From The Hill:
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday said he has "a few knuckleheads" in his conference."
As a result, Boehner described his House majority as being a "paper majority."
“On any given day, 16 of my members decide they’re going to go this way, and all the sudden I have nothing,” he said. “You might notice I have a few knuckleheads in my conference.”
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It was a good move, and it was the right thing to do. Dick Armey took the floor of the House of Representatives and apologized to Barney Frank. During an interview, Representative Armey had earlier expressed impatience with Barney Frank.
I like peace and quiet, and I don't have to listen to Barney Fag -- Barney Frank -- haranguing in my ear because I made a few bucks off a book I worked on.
- Dick Armey (R-TX), January 27, 1995
The open secret in those days was that the mispronunciation of Barney Frank's name into an anti-gay slur was a common joke in Republican circles. It was not believable to many that Armey had simply made a slip of the tongue.
Bob Bauman (R-MD) had been a conservative Congressman before he was outed. He had resigned, accused of soliciting sex from a teenager in a gay bar. He reacted to the Armey incident with an experience of his own, during a heated debate against Maryland Democrat Parren Mitchell.
As our exchange became heated, I referred to him as "the gentleman from Africa."
Mr. Mitchell, an African American, instantly and rightfully objected. I withdrew my remarks with the lame excuse that in the passion of debate I regrettably had abbreviated my intended description of him as "the chairman of the African affairs subcommittee."
Of course the Congressional Record was doctored to excise my racial slur.
- Robert Bauman (R-MD), February 07, 1995
Barney Frank listened to a tape of the remarks and concluded that Armey had misspoken, but did not entirely let him off the hook. Dick Armey, he suggested, had heard the phrase so often in the clubby atmosphere of Republican backrooms, the phrase had come to him from the constant repetition around him. "I don't think it was on the tip of his tongue, but I do believe it was in the back of his mind." He added this: the remark was a reflection, showing "a climate of meanness and intolerance with the Republicans.
It is sometimes said that comedy comes from pain. I could be wrong in thinking that Barney Frank spoke with a weariness that came from too many slurs in too many casual encounters with those who despised him for his very existence. 17 years later, he spoke to the graduating class at Harvard University. He spoke about his support for adding sexual orientation to hate crime legislation. A few Republicans had protested that the law would curb their freedom to repeat anti-gay slurs.
I said, "Let me be clear." I was, at that time, Chairman of the Financial Services Committee. "If this bill passes tomorrow, it will still be entirely legal to call me a fag. I just wouldn't recommend it if you're in the banking business."
- Barney Frank (D-MA), May 23, 2012
I was thinking of Barney Frank as I read about Russell Pearce, the vice chairman of the Republican Party in Arizona. He resigned from that post after he proposed that any woman on welfare should be sterilized. He eventually explained that the proposal was only a misstatement. On his radio show, he has called for the return of a search-and-deport program temporarily launched 60 years ago.
In those days, immigrants were viewed with disdain, although not with the same sort of disrespect as gay people. Still, derogatory terms were fairly routine. The program that Mr. Pearce endorsed was called by a term that Pearce defends to this day, along with the program itself.
Caller: It was called Operation Wetback.
Pearce: Yes, yes it was. It wasn't derogatory and it wasn't meant to be derogatory. It was a term that was pretty commonly used back then.
- Russell Pearce Show, June 7, 2014
This is the sort of thing that surfaces about every other week from regionally prominent Republicans. It represents a large proportion of a shrinking party.
Referring to people as anything other than human, with human feelings, with human worth, is wrong. It is wrong when the target is a black, or gay, or immigrant. The fact that this was not as widely recognized 60 years ago does not make it any more right.
Such ways of of talking and thinking come from those who are so used to the reinforcement of those of like mind, some political figures imagine the policies they espouse, and the terms they use to describe their own thoughts, will find the same approval from the general public.
...it will still be entirely legal to call me a fag. I just wouldn't recommend it if you're in the banking business.
It will still be entirely legal to call immigrants something less than human. It just isn't recommended if you're in the business of getting elected.
From The New York Times:
GOTHENBURG, Sweden — After eight years of a tax-cutting, free-market government, Sweden was poised on Sunday night to turn toward the center left, as a loose coalition of left-leaning parties won a slim but clear lead in parliamentary elections.
In a violent shock to Sweden’s liberal establishment, however, the far-right Sweden Democrats became the country’s third force in politics, more than doubling their share of the vote to 13 percent and setting the stage to hold the balance of power in a Parliament where the center left will struggle to build a stable majority.
