Tag Archives: obama

The Dirty Trick Republicans Played on the Catholic Bishops

The Catholic bishops shocked the nation this week when they came out loud and strong against birth control. Since studies show even 98% of Catholic women use birth control at some point in their lives, it makes you wonder why they did it.

After all, laws requiring insurance coverage for birth control are already on the books in 28 states.

The answer lies in politics, not religion.

With Romney looking increasingly like the GOP nominee, Republicans need a way to fire up the parts their base who are less than thrilled about him. The slice of base voters that most despise Romney are evangelicals.  And while these cretins may never be happy with a Mormon president, they seem to have an infinite capacity to show more hate for President Obama.

Republicans saw what they thought would be the perfect opportunity to rile evangelicals:  Obama’s recent declaration that birth control was basic health care (and should be included in the list of assured benefits included in all health plans). They also realized that to directly oppose something as mainstream and widely supported as birth control would be disastrous for the GOP brand (which is already pretty worthless.)

The GOP wanted the women haters to know it stands with them, they just didn’t want to take the flack for taking position against the views of the vast majority of the rest of the entire country.  They had a small segment of voters to win and but a whole lot to potentially lose.

So, the Republicans got the Catholic bishops to take the position for them.  These guys are so far to the right it was easy to convince the bishops to do the dirty work.  Perhaps the Catholic leadership  weren’t able to make the same calculations as the GOP about how damaging their position would be. Either that or they were just so filled with hated for women that they didn’t think it through properly.

Anyway, the GOP got the Catholics to run around screaming about how birth control was evil.  To be sure, many Republicans did the same.  But because the Catholic bishops were out in front leading the charge, the GOP could pretend to be fighting for “religious freedom” rather than against birth control.  They could claim they were just standing up for the Catholics Bishops.

Though Republicans would like you to believe that the Catholic bishops were just defending their religion’s tenets, there are a couple of clues that show that the bishops got duped here.

First, as the article linked to above points out, any employer who offers health insurance is simply paying wages and benefits to the workers who are the real policyholders.  It’s really your money (earned salary and benefits) that’s paying for your health insurance, not your company’s. It’s your money, so the only objection that matters is yours.  To suggest otherwise is to take the position that the Catholic bishops should police hospital employees at home to make sure they are following the Catholic religion with the rest of their wages.

Besides, gluttony and drunkenness are also sins.  Yet Catholics aren’t arguing that obese people with heart disease should not treated at Catholic hospitals or that the employees of these institutions be denied these benefits.  Same thing for the alcoholics who need rehab or liver surgery.

The more you think about it, the more you realize how damaging this fight will be for the Catholic bishops.  The GOP has the bishops stomping all over any last shred of hope they had of attracting new members.  In the Republicans defense, perhaps they thought they couldn’t do any further damage to a group whose leaders last took the national stage defending themselves against child sex abuse lawsuits.


Whitefish Legislator Continues to Steer Tourism Elsewhere

Upon learning of a potential presidential vacation to Whitefish, Montana, State Rep. Derek Skees, R TEA-Whitefish Kalispell, organized a group of right wingers with

“volunteers supplying a truck and trailer, sound system and entertainment to protest the visit.”

That’s just what the state needs.

Here’s a chance to show in the national media what an amazing tourism destination the Flathead area is.  A chance to showcase that the area is such a great place to visit that even the President, who could go anywhere in the world, wanted to vacation here, and Skees does everything he can to drive people away by showing up with a bunch of TEA Party wingnuts to send the message that the nation’s first black President is less than welcome.

Obama cancelled the visit, though we don’t know if the angry mob of extremists waiting for him in an area known to be attracting paramilitary groups and whites supremacists from around the world was a factor.  Skees apparently has given no thought to the detrimental effects his actions will have on how potential visitors and investors view Montana, as he appears to be planning to do this again –

“People mistakenly think that Whitefish is safe ground for liberalism, and we wanted to make sure the president knows he can’t come to our little town and expect there not to be a dissenting voice. A lot of us are upset with Obama’s policies,” Skees said. “We’re calling this a dry run. Now we know how to mobilize.”

This is the not the first incident of right-wingers working against the economy.  The Realtors Association is also involved.

Right-Wing Bores

Conservatives have trouble laughing at themselves, even when something is funny. It makes sense, I guess. When your entire emotional and intellectual existence consists of being angry and hateful and racist, it’s probably hard to have a sense of humor, especially when a black man is making fun of you.

