Archive for February, 2011

Calling Herman Cain a “minstrel” is out of bounds

To my regulars: The subject of this post requires maturity and civility. If you cannot act responsibility, please don’t comment here.

A black writer who posts under the name Chauncey DeVega has written a vicious, sophomoric and unfair takedown of black Atlanta businessman Herman Cain, calling him a “minstrel for CPAC.” (h/t Dave Wiegal)

Instead, Herman Cain’s shtick is a version of race minstrelsy where he performs “authentic negritude” as wish fulfillment for White Conservative fantasies. Like the fountain at Lourdes, Cain in his designated role as black Conservative mascot, absolves the White racial reactionaries at CPAC of their sins. This is a refined performance that Black Conservatives have perfected over many decades and centuries of practice. . .

In the money shot, Cain gives the obligatory “black folks who are not Republicans are on the plantation” speech to the joyous applause of his White benefactors. And he doubles down by legitimating any opposition to …

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Finally, GOP cuts Pentagon waste. On to farm subsidies?

Something surprising — and good — happened in the GOP-dominated House of Representatives yesterday. In a bi-partisan vote, the House shot down a useless, wasteful and expensive Pentagon project — the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter engine project. From The WaPo:

Many tea-party-backed freshmen broke ranks with their GOP leaders and joined liberal Democrats in voting to cut funding for an alternative engine for a fighter jet. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter engine project has long been a frequent but elusive target, as well as one that provided jobs in Boehner’s home state of Ohio. . .

The Obama and George W. Bush administrations sought to cancel the alternate-engine program as a symbol of wasteful spending, but their efforts failed in Congress. Last May, despite Obama’s opposition, the Democratic-controlled House voted to keep the project alive.

General Electric and Rolls-Royce – which are building the engine, and have spent about $3 billion on it so far and need perhaps …

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Deficit, Chapter 226: Voters like government spending

In Monday’s post, I noted the cowardice of our elected officials — from President Obama to House Speaker John Boehner — in dealing with the real cause of the tsunami of red ink. The cause is the spending that eats up 60 percent of the budget: the Pentagon, Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid.

This morning, let’s chat about the other side of the problem: us. There’s a reason that savvy politicians avoid talking about the spending that causes serious problems — voters don’t want to hear it. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press lays out the facts:

Despite these changing views, however, majorities or pluralities favor increased spending in five of 18 areas. Fully 62% favor increased funding for education – the highest percentage for any program tested and little changed from 2009 (67%). In all, there is only one area – economic assistance to needy people around the world – for which a plurality favors cutting federal spending. . .
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GOP leaders scared to stand up to birthers

The Republican Party is being held hostage by its paranoid rightwing fringe — its fact-averse, conspiracy-mongering lunatics. Why else would GOP leaders such as John Boehner refuse to just disavow the crazy insistence that President Obama is not a citizen of this country? Boehner knows better, of course. But he’s afraid to challenge the birthers in the GOP base.

UPDATE: It’s no wonder they are afraid to challenge this craziness. A new poll shows that a majority of Republican voters are birthers: A 51% majority of national GOP primary voters erroneously think President Obama was not born in the U.S. 28% know that he was.
Slate’s Dave Wiegel commented on the phenomenon:

Another way of putting this is slightly more than one in four Republicans believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States. Does that mean that 72 percent of Republicans think Obama should be disqualified from the presidency? No. It suggests that birtherism has become another screen for extreme …

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Obama and Boehner: bi-partisan cowardice on the budget

Now, the fun begins.
President Obama’s budget sets up a fierce clash over spending, since his budget — while embracing steep cuts — won’t go nearly as far to cut discretionary non-defense spending as ultra-conservatives in the House demand. But here’s what you ought to be paying attention to: neither President Obama nor John Boehner’s shock troops are proposing to touch the spending that is eating through the budget and drowning us all in red ink.
Anybody who has looked seriously at the federal budget knows that three areas consume 60 percent of federal spending — the Pentagon, Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security. You can entirely eliminate the rest of the budget and you’d still be looking at a deficit calamity by, say, 2030. You could kill the Environmental Protection Agency, shut down the FBI, eliminate the Drug Enforcement Agency, never fund another interstate, turn off the spigot of foreign aid to Pakistan, Israel and Egypt, dismantle the Education Department — …

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Do ‘pro-lifers’ really care about babies?

