Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gov. Scott Walker Greeted In NYC: “What’s Disgusting? Union Busting!”

Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) was in New York City on Tuesday as the “special guest star” of a Republican National Committee dinner honoring Reince Preibus, chair of the RNC. Prices for the event ran from $1,000 to $15,000. On the street, however, activists, union representatives, middle class citizens–the people whom Walker has hurt in Wisconsin–told him what they think of him with chants and a giant rat. Watch:

Walker, of course, stripped almost all collective bargaining rights from public employees–a move that one of his colleagues, Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, admitted was politically motivated. By destroying unions,  Republican governors weaken the only remaining entity contributing to Democratic campaigns. Under questioning by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Walker himself admitted that his union-busting bill saves no money. In addition to the loss of collective bargaining rights, Walker's policies have resulted in an an 8 percent pay cut for public workers. The Koch-supported Walker created the state budget crisis by handing out tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy, then used it as an excuse to bust unions.

I was gratified, however, to see the kind of reception Walker received from my fellow New Yorkers. He must have felt right at home.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns: Stop Terrorists From Buying Guns

Fix Gun Checks describes itself as “a project of Mayors Against Illegal Guns — a bi-partisan coalition of 550 American mayors, co-founded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York and Mayor Tom Menino of Boston.” The group wants Congress to legally require a background check for every gun sale in order to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. Fix Gun Checks’ new TV ad cites Al Qaeda spokesman Azzam Al-Amriki describing America as “awash with easily obtainable firearms” and asking potential terrorists, “What are you waiting for?” Watch:

What Are You Waiting For? from Fix Gun Checks on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Santorum: The Left Wants Same-Sex Marriage To Undermine Faith

The right-wing fallout–or freakout–over legal same-sex marriage in New York continues. Speaking at the Lyon County Republican dinner,  presidential candidate Rick Santorum was frothing at the mouth:

“The reason the left has gone after same-sex marriage is because it’s a two-fer,” Santorum said. “When you redefine marriage, you cheapen marriage. You make it into something less valuable, less special … [and] it is a sure bet that will undermine faith.”

By Santorum’s logic, since the majority of New Yorkers support same-sex marriage, they must be part of this plot. Even stranger, the majority of Americans, including people of faith, must also want to undermine faith.

Santorum, in refusing to debate gay marriage in terms of the rights of citizens, demonstrates a trait common to the religious right: an unwillingness to debate issues on their merits. Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), for example, states that the liberal belief in a role for government in meeting citizens’ needs is really a “hatred of God…and belief that government should replace God.” For Pat Robertson, standing for a woman’s right to choose is motivated by making straight women more like lesbians. The religious right invariably views those who disagree with them as part of an anti-religious, leftist conspiracy.

Former Bachmann Chief Of Staff: She’s “Decidedly” Unready To Be President

Writing in the Des Moines Register, Ron Carey (left), former chief of staff to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), wrote a scathing op-ed on his former boss’s lack of presidential qualifications:

Having seen the two of them, up close and over a long period of time, it is clear to me that while Tim Pawlenty possesses the judgment, the demeanor, and the readiness to serve as president, Michele Bachmann decidedly does not.

The Bachmann campaign and congressional offices I inherited were wildly out of control. Stacks upon stacks of unopened contributions filled the campaign office while thousands of communications from citizens waited for an answer. If she is unable, or unwilling, to handle the basic duties of a campaign or congressional office, how could she possibly manage the magnitude of the presidency?

…I know Michele Bachmann very well. She is a faithful conservative with great oratory skills, but without any leadership experience or real results from her years in office. She is not prepared to assume the White House in 2013.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Unpopular Florida Gov. Scott Combines the Worst Of Govs. Christie, Brewer, Walker

Why does Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott have the lowest approval rating of any governor in the country? Perhaps because he combines the worst policies of Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) and Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI):

Mr. Scott’s unpopularity is mostly rooted in his aggressive push for large cuts in the budget and the public-sector work force, his decision to reject $2.4 billion in federal money for a high-speed rail project, and the dismissive and even abrasive way he deals with those who disagree with him or ask a lot of questions.

... The Republican-dominated Legislature failed to approve an Arizona-style immigration package, one of the cornerstones of the governor’s legislative agenda and a major issue for the Tea Party.

And many voters have blanched at a number of his legislative accomplishments, particularly a new state budget that puts thousands of state employees and teachers out of work and requires public workers to start paying part of their salary to cover pension costs.

So what is Scott’s staff doing to boost his popularity?

Mr. Scott’s staff appears to be trying to counter the negative press. His senior aides set up a way for people to send a prewritten letter of praise for the governor to seven Florida newspapers. The letter, sent by a click on Mr. Scott’s Web site, was written by members of his campaign team.

A prewritten letter of praise? Pathetic.

Pat Robertson: God Will Destroy America Because Of Gay Marriage

The right is in the doldrums or filled with holy fury following New York’s legalizing marriage equality. Fox News has been basically ignoring the story. The conservative blogosphere has either joined Fox in gloomy silence or thrown tantrums. Social conservative organizations are bemoaning moral decline and predicting a backlash. The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer said that gays already have full marriage equality since they can get marry those of the opposite sex. As absurd as Fisher's statement is, there's nothing like Pat Robertson for apocalyptic ranting.

