Right Wing Rapists

[original draft in Aug 2012 but never published. Was I worried that the title was incendiary and not representative of republicans? Well, if it was not accurate then, it is now.]

So Rep. Todd Akin (R-Christlandiastan) really screwed the pooch this week. We all know that rule number one for republicans is to never attack another republican. This was Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.

Apparently, the only thing that could cause a republican to break the Eleventh Commandment is when someone breaks the appearant Twelfth Commandment: Never tell  the people what you really believe.

And so when Akin made his comment that women who are legitimately raped don’t get pregnant, there was a bipartisan uproar. Of course, not everyone was outraged for the same reason:

Three’s a trend, so I think it’s safe to say that a plenty of people believe the main problem with what Akin said is that, under one interpretation of the word “legitimate,” he was suggesting that some rapes are justified, or even rightful.


But the “legitimate rape” fracas is so troubling in part because it’s not a straightforwardly noxious case of a man offering his blessing to certain rapes. That would require assuming Todd Akin is some sort of rare, inhuman monster, rather than a deeply anti-abortion member of the House of Representatives, at home in the modern GOP.

Take what Akin said to its obvious conclusion. He contended that some rapes don’t really count as rape — that rapes aren’t “legitimate” or “authentic” or “genuine” unless they meet the religious right’s definition of “forcible.” Add in the junk science element, and you reach the conclusion — not unusual among abortion opponents — that a pregnancy is prima facie evidence that the fetus wasn’t conceived during a rape, and thus that rape exceptions to abortion restrictions are superfluous.

That’s what Akin was getting at — a policy issue as much as a moral and personal one. It’s why his words are a danger to the entire Republican Party, and not just to Akin himself.

I knew immediately that “legitimate” and “forcible” rape were connected somehow, and now we know. It’s all part of the right-wing fundamentalists’ willful ignorance of science and their rape of the English language in order to convince themselves that she could not have been raped because she got pregnant! 

Watch as Romney bends 11 almost to breaking as he calls out Akin:

And thus I think a lot of Republicans are resting their calls for Akin to step aside either on his fatuous biological claim, that rape victims can’t get pregnant, or on an ambiguity — pretending Akin’s an outlying derelict who supports sex crimes, and thus distancing themselves from him without drawing ire from abortion foes in their base who share his actual views.

For instance, Mitt Romney told WMUR, “[Akin] should understand that his words with regards to rape are words that I can’t defend, that we can’t defend, and we can’t defend him.”

He told National Review Akin’s “comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong. Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive.”

Neither condemnation addresses what Akin actually said. This allows party leaders to pretend Akin might actually believe some rapes are righteous. It allows them to pretend that many, many Republicans — including VP candidate Paul Ryan — don’t share Akin’s view that rape exceptions to abortion laws are wrong. Get rid of Akin without reckoning with his worldview. And it would be instructive if Romney and Ryan had to explain exactly what part of the “legitimate rape” flap they found objectionable.

Romney disavowed Akin’s terminology without addressing the underlying meaning, and so gets a pass on breaking a commandment. But don’t hold your breath waiting for the media to ask good questions and require explanations as suggested. The media tools are too busy handicapping the horse race. Looking at issues with a “long” view (i.e., more than the current broadcast or publication) is just beyond them by design.

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The “O” Stands For Oblivious

In today’s incarnation of the GOP, the the “O” stands for oblivious. As in oblivious to reality. W. Mitt Romney, a guy with no first name, picked a guy with two, Paul Ryan, as his running mate, and has been touting Ryan’s bipartisanship. Ha. Ha ha.

On the campaign trail in Florida Monday, Romney again praised Ryan for “working across the aisle” to find solutions to the nation’s problems.

The argument belies Ryan’s storied record as a no-compromise conservative ideologue, an approach that has become more rigid during the Obama administration. He has become his party’s visionary on sweeping proposals to remake the federal budget, wedding nearly all Republicans to a blueprint that has failed to win over a single Democrat.

In almost 13 years as a congressman, Ryan has proposed just two bills that have passed and become law, one of which involved renaming a post office in his district. It’s a low number by any standard, but particularly for a chairman of the powerful Budget Committee. He has introduced many bills, including a Social Security privatization measure in 2004 so far-reaching that the Bush White House called it “irresponsible.”

Statistics peg Ryan as a staunch conservative. According to the DW-Nominate metric, Ryan’s voting record makes him almost as conservative as Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), and more conservative than Rep. Allen West (R-FL).

And let’s be clear, those last two, Bachmann and West, are both cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

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Love The Sinner, Not The Sin

Mitt Romney (R-Obscuristan) has chosen Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (R-AynRandisatn) as his running mate in 2012. The Democrats are delighted:

Democratic candidates like Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-NY), who won an upset special election focused on Ryan’s Medicare plan shortly after Republicans took over the House, are already jumping on the news.

