"Do or Do not. There is no try."

Rick Perry “Gives Some Thought” To Rape And Incest

As noted in my last post, one of the most counter-factual assertions about the Republican presidential nomination contest is that it’s “about” the economy.

Guess that’s why Rick Perry, who began his campaign boasting of his world-beating jobs record (sic!) in Texas, is now ending his go-for-broke comeback effort in Iowa by announcing he is suddenly adopting the most extreme position available on abortion:

Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday that he had undergone a “transformation” on the issue of abortion and now believed that there should be no exceptions made for rape, incest or the life of the mother….“I really started giving some thought about the issue of rape and incest,” Mr. Perry told a local pastor who had questioned whether he had changed his position on the issue.

While it’s good news to hear that Perry is “giving some thought” to any issue, having pretty much campaigned on the basis of what the reptilian segments of his brain dictated, the reality is that his campaign is now focused monomaniacally on outflanking Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Santorum in appealing to Iowa’s divided Christian Right activist base.

This isn’t Perry’s first lurch to the right on abortion; back in August, under interrogation from Christian Right chieftain Tony Perkins, he repudiated his previous “states’ rights” position in favor of the more radical proposition of a federal constitutional amendment to repeal the right to choose.

But the more Perry “thinks” about it, the more determined he becomes to bend the knee to the most hard-core anti-choicers. If the Iowa caucuses were somehow delayed a couple of weeks, he’d probably come out for a national compulsory pregnancy mandate.


By: Ed Kilgore, Published in Washington Monthly Political Animal, December 28, 2011

December 29, 2011 Posted by | Abortion, Pro-Choice, Women's Health, Womens Rights | , , , , | Leave a comment

Half Of North Carolina Concealed Carry Permit Holders With Felony Convictions Keep Their Permit

North Carolina is one of the few states in the country with public records of who has a permit to carry a concealed firearm, so it provides a rare window into how such permits are handled once their holder’s criminal record proves them unfit to carry a hidden gun. The results are not pretty:

More than 2,400 permit holders were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, excluding traffic-related crimes, over the five-year period, The Times found when it compared databases of recent criminal court cases and licensees. While the figure represents a small percentage of those with permits, more than 200 were convicted of felonies, including at least 10 who committed murder or manslaughter. All but two of the killers used a gun. […]

The review also raises concerns about how well government officials police the permit process. In about half of the felony convictions, the authorities failed to revoke or suspend the holder’s permit, including for cases of murder, rape and kidnapping. The apparent oversights are especially worrisome in North Carolina, one of about 20 states where anyone with a valid concealed handgun permit can buy firearms without the federally mandated criminal background check. (Under federal law, felons lose the right to own guns.)

Violent criminals who were allowed to keep their concealed carry permits include Ricky Wills, who “terroriz[ed] his estranged wife and their daughter with a pair of guns and then sho[t] at their house while they, along with a sheriff’s deputy who had responded to a 911 call, were inside,” and Charles Dowdle, who “was convicted of multiple felonies in 2006 for threatening to kill his girlfriend and chasing her to her sister’s house, where he fired a shotgun round through a closed door.” Indeed, violent individuals convicted of domestic violence-related crimes are the most likely to be allowed to keep their concealed carry permits. Nearly two-thirds of individuals convicted of “assault on a female” in the state of North Carolina did not have their concealed carry permits suspended.

The state’s failures to suspend these licenses appears to be a series of oversights, not a deliberate effort to place concealed firearms in the hands of violent criminals — indeed, Mr. Willis’ permit was revoked after New York Times reporters informed the state that he still had it. Nevertheless, these oversights could soon have consequences for the safety of Americans in all fifty states. The National Right To Carry Reciprocity Act, which recently passed the House of Representatives, would give holders of concealed carry permits from any one state the ability to carry a concealed weapon while than were visiting any other state — even if the state they were visiting banned concealed carry or would not allow them to obtain a carry permit.

In other words, should this bill become law, it would mean that a violent felon from North Carolina could keep his permit solely because of an oversight, and then travel to any state he chooses with a concealed gun tucked under his jacket.


By: Ian Millhiser, Think Progress, December 27, 2011

December 29, 2011 Posted by | National Rifle Association | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mitt Romney Must Clarify Defense Of Individual Mandate

I sympathize a little with former Gov. Mitt Romney on the issue of the individual mandate. In effect, the conservative movement pulled the rug out from under him.

He copped the idea from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think  tank. Conservative legal scholars didn’t cry foul when Romneycare  passed in 2006. Tea Party enforcer Sen. Jim DeMint didn’t seem to have a problem with it. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich explicitly supported it as late as 2008.

