Sarah Palin and Michael Steele Snubbed Together

Hoosier anti-choicers are gathering, and inviting two prime speakers, Sarah Palin and Michael Steele. Both have had rough times lately, with Palin’s volcano trumping Michael Steele having to kiss Rush Limbaugh’s big fat ass. The big snub is at the gathering, where the POPE’S representative is staying home.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Poor, poor Sarah Palin and Michael Steele! Along with Bobby Jindal, these two are attempting to become Vice Leaders of the Republican Party to help the real leader, Rush Limbaugh. All three are sort of competing for the role of Vice. (I suppose the role is open with Larry Craig out of the Senate.) But Sarah and Michael have had some troubles lately.

Sarah, for instance, just had Redoubt, a volcano, erupt in her back yard, spreading ash to the north of Anchorage and disrupting the airport there as well as Elmendorf AFB. This is a major volcano. Now, I’m not sure she can see it like she can Russia, but it is in her state, and that sure has to be unlucky and all. Of course, she promised not to take a whole bunch of that stimulus money, and like Bobby Jindal, she mocked money for volcano monitoring. Yes, nature, in the form of Redoubt the volcano, has defied Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal. Still, if this turns into a disaster, she can depend on the kindness of strangers, just like Sarah Palin will depend on strangers to pay her legal fees.

Michael Steele, on the other hand, has also had a rough time of it. Michael Steele defied King Rush, the dictatorial leader of the GOP, and then had to go and make nice. He caught some flack for redecorating his offices, which he claimed were a bit too masculine, or something like that. (Did he hire these guys, or is that too cliche for a Republican?) Michael Steele can’t seem to get anything right, even getting suggestions he should defect to the Democratic Party, though, as I mentioned earlier, we don’t want him.

Poor Michael and Sarah are both having a bad time of it lately, but now it has gotten worse. According to an exclusive report

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Steven Reynolds |

Trillions of Dollars for This?

The GOP continues to deride Obama administration attempts to stimulate the floundering economy or fix the broken U.S. healthcare system, but they’ll have no problems in passing billions for the next Iraq / Afghanistan supplemental request.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

We can’t have single payer, universal health care. It costs too much.

Economic stimulus in the form of aid to states for infrastructure repair (government buildings, roads, and bridges) is “pork” and “unnecessary earmarks” – well, at least as long as it’s a Democrat requesting the funding, and not a GOP stalwart such as Ted “Bridge to Nowhere” Stevens.

But pouring good money after bad, into two Islamic theocracies that will never be able to stand on their own? Priceless. I’m starting to wonder if those are Wall Street wizards and bankers hiding under the burquas. Oh, and your “head exploding moment”? Check out the caption for this photo…

Women's Week in Kabul

Afgahn women wear blue scarves symbolizing justice during a ceremony to mark international Women’s Day in the Kandahar province. Women worldwide rallied to demand equal rights and protest against domestic violence and growing poverty in the global economic crisis.

Afghanistan. Women. Equal rights. Domestic violence. Poverty.

Whoever wrote that caption needs to read this book.

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 by Richard Blair |

Republicans Eating Their Own, Michigan Edition

Polls show them that social issues don’t work and that the GOP is on the wrong side of nearly every issue with voters, but when the Michigan GOP hires a consultant who tells them that, they stick their fingers in their ears and sing “God Bless the USA,” firing the consultant before the second verse. I’m thinking they don’t care about winning anymore.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

In Michigan the Republican Party is just not too swift. Earlier this week they snubbed Governor Jon Huntsman, who was scheduled to speak in Grand Rapids, because he wasn’t conservative enough. Well, I suppose Sarah Palin is always available, if she’s finished solving the political problems of all the stillborn citizens in Alaska. Oh, the GOP in Michigan is so screwed that they hired a consultant to report on how to solve the political problem they have, of losing not just the Governor’s office or the registration advantage to Dems, but the State House and virtually every other meaningful political measure. So they hired Dennis Darnoi, long a Michigan strategist, to give them pointers. Then they fired him because he didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear. From Susan J. Dimas at Huffpo:

The message of tax cuts and social issues isn’t resonating anymore with voters, who have fled the party in droves, especially in big swing counties like Oakland and Kent. Demographics aren’t in Republicans’ favor in Michigan or nationally, with the fast-growing groups of Asians, Hispanics and young people all voting Democratic by scary margins.