It was Robertson, after all, who declared that the “death loving” left backs abortion to make straight women more like lesbians and that Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for legalized abortion. Now Robertson has combined his anti-gay hysteria with his penchant for predicting Divine vengeance for whatever he dislikes. Listen as Robertson associates gay marriage with Sodom and Gomorrah, raping angels and God’s coming destruction of America:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fox's Chris Wallace Has A Bad Week

Chris Wallace continues to rehash his exchange with Jon Stewart on “Fox News Sunday" from a week ago. Wallace had no response to Stewart’s charge that Fox viewers are “consistently misinformed.” When Stewart said that the public is disappointed in the media, Wallace stated that Fox is a “counterweight” that “tells the other side of the story.” This response contradicts Fox’s Orwellian “Fair and Balanced” slogan. Today, Wallace tried to assert that Fox doesn’t tell “the other side”; what he really meant was that it tells “the full story.” Watch:

Wallace also had a testy exchange today with presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), asking her, “Are you a flake?” Despite once acknowledging to Glenn Beck that she's been called a "kook" throughout her career, Bachmann termed the suggestion "insulting." Watch:

After Bachmann’s response, Wallace cautioned her that, as a candidate, she shouldn’t say “flaky things.” Why such advice? Perhaps it has something to do with Bachmann’s calling the Lion King “gay propaganda," among other flaky comments; or her statements on Planned Parenthood, American history, health care reform, arming Minnesotans, the census, or anti-American members of Congress. Wallace’s question incurred Fox viewers' wrath and he was forced to apologize. Ultimately, the only problem with his question is that it dealt with an issue long settled.

Rep. Todd Akin: “At The Heart Of Liberalism Is A Hatred For God”

During the U.S. Open golf championship last Sunday, NBC played a taped Pledge of Allegiance that left out the words “under God,” for which the station later apologized. This incident became the latest media outrage on the right. The Family Research Council demanded that NBC "air a daily public service announcement with the entire Pledge of Allegiance." Newt Gingrich plugged his book, “A Nation Like No Other,” calling it “dramatically more relevant” following NBC's omission. Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH) asked the U.S. Golf Association to reconsider its relationship with NBC, stating, “When we silence the name of God, we dim the light of freedom that defines us.”

Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) cast the blame beyond NBC. According to Akin, NBC is a liberal station and its omission was emblematic of liberalism’s “hatred of God and...belief that government should replace God.” Listen as Akin speaks to Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council:

Akin: This was something that was done systematically, it was done intentionally, and it is tremendously corrosive in terms of all of the values and everything that’s made America such a unique and special nation.

Perkins: Why would NBC do this?

Akin: Well, I think NBC has a long record of being very liberal and at the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God and a belief that government should replace God. And so they’ve had a long history of not being at all favorable toward many of things that have been such a blessing to our country... This is a systematic effort to try to separate our faith and God, which is a source in our belief in individual liberties, from our country. And when you do that you tear the heart out of our country.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Empire State Building Goes Rainbow: A Proud Moment For New York

Kudos to the four Republicans who had the courage to break ranks and vote “yes” for marriage equality. They included Senators Mark Grisanti, James Alesi, Stephen Saland and Roy McDonald. Grisanti eloquently explained, “I cannot deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, the people of my district and across this state, the State of New York, and those people who make this the great state that it is the same rights that I have with my wife.”

My sentiments exactly. As New Yorkers, my wife and I neither requested nor welcomed any self-proclaimed “defenders” of marriage. In fact, we resented the presumption that our marriage, which is our personal business, needed “defending” or that the “defense” comes through discrimination against gay friends and neighbors. Now, the day after same-sex marriage was approved, life goes on, regardless of the alarmists. The only difference is the pride we feel in our state and the satisfaction we have knowing that gay New Yorkers now enjoy the same legal rights that we do. May this movement continue until marriage equality is the law of the land.

Jon Stewart: Fox News A “Lying Dynasty”

Following Jon Stewart’s unchallenged statement to Chris Wallace that Fox viewers are the “most consistently misinformed," Politifact countered Stewart’s assertion, finding in two polls that Fox was  merely “near the bottom.” Differing from Politico and casting doubt on Fox's veracity are World Public Opinion, in studies from October 2003 and December 2010; an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll and a Pew Research Center study, both in August 2009; and a Media Matters study, June 2011. Most importantly, Stewart refers to the many occasions that Politifact itself criticized Fox for its misinformation. Fox, in fact, helped spread Politifact’s “Lie of the Year” in 2009 and 2010. Watch:

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Bruce And Clarence, Born To Run Together

Following my tribute to Clarence Clemons, who passed away a week ago, let’s follow with this dynamic performance of “Born To Run,” 2009, London. The bond between Bruce Springsteen and “The Big Man,” along with the latter’s vital contribution through his sax to the E Street Band sound, was evident at every concert.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The End Of The American Dream?

Change to Win describes itself as “a movement of working people equipped to rebuild the middle class as an essential part of America’s shared economic prosperity.” Their animated video below contrasts a time when America protected labor unions and instituted the GI Bill, Social Security and Medicare with the path we’ve taken over the past few decades. Deregulation of the financial industry and the environment, slashing taxes for the wealthy and union busting have resulted in a growing income gap, stagnating wages for the middle class and attendant social ills. Watch:

For another animated video giving us the destructive effects of conservative financial policies, see Robert Reich’s “The Truth About The Economy.”