But when it became a central element of Obamacare, it suddenly became the thin end of the socialist wedge.

Still, Romney stretches things with his recent defense of the mandate:

What we did was right for the people of Massachusetts,  the plan is still favored by 3 to 1 and it is fundamentally a  conservative principle to insist that people take personal  responsibility as opposed to turning to government for giving out free  care.

Is the mandate really a reflection of the principle of personal responsibility?

Doesn’t the purist case for personal responsibility look more like the one made by Rep. Ron Paul in the Tea Party debate, in which Paul said freedom is about letting people suffer the consequences of risky behavior?

Put it this way: If Romney and Paul both say they’re for insisting on personal responsibility, they can’t both be right.

What we have here are two subtly different conceptions of “personal responsibility.”

When Romney uses the phrase, he means that, in the decision to  purchase a major medical insurance policy, there’s a self-evidently  “responsible” choice: You get coverage, even if you’re young and  healthy.

When Paul uses it, he means you should be free not to buy it—and the  rest of us shouldn’t have to foot the bill if your luck turns rotten.

Romney the technocrat probably thought of the individual mandate in  terms of Cass Sunstein (currently serving in the White House’s Office of  Information and Regulatory Affairs) and Richard Thaler’s “nudge theory” of human behavior: Government can encourage people to make better choices through wiser “choice architecture” instead of blunt instruments.

The problem for Romney, of course, is that lots of conservatives now  believe the mandate is a blunt instrument—and lustily cheer at Paul’s  more exacting definition of personal responsibility.

If Romney wants to continue to use the phrase to win over  conservative skeptics, he’s going to have to clarify what he means by  it.


By: Scott Galupo, U. S. News and World Report, December 28, 2011

December 29, 2011 Posted by | Election 2012, Individual Mandate | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Romney Describes Healthcare Mandate As Conservative Principle

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the insurance mandate included in the Massachusetts healthcare law he signed is fundamentally a conservative principle.

Speaking Wednesday on “Fox and Friends,” Romney defended the Bay State’s healthcare law, which includes a version of the individual mandate, as inline with the Republican world view. The individual mandate was the centerpiece and most controversial aspect of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, which has widely been blasted by Republicans as governmental overreach.

“I’m happy to stand by the things that I believe. I’m not going to change my positions by virtue of being in a presidential campaign,” Romney said. “What we did was right for the people of Massachusetts, the plan is still favored there by 3 to 1 and it is fundamentally a conservative principle to insist that people take personal responsibility as opposed to turning to government for giving out free care.”

On Tuesday, Romney and rival Newt Gingrich jabbed at each other over the matter after The Wall Street Journal uncovered a 2006 memo in which Gingrich said he “agreed entirely” with Romney’s healthcare bill.

Buzzfeed also uncovered a 2008 video in which Gingrich passionately defended the idea of an individual mandate and called it “immoral” for those who can afford to have insurance not to buy it.

“I knew that [Gingrich] supported the plan in the past, and I believe he supported it until he got into the race this year, but maybe before that he changed his view,” Romney said. “Look, our plan was right for our state, and in my view it was based on conservative principles that frankly came from Newt Gingrich and the Heritage Foundation, which was that instead of people relying on government to provide their care, they should take personal responsibility.”
But Gingrich said he now realizes that there are aspects of the law that are “unacceptable,” and that unlike Romney, he has the courage to say so.

“There are a lot of details of ‘Romneycare’ that are unacceptable,” Gingrich said Tuesday on CNN. “And the difference between me and Romney is I’ve concluded — and I’m prepared to say publicly — I’ve concluded, just as the Heritage Foundation did, that the idea didn’t work. Romney’s still defending the mandate that he passed.”

Both Romney and Gingrich have vowed to repeal Obama’s healthcare law if elected president.

Romney is battling Ron Paul for the lead in polls of Iowa voters less than a week before that state’s GOP caucus. Gingrich had been in the lead, but has faded under attack from Romney and other GOP candidates.


By: Jonathan Easley, The Hill, December 28, 2011

December 29, 2011 Posted by | Election 2012, Health Reform, Individual Mandate | , , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Argue With Right-Wing Relatives: Responding To Common Conservative Talking Points Without Losing Your Mind

There comes a time at most large family gatherings when a heated political argument breaks out. And by “heated political argument” what I mean is “someone just repeats something they heard on Hannity’s radio show that you know to be completely untrue.” You may be the lone liberal in a conservative family, or you may have one right-wing uncle in your left-wing family, but this will happen. What to do?