“Just one year ago, western New York voters rejected the Ryan-Collins policies that would end Medicare as we know it and hurt middle class families while giving more tax cuts to the rich,” Hochul said in a statement. “Our country needs to move forward, not re-hash failed ideas.”

Although embracing Paul as his VP choice, Romney is still trying to distance himself from Ryan’s disastrous (on many levels) budget proposals. Good luck with that.

Also, from Atrios:

The Education and Jobs Of Paul Ryan, According To The Wiki

  • Public high school.
  • Public university.
  • Worked for family business.
  • Congressional staffer, with service jobs for additional money.
  • Speechwriter for Jack Kemp.
  • Staffer for Sam Brownback.
  • Member of Congress.

Capitalism, just as Rand envisioned.

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The Rich Are Different

I rarely go to the Huffington Post these days, as the trashy headlines generally oversell the already fluffy stories. That said, I came across this story that has me saying WTF: Millionaire’s 6-Year-Old Son Was Murdered: Report

As it turns out, this particular headline undersells the fact that the millionaire’s 6-year-old son and 34-year-old girlfriend both died within days of each other. The boy’s death from a fall off a balcony was ruled an accident (the girlfriend was in the house at the time and found him), and her death two days later was ruled a suicide. She was found hanging naked from an outdoor balcony with her ankles and wrists bound. Yes, they ruled it a suicide. Two days after the boy accidentally died.

Who found the girlfriend? The millionaire’s brother, who is living in the mansion’s guest house (Kato Kaelin, anyone?) Additional investigation spurred by the parents of the girlfriend and the mother of the boy turned up significant evidence heretofore unknown such as the blunt force trauma to the head experienced by the girlfriend and the fact that the six year old boy was beaten before he was tossed or perhaps jumped while fleeing over the balcony.

Local cops say . . .

A Coronado Police Department spokeswoman said that officials will review the new report, then determine whether or not to reopen the investigation.


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More Lone Wolves

One day this happened:

An Army veteran with possible ties to white supremacist groups was identified on Monday morning as the tattooed gunman who opened fire a day earlier at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, killing six people before being shot to death by a police officer.


About 24 hours after the massacre, a few details were starting to emerge about the man who allegedly carried out what was being called a “possible act of domestic terrorism.”

It’s all OK. The word terrorism is in quotes so we can dismiss it.

The next day, this:

A second fire in less than five weeks occurred at a mosque in Joplin, Missouri early Monday morning. The cause of the latest inferno is still unknown, but Monday’s flames were much more devastating than those that occurred July 4, in an incident that authorities later determined was an act of arson.

So last month someone tried to burn down the mosque (i.e., arson), but this most recent fire merely “occurred” at the mosque. Face it, the domestic terrorist came back to finish his work.

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Deluded Right-Wing Religious Zealots

The bigots are getting their panties in a twist over the so-called successes of the gay agenda in flooding the airwaves with TV shows “designed to desensitize Americans to the genuine risks of the homosexual agenda.”

I should note, the quotes are from

Charisma [which] has posted an article by Louis Sheldon, the founder of the Traditional Values Coalition entitled “The Plan for a Gay (Domi) Nation,” where he lamented that young evangelical Christians have become more open to gay rights and don’t see homosexuality and the Christian faith as incompatible.

Heaven forefend! Let us pray that our bigoted ways will find fertile soil in the next generation!

In decrying the “homosexual agenda,” our man in the closet stated that “over the last decade, overtly pro-gay programs such as Will and Grace, Queer as Folk, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, The L Word and Glee have ” blah blah blah.

Over the last decade? It’s mid 2012 now, so that goes back to 2002. QAF lasted until 2005, and WAG until 2006. QE went from 03-07, and the L Word from 04-09. Glee is only one of two shows on broadcast TV, and is the only current show, cited here. Glee is just starting its fourth season (on Fox, no less). The hey-day of the gay television show seems to have passed.

Mister Narrowmind then adds this: “Again, homosexuals are invariably portrayed as funny, sensitive and caring individuals.” Invariably? Even if true within the shows, that’s no big deal. Since the advent of television the status quo was gay-bashing, as when two or more men are caught (i.e., scripted) in a sexually compromising situation, and one invariably says, “But, hey, I’m not gay or anything.”

In daily life, similar words were used as well – always having to affirm one’s heterosexuality especially if you happen to stand up for gay rights. At some point the tide began to turn, and the joke was on the bigots rather than the gays. Among friends, saying not that I’m gay or not that your gay became a funny riposte between open-minded individuals to riff on the stupidity of being bigoted.