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Brave New Foundation Exposes The Koch Echo Chamber

The Brave New Foundation continues its “Koch Brothers Exposed” series on David and Charles Koch, billionaire oil magnates who are major supporters of right wing causes. In this latest edition, the Foundation enlists the help of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in focusing on the Koch echo chamber. The Kochs fund right-wing think tanks that target a traditional object of conservative loathing, Social Security. The think tanks conclude that the retirement age should be raised, Social Security is going bankrupt and it should be privatized–in other words, destroyed. These views are then promoted by the right wing media (Fox being the most prominent). Watch the Koch echo chamber in action:

More Brave New Foundation videos on the Kochs can be viewed here, here, here and here. Also, watch Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks discuss our "Koch-Fueled Congress." The Kochs’ political activities were first exposed in "Covert Operations," a must-read article by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Former Reagan Policy Analyst Repudiates GOP Lie That Tax Cuts Increase Revenue

Lawrence O’Donnell takes aim at “the biggest Republican tax lie” that cutting taxes, especially on the rich, increases tax revenue. He cites Republican politicians Pawlenty, Bush, McCain and McConnell (who, along with Vitter, actually questioned whether we pay for tax cuts), all of whom peddle this falsehood, and contrasts them with Republican economists, including Paulson, Lazear and Greenspan, all of whom actually disagree. O’Donnell is then joined by Bruce Bartlett, former Reagan senior policy analyst and treasury deputy assistant secretary for economic policy during the first Bush administration, who repudiates the idea that “tax cuts pay for themselves”:

Bartlett: There are lots and lots of tax cuts and there were plenty of them in the Bush tax cuts, refundable child credits and things of that sort, that just lose dollar-for-dollar revenue and have no feedback effects whatsoever.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Huntsman Launches Campaign Reassuring Nation He’s "Not In It For The Balloons”

Former Republican governor of Utah Jon Huntsman has launched his presidential campaign with two of the most bizarre ads ever. First, the teaser before the official announcement, in which we learn that Huntsman “Did not become famous with his band 'Wizard.' " Is that somehow reassuring? Watch:

6 Days from Jon Huntsman Jr. on Vimeo.

A second ad coinciding with Huntsman’s announcement today also features a lone motorcyclist in the Utah wilderness. We learn that Huntsman possesses three outstanding attributes as a candidate: He’s “Not in it for the winning” and “Not in it for the balloons” and has “A taste for dirt”:

Different from Jon 2012 on Vimeo.

These ads were created by GOP adman Fred Davis, who also produced the Christine O’Donnell “I'm not a witch” spot.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Remembering Clarence Clemons

Clarence Clemons, who passed away on Saturday at 69, was the true heir to rhythm and blues tenor saxophone giant King Kurtis. Clemons started his career as a rock ‘n’ roll sax player inspired by Kurtis’s solos on hit tunes by The Coasters, including the 1958 “Yakety Yak.” He was vital to Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band; such songs as “Born To Run,” “Jungleland” and “Rosalita” would not be the same without Clemons’ vigorous, muscular solos. Springsteen paid tribute to Clemons as “my great friend, my partner,” and stated, “With Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell as story far deeper than those simply contained in our music.” Performing above in 2009 at Madison Square Garden, “The Big Man” played a soaring solo from “Jungleland,” making it clear that he was a rock saxophone giant in his own right.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tax Burden Of 400 Wealthiest Shrinks Over 50 Years

The following chart from Wealth for the Common Good shows that the tax burden on those with the top 400 annual incomes, who have more wealth than half of all Americans combined, has shrunk by two-thirds over 50 years. Meanwhile, working families have assumed a greater share of the tax burden. Compare the rates in 1955 to those in 2007:

Tax cuts for the wealthy, based on “trickle-down economics,” have clearly not resulted in more jobs and an economic boost; instead, they’ve resulted in decreased revenue, huge budget deficits and cuts in public services, health care, infrastructure and the safety net. Republican presidential candidates, however, promise more of the same–or worse. Tim Pawlenty wants 40 percent of the benefits of his tax plan to go to the richest one percent; Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) would remove 23,000 millionaires from the tax rolls.

Outgoing Defense Secretary Gates Now "More Cautious On Wars Of Choice"

In an interview, outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated that he views “wars of choice” with much more caution, a point that he made earlier in the year during a speech at West Point. Gates seemed to reflect the view of many who first protested Bush’s misadventures in Iraq: war is always the last resort and a matter of “necessity,” or self-defense. Gates also suggested that he held back the Bush administration from an unpredictable invasion of Iran:

“If we were about to be attacked or had been attacked or something happened that threatened a vital U.S. national interest, I would be the first in line to say, ‘Let’s go,’ ” Mr. Gates said. “I will always be an advocate in terms of wars of necessity. I am just much more cautious on wars of choice.”

...Even as a trained historian, he said, he has learned most clearly over the last four and a half years that wars “have taken longer and been more costly in lives and treasure” than anticipated.

...In the interview, Mr. Gates was asked to confirm reports of policy duels during the two years before Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney left office, a time in which he was said to have been successful in altering policies or blocking missions that might have escalated into another conflict.

“The only thing I guess I would say to that is: I hope I’ve prevented us from doing some dumb things over the past four and a half years — or maybe dumb is not the right word, but things that were not actually in our interest,” Mr. Gates said.

...Some of the defense secretary’s confidants...confirmed that Mr. Gates prevented provocative, adventurist policies against Iran, in particular, that might have spun into war.

Stewart To Wallace: Fox Viewers “Most Consistently Misinformed”

Speaking to Chris Wallace today on “Fox News Sunday,” Jon Stewart told Chris Wallace what polls and studies have stated about Fox News viewers: they are "the most consistently misinformed." Wallace immediately switched the topic to Comedy Central. Watch:

Stewart: The embarrassment is I’m given credibility in this world because of the disappointment the public has in what the news media does.

Wallace: I don’t think our viewers are the least bit disappointed with us. I think our viewers think finally they’re getting someone who tells the other side of the story.

Stewart: And in polls who is the most consistently misinformed media viewers? The most consistently misinformed? Fox. Fox viewers. Consistently. Every poll.