If you have a “smart phone,” just bookmark Snopes now. That’ll take care of the really weird stuff. (Well, not this level of weird, but “I read that airlines don’t pair Christian pilots and co-pilots in case The Rapture happens” weird.)

But a right-wing myth generally lives on forever, no many how many times it is debunked. You are powerless to prevent its spread. All you can do is perhaps convince one person that one talk radio meme is completely bogus. But you will probably have better luck simply changing the subject. (Suggestions: Whether or not Peyton Manning will be a Colt next season, “American Horror Story,” Jay-Z and Beyonce’s baby.)

If you insist on answering back, here are some suggestions.

Barack Obama’s illegal immigrant aunt is an illegal immigrant and so is his illegal immigrant uncle, and they must be deported.

First, the immigration status of Barack Obama’s aunt Zeituni Onyango (the half-sister of Obama’s father, from whom the president was estranged for much of his life) was leaked to the press just before the 2008 election. She eventually won asylum, because she is old and sick and Kenya has recently seen a rise in political violence. “Uncle Omar” is in the news because he was recently arrested for drunk driving, and it turns out he’s lived here since 1963 and been in violation of a deportation order since the early 1990s. Mitt Romney accidentally said he’d deport him, but then Romney sort of walked that back, because he’s Romney.

Just ask what exactly is moral or beneficial to American interests in sending an old woman who is related to the United States president to a nation where she could be a target of politically motivated violence. And whether or not an appropriate punishment for drunk driving is to be sent “back” to a foreign country that you haven’t lived in in half a century. Then add that these cases have nothing to do with the president beyond involving people he is distantly related to, because the White House has never sought special treatment for either of these people. Then ask your relative if they really want these two people to go have to live under SHARIAH LAW, because why not.

That probably won’t convince anyone so maybe now would be a good time to bring up your own family’s ethnic heritage, unless you all happen to be American Indians.

Food nazi Michelle Obama is forcing children to eat vegetables even though she herself is fat and enjoys hamburgers.

“Have you ever noticed that pretty much everyone with a creepy fixation on the first lady’s fitness is a fat old white guy?”

Excessive regulation/regulatory uncertainly is killing the recovery, that is why there are no jobs!

Look, you can print out some lame chart from Ezra Klein or memorize some “statistics” about Obama not issuing any more regulations than other presidents, but those won’t help, because numbers and charts lie about everything. This is basically just a stand-in for the entire incomprehensible right-wing narrative of the ongoing miserable economy. Your best bet is just to say that it’s criminal that no Wall Street executives went to jail for fraud (unless your familiarly includes lots of Wall Street executives, in which case my only advice is to steal the silver on your way out).

Barack Obama disrespected the U.K. by sending it the White House bust of Winston Churchill.

Sure, the “correct” answer is that presidents change the decor when they move into the White House, but I’d just say, “Winston Churchill was a raging racist drunk asshole,” because he was.

Barack Obama’s Christmas card is anti-Christmas.

Sarah Palin insinuated that the Obamas’ Christmas card — which features wrapped presents, poinsettias, garland and bows — is part of his secret Muslim plot to destroy Christmas, because the card featured Bo the dog rather than “family, faith and freedom.” I’m not sure what you say to this, actually, because at this point you’re dealing with a lunatic, but if there are Christmas cards from loved ones nearby, maybe go check and see how many of them explicitly feature “family, faith and freedom.”


Solyndra was a solar company that got a loan guarantee from the government and then it went bankrupt. Conservatives say this means the government shouldn’t try to support things that it thinks are good ideas because the government is a lot worse at “picking winners and losers” than the private sector, which never loans money to companies that then go bankrupt. I dunno, the “scandal” here is pretty opaque. I’d recommend trying to get someone to explain, to you, what exactly happened that was so illegal or whatever. Basically, the review of this loan guarantee to this poorly managed solar company with political connections was rushed, and someone might have asked them not to lay everyone off until after the midterms, which is pretty stupid, but honestly much less stupid than spending $4 billion on subsidies for oil and gas.

Eric Holder must resign because of “Fast and Furious.”

“Fast and Furious” was such an epically stupid and awful idea that you shouldn’t bother trying to “defend” it (though if you care you could point out that there’s still no evidence that Eric Holder knew about it) — you should instead congratulate your relative on finally coming to his senses regarding the ridiculous counterproductive drug war. We can finally all agree that the government should find better things to do with our tax dollars!

The New Black Panther Party.

Tell your relatives that you have recently joined the New Black Panther Party. They will be too terrified to bring it up again!


By: Alex Pareene, Salon, December 25, 2011

December 29, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, GOP, Ideologues, Right Wing | , , , | Leave a comment

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