A Perfect Plan For Republican Debates

The Republican National Committee has voted to ban CNN and NBC from covering their debates if they go ahead with planned shows about Hillary Clinton. Obviously the Republicans feel more comfortable on Fox, with talk that the debates might be moderated by Mark Levin, Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh in place of journalists.

This sounds like a good idea to me. Let the Republicans stay in their bubble. There really isn’t much difference between the pseudo-journalists at Fox and the conservative talking heads. Put them in a room together and who knows what sort of bat-shit crazy things they will all start talking about. Just picture it: “Any of you believe in evolution, raise your hand (snickers). Believe in global warming? What do you plan to do to keep minorities out of the country (and keep women and blacks in their place)?”

Mitt Romney Stands By What He Said, “Whatever It Was”

A super PAC supporting Mitt Romney had planned to release an add reviving the Reverend Wright attack line against Obama. Apparently someone in Romney’s campaign realized that this could backfire. Romney said that bringing this up would be the “wrong course” and the ad was dropped. (There is also some question as to whether the PAC actually planned to release the  ad or if this was just a way to dominate a news cycle).

Romney might have come out of this looking good if not for the fact that he previously raised Wright when appearing on Sean Hannity’s show in February.

The video is above. Here is a summary from ABC News:

In the clip, after Hannity played a sound bite of Obama saying, “Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation,” Romney said he believed Obama didn’t understand “that Judeo Christian philosophy is an integral part of our foundation.”

“I’m not sure which is worse: him listening to Rev. Wright or him saying we must be a less-Christian nation,” Romney said.

Needless to say, besides bringing up Wright on his own, Romney is also wrong in his belief that this is a Christian nation, contradicting the views of the Founding Fathers.

Romney made matters worse for himself when asked if he agrees with his former statement (which contradicts the view he expressed today). Here is the transcript of the exchange  (with video above via ThinkProgress):

QUESTION: “When you did an interview with Sean Hannity in February, you said that you believed that Obama is trying to make America a less Christian nation. It was responding to quote that he had just played for you on the radio. Do you stand by that? And do you believe that President Obama’s world view was shaped by Reverend Wright and do you see evidence of that in his policies?”

ROMNEY:I’m not familiar precisely with what I said, but I’ll stand by what I said, whatever it was.”

This is reminiscent of the comment which hurt John Kerry in 2004: “”I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.” While poorly worded, Kerry’s gaffe actually did make sense in context. There were two different votes with differences in how the supply was funded. Kerry is hardly the only Senator to vote in different ways when there are significant changes in different versions of a bill.

In contrast, Romney’s statement reinforces what we have already seen. Romney will say whatever he sees as politically beneficial at the time, regardless of  what he might actually believe, and regardless of the facts.

Someone such as Romney who takes different positions on different days will inevitably have difficulty recalling what position they took on a prior day. It might be fun to ask Romney about more of his previous statements. We could see how many he actually remembers, and how often he will stand by previous statements contradicting current statements.


A Free Market In Conservative Endorsements

Conservative talk show hosts claim support for the free market. Ignoring for a moment the degree to which the right wing actually undermines our market system while promoting plutocracy, there is one market they are strongly in favor of–a free market in selling endorsements. Politico reports:

If you’re a regular listener of Glenn Beck’s radio show and you wanted to contribute to a political group that would advance the populist conservative ideals he touts on his show, you’d have plenty of reason to think that FreedomWorks was your best investment.

But if you’re a fan of Mark Levin’s radio show, you’d have just as much cause to believe that Americans for Prosperity, a FreedomWorks rival, was the most effective conservative advocacy group. And, if Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity are who you listen to, you’d be hearing a steady stream of entreaties to support the important work of the Heritage Foundation.

That’s not coincidence. In search of donations and influence, the three prominent conservative groups are paying hefty sponsorship fees to the popular talk show hosts. Those fees buy them a variety of promotional tie-ins, as well as regular on-air plugs – praising or sometimes defending the groups, while urging listeners to donate – often woven seamlessly into programming in ways that do not seem like paid advertising.

“The point that people don’t realize,” said Michael Harrison, founder and publisher of the talk media trade publication TALKERS Magazine, “is that (big time political talk show hosts) are radio personalities – they are in the same business that people like Casey Kasem are in – and what they do is no different than people who broadcast from used car lots or restaurants or who endorse the local roofer or gardener.”

This returns the the question I’ve often wondered about the right wing talk show hosts–do they believe any of the nonsense they say or are they just saying what makes them the most money?  Both Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have provided reasons to question whether they believe what they say on air.