At last night’s White House Correspondence Dinner, SNL comedian Seth Meyers and President Obama both took aim at Donald Trump, who was in the audience. It was a hilarious roasting, shown on C-SPAN.

Through it all, Trump sat stone-faced and steaming, appearing to be in some sort of a combined state of rage, embarrassment, shock and naivete–naïve for being unprepared to find that after the last few weeks of his shameful gutter behavior against the President, his own ass would be on the menu at the annual dinner.

Obama said that Trump has shown he has the credentials to be President.

“The men’s cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha steaks, but you recognized that this was a lack of leadership, so you fired Gary Busey,” Obama said, referring to a idiotic contest taking place lately on The Apprentice.

“These,” Obama said, “are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well-handled, sir. Well-handled.”.

Trump, stone-cold, utterly humiliated, glared angrily at Obama as the crowd erupted.

Bill O’Reilly has a similar problem. He could be seen reacting with an irritated, supercilious look on his mug when Obama made a lighthearted joke about FOXNews. Obama showed a clip from the Lion King and referred to it as “video of my birth”, and then looked over at O’Reilly and explained to them that it wasn’t really video of his birth, that it was just a joke, and that the network doesn’t need to investigate it.

With everyone around him laughing, O’Reilly looked put-off.

This is a man who makes fun of the President, and just about every other national celebrity, five nights a week.

We’ve seen similar sourpussness among Montana republicans. When Schweitzer “branded” a bunch of idiotic Tea Party bills with his hot iron, the GOP leaders couldn’t even crack a smile or admit that it was kind of hilarious. Senate president Jim Peterson declared it “disrespectful of the institution.”  This from a guy whose major policy initiative of the session was an attempt to codify the “cowboy code of the west” into state law.

And as for disrespectful, how about the GOP’s birther bill aimed at the President, or the “BS” cattle brand that GOP legislators were showing off?

Thin-skinnedness, especially the public kind, is the worst trait a politician can have, and Trump has already suffered badly from it, often cutting-off, insulting or belittling interviewers who ask him pointed questions about himself.

Note that when Meyers roasted Obama right to his face, at one point making a joke about how his administration of being a disappointment, the President laughed along.

It is interesting to consider whether some strategy lay behind the targeting of Trump by Obama on Saturday night.

To America in the main, Trump was made to look like an ass, a small, silly circus performer who’s 15 minutes are (or should be) up.

But among the mouth-breathing Obama haters, Trump might have benefited. Obama’s roasting of Trump, the White House surely realized, would cause FOXNews to take the bait and defend him. Trump, meanwhile, will use the events of Saturday night to try proving, to the right-wing trash that is the GOP primary electorate, that he is Obama’s number one enemy. He’ll try to sell them the idea that the White House is afraid of him.

Montana Republican Math

As we wait for the legislature to resume and the GOP leaders sharpen their pencils, let’s discuss national politics, and math. The Tea Party and the mindless GOP and FOX news are all out in force, enraged at Obama’s suggestion that perhaps taxes ought to be raised as a way of paying off the debt.

To be sure, Obama has added his share of debt with maybe trillion and a half dollars–give or take–of stimulus and health care reform (the bailout ended up in a near wash because banks paid most of it back, so its not a big ticket item).

During the 2000s, Bush entered us into two invasions and occupations that have cost, let’s say, a trillion a piece. At the same time, he cut taxes. I’m told these are the only two wars in American History for which taxes were not raised as a way of paying for the war.

Of course not only were they not raised, they were lowered. Exactly how this accounting was suppose to work is something that not a single Republican in America has yet explained.

And remember, Bush and the GOP Congress that helped him pull off this feat were enabled or abetted by cheerleaders for both the wars and the tax cuts, cheerleaders like Denny Rehberg, Conrad Burns, Will Deschamp, Erik Iverson, Rick Hill, Chuck Denowh, Scott Sales, Bob Brown, Roy Brown, John Mercer, Martz, Marc Racicot, Jim Peterson, Mike Milburn and the entire brain trust and vanguard of the GOP past present and future who believed that two trillion dollars in wars can be covered by a tax cut.

And now again. The hot new thing lately is Paul Ryan, Republican Wonderboy, who’s “bold” plan for reducing 14 trillion of deficit calls for taxes to be cut–again. How does this make sense? Anyone?

