Archive for gop fail

Gov. "Ultrasound" McDonnell probed, media mounts soap opera defense for him

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bob mcdonnell trans vag ultrasound probe

Media coverage of the Gov. Bob "Ultrasound" McDonnell corruption case could take a cue from the following excerpt from USA Today, and an even bigger one from The Rachel Maddow Show below:

RICHMOND, Va. — The key prosecution witness in the federal corruption trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, took the stand Wednesday, saying there was no personal relationship between he and the couple.

Jonnie Williams, the wealthy businessman and former chief executive of Star Scientific, said he did not give the two initial checks to the McDonnell family because he thought he and the McDonnells were friends.

"This was a business relationship," he said about why he helped the McDonnell family. "I needed his help."

That's news. Unfortunately, however, that has not been the focus of the so-called "news" media when it comes to this story. Rachel Maddow zeroed right in on the How Do You Solve a Problem Like Media Coverage? issue in the following segment. We owe her our gratitude:

Maddow on "the salaciousness of the headlines":

The headlines are all like this... "Trial reveals governor's wife had 'crush' on CEO"...

The indictment-- the allegations from prosecutors-- those have been out there for months now. But now that we're having the trial... what has stolen the show about the defense is this designed-for-headlines assertion from the defense, that the McDonnell's marriage was broken, Maureen McDonnell had a "childlike crush" on this businessman who the McDonnells are accused of helping in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts...

But the defense strategy in the corruption trial of Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife is apparently going to be [about their marriage]... This is how they're going to try to keep the governor and his wife out of jail.

Bob McDonnell and Maureen McDonnell stand accused of accepting over $160,000 in gifts and cash from this wealthy CEO [Johnnie Williams] in exchange for providing official help from the state for the CEO's company. That's called corruption, right? "Give me something of personal value to me, and in exchange, I'll give you a little something from the government, the government in which I am an official." ...

So that strategy, the "she took everything" defense... is undercut by the fact that Bob McDonnell himself did things himself like ask this guy for a $70,000 loan for his real estate business... But that is their main defense strategy, the claim is basically that "she did it all, she's not a public official, so there's no public corruption. And, there couldn't be a... corrupt conspiracy between the two of them, because there was no "two of them."... It was just her "lovesick stupidity. He's actually kind of the victim here."... That's their legal strategy...

What does not make sense is the media helping them with it... It is being covered purely in a tabloid way... Purely through catty, sexist gossip [her shopping, her "crush"]... That framing is not only sexist and gross, it ignores the fact that Bob McDonnell himself was doing things like setting up meetings for this wealthy donor with top state health officials... They claim they have the evidence to prove it.

But if the Bob McDonnell defense is gonna be to blame it all on the "lovesick, emotionally erratic, Louis Vuitton-loving wife, they are so far doing a masterful job of injecting that storyline into the press and getting the press to mount their defense for them.

The press is bending over backwards to help the McDonnell legal defense... Attention news media! This is an overt strategy and you are helping one side of this legal case by advancing the strategic storyline for them, because you can't resist a tabloid soap opera tale.

You're being played! You're being played... by covering this as a tabloid story about a marriage, and not a crime blotter story about a corrupt governor.

bob mcdonnell probe johnnie williams

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Bright spot for Dems: Electing governors in states run by Republicans

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what's the matter with kansas now GOP governors

backfire plan fail smaller boy light socket

As the headline suggests, there is, indeed, a bright spot for Democrats this election season: Knocking off GOP governors in tres rouge Republican states. Waitwhat? Yes, you read that right, we have a shot at retaking a few governors mansions in currently (Or to put it punnily, currantly) red states. Crazy huh? How'd that happen?

Well, it happened because radical right legislation signed by radical right governors is backfiring. Even their fellow Republicans have had enough. Now let's hope it backfires effectively enough to get voters to turn a few red mansions blue. Steve Kornacki cites one example. Then below that is the L.A. Times' broader take on the topic. Take it away, Steve:

Steve Kornacki, subbing for Rachel Maddow:

So you've heard a lot of stories in the last two years about extremely conservative governors and extremely conservative state legislators. You've probably heard of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and maybe you're even familiar with some of the extremely conservative lawmaking he and his legislature have achieved.

But you might not have heard what happened to Governor Brownback in Kansas today. Lots of people have seen enough and many of those people are Republicans...

There's a race for governor of Kansas this year. And today in that state, more than 100 Republican politicians and activists officially threw their support behind the Democrat...

And to put things in perspective and how big a deal this is, just take a minute to think of how staunchly a Republican state Kansas actually is...

Just two years ago, Brownback led an effort to purge moderate Republican state legislators in primaries to drive them out of the statehouse to replace them with right-wingers. And he got his way. 2012 was also the same year he signed a controversial tax slashing law into effect. ... Brownback said at the time that the cuts would create tens of thousands of new jobs and help make Kansas the best place in America to start and grow a small business.