Wallace: Can we talk about your network? Can we talk about Comedy Central?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

GOP Sen. McDonald Supports Gay Marriage: “I’m Trying To Do The Right Thing”

Kudos to Sen. Roy J. McDonald, who became the second Republican to support gay marriage in New York. As his party decides whether to bring a bill legalizing gay marriage to the floor, McDonald, who voted against legalization two years ago, spoke about his evolving views and the scrutiny his vote has received:

"You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn't black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing. You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, f--- it, I don't care what you think. I'm trying to do the right thing," McDonald said.

..."I'm tired of Republican-Democrat politics," he said. "I'm tired of blowhard radio people, blowhard television people, blowhard newspapers. They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background. I'm trying to do the right thing and that's where I'm going with this."

Robert Reich Explains The Economy In About Two Minutes

Former labor secretary Robert Reich gives us the big picture about the economy in less than two minutes, 15 seconds. He's a good cartoonist, too. Reich outlines his main points:

1. The economy doubles since 1980, but most people's wages are flat.
2. Almost all the gains have gone to the super rich.
3. The money has given the super rich expanded political power, especially to lower their tax rates.
4. Lower taxes, especially for the wealthy, mean decreased revenue–which, in turn, means huge budget deficits and cuts in public services, health care, infrastructure and the safety net.
5. The middle class, instead of protesting these trends, turns on each other, fighting for the remaining scraps.
6. The middle class no longer has the purchasing power to get the economy growing, which results in high unemployment and a weak recovery. A strong middle class, however, is the key to economic prosperity.

Despite all this, Pawlenty, Ryan and their Republican cohorts call for even greater tax cuts for the wealthy. Their "trickle down" economic perspective is completely bankrupt.

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: The Velvet Underground

Though they never had huge commercial success, The Velvet Underground are considered one of the most influential groups in rock history. Rolling Stone named them 19th out of the “100 Greatest Artists,” and they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. This proto-punk, NYC-based band did not share the flower power ethos of the late 60s; their music explored darker, urban themes, as in the lyrics about drug addiction in “Run Run Run,” heard above in a 1969 performance. The vocals are followed by a jam featuring characteristic guitar feedback and distortion. Andy Warhol (shots of the pop artist are in the video above) managed the group, which played regularly at his studio, The Factory. Warhol’s multimedia shows, which accompanied Velvet Underground concerts, were known as the “Exploding Plastic Inevitable.” Guitarist and songwriter Lou Reed has gone on to a successful solo career; his performances are showcased here, here and, with Pete Townshend, here.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Michele Bachmann’s Top 10 Crazy Comments

Well, Glenn, I have experienced that throughout my political career, being labeled a kook. - Michele Bachmann to Glenn Beck

Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) “history lessons” include assertions that the founding fathers ended slavery and Lexington and Concord are in New Hampshire. Then there are her recent references to Planned Parenthood as "corrupt" and"committing crimes." For sheer zaniness, however, check out the quotations below compiled by Think Progress. They have the details on each statement; they’re also to be complimented for shifting through so much material and coming up with the 10 craziest comments of this Tea Party favorite and presidential candidate:

 1. Bachmann warned "The Lion King" was gay propaganda
 2. Bachmann claimed abolishing the minimum wage would create jobs
 3. Bachmann claimed that scientists are supporters of intelligent design
 4. Bachmann claimed Terry Schiavo was "healthy"
 5. Bachmann likened visiting Iraq to visiting the Mall of America
 6. Bachmann claimed that carbon dioxide is "harmless"
 7. Bachmann called for a Congressional witch hunt
 8. Bachmann suggested a gay singer should repent after getting cancer
 9. Bachmann boasted about breaking the law by not completing the census
10. Bachmann claimed that Glenn Beck could solve the debt crisis

Real presidential material, right?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Republican Candidates: Let’s Slash And Burn Our Way To Prosperity

During Monday’s Republican 2012 presidential debate, the candidates were enthusiastic about repealing and deregulating, including: Repeal the Dodd Frank Bill, despite the financial collapse brought about by economic deregulation; repeal health care reform, despite the millions of uninsured and the fact that repeal would add billions to the deficit; eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency, despite the threat of greenhouse gases; increase oil drilling, despite the disaster in the Gulf and the fact that drilling won’t bring in oil for 10 years; eliminate the National Labor Relations Board, despite the attack on labor in Wisconsin, Maine and elsewhere. Take those steps and–of course–slash taxes even further for the wealthy, and the country will be awash in jobs! Watch:

Newt Gingrich: The Congress this year, this week, ought to repeal the Dodd-Frank bill, they ought to repeal the Sarbanes-Oxley bill.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN): What we need to do is pass the mother of all repeal bills…and I would begin with the EPA, because there is no other agency like the EPA. It should really be called the job-killing organization of America.

Rick Santorum: This president has put a stop sign against oil drilling, against any kind of exploration offshore or in Alaska and that is depressing. We need to drill.

Gingrich: And one of the things Congress should do immediately is defund the National Labor Relations Board.

Herman Cain: If the federal government continues to do the kind of things that this administration is trying to do through the backdoor, through the National Labor Relations Board, that’s killing our free-market system. (h/t: Think Progress)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bachmann: Planned Parenthood A Corrupt, Criminal Enterprise

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) just declared her presidential candidacy. As an indication of her outlook, Bachmann, speaking at the Faith & Freedom Coalition in Washington, described Planned Parenthood as a corrupt, criminal enterprise and called for its defunding. Watch:

Bachmann: We are giving money to corrupt organizations like Planned Parenthood that are committing crimes and enabling young minor girls and covering up issues I don't even want to talk about it because it is so disgusting. But this organization has by their own records performed 324,008 abortions in 2008 and 2009 and that is in addition to the trafficking of underage girls that has gone on under Planned Parenthood's nose. Do you think maybe we can start here by defunding this organization?