So what’s the solution? Darnoi didn’t suggest anything radical like bowing at Obama’s feet and hoisting the Communist flag. No, he said Republicans should run on accountability and transparency while big government is OK with voters, as a recent Gallup/USA Today poll shows. He notes that moderate GOP candidates have enjoyed some success even in areas where the president won handily, like Kalamazoo.

He also believes that the GOP needs an image makeover, stat, as it’s perceived as wanting gays to stay in the closet and being on the wrong side of environmental regulations and alternative energy.

No kidding. The overarching view of Democrats used to be that they were limp-wristed, liberal weenies. But the ’80s and ’90s are over. What Republicans fail to realize is that their party is now tagged as being one of mean, bigoted blowhards. Of course, many are too busy self-medicating with the primal screams of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck to notice that the ground has shifted beneath them.

The story here is that the Republicans in Michigan think they ought to recruit candidates who are even more extremist than before. A common sense guy like Darnoi had no chance with these folks. He’s not extremist enough.

It’s not the social issues, stupid. Of course, we could shout that loudly to the Republicans in Michiagan and the still wouldn’t dent their psyches. These people are evidently stupid. I guess they think if they can slam gays hard enough even more extremists Christians will vote. Two problems with that. Fewer people are identifying themselves as either fundamentalist or evangelical Christians, for one. Perhaps more significantly, Obama is winning the whole lot of the demographic groups when it comes to religion, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Agnostic, Athiest, etc. They get a consultant who tells them to ease off the social issues and they kick him out, exactly the wrong strategic move. Hey, the heartland of Iowa also needs to give up on the social issues, according to a poll commisioned by the GOP, and I’m betting they ignore the results and try to gain seats by slamming the gays again.

I think we’ll see more of this myopia on the part of Republicans for some time. It is an extension of what Richard wrote about the other day, that nationally the Republicans are seeing themselves in worse shape than in years. The GOP brand is completely broken now, far worse than when Goldwater screwed up so badly. There’s hardly a Republican out there who doesn’t owe his job to a dwindling and extremist power base, with the rest of the country considering them hateful, incompetent and simply wrong on everything. I’m thinking this is a fine situation for Democrats to be in.

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Following Specter, Two More Republicans to Leave the GOP?

It’s just a rumor at the moment, fueled by the abuse the Republican Party is showering on two of its biggest names, Michael Steele and Jon Huntsman. But this rumor will grow. Huntsman evidently isn’t conservative enough, and the RNC doesn’t want to trust Steele with its money. So why wouldn’t they defect to the Democratic Party?


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The GOP rank and file has been generally celebrating Arlen Specter’s departure from the party for the Democratic Party. Arlen gave them gravitas, seniority, and a big name. Sure, Specter was reviled by the Republicans for being too liberal, and he was reviled by the Democrats for selling out on principled issues like the US Attorney scandal, the NSA wiretapping scandal, and the Torture Regime of the Bush Administration. So Specter isn’t well-liked except by his moderate constituents in PA. But surely the calls of “Swine Flew” when Specter left the now extremist Republican Party are a bit whacked out. But that’s OK. That attitude will result in a couple other defections, and I’ve got some bold predictions about a couple Republicans who just might get fed up with the GOP and take off.

The first of my predictions is a supposed rising star in the GOP. Even though Utah Governor Jon Huntsman is young and hip and rich, the GOP doesn’t seem to appreciate his electability. Wait, let me make sure I’ve got that right. Huntsman, a Mormon, isn’t conservative enough. At least that’s what they think in Grand Rapids, MI. You see, Jon Huntsman supports civil unions for gay citizens in this country. Not gay marriage, mind you, but civil unions. And the Republicans in Grand Rapids, dominated by the extremists on the religious wing of the party, think Huntsman is a not sufficiently a supporter of traditional marriage. From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.’s appearance at a Michigan county Republican Party event was scrapped this week after the county chairwoman said that hosting the moderate Utah governor would mean abandoning the party’s conservative principles.

Kent County Republican Party Chairwoman Joanne Voorhees abruptly canceled the party fundraiser scheduled for Saturday.

“The voters want and expect us to stand on principle and return to our roots. Unfortunately, by holding an event with Governor Huntsman, we would be doing the exact opposite,” Voorhees wrote in an e-mail quoted in The Grand Rapids Press .

Voorhees did not specify which issues she felt were contrary to the party’s principles and did not return messages left at the party headquarters and on her cell phone.