Please Let This Be A Hoax, Donald

Donald Trump is promoting the most absurd right wing lines around: There can’t be global warming because it is cold outside. Obama not born in the US. Now he’s repeating the claim that Bill Ayers wrote Dreams Of Our Fathers. I’m just hoping it is a massive publicity stunt and in the final episode of Apprentice he tells all the wing nuts they should be fired for actually believing this crap. It’s not like his current statements are at all consistent with what he’s said in the past, as even many conservatives realize.

The whole Birther issue is basically thinly veiled racism stemming from the fear and distrust of many conservatives of people who do not look like them. It is certainly plausible that a person could be spreading the Birther nonsense about Obama without necessarily being a racist. I do doubt that this actually occurs in the real world. It didn’t take Donald Trump long to move from bringing up the Birther nonsense to outright appealing to the racism of the right wing as he blames “The Blacks” for getting Obama elected.

Bill Maher Responds To Right Wing Attacks Over Everything

Bill Maher responds to right wingers who are attacking Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program as part of their attitude of attacking everything.

Shorter Sarah Palin on Hannity And A Rational Conservative Response

Sarah (Reload) Palin’s appearance on Sean Hannity did nothing to satisfy those of us who remained shocked by the recent shootings in Tucson, along with many other acts of politically-motivated violence. Here’s Shorter Palin on Hannity:

“I will continue to speak out to promote hatred and division. I stand by my anti-Semitic slur. I was the real victim. My words never cause harm; words critical of me do.”

That, of course, was not Palin’s actual words, but is the message she conveyed to those beyond the fringe element who supports her. Most conservatives are unable or unwilling to understand what liberals have been saying in the aftermath of the shootings. Rather than responding to what we are saying, they falsely claim that liberals are placing the blame for the shooting on Palin and then respond to this instead of what is actually being said.

One exception is Joe Scarborough who has this message for conservatives:

We get it, Sarah Palin. You’re not morally culpable for the tragic shooting in Tucson, Ariz. All of us around the “Morning Joe” table agree, even if we were stunned that you would whine about yourself on Facebook as a shattered family prepared to bury their 9-year-old girl.

The same goes for you, Glenn Beck. You’ve attacked your political opponents with words designed to inspire hatred and mind-bending conspiracy theories from fans. Calling the president a racist, Marxist and fascist may be reprehensible, but it did not lead a mentally disturbed man to take a Glock to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s “Congress on Your Corner” event.

Good on ya, buddy. You weren’t personally responsible for the slaughter at the Safeway. Maybe you can put it on a poster at the next “Talkers” convention.

But before you and the pack of right-wing polemicists who make big bucks spewing rage on a daily basis congratulate yourselves for not being responsible for Jared Lee Loughner’s rampage, I recommend taking a deep breath. Just because the dots between violent rhetoric and violent actions don’t connect in this case doesn’t mean you can afford to ignore the possibility — or, as many fear, the inevitability — that someone else will soon draw the line between them.

Actually, someone already has. When you get a minute, Google “Byron Williams” and “Tides Foundation” to see just how thin a layer of ice Beck skates on every day…

Who, other than Palin’s most strident supporters, was not troubled by the bull’s-eye target over Giffords’s district? Or the political advertisement promoting the removal of Giffords from office with the firing of a “fully automatic M16” with her opponent? Or the gunned-down congresswoman’s own warning to NBC’s Chuck Todd that violent words have consequences?

And who on the right is really stupid enough to not understand that the political movement that has a near monopoly on gun imagery may be the first focus of an act associated with gun violence? As a conservative who had a 100 percent rating with the National Rifle Association and the Gun Owners of America over my four terms in Congress, I wonder why some on the right can’t defend the Second Amendment without acting like jackasses. While these types regularly attack my calls for civility, it is their reckless rhetoric that does the most to hurt the cause.

Which brings us back to Palin and the GOP’s field of 2012 candidates.

In Palin’s Facebook manifesto last Wednesday, she didn’t condemn extreme speech and its potential for violence. Instead, she seemed to say, “Deal with it.” Then she proved it, ineptly and offensively naming herself the victim of a “blood libel,” which generations of persecuted Jews know carries connotations much more serious than a drop in the polls.

We know Palin won’t call out irresponsible language or lead the discussion back to civility, but who will?

Where was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who covets the moral authority to lead his party in 2012? Is there anything — anything at all — a member of his own party can say that offends this man?

Or former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who refused to call out his state’s best-known congresswoman, Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, for saying that the best way to oppose energy legislation is to be “armed and dangerous.”

Or former House Speaker Newt Gingrich? Oh, wait. Never mind.

From their defensive crouch, these candidates are clearly scared to do the right thing by calling out reckless rhetoric.