Tag Archives: Tea Party

Babes in Government-land…

I’ve had enough. I’m tired of dealing with babies.

This whole Debt Ceiling “crisis” has made it clear to me that, with the Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives, we are dealing with political babies.

As a parent of three grown children, I know what a pain it is to deal with babies.

First of all, babies don’t know anything. All they know is what they want. And when they don’t get what they want, they cry.

Wahhhhh! Wahhhhh! Wahhhhh!

I will never understand why so many working class Midwestern Americans voted for these Tea Party-GOP babies in 2010 – but they did.

And now, political adults – both Democrats and Republicans – find they must contend with all these whiny, itty-bitty, small minded ultra-conservative babies in the U.S. House of Representatives who have no clue what it is to govern the greatest democracy in the western world.

As though they were simply playing with blocks in the safety of their padded playpens, these know-nothing GOP babies have no clear idea of the impact that their actions will have outside of their playpen.

I hope that the Government Adults – President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McChinless, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Speaker “Boo-Hoo” Boehner – are finally able to quiet the Tea Party babies and put them down for a long nap, just in time to raise the Debt Ceiling and move on with the grown-up business of government.

Ssssshhhh. Don’t wake the Tea Party-GOP babies.

Government is way to complex for infant children.

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The (New) American Crisis.

American patriot Thomas Paine served in George Washington’s army during the Revolutionary War as an aide-de-camp to General Nathanael Greene. In the desperate winter of ’76, the war was going badly — and Washington’s valiant, weary, and ill-equipped troops were in retreat.

The revolutionary cause was in dire jeopardy, when Paine took up his pen to rally his nascent nation’s flagging spirits.

Realizing that “it was necessary that the country should be strongly animated,” Paine wrote a series of popular pamphlets collectively titled The American Crisis. The first of these broadsides was published on December 23, 1776 – and General Washington found it so inspiring that he had it read to his soldiers at Valley Forge.

Today, as we suffer through this trumped-up Debt Ceiling crisis, it is once again “necessary that the country should be strongly animated.”

Therefore, with apologies to Thomas Paine…

These are the times that try Progressive’s souls. Some summer Liberals and sunshine Democrats will, in this crisis, shrink from their core values; but he that stands by Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid now, deserves the love and thanks of every working man and woman in America.

The GOP-Tea Party, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. The Grand Debt Ceiling Bargain we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is Tax Fairness – with increases on the Wealthy, Big Business and Wall Street only — that gives Shared Sacrifice any real meaning.

Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon The Common Good; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as The Full Faith and Credit of The United States should not be highly rated by Standard & Poor’s. (Though such a Downgrade looks increasingly possible.)

The GOP, with Fox News to enforce its Bullshit, has declared that they have a right (not only NOT to TAX) but “to BIND all working people in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER” to economic slavery, for so unlimited an economic power can belong only to George Bush’s God of Prosperity, the Koch Brothers, Republicans, Millionaires and Billionaires.

We have none to blame but ourselves, but no great deal is lost yet. All that Boehner, McConnell and Cantor have been doing for these past few months is rather a Ravage than a Conquest. They have over-reached and will be quickly repulsed by the voters. By 2012, with a little resolution on the part of working class Americans – resulting in a Democratic landslide — we will soon recover.

I have as little superstition in me as any man living, but my secret opinion has ever been, and still is, that God Almighty will not give up the American People to Economic Destruction by Tea Party Fools and GOP Corporatist Greed, or leave President Obama and the Democrats to perish who have so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of Default by every decent method which wisdom could invent.

Neither have I so much of the infidel in me, as to suppose that The Almighty has relinquished the Government of The United States, and given us up to the madness of small-minded religious zealots like Michele Bachmann and Jim DeMint; and as I do not, I cannot see on what grounds McConnell, Boehner and Cantor can hold Americans over an economic barrel.

‘Tis surprising to see how rapidly a panic (like this artificial Debt Ceiling Crisis) will sometimes run through a country. Yet panics, in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their peculiar advantage is that they are the touchstones of sincerity (Democrats) and hypocrisy (Republicans), and bring things and men to light, which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered. They sift out the hidden thoughts of Conservatives, and hold them up in public to the world.

I shall not now attempt to give all the particulars of our negotiations with the GOP; suffice it for the present to say, that the Democratic Party and President Obama, though greatly harassed and fatigued, bore these Debt Limit negotiations with a manly and bipartisan spirit. All their wishes centered in one, which was, that the country would turn out and help them to drive the Republicans out come the Election of 2012.

I have been tender in raising the cry against the Tea Party radicals, and have used numberless arguments to show their danger, but it will not do to sacrifice our country either to their folly or their baseness. The Time of Decision is now arrived, in which either Tea Party Republicans or Democrats must change our sentiments, or one or both must fall.

