Manifesto Joe of Texas Blues notes Christine O'Donnell's denial of consorting with Satan ("I am not a witch"), but is concerned that she consorts with Sharron Angle, sharing a similar level of familiarity with the Constitution of the United States..
- Extreme conservative FUNGAZI.COM is convinced that opinion polls are precisely accurate in measuring the opinions of those who are willing to devote time to answering the questions of polls.
To hear the Republicans tell it, from the second President Obama took his hand off the Bible taking the oath of office, everything that happened after that was his fault.
I'd like to see any of you get behind a locomotive going straight downhill at 200 miles an hour and stop it in 10 seconds.
- - President Bill Clinton, Oct 18, 2010
What we’re doing there is trying to be sensitive to Canadians ... We have an enormous amount of … Canadians wintering here in Florida. … That language is comfort language.
- - William Snyder (R-FL), October 10, 2010
On a bill to require immigrants to carry papers but primarily exempting
Canadians and Western Europeans. The bill to exempt mostly white,
non-Hispanic immigrants, is sponsored by Snyder and backed by
Rick Scott, Republican candidate for Florida governor
What I don't like from the president's administration is this sort of, "I'll put my boot heel on the throat of BP." I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business. I've heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I think it's part of this sort of blame game society in the sense that it's always got to be someone's fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen.
- - Rand Paul (R-KY), candidate for US Senate, May 20, 2010
Carbon regulation, cap and trade, it's all just a money-control avenue. Some people say I'm extreme, but they said the John Birch Society was extreme, too.
- - Kelly Khuri, Tea Party activist, Indiana, October 21, 2010
It's a human foible, I suppose, this tendency to forget that the sensibilities of those we are used to being around may not be universal.
A decade and a half ago, Dick Armey, then a leader in the majority party of the House of Representatives, was having a taped conversation with reporters when the discussion turned to a prominent member of the opposition, an openly gay man. Armey called his colleague "Barney Fag."
Armey tried to get hold of the tape before it aired, but the comment became famous. People who had never heard of the Republican leader quickly knew him as a laughably inept bigot. He tried to laugh it off himself, saying the comment was a slip of the tongue, a bit of unfortunate misarticulation, "trouble with alliteration" as he put it.
People often have fun with other people's names. It's a harmless pastime, usually as inoffensive as could be. If some descendant of Aaron Burr, in a fit of unwise admiration, named his first born after me, the young lad would go through life as Burr Burr. Ha ha ha. Okay, it's usually boring. "Burr, it's cold," says an occasional new acquaintance. I don't like to embarrass erstwhile friends, so I chuckle along. "Gosh, I've never heard that one." And I'm sure Barney Frank had heard the slippery misarticulated alliteration many times.
It was clearly unintended but it was not entirely innocent. Frank's speculation was that it was said out of habit, the result of hanging with the wrong crowd, folks who appreciated bigoted humor. "I turned to my own expert, my mother," said Frank, "who reports that in 59 years of marriage, no one ever introduced her as Elsie Fag."
Not every damaging slur is unintended. Everyone-will-know-it's-a-harmless-joke is a conditioned response. The "everyone" is our circle of friends, the folks we engage in conversation every day, the people whose reactions teach us by the minute what is acceptable. We project "everyone" onto the larger world. Everyone knows it's inoffensive.
And so it was that a local Republican chair emailed to dozens of friends the everyone-knows-it's-harmless message about putting his pet on welfare because "my Dog is black, unemployed, lazy, can't speak English and has no frigging clue who his Daddy is." He was genuinely surprised that at least one recipient didn't laugh. It's the latest in what has become a semi-monthly event, Republicans apologizing for innocently repeated racism.
Not all Republicans appreciated the humor. One publicly condemned it. But another official tells an interviewer the incident was blown out of proportion. Still another defends what happened. The GOP chair sent the message as "he was first getting familiar with the Internet." The defender assures the public the unfortunate comedian is "not a racist."
And one more innocent, bewildered, non-racist humorist resigns from the party that is about to take over both houses of Congress.
The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are.
- - Kevin Phillips, adviser to President Nixon, May 17, 1970
Witnesses sometimes plead the Fifth Amendment right on television. Boy do they ever look guilty! "On the advice of council I respectfully decline to answer on the grounds ..." all together now, "it may tend to incriminate me." Well, if your answer would incriminate you, doesn't that make you guilty? Common sense. Except, perhaps, not always.
Attorneys know any set of answers in a hostile environment can lead to contradictions making a witness legally vulnerable. One answer can waive the right for other questions. So lawyers tend to gently advice their clients that if they utter a single word, their heads will be blown clean off.