Where is the Discussion of Montana’s Birther Bill?

How Stupid are these people?I know I’m not the only one that is astounded at the lack of media coverage of the crazy behavior of some of Montana’s Republicans.

For example, where is all the coverage on the birther bill heard recently in the Montana legislature?

Thankfully, the Flathead Memo has a great analysis. UPDATE: So does CNN. Montana newspapers got scooped.

Who Did Rehberg Spend SOTU ‘Date Night’ With? Teabaggers!

For Tuesday’s State of the Union Address, Montana’s millionaire Congressman was one of the few members of Congress who thought it best to sit with his right-wing buddies instead of reaching across the aisle.

Rehberg at the State of the Union Speech...is that Alexander and Scalise he's sitting next to?Look closely at this photo, and you’ll see Dennis Rehberg (upper left, holding a sheet of paper) sandwiched between Congressmen Steve Scalise and Rodney Alexander, both Republicans from Louisiana, and both fellow members of the Tea Party Caucus.

After Dennis Rehberg refused to participate in the spirit of bipartisanship this week, he did admit the seating arrangement was a “big hit.”  Montana’s two Democratic senators, by the way, sat with Republicans.

But when asked by KECI, Rehberg tried to downplay the issue, saying he doesn’t think the seating chart should get so much publicity.  Maybe not, but if you don’t believe in bipartisanship, you’re going to need a better excuse than this:

“Frankly most of the conversations in Washington aren’t necessarily Republican versus Democrat.  What we find is urban versus rural.”

Really?  Maybe that’s why Rehberg voted twice against New York City’s 9/11 emergency responders.  And it looks he’s having a tough time trying to explain those votes, and his lawsuit against Billings firefighters, to Montanans these days…

Required Reading: “The Liar’s Club”

Here is an interesting piece by Tim Egan, who spends a lot of time in Montana but has been covering the national Republicans.  It is a must-read for anyone who thought I was engaged in hyperbole when I said that the GOP and it’s candidates and attack-groups have descended into pure pathological lying.

Michelle Bachman made up a story about how Obama’s trip to India cost $200 million.  Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity and others then run with it as fact.  Beck actually went further, claiming it was two billion dollars.  Of course, the trip didn’t cost any more than any other overseas presidential visit (which are expensive, probably a few million if you factor everything in, including fixed costs).  But facts no longer matter among the right wing, because they can rile up 40 percent of the population with lies.

It’s just like Roy Brown or Derek Skees or Will Deschamps saying that the problem in Montana is taxes and spending, when in fact taxes and spending are less of a problem here than any other state in America, according to every paper in Montana and most national ones including the conservative bible the Wall Street Journal.

The unfortunate part is that the Obama White House doesn’t pin down the Republicans when their propaganda machine goes out and makes these outrageous things up.  It comes and goes, but nobody pays.  Obama should no longer be distinguishing between the GOP and its media wing.  He should throw the lies back at Boehner and Bachmann and the rest, as if they created them and are responsible for them because they and their propagandists are one and the same. They should remind America that these individuals are at the center of a lying machine, and the behavior is unpatriotic, classless, small, and bad for America and would be frowned upon by all of the founding father that these nut-jobs revere and dress up as at “rallies.”

A Few Random Thoughts About the Election

First, it is important to say to the legislative candidates and staff who helped with the campaigns that they worked hard and should be proud o their efforts.

After all, it’s virtually impossible, especially in a year when Republicans are charged up with rage and Democrats are apathetic, to run a legislative campaign when one side has several million dollars and your side has squat.  There was simply no cash available for Democrats; whereas millions in corporate cash, as I detailed in a recent post, were spent by conservative groups. In some races there were as many as a dozen negative mailers dropped against the Democrat, where as the Republican candidate would get maybe one or two, or maybe none.

Many legislative races should have been won by democrats that were not, because the resource disparity was simply too great.  That’s showbiz. You need to go big or go home, and Dems couldn’t go big cuz the money wasn’t there.  A few large corporate interests sent huge money into Montana to influence the election.

What they expect in return, and what they get, we will see.

This same problem existed in the Congressional race, where McDonald did not raise any money and was thus unable to explain to people who he was, what he believed in, and what is wrong with our current congressman.