And what is a Tea Party Republican? Good God! What is he? I should not be afraid to stand with a hundred brave, steadfast Democratic Union Men against a thousand Tea Partiers. Every GOP-Tea Party member is a dupe or a coward; for servile, slavish, and corporate-interested fear is the foundation of Tea Partyism; and a man under such misguided influence, though he may be selfish and confused, can never be brave.

But, before the line of irrecoverable separation be drawn between American Liberals and Conservatives, let us reason the matter together: FOX News is as much rejected by reality as the American cause is injured by FOX News. Rupert “Phone Hacker” Murdoch and his Corporate Paymasters expect you to take up arms and flock to their standard. Your opinions are of no use to The Right, unless you support them without thinking, for ’tis Zombies, and not Thinking Men, that they want.

I once felt that kind of anger, which a man ought to feel, against the mean principles that are held by the Republicans. “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have prosperity.” But today, let every Progressive American awaken to his duty. For though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to flare, the embers can never expire.

I call not upon a few, but upon all Progressives: not on this Blue State or that Purple State, but on every state: up and help us; lay your shoulders to the wheel; better have too much force than too little, when so great an object is at stake. Let it be told to the future world, that in the heat of the summer of 2011, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet and to repulse it.

If President Obama and the Congress cannot avoid the ignominy of National Default, it matters not where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil will reach you all. The far and the near, the rich and the poor, will suffer or rejoice alike.

The blood of Democratic children will curse their cowardice, who shrinks back at a time when a little might have saved the whole, and made them happy. I love the Liberal that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little GOP minds to shrink; but the Progressive whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto Election Day.

Let them call me Liberal and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to GOP politicians who are stupid, stubborn, worthless and brutish — and fleeing with tax-cutting, budget-slashing terror from the orphan, the widow, and the unemployed of America.

There are cases that cannot be overdone by language, and there are persons who see not the full extent of the evil that threatens them. It is the madness of folly to expect statesmanship from Republicans who have refused to do political and social justice. The GOP’s first object is, partly by threats and partly by false promises, to fleece the American people before agreeing to pay their lawful debts.

I see no real cause for fear. I know our situation well, and can see the way out of it. The sign of fear has not been seen in our Liberal Camp. Our new Progressive Democratic Army is recruiting fast, and we shall be able to open the 2012 Campaign with tens of millions of voters, well educated and mobilized.

By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils — a ravaged country — crumbling cities — infrastructure without repair, and a shrinking Middle Class without hope — our homes turned into foreclosures, and our children to provide for, whose American Dream will be less than our own. Look on this picture and weep over it! And if there yet remains one thoughtless FOX viewer who believes it not, let him suffer the consequences unlamented.

Awake, Senate Democrats! Arise, President Obama! The GOP is mercifully inviting you to barbarous destruction (in a bipartisan fashion, of course), and men must be either rogues or fools that will not see it. I dwell not upon the vapors of imagination; I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as A, B, C, hold up truth to your eyes.

Let the Bush Tax Cuts expire! Cut the Pentagon’s bloated budget! Let Medicare negotiate deals with the Drug Companies! Collect a fair share of taxes from Corporations and Wall Street Financiers that have reaped such an ungodly percentage of our National Treasure! Leave Social Security and our National Health alone! Do these things, and the blessings of Prosperity will be upon our Nation once again.

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Pausing Amid the Political Hysteria…

As President Obama negotiates with Democratic and Republican Congressional leaders on the critical issues of raising the debt ceiling and reducing the Federal budget deficit, each breathless (and very sketchy) media report on the progress of those negotiations has been received in the Progressive Blogosphere with hand-wringing, whining, and melodramatic condemnations.

The President, it appears from all this premature carping, is ready to sell out Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, your home mortgage interest deduction, the public schools, and FDR’s White House portrait to appease the all-powerful, Tea Party/GOP who are willing to sacrifice the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government on Grover Norquist’s anti-tax altar.

With the debt ceiling deadline approaching in less than a month, it’s more doom and gloom for Democrats. Obama, we hear from disenchanted liberals, is just GOP-lite. We need to mount a primary challenge. Or vote Green Party in 2012.  Or just stay home.

Because that worked so well for disappointed progressives in the 2010 mid-terms, right?

Because handing the House of Representatives over to Speaker John Boehner and the militant Tea Party jihadists sure showed those spineless Democrats a thing or two, didn’t it?

Aren’t you glad, you jaded bloggers on Daily Kos, TPM and The Huffington Post, that President Obama doesn’t have Nancy Pelosi to appease in these debt ceiling negotiations?

