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“With Friends Like These”: Lack Of Enthusiasm Among Romney’s Highest-Profile Supporters

There’s been some scuttlebutt about Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) possibly becoming Mitt Romney’s running mate. Folks may want to put those rumors on hold for a little while.

Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana endorsed Mitt Romney for president on Wednesday — then criticized him a day later in an interview with The Indianapolis Star. […]

“You have to campaign to govern, not just to win,” Mr. Daniels told Matthew Tully of The Indianapolis Star. “Spend the precious time and dollars explaining what’s at stake and a constructive program to make life better. And as I say, look at everything through the lens of folks who have yet to achieve.”

According to Mr. Tully, “after a pause, Daniels added with disappointment, ‘Romney doesn’t talk that way.’ “

Daniels went on to urge Romney to talk with voters “with some specificity” about his agenda, with the implication being that the presumptive Republican nominee has not yet done so thus far.

In the larger context, the fact that Daniels was publicly critical of Romney a day after endorsing him falls into another pattern we’ve seen: Romney’s supporters are less than kind towards their preferred presidential candidate.

Shortly after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) threw his support to Romney, the senator said, “There are a lot of other people out there that some of us wish had run for president — but they didn’t.” Shortly after former NRCC Chairman Tom Davis endorsed Romney, he said on national television, “He may not be Mr. Personality. You know, he’s the guy who gives the fireside chat and the fire goes out.”

And shortly after Jon Huntsman announced his support for Romney, he argued on MSNBC in support of “some sort of third-party movement or some alternative voice out there that can put forward new ideas.”

Can’t you just feel the enthusiasm among Romney’s highest-profile supporters?

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 20, 2012

April 22, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Stacked Deck”: Rick Scott’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ Task Force All Supported The Law

Gov. Rick Scott has created a task force to review the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, the law behind which George Zimmerman hid after shooting and killing unarmed teen Trayvon Martin. He revealed the members of the task force on Thursday, and it should come as no surprise that among the four legislators appointed, two belong to the American Legislative Exchange Council and that all four voted for the law.

One of the members, in fact, is state Rep. Dennis Baxley, who authored the law and who has said it doesn’t need to be changed. Among others:

– Sen. David Simmons, R-Maitland, co-sponsored and voted for Stand Your Ground. He told the Herald/Times bureau that he was instrumental in drafting the final language of the law as House Judiciary Committee chairman, and was Baxley’s roommate at the time.
– Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, joined the Legislature in 2010, and the first bill he passed was a controversial gun rights bill banning doctors from asking patients about gun ownership.
– Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, voted for the bill in 2005. It passed the Senate unanimously.

Baxley and Brodeur belong to ALEC, and ALEC used Baxley’s language for the template for bills passed all over the country. The 17-member task force also includes legal professionals including state prosecutors, church leaders and neighborhood watch voluteers. It doesn’t include a number of Democratic lawmakers and opponents of the law who appear to have been shut out of the selection process. Think Progress describes the selection committee:

Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll, who is also heading the task force, was a co-sponsor of the House bill and voted for it in 2005. As did fellow selection committee members Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speak Dean Cannon. Incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford was not in the legislature in 2005 when the law was passed, but is currently listed as a member of ALEC.”

According to this report, Carroll says the Democratic lawmakers didn’t apply to be on the task force. The Democrats all say that there was no announcement of an application process, and that their efforts to be included in the task force were ignored. Most disturbing is the point raised by Rep. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, who points out: “The governor failed to represent that diversity by neglecting to place a single South Florida lawmaker or mayor of a large city on the task force, in essence giving no voice to the regions of the state most often plagued by gun violence.”

Because of the lawmakers included in the group—those who would actually be responsible for making changes to the law—it seems to be stacked in favor of the law before it even gets off the ground.

By: Joan McCarter, Daily Kos, April 21, 2012

April 22, 2012 Posted by | Guns, National Rifle Association | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Special Kind Of Poison”: Over The Top Republican Rhetoric

Not all overheated political rhetoric is alike. Delusional right-wing crazy talk — the kind of ranting we’ve heard recently from washed-up rock star Ted Nugent and Tea Party-backed Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) — is a special kind of poison that cannot be safely ignored.

Let me be clear: I’m saying that the extreme language we hear from the far right is qualitatively different from the extreme language we hear from the far left — and far more damaging to the ties that bind us as a nation. Tut-tutting that both sides should tone it down is meaningless. For all intents and purposes, one side is the problem.

Believe me, I would prefer not to dignify the ravings of Nugent or West by commenting on them. Nugent seems to be motivated by paranoia; West, perhaps by cynical calculation. It would be satisfying to withhold the attention they seek, but this is not an option. The only effective way to deal with bullies is to confront them.

Nugent, who delivered his foaming-at-the-mouth peroration at a National Rifle Association convention, earned a visit from the Secret Service with his promise that “if Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”

That might or might not constitute an actual threat to the president of the United States. More chilling, to me, was the way his audience of gun enthusiasts applauded in agreement as Nugent compared the Obama administration to a bunch of “coyotes in your living room” who deserve to be shot. Nugent ended by exhorting his listeners: “We are Braveheart. We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November. Am I — any questions?”

No, I think he made himself quite clear.

Violent metaphors aside, the nub of Nugent’s argument — and I use the word advisedly — was this: “If you can’t go home and get everybody in your lives to clean house in this vile, evil, America-hating administration, I don’t even know what you’re made of.”

Vile? Evil? America-hating? Nugent doesn’t just characterize those with different political views as misguided or wrong. He seeks to paint them as alien and anti-American — as enemies of this nation, rather than citizens with whom he disagrees. In a subsequent interview, Nugent called Nancy Pelosi a “sub-human scoundrel” and referred to liberals as cockroaches to “stomp” in November.

