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“Small Men With Ugly Thoughts Expressed Aloud”: Bigoted Gasbags Reduced To Their Proper Size

Lonesome Racist of the Week: Robert Copeland of Wolfeboro, NH.

He’s not as wealthy or prominent as Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, but the 82-year-old Copeland is no less detestable.

Until last week he served as one of three elected police commissioners in Wolfeboro, a town of about 6,300 people in central New Hampshire. A resident had complained to the town manager that, while dining at a local restaurant, she overheard Copeland use the N-word to describe President Obama.

Copeland didn’t deny making the slur, and brilliantly sent the following email to the other commissioners: “I believe I did use the ‘N’ word in reference to the current occupant of the Whitehouse (sic). For this I do not apologize — he meets and exceeds my criteria for such.”

Many people in Wolfeboro felt Copeland met and exceeded the criteria for being a bigoted gasbag, and a public meeting was convened. The crowd was virtually all white because fewer than two-dozen African-Americans live in the town.

Copeland sat there listening to all the outraged demands for his resignation, and never said a word.

Wolfeboro was in turmoil. It wasn’t as if Copeland could be ignored or led away like some demented old uncle. The police commission is in charge of hiring, firing and disciplining officers, and also setting their salaries. Copeland also worked as a dispatch supervisor.

The governor of New Hampshire and several state lawmakers condemned Copeland’s remarks about Obama and said he should resign immediately. So did Mitt Romney, who owns a house in the state.

After a few days Copeland gave up and quit. He’s now free to shamble around the house in his bathrobe and boxers, spewing the N-word as much as he wants.

He has little in common with Sterling besides hateful prejudice and advanced age (the Clippers owner is 80). After Sterling’s embarrassing mangled apology while being interviewed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, some began to wonder if creeping senility is what causes old white guys to drop their guard and blurt whatever dumbass racist thought enters their brains.

They point to Cliven Bundy, 67, the deadbeat Nevada rancher who for two decades hasn’t paid grazing fees for the cattle he lets roam upon federal lands. When officers showed up last month to remove the livestock, they were met by a defiant Bundy and a band of armed supporters.

Bundy has claimed native rights to the lands, saying he doesn’t recognize the existence of the U.S. government. For “standing up to” the feds (and stiffing American taxpayers for more than $1 million), he was lionized by conservative radio hosts, Senator Rand Paul, Sean Hannity and the other parrots at Fox News.

If at that point he’d shut his mouth, Bundy would still be a media darling of the bug-eyed right. But while chatting with a New York Times reporter, he decided out of nowhere to offer some casual thoughts about “the Negro.”

He mused that black people might be “better off as slaves” rather than living “under government subsidy.”

Whoops. Here we go again.

Instantly Bundy became politically toxic. His cheering section at Fox fell silent, while Senator Paul, who has presidential ambitions, declared he didn’t agree with Bundy’s view on slavery and even unholstered the O-word (“offensive”).

Like Sterling, Bundy’s attempts to clarify his feelings about black Americans only made things worse.

“Are they slaves to charities and government subsidized homes?” he said two days later. “And are they slaves when their daughters are having abortions and their sons are in prisons? This thought goes back a long time.”

On CNN Bundy labored to stem the backlash with an incoherent reference to Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, while on his Facebook page he stated more clearly that he doesn’t believe anyone should be put back into slavery today.

That’s comforting to know, but at this point Bundy’s trespassing cows are his biggest audience.

He, Copeland and Sterling have blabbed themselves into caricatures. It’s not that they’re harmless (Sterling’s discriminatory practices as a landlord were punitive to many black families), but all the repudiation and ridicule has reduced them to their proper size.

They are just small men with small, ugly thoughts, and every so often it’s useful to be reminded that they’re still out there.

Lots of ‘em.

 

By: Carl Hiaasen, Columnist for The Miami Herald, The National memo, May 27, 2014

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Bigotry, Racism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Origins Of The Modern GOP”: The Party Of Lincoln Is Now The Party Of Voter ID Laws

Dartmouth Professor Randall Balmer argues convincingly that the origin of the religious right as a political force stemmed from opposition to school desegregation rather than opposition to the Roe v. Wade decision. I don’t think it is well known that evangelicals were largely silent about the Roe ruling at the time it was issued, nor that some of the most influential evangelical leaders at the time were supportive of the ruling.

Today, evangelicals make up the backbone of the pro-life movement, but it hasn’t always been so. Both before and for several years after Roe, evangelicals were overwhelmingly indifferent to the subject, which they considered a “Catholic issue.” In 1968, for instance, a symposium sponsored by the Christian Medical Society and Christianity Today, the flagship magazine of evangelicalism, refused to characterize abortion as sinful, citing “individual health, family welfare, and social responsibility” as justifications for ending a pregnancy. In 1971, delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, passed a resolution encouraging “Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.” The convention, hardly a redoubt of liberal values, reaffirmed that position in 1974, one year after Roe, and again in 1976.