The group Campaign for Michigan Families praised the cancellation, attributing it to Huntsman’s support of civil unions, and urged the Oakland and Kalamazoo county parties, where Huntsman is also scheduled to speak this weekend, to do the same.

Now I’ve not heard from Huntsman that he might actually leave the Republican Party, but getting disinvited to an event is pretty big stuff. And Huntsman certainly doesn’t seem all that excited by Republican prospects in the next couple years.

Asked last week about the future of the GOP, Huntsman said “I don’t know where the party is moving. The party isn’t going anywhere.”

Well, Huntsman isn’t going much of anywhere, either, and especially not to Grand Rapids, MI. It may behoove Huntsman, who isn’t conservative enough for the extremist Republicans in Michigan, to think about joining a more inclusive political party, such as the Democrats. And he’s not the only big name Republican to be abused by his own party this week.

Michael Steele? The Republicans have been pretending Michael Steele is the GOP Chair for some time now, while taking turns kissing Rush Limbaugh’s ring. (Is ring kissing a sexual act on the order of teabagging?) Even though the RNC elected Michael Steele to the pretend position of RNC Chair, they don’t seem to quite trust him. You see, the Chair has control over spending some of that hundreds of millions of dollars the Republicans raise yearly. The members of the NC have decided they don’t want Michael Steele to have his paws on all that money. Really, they elect a black man as pretend RNC Chair, and now they want to make sure he doesn’t have the power to spend RNC funds. Let’s just say they never took that power away from any of their previous white pretend RNC Chairs. From the Washington Times:

A battle over control of the party’s purse strings has erupted at the troubled Republican National Committee, with defenders of Chairman Michael S. Steele accusing dissident RNC members of trying to “embarrass and neuter” the party’s new leader.

Randy Pullen, the RNC’s elected treasurer, former RNC General Counsel David Norcross and three other former top RNC officers have presented Mr. Steele with a resolution, calling for a new set of checks and balances on the chairman’s power to dole out money.

The powers include new controls on awarding contracts and spending money on outside legal and other services.

I’m simply amazed at the audacity of these folks. Michael Steele as the face of the Republican Party is about the only sign left of any diversity in the GOP. They’ve lost the Latino vote, the African American vote, the gay vote, the oyuht vote and the woman vote. It appears now that the middle aged white men who actually run the GOP are not about to let a black man spend their money. My goodness but there’s tons of room for a few tasteless jokes here, but I’m not going to go there. Nope, not a little bit.

I will say that Michale Steele and Jon Huntsman should look to Arlen Specter as an example. Were they to convert themselves to Democrats, as Specter has done, these guys could . . . be ridiculed openly by the GOP? But, wait, they’re already being ridiculed openly by members of the GOP. OK, ok, I’m not seeing much advantage of these two moving to the Democratic Party, but they sure are being abused by their own, and while the Democratic Party could always use another Governor and more influence in Utah, I’m not sure what we would do with Micheal Steele. Maybe we could put him in charge or redecorating or something?

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

GOP Surprised by Specter Announcement, NYTimes Headline

The GOP leadership in the Senate was caught by surprise by Arlen Specter’s becoming a Democrat. That shows how out of touch the GOP leadersip is. They will be surprised this morning that the New York Times sees signs of change in the GOP on the gay marriage issue. No, the Times is wrong on this one. The GOP will remain bigoted.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The GOP Senate leadership was surprised by Arlen Specter’s defection from the Republican Party yesterday. Considering the failures and incompetence demonstrated by Republicans over the last eight years or so, a picture of a bunch of befuddled GOP Senators seems appropriate to me. One thing I don’t expect is any immediate change in the Republican platform in order to create a “big tent.” (Scarborough this morning noted that the GOP is suffering from a “small tent,” and there’s no sign of a wonder drug to help with that.) But the New York Times, in a journalistic coup, has spotted signs that the GOP is softening its stance on gay marriage. Really, here’s the New York Times headline: “Signs G.O.P. Is Rethinking Stance on Gay Marriage.” This may be the stupidest story of the year from American print journalism in the “not in WingNutDaily” category.