Oh, that’s right. If Nancy Pelosi were still the Speaker of the House – there wouldn’t even be negotiations over the debt ceiling.

It would be a pro forma vote of approval just like it’s always been.

Now, let’s get back to these White House negotiations over the debt limit. I’m pretty sure that, in order to avoid disaster, a Grand Bargain will be reached that will gore just about everyone’s ox to some degree.

But even if President Obama was not a man with liberal inclinations (and I think he’s shown that he is), he is a successful politician. He can see that an overwhelming majority of voters would rather see taxes raised on millionaires and billionaires than have their Social Security and Medicare benefits get cut.

And that’s true across party lines – especially among independents.

John Boehner can read those polls, too. But, even if Boehner wanted to strike a Bob Dole-like bargain with Obama to raise taxes on the rich (or what I like to call “restoring tax fairness”) in exchange for entitlement reforms that reduce waste and save money but don’t screw working people – he can’t do it. Because he’s got Michele Bachmann and the Tea Party Visigoths willing to wreak havoc on America’s credit rating in order to protect Exxon Mobil’s government subsidies and low tax rates on capital gains and other passive income for billionaires like the Koch Brothers.  (Euphemistically referred to as “the job creators.”)

The Visigoths are shown here doing to Rome what the GOP is doing to the U.S. MIddle Class.

So, the Republicans have their backs to wall in these negotiations, too. And President Obama knows it.

Of course, if scoring political points were all our President cared about, he’d be taking a much harder line in public – and that would win him praise from progressive bloggers and pundits yearning for a hard-knuckle approach. But that’s what you do in an election campaign – not when you’re trying to govern. (Remember how well the tough guy, no compromise, jam it down their throats approach served the country when that nasty little bully George W. Bush was in charge?)

President Obama is serious about bipartisanship. He always has been. And, in this case, bipartisanship may just mean giving the GOP enough rope to hang themselves in 2012.

So, let’s just see how this debt ceiling brinksmanship plays out. It’s the best drama of the summer. And I’m sure it won’t have an entirely happy ending for anyone.

But, if Obama has to make some concessions you don’t like, please remember this…

Would you rather President Romney – who made his millions buying US companies and out-sourcing the jobs overseas — were presiding over such critical White House  negotiations in the summer of 2013?

Would you like President Pawlenty choosing the next two Supreme Court justices?

Would you like President Bachmann…?

I’m sorry. I’ll just stop there. I don’t want to add any more crazy to this summer’s political hysteria.

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10 Rays of Sunshine…

Election Day 2010 was a dark day for many of us on the side of truth, justice, and the Progressive American Way — but it does no good to retreat into the shadows of negativity. We must continue to move toward the light. In my case, that means warming myself in every ray of sunlight that pokes through the storm clouds. No matter how slender that shaft of heavenly illumination is.

So, in no particular order, here are 10 Rays of Sunshine that are providing me with some light amid the gloom.

1. The Browns Beat New England

It’s one thing for my underdog Cleveland Browns to upset the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints – but for them to lay a 34-14 beat-down on coach Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots is even better.

Belichick was the Browns head coach from 1991-95: the guy who unceremoniously dumped hometown hero, Bernie Kosar, saying the star quarterback was suffering from “diminishing skills.” Belichik’s record with the Browns was a lackluster 36–44, and in his last season the Browns finished 5–11. That same year owner Art Modell announced he was moving the team to Baltimore. Belichick resigned soon after that. Cleveland was without an NFL team – and without room in our collective heart for the coach that presided over the Browns’ darkest days.

So, it was sweet, indeed, when Bill’s celebrated Patriots took a knee on their last play to end the slaughter at the hands of the resurgent Browns. It was heartwarming to see Bill Belichick literally brought to his knees. Ah! Redemption and revenge on the same Sunday afternoon.

2. The Giants Defeat Texas in the World Series

I’ll admit that I’ve never been a San Francisco Giants fan. Something about that catch Willie Mays made in the ’54 Series that crushed my Tribe’s hopes.

Okay, the Giants were still in New York then, but it’s still the same franchise, right?

I’ll also admit that I don’t really care that the Giants have just won the World Series for the first time since moving to San Francisco.

So what is it about the Giants’ MLB Championship that brings me joy? I have two good reasons to be happy about San Francisco whipping Texas this year.

A. I love the idea of San Francisco, home of the demonized Nancy Pelosi, gay marriage, and all things liberal kicking butt on the team from a right-leaning, Neanderthal state led by a secessionist governor

B. The Texas Rangers are George Bush’s team. Poppy Bush was on hand to watch his wretched son throw out the first pitch before Game 4: a game the Giants won 4-0. I’m delighted that the Bush crime family was denied a reason to celebrate – and Dubya got less publicity for his whitewashed, self-serving memoir.