But two years later, it hasn't quite worked out that way. So far, it`s cost Kansas a ton of revenue without really jump-starting the economy. Moody`s, for example, recently downgraded the state`s credit rating... [O]n one hand, the governor`s dealing with the fallout from the tax cuts he championed. And on the other, he`s dealing with backlash from the moderates he`s tried to stamp out.

Steve Benen has more on this at The Maddow Blog.

The Los Angeles Times explores the phenomenon further. Brownback isn't the only one who may be in trouble:

The mathematics and political map both favor Democrats, the opposite of their circumstance in congressional races, where most House Republicans are safe and most competitive Senate contests are in places President Obama lost in 2012.

By contrast, Republican governors are battling in Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin and other states Obama carried twice.

Democrats have even expanded the fight to places such as ruby-red Kansas, where Republican Gov. Sam Brownback faces a stiff challenge amid an uproar from GOP moderates and others unhappy with his aggressively conservative agenda — especially a massive tax cut that has badly strained state finances.

I love the way Nathan Gonzales, an analyst with the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report, put it: "One of the consequences of doing well in an election is having to defend those victories next time around."

As regular readers know, one of my mantras is that the GOP lacks foresight. This drives the point home.

And this concludes yet another episode of Republicans Eating Their Own.

eating their own

oz we're not in kansas any more

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Your Weekly Upchucks: KC Boyd Brings Us Shocking Religion News

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kc boyd being christian book

Please welcome back regular guest contributor, author of Being Christian -- a racy novel that explores the dark underbelly of the right-wing Christian world -- and the go-to blogger on shocking religion news, hypocrisy, and all things church v. state (weekly upchucks), KC Boyd. You might remember her from her earlier posts.

You can link over to the official KC Boyd site here for the rest of this post. It’s well worth a look, because I left out a ton of great upchuckable stuff, including antidotes! These are but a few of her weekly "where religion meets your rights" collection:

Your Weekly Upchucks: The place where religion meets your rights

– by KC Boyd

Abortion and Contraception

  • Chuck Me  A Loogie: It’s their Christianity or the highway to hell: Abortion Protesters Interrupt Church Service, Tell Pro-Choice Worshippers To ‘Repent’
  • Back Alleys. They’re A-Boomin’ Hurl: Number Of Texas Women Living 200 Miles From An Abortion Clinic Has Jumped By 2,800 Percent
  • Dug-In Spew: In a Room Crowded With Duggars, Ohio Republicans Pledge to Reintroduce Heartbeat Ban

Creationism

  • Can’t Make It Up-Chuck: Creationist Ken Ham calls to end space program because aliens are going to hell anyway

Education

Fifty Shades Of Hate

  • Governor of Puke: Michigan mayor says giving atheists equal treatment is like favoring the Nazis or the KKK

Fifty Shades Of Loony

  • Because Marcus Never Preys On Michele-Chuck: Michele Bachmann: Gays want to ‘freely prey on little children sexually’

If Media Is The Message

  • Fall Down Upchucking: “Christians today face discrimination at unprecedented levels”
  • Spew It Wide: Columnist tells Jewish voters to stop backing Dems, says they are planning anti-Semitic “atrocities

Israel, Hagee and End Times

Military

Politics Nation

  • Cruz Spewz: Personhood Supporter Ted Cruz Shocked Anyone Thinks GOP Wants To Curtail Contraception Access

Religion Gone Mad

  • Remember When The GOP Didn’t Spell U-P-C-H-U-C-K? Bob Dole is gearing up 4 another fight against the Religious Right over a UN treaty covering people with disabilities.
  • Hurling Nuggets: How Chick-fil-A Hires: The Christian Way

Same Sex Issues

  • Tastes Like Puke-Chuck: OR bakery that refused wedding cakes for same-sex couples now bakes ex-gay cakes

Sausage Makers And Their Sausage

  • For The Gucci Set-Chuck: Proposed Republican Bill Would Treat Contraception Like a Luxury Good
  • Pandering Poopie: GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell just announced that if anti-choice Republicans take control of the Senate this November, one of his top priorities will be to pass an abortion ban

Supremes And Lower Courts

  • Next Up SCROTUS? Supreme Court keeps Utah same-sex marriages on ice
  • Up-Chuck And Away: The Hobby Lobby Decision Makes ‘Religious Freedom’ A Euphemism For Imposing Religious Doctrine. America Should Beware.

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Radioactive waste a toxic byproduct of fracking, drilling in N. Dakota

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headdesk radioactive waste fracking

Back in May I wrote, Hey Big Oil "pro-lifers": Fossil fuels may be killing babies! Today's Los Angeles Times has an extensive report about how, in North Dakota, fracking may very well be producing radioactive waste. Again, "pro-lifers," the question is: What do you value more, life or profits?