WASHINGTON — Jobs are Job No. 1, right?

Independent voters swung to the GOP in last November’s elections because they were disappointed — or angry — with Democrats over a stubbornly-high unemployment rate, polls show. So you’d think that the new House Republican majority would devote its first few months to legislation aimed at creating jobs.

But since staging futile votes to repeal health care reform, Republicans have been most animated about firing new shots in the culture war. They’ve taken aim at reproductive rights, introducing bills to further curb women’s access to safe and legal abortions. Last month, House Speaker John Boehner told reporters that a ban on federal funding for abortions is “one of our highest legislative priorities.”

I’m surprised at Boehner, who had seemed to heed the lessons of the stormy tenure of one of his GOP predecessors, Newt Gingrich. The House Speaker from Georgia reveled in exploiting wedge issues and lobbing rhetorical …

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A GOP split on Egypt

A few hours before a defiant Hosni Mubarak gave a rambling speech insisting that he’d stay on, Rick Santorum — former Pennsylvania Senator and possible GOP presidential contender — stood before a crowd of ultra-conservatives and blasted President Obama for refusing to stick by the dictator. Speaking in Washington at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Santorum said:

“We’ve turned our backs on… almost all of our allies,” Santorum said with respect to the president’s foreign policy. As protesters voice their anger against Mubarak, “What does the president do? He sides with the protesters.”

He qualified his statements to say that it was not necessarily bad to support pro-democracy protesters. However, he said it was a bad move in the context of the president’s response to similar protests in Iran in 2009.

“When we turned our backs a year and half ago on Iran, there was a revolution,” he said. “Did he call for the current regime to step down? No.”

Santorum’s …

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Fact-checking Republican rhetoric

There’s no doubt that Republican are masters of the political message. For decades, they have communicated their message more powerfully, created more memorable lines and persuaded most voters to shy away from the label “liberal.” Who can forget such rhetorical gems as “death tax” (estate tax), “death panels” (end-of-life counseling) or “government takeover of health care” (requirement to purchase privatehealth insurance).

But the Republicans have a huge advantage over the Democrats: They don’t mind lying outright to make their political points. According to an analysis by SmartPolitics, PolitiFact — the high-profile fact-checking Web site run by The St. Petersburg Times — has assigned far more Republicans its “pants-on-fire” rating.

A Smart Politics content analysis of more than 500 PolitiFact stories from January 2010 through January 2011 finds that current and former Republican officeholders have been assigned substantially harsher grades by the news organization than …

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Michelle Obama uses her popularity wisely

Michelle Obama was never the angry and unpatriotic diva-in-the-making conjured up by her critics during the 2008 campaign. But her current approval ratings may surprise even her biggest supporters; according to one recent Associated Press poll, she has a favorability rating of 72 percent.

She has cultivated those amazing approval ratings while tackling an issue of substance: childhood obesity, a genuine public health emergency. (Atlanta was among her stops as she marked the first anniversary of her campaign.) According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. The prevalence of obesity among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years increased from 5.0% to 18.1%.1,2

Obesity is the result of caloric imbalance (too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed) and is mediated by genetic, behavioral, …

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Gov. Deal, don’t cut pre-K

WASHINGTON — For nearly two decades, Georgia was hailed as an educational innovator because of its merit-based college scholarships and its pre-kindergarten classes. Funded with lottery proceeds, the HOPE scholarship and the pre-K program help former Gov. Zell Miller lay claim to a game-changing legacy. Georgia was the first state to offer free kindergarten to all 4-year-olds.

And the state’s pre-K classes have been more than a cheap babysitting service. In 2009, a study by the National Institute for Early Education Research concluded that Georgia’s pre-K program was well run, meeting 8 of 10 benchmarks for quality. Its high ratio of teachers to children and its small class sizes were among the features that earned high marks.

But Miller’s educational legacy is now under assault, a victim of its success and flat-lining lottery proceeds. With legislators considering cuts to the HOPE scholarship, Gov. Nathan Deal has announced that he also wants to slash nearly $20 …

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