3. Sharron Angle Loses in Nevada

Senator Harry Reid’s 50% to 44% reelection over Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle proves that there just aren’t enough Limbaugh lemmings, numbskulls and racists in Nevada to win statewide office.

Thus, our great nation was spared the danger and embarrassment of six years of Sharron Angle’s lunacy in the upper chamber of Congress.

4. Christine O’Donnell Loses in Delaware

She may not be a witch, but thanks to the sanity of voters in the first state to ratify the US Constitution, she’s not the junior Senator from Delaware, either.

5. Meg and Carly Lose in California

Meg Whitman spent over $140 million of her own money to buy the California Governor’s seat. Carly Fiorina spent a relatively paltry $5.5 million of her own cash in a losing effort to unseat our liberal California Senator Barbara Boxer. It was great to know that my adopted home state could not be bought. (Not this election cycle, at least.)

6. 151,000 Jobs Added in October

The U.S. Labor Department has just reported that 159,000 private sector jobs were added in October, 2010. Factoring in government job cuts — which totaled 8,000 last month — the economy added 151,000 jobs in October. It was the first increase in total payroll since April, and private companies have now added jobs for 10 straight months. We’re not out of the dark by any means, but there’s a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Unless incoming Speaker Boehner and the wrong-way economic drivers in the GOP House caucus find a way to wrestle the car keys from President Obama and run us back into the ditch.

7. Stock Market Above 11,000

Have you checked your 401K or pension accounts lately? Remember how they looked when Bush’s economic chickens came home to roost? Or when Bush’s economic goose was cooked?

Whatever the poultry metaphor, the stock market bulls have sprouted wings again.

8. McRib is Back

I can’t remember when the McRib went away – but now it’s back. I plan to have one soon, although I don’t know why. The last one I ate several years ago didn’t taste much like ribs, but the barbecue sauce was passable. (Let’s face it. I’ll eat an old shoe if it’s slathered with the right barbecue sauce.)

McRib debuted in ‘81 and went away in ’85. Then, in ’94, the McRib returned as a tie-in with the film, “The Flintstones”. McDonald’s announced in ‘05 that the McRib would be mothballed again following a “McRib Farewell Tour.” At the same time, McDonald’s promoted a “Save the McRib” campaign sponsored by the “Boneless Pig Farmers Association of America.” Very funny. Just not very tasty.

And now the McRib is back again! Somehow, for no earthly reason at all other than it confirms the basic, good-natured naiveté and eager enthusiasm of Americans, I’m glad to see this oddball sandwich back on the menu.

9. Marty Still Alive on “Survivor”

Forty-eight year old, Marty Piombo of Mill Valley, California is my favorite contestant on the current season of “Survivor” – my favorite TV show. This season the series was shot in Nicaragua featuring younger players against older players. So far, the youngsters have the upper hand – but craft, cunning, Machiavellian Marty is still alive – and thus, vicariously, so am I.

UPDATE: Alas, Marty’s flame was snuffed out on Wednesday 11/10 through the treachery of the lovely yet diabolical Brenda. Gotta root for Fabio now.

10. Cleveland Cavaliers Still Winning

Despite the much-ballyhooed loss of LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers have not collapsed. Led by coach Byron Scott, the 3-3 Cavs currently have a share of first place in the NBA’s Central Division.

If the Cavaliers reach the playoffs without LeBron, ex-Laker star Byron Scott should be NBA Coach of the Year.

So, those are the items in the news that are making me smile. What are YOUR rays of sunshine?

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Postcards from California

On Election Day 2010, while much of America was awash in rancid Tea and the GOP, one state was left standing as a progressive firewall: California.

The wise people of my adopted home state rejected millions of dollars of secretly-funded corporate attack ads and the self-funded, ego-driven campaigns of out-sourcing, out-of-touch CEO multi-millionaires. Californians bucked the national trend and elected Democrats to every statewide office — from U.S. Senator to Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner — and on down the ballot.

To celebrate California’s stand for political sanity, I rushed out to buy a series of postcards to send to the rest of America. With love, of course.And for our New York friends, who also came up big for the progressive cause…

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Mid-Term Madness: The Top Ten

With the continuing misadventures of the Tea Party candidates, Election Season 2010 has, despite the efforts of Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show, entered the realm of Beyond Satire.

Radical policy positions that would have seemed extreme in any other election year – such as abolishing the Department of Education, ending Social Security, and requiring victims of rape and incest to give birth to their attackers’ progeny – are no longer confined to the far right wing of GOP politics. Given the Tea Party’s success in GOP primaries, it appears that anti-government dogma, anti-immigrant hysteria and Taliban-like anti-female and anti-gay social conservatism may become central planks in the mainstream Republican Party platform in 2012.