Did I mention that oil drilling and fracking are producing radioactive waste?

So you know how Republicans despise oversight? Because, freedom! Don'tcha wonder if they ever consider their fellow Americans' freedom to keep breathing? Especially those self-proclaimed right-to-lifers. It's hard to fathom that they are actually this okay with exposure to deadly toxins as long as their corporate gods make a buck.

Did I mention that oil drilling and fracking are producing radioactive waste?

Am I repeating myself? I tend to do that when I'm livid. And appalled. And sickened. But I'm not sickened in a way that will potentially kill me. No, that's reserved for the victims of Fracking, Inc. in North Dakota, the second-largest oil-producing state, right after Texas.

Did I mention that North Dakota doesn't have an environmental protection agency?

Did I mention that New Mexico GOP Gov. Susana Martinez weakened her state's rules on hazardous waste last year?

Did I mention that the EPA is not providing adequate oversight? That would be the Environmental PROTECTION Agency.

Did I mention that my head is throbbing from banging it on my desk?

Via the L.A. Times must-read story:

Nearly 1,000 radioactive filters were found last year at the landfill, part of a growing tide of often toxic waste produced by the state's oil and gas rush. Oil field waste includes drill cuttings — rock and earth that come up a well bore — along with drilling fluids and wastewater laced with chemicals used in fracking.

To many local and tribal officials, environmentalists and some industry managers in North Dakota, the dumping of the socks [filters clotted with radioactive dirt] and the proliferation of other waste shows the government falling short in safeguarding the environment against oil field pollution.

The Environmental Protection Agency decided during the Reagan era to classify oil field waste as not hazardous, exempting it from tight controls and leaving it to be managed by widely varied state laws. Nationally, no one tracks how many millions of tons of waste the fossil fuel boom generates, or where it ends up.

There's that "leaving it to the states" beast raising its ugly head again. Republican-run states have done so well with the Affordable Care Act and voting rights. What could possibly go wrong? Well, for one thing, North Dakota situating "slop pits" of poison over "known aquifers" could be a teeny tiny problem.

Some of the people quoted in the article requested anonymity because they were afraid of repercussions-- like, you know, getting fired-- for trying to point out things like waste management failures, fear of carcinogens in groundwater, exemptions for radioactive elements being classified as hazardous waste, and for putting frackin' lives in danger. Things like that.

And then there's-- ta-daa!-- Congress:

The EPA says it cannot reclassify oil field waste as hazardous without legislative action, which, with the current Congress, is unlikely.

bangheadSee: "Not a skit! Our actual Congress! Gaaa!"

Not a skit, our actual Congress, gaa! Maddow

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"Absence of a strong wave comes as something of a setback for GOP"

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democracy setback

A report just came out from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate. It confirmed what many of us already knew: that Americans are "staying away from the polls in droves." Not good, not good at all. The prediction is that the midterm primary elections will set record lows in voter turnout. "Who cares?" many of you may be asking. Well, per the Los Angeles Times, that would be a real setback for democracy:

Why does that matter? “It presents a danger to our society insofar as democracy does thrive on the consent and involvement of the governed,” said Curtis Gans, director of the nonpartisan election research center and a decades-long student of voter behavior. “Leadership needs some form of mandate.”

The study says a major factor in the low turnout is a sense of futility: congressional districts consciously drawn to favor one party or the other, which leave many voters wondering why they should bother participating when the outcome is preordained.

Got that? Gerrymandering is a major culprit. Scroll through our many posts on that subject.

gerrymander definition

To repeat, low voter turnout is bad for democracy... and usually bad for Democrats, specifically.

Adjacent to that article was another one about a different kind of setback. It has a somewhat encouraging title (key word: somewhat), No partisan wave building for fall elections, but GOP gains likely:

[F]or now, the absence of a strong wave comes as something of a setback for Republicans, who had hoped earlier this year that the unpopularity of President Obama's healthcare law would guarantee big gains for them.  [...]

The public's dismal view of Congress probably accounts for some of that lack of enthusiasm about voting.

That last sentence is an understatement, IMHO. Our own Sherry Hardy wrote a great post about that here, and I followed up here.

Not a skit, our actual Congress, gaa! Maddow

And from the Timing Is Everything Dep't., Steve Kornacki subbed for Chris Matthews on Hardball and treated us to his own "Let Me Finish" segment in which he opined on the long game for Democrats:

Kornacki:

Right now, at least, it doesn't look like a big Republican wave is building, and it does look like Democrats can at least hold their own this fall. And if they can do that, then it sets up the real battle in 2016...

In 2016, Republicans won't just get to take shots at the White House, they'll have to put up a candidate of their own. They'll have to write a platform of their own, run on an agenda that might not sit that well with most Americans. There could be a huge opportunity for Democrats...