Second, all politics is now national.  Obama, who is famous for believing himself to have supreme political skills and judgment, has been utterly inept at articulating why his major initiatives are good things for America, and thus even I am beginning to wonder if they are.  Even on the Jon Stewart show, where he was confronted with basic questions, he struggled to explain himself and limped through the interview.  It’s tempting to blame Max Baucus, who laid a giant egg when he came up with the idea of leading the healthcare process and ended up co-opting it and royally screwing it up.  But even that was Obama’s fault. A good leader doesn’t entrust national concerns to someone who cannot be trusted to get the job done. The president is a poor CEO and the White House has shown itself to have mediocre political skills since taking office.  Hopefully now that there is an enemy, Obama will find his groove and get on the stick.

Third, my sense was that it took a long time for democratic legislative candidates, especially some of the more liberal incumbents, to get themselves focused on talking about the fact that Democrats in Montana balance budgets and have produced a strong economy, business climate and budget surplus and have cut more taxes than ever before in Montana history.  Democrats shy away from that type of talk because they believe it makes them sound like Republicans.  They believe they should be talking about programs and commitments and confusing policy.  Compounding this is the fact that the Democratic party is controlled by the congressional delegation, who like to talk about national issues which, right now, are all very toxic to Democrats in Montana.

A leadership change within the legislature might be a good thing. Hopefully there will be some challengers.

On that subject, a few people in town have been upset by a report in Roll Call that Max Baucus raised massive amounts of cash for the Nevada Democratic party, and is reported to have sent at least 30 staffers to Nevada in the last week of the campaign, to help Harry Reid.  Those resources could have been used in Montana, though I suppose they were equally necessary in Nevada where Reid got pulled over the finish line.

Democrats, especially legislators, should be proud overall, because everything that the Tea party claims to be concerned about — reckless spending and taxes — appears to have already been addressed by the legislature and the Governor, and so it’s unclear what the Republicans plan to attempt to accomplish beyond putting together a budget.

In general, the Republican legislative campaign was a well-funded machine designed to excite a bunch of excitable but largely ignorant voters who turned out in spades.  We will see where it all goes.

There were a few bright spots, notably the final exit of Roy Brown, who I predict will not be back. Roy is a tough politician, but his downfall was that he peddled lies from the beginning of his campaign, and never stopped lying. He lied about his opponent, he lied about Democrats generally and about their record in the state. He unfortunately met an opponent who knows how to get voters to see truth versus lies, and who also knows how to bring a gun to a gunfight.  Kendall Van Dyk wasn’t afraid to burn Brown down when Brown went negative, and it worked.  An impressive victory.  Also, a note to organizers: Van Dyk had a highly organized system by which he identified likely Van Dyk voters, delivered them absentee ballots and then collected them. It’s what put him over the top. He should give a lecture on it and focusing on direct voter contact over ads and other tactics such as running his own Get Out the Vote machine given that the democrats didn’t run a GOTV program for the first time since the 1960s.

Slate Says Max Baucus One Top Problems for Democrats and Today’s Election

Slate magazine yesterday posted their own version of the list of problems that will handicap Democrats in today’s elections, among the top:

Max Baucus. Health care might not have happened without Sen. Max Baucus of Montana. Then again, it might have happened a lot faster. Over the course of four months in 2009, Baucus made one compromise after another—scrapping the public option, killing the employer mandate—in order to attract Republican votes that never materialized. That gave Republicans time to demagogue the bill and ate up valuable time on the congressional calendar—time that could have been used to pass legislation like immigration reform or an energy bill (which, of course, would probably have hurt Democrats, too).

It is no secret that the phenomena is having an effect in Montana too.  Montana Republicans’ number one attack on local Dems is to compare them to Democrats in Washington.  Obama and the Washington Dems have offered very little in the way of persuasive rhetoric in defense of the big ticket items like health-care, stimulus and bailout, as I’ve already written about here.

Racial Stereotyping of Obama Figure in Townsend Display

Racial stereotypes of Obama figure in Townsend, MT.If a picture is worth a thousand words, what does this picture say about those behind the display spotted in front of the Mustang Hotel in Townsend, MT.   Note the visual racial stereotyping of the Obama figure.  (It’s the pumpkin head spray-painted with black on the right.)  Note his broad, toothy smile, reminiscent of racist caricature of African-Americans from the segregationist era. Compare it to the smiling face of  the “Biden” figure on the left. Note that this is what we’re up against.