But now candidates for elective office are adopting the same standard. Prospective Senator Linda McMahon, (R-CN) promised to cut the federal budget deeply and irrevocably. That's a profound pledge, since a lot of the budget goes to defense and entitlements. "I can certainly tell you I'm not adverse (she probably meant averse) to talking in the right time or forum about what we need to do relative to our entitlements," she said. So she was asked about whether she would join with other Republicans to slash Social Security benefits. She went into hostile witness mode: "I just don't believe that the campaign trail is the right place to talk about that."
The idea that candidates must never talk about issues like how they plan to go about slashing Social Security is ... well ... novel.
Governor Jan Brewer (R-AZ) has become well known for her weird meltdown during a televised debate. She paused for so long at her closing statement, viewers must have thought their cable companies had frozen the signal. After the debate, The Standard kicked in. She was asked about statements concerning Mexican immigrants. She had claimed Mexicans were prowling, looking for victims to take into the desert to behead. It was a startling way to promote tourism, especially since the desert beheadings were fictional. When asked about the hysterical statements, she fled into an empty room.
Would-be Governor Carl Paladino (R-NY) threatened a reporter for asking hard questions. Senatorial candidate Joe Miller (R-AK), after declaring his past indiscretions to be out of bounds, actually had his staff "arrest" a reporter, handcuffing the journalist until he was rescued by police.
Carly Fiorina (R-CA), who hopes to become Senator Fiorina was in presumably friendly territory on Fox News. But reporter Chris Wallace finally became frustrated at her non-answers on how she would slash Social Security and other programs. "Where are you going to cut entitlements? What benefits are you going to cut? What eligibilities are you going to change?" Her answer was to call it a "typical political question."
And there you have the key to interviewing candidates this year. If questions are not sufficiently non-political and adequately unusual, politicians will decline to answer on the grounds... you know the rest.
Last year, a small online magazine, the Alaska Dispatch, caught the attention of Alice Rogoff, the former chief financial officer of U.S. News and World Report. She bought a majority share and made the founder, Tony Hopfinger, the editor and main reporter.
That's pretty much when the publication began taking off. Additional staff were hired, and fledgling journalism became a full time real thing. A video-centric sister site, the Tundra Telegraph, was established. Stories about Sarah Palin, global warming, oil spills, and candidates were the focus of investigative journalism. Articles began getting national coverage.
That promising beginning was a big reason for the surprise when editor Tony Hopfinger, was arrested. The FBI did not arrest him, nor did any other federal law enforcement agency. Alaska state police had no interest in him. Local police forces say he broke no law. In fact, he did not run afoul of any police agency at any level of law enforcement.
He was arrested and held in custody by a Republican candidate for the United States Senate. Hopfinger had violated the personal standards of Joe Miller (R-AK). Miller had insisted that questions about his past personal and business dealings would, from now on, be off limits. Joe Miller once worked as an attorney for the local government offices of the Fairbanks-North Star Borough and was fired after he reportedly was caught using official government computers for personal political purposes. The "reportedly" comes from Tony Hopfinger and the Alaska Dispatch. That made Joe Miller pretty sore, and he said that Hopfinger and his publication were guilty of "journalistic impropriety." The improper use of goverment property by Joe Miller, the firing of Joe Miller, and the subsequent investigation of Joe Miller were private and personal, according to Joe Miller.
Not only did Hopfinger NOT back off, he persisted in demanding answers after a campaign event. Miller's campaign said that the journalist continued asking the improper questions about Miller's past indiscretions and was, therefore, guilty of stalking the candidate. So the campaign suddenly declared the town hall type meeting, held in a public school building, to be a private event, open to reporters who did not badger with rude questions.
Here's where it gets muddy. The campaign says the reporter became unruly when security guards physically assisted him away from the candidate. In fact, he is accused of shoulder blocking a member of the security team that was helping him away. That is why the journalist was arrested and handcuffed by the candidate's campaign staff. Other reporters tried to talk with the handcuffed man and take photos of the incident. They were warned they would also be arrested by the campaign if they did not stop.
The candidate, in a prepared statement, maintains the arrest by the campaign was justified because the editor, described by his own staff as "pot-bellied and overweight writer", posed a danger to the campaign employees who were helping him away before the handcuffing.
The GOP justification implies a new principle of law enforcement. Reporters are subject to arrest by a candidate if they are deemed guilty by a campaign of uninvited questioning and resisting assault.
Reporter Tony Hopfinger arrested and handcuffed by employees of Senate Candidate Joe Miller (R-AK). The photo was taken in defiance of the campaign's threats to arrest more reporters if they took pictures of the incident. Hopfinger was released when surprised local police appeared and told the campaign to stop arresting journalists.
A close relative was graduating from college that year, a generation ago. I attended with family. The commencement speaker was a perennial conservative candidate for various statewide offices in New York State. He always campaigned on returning to the Hoover era gold standard.
What I remember most was his holding himself up as an example of what hard work and determination could produce. He was a major officer in a very large regional chain of drug stores. He was also quite wealthy. He owed his success to his conservative views and his own qualities of workplace virtues. He was a self-made man, lifting himself by his bootstraps.