Of course, there’s also an undercurrent of creeping fascism — which is really creepy — but let’s stick with the outright crazy stuff for the moment. After all, even the more sane, sophisticated and relatively humorless right wing ideologues and corporate robber barons have to be stunned by the pageant of unskilled, unfettered, uneducated and unhinged campaigning on display in the run up to November 2, 2010.

In many states across the country, political aspirants with scant experience in public service who would have been considered fringe candidates in the past (if not the lunatic fringe) are now making national headlines on the campaign trail, in debates, and on the Sunday talk shows.

You’ve got to laugh to keep from crying.

Here, then, are some of the biggest jokes of the 2010 election. There have been so many wacky (actually quite scary) moments involving today’s kooky crop of candidates that it’s time to round up Mid-Term Madness: The Top Ten.

1. Aqua Buddha

Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul, a Republican darling of the Tea Party movement, had already raised eyebrows with many of his extreme anti-government positions, borne of his passion for novelist Ayn Rand’s everybody-for-themselves Objectivist philosophy. But if wanting to do away with public schools and Social Security didn’t brand Rand Paul a fringe candidate, what would Kentuckians make of accusations that, when he was in college, Rand Paul tied a woman up and forced her to bow down before the “Aqua Buddha”? (Which sounds, to me, a lot like some sort of exotic bong.)

The candidate’s still-anonymous accuser said he “took me out to this creek and made me worship Aqua Buddha.”

She added that the whole thing was so “weird” that she ended relations with Paul and his friends. But will Kentucky voters end their weird relationship with Rand Paul? In 2010, who can say?

2. “I’m Not A Witch”

Christine O’Donnell, Delaware’s Republican nominee and Sarah Palin’s endorsed Tea Party candidate for Joe Biden’s Senate seat, spent a lot of the 1990’s as a chirpy, sexy, conservative talking head on TV shows like Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect. As a result, Mr. Maher had a lot of video clips with which to torture O’Donnell’s candidacy, including her prudish crusade against masturbation and her startling admission that she “dabbled in witchcraft” while in high school.

The facts that O’Donnell has no real qualifications for high office, has lied about her education bona fides (no, she didn’t attend Cambridge) and can’t recall a single Supreme Court decision haven’t dampened her Tea Party support – but the witchcraft thing pricked the deaf ears of even the lowest-information Delaware voters.

As a result, O’Donnell had to spend good money on a statewide television ad to declare, “I’m not a witch.” (President Nixon must have been chuckling in his grave.) But the craziest part of the ad is when O’Donnell says, “I am you.”  Oh really, Christine? I don’t think so.

3. The SS Candidate

How to win friends and influence people?

Well, for one thing, don’t go around proudly dressed as in a Nazi uniform.

That’s what Republican Congressional nominee Rich Iott, whose district lies in my home state of Ohio, should have known. But, then again, parading around as a Nazi is such a good time, right?

Mr. Iott is a military history and reenactment buff who likes to parade around in a German Waffen SS uniform. (That’s Rich Iott dressed in Nazi drag in the picture at left. He’s the guy second from right. Far right, that is.) Candidate Iott also likes to participate in Nazi re-enactments. So, what’s wrong with that?

After all, Iott says his interest in Nazi Germany is historical and he doesn’t subscribe to Nazism – and some on the right wing have defended him, arguing that Iott also attends Civil War re-enactments in a Union army uniform.

The problem is that the Waffen SS were a particularly evil bunch of murderous rat bastards.

Unlike the conscripted citizen soldiers of the regular German Army (or Wehrmacht), the Waffen SS were a volunteer arm of the Nazi Party that enthusiastically committed countless war crimes and atrocities, including their prominent role in the slaughter of Jews and other “undesirables.” That should make Rich Iott undesirable as a Congressman from my home state. But will it?

Above is a photo of Rich in his jaunty Nazi cap, third from the right (wing).

4. Mr. Green (Does Not) Go To Washington

No state can outdo South Carolina for crazy. But what happened in the 2010 Democratic primary was absolutely nuts. Somehow, an unemployed 32-year-old Army veteran named Alvin Greene with no campaign funds, no posters and no website defeated a well-funded former judge and state legislator, Vic Rawl, for the right to oppose the incumbent GOP Senator Jim DeMint, another Tea Party darling. The mainstream media ignored the possibility of electronic vote tampering and dirty tricks leading to Greene’s election – but they couldn’t ignore how spectacularly unsuited and unprepared Greene was to campaign for, much less hold, a high office.

