Posts Tagged ‘Allen West’

GOP Comes Up Short

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

By Jeffrey Page

There is something laughable in the breast beating and soul searching of the Republican Party as it tries to figure out how to remain opposed to immigration while trying to persuade Latinos that it loves them, wants them and welcomes them.

Following President Obama’s reelection, the GOP has backed itself into many corners. There was immigration. Then came the matter of what women should or should not be allowed to do with their own bodies. The Republicans want lots more young people to join their ranks, but many younger people, according to most polls, are pro-choice. Still, the Tea Drinkers who have taken over the party are pro-life and unwilling to give an inch.

This is what caused Jeb Bush to declare, in a moment of self-examination at the recently concluded Conservative Political Action Conference: “All too often we’re associated with being ‘anti’ everything. Way too many people believe Republicans are anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-science, anti-gay, anti-worker, and the list goes on and on and on. Many voters are simply unwilling to choose our candidates even though they share our core beliefs, because those voters feel unloved, unwanted and unwelcome in our party.” The response was tepid.

Modern day Republicans – with their birther madness, their eagerness to scrap the Voting Rights Act, their refusal to recognize the equality of their gay and straight members – remind me of the way Groucho Marx sang about the character he played in the movie “Horse Feathers” 81 years ago:

“I don’t know what they have to say./ It makes no difference anyway./Whatever it is, I’m against it./No matter what it is or who commenced it,/I’m against it.”

The Republicans want to freshen their image? If the response to Bush was lukewarm, the keynote speaker got a standing ovation when he declared in classic demagoguery, “We saw every single Republican in the Senate vote unanimously to defund Obamacare. Every Democrat voted together to maintain Obamacare funding, even if it pushes us into a recession [emphasis added].”

The speaker was Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. If the Republicans are looking to clean up their image, they’re going to have trouble with people like Cruz and the former one-term House member Allen West of Florida. Both have shown themselves to be the reincarnation of Joe McCarthy.

In 1950, McCarthy went from Senate back bencher to overnight sensation when he held up a piece of paper at a speaking engagement in West Virginia and declared that he had a list of 205 State Department employees who were communists.

In his book “Proofiness,” Charles Seife posits that allegations take on important believability when preceded by a number – McCarthy remained unknown the first time he alleged there were communists working at the State Department. But he started to be taken seriously when he said there were “205” communists at State. What apparently escaped notice 63 years ago was the fact that not long after, McCarthy said his list of subversives bore the names of 207 [sic] people at the State. The very next day he wrote to President Truman to complain that little was being done about those 57 [sic] security risks. Later, Seife reports, the number rose to 81[sic].

In fine McCarthy fashion three years ago, Ted Cruz charged that there were 12 communists on the Harvard Law School faculty. He didn’t name them. More recently, when Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense ran into a GOP roadblock, Cruz came close to questioning Hagel’s loyalty.

Before Cruz there was Allen West of Florida – elected in 2010 with 54.3 percent of the vote and defeated in 2012 with 49.6 percent. In that one term, West told a gathering in Florida that he had “heard” there were about 80 communists serving in the House of Representatives. And wouldn’t you know it, all 80 were Democrats.

West also said: “If Joseph Goebbels was around, he’d be very proud of the Democrat party, because they have an incredible propaganda machine.”

If the GOP has any hope of becoming a majority party it needs to disassociate itself its own demagogues and hate mongers.

Two More Farewells

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

By Jeffrey Page

I really want to stop writing about Mitt Romney but he won’t let me. He’s like a character in “The Night of the Living Dead;” every time you think he’s done, he rises zombielike and presents himself all over again. Some people scream when he does this.

Some of Romney’s recent remarks suggest that it was fortunate he lost the election because he is either exceedingly cruel or exceedingly stupid, not a person most decent people would want making decisions in the Oval Office.

Example: Will you ever forget his informing us that he was dismissing nearly half the population as a bunch of crybabies always wanting something for nothing from the government – health care, food, housing and “you name it.” Then he said, “My job is not to worry about those people.”

That was then and you might have dismissed his bombast as the work of a desperate candidate. But with Romney it never stops, and his placing the blame on the other guy never stops either. Romney still doesn’t understand that one reason he wasn’t elected was that a majority of Americans simply didn’t trust him to represent their interests.

This week, he informed some big-money contributors that he had lost because President Obama offered certain “gifts” to African-Americans, Hispanics, and young people. Gifts? That would include such frivolity as forgiveness of college loan interest as a generation tries to find meaningful work. Only someone like Romney, whose income last year was about $22 million, would dismiss this deal on loan interest in the same breath as free contraceptives. Oh, that was another “gift” from Obama, Romney said, noting “Free contraceptives were very big with young college-age women.”

Still one more “gift” was young people being able to remain on parents’ health insurance to age 26, something else you might now understand when your income is $423,077 a week.

Of course, he never mentioned the “gifts” he offered to some of his supporters such as making permanent the Bush Era tax breaks to people like himself – millionaires and billionaires – and fighting like hell against any new tax. That “gift” is all right; health insurance is not.