The Times story is based on a couple factors. First there was former McCain campaign staffer Steven Schmidt who wrote about how the GOP should de-emphasize the issue of gay marriage. Hey, NYTimes, that’s the opinion of one guy, and if you look around at the GOP reaction to Steven Schmidt’s opinion you’ll see that the rank and file think he should just shut up. Then the Times cites the Specter defection as a sign the GOP is thinking of changing its tune on gay marriage. Hey, even if GOP outlier Olympia Snowe shows regret for Arlen Specter leaving the GOP, that just isn’t a sign that the GOP is softening its anti-gay stance. Good God, the big headlines all over the right side of the blogosphere was “Swine Flew” in response to Arlen Specter’s defection yesterday – and while I’m unsure that the headline is anti-semitic, it can’t be denied that there’s just one Republican JEw now in Congress, Eric Cantor. The GOP is alienating both Jews and gays.

The New York Times here is right to note that demographics are not in favor of the GOP on the gay marriage issue, and that those demographics are getting worse everyday. Here’s a snippet fromt eh Times article:

Consider this: In the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, released on Monday, 31 percent of respondents over the age of 40 said they supported gay marriage. By contrast, 57 percent under age 40 said they supported it, a 26-point difference. Among the older respondents, 35 percent said they opposed any legal recognition of same-sex couples, be it marriage or civil unions. Among the younger crowd, just 19 percent held that view.

. . .

This does not mean, Republicans said, that most Americans are suddenly embracing the idea of same-sex couples going to the chapel. It is more that, for a lot of these Americans, gay marriage is not something they spend a lot of time worrying about, or even thinking about.

For younger respondents, this shift may in part be cultural: the result of coming of age in an era when openly gay people have become increasingly common in popular entertainment and in public life, not to mention in their own families or social circles. Familiarity in this case breeds relative comfort, or perhaps just lack of interest.

Again, this may be reality on the ground, but nowhere here is there evidence that the GOP is recognizing that reality and changing as a result. I suppose I expect them to recognize that their virulent opposition to gay marriage, and their close ties with a religious right wing that is bigoted on the issue, is harmful to the GOP, but that recognition is a long way off. For the Times to crow in a headline about how they’ve read tea leaves that show there are portents of change int he GOP – HOGWASH!

The big stories here are that the GOP is blind to the future. They couldn’t see that Specter was ripe to switch parties and were supposedly stunned by the development. They can’t see that such divisive and extremist views such as they hold on gay marriage are only going to further alienate Americans who believe in offering, as Olympia Snowe notes, “individual opportunity” to Americans. Heck, the Dems sure knew Specter was ripe to switch parties, with Biden, Casey and Rendell all recruiting Specter for the Dems for a month or two prior to this announcement. There’s your stark difference there between the parties. The GOP is not only “just say no,” but also a bit of an ostrich with its head in the sand concerning political reality, especially on issues like gay marriage. The Dems, on the other hand, are bringing about change, in Vermont and DC and Iowa, for sure, but also in PA with the gain of a Democrat in the Senate.

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Swine Flu, GOP Panic, Flip Flop

So we might have a pandemic of swine flu in our future? Rick Perry, who has decried help from Washington, is now wetting his pants and begging for help from. . . Washington. Meanwhile, who gutted the pandemic preparedness money from the Obama stimulus package? the GOP, led by Rove. But Rush Limbaugh is still a swine.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

It appears we may have the beginnings of a pandemic on our hands. the swine flu that has killed 86 people in Mexico is showing up in the US, with 8 cases in New York so far, and one in Ohio. No deaths here as yet, but this is definitely something the CDC is on top of. Still, it is early and it is good to keep the populace ready, aware, but calm. that’s just what the CDC is doing, it seems to me. From the Los Angeles Times:

Federal officials today declared a public health emergency involving human swine flu, warning Americans to prepare for widespread outbreaks now or in the future, yet urging them not to panic.

In a briefing at the White House, the acting head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Richard Besser, said that eight cases of suspected swine flu in New York had been confirmed and that another had been identified in Ohio, bringing the U.S. total to 20 cases.

“As we continue to look for cases, we are going to see a broader spectrum of disease,” Besser said. “We’re going to see more severe disease in this country.”

Canadian officials said this morning that four cases had been confirmed in Nova Scotia and another two in British Columbia, marking the first time that the disease has appeared north of the border. All six Canadian cases were mild, like those in the United States.

Mexico’s Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova said five more deaths had occurred from influenza in that country overnight, bring the death total to 86. Two of the new cases were confirmed as swine flu, but it is not clear how many of the others were.