More recently, I’m not sure when, a new line was added to the cant. What to say when you want to mock the bigotry or assert your heterosexuality, but you are among people who may not know you? Something like, “Hey, I’m not gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” So, yes, it seems the anti-bigot agenda is advancing apace.

Meanwhile, Mister Proteststoomuch uses phrases like “accept homosexuality as a normal and natural choice” and “accept homosexuality as a valid lifestyle choice.” His use of the word choice in the context of sexual orientation is specious. Just ask any heterosexual when they decided to not be gay, but rather to be attracted to members of the opposite gender.

To my mind, the only “choice” involved is one of expression (not feeling), and the most common case is a closeted homosexual pretending with all his heart to be “normal.” Choosing to pass in the heterosexual world, and hating to the core anything that reminds him of what he is missing.

If that were not enough, the author falls off the cliff into shadows and conspiracies:

Yet behind the scenes, how many people realize that organizations such as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation actually have veto power over many of these scripts and can actually force directors and producers to rewrite dialogue that casts an unflattering light on homosexuals?

Really? GLAAD? Behind the scenes, nobody “realizes” this conspiracy because it is not there.

According to this blogger, “GLAAD has a $7 million annual budget, and it seems an awful high amount for a jobs program for professional Gay Inc types.” To clarify, this guy is upset that people who have all the money are running the show. This is kind of like Occupy Gay where this guy in the 99% (of Gaydom) has better ideas than the One Percent at foundations and such who call the shots. I don’t know enough to know if he is right, but it might appease him to know how successful they have been – at least according to Mister Zealot from above.

With that $7 million per year, beyond what all else they do, GLAAD has managed to get a “veto power” stranglehold on the television industry. For reference, the budget for Glee alone is around $3.5 million. Per episode.

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Today’s Chart: Romney Tax Plan

The Tax Policy Center, which Mittens once praised but now dismisses as liberal, released a report looking into Romney’s tax plan. First, here’s the chart.

In words:

Best case result, according to the TPC: Americans making half a million to a million dollars a year would average a $17,000 tax cut. For middle-class families with children making less than $200,000 a year, the average tax would increase by $2041 a year. The rich, natch, would make out like bandits, millionaires getting an $87,000 tax cut, those making more getting even more out of the deal.

And that result comes from using a model that makes the tax code as progressive as possible. It could be a lot worse.

Yes, those damn liberals were consciously conservative in their analysis, and the plan still sucks. Unless you are Mitt Romney.

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GOP Triple Feature

First up we have a real Western-style showdown: The republicans hold the debt limit hostage, threatening to cause the U.S. to default on its debt. Yes, these tea baggers wanted to be the first Congress in the nation’s history to tell the rest of the world that the United States of America is truly in decline.

The fact that the 2011 debt limit fight harmed the U.S. economy in various ways has been well documented, but a new report by a government auditor attempts to quantify one piece of it. Specifically, by walking the country up to the brink of default and spooking creditors and making borrowing more expensive, how much money did Congress cost the federal government?

The answer? In fiscal year 2011 alone, the debt limit brinksmanship cost the government $1.3 billion, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

And the losses to the U.S Treasury will mount. And where is all that extra cash going? The Wall Street Middlemen, of course.

Next up, we have a more reasoned, literate take on the evils of hostage-taking:

Here’s Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, discussing the looming battle over the “Fiscal Cliff” with Sean Hannity.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday cited recent comments from Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.) and other Democrats that suggested they would be willing to let all the current tax rates expire at the end of the year if they don’t get their preferred deal.

“It’s ideological fanaticism. They are so fixated on raising taxes that they’re willing to do anything,” McConnell said in an appearance on Sean Hannity’s radio show. “It shows you how rigidly ideological they are.”

So, to review: Democrats want to keep taxes at their current historic lows for 98.5% of the population. Republicans are willing to throw that all away because they insist on keeping taxes at historic lows for rich people.

But the Democrats are the fanatics.

Yes, don’t trust the Turtle. He lies.

And lastly we have a nice, lighthearted international romp:

A new report from the Tax Justice Network puts the amount of money diverted offshore into tax havens at $21 trillion. At least. It may be as much as $32 trillion. Even at the lower figure, that’s more than the Japanese and American economies combined.

According to James Henry, a former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey, half of that gigantic stash is owned by just 92,000 individuals. That is 0.001 percent of the world’s population.

Enjoy the show!

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Higher Education In The U.S.

With the verdict in on Penn State’s Sandusky, the University-commissioned independent report (written by a committee headed by former FBI Director Louis Freeh ) dropped the hammer on the University and football program administrations. The NCAA then stepped in with its verdict yesterday.