In response, Planned Parenthood spokesman Tait Sye said, "The health and safety of patients is our number one priority and Planned Parenthood has a zero-tolerance policy for any staff member who does not comply with the law in reporting threats to the welfare of a minor."

Planned Parenthood accounts for .0083% of the federal budget; no federal funds go toward abortion services, which account for just 3% of its activities. Defunding it would harm the disadvantaged who need cancer and STD screenings and contraception, all part of Planned Parenthood's criminal activities.

GOP Presidential Candidate Cain Would Want Muslim Appointees To Prove Loyalty

A few months ago, Republican presidential candidate and Tea Party favorite Herman Cain stated that he would not be comfortable appointing a Muslim in his cabinet or as a federal judge. He cited the supposed danger of spreading Sharia or Islamic law and used Oklahoma as an example. Talking to Glenn Beck, Cain explains that a Muslim could serve in his administration–but he or she would have to prove their loyalty to the Constitution. Cain would not impose this presumption of disloyalty on a member of any other religion. Despite this clear bigotry, Republicans do not feel that Cain's statements are disqualifying. Watch:

Beck: You said you would not appoint a Muslim to anybody in your administration.

Cain: The exact language was when I was asked, “would you be comfortable with a Muslim in your cabinet?” And I said, “No, I would not be comfortable.” I didn’t say I wouldn’t appoint one because if they can prove to me that they’re putting the Constitution of the United States first, then they would be a candidate just like everybody else. My entire career, I’ve hired good people, great people, regardless of their religious orientation.

Beck: So wait a minute. Are you saying that Muslims have to prove their, that there has to be some loyalty proof?

Cain: Yes, to the Constitution of the United States of America.

Beck: Would you do that to a Catholic or would you do that to a Mormon?

Cain: Nope, I wouldn’t. Because there is a greater dangerous part of the Muslim faith than there is in these other religions. I know that there are some Muslims who talk about, “but we are a peaceful religion.” And I’m sure that there are some peace-loving Muslims. (h/t: NewsOne)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Santorum Would Criminalize Doctors Providing Abortions To Rape And Incest Victims

Speaking to David Gregory on "Meet The Press," Republican presidential hopeful and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum stated that he would ban abortion even following rape and incest and prosecute doctors who provide abortions under those circumstances. Watch:

Gregory: Do you believe that there should be any legal exceptions for rape or incest when it comes to abortion?

Santorum: I believe that life begins at conception, and that that life should be guaranteed under the Constitution. That is a person.

Gregory: So even in the case of rape or incest, that would be taking a life?

Santorum: That would be taking a life, and I believe that any doctor that performs an abortion, I would advocate that any doctor that performs an abortion, should be criminally charged for doing so.

Wallace To Pawlenty: 5 Percent Growth Included Tax Increases

Republican presidential aspirant Tim Pawlenty might have expected a friendly reception on Fox, but Chris Wallace wasn’t tossing softballs. Pawlenty’s economic plan would cost $7.8 trillion, tripling the cost of the Bush tax cuts; slash the top income tax rate, and explode the debt even further–while supposedly achieving 5 percent growth. Wallace pointed out that that the periods referred to that achieved such growth included tax increases. Pawlenty objected that his proposal was “aspirational” and "achievable" and that liberals don’t like it. Wallace still wouldn’t let him off the hook, pointing out that both liberal and conservative commentators find his plan unrealistic. Watch:

Pawlenty: We have achieved 5 percent growth twice in the recent history of this country. Once under Reagan, once under Clinton. Now was it sustained for 10 years in those circumstances? No, but keep in mind Reagan in those early years we didn’t have 5% growth. We had 7%, so this idea we can’t do it in America. Hogwash. I believe in the American people. I believe if you unleash the private economy in this country, we can do this. Now we have also made it such that if the numbers don’t hit 5%, they’re a little lower than that, the plan still works. So I don’t buy this defeatist declinist Obama attitude that America should just accept its place as an anemic lagger. That’s not America. That’s not the America I grew up in, and that’s why we need a new president.

Wallace: But governor, is it declinist to doubt the 5 percent number or is it just a realist to doubt the 5 percent number? You talk about the fact that for a few years in the 80s and a few years in the 90s that we did have average 5 percent growth – or close to it, it was 4 point something. But the fact is, the difference is, in both of those occasions that was coming directly out of a recession, not after a year, a year into a weak recovery. And actually, in both of those cases, it came after a tax increase, not a tax cut.

Pawlenty: But Chris, as I said — this is an aspirational goal. I think it’s an achievable goal…Others think it is a good plan. Of course, the conservatives like the plan. The President Obama and the liberals don’t. That’s predictable.

Wallace: Sir, there are a lot of conservatives who doubt the number, and if you don’t get your 5% growth, which you now say is aspirational, then it means a bigger deficit. (h/t: Politicus USA)

Colbert Rides To Palin’s Defense On Paul Revere

After Sarah Palin stated that Paul Revere warned the British that they weren’t going to take away our arms, her historical accuracy was questioned. Palin resorted to her usual defense: she was asked a “gotcha question.” The “gotcha question” was as follows: “What have you seen so far today and what are you going to take away from your visit?” Joe Scarborough commented, “Everything is a gotcha question with her, isn’t it? What newspapers do you read?”

For the record, The Paul Revere House tells us that Paul Revere was warning the colonists: “On the evening of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere was sent for by Dr. Joseph Warren and instructed to ride to Lexington, Massachusetts, to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were marching to arrest them.”