2014 is important to [the Democrats], but 2016? That's the ball game.

You know what to do:

vote  turnout  gotv

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"Not a skit! Our actual Congress! Gaaa!"

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Not a skit, our actual Congress, gaa! Maddow

Our own Sherry Hardy covered Rachel Maddow's edible take-down of the Worst Congress Ever in her post, 'Get Out and Push', Says Maddow of the Useless, U.S. Congress. Maddow went ballistic, and rightfully so. Wowee, do GOP obstructionists suck, and yes, I'm using the official elitist left vernacular. Before going any further, I have to share a couple of the best parts from the segment Sher put up. And by "best" I mean most relatable, because Rachel's Moment of Gaa! was surely felt by many of us. Here are four very short clips (under a minute each) that represent some of her best outbursts. Here she is, blasting Congress to smithereens, and by Congress she meant Republican members thereof:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Maddow:

"Not a skit! Our actual Congress! Gaaa!"

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Maddow:

"This is truly historic failure."

ding ding ding

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

All of this brings us to today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor in which readers responded to former Rep. David Dreier op-ed that was meant "to assure readers that it's not as bad as it seems in Congress. The nearly unanimous response from the nearly two dozen readers who sent us letters: Are you serious?"

Here you go, because our voices matter:

It's been tried many times before, the guilty claiming innocence by accusing the victim.

Dreier does just that. He blames the people for being divided, implying that the members of Congress themselves are not at fault. This is why only 13% of Americans approve of Congress, according to a January Gallup poll. Eighty seven percent of the people being of one mind in their disapproval doesn't sound like division.

Fewer laws have been passed by this Congress than by any other in the last 65 years, and Dreier says it's not really that bad. I think it is time for a reality check.

Frances Pin, Marina del Rey

..

Dreier deludes himself and, even more sadly, us.

We have a do-nothing Congress not because Americans are deeply divided. Important legislative efforts on immigration, the minimum wage and gun control did not die because of deep division, as a large majority of Americans favored these measures.

Is Dreier saying that shutting down the government and threatening its solvency came because of voter division? The failures came because the GOP was listening to the radical tea party members of Congress, who represent a very small minority of the population.

It is self-serving for Dreier to blame the division of the people — actually, insulting.

Jim Hoover, Huntington Beach

..

Dreier states that he is continually asked, "Is Congress completely controlled by big money and special interests?" and "Is it more partisan and dysfunctional than ever before?"

He never answers. Instead he tells us how there are always two opinions to every issue and groups of constituents on both sides.

I have to assume that he avoided answering because the answers are both "yes."

Ted Bacino, Palm Springs

..

Dreier blames the diversity of Americans for Congress' obstructionism.

Of course we are diverse, and we are better off for it. However, when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated in 2010 that his main goal was for Barack Obama to be a one-term president, he revealed quite clearly what the Republican Party was all about: not diversity, but settling scores.

Robert S. Ellison, Arcadia

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"It's Arm the Rebels o'clock. Do you know where your Senator John McCain is?"

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john mccain arm rebels

How many times have we been subjected to John McCain's myopic rants about arming the rebels in any given civil war or in any given area of conflict?

Rachel Maddow:

It's Arm the Rebels o'clock. Do you know where your Senator John McCain is?

Per McCain, it really doesn't matter much where or who they are, if they're rebels, just arm them. Especially if President Obama is taking a more measured approach. Grampy McDrumbeat is just itching to hand over lethal weapons of war to someone, anyone, because if fits into his whole Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb [insert country here] mentality: the more explosions the better. Especially if we aid and abet some of them. Blow 'em up! Kill [insert bad guys' name here]! What a blast! (Pun intended.)

weeee smaller

There's just one problem with that mania, Senator McDrumbeat. It can backfire.

Take Guatemala, for example. Via the Los Angeles Times:

Perez Molina said the violence and crime in Guatemala were a byproduct of the Cold War when the U.S. and the Soviet Union were funding opposite sides of civil wars in Central America to gain influence.

Perez Molina was a top intelligence officer in the Guatemalan military in the 1980s and ’90s.

Moral of the story: Don't listen to John McCain.

Real moral of the story: A more rational, measured approach is most often very wise and can save lives.

Other moral of the story: The road to more violence and crime is paved with shortsighted intentions.

Immoral of the story: Stop treating horribly abused child refugees like criminals.

In related news, there was an L.A. Times letter to the editor that is worth a share. I'd link to it, but I can't find it on the Times site, so I'm transcribing it verbatim:

Re: "Texas to send Guard troops to border," July 22

I hear echoes of Kent State University. What are the National Guard troops to do to these migrant children in Texas: shoot them?

Pat Mauer, Pasadena

What is it with Republican presidential hopefuls and violent troubleshooting? (Pun intended.)

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