Janet Napolitano, U.S. Homeland Security secretary, said the government would release a quarter of its 50-million-unit strategic reserve of antiviral medications, which combat the disease in infected patients, to states where outbreaks have occurred. Besser said the CDC has isolated the swine flu virus and prepared a “seed stock” for the manufacture of a vaccine but will not distribute it to pharmaceutical companies until the situation becomes more severe. Manufacture of a new vaccine will require months.

The officials cast the moves as aggressive but precautionary, and they counseled calm.

Meanwhile, in Texas, Governor Perry, who recently talked about his state seceding from the United States, and who has tried mightily to turn back the stimulus money coming to Texas from the Obama Administration’s recovery plan, has decided that he now wants some stimulus in the form of vaccines. Yeah, Governor Rick Perry is both flip flopping and panicking. When he wants to score political points he’ll show all kinds of disdain about the Democratic-led government in Washington, but now that the piggy flu is coming, Rick screams for help. The extent of the swine flu problem in Texas is described here.

I think the only panic for the GOP should be political. They are the ones who ridiculed the beefing up of pandemic preparedness when it was part of the Obama stimulus package. Yes, led by Karl Rove Republicans in the House and Senate went to war over pandemic preparedness measures put forth by congressman David Obey, who now seems prescient compared to these GOP bozos who have threatened our lives, once again, by making sure we are not prepared. (Wasn’t Katrina a big enough warning for them?) From John Nichols at The Nation:

Rove dismissed Obey’s proposals as “disturbing” and “laden with new spending programs.” He said the congressman was peddling a plan based on “deeply flawed assumptions.”

Like what?

Rove specifically complained that Obey’s proposal included “$462 million for the Centers for Disease Control, and $900 million for pandemic flu preparations.”

This was wrong, the political operative charged, because the health care sector added jobs in 2008.

As bizarre as that criticism may sound – especially now – Rove’s argument was picked up by House and Senate Republicans, who made it an essential message in their attacks on the legislation. Even as Rove and his compatriots argued that a stimulus bill should include initiatives designed to shore-up and maintain any recovery, they consistently, and loudly, objected to spending money to address the potentially devastating economic impact of a major public health emergency.

The attack on pandemic preparation became so central to the GOP strategies that AP reported in February: “Republicans, meanwhile, plan to push for broader and deeper tax cuts, to trim major spending provisions that support Democrats’ longer-term policy goals, and to try to knock out what they consider questionable spending items, such as $870 million to combat the flu and $400 million to slow the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.”

Famously, Maine Senator Susan Collins, the supposedly moderate Republican who demanded cuts in health care spending in exchange for her support of a watered-down version of the stimulus, fumed about the pandemic funding: “Does it belong in this bill? Should we have $870 million in this bill No, we should not.”

Even now, Collins continues to use her official website to highlight the fact that she led the fight to strip the pandemic preparedness money out of the Senate’s version of the stimulus measure.

The Republicans essentially succeeded. The Senate version of the stimulus plan included no money whatsoever for pandemic preparedness. In the conference committee that reconciled the House and Senate plans, Obey and his allies succeeded in securing $50 million for improving information systems at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

But state and local governments, and the emergency services that would necessarily be on the frontlines in any effort to contain a pandemic, got nothing.

As John Nichols notes, this wasn’t the case that the GOP wanted disaster to threaten our country, but that the GOP wants to play politics, and it doesn’t matter what they play politics with. I think he’s right, but it is starker than he saays. The GOP has become the Party of “No” even if saying “No” will eventually harm our country, because they only want to win politically. Doing the right thing is not anywhere near their agenda anymore.

Of course none of this will show up in regular news stories. Olbermann might give it a ride, and maybe Maddow, but FoxNews and ABC and NBC will not remind us of the Republicans undermining our pandemic preparedness, nor will they emphasize Governor Rick Perry’s refusal of stimulus dollars until there’s a threat and he instantlly wets his pants and goes crying to Washington.

Sunday, April 26th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

The CraigsList Killer More than “Boy Next Door”

CraigsList killer Philip Markoff was clean cut, handsome, and a College Republican. Still, not all College Republicans become serial killers. It is far more likely some deep-seated hatred of women and people of other races that set off his CraigsList spree. To be clear, College Republicans do not hate women and minorities. Not at all.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

It is true that the CraigsList killer is described as being the boy next door. Perhaps Philip Markoff was just an average guy on the surface. Heck, they describe all serial killers that way, don’t they? Here’s part of the description, from the New York Daily News:

English teacher Sonja Hluska remembered him as a smart kid with a good sense of humor.

