates, advertising, social media chatter – the works. If you like politics, it’s a banquet. If you hate politics, you’re in hell.

Whatever your feelings about how this country does its politics, do not let that distract or dissuade you from participating in this democracy. Whether you color yourself blue, red, purple or tie-dyed, you must vote. Why? Because in this nation of 320 million, there are 537 people in Washington who make decisions that affect every aspect of our lives. That’s 435 Representatives in the House + 100 Senators + the President and the Vice President. There are others who wield great power (the Supreme Court justices, the Cabinet, etc) – but we only elect 537 people to run the federal government. A few thousand folks if you count all the governors and state legislators.

We have the opportunity – still rather rare in this world – to choose people who will represent us and our best interests. We open every sports event and every civic gathering with a solemn vow, hands over hearts, remembering those who have fought and died to secure our freedoms.

But every two years, we spit on their graves. Roughly HALF of Americans do not bother to vote. In presidential elections, that may edge toward 60%. In the “mid-term” (non-presidential) elections, it drops to 40%. And in some places less.

With voter participation that low, a close election can mean that only 20% of us choose the winner. 20% is a majority? When did we get so bad at math?!

Here’s a graphic that shows the reality behind two recent elections in Texas. A deep RED state, right? Maybe. Maybe not. But what we do know is that Texas is a deeply LAZY state when it comes to voting. The large gray squares = eligible voters in the 2010 and 2012 elections. The little red squares = the margin of victory for the candidates who won those elections. In 2010, Perry won by less than 1 million votes in an election where NINE MILLION REGISTERED VOTERS DID NOT BOTHER TO VOTE! They were already registered to vote. In 2012, Romney won Texas by 1.2 million votes. That year, SIX MILLION registered voters didn’t vote. You hate voting so much? Fine. But why would anyone bother to be registered if they won’t vote?

TX.2010.2012.2016

I don’t mean to only mess with Texas. (Or the mess that is Texas.) No state has bragging rights over voter participation. But in 2014, we have to save our governments from being run by people who do not believe in government! Texas will be one of the more interesting states to watch, with Wendy Davis running for governor and John Cornyn getting primaried by a certifiably insane RWNJ teabagger for his Senate seat. Georgia is going to be a wild ride too, with brawls for governor and an open Senate seat.

But it goes so far beyond the ‘sport’ of politics. Because Perry was re-elected in 2010, Texas has refused the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, cutting off millions of the working poor from critical access to health care. It would not have cost the state of Texas a dime to implement this. Perry threw his own citizens under the bus out of pure political spite. And had Romney won the election, who doubts that we would now be at war in Syria and Iran?

Elections have consequences. Not voting does not exempt you from the consequences. It merely makes you a cog on someone else’s wheel. Get yourself registered. And when the time comes, vote.

You can start by registering here at Rock The Vote:

https://register2.rockthevote.com/?partner=25659

This Just In… Part Deux

Canadian-born U.S. Senator Rafael “Ted” Cruz (R-TX) has confirmed that he will renounce his Canadian citizenship. Canada’s reaction to this news was typically understated:

happy maple leaf

Unconfirmed reports suggest that Citizenship and Immigration Canada is exploring the possibility of renouncing the citizenship of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

Since it seems that Canada is pursuing a dastardly scheme to export its craziest political operatives to the United States, you can do your part to repel this invasion. Click on the Happy Maple Leaf to go to Rock The Vote and get yourself registered to vote! It only takes a few minutes. #2014 primaries are just months away… 306 days till Election Day in November. Let’s get moving, eh?

I’m in love with the Fruitcake Lady!

And I nominate her to be the moderator of all GOP primary debates in 2016!

Turn Virginia BLUE!

Turn Virginia BLUE!