And if it wasn’t strange enough that a guy with no political experience, unemployed for nine months, somehow paid a $10,400 filing fee and all his other campaign expenses from his own personal funds – the sad, self-defeating saga of Alvin Greene got more bizarre when a Richland County grand jury indicted him for disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity (a felony) as well as a misdemeanor charge of communicating obscene materials to a person without consent.

According to prosecutors, Greene approached a female student in a University of South Carolina computer lab, showed her some obscene photos online, then talked about going to her dorm room. When a reporter from a local TV station pressed Greene to elaborate on the indictment, the accidental candidate told the reporter to “leave [his] property” and “go away.” Unlike Jim DeMint, I wish this whole sorry example of political dysfunction (and dog whistle race baiting) would go away.

5. Headless Bodies in the Arizona Desert

Batty, blustering Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s erratic reelection campaign has earned her two spots on this list. Brewer’s relentless demagoguery on the immigration issue and her support for Arizona Senate Bill 1070 (the “show me your papers” law) have made her a darling of the right in that troubled border state, despite the fact that she’s several bricks shy of a load. In fact, in her zeal to portray the threat from illegal immigration in as dire a light as possible, Brewer finally lost her head.

As Dana Milbank wrote in the July 11th edition of The Washington Post, “The Arizona governor, seemingly determined to repel every last tourist dollar from her pariah state, has sounded a new alarm about border violence. ‘Our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert either buried or just lying out there that have been beheaded.’” She also mentioned “beheadings” on Fox News. (One can only imagine the cutting, incisive follow up questions from her Fox interlocutor.)  Two months later, with no evidence of any headless bodies littering the Arizona desert, and no law enforcement officials willing to back her claims, Governor Brewer conceded she “misspoke” when she claimed that headless bodies were found in her state’s desert. But her half-hearted semi-apologia came only after her Democratic opponent decapitated Brewer over her headless nonsense in their gubernatorial debate. And how did she handle the issue with the press immediately after the debate? You gotta see it to believe it.

6. Jan Brewer’s (Very) Long Pause

Jan Brewers absolutely stunning (actually, stunned) opening statement in the Arizona Gubernatorial Debate on September 1st must also be seen to be believed.

Only in wacky, way-out Elections Season 2010 could a politician possibly survive turning in a performance like this on a televised debate.

7. Carl Paladino

The New York Republican Party had planned to run former U.S. Representative Rick Lazio to become the Republican candidate for New York governor in the race against Democrat Andrew Cuomo, the son of the revered former Governor Mario Cuomo. Instead, thanks to the Tea Party’s clout in the NY primary, they got little-known businessman Carl Paladino.  According to Dick Brennan in The Queens Courier, “Paladino has been dubbed by some as ‘Crazy Carl,’ but the reality is that Paladino is crazy like a fox. Nobody can figure out his strategy, so why not just call him a nut? In fact, the multimillionaire from Buffalo is following a plan, and sticking to it with great discipline.It’s easy to see the first part of his program: hit and run politics, guerilla war, throw your bombs and run for cover. By bombs we mean politically incorrect statements, the more outrageous the better.”

Among the rhetorical bombs tossed by Paladino are his claims that students are being “brainwashed” into believing that the gay lifestyle is a valid option. (This from a guy whose son is the landlord for two gay bars.) Out of the blue, Paladino criticized the media for not asking completely unfounded questions about Cuomo’s marital fidelity. (Crazy Carl claimed to have evidence, but revealed none.) And then there’s Paladino’s penchant for off-color e-mails, like the video he sent to friends of Africans dancing in traditional dress that was titled “Obama Inauguration Rehearsal” – and the video he forwarded of a woman having sex with a horse. The Tea Party doesn’t seem to have the most vigorous vetting process, does it?

8. Sharron Angle

Did I mention that The Tea Party doesn’t seem to have the most vigorous vetting process?

Of all the Senate Democrats in trouble this election season, Harry Reid of Nevada looked like a soft target for the GOP this fall. Nevada’s economy has been devastated by the housing crisis and Harry Reid is, well, Harry Reid. A decent, stalwart, western Democrat – but not the most charismatic or inspirational politician one could hope for. (As a Californian, I see Harry as the Gray Davis of Nevada.) But, once again, The Tea Party insurgents blew up the GOP’s hope for an easy victory by nominating the most spectacularly unqualified, un-muzzled, and unbelievably obtuse candidate to contend against Reid: Sharron Angle, an ultra-right former member of the Nevada state legislature.

Daniel Kurtzman has listed “The 10 Most Ridiculous Sharron Angle Quotes (So Far)” at About.com (and you should check them all out.) They don’t even include her recent suggestion that many of the Hispanic high school kids she was speaking to looked Asian to her. But here’s just a few…

“People ask me, ‘What are you going to do to develop jobs in your state?’ Well, that’s not my job as a U.S. senator.”