“He was one of my most polite students. He was kind.

“Just a nice, clean-cut boy wanting to succeed. That type that you’d like to mother,” she said. “I just still can’t believe it.”

At college, he was a member of the College Republicans and was fairly unremarkable except for the occasional offensive comment, said ex-classmate Joe Coe.

“He was someone that had issues with people of color, had issues with women,” Coe told CBS.

“He gave off a creepy vibe,” said another SUNY classmate.

Let me say immediately that it is not true that becoming a College Republican will make you into a serial killer. It might warp you in other ways, but it could be argued that you are already warped to even consider becoming a College Republican.

What is important to note here is the misogyny and bogotry underlying Mr. Markoff’s character. I know, I know, it is everyone’s right to be bigoted and misogynist, but shouldn’t we someday see this as a clue to underlying deep resentments? Shouldn’t basic hatred be something that sets our alarm bells ringing?

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Joe the Private Lap Dancer

It is unclear why anyone would pay $1,000 for a private session with Joe the Plumber. Given the Republican experience over the last few years with Gannon/Gucket, Larry Craig, various Preachers, etc., it isn’t surprising to see a Republican candidate use sexual favors as a fundraising tool. Still, this is very odd. File this under “nutjobs.”


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I’m not sure how to explain this. A candidate in New Jersey, running in the Republican primary for Governor, has hired Sam Wurzelbacher to help him raise money. Steve Lonegan is the candidate, and he is the Mayor of a small town. He’s very conservative on fiscal issues, and on the pro-choice issue as well. (Gay marriage has become almost toxic in New Jersey for those who openly oppose it.) But Lonegan is surely playing to the whack job base with his hiring of Joe the Plumber to help him with fundraising. Here’s the brief story from WCBS:

Steve Lonegan’s campaign announced the man who became known in the 2008 presidential campaign will appear at a taxpayer rally in Clark on May 5.

. . .

Lonegan’s campaign is charging $1,000 for a private meeting with the one-time plumber and the candidate. General admission is $50.

OK, I can’t fathom why anyone would pay $50 to be int eh same room with Wurzelbacher. I SURELY can’t imagine why someone would pay $1,000 for a private meeting with Wurzelbacher. What’s he going to give, some more regurgitation, like when Wurzelbacher was teabagging with fellow Republicans last week? Or is there more Sam Wurzelbacher is offering at these expensive private meetings. I’m betting it is lap dances with Joe the Lap Dancer that Lonegan is peddling to raise election funds. Or, a bit more benign, maybe people get to rub Mr. Clean’s head. Still, something is very odd with anyone who wishes to pay $1,000 for the privelege of private time with Sam Wurzelbacher.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Chuck Poll, Says NY GOP State Senator Hugh Farley

Siena College conducted a poll of the citizens of New York and it shows strong support of gay marriage in every geographical area of the state. Denying reality is a common practice among Republicans, though, and State Senator Hugh Farley is the latest GOP Champion at the sport. Let’s hope voters in his district are heavily lobbied.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

In New York there’s been a lot of eyebrows raised in the last couple days by a poll out of Siena College’s
The Albany Project.”
Some, such as syracuse.com’s Delen Goldberg, think the important part of the poll is Governor David Paterson’s historically low polling numbers, so much so that they omit reporting on the other aspects of the poll. The rest of the poll is the interesting part – it shows that New Yorkers in virtually every county are supportive of gay marriage. Here’s the description of the data from the Siena Poll:

By a 53-39 percent margin, voters support the Senate passing a bill to legalize same sex marriages that would virtually ensure its becoming law. Democrats, independent and young voters, and women strongly support Senate passage. Republicans strongly oppose passage, with men, older voters, African Americans, and Protestants also opposed. Support is strongest in New York City. Every region of the state supports passage.