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The Republican candidates gunning for federal office in New Hampshire are all trying to put the Democratic incumbents on defense over the Affordable Care Act, whose New Hampshire rollout has been rocky.
But one of the most avid critics, Second District GOP nominee, Marilinda Garcia, is declining to say how she gets coverage.
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Governor Brownback's radical style of leadership lacks Kansas common sense. It hurts our schools, weakens our financial condition, and it fails to create jobs at the rate of our neighboring states.
- Former Kansas State Senator Wint Winter Jr, July 15, 2014
The insurgent defection of Kansas Republicans from Republican candidates might be dismissed as one more cherry picking exercise that has become the recurring pattern in modern politics. When candidate Reagan campaigned to become President Reagan he was supported by Democrats for Reagan. There were Republicans for Obama.
Kansas is pretty big. The nation is a lot bigger. You can always find a few hundred citizens from the other party who don't like their candidate.
But this was different. These had been Republican office holders. They included three former presidents of the Kansas State Senate, three former Speakers of the Kansas Legislature, two former Lieutenant Governors, and a one time chairman of the Kansas Republican Party. More than a hundred Republican officials in all had joined together.
Governor Sam Brownback is in real trouble.
He isn't the only one. If United States Senator Pat Roberts survives in November, it will be because fellow Republicans contrived to keep the Democratic nominee in the race, as well as a major independent. The Republican Senator might squeak by with a fraction of the vote if the majority who opposes him is divided between two opponents.
The why of Sam Brownback's woes is performance. He applied the Laffer-curve economic theory that has driven Republican policy for a generation. The idea is that revenues to the state will go up as tax rates go down. In Kansas, Governor Brownback cut taxes for the wealthy and tax revenues fell through the floor. So cutbacks in education forced citizens to take another look.
According to Republican opponents, the anger at Brownback does not necessarily come from an overt rejection of conservatism. Wint Winter, the former State Senator who leads Republican opposition to Roberts' election, quotes what he says is frequent reasoning. "We’ve got members saying, ‘I’m joining because Sam Brownback’s a liberal.’"
Liberal? Really? Well, it makes sense if you go back a few decades. Senator Winter explains: "They say, ‘He’s spending more than he’s taking in.’" The failure of the Laffer curve, the foundation of modern conservatism means he's a liberal.
Misguided labeling may make it easier for conservatives to oppose him, but it is the opposition to conservative economics that matters, not the label used to justify the opposition.
The rejection of Senator Roberts comes from another label. Nobody wants to accuse him of extreme conservatism. So a more gentile narrative is presented. He has grown out of touch. After a narrower than expected primary win, Roberts goes to his Virginia residence. Pretty much every Representative and Senator has a place to live near Washington. That's where they work, after all.
Roberts' campaign manager unexpectedly goes to the anti-Roberts narrative. "He went back home for two days or three to rest. I think he’s going to come back here the first of next week."
Well, home is where the heart is.
So why the trouble? It may be a portend of a national trend.
It strikes me that the downward spiral of a shrinking Republican base is the likely culprit. As Republicans at the grassroots level purge conservatives as not sufficiently extreme, Republican policies grow more extreme. As Republican policies and politics grow more extreme, conservatives find a reason to leave, and the cycle starts again.
On the other hand, it is also possible that Republicans are in trouble in this most Republican of Republican states because of some unique convergence of circumstance. So, perhaps they have nothing to worry about.
Nothing at all.
Reserving to the Right People the Right to Vote (4:39) - Click for Podcast
For Original Text
Voting restrictions will prevent voter fraud. That's what conservatives say. Except when they say what they really mean.
The flawed review of a book about slavery teaches us more than all we could have learned from the textbooks of our past.
Whether a Senator actually resides in the state should not matter. Unless it has to.
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It is hard to tell at first read, but James Wigderson is upset after a judge stopped an investigation into Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Seems the controversial governor so closely coordinated his campaign with a big mega-money group, he virtually ran both as a joint operation. And he took steps to keep secret what he was doing. If all that is true, it was in violation of Wisconsin law. James is not upset with the Walker activities, or with the secrecy, or with the decision of the judge to order a stop to the investigation. James is angry that a newspaper thinks the judge is wrong. Seems the newspaper is "interested in curtailing the First Amendment rights of conservatives." Well, James does provide a link, so a determined reader can figure out why he is so incensed.