“The Federal Department of Education should be eliminated. The Department of Education is unconstitutional and should not be involved in education, at any level.”

And she said this to explain why she opposes abortion — even in cases of rape or incest. “I think that two wrongs don’t make a right. And I have been in the situation of counseling young girls, not 13 but 15, who have had very at risk, difficult pregnancies. And my counsel was to look for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade.” Only amid the madness of Mid-Terms 2010 could such a fringe nutcase become Nevada’s junior Senator.

9. Joe Miller or Joe Stalin?

Ah, Alaska! The state the just keeps giving to satirists, cynics and those awaiting signs that the end of the world is upon us. Now the Tea Party voters of Alaska, with the endorsement of no less an authority on wacko, vacuous, right wing politics than Sarah Palin, have given us Joe Miller: he of the permanent five o’clock shadow – and shadowy ideas about how to govern our country. But you’d think that a candidate representing the party of St. Ronald Reagan, who famously stood before the Berlin Wall and uttered the words, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” would be loathe to show admiration for Joe Stalin’s infamous Cold War barrier to freedom. Alas, in 2010, any strange thing is possible.

In fact, at a town hall meeting, GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller praised East Germany as a model for how the U.S. might defend its borders. According to Joe (that’s Miller, not Stalin, though I can understand the confusion), “East Germany was very, very able to reduce the flow,” of cross-border traffic. “Now, obviously, other things there were involved,” Miller conceded, but… “We have the capacity, as a great nation, obviously, to secure our border. If East Germany could, we could.”

Of course, awful visions of barbed wire, machine guns and Checkpoint Charlie aside, Joe Miller fails to understand that the Berlin Wall was built to keep East Germans in – not to keep illegal immigrants out.

Can being such a wacko keep Joe Miller out of the Senate?

Let’s hope so.

A guy like Miller almost makes me want to write in M..u..r..k..o..w..s..k..i. Then again, now that this is a three-way race, the Democrat, former Sitka mayor Scott McAdams, just might sneak in. Provided Joe doesn’t build that wall to keep him out.

10. Sarah Palin as Tea Party Kingmaker

That’s all you need to know about the lunacy of Election 2010. A know-nothing former pageant princess, ex-mayor of a tiny town, failed Governor, failed Vice Presidential candidate and a woman who quit her job working for the people of Alaska to line her pockets at Fox News, TLC and anywhere they’ll pay her big bucks to speak – is somehow a Tea Party kingmaker, capable up upsetting the mainstream GOP applecart. It’s actually fun to watch. Just imagine how the relationship between Mitch McConnell and John McCain is going lately.

Thanks, Senator McCain. If you hadn’t chosen Sarah Palin as your running mate, the GOP might have had a good chance of taking the Senate in 2010. So you could say all this mid-term madness started with McCain.

No nutty deed goes unpunished. Especially in this election season.

And now, the dream GOP/Teas Party ticket for 2012…

Now, that would be truly beyond satire. (Oh, but we’d have to try, wouldn’t we?)

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Common Cents

I’m not as good a student of the American Revolution as I’d like to be, but what I do know about the founding of our nation — the Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War, the Federalist Papers, the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and, yes, the Boston Tea Party — makes it all the more infuriating when I hear the intellectually bankrupt, morally confused, and hopelessly misinformed, misguided, and myopic blather of today’s self-styled Tea Party activists.

Bankrolled by right wing think tanks aligned with corporate interests, former GOP House Majority Leader Dick Armey’s fabricated Tea Party pretends to be a grass roots movement – and the mainstream media (also controlled by multinational corporate masters) plays right along. Good-looking empty-headed figureheads like quit-term Governor Sarah Palin and GOP Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann help gin up anti-Washington fervor among an eclectic collection of the frustrated, frightened, and fanatical. (And more than a few racists who just don’t cotton to a black man in the White House.)

These new Tea Party “patriots” appropriate American Revolutionary iconography and add their own individual touches of Libertarian orthodoxy, anti-tax “drown government in the bathtub” zealotry, neo-Know Nothing nativism, New World Order conspiracy theory, and a gun-worshipping, survivalist militia mentality. It’s a toxic and combustible mix, stirred up by those who seek to divide the American body politic into opposing camps – and enlist struggling working people in a righteous war against their own best interests.

As we approach the critical mid-term elections of 2010, these are once again “times that try men’s souls”. Where is Thomas Paine when we need him?

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated…” Thomas Paine

If Paine, the influential Revolutionary patriot and pamphleteer, were living today he would, no doubt, be a blogger. After all, there aren’t that many time slots available on MSNBC. (Though I’m sure Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow would have Tom on as a guest.) If he were alive in this moment of crisis, Paine would certainly be rallying his fellow citizens to battle against the real enemy they face: the steady, stealthy loss of their 234-year old democracy to the selfish, greedy, power-grabbing interests of multinational corporations.