That morning I was on my way to work, and was listening to the NCAA press conference announcing the sanctions. As it happened, I pulled into work at the same time as my boss, and the first thing he mentions is about the sanctions. This lead to much discussion throughout the day about the specific merits of the individual penalties, as well as general issues of higher education.

One topic concerned whether big-time sports actually brings in any money; specifically, does any of it go to undergraduate education. Major research universities are often guilty of shortchanging undergrads. For instance, they sign on big-name researchers who then attract wanabee famous researchers who have to teach these stupid undergraduate courses. In more material ways – such as buildings and grounds, lab and studio space, food services, etc. – Colleges and Universities are skimping on daily necessities while raising tuition and fees. So where is all that TV revenue going?

I then came across this article discussing the ever-increasing tuition rates (see article for picture reference):

The picture is also a good metaphor for what is going on at public research universities. When questions are asked about why tuition is rising so much faster than inflation, various opaque answers are given. The equation that seems to be in use for setting tuition is of the form:

[$Asked For] – [$We Get] = Tuition Increase

And the justification used to the state legislature is from an old hair-coloring advertisement: “Because I’m worth it.”

He then goes on to discuss determining the costs of research to the university and removing that portion from the shoulders of the undergraduates. It occurred to me that this is where all the football and basketball program revenue goes, which is the same place all the money goes – to fund basic research with no concern for marketable results. The university only provides the seed money and the facilities. A lot of the money comes form outside sources. Thus one thing that makes for a great researcher is having the ability to write successful grant proposals. Thus some corporation or industry trade group may offer $5 million if the university puts up $500,000 for equipment and salaries. When the NYT Bestseller Researcher brings this to the Administration, of course they will find the money somewhere.

So we are squeezing the middle class (particularly with the indentured servant student loan system) to fund basic research which private individuals will use to make money. Socialize the losses and privatize the profits.

I am all for state-funding of basic research. But the state, that is, we the people, should retain a larger slice of the pie. This is all part-and-parcel with state-funded roads, bridges, power generation, etc. Anyone who made any money “in computers” would be nowhere if the engineers at IBM and Intel did not have the publicly-funded basic research upon which their gadgets are based.

As an aside, Obama pointed this out in saying no one builds a business by oneself. Romney then went all hyperbolic about it and made it talking point number one. Unfortunately, even Romney’s friends suck at the public teat:

It seems painfully evident at this point that Mitt Romney’s campaign seriously sucks at, well, campaigning. Their singular message for the last week or so has been all about how the president of the United States dared to suggest that America’s noble businessmen benefit from things like “roads and bridges,” specifically, and dared point out that it is the cruel, oppressive American government and cruel, oppressive American taxpayers that provide those roads and bridges, and how horrible the president must be for thinking such things.

Indeed, apparently this rather banal and oft-repeated observation about the interplay between government and business was considered such an insult to the business community, a community of which Mitt Romney is self-appointed lord and master, that the Mitt campaign felt compelled to respond with all possible force. And their response, consisting in part of an ad showing a John Galtish businessman being outraged by Obama saying such mean, anti-business things, sucks worse than the history off all the things that have previously sucked in the Mitt Romney campaign, and that is saying something.

Because that businessman complaining up there? He’s a poster child for government assistance to businesses:

The New Hampshire Union Leader’s John DiStato today reports that in 1999 the business in question, Gilchrist Metal, “received $800,000 in tax-exempt revenue bonds issued by the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority ‘to set up a second manufacturing plant and purchase equipment to produce high definition television broadcasting equipment’…” In addition, in 2011, Gilchrist Metal “received two U.S. Navy sub-contracts totaling about $83,000 and a smaller, $5,600 Coast Guard contract in 2008…”

The businessman, Jack Gilchrist, also acknowledged that in the 1980s the company received a U.S. Small Business Administration loan totaling “somewhere south of” $500,000, and matching funds from the federally-funded New England Trade Adjustment Assistance Center.

“I’m not going to turn a blind eye because the money came from the government,” Gilchrest said. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m getting some of my tax money back. I’m not stupid, I’m not going to say ‘no.’ Shame on me if I didn’t use what’s available.”

So the guy the Romney campaign went to for their attack ad has a business has received $800,000 in tax-exempt bonds, another $500,000 or so in small business loans, does contracting work for the U.S. Navy, but he’s pissed off that Obama said that government helps businesses. Say what you will, but that sounds like the perfect Mitt Romney voter, right there.

It is past time we had coherent conversations about the role of government and the nature of the commons.

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Charting Economic Inequality

Here are a couple of charts showing the wealth redistribution policies of the republicans over the last couple of decades. The numbers tell the story, but for some explanation, see the DKos post.

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