When the Roe decision was handed down, W. A. Criswell, the Southern Baptist Convention’s former president and pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas—also one of the most famous fundamentalists of the 20th century—was pleased: “I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person,” he said, “and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed.”

Although a few evangelical voices, including Christianity Today magazine, mildly criticized the ruling, the overwhelming response was silence, even approval. Baptists, in particular, applauded the decision as an appropriate articulation of the division between church and state, between personal morality and state regulation of individual behavior. “Religious liberty, human equality and justice are advanced by the Supreme Court abortion decision,” wrote W. Barry Garrett of Baptist Press.

It was actually a ruling by the DC District Court upholding the Internal Revenue Service’s decision to revoke Bob Jones University’s tax exemption that convinced evangelical leaders Jerry Falwell and Paul Weyrich to rally the religious right against President Jimmy Carter’s reelection. They could hardly make Bob Jones’ anti-miscegenation their rallying call, however, so the modern-day Republican Party was founded on an evangelical “awakening” on what had formerly been considered an issue only for “papists.”

Today, the party of Dwight Eisenhower and Everett Dirksen is the party of Jerry Falwell and Paul Weyrich. The party of Lincoln is now the party of voter ID laws.

 

By: Martin Longman, Washington Monthly Political Animal, May 28, 2014

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Evangelicals, GOP, Religious Right | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The One Child Left Behind”: Rand Paul Still Doesn’t Understand What He Doesn’t Understand

Last week, in an apparent attempt to embarrass the White House, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) leaked a new detail to the media: as the attack in Benghazi got underway, some Obama administration officials reached out to YouTube to “warn of the ‘ramifications’ of allowing the posting of an anti-Islamic video.”

There was, however, a problem: Issa’s leak made the White House look better, not worse – the fact that officials contacted YouTube is proof that the administration genuinely believed that the violence was in response to an offensive video. Issa accidentally leaked evidence that bolstered the White House’s case, offering proof the administration’s consistent line was sincere.

But Glenn Kessler reports that despite Republicans inadvertently helping the White House on Benghazi, some on the right tried to exploit the news anyway.

FOX HOST ERIC BOLLING: “So this is kind of startling news that the White House was on the phone with YouTube as the attacks were still taking place that night, saying, Hey, did you see what’s causing this? They were already being political at that moment.”

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-Ky.): “You know, I’m appalled by it. One of the things that’s interesting is that very night, they were still struggling to get reinforcements. We had some more Special Operations forces in Tripoli. They couldn’t find a plane for them. So instead of calling to get a plane or to try to make arrangements to get a plane, they’re on the phone trying to create spin to say that, ‘You know what? This is about a video, which never had anything to do with this attack.’ So you know, it saddens me. Doesn’t surprise me, but does sadden me.”

It’s rather amazing to appreciate just how wrong this is.

To be sure, Bolling’s question appears to be based on some striking confusion – the White House reaching out to YouTube and the role of a YouTube video in contributing to violence is not “being political.” Indeed, it’s the opposite.

But Rand Paul’s response suggests his basic understanding of the relevant details is somehow getting worse, even as he’s presumably exposed to more information.

First, the Republican senator seems to be under the impression that the national security team at the White House only has one telephone – instead of making plane “arrangements,” he said, officials called YouTube. (Note to Rand Paul: the Situation Room has fairly sophisticated communications equipment. They’re capable of making more than one call at a time.)

Second, though it’s really not up to the White House to coordinate Special Operations flights directly, even if it were, when the senator claimed officials didn’t try to find a plane for Special Operations forces, that’s clearly wrong.

In other words, the Kentucky senator is “appalled” and “saddened” by details Rand Paul doesn’t actually understand.

That seems to happen quite a bit with the GOP lawmaker.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 28, 2014

 

 

 

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Benghazi, Rand Paul | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Republicans For More Fat Kids”: More Fat And Dumb Kids Just Means More Future Republican Voters

Some days you have to wonder where the Republicans would draw the “if Obama’s for it, we’re against it” line. I can’t think of a single instance these past five years when Barack Obama endorsed something and Republicans said, “Hey, that’s actually a good idea!” The comic nadir, you’ll remember, was when Obama was for lower taxes (of the payroll variety), and they even contrived a way to be against that, at least for a while.

So it should not come as a surprise to us that now Republicans want more fat kids. And the reason Republicans want more fat kids is straightforward and predictable: Michelle Obama wants fewer of them. And that’s all they need to know. If she’s fer it, they’re agin’ it.

I’m talking of course about the school lunch program food fight going on now between the first lady and the GOP House. At Mrs. Obama’s behest, the school lunch program was overhauled in 2010 to include more fresh fruits and vegetables, fewer overall calories, somewhat smaller portions, and other goals, all in an effort to do something about the childhood obesity epidemic, in which the percentage of young children (6-11) who are obese has nearly tripled in the last 30 years and the percentage of adolescents (12-19) has more than quadrupled.