This is what distinguishes the flame-throwers of the far right from those of the far left. Nugent and his ilk seek to deny their political opponents the very right to believe in a different philosophy. Agree with me, he says, or be stomped.

It would be one thing if this sort of vicious intolerance came only from aging rockers whose brains may have been scrambled by all those high-decibel performances. But it comes, too, from an elected member of the House of Representatives.

At a town hall meeting last week in Palm City, Fla., West was asked how many Marxists there are in Congress. He replied, “I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party who are members of the Communist Party.” That is, of course, a bald-faced lie. There are no communists in Congress. What makes the lie even worse is West’s subsequent declaration that he stands by his words because he was referring to the 80-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, which West considers a branch of the Comin­tern.

“There is a very thin line between communism, progressivism, Marxism, socialism,” West claimed this week. “It’s about nationalizing production. It’s about creating and expanding the welfare state. It’s about this idea of social and economic justice. You hear that being played out now with fairness, fair share, economic equality.”

West can’t really believe this nonsense. What he’s trying to do is delegitimize the entire stream of progressive thought that has run wide and deep through American history since the nation’s founding. Disagree with his views, West insists, and you’re not just a political opponent, you’re a godless Marxist.

There is no symmetry here. The far left may hurl insults at the right but doesn’t scream “fascism” whenever a Republican proposes privatizing Medicare.

So this is what I want to know: Mitt Romney, do you agree with your prominent endorser Ted Nugent that the Obama administration is evil and hates America? House Speaker John Boehner, do you agree with your star freshman West that “78 to 81” of your colleagues are card-carrying communists?

Speak up, gentlemen; I didn’t hear you.


By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 19, 2012

April 22, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Striking And Ominous”: Bourbon Democrats On The Rise Again

The parallels between today’s conservative-dominated Republican Party and southern “Bourbon” Democrats in the post-Civil War era are striking and ominous.

The Bourbons — as conservative Democrats in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were known — were prosperous property owners in the South who set out to end Reconstruction and bring back the good old days of domination by upper-class whites. The Post’s Charles Lane alluded to them in his April 17 column, “A ‘white man’s party’?

Historian Harvey H. Jackson III captured the objectives of the Bourbons in a 2004 article:

“Among their many goals was to keep Bourbon money in Bourbon pockets. They limited the state’s taxing power, abolished boards and offices (including the board of education), allowed the state debt to be settled in ways not fully understood today, and prohibited state support for projects such as river improvement and railroad construction.” Any of that sound familiar?

“The Bourbon [Democratic-written] constitution of 1875 was a victory for prosperous . . . Alabamians who did not want to pay taxes to improve the lives of those less fortunate than themselves and who did not want to finance commercial development that did not benefit them directly.” What contemporary political party comes to mind?

The Encyclopedia of Alabama, developed by the Alabama Humanities Foundation and Auburn University, puts it that “low taxes (particularly on property), weak government, and white supremacy — the core concerns of the Bourbons — became of the law of the land.”

The term Bourbon was most likely associated with the reactionary Bourbon Dynasty of France that attempted to undo the effects of the French Revolution. “In Alabama and the South,” the encyclopedia says, “Bourbon Democrats worked to undo what was done by the Civil War and Reconstruction.”

Conservative Republicans undoubtedly will take umbrage at any suggestion they belong in the same camp as post-Civil War conservative Democrats who proudly favored white supremacy and life before Appomattox.

So, let’s see. Are today’s conservatives big champions of states’ rights, a smaller and weaker federal government, less taxes, and more individual liberty? Yes, they will agree. But those goals, they would insist, are not racial in nature; they reflect a philosophy and set of values.

Yet even House Republican leader Eric Cantor acknowledges the existence of a “darker side” in this country. Asked this week by Politico’s Mike Allen if he has felt anti-Semitism from his GOP colleagues, Cantor, the lone Jewish Republican in Congress, first said no.

Then Cantor said, “I think that all of us know that in this country, we’ve not always gotten it right in terms of racial matters, religious matters, whatever. . . . To sit here and say in America that we’ve got it all right now, I think that pretty much all of us can say we’ve still got work to do.”


What’s more, the net effect of goals espoused by today’s conservatives is to achieve some of the outcomes sought by Bourbon Democrats. President Obama described their philosophy in a speech last month:

“If you’re out of work, can’t find a job, tough luck; you’re on your own. If you don’t have health care, that’s your problem; you’re on your own. If you’re born into poverty, lift yourself up out of your own — with your own bootstraps, even if you don’t have boots; you’re on your own,” he told a crowd in Burlington, Vt. “They believe . . . that’s how America has advanced. That’s the cramped, narrow conception they have of liberty.”

Conservatives today, of course, reject that characterization.

But conservative Democrats of the late 19th and early 20th century and today’s Republican conservatives would probably agree that:

America is better off when the federal government leaves people to fend for themselves;

Markets that are free from government regulation and taxes will produce prosperity;

There are rungs on the ladder of opportunity, but many at the bottom are too lazy to climb;

The wealthy, to whom much has been given, have no stake in anybody else’s success;

A business’s obligation is to those who own it;

We will not as a people go up or down together; in the end, each is on his or her own.

Yes, there are differences between the United States at the turn of the 20th century and today. But there are similarities too.

Protecting the interests of the propertied and the politically powerful may be a legacy handed down from yesterday’s conservative Bourbon Democrats to today’s conservative Republicans.

By: Colbert I. King, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 20. 2012

April 22, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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