At The Intersection of Madness and Reality, Mike Caccioppoli argues that Ray Rice would still be in position if a video had not augmented what was already known.
PZ Myers, writing for Pharyngula, addresses the lack of female atheists by arguing that the claim is untrue. Not being among them myself, I don't feel qualified to directly participate, except to wonder why it matters.
- Through a film and musicians from the western world, Vincent at A wayfarer's notes finds himself on a slow journey of discovery toward the music of Africa.
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It is needed to prevent voter fraud, that's all.
That's how piling on additional identification requirements on top of existing IDs has been justified. In fact, voter fraud is so rare as to be pretty much a fiction. That is for very good reasons. It's easy to get caught, penalties are harsh, and it doesn't affect elections. Those who want to steal an election always do it well away from voters. Backroom ballot stuffing, changing voting totals when nobody is looking, that's how elections are stolen.
The only actual effect of photo IDs is to make it harder for some folks to vote. Those folks tend to be those who don't have a driver's license. Not surprisingly, that includes people who take the bus to work and don't drive, or who are retired and don't drive, or who are going to college and don't drive. Republicans make it harder to vote for those they think would vote for Democrats.
The efforts to impose a requirement of extra identification on those who don't drive aren't the only steps conservatives have taken. Precincts have been closed and combined, with easily accessible voting places moved farther away from minority areas.
In Ohio, the Republican in charge of statewide voting ordered ballots to be disqualified in those combined voting places if voters are directed by election officials to a wrong voting booth. If an election official tells you to vote in a specific voting booth, and gets it wrong, your vote for President, Governor, Senator, any office, would be thrown away. Fortunately, courts stepped in and told Ohio they could not go that far in keeping voters from having their ballots counted.
In Texas, Republicans have gone to court to argue that is okay to discriminate against Hispanic voters by making it harder for them to vote. That is because, so the argument goes, in their hearts politicians have nothing specifically against Latino voters. They are only motivated against voters who will support Democrats.
Let's dwell on that for another moment. We're not trying to keep minority voters from voting because we don't like minorities. We're trying to keep minority voters from voting because we don't like who they'll vote for.
It is an odd argument, but even that strange premise began to crumble.
Those supporting the right to vote in Texas went after emails and other communications sent over official channels. They said the words of the lawmakers themselves would prove that they had deliberately targeted minority voters because they are minority voters. Republican legislators, who insist they were not targeting minority voters for that reason, have been screaming foul. They insist that letters, memos, and messages about why they are targeting minorities are nobody's business.
Every once in a while, conservatives will slip. They will say out loud, in public, what they they're telling the courts they want to keep private. Here is the reason a prominent officeholder in Georgia agrees in public with what a fellow angry colleague said in private about Sunday voting at a polling place in a shopping mall:
Per Jim Galloway of the AJC, this location is dominated by African American shoppers and it is near several large African American mega churches such as New Birth Missionary Baptist. Galloway also points out the Democratic Party thinks this is a wonderful idea – what a surprise.
- State Senator Fran Millar, (R-GA), September 9, 2014
There you have it. Voting is okay. Keeping polling places open where minority voters shop and worship because those areas are accessible is not okay.
To be fair, Senator Millar later clarified. His comments had nothing to do with race. "I would prefer more educated voters than a greater increase in the number of voters."
Voters who are more educated than the voters conservatives don't want to see at election time.
I just addressed the nation about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.
Let’s be clear: While this group may call itself the "Islamic State," it is not "Islamic." No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL's victims have been Muslim. Nor is it a "state." It is not recognized by any government, nor by the people it subjugates.
This is nothing but a terrorist organization with no vision or goal other than to slaughter all who stand in its way. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, these terrorists have threatened America and our allies. And the United States will meet this threat with strength and resolve.
Already, our military has conducted more than 150 successful airstrikes over the past month against ISIL targets in Iraq -- strikes that have protected American personnel and facilities, killed hundreds of ISIL fighters, and helped save the lives of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.
From the New York Times:
An earlier version of a summary with this article misstated the former title of Dick Cheney. He was vice president, not president.
- New York Times, September 9, 2014 (at end of article)
A piano on the concourse of St Pancras Station in London says:
'Play Me, I'm Yours!'
... That's exactly what musician Henri Herbert did. Enjoy!
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I'm coming to believe that Thaddeus Stevens was right. I had always been taught to regard him as a man of vicious bias. But, when I see this sort of thing, I begin to wonder how else you can treat them.