Gifts from Obama? How about young people not headed for college, but wishing to follow their parents into the American auto factories of the Middle West? Obama said we had to save the industry in order to save the economy; Romney said the hell with the car makers, let them go. That was $22 million speaking.

Mitt, I can’t write about you anymore, so please don’t say anything else stupid enough to get me started.

* * * * *

All right, the happy news out of Florida this week was that Congressman Allen West, a first-term Republican with a big mouth, had finally accepted the fact that he lost the election after waiting two weeks for a miracle that never came.

West is the member of Congress who delivered the dead-on impersonation of Joe McCarthy.

In 1950, McCarthy said he had a list of 205 State Department employees who were communists. (In a letter to President Truman two days later, McCarthy referred to his list of 57 Reds at Foggy Bottom, and never said what had happened to the missing 148.)

In April of this year, Allen West announced that 80 Democratic members of the House were communists.

Whoa! Then it turned out that West didn’t exactly know they were communists. Instead, he said he “heard” that they were communists. But Brave-Heart West, always alert to a possible communist conspiracy, declined to name any of these enemies of the state or turn their names over to the FBI. Nor did he call for an investigation into how these 80 scoundrels had reached the floor of the House.

And finally, he said the 80 people he had in mind were members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and oh yeah, they aren’t communists after all.

This is the same Allen West who said that President Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi should “get the hell out of the United States of America,” the same Allen West who said, “I will not allow President Obama to take the United States and destroy it,” the same Allen who said the president is a Marxist.

Now all the votes have been counted and Allen West, this national embarrassment, believes that no recount could do him any good, and come January, he’ll be gone.

How the GOP Weathered the Fourth

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Mitt Romney ... blowing in the wind

By Emily Theroux

When it rains on the Republicans’ Fourth of July parade, it’s a monsoon!

I doubt seriously that the stars will ever again align against the GOP in the precise configuration they’ve achieved since the Supreme Court ruled that the individual health care mandate in the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. The deluge of dashed hopes, mixed messages, and wrong turns that has flooded the vast conservative echo chamber has expanded the right wing’s Independence Day celebration into a “terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad week,” to borrow a phrase from author Judith Viorst (and a meme from the Internet).

Never mind that “the mandate” was an idea that Republicans originally proposed but which they detest now against all reason and with vehement intensity. (President Obama is equally intent on furthering his inevitable goal of “bipartisan compromise,” which never gets him anywhere with these people.) Once Obama looks favorably upon such brainstorms of the right-wing think tanks and thereby gives them cooties, conservatives metamorphose into their own doctrines’ most fervent critics.

How many things went wrong for the Republicans in the short span of a week? I counted a dirty dozen:

1. The Supremes ruled against them, and “heads exploded,” as Dick Cheney once said, all over Washington.

2. Fox and CNN (trying to outfox Fox) both got the story horribly wrong at first, because whoever skimmed that ruling was either in too big a hurry for a scoop to read past the first paragraph or too “simple” to fathom what the ruling meant. They saw “individual mandate unconstitutional” and ran with it. (Even worse, Obama was tuned in to both channels and, at first, believed what he was hearing!)

3. The entire wingnut populace spent days massively freaking out, denouncing the treachery of Chief Justice John Roberts (who is supposed to be “an impartial guardian of the law,” not a right-wing tool), and proclaiming that “Obamacare” included “the biggest tax increase in the history of the world.” Roberts’ new critics invaded his Wikipedia biography and symbolically “repealed” him by “replacing” the title “Chief Justice” with “Chief Traitor.”

Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Michael Savage all tried to outdo each other’s bombast. “Our freedom of choice just met its death panel,” Limbaugh raged about SCOTUS. Beck hawked T-shirts depicting Roberts as a coward. Savage suggested that Roberts’ epilepsy meds had caused “cognitive disassociation (sic)” that affected his judgment. And Troy Newman of the militant anti-abortion group Operation Rescue compared the day the decision was announced to 9/11 and, appallingly, referenced Nazi Germany as well, warning that “we are all moving down the road toward complete annihilation.”

4. Some nut-job even proposed one of Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle’s “Second Amendment remedies.” In Michigan, former state GOP spokesman Matt Davis asked in a mass email whether “armed rebellion” might now be justified. An anonymous commenter responded to an online article about it: “I will not submit I will not buy something I don’t want I will not pay the fine (sic). And I will not be arrested peacefully. Your move Feds (double sic: punctuation needed desperately).”

5. Mitch McConnell appeared on “Fox News Sunday,” expecting his usual softball interview. Chris Wallace, however, grilled him relentlessly about the Republicans’ plan to “replace” Obamacare once they’ve repealed it. After Wallace asked him three times how the GOP planned to cover some 30 million uninsured Americans, McConnell finally blurted out in exasperation, “That’s not the issue!” Then, realizing what he was admitting, he clarified that the Republicans didn’t have a replacement plan for Obamacare’s most important provision.