Later, in the quiet hours after the graduation celebrations had died down, I had a chance to visit with my parents. We talked about the commencement speech. The fellow had bizarre economic and political ideas, I said, but his personal history was dazzling. My dad laughed at my naivete. The guy was working in a drugstore chain owned by his family. His wealth was inherited, every penny of it. His workplace virtues consisted entirely of choosing indulgent parents. I could look it up. In the weeks following, I did.
This week, I thought of the contrast between that self-congratulatory blowhard from decades back and West Virginia's Republican candidate for US Senate. John Raese has unusual ideas about minimum wage and Social Security. He believes those programs are illegal because they violate the Constitution. But he is frank about his personal background. "I made my money the old-fashioned way, I inherited it." Raese has centered his campaign on the platform of repealing even modest taxes on extreme wealth inherited from large estates - lesser estates already being tax free. It's a courageous stand for someone who made his money the old fashioned way.
Ron Johnson is a little less honest about his business success. That success has been the center of his Republican campaign for US Senator from Wisconsin. He wants to defeat Democratic Senator Russ Feingold. Johnson did not inherit his business, he started it himself, building it from a single customer to a very large supplier of plastic components. He created all that on his own, by his bootstraps. He knows how to create jobs.
Except for a couple of things. Like his brother-in-law, who inherited his own extreme wealth, gave him the money to start his company. And that single customer he started with? It was a corporation inherited by that same brother-in-law. No bootstraps here, except Ron Johnson's father-in-law.
There is nothing politically disqualifying about inherited wealth. Neither JFK nor FDR ever started a plastics company. Both so actively defended working people that their backgrounds were a bit of a beneficial novelty. Inherited wealth should not be a disqualification. Neither should marrying into wealth. But for honesty in his boasts about being a self-made man? Wisconsin voters might better look for a New York drug store candidate.
During 2009, we and our subsidiaries purchased, at market competitive prices, approximately $9.5 million of polyester and polyester copolymer products from Pacur, Inc. Ronald Johnson, brother-in-law of Jeffrey H. Curler, is President of Pacur, Inc. Mr. Curler is Chairman of the Board of the Company and our Executive Chairman.
- - Bemis Corporation (pdf), March 18, 2010
Annual Report to Shareholders
As he identified his slain college age child at the morgue, the father reacted to the the President's dismissive description of the protesters: "bums … blowing up campuses." After Nixon's incendiary words, Arthur Krause's daughter Allison had protested the yet-again-escalated Vietnam War. She had been among those killed by National Guardsmen on Kent State University in Ohio. "My daughter was not a bum," said Krause.
The President blamed the deaths on the kids. "This should remind us all once again that when dissent turns to violence, it invites tragedy." Privately, Nixon told aides, according to notes of one, abbreviating the President as "P", "now the college demonstrators have overplayed their hands…evidence is the blue collar group rising against them, and P can mobilize them." But late at night, when the tough talk was over and Nixon had trouble sleeping, he ordered a car and journeyed over to the Lincoln Memorial. He walked to barely awake students camped near the reflecting pool.
The meeting was awkward, even offensive to some. The President tried to seek some commonality and asked about surfing in California and the latest football news. Students reported that the man seemed high on something. At one point he did descend into policy, trying to express empathy with the protesters. As a young man, he told them, he had felt some dim support for Neville Chamberlain and his appeasement policies toward the Nazis.
It did not go well. But later that week, as I read the harsh assessment by angry students who had witnessed the strange exchange, it occurred to me that the incident was, at least, an attempt to reach out, to engage, even to understand. I opposed the war by then, but I appreciated the spontaneity of the gesture and the humanity I felt was behind it.
A month ago, former Florida GOP chair Jim Greer publicly apologized for cheerleading the implicit racism behind some of the attacks on President Obama. He said he had been trying to "placate the extremists who dominate our party today." Some distrust is deserved. He is under indictment for stealing from the GOP. Still, those of us who believe in redemption combine our skepticism with hope.
Almost two decades ago, as he lay dying, Lee Atwater repented his GOP sponsored dirty tricks. Deathbed confessions engender a different sort of skepticism. Still, many of us wished him well on his final journey.
A week ago, two teenage boys and a man were viciously tortured because they were gay. New York's police commissioner was asked about the reaction of the attackers to being caught. "I wouldn't call it remorse."
Conservatives will continue to attack gays, Muslims, and immigrants. Some, more rarely these days, will attack black people, describing their targets as "black nationalists" or "Kenyan tribesmen". But last week gay-basher Glenn Beck called the attack on the three gay people "a whole new level of evil." He said, "This is not only anti-gay, it is anti-human. It is bigotry for sport."
Once more, I detect a small a ray of hope. I know that my redeemer lives.