Paine would tell these misguided Tea Party tools that their elected government isn’t their enemy. Our representative government is what stands between us and the rapacious depredations of a corporate oligarchy that’s been amassing money and power at a clip not seen since the Gilded Age of the Robber Barons. Our common fight isn’t against Big Government, which protects our water, food and air — and provides a host of other services and protections that individual Americans cannot provide on their own. Rather, we must be vigilant about the rise of corporate personhood and power. The man who wrote “Common Sense” would tell us to be wary of big money. It’s time for “Common Cents”.

In his classic 1776 pamphlet, “Common Sense”, Tom Paine made the patriot’s case against the authority of a royal monarchy. Today, an elite royal monarchy rules from the boardrooms of mega-corporations solely devoted to profit as they offshore American jobs, lend money to hard-pressed wage earners at usurious rates, gamble our pensions away on risky market speculation in the hope of a fat bonus, and continue to pollute our environment — unless they get caught by those pesky government people and their “anti-business” regulations. Educated and aroused by the plain, inspiring language of Thomas Paine, a new generation of American patriots might finally hear the alarm that should have been sounded from sea to shining sea on that fateful day, January 21, 2010, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case.

In their landmark 5-4 decision in the case of Citizens United v The Federal Election Commission, the right-leaning Supreme Court led by Chief Justice and corporate shill, John Roberts, held that the First Amendment protects the right of corporations to plow unlimited funds into independent political broadcasts during candidate elections. Thus, the sluice gates were opened to a torrent of dirty money to flood the airwaves with attack ads, sponsored by big money interests.

Do you think your $5 and $10 contributions to your favorite Congressional candidate can compete with the millions that Target or BP can spend to slime your candidate if he opposes building a shopping mall on your local forest preserve — or if he’s fighting against Big Oil’s right to pollute your shoreline with minimal environmental protections?

In deciding that corporations have the same free speech rights as human individuals – that corporations are, in essence, persons with the same inalienable rights as you and me – the five “conservative” Justices conveniently overlooked the fact that corporations are granted their existence by We the People through licenses issued by our government. As Bill Cosby used to tell his kids on TV, “I brought you in – and I can take you out!” Corporations aren’t persons. We the People grant them license to do business – and we can limit what they’re allowed to do under that license. That’s what the 2002 McCain-Feingold Act attempted to codify in the area of corporate contributions to political campaigns. Alas, the Citizens United decision blew McCain-Feingold to smithereens.

Siding with the corporate elite against the interests of average American people, the Roberts Court has paved the way for Big Money to buy our elections. You’ll hear a lot of screaming on Faux News and in the Right Wing echo chamber about how the Supremes have also allowed those dreaded labor unions to buy elections. But seriously folks, who’s got more money to spend — Citibank, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs — or a labor union? It’s not even close…

And our faux populist friends in the GOP, Faux News and Right Wing Talk Radio – the same blowhards who pretend to support the interests of hard-working, pro-American Tea Party members – don’t even care if foreign companies can buy our elections. Explain to me, my “conservative” friends, why wax-figure Mitch McConnell and teary-eyed, tanning bed addict John Boehner are opposing legislation that would prevent foreign companies from pumping money into U.S. elections? And why would these same GOP leaders be against public disclosure of who is paying how much for all these campaign ads? Don’t We the People have an inalienable right to know who’s behind these million-dollar ad buys?

Tom Paine would have these companies’ names posted on the commons for all true patriots to see.

I’ll end with a final word on the pernicious doctrine of Corporate Personhood: this dubious notion that a corporation is a person entitled to basic human rights. The fact is – corporations are entities created by government (AKA We the People), and thus, can be limited by government (AKA We the People). So, given that the John Roberts-led Supreme Court is so confused (read “bought and paid for”), perhaps we must amend the U.S. Constitution to make it clear that only human beings (We the People) are “persons” with constitutional rights.

It’s We the People vs. Big Money. That’s the battle that is going on right now. And whether or not you’re disappointed that the Obama administration has been progressive enough, try to imagine if McConnell and Boehner crawl back into power. Try to imagine if Dick Armey’s absurd, unenlightened Tea Party is able to set the political agenda for the next six years. Are you ready for the ascendancy of Queen Sarah and her corporate overlords? (Okay, maybe I exaggerate. Maybe.)

Get out the vote this November.

And when your “conservative” friends say something snarky about President Obama or Senator Al Franken or our progressive agenda — smack them down with inarguable facts and the force of your well-reasoned opinion.

And call on the timeless words of Tom Paine

The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman…What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated…”

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