“By a fairly significant margin, voters would like to see New York join with Vermont, Massachusetts, Iowa, and other states in allowing same sex couples to marry here,” Greenberg said. “For women and young voters it–Ÿs a resounding –yes.–Ÿ Men and older voters are more closely divided and more likely to say –no.–Ÿ “

That fits national demographics, at least concerning which segments of the population support gay marriage. Anecdotally, at least, I frequent a message board where about 98% of the population of thousands consists of young mothers (I’m a new father, myself), and my estimation is that the big majority of them support gay marriage. Still, I’m pleasantly surprised that this poll shows support for gay marriage in all counties of the state of New York. That won’t stop Republicans, though. This is going to be another of those times where they simply refuse to listen to their consituents. Here’s the response of Hugh Farley, who simply doesn’t believe the numbers int he poll, from WTEN in Albany:

Those leading the charge against the bill were mostly Republicans, such as State Senator Hugh Farley.

“I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman,” Farley said, although adding, “I have nothing wrong with a civil union.”

. . .

Despite the Democratic support, most believe that the legislation may not even come to a vote this year.

Senator Farley explained his reasoning.

“Because I don’t think there’s enough votes, and the Majority Leader says he’s not gonna’ put it up until he’s got the votes,” he said.

Farley also said that he does not believe the Siena poll is accurate.

Man, this guy is so flustered with the poll he couldn’t even get his sentences out properly. Farley chucked them all up, didn’t he? I think it is also interesting that Chuck Hugh Farley uses the term “believe” to describe his view, raiher than basing it entirely on facts. Perhaps he’s being artful, as much as he’s able, and perhaps it’s an innocent usage, but the opinions of his voters are not a matter of “belief,” but in the long run they are an important matter to him, or should be. They are the ones who appear to want gay marriage in New York, and they will vote on Farley’s continued presence in the State Senate, or simply Chuck Hugh Farley.

I am encouraged by other opinions quoted in the WTEN article:

Public sentiment has not changed the minds of many lawmakers, but Assemblyman Reilly says it has.

“Quite simply, I changed my mind,” he told NEWS10.

Reilly voted “no” on gay marriage two years ago, but now admits that public opinion has helped to change his mind about the issue.

“This was a situation, or issue, that 25 years ago was unthinkable,” Reilly said, “Today, it’s more acceptable.”

Albany Assemblyman McEneny said he believes it’s an issue of equal rights. McEneny not only voted for the bill when it passed the Assembly two years ago, but he is also a sponsor.

“When [I was] growing up, people who were gay stayed in the closet more,” McEneny said, “I think people realize today is in a more open society that there’s an awful lot of people they can identify with that are perfectly normal who just happen to have a different sexual orientation.”

Governor Paterson put fellow Democrats on the spot by endorsing gay marriage without enough votes in the Senate to pass it. With opponents like the Catholic Conference trying to block the legislation, getting the support for it is critical.

Assemblyman Reilly showed his support, saying, “I am Catholic, but I believe that priests should be married, I believe that women should be priests and I believe that gay people should have the right to be married.”

What’s encouraging here, and difficult to pry out of the poorly worded sentences, is that some lawmakers in New York are changing their minds about gay marriage, whether because of the poll or because the issue is getting more and more press, or whatever. That’s a really good sign, whether David Paterson has support for himself or not. “Chuck” Hugh Farley remains with the extremists on the right on this issue, and seemingly had such difficulty pronouncing the words “civil union” that he couldn’t put together an intelligent sentence. To me that speaks of blind grooping affter a compromise, because he knows his position is in deep trouble.

Well, I say we need to steamroll “Chuck” Hugh Farley and those who think like him on this issue. Lobbyists should carry this poll with them to rallies and to offices in Albany. This is ammunition with which to tell people like Farley that their vote counts, but so does the vote of the citizens of New York, and they want gay marriage.

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Next GOP Campaign to Alienate Independent Voters

The news out of Trinidad and Tobago this morning has Obama signalling a new beginning in Western Hemisphere relations, including with Cuba and Venezuela. The GOP will react by refighting the Cold War, complete with sugar cane to go with the teabags. That will further alienate independent voters. Republican FAIL again.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

It’s going to be Cuba, folks. The GOP is going to get a bunch in their underwear about Barack Obama working to change the direction of US policy towards Cuba. There’s a photo on virtually every front page int he country today with Barack Obama shaking hands with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and Obama recently eased restrictions on the long, long economic embargo of Cuba. That’s enough ammunition for the whack jobs in the GOP to seize on this. Perhaps the sex-crazed teabagging didn’t alienate enough independent voters (MSNBC has video), so they’ll work this issue. From the Washington Post we have a glimpse of yesterday’s actions, which will spark the faux Republican outrage:

“The United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba,” Obama countered in his own speech. “I know there is a longer journey that must be traveled in overcoming decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a new day.” Earlier this week, Obama lifted restrictions on travel to the island by Cuban Americans.