- John F. Kennedy, reacting privately to the assassination of Medgar Evers, June, 1963
The literary storm that followed an unfortunate book review in the Economist magazine has been a combination of outrage and rage. The review was critical of a book by Edward Baptist about slavery. The reviewer presented the case that the book lacked balance, neglecting to present the case in favor of slavery.
The Economist withdrew the piece. The recantation contained the review itself as a gesture toward transparency. It served as an allocution of sorts: an acknowledgment of the facts as part of an admission of guilt.
Within the withdrawn review, mention was made of another author, British Lord Hugh Thomas. Thomas had written a more clinical analysis of slavery as a business industry, with only minimal mention of the cruelties involved. The review in the Economist compared the two:
Unlike Mr Thomas, Mr Baptist has not written an objective history of slavery. Almost all the blacks in his book are victims, almost all the whites villains. This is not history; it is advocacy.
The controversy brought to mind the lessons of my youth and a larger message about history itself. When I was in grade school, we were taught about the period after the Civil War. Lincoln wanted reconciliation with the southern states. He favored a moderate course. Sadly, he was killed before he could bring reconciliation to the nation. But he had chosen a Vice President who was committed to Lincoln's vision.
Obstructing that vision, a vindictive group of Radical Republicans wanted retribution against the south. They imposed harsh measures during a period of punishment known as "Reconstruction." Thaddeus Stevens, the leader of the "Radical Republicans" for a time, was a bitter sort of fanatic. For a few years, the Radicals would "wave the bloody shirt," smearing peace loving opponents who wanted a friendly welcome to the former rebellious states. Eventually, the Radicals lost power, and reconciliation reigned, just as Lincoln had wanted.
We passed vocabulary tests if we could remember the assigned definitions of such terms as "scalawag" and "carpetbagger" and "wave the bloody shirt."
The notion that Lincoln fought hard against those supposed caretakers of his vision to get a series of Constitutional Amendments passed was largely ignored. His late, but firm, embrace of equal treatment under the law, and his advocacy of the protections of basic rights were not mentioned at all. Only later did I discover that the "harsh treatment" covered in the classroom involved voting rights, protection from lynching, and the softest beginnings of advancement toward equal employment.
When federal protection of former slaves was ended in the 1870s, the violent rage of former slave owners took over. This was presented by the books we studied as the time that the great healing began between a bitter and angry north and a subdued and peaceful south.
Why were we taught such lies? My guess is it has to do with the slow path research goes to textbook.
The culture of the late 1800s, going well into the late 1950s, was war weary. The can't-we-just-get-along narrative had an unspoken underlying foundation. All the getting along was to be done among white people. The unwritten adjective to "south" was "white". The great reconciliation was between the white north and the white south.
The basic research from which later research drew was done during a time that the reconciliation narrative was in ascendancy. And that later research drenched textbooks of my time. Thus equality and protection could be introduced to our young minds as vindictive punishment.
The current below the reconstruction narrative still flows with racial assumptions. But the wind in the sails has come to be balance. How can we think that all the slave owners were on the side of evil? How can we see all the slaves as the victims of that same evil? How can only the bad side of slavery be presented? Why not the benefits?
This is only the most extreme, the most obvious case of a more general trend. The human instinct favors balance. News outlets today report based on balance. Balance is achieved, not as a result of evidence and documentation, but rather as a premise. Balance has come to be prized over truth.
More than half a century after I was first shocked and stunned and deeply saddened to hear of his own assassination, I still love John F. Kennedy. I understand his reaction to the tragic murder of Medgar Evers.
But there is additional tragedy in the fact that the conclusion "I'm coming to believe that Thaddeus Stevens was right" had to be prompted, not by historical evidence, but by the body of a hero in a driveway.
From the Daily Mail:
It is the greatest murder mystery of all time, a puzzle that has perplexed criminologists for more than a century and spawned books, films and myriad theories ranging from the plausible to the utterly bizarre.
But now, thanks to modern forensic science, The Mail on Sunday can exclusively reveal the true identity of Jack the Ripper, the serial killer responsible for at least five grisly murders in Whitechapel in East London during the autumn of 1888.
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From NBC News:
Federal authorities are now investigating police in Ferguson, Missouri, but it’s not their first visit to suburban St. Louis. There are other dysfunctional police forces near Ferguson – and part of the problem, say experts, is that there are just so many of them. St. Louis County has 58 separate departments, according to a recent tally by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, some serving towns with fewer than 900 residents.
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