I remember thinking, back in the early days of the administration, when Mrs. Obama had those kids planting kale in the White House vegetable garden and step-classing with her to beat the band, that this was no anodyne first lady project. It was obvious at the time to anyone who grasped the basic logical connections that if she was really serious about American health, she was going to run like a locomotive right into some of the most powerful corporate interests in America—the handful of huge food conglomerates that stock most of what sits on our grocery shelves, and more specifically the ultra-powerful sugar lobby. This ain’t adult literacy. This is power politics, I knew, and push would eventually and inevitably come to shove.

She also, perhaps unwittingly, brought herself face-to-scowling-face with the clique of Americans who not only hate her husband (and by extension her) but who think “liberty” means that they must be able to eat and drink anything they damn well please. I say “perhaps unwittingly” because there was probably no way for her to know back in late 2008 and early 2009 that a simple effort to get kids to exercise and eat greens would become not a point of trans-ideological commonality but yet another ideological ground zero, or that the Big Gulp would become part of the culture wars. But sure enough, there was (who else?) Sarah Palin, sipping from one at her 2013 CPAC speech, and sugar became something that real conservatives embraced.

And so here we are, with House Republicans, led by some Alabamian (improvement: at least he’s not a Texan) named Robert Aderholt, who denies climate change, too, by the by, on the cusp of passing legislation that would let districts that want to opt out of the new school lunch standards.

The stated reason is that the new standards have created added expense—fresh fruits and vegetables cost more than canned ones—and some districts have been losing money. That, I readily allow, is true. You can read this GAO report (.pdf) to get up to speed on some of the problems school districts have encountered in implementing the new standards. As rollouts go, the new school lunch program hasn’t been great—better than Obamacare, certainly, and Windows Vista and iOS7 (reminders that the private sector screws these things up, too), but certainly a little top-heavy and inflexible on the rule-making side.

But many districts also swear by the new rules, as was evidenced Tuesday by the administrators who appeared with Mrs. Obama at the White House to defend them. And the Department of Agriculture, which runs school lunches, has already made some changes the GAO report recommended. So it seems they’re trying to get it right. And remember, please remember: The new program comes after many years of school cafeterias across the country farming out their lunch operations to McDonald’s and the like, thus ensuring that kids were gorging themselves every day on some of the worst sewage you can put in a human body. So the new effort is a sea change for the better.

If there are kinks, iron them out, of course. But that isn’t really the Republicans’ game. Their proposal is relatively mild only because they know nothing harsher would see the light of day in the Senate. But if they take over the Senate, watch for a watering-down or defunding of the whole business.

But what about the science, you say? Yes. It’s irrefutable. Sugar makes people fatter and, in all likelihood, dumber. But what does that matter to Republicans? I mean, hey; more fat and dumb kids just means more future Republican voters.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, May 28, 2014

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Childhood Obesity, Republicans | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Deciduous Tree Rot”: McConnell Should Be Removed “Root And Branch”

In Kentucky, the federal health care exchange created by the Affordable Care Act is called Kynect. Kynect is very popular, but ObamaCare is very unpopular. So it goes.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to rip up ObamaCare “root and branch” and toss it in the mulch pile, but he doesn’t want to do a thing to Kynect because it has already given more than 400,000 Kentuckians health insurance, many for the first time. Of course, since Kynect and ObamaCare are actually two words for the same thing, it isn’t possible to kill one without killing the other.

The Lexington Herald-Leader explains:

Repeal the federal law, which McConnell calls “Obamacare,” and the state exchange would collapse.

Kynect could not survive without the ACA’s insurance reforms, including no longer allowing insurance companies to cancel policies when people get sick or deny them coverage because of pre-existing conditions, as well as the provision ending lifetime limits on benefit payments. (Kentucky tried to enact such reforms in the 1990s and found out we were too small a market to do it alone.)

Kentucky’s exchange also could not survive without the federal funding and tax credits that are helping 300,000 previously uninsured Kentuckians gain access to regular preventive medicine, including colonoscopies, mammograms and birth control without co-pays.

As a result of a law that McConnell wants to repeal, one in 10 of his constituents no longer have to worry that an illness or injury will drive them into personal bankruptcy or a premature grave.

Repealing the federal law would also end the Medicaid expansion that is enabling Kentucky to expand desperately needed drug treatment and mental health services.

Kynect is the Affordable Care Act is Obamacare — even if Kentuckians are confused about which is which.

The Herald-Leader goes on to wonder how average Kentuckians are supposed to understand the Affordable Care Act if Mitch McConnell doesn’t understand (or pretends not to understand) it himself.

The answer to that is pretty easy. If Kentuckians start with the presumption that nothing that Mitch McConnell says about Kynect or ObamaCare or the Affordable Care Act is true, they will be much less confused. If they like Kynect, then they like ObamaCare and the Affordable Care Act. If they like it, they should vote out Mitch McConnell and prevent him from removing their benefits “root and branch.”

 

By: Martin Longman, Washington Monthly Political Animal, May 28, 2014

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Health Insurance, Mitch Mc Connell | , , , , | Leave a comment

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