Palin’s supporters tried to alter the Wikipedia page on Paul Revere to conform to her revisionist history. Wikipedia deleted the entry and explained that it was not backed by reliable sources. Steven Colbert, however, came to Palin’s rescue, proving that Paul Revere at least could have ridden a horse while ringing a bell and firing a front-loading musket. Watch:

Saturday, June 11, 2011

God Flip-Flops On Republican Presidential Candidates

Multiple members of the GOP claim that God is telling them to run for president. Herman Cain explained to Christian radio host Bryan Fischer that God sent him a text message through his granddaughter to continue running. Listen:

Regarding Rick Santorum’s presidential bid, his wife Karen told CBS, “We have prayed a lot about this decision, and we believe with all our hearts that this is what God wants."

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who previously said that her running for president depends on whether God is calling her to do so, confirmed that she now has “that calling and tugging on my heart.”

Does God indeed want a Republican president, given the fact that He seems to be texting or speaking only to GOP hopefuls? If so, why doesn’t He settle on one? Could it be that He is working in mysterious ways to sow confusion in Republican ranks? God only knows.

Photo: Cain:Steve Pope/Getty; Santorum: Jeff Fusco/Getty Images; Bachmann: Darren McCollester/Getty Images; sky: iStockphoto

Fox’s Stossel Hosts "Debate" Between Former Republican Gov. And Obama Impersonator

Is this satire, a parody or absurdist theatre? No, it’s what passes for an acceptable exchange on Fox: Gary Johnson, Republican former New Mexico governor, “debates” a President Obama impersonator as John Stossel "moderates." The Obama actor feeds brief statements to Johnson, who uses them to launch into right-wing talking points that please the Fox studio audience. Here's what Stossel says “passes for [a presidential debate] on my show":

This "debate," which occurred yesterday, followed a previous “debate” hosted by Stossel between the Obama impersonator and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Celebrating Howlin’ Wolf

Yesterday was the birthday of Howlin’ Wolf (1910-1976), one of the two giants (the other being Muddy Waters) who brought the blues out of its acoustic roots in the Mississippi Delta and electrified it in Chicago (for an excellent film on the Chicago blues scene, see "Cadillac Records"). Physically imposing and with a gruff voice, Wolf, a singer, guitarist and harmonica player, brought a more menacing edge to his music than Muddy. Above Wolf performs one of the blues standards he popularized, “Smokestack Lightning," in England in 1964. He's joined by acclaimed blues artists Willie Dixon on bass and Hubert Sumlin on guitar. To hear to a birthday tribute to Howlin’ Wolf, listen to St. James Infirmary, hosted by my friend Dr. Michael Mand. Click on the June 10, 2011 show, second half.

Post dedicated to the memory of Hal Goldman (1954-2010), Howlin’ Wolf fan extraordinaire and dear friend.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Trump’s Reasons For Not Running: Republican Stupidity, NBC’s Big Bucks

According to Donald Trump, he was "doing so well in the polls," yet decided not to run. Never mind the fact that most Americans won’t vote for Trump or Palin. According to Donald Trump, he ended his presidential campaign because the Republicans have a "death wish" and NBC kept offering him a lot more money to continue with “The Apprentice.” So between battling the Republicans' "stupidity" or taking the money he decided…surprise…to take the money. Meanwhile, “there’s plenty of time left for the big deal”–another Trump presidential campaign. Right. Trump makes some good points regarding Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor, but as an explanation for not running and not offering an alternative to Republican policies, he's almost incoherent. Listen:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Maddow: If Weiner Should Resign, What About Vitter?

Rachel Maddow poses an excellent question: If Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) should resign, what about Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)? Consider: Vitter co-authored the “Federal Marriage Amendment” whose purpose is to discriminate against gays. Weiner never ran as a sanctimonious "family values” candidate. Vitter, while "defending" marriage, was a regular client of the D.C. Madam’s prostitution services. As creepy and shameful as Weiner’s Tweets were, he never had actual adulterous sex with a prostitute or anyone else. So why, on the very night that Republicans and Democrats were calling for Weiner’s resignation, was Vitter being toasted at a fundraiser on his behalf? Why did the chairman of the Republican Party call on Weiner to resign but refused to “relitigate” Vitter? Why does the Republican National Committee state that Democrats should return Weiner’s “tainted cash” while saying nothing about campaign contributions from Weiner’s Louisiana Reform PAC? Watch:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Maddow: To everyone calling for Anthony Weiner’s resignation, everyone, left, right and center: Do you have a David Vitter problem? Ask yourself: have you ever called for David Vitter to resign–ever? Are you comfortable calling for Anthony Weiner’s resignation while David Vitter still sits there happily in the Senate?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pawlenty's Tax Plan Triples Cost Of Bush Tax Cuts

Even though the Bush tax cuts were followed by the slowest economic growth since WWII, Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty proposes a more extreme version. Pawlenty's tax plan would cost $7.8 trillion over the next decade–triple the cost of the Bush tax cuts. Pawlenty has plenty of goodies in store for the rich, of course, while putting the economy in jeopardy. Michael Linden of the Center for American Progress analyzed the effects, starting with Pawlenty's tax proposals:

– Cutting the top individual income tax rate down to 25 percent;

– Having just two income tax brackets, 10 percent and 25 percent;

– Eliminating all taxation on capital gains, dividends, and estates;

– Cutting the corporate tax rate down to 15 percent

These proposals, taken together would bestow a massive tax cut on the wealthiest people in the country. They would also reduce overall federal revenues to a such a low level that even if Pawlenty’s draconian, radical spending targets were achieved, deficits and debt would still soar out of control.

All together, Pawlenty’s tax proposal would generate an average revenue level of just 13.6 percent of GDP from 2013-2021. That translates to a tax cut of $7.8 trillion, and that’s on top of $2.5 trillion cost of extending all of the Bush tax cuts...