The administration has been careful to accompany its outreach to Cuba with demands that the government allow more political and personal freedoms before the embargo is lifted. “They’re certainly free to release political prisoners,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters yesterday. “They’re certainly free to stop skimming money off the top of remittance payments as they come back to the Cuban island. They’re free to institute a greater freedom of the press.”

But events appeared to be outpacing the administration’s efforts to adjust its Cuba policy on its own terms. Earlier yesterday, the secretary general of the Organization of American States said he would ask its membership to readmit Cuba – ejected in 1962 at U.S. urging – when that organization meets next month. Bipartisan bills have been introduced in both houses of Congress to lift all travel restrictions and ease the embargo.

And it was not at all clear that Cuba is ready to grasp the olive branch Obama is extending.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that a reported willingness by Cuban President Ra–ºl Castro to discuss “everything” with the United States was a “welcome overture.” Her comments followed news accounts from Cuba that quoted Castro as expressing willingness to talk with the United States about “human rights, press freedom, political prisoners, anything they want to discuss,” as long as it was a conversation between “equals” that respected Cuba’s sovereignty.

There we have it, Obama reaching out to mend fences and begin with a new relationship with Cuba. His handshake with Hugo Chavez can be seen in the same light. There’s nothing here, though, to indicate that Barack Obama is giving away the store or anything. He’s simply showing himself and his administration as ready to improve those relations, and he’s getting at least a glimmer of positive response from Chavez and Castro. How could the Republicans possibly try to exploit that? Well, you can bet they will.

The Republican teabagging debacle played to the Republican whackjob base and alienated independents partly because of its ludicrous imagery and the whackjobs it attracted, but it also alienates because with its rallying against supposed socialism it is fighting the Cold War again, 20 years after the Cold War ended. The only vestige we have of the Cold War now is the relationship the US holds towards Cuba and Venezuela. Just take a look at how Presidents of the past dealt with Cuba. The results have been almost no change in Cuba, and a hardening of the radicals on the subject. But, hey, those radicals on the subject of Cuba are already voting Republican, and the small “c” notion of conservatism suspicious of change of any kind is a notion they embrace, even when conservative voices such as The Economist in December called for change in the US stance towards Cuba:

All this means that for the Castros, Barack Obama may turn into a far more formidable foe than his predecessors. The danger starts with his example: after all, a young, black, progressive politician has no chance of reaching the highest office in Cuba, although a majority of the island’s people are black. Mr Obama has already promised to reverse the restrictions on remittances and travel by Cuban-Americans imposed by Mr Bush. Once he is in office, the new president should go further and urge Congress to lift the embargo altogether. It is wrongheaded and ineffective. If it went, Cubans would know they had nobody except their rulers to blame for their plight.

That’s good policy thinking there. 50 years of the US embargo on Cuba has done nothing, so why not make a change, show the Cuban people what change means to them and their lives? There’s a lot of chance for success here, and the next three and a half years could see a thaw in relations where tourism flourishes in Cuba and Americans in general come to embrace happier relations with the country. Oh, the Republicans will howl that easing the embargo and encouraging tourism will put money in Cuba’s economy, but they’ll appeal only to the GOP base, and will alienate independents, if this issue shows up on the radar screen of anyone at all but the Republican base.

That’s the bottom line, I suppose. The Republicans will try to fight the Cold War all over again by whining about Obama’s attempts to change policy towards Cuba. Not a doubt about that. The leaders of the Republican Party, Hannity and Limbaugh and Gingrich and G. Gordon Liddy, will whine and howl, but nobody really cares besides the hardcore Republican base. Sure, much of that base consists of Cuban-Americans in Florida, but I’m thinking even they will be won over eventually as they are able to visit relatives and see their homeland. And surely the Cuban-Americans do not rive the Latino vote in this country, not if you look at the results of the last Presidential race.

The big thing is that the Republicans will stand foursquare in the way of progress and reconciliation on this issue as just another facety of their “Just Say No” agenda. They’ll likely put together sugar cane parties to go with the teabagging (is there a sexual innuendo to go with “sugar cane?”). Mojitos will be downed among Republicans, or poured into the Miami harbor, or whatever, and independent voters will be turned off.

Ah, Republicans are so predictable!

Saturday, April 18th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |
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