6. After Republicans were proven wrong on how big the tax increase would be (the Great God Reagan passed a higher one), Romney’s campaign stooge, Eric Fehrnstrom the Etch a Sketch guy, made it clear that Romney didn’t consider the fine that “free riders” would have to pay for ignoring the mandate a “tax” but rather an “unconstitutional penalty.” If Romney were to call it a tax, it would mean that he had also “raised taxes” when Massachusetts passed Romneycare. Much wingnuttery ensued, including a snide tweet from Rupert Murdoch saying Mitt should “hire some real pros” for his campaign team.

On the “penalty” side of the debate were conservative think-tank analysts, The Wall Street Journal editorial board, and the four dissenting justices – all of whom warned that accepting as a tax what was written into law as a penalty would give big-government advocates “unlimited power to impose new purchase mandates.” The government could “legally tax our every breath,” Sen. Rand Paul warned.

7. Individual GOP lawmakers have a personal stake in one facet of the law they so fervently want to repeal: the provision that allows their own adult children to remain on their health insurance policies. Tea Party blowhard Joe Walsh (who also recently tried to “swiftboat” his Democratic opponent, a former Black Hawk pilot and double amputee, for “politicizing” her military service) explained that, while his 24-year-old son is covered by his mother’s plan, the freshman congressman doesn’t really support keeping the provision. “I don’t know where I am on that, and that’s a lousy thing to say,” he observed. “That doesn’t matter to me, though, irregardless (sic) of that.” (It’s “lousy” indeed, given that Walsh’s ex-wife has sued him for more than $100,000 in child support arrears that she claims he owes.)

8. Mother Jones magazine updated a story about Mitt and the Fabulous Bain Boys investing $75 million in Stericycle, a medical waste firm that disposed of aborted fetuses. This time, Mitt couldn’t weasel out of it by claiming he no longer worked there when the Stericycle deal went down. According to writer David Corn, an SEC document revealed that Mitt had held sole “voting and dispositive power” over Bain’s Stericycle shares when the investment was made. One pro-life blogger, along with Dan Primack of CNN Money, challenged Corn’s conclusion. Primack acknowledged that Bain asked Mitt to continue signing Stericycle fund documents after he “left” in February 1999 to salvage the Olympics in Utah. (Mitt had taken an earlier leave in 1994 to run for the Senate.) “Romney said he will stay on as a part-timer with Bain, providing input on investment and key personnel decisions,” The Boston Herald stated at the time. A July 1999 press release said Romney was “currently on a part-time leave of absence” and quoted him speaking for Bain Capital.

9. In a surprise move, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed three voter suppression bills. Needless to say, Republicans weren’t too happy about this unprecedented defection from their nationwide plot to disenfranchise likely Democratic voters.

10. Jonathan Krohn, the erstwhile wunderkind of CPAC’s 2009 conference as a precocious 13-year-old, has now emerged at 17 to denounce conservatism – and his own naivete. Movement bigwigs who once revered him are now calling him vile names and sniffing that they secretly thought all along that he was annoying, condescending, and mindless.

11. On the Fourth, Mittens caved to intense pressure from his puppeteers by revising his views on the “penalty vs. tax” issue yet again, now calling it “a tax” but offering no elaboration. Then a Wall Street Journal op-ed blasted Mitt and his bumbling campaign strategy for “slowly squandering an historic opportunity” by vacillating and obfuscating on issues like health care reform. Flip-Flopper-in-Chief, anyone?

12. And for the grand finale, the right’s wackiest characters genuinely “brought the crazy” during America’s 236th birthday week. El Rushbo dropped another misogynistic bombshell when he replied to a caller opining on the youth vote: “When women got the right to vote is when it all went downhill. Because that’s when votes started being cast with emotion and maternal instinct that government ought to reflect.” (Worry not, dittoheads: Beck’s got his back. The Blaze, Beck’s website, insisted that Rush was merely baiting liberal critics with an old saw written by Ann Coulter – who probably really believes it.) Meanwhile Florida’s favorite Mad Hatter, Rep. Allen “Wild, Wild” West, said at a campaign rally: “I have a great idea. I believe, for personal security, every American should have to go out and buy a Glock 9mm” – an obvious applause line, gun humor for the ideologically challenged. “And if you don’t do it, we’ll tax you,” he added, after his curtain call. (Col. West is not amused by the federal income tax.) “Now I wonder how the liberals will feel about that one.”

I have to hand it to him: That’s one hell of an “individual mandate.” The problem is that it’s about as thoughtless a possible provocation to trigger-happy whack jobs as Dubya jeering, “Bring ’em on!” at the citizens of a nation we had just occupied in a preemptive war. Or Sarah Palin exhorting the Tea Party faithful, “Don’t retreat, RELOAD!” and using a U.S. map festooned with figurative gun sights to target the districts of congressional Democrats who had voted for the Affordable Care Act – like Arizona’s Gabby Giffords, later shot and gravely injured by a deranged gunman who killed six other people during the same attack.

I’m not implying that the shooter had ever seen Palin’s provocative map; we have no way of knowing what set off his crazed shooting spree. But all we need in this polarized country is more wildly irresponsible NRA rhetoric – or everybody and his grandma packing heat.