Pawlenty also says that he will balance the budget, and cap spending at 18 percent of GDP. Unfortunately for Pawlenty, his tax plan leaves him about $8.4 trillion short. Given that reality, he can either embrace a huge middle-class tax increase, or give up his claims to a balanced budget. If he doesn’t make up that revenue, deficits and debt will skyrocket, even if he does slash spending back to levels not seen in half a century. 

Current Minnesota governor Mark Dayton is unimpressed with Pawlenty's ideas, especially given the latter's record as former governor:

"I think it's ironic that he's talking about a fiscal plan for the entire country when he left his state a mess. He decided he was going to leave and left it to his successor. They knew they were going to kick this down the road."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

U.S. Income Inequality Similar To Uganda, Worse Than Ivory Coast, Pakistan

Yesterday I posted on the comments of writer Eduardo Porter regarding growing income inequality in America. Think Progress used data from the CIA Factbook to assemble the following graph, which shows that the U.S. has about as much income inequality as Uganda and more than Pakistan and the Ivory Coast:

Reuters reports that income inequality is higher than any other time since the Depression. Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks cites our growing association with Third World disparities; the weakening of labor unions, which fought for higher middle class wages, and the ability of the rich and powerful to buy off politicians, who do their bidding by fighting for tax breaks and against minimum wage and child labor laws. Watch:

Paul Krugman: “Vouchercare Is Not Medicare”

In their latest bout of Orwellian doublespeak, the Republicans are attempting to claim that destroying Medicare is saving Medicare. Once again, Paul Krugman will have none of it. The plan proposed by Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) is not only not Medicare, but it will also have dire consequences for seniors. From “Vouchercare Is Not Medicare”:

…Republicans are indeed seeking to dismantle Medicare as we know it, replacing it with a much worse program.

I’m seeing many attempts to shout down anyone making this obvious point, and not just from Republican politicians. For some reason, many commentators seem to believe that accurately describing what the G.O.P. is actually proposing amounts to demagoguery. But there’s nothing demagogic about telling the truth.

…Medicare is a government-run insurance system that directly pays health-care providers. Vouchercare would cut checks to insurance companies instead. Specifically, the program would pay a fixed amount toward private health insurance — higher for the poor, lower for the rich, but not varying at all with the actual level of premiums. If you couldn’t afford a policy adequate for your needs, even with the voucher, that would be your problem.

And most seniors wouldn’t be able to afford adequate coverage. A Congressional Budget Office analysis found that to get coverage equivalent to what they have now, older Americans would have to pay vastly more out of pocket under the Paul Ryan plan than they would if Medicare as we know it was preserved. Based on the budget office estimates, the typical senior would end up paying around $6,000 more out of pocket in the plan’s first year of operation. 

...So in voting for the House budget plan, Republicans voted to end Medicare. Saying that isn’t demagoguery, it’s just pointing out the truth.

Monday, June 6, 2011

GOP Cuts To Supplemental Nutrition Equal One Week Of Bush Tax Cuts For Wealthy

The Republicans have their priorities and their constituents, and they sure aren’t disadvantaged women and children. Think Progress reports that the House Republicans are seeking to slash the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC):

House Republicans, as part of their 2012 budget, have proposed dramatic cuts to food assistance programs, including cuts to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) that would prevent hundreds of thousands of eligible women and their children from accessing the program. Late last month, the House Appropriations Committee approved more than $830 million in cuts to WIC and millions more in cuts to the Emergency Food Assistance Program and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

...Economists have estimated that every dollar invested in WIC “saves between $1.77 and $3.13 in health care costs in the first 60 days after an infant’s birth by reducing the instance of low-birth-weight babies and improving child immunization rates.”

Melissa Boteach and Sean Hanlon of the Center for American Progress state that the cost of cutting WIC equals one week’s worth of Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires:

The deal struck last December to extend the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush gave the average millionaire a tax break of $139,199 for 2011, according to the Tax Policy Center, or nearly $2,700 per week. Given that about 321,000 households reported incomes of more than $1 million in the most recent year for which there are data from the Internal Revenue Service, that means the Bush tax cuts provide millionaires with about $860 million in tax breaks every week—more than enough to stave off the $833 million in proposed cuts to WIC.

Indeed, the Republicans are the "values" party.

Hannity's "Great American Panel": Sesame Street Leads To Male Prom Queens

Fox’s Sean Hannity hosted a discussion on the perils of liberal indoctrination, which leads to–gasp!–tolerance of gays and lesbians. Apparently even “Sesame Street” is in on the conspiracy, as Hannity asks, "How is Elmo liberal?" Conservative columnist and talk show host Ben Shapiro decried Sesame Street's encouraging gender-neutral language and giving dolls to boys and fire trucks to girls. Would Shapiro include G.I. Joe? Is he against girls aspiring to work in traditional male professions? Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell connected Shapiro's examples to a boy being named prom queen, part of a "direct assault on this country's moral foundation." As Media Matters points out, such openness to LGBT youth is a positive alternative to gay children being barred from proms or bullied by classmates. Watch Hannity's “Great American Panel":

Income Inequality Surges In America

Illustrator Steve Brodner speaks to Eduardo Porter, New York Times economics and business writer, on growing income inequality in America. Porter points out that 1 percent of the population captures 20 percent of the income. Since the 1980s, deregulation has chipped away at the restraints on banks and businesses and has not necessarily served the middle and lower classes. Porter sees increasing stratification in terms of housing and education and a danger to democracy if these trends are not reversed. Brodner’s illustrations highlight important points throughout the discussion. Watch:

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

Porter: Since the 1980s, policy has served the belief that deregulation, taking the government out of the way, is always good, is never bad. And so if you look at how policy evolved over this period, it was a constant chipping away at the limitations for businesses and very notably, banks. These mechanisms, these tools that have been created like the super fast trading that we see today, all these things are actually zero-sum games, where some people win and some people lose.

So this argument that all this innovation was to serve greater productivity and make the real economy produce more things, and increase everybody’s prosperity, in my view is more like a casino.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

“Midnight In Paris”: Escape To The Artistic Golden Age

The last time Woody Allen opened a film with such a loving tribute to a city was in “Manhattan” (1979), shot by Gordon Willis. “Midnight In Paris,” shot by Darius Khondji, opens with another breathtaking urban overview, this time of the French capital. Visiting Paris is Gil Pender (Owen Wilson), a hack film writer trying to write a novel; his fiancé Inez (Rachel McAdams); and his materialistic future in-laws. None of them understand Gil's literary ambitions or his desire to stay in Paris. That desire is in part due to the city’s legendary status in the 1920s as a place where American writers, artists and musicians discovered their artistic potential.

In taking midnight walks alone, Gil finds an antique cab that regularly stops at a corner and whisks him off to his golden age, Paris in the 1920s, populated by members of the Lost Generation following World War I. Arriving at a lively party featuring Cole Porter at the piano, Gil eventually encounters Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddelston) and his unstable wife, Zelda (Allison Pill), Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Pablo Picasso (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo), Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody) and other creative geniuses. Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), American expatriate and novelist who maintained a salon, reads and critiques his novel, focused, appropriately enough, on nostalgia.

Gil also meets and courts Adriana (Marion Cotillard), who has had affairs with Hemingway, Picasso and Modigliani and is also afflicted with nostalgia for a different period, the Belle Epoque of the 1880’s. Ironically, they meet painters Cezanne and Degas, who want to go back to the Renaissance. Gil doesn’t share Adriana’s desire to stay in the 1880s and begins to gain wise perspective on the  temptations and inadequacies of nostalgia. While his forays around in Paris with some of the 20th century’s greatest artists is presented most entertainingly in this charming film, Gil comes to realize that it is only in the present that he can find creative and personal fulfillment.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Celebrating Curtis Mayfield

Curtis Mayfield, who passed away in 1999, would have been 69 yesterday. Leader of the soul group The Impressions, multi-instrumentalist and later a solo artist, Mayfield wrote several songs that became anthems of the civil rights movement, including “Keep On Pushing,” “We’re A Winner” and “People Get Ready,” performed above. Rolling Stone named it 24th in its Top 500 Songs of All Time.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Romney Flip Flops Attempting To Differentiate Himself From Obama

Rudy Giuliani slammed the health care law that Mitt Romney enacted as former governor of Massachusetts:

…“The reality is that Obamacare and Romneycare are almost exactly the same, it’s not very helpful trying to distinguish them.”

… The plan requires Massachusetts residents to buy health insurance, much like the Democrats’ health care overhaul. Mr. Romney has defended the Massachusetts program saying it made sense for his state, but has criticized the federal plan as overreach.

Mr. Giuliani wouldn’t hear it.

“The best way to deal with it is to say, ‘It was a terrible mistake, and if I could do it over again I wouldn’t do it,’” he said. “That’s the answer to Romneycare. And to the extend that it helped foster Obamacare, it was also a mistake.”

While I disagree with Giuliani on health care reform, the former New York mayor is correct in having little patience for Romney’s contradictions. There are similarities between Romney's plan and the president's. Republican presidential candidate Romney has been flip-flopping on a range of issues in an attempt to differentiate himself from Obama, including health care, TARP, the Recovery Act and the auto industry bailout, as shown in this DNC ad:

Pawlenty Would Sign Ryan’s Plan To Destroy Medicare

Sure, Tim Pawlenty tries to dance around the Ryan plan in his response to reporters. He knows that Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) plan to destroy Medicare by turning it into a privatized voucher system is deeply unpopular. He knows that the plan turned a Congressional race in an upstate New York Republican district into an upset Democratic victory. The bottom line is that Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty could see himself signing Ryan’s bill. What more do you need to know about him? Ben Smith has the quotation:

Pawlenty: First of all, I applaud Congressman Ryan for his courage and his leadership in putting his plan forward. At least he has a plan. President Obama doesn't have a plan. The Democrats don't have a plan. And I really applaud his leadership and his courage in putting a plan on the table. Number two, we will have our own plan; it will have many similarities to Congressman Ryan's plan, but it will have some differences, one of which will be we'll address Social Security. He chose not to; we are addressing Social Security. And the Medicare part of our plan will have some differences, too. It will have some similarities also. So we'll have our own plan. But if I can't have my own plan — as president, I'll have my own plan [but] if I can't have that, and the bill came to my desk and I had to choose between signing or not Congressman Ryan's plan, of course I would sign it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rand Paul: Attending Radical Speeches Should Result In Deportation Or Imprisonment

Interviewed by Fox’s Sean Hannity, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) stated that attending a radical speech should result in deportation or imprisonment. His remarks came in the context of discussing profiling at airports. Listen:

Paul: I’m not for profiling people on the color of their skin, or on their religion, but I would take into account where they’ve been traveling and perhaps, you might have to indirectly take into account whether or not they’ve been going to radical political speeches by religious leaders. It wouldn’t be that they are Islamic. But if someone is attending speeches from someone who is promoting the violent overthrow of our government, that’s really an offense that we should be going after — they should be deported or put in prison. (h/t: Think Progress)

Attending a speech is an "offense"–and one worthy of such punishments? Quite a radical departure from the First Amendment and due process. Paul fought against the excesses of the Patriot Act. Are the sentiments above those of an advocate of